Skip Navigation

UMNS Weekly Digest - December 9, 2016


Top viewed stories from Dec. 2 - Dec. 8. See all United Methodist News Service stories at


Santa teaches lesson in grace

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — It is an emotional and spiritual tightrope that many families walk between letting their children enjoy the magic of Santa and making sure they know that Jesus is the reason for Christmas. Kathy L. Gilbert shares how Santa can help youngsters better understand grace.

Read story

What John Wesley teaches about church unity

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — John Wesley throughout his life argued against the Methodist movement completely separating from the Church of England. However, when it comes to Wesley and church unity, Wesleyan scholars say the example he set is complicated. Heather Hahn reports.

Read story

Standing Rock decision cheered

MITCHELL, S.D. (UMNS) — United Methodists who supported the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s protest of the Dakotas Access Pipeline cheered the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ decision to deny construction under a dammed section of the Missouri River, and to look for alternative routes.

Read story

A pastor’s take on pipeline controversy


Bishop Juan re-elected in Philippines

ANGELES CITY, Philippines (UMNS) — Bishop Rodolfo A. Juan was re-elected as a United Methodist bishop by delegates at the Philippines Central Conference. Gladys Mangiduyos reports on where he and the other Philippines bishops are assigned.

Read story

Torio re-elected bishop in Philippines

Francisco re-elected bishop in Philippines


Way Forward Commission plans prayer

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — In an Advent message, the three bishops moderating the Commission on a Way Forward announced plans for commission members to meet by conference call and pray together. The commission moderators are Bishops David Yemba, Sandra Steiner Ball and Ken Carter.

Read message


#GivingTuesday donations set record

ATLANTA (UMNS) — More than 2,550 persons in 19 countries contributed a total of $853,909.78 to United Methodist mission projects and missionary support through the 2016 UMC #GivingTuesday campaign. That result was almost twice that of any single day’s non-Giving Tuesday receipts of the past, reports Elliott Wright for the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries.
Read story


Africa University gets boost from partnerships

MUTARE, Zimbabwe (UMNS) — Africa University’s influence is spreading across the continent and around the world through about 50 partnerships with government agencies, nonprofits and corporations — nearly 25 years after The United Methodist Church founded the university in Zimbabwe. Jeff Wolfe reports.
Read story


Philippines revival draws 10,000

MANILA, Philippines (UMNS) — Ten thousand United Methodists came together on Nov. 26 to participate in “Revive 2” at the Ultra-Philippines Sports Complex in the Pasig City section of Manila. This year’s event, with a 1,200-voice choir and the theme, "Go in Faith, Go in Power, Go in Unity,” showcased the church’s legacies and contributions to the Filipino nation. Gladys Mangiduyos has the story.
Read story




Status and Role of Women

CHICAGO (UMNS) — The United Methodist Commission on the Status and Role of Women introduced two new resources in 2016 for local churches and annual conferences and continued its charge to ensure the full inclusion of women in the life of the church. This is the first of a series of reports on the work each general agency accomplished in 2016.
Read story


Archives and History

MADISON, N.J. (UMNS) — The United Methodist Commission on Archives and History made its presence known at General Conference 2016 and also helped many students through grants and scholarships.

Read story


Religion and Race

WASHINGTON (UMNS) — The United Methodist Commission on Religion and Race worked to increase understanding of cultural differences in 2016, by providing more than 1,000 hours of training to church leaders and creating new resources for healthier cross-racial/cross-cultural appointments.

Read story


Wespath Benefits and Investments

GLENVIEW, Ill.  (UMNS) — While continuing to manage around $21 billion in church assets in a manner that honors the principles of United Methodism, the newly named Wespath Benefits and Investments also “does good” through programs like microfinancing in developing nations.

Read story


United Methodist Women

NEW YORK (UMNS) — As it continued to celebrate its 150th anniversary, United Methodist Women focused this year on strengthening leadership development and seeking mission partnership opportunities throughout the church.
Read story




Standing up after eastern Tennessee fires

ALCOA, Tenn. (UMNS) — Holston Conference leaders were grateful when the treasurer’s office announced the latest total of donations arriving for Sevier County wildfire relief: $31,485. The conference’s Annette Spence reports on how United Methodists are helping.

Read story

Pastor aims to help poor with tiny homes

DETROIT (UMNS) — In Detroit’s urban core — ravaged by depopulation, unemployment and abandonment — the Rev. Faith Fowler is building something big with tiny homes. Duke Divinity School’s online magazine Faith and Leadership has the story on this new United Methodist endeavor.

Read story


Ministry idea: Churches use 'Blessing Box'

DOVER, Ark. (UMNS) — United Methodists in Arkansas are using an idea from social media to help their communities: the Blessing Box. Amy Forbus of the Arkansas Conference explains how this simple concept multiplies blessings.

Read story


ShareChurch offers sermon series, curriculum, tips

LEAWOOD, Kan. (UMNS) — The Church of the Resurrection has developed a website to share resources aimed at helping renew local churches and expand ministries. The Kansas church is the U.S. United Methodist church with the highest attendance, with more than 20,000 members worshipping on four campuses. Resources include sermon series, curriculum for small groups and Sunday school classes, tips for preparing for mission trips and more.
Read story


Wisconsin group reacts to credentialing action

SUN PRAIRIE, Wis. — The executive committee of the Wisconsin Association of Confessing United Methodists expressed “sadness” over the conference’s board of ordained ministry’s credentialing statement that sexual orientation and gender identity will not be considered when evaluating candidates for ministry.
Read story

Read board statement


$1 million grant addresses pastors' finances

MINNEAPOLIS (UMNS) — The Dakotas-Minnesota Area has received a $1 million grant from Lilly Endowment Inc. The funding will be used to help pastors develop stronger financial literacy skills, reduce or eliminate personal debt and become equipped to foster a theology of generosity within their congregations. Christa Meland and Doreen Gosmire report.

Read story


Grandma's kindness inspires church volunteer

NEW YORK ( — The Church of the Village, a United Methodist congregation, is thankful for the volunteers who keep their weekly community meal and food pantry going. One of the most stalwart is member Sheila Washington. This video tells her story.

Watch video


Keeping churches safe and welcoming

BOISE, Idaho ( — How can churches be both a safe place and welcoming to strangers? Cathedral of the Rockies First United Methodist Church held a Safe Church Summit that offered tips for staying secure in a sinful, violent world.

Watch video


UMW sets assembly theme for 2018

NEW YORK (UMNS) — The 2018 Assembly of United Methodist Women will mark both the official celebration of the organization’s 150th anniversary and a return to the location of the first Assembly — Columbus, Ohio — in 1942. The theme of the May 18-20, 2018, event is “The Power of Bold.”

Read press release


Wesley's sermons published in Spanish

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — Two compilations of John Wesley’s sermons translated into Spanish have been published by the United Methodist Board of Higher Education and Ministry.

Read press release


Earthkeepers answer call to care for God’s creation

ATLANTA (UMNS) — Hearing a vocational call to care for God’s creation, a group of United Methodist “Earthkeepers” were trained and commissioned last month through the Center for Mission Innovation of the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries.

Read story


Agtarap to head New Church Starts

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — The Rev. Bener Baysa Agtarap, superintendent for congregational vitality in the California-Nevada Conference, has been named associate general secretary of United Methodist Discipleship Ministries. He will lead New Church Starts, also known as Path 1.

Read press release


Wilson to head Leadership Ministries at Discipleship

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — The Rev. Cynthia A. Wilson, assistant vice president of student life and dean of students at Garrett–Evangelical Theological Seminary, has been named associate general secretary of United Methodist Discipleship Ministries. She will head the agency’s Leadership Ministries.
Read press release


Take the Advent and Christmas quiz

NASHVILLE, Tenn. ( — So you think you know Advent? OK, is the season of Advent a fixed number of days like the 40 days of Lent or something else? Readers can test their knowledge of the season with this year’s quiz.

Take quiz


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.


Saturday, Dec. 17

Deadline to register for Creating a Culture of Renewal for churches in New England, Tuesday, Jan. 17 to Thursday, June 29, 2017 — The Rev. Rebekah Simon-Peter, a United Methodist church consultant, leads this series of events aimed at helping churches reach their God-given potential. To register


More upcoming United Methodist events