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UMNS Weekly Digest - December 21, 2012


Note: We at the United Methodist News Service wish you and your loved ones a joyous
Christmas and new year. The UMNS Weekly Digest will return on Jan. 11.

Dec. 21, 2012

NOTE: This is a digest of news features provided by United Methodist Communications for Dec. 17 -21. 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

Newtown, the Church Responds

A Sunday of tears and comfort in Newtown

NEWTOWN, Conn. (UMNS) - After the horrors of a school shooting, nothing seems right until Newtown United Methodist Church comes together to ask, "In our trials, Lord, walk with us." Two of the children killed were church members. Read story and post a comment

Newtown pastor sees pain as path to healing

NEWTOWN, Conn. (UMNS) - After the second worship service Dec. 16, the Rev. Mel Kawakami, senior pastor of Newtown United Methodist Church, shared his thoughts about the tragedy that had befallen his community and his congregation and about the church's role ahead. Read story and post a comment

Newtown grief transcends faith boundaries

NEWTOWN, Conn. (UMNS) - As the Dec. 16 televised interfaith service made clear, the response in Newtown, Conn., to the tragic shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School has transcended religious boundaries. Read story and post a comment

Church coping in aftermath of school shootings

NEWTOWN, Conn. (UMNS) - Newtown United Methodist Church has a passionate history of reaching out in mission to the world, but now it finds the world's attention and caring riveted on its own tight-knit community in Connecticut. "It's amazing to see how the whole world has come to us," said the Rev. Sue Klein, a deacon. Read story and post a comment

Faith leaders join call to end gun violence

WASHINGTON (UMNS) - United Methodist Bishop Peter Weaver will join other religious leaders at the Washington National Cathedral Dec. 21 to honor those lost in the Newtown, Conn., school shootings and call for an end to an epidemic of gun violence. Houses of worship around the country are asked to join along as the cathedral's funeral bell tolls at 9:30 a.m., exactly one week after the tragedy that left 28 people dead, including the shooter. Read story and post a comment

Congregational advocacy urged to stop violence

WASHINGTON (UMNS) - In the wake of the violence at Sandy Hook Elementary School, the United Methodist Board of Church and Society - the agency charged with advocating the denomination's social teachings - is calling on congregations to submit letters advocating actions to stop violence. Among the actions, the Board of Church and Society suggests: Require universal background checks no matter where the gun is purchased, reinstate a vigorous ban on assault weapons and increase access to mental illness diagnosis and treatment. Read the board's statement

Will we move beyond mourning?

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) - In the wake of the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School, many are asking how to prevent such incidents. Interpreter columnist Ray Waddle reflects on how the prophet Isaiah might use shame to motivate each of us to "Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean, remove the evil of your doings from before my eyes" (Isaiah 1:16). Read story

Christmas Stories

Border Separates Families at Christmas

TIJUANA, Mexico (UMNS) - United Methodist missionaries are part of an effort to unite families divided by deportations and immigration policies. For nearly 20 years, families have gathered at Christmas at Friendship Park in San Diego for a re-enactment of the Nativity called Las Posadas. A fence keeps families separated but they are able to make contact through the barrier.

Watch UMTV: Border Separates Families at Christmas
See what happens at the U.S.-Mexico border
Read Home for Christmas? Not for border families

Remembering to see Jesus through the eyes of a child

FRANKFURT (UMNS) - Bishop Rosemarie Wenner, president of the United Methodist Council of Bishops, reminds us that God becomes a child. Jesus puts children at the center and tells us that they are teachers in matters of faith. It is, therefore, in our best interest to pay more attention to children in church and society.

Read Christmas message and post a comment
Watch video message

Here we raise our Ebenezer

COLUMBIA, Mo. (UMNS) - You won't find many boys called Ebenezer in the United States, but you will find plenty of churches with that name. It's not a reference to "A Christmas Carol," but to a far older text. Fred Koenig of the Missouri Annual (regional) Conference offers the rock-solid truth on this far from miserly name.

Read main story
Read about Ebenezer in the Bible

UMTV: Trash trees for Christmas

NEW YORK (UMNS) - Members of New York City's Church of St. Paul and St. Andrew United Methodist turn Hula Hoops, Styrofoam and bottle caps into must-see Christmas trees. "Especially around the holidays, people need to see maybe it's not all about money and spending and buying and pretty trees and lights and stuff but just &ellipsis; a bottle cap tree created. It just makes them smile," says church member Jordan Nieblum. Watch video

2012 in review

2012: A year's worth of disaster response

NEW YORK (UMNS) - A late-season hurricane that swept the U.S. Northeast coast and a typhoon flooding the island of Mindanao in the southern Philippines capped disaster-response efforts by United Methodists during 2012. Read story and post a comment

2012: Judicial rulings play big role

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) - To hear some United Methodists tell it, a handful of Judicial Council rulings this year have turned the denomination's polity on its head and made the top church court the most powerful branch in church government. Others, of course, disagree. Read 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

2012: 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 story and post a comment

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

2012: The year in pictures

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) - View images from around the world showing the church in action. The images are from the United Methodist News Service archives. View slideshow

Philippines bishop elections

Juan assigned as bishop of Manila Area

BAYOMBONG, Philippines (UMNS) - Bishop Rodolfo Juan, who has been re-elected bishop, will lead the Manila Area of the Philippines Central Conference. His new episcopal area has faced its share of controversy in recent years. Read story and post a comment

Torio assigned as bishop of Baguio Area

BAYOMBONG, Philippines (UMNS) - The Rev. Pedro M. Torio Jr. of Binalonan, Pangasinan Province, Philippines, was elected as a United Methodist bishop and has been assigned to the Baguio Area in the Philippines. "My prayer is to expand the voices of the downtrodden United Methodists in the Baguio area," he said. Read story and post a comment

Francisco assigned as bishop of Davao Area

BAYOMBONG, Philippines (UMNS) - The Rev. Ciriaco Q. Francisco of Manila has been elected as a United Methodist bishop and assigned to serve the Davao Episcopal Area, which encompasses five annual and provisional (regional) conferences in western and southern regions of the Philippines. "My dream is to make Davao Episcopal Area a model episcopal area in its financial resources and wring out from its lay and clergy ranks passion to make disciples of Jesus Christ that transform lives and transform communities," Francisco said. Read story and post a comment

Other News Stories

United Methodists honor Inouye's service

WASHINGTON (UMNS) - United Methodists are remembering Sen. Daniel K. Inouye, not just as a World War II hero and longtime U.S. senator, but also as a fellow church member respected for his integrity and commitment to fairness. Read more and post a comment

It's official: Reinstated bishop reassigned

WASHINGTON - The United Methodist Council of Bishops has voted to assign Bishop W. Earl Bledsoe to the Northwest Texas/New Mexico Episcopal Area effective Jan. 1, 2013. Read news release

Chaplain tackles Mount Kilimanjaro

WASHINGTON (UMNS) - The Rev. Karen Meeker is between peaks in her career. Really, really tall peaks. Lt. Col. Meeker, an Army chaplain and United Methodist ordained elder, is on her way up Mount Kilimanjaro, Tanzania, Africa. She also is between two top Army posts. Read story and post a comment

Judge named top Status and Role of Women exec

CHICAGO (UMNS) - Dawn Wiggins Hare, an Alabama circuit court judge and active United Methodist, has been named the top executive of the United Methodist Commission on the Status and Role of Women. Read story and post a comment

Departing women's leader focused on work

CHICAGO (UMNS) - M. Garlinda Burton is proud of the accomplishments of the United Methodist Commission on the Status and Role of Women during her nine years as its staff leader. She has spent her last weeks in the job focusing on the work still ahead. Read story

Gift of hope flying into Congo

NEW YORK (UMNS) - A Cessna Caravan from Norway soon will deliver lifesaving help to the people of North Katanga, Congo, thanks to $2.1 million raised by United Methodists from around the world. Gaston Ntambo, one of three missionary pilots in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, will take a flight-training course in preparation for the plane's arrival at the end of the rainy season this spring.

Learn more about United Methodist aviation ministries
To support these ministries, donate to UMCOR Advance #3019626
Read full story

New Africa conference theological projects

NAIROBI, Kenya (UMNS) - The All Africa Conference of Churches launched new projects during a Dec. 3-7 international symposium to encourage theological education initiatives throughout the African continent. One project was the establishment of the All Africa Academy for Theology and Religious Studies, which will have its first session before the conference's 50th Assembly in Kampala, Uganda, in 2013. Read story

Latvian United Methodists face challenges

ALCOA, Tenn. (UMNS) -The United Methodist Church in Latvia and its 13 congregations face funding cuts and financial challenges at a time when the resident bishop says it's crucial to start new churches.

Read story
Interview with Latvian pastor

Spark12 First Fellows, Orientation Week

WASHINGTON (UMNS) - Spark12, a catalyst program for young entrepreneurs seeking to transform the world, has announced fellows for its pilot session. Two projects were selected after a multi-step application process from an original pool of 47 applicants. The Spark12 fellows will gather in Washington for an orientation week early in January.

Learn more about the project online at
Read news release

United Methodists call for 'moral budget'

WASHINGTON (UMNS) - Bishop Robert Hoshibata, president of the United Methodist Board of Church and Society, and Jim Winkler, top executive, wrote a letter Dec. 18 to President Obama and members of Congress, urging that their negotiations on the so-called "fiscal cliff" include a vision for a moral budget and economy. The social justice agency also issued A Faithful Alternative to the Fiscal Cliff, urging United Methodists to contact their members of Congress in support a moral budget.

Honoring those who serve

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) - The call to assist veterans and military families will be heard nationally Jan. 21, 2013, as part of the Martin Luther King Jr. Dayof Service. Rethink Church is assisting congregations with resources and marketing support around this effort.

To learn more
Contact Rethink Church

Pastor authors book on universalism

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (UMNS) - The Rev. Heath Bradley, pastor of preaching and Christian education at Pulaski Heights United Methodist Church in Little Rock, has published a book on the concept of Christian universalism with Wipf and Stock Publishers. The book is titled "Flames of Love: Hell and Universal Salvation." To learn more

Category: Weekly Digest
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