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UMNS Weekly Digest - June 01, 2012


UMNS Weekly Digest

June 1, 2012

NOTE: This is a digest of news features provided by United Methodist Communications for May 29 - June 1. It includes summaries of stories 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:


CBS profiles interfaith AIDS response

TAMPA, Fla. (UMNS) - A CBS television special to be aired June 17 will include an interview with a United Methodist elder who believes faith communities can lead the way in ending discrimination associated with AIDS. June is national AIDS Education Month, and June 27 has been set aside as national HIV Testing Day. Read full story and post a comment»

Bishop Earl Bledsoe stepping down

PLANO, Texas (UMNS) - North Texas Bishop W. Earl Bledsoe announced in a videotaped message that he will retire effective Aug. 31, after serving only one term as a bishop. "This is where I believe God is leading me and my family," he said in his brief address. He said he and his wife hope to move closer to their families. The United Methodist Reporter noted in its story that Bledsoe's 9-year-old granddaughter died in an accident in January and Bledsoe also faced turmoil over the resignation of a pastor amid accusations of sexual harassment. Read United Methodist Reporter story»

See video»

New B.A. in addiction prevention

OKLAHOMA CITY (UMNS) - Drinking by college students contributes to an estimated 1,825 deaths, 599,000 injuries and 97,000 cases of sexual assault each year in the U.S. In an effort to "combat one of our nation's most widespread and destructive problems," the United Methodist-related Oklahoma City University has created a bachelor's degree program in addiction-prevention studies. Read full story and post a comment»

Summit to begin Young Clergy Initiative

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) - Administrators, pastors and young clergy will gather here from Aug. 20-21 to launch an initiative to encourage and assist young people who feel God's call to ordained ministry. The Young Clergy Initiative, approved by General Conference 2012, focuses on lifting up a new generation of leaders of The United Methodist Church. Read full story»

Program mentors young clergy

CRANBERRY TOWNSHIP, Pa. (UMNS) - A program to mentor young clergy in the Western Pennsylvania Annual (regional) Conference uses a retired pastor to reach out to colleagues who are under 35. His assignment: provide support, feedback and, hopefully, an antidote for burnout. Fewer than 6 percent of elders in The United Methodist Church are under 35, a statistic that raises concerns about the church's future. "It became very clear that we needed to do something to nurture and support clergy under 35 if we want to retain them," said Bishop Thomas J. Bickerton. Read full story and post a comment»

Peace with Justice is Sunday

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (UMNS) - Young Latino United Methodists energized the annual meeting of MARCHA - Methodists Associated Representing the Cause of Hispanic Americans - vowing to work for God and make a difference outside the church. Their presence was made possible, in part, with a grant from Peace with Justice Sunday. Money from the annual special offering supports a rainbow of projects. This year, Peace with Justice Sunday is June 3. Learn more»

Fire consumes historic Minneapolis church

MINNEAPOLIS (UMNS) - Five firefighters were injured in a blaze that gutted the historic Walker Community United Methodist Church. The fire began in the attic of the 102-year-old church between 8 p.m. and 9 p.m. May 27. There was a thunderstorm at the same time, and fire officials suggested a lightning strike may have caused the fire. "Before us now is a new journey," the Rev. Walker Lockhart IV told parishioners who gathered the next day. Read full story»

Fire destroys rural Arkansas church

CARLISLE, Ark. (UMNS) - On the afternoon of Wednesday, May 30, members of Hickory Plains United Methodist Church, a rural community church in central Arkansas, watched their church building burn to the ground. The congregation, which has an average worship attendance of about 30, will gather at 9 a.m. this Sunday, June 3, at a nearby park pavilion. "Right now we're working through our grief, and when we finish grieving over the sentimental part of the church, we will start anew," said the Rev. Debbye Harrison, the church's pastor. "We lost the building, but we didn't lose the church. We have a loving and giving congregation, and we've been blessed with so many people calling and supporting us from around the state." See photos on Facebook»

Bishop, cabinet tested for HIV/AIDS

KENNETT SQUARE, Pa. (UMNS) - Bishop Peggy Johnson and district superintendents from the Eastern Pennsylvania Annual (regional) Conference were tested for HIV/AIDS on May 23 to show church leaders are willing to do what is being asked of others: Get tested and know your status. "The bishop's and cabinet's willingness to be tested serves as a visible witness that the church does see, hear and respond," said Dr. Deborah Tanksley-Brown, a deacon and director of HUB (Help Us Be) of Hope Ministry, an HIV/AIDS outreach begun by the United Methodist Church of the Open Door in Kennett Square, Pa. June is national AIDS Education Month.

African-American cemetery restored

BALTIMORE (UMNS) - The Baltimore community this month celebrated the completion of a four-year project to restore a United Methodist cemetery where some of Maryland's most prominent African-American leaders are buried. The Mount Auburn Cemetery, established in 1872 as "The City of the Dead for Colored People," was refurbished by United Methodist Men - with a lot of help from prisoners. To learn more»

Council of Churches condemns massacre

GENEVA (UMNS) - The top executive of the World Council of Churches condemned Sunday's massacre in Syria as "morally and ethically unacceptable" and urged Syria's government to stop the ongoing violence against its own people. "We, as churches, cannot but condemn this inhumane act and manifest our feelings of solidarity with the families of the victims, mourning their beloved ones," said the Rev. Olav Fykse Tveit in a statement released May 29. Read statement»

Denominations form malaria partnership

NEW YORK (UMNS) - The United Methodist Committee on Relief, the denomination's relief agency, is forming a new strategic partnership with Episcopal Relief and Development to prevent and control malaria in sub-Saharan Africa. Together, the two agencies expect to reach 21 countries where malaria is endemic. Learn more»

Observing World Refugee Day

NEW YORK (UMNS) - June 20 is World Refugee Day and the United Methodist Committee on Relief is asking church members to observe that day by supporting its work in South Sudan. To assist in that observance, UMCOR has prepared a bulletin insert for church worship services. See the insert»

Journal highlights immigration

WASHINGTON (UMNS) - The United Methodist Board of Church and Society's civil and human rights work area has compiled a 70-page journal of grassroots actions by United Methodists across the United States in support of just, humane immigration policies. The journal includes events ranging from prayer vigils to meetings with members of Congress. Learn more»

Rethinking mass communication

BUSAN, South Korea (UMNS) - With changing technology, churches need to rethink how they communicate their stands about such issues as injustice and conflict. That's the message from a group of Christian communicators who met recently in South Korea, where the next assembly of the World Council of Churches will meet Oct. 30 - Nov. 8, 2013. Read more»

White House meeting on childhood obesity

WASHINGTON (UMNS) - Churches have the opportunity to promote healthy eating habits for children, says Jim Winkler, top executive of the United Methodist Board of Church and Society. Winkler was among the 19 faith leaders attending a May 31 meeting on childhood obesity with Sam Kass, White House head chef and senior policy advisor for healthy food initiatives. Read Presbyterian News Service story»

Give hope for Father's Day

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (UMNS) - The West Michigan (regional) Conference of The United Methodist Church has a suggestion for the perfect Father's Day gift. Instead of giving Dad another tie, how about giving ties that bind? Give a gift in his honor to Church World Service Blankets+ Program, which provides blankets, education, small-business loans and other resources to help empower fathers and encourage their families. Congregations might even consider hosting a Blanket Sunday on Father's Day. Learn more»

How to launch a singles ministry

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) - If you want to get serious about starting a singles ministry at your church, your first step should be creating a singles leadership position, according to a tip sheet provided by the United Methodist Board of Discipleship. You also need to help singles become integrated into the church as a whole. Check out these 8 tips»

11 tips for starting a home repair ministry

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) - Move over "Extreme Makeover"; the United Methodists are hitching up their tool belts. Consider this: A house is substandard if it endangers a family's health or safety. Your congregation might be able to do something about that, as part of a ministry that unites the people in the pews behind an outreach that truly meets people where they live. Check out these tips»

Global ministries taps Bakker for post

NEW YORK (UMNS) - The Rev. Shawn Bakker, a commissioned deacon from North Texas who has directed The Advance giving program since 2005, has been tapped as the interim leader of the Development and Communications unit of the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries. Read more»

UMTV: Capturing poverty's faces, spirit

YAKIMA, Wash. (UMNS) - The Rev. Paul Jeffrey is a United Methodist missionary who "uses both images and words to show how God is moving in the world to empower people who've been relegated to the margins." His award-winning portfolio comes from more than 65 countries, where he captures not only the faces of poverty but also the richness of their spirit. "I'm continually evangelized by the poor," Jeffrey says. See a video of his work»

Learn more»

Category: Weekly Digest
Tags: News Summaries