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UMNS Weekly Digest - March 01, 2013


March 1, 2013

NOTE: This is a digest of news features provided by United Methodist Communications for Feb. 25 - March 1.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

Black History Month

Civil rights: Then and now

WASHINGTON (UMNS) - One was a "freedom rider," a veteran of lunch counter sit-ins. The other was an emissary of the federal government, sent to the South as an intermediary in civil rights issues. One day in July 2011 they joined together to help students at United Methodist-related schools connect their stories to struggles today. Listen to discussion

Methodist history mixed on abolitionism

MADISON, N. J. (UMNS) - In his final letter written on Feb. 24, 1791, John Wesley encouraged William Wilberforce to continue his efforts to abolish the slave trade. But, as the Rev. Robert J. Williams, top executive of the United Methodist Commission on Archives and History, notes, "The story of the efforts of the predecessor churches of The United Methodist Church to abolish slavery is a mixed one." Read story and post a comment

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. Read story and post a comment

Lenten Stories and Devotions

Time for change: reflections on Lent and Easter

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) Six Lenten meditations invite Christians to embrace the Lenten season that leads to the Easter Resurrection. "Lent provides us with an opportunity to deepen our spirituality by engaging in regular discipline from Ash Wednesday through Easter Sunday," explains the Rev. Dan Dick, a former staff member of the United Methodist Board of Discipleship. Read story

Social Justice issues

Caucus joins Prop. 8 action at U.S. Supreme Court

WASHINGTON (UMNS) -The Methodist Federation for Social Action, an unofficial caucus of The United Methodist Church, has joined in friends-of-the-court actions involving California's Proposition 8 ban on gay marriages and the U.S. Defense of Marriage Act cases. The U.S. Supreme Court will hear the cases March 26 and 27. The caucus said in a news release that while The United Methodist Church does not support same-sex ceremonies, Social Principles of the denomination "see a clear issue of simple justice in protecting ... rightful claims ...that involve ... equal protection under the law." The U.S. Justice Department has urged the Supreme Court to strike down the California ban on same-sex marriages and has stopped defending the 1996 law that bans the federal government from defending same-sex marriages.

UMW to participate in U.N. women's event

NEW YORK (UMS) - A delegation sponsored by United Methodist Women will spend the week of March 3 focusing on education and advocacy around the theme of the Commission on the Status of Women's 57th session - to eliminate and prevent all forms of violence against women and girls. UMW has a long association with the U.N. Commission on the Status of Women. Last year, the organization brought in nine international participants to join the discussion of the challenges facing rural women.

Read story and post a comment
Watch for updates each day from the gathering

Setting social justice priorities for 113th Congress

WASHINGTON (UMNS) - Immigration, gun violence and human trafficking are among the issues addressed in the United Methodist Board of Church and Society's 2013 legislative priorities for the 113th U.S. Congress. Wayne Rhodes, editor of Faith in Action, outlines the agency's agenda for social justice. Read story

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

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 any proposed change to its ban on gay members and leaders. The letter sparked varied reactions among scouting leaders. Read story and post a comment

University and seminary news

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

Central Conference News

Ukraine missionary couple announces resignation

NEW YORK (UMNS) - The Rev. David Goran, who has recovered from the serious injuries he sustained during a roof collapse inUkraine last summer, and his wife, Shannon, announced in a blog post this week that they have resigned from missionary service with the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries. A United Methodist volunteer from Texas and a Ukrainian student were killed in the July 10 accident in L'viv. Read blog post

Surviving malaria is no easy task

CHIMANIMANI, Zimbabwe David Matende, 77, looked intently at the roof of his home as if watching a flashback of his life. His wizened face pensive, he appeared to be a man who has seen all life has to offer. In some ways he has because he is a man who has cheated death twice. Matende is one of the beneficiaries of The United Methodist Church's Imagine No Malaria campaign, which is aimed at reducing the number of deaths from the disease in Zimbabwe. Read story

Imagine No Malaria

Liberia, Sierra Leone partner with Norway

MONROVIA, Liberia (UMNS) - The United Methodist Church of Liberia and Sierra Leone signed a partnership agreement with the United Methodist Church of Norway on Feb. 13 to establish a United Methodist Church Regional Competence Center in West Africa. Read story

UMTV: Keep believing, Kenya youth leader says

NAIVASHA, Kenya (UMNS) - At 24, Peter Karanja has devoted his life to helping other young people understand that the life of Jesus was difficult even as theirs is difficult. He reminds them to keep on praying and everything will go all right. Watch video

Disaster Relief

New Jersey rebuilding teams for Sandy start in April

OCEAN, N.J. (UMNS) - The United Methodist Greater New Jersey Annual (regional) Conference will begin its rebuilding assistance for Hurricane Sandy survivors with work on four homes in April. "We will use these first four homes to test our volunteer enrollment, host sites, material acquisition and delivery, construction management, orientation and safety procedures, and logistics," said Bishop John Schol in a Feb. 28 letter. Online registration for volunteer opportunities for work teams and staffing or supporting a host site will open March 15. Read letter

Church's bucket brigade fills the need

TRYON, N.C. (UMNS) - What happens when a group of United Methodist pastors on the North Carolina-South Carolina border put their heads together on joint mission projects? In this case, as the Tryon Daily Bulletin reports, when the next disaster hits, the United Methodist Committee on Relief is better prepared. Read story

UMCOR assists with water needs in South Sudan

NEW YORK (UMNS) - In South Sudan, the United Methodist Committee on Relief is helping communities in the state of Northern Bahr el Ghazal with water and sanitation as they cope with a large number of returning refugees.
Read story

U.S. conferences offer relief in Mozambique flooding

MAPUTO, Mozambique (UMNS) - "In Mozambique rains are still devastating families, communities and the whole society. ...The rains continue to increase the number of victims," wrote the Rev. Joao Sambo in a Feb. 21 email to the Virginia Annual (regional) Conference. Devastating floods that began in late January continue to displace and destroy in Mozambique. Read story and post a comment

Bishops in the news

Women making history: Cynthia Fierro Harvey

BATON ROUGE, La. (UMNS) - "Women's History Month is a time to learn about the women that have gone before us, who have blazed the trails and been true pathfinders of the faith. I know that I stand on the shoulders of giants," says Louisiana Area Bishop Cynthia Fierro Harvey. This is the first in a series during March - Women's History Month - looking at women in the church today. Read story and post a comment

Bishop helps start new congregation in prison

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (UMNS) - Bishop Bill McAlilly drew laughter during a Feb. 16 worship service at Grace Place United Methodist Church in Memphis when he asked members of the congregation if they had ever been pursued. Lane Gardner Camp of the Memphis Annual (regional) Conference explains that Grace Place is inside a prison for women and the bishop wasn't referring to being pursued by law enforcement. He was talking about being pursued by God. Read story

Faith leaders offer counsel on budget negotiations

WASHINGTON (UMNS) - As the deadline for the U.S. government's forced spending cuts approaches, religious leaders offered "faith-grounded counsel on the current stage of the budget negotiations" in a Feb. 25 pastoral letter to President Barack Obama and Congressional leaders. United Methodist Bishops Robert Hoshibata and Mary Ann Swenson were among the signers of the letter. Read letter

News from around the connection

Dying well according to John Wesley

WILMORE, Ky. (UMNS) - What did John Wesley and the early Methodists know that allowed them to die with such grace and assurance? Christine Johnson, a Ph.D. student in Wesley Studies at the University of Manchester and visiting Ph.D. student at United Methodist-related Asbury Theological Seminary, reflects on what John Wesley learned and passed on to us.

Read story
Our Wesleyan heritage

Methodists, Episcopalians celebrate heritage

HONESDALE, Pa. (UMNS) - Grace Episcopal Church in Honesdale was to be the host March 3 for a service of Holy Communion as The United Methodist Church and the Episcopal Church move toward full communion. The News Eagle reports on the event, which traces its heritage to Methodist movement founders John and Charles Wesley, who remained priests in the Church of England throughout their lives.

Read story
Who was John Wesley, anyway?

John Wesley's goblet finds church home in U.S.

FLORENCE, S.C. (UMNS) - A centuries-old goblet once used by the founder of the Methodist movement has a permanent home at a Florence church. tells how this John Wesley possession has made its way to St. Paul United Methodist Church. Read story

Pastor loses Chicago election

CHICAGO (UMNS) - Robin Kelly, a former Illinois state representative, won the Feb. 26 special Democratic primary to fill the Congressional seat of Jesse L. Jackson Jr. The Rev. Larry Pickens, pastor of Southlawn United Methodist Church, was among the 15 other candidates on the Democratic ballot. The general election will be April 9.

First United Methodist's IT girl

SULPHUR SPRINGS, Texas (UMNS) - Jennifer Philo uses her creative spirit and training as a teacher to make worship meaningful. The Sulphur Springs News-Telegram explains how Philo's creativity inspires her whether in the kitchen or as director of media services at First United Methodist. Read story

Forever Friends with special needs ministry

FORT MILL, S.C. (UMNS) - "I love coming to church," says Katelyn Massey, carefully weighing her words. Jessica Connor of the South Carolina Annual (regional) Conference explains how Massey and dozens of other special needs teens and adults go to Grace Community United Methodist Church, where they are welcomed with programs just for them. Read story

Young people seek church relevance

LAS VEGAS (UMNS) - For the second year, the leadership program Relevance X ran side by side with LEAD 2013, another conference geared toward young clergy and lay leaders and those who work with young people. "We need to ask each other how we can become more relevant as a church, how we can become better leaders," Glen Simpson, Desert Southwest's coordinator for young adult ministries, told the participants. Read story and post a comment

See photos of the event

Gentzler retiring from adult ministries post

NASHVILLE, Tenn.(UMNS) - Richard H. Gentzler Jr., who has served as director of Center on Aging and Older Adult Ministries at the United Methodist Board of Discipleship for 13 years, is retiring effective July 1. Gentzler began his ministry 38 years ago, serving as pastor of United Methodist churches in Pennsylvania and Maryland. He has been involved in adult ministries for 22 years at the Board of Discipleship. Read story

E-store offers United Methodist resources

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) - United Methodist Communications has launched a redesigned denominational e-store at The new store provides a one-stop shop for a variety of denominational resources, including local leadership products, resources and promotional materials - including new product offerings. Visit the store

Pancakes offer comfort to church

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (UMNS) - Bethel United Methodist Church wanted to help its brothers and sisters at Taylor Chapel United Methodist Church after a December 2012 fire destroyed Taylor's sanctuary. Their solution? Pancakes. FWdailynews explains how it all came about.

Read story
Church fires: Damage, recovery, prevention

Prison chaplains benefit from horse therapy

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (UMNS) A pilot program, co-sponsored by the United Methodist Board of Higher Education and Ministry and the Association for Clinical Pastoral Education, helps foster leadership, listening and self-knowledge in prison chaplains. "Horses are quite attuned to people and their needs," said Pam Roberts, director of Centered Life: Education, Counseling and Spiritual Care. Read story

Looking Ahead

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.

March 8-10; March 15-17; April 5-7; April 12-14; April 19-21; Nov. 8-10 - Confirmation Retreat Weekends at Lake Junaluska Conference and Retreat Center. Details.

March 9 - In Mission Together, part of the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries, will hold a 50/50 Partnership Roundtable at Morning Star United Methodist Church, 1600 Feise Road, Dardenne Prairie, Mo. The gathering is for U.S. congregations interested in partnering with United Methodist faith communities in Honduras. Details.

March 10 - Daylight saving time. In most of the United States, remember it's time to spring the clocks forward an hour.

March 10 - One Great Hour of Sharing Sunday, which benefits the operations of the United Methodist Committee on Relief so 100 percent of designated gifts can go to their specific cause. Details.

March 10 - Deadline for early-bird discounts for the retreat "Caring for God's Creation," April 3-7, Lake Junaluska Conference and Retreat Center, N.C. Details.

March 14 - Deadline to register for online course "Welcoming Ministry 100," March 20-May 1, offered by United Methodist Communications. Cost is $29.99. Registration.

March 14 - Free webinar "Including Children with Special Needs," 10 a.m. CT, from the United Methodist Board of Discipleship. To register.

March 14 - Free webinar "Moving Your Church Toward Vitality," 6:30 p.m. CT, learn how churches have changed to successfully reach new people, from the United Methodist Board of Discipleship. To register.

Category: Weekly Digest
Tags: News Summaries