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Weekly Digest: October 18, 2013


UMNS Weekly Digest

October 18 2013

NOTE: This is a digest of news features provided by United Methodist Communications for Oct.14 - Oct. 18. 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

News around the connection

$25 million central conference pension goal reached

GLENVIEW, Ill. (UMNS) - The United Methodist Board of Pension and Health Benefits announced Wednesday that the Central Conference Pension Initiative reached its $25 million challenge goal with a $217,000 "tithe" contribution from the Board of Discipleship board of directors. The initiative addressed the challenge to provide a long-term foundation for retirement security for dedicated pastors outside the United States who would otherwise have little or no pension support when they retire from ministry. Read news release

Wedding bells sound challenge for church

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (UMNS) - On Oct. 26, Joe Openshaw and Bobby Prince will participate in a holy ceremony officiated and blessed by United Methodist retired Bishop Melvin Talbert in the presence of their family and friends. The three are publicly defying the denomination's law book, which states marriage is only between a man and a woman and that no ordained United Methodist elder can officiate at a same-sex union. Openshaw and Prince say they feel that a holy wedding will "make their lives complete." Read story and post a comment

Bishop Wertz, uniting leader, dies at 97

CARLISLE, Pa. (UMNS) - Bishop D. Frederick Wertz, who led the West Virginia, Washington and Harrisburg (Pa.) episcopal areas, died Oct. 16 at 97. Wertz, who was elected to the episcopacy in 1968, was the longest-serving of current U.S. bishops. He played a crucial role in uniting the Methodist and Evangelical United Brethren denomination into today's United Methodist Church. Read story and post comment

Reconsidering Charles Wesley, through his letters

MANCHESTER, England (UMNS) - Ten years of hard scholarly labor went into "The Letters of Charles Wesley, with Introduction and Notes: Volume 1 (1728-1756)." Gareth Lloyd, co-editor of the book and curator in charge of Methodist manuscript and archival collections at the John Rylands Library at the University of Manchester in England, argues that the great hymn-writer was an admirable, if complicated, man whose contribution to the founding of Methodism deserves greater appreciation. Read interview and post a comment

Bishop Hagiya seeks prayer for Bishop Tuell

PORTLAND, Ore. (UMNS) - In a special email to the Oregon-Idaho Annual (regional) Conference, Bishop Grant Hagiya requested prayer for retired Bishop Jack Tuell, who is being treated for prostate cancer. Read the message

UMTV: John Goodwin's church photos of a lifetime

NEW YORK (UMNS) - United Methodist John C. Goodwin realized at a young age that pictures are powerful. He has dedicated his career as a photographer to bringing about social change. In Church Photos of a Lifetime, John C. Goodwin shares his most famous photos and the perspective that comes from having a front row seat for history. Watch video

UMCOR: $700,000 in new U.S. disaster grants

NEW YORK (UMNS) - The board of the United Methodist Committee on Relief has approved nearly $700,000 in new grants to sustain long-term recovery efforts in U.S. localities dealing with fallout from tornadoes, floods, hurricanes and an explosion. Read story

Final Japan earthquake grants to be disbursed

NEW YORK (UMNS) - Disbursement of the remaining Japan Emergency Advance funds raised for the United Methodist Committee on Relief after the horrific 2011 triple disaster - more than $6.3 million of the $12 million raised - has been approved by the agency's board of directors. Read story

14 new missionaries ready for placements

NEW YORK (UMNS) - Fourteen new United Methodist missionaries answered "yes" to the question, "Do you believe you have been led by the Holy Spirit to do this work?" as they were sent for ministry placements in Africa, Asia, the Caribbean and the United States. Read story

Dozen countries at deaf ministries summit

NAIROBI, Kenya (UMNS) - Last month, about 130 people from more than a dozen countries gathered for the third Global Methodist Missions Conference for the Deaf. Participants came from Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Korea, Nigeria, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Uganda, the United Kingdom, the United States, Zimbabwe and more. "Each country has its own sign language," explained the Rev. Tom Hudspeth, who was part of the delegation from the United Methodist Committee on Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Ministries. Julia Kayser has the story. Read story

Pakistani bishop thanks United Methodists

NEW YORK (UMNS) - Bishop Rt. Rev. Humphrey Peters, bishop of Peshawar for the Church of Pakistan, thanked Thomas Kemper, top executive of the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries, for his recent letter of condolence and support. "It is taking a little longer to respond to all friends, well-wishers and the body of Christ for their prayers, concern and solidarity. Still too busy after the suicide attack at the All Saints. The real task of taking care of the orphans, widows, disabled, people who have lost their earning hands and the scattered ones has started now. Do remember us in your special prayers," Peters wrote.

Messages of solidarity with Kenya and Pakistan
Christians united in Pakistan and seeking friends
Peshawar Dioceses

Migration challenged as development tool

NEW YORK (UMNS) - Migrants are human beings who cannot be reduced to mere commodities to be traded and exchanged in the global market. This declaration was in a 17-point advocacy paper from about 100 representatives of some 60 churches, ecumenical groups and migrant organizations from around the world. The Rev. Liberato Bautista, who directs the United Methodist Board of Church and Society's U.N. and International Affairs office, has the story.

Read story
Churches witnessing with migrants

Alan Morrison heading to Pennsylvania

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) - The Rev. Alan J. Morrison, who took a lead role in planning the 2008 and 2012 General Conferences, announced on Facebook on Oct. 14 that he would be departing the General Council on Finance and Administration to serve as pastor of First United Methodist Church, Monongahela, Pa., in the Western Pennsylvania Annual (regional) Conference. He will take on his role in December, according to GCFA. For seven years, Morrison served the denomination's finance agency as travel and meeting planning manager/General Conference business manager. In August 2012, the agency announced Morrison would take on other duties as director of support services and Sara Hotchkiss, his former assistant, would become General Conference business manager. GCFA has not decided whether it will continue his current position, said Sharon Dean, the agency's director of communications and administrative services.

Responding to the U.S. government shutdown

Washington church serves furloughed workers

WASHINGTON (UMNS) - The impact of the ongoing government shutdown is affecting people in the heart of Washington. Erik Alsgaard of the Baltimore-Washington Annual (regional) Conference reports that Mount Vernon Place United Methodist Church opened its doors to serve soup to government workers on furlough. The Rev. Donna Claycomb Sokol estimates that the shutdown has affected about 20 percent of her congregation. Read story

'Faithful Filibuster' addresses government shutdown

WASHINGTON (UMNS) - Religious leaders have been standing across from the U.S. Capitol this week in front of the United Methodist Building to read the more than 2,000 verses of Holy Scripture charging humanity to care for hungry and poor. This "Faithful Filibuster" began Oct. 9. Sponsors said it will continue at the beginning of each day's session of Congress. The United Methodist Board of Church and Society, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, National Association of Evangelicals, the Salvation Army, Bread for the World and Sojourners are among the participants. Read story

United Methodists in the news

Church prepares makeshift clinic for Kenyans

COLLEGE STATION, Texas (UMNS) - Outside Christ United Methodist Church, volunteers have been scraping the rust from a 40-foot shipping container, adding new flooring, repainting and figuring out how to wire for electricity. They are transforming the container into a mobile medical clinic for the Kenyan slum of Kawangware, a few miles southwest of the Nairobi mall where terrorists shot and killed about 70 people in September. The reports on this missionary effort. Read story

25 countries represented in Tennessee church

CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) - New Providence United Methodist Church embraces diversity and decided it wanted more. It did not happen overnight, but the congregation now counts 25 countries represented at the Sunday afternoon worship service. The explains how the church expanded its mission and its programs. Read story

UMTV: Church meal for military

CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) - When the New Providence United Methodist Church decided to create a ministry to support members of its congregation, it became a real family affair. Located near Fort Campbell military base, the church started the Eagles' Wings Ministry to pair military families with sponsors who help shepherd the children and spouses of deployed soldiers. Watch video

Couple accused of stealing $444,000 from church

MANLIUS, N.Y. (UMNS) - A former treasurer of the United Methodist Church of Manlius and her husband have been indicted on charges of embezzling $444,000 from the church. reported church officials said the endowment of the church - much of it from people who left the money in their wills - was wiped out. Read story

News around conferences

Anchorage church 'sheds light' on abuse

ANCHORAGE, Alaska - Domestic violence is the leading cause of injury to women in the United States, and three women perish at the hands of abusers daily. First United Methodist Church Anchorage is showing people of faith what they can do. Read story

Ever seen a 'John Wesley' jack-o-lantern?

MCKENZIE, Tenn. (UMNS) - The Rev. Jason W. Jones at McKenzie First United Methodist Church is a talented pumpkin carver. Lane Gardner Camp of the Memphis Annual (regional) Conference has his story, and you will have to click on the link to see Jones' carving on John Wesley, the founder of Methodism. Read story

Sing Out features fundraising keynote

VICKSBURG, Mich. (UMNS) - "A Church in the Valley by the Wildwood" has raised $457,206 for the United Methodist Committee on Relief over the past 25 years. That old gospel favorite and many others like it have been raising the roof for mission at the Vicksburg United Methodist Church since 1989. Kay DeMoss, MIConnect senior editor, shares the story of the tuneful fundraiser. Read story

Resources for churches

Resources for Laity Sunday

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) - Lay people make all the difference in The United Methodist Church, which is why the denomination celebrates Laity Sunday each year. This year's celebration is Sunday, Oct. 20. United Methodist Board of Discipleship offers resources to celebrate and cultivate lay leaders. Learn more

Revised edition of "The Christian as Minister" available

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) - The revised and updated edition of "The Christian as Minister: An Exploration Into the Meaning of God's Call" is an introductory book for people considering God's call to ministry. The book, published by the United Methodist Board of Higher Education and Ministry, also presents an overview of the avenues for ministry in The United Methodist Church. Read news release

History of Hymns: 'Be Still, My Soul'

DALLAS (UMNS) - C. Michael Hawn writes about the well-known, stirring hymn, "Be Still, My Soul," explaining how it resulted from the work of four people in three countries over three centuries. Hawn's History of Hymns, a weekly column, is a joint effort with the United Methodist Board of Discipleship. Read story

University and seminary news

Black College Fund grant enables Clark Atlanta repairs

ATLANTA (UMNS) - Clark Atlanta University recently completed infrastructure improvements to historic McPheeters-Dennis Hall, which houses several academic departments. A United Methodist Church Black College Fund grant of $300,000 paid for replacing the roof, which was more than 50 years old.

Read news release
Black College Fund
Clark Atlanta University

Wesley accepting applications for leadership doctorate

WASHINGTON (UMNS) - United Methodist-related Wesley Theological Seminary is accepting applications for doctor of ministry in church leadership excellence. The application deadline is Dec. 2 for the May 2014 cohort in Washington. The program draws on the combined resources of the Wesley faculty and the Lewis Center for Church Leadership. Learn more

Blogs and commentaries

'It is truly all about the connection'

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) - In a commentary on why he is a United Methodist, Moses Kumar, the top executive of the denomination's General Council on Finance and Administration, notes that "United Methodists may not always agree on the best way to solve the problems of this world. But what we do all agree on is that we can do greater work together as one body than we can do by ourselves separately." Read commentary

Reasons to add off-site Christmas Eve services

BRENTWOOD, Tenn. (UMNS) - The Rev. Mack Strange of Brentwood United Methodist Church encourages congregations to consider offering a Christmas Eve service outside the sanctuary and in their community - be it a mall, nursing home or even a bar. "The celebration of God's incarnate love for us in Jesus Christ provides the church with an incredible opportunity for outreach," he writes in a column for Wesley Theological Seminary's 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 "Intergenerational Activities for Children and Older Adults," Wednesday, Oct. 23 - 10 a.m. CT, focuses on children in intergenerational ministry and activities that can be replicated. To register.

Webinar "Breaking Through the Stained Glass Ceiling: Women Pastoring Large Churches," Thursday, Oct. 24 - 7 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.

Reformation Day at Emory: "Reformation Women," Thursday, Oct. 24 - 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. ET, event at Emory University's Candler School of Theology in Atlanta celebrates the contributions of women to the Reformation of the 16th century. $10 for optional lunch. Details.

Great Day of Service, Saturday, Oct. 26 - United Methodists and community partners, along with United Methodist Communications' Rethink Church, will work with the town of Wildomar, Calif., to restore and reopen Wildomar Parks. Volunteers welcome. Details.

"Catechesis: Why United Methodists Must Recover Their Doctrinal Heritage," Saturday, Oct. 26 - 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. ET, William J. Abraham and David F. Watson will speak about what some see as the collapse of doctrine in The United Methodist Church at United Theological Seminary in Dayton, Ohio. Evangelical Fellowship of West Ohio is a sponsor. Details.

Deadline to register for online course "Tools for Increasing Your Church's Vitality," Wednesday, Oct. 30 - Nov. 6-Dec. 18, featuring "Vital Churches: Changing Communities and the World" by the Rev. Jorge Acevedo, from United Methodist Communications, $49.99. Details.

Deadline to register for online course "Communicating Faith in the 21st Century," Wednesday, Oct. 30 - Nov. 6-Dec. 18, designed to help Christians reclaim their voice to speak the good news using today's communications tools, from United Methodist Communications, $29.99. Details.

Deadline to register for online course "Web Ministry 100: What is Web Ministry?" Wednesday, Oct. 30 - Nov. 6-Dec. 18, foundational information and theological basis for creating and maintaining Web ministry, from United Methodist Communications, $49.99. Details.

Deadline to register for online course "Welcoming Ministry 100," Wednesday, Oct. 30 - Nov. 6-Dec. 18, leading local churches to practice radical hospitality, from United Methodist Communications, $29.99. Details.

Deadline to register for online course "Moodle Basic Training 100," Wednesday, Oct. 30 - Nov. 6-Dec. 18, learn how to design online Bible studies and other online courses, from United Methodist Communications, $89.99. 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 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.

All Saints' Day, Friday, Nov. 1 - Worship resources for the day or nearest Sunday from the United Methodist Board of Discipleship.

Free webinar "Exploring the Bible through Multiple Intelligences," Tuesday, Nov. 5 - 6:30 p.m. CT, applying work of Harvard University's Howard Gardner to Bible study. To register.

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.

Red Bird Mission Appalachian Craft Fair, Saturday, November 9 - 9 a.m.-2 p.m., Bethel United Methodist Church-Chewsville, 21006 Twin Springs Dr., Smithsburg, Md. Details.

Spirituality of Advent Retreat, Saturday, Nov. 9 - 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. CT, Scarritt-Bennett Center, Nashville, Tenn. $25. Details.

"Day1," Sundays, Nov. 17 and 24 - The Rev. Amy L. Gearhart, senior pastor of Missouri United Methodist Church in Columbia, will be the featured speaker on the nationally syndicated radio program "Day1." To listen.

Online course "Behold! Cultivating Attentiveness in the Season of Advent," Dec. 1-25 - eRetreat featuring Pamela Hawkins's Advent resource "Behold! Cultivating Attentiveness in the Season of Advent," presented by Upper Room eLearning and BeADisciple, $40. Details.

Online course "The Uncluttered Heart: Making Room for God during Advent and Christmas," Dec. 1 Jan. 5, 2014 - eRetreat offers guided reflection through the weeks of Advent on through Epiphany. Each day provides a quotation, Scripture passage, reflection, prayer. This online retreat is presented by Upper Room eLearning and BeADisciple, $40. Details.

Category: Weekly Digest
Tags: News Summaries