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UMNS Weekly Digest - August 09, 2013


UMNS Weekly Digest

Aug.9, 2013

NOTE: This is a digest of news features provided by United Methodist Communications for Aug. 6 - Aug. 12. It includes summaries of United Methodist News Service stories and additional briefs from around the United Methodist connection. Full versions of the stories with photographs and related features can be found at

News from U.S. annual conferences

Tackling hunger 'hands-on' at annual conference

FLORENCE, S. C. (UMNS) - This year, 10 United Methodist conferences packed 680,000 meals for Stop Hunger Now during their annual sessions. Here's how the events made a difference. Read story and post a comment

2012 numbers show vitality amid declines

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) - Reports from 57 of 59 U.S. annual conferences indicate a continued drop in key statistical measures, but some conferences are bucking the trend by showing growth in membership, worship attendance or both. These conference leaders share their advice. Read story and post a comment

Conference budgets show modest growth

DALLAS (UMNS) - The fiscal health of United Methodist annual (regional) conferences in the United States seems at least stable, maybe a tad better, coming out of annual meetings at which budget matters were a major part of the agenda. A survey of conference treasurers showed more conferences are increasing budgets rather than cutting them or staying flat. Read full story and comment

Conferences take on social issues

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) - This summer's round of annual (regional) conference gatherings saw United Methodists tackling a range of familiar but still hot issues, including homosexuality, gun violence, divestment and immigration reform. Read story

News from United Methodists in Africa

Serving the needs of social justice in Congo

KINSHASA, Democratic Republic of the Congo (UMNS) - Promoting physical and mental health is something The United Methodist Church feels called to do in a country that continues to see armed conflict, malaria and other traumas. Staff from the United Methodist Board of Church and Society recently visited Congo where they met with government officials, led training and offered church support.

Church official: In Congo, every day is 9/11
Reaching out to rape survivors in Congo
Expert: Treatment necessary to break malaria cycle
Working for social justice in East Congo

Encouragement, advice for Zimbabwe pastors

MUTARE, Zimbabwe (UMNS) - Moving from old to new congregations results in mixed emotions for both outgoing and incoming United Methodist pastors in Zimbabwe. Participants explored that and other topics and found inspiration during the recent 2013 pastors' school at Africa University.

Bishop urges pastors to 'hunt' disciples
African clergy advised on itinerancy
African pastors urged to 'endure hardships'

Adopting 'a spirit of safari'

OLD MUTARE, Zimbabwe (UMNS) - More than an ocean separates United Methodists in the Baltimore-Washington Annual Conference and the Zimbabwe Episcopal Area. But in July, they gathered to unite in common ministries. Melissa Lauber has the story. Read story

Communications 'transformative' for Malawi

LILONGWE, Malawi (UMNS) - The Rev. Neelley Hicks says the ability to send text messages or create a consistent power supply for communication can be "life-saving." Read commentary

United Methodists in the news

Wesley professor joins U.S. State Department

WASHINGTON (UMNS) - A United Methodist professor is taking on a new position at the U.S. State Department, and he'll be reaching out to religious groups worldwide. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on Aug. 7 formally introduced Shaun Casey as special adviser to the Secretary of State for faith-based community initiatives. Casey is a professor of Christian ethics at United Methodist-related Wesley Theological Seminary and a member of Floris United Methodist Church in Herndon,Va. Read story and post a comment

A different reaction to a killing

NEW ORLEANS (UMNS) - When Marguerite La Joy Washington, a freshman at Dillard University, was gunned down in New Orleans, it had all the appearance of business as usual. Thousands of young blacks are killed in America each year. But if you had attended Marguerite's funeral at First Grace United Methodist Church, where she taught Sunday school, you would have realized that something was different, writes Oliver Thomas in USA Today.

Read USA Today column
Read UMNS story on First Grace

After her son's death, a pastor forgives

INDIANAPOLIS (UMNS) - An Indianapolis Star series offers a story of forgiveness as a United Methodist pastor forms a bond with the young man responsible for her son's death. Read "Fear and Forgiveness"

News around conferences

Florida Conference offers faith stories

LAKELAND, Fla. (UMNS) - The Florida Annual (regional) Conference has a new web feature called "Telling Our Stories," in which United Methodists share their stories of Christian faith. This week's comes from Jensen Bennett, of Wesley Memorial United Methodist Church in Tampa. Watch video

Out of tragedy, friendship

PHOENIX (UMNS) - The Yarnell Hill fire tragedy earlier this summer led the Rev. Beverly Worden Devine and Epworth United Methodist Church to form a friendship with local firefighters. She writes about the experience. Read commentary

Shoebox Christmas is coming

SHEYENNE, N.D. (UMNS) - Soon treat-filled shoeboxes will begin arriving at the Spirit Lake Ministry Center here. But these are not ordinary shoeboxes. To children living on impoverished reservations in South Dakota and North Dakota, these treasure chests may be the only Christmas gift they receive. Last year, Dakotas Annual (regional) Conference missionaries Mike and Libby Flowers gave away 5,215 shoeboxes. "We would really like to break the 5,500 mark," Mike said. "We would need upwards of 30,000 to reach every Native American child on reservations in the Dakotas."

Read story
To give

News around the connection

Live from New York: Young adult commissioning

NEW YORK (UMNS) - On Aug.12, the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries will commission 29 young adults as US-2s and mission interns. Watch the service live online at 11:30 a.m. (ET) at Follow @umcmissionGT on Twitter for training and commissioning updates. Read story

Worst (and best) disaster donations ever

NEW YORK (UMNS) -What were they thinking? Some donations sent to disaster areas, such as fur coats to Florida hurricane survivors, are hard to fathom. Susan Kim offers advice from the United Methodist Committee on Relief, along with a few "best" and "worst" examples. Read story

UMCOR offers help for war-affected Gaza

NEW YORK (UMNS) - Gaza's prolonged unresolved conflict and political situation have resulted in economic disadvantages and socio-cultural limitations for war-impacted communities. The United Methodist Committee on Relief has provided a grant to ACT Alliance for the Middle East Council of Churches to support the implementation of a counseling program for Palestinian individuals and groups, specifically women and children, to help alleviate the stress provoked by the crisis. An estimated 10,000 women and 600 children are expected to benefit from the program.. Donate to Advance #982450, International Disaster Response

Relief supplies needed

NEW YORK (UMNS) - At UMCOR Sager Brown in Baldwin, La., and UMCOR West in Salt Lake City, the inventory of relief-supply kits remains desperately low. UMCOR has several resources for churches wanting to collect a special offering to help replenish supplies.

Share bulletin insert
Play video message
Learn to assemble relief kits
Donate to Advance #901440, Material Resources

Women pastors, large churches

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) - A new e-book titled "Breaking Through the Stained Glass Ceiling: Women Pastoring Large Churches," edited by the Revs. HiRho Y. Park and Susan Willhauck, collects essays by women pastors who have led congregations with 1,000 or more members. The United Methodist Board of Higher Education and Ministry is the publisher. Read story

History of Hymns: 'Nothing but the Blood'

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) - Popular 19th-century hymn writer Robert Lowry, composer of "Nothing but the Blood," also contributed such favorites as "Shall we gather at the river," "Up from the grave he arose," "Marching to Zion" and "How can I keep from singing." C. Michael Hawn discusses the theology and history of the blood hymns in congregational singing. Read Hawn's column

University and seminary news

Making the extra effort with college students

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) - Faculty members who make an extra effort to engage students at United Methodist-related colleges and universities are being recognized through the Exemplary Teacher Award given by the United Methodist Board of Higher Education and Ministry's Division of Higher Education. Tita Parham reports. Read story

UM school association names new leader

SPARTANBURG, S.C. (UMNS) - Colleen Perry Keith, Spartanburg Methodist College president, was named president of the National Association of Schools and Colleges of The United Methodist Church for a one-year term beginning August 2013, during the organization's annual meeting this week. NASCUMC is a voluntary association of schools, colleges and universities committed to the historic and distinctive values of United Methodist-related education. The Fort Mill Times reports. Read story

News of interest

Syrian bishops still missing

ALEPPO, Syria (UMNS) -Metropolitan Mar Gregorios Yohanna Ibrahim, the Syrian Orthodox Archbishop of Aleppo, and Metropolitan Boulous Yazigi, the Greek Orthodox Bishop of Aleppo, remain in kidnappers' hands despite ongoing pleas and prayers by church groups around the world. Read story

South Sudan, Sudan set up ecumenical councils

GENEVA (UMNS) - Two ecumenical councils in South Sudan and Sudan have been established, based on a decision reached through a lengthy process undertaken at the Sudan Council of Churches' 20th General Assembly July 3-7 in Nairobi, Kenya. Read story

Student group seeks volunteer leaders

NEW YORK (UMNS) - The World Student Christian Federation's North American Regional Committee is looking to fill five vacant volunteer leadership positions. Applications are being accepted from students and recent graduates from both Canada and the United States to serve a two-year term. The deadline is Sept. 30. Read more

Blogs and commentaries

'What does it mean to be United Methodist for me?'

ALCOA, Tenn. (UMNS) - "I am United Methodist because in this church there is opportunity to service for all who desire to serve the One that lives and reigns forever," writes the Rev. Arturo Reyna, Hispanic ministry coordinator for Holston Annual (regional) Conference and pastor of Rivers of Living Water United Methodist Church in Morristown, Tenn. He offers eight reasons to be United Methodist, first in Spanish and then English.
Read blog post

Bishop: Let's shoot straight on small churches

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) - Retired Bishop William H. Willimon says it is time The United Methodist Church realized that small churches are often more burden than blessing. Read his commentary

Learning from sororities

DALLAS (UMNS) - The Rev. Mike Baughman says running a church-related coffee shop has taught him that the church could learn a thing or two from sororities and workout centers. Read Q&A

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.

Missionary commissioning, Aug. 12 - 11:30 ET, United Methodist Board of Global Ministries will commission 29 young adults as US-2s and mission interns, live online at

Deadline for early-bird registration for "JustPeace101," Aug. 20 - Oct. 31-Nov. 2, event discussing the theory, theology, principles and practices of conflict transformation. led by JustPeace, The United Methodist Church's Center for Conflict Transformation, in Nashville, Tenn. Details.

The Reconciliation Story: Conflict Resolution in Small Congregations, Aug. 22-24 - Workshop led by Mary Ann Lawson and Marion Crooks at Hinton Rural Life Center, Hayesville, N.C. Details on PDF.

Free webinar "Safe Sanctuaries: Children, Teachers and Media" Aug. 22 - 10 a.m. CT, webinar from United Methodist Board of Discipleship looks at how, in a rapidly evolving media world, teachers and other adults can protect children from abuse. To register.

Free webinar "Generosity in Emerging Generations," Aug. 22 - 6:30 p.m. CT, examining how emerging generations make decisions about generosity, from the United Methodist Board of Discipleship. To register.

Free webinar "Charting a Course for Discipleship," Aug. 27 - 6:30 p.m. CT, how to develop a pathway to help adults deepen their Christian discipleship, from the United Methodist Board of Discipleship. To register.

50th anniversary celebrations of the March on Washington, Aug. 24 and Aug, 28 - United Methodists from across the United States will go to the National Mall in Washington to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, where the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his "I Have a Dream" speech. For Aug. 24 festivities, details.For Aug. 28 festivities, details.

Deadline to register for Welcoming Ministry 100 online course, Aug. 28 - Sept. 4-Oct. 16, help for becoming welcoming and hospitable congregations, sponsored by United Methodist Communications.$29.99. Details.

Deadline to register for Web Ministry 100 online course, Aug. 28 - Sept. 4-Oct. 16, help using the web in theologically sound ways to reach new people and cultivate relationships, sponsored by United Methodist Communications. $49.99. Details.

Churchquake, Reconciling Ministries Network convocation, Aug. 30-Sept. 2 - Gathering by unofficial United Methodist caucus that advocates for greater inclusion of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people in the church. Details.

"Day 1," Sept. 1 - The Rev. Sam Matthews, senior minister, First United Methodist Church, Marietta, Ga., will be the featured speaker on the nationally syndicated radio program "Day 1." To listen.

"Day 1," Sept. 8 - The Rev. Elaine Wilder, associate minister, First United Methodist Church, Marietta, Ga., will be the featured speaker on the nationally syndicated radio program "Day 1." To listen.

Free webinar "Creative Thinking in Faith Formation: An Ancient/Future Approach," Sept. 17 - 6:30 p.m. CT, learning strategies for teaching adults using an exploration of Jesus' teaching methods, from the United Methodist Board of Discipleship. To register.

United Methodist Church of the Resurrection Leadership Institute, Sept. 25-27 - Registration open now for event aimed at helping leaders renew churches. Details.

Northeastern Jurisdiction Native American Ministries Committee meeting, Oct. 10-12 - Event at Drew University, Madison, N.J., offers discussions of ministry and concerns of Native peoples, as well as time for fellowship. To learn more or register, email Sharon Schmit at

Revitup! Event for young clergy, Oct. 28-30 - Event for clergy ages 25-39 in Atlanta, sponsored by the United Methodist Board of Pension and Health Benefits. Aims to help clergy manage debt and set boundaries. Details.

Reach New Disciples Conference, Nov. 2 - 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. ET, Wesley Theological Seminary's Lewis Center for Church Leadership, Washington. Details.

Category: Weekly Digest
Tags: News Summaries