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Weekly Digest: December 13, 2013


UMNS Weekly Digest

December 13, 2013

NOTE: This is a digest of news features provided by United Methodist Communications for Dec.9 - Dec. 13. 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

Remembering Nelson Mandela

World Methodist leader gives sermon at Mandela service

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa (UMNS) - Great leaders like Nelson Mandela do not die but "live on in the hearts and minds of people," a South African Methodist pastor reminded the world during the Dec. 10 memorial service at the same Soweto stadium where Mandela spoke after his release from prison in 1990. "(God) gave us one who boldly proclaimed that a different world is possible," said the Rev. Ivan Abrahams, now the top executive of the World Methodist Council. Read story and post a comment

Mandela family, leaders gather at Methodist church

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa (UMNS) - South African President Jacob Zuma reflected on the values represented by the late Nelson Mandela during a Sunday service at Bryanston Methodist Church, in a Johannesburg suburb, attended by Mandela family members and religious and political leaders.

Read story
Watch Zuma speak at Methodist service
Mandela and Methodism

Advent and Christmas

ABC-TV features choir on Christmas Eve

WICHITA, Kan. (UMNS) - Saint Mark United Methodist is a church known for its music ministry. On Christmas Eve 2013, the church will showcase the talents of more than 100 singers and musicians during a special ABC-TV broadcast. Watch UMTV video

Shoebox Christmas says 'thanks'

SHEYENNE, N.D. (UMNS) - "We are now in the delivery stage," writes Dakotas Annual (regional) Conference missionary Mike Flowers, "and have received more than 2,800 shoeboxes from out of conference. That's 48 percent of all the boxes we got this year." The treat-filled shoeboxes go from the Spirit Lake Ministry Center here to children living on impoverished reservations in the Dakotas and often are the only Christmas gift they receive. Meeting this year's goal of 6,000 shoeboxes, Flowers says, "We were able to take the Standing Rock Reservation 600 boxes. This is the first time we have been able to support them. You made the difference in the lives of many children this year. Blessings." To read more

Help for the Philippines

Stop Hunger Now aids Typhoon Haiyan survivors

MANILA (UMNS) - Stop Hunger Now was in the process of setting up an office in Manila when Typhoon Haiyan struck in November. The United Methodist partner and hunger relief agency had shipped some 1.8 million meals, along with water filters, to the Philippines for typhoon survivors as of early December. Read story and post a comment

Campaign aims to help Philippines youth

DES MOINES, Wash. (UMNS) - The Rise Up! campaign hopes to raise $22,500 by Dec. 16 to restore the Christmas Institute events for youth in the Philippine areas ravaged by Typhoon Haiyan. The campaign is a joint project of the Greater Northwest Episcopal Area in the United Sates and the Davao Episcopal Area in the Philippines. Learn more

News around the connection

Women now 1 in 4 U.S. United Methodist clergy

CHICAGO (UMNS) - Despite a slight decline in the number of United Methodist clergy in the U.S., the percentage of women is growing, reports the United Methodist Commission on the Status and Role of Women. Read story and post a comment

End death penalty, Sister Prejean urges

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) - The death penalty is the most flagrant example of racism today, and it is our biggest civil rights and human rights issue, said Sister Helen Prejean, author of "Dead Man Walking." Prejean was the guest speaker Dec. 7 at the 25th anniversary awards dinner of the Scarritt-Bennett Center, a retreat center operated by United Methodist Women.

Read story and post a comment
Value Obama now, Talbert urges

'Living Timeline' leads to 2014 UMW Assembly

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (UMNS) - When Catherine Murphy moved to Colorado 20 years ago, she joined other young women in a circle of the United Methodist Women unit at First United Methodist Church in Longmont. Now, as she prepares to attend her first UMW assembly, Murphy will honor Lydia Circle by creating an illustration for the assembly's "living timeline" on Pinterest.

Read story and post a comment.

UMTV: Church erases AIDS stigma

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (UMNS) - World AIDS Day is a significant occasion at Asbury United Methodist Church. Asbury is in the epicenter of what remains an epidemic in 2013. And, the congregation is committed to embracing those living with the disease.

Watch video.

CBS special: Church response to human trafficking

NEW YORK (UMNS) - Several United Methodists who deal with issues of labor and sex trafficking are interviewed in "Living in the Shadows: Religion's Response to Human Trafficking," a CBS-TV interfaith special that will begin airing on Dec. 15.

Check local listings
Read story and post a comment

History of Hymns: 'Of the Father's Love Begotten'

DALLAS (UMNS) - This hymn, written when the Roman Empire was still a going concern, is perhaps the oldest hymn many congregations sing. Its author, Aurelius Prudentius Clemens (A.D. 348-c. 413), was a Spanish poet and successful lawyer. C. Michael Hawn of Southern Methodist University's Perkins School of Theology, in collaboration with the United Methodist Board of Discipleship, shares how the hymn was a response to an old heresy. Read story

EcuFilm to close

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) - United Methodist Communications announced Dec. 11 that EcuFilm, which provides multimedia resources for small groups and churches, will close at the end of 2013. A ministry of United Methodist Communications, Ecufilm has been a long-time provider of video resources for United Methodist churches and other denominations. Throughout December, the remaining stock of DVD resources will be on sale at 25 percent to 75 percent off the usual price at The United Methodist Church Store. Read news release

Find-A-Church goes global

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) - Find-A-Church, the online directory of United Methodist churches, is expanding to include information on churches in Africa, Europe and the Philippines for the first time. The church's online directory will begin to provide a resource for global communities by collecting church names, locations, GPS coordinates, names of pastors, local cell phone numbers and other information for United Methodist churches outside the United States. Read news release

News around conferences

Bishop rules lesbian clergy candidate can stay on ordination track

SAN ANTONIO (UMNS) - San Antonio Area Bishop James E. Dorff on Dec. 12 reversed the removal of a lesbian clergy candidate, Mary Ann Barclay, from the ordination track. The question before Dorff dealt with whether the Board of Ordained Ministry followed proper procedure. Barclay and her supporters say due process was not followed in her case. Read story and post a comment

Hope springs forth for Saganing Indian Mission

STANDISH, Mich. (UMNS) - If the Detroit Annual (regional) Conference Committee on Native American Ministries has its way, a recently abandoned church - the Saganing Indian Mission - will get new life as a learning center. "We know we're heading toward new light," says the Rev. Jerome DeVine, conference director of connectional ministries. Kay DeMoss reports for the Detroit Annual (regional) Conference. Read story

Century-old pastor still draws a crowd

BEAVER DAM, Wis. (UMNS) - The Rev. Marvin Schilling is 102, but he still has plenty of ministry to share with the Wisconsin Annual (regional) Conference, the conference reports. Schilling served many roles between 1940 and his retirement in 1978, including chaplain, assistant to the bishop, district superintendent for two different districts, and pastor to five churches. Today, he is still involved at Trinity United Methodist Church in Beaver Dam. "He is at worship at 8 a.m. almost every week, and is still very concerned about how current events and trends affect the church," said the Rev. Jean Nicholas, vice president of the Wisconsin United Methodist Foundation and wife of Trinity's pastor the Rev. Jeff Nicholas. "He's a very faithful example, and he's very well-respected throughout the congregation." Schilling led the annual church conference on Nov. 17, which about 100 people attended. See picture of Schilling at the conference

United Methodists in the news

TV station names pastor 'Everyday Hero'

DENVER (UMNS) - The Rev. Jerry Herships, who founded the new United Methodist congregation AfterHours Denver, recently received a surprise. The congregation nominated him for and he received the Everyday Hero Award of ABC affiliate Channel 7.

See AfterHours story and photos
See Channel 7 story
UMTV: Professional Comic Turned Preacher

Educator nominated for top Texan

DALLAS (UMNS) - Maria Christina Woo, vice principal at United Methodist-affiliated Lydia Patterson Institute in El Paso, has been nominated for "Texan of the Year" as selected by The Dallas Morning News. Woo has worked at the school, her alma mater, for 41 years, helping to give many low-income youngsters a solid education that she hopes leads to college and a bright future. Read essay

Columbia faith groups prepare for homeless

COLUMBIA, Mo. (UMNS) - Faith groups in the Columbia area are working together to prepare to serve the homeless in January and February in the annual Room at the Inn project. This year the project has expanded to fivesites. Learn from this report what the Wilkes Boulevard United Methodist Church and others are doing. Read story

San Jose church reopens after 22 years

SAN JOSE, Calif. (UMNS) - When fire destroyed San Jose First United Methodist Church in 1991, no one anticipated that it would be 22 years before the landmark would stand again. The San Jose Mercury News shows in pictures the first service in the new building on Dec. 8.

See photographs
San Jose church rising from ashes
Protect your church

Church member's body found

DALLAS (UMNS) - Hal Ticknor was the object of an organized search by fellow members of First United Methodist of Garland, Texas, near Dallas, after he went missing at age 82. The body of Ticknor, who had dementia, ultimately was found by hunters. He was himself an avid sportsman and beloved family member and friend. Read obituary

News of interest

Newtown prepares to mark year after shooting

NEWTOWN, Conn. (UMNS) - Officials in Newtown have asked for privacy and restrained media presence Saturday, Dec. 14 on the one-year anniversary of the shooting tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School that ended in the deaths of 20 children and seven adults. Reuters news agency visited Newtown this week as the town prepared.

Read story
United Methodist bulletin insert to remember tragedy
Responding to violence

Maine clergy urge transparency on CIA report

BANGOR, Maine (UMNS) - In a full-page ad Dec. 7 and planned for Dec. 10 in the Bangor Daily News, Maine religious leaders have signed an open letter urging U.S. Sens. Susan Collins, R., and Angus King Jr. to release the Senate Intelligence Committee's report on CIA torture. The letter organized by the Maine Council of Churches has 111 signers, including New England Conference's Bishop Sudarshana Devadhar and 12 other United Methodist clergy. Read letter

Support for raising minimum wage crosses religious lines

WASHINGTON (UMNS) - A poll by the Public Religion Research Institute released Dec. 5 found more than 7 in 10 Americans - 71 percent - support raising the federal minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to $10 an hour. A solid majority of all major religious groups, including mainline and evangelical Protestants, support the increase. See more about the poll

University and seminary news

Rust College receives presidential honor

HOLLY SPRINGS, Miss. (UMNS) - Rust College, one of United Methodism's 11 historically black colleges, recently received recognition from President Barack Obama for its efforts to create "a safe space for interfaith dialogue." The Mississippi Annual (regional) Conference Circuit Rider reports. Read story

Universities oppose Indiana marriage amendment

EVANSVILLE, Ind. (UMNS) - United Methodist-related University of Evansville and DePauw University are among a group of Indiana universities that have announced opposition to House Joint Resolution-6, a proposed amendment to the Indiana Constitution. The amendment would define marriage and limit protections under law for same-sex and unmarried couples and families. At present, same-sex marriage is illegal in Indiana.

University of Evansville news release
Depauw University story
Text and status of proposed amendment

Blogs and commentaries

Bishop explores relationship of Advent and Second Coming

FORT WORTH, Texas (UMNS) - Bishop Mike Lowry of the Central Texas Annual (regional) Conference uses his latest blog post to explore the relationship between Advent and the Second Coming. "When I am caught in despair with what appears to be the downward spiral of people and things I hold dear," he writes, "the Lord God is in charge working into the greatness of a divine culmination that I in my best moments cannot fully see and only dimly comprehend." Read commentary

Thinking about reconciliation

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) - Nashville (Tenn.) Area Bishop Bill McAlilly writes about using Advent to celebrate God's invitation to reconciliation. "To be reconciled to God is to be actively living what Jesus taught: Love God and love neighbor. Jesus' invitation is also a call to discipleship," he writes. Read blog

Let's keep Herod in Christmas

ATLANTA (UMNS) - "Every true story admits that even in the midst of blinking decorations and flickering candles, darkness threatens the light," writes the Rev. Brett Younger, a Baptist professor at Mercer University's McAfee School of Theology. "Ignoring the darkness is ignoring reality." His commentary appears on the Ministry Matters site, part of the United Methodist Publishing House.

Read commentary and post a comment
Read more about 'The bad guy of Christmas'

Looking ahead

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

Advent, through Tuesday, Dec. 24 - Resources for Advent wreath lighting and sermons from the United Methodist Board of Discipleship and resources for drawing and welcoming visitors to Advent and Christmas services from United Methodist Communications. Ministry Matters, part of the United Methodist Publishing House, also offers the free Advent series "Follow the Star."

Christmas Eve, Tuesday, Dec. 24 and Christmas, Wednesday, Dec. 25The United Methodist Board of Discipleship offers worship resources to celebrate Christ's birth.. Ministry Matters, part of the United Methodist Publishing House, offers advice on the lectionary for Advent, Christmas and Epiphany.

New Year's Eve and Watch Night, Tuesday, Dec. 31Whether you are at home or at church, the United Methodist Board of Discipleship offers devotions and worship resources to start 2014 with a focus on God.

Epiphany, Monday, Jan. 6 Celebrate the magi and Christ's revelation to the world with resources from the United Methodist Board of Discipleship.

Free webinar "Church Council Leadership," Tuesday, Jan. 7 - 6:30 p.m. CT, advice for church council or leadership teams in overseeing a comprehensive plan for ministry and discipleship. To register.

Free webinar "Stewardship and Finance: Getting It Right at the Starting Line," Thursday, Jan. 9 - 6:30 p.m. CT, for stewardship team, finance committee and church council members from the United Methodist Board of Discipleship. To register.

Deadline to apply for Peace with Justice grants, Friday, Jan. 10 - The United Methodist Board of Church and Society has allotted $48,000 in grants for 14 Peace with Justice ministries around the world. To apply

Deadline to register for Young Clergy Leadership Forum, Friday, Jan. 10 - The United Methodist Board of Church and Society is accepting applications from people 35 and younger for gathering Sunday to Wednesday, Jan. 26-29, 2014, at the United Methodist Building on Capitol Hill in Washington. Event is $175. Details.

Certified Lay Ministers Academy, Friday-Monday, Jan. 10-12, -Lake Junaluska Program Ministries, in partnership with the Cal Turner Jr. Center for Church Leadership at Martin Methodist College, will present the academy at Lake Junaluska, N.C. Details.

Deadline to apply for local church racial/ethnic ministries grants, Wednesday, Jan. 15 - Applications for grants up to $10,000 to help local United Methodist churches build ministries that strengthen and support racial and ethnic church concerns are available from the United Methodist Board of Discipleship. Details.

Human Relations Day, Sunday, Jan. 19 - One of six churchwide Special Sundays with offerings of The United Methodist Church., Human Relations Day strengthens United Methodist outreach to communities in the United States and Puerto Rico, encouraging social justice and work with at-risk youth. Details

Early bird deadline for 2014 Large Church Initiative, Wednesday, Jan. 15, 2014 - April 28-30 at Mount Pisgah United Methodist Church in Johns Creek, Ga., for United Methodist churches with 1,000 or more members and/or with an average attendance of 350 or more in worship. Details.

Shift Happens: Hope in the Midst of Transition, A gathering of Urban and Rural Practitioners, Thursday-Saturday, Jan. 16-18, 2014 - Workshop in Houston sponsored by iRUN (The International Rural and Urban Network of the United Methodist Church), Church and Community Workers, and the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries. Registration is $185. Details

Category: Weekly Digest
Tags: News Summaries