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Weekly Digest - April 25, 2014


UMNS Weekly Digest

April 25, 2014

NOTE: This is a digest of news features provided by United Methodist Communications for April 21 - April 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 the connection

Bishops offer comfort after ferry disaster
JINDO, South Korea (UMNS) — United Methodist bishops — including three Korean Americans — have extended prayers, words of comfort and the hope of Easter following last week’s ferry tragedy in South Korea.

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Aldersgate Covenant seeks spiritual revival
LEAWOOD, Kan. (UMNS) — United Methodists are invited to attend a gathering of the Aldersgate Covenant on May 16-17 at the United Methodist Church of the Resurrection in Leawood, Kan. Mary Brooke Casad and Arkansas Area Bishop Gary Mueller share the background and purpose of this prayer gathering. “We are in the midst of a spiritual crisis,” they write of the denomination and the culture.

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United Methodists remember missionary’s legacy
NEW YORK (UMNS) —From the time he was a youth, Tshala Mwengo had a dual mission: to bring people to Christ and to better the lives of those in his community, his country and the continent of Africa. He died April 9 of injuries suffered in a bus accident in Zambia.

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Sexuality issues on docket for Judicial Council this week
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (UMNS) — A marriage equality resolution and a request for a decision regarding benefit coverage for same-gender spouses of United Methodist general agency employees are among the issues to be considered when the Judicial Council — the denomination’s top court — meets this week in Little Rock.

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Connectional Table to discuss human sexuality
CHICAGO (UMNS) — Members of the Connectional Table will meet April 27-30 for the semi-annual meeting of the 59-member body, which is responsible for guiding the vision, missions and ministries of The United Methodist Church. From 9 to 11:15 a.m. CT Tuesday, April 29, the group will stream online a conversation on human sexuality, the denomination’s mission and United Methodist church law. The event will begin with Bible study led by San Antonio Area Bishop James Dorff, followed by a panel of United Methodist leaders and theologians. The panel includes retired Bishop Daniel Arichea Jr., Mark Teasdale of Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary and Pamela Lightsey of Boston University School of Theology.

Register to watch event

Read news release

Updated April 21: Church stands with gay scout leader
SEATTLE (UMNS) — Rainier Beach United Methodist Church will continue holding regular meetings with 15 youth interested in scouting despite an April 21 statement from Boy Scouts of America Inc., revoking the church’s charter because it has a gay scout leader. Gays are not allowed to be scout leaders under the BSA policies.

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Control of UMCmarket site now with church agency
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — The United Methodist Church’s finance agency, in an ongoing lawsuit, has regained control of the website at least through May 6. A federal judge granted the agency’s request for a temporary restraining order that prevents a vendor's interference with user access to

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Memorial for Bishop Knox to be webcast
TAMPA, Fla. (UMNS) — Friends from across the United Methodist connection can view the memorial service for Bishop J. Lloyd Knox as it is webcast live from Hyde Park United Methodist Church. The service will begin at 2 p.m. ET Saturday, April 26. Officiating will be the Rev. James Harnish, senior pastor at Hyde Park. Watch the webcast at

To learn more

Bishop Knox’s obituary

Clergywomen of color less than 4 percent
CHICAGO (UMNS) — The United Methodist Commission on the Status and Role of Women shares the most recent statistics of women clergy in The United Methodist Church. The commission found that women of color comprised less than 4 percent of all United Methodist clergy, including elders, deacons and licensed local pastors, as of 2011.

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UMCOR board approves $5 million-plus in grants
NEW YORK (UMNS) — More than $5 million in grants in support of relief and development work in the Philippines, Haiti and the United States were approved recently by the board of directors of the United Methodist Committee on Relief.

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UMTV: Earth Day every day at church
NASHVILLLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — United Methodists have launched ministries across the United States that set an example of creation care. “God gave us a great gift. We should do our best to take care of it,” says a member of the Church of St. Paul and St. Andrew, a historic United Methodist congregation in New York City.

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Watch coverage of Hillary Clinton’s speech to UMW
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (UMNS) — Hillary Clinton — a lifelong United Methodist — will deliver the keynote address during morning worship, 9 to 11 a.m. ET Saturday, April 26, at the 2014 United Methodist Women Assembly April 25-27 in Louisville, Ky. United Methodist News Service will be providing further coverage on You can also follow on Twitter with the hashtag #Assembly2014.

Resources for United Methodists

Grants available to young adults for ministry
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — Spark12 provides funding, coaching and other support for young adult leaders and those working with young adults who have innovative ideas they believe will change the world. Applications are open through May 16 for grants.

Read news release


Dallas center experiences a resurrection
DALLAS (UMNS) — “Comeback” would be one term for what's happened with Dallas Bethlehem Center. But there's an Easter way of describing things too.

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Rehabilitating Mary Magdalene
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — In the Bible, she is among the first to bear witness to Christ's resurrection. But she still has a reputation as the Gospels' bad girl. Read about efforts to restore her place in Christian history.

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How a church saved a town’s egg hunt
BOULDER CITY, Nev. (UMNS) — When a local sorority could no longer host the town’s Easter egg hunt, Boulder City United Methodist Fellowship came to the rescue and built community ties in the process. The Desert Southwest Annual (regional) Conference has the story.

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History of Hymns: ‘Easter People, Raise Your Voices’
DALLAS (UMNS) — Following in the tradition of many pastors who write hymns, the Rev. William Marceus James (1913-2013) wrote "Easter People, Raise Your Voices" for his congregation at Metropolitan Community United Methodist Church in New York City. The triumph of the Resurrection over evil is the theme of "Easter People." History of Hymns, a weekly feature made available by the United Methodist Board of Discipleship, is written by C. Michael Hawn of Southern Methodist University’s Perkins School of Theology.

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World Malaria Day

Ending preventable malaria deaths in this decade
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — Committed to ending preventable deaths from malaria in Africa, United Methodists are providing bed nets, working locally to drain standing water where insects breed, funding hospitals and training local workers. Rethink Church, part of United Methodist Communications, offers an overview of the difference United Methodists are making in the fight.

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Villagers testify to Imagine No Malaria’s impact on lives
BO, Sierra Leone (UMNS) — On a recent trip to Sierra Leone, Gary Henderson heard the first-person testimonies of villagers as they described how they and their families have been changed because of the gifts of life — in the form of insecticide-treated bed nets — presented by Imagine No Malaria in 2010. Henderson is the executive director of The United Methodist Church’s Global Health Initiative.

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Beating malaria, one household at a time
ZING, Nigeria (UMNS) — The Imagine No Malaria program, implemented by the United Methodist Committee on Relief, has distributed 1.2 million nets and trained 11,600 people to “reach and teach neighbors” about fatal but preventable disease. UMCOR and Interpreter magazine have the story.

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News around conferences

Daughter of Okla. City bombing victim visits Newtown
OKLAHOMA CITY (UMNS) — The Rev. Wendy Lambert, who lost her father in the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, recently visited Newtown, Conn., which is still recovering from its own tragedy. Holly McCray, editor of the Oklahoma Annual (regional) Conference Contact newspaper, writes that tragedy is not the only similarity drawing the communities together.

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United Methodist named national volunteer winner
HIGH POINT, N.C. (UMNS) — Thurman Haynes, a 97-year-old member of Spring Hill United Methodist Church in High Point, was named the national winner of the “Salute to Senior Service” contest, sponsored by Home Instead Inc. The Western North Carolina Annual (regional) Conference describes Haynes’ contributions to a school for children with disabilities.

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Sand Creek Massacre descendants join in church pilgrimage
EADS, Colo. (UMNS) — The descendants of survivors of the Sand Creek Massacre will, on June 20, accompany 10 busloads of United Methodists to the Sand Creek Massacre National Historic Site outside Eads. By calling it a “pilgrimage,” the church means that it is a journey of spiritual significance.

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Church shows love with laundry help
ALEXANDRIA, La. (UMNS) — First United Methodist Church of Alexandria is showing Christ’s love through a ministry known as Laundry Love. The program partners church volunteers with a local laundromat to help low-income and homeless individuals with the expense of washing their clothes. Bill Sumrall of the Louisiana Annual (regional) Conference shares how the ministry works.

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Blessing of the tractors
LELAND, Ill. (UMNS) — After a long, harsh winter, farmers in DeKalb County are ready to get out in their fields and want to go with a blessing. The Rev. Jodeen Immer of Suydam United Methodist Church is there to help. The Northern Illinois Annual (regional) Conference shares a photo and brief description of this ministry idea.

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Liberian clergywomen urged to increase numbers
UPPER CALDWELL, Liberia (UMNS) — During an installation service of officers of the Liberia UMC Association of Clergywomen, Liberia Area Bishop John G. Innis urged the clergywomen to increase the number of women in the preaching ministry. West African Writers have the story:

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United Methodists in the news

Husband and wife married 70 years die 15 hours apart
NASHPORT, Ohio (UMNS) — When Helen Felumlee passed away at the age of 92 Saturday morning, her family knew her husband Kenneth Felumlee, 91, wouldn't be slow to follow her. USA Today shares the story of the couple who were members of Nashport-Irville United Methodist Church.

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Mystery donor leaves restored cross
PLANO, Texas (UMNS) — An “old rugged cross” is back in use at St. Andrew United Methodist Church in this Dallas suburb. Someone who said the cross meant a lot to him in the church’s early years, when it was used for outdoor Easter services, restored it and left it at St. Andrew. He also left a note, signed “Matthew.” Steve Blow of The Dallas Morning News has the story.

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University and seminary news

United Methodist ties to Claremont Lincoln University end
CLAREMONT, Calif. (UMNS) — Claremont School of Theology, a United Methodist seminary, announced it is ending a relationship with Claremont Lincoln University after that university decided to move away from its interreligious roots to become a secular-focused institution. The joint venture between the institutions was a controversial one.

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With mentors, first-generation college students defy statistics
ATLANTA (UMNS) — Across the United States, high school seniors are now receiving acceptance letters, tallying up their financial aid packages and choosing where they will go to college in the fall. United Methodist-related colleges make higher education more accessible to students who are the first in their families to pursue a four-year-degree.

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Wesley Theological Seminary joins Tony Blair effort
WASHINGTON (UMNS) — The Tony Blair Faith Foundation’s Faith and Globalization Initiative has welcomed United Methodist-related Wesley Theological Seminary as a new partner in its teaching network. With this, Wesley is joining 20 leading research universities from across the world in the foundation’s Faith and Globalization Initiative.  Wesley is the only seminary to be added as a partner. 

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Video: How many slaves work for you?
ADRIAN, Mich. (UMNS) — Students at United Methodist-related Adrian College — a school founded by abolitionists — have put together a video discussing how human trafficking perpetuates slavery around the world.

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News of interest

Religious leaders praise clemency initiative
WASHINGTON (UMNS) — An interfaith group, convened by the United Methodist Board of Church and Society, praised U.S. Department of Justice officials’ announcements this week of an expedited clemency process for certain individuals serving long sentences for low-level and nonviolent offenses.

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Swiss churches to recognize baptisms
GENEVA (UMNS) — On the day after Easter, Swiss churches — Roman Catholic, Reformed, United Methodist, Old Catholic, Anglican and Lutheran — signed an agreement on the mutual recognition of baptism, the World Council of Churches reports. Earlier this year, several Portuguese churches, including the Methodist Church, entered a similar pact.

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Blogs and commentaries

The gospel according to ‘Downton Abbey’
CLEVELAND, Miss. (UMNS) — The Rev. Darian Duckworth, a United Methodist pastor in the Mississippi Annual (regional) Conference, reflects on what the PBS series about an aristocratic British family and its servants tells us about the importance and limits of tradition.

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Looking ahead
Here are some of the activities ahead for United Methodists across the connection. If you have an item to share, email and put Digest in the subject line.

Free webinar “Children’s Ministry: Choosing Curriculum,” Tuesday, April 29 — 10 a.m. CT, This interactive webinar will focus on some of the aspects to consider when selecting curriculum, including the theological perspective, the teaching perspective and the needs of the students. To register.

Free webinar “Claiming a Missionary Mindset!” Tuesday, April 29 — 6:30 p.m. CT, A look at what it takes to be a missionary to your community. To register.

Early-bird registration deadline for Game Changers Summit, Wednesday, April 30 United Methodist Communications invites local churches to attend a conference Wednesday-Friday, Sept. 3-5 at Gaylord Opryland Hotel in Nashville, Tenn. The event will focus on how congregations can use technology to strengthen international development. $215. Details.

Free webinar “Ordinary Time Doesn’t Have to Be Ordinary,” Thursday, May 1 — 7-8 p.m. ET, With no holiday on which to focus, here are ways to do something different in Sunday school. Details.

Free webinar “Change Requires Something of Us!” Thursday, May 1 — 6:30 p.m. CT, How churches must address change to move from death to resurrection. To register.

Beyond These Walls Mission Conference, Thursday-Saturday, May 1-3 — The event at McEachern Memorial United Methodist Church in Powder Springs, Ga., focuses on churches interested in or doing mission work. The Rev. Jorge Acevedo, pastor of Grace United Methodist Church in Fort Myers, Fla., and Brian Fikkert of the Chalmers Center will be keynote speakers. Details.

Native American Ministries Sunday, May 4 — Offering on this Special Sunday benefits annual conference Native American ministries and Native American seminary students. Details.

Deadline to register for Multicultural Journeys in Worship Conference, Monday, May 5 — Event on reaching multicultural communities through worship, Friday-Saturday, May 9-10, at First Grace United Methodist Church, 3401 Canal St, New Orleans. United Methodist Board of Global Ministries sponsors in collaboration with four United Methodist congregations. $30 per person and $100 maximum per church. Details.


Deadline to register for United Theological Seminary’s “Light the Fire!” Church Renewal Conference, Monday, May 5 — Event Thursday-Friday, May 8-9 at Ginghamsburg Church, 6759 S. County Road 25A, Tipp City, Ohio. $149, Details.


Where Grace Meets Power — Standing for Each Others’ Greatness, Monday through Wednesday, May 5-7 — A United Methodist Clergywomen’s seminar, sponsored by the United Methodist Board of Higher Education and Ministry, Palm Beach Gardens, Fla. Details.


“Elevation” continuing education and spiritual renewal retreat for worship leaders, Monday-Friday, May 5-9 — Lake Tahoe, with Marcia McFee, director of worship at two General Conferences. Details.


Deadline to register for six online courses offered by United Methodist Communications, Tuesday, May 6 — United Methodist Communications will offer the following courses May 7-June 18: “Communicating Faith in the 21st Century,” Welcoming Ministry 100,” “Web Ministry 100: What is Web Ministry?,” “Moodle 100 — Basic Training,” “Moodle 300: Course Facilitation” and “Connectional Giving.” Costs vary. “Connectional Giving” is free. Details.


Free webinar “Developing Your Ministry Plan 4: Worship, Small Groups and the Next 12 Months,” Thursday, May 8 — 6:30 p.m. CT: Building on the previous three sessions, church teams will be guided in a process to identify key steps for their congregational development. To register.


Albertson Lectures at Wenatchee (Wash.) First United Methodist Church, Friday, May 9 through Sunday, May 11 — Jerry D. Campbell, President of Claremont Lincoln Univ. will speak to the topic “New in the World and Long Overdue." Details and lecture times


Free webinar “Binders Full of Women: How to Create, Maintain and Utilize a Talent Bank,” Tuesday, May 137:30 p.m. ET, part of a series of leadership webinars offered by the United Methodist Commission on the Status and Role of Women. To see schedule and register


A Day of Learning at Adrian College, Wednesday, May 14 — Starting at 1 p.m. ET, Adrian College in Adrian, Mich., will host a day of continuing education for United Methodists in and around the Michigan Area. Sessions will focus on Paul’s Letter to the Philippians, the fight against human trafficking and the connections between the church and the academy. $30. Details.


Deadline to apply for Spark12 grants, Friday, May 16 — Spark12, part of the United Methodist Board of Higher Education and Ministry, provides funding, coaching and other support for young adult leaders and those working with young adults who have innovative ideas they believe will change the world. May 5 will receive a $50 gift card toward resources for their particular ministry. Combined cost of events is $100. Details.


A Gathering of the Aldersgate Covenant, Friday-Saturday, May 16-17 — A 20-hour prayer for revival with guest speakers from across the United States at United Methodist Church of the Resurrection, Leawood, Kan. Details.


Workshop “Transformation: Equipping Churches to Transform Lives,” Tuesday-Thursday, May 20-22 — United Methodist-related Huston-Tillotson University in Austin, Texas, will host this ecumenical event. $150. Details.


The 2014 conference of the International Association of Methodist-related Schools, Colleges and Universities, Saturday-Wednesday, May 24-28 — The event is in Hiroshima, Japan and is open to pastors as well as educators. The theme is “Peace, Reconciliation and Human Rights.” Details.


Lake Junaluska Summer Youth Events, June 12 - July 20, Lake Junaluska —Youth Events will focus on being the Body of Christ through service, worship, and community with afternoons free for groups to customize their trip and explore the mountains of North Carolina. Leadership includes Shane Claiborne, Duffy Robbins, Andy Lambert, and more. Register at


Prepare: A Training for New Leaders, Monday-Tuesday, June 23-24; and Summer Institute, Tuesday-Friday, June 24-27 — Both events at Emory University’s Candler School of Theology in Atlanta aim to address training, equipping, and building a network for new, seasoned, or prospective United Methodist collegiate ministers.. Collegiate ministers who register by May 5 will receive a $50 gift card toward resources for their particular ministry. Combined cost of events is $100. Details.