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UMNS Weekly Digest - February 22, 2013


Feb. 22, 2013

NOTE: This is a digest of news features provided by United Methodist Communications for Feb.18 -Feb. 25. 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


Church makes meatless Fridays a treat

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (UMNS) - For at least 30 years, Trinity United Methodist Church has provided nourishment for the body and soul during the Lenten season. explains how the church each Friday until Good Friday serves lunches that include lobster rolls and homemade pies as well as offering a chapel service. The money collected from the sale of the food goes toward church mission projects.

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Lent: A time to fast and pray

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) - Lent is the time of year when many Christians seek the truth behind the paradox of subtraction equals addition. Fasting, practiced faithfully by biblical figures, is coming back into vogue. More and more Christians find the spiritual discipline brings enlightenment and enrichment to their lives.

Learn more


Volunteers continue Sandy relief in N.Y.

NEW YORK (UMNS) - Volunteers from other parts of the state and from out of state continue to help New Yorkers hit by Hurricane Sandy. Joanne Utley, editor of The Vision of the New York Annual (regional) Conference, provides a look at three of those teams.

Read story and post a comment

Church family and faith help tornado survivor

PETAL, Miss. (UMNS) - Asbury United Methodist Church youth pastor, Jeff West, was not at home when a tornado nearly disintegrated the house that he and his wife moved into just months before the disaster. Now his church family is helping him and others get back on their feet. Jasmine Haynes shares the story in the Mississippi Annual (regional) Conference's "Circuit Rider" newsletter.

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Making the African voice heard

WASHINGTON (UMNS) - Making sure the voices of Africa are heard when the discussion turns to issues on the African continent is what motivates Jefferson Knight, who represents the central conferences on the United Methodist Board of Church and Society. "I am on the ground in Africa," he says. He represents not only his home country of Liberia, but also Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Cte d'Ivoire and Sierra Leone.

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East Africa audit ends; funds still suspended

NEW YORK (UMNS) - The United Methodist Board of Global Ministries' independent audit committee has voted to close its ongoing audit of the East Africa Annual (regional) Conference and recommended the continued suspension of funds.

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12 Vietnamese ordained local elders in mission

NEW YORK (UMNS) - Although the government has not yet recognized The United Methodist Church in Vietnam, the church in this Southeast Asian country is experiencing phenomenal growth, in part because of the commitment of its local leadership. Twelve of those leaders were ordained local elders in mission in early January. The Vietnam Mission Initiative is one of several in Southeast Asia under the direction of the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries.

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Expanding the local-global connection in advocacy

NEW YORK (UMNS) - In 2006, when there were 207 political or "extrajudicial" killings in the Philippines, it was clear that international pressure was needed to hold the Philippines government accountable. United Methodists and other church members in the Philippines shared information with their connections abroad and invited delegations from outside the country to hear the stories from the grassroots. That's one example of "glocal" advocacy.

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Fire leaves Sierra Leone conference without office

FREETOWN, Sierra Leone (UMNS) - The Sierra Leone Annual (regional) Conference sustained an estimated $40,000 in damage to its conference office in a fire Feb. 15 that caused the death of a Sierra Leone National Power Authority worker.

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Bishop's free throws to net help against malaria

WICHITA, Kan. (UMNS) - On Feb. 23, Great Plains Area Bishop Scott J. Jones is going to shoot 1,000 free throws to raise money for Imagine No Malaria in the Bishop's Shoot for No Malaria Free Throw Challenge. Jones thinks he'll make 650 free throws. His wife, Mary Lou Reece, has guessed he will make 200. How many do you think he'll make?

Make a guess and donate to the effort

Read bishop's blog about malaria fight

Bishop Ward: Why I choose The United Methodist Church

RALEIGH, N.C. (UMNS) - "I choose The UMC, full of hope that we will live in ever-increasing fruitfulness through Christ in the world," writes Raleigh Area Bishop Hope Morgan Ward in a blog that also recounts her upbringing in a rural United Methodist congregation. Her blog is part of an ongoing series by members of the Connectional Table, which coordinates the denomination's ministry, mission and resources.

Read blog

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.

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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


Southwestern University names new president

GEORGETOWN, Texas (UMNS) - United Methodist-related Southwestern University has named Edward B. Burger as its 15th president. Burger is the Francis Christopher Oakley Third Century Professor of Mathematics at Williams College.

Read news release

President uses Wesleyan values to shape leaders

WINCHESTER, Va. (UMNS) - Tracy Fitzsimmons, the first woman to be president of United Methodist-related Shenandoah University in Virginia, is preparing students to change the world based on values espoused by Methodism's founder John Wesley.

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Hendrix president steps down

CONWAY, Ark. (UMNS) - J. Timothy Cloyd is stepping down as president of United Methodist-related Hendrix College after 12 years in the position. At the Hendrix board meeting on Feb. 15, it was also announced that, after a sabbatical, Cloyd would return to the Hendrix faculty as a professor in the department of politics and international relations and work in higher education consulting.

Read news release

Dig into own history, chaplain urges universities

ADRIAN, Mich. (UMNS) - The best United Methodist-related colleges and universities do not try to fit their mission around some generic idea of what it means to be "church related," writes the Rev. Chris Momany, a chaplain and part-time professor of philosophy/religion at United Methodist-affiliated Adrian (Mich.) College and an ordained United Methodist pastor. "They dig deeply into their own histories as institutions related to the church and bring that wisdom forward."

Read commentary

Online continuing education consortium

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) - The United Methodist Board of Higher Education and Ministry has introduced an Online Continuing Education Consortium in collaboration with the 13 United Methodist theological schools and the University Senate-approved seminaries.

For more information


Men's leaders urge Scouts to delay change

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) - Citing the "overwhelmingly" negative feedback, leaders of United Methodist Men have sent a letter to Boy Scouts of America asking the nonprofit to delay indefinitely any proposed change to its ban on gay members and leaders. The letter sparked varied reactions among scouting leaders.

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Photographer captured King's last year

NEW YORK (UMNS) - A year to the day before Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated, the civil rights leader made a major public speech against the war in Vietnam. John C. Goodwin, then 25 years old, was at Riverside Church in New York to document it.

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Two different takes on church sexuality debate

WASHINGTON (UMNS) - The Rev. Adam Hamilton, senior pastor, United Methodist Church of the Resurrection in Leawood, Kan., recently wrote a column in the Washington Post in which he said he believes Christians in the future "will read the Bible's passages regarding homosexuality as all Christians today read the Bible's passages on slavery." Leaders of Good News, an unofficial United Methodist caucus, responded, saying its leaders "believe the Bible's teaching on sexual morality and God's intention is based on far more than a few isolated verses."

Read Hamilton's column

Read Good News column

Church helps search for Tennessee man

LAUREL BLOOMERY, Tenn. (UMNS) - On a warm Sunday afternoon in January, 82-year-old Harry Rosenberg went for his daily walk in the Cherokee National Forest. He never came back. In addition to rescue parties from three states, members of First United Methodist Church of Mountain City responded quickly to the disappearance of the retired mathematics professor. Annette Spence of The Call in the Holston Annual (regional) Conference tells the story.

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Documentary explores church's homosexuality debate

SAN FRANCISCO (UMNS) - KQED, a PBS member station in Northern California, and the Center for Investigative Reporting have launched "A Church Divided," a multimedia partnership to examine how different denominations are approaching the divisive question of whether homosexuality is a sin. One episode focuses on The United Methodist Church discussions about homosexuality both during and after the 2012 General Conference in Tampa, Fla.

Watch video

Farmer-to-farmer aid in Armenia

NEW YORK (UMNS) - A farmer-to-farmer approach has created ties between a small Michigan town and the country of Armenia, with assistance from the United Methodist Committee on Relief and the Foods Resource Bank.

Read more

$116,000 United Methodist health fund grant

LIBERAL, Kan. (UMNS) - The Liberal Area Coalition for Families, in partnership with Southwest Guidance Center, has been awarded a grant of $116,000 from United Methodist Ministry Health Fund to focus on the social and emotional health of children from birth to age 5. Since 1986, the health fund has made grants totaling more than $50 million to improve the health, healing and wholeness of Kansans.

For more information

For information about the health fund

Church raises $100,000 for Africa U.

VISTA, Calif. (UMNS) - The United Methodist Church of Vista announced the endowment of a scholarship fund to United Methodist-related Africa University in Zimbabwe, thanks to a $100,000 donation, in honor of long-time members Margie and Tommy Thomson. The Thomsons have been strong promoters of world mission in general and Africa University in particular.

Read news release

What it means to perform 'exemplary deeds of service'

WASHINGTON (UMNS) - The Rev. Gilbert H. Caldwell and his wife recently attended the ceremony where President Obama honored 18 citizens with a Presidential Citizens Medal. Among those honored were the six adults who died at Sandy Hook Elementary School and the founder of Parents, Family, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays. In a commentary, Caldwell reflects not only on those honored, but also on the slaves who built the White House where the ceremony was held.

Read commentary and post a comment

Civil rights leader Lowery shares his own sit-in story

ATLANTA (UMNS) - The Rev. Joseph Lowery, United Methodist pastor and a leader in the U.S. Civil Rights Movement, talks about his encounters at a Nashville, Tenn., burger joint during efforts to desegregate the U.S. South. He shares the impact of desegregation on one Christian waitress.

Watch video

UMTV: Prison Ministry Restores Hope

ATLANTA (UMNS) - Cascade United Methodist Church in Atlanta helps women in prison break the cycle of recidivism. Church members say it does not take a lot of time or money to change someone's life for the better.

Watch video 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 in this fourth and last part of a series looking at recent fires in United Methodist churches.

Read story and post a comment

Read series

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

Elvis Presley's Methodist moment

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) - Here is a bit of pop music trivia about the connection between the King of Rock 'n' Roll and the 1950s-era Methodist Church.

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MATthew 6 Ministry: Helping the homeless

GEORGETOWN, Ala. (UMNS) - The Rev. Diane Baldwin of Georgetown-Chunchula United Methodist Church explains her church's new MATthew 6 Ministry, which provides for the needs of the homeless, including prayer mats. "This is an easy ministry to start," Baldwin says, "and does not require much in start-up costs. Churches of any size can successfully start this ministry."

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Internship opportunities available

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (UMNS) - Oak Forest United Methodist Church in Little Rock is offering two internship opportunities for United Methodist seminary students. Interns will receive a small stipend and will live and work in Barnabas House, the church's counseling and social work center, and work in church ministries. Send a letter outlining interest, rsum and three letters of recommendation to: Summer Internship, Oak Forest United Methodist Church, 2415 Fair Park Blvd, Little Rock, AR 72204. Deadline to apply is Monday, April 1.

More about Oak Forest United Methodist Church

New churches in U.S. surpass goal

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) - Church planters established 684 new United Methodist churches in the United States during 2008-12, surpassing the denomination's new church development goal for the quadrennium by 34.

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574 new worship communities thrive

NEW YORK (UMNS) Since 2008, The United Methodist Church has started 574 worshipping communities in Southeast Asia, Eurasia, Africa and Latin America. That number exceeds the original goal of 400 church plants for the 2009-12 quadrennium, announced Thomas Kemper, top executive of the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries.

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Imagine No Malaria launches Mother's Day campaign

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) - Eighty-five to 90 percent of deaths from malaria are women and children under 5. Imagine No Malaria, a ministry of The United Methodist Church, is launching a Mother's Day campaign so that mothers in Africa can fight malaria and nurture their children into thriving adults.

Read news release

Donate to "Share the Love" campaign

Veterans learn skills to strengthen marriage

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) - Marriage is never a walk in the park, but when you add long deployments to dangerous, remote locations, for military couples it can feel like a walk in a war zone. A United Methodist pastor and chaplain is helping military couples find more peace in their relationships.

Read story and post a comment

Pension board sets listening session

SAN ANTONIO (UMNS) - The deadline is approaching to sign up to participate in a listening session by the United Methodist Board of Pension and Health Benefits. The listening session is scheduled for 11:45 a.m. CT, March 15, at Westin La Cantera Hill Country Resort in San Antonio. To participate, contact Colette Nies by Monday, Feb. 25, at 1-800-269-2244,Ext. 4296, or

Learn more

Culture of Call nominations sought

LAKE JUNALUSKA, N.C. (UMNS) - The Foundation for Evangelism, a United Methodist ministry, is seeking nominations for its Culture of Call Church award. The award recognizes a United Methodist congregation that encourages young people to respond to God's call to full-time Christian service. The deadline is April 1.

Learn more

Nomination forms


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.

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.

March 1-2 - In Mission Together, part of the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries, will hold a 50/50 Partnership Roundtable at Atlanta Korean United Methodist Church, 3025 Pleasant Hill Road, Duluth, Ga. The gathering is for U.S. congregations interested in partnering with United Methodist faith communities in Central Asia. Details.

March 2 - Film screening of "Invoking Justice" for Women's History Month, 5-7:15 p.m. CT, Scarritt-Bennett Center, Nashville, Tenn. Details.

March 4-6 - New Communicators Orientation, sponsored by United Methodist Communications in Nashville, Tenn. United Methodist Communications will provide meals and lodging for the event; the only expense to the participant is for travel. To learn more, contact Royya James at 615-742-5461 or

March 5 - Free webinar "Can Visitors Find Your Church on the Web?," 6:30 p.m. CT, features seven tips for moving your site to the top of search engines, from the United Methodist Board of Discipleship. To register.

March 7 - Workshop "Spokesperson Skill Development Training, Communicating Through the News Media," United Methodist Communications, Nashville, Tenn. Cost is $249. Details.

Category: Weekly Digest
Tags: News Summaries