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UMNS Weekly Digest - April 26, 2013


April 26, 2013

NOTE: This is a digest of news features provided by United Methodist Communications for April23 - April 29.It includes summaries of United Methodist News Service storiesand additional briefs from around the United Methodist connection. Full versions of the stories with photographs and related features can be found at

United Methodists in the news

United Methodists mourn passing of Bob Edgar

WASHINGTON (UMNS) - The Rev. Bob Edgar, a United Methodist pastor and a "tireless defender of the poor and an advocate for justice" died unexpectedly April 23 of a heart attack at his home. He was 69. Edgar, who was the top executive of Common Cause, is the former top executive of the National Council of Churches and a former six-term congressman from Pennsylvania. He was president of Claremont (Calif.) School of Theology from 1990 to 2000. Read story

George W. Bush Presidential Center dedication at SMU

DALLAS (UMNS) - The dedication was - to no small degree - a United Methodist event, given that former President George W. Bush and his wife, Laura, are active United Methodists; that they chose to put the facility at a United Methodist school (Laura Bush's alma mater); and that their pastor, the Rev. Mark Craig of Highland Park United Methodist Church, delivered a prayer. Sam Hodges of the United Methodist Reporter offers an overview of the new presidential center.

Read story
Read Craig's prayer

It is well with the souls of West, Texas

WEST, Texas (UMNS) - "In the midst of all the chaos in those first few hours following the blast, I saw people helping people, over and over and over again," the Rev. Jimmy Sansom, senior pastor of First United Methodist Church, told his congregation Sunday, April 21. "People from (West FUMC) helping other people! There were no strangers - only God active in us and through us." Vance Morton, communicator for the Central Texas Annual (regional) Conference, tells us about that service. Read story

Chaplain begins journey along Appalachian Trail

MARYVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) - In addition to completing the mammoth undertaking of hiking the whole Appalachian Trail, Josh Lindamood, 27, of Lynchburg, Va., stepped onto the trail April 4 with another mission: serving other hikers along the way as Holston Annual (regional) Conference's first chaplain commissioned to "The A.T." The Rev. Buzz Trexler, managing editor of The (Maryville) Daily Times and pastor of Green Meadow United Methodist Church, provides an update on the chaplain known as "Hardtack." Read story

Washington church takes Earth stewardship as duty

EDMONDS, Wash. (UMNS) - When Edmonds United Methodist needed a new furnace a few years ago, the church leadership put together a committee, hired a consultant, researched the topic and bought a boiler that uses less energy and saves $6,000 per year in heating costs over the old model. reports about this church's commitment to be good stewards of the Earth. Read story

Girl Scouts feed children, earn badge

ETOWAH, N.C. (UMNS) - Organizing a food drive to earn their "Lifesaver" badge, 24 Girl Scouts contacted companies across the United States to help. And help they did. Thanks to the girls' efforts, the Fishes and Loaves pantry at Etowah United Methodist Church was filled to the brim with donations for the Manna Food Bank's "Backpack Lunch" program. The (Hendersonville) Times-News has the story. Read story

United Methodists fight malaria

United Methodists mark World Malaria Day

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) - April 25 was World Malaria Day, and United Methodists around the world engaged in prayer and special activities that focused on eliminating deaths and suffering from malaria. Two field coordinators for the denomination-wide Imagine No Malaria campaign share their stories.

God calls Zimbabwe native to fight malaria
Grateful U.S. mom fights malaria with zeal
Learn more

HBO movie raises needed malaria awareness

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) - "Programs like The United Methodist Church's Imagine No Malaria initiative and its partner organizations are making a difference, producing life-saving results," writes the Rev. Larry Hollon, top executive of United Methodist Communications, as World Malaria Day approaches. "Malaria's impact has been cut in half in just a few short years, but the battle is still far from over."

Read full commentary
Learn about the HBO movie
Imagine No Malaria

Former Peace Corps volunteer among malaria fighters

LAKELAND, Fla. (UMNS) - Jesse Casanova knows the killer. A former Peace Corps volunteer who spent 13 months battling malaria on the front lines in Cameroon, Casanova has seen the effects of the disease up close. Kevin Brady in the Florida Conference Connection shares how United Methodists like Casanova are fighting the disease. Read story

Join us in a daily prayer to end malaria

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) -"Many of us will never see the countries where an impact is being made or meet the people whose lives are saved. But your grace makes your presence possible even through us as we serve." Those words of prayer were offered Monday, April 22,as Imagine No Malaria kicked off a week of prayer leading up to World Malaria Day on April 25. Imagine No Malaria is an expression of the United Methodist Global Health Initiative to raise $75 million to fight malaria on the African continent. Join in prayer

News around conferences

How old is too old to join the clergy?

HOUSTON (UMNS) - A proposal from the Texas Annual (regional) Conference to discourage people over 45 from becoming candidates for ordination and people over 60 from becoming licensed local pastors is igniting debate across the denomination. Read story and post a comment

Conferences exceed 100 percent giving to Africa University

MUTARE, Zimbabwe (UMNS) - Twenty-seven annual (regional) conferences in the United States gave the full apportionment to the United Methodist university that is "making a difference in the lives of students, the church and the region." See list of conference giving

Husband-wife team leads fast-growing Hispanic congregation

SEVIERVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) - Three years ago, Susana Lopez was a translator in a furniture factory. Wilmer Lopez made a living out of laying tile and carpet. Today, the two areco-pastors ofwhat might be the largest Hispanic congregation in east Tennessee and one of the fastest-growing Hispanic churches in the United Methodist denomination. Annette Spence, editor of The Call in the Holston Annual (regional) Conference, has the story. Read story

News around the connection

Judicial Council splits East Africa decision

SEATTLE (UMNS) - A 10-year financial dispute between the Western Pennsylvania Annual (regional) Conference and the East Africa Annual Conference that wound up before The United Methodist Church's top court has ended with a split decision that likely will not please everyone. Neill Caldwell, editor of the Virginia United Methodist Advocate and a correspondent for United Methodist News Service, reports on the council meeting. Read story and post a comment

Bishops, mission agency reps on 'historic' China trip

NANJING, China (UMNS) - In what is considered an "historic moment," a United Methodist delegation is in China this week to renew old friendships and forge deeper relationships with Chinese Christians. The trip is a joint effort of the United Methodist Council of Bishops and the Board of Global Ministries. Read story

Women making history: Sandra Steiner Ball

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (UMNS) - "I had some learning challenges in my early years, ... the church was where I found sanctuary, peace and encouragement," says West Virginia Area Bishop Sandra Steiner Ball in a Q&A with United Methodist News Service. Read story

No ordinary days for 'InfoServants'

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) - From questions about church history and doctrine to personal inquiries about getting married, United Methodist "InfoServants" offer a one-on-one experience.

Read story
Find more answers from InfoServ

Reports on church consultants available

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) - The General Council on Finance and Administration has provided reports of the names of consultants used in 2012 by the Council of Bishops and United Methodist bodies amenable to the Connectional Table, which coordinates the denomination's mission, ministry and resources. The report was mandated by General Conference, the denomination's top lawmaking body, in 2012. Read reports

Finance agency to study bishop salaries

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) - Moses Kumar, the top executive of the General Council on Finance and Administration, told his board on April 22 that the denomination's finance agency plans to study bishop compensation packages this year. The agency will have consultants conduct two studies - one for bishops in the United States and one for bishops in the central conference regions of Africa, Europe and Asia. The plan is for the studies to be complete in November. The aim is to provide a basis for bishop compensation, which includes salary and housing, starting in 2014.

Clergy peer groups offer support, education

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) - Interaction with other clergy from diverse backgrounds, support for taking risks and a better understanding of current trends in worship and church attendance were among the benefits of clergy continuing-education peer groups. Three groups in three annual (regional) conferences - Virginia, New York and West Michigan - formed as part of the Nurturing Innovative Clergy Leadership program. Vicki Brown of the United Methodist Board of Higher Education and Ministry has the story. Read story

Mission executive's thoughts on global church

NEW YORK (UMNS) - Thomas Kemper, the top executive of the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries, recently told his board of directors: "The theology and practice of mission - broadly understood as the work of the church, not the portfolio of one agency - will determine our global reality in the future." Kemper shared his semiannual report at the mission agency's board meeting.

Read story
Read more about Global Ministries' activities

UMTV: Earth Day Green Churches

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) - Churches across the United Methodist connection are finding creative ways to show a commitment to conservation. At Glide Memorial United Methodist Church in San Francisco, city children put their green thumbs to God's use by planting a garden on the church's rooftop. In Detroit, Cass Community United Methodist Church turns old tires into jobs - and volunteers into power producers. See video

Chuck Knows Church: Communion

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) - "Chuck Knows Church" leads viewers through communion, one of two sacraments (along with baptism) in The United Methodist Church. This is the first of a three-part series about communion. Read and watch

United Methodists to Change the World in May

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) - On May 18-19, United Methodists around the globe will unite in service with their local communities for the fourth annual Change the World weekend. Change the World was observed in more than 1,500 locations internationally in 2012. United Methodist Communications has created several free planning resources including a sermon series and ideas for service projects. To locate an event in your area, go to Join the Change the World conversation online on Facebook, or on Twitter and Instagram using #changetheworld and #rethinkchurch.

Learn more

Disaster relief and recovery

United Methodists pledge China earthquake relief

SHANGHAI (UMNS) - A United Methodist delegation visiting Christians in China said the denomination, through its United Methodist Committee on Relief, will assist in providing relief to the earthquake survivors in southwest Sichuan Province. The current toll of the April 20th earthquake, centered in Ya'an, is 188 people reported dead, 25 missing and 11,460 injured. As the delegation met April 22 with officials and staff of the China Christian Council, Thomas Kemper, top executive of the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries, pledged a grant of $10,000 to the council's Social Service Departmentas well as a $10,000 grant to the Amity Foundation, a Christian organization and long-time partner. Read story

United Methodist Men send devotionals to first responders

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) - United Methodist Men shipped copies of its newly published Strength of Service for God and Community devotional for first responders to Boston and to West, Texas, last week. There is to be a presentation of 250 copies in Newtown, Conn., this weekend. The devotional was introduced last month.

Read story
About the devotional

Prayers, patience and hope in West: An update

WEST, Texas (UMNS) - At 10 p.m., April 22, Laraine Waughtal, the disaster response coordinator for the Central Texas Conference, wrote, "Today has been another day of interviewing clients, listening to their stories and praying! One person shared with us how everyone was at home when the blast occurred and every window in the house was blown in toward them except the one over the baby's bed!!! What a blessing. Every day we hear more and more stories as to how God was and is at work in West." Read full update

University and seminary news

Emory & Henry College names new president

EMORY, Va. (UMNS) - The board of United Methodist-related Emory& Henry College announced April 22 that it has selected Jake B. Schrum to serve as president of the institution. Schrum, who retires as president of United Methodist-related Southwestern University in Texas on June 30, will begin work at Emory & Henry on Aug. 1. Schrum replaces Rosalind Reichard, who announced last fall her plans to retire as president of Emory& Henry. Read story

Garrett-Evangelical student receives top honor

EVANSTON, Ill. (UMNS) - The Rev. Steven Trefz of the Dakotas Annual (regional) Conference has received the Journal of Christian Ministry Award of Excellence for his doctoral thesis. Trefz is a Doctor of Ministry student at United Methodist Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary. The Association for Doctoral of Ministry Education chose his thesis among hundreds from schools across the United States and Canada. Read story

Ohio Wesleyan featured on Indian TV series

DELAWARE, Ohio (UMNS) - United Methodist-related Ohio Wesleyan University has been chosen as one of three universities in the United States to host a weeklong visit from "College Hunt, USA," a reality television show produced jointly by the U.S. Consulate General Mumbai in India and Channel V, an international TV network owned by Star TV and Fox International Channels. Read story

Blogs and commentaries

Remembering Bob Edgar and his impact

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) - "Through his ministry, legislation and public witness, Bob (Edgar)'s legacy will continue," writes the Rev. Larry Hollon, the top executive of United Methodist Communications. Edgar was executive director of Common Cause and a United Methodist pastor. Hollon offers a tribute to his longtime friend, who died April 23. Read commentary

Survey seeks young clergy leaving ministry

PORTLAND, Ore. (UMNS) - In his "Hacking Christianity" blog, the Rev. Jeremy Smith shares about learning recently that four young adult colleagues are leaving the ministry. "I decided we needed a way to gather stories of former young clergy, likely-soon-to-leave young clergy and young adults who never finished the process. And after gathering those stories, seeing if there are common threads," he writes. To gather those stories, he has composed a survey and asks young adults in similar situations to participate.

Read blog post
Take the survey

A faith for hard times

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (UMNS) - "These have been difficult days - days when our tears have mingled with those around the country and the world," writes Michigan Area Bishop Deborah Lieder Kiesey. Focusing on what makes the difference between hopelessness and hopefulness, Kiesey reminds United Methodists to find comfort in the presence of the risen Christ. Read blog

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.

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

Free webinar "Leadership in Small Churches," May 2 - 6:30 p.m. CT, especially for churches with 100 or fewer in worship attendance from the United Methodist Board of Discipleship. To register

National Day of Prayer, May 2 - Resources for U.S. event from the United Methodist Board of Discipleship.

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

Free webinar "Tell of God's Love; the Small Church Story on a Shoestring," May 7 - 6:30 p.m. CT, help for small churches to get the word out from the United Methodist Board of Discipleship. To register

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

Free webinar "Has God Been Invited to the Conversation?" May 9 - 6:30 p.m. CT, help with church and community prayer from the United Methodist Board of Discipleship. To register

Ascension Day, May 9 - Celebrate Christ's Ascension with resources from the United Methodist Board of Discipleship.

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.

Free webinar "Gen2Gen: Sharing Jesus Across the Generations," May 14 - 6:30 p.m. CT, from the United Methodist Board of Discipleship. To register

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

Free webinar "Committed to Christ: Six Steps to a Generous Life," May 16 - 6:30 p.m. CT, help with stewardship from the United Methodist Board of Discipleship. To register

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

Pentecost, May 19 - Celebrate the birthday of the Christian church with resources from the Board of Discipleshipand the United Methodist Publishing House's Ministry Matters.

"Day1," May 19 - The Rev.Hal Brady, a United Methodist and executive director of Hal Brady Ministries based in Atlanta, Ga., is the featured speaker for Pentecost on the "Day1" radio program. To access online

"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