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UMNS Weekly Digest - October 04, 2013


UMNS Weekly Digest

October 4, 2013

NOTE: This is a digest of news features provided by United Methodist Communications for Sept.30 - Oct. 7. 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

United Methodist and Communion

Moratorium, study urged on online communion

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) - A group of 27 United Methodist leaders is urging the denomination's bishops to call a halt for now on the practice of Holy Communion online and do further study of online ministries. Read story and post a comment

Online communion sparks questions for digital age

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) - A conversation about whether the sacrament of the Lord's Supper could be administered online became one of the trending topics among United Methodists on Twitter this week. The Rev. Larry Hollon, top executive of United Methodist Communications, describes what happened as "constructive conversation that began to grapple with what it means to be a faithful follower of Jesus in the 21st century."

Read the commentary
Read more about the online conversation
Join the conversation using #onlinecommunion

United Methodists and communion

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) - What do United Methodists mean when they call this act a sacrament? These and other questions answered in this special report on communion.

Read questions and answers
Watch the bread and the cup

World Communion Sunday offering supports seminary students

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) - Six seminary students involved in a scholarship and mentoring program for racial-ethnic students who plan to be ordained as deacons or elders in The United Methodist Church are receiving their M.Div. degree this year. Funding for this program comes from local church offerings on World Communion Sunday, held this year on Oct. 6. Read story

News around the connection

`Mother church' of U.S. Methodism reborn

FREDERICA, Del. (UMNS) - Barratt's Chapel, which dates to 1780 and is the oldest existing Methodist house of worship in America, is showing new signs of life. The first regular worship services in decades occurred there this summer. Attendance grew during the 10 weeks, persuading Peninsula-Delaware Annual (regional) Conference officials to commit to a repeat next year, with a season twice as long. Read story

Faith leaders warn of implications of U.S. shutdown

WASHINGTON (UMNS) - A group of U.S. faith leaders warned Sept. 30 that the impending shutdown of the U.S. government has "enormous implications," both at home and abroad, for the poor and those trying to fill in the gaps to support them.

Read story
Read letter from 33 faith leaders

Across from U.N., a place for the people

UNITED NATIONS (UMNS) - Diplomats may have priority at the United Nations, but directly across the street is a building where grassroots voices are heard. For 50 years, the United Methodist-owned Church Center for the United Nations has welcomed those voices, prayed with them and provided hospitality and meeting space. Read story and post a comment

Two bishops differon same-sex union

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) - Retired Bishop Melvin Talbert has announced he will officiate at a wedding for two men on Oct. 26 in Birmingham, Ala. Bishop Debra Wallace-Padgett, episcopal leader for the North Alabama Annual (regional) Conference issued a statement Monday asking Talbert not to officiate at the wedding. "I told her respectfully I could not agree to her request," he said. Read story and post comment

Women's commission taking pulse of denomination

NEW YORK (UMNS) - The United Methodist Commission on the Status and Role of Women is talking with women and men across the denomination to gauge the progress of its work for "full and equal responsibility and participation of women in the total life and mission of the church." Susan Keaton reports on the outcome of a recent meeting. Read story

Bishop urges men to cross borders

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) - Mississippi Area Bishop James E. Swanson Sr. is urging United Methodist Men to cross borders. "Border crossings occur when people get outside of their normal routine, their educational disciplines, their ethnic group and their comfort zone where they live on autopilot," said Swanson in an e-letter to United Methodist Men.
Read story

Agency adds $100,000 to malaria fight

CHEVY CHASE, Md. (UMNS) - The governing body of the United Methodist Board of Church and Society voted unanimously at its fall meeting to contribute $100,000 to the denomination's Imagine No Malaria campaign. The money will help expand field coordinator work in 10 conferences. Read news release

Church and Society board meets

CHEVY CHASE, Md. (UMNS) - The board of directors of the United Methodist Board of Church and Society met here in September to approve grants to ethnic local churches, provide malaria aid and issue a statement condemning chemical weapons use in Syria, calling for a negotiated peace. Read story

History of Hymns: 'What Gift Can We Bring'

DALLAS (UMNS) - Jane Marshall wanted to give her Dallas congregation of Northaven United Methodist Church something special on the occasion of its 25th anniversary in 1980. So, she composed a new hymn United Methodists still use to praise God. C. Michael Hawn has the story. Read story

News around conferences

A call for prayer and healing for Bishop Swanson

JACKSON, Miss. (UMNS) - Bishop James E. Swanson Sr., who leads the Mississippi Annual (regional) Conference, is asking for prayer following his recent diagnosis of prostate cancer. He is scheduled for surgery Nov. 12. Watch his video announcement

Post to Bishop Swanson's Facebook page

Two years after Irene: Catskills slowly recovering

PRATTSVILLE, N.Y. (UMNS) - In the two years since flash floods spawned by Hurricane Irene ripped across the Catskills, the churches in hard-hit towns like Prattsville and Margaretville have played vital roles in the recovery of their communities. The Rev. Joanne S. Utley, editor of The Vision, reports. Read story and post a comment

Bishop thanks Holston for anti-malaria efforts

ALCOA, Tenn. (UMNS) - Holston Area Bishop Mary Virginia Taylor thanked the Holston Annual (regional) Conference for its efforts to save more than 100,000 lives in Africa. The Call has the story. Read story

United Methodists in the news

Florida United Methodists join in SundayServe

ORMOND BEACH, Fla. (UMNS) - Thousands of United Methodists across five Florida counties packed meals, sorted through donated shoes, beautified school buildings and joined in other projects on Sept. 29 rather than have their usual Sunday morning services. Read Daytona News-Journal story

At 225, church goes beyond walls to serve

ORANGEBURG, S.C. (UMNS) - "What we give &ellipsis; is an indication of what we can give to the rest of the world: passion for God and compassion for people, " says the Rev. Frederick N. Yebuah, who will give the sermon at White House United Methodist Church's 225th anniversary celebration Sunday, Oct. 6. Read Times and Democrat story

Bicycle ministry gives wheels, hope

OCALA, Fla. (UMNS) - A weekly bicycle ministry is part of an outreach for the needy and homeless every Tuesday at the Family Center of the First United Methodist Church near downtown Ocala. Read Ocala Star Banner story

Pianist serves Missouri church for 70 years

WHITEWATER, Mo. (UMNS) - For 70 years, Mildred Reynolds has put her hands on the piano keyboards to make the music that leads the Whitewater United Methodist Church in its worship. "I hope God will grant us many more years together, " Reynolds said. Read Southeast Missourian story

University and seminary news

Schools working to recruit minorities in science, math

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) - Historically black colleges and universities supported by The United Methodist Church's Black College Fund are working to recruit more women and minorities in the academic areas of science, technology, engineering and math. Read news release

Education commission drafts plan for $5 million fund

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) - A new commission that oversees use of the $5 million fund for theological education in the Central Conferences of The United Methodist Church plans to disburse grants totaling $1 million a year. "The need to improve theological education to enhance servant leadership in the Central Conferences is an imperative," said Liberian Bishop John Innis. Read story

Addressing domestic violence

Domestic violence awareness focus for October

DES MOINES, Wash. (UMNS) - October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. In a blog, Ellen Johanson of the Pacific Northwest Annual (regional) Conference shares her hope that more congregations of all faiths "will take up the challenge of making our homes and churches safer places, so that no church family will experience the tragedy that mine did 33 years ago."

Read the blog
Read the updated "Dos and don'ts with a battered woman."

Baltimore-Washington targets domestic violence

WASHINGTON (UMNS)-As leaders of the Baltimore-Washington Annual (regional) Conference met recently for three hours to address domestic violence, 800 women in the United States were beaten in their homes by a spouse or partner. Working together, United Methodist Men and United Methodist Women in the conference hope to challenge - and change - that alarming statistic. Read the story from the United Methodist Board of Church and Society

Other news of interest

Mourning migrant deaths near Italy

NEW YORK - "The deaths of more than 130 migrants from Eritrea and Somalia in a boat accident within sight of land off the Italian island of Lampedusa is a tragedy that brings us to our knees in prayer and then lifts us to our feet in holy indignation," says Thomas Kemper, top executive of the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries. Kemper calls on people of faith to address issues of injustice and to advocate for migration policy reform.

Read statement
Read statement from World Council of Churches

More nations, including U.S., sign Arms Trade Treaty

UNITED NATIONS (UMNS) - For three years, the World Council of Churches and its members have campaigned for the Arms Trade Treaty. Last week, the United States and 26 other countries signed the new treaty at the U.N. General Assembly, bringing the total to 112. The treaty still requires ratification by the U.S. Senate. Read story

Abrams to speak about reducing 'alcohol harm'

NEW YORK (UMNS) - The Rev. Cynthia Abrams will be the featured speaker at the "Faith United to Reduce Alcohol Harm in NYC" event Oct. 15 at the Interchurch Center, 475 Riverside Dr. She is director of Alcohol, Other Addictions and Health Care at the United Methodist Board of Church and Society. Read more

Workshop set for pastor advocates

CHICAGO (UMNS) - Associates in Advocacy, which offers aid to troubled United Methodist pastors, including those who face official complaints, will offer training Nov. 12-14 for advocates of pastors and lay people. Speakers include the Rev. Scott Campbell, an experienced counsel to clergy under complaint; the Rev. Larry Pickens, former member of the Judicial Council; and Phil Amerson, president of Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary. The workshop is scheduled at the Super 8 Motel O'Hare. Learn more

Blogs and commentaries

Bishop laments government shutdown

WASHINGTON (UMNS) - Bishop Marcus Matthews of the Baltimore-Washington Annual (regional) Conference urges United Methodists to "call upon your elected officials to stand with integrity and oppose efforts by a few to threaten the common good." The bishop said that this is "not a time for finger-pointing or political one-upmanship. Rather, it is a season for strong and principled leadership based on the soundest principle of our democracy." Read statement

What does 'contemporary worship' really mean?

COTTONWOOD, Ariz. (UMNS) - "Every generation in every culture faces the question of 'contemporary worship,'" observes the Rev. Edwin Womack, a retired elder from the California-Pacific Annual (regional) Conference. Womack explores the meaning of "contemporary worship." Read commentary

Breaking good

REDMOND, Wash. (UMNS) - After joining millions of people in watching the "Breaking Bad" finale, Patrick Scriven of the Pacific Northwest Annual (regional) Conference writes about how the church can help people "break good." Read blog

Personnel news

Investment managing director named

GLENVIEW, Ill. (UMNS) -The Wespath Investment Management division of the United Methodist Board of Pension and Health Benefits has announced the promotion of Michael "Mike" Lohmeier to managing director of investment management. Read news release

Board of Higher Education and Ministry names research director

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) -Mark McCormack has accepted a position as director of research in the United Methodist Board of Higher Education and Ministry's Division of Higher Education. He began work on Oct. 1. Read news release

Board of Discipleship gets new laity leader

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) -Jodi L. Cataldo, director of leadership development for the Dakotas Annual (regional) Conference, will become the director of laity in leadership at the United Methodist Board of Discipleship on Dec. 1. Read news release

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.

College Day at Wesley Theological Seminary, Monday, Oct. 7 - 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. ET, college students can tour Wesley's main campus at 4500 Massachusetts Ave. N.W., Washington, D.C. Registration required. To register.

Deadline for tickets to AIDS Prayer Breakfast, 4:30 p.m. MT Monday, Oct. 7 - 8:30-10 a.m. MT Friday, Oct. 12, Bishop Fritz and Etta Mae Mutti will speak on "Dancing in a Wheelchair: How We Faced Losing Two Sons to AIDS" at St. Andrew United Methodist Church in Highlands Ranch, Colo. Tickets cost $10. Details.

Early-bird registration for Reach New Disciples Conference, Monday, Oct. 7 - 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. ET, Nov. 2, Wesley Theological Seminary's Lewis Center for Church Leadership, Washington. Details.

Free webinar "Long Range Planning as a Movement of Hope," Tuesday, Oct. 8 - 6:30 p.m. CT, Planning committees develop a strategic "big picture" that focuses beyond the walls of the church. To register.

Deadline to register for "Turning Connectional Living into Connectional Giving" free online course, Wednesday, Oct. 9 -Oct. 16-Nov. 27, course explores giving that supports the shared ministry and mission of The United Methodist Church. Details.

Deadline to register for "Moodle Facilitation: Best Practices" online course, Wednesday, Oct. 9 -Oct. 16-Dec. 11, United Methodist Communications online course builds knowledge and skills to perform interactive online course facilitation and instruction, $119.99 Details.

Free webinar "Top 10 Tips from Seasoned Children's Ministers," Wednesday, Oct. 9 - 10 a.m. CT, interactive video conference will offer the most useful tools for children's ministers, presented by the United Methodist Board of Discipleship. To register.

Free webinar "District Superintendents: Reaching Diverse, Younger and Non-churched People in your District," Thursday, Oct. 10 - 1 p.m. CT, How a district superintendent can help her or his churches join in this movement of Christ. To register.

Explore United, Tuesday, Oct. 15 - 9 a.m. ET, United Theological Seminary in Dayton, Ohio, will have an open house for prospective students. Details.

Window on Wesley, Tuesday, Oct. 15 and Wednesday, Oct. 16 - 9 a.m.-3:30 p.m. ET, opportunity to experience a day in the life of a Wesley Theological Seminary student. Details.

Wesleyan Leadership Conference, Thursday-Saturday, Oct. 17-19 - Fourth annual conference, with a focus on evangelism, at the United Methodist Board of Discipleship in Nashville. Open to all lay and clergy leaders. To register.

Creative Worship Workshop, Saturday, Oct. 19 - 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. ET, Life Enrichment Center, Fruitland Park, Fla., for preachers, artists, musicians and worship planners, sponsored by the Fellowship of United Methodists in Music and Worship Arts, Florida Chapter, and Mary Scifres Ministries. Details.

Deadline to register for Women, Theology and Ministry Annual Women's Forum: "Living Out Love," Tuesday, Oct. 22 - 11 a.m.4 p.m. ET, Friday, Nov. 1, featuring the Rev. Becca Stevens, Cox Hall, Emory University, $15. Details.

Webinar "Breaking Through the Stained Glass Ceiling: Women Pastoring Large Churches," Thursday, Oct. 24 - 7:00 p.m. EDT, editors of a new book that offers a glimpse into the daily lives and spiritual journeys of clergywomen who lead large churches will discuss the Lead Women Pastors Project of The United Methodist Church, $9.99. Details.

Convocation on the Black Church, Friday-Saturday, Oct. 25-26 - Presented by the Mississippi Annual (regional) Conference at Anderson United Methodist Church in Jackson and Hinds Community College in Pearl. Details.

Welcome Table at Wesley Theological Seminary, Monday, Oct. 28 and Thursday, Nov. 21 - 4 to 7:30 p.m. ET, prospective students can join a meal and attend a class at the seminary. Details.

"JustPeace101," Thursday-Saturday, Oct. 31-Nov. 2 - Event offers instruction in the theory, theology, principles and practices of conflict transformation. Led by JustPeace, The United Methodist Church's Center for Conflict Transformation, in Nashville, Tenn. Details.

In Mission Together, Thursday-Saturday, Nov. 7-9 - The United Methodist Board of Global Ministries will hold 50/50 Partnership Roundtable for United Methodists in the U.S., Eastern Europe and the Balkans. The gathering is at Cheviot United Methodist Church in Cincinnati, Ohio. Details.

Category: Weekly Digest
Tags: News Summaries