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UMNS Weekly Digest - July 12, 2013


UMNS Weekly Digest

July 12, 2013

NOTE: This is a digest of news features provided by United Methodist Communications for July 9 - July 15.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

United Methodists in the News

Bishop, others fault pastor in license plate suit

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) - A United Methodist pastor can go forward with his lawsuit claiming that his religious liberty is violated by an Oklahoma license plate showing a Native American shooting an arrow into the sky. But his bishop and some other church leaders say his effort is misguided and could harm relations with Native Americans. Read story and post a comment

Conferences grappling with health care reforms

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) - The Affordable Care Act was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court a year ago, and key deadlines loom for implementation. But U.S. annual (regional) conferences continue to grapple with how best to make use of the health care reforms and are looking to the IRS for answers. Read story

Counting on insurance marketplaces

LAKELAND, Fla. (UMNS) - The Florida Annual (regional) Conference will, as of Jan. 1, 2014, no longer offer health insurance to lay employees of its local churches and extension ministries. A task force concluded that the health insurance marketplaces coming into effect under the Affordable Care Act will give those workers a better option. Read story

Pastor lived on streets to prepare for sermon

CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) - The Rev. Willie Lyle lived on the streets for the better part of a week to understand the lives of homeless people and to prepare for delivering a challenging first sermon at his new appointment, Sango United Methodist Church. Read story by The Tennessean

Church offers summer program for special needs kids

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (UMNS) - Brainerd United Methodist Church is offering a new program for special needs kids, aimed at helping the youth bridge the learning gap that often occurs during summer. The Chattanooga Times Free Press reports. Read story

'Drive-by prayers' offered

EMPORIA, Kan. (UMNS) - The parking lot at Grace United Methodist Church in Emporia is a busy and spiritual place, thanks to a "drive-by prayers" program offered by church members to anyone passing by. Read the Emporia Gazette story

Church livestreams firefighters' memorial service

PRESCOTT VALLEY, Ariz. (UMNS) - Prescott Valley United Methodist Church in Arizona was one of the locations offering remote livestream viewing of a memorial service for 19 firefighters killed in the Yarnell Hill Fire. Read the ABC 15 story

News around the connection

Conferences yield $1.27 million for Imagine No Malaria

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) - United Methodist annual (regional) conferences raised $1.27 million for Imagine No Malaria during sessions in May and June, helping boost the campaign total beyond $40 million. The Holston Conference led the way. Read story

Audit discovers misuse of Board of Discipleship funds

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) - A forensic audit related to misuse of the United Methodist Board of Discipleship's Racial Ethnic Local Church Concerns grant funds found that a former staff person, the Rev. Sungnam Choi, diverted monies for personal gain from board-approved grants meant to support various ministry projects within the Korean American United Methodist community, the board said in a news release. Choi has subsequently surrendered his credentials and returned some of the funds, the board said. Choi was employed by the agency from Nov. 3, 2003, to June 30, 2010, as director of Korean American and Asian Ministries at the agency. The Board of Discipleship's executive committee has instructed the board's legal counsel to transfer the findings of the forensic investigation to appropriate law enforcement bodies.

Read news release
Read Bishop Schol's statement

UMW critiques Senate immigration bill

NEW YORK (UMNS) - United Methodist Women says the immigration reform and border security bill passed by the U.S. Senate last month would offer a "grueling pathway" to citizenship while creating an unprecedented military buildup along the border. Read story

Men's 'Gathering' to be livestreamed

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) The 11th National Gathering of United Methodist Men begins Friday, July 12, and addresses by featured speakers - including Bishop James Swanson Jr., and the Rev. Shane Bishop - will be livestreamed. Read story

Cheers for gene patent ruling

WASHNGTON (UMNS) - Jaydee Hanson, former staff member of the United Methodist Board of Church and Society, applauded a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling that human genes cannot be patented and held for profit. The case involved Myriad Genetics, which claimed ownership of two breast cancer genes. "We hope that women with these genes can now be tested for less than the $3,500 Myriad has been charging," Hanson said. Read story

Investment ethics task force develops purpose statement

GLENVIEW, Ill. (UMNS) - The Human Rights and Investment Task Force, chaired by Bishop Ken Carter Jr. of the Florida Annual (regional) Conference, has developed a purpose statement for its work. The 13-member panel, including representatives from various United Methodist agencies, also has begun to look at case studies where human rights are potentially affected by investment decisions. Read story

MyCom offers social media, back-to-school tips

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) - The latest MyCom newsletter from United Methodist Communications offers churches advice on back-to-school outreach opportunities, as well as a range of tips for better use of social media. Want to take better smartphone photos? There's a list for that, too. Read newsletter

Burton gets new post at Church and Society

WASHINGTON (UMNS) Susan Burton has been named director and organizer for women's and children's advocacy at the United Methodist Board of Church and Society. Burton is a longtime staff member at Church and Society, and in her new position will oversee the work of the Louise and Hugh Moore Population Project. Read news release

Church debate on human sexuality, marriage

Elder accused of being 'practicing' lesbian

NEW YORK (UMNS) - A second New York Annual (regional) Conference clergy member this year faces a complaint under the denomination's stance on homosexuality. The Rev. Sara Thompson Tweedy, a United Methodist ordained elder, is facing a formal complaint that she is a "self-avowed practicing homosexual," a chargeable offense under church law. Read story and post a comment

Church agency backs non-discrimination act

WASHINGTON (UMNS) - The United Methodist Board of Church and Society is among around 40 faith groups that signed a letter in support of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, aimed at protecting lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals. The U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee on July 10 voted 15-7 to advance the bill to Senate floor. While the United Methodist Book of Discipline identifies homosexuality "as incompatible with Christian teaching," it also says, "Certain basic human rights and civil liberties are due to all persons" and commits the church to supporting "those rights and liberties for all persons regardless of sexual orientation."

Read letter
Read church teachings on homosexuality

United Methodist reaction to Exodus International closing

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) - United Methodists of varied perspectives, including Transforming Congregations and Reconciling Ministries Network, commented on the June announcement of the closing of Exodus International North America, a Christian ministry that advised people "seeking freedom from same-sex attraction."

Read full statement from Transforming Congregations
Read full commentary from Reconciling Ministries Network

British Methodists to study position on marriage

LONDON (UMNS) - The British Methodist Conference voted July 8 to appoint a working group to consider whether the church's position on marriage needs revising in light of changes in society. The 2013 conference is at Methodist Central Hall, Westminster from July 4-11. Read story

United Methodists and disaster relief

Volunteers big part of Oklahoma recovery effort

LAWTON, Okla. (UMNS) - Three southwest Oklahoma churches are part of a recovery effort for Moore, Okla., that has provided 9,800 hours of volunteer work through the United Methodist Committee on Relief. Officials say the area still has far to go in recovering from catastrophic tornado damage.

Read story
Learn what you can do

Response team at work in Pennsylvania floods

DUBOIS, Pa. (UMNS) - DuBois First United Methodist Church is headquarters for UMCOR volunteers helping with relief efforts after June 27 flooding badly damaged homes and businesses in DuBois, Pa. The Western Pennsylvania Annual (regional) Conference Disaster Response team also has been on the scene, the Courier Express reports. Read story

University and seminary news

No let-up for college president, student

INDIANAPOLIS (UMNS) - Their first year at the University of Indianapolis saw both president Robert Manuel and student Andy Wegg involved in a whirlwind of activities, ranging from overseeing a long-term vision plan for the university (Manuel) to starring in a campus musical (Wegg). They're in the midst of a busy summer and are gearing up for their second year, expecting it to be just as busy. Read story and post a comment

Getting intentional for social justice

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) - Two United Methodist-related colleges - Ohio Wesleyan University and American University - offer special communities for students committed to social justice advocacy. Natalie Bannon of United Methodist Communications tells the story. Read story and post a comment

New interim dean for Drew Theological

MADISON, N.J. (UMNS) - Drew University President Vivian A. Bull has named the Rev. Virginia Samuel Cetuk, an ordained United Methodist elder in the Greater New Jersey Annual (regional) Conference, as interim dean of Drew Theological School. It's one of 13 United Methodist theological schools. Read news release

Other news of interest

Supporting women's rights through faith

ATLANTA (UMNS) - Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter called the abuse of women the "most pervasive and unaddressed human rights violation in the whole world" and contrary to the basic premise of every religion during a June 27-29 forum at the Carter Center. Seventy religious leaders, activists, and religious scholars participated in the event, including World Council of Churches representatives.

Read story
Domestic violence
Human trafficking

World Council voices Egypt violence concerns

GENEVA (UMNS) -The top executive of the World Council of Churches expressed concern about escalating violence in Egypt but also confidence that "political and religious leaders in Egypt are aware that in critical historical moments of change and transformation in political systems, inclusive processes are vital for the unity of the nation."

Read news release
Read letter to member churches in Egypt

British Methodists embrace new structure for mission

LONDON (UMNS) - The 2013 Methodist Conference, meeting July 4-11 in London, has agreed to full integration of the Methodist Missionary Society into the Methodist Church in Britain. A report accepted by the conference made the case for bringing overseas and home missions closer together. Read story

Blogs and commentaries

Remedial lessons for laity

PADUCAH, Ky. (UMNS) - Clergy aren't charged with keeping the laity happy. That's just one of the things United Methodist laity need to unlearn, says Susan Engle, lay resource leader for the Paducah District of the Memphis Annual (regional) Conference. Read her commentary

'I Surrender All' boosted Graham

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) - C. Michael Hawn's latest "History of Hymns" column, distributed by the United Methodist General Board of Discipleship, looks at "I Surrender All." It's a hymn that influenced Billy Graham's ministry. Read column

The vital role of the church van

JACKSON, Miss. (UMNS) - With today's sprawling cities and suburbs, congregations more than ever need their own vans to get to church people who don't readily have transportation, writes Jasmine Haynes of the Mississippi Annual (regional) Conference. She explains how churches can make a transportation ministry effective at low risk. Read story

Teens go the distance to fight malaria

WAVERLY, Iowa (UMNS) - Three teenage boys ran across Iowa this summer, at a pace of 15 miles a day, to raise funds for the anti-malaria campaigns of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and The United Methodist Church. Ethan Wise, son of the Rev. Deborah Coble Wise, pastor of Trinity United Methodist Church in Waverly, ran with two ELCA friends. Read commentary

A theme for World Population Day

EVANSTON Ill. (UMNS) - The Rev. Cheryl B. Anderson, a professor at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary, says World Population Day is an occasion for renewed Christian commitment to addressing the urgent needs of women globally. Read commentary

An intern reflects on servanthood

WASHINGTON (UMNS) - Life as an intern can be a great practice in Christian servanthood, writes Kelli Kosuda in a reflection on the popular Twitter hashtag #internproblems. She is a student at Duke Divinity School, candidate for deacon and intern at the United Methodist Board of Church and Society. Read commentary

Looking ahead

Here are some of the activities ahead for United Methodists across the connection. If you have an item to share with others, email

"A Killer in the Dark," NBC stations until Nov. 3 - If it isn't scheduled in your area, contact your local NBC station. If it has aired, order a free copy here. Download ideas and resources to plan a viewing party. Details.

Lunch and lecture "Has the Dream Been Fulfilled? Race, Freedom and Economic Empowerment," July 18 - 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. CT, Scarritt-Bennett Center in Nashville, Tenn. Speakers are Kate Savage of the Worker's Dignity Project and Keith Caldwell of the Urban Epicenter, $12. To register.

Deadline for World Methodist Conference logo submissions, July 22 -The World Methodist Council is accepting submissions for the official logo for the 21st World Methodist Conference, which will be in September 2016 in Houston. The conference theme is "One." Details.

Free webinar "Spiritual, But Not Religious - Adult Faith in a Post-Christendom World," July 23 - 6:30 p.m. CT, tips on ministering in the current U.S. social context from the United Methodist Board of Discipleship.To register.

Free webinar "Is Your Church Ready for a Capital Funds Campaign?" July 25 - 6:30 p.m. CT, indicators of whether churches can make fundraising work, from the United Methodist Board of Discipleship. To register.

Festival of Wisdom and Grace Conference, July 29-Aug.1 - Includes Bible study and workshops at Lake Junaluska Conference and Retreat Center, Lake Junaluska, N.C, sponsored by the Southeastern Jurisdiction Association of Older Adults. Details

SHIFTS: Guiding the Congregation toward Health, Effectiveness and Vitality, July 30-Aug. 1 - Seminar sponsored by the Intentional Growth Center at the Foundation for Evangelism, Lake Junaluska, N.C. Details

From Membership to Discipleship, Aug. 1-3 - Seminar sponsored by the Intentional Growth Center at the Foundation for Evangelism, Lake Junaluska, N.C. Details.

Light of the Lake, Aug. 3 - 7:30 p.m. ET, The Light of the Lake, Lake Junaluska's Centennial Celebration theatrical production, will highlight the lake's history. At Lake Junaluska Conference and Retreat Center, Lake Junaluska, N.C. Tickets $17.50-20. Details.

Global Leadership Summit, Aug. 8-9 - 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. ET each day, Lake Junaluska Conference and Retreat Center, Lake Junaluska, N.C., will be host site of a telecast from Willow Creek Community Church near Chicago. Details.

Day 1, Aug. 11 - The Rev.W. Mark Ralls, senior minister, Centenary United Methodist Church, Winston-Salem, N.C., will be the featured speaker on the nationally syndicated radio program "Day 1." To listen.

School of Congregational Development, Aug. 15-18 - Hosted at Denver Marriott Tech Center, sponsored by the United Methodist Board of Discipleship, Path1 and Board of Global Ministries. Theme is "Encountering God at the Edge." Details.

School of Congregational Development, Satellite Experience, Aug. 17 - Offsite participation is available from satellite congregations within the five U.S. jurisdictions. Registrants will participate remotely through live and tape-delayed interactive streaming. Details.

Free webinar "Generosity in Emerging Generations," Aug. 22 - 6:30 p.m. CT, examining how emerging generations make decisions about generosity, from the United Methodist Board of Discipleship. To register.

United Methodist Church of the Resurrection Leadership Institute, Sept. 25-27 - Registration open now for this event aimed at helping leaders revive churches. Details.

Reach New Disciples Conference, Nov. 2 - 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. ET, Wesley Theological Seminary's Lewis Center for Church Leadership, Washington. Details.

Category: Weekly Digest
Tags: News Summaries