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UMNS Weekly Digest - January 27, 2012

UMNS Weekly Digest

January 27, 2012

NOTE: This is a digest of news features provided by United Methodist Communications for January 23-27. It includes summaries of stories, UMTV video reports and additional briefs from United Methodist News Service. Full versions of the stories with photographs and related features can be found at

Stories this week:




Home nourishes body, soul of Nigerian young

JALINGO, Nigeria (UMNS) - Founded in 1999 by the first elected bishop of the Nigeria Conference, the United Methodist orphanage, nestled by the entrance of Nigeria Annual (regional) Conference headquarters in Jalingo, continues to help the orphans of Nigeria. The orphanage opened with 28 children who had lost their parents and were living with guardians who were most likely extended family members. Read full story and post comment»

Court shields church from bias laws

WASHINGTON (UMNS) - A landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision this month establishes that The United Methodist Church and other religious groups are free to set their own rules for choosing and dismissing leaders without government interference.The high court on Jan. 11 for the first time recognized a "ministerial exception" to U.S. employment anti-discrimination laws. Read full story and post a comment»

Preview to church restructuring debate

TAMPA, Fla. (UMNS) - Delegates to The United Methodist Church's top lawmaking body - the2012 General Conference - got a hint of the debate to come regarding restructuring the denomination at the Pre-General Conference News Briefing. The briefing participants heard an overview of restructuring legislation and concerns about the plan. Read more and post a comment»

Briefing previews General Conference issues

TAMPA, Fla. (UMNS) - Diverse issues presented at a recent three-day briefing signaled the workload ahead for the lawmaking body of The United Methodist Church, which meets this spring. More than 300 delegates, communicators and others who will be part of the2012 General Conference met Jan. 19-21 at the Tampa Convention Center, site of the legislative assembly, for a preview of some of the issues they will face April 24-May 4. Read more and post a comment»

Bishop Lyght reflects on his life, ministry

CHARLESTON, W. Va. (UMNS) - Bishop Ernest Lyght recently retired from serving the West Virginia Annual (regional) Conference because of health concerns. In an interview in the style of National Public Radio's "Storycorps," he shares the lessons he has learned in United Methodist ministry. Watch slideshow and hear interview»

Youth 2011 event inspires student

LAS VEGAS (UMNS) - The usually shy Juan "Junior" Arias Jr. surprised his fellow youth group members when he took the stage in a singing contest at Youth 2011, a national United Methodist event in Sacramento, Calif. The 16-year-old took the contest's top prize, and inspired by the event, he is using his $500 to help impoverished youngsters at a Las Vegas area elementary school.

Read full story»

Young adults lead social justice startups

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) - The United Methodist Church is taking a page from the tech startup world, and the resulting initiative enables young adults to be leaders in ministry. Called Spark12, it is an incubator for social justice ministries developed and implemented by young adults. Read full story and post a comment»

Get ready for 2012 General Conference

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) - With 87 days left until 2012 General Conference begins in Tampa, Fla., several resources to help prepare for the denomination's every-four-year lawmaking session are now available.An overview of issues presented at a recent Pre-General Conference News Briefing,an overview ofthe restructuring legislation that will go before the assembly and videos of thePre-General Conference News Briefing are available. The Advance Edition of the Daily Christian Advocate, the official journal of General Conference, is now online and available for download. The advance contains all the legislation submitted for consideration by the delegates. Countdown to General Conference»

Jimmy Carter to speak to AIDS conference

TAMPA, Fla. (UMNS) - Former President Jimmy Carter will bring video greetings to the fourth Lighten the Burden AIDS Conference April 23 at Hyde Park United Methodist Church. The conference will be the day before the opening of the 2012 United Methodist General Conference, the denomination's top lawmaking body. Sponsored by the United Methodist Global AIDS Fund Committee, the conference will address how faith-based organizations are tackling HIV and AIDS with an emphasis on eradication of stigma. The registration deadline is April 15 and the $10 fee includes lunch. More info»

WCC seeks young adult stewards

GENEVA (UMNS) -- Young Christians from around the world are invited to apply to the Stewards Program for a hands-on learning experience at the World Council of Churches' Central Committee meeting, Aug. 23-Sept. 7 in Crete, Greece. Applicants must be between the age of 18 and 30. The deadline is March 15. During the meetings, stewards will work in the areas of worship, conference room, documentation, press office, sound and other administrative and support tasks. Read more»

Northern Illinois UMW human trafficking vigil

CHICAGO (UMNS) -- The Northern Illinois Annual (regional) Conference United Methodist Women will stand in silent vigil Jan. 30 during the noon hour in support of people imprisoned by human trafficking, the second largest criminal industry in the world. The vigil will take place at the Daley Center Plaza. Illinois passed one of the strictest trafficking laws in 2005 and has passed updates that became law in 2010 and 2012. For more information, or call 708-798-1274. More on human trafficking» launches

NEW YORK (UMNS) - The National Plan for Hispanic/Latino Ministry, in partnership with Global Praise, announced the launch of is a fully bilingual website, an online community, a liturgical and musical resource to churches and a global ecumenical resource to provide bilingual resources about Latin American cultures. For more information on, contact Jorge Lockward or Read more»

Free Lenten devotion offers 'Living Proof'

BIG ISLAND, Va. (UMNS) - The Society of St. Andrew's free 2012 Lenten devotion and giving program, "Living Proof," provides a program of spiritual reflection, prayer, and giving for congregations, challenging church members to take seriously the scriptural injunctions to care for the poor, while also providing an opportunity to feed hungry neighbors. Learn more»

Bishop's granddaughter dies in Texas

FORT WORTH (UMNS) - Hannah Moran, the 9-year-old granddaughter of United Methodist Dallas Area Bishop W. Earl Bledsoe, died Jan. 23 at Cooks Children's Hospital after an accident at her home in Fort Worth. A service is planned at 2:30 p.m. Jan. 28 at First United Methodist Church in Fort Worth. Cards and notes may be sent to the North Texas Conference episcopal office at P.O. Box 866188, Plano, TX 75086-6188, or emailed

Candler receives $15 million gift

ATLANTA (UMNS) - Emory University's Candler School of Theology has received a $15 million gift from the O. Wayne Rollins Foundation of Atlanta that makes possible the construction of the second phase of the school's new building program. Read more»

Teams respond to Alabama storms

PINSON, Ala. (UMNS) - The Clay community sustained heavy damage during the early-morning storms on Jan. 23. According to the Alabama Red Cross, a tornado destroyed at least 211 homes, and damaged an additional 218 in the central part of the state. The North Alabama Annual (regional) Conference is sending in early response teams to Clay to remove debris and tarp roofs. Read more»

Dallas pastor surrenders credentials

DALLAS (UMNS) -The Rev. Tyrone Gordon has surrendered his ordination credentials and resigned as senior pastor of St. Luke "Community" United Methodist Church of Dallas, effective Feb. 15, according to a statement released by Bishop Earl Bledsoe of the denomination's North Texas Annual (regional) Conference. Bledsoe said Gordon had been the subject of complaints from individuals in and outside of the congregation, the United Methodist Reporter reported. The complaints were of "both an administrative and judicial nature," the bishop said, but did not provide details. The Reporter said that its call to Gordon's office was not returned. St. Luke is one of the largest predominantly African-American churches in the North Texas Conference and one of the largest in the denomination. Read more»

Missouri church encourages texting in services

COLUMBIA, Mo. (UMNS) - At Missouri United Methodist Church, it's OK to pull out that cellphone during the sermon, the Columbia Missourian reports. The newspaper says the Rev. Amy Gearhart, senior pastor, encourages it. Gearhart wants her congregation to text her questions so she can answer during services. Read full story»

Attacks on Christians in Nigeria raise concern

NEW YORK (UMNS) - Christians in Nigeria are in need of prayer, writes Thomas Kemper, top executive, United Methodist Board of Global Ministries, in a letter on the board's website. "In recent weeks, Christians have been targeted and killed by Boko Haram, a religious extremist group in northern Nigeria demanding that Christians leave the region," he said. "Societal, religious, and economic imbalance is creating a volatile climate, despite calls for peaceful resolutions." Read letter»

Ruling on contraceptive coverage applauded

WASHINGTON (UMNS) - A ruling last week by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services - ensuring that all new insurance plans under the Affordable Care Act include contraceptive coverage without patient cost-sharing, except in very narrow circumstances - was applauded by the United Methodist Board of Church and Society. "This is a great day for women in the United States," said Jim Winkler, the agency's top executive. "This ruling ensures the availability of contraception for all women. It will result in millions having the services to be able to plan their families and prevent unplanned pregnancies regardless of the woman's economic security." Because of the ruling, hospitals, universities and other institutions affiliated with a particular faith group will not be allowed to deny their employees access to contraceptive care. Read full story»


An item - Pastor learns to accept sudden dementia - in the Friday, Jan. 20, Daily Digest incorrectly reported the location of Faith United Methodist Church in St. Charles. The church is in Missouri, not Illinois.

UMTV: Worlds' oldest yoga instructor

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (UMNS) - "My name is Bernice Bates, I'm 91 years old, and the Guinness Book of Records has named me as the oldest yoga teacher in the world. Yoga - at first in our country - was thought of as sleeping on a bed of hot nails or walking on hot coals. I found out it was the best exercise ever because it involves the body, the soul, and the mind." With those words, this agile United Methodist has begun another class teaching yoga. Watch video and post a comment»

Blog: 'Tis the gift to be simple

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) - Growing spiritually, conserving God's gifts and being happy with less seem to be on the minds of many United Methodists who responded to a recent Facebook post. We asked, "Do you hope to simplify your life in 2012? If so, how?" The query prompted many ideas, Barbara Dunlap-Berg, United Methodist Communications internal content editor, writes in her blog. Read blog»