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UMNS Weekly Digest - May 17, 2013


May 17, 2013

NOTE: This is a digest of news features provided by United Methodist Communications for May 13 -20.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

News around the connection

Newtown responders get 'Strength for Service'

NEWTOWN, Conn. (UMNS) - Those who rushed to the Dec. 14, 2012, tragedy have received United Methodist Men's "Strength for Service to God and Community" devotionals and prayers for blessings as they heal. Recipients included three members of the Newtown United Methodist Church - Rob Sibley, Ken Carlson and Bob Virgalla. The Rev. Arthur McClanahan of the Iowa Annual (regional) Conference, who attended a service there, shares their stories. Read story and post a comment

United Methodists help women fight breast cancer

MEMPHIS (UMNS) - The actress and director Angelina Jolie stunned many with her column in the May 14 New York Times about her decision to undergo a preventive double mastectomy. But not every woman has Jolie's financial resources. That's where United Methodists come in. Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare, a United Methodist-related hospital system based in Memphis, is working with more than 470 congregations to help prevent breast cancer deaths, particularly among the underinsured and uninsured. Read story

Mixed results in 2013 clergy health survey

GLENVIEW, Ill. (UMNS) - A slight improvement in overall self-assessed health among United Methodist clergy was indicated in the 2013 Clergy Health Survey by the Center for Health, United Methodist Board of Pension and Health Benefits. However, this second-year survey showed no improvement in any aspect of clergy health. United Methodist clergy have higher rates of obesity, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, asthma and depression compared with a benchmark of U.S. adults. Read news release

Gosnell's actions called reprehensible

WASHINGTON (UMNS) - The United Methodist Board of Church of Society issued a statement May 14 saying, "Both those who oppose abortion and those who support it find the illegal and immoral actions of Dr. (Kermit) Gosnell reprehensible." Gosnell was convicted Monday of three counts of first-degree murder. "What he did was not just against the United Methodist Social Principles; it was against the basic laws of this country and edicts of humanity," the statement said. "Christians should not use this case as an opportunity to point fingers or cast stones at one another. Rather, all members of The United Methodist Church must take seriously our shared responsibility for the sanctity of all human life - at all stages of life."

Read full statement
Abortion doctor convicted of murder

Pentecost: An ending and a beginning

LAKE TAHOE, Nev. (UMNS) - "Pentecost Sunday represents an ending as well as a beginning: the end of the 'Great Fifty Days' of the Easter Season (Pentecost means 'the 50th day' in Greek) and the beginning of the commemorations of the early church," writes Marcia McFee, who has been director of music and worship for the 2008 and 2012 General Conferences. "Pentecost also gives us an opportunity to ask ourselves the question, 'What is our community on fire about?'" May 19 is Pentecost Sunday. Read story

United Methodist Reporter operations closing

DALLAS (UMNS) - Saying it has found no viable plan to reverse financial losses of recent months, UMR Communications announced it will cease operations May 31. The board voted May 16 to close the ministry during a tearful meeting at the nonprofit's Dallas office. UMR Communications publishes the United Methodist Reporter and provides printing and communication services to churches and other nonprofits. Read story

Church vitality: What is the secret to growing?

REDDICK, Fla. (UMNS) - The Rev. Russell Clark is a passionate man. As pastor of First United Methodist Church in Reddick, Fla., the go-getter likes to shake things up at the 105-member church. On Feb. 10, 2013, First Church increased its membership by a fourth. Twenty-six newcomers joined the church at one time.

Read story and post a comment
Vital congregations
Church vitality: How do you define it?

Williams to retire from Archives and History in 2014

MADISON, N.J. (UMNS) - The Rev. Robert Williams, who will turn 65 in March 2014, has said he will retire as top executive of the United Methodist Commission on Archives and History no later than July 1 next year. The commission, led by Harrisburg Area Bishop Jeremiah Park, has formed a search committee to replace Williams, who has served in the post since Jan. 1, 2006. Read more

Archives commission announces 2013 grants, awards

MADISON, N.J. (UMNS) - Recipients of awards and grants for 2013 have been announced by the United Methodist Commission on Archives and History. Included are the World Is My Parish Grant; Asia, African, Hispanic and Native American History Research Grant; Women in United Methodist History research grant and writing award, and the Josephine Forman Scholarship. Read more

Seminar on response to misconduct draws 90+

CHICAGO (UMNS) -A daylong seminar on responding well to sexual misconduct complaints against clergy drew more than 90 United Methodist bishops, chancellors and other conference officials who asked questions, debated church law and shared best practices with each other. Read full story and post a comment

United Methodist missionaries to be commissioned

NEW YORK (UMNS) - More than 150 people witnessed the blessing of nine men and women at the Interchurch Center Chapel in New York City. The blessing followed three weeks of intensive training in spiritual formation, cross-cultural awareness, team building and conflict resolution. The group is being sent into missionary service. Eight will be commissioned during annual conferences this spring. Read story

UMW offers downloadable resource on immigration

NEW YORK (UMNS) - A new resource from United Methodist Women on immigration includes Bible studies, worship, programs, hymns and prayers, church policy, articles and resources on controversial issues, a resource list, action ideas and articles linking immigration to other UMW social action priorities. Download a page or the full book

How the new Facebook news feed affects your church

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) - United Methodist Communications offers a slideshow that includes eight tips for making the most of Facebook's new visually rich news feed as a communications and evangelism tool. See slideshow

United Methodists and disaster relief

Church responds to Texas tornadoes

NEW YORK (UMNS) - The United Methodist Committee on Relief has sent emergency funds to the Central Texas Annual Conference to assist with immediate relief needs after some 40 homes in North Central Texas were damaged May 15 when storms swept across several counties. At least six people died, and 14 were missing. Read story

Update from Central Texas Conference

FORT WORTH, Texas (UMNS) - "The North District has been hit pretty hard by the tornadoes of last evening," wrote Ginger Bassford, superintendent of the North District, on the morning of May 16. "The search and rescue teams are still in the area accounting for persons. ...Those who live in this area were some of the least likely to be insured or have a means of recovery. Please keep them in your prayers as well as the families of those who have lost their lives." Read daily update

UMCOR relief supplies needed

NEW YORK (UMNS) - The United Methodist Committee on Relief, the denomination's disaster response agency, has urgent need for relief supplies. UMCOR Sager Brown in Baldwin, La., and UMCOR West in Salt Lake City, Utah, are running very low in their inventory of layette, sewing and bedding kits particularly, but other relief supplies are needed as well. Learn how to assemble kits

Church bulletin inserts

Relief items on way to Texas

FORT WORTH, Texas (UMNS) - The Central Texas Annual Conference reported Friday morning that it had received word that a United Methodist Committee on Relief truck had left the Sager-Brown distribution center in Baldwin, La., and was on its way to Granbury, Texas, which was hard-hit by tornadoes May 15. The Granbury area remained closed as search and rescue continued, but the conference is updating its site with information about how people can help.

Central Texas Conference updates
Church responds

When disaster hits: Churches learn to prepare

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) - Whether a tornado, hurricane, flood, fire or earthquake, when disaster hits a community - or a United Methodist church - pastors and congregations need to be prepared. Learn from United Methodists congregations that have faced hardship, healing and hope after disasters. Read stories

United Methodists in the news

United Methodist woman helps arrange Boston suspect's burial

RICHMOND, Va. (UMNS) - A United Methodist woman said she was acting out of Christian compassion in helping to arrange the burial of Tamerlan Tsarnaev, a suspect in the Boston Marathon bombings. "Jesus tells us to love our enemies, not hate them after they're dead," said Martha Mullen in a phone interview with Sam Hodges of United Methodist Reporter. "That's why I kind of got this ball rolling." Read story

Baltimore pastor's son fatally shot

BALTIMORE (UMNS) -The Rev. Bruce Haskins, pastor of John Wesley United Methodist Church, expressed appreciation for the outpouring of love and concern shown to him and his family after his son, Joseph, was fatally shot May 8. "So many of you have asked what you can do for us," he wrote on his Facebook page. "Well, there are two things all of you can do, so I would like to make these very important requests: Please, keep us in your prayers. We know that your prayers and God's grace and mercy are getting us through. ...We all need your prayers." The Baltimore Sun reported that Joseph Haskins, 20, was shot inside a house blocks from his family's home in the Northwest Baltimore neighborhood of Forest Park. Read story

Reclaim Baltimore from gun violence

Scammers bedevil religious leaders on Facebook

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (UMNS) - Facebook hoaxes are nothing new, but there is a new wrinkle - crooks impersonating high-profile ministers, the Kansas City Star reports. Among the targets was the Rev. Adam Hamilton of the United Methodist Church of the Resurrection. Read story

Church launches plan to address homelessness

SPOKANE, Wash. (UMNS) - At the corner of West Third Avenue and South Howard Street, where drug deals are common and panhandling yields profits, the staff at Central United Methodist Church has a front-row seat to the issue of homelessness. The church is done waiting for someone else to come up with a solution, the Spokesman-Review reports. Read story

United Methodists Changing the World

Be part of changing the world

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) - On May 18-19, United Methodists around the globe will unite in service with their local communities for the fourth annual Change the World weekend. People in more than 1,500 locations internationally observed Change the World in 2012. United Methodist Communications has created several free planning resources including a sermon series and ideas for service projects.

To locate an event in your area, go to

Young people hope to Change the World

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) - When United Methodists worldwide hit the streets, the road or, in some cases, the air, May 18-19 during Change the World weekend, many young people will be along for the ride. Read story

Changing the world by feeding the hungry

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) - In a world where one in eight people goes to bed hungry every day, United Methodists across the connection are trying to make a difference. For many congregations, the upcoming Change the World weekend, May 18-19, is a perfect time to address hunger. And, the plans of no two churches are exactly alike. Read story and post a comment

Fighting malaria through Change the World

KINSHASA, Democratic Republic of Congo (UMNS) - As United Methodists empower the people of Africa to eradicate malaria, Change the World events raise awareness and funds. From "skeeter runs" to movie nights, United Methodists are finding creative ways to fight this preventable and treatable disease. Read story

News around conferences

Seniors give new life to old bags

JACKSON, Miss. (UMNS) - Youth and young adults are not the only people who can have a huge impact serving in mission work. Roberta Pennington of Middlebrook United Methodist Church in Jackson is leading the inexpensive and senior-friendly project of making sleeping mats for the homeless. Jasmine Haynes of the Mississippi Annual (regional) Conference has the story. Read story

The Big Garden grows food and communities

OMAHA, Neb. (UMNS) - The Big Garden was born out of the Rev. Stephanie Ahlschwede's dream to create a hands-on model of community gardening. Trish Johnson of the Nebraska Annual (regional) Conference shares how Ahlschwede and other United Methodists have created a network of gardens that is addressing hunger and more. Read story and post a comment

Myrlie Evers calls for day of 'Unity and Faith'

JACKSON, Miss. (UMNS) - Myrlie Evers - widow of assassinated civil rights leader Medgar Evers - has written a letter inviting faith leaders in Mississippi and around the world to join in the launch of the Inaugural Medgar Evers Sunday, June 9. On this day, they are encouraged to remember Medgar Evers by serving and by sharing a message of "Unity and Faith." Tamica Smith-Jeuitt of the Mississippi Annual (regional) Conference shares how United Methodists can join in the effort. The 50th anniversary of Evers' death is June 12. Read story

Teen taps into tradition for sweet fundraiser

NEWTONVILLE, N.Y. (UMNS) - High school freshman Caleb Smith tapped into family tradition and turned it into a fundraiser. Smith, 14, and his family produced maple syrup, which he sold to raise money for the Upper New York Conference Council on Youth Ministries Youth Service Fund. Beth DiCocco of the conference has the story. Read story

United Methodists and mental health

Mental health: Activity benefits aging

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) - Aging well and maintaining brain fitness are very hot topics, especially as baby boomers race toward turning 60 at the rate of one every seven seconds. Barbara Bruce, who leads workshops on successful aging, offers ways United Methodist churches can help promote mental health through the golden years. Read story and post a comment

Documentary on mental illness, homelessness to air

WASHINGTON (UMNS) - PBS stations on May 19 will air the award-winning documentary "West 47th St.," which looks at the challenges of mental illness and homelessness. May is Mental Health Awareness Month in the United States. Read news release

Make children's mental health a priority

RICHMOND, Va. (UMNS) - Greg Peters, president and chief executive officer of United Methodist Family Services, reminds us that many children do not get the mental health care they need. "Last December was a wake-up call for America when one mentally ill young adult entered Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., and took the lives of 26 individuals. Sadly, these lives could have been saved if Adam Lanza had gotten the mental help he needed as a child," Peters wrote in the Richmond Times-Dispatch. Read commentary

University and seminary news

Iliff names new president

DENVER (UMNS) - The Rev. Thomas V. Wolfe, senior vice president and dean of the Division of Student Affairs at United Methodist-related Syracuse University, has been named the 14th president of the United Methodist Iliff School of Theology. He is an ordained elder in the Upper New York Annual (regional) Conference. He begins his new position on Aug. 1. Read news release

Garrett-Evangelical selects new president

EVANSTON, Ill. (UMNS) The Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary Board of Trustees selected Lallene J. Rector to be the next president of Garrett-Evangelical, a United Methodist seminary. Now the seminary's vice president for academic affairs and academic dean, Rector will succeed Philip A. Amerson, who will retire on Dec. 31 after nearly eight years as president. Read story

17 United Methodist-related colleges make "green" list

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) - When it comes to improving the quality of life by caring for the environment, United Methodist colleges are receiving high ratings and the growing respect of the "green" community. The Princeton Review included 17 United Methodist-related colleges in its recently released publication, "The Princeton Review's Guide to 322 Green Colleges: 2013 Edition."

Read story
Green for Life

Noted author to speak at collegiate ministers' event

CHICAGO (UMNS) - United Methodist collegiate ministers will join with colleagues from at least five mainline denominations at a gathering in Chicago this summer to explore how they can work together in the increasingly diverse and pluralistic atmosphere of the college campus. The event, Shared Space, will begin with a lecture and time of interaction with Diana Butler Bass, author of the best-selling "Christianity After Religion." The event will be held June 26-29 at Loyola University.

Read news release
To register

Iliff offers organizational management certificate

DENVER (UMNS) - Beginning this summer, students at United Methodist Iliff School of Theology will be able to earn a Leadership and Organizational Management Graduate Certificate. The new certificate recognizes students' ability to guide and care for organizations. "This new certificate makes it easy for students to learn what they need to know to run a church or nonprofit," said Albert Hernndez, Iliff's interim president and associate professor of the history of Christianity. Read news release

Other news of interest

London's newest museum - on Methodism

LONDON (UMNS) - Tourist checklist: the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Tate Gallery and ...the Museum of Methodism, opening May 25 at Wesley's Chapel in central London. The Rev. Leslie Griffiths, a Labour peer and broadcaster, is the minister in charge of both the chapel and museum. Read story

UMTV: Museum of Methodism

MADISON, N.J. (UMNS) - You might call this place the Smithsonian of United Methodism. The Rev. Robert Williams, the top executive of the United Methodist Commission on Archives and History, says, "You are in the richest collection of Methodism of a global scope anywhere in the world." The 300 years of The United Methodist Church's heritage comes to life in a collection found at Drew University. Take a tour

Protestant denominations merge in France

LYON, France (UMNS) - The Reformed Church of France and the Evangelical Lutheran Church of France, both members of the World Council of Churches, have merged to form the United Protestant Church of France. The merger was celebrated at a joint national synod on May 8-12 in Lyon. Learn more about merger

Transforming Congregations joins Good News

THE WOODLANDS, Texas (UMNS) - The board of directors of Good News, an unofficial evangelical caucus and renewal group in The United Methodist Church, has voted to make Transforming Congregations a division of its ministry. Transforming Congregations, another unofficial caucus, aims to help United Methodist churches minister to "the sexually confused, broken and sinful." The Rev. Karen Booth, the executive director of Transforming Congregations, is joining the Good News staff. She is an elder in the Peninsula-Delaware Annual (regional) Conference.

Blogs and commentaries

Why I am a United Methodist

GLEN ALLEN, Va. (UMNS) - "I want to be United Methodist because we aren't all expected to think alike and that's OK," wrote Martha Stokes, director of Inclusivity and Lay Leadership Excellence for the Virginia Annual (regional) Conference. "We have our basic affirmations, our foundational beliefs, which we share in common with all Christian communities, but with that comes a broad-mindedness to allow for dissenting opinions and differing values - with the focus of always striving to live as Jesus modeled for us." Read how others answered that question

A perspective on why schism is not the answer

CHECOTAH, Okla. (UMNS) - The Rev. Jeremy Smith, who describes himself "a nerd, father, partner and an elder in The United Methodist Church," lays out in his blog Hacking Christianity what he sees as the Top 10 reasons why schism solves nothing. But, he emphasizes, opposition to schism does not mean support for the status quo. Read commentary

Hope lives at the border

SAN DIEGO (UMNS) - Iowa Area Bishop Julius C. Trimble notes that there is much talk in the U.S. Congress about secure borders. After a visit to the southwestern-most edge of the U.S. border with other United Methodist bishops, Trimble writes, "Now I understand better how walls and fences, combined with a broken immigration policy, drive people to desperate efforts through treacherous trails of hope." Read blog and post a comment

Seeking to love all of God's creations

WHITTIER, Calif. (UMNS) - Stephanie Kimec, a United Methodist young adult missionary who works out of Echo Park United Methodist Church, writes about how ministry with immigrants to the United States relates to John Wesley's goal for personal and social holiness. Her commentary appeared in the Whittier Daily News. Read commentary

Small churches, belonging and the motorcyclist's funeral

FERRY COUNTY, Wash. (UMNS) - Churches face a confusing wilderness today since they no longer enjoy their previous status and influence in U.S. culture, writes the Rev. Steve Wills, a Presbyterian Church (USA) pastor. But the small church offers a way to address this reality. Wills points to the sense of belonging one such church gave an ardent motorcyclist in his last year of life. His commentary, adapted from his book "Imagining the Small Church: Celebrating a Simpler Path," appeared on the website of the Lewis Center for Church Leadership. 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 and put Digest in the subject line.

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.

Deadline to register for United Methodist collegiate ministry training event, "Prepare 2013," May 24 - June 26-28 during the new Shared Space event at Loyola Conference Center in Chicago. Shared Space is a gathering of multiple denominations that will have their respective training events while intentionally sharing space, learning, meals and other gatherings. Costs start at $99. Details. Or email

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.

Inspiration Saturday, June 1 - Event featuring Michigan Area Bishop Deborah Lieder Kiesey and the Rev. Lovett H. Weems of the Lewis Center for Church Leadership from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. CT at Calvin College Covenant Fine Arts Center, Grand Rapids, Mich. Details.

Free webinar "The New Senior: Boomers," June 20 - 6:30 p.m. CT, tips on ministering to this large generation from the United Methodist Board of Discipleship. To register.

Native American Summer Conference, June 28-30 - Workshops and worship, sponsored by the Southeastern Jurisdictional Association on Native American Ministries, at Lake Junaluska Conference and Retreat Center, Lake Junaluska, N.C. Details.

"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.

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 live streaming. Details.

Confirmation Retreat Weekend, Nov. 8-10 - Lake Junaluska Conference and Retreat Center. Details.

Exploration 2013, Nov. 15-17 - Event for young adults, ages 18-26, considering ordained ministry, Marriott Denver Tech Center, sponsored by United Methodist Board of Higher Education and Ministry. Speakers include Louisiana Area Bishop Cynthia Fierro Harvey and the Rev. Jorge Acevedo, senior pastor of the multicampus Grace Church in Southwest Florida. Details.

Category: Weekly Digest
Tags: News Summaries