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UMNS Weekly Digest - February 15, 2013


Feb. 15, 2013

NOTE: This is a digest of news features provided by United Methodist Communications for Feb.11 -Feb. 18. 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


Church fires challenge United Methodists

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) - During the past nine months, fire destroyed or damaged more than a dozen United Methodist church properties across the United States. Arson was the cause of at least five fires. The insured property value ranged from $10,000 to $3.3 million, but several churches lacked adequate insurance to cover full replacement costs. In a four-part series on the damage from those fires, United Methodist News Service reports on how people responded to the affected congregations and what churches can do to protect themselves. Read story and post a comment

Arsonists torch four neighboring churches

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) - It is tragic when fire is deliberately set at one church. When this happens in four neighboring United Methodist churches in less than three weeks, it is incomprehensible. However, that is what occurred between Dec. 22, 2012, and Jan. 10, 2013, in the Western North Carolina Annual (regional) Conference. Read story and post a comment

Church fire offers 'moments of deep grace'

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (UMNS) - "Pastors and people from all denominations have rallied to our cause for prayer support, practical offers of assistance, and sincere concern and encouragement," writes the Rev. Steven K. Conner of Taylor Chapel United Methodist Church where a Dec. 3,fire of accidental origin destroyed the sanctuary. Read commentary and post a comment

Protecting your church property

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) - How do churches minimize risk and ensure they are able to replace if church property burns? Paul Stephens, vice president of marketing and risk-management services for The Church Insurance Agency Corp., a service provider to United Methodist Insurance, explains the details every church should know. Read story and post a comment

Fifth U.M. church fire reported in North Carolina

SUMMERFIELD, N.C. (UMNS) - On the morning of Feb. 13, a fire of "suspicious" origin was reported in an outbuilding at Bethany United Methodist Church, about 10 miles from the sites of four recent arson fires on United Methodist church property. The Rev. Jim Raines, pastor, said fans were removing smoke from the sanctuary, which was not damaged, and the Ash Wednesday service would go on as planned. He asked worshippers at the Stokesdale community service to pray for his congregation. WFMY News in Greensboro reported on the fire. Read story


Cupid in The United Methodist Church

LAFAYETTE, Ind. (UMNS) - About 20 United Methodists had a hand in helping Matthew Oates ask for his wife's hand. Oates is one of several United Methodists who share the stories of how United Methodist ministries led them to meeting their spouses. Read story and post a comment

Valentine's Day made holy

AUGUSTA, Mich. (UMNS) When a couple said they couldn't afford a church wedding, the Rev. Nelson Hall created a celebration the whole church would remember. Read story

'Walk-in weddings' for Valentine's Day

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (UMNS) - Being next door to the county courthouse gave the Rev. Jerry Krueger, pastor of Trinity United Methodist Church, and his wife, the Rev. Susan Brown, pastor of Canfield United Methodist Church, the idea to start a Valentine's Day walk-in wedding service at Trinity. explains how the process works. Read story


Take 'A Lenten Journey'

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) - Reflect personally on the 40 days of Lent through photos and singing of "Come, O Thou Traveler Unknown" in a special presentation called "A Lenten Journey." The Rev. Romeo del Rosario, a United Methodist missionary, sings the lyrics. Photographs were taken by United Methodist News Service photographers Mike DuBose and Kathleen Barry. Watch "A Lenten Journey"

Share your Lenten introspections

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) - Whatever your practices as we enter this season of Lent, Rethink Church invites you to join a photo-a-day challenge and share with the community how you perceive each word or phrase for the day. How to share

Pastors debate value of Lenten sacrifice

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (UMNS) - Renewing a centuries-old debate, Arkansas pastors took to the Internet to discuss the spiritual value of making personal sacrifices such as giving up chocolate or television for Lent. Which is better: To give something up for Lent or to do something new for Lent? This article is a reprint from 2010.
Read story


Mississippi ready for disaster relief help

JACKSON, Miss. (UMNS) - An invitation has been issued to United Methodist Early Response Teams that are certified to assist with work that is already in progress by local churches in the area of southern Mississippi hard-hit by a storm during the night of Feb.10 storm. The area also received a federal disaster declaration Feb. 13 that makes available federal aid. The Mississippi Annual (regional) Conference and its disaster relief coordinator, the Rev. Wayne Napier, have provided details about how to help. See The Circuit Rider

How to volunteer

How to donate to Mississippi relief

JACKSON, Miss. (UMNS) - Donations to support the relief work in Mississippi can be made through UMCOR. Checks should be made out to Advance GCFA, and the memo line should note U.S. Disaster Response (#901670) - Mississippi storms. Donations can be placed in offering plates or mailed directly to Advance GCFA, P.O. Box 9068, New York, N.Y. 10087-9068. Online donations will go to the general U.S. Disaster Response and cannot be designated for a specific area, but the funds will be directed to the area of greatest need.

More teams needed for Sandy recovery

NEW YORK (UMNS) - United Methodist coordinators in New Jersey, New York and Maryland are beginning to schedule rebuilding teams for those whose homes were damaged by Hurricane Sandy last October. The relief phase, pointed out the Rev. Warren Ferry, a district disaster coordinator on Long Island, lasted 100 days and recovery is expected to be 10 times that, translating to several years. Read story and post a comment

Surviving Sandy in Cuba

EASTERN CUBA (UMNS) - When asked to tell a story from his visit to Cuba shortly after Hurricane Sandy swept through the Caribbean nation last October, the Rev. Juan Vera, former bishop of Puerto Rico and a disaster response consultant for the United Methodist Committee on Relief, finds it hard to stop at just one. Read story

Jackson, Tenn., area still cleaning up from storm

JACKSON, Tenn. (UMNS) - Cleanup work continues from a Jan. 29-30 storm that affected a large area of the Jackson District. Lane Camp of the Memphis Annual (regional) Conference reports that two churches in the district sustained damage. Winds of up to 110 miles per hour were reported. Read Story


5 years later: Still struggling with gun violence

DECATUR, Ill. (UMNS) - Retired pastor Miley Palmer of the Illinois Great Rivers Annual (regional) Conference and his family relived a nightmare when the December 2012 shooting occurred at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. It was Feb. 14, 2008, when a shooter entered a lecture hall on the campus of Northern Illinois University. Five students died, including 19-year-old Ryanne Mace, the granddaughter of Palmer and his wife, Janet, and the granddaughter of fellow retired IGRC pastor Gene Mace and his wife, Sally. Paul Black writes about how that event has - in the words of Palmer - "changed everything." Read story

Remembering the day five years ago at NIU

DEKALB, Ill. (UMNS) - The Rev. Laura Crites, then associate pastor at First United Methodist Church in DeKalb, and Northern Illinois University Campus Pastor Efrain Avila rushed to offer comfort wherever possible when word came of the NIU shootings Feb.14, 2008. Jamie Greco writes about how The United Methodist Church reached out after the shooting. Read story

Chicago religious leaders ask prayer for gun victims

CHICAGO (UMNS) - The Council of Religious Leaders of Metropolitan Chicago has called on all faith communities as they gather for worship from Feb. 15 through Feb.17 to join in prayer for the victims of gun violence and their families. The group is made up of leadership of major religious traditions in the broader Chicago area. Read statement

Social action agency welcomes gun violence report

WASHINGTON (UMNS) - The United Methodist Board of Church and Society welcomed the findings released Feb. 7 by the U.S. House of Representatives' Gun Violence Prevention Task Force, which support Vice President Joe Biden's task force in proposing a strong plan to reduce gun violence in the United States. The agency urged Congress "to work on this issue immediately so that no more lives are lost to such unnecessary tragedies."
Read news release


Response to Pope Benedict XVI's resignation announcement

VATICAN CITY (CNS) - Saying he no longer has the strength to exercise ministry over the Roman Catholic Church, Pope Benedict XVI announced Feb. 11 that he would be resigning at the end of February, becoming the first pope to resign in nearly 600 years, the Catholic News Service reports. Representatives of the World Council of Churches and British Methodist Church were among those expressing appreciation for his ministry. What happens next at The Vatican

Bishop Wenner sends letter to pope

FRANKFURT, Germany (UMNS) - Germany Area Bishop Rosemarie Wenner, president of the United Methodist Council of Bishops, expressed appreciation and gratitude for the ministry of Pope Benedict XVI, a fellow German, in a letter to the Vatican's representative in Berlin, Archbishop Jean-Claude Prisset. Readletter

UMCOR's Hazelwood to take Memphis post

MEMPHIS (UMNS) - The Rev. Tom Hazelwood has been named director of connectional ministries for the Memphis Annual (regional) Conference of The United Methodist Church. Hazelwood, now head of disaster response for the United States, the Caribbean and Latin America for the United Methodist Committee on Relief, will take office in Memphis June 1. Read story

Church's offering tops $100,000 for malaria fight

RALEIGH, N.C. (UMNS) - When all the gifts were counted, Edenton Street United Methodist Church discovered that its Christmas Eve offering effort for Imagine No Malaria had topped $100,000. "The response was most definitely more than we could have imagined," Renae Newmiller, the church's director of missions, told Bill Norton of the North Carolina Annual (regional) Conference.

Read story
Learn about Imagine No Malaria

Horse program helps prison chaplains

LAKEMONT, Ga. (UMNS) - Horses played an important part in the history of The United Methodist Church. They carried Francis Asbury, the founding bishop of Methodism in America, more than 270,000 miles as he rode the circuits, preaching more than 16,000 sermons. Now, horses are helping train United Methodist prison chaplains. Read story

New plane on its way to Congo

OVER THE ATLANTIC (UMNS) - A larger, more energy-efficient plane for Gaston Ntambo to deliver everything from cholera vaccines to malaria nets to Bibles has been purchased and is about to begin its journey to the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The West Ohio, Greater New Jersey, Arkansas and North Katanga annual (regional) conferences as well as the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries helped make the dream a reality. The Caravan plane has left Norway and is on its way to Ohio, where it will be refurbished, including an engine upgrade, before going to the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Follow the plane's journey

Opportunities to buy fair trade

DECATUR, Ga. (UMNS) - Every January, people resolve to do better in the new year: Eat right, exercise more, save for retirement. But there's one other resolution United Methodists and their congregations can add to that list - buy fair trade. Interpreter OnLine tells how Oakhurst United Methodist Church already does and plans to do more. Read story

NCC to close New York headquarters

NEW YORK (UMNS) - After a decades-long presence at The Interchurch Center, the National Council of Churches is shuttering its New York headquarters, although the ecumenical organization said it hopes to secure space for satellite offices in the building. The NCC will consolidate its operations in Washington. Read news release

Audio available of some training sessions

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) - The 2013 Quadrennial Training Event, sponsored by the United Methodist Board of Discipleship, drew nearly 1,000 United Methodist leaders to Nashville late last month. One of the gathering's main goals was getting denominational leaders on the same page as they head into the next four years. The Rev. Art McClanahan, the director of communications for the Iowa Annual (regional) Conference, captured audio of presentations by Bishops Hope Morgan Ward, Gregory Palmer and Rosemarie Wenner as well as a presentation by Philip Clayton, provost of Claremont Lincoln University. Listen to some of the sessions

2013 program calendars still available at discount

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) - United Methodist Communications is still offering 2013 United Methodist Program Calendars at 60 percent discounts this month. To learn more


Bishop Steiner Ball urges focus on child poverty

CHARLESTON, W. Va. (UMNS) - Three in 10 West Virginia children live in poverty, and Bishop Sandra L. Steiner Ball believes United Methodists in the West Virginia Annual (regional) Conference are called to help.

Read more about West Virginia efforts

Give extravagantly, Liberia bishop tells conference

GREENVILLE CITY, Liberia (UMNS) - Liberia Area Bishop John G. Innis called on all United Methodists in Liberia to give extravagantly for the work of the church to go on without financial hindrance. Delivering his closing message to the Liberia Annual Conference session on Feb. 10, Innis said United Methodists in Liberia should adopt the spirit of giving to redeem the church from its dependency syndrome. Read story

Bishop White heads African-American heritage board

LINTHICUM HEIGHTS, Md. (UMNS) - The United Methodist Church's African American Methodist Heritage Center has announced the election of retired Bishop Woodie W. White as president of its board of directors. White is a longtime United Methodist and member of Black Methodists for Church Renewal, the United Methodist African-American caucus. The center works to provide research, preserve artifacts, and protect and promote the stories of black people who have been part of Methodism since its inception in the 1700s. Learn about the center

New bishops attend Leadership Academy

EVANSTON, Ill. (UMNS) - For four days, United Methodist-related Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary hosted 11 newly consecrated United Methodist bishops as participants in the 2013 Leadership Academy. The Leadership Academy, an executive education program created specifically for the bishops elected in 2012, was led by senior faculty and practitioners from Garrett-Evangelical and the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. Bishops from across the United States as well as Europe and Russia participated in the leadership program. Read news release


Albright, Saint Joseph's U. sign agreement

READING, Pa. (UMNS) - United Methodist-related Albright College and Saint Joseph's University, a Jesuit school, have finalized an agreement that offers Albright graduates streamlined admission to select Saint Joseph's master's programs. Read news release

Paine College on National Registry of Historic Places

AUGUSTA, Ga. (UMNS) - United Methodist-related Paine College has been given the designation as an historic district and listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The National Register of Historic Places is the country's official list of historic buildings, structures, sites, objects and districts worthy of preservation.

Read news release
About Paine College

Wesley celebrates Black History Month

WASHINGTON (UMNS) - United Methodist-related Wesley Theological Seminary will celebrate African-American History Month with a series of special chapel services, lectures and events throughout the month of February. On Feb. 19, Wesley will examine the impact and legacy of the life of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. with a full day of special events. See schedule


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.

Now - Feb. 28 - Black History Month in the United States. The United Methodist Board of Discipleship has worship and devotional resources.

Feb. 19 - The Rev. Leah D. Daughtry will preach at 11 a.m. ET and participate in open discussion at 5 p.m. ET about the impact and legacy of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., Wesley Theological Seminary, Washington. Details.

Feb. 19 - Free webinar "Engaging Adults in Service," 6:30 p.m. CT, from the United Methodist Board of Discipleship. Tips for increasing the impact of service on individuals' lives. To register.

Feb. 20 - Free webinar "Including Children in Worship," 10 a.m. CT, from the United Methodist Board of Discipleship. To register.

Feb. 21 . - Free webinar "When Congregations Pray ...," 7 p.m. CT. It is part of the yearlong "Teach Us to Pray" series sponsored by Upper Room Ministries and Interpreter Magazine of United Methodist Communications. To register

Feb. 21 - Free webinar "Gifts That Keep On Giving," 6:30 p.m. CT, from the United Methodist Board of Discipleship. Learn more about planned giving. To register.

Feb. 21 - Arlene M. Snchez Walsh, Ph.D., will present keynote lecture, 7 p.m. CT, Southern Methodist University's Perkins School of Theology. Details.

Feb. 23 - Small Church Youth Ministry Seminar, 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. CT, Weston (Mo.) United Methodist Church, $10. To register.

Feb. 25- Deadline to sign up to participate in the listening session by the United Methodist Board of Pension and Health Benefits, 11:45 a.m. CT, March 15, Westin La Cantera Hill Country Resort, San Antonio. To participate, contact Colette Nies at 1-800-269-2244, Ext. 4296, or Details.

Feb. 28- Free webinar "Working Together for Healthy Clergy," 6:30 p.m. CT, for staff-parish relations committee members, pastors and others from the United Methodist Board of Discipleship. To register.

Category: Weekly Digest
Tags: News Summaries