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UMNS Weekly Digest - October 19, 2012


NOTE: This is a digest of news features provided by United Methodist Communications for Oct. 16 - 22. 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

News Stories:



Eduard Khegay elected bishop of Eurasia

KAUNAS, Lithuania (UMNS) -The Rev. Eduard Khegay, assistant to Eurasia Area Bishop Hans Växby, was elected bishop of the Eurasia Episcopal Area. A native of Kazakhstan, the 42-year-old will be the first United Methodist bishop from the former Soviet Union. Read story and post a comment

Low funds hurt church's schools in Liberia

MONROVIA, Liberia (UMNS) - With no reliable salary, sometimes the only thing keeping teachers at Liberia's United Methodist schools is a dedication to their students. Amanda Kline, a junior at United Methodist-related Emory University in Atlanta, shares what she witnessed in Liberia and the difference the schools are making. Read full story and post a comment

Halloween alternatives gain fans

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (UMNS) - It's almost Halloween-Oct. 31-and wannabe ghosts and goblins are gearing up for a night of trick-or-treating. It's a dentist's favorite holiday. But many United Methodist churches, including Port Matilda United Methodist Charge in State College, are among the congregations that have in recent years offered light-filled alternatives to an evening focused on darkness and death. Learn of some boo-tiful Christian festivities. Read full story

N.C. churches benefit from 'labor of love'

MAXTON, N.C. (UMNS) - The United Methodist congregation in Maxton, a farming community of several thousand, was in a bind. Its historic building - one of the first built for an African-American congregation - was in such disrepair that it already had been condemned. The congregation got the help it needed from the North Carolina Annual (regional) Conference's unusual construction ministry. Read full story and post a comment

Shalom Summit looks back as it looks ahead

LOS ANGELES (UMNS) - The United Methodist Church's Shalom Initiative, which began in the aftermath of the L.A. riots, 20 years later has spread across North America and into Africa. Leaders recently gathered at the 20th Anniversary Shalom Summit to mark a turning point in the movement itself. Read full story and post a comment

United Methodist Communications, Harvard initiative team up

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) - United Methodist Communications and the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative have teamed up to find the most effective ways to use communication technologies to drive international development, build economic stability and provide life-saving aid. "We are looking at the ways that technology can enhance people's lives in remote places of the world," said the Rev. Larry Hollon, United Methodist Communications' top executive. Read full story

Concerns rise for Syrian Christians

NEW YORK (UMNS) - United Methodists who have had longtime relationships with Christians in the Middle East through ecumenical organizations are concerned about their plight in Syria and other countries. Read full story and post a comment

Bishop faults jurisdiction's gay issue stand

INDIANAPOLIS (UMNS) - Indiana Area Bishop Michael J. Coyner has identified what he sees as flaws in the Western Jurisdiction's stand against The United Methodist Church's teaching on homosexuality. In his Oct. 15 E-pistle to the Indiana Annual (regional) Conference, Coyner took exception to the Western Jurisdiction's actions in three ways. Read story and post a comment

Bishop condemns gambling initiative

PORTLAND, Ore. (UMNS) - Oregon voters are weighing whether to make the legal changes that would permit the first private casino in the state. Greater Northwest Area Bishop Grant J. Hagiya has written a pastoral letter urging churches and community to take "a serious look" at the effects of gambling. "The truth is that casinos are predatory by their very nature," Hagiya writes. "They make huge profits for owners from the gambling losses of our most susceptible neighbors."

Download Hagiya's pastoral letter
United Methodist teachings on gambling

Former child soldiers find hope in Congo

LUBUMBASHI, Democratic Republic of Congo (UMNS) - Until he met some United Methodists who were concerned about his well-being, Mpelembe Jean Luc, 17, was a child soldier in the Democratic Republic of the Congo who sought vengeance against his parents' killers. Mpelembe is one of the many beneficiaries of the denomination's Peace with Justice offering. Read full story

Preacher revisits history on horseback

JOHNSTOWN, Pa. (UMNS) - The Rev. Douglas Burns recently took a page from the history of the Methodist movement when preachers traveled miles on horseback to minister to churches on the circuit in the 1700s and 1800s. The Tribune-Democrat has the story. Read full story

Recharge your congregation's batteries this fall

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) - Take advantage of the cooler weather with great projects for your church to reach out to and invite in the community beyond your doors. United Methodist Communications offers six ideas. Read ideas

HUNGER ACTION: A tale of two churches

LAKELAND, Fla. (UMNS) - For many children, summer is a happy time, full of fun. For others, it is a time to hunger, not only for food, but also for something to nurture their spirits. This past summer, two small churches, with the help of neighboring congregations, put their resources, volunteers and hearts into action to make a big difference in the lives of local children. Writing for the Florida Annual (regional) Conference, Anne Dukes explains what they did. Read story

Adrian prof concludes 'Jeopardy!' streak

ADRIAN, Mich. (UMNS) - Stephanie Jass, history professor at United Methodist-related Adrian College, has ended her "Jeopardy!" domination. However, she does so after amassing an eight-game total of $147,570 and beating the previous record-winning streak by a woman with six wins. In another record, earned during her second show, Jass secured the season's highest single-game win total. Read full story

10-Fold features United Methodist missionionaries

NEW YORK (UMNS) - 10-Fold, webcasts about United Methodist projects around the world supported by the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries and the United Methodist Committee on Relief, will feature missionaries Oct. 22-27. Each visitor can trigger a $1 donation from sponsors to the week's project by clicking on the BE COUNTED button. Watch webcasts

Commissioning set for 8 missionaries

NEW YORK (UMNS) - Eight missionaries will be commissioned Oct. 23 at a worship service during the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries semi-annual meeting. The service, scheduled for 2 p.m. at the mission agency's offices at 475 Riverside Dr., will be webcast live online.

Read news release

Dean: Educators cannot forget legacy of accessibility

NASHVILLE. Tenn. (UMNS) - United Methodist education cannot afford to forget its legacy and heritage of making education accessible and available for the poor and underprivileged, the Rev. Kah-Jin Jeffrey Kuan told the United Methodist Board of Higher Education and Ministry's board of directors during the Oct. 10-12 fall meeting. Kuan, dean of The Theological School, Drew University, delivered the Willson Lecture on Oct. 12. Read full story

McGovern and the Social Gospel

SIOUX FALLS (UMNS) -Many United Methodists have known George McGovern not as a politician but as a faithful church member who emulated John Wesley in his quest to overcome hunger and poverty and promote peace and justice. "For him, the Social Gospel was not just a theory, but the core of his faith in seeking to make the world a better place," said the Rev. Donald Messer, a long-time friend. Read Story

Shaping United Methodist Women's future

DURHAM, N.C. (UMNS) - Nearly 200 teens and young women gathered at Duke University to learn, pray, plan and dance United Methodist Women into its new day. Interpreter Magazine has the story of how the women's mission agency is moving into the future separate from the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries. Read full story

Challenges face The United Methodist Church

BETHEL, Conn. (UMNS) - In a commentary for, the Rev. Vicky Fleming outlines what she sees as the challenges facing the denomination in the wake of the 2012 General Conference. One problem Fleming identifies: too many buildings. She is the pastor of Bethel United Methodist Church. Read full commentary

Interview with retiring Bishop Hans Växby

PSKOV, Russia (UMNS) - United Methodist Bishop Hans Växby, a native of Sweden, is retiring after overseeing the Eurasia Episcopal Area since 2005. His area includes Russia, Ukraine, Moldova, Belorussia and other former Soviet republics. In a wide-ranging interview with Anton Kuzmin, a United Methodist, Växby discusses the challenges Russian Protestants face, the importance of U.S.-Eurasian United Methodist partnerships and why Caleb is one of his biblical heroes. Read full interview in English

Trick or treat for UNICEF

NEW YORK (UMNS) - For more than 50 years, UNICEF and the United Methodist Board of Church and Society have worked together to save and improve the lives of children around the world. Last year, United Methodist trick-or-treaters raised more than $150,000 for UNICEF. The Board of Church and Society hopes to continue that tradition.

Read full story
Learn more about UNICEF

A new take on the devil and Halloween

DENVER (UMNS) - Just in time for Halloween, two scholars at United Methodist-related Iliff School of Theology have released "The Quest for the Historical Satan," an exploration of different perceptions of Old Scratch from pre-Christian roots to devilish representations during today's Halloween. The Rev. Miguel De La Torre, an ordained Baptist minister and professor of social ethics at Iliff, and Albert Hernández, Iliff's interim president, are co-authors. To order a copy from Cokesbury

Rethink Church campaign reclaims Christmas

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) - In a new advertising campaign for Advent, United Methodist Communications invites local churches to Reclaim Christmas and Rethink Church with a sermon series and a website redesign focused on simplifying the season and asking families to spend time, not money. The advertising campaign leads faith seekers to a redesigned and mobile-compatible homepage to launch on Nov. 4. To download the free sermon series by the Rev. Mike Slaughter and to update your congregation's Find-A-Church profile to include Advent activities, visit

Liberian president reports malaria control progress

NEW YORK (UMNS) - Liberia's President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf talked about a 33 percent decrease in malaria deaths in Africa over the past decade in a recent speech to the United Nations Secretary-General's Every Woman Every Child Dinner. However, as reports, Johnson Sirleaf, a United Methodist, also warned that the global funding crisis threatens the successes.

Read more
Learn about what United Methodists are doing to fight malaria

Ads go up in D.C. Metro stations

WASHINGTON (UMNS) - United Methodist Women and the United Methodist Board of Church and Society are among the organizations supporting billboards in three D.C. metro stations in response to an advertising campaign that they consider to be anti-Muslim. The ads, arranged by Shoulder to Shoulder, are similar to those sponsored by United Methodist Women in the New York subway system. Read more

UMCOR fills new senior executive position

NEW YORK (UMNS) - Melissa Crutchfield, a staff executive with the United Methodist Committee on Relief, has been named to a new senior position overseeing international development and global health. Read story

Blog: Mountain Sky Mission to Angola

BOM JESUS, Angola (UMNS) - United Methodists from the Mountain Sky Episcopal Area, which includes the Rocky Mountain and Yellowstone annual (regional) conferences, continue their blog posts about the distribution of insecticide-treated bed nets in the Western Angola Conference. Follow their journey

UMTV: Church rethinks school lunches

GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (UMNS) - A Colorado congregation has found a creative way to welcome the neighborhood to church. Church members provide a hot meal every Friday because the school has no cafeteria, only a vending machine. Young people come for free lunches and encouragement from people who care. Watch video

Category: Weekly Digest
Tags: News Summaries