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UMNS Weekly Digest - November 30, 2012


NOTE: This is a digest of news features provided by United Methodist Communications for Nov. 27 -Dec. 3. It includes summaries of United Methodist News Service stories, blogs, UMTV video reports and additional briefs from around the United Methodist connection. Full versions of the stories with photographs and related features can be found at

Christmas/Advent News Stories:

Hurricane Sandy News Stories:

Other News Stories:



Guide to Advent resources

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) - We are now in the season of Advent. To help you understand andparticipate fullyin this season of the church, United Methodist Communications has put together a guide to help you find what you need throughout this season. Advent and Christmas Resources

Giving Tuesday to keep Christ in Christmas

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) - With Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday behind us, it's time to gear up for Nov. 27 - Giving Tuesday. Remember The United Methodist Church's fight against malaria as you are making that list and checking it twice to make sure you keep Christ in Christmas. Read story and post a comment

Chuck knows Advent

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) - Four candles in a circle with a big one in the middle? Yep, take a moment and learn the basics about the Advent wreath. And why is the pink candle pink? All answered on this installment of "Chuck Knows Church." Learn more

E-retreat, studies, devotionals to enrich Advent

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) - Dec. 2, the first Sunday of Advent 2012, is rapidly approaching, but there is time to sign up for a month long e-retreat or choose another devotional or study to use during the season of preparation for celebrating Christ's birth. Studies in which individuals, families and small groups can immerse themselves are among the new Advent resources from Abingdon Press and Upper Room Books. Read more

Dreaming of a malaria-free Christmas

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (UMNS) What would you do to see your bishop in bright red flannel pajamas at annual conference? Bishop Jonathan D. Keaton is challenging Illinois Great Rivers Annual (regional) Conference congregations to raise the remaining $141,000 needed to meet the $2.3 million goal for Imagine No Malaria by Dec. 31. If they succeed, Keaton will wear red pajamas for a session of the 2013 annual conference. Read story

Sandy survivors know the church cares

NORTHEAST U.S. (UMNS) - One month after Hurricane Sandy struck, it's possible to summarize the church's response in numbers, though these statistics are ever-changing as relief efforts continue in earnest. But the numbers - impressive as they are - show only the tiniest facade of the story. Read story

'They were beyond human'

NEW YORK (UMNS) - Across the country, the United Methodist Committee on Relief has trained more than 10,000 Emergency Response Team members who help people. Their specialized training and credentials allow them to move quickly into a disaster zone, as happened recently in Union Beach, N.J., once they officially are deployed. Read story

Newport church keeps up Sandy relief

NEWPORT, N.J. (UMNS) - For the past several weeks, Newport United Methodist Church in Cumberland County has been operating an all-volunteer relief effort for survivors of Hurricane Sandy. Scores of local families who suffered damage from the storm have been going to the church to pick up supplies ranging from clothes to food, the South Jersey Times reports. Read story

Bishop Stokes, scholar and reconciler, dies

PERDIDO KEY, Fla. (UMNS) - Bishop Mack B. Stokes, who taught thousands of preachers and desegregated Mississippi United Methodists, died Nov. 21 in Perdido Key. He was 100, just a month shy of his 101st birthday. Before his election to the episcopacy, he taught for 31 years at Emory's Candler School of Theology in Atlanta, holding its first named chair. From 1972 to 1980, he was bishop of the Jackson (Miss.) Episcopal Area, where he took on the task of merging African-American and white annual conferences into two integrated conferences. Read full story and post a comment

45 United Methodists in diverse Congress

WASHINGTON (UMNS) - Forty-five United Methodists will serve in the 113th United States Congress, three fewer than in the 112th. The new Congress, which will convene on Jan. 3, 2013, will be the most religiously diverse in the nation's history with the first Hindu in either chamber, the first Buddhist in the Senate and the first member describing her religion as "none." Read story and post a comment

United Methodists reach out in Congo crisis

NEW YORK (UMNS) - As rebel fighters have overtaken Goma and the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries and United Methodist Committee on Relief have expressed support and prayers to Bishop Gabriel Unda Yemba, who leads the denomination's East Congo episcopal area. Read story

Mets serve lunch at United Methodist mission

FAR ROCKAWAY, N.Y. (UMNS) - Mets pitcher Matt Harvey donned a pair of blue latex gloves for a workout, serving up Thanksgiving side dishes instead of 92-mile-per-hour fastballs at the United Methodist Center in Far Rockaway. About 20 other members of the team's organization joined the right-hander to serve nearly 300 meals. Read full story

Ministry helps change perceptions of AIDS

KENNETT SQUARE, Pa. (UMNS) - The Rev. Deborah Tanksley-Brown and H.U.B. (Helping Us Be) of Hope, a ministry of the United Methodist Eastern Pennsylvania Annual (regional) Conference,work with local churches dealing with AIDS, Interpreter Online reports. They help people who don't have AIDS understand the facts of how the disease can be contracted and provide support to those who do and face stigmas that can isolate them from family, friends and faith communities. Read story

Yemba to lead meeting of Central African church leaders

NAIROBI, Kenya (UMNS) - United Methodist Bishop David Yemba, Central Congo Episcopal Area, will chair an ecumenical meeting of church leaders from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi, Rwanda and Uganda Dec. 3-5 to explore ways to help restore lasting peace in the Great Lakes Region. Yemba is one of five vice presidents of the All Africa Conference of Churches, which is hosting the meeting.

Christians affirm call for 'summit' with Jews

WASHINGTON (UMNS) -The United Methodist Church is among 13 Christian religious groups that sent a letter Nov. 21 to Jewish leaders who criticized the former's letter to Congress last month requesting a review of whether military aid to Israel violates U.S. law. Read story

Don't push poor off 'fiscal cliff,' religious leaders say

WASHINGTON (UMNS) - Religious officials from 16 states joined the heads of some of the nation's most prominent Christian, Jewish and Muslim organizations, including Church World Service, Nov. 29 to tell the Obama Administration and Congress, "Don't push the poor and most vulnerable off the 'fiscal cliff.'" Read story

'Y' so many 'nones'?

MINNEAPOLIS (UMNS) - "United Methodist organizations should find millenials where we are: online," writes Amanda Yanchury, of the Minnesota Annual (regional) Conference. "Millenials crave community and collaboration for the greater good. They are more likely to join up and keep up with the church if they believe the church is both doing good in the community and the world and is open to 'people like them.'" Read commentary

Upper Room translates HIV/AIDS prayer book

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) - As the threat of HIV rises in the Philippines, The Upper Room has translated a booklet offering prayers and meditations for persons living with HIV/AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis and other diseases into Tagalog, which is spoken by 96 percent of Filipinos. The Philippines is one of nine countries reporting a 25 percent increase in HIV/AIDS cases from 2001 to 2011, according to latest Report on Global AIDS Epidemic from the Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS). For more information

Europeans find new ways to train pastors

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) - Traditional residential seminary classes, intensive classes once a month, intensive weeklong classes, and the Methodist E-Academy are among the ways theological education and training of pastors for The United Methodist Church are being delivered in Europe. Read story

Planning relief for residents of eastern Congo

NEW YORK (UMNS) - The United Methodist Committee on Reliefhas been in conversation with members of the ACT Alliance on how to respond to some 140,000 displaced in and around Goma, a major city overtaken by the M23 rebels last week in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. According to some news reports, the rebels were starting to withdraw Nov. 28.

More from ACT Alliance
UN Relief story

Reconciliation starts with a walk together

MINNESOTA HIGHWAY 22 (UMNS) - "As I walked that first mile, my ears started to get cold for lack of a hat," wrote the Rev. Carol Zaagsma, pastor of connections and Christian fellowship at Centenary United Methodist Church in Mankato. "My thoughts soon turned from my own discomfort to that of the women and children on that forced march 150 years ago." She tells of the shared walk in memory of the Dakota women, children and elders forced to march 150 miles to concentration camps at Mankato and Fort Snelling in November 1862. Read story

Asbury receives Lilly grant for student debt

WILMORE, Ky. (UMNS) - Asbury Theological Seminary has been awarded a $249,741 grant by the Lilly Endowment from the endowment's Theological School Initiative to Address Economic Challenges Facing Future Ministers. The three-year pilot program is to enable theological schools to examine and strengthen financial and educational issues to improve the economic well-being of future pastoral leaders. Read story

Iliff to launch Justice and Peace Studies

DENVER (UMNS) - The United Methodist-related Iliff School of Theology is launching a new certificate in Justice and Peace Studies. The certificate offers an interdisciplinary program that draws from theology, ethics, philosophy and the social sciences with an emphasis on three related content areas: food justice, the environment and globalization. The certificate will be available starting January 2013. Read story

Wingfield named to clergy life post

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) - The Rev. Myron Wingfield, superintendent for the San Diego District in the California-Pacific Annual (regional) Conference, has been appointed assistant general secretary for clergy life in the United Methodist Board of Higher Education and Ministry's Division of Ordained Ministry. Wingfield will oversee the work of providing resources for various forms of pastoral supervision and clergy support systems. The appointment is effective Jan. 7, 2013. Read story

Mugabe speaks at Africa University

MUTARE, Zimbabwe (UMNS) - Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe addressed a Distinguished Public Lecture on Nov. 16 at Africa University, thanking The United Methodist Church for promoting education and building a pan-African institution of higher education. Mugabe's lecture, attended by more than 3,000 people, officially launched the university's 20th anniversary celebrations slated for 2013.

"This institution teaches us a great lesson. Thank you, United Methodist Church," he said. "We benefited immensely from the support we got from other countries during our liberation struggle. &ellipsis; Therefore, in exchange, let us reciprocate what Africa University has done for us; we thank you for this generosity."

Bishop Eben Nhiwatiwa, Zimbabwe Episcopal Area, and Bishop David Yemba, the school's chancellor, thanked the president for honoring the university's anniversary celebration. Vice Chancellor Fanuel Tagwira thanked Mugabe for giving the church "the first charter to open a university." See photos

Tribute to late Chinese church leader

GENEVA (UMNS) - The Rev.Olav Fykse Tveit, general secretary of the World Council of Churches, has issued a statement of tribute to the late Bishop K.H. Ting, who was a bishop of the Anglican church and became a church leader of modern China. Bishop Ting died Nov. 22 at 97. Read full statement

Bishop condemns for-profit detention of immigrants

LOS ANGELES (UMNS) - Los Angeles Area Bishop Minerva G. Carcaño has issued a statement condemning the for-profit detention of immigrants in the United States as a "moral outrage."The detention of immigrants is indiscriminant, she wrote. "There are immigrants who are being held in detention centers today who have their visas to be in this country, others who are asylum seekers or even U.S. legal residents," she wrote. Both the United Methodist Board of Pension and Health Benefits and the United Methodist Church Foundation have decided to screen out investments in private prison companies. Read full statement

Fire extensively damages Georgia church

COLUMBUS, Ga. (UMNS) - A suspected electrical fire did extensive damage to the sanctuary of South Columbus United Methodist Church late Thanksgiving night, its pastor, the Rev. Reggie Williams, told the Ledger-Enquirer newspaper. The sanctuary is unusable, so the congregation gathered Sunday in the worship center of St. Luke United Methodist Church. Williams said it's too early to estimate the cost of repairs and how long the congregation will be displaced, but the building was insured, and the community and the denomination are already reaching out to the congregation. Read story

BLOG: Egypt: Advent in Tahrir Square

CAIRO (UMNS) - United Methodist photographer Paul Jeffrey reflects on Advent, a visit with Coptic Christians and the continuing protests in Tahrir Square, where Egyptian police both protected and beat him. Read blog

BLOG: Goma once more needs reason to hope

NEW YORK (UMNS) - Just as it did in the 1990s, The United Methodist Church needs to address a continuing crisis in eastern Congo, supporting the church and the people there, writes UMNS staff writer Linda Bloom in her Bloombytes blog. Rebel fighters took control of Goma, a provincial capital, last week. Read blog and post a comment

BLOG: Lon Morris endowment funds controversy

JACKSONVILLE, Texas (UMNS) - The Wall Street Journal reports that the legal battle over access to the endowment funds of the now-bankrupt United Methodist-related Lon Morris College has touched a nerve within the nonprofit community. Read story

UMTV: Mother-Son AIDS Journey

PHOENIX (UMNS) - Heidi Simon's fiancé died of AIDS when she was 19 years old. Her test came back negative but 20 years later the disease showed up in her and in her infant son. Simon credits her church family at Northampton United Methodist Church in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, for supporting her after the unexpected diagnosis and helping her understand she was not alone. Watch video

UMTV: Church honors veterans' stories of valor

LANCASTER, Pa. (UMNS) - First United Methodist of Lancaster became the support family for Diane Styer when she lost her 19-year-old son Brandon, who was in an Army convoy in Afghanistan that struck an explosive. Three years later on Veterans Day 2012, she and the church worked together to honor those who serve in the military as the church hosted a special tribute to military families and displayed personal photos and mementos of veterans from World War II to the present.

Watch UMTV video
Read story and post a comment

UMTV: Church helps addicts heal

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (UMNS) - Monte Payne tells UMTV and United Methodist News Service how he pulls from personal pain and experience to counsel men and women battling addiction. It took more than one try for Payne to stay clean, but he finally found peace and sobriety with help from Theressa Hoover United Methodist Church in Little Rock.

Watch video
Read story and post a comment

Category: Weekly Digest
Tags: News Summaries