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UMNS Weekly Digest - January 11, 2013


Jan. 11, 2013

NOTE: This is a digest of news features provided by United Methodist Communications for Jan. 8 -14. 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


Bishop supports Illinois same-sex bill

CHICAGO (UMNS) - Chicago Area Bishop Sally Dyck announced her support on Thursday, Jan. 10, for a bill that would allow same-sex marriage in Illinois. At the same time, she noted she would follow church law that prohibits United Methodist clergy from officiating at such unions. Dyck's letter is the most recent development in a debate that has been simmering inside the church and in society for decades. Read story and post a comment

Lawsuit against conference alleges abuse by pastor

PORTLAND, Ore. (UMNS) - A lawsuit has been filed against the Oregon-Idaho Annual (regional) Conference alleging sexual abuse by the Rev. William Walker when he was pastor of First Eugene United Methodist Church. Walker served the church from 1982 to 1992 when he died of AIDS. The suit filed anonymously by "Jack Doe" alleges that he was sexually abused as a youth in 1984. Bishop Grant Hagiya, who has established a legal response team, said he and other conference leaders take the allegations very seriously. "I am deeply grieved by this situation and pray for all those who were directly involved," Hayiga said. Providing places of safety is a key value within the conference, and each church is required to have a safe sanctuary policy to provide for the protection of children and vulnerable adults. More information on the safe sanctuaries program is available on the conference website at

Read the conference's announcement
Read news story by The Register-Guard

Chaplain to serve on Appalachian Trail

BASTIAN, Va. (UMNS) - Josh Lindamood, a 26-year-old preacher's son, aims to provide an encouraging spiritual presence to trekkers on the famed 2,200-mile passageway through 14 states. Three United Methodist churches and the Holston Annual (regional) Conference are supporting the chaplaincy, reports Annette Spence of The Call.

Read story
Follow the ministry on Facebook

Cokesbury store closings begin

JACKSON, Miss. (UMNS) - News of the Jackson Cokesbury store's closing on Jan. 12 has prompted many questions for shoppers. The most frequently asked question was not about the store itself but about the future of a popular employee, Osman Grice, who has worked at Cokesbury for more than 14 years. Cokesbury stores in Austin, Texas; Charleston, W.Va.; Harrisburg, Pa., and St. Louis also will mark their last day on Jan. 12.

Read about the Jackson store
See the store closing schedule and learn what's next for Cokesbury

Church partners with BMX to X out bullying

ZEPHYRHILLS, Fla. (UMNS) - When Julie Nipp, director of children's ministries at First United Methodist Church in Zephyrhills, heard about a teenager trying to hang himself after being mercilessly taunted at the local high school, she couldn't stop thinking about ways to tackle the problem of bullies. Somehow that led to her and the church's student ministries director, Jerry Tadlock,lying on a school gym floor with a stunt biker jumping over them, reports Susan Green of the Florida Conference Connection. Read story

Daily devotions for children available

LAKELAND, Fla. (UMNS) - The Florida Annual (regional) Conference now offers daily devotions for adults to share with children. The devotions include Scripture and a conversation that takes less than a minute to read online, on a mobile phone or on an iPad or other tablet.

Read story
To see today's devotion


Sunday Supper events reach out to military

CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) - Seeking new ways to honor veterans and embrace military families? United Methodist congregations share special plans to do so this month.

Read story and post a comment
Watch UMTV video

UMTV: Church Meal for Military

CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) - When New Providence United Methodist Church decided to create a ministry to support members of its congregation, it became a real family affair. Located near Fort Campbell military base, the church started the Eagles' Wings Ministry to pair military families with sponsors who help shepherd the children and spouses of deployed soldiers. Watch video and post a comment.

Sports help warriors on path to healing

WASHINGTON (UMNS) - Not all war wounds are visible. "One of the greatest wounds is the soul wound," said the Rev. Laura Bender, a United Methodist Navy chaplain. She helps with sports competitions - like a seated volleyball game - that are part of the treatment for these service members.

Watch video
Read story and post a comment

UMTV: Chaplain Comforts Wounded Warriors

WASHINGTON (UMNS) - Chaplain Bender says churches need to design ministries that recognize veterans are people, not service projects. The best ministries connect churches and soldiers one-on-one. Watch video and post a comment.


College students fight 'modern-day slavery'

MIAMI (UMNS) - We typically don't think of slavery happening in the United States. Regan Kramer didn't either until she went to a conference that highlighted the problem of human trafficking. Now, Kramer and other leaders of Florida International University's Wesley Foundation have helped launch FIU 4 Freedom, which is raising awareness and saving lives. Read story and post comment

Human-trafficking awareness support in Mississippi

MERIDIAN, Miss. (UMNS) - As The United Methodist Church joins the United States in observing Human Trafficking Awareness Day on Jan. 11, Mary Ann Shook will be leading a ministry that brings comfort and hope to victims of this crime. Shook is the program coordinator for the East Mississippi Sexual Assault Crisis Center, an agency of the Wesley House Community Center in Meridian that the Mississippi Annual Conference supports. Tamica Smith-Jeuitt of the Mississippi Conference reports on Shook's ministry. Read story

From 'borderline bordello' to the pulpit

HOUSTON (UMNS) - For much of his young adulthood, the Rev. Rudy Rasmus said he profited from "other people's pain" at a motel he and his father ran that catered to prostitutes and their customers. Now, the co-pastor of St. John's Downtown United Methodist Church tries to share Christ's unconditional love that changed his life. Read commentary and post a comment

Book addresses world problems through prayer

NEW YORK (UMNS) - With the deadline moving closer for the international community to achieve significant goals to relieve human suffering, the Rev. Liberato Bautista decided he had to act. Bautista, the United Methodist Board of Church and Society's executive representative to the United Nations, has put together a prayer guide on the United Nations' Millennium Development Goals with contributions from writers around the world. Read story and post a comment

More resources on human trafficking

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) - More information and resources on this global crime are available from United Methodist Women, the Board of Church and Society and Interpreter Online.


Caregivers need care after traumatic events

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) - The world can break your heart on the most ordinary day of your life, and often chaplains are among the first responders to these heartbreaking events. But the clergy who volunteer as crisis care responders can find themselves needing a shoulder to lean on, too. Read story and post a comment

One month later, Newtown looks ahead

NEWTOWN, Conn. (UMNS) - The members of Newtown United Methodist Church are looking ahead to the next steps as they mark the one-month anniversary of the tragic school shootings that resulted in the deaths of 20 children, seven adults and the shooter. They ask United Methodists to give consideration to at least two things.
Read commentary

United Methodists join call against gun violence

WASHINGTON (UMNS) - United Methodists will join other faith leaders Jan. 15 in a demand that political leaders respond to the gun violence crisis in the United States. During the event at the United Methodist Building, a letter to President Barack Obama and Congress, signed by more than 40 religious leaders, will be released. The letter calls on political leaders to require every person who buys a gun to pass a criminal background check, remove high-capacity weapons and ammunition magazines from our streets and make gun trafficking a federal crime. Learn more

A healing Christmas: Church reaches out to Newtown

JOHNS CREEK, Ga. (UMNS) - Mount Pisgah United Methodist Church members came to their Sunday worship a few days after the shootings in Newtown, Conn., asking what they could do, North reports. The congregation wrote more than 800 prayer cards and collected almost $40,000, all of which will be sent to Newtown United Methodist Church. Read story


After Sandy, Maryland town quietly suffers

CRISFIELD, Md. (UMNS) - The Federal Emergency Management Agency did not approve aid for this town of 2,600, though Gov. Martin O'Malley requested the declaration, but the work of United Methodist relief teams has caused FEMA to re-evaluate its decision. Read story

Volunteers brighten Christmas for Sandy survivors

COLUMBIA, S.C. (UMNS) - This Christmas, a handful of homeowners in New Jersey smiled a little brighter, thanks to a team of 12 disaster workers from South Carolina and Virginia, the South Carolina United Methodist Advocate reports. Read story

UMCOR assists Syrian refugees in Lebanon

NEW YORK (UMNS) - More than 60,000 Syrians have died in the 21 months of Syria's civil war, according to the United Nations. By late December, the number of Syrian refugees in Lebanon reached 170,637. The United Methodist Committee on Relief has partnered with Global Medic to provide needed supplies for those refugees.

Watch video from Global Medic
Donate to UMCOR international disaster response

Haiti moves forward after earthquake

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (UMNS) - Three years after the devastating Jan. 10 earthquake, more than 1 million of the 1.5 million earthquake homeless have new homes, and the country is looking toward long-term development again. The United Methodist Committee on Relief has played a significant role in the nation's recovery. Read story

UMTV: Melissa Crutchfield: A role in relief

NEW YORK (UMNS) - When natural and man-made disasters happen anywhere in the world, UMCOR is ready to respond. Melissa Crutchfield has built a career on reaching out to people in crisis to help rebuild lives. UMTV offers this profile. Watch video and post a comment

First volunteer teams for 2013 arrive in Haiti

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (UMNS) - As the first three United Methodist volunteer teams in 2013 for the Haiti earthquake recovery began their work, the Rev. Tom Vencuss, project coordinator, said there are no new safety threats, despite a recent U.S. State Department advisory. The three-year Haiti recovery report from the United Methodist Committee on Relief is expected to be available Jan. 12. Read more


Grants boost seminarians' financial literacy

INDIANAPOLIS (UMNS) - Emory University's Candler School of Theology, Wesley Theology Seminary and Asbury Theological Seminary are among 16 seminaries that have received grants from Lilly Endowment Inc. to examine ways to improve the financial literacy of their students. Lilly Endowment awarded the grant as part of its Theological School Initiative to Address Economic Challenges Facing Future Ministers, which is designed to assist theology schools in examining financial-literacy issues to improve the economic well-being of future pastors. Candler and Wesley are United Methodist-related seminaries. Asbury is an approved seminary to train United Methodist clergy.

Read Emory's news release
Read Wesley's news release
Read Asbury's news release

Perkins to host 'Ministers Week'

DALLAS (UMNS) - Southern Methodist University's Perkins School of Theology plans to host Ministers Week Feb. 4-6. The theme will be "Hope for a Restless Church: Ancient Wisdom for Contemporary Leaders." Among the speakers are Perkins professors James Kang Hoon Lee, the Rev. Rebekah Miles, the Rev. Heidi Miller, Arlene Snchez Walsh and the Rev. Brad Braxton. Perkins is a United Methodist-related seminary. To register and learn more

Perkins names alumnus award recipients

DALLAS (UMNS) - Southern Methodist University's Perkins School of Theology, a United Methodist-related seminary, has named the Rev. Roberto Escamilla and the Rev. William K. McElvaney as recipients of the 2013 Distinguished Alumnus Award. Escamilla is an instructor in the Perkins School of Theology Course of Study School, where he teaches classes on evangelism, worship and the sacraments and preaching. McElvaney is Le Van Professor Emeritus of Preaching and Worship at Perkins. The two will receive the awards on Feb. 4 during Ministers Week. Read news release

Asbury professor wins Christianity Today award

WILMORE, Ky. (UMNS) The Rev. Craig Keener, New Testament professor at Asbury Theological Seminary and ordained Baptist, has won the Christianity Today Award of Merit for his book, "Miracles: The Credibility of the New Testament Accounts." Asbury is a United Methodist-approved seminary. Read news release


Remember your baptism

MINNEAPOLIS (UMNS) - Baptism of the Lord Sunday on Jan. 13 calls United Methodists to renew their commitment to discipleship through ritual and remembrance. InterpreterOnline offers a history and the various ways United Methodist congregations observe the tradition. Read story

Chuck Knows Church: The Offering Plate

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) - Do you know the history of taking up an offering? The United Methodist Board of Discipleship's "Chuck Knows Church" video series offers the story behind passing the plate. Stay tuned to the end for a surprise. Watch video

Merry Christmas to Eurasia Episcopal Area

MOSCOW (UMNS) - Merry Christmas to our fellow United Methodists in Russia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Moldova and other parts of the Eurasia Episcopal Area. We're too late, you say? That's not the case everywhere in the world. Due to a trick of calendars, many United Methodists in the former Soviet Union celebrate Christ's birth twice. They celebrate the Nativity on Dec. 25 in the Gregorian calendar that the rest of the denomination uses and again on Dec. 25 in the Julian calendar used year-round by their Russian Orthodox neighbors. The Julian calendar places Christmas 13 days later - Jan. 7 in the West. For these United Methodists, one Christmas observance is typically more worshipful; the other more light-hearted. And isn't Christ's coming into the world worth celebrating multiple times? Learn more about the differing calendars

What was the star of Bethlehem?

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (UMNS) - On Jan. 6, Christians around the world will celebrate the magi's visit to Christ. Believers have long speculated about the nature of the star that guided them. A United Methodist astronomer offers his own thoughts. Read story


Bishops launch interfaith office

NEW YORK (UMNS) - The new Office of Christian Unity and Interreligious Relationships was launched Jan. 1 by the United Methodist Council of Bishops as part of a transition in how the denomination's ecumenical and interfaith work is organized. An 11-member steering committee will convene in New York Jan. 24-26.

Read news release
More information on the transition

Senator takes well-used Bible to swearing-in

WASHINGTON (UMNS) - United Methodist Elizabeth Warren, the new U.S. senator from Massachusetts, arrived for her swearing-in carrying the Bible she has used since the third grade, the Boston Globe reported. Read story

Religious leaders urgeObama to Middle East action

WASHINGTON (UMNS) - Three United Methodists - Bishop Rosemarie Wenner, president, United Methodist Council of Bishops; Harriett Jane Olson, top executive, United Methodist Women; and the Rev. John McCullough, president, Church World Service - were among the U.S. religious leaders signing a Jan. 7 letter that asked President Barack Obama to "bring the full energies of your Administration... to end the Arab-Israeli-Palestinian conflict." Read letter

CWS sends letter to President Obama

WASHINGTON (UMNS) - In a Jan. 9 letter, the Rev. John McCullough, a United Methodist pastor and president of Church World Service, urged President Barack Obama to seek increased foreign assistance for hungry and impoverished people and to lead the way to "fair and generous" immigration reform. Read letter

Fiji Methodists seek better cooperation

SUVA, Fiji (UMNS) - After a rocky relationship over the past several years, new leaders of Fiji's Methodist Church told The Fiji Times that they want to work closely with the government. Read story

PBS series depicts American abolitionists as fired by faith

WASHINGTON (RNS) - Canadian documentarian Rob Rapley, writer and director of "The Abolitionists," a three-part series premiering Jan. 8 on PBS, talked with Religion News Service about the role religion played in the lives of the abolitionists. Read story


Blog: Put God back in public schools?

LEAWOOD, Kan. (UMNS) - The Rev. Adam Hamilton, senior pastor of United Methodist Church of the Resurrection, has a few questions about the "mandatory" inclusion of prayer in public education - which some maintain is needed after the recent tragedy in Newtown, Conn. Hamilton also suggests effective ways churches can help their local schools. Read blog post

Reading Scripture as a daily spiritual practice

LAKELAND, Fla. (UMNS) - Florida Area Bishop Ken Carter is among a group of newly elected bishops who will read a chapter a day from the New Testament. In a blog, Carter offers his Bible study tips. Read blog post

Blog: Holy habits

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (UMNS) - New Year's Resolutions address our "bad habits." The Rev. Laurie Haller writes that churches must develop good habits to flourish just as individuals do. Haller is the pastor of Aldersgate and Plainfield United Methodist churches in Grand Rapids. Read blog post

Blog: The local church's competition

LEXINGTON, Ky. (UMNS) - Some claim the local church competes with other churches. Others contend the church faces competition from secular nonprofits. The Rev. Teddy Ray, pastor for the Offerings Community and executive pastor of First United Methodist Church in Lexington, has a different take. "The church's competition is sin, injustice, and heresy!" he writes on his blog. Read blog post

Category: Weekly Digest
Tags: News Summaries