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UMNS Weekly Digest - December 14, 2012


NOTE: This is a digest of news features provided by United Methodist Communications for Dec. 11 -17. 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

Malaria News Story:

Hurricane Sandy News Stories:

Other News Stories:

Malaria-fighting partnership all about nets

CHIMANIMANI, Zimbabwe (UMNS) - Bishop Scott Jones will attempt 1,000 free throws on Feb. 23 for "Shoot for No Malaria," a fundraising venture for the Great Plains (Kansas East and West and Nebraska) Annual (regional) Conference sparked by the partnership between the U.S. conferences and the Zimbabwe East Annual Conference. Read full story and post a comment

2012: Hunger spiked when disaster struck

NEW YORK (UMNS) - In any community, when disaster strikes, the number of people needing assistance from food pantries and other feeding programs goes up. Hurricane Sandy was an example in 2012. Read full story and post a comment

N.J. United Methodists tackling long-term after Sandy

BELMAR, N.J. (UMNS) - In early December, United Methodist Bishop John Schol of New Jersey estimated the relief phase after Hurricane Sandy - meeting the immediate human needs of shelter, food and clothing for people in storm-affected communities - would last 100 more days. Read full story and post a comment

Church reaches out after school shooting

SANDY HOOK, Conn. (UMNS) - Members of Newtown United Methodist Church in Sandy Hook were holding their breath to learn the full impact of the Dec. 14 shooting at nearby Sandy Hook Elementary School, said the Rev. Mel Kawakami, the church's senior pastor, hours after the shooting. But, the church already was at work as a site for prayer and respite for Red Cross first responders and families. By late afternoon the death toll had climbed to 27, including at least 20 children, in one of the deadliest school shootings in U.S. history.

Read story and post a comment
Sign a United Methodist prayer wall
United Methodist Board of Discipleship resources on coping with school violence

United Methodists of note who died in 2012

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) - In 2012, church members marked the passing of a number of United Methodist leaders who made significant contributions in their Christian walk. Read story and post a comment

East Africa treasurer responds to audits

KAMPALA, Uganda (UMNS) - The East Africa Annual (regional) Conference treasurer has issued a response to the suspension of church funds to the conference after unfavorable audits. His response came more than a week after The United Methodist Church's finance agency took the unprecedented step of setting a lower salary for the conference's bishop until satisfactory accounting is provided. Read full story and post a comment

Church outreach up despite fewer funds

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) - Despite budget cuts, program agencies say "thanks" for the support, recall accomplishments and look ahead to 2013-16. Agency representatives report highlights of 2012.
Read full story and post a comment

University, senator announce new Lugar Academy

INDIANAPOLIS (UMNS) - U.S. Sen. Richard Lugar joined University of Indianapolis President Robert Manuel Dec. 7 in announcing the formation of the Richard G. Lugar Academy, a sweeping expansion of the university's existing Lugar Center for Tomorrow's Leaders. The university will add a branch office and a full-time staff position in Washington to support its new internship program as well as conferences, symposia, policy studies and other activities of the academy.

Lugar, a member of St. Luke's United Methodist Church in Indianapolis, is a former faculty member and longtime trustee of the United Methodist-related university. Read full story and post a comment

Typhoon lessons learned in Philippines

MINDANAO, Philippines (UMNS) - Although hundreds of people died as Typhoon Bopha raged over the island of Mindanao in the southern Philippines on Dec. 4, lessons learned from an earlier typhoon helped hundreds to survive.

Read full story and post a comment
Read UMCOR report

Reclaim Christmas: 10 ways to simplify

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) - Before you start to feel the stress of the holiday rush, take a minute to learn how you might make this season less frenetic and more joyful. Read the 10 tips

Four years after fire, church has new life

FLORENCE, S.C. (UMNS) - Four years ago, the worst thing imaginable happened to the members of Dawsey United Methodist Church: A rogue bolt of lightning burned their beloved home-away-from-home to the ground. Now, four years of "wilderness" later, the church is experiencing a resurrection, the South Carolina United Methodist Advocate reports. Read story

Bishop Juan re-elected

BAYOMBONG, Philippines (UMNS) - Bishop Rodolfo Alfonso Juan, who presently leads the Baguio Episcopal Area in the Philippines, has been re-elected by the Philippines Central Conference. In the Philippines, a United Methodist bishop must be re-elected every four years. The Philippines Central Conference met Dec. 12-16.

Cokesbury announces new market areas

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) - Cokesbury, the retail division of the United Methodist Publishing House, has officially announced the market areas where new Cokesbury sales representatives will be assigned as part of the CokesburyNext initiative. After the closing of Cokesbury brick-and-mortar stores, the publishing house will deploy 48 Cokesbury sales representatives in 46 market areas to help customers learn about, review and examine products in their own churches and other ministry settings. See the full list

Director of preaching ministries named

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) - The Rev. Pamela Dawn Chesser, an ordained elder in the Holston Annual (regional) Conference, will become director of preaching ministries at the United Methodist Board of Discipleship on Jan. 1. Chesser currently is chaplain at United Methodist-related Hiwassee College and pastor of the college chapel, Buckner Memorial United Methodist Church in Madisonville, Tenn. Read news release

Reconciling Ministries names interim head

CHICAGO (UMNS) - Reconciling Ministries Network, an unofficial United Methodist caucus that advocates for greater inclusion of gays and lesbians, has named Randall Miller as its interim executive director. Miller is assistant professor of United Methodist studies, ethics and leadership and director of the Leadership Institute at the Pacific School of Religion. He is also immediate past chair of the Commission on the United Methodist General Conference.

Tackling poverty difficult but essential

WASHINGTON (UMNS) -Tackling poverty "is incredibly challenging," Jim Winkler, top executive of the United Methodist Board of Church and Society, said during a recent interagency meeting on ministry with the poor. However, he concluded, if the denomination is not "doing everything we can" for that ministry, "we're not going to grow our church here in the United States." Read his remarks

One city's Christmas story airs on CBS

NEW YORK (UMNS) - A story of hope in Reading, Pa., is the focus of "One Christmas Story: People Rich in Spirit," a new production from Odyssey Networks. CBS will air the one-hour program, without commercials, starting at 11:35 p.m. ET/PT on Christmas Eve. Read more

Energy poison: The invisible enemy

FUKUSHIMA, Japan (UMNS) -The decision of the Inter-Religious Conference on Nuclear Issues to hold its 2012 gathering in the Japanese city where the nuclear crisis provoked by last year's earthquake and tsunami occurred underscored the focus on the effects of radiation or energy poison since the disaster. United Methodists were among the participants. Read story

WCC seeks young applicants for assembly posts

GENEVA (UMNS) - The World Council of Churches is inviting young adult Christians to apply as stewards or communicators for the WCC 10th Assembly Oct. 23 to Nov.10, 2013, in Busan, Korea. Steward applicants must be between the ages of 18 and 30 years old and communicators, 22 to 30.

Assembly stewards
Young communicators

United Methodists to get discounts at Staples

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) - The General Council on Finance and Administration, the denomination's finance agency, has entered into an agreement with Staples to provide preferred pricing and discounts on purchases. The total of all sales to United Methodist organizations will result in a 1 percent annual rebate to the United Methodist Committee on Relief.

Read press release
Start the process

New certification: Ministry with people with disabilities

DAYTON, Ohio (UMNS) - Many churches want to do a better job of ministry with children and adults with disabilities, but often simply don't know how. United Theological Seminary in Dayton, Ohio, now offers classes that can help laity and clergy serve an underserved population. Read full story

Christmas giving blesses giver, receiver

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) - Across the United States - in big cities and tiny hamlets - United Methodist congregations are encouraging people to spend less on forgettable, consumer-driven gifts and more on thoughtful gifts that benefit others. Find out how. Read story and post a comment

'Blue Christmas' service reaches out

HIGHLANDS RANCH, Colo. (UMNS) - For many people, the Christmas season is a time of wishing there was more to give, of loneliness, or of depression. The folks at St. Andrew United Methodist Church in Highlands Ranch have two words for people who are feeling any of the latter: "It's OK," reports Read story

Hoosiers go for holiday records

INDIANAPOLIS (UMNS) - United Methodists in Indiana are pushing some records in their efforts to make sure everyone shares in Christmas. La Porte residents are eagerly waiting to get the official nod from Guinness World Records that the Rev. Billy Nickrand of Door Village United Methodist Church broke the bell-ringing record to raise money for the Salvation Army. Nickrand rang for 60 hours and 5 minutes in front of a grocery and raised more than $6,300. The Rev. Randy Davis, of the Dunkirk Mount Tabor and Redkey United Methodist churches, collected more than 10,000 McDonald's Gift Cards, valued at $5 each, to give to veterans in Veteran Administration medical centers across Indiana. A prayer for the veteran to whom the card was given goes with each card. For more information, email Davis at

Read about the Davis project
Learn more about Billy Nickrand's bell-ringing

Africa University hosts continental summit

MUTARE, Zimbabwe (UMNS) - More than 120 evangelism leaders from 20 African countries and 18 Wesleyan Methodist family churches under the World Methodist Council attended the landmark Africa Continental Summit Dec. 1-8 at United Methodist-related Africa University. Read story and post a comment

United Methodists at NAACP summit

ATLANTA (UMNS) - United Methodists are among those attending the three-day NAACP's National Religious Leaders Summit, which concluded Dec. 12. The gathering, themed "Moving Us Forward on the Roads to Justice," aims to help move the faith community back to its long-held leadership role in matters of social justice. Among the speakers at the event is James H. Salley, who is representing the United Methodist caucus, Black Methodists for Church Renewal. The gathering on Dec. 11 also honored the Rev. Joseph E. Lowery, a United Methodist pastor, for his decades of civil rights work. Read news release

United Methodist named Rhodes Scholar

SPARTANBURG, S.C. (UMNS) - When Rachel Woodlee, a senior at United Methodist-affiliated Wofford College in Spartanburg heard she was selected as one of 32 Rhodes Scholars in November, she called her parents to share the news. Woodlee, a United Methodist, competed against nearly 200 finalists from a pool of 838 applicants from 302 U.S. colleges and universities for the oldest international fellowship in the world. The distinction provides her with a two-year scholarship to the University of Oxford in England, where she will have the opportunity to earn two master's degrees. Read story

Resource on immigration law advocacy

WASHINGTON (UMNS) -The United Methodist Board of Church and Societyhas prepared a 38-page resource to guide in putting together public witness events that will have a positive impact on reforming U.S. immigration laws. Learn more

Model helps churches welcome immigrants

WASHINGTON (UMNS) - A model has been created to help U.S. congregations become "Immigrant Welcoming Congregations." For United Methodists, says Bill Mefford of the Board of Church and Society, "the IWC model is rooted in the denomination's affirmation of the worth, dignity and inherent value and rights of every person regardless of their nationality or legal status." Read story

Alternative giving for South Sudan

ALCOA, Tenn. (UMNS) - Still have gifts to give? The Holston Annual (regional) Conference suggests honoring family and friends with donations to an orphanage the conference is building in the new country of South Sudan, reports The Call. The Holston Conference, which includes churches in parts of Tennessee, Georgia and Virginia, is working closely with the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries to ensure that its funds go to the Yei District of South Sudan in a way that is accountable. To support the orphanage

Interfaith roundtable set on clergy ethics

SEATTLE (UMNS) - The United Methodist Commission on the Status and Role of Women is among the participants in a free, online, interfaith roundtable discussion on clergy ethics in Christian, Jewish and Buddhist communities. The roundtable is from 11 a.m. to noon PST Thursday, Dec. 13, and sponsored by the FaithTrust Institute in Seattle. Learn more and register

Chinese Christian recalled as 'visionary' leader

NEW YORK (UMNS) - Two United Methodist leaders paid tribute to Bishop K.H. Ting, one of the most prominent figures in Chinese Protestantism, as a "courageous and visionary" leader who helped to guide the Chinese church through the revolutionary era. Ting died in late November at age 98. Read story

15,000 signatures support Christian leaders

WASHINGTON (UMNS) - Mark Harrison, United Methodist Board of Church and Society, recently joined Rabbi Liz Bolton, Jewish Voice for Peace, and others to express support for 15 Christian leaders who were criticized after calling for a congressional investigation into possible violations of U.S. law by Israel in using weapons acquired from the United States. Read story

Category: Weekly Digest
Tags: News Summaries