Weekly Digest: November 27, 2013
UMNS Weekly Digest
November 27, 2013
NOTE: This is a digest of news features provided by United Methodist Communications for Nov.25 - Dec. 2. 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 http://umns.umc.org.
Getting ready for the holidays
Making church more welcoming at Christmas
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) - Outreach at any time of the year takes time, patience and persistence, but especially at Christmas. United Methodist Communications offers some tips on how to reach more people during the Advent and Christmas seasons. Read tips
'Tis the season &ellipsis; to think of alternative gifts
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) - It is that time of year when shopping seems to overwhelm everything. Tita Parham points out in Interpreter Magazine how many are turning to alternative gifts. Read story
UMC #GivingTuesday gifts have twice the impact
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) - Kick off the season of giving by making an online donation to mission through The Advance on #GivingTuesday, Dec. 3, and double the impact of your gift. On that date, online gifts to any project through The Advance, the designated giving channel of The United Methodist Church, will be matched 100 percent up to the first $500,000. Every gift to The Advance goes to the intended ministry; no administrative costs are taken from donations. UMC #GivingTuesday
Christmas shopping can benefit local churches
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) - The United Methodist General Council on Finance and Administration, in partnership with some of the largest online retailers, has built a shopping tool that provides a cash benefit for your church when you purchase through the UMCmarket - items you mightbe buying anyway. How does it work? Create an account at UMCMarket.org and designate the church of your choosing.To sign up
Help 'Just Save One' from HIV/AIDS on Giving Tuesday
NEW YORK (UMNS) - As a follow-up to the Dec. 1 observation of World AIDS Day, consider a donation to the United Methodist Global AIDS Fund on Giving Tuesday, Dec. 3, when contributions will be matched dollar for dollar. The fund's new initiative, "Just Save One," focuses on preventing mother-to-child transmission of HIV.
Gifts to help to feed the hungry
BIG ISLAND, Va. (UMNS) - The Society of St. Andrew offers ways to honor your family and friends while still helping to feed the hungry. Gifts donated on Tuesday, Dec. 3, will be matched dollar for dollar. Society of St. Andrew is a nonprofit ecumenical organization with the mission of introducing people to God's grace through meeting their hunger.
News in the church
Bishop remembered as wise, compassionate leader
MINNEAPOLIS (UMNS) - "Over the years, his primary concern was not so much organization or institution, but compassion for people," said Harlyn Hagmann, a retired Minnesota pastor and a longtime friend of the late Bishop Wayne K. Clymer. The bishop passed away Monday, Nov. 25.
Publishing House lays off two executives
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) - Neil Alexander, president and publisher of the United Methodist Publishing House, has announced that two executives who have made substantial contributions to the work of the publisher for more than a decade will be leaving Dec. 31. Ed Kowalski, senior vice president of marketing and sales, and Alyce Meadors, vice president of human resources, will end their full-time employment. Read story
Developer backs out of purchase of Publishing House property
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) - Neil Alexander, the president and publisher of the United Methodist Publishing House, announced Nov. 25 that the developer TVG Holdings LLC is not able to proceed with the purchase of the Publishing House's property at 201 8th Ave. in Nashville. "We will now pursue other options," Alexander said.
Finance agency responds to clergy housing ruling
MADISON, Wis. (UMNS) - A federal judge in Wisconsin has ruled that an Internal Revenue Service exemption that allows clergy to shield their housing allowances from federal income taxes is unconstitutional. But the ruling is on hold until appeals are exhausted. The General Council on Finance and Administration, the United Methodist finance agency, is monitoring the case.
Diverse group of young adults consider God's call
DENVER (UMNS) - Speaker after speaker told the 429 young adults gathered to explore ordained ministry in The United Methodist Church that God is calling them to go change the world and the church. Vicki Brown has the story about Exploration, sponsored by the United Methodist Board of Higher Education and Ministry. Read story
British church issues letter after minister's arrest
LONDON (UMNS) - The British Methodist Church issued a pastoral letter Nov. 25 to all its ministers, noting that "it has been a difficult and sad week for many of us because of the allegations made against the Rev. Paul Flowers and then his subsequent arrest." Flowers, who had been suspended from his ministerial duties pending investigation, was arrested Nov. 21 in connection with a drug-related inquiry.
Apply now for central conference theological education grants
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) - Applications for grants for projects aimed at improving United Methodist theological education in the central conferences in Africa, Europe and the Philippines can be submitted starting this week at www.centralconferencegrant.dreamhosters.com. Read news release
Finance agency OKs insurance merger
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) - The board of the General Council on Finance and Administration, the denomination's finance agency, on Nov. 22 approved the merger of United Methodist Property and Casualty Trust into United Methodist Insurance Company. Board members expect the move to save the finance agency more than $100,000 a year. Learn more about United Methodist Insurance
New director of older adult ministries starts
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) - The Rev. William B. Randolph, former chaplain at a senior living community in Pennsylvania, will become director of aging and older adult ministries at the United Methodist Board of Discipleship on Dec. 1. Randolph will assume the position formerly held by Richard H. Gentzler Jr., who retired on June 30 after serving as director for 13 years. Read news release
New post for church planter
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (UMNS) - Bishop Larry Goodpaster has announced the appointment of the Rev. Gary A. Shockley as Western North Carolina Annual (regional) Conference congregational development team leader. Read news release
United Methodists aid Philippines
Church helps rebuild communications in Philippines
MANILA (UMNS) - When Typhoon Haiyan hit the Philippines, it was not just food and water that desperately were needed. The country's communications infrastructure sustained a devastating blow. United Methodist Communications is helping to meet that critical need. Read story and post a comment
Bringing comfort to survivors in the Philippines
MANILA (UMNS) - When the United Methodist Committee on Relief delivered food packages Nov. 20 to six storm-ravaged communities in Dagami, the Philippines, it was the first substantial emergency relief aid there since Typhoon Haiyan struck nearly two weeks earlier. Linda Unger, a senior writer for the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries, and Mike DuBose, a photographer for United Methodist Communications, were there to tell the story. Read story and post a comment
United Methodists and sexuality
Schaefer says he does not blame others for trial
SPRING CITY, Pa. (UMNS) - When asked what he would say to the people who brought charges against him for officiating at his son's same-sex marriage, the Rev. Frank Schaefer said, "I cannot blame them because at one point I also had a different opinion." Read story and post a comment
United Methodists in the news
Winkler move to NCC official
WASHINGTON (UMNS) - It's official. Jim Winkler will be the new top leader of the National Council of Churches, after a nearly 30-year career at the United Methodist Board of Church and Society, including serving as its top executive since 2000. Though he's changing jobs, Winkler will still be in the United Methodist Building in Washington, headquarters for both agencies. Read story
Former United Methodist missionary honored in Rome
ROME (UMNS) -The Rev. Gerald "Jerry" Anderson, emeritus director of the Overseas Ministries Study Center in New Haven, Conn., met Pope Francis, gave a lecture and received an honorary Doctor of Missiology degree on Nov. 14 from the Pontifical Urbaniana University in Rome. The degree was presented to him by Cardinal Fernando Filoni, the grand chancellor of the university. It was the first time an honorary degree has been given to a Protestant by this university that was founded in 1627 and is owned by the Sacred Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples. Anderson, a former United Methodist missionary in the Philippines and president of Scarritt College in Nashville, is a retired member of the Western Pennsylvania Annual (regional) Conference and resides in Hamden, Conn.
News around the connection
After fire, Arkansas church trying to get ready for Christmas
HICKORY PLAINS, Ark. (UMNS) - Parishioners at Hickory Plains United Methodist Church are working hard to make sure their church is ready for Christmas services, Arkansasmatters.com reports. The Hickory Plains fire, ignited by lightning, destroyed the church May 30, 2012.
Central Texas Conference breaks ground on new center
FORT WORTH, Texas (UMNS) - The Central Texas Annual (regional) Conference broke ground Nov. 15 on a conference service center, which will be on the campus of United Methodist-related Texas Wesleyan University. Read news release
Businessman falls, finds church before leaving for prison
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) - Annette Spence of The Call in the Holston Annual (regional) Conference shares the experiences of Bernard Addison, who on the verge of incarceration for mail fraud, found a new faith and a new church family. Read story
UMTV: Hunger-free ZIP code
KENSINGTON, Md. (UMNS) - Members of St. Paul's United Methodist Church in Kensington are making a bold promise to their neighbors: that no one in their area will go hungry, an effort they're calling a "hunger-free ZIP code." Watch video
Faith around the world
Call for release of abducted Syrian bishops
VIENNA, Austria (UMNS) - A call for the release of two abducted bishops in Syria has come from religious leaders at the 9th World Assembly of Religions for Peace. The bishops, Metropolitan Mar Gregorios Yohanna Ibrahim, the Syrian Orthodox Archbishop of Aleppo, and Bishop Boulous Yazigi, a Greek Orthodox Bishop in Damascus, were kidnapped in Aleppo on April 22, 2013. Read story
In schools and seminaries
United Theological launches doctorate in sports chaplaincy
DAYTON, Ohio (UMNS) - United Methodist-related United Theological Seminary is launching a Doctor of Ministry in Sports Chaplaincy program. The program is designed to enhance the role and skills of chaplains ministering in sport environments.
Blogs and commentaries
History of Hymns: 'We Gather Together'
DALLAS (UMNS) - The Pilgrims likely never sang this hymn so closely associated with Thanksgiving. But this Dutch hymn celebrating Protestant independence from Catholic Spain carries a sentiment Christians everywhere still recognize: "Sing praises to His Name; He forgets not His own." C. Michael Hawn shares the hymn's colorful history. Read story
The Billy Graham I know - and why he matters
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (UMNS) - As the Rev. Billy Graham passed the milestone of 95 years, Ken Garfield, director of communications at Myers Park United Methodist Church, writes, "There's much that organized religion can learn" from the famous evangelist. Garfield covered Graham while a religion reporter for the Charlotte Observer. Read commentary
Remembering C.S. Lewis
HOUSTON (UMNS) - The Rev. Chappell Temple, senior pastor of Lakeview United Methodist Church, offers his remembrance of Lewis, the beloved novelist and author of Christian apologetics. Lewis died on Nov. 22, 1963.
CNN blog on health care features United Methodist pastor
MEMPHIS, Tenn.(UMNS) - CNN talked to the Rev. Shane Stanford, senior pastor of Christ United Methodist Church in Memphis, about the expansion of Medicaid, part of the Affordable Care Act. Stanford, who is HIV-positive because of hemophilia, advocates for the expansion - which a number of states, particularly in the South, are declining to take part in. Read blog
'Tis a gift, but it's not simple
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (UMNS) - The Rev. William Dobbs, clergy assistant to the bishop in the West Michigan Annual (regional) Conference, offers advice to clergy on when and when not to accept a gift from a congregation member. Read essay
And she made pies: Apple and pecan
DETROIT (UMNS) - The Rev. Laurie Haller, senior pastor of First United Methodist Church in Birmingham, Mich., blogs about making Thanksgiving pies for homeless lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning youth at the Ruth Ellis Center in Detroit. Haller delivered her pies the same week as The United Methodist Church's stance on homosexuality was in the national news. Read blog
Here are some of the activities ahead for United Methodists across the connection. If you have an item to share, email firstname.lastname@example.org and put Digest in the subject line.
Advent, Dec. 1-24 - Resources for Advent wreath lighting and sermons from the United Methodist Board of Discipleship and resources for drawing and welcoming visitors to Advent and Christmas services from United Methodist Communications. Ministry Matters, part of the United Methodist Publishing House, also offers the free Advent series "Follow the Star."
#GivingTuesday, Dec. 3 - United Methodists are invited to participate in #GivingTuesday, when every gift made online through the The Advance will be matched dollar for dollar up to $500,000 total and $50,000 for any one project. Visit umcmission.org/give
Lecture by former ambassador, Tuesday, Dec.3 - 5 p.m. CT, Miguel H. D