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Weekly Digest: April 4, 2014


NOTE: This is a digest of news features provided by United Methodist Communications for March 31 - April 4. 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

United Methodist presence strong in Chicago rally

CHICAGO (UMNS) — Bishop Sally Dyck became the third United Methodist bishop to be arrested since President's Day in an international campaign calling for President Barack Obama to stop deporting immigrants with no criminal record and separating children from their parents.

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What can ethnic caucuses teach the church?

ST. LOUIS (UMNS) — People of color are the disciples who can bring new life to The United Methodist Church. That was a recurring theme throughout a historic gathering March 26-27 that for the first time brought together the boards of the denomination’s five U.S.-based ethnic caucuses. Here are some of the ideas participants shared.

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Church agency sues over UMCMarket

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — The United Methodist Church’s finance agency has filed a lawsuit, alleging a vendor contracted to promote a program for giving has failed to pay what’s due and is now infringing on the denomination’s trademarks. In the meantime, the agency announced that it has launched .

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Peace Conference has interfaith flair

LAKE JUNALUSKA, N.C. (UMNS) –– Rabbis sang in Hebrew, a Muslim prayed in Arabic and United Methodists were involved at every turn during an international gathering of people from across the faith spectrum for a forum on peace March 27-30.

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Church situation on gay unions 'untenable,' group says

HOUSTON (UMNS) — “Widespread disregard” of the United Methodist ban on same-sex unions and a lack of enforcement by bishops has made the denomination’s situation  “untenable,” says an April 1 statement from Good News — an unofficial United Methodist renewal group. "If in reality we are two churches, it may not be wise to pretend any longer that we are one,” the statement said.

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New United Methodist Church commercial for Easter

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — Rethink Church, part of United Methodist Communications, offers a new ad campaign to help people find new meaning in the Resurrection.

Watch the commercial

Rethink Church launches redesigned website

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — Spiritual seekers can Rethink Church more easily through the newly redesigned website at The new site leads visitors through the concept of rethinking church and helps them find opportunities to get involved both virtually and in real life.

Read news release

Women’s commission wants all voices heard

BATON ROUGE, La. (UMNS) — Making sure all voices are heard during the 2016 United Methodist General Conference was one of the topics discussed at the United Methodist General Commission on the Status and Role of Women’s March 12-14 meeting. The board also welcomed Becky Posey Williams, an experienced counselor and spiritual director, as senior director for sexual ethics and advocacy.

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Pension board plans new investment fund

GLENVIEW, Ill. (UMNS) —The United Methodist Board of Pension and Health Benefits announces the creation of a new investment fund — the Equities Social Values Plus Fund, an alternative fund for investors who prefer additional screening to eliminate funds that do not support human rights or secure environmental practices. The new fund will be available Jan.1, 2015, replacing the Balanced Social Values Plus Fund.

Read news release

Updates on United Methodist disaster response

United Methodist response to mudslide

OSO, Wash. (UMNS) — The United Methodist Committee on Relief sent a $10,000 grant “within six minutes” of a request from Greater Northwest Episcopal Area Bishop Grant Hagiya. The Rev. Stanley J. Norman, the United Methodist Pacific Northwest Annual (regional) disaster relief coordinator, tells  how pastors, local churches and disaster-response teams from the Western Jurisdiction are responding and preparing to help after the tragic mudslide on March 22. “Your support is needed for the long-haul,” he says.

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Liberians take action again Ebola virus

GANTA CITY, Liberia (UMNS) — Health workers from the Methodist Hospital are visiting schools, churches, business centers and other workplaces to raise awareness after a March 24 announcement that the Ebola virus is suspected to be the cause of five deaths in the country. There is no cure for Ebola, which frequently is fatal.

Read the West African Writers report

UMCOR monitoring Chile earthquake aftermath

NEW YORK (UMNS) — The United Methodist Committee on Relief has been in contact with the Methodist Humanitarian Aid Team in Chile following the magnitude 8.2 earthquake there April 1. UMCOR has partnered since 2009 with EMAH, the humanitarian assistance arm of the Methodist Church of Chile, to strengthen the organization’s capacity for disaster preparedness and shore up its response network.

Read story

Read about UMCOR efforts in South America

Disaster recovery is much more than cleanup

NEW YORK (UMNS) — Survivors may experience an inability to cope, a crisis of faith or a loss of hope. The United Methodist Committee on Relief sees spiritual healing is as necessary as physical rebuilding, explains Barbara Dunlap-Berg.

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News around conferences

Couple rides 3,000 miles to support children’s home

MACON, Ga. (UMNS) — Frank and Susan May are riding their bicycles more than 3,000 miles in two months to raise funds for The Methodist Home for children in Macon. They started in early March and are riding from St. Augustine, Fla., to San Diego. The South Georgia Annual (regional) Conference tells the story.

Read story

Read the Mays’ blog

UMTV: Making an old church new

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (UMNS) — Measuring a “vital congregation” goes beyond Sunday attendance and the tally from each week’s offering. The Rev. Russ Breshears of the Arkansas Annual (regional) Conference says new ideas have reenergized his historic church. He offers tips on how any church can be reborn.

Watch video and post a comment

Memphis children decorate sidewalks for Easter

MEMPHIS (UMNS) — Here’s a fun idea for children’s ministry. The combined children's Sunday school classes from First United Methodist and First Presbyterian churches in downtown Memphis spent some creative time outdoors March 30 decorating the sidewalk between the churches. The Memphis Annual (regional) Conference has the story.

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Clergy rock out for charity

DALLAS (UMNS) — Connections, a rock band composed of United Methodist clergy in the Dallas area, will play a benefit concert April 4 at Northaven United Methodist Church. Donations will go to the United Methodist Committee on Relief. The band, which covers hits by Fleetwood Mac, Jackson Browne, James Taylor and others, has raised nearly $250,000 for charity.

Band website

Resources and educational opportunities

Getting ready for VBS

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — In the United States, it is time to start planning this summer's vacation Bible school. Below are some program options.

Pastor suggests ways to create boy-friendly churches

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — A pastor in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America says there are ways churches can slow the exodus of males from congregations. He offers advice to leaders of seven denominations during a March meeting in Nashville. Rich Peck, a staff member of the Commission on United Methodist Men, has the story.

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Proposals aim to boost young clergy

MUTARE, Zimbabwe (UMNS) — Four proposals aimed at increasing the number of young clergy in The United Methodist Church were approved recently by directors of the United Methodist Board of Higher Education and Ministry. The deadline for the second round of grant applications for the Young Clergy Initiative is July 2.

Read story 

Ginghamsburg Church to host conference on Palestine

NEW YORK (UMNS) — United Methodists from around the world — particularly those who undertake to visit the Holy Land — are increasingly aware of the political realities that affect Palestinians and Israelis. In August, a conference sponsored by the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries and Ginghamsburg Church in Ohio will bring United Methodists and Palestinian Christians together and provide opportunities for prayer, fellowship and study.

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History of Hymns: ‘Must Jesus Bear the Cross Alone’

DALLAS (UMNS) — Thomas Shepherd (1665-1739) tied his original poem to Simon of Cyrene who, according to Matthew 27:32, was compelled to carry Jesus' cross on the way to Golgotha. C. Michael Hawn of Southern Methodist University’s Perkins School of Theology shares how the hymn has been modified over the centuries.

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United Methodists in the news

Church gives ill homeless people place to recover

ASHEVILLE, N.C. (UMNS) — David Webb recently walked for the first time since a 2011 scooter accident broke his leg. Webb, who has struggled with homelessness in recent years, credits Haywood Street Respite, a ministry of the United Methodist Haywood Street Congregation. The Citizen-Times shares the ministry’s progress.

Read story

University and seminary news

Six distinctive scholars nearing seminary graduation

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — Six scholars involved in a scholarship and mentoring program for racial-ethnic students seeking ordination as deacons or elders will complete their M.Div. degrees this year, bringing the total number of seminary graduates to 25 since the program began in 2004. Five more will complete their degrees in 2015. The scholarship program is sponsored by the United Methodist Board of Higher Education and Ministry. Funding comes from local church offerings on World Communion Sunday.

Read story

Clark Atlanta hosts young African leaders program

ATLANTA (UMNS) - Clark Atlanta University, one of The United Methodist Church's historically black colleges, is among 20 host schools selected for the Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders programs. The Washington Fellowship, which will be on campus June 14 to July 25, is the flagship program of President Obama's Young African Leaders Initiative, whose purpose is to empower and bolster young leaders.

Read news release

Adrian College draws attention to human trafficking

ADRIAN, Mich. (UMNS)--Adrian College students and staff engaged in activities opposing human trafficking. The annual “Not for Sale” public awareness campaign ran March 31 to April 4.
Read more

Blogs and commentaries

So, how’s that Lenten thing working out for you?

FORREST CITY, Ark. (UMNS) — If you find yourself slipping up in your Lenten disciplines, Julian of Norwich, a 14th century mystic, offers some hope. The Rev. Bill Buchanan, Arkansas Annual (regional) Conference, shares one of the mystic’s spiritual insights.

Read commentary

Coming home from deployment

CUYAHOGA FALLS, Ohio (UMNS) — The Rev. James Lewis, a United Methodist-endorsed Army Reserve chaplain, reflects on military veterans’ often fraught return home. “Not every veteran is struggling or suffering, though many are, regardless of how long ago they served,” he writes.

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Bishop Steiner Ball reflects on ‘In God We Trust’

CHARLESTON, W. Va. (UMNS) — West Virginia Area Bishop Sandra Steiner Ball was part of a forum discussion entitled: "In God We Trust: Finding the We" at the University of Charleston March 27. Members of the forum discussed what it means for our society to have a religious message on our currency and in other government settings. The statement “reflects a belief that trust lies in God rather than in government, even in matters of national economics,” she wrote.

Read the 600-word essays participants, including the bishop, wrote here.

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 “New Children’s Ministers,” Tuesday, April 810 a.m. CT. The event will help you recruit adults for children’s ministry and provide ways to encourage them to continue serving.. To register.

Free webinar “Teaching the Way of Jesus,” Tuesday, April 86:30 p.m. CT. What does it mean for us to educate “followers of Jesus” for faithful living in the world? A look  at six key ways to focus our ministries in Christian education. To register.

Free webinar “Pastors Read: ‘American Saint: Francis Asbury and the Methodists,’” Wednesday, April 910 a.m. CT. A discussion of John Wigger’s book, which gives an overview of how the Methodist movement started in the United States. Wigger will be part of the discussion. To register.

John Dominic Crossan to speak at Eugene (Ore.)  First United Methodist Church’s New Visions Lectures, 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. PT on Saturday, April 12 and at 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. PT on Sunday, April 13. — Crossan, a leading historical Jesus theologian and a founder of the Jesus Seminar, will speak on “The Power of Parable: A Story that Never Happened but Always Should” at the church, 1376 Olive St., Eugene, Ore. Details

Live Well Event: A Different Kind of Women’s Fair, Saturday, April 129 a.m. to 4 p.m. CT at Aldersgate United Methodist Church, Wichita, Kan. United Methodist Church at the Well is also a sponsor. $5 per person; $8 for two. Details

Palm/ Passion Sunday, April 13 — The United Methodist Board of Discipleship offers worship resources

Holy Week, Monday-Saturday, April 14-19 — The United Methodist Board of Discipleship offers worship resources.

Deadline to register for “Church Communication: 10 Things,” Tuesday, April 15. — A clinic sponsored by the Memphis Conference Communications Action Team from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. CT, Thursday, April 24, First United Methodist Church, Jackson, Tenn. $25 per person, $20 each for groups of three or more. Details.

Free webinar “Media: What’s Trending in Elementary School,” Tuesday, April 15, Noon CT. A discussion of how to extend community to children through the use of healthy media. To register.

Deadline to register for “Wesley presents: A Faithful Action in Partnership: A Training to Respond to Human Trafficking,” Friday, April 18 This free workshop from 9:30 a.m. to  4 p.m. ET May 1 is designed to foster collaboration among local churches, social-service organizations and law enforcement agencies to respond to trafficking in the Washington-Baltimore metropolitan area. The event will be held at Mount Vernon Place United Methodist Church, 900 Massachusetts Ave NW, Washington. Details

Easter Sunday, April 20 — The United Methodist Board of Discipleship offers worship resources 

Free “Lunch and Learn” about Southern Methodist University’s Perkins School of Theology, Monday, April 21 — 11: 45 a.m. to 1 p.m. CT, Thomas Spann, professor of supervised ministry at Perkins, will speak on “Internship: Doing Ministry and Theology in the Traffic at the Intersection” at Perkins’ Houston-Galveston Extension Program, 3501 W. Alabama, Suite 107, Houston. Details

Free webinar “Pastors: Making a Good Move,” Tuesday, April 226:30 p.m. CT, Designed for pastors who are moving to a new appointment, this event will include ways to say good-bye to the current congregation and say hello to a new place and new people. To register.

Free webinar “SPRC: Your Role When the Pastor Changes,” Thursday, April 246:30 p.m. CT, Training for staff-parish relations committees and other laity on handling a transition in pastors. To register.

“Turn Your Radio On” singles ministry weekend, Friday-Sunday, April 25-27 — A study of four of Jesus’ parables through “old-time” radio episodes at Lakeshore Camp and Retreat Center, Eva, Tenn. Sponsored by the Memphis Conference’s Single Adult Ministry. Details

“How to Reach New People” workshop, Friday-Saturday, April 25-26 — Jim Griffith, a church planter and coach, will lead the workshop at First United Methodist Church in Independence, Mo. $25 per person or $75 for a team of up to five people. Details

“Jazzin for Christ” luncheon, Saturday, April 26Noon to 3:30 p.m. CT, Masque performance, sponsored by Wesley United Methodist Church in Chicago at Georgios of Orland Park, 8800 W. 159th St., Orland Park, Ill. $60.  Details

2014 Large Church Initiative, Monday-Wednesday, April 28-30 — At Mount Pisgah United Methodist Church in Johns Creek, Ga., for United Methodist churches with 1,000 or more members and/or with an average attendance of 350 or more in worship. Details

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

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

Deadline to apply for CORR Action Fund grants, Monday, June 30 — The United Methodist Commission on Religion and Race will award grants of $20,000 to $80,000 to “innovative, bold, high-impact initiatives” that will increase intercultural competency or support vital conversations about race, cultural diversity and systemic equity. Details

Category: Weekly Digest