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UMNS Weekly Digest - May 10, 2013

May 10, 2013

NOTE: This is a digest of news features provided by United Methodist Communications for May 7 -13.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

United Methodists in the News

Theologian faces charges for same-sex wedding

NEW YORK (UMNS) - A United Methodist theologian and retired elder is facing formal charges under church law and a potential trial for officiating at the same-sex wedding of his son. The Rev. Thomas Ogletree, a retired seminary dean noted for his work on Christian ethics, presided over the wedding of Thomas Rimbey Ogletree to Nicholas Haddad on Oct. 20. In a statement, Ogletree, 79, described the ceremony as "one of the most significant ritual acts of my life as a pastor." Read story and post a comment

Bishop responds in same-sex wedding case

NEW YORK (UMNS) - New York Area Bishop Martin D. McLee notes because of confidentiality requirements he cannot go into detail about the case involving the Rev. Thomas Ogletree, a retired professor and elder facing charges under church law. Ogletree officiated at the same-sex wedding of his son in October. The bishop reminds church members that "As United Methodists, we are not a one-issue denomination." Read bishop's letter and post a comment

Updated malaria documentary now airing on NBC

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) - United Methodist Communications is releasing an updated version of the Imagine No Malaria documentary, "Killer in the Dark: An Extraordinary Effort to Combat Malaria," in collaboration with the Interfaith Broadcasting Commission. This sequel, set to air on NBC affiliates through Nov. 3, reflects new research and scientific advancements in the fight against malaria. More information

United Methodist bishops meet

Bishops visit U.S.-Mexico border

BATON ROUGE, La. (UMNS) - As the U.S. Senate prepares to consider a major bill on immigration policy reform, active United Methodist bishops from the United States, Africa, Asia and Europe visited the U.S.-Mexico border near San Diego. Betty Backstrom of the Louisiana Annual (regional) Conference reports that bishops participated in a variety of ministries at the border. Some traveled into Mexico. The bishops closed the rest of their meeting to the news media.

Read story
Bishop Mike Lowry's report
News release on the bishops' May 7 activities
Bishops hold 2nd consecutive closed meeting

Bishops go to border 'to stand for children of God'

TIJUANA PORT OF ENTRY, Calif. (UMNS) - "The Forum of Bishops' journey to the border was an outward and visible sign of the deepest desire for the people of God, in this case the Forum of Bishops, to stand for children of God who are separated from those they love," writes Bishop Cynthia Fierro Harvey of the Louisiana Area. Participants in the Forum of the Active Bishops, meeting in San Diego, went to the U.S.-Mexico border to learn more about the people who live and work near the border and the issues they face.

Bishop Harvey's commentary
See the bishops' visit
Forum of Active Bishops meeting

Bishops meet with Brian McLaren

SAN DIEGO (UMNS) - On May 6, active United Methodist bishops met with Brian McLaren, noted author and leader of the emerging church movement. McLaren and the bishops engaged in dialogue concerning promising signs in The United Methodist Church. In the spirit of the Wesley Covenant Prayer, he suggested the church is in a time of "letting go" and "letting come" what God wills. In many places, there are creative leaders emerging and prototypes developing that reflect new ways of being church, he said. McLaren told the bishops, meeting in the first forum of active bishops, that this can be an opportunity for the church and its leadership to "break open" with new possibilities.

Reasons why bishops should not meet in private

DALLAS (UMNS) - In a commentary for the United Methodist Reporter, retired Bishop Joe Pennel discusses his concerns about the United Methodist Council of Bishops holding a closed forum for active bishops May 5-8 in San Diego. Read commentary

News around the connection

Blessings for Wings of the Morning

WORTHINGTON, Ohio (UMNS) - The West Ohio Annual (regional) Conference invites everyone to "Come and bless the new Caravan for North Katanga Wings of the Morning. Personally greet the pilot Gaston Ntambo!" There will be a series of blessing events across West Ohio May 12-20. Beginning in June 2010, the conference began the Caravan Campaign to help Wings of the Morning purchase the much-needed Cessna Grand Caravan refurbished airplane, which flies medical missions across a vast territory of nearly 6 million people.
Learn about the blessings
Learn about the Wings of the Morning mission
Ohio church sews quilts of love for Congo

Earthquake relief continues in China

NANJING, China (UMNS) -The Amity Foundation, a partner of the United Methodist Committee on Relief, is expanding its relief efforts to earthquake survivors in China's Sichuan Province. Amity staff members have been on the ground since the 7.0 magnitude earthquake struck Ya'an, including Lushan and Baoxing counties, on April 20. Qiu Zhonghui - top executive of Amity, a Christian-related organization - met May 6 in Ya'an with local officials and partners. Read story and post a comment

Effort aims to make Social Principles more global

CHICAGO (UMNS) - The Connectional Table, which coordinates the denomination's ministry and resources, has approved a preliminary proposal to initiate a process to revise the United Methodist Social Principles. Some United Methodists have criticized the principles - the denomination's social teachings - as too expansive and too U.S.-centric. Others say a main problem is that not enough United Methodists are familiar with the principles in the first place. Read story, take a quiz and post a comment

Chicago couple creates ministry in the Andes

COPACABANA, Bolivia (UMNS) - When a three-week blockade of the western Bolivian community they serve made life uncomfortable, Individual Volunteers Deborah Rissing and Jeff Wasilevich could easily have gone to Peru. Instead, they stayed in the town of Copacabana, on the border with Peru, providing a ministry of presence to the community where they have lived and worked for two years. Read story

New website powers United Methodist young adults

DETROIT (UMNS) - A collaboration among United Methodist agencies and local ministries has produced a new website,, to help connect young adults in "spiritual discernment through missional engagement." United Methodist-connected ministries that engage young adults as interns, missionaries, staff and ministry leadership teams can use REVGO as a platform for fundraising, story sharing and recruitment. For more information

Chuck Knows Church: The Bread and the Cup

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) - The United Methodist Board of Discipleship series "Chuck Knows Church" offers the second in a three-part series explaining the elements of Communion. This time the focus is on the Bread and the Cup. Learn why some churches use leavened bread and others don't. Watch video

Mary Ann Minnick passes away

RALEIGH, N.C. (UMNS) - Mary Ann Minnick, wife of retired Bishop C. P. Minnick Jr., and mother of Greg Minnick and Jay Minnick, died May 7. Her funeral is scheduled for 2 p.m. Friday, May 17, at Pleasant Grove United Methodist Church in Raleigh.

United Methodists and Mother's Day

Mother's Day campaign helps fight malaria

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) - In 1870, Julia Ward Howe called for an International Mother's Day to honor all mothers, especially those who had lost sons in the Civil War. More than a century later, families in the United States still celebrate mothers and other nurturing women on the second Sunday of May. This year, on May 12, United Methodists will honor the mothers who have lost children to malaria through a special Mother's Day campaign. Read story

Biblical mothers - not a job for faint of heart

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) - Though gift- and card-buying and secular activities abound, the church still plays a prominent role in Mother's Day. Different, often regional, traditions are deep-rooted, and woe to the pastor who decides to ignore those most special to his or her flock. The Rev. Joan G. LaBarr looks at the biblical mothers and the thorny questions about how to keep the focus on worshipping God, while celebrating and honoring the gifts of mothers.

Read story
Czech Mother's Center introduces Christianity

Answering the cry of our mothers

BASTROP, La. (UMNS) - When Diane Haley learned that every two minutes, somewhere in the world, a woman dies from complications during pregnancy or childbirth, she was motivated to do something. She has organized the assembly of birthing kits that go to the United Methodist Committee on Relief for distribution.

Read story
Learn how to make a birthing kit

'Moms for Moms' petition

WASHINGTON (UMNS) - The United Methodist Board of Church and Society is asking mothers (and others) to sign the "Moms for Moms" petition to preserve U.S. global health funding to fight malaria and other diseases of poverty. Across-the-board U.S. spending cuts related to the sequester will cut global health funding by 4.8 percent. The petition will be up through Mother's Day, May 12. Learn more

Czech mother's center introduces Christianity

PRAGUE, Czech Republic (UMNS) - Milue lkov, a new mother and member of the Provitin United Methodist Church in the Czech Republic, has created a center at the church where mothers can gather to have fun and learn a bit about Christianity. Read story

News around conferences

East Africa Conference plans to appeal Judicial Council ruling

KAMPALA, Uganda (UMNS) - The East Africa Annual (regional) Conference plans to appeal part of a recent ruling by The United Methodist Church's top court, reports Grace Nakajje, the conference's director of communications. The Judicial Council ruled that $3,000 in funds intended as compensation for Pastor Isaac Sebit should be paid to him by Jan. 1, 2014, or returned to the Western Pennsylvania Conference, which gave the money. The ruling was the latest development in a decade-long financial dispute between the two conferences. Such an appeal would be made to the Judicial Council. Read Judicial Council Decision 1238

Jesus and UMCOR calm the waters

LOWELL, Mich. (UMNS) - When it comes to supporting the United Methodist Committee on Relief, congregations in the West Michigan Annual (regional) Conference are accustomed to being on the giving end. However, some of them are recipients now as they grapple with recent flooding. On May 7, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder declared a state of disaster for 19 counties. Kay DeMoss of the West Michigan Annual (regional) Conference has the story of the difference UMCOR is making. Read story

Rural medical clinic housed at church

GENESEO, N.Y. (UMNS) - Each day registered nurse Linda Weaver dons her scrubs and stethoscope and heads to the office where she averages about 35 hours of work a week. Sounds pretty typical, but Weaver's a volunteer and the free rural clinic where she works is a rarity - only 10 such clinics exist in New York. The clinic is housed at the Geneseo United Methodist Church. Christian Vischi, communications associate for the Upper New York Annual (regional) Conference, has the story. Read story

Cokesbury now just a click or a phone call away

CHICAGO (UMNS) -"You can think of it as a mobile store," said Ashley Pierce, one of two Cokesbury consultants designated to the Northern Illinois Annual (regional) Conference. Now that the Cokesbury stores have closed, trained community resource consultants across the United Statesare providing quick access to resources and friendly customer service. Anne Marie Gerhardt of the Northern Illinois Conference has the story. Read story

Bakken oil rush: No place to live

CASSELTON, N.D. (UMNS) - Thousands of people are moving into western North Dakota to work in the oil industry. Homeless and lonely, searching for a connection, the people in the Bakken Oil Rush need the United Methodist Church, say church leaders. For every $2 donated to the Bakken Oil Rush Ministry, Arthur / Casselton United Methodist Church will match with $1 up to $50,000.

Read more about ministry
Watch Dakotas Annual (regional) Conference video

University and seminary news

Mental Health: Church needed on or off campus

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) - Students facing a mental health crisis are the fastest-growing group on campuses today. With more young adults on college campuses than ever before in history, churches have a mission field in their own backyards. First, however, they may need an attitude adjustment or a shift in expectations to understand these young adults.
Read full story and comment

Mississippi campus ministry keeps students safe

PERKINSTON, Miss. (UMNS) - The first year of college was tough for 19-year-old Zachery Moore. He moved five hours from home to attend Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College in Perkinston. He was lonely, and his grades were slipping. But then he discovered "The Barn," a program of the campus' Wesley Foundation. Read story and post a comment

Wesley Seminary gets new dean

WASHINGTON (UMNS) - United Methodist Wesley Theological Seminary's board of governors and president has announced the selection of the Rev. Robert Martin as dean of the seminary. He has held the position of the Lovett H. Weems Jr. associate professor of church leadership and practical theology at United Methodist Saint Paul School of Theology since 2000. Weems is a professor of church leadership at Wesley. Read news release

Video promotes Colorado campus ministry

BOULDER, Colo. (UMNS) - The Wesley Foundation campus ministry at the University of Colorado in Boulder has put together a four-minute video that shows the difference United Methodist campus ministry is making in the lives of students and the work of the denomination. The Rev. Roger Wolsey, director and pastor of Wesley Fellowship, thanks the support of the Rocky Mountain Annual (regional) Conference and the United Methodist Board of Higher Education and Ministry.

Watch video
Learn more about Wesley Fellowship

Blogs and commentaries

Blog: Chaplains offer ministry in the midst of tragedy

BOSTON (UMNS) - The Rev. Jen Bowden, a United Methodist chaplain, talks about being in Boston during the bombings and witnessing the teamwork and ministry in their wake.

Read blog and post a comment

Changing the world together

TIPP CITY, Ohio (UMNS) - "Our mission isn't to get people into heaven but to get heaven into people - disciples who then in turn will go out and resource and reach the world God loves," writes the Rev. Mike Slaughter, lead pastor of Ginghamsburg Church, a United Methodist congregation. The United Methodist Church marks its fourth Change the World weekend on May 18 and 19, the same weekend as Pentecost. Slaughter is the author of Change the World: Recovering the Message and Mission of Jesus. Read blog

Change the world, one kindness at a time

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) - "As United Methodists, we know a thing or two about finding balance between our inner and outer lives. John Wesley, Methodism's founder, started a movement in his day - one of practical piety that we continue today. This practical piety allows us as 21st century Christians, in both word and deed, to express the love of God in all we do," writes Sophia Agtarap, minister of online engagement for United Methodist Communications' Rethink Church. Read blog and post a comment

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 and put Digest in the subject line.

Older Adult Recognition Sunday, any Sunday in May - Resources compiled by the Virginia Annual (regional) Conference.

Armed Forces Week, May 1118 - The United Methodist Board of Discipleship offers music and worship resources.

Free webinar "Gen2Gen: Sharing Jesus Across the Generations," May 14 - 6:30 p.m. CT, from the United Methodist Board of Discipleship. To register

Korea Peace Conference, May 15-17 - Korean United Methodist Church of Atlanta, 3205 Pleasant Hill Road, Duluth, Ga., a forum for church leaders from North America and South Korea to engage in dialogue and reassess the current situations on the issues related to the two Koreas. To register, contact the Rev. Jong Sung Kim at the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries at (212) 870-3955 or

Free webinar "Committed to Christ: Six Steps to a Generous Life," May 16 - 6:30 p.m. CT, help with stewardship from the United Methodist Board of Discipleship. To register

Free webinar "Teach Us to Pray" Intercessory Prayer Part 1, May 16 7 p.m. CDT - ("Teach Us to Pray" webinar series). To register.

Bishop's Convocation on Prayer, May 18 - Workshops on prayer life. Dwight Judy, professor emeritus of spiritual formation at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary, will provide keynote address on "A Quiet Pentecost: Inviting the Spirit into Congregational Life." Cost is $10. To register.

Change the World, May 18-19 - Join the United Methodist Rethink Church event that helps build community locally and fight malaria globally. Details.

Pentecost, May 19 - Celebrate the birthday of the Christian church with resources from the Board of Discipleshipand the United Methodist Publishing House's Ministry Matters.

Heritage Sunday, May 19 - General Conference designates May 24, Aldersgate Day, or the Sunday preceding that day to be a time to celebrate our Methodist heritage. May 24, 1738, was when John Wesley's "heartwarming experience" occurred. Resources are available from the United Methodist Commission on Archives and History.

"Day1," May 19 - The Rev.Hal Brady, a United Methodist and executive director of Hal Brady Ministries based in Atlanta, Ga., is the featured speaker for Pentecost on the "Day1" radio program. To access online

Family Weekend, May 24-26 - The Hinton Rural Life Center, Hayesville, N.C. Details.

Free webinar "Spiritual Development in the Early Years," May 22 - 10 a.m. CT, tips on the spiritual development of children from birth to 5 from the United Methodist Board of Discipleship. To register.

Peace with Justice Sunday, May 26 - One of the churchwide special Sundays with offerings, it provides financial support for programs that advocate for peace and justice in annual (regional) conferences and around the globe. Resources.

Deadline to register for "Pathways Through Loss" workshop, May 31 -Event explores grief and spiritual growth, June 14-16, Hinton Rural Life Center, Hayesville, N.C. Details.

United Methodist collegiate ministry training event, "Prepare 2013," June 26-28 - Meeting during the new Shared Space event at Loyola Conference Center in Chicago. Shared Space is a gathering of multiple denominations that will conduct their respective training events while intentionally sharing space, learning, meals and other gatherings. Costs start at $99. Details. Or email

"Inside Out for the Glory of God," July 12-14 - 11th national gathering of United Methodist Men at Belmont University in Nashville, Tenn. Details.

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.

Category: Weekly Digest
Tags: News Summaries