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UMNS Weekly Digest - September 14, 2012

NOTE: This is a digest of news features provided by United Methodist Communications for Sept.11-17. It includes summaries of United Methodist News Service stories, 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:


Church biker service dream a reality

OCEANVIEW, Md. (UMNS) - A year and a half ago, Vicky Budd had a dream, reports. That dream of motorcycles parked in the back of Mariner's Bethel United Methodist Church is becoming reality with a Biker Sunday service in conjunction with Bike Week in Ocean City. Read story

First year for the freshman and the president at U. of Indy

INDIANAPOLIS (UMNS) - The first day of school can be an exciting - and stressful - experience for a student at any level. But the same goes for the school's president. It's a new school and a new life for the president of United Methodist-related University of Indianapolis, Robert Manuel, and for freshman Andy Wegg. Meet them. Read full story and post a comment

Church helps children cleanse residue of Isaac

MAUREPAS, La. (UMNS) - When the elementary school in Maurepas, La., reopened on Sept. 6, close to 60 area children showed up for classes. Many of the children lived in homes flooded by Hurricane Isaac's torrential rains that topped the bayous and lakes surrounding this low-lying area a week before. United Methodists stepped in to supply bath kits and other supplies that helped to wash away more of the aftermath of Isaac. Read full story and post a comment

Adding skills to end malaria in Africa

ACCRA, Ghana (UMNS) - It's a really big job - overseeing health care for more than half a million people in 15 African countries - but 219 United Methodist health board members wake up and do it every day. Read full story and post a comment

Churches respond to Chicago school strike

CHICAGO (UMNS) - As the Chicago public schoolteacher strike entered its second day on Sept. 11, parents of 350,000 students scrambled for child care, and at least two United Methodist churches opened their doors to respond to the need. Chicago Area Bishop Sally Dyck issued a public call for prayer for "our public schools in all our communities across this conference."

Practicing 'shalom' for 20 years

LOS ANGELES (UMNS) - What began 20 years ago as a United Methodist response to the rioting that followed the April 29, 1992, verdict in a trial against four Los Angeles police officers accused of beating Rodney King grew into a movement known as Communities of Shalom. Read story and post a comment

Black caucus 'stands with' Bishop Talbert

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) - The United Methodist Church's African-American caucus announced Sept. 5 that it stands with retired Bishop Melvin G. Talbert. More than 70 United Methodist clergy and lay people have accused him of urging defiance against the denomination's stance on homosexuality. Read full story and post a comment

Emerging S. Sudan now faces malaria battle

LIGITORO, South Sudan (UMNS) - Today, the new country of South Sudan is a business hub, attracting traders and customers from the surrounding countries. But even with 50 years of warfare in the past, South Sudan still must battle a deadly enemy - malaria. The United Methodist Church is helping South Sudanese in the struggle against the disease. Read full story and post a comment

Church agencies look forward, not back

NEW YORK (UMNS) - Shrinking boards of directors - in some cases, to tiny proportions - are requiring adjustments in governance and representation for the denomination's agencies and commissions. Budget constraints dictate a streamlining of priorities and realignment of staffing needs. Renewed commitments to bilateral and multi-agency cooperation are focusing attention on shared services and common missional priorities. Read full story

Satanist arrested in California church fire

RED BLUFF, Calif. (UMNS) - A self-proclaimed Satanist was arrested Thursday after starting a fire at the First United Methodist Church in Red Bluff as a statement against organized religion, the Daily News of Tehama County reports. First responders confined the fire to a small area of the roof before spending about an hour overhauling the fire area. Read story

Church council hails Libyan appointment

GENEVA (UMNS) - The World Council of Churches general secretary has hailed the appointment of Dr. Tarek Mitri as the United Nations secretary general's special representative in Libya. Mitri, a former council executive from Lebanon, worked for the inter-religious dialogue and cooperation program from 1991 to 2005. Read story

Epworth volunteers gut Isaac-damaged homes

NEW ORLEANS (UMNS) - Volunteers with the Epworth Project are once again gutting houses to assist homeowners of flooded properties, reports. Started during the recovery period after Hurricane Katrina, the nonprofit organization - a faith-based component of Northshore Disaster Recovery - is located on the campus of Aldersgate United Methodist Church and has hosted more than 60,000 volunteers since it began. Read story

Pastor's wife on best-seller list

MARYVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) - She now has 20 books with her name on the cover - two of which have made a best-seller list, says the Daily Times. Janice Maynard, wife of a United Methodist district superintendent, mother of two daughters, grandmother of three and former elementary school teacher, has joined the ranks of some of the most successful romance writers.
Read story

Small-town literacy camp makes big splash

MANGUM, Okla. (UMNS) - Project Transformation, the literacy day camp for disadvantaged elementary students, made a big move this summer from its urban history to tiny Mangum, population 2,945, in the southwestern part of the state. How did Mangum measure up: 52 youngsters, exceeding the average of 35-40 for new project sites; 60 volunteers, and 3,426 meals served. Read full story

Church World Service condemns Libyan violence

WASHINGTON (UMNS) - Church World Service, a global humanitarian agency and United Methodist partner, expressed sorrow and grave concern Thursday, Sept. 13 over the violence on Sept. 11 in Libya that led to the death of U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three U.S. consulate staff members in Benghazi and wounded Libyan citizens. In a statement this morning, the Rev. John L. McCullough, a United Methodist and Church World Service executive director, also expressed condemnation of inflammatory "public actions and media creations which denigrate religious leaders and religious faiths." Read full statement

Connectional Table seeks executive secretary

DALLAS (UMNS) - Leadership of the Connectional Table of The United Methodist Church has announced they are now seeking candidates for the position of executive secretary. The Board of Pension and Health Benefits is assisting the Connectional Table with the executive search process. Qualified candidates should submit resumes electronically to Mary Figueredo via email at Resumes will be received through Oct. 15, 2012. For more information

Mississippi church embracing diversity

HATTIESBURG, Miss. (UMNS) - When Pastor Brad Corban of Court Street United Methodist Church looks out into his congregation, he sees gumbo, reports the Hattiesburg American. That's because, Corban told the newspaper, "with a gumbo, you have all your individual ingredients, but they come together to make something wonderful." Read full story

Presidential debate at University of Denver

DENVER (UMNS) - The University of Denver, a United Methodist-related institution, is scheduled to host a televised presidential debate between President Barack Obama and Gov. Mitt Romney on Oct. 3. The debate, one of three between the presidential candidates, will focus on U.S. domestic issues. The university has played host to presidents and presidential candidates since Oct. 3, 1911, when President William Howard Taft visited the campus. Learn more

'Elders' release declaration for change

NEW YORK (UMNS) - The National Council of Elders, a group formed by civil rights veterans, the Revs. James and Phil Lawson, United Methodists, and the Rev. Vincent Harding, released its "Greensboro Declaration" on Sept. 12. Read statement

Complaint process overview

CHICAGO (UMNS) - The United Methodist Commission on the Status and Role of Women and the General Council on Finance and Administration, the denomination's finance agency, will offer an hour-long free webinar, "The United Methodist Complaint Process Overview - What's New, What's Not," at noon CDT Sept. 18.The Rev. Darryl Stephens, Rick Rettberg and Joy Melton will lead the webinar for bishops, district superintendents, chancellors and others involved in the complaint process. Learn more

Webinar for those who work with older adults

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) - Clergy, laity and professionals seeking a spiritual framework for their work with older adults can benefit from "Faith and Aging," a new webinar series from The Upper Room at 11:30 a.m. CDT on four successive Tuesdays beginning Oct. 9. Jerry Haas, spiritual director for The Upper Room, a division of the United Methodist Board of Discipleship, will host the series. Registration for a single webinar session is $14.95, or the cost for all four sessions is $49.95. Recorded versions of the webinars will be available after the live events at the same rate. To learn more and to register

Pastor disagrees 'race' issue in Bledsoe case

KRUM, Texas (UMNS) - "The South Central Jurisdiction episcopacy committee's approach is called "'Christian,' not racist. This is called living out of the spirit of the law - the higher calling to which we are all subject," wrote the Rev. Christy Thomas of First United Methodist Church in Krum in response to a commentary by the Rev. Henry L. Masters Sr. of St. Luke "Community" United Methodist Church in Dallas. Both commentaries, published recently in the United Methodist Reporter, discussed the South Central Jurisdiction's decision to force Bishop W. Earl Bledsoe into retirement. Read the Thomas commentary

Read the Masters commentary

Retreat for women slated

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) - Scarritt-Bennett Center, a United Methodist Women retreat center, will host "Coming Home to Our True Selves," a retreat for women, Sept. 21-22. The Rev. Janet Salyer, a licensed professional counselor, spiritual director and Presbyterian minister, will help participants explore practices that enhance positive self-esteem, promote health and well-being, and encourage satisfying and healthy relationships. The retreat is $75 for commuters and $150 for those who stay overnight. Learn more and register

Bishop Swanson to lead men's commission

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) The 20-member Commission on United Methodist Men has elected Mississippi Area Bishop James Swanson as president, and Pittsburgh Area Bishop Thomas Bickerton as vice president. The United Methodist agency responsible for ministry to men met Sept. 5-9 to elect officers for the 2013-2016 quadrennium and set plans for a 2013 national gathering. Read story

Moving from violence to peace

UNITED NATIONS (UMNS) - U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and Cora Weiss, a long-time activist who has worked with United Methodist Women on peace issues, will be among the speakers Sept. 14 at the first-ever United Nations High Level Forum on The Culture of Peace. The daylong forum, which can be viewed via webcast, will focus on ways to promote a culture of peace, justice, nonviolence, tolerance and dialogue in global society. Read story

Watch webcast

'Wow' first impressions

READING, Mich. (UMNS) - Reading United Methodist Church, a largely rural and steadily growing church, knows how to make visitors feel welcome, writes the Rev. Tamara Williams, Albion District Superintendent. The congregation offers lessons others can emulate. Read commentary

Jesus and presidential politics

ATLANTA (UMNS) - Shane Claiborne, prominent Christian activist and co-founder of a small monastic community, will present the lecture "Jesus for President" 7 p.m. Oct. 23 at Glenn Memorial Auditorium at United Methodist-related Emory University. His talk aims to spark the Christian political imagination. To register, visit

Sept. 11, 2001 - 11 years ago today

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) - An organized series of attacks on the United States more than a decade ago left a wound that still is healing. As we reflect on this and other moments that have changed forever the U.S. national psyche, remember the United Methodists who continue to work to help that healing process. Today, we focus on those efforts: Making peace after 9/11

Practicing 'shalom' for 20 years

Flight 93 Ambassadors honor 9/11 heroes

SHANKSVILLE, Pa. (UMNS) - In 2001, passengers of Flight 93 gave their lives to save others in the path of a hijacked plane. A permanent memorial in Pennsylvania was unveiled on Sept. 11 last year to honor those who died. Donna Glessner is one of about 40 United Methodist volunteers from the Shanksville area who educate visitors about the crash site. "We meet people from all walks of life here that are hurting in many ways, often unrelated to the Sept. 11 attacks. For them to be able to come here and unburden their soul to you, it's a privilege." Read full story and watch video

Joplin congregation back to 'sweet home'

JOPLIN, Mo. - As members of St. Paul's United Methodist Church filed out of the 10 a.m. service Sunday, Sept. 10, they heard the familiar strains of Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Sweet Home Alabama," the Joplin Globe reports. The lyrics, however, had been modified to "sweet home St. Paul's" since it was the first time in the worship center after the building was destroyed in the May 22, 2011, tornado. Read more here

California church sends 3rd team to Japan

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (UMNS) - The Sacramento Japanese United Methodist Church sent a four-member Mission Team to Japan to assist with the relief effort, the Valley Community Newspapers reports. This is the third mission team the church has sent to Japan since the March 11, 2011, earthquake and tsunami and resulting damage to a nuclear plant. Read full story

Organist takes final bow after 57 years

TREMONT, Ill. (UMNS) - When organist Don Nieukirk played in front of Tremont Methodist Church on Sunday, Sept. 10, he left the stage to a standing ovation, reports the Peoria Journal Star. Nieukirk told the newspaper that he didn't see many of those in his 57 years on the church organ bench.
Read more

UMTV: Biker church takes worship to the road

MORAVIAN FALLS, N.C. (UMTV) - Crossfire United Methodist is known as the Biker Church. The choir is a rock band, and the congregation sometimes takes worship to the open road. Duncan Overrein thinks it's cool that a church would welcome guys like him. "I don't think a lot of regular churches would want our type in there. I've been to churches, and you could tell they don't want you there. We gotta realize that it ain't about what we ride, it ain't about what we wear, it's about how we need to love on people." Watch Video

Category: Weekly Digest
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