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Weekly Digest: October 25, 2013


UMNS Weekly Digest

October 25, 2013

NOTE: This is a digest of news features provided by United Methodist Communications for Oct.21 - Oct. 25. 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 conferences

Ohioans reach out in church fire loss

CLEVELAND (UMNS) - United Methodists across the North Central Jurisdiction are joining in prayers and reaching out to members of Willson United Methodist Church, whose 120-year-old church building burned Oct. 19. Parishioners looked on in tears as the Cleveland Fire Department doused hot spots Sunday morning. Initial secular news reports misspelled the name of the church. Rick Wolcott of the East Ohio Annual (regional) Conference offers an overview of the impact of the fire and how United Methodists are responding.

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Protect your church property

Church opens gym to give kids a safe place

FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (UMNS) - Hay Street United Methodist Church opens its gym once a week after school, inviting children to shoot hoops, play badminton or use a bowling set with foam pins. The Rev. David Blackman, the church's pastor, said he came up with the idea after reading that residents complainined of teenagers playing basketball with portable goals in neighborhood streets in violation of a city ordinance. The Fayetteville Observer has the story. Read story

Texas church joins search for missing 82-year-old

GARLAND, Texas (UMNS) - First United Methodist Church of Garland has gathered a "spontaneous army" to blanket the state - in the air and on the ground - with teams to help in a search now nearing two weeks for missing 82-year-old Hal Ticknor. The Dallas Morning News tells how the church has divided North Texas into grids and sent out more than 50 volunteers with fliers and maps to scour streets for signs of their church member, who has dementia. Read story

S.C. district fights poverty through friendship

GREENVILLE, S.C. (UMNS) - Forming a relationship with a family in poverty instead of just giving anonymously is the new mission of the Greenville District of the South Carolina Annual (regional) Conference. Called the Methodist Family Partnering With Families Initiative, the project has the goal of focusing local churches on the needs of families in poverty to make ministry more effective. Jessica Connor, editor of the South Carolina Advocate, has the story. Read story

S. C. churches work for humane homeless policies

COLUMBIA, S.C. (UMNS) - Controversy that began with a misunderstanding about City Council action has turned into a greater understanding and growing mission among Columbia churches to minister to the homeless. Jessica Connor, editor of the South Carolina Advocate, tells the story. Read story

Homeless ministry born from pastor's chance encounter

KINGSPORT, Tenn. (UMNS) - A chance encounter between a homeless man and the Rev. Ray Amos Jr., pastor at St. Matthew United Methodist Church in Kingsport, led to what is now the Secondhand Shoes ministry. The TimesNews reports what St. Matthew is doing to help the homeless. Read story

Michigan church makes food favorite to keep the church warm

MIDLAND, Mich. (UMNS) - When parishioners at LaPorte United Methodist Church in Freeland looked for ways to raise money for the general fund to keep the church warm this winter, they remembered a time-honored Michigan favorite. The Midland Daily News reports that some 600 pasties - meat pies encased in pastry - were made and sold by church volunteers Wednesday through Friday the week of Oct. 13. Read how this congregation found a forgotten recipe and organized the assembly line. Read story

30 pastors plan to perform same-sex union

LEBANON, Pa. (UMNS) -The Rev. Frank Schaefer will go before a church trial on Nov. 18 for performing the same-sex wedding of his son but he is going with the support of more than 30 of his fellow United Methodist pastors who also plan to violate the same church law. The pastors will participate in the wedding of a same-sex couple some time before the start of Schaefer's trial. The gender, identity and date of the ceremony is not being disclosed to protect the privacy of the couple. Read story and post a comment

A call for the church to speak out on domestic violence

INDIANAPOLIS (UMNS) - Twenty-four advocates for survivors of spousal abuse gathered at St. Luke's United Methodist Church Oct. 2-4 for a conference titled "Shattering the Silence in the Faith Community." Speakers, including the Rev. Dountonia Slack, an abuse survivor, called for the church to do more toward awareness and prevention. The Rev. Daniel Gangler of the Indiana Annual (regional) Conference has the story. Read story and post a comment

Church rises from arson

CENTERTON, Ark. (UMNS) - Smoke was once again rising from Living Waters United Methodist Church, but instead of arson it was a barbecue. Nearly two years after fire destroyed the Centerton church's 89-year-old building, friends and family gathered to eat, drink and celebrate the opening of their new home The Rev. Omar Rikabi of the Arkansas Annual (regional) Conference shares how the church recovered and is now more accessible. Read story

Why S.D. church among 50 fastest growing in U.S.

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (UMNS) - Asked to explain the remarkable growth of Embrace, the Rev. Adam Weber, the church's 31-year-old pastor, points to a focus on helping people start and strengthen a relationship with Jesus. Embrace is the only United Methodist church on Outreach magazine's recently released list of the top 50 fastest-growing U.S. churches in 2013. Embrace ranked 40th overall, and fourth in growth rate, having seen a 65 percent attendance rise. Read story and post a comment

California church rising once more from the ashes

SAN JOSE, Calif. (UMNS) - After 22 years, First United Methodist Church in downtown San Jose is about to return from a 1991 fire that gutted the church. But, as Joe Rodriguez explains in the San Jose Mercury News, adversity doesn't stop this church that has faced fires, earthquakes and the wrath of people who did not respect its stands for social justice.

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How to protect your church

News around the connection

2016 General Conference to see drop in delegates

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) - The 2016 General Conference in Portland, Ore., will have about 15 percent fewer delegates than recent gatherings of The United Methodist Church's top lawmaking body. The Commission on the 2016 General Conference voted Oct. 18 to set the target number of delegates at 850. Read story and post a comment

United Methodist Church intensifies ministries with poor

NEW YORK (UMNS) - Efforts are under way to expand, strengthen and promote United Methodist ministries with the poor in the United States through connecting local models of successful ministries that cross class, ethnic and racial lines. The undertaking reflects a four-point plan agreed to earlier by the Justice and Reconciliation Table of the denomination's Council of Bishops and representatives of the United Methodist boards of Church and Society and Global Ministries. Read story

Just save one child, urges Global AIDS fund

NEW YORK (UMNS) - The United Methodist Global AIDS Fund Committee asks local congregations to observe the 15th anniversary of World AIDS Day, Dec. 1, by raising awareness of the HIV and AIDS crisis and committing to "just save one" child from contracting the disease. This year, Dec. 1 lands on the first Sunday of Advent. The fund has developed resources to help churches observe World AIDS Day. For more information

Finance agency extends benefits to same-sex couples

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) - General agencies of The United Methodist Church will extend employee benefits to same-sex couples, under a decision by the board of directors of the denomination's General Council on Finance and Administration. The board on Oct. 21 also voted to seek a ruling from the Judicial Council, the denomination's top court, to make sure the change is in keeping with church law. Read story and post a comment

Agency forms partnership with Healing Communities

WASHINGTON (UMNS) - The United Methodist Board of Church and Society has announced a partnership with Healing Communities, a Philadelphia faith-based ministry that provides a framework to engage with people returning from or at risk of incarceration, their families and the larger community. Bill Mefford, the agency's director of civil and human rights, said Healing Communities is a way for United Methodist congregations to become "stations of hope" for returning citizens. Read news release

Resources for churches

Practices of the ancients aid modern prayers

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) - A resurgence of ancient prayer practices has United Methodists and others across the United States experiencing traditional spiritual exercises in new ways. Emily Snell reports about these practices for Interpreter OnLine. Read story

7 practices for best church volunteers

ATLANTA (UMNS) - "I don't know where I would be without a man named Lenis Black," writes leadership consultant Brian Dodd in The Christian Post. Black was a volunteer at Acworth United Methodist Church in Acworth, Ga., and Dodd's first Sunday school teacher. Remembering Black prompted Dodd to identify the seven practices of the best church volunteers. Read commentary

Survey on online communion

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) - As part of the ongoing discussion of the possibility of online Eucharist, the Rev. Dawn Chesser - the director of preaching ministries at the United Methodist Board of Discipleship - is surveying United Methodists to get their thoughts on the practice. All United Methodist members, clergy and other individuals who attend or affiliate with The United Methodist Church are invited to fill out this short survey on Holy Communion online. Chesser will be using the results in her research for her dissertation. She also plans to make the survey findings publicly available. To take survey

Read online communion discussion

History of Hymns: 'God the Sculptor of the Mountain'

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) - "God the Sculptor of the Mountain" is the most published work of the Rev. John Thornburg, a hymn writer and fourth-generation United Methodist. C. Michael Hawn discusses Thornburg's ministry. Read story

United Methodists in the news

'Grateful to God' for Kenya mall experience

NAIROBI, Kenya (UMNS) - Scott Gilpin had traveled to Nairobi for a historic first meeting of presidents of African Methodist colleges and universities. The executive director of fund development for the United Methodist Board of Discipleship reflects on how a four-day deadly siege at a mall became a blessing for him. Read story

Pastor celebrates October in pink

BROWNFIELD, Texas (UMNS) - On Sunday mornings in October, Ruby Moultrie is behind the pulpit giving sermons in a pink stole at First United Methodist Church in Brownfield, reports In 1996, Moultrie was told she had breast cancer. A follow-up found the diagnosis false. About 15 years later, she was diagnosed again - this time it was positive. But Moultrie doesn't see her diagnosis as a burden. She sees it as a blessing. Read full story

Faithful Filibuster ends, goal remains

WASHINGTON (UMNS) - The "Faithful Filibuster" ended Oct. 17 after House and Senate votes to end the government shutdown but with a note that the task remains unfinished. The filibuster was a religious effort to read the more than 2,000 verses of Scripture in the Bible to remind Congress that their dysfunction hurts the most vulnerable Americans and that we are charged with caring for the least among us. "We are grateful to God for ending these crises, but we cannot simply exchange one deadline for another," said the Rev. David Beckman, president of Bread for the World. "We need to address the looming threat of automatic budget cuts or sequestration. We have to stop sequestration, but not on the backs of the working poor and struggling families." Read story

Bishops in the news

Bishops urge Bishop Talbert not to officiate at same-sex union

WASHINGTON, D.C. (UMNS) - The executive committee of the United Methodist Council of Bishops issued a statement today, Oct. 23, in response to retired Bishop Melvin G. Talbert's plans to officiate at the marriage ceremony of Bobby Prince and Joe Openshaw on Oct. 26 in Birmingham, Ala.

"The bishops of the church are bound together in a covenant and all ordained elders are committed to uphold the Book of Discipline," the statement reads. "'Conducting ceremonies which celebrate homosexual unions; or performing same-sex wedding ceremonies' are chargeable offenses in The United Methodist Church. (

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