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UMNS Weekly Digest - September 21, 2012


NOTE: This is a digest of news features provided by United Methodist Communications for Sept.18-24. 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:


Congo bishop to Congress: Help end killing

WASHINGTON (UMNS) - A United Methodist bishop from the Democratic Republic of Congo has made a heartfelt plea to the U.S. Congress to end the rapes and killings inflicted on his fellow Congolese. Bishop Ntambo Nkulu Ntanda of the denomination's North Katanga Area was one of three witnesses who spoke during a Sept. 19 hearing of the Africa, Global Health, and Human Rights Subcommittee of the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee.

Read full story and post a comment

NCC plans for 'bold future'

NEW YORK (UMNS) - A task force of the U.S. National Council of Churches is "re-envisioning" the 62-year-old organization as a streamlined "connector" among its member churches and local and regional ecumenical partners. Read full story and post a comment

Ministry boosts small-church vitality

HAYESVILLE, N. C. (UMNS) - United Methodists often say that rural congregations form the backbone of their denomination. For more than 50 years, the Hinton Rural Life Center in Hayesville, N.C., has been strengthening that backbone. With the denominationwide emphasis on vital congregations, the Hinton Center now plays a key role in cultivating vital, small, country churches across the United States. Read story and post a comment

Green UM colleges make 'cool schools' list

POULTNEY, Vt. (UMNS) - Composting at Green Mountain College goes full cycle when food waste from dorms and the dining hall fertilizes vegetables grown on the campus farm and then prepared for student meals. Green Mountain College is one of seven United Methodist-related institutions that made the sixth annual "Cool Schools" list of the United States' greenest universities. Read full story and post a comment

Ebony ranks UM colleges among top schools

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) - Six United Methodist-related schools were among the top-ranked historically black colleges and universities included in the September issue of Ebony magazine. Making the list were Bethune-Cookman University, Claflin University, Clark Atlanta University, Dillard University, Philander Smith College and Rust College. Read full release

Advice for preaching on tough issues

LEAWOOD, Kan. (UMNS) - Controversial issues need God's light, not Hollywood or political spin. The Rev. Adam Hamilton, senior pastor of United Methodist Church of the Resurrection, one of the denomination's largest U.S. congregations, offers tips for tackling complex moral issues without fear and without dividing a congregation. Read full story

Haiti mission trip changes many lives

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (UMNS) -A group of more than 20 young adults from the Western North Carolina Annual (regional) Conference in March took on new roles as teachers at the John Wesley School in Cap-Haitien, Haiti. Watch video

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Woman shackled giving birth wins case

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) - The metropolitan government of Nashville and Davidson County was ordered to pay $1.1 million for three years of attorney fees and other expenses for Juana Villegas, who in 2008 was shackled to a hospital bed hours before giving birth. The Tennessean reports that U.S. District Judge William Haynes Jr. also certified Villegas' application for a special visa. The city may appeal the award. The Tennessee Annual (regional) Conference's Justice for our Neighbors has stood by Villegas since her arrest.

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Read United Methodist News Service coverage

New housing for Haiti earthquake survivors

MELLIER, Haiti (UMNS) - Enolia Pierre jingled freshly cut house keys in her hand, popping them into the air every now and again, and catching them in her open palm. As she did so, a smile of satisfaction spread across her face: she - and 12 other family members - finally had a place to call home after the 2010 earthquake, reports Linda Unger of the United Methodist Committee on Relief. Read full story

Isaac volunteer disaster teams needed

BATON ROUGE, La. (UMNS) - The Louisiana Annual (regional) Conference needs mission teams ready to go to work in areas hard-hit by Hurricane Isaac, especially St. John the Baptist and Livingston parishes. "For response team members, the personal contact with survivors who have lost homes, jobs and loved ones provides us with the opportunity to share God's love in tangible ways," said the Rev. Don Cottrill, provost and director of connectional ministries for the conference. Volunteer to serve on a disaster response team

Give to UMCOR through Advance #901670 Pastor recalls tough trip home to Plaquemines Parish

Mississippi Conference seeks in-state VIM teams only

JACKSON, Miss. (UMNS) - Mississippi Annual (regional) Conference requests for disaster-response teams already have yielded calls from several out-of-state teams. However, Steve Casteel, conference director of communication and connection, said: "We are only in the process of preparing for in-state teams. We will let the jurisdictional offices know when we need other conferences to join us in this effort. It is a pleasure to serve such an incredible connection."

Dakota Marketplace battles hunger

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (UMNS) - For 29 years, the event now known as "Dakota Marketplace" has raised awareness to fight hunger around the world. Organizers hope proceeds from the Sept 22 event here will top the $200,000 raised last year. All United Methodist churches in Sioux Falls, plus several surrounding congregations, are involved, the Argus Leader reports. Read full story

Inquiry urged on Pakistan's blasphemy laws

GENEVA (UMNS) - Participants in a Sept. 17-19 international hearing organized by the World Council of Churches are urging the Pakistani government to form an inquiry commission and take realistic and solid steps to stop abuses of the blasphemy law that are causing "massive human rights violations." Read full story

A nod to Wesley bobbleheads

THE WOODLANDS, Texas (UMNS) - Steve Beard, editor of Good News magazine, celebrates Wesleyan kitsch, including a visit to "the Graceland of Methodism's founder." Read full commentary

Mission team learns from Zimbabwe hosts

CRANBERRY TOWNSHIP, Pa. (UMNS) - When members of Western Pennsylvania's Zimbabwe Immersion Team met at the Nyadire United Methodist Mission after living with families in different areas for nearly five weeks, none of the stories they shared seemed the same. They soon realized, however, there were things common to all their experiences - love, kindness and relationships - and learning to worship God at a new level. Read full story

Women's commission conducts top job search

CHICAGO (UMNS) - The United Methodist Commission on the Status and Role of Womenis searching for a new top executive. The application deadline is Sept. 30. M. Garlinda Burton, the current executive, is being honored at the commission's meeting this week in Nashville, Tenn. She is retiring from the job at the end of the year. See job description

Hoshibata, Winkler elected by Church and Society

WASHINGTON (UMNS) - Phoenix Area Bishop Robert Hoshibata was elected president and Jim Winkler re-elected as chief executive when the new board of directors for the United Methodist Board of Church and Society had its organizing meeting in September. Read full story

$1 million fundraising effort for Iowa church

DES MOINES, Iowa (UMNS) - Gov. Terry Branstad, a Republican, and Des Moines area leaders huddled into the basement of Trinity United Methodist Church on Tuesday in a lunch event launching a $1 million fundraising effort to update the north-of-downtown facility whose programs serve thousands weekly. The Des Moines Register reported the church would receive this month a $50,000, state-administered grant that was announced in January. Read full story

Iliff opens career center

DENVER (UMNS) - United Methodist-related Iliff School of Theology has opened a career center to support students in their quest for employment. "Career counseling services are integral in supporting students preparing to join the workforce," said Albert Hernández, Ph.D., interim president, chief executive officer and associate professor of the history of Christianity. "Iliff is committed to providing our students with the assistance they need to secure positions in their fields. Our new career center will help them accomplish their job-search goals." Read full story

From Mexico to church in Abilene

ABILENE, Texas (UMNS) - Members of St. Paul United Methodist Church could have searched the country and not found a more qualified person to speak on unauthorized immigration than their own pastor, the Rev. Eduardo "Eddie" Rivera, says the Abilene Reporter News. The journey for Rivera, a native of Monterrey, Mexico, includes mastering the English language, earning a doctorate from a prestigious school of theology, gaining his U.S. citizenship and ministering in migrant camps.

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Resources for Hispanic Heritage Month

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) - The United States marks Hispanic-Latino Heritage Month from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15 to celebrate the contributions of Americans who trace their roots to Spain, to Mexico and to the Spanish-speaking countries of Central America, South America, and the Caribbean. The United Methodist Board of Discipleship offers preaching and worship resources for congregations interested in joining in the celebration. See resources

Camp provides hope for Liberian refugees

BUDUBURAM, Ghana (UMNS) -"The most listened to woman on radio in North America" is using her big voice to speak for voiceless children and adults living in a Liberian refugee camp. Read full story

Letter to Council of Bishops on Bishop Talbert

ASBURY PARK, N.J. (UMNS) - Bishop Melvin G. Talbert "should be celebrated" not censured for calling on clergy to officiate at same-sex marriages, writes the Rev. Gilbert H. Caldwell, a retired elder, in an open letter to the Council of Bishops. His letter responds to another letter to the council signed by more than 70 people. Read Caldwell's full commentary

Response to BMCR statement on Bishop Talbert

THE WOODLANDS, Texas (UMNS) - Signers of a letter calling for Bishop Melvin G. Talbert's censure support civil rights but do not see Talbert's stance on homosexuality as a civil rights issue, writes the Rev. Thomas A. Lambrecht, one of the letter signers and vice president and general manager of Good News. Lambrecht's commentary responds to a statement by Black Methodists for Church Renewal in support of Talbert. Read Lambrecht's full commentary

Tragedy strikes Ukraine mission again

CHICAGO (UMNS) - The Rev. David Goran, a United Methodist missionary who was injured July 10 in a construction accident in Li'iv, Ukraine, writes that the youth mission is once again grieving. A United Methodist volunteer from Texas and a Ukrainian student lost their lives in the accident that injured Goran, who now is recuperating in the United States. Goran wrote Sept. 16 in his blog that "&ellipsis;we now have to also bear the death of our friend Maksem Semenov. We do not know the details of his passing, except that it was a tragic accident. &ellipsis; Please pray that God would have mercy on us and our small community in L'viv. We need him now." Read David Goran's blog

Texas church puts tornado behind

ARLINGTON, Texas (UMNS) - "The life lesson here is, we're more than our buildings," said senior pastor the Rev. Will Cotton before the 11 a.m. service Sept. 16 at St. Barnabas United Methodist Church. The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports the church celebrated a triumphant homecoming in their renovated sanctuary. The April 3 Easter week tornado devastated the campus of the 1,500-member congregation. Read story

After 60 years, she's still playing the music

ADAMS, Tenn. (UMNS) - The congregation of Port Royal United Methodist Church decided to thank Mildred Plummer for the 60 years she has played the organ every Sunday, reports. The Rev. John W. Casey told United Methodist News Service that Plummer "is an important part of the church and the community. My sermon yesterday was 'A Great Witness.' That's Mildred. She's kind of quiet, but she always has a smile on her face and a word of encouragement." Read story

Alabama mom gives thanks for new home

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (UMNS) - Single mom Carla Surls said a big thank you to Montgomery Habitat for Humanity officials and First United Methodist Church volunteers who helped raise the walls of her new home. "If anything should happen to me, (my son) can say this is what my mother left for me," Surls told the group. Read story

Pastor spreads hope for teens who feel there is none

CHARLESTON, W. Va. (UMNS) - Suicide is the No. 2 killer of teenagers in West Virginia and throughout the United States, said the Rev. Gary Nelson, who almost lost his own son to suicide. Nelson, pastor at Cross Lanes United Methodist Church, now travels to talk about teen depression and suicide. "Many teenagers use drugs and alcohol to self-medicate for depression," Nelson told the Charleston Daily Mail. "Depression could kill more teens than anything else." Read story

UMTV: Hispanic clergy couple's migrant ministry

CENTRAL VALLEY, Calif. (UMNS) - In the United States, 2.5 million farm laborers work long days and seasonal crops. Life on the move makes it hard for farm hands to have much quality of life. A husband and wife team of United Methodist pastors is making sure migrant workers get some support from the outside world. Watch video and post a comment

UMTV: Center renews small churches

HAYESVILLE, N.C. (UMTV) - Clergy go to the Hinton Rural Life Center for rest, reflection and renewal. "This is a place that has a peace that is almost unexplainable, that you can sit out on the porch and just see the wonders of God and feel the presence of God just moving. It's a renewing kind of a place," says a Hinton board member, the Rev. Geraldine McClellan. See video

Category: Weekly Digest
Tags: News Summaries