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UMNS Weekly Digest - April 19, 2013


Boston: United Methodists respond

Praying for those affected by Boston explosions
BOSTON (UMNS) - Boston Area Bishop Sudarshana Devadhar has written a letter to the New England Annual (regional) Conference, calling for prayer in response to the explosions Monday, April 15, near the Boston Marathon finish line. "Along with you I grieve for those that lost their lives and their families, and for those injured in this tragic event," the bishop wrote.
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God in action after Boston bombing
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) - Evil struck Monday, but by Tuesday it was clear evil did not have the last word. United Methodists in Boston and around the globe testified to the ways they saw God in action after two explosions shattered the peace of the Boston Marathon, claiming at least three lives and leaving more than 170 injured.
Read story and post a comment

Boston service urges: 'Choose love over fear'
BOSTON (UMNS) - A little more than 24 hours after explosions rocked the Boston Marathon, killing three and injuring scores of others, United Methodists in Boston opened their doors and gathered to grieve, pray, cry out to God and find a way toward healing in the midst of the pain of the city. Alexx Wood, director of communications for the New England Annual (regional) Conference, covered the prayer service.
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Interfaith service offers comfort, affirmation for Boston
BOSTON (UMNS) - More than 2,000 people, including Bishop Sudarshana Devadhar and other United Methodists, drew together during an interfaith prayer service, April 18 at Cathedral of the Holy Cross in Boston. President Barack Obama told those gathered, "We will all be with you as you learn to stand and walk and, yes, run again." Alexx Wood of the New England Annual (regional) Conference writes about the service.
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Love crosses the finish line
BOSTON (UMNS) - Kimberly Grauer was in Boston on April 15 fulfilling a promise to her dad, whose memorial service was 10 days before. She was among the runners stopped by police at Mile 25. Kay DeMoss of the West Michigan Annual (regional) Conference shares the story of Grauer and her family and a friend, who were waiting near the finish line.
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Remembering 3rd Boston victim
BOSTON (UMNS) - Friends and strangers across two countries mourned the loss of Lingzi Lu, a Chinese graduate student at United Methodist-related Boston University. The Boston Globe reports on the tributes to the high-achieving student, who was working on a statistics degree.
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Responding to violence
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) - On any given day, United Methodists respond to tragedy by offering support. Many of our neighbors need our prayers - the most recent being those affected by the April 15 bombing at the Boston Marathon.
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United Methodists offer comfort after Boston bombings
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) - As investigators search for answers, the people of The United Methodist Church offer prayer, comfort and resources for healing in the aftermath of Monday's bombings at the Boston Marathon. Among those words of comfort are United Methodist ads in Boston-area media.
Read news release

West, Texas: United Methodists respond

Comfort, help after Texas explosion
WACO, Texas (UMNS) - "First, foremost and always, let us be a people who place our lives and the lives of our loved ones before God in trusting prayer," says Bishop Mike Lowry of the Central Texas Annual (regional) Conference. Lowry was responding to the deadly explosion in West and providing information about how United Methodists can help.
Read bishop's statement
Explosion shakes West and Central Texas

UMCOR responds to Texas emergency
NEW YORK (UMNS) - After a powerful explosion on April 17 at a fertilizer factory in West, Texas, flattened homes and caused dozens of casualties, the United Methodist Committee on Relief approved an emergency grant to the Central Texas Annual (regional) Conference to assist in relief efforts. UMCOR also requests people help by donating blood at a local center or by assembling cleaning buckets, which will soon be in great need, and health kits. These relief kits can be shipped to any of the eight depots in the UMCOR Relief-Supply Network.
Read news release

Seeing God's presence in a week of tragedy
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) - From shock, fear and anger to mourning, emotions have run the gamut this week as U.S. conferences have dealt with tragedies of many scales. Throughout the challenges, United Methodists across the connection have told us how they saw God at work even in the most trying moments.
Read what they said and tell us what you saw

Disaster relief and recovery

United Methodists invest in Sandy recovery
NEW YORK (UMNS) - Grants for Hurricane Sandy recovery work approved this month by the United Methodist Committee on Relief include $3 million to both the New York and Greater New Jersey Annual (regional) Conferences. The bishops for New York and New Jersey gave updates about their recovery efforts to directors of the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries.
Read full story and post a comment

Day of service for Hurricane Sandy
NEW YORK (UMNS) - Timothy Crisler remembers "God's people coming from everywhere" to help after Hurricane Katrina struck Mississippi. He was happy to return the favor as directors and staff of the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries assisted Sandy survivors in New York and New Jersey.
Read full story

UMCOR grants support continuing recoveries
NEW YORK (UMNS) - In addition to designating some $7.3 million for Sandy recovery, directors of the United Methodist Committee on Relief made grants April 12 to the Alabama, North Carolina, Upper New York and North Dakota annual (regional) conferences for continuing tornado, storm and flood recovery work.
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Church fire guts building, not spirit
ATHENS, Ga. (UMNS) - After a fire April 15 gutted their church building, members of the historic Oconee Street United Methodist Church looked forward to continuing to reach out to the community. "Although the church building is gone, and some planned projects are on hold for now," said member Sally Curtis AsKew, "(we) will rebuild and move forward."
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Support after Chicago parsonage fire
CHICAGO (UMNS) - Chicago-area United Methodists are organizing a special worship service of praise and thanksgiving for the Rev. Amos Oladipo's family and Chicago Epworth United Methodist Church at 5 p.m. Saturday, April 20. A fire heavily damaged Oladipo's parsonage April 13, but his family escaped unharmed. Anne Marie Gerhardt of the Northern Illinois Annual (regional) Conference reports how the broader United Methodist community is reaching out to help.
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Tom Hazelwood hangs his hat on humor
NEW YORK (UMNS) - After 15 years of disaster response with the United Methodist Committee on Relief that included the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, Hurricane Katrina and too many tornadoes to count, you'd think the Rev. Tom Hazelwood would run out of reasons to laugh. Writer Susan Kim shares some examples of Hazelwood's humor.
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News around conferences

VBS essential to family outreach
D'IBERVILLE, Miss. (UMNS) - Vacation Bible school is always fun for kids, but do churches maximize its potential as an outreach effort? Jasmine Haynes shares how churches in the Mississippi Annual (regional) Conference use VBS to draw in children and parents beyond the summer months.
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Clergy striving to live healthier lifestyles
LINCOLN, Neb. (UMNS) - "You have to be committed to making lasting changes to your life to make it work," says the Rev. Zach Anderson,associate pastor at St. Paul's United Methodist Church in Papillion. "It's easy to try a diet or workout program for a few weeks, but planning to be a part of something long term takes discipline and a lot of trial and error along the way." Anderson tells his story in a report by Trish Johnson, communications coordinator for the Nebraska Annual (regional) Conference.
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Many United Methodist worshippers still wait for a sign
LAKELAND, Fla. (UMNS) - For the parishioners shepherded by the Rev. Lisa Jordan, believing is seeing - literally. Jordan, a United Methodist pastor and chaplain at Gallaudet University, was among the leaders at a meeting of the United Methodist Committee on Deaf and Hard of Hearing Ministries, which met at the Florida United Methodist Center. Committee members brainstormed about ways to improve the denomination's efforts to include people who can't hear well in worship services everywhere. Susan Green of the Florida Conference Connection shares how United Methodist ministries are reaching and in some cases failing to reach the deaf and hearing impaired.
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Will work for parking
FRUITLAND PARK, Fla. (UMNS) - Keeping the peace can be hard, even labor-intensive. The pastoral settings of the camps and retreat centers operated by the Florida Annual (regional) Conference might look natural, but they don't stay that way without human intervention. Enter the NOMADS and Workampers, travelers who often are retired and seeking a place in the sun to ride out harsh northern winters. Susan Green of the Florida Conference Connection shares their ministry.
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UMW circle still meets 18 years after church closed
SPRINGDALE, Tenn. (UMNS) - When Springdale's doors closed in 1995 after 127 years of potlucks, hymns and sermons, its United Methodist Women's group - the Love Circle - continued in ministry together. Casey Northcutt of the Memphis Annual (regional) Conference shares the story.
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Chabadza! Zimbabwe-Norway project pays off
CHIRUMHANZU, Zimbabwe (UMNS) - Chabadza, the Zimbabwean tradition of lending a helping hand, results in a partnership between the United Methodist Church in Norway and Zimbabwe. The partnership includes a medical facility for mothers and babies and other projects. Eveline Chikwanah of the Zimbabwe Episcopal Area shares the story.
Read story and post a comment

News around the connection

Host a movie party to fight malaria
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) - Throw a party to save lives. That's the message The United Methodist Church is sharing in preparation for World Malaria Day, April 25. United Methodist advocates for Imagine No Malaria can raise awareness by hosting screening parties of HBO's new movie, "Mary and Martha," starring Oscar winner Hilary Swank and Oscar nominee Brenda Blethyn. The movie follows the journey of two women who meet in Africa and work to raise awareness of malaria, a preventable and treatable disease that claims a life every 60 seconds.
Learn how to participate

Anti-malaria HBO movie filmed at church
SOUTHPORT, N.C. (UMNS) - When Trinity United Methodist's children's ministry director Sherry Gibbs selected malaria nets as a mission project for vacation Bible school, she had no idea Hollywood would have an interest in her efforts. The State Port Pilot reports on how Trinity hosted part of the filming last year of "Mary and Martha," a HBO movie, starring Hilary Swank, about two women fighting to save children in Africa from that fatal disease.
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Church and Society advocating on gun bills
WASHINGTON (UMNS) - The United Methodist Board of Church and Society, which advocates for the denomination's social positions, is not giving up on U.S. legislative efforts to prevent gun violence, despite this week's filibuster of an amendment to enact background checks. Polls have shown nearly 90 percent of Americans support background checks for gun purchases.
Read news release
Read The United Methodist Church's position on guns

East Belfast Mission lessons to share
NEW YORK (UMNS) - Signing a peace accord is just the first step in reuniting a country where the population has been divided by conflict. The Methodists of East Belfast Mission in Northern Ireland have been living into that reality ever since the 1998 Good Friday agreement declared peace between Catholics and Protestants there. Two leaders, the Rev. Gary Mason and Gary Crooks, during a recent visit to the United States talked about the lessons they can share with others.
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UMTV: Earth Day Green Churches
SAN FRANCISCO (UMNS) - A look at ways United Methodists are committing to be better caretakers of God's creation.
Watch the video
Green for life

Agencies form human rights investment task force
GLENVIEW, Ill. (UMNS) - The United Methodist Board of Pension and Health Benefits and the Board of Global Ministries announced April 16 the formation of a United Methodist Church representative task force to explore human rights and investment ethics policies. The task force plans to engage international experts on human rights to assist with its work.
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50 years later, church leaders respond to MLK letter
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (UMNS) - Christian Churches Together in the U.S.A., a group of 36 Christian organizations that includes United Methodists, presented a response to the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s 50-year-old "Letter From Birmingham Jail" during an April 15 signing ceremony at St. Paul United Methodist Church. Greg Garrison reports for
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King's former aide speaks
CCT letter

Memorial service for Ruth Harris, retired staff
CLAREMONT, Calif. (UMNS) -A memorial service for Ruth Harris, former China missionary and staff with the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries and Women's Division, is planned at 3:30 p.m. April 28 at Pilgrim Place in Claremont. Harris, 92, died April 7.
Read obituary

University and seminary news

Changing culture prompts look at clergy formation
ATLANTA (UMNS) - Cost, length of preparation, diversity and age were recurring issues in a recent gathering of educators from the 13 United Methodist theological seminaries in the United States and from ecumenical or other denominational schools that enroll enough Methodist students to offer special Methodist study. The gathering comes as United Methodists attempt to deal with declining membership in the United States and with widespread debate on how best to structure the denomination to generate a greater number of vital congregations.
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Perkins youth program anniversary event
DALLAS (UMNS) - Perkins Youth School of Theology at United Methodist-related Southern Methodist University plans to celebrate its 10th anniversary with an alumni weekend April 20. The weekend will include highlights of the gifts and talents of young people from the Dallas metroplex, including Lessie Vonner, jazz trumpeter and United Methodist alumna of the Perkins program.
Learn more about event
Learn more Lessie Vonner

Methodism in the news

'Home Run' hit for recovery ministries
TULSA, Okla. (UMNS) - "Home Run" is a movie about addiction - a story of a professional baseball player whose life spirals out of control because of ego and alcohol. Premiering today, April 19, the inspirational feature film highlights the recovery ministries offered by thousands of United Methodist churches.
Read news release

Methodist roots play part in Thatcher's funeral
LONDON (UMNS) - Margaret Thatcher's Methodist upbringing played a key role at her funeral on April 17, reports The Telegraph. St. Paul's Cathedral echoed to the rousing Charles Wesley hymn "Love Divine, All Loves Excelling." The choice reflects the wishes of the former prime minister that the faith passed down to her by her father, Alderman Alf Roberts, should be marked at the service.
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18-year-old on bond in N.C. church fire
WENTWORTH, N.C. (UMNS) - An 18-year-old male from Stokesdale has been released on $50,000 bond after his arrest Friday on charges that he set the Dec. 22, 2012, fire that destroyed the Gideon Grove United Methodist Church. The News-Record of Greensboro reports that Rockingham County officials say Harvey Kendall Fulp is not accused in the other four fires at United Methodist churches in the area.
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Arrest saddens church community
GIDEON GROVE, N.C. (UMNS) - Members of Gideon Grove United Methodist Church thought knowing who had set the fire that destroyed their church would help them deal with the loss. But, as the News-Record reports, now that they know, they aren't so sure.
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Green Street Church responds to protests
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (UMNS) - A rally that drew more than 120 people Sunday to Green Street United Methodist Church was intended to counter protests against the church's support of same-sex marriage. The Winston-Salem Journal reports that the Rev. Kelly Carpenter had urged his congregation and its supporters to rally in a loving way that would open the door for the protesters to change. Those who came to do that Sunday - from other congregations and the neighborhood - lined the steps to the sanctuary, many carrying signs embracing a message of love, but the protesters were not there.
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Stolen handbells return to church home
YORK, Pa. (UMNS) - Nine bronze handbells stolen from Otterbein United Methodist Church are back home again in a turn of events that caused the church's pastor, the Rev. Jason Schwartzman, to tell the York Daily Record that what happened involved an "incredible network of good. ... (it's) one of those things that restores faith in humanity."
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Blogs and commentaries

Running with God - praying with Boston
VALLEY FORGE, Pa. (UMNS) - After the tragedy in Boston, people can take action to honor the dead and the survivors, says the Rev. Hannah Adair Bonner, the Northeastern Jurisdiction's staff member for Young People's Ministries. That can mean "signing up to come together with people to run in an event in honor of the victims, to join hearts and hands both in mourning loss and insisting upon hope," she writes. It can also mean "engaging in silent solitary prayer for peace throughout the world."
Read blog

Standing with Syrian refugees
AMMAN, Jordan (UMNS) - During Lent, the Rev. Alex Awad, a United Methodist missionary and dean of students at Bethlehem Bible College in Jerusalem, led a team of Palestinian staff and students to serve among Muslim and Christian Syrian refugees in Amman and Mafraq. He wrote about the experience for the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries. The board's United Methodist Committee on Relief is continuing to assist Syrian refugees.
Read commentary

God, where are you?
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (UMNS) - "It's been a week of tragedies," notes Bishop Gary Mueller of the Arkansas Annual (regional) Conference in a Facebook post meditating on God's presence in traumas that make the news and those that don't.
Read Facebook note

Looking ahead

Here are some of the activities ahead for United Methodists across the connection. If you have an item to share with others, email and put Digest in the subject line.

Free webinar "Meeting the Needs of Children in Poverty,"April 25 - 10 a.m. CT, from the United Methodist Board of Discipleship. To register.

Free webinar "When Congregations Pray...," April 25 - 7 p.m. CT, the newest in a series of monthly webinars offered by Interpreter Magazine and The Upper Room. Register

World Malaria Day, April 25 - Help fight the disease at

In Mission Together, a 50/50 Partnership Roundtable,April 26-27- The gathering, sponsored by the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries, at Christ United Methodist Church, Memphis, Tenn., for U.S. congregations interested in joining in partnership with United Methodist faith communities in Russia/Eurasia. Details.

Church Growth Clinic, April 27 - 8:30 a.m. CT, First United Methodist Church, Sikeston, Mo. Details.

Impact Taylor County 2013 day of service, April 27 - 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. ET, Campbellsville, Ky., sponsored by area United Methodist churches and United Methodist Communications' Rethink Church. Details.

Prayer Journaling Workshop, April 27 - 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. CT, Scarritt-Bennett Center, $65 includes lunch and supplies. To register.

Deadline to register for Web Ministry 100, May 1 - Online course from May 8 to June 19, sponsored by United Methodist Communications, $49. To register

Deadline to register for Welcoming Ministry 100, May 1 - Online course from May 8 to June 19, sponsored by United Methodist Communications, $29. To register

Mental Health Initiative training, May 3-4 - Intensive workshops for mental-health ministries, First United Methodist Church, Oak Lawn, Ill. Sponsored by Northern Illinois Annual (regional) Conference, limited to 30 participants. Details

Older Adult Recognition Sunday, May 5 - Resources compiled by the Virginia Annual (regional) Conference.

RENEW retreat for United Methodist single clergy, May 7-9 - Selah Inn at the Ranch, Mount Vernon, Texas. Details.

Mother's Day, May 12 - Imagine No Malaria provides offering envelopes, posters and bulletin inserts to prepare for special offerings on Mother's Day to benefit the campaign, which has significant impact on the lives of mothers and children.Details.

Korea Peace Conference, May 15-17 - Korean United Methodist Church of Atlanta, 3205 Pleasant Hill Road, Duluth, Ga., a forum for church leaders from North America and South Korea to engage in dialogue and reassess the current situations on the issues related to the two Koreas. To register, contact the Rev. Jong Sung Kim at the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries at (212) 870-3955 or

Change the World, May 18-19 - Join the United Methodist Rethink Church event that helps build community locally and fight malaria globally. Details.

"Inside Out for the Glory of God," July 12-14 - Eleventh national gathering of United Methodist Men at Belmont University in Nashville, Tenn. Details

School of Congregational Development, Aug. 15-18 - Hosted at Denver Marriott Tech Center, sponsored by the United Methodist Board of Discipleship, Path1 and Board of Global Ministries. Theme is "Encountering God at the Edge." Details

Category: Weekly Digest
Tags: News Summaries