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 umc.org/news.
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.
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.
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 UMCMarket.net .
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.
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.
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.
Rethink Church launches redesigned website
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — Spiritual seekers can Rethink Church more easily through the newly redesigned website at RethinkChurch.org. 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
- Workshop of Wonders: Imagine and Build with God, offered by the United Methodist Publishing House's Cokesbury division
- Praise Break: Celebrating the Works of God, offered by the United Methodist Publishing House's Abingdon Press
- Abundance Orchard and a mission supplement, offered by the Society of St. Andrew, a United Methodist partner that promotes hunger ministries
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Here are some of the activities ahead for United Methodists across the connection. If you have an item to share, email firstname.lastname@example.org and put Digest in the subject line.
Free webinar “New Children’s Ministers,” Tuesday, April 8 — 10 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 8 — 6:30 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 9 — 10 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 12 — 9 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 22 — 6:30 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 24 — 6:30 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 26 — Noon 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