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UMNS Weekly Digest - September 06, 2013


UMNS Weekly Digest

Sept.6, 2013

NOTE: This is a digest of news features provided by United Methodist Communications for Sept.3 - Sept. 6. 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

Syria and United Methodists

Church groups assist as Syrian refugees numbers grow

NEW YORK (UMNS) - Humanitarian organizations, including the United Methodist Committee on Relief and Church World Service, have been working through partner agencies for months to address critical needs as the global debate continues on how to respond to chemical weapon attacks against Syrian civilians.
Read story and post a comment

For peace in Syria

DES MOINES, Wash. (UMNS) - Greater Northwest Area Bishop Grant Hagiya asks United Methodists to accept Pope Francis' invitation to prayer and fasting on Sept. 7 for peace in Syria. The United Methodist Board of Church and Society was among 25 nongovernmental organizations that signed a letter to President Obama saying military strikes are not the answer in Syria.

Read bishop's letter
Read letter to president

Call to support negotiations, not attacks on Syria

WASHINGTON (UMNS) - An action alert has been issued by the Peace with Justice unit of the United Methodist Board of Church and Society, asking church members to call on Congress to oppose a U.S. military attack on Syria and support "vigorous peace negotiations" instead. The agency, along with United Methodist Women, alsoco-sponsored a Sept. 6 noontime peace vigil at the Church Center for the United Nations in New York. The Rev. Olav Fykse Tveit, top executive of the World Council of Churches, sent an open letter to the U.N. Security Council, also opposing military intervention.

Read story
See Church and Society alert
Read WCC story

News around central conferences

Council lists steps for resolving East Africa issues

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) -The directors of The United Methodist Church's finance agency have adopted a list of steps for resolving the audit issues in the church's East Africa area, including a call for Bishop Daniel Wandabula to resign. Read story and post a comment

UMCOR responds to flood-soaked Philippines

NEW YORK (UMNS) - After Tropical Storm Trami and a southwest monsoon joined forces to pummel the capital of the Philippines and neighboring towns, the United Methodist Committee on Relief mobilized to bring aid to affected neighborhoods and witnessed the fruits of earlier community disaster-awareness training. Salvador G. Eduarte Jr. reports.

Read story
Donate to Philippines Emergency, UMCOR Advance No.240235

UMTV: Africa's miracle tree

TUNUKUK PUYE, Liberia (UMNS) - What plant can lower cholesterol, purify the liver and prevent blindness? Learn how the United Methodist Committee on Relief helps farmers grow a nutritional powerhouse. Watch video

Success with child survival in Liberia

GANTA, Liberia (UMNS) - The five-year Nehnwaa Child Survival Project at Ganta United Methodist Hospital in Liberia has served more than 150,000 Liberians, resulting in a 60 percent reduction in child mortality.

Read story
Community health workers bring healing

News around the connection

Scams target United Methodists

NORCROSS, Ga. (UMNS) - Scam phone calls and emails are not unusual, but several scams lately are targeting United Methodists to obtain money. At least three such scams have been reported recently. Sybil Davidson of the North Georgia Annual (regional) Conference shares what to look out for. Read more

Bishop urges, 'Do the right thing,' despite Discipline

CHEVY CHASE, Md. (UMNS) - Retired Bishop Melvin Talbert urged the more than 550 people at the 2013 Reconciling Ministries Network convocation to "do the right thing," regardless of the United Methodist Book of Discipline's stance that homosexuality is "incompatible with Christian teaching." The Rev. Erik Alsgaard of the Baltimore-Washington Annual (regional) Conference covered the gathering of the unofficial caucus. Read story

Publishing House signs contract for sale of property

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS)-The United Methodist Publishing House has announced that it has entered into a purchase and sale agreement with TVG Holdings LLC for the sale of the Publishing House's downtown property. The church agency is exploring options for a new location in the Nashville area. Read more

Training for cabinets and senior staff

LAKE JUNALUSKA, N.C. (UMNS) - New district superintendents embraced their new role as chief missional strategists while directors of connectional ministries focused on how they can serve as the stewards of vision in annual (regional) conferences. Vicki Brown of the United Methodist Board of Higher Education and Ministry reports on their training program. Read story

History of Hymns: 'Hope of the World'

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) - Georgia Harkness, a United Methodist and leading U.S. theologian in the mid-20th century, wrote the words for this hymn. Composed in the early years of the ecumenical movement, the hymn won a Hymn Society contest. C. Michael Hawn has the story. Read story

News around conferences

Church offers love, hospitality to Chinese exchange students

THOMASVILLE, Ga. (UMNS) - Members at Thomasville First United Methodist Church provided friendship and a second family for 17 Chinese students at Thomas University. Each United Methodist family went through training, learning more about how to build genuine relationships and about watching and praying for opportunities to share their faith. Kara Witherow of the South Georgia Annual (regional) Conference reports.

Read story
Read more about the Protestant church in China

God calls sixth-grader to help homeless

VERO BEACH, Fla. (UMNS) - Lauren Weaver, a sixth-grader and member of First United Methodist Church in Vero Beach, tells how her compassion for a homeless man led to the birth of "Lauren's Way," a communitywide effort to make a difference for the homeless of Indian River County. The video is part of the Florida Annual (regional) Conference's series "Telling Our Stories." Watch video

All-male fashion show helps hungry

GRETNA, La. (UMNS) - Gretna United Methodist Church's "Men Firing up the Runway" drew a 150-plus-member audience that enjoyed a rollicking good time while collecting food items and raising funds for the local food bank. Betty Backstrom of the Louisiana Annual (regional) Conference has the story of the church's unusual effort to feed the hungry. Read story

New Jersey plans special session

OCEAN, N.J. (UMNS) - The Greater New Jersey United Methodist Annual (regional) Conference will convene a special session Nov. 2 to take care of organizational matters and remember the one-year anniversary of Superstorm Sandy. Read more

United Methodists in the news

Indiana church reels in worshippers

GREENFIELD, Ind. (UMNS) - Can a church on a fishing lake reel in worshippers who might not attend a more traditional service? The Associated Press reports that an Indiana pastor says yes. Jesus, after all, knew how to reach fishermen.

Read story
Watch AP video

Haitians thank Dakotans for solar ovens

BISMARCK, N.D. (UMNS) - The Haiti Solar Oven Partners project of the Dakotas Annual (regional) Conference will get an extra push this month as Haitian leaders travel across North and South Dakota to thank congregations and gain support for the effort. The Bismarck Tribune reports.

Read the story

300 pounds of tomatoes nourish hunger ministry

NORTHBROOK, Ill. (UMNS) - Members of The Tomato Project of the Northbrook United Methodist Church are living the reality of the story of Jesus feeding the masses. The Northbrook Star reports that the church's ministry to feed the hungry was itself impoverished until prayers were answered with 300 pounds of tomatoes.

Read story
Bread and justice

Church's bell tower gets new look, sound

MONONGAHELA, Pa. (UMNS) - Polishing the church bells started innocently enough when the First United Methodist Church was planning for the church's bicentennial celebration. However, as the TribLIVE reports, accomplishing the task proved a bit more complicated. Read story

University and seminary news

Collegiate ministry training explores strategies

CHICAGO (UMNS) - "You are not in this alone." That is the message of two training events for new campus ministers and chaplains this summer, says the pastor of a United Methodist church that grew out of a campus ministry. Helen Neinast has the story for the United Methodist Board of Higher Education and Ministry. Read story

Blogs and commentaries

The value of small groups

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (UMNS) - "Regular gatherings to share food, laughter, learning, prayer and service are what make 'small-group ministry' a vital link in our relationship with others," writes Benton Heisler, West Michigan Annual (regional) Conference connectional ministries director. He offers tips for developing small-group ministry.
Read commentary

The need for innovative lay people

DES MOINES, Wash. (UMNS) - The church places too much emphasis on innovative clergy, argues Patrick Scriven, director of communications and young people's ministries with the Pacific Northwest Annual (regional) Conference. "Relocating the process of innovation where we know the Spirit resides - the community - is our most faithful path forward," he writes. Read blog

Kemper: Why I choose The UMC

NEW YORK (UMNS) - In a blog, Thomas Kemper, top executive of the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries, talks about how Methodism prepared him for a life of social action and mission even during his childhood years in Germany. Read blog

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.

Deadline to register for online course "Moodle 200: Advanced Training," Sept. 11 - Sept. 18-Oct. 30, training from United Methodist Communications, Moodle 100 is a prerequisite. Seating limited. $119.99. Details

Free webinar "What Happened to the Offering?" Sept. 12 - 6:30 p.m. CT, Suggestions from the United Methodist Board of Discipleship for helping the time of offering adapt to the new realities as plastic becomes the currency of U.S. culture. To register.

Early-bird registration for "Love across the Spectrum" Conference, Sept. 13 - Nov. 8-9, sponsored by Ohio Wesleyan University Chaplain's Office. Details.

We Love Our Kids, Sept. 14 - Communitywide service event in New Albany, Ind., supported in part by United Methodist Communications' Rethink Church. Volunteers welcome. Details.

Serve Our Schools, Sept. 14 - Service day at the McAllen (Texas) Independent School District, supported in part by United Methodist Communications' Rethink Church. Volunteers welcome. Details.

Free webinar "Creative Thinking in Faith Formation: An Ancient/Future Approach," Sept. 17 - 6:30 p.m. CT, learning strategies for teaching adults using an exploration of Jesus' teaching methods, from the United Methodist Board of Discipleship. To register

Free webinar "The Pastors Book Club: The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do In Life and Business," Sept. 18 - 10 a.m. CT, a summary of the book and timeto engage in small-group discussions with people across the country. To register

"Communicating Faith in the 21st Century" online course, Sept. 18-Oct. 30 - Based on the book "We Must Speak: Rethinking How We Communicate Faith in the 21st Century," by the Rev. Larry Hollon. Explores the importance of telling stories of faith, as well as how to create and share personal stories of faith via Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram and blogs. $29.99. To register.

Free webinar "Building a Health Ministry in your Congregation" Sept. 19 - 6:30 p.m. CT, UMCOR Health, Parish Nurses and the Center for Health provide resources. Learn what one congregation has done. To register.

Author of "The Shack" preaches, Sept. 22 - 8:30 and 10:50 a.m. CT, William Paul Young will be the guest speaker at worship services at Dyersburg First United Methodist Church in Dyersburg, Tenn. Details.

"Deborah's Daughters: Women's Ways of Leadership and Ministry," Sept. 23-25 - A conference in Dayton, Ohio, co-sponsored by United Theological Seminary and Harriet L. Miller Women's Center and the Center for Urban Ministry. Details.

Free webinar "Church Council: Incorporating Younger, Diverse Leaders" Sept. 24 - 6:30 p.m. CT, Healthy vital congregations bring together leaders who have different generational values and work styles. To register.

United Methodist Church of the Resurrection Leadership Institute, Sept. 25-27 - Event aimed at helping leaders renew churches. Details.

Free webinar "Guiding Children in a Violent World" Sept. 26 - 10 a.m. CT, Looking at ways to guide children at different stages of life in varying circumstances, from the United Methodist Board of Discipleship. To register.

Free webinar "Principles of Vitality for District Superintendents" Sept. 26 - 1 p.m. CT, Tools a D.S. can use to equip clergy for vital leadership, from the United Methodist Board of Discipleship. To register.

Sojourning Women, Bold Voices Then + Now, Oct. 4-5 - Conference honoring 25th anniversary of Scarritt-Bennett Center in Nashville, Tenn. Details.

World Communion Sunday, Oct. 6 - Worship resources from the United Methodist Board of Discipleship, and stewardship resources from United Methodist Communications for giving to scholarships.

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

Category: Weekly Digest
Tags: News Summaries