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Weekly Digest - February 14, 2014

NOTE: This is a digest of news features provided by United Methodist Communications for Feb. 3 - Feb. 7. 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

The church and homosexuality
Scars and hope emerging from Schaefer trial
IONA, Penn. (UMNS) – Frank Schaefer, former pastor of Zion Iona United Methodist Church was found guilty of violating the United Methodist Book of Discipline in a church trial and lost his ministerial credentials. Those involved – from the Schaefer family to church members supporting and opposing his actions to Philadelphia Area Bishop Peggy Johnson – talk with Kathy Gilbert of United Methodist News Service about the pain and about hope for what may happen next.

Read story and post a comment

2 clergy face 24-hour suspensions for gay weddings
DES MOINES, Wash. (UMNS) – Two United Methodist pastors in the Pacific Northwest Annual (regional) Conference under complaint for officiating at same-sex unions in violation of church law will face not a trial but a 24-hour suspension without pay. The decision, approved by Greater Northwest Area Bishop Grant Hagiya, is an indication of just how varied responses can be across the church in the denomination’s deepening divide over human sexuality.

Read story and post a comment

Trial postponed for theologian who officiated at son's wedding
NEW YORK (UMNS) – In a pre-trial meeting  on Monday, Feb. 10, retired Bishop S. Clifton Ives –  the presiding officer or the equivalent of a judge – postponed the trial date of the Rev. Thomas Ogletree, who officiated at the same-sex wedding of his son in 2012. No new date has been given.

Read story and post a comment

A way forward in human sexuality debate
DES MOINES, Wash. (UMNS) – Greater Northwest Area Bishop Grant Hagiya talks about the tough times ahead as the church's longtime debate on same-gender unions intensifies. He adds that "... I believe that there is a way forward for our church."

Read commentary

Resources for churches
Welcome to the new
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) – The United Methodist Church debuts today, Feb. 12, a new – the denomination’s website and digital home. The redesign is aimed to ease access to the stories and resources of United Methodism. United Methodist Communications manages the website. To share your feedback, email

Watch video on new site


Evangelism award nomination forms available
LAKE JUNALUSKA, N.C. (UMNS) – The Foundation for Evangelism plans again to work with United Methodist annual conferences in celebrating outstanding personal evangelism by sponsoring the Harry Denman Evangelism Award. The Harry Denman Evangelism Awards nomination packets may be downloaded from The Foundation for Evangelism website or you may receive a packet in the mail by calling 800-737-8333.

Download nomination forms

Lenten Resources for 2014
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) – Lent begins this year with Ash Wednesday, March 5 and extends until Easter, April 20. Below are Lenten resources to help you through this season of reflection on Christ’s sacrifice and redemptive love.

  • The Society of St. Andrew, which leads feeding ministries, offers the “Create in Me a Clean Heart” Lenten devotions program for churches and individuals.

To sign up

To download devotional booklet

To browse and order

  • The United Methodist Board of Discipleship offers worship resources and lectionary planning help

To view resources

History of Hymns: 'Lift Every Voice and Sing'
DALLAS (UMNS) – What began as a hastily-written composition for an unassuming school assembly in 1900 has become known as the African-American national anthem. C. Michael Hawn of Southern Methodist University's Perkins School of Theology shares the story of American civil rights pioneer James Weldon Johnson, his brother J. Rosamund Johnson and their most famous composition, "Lift Every Voice and Sing."


Read story

News around the connection
United Methodists to risk immigration protest arrests
WASHINGTON (UMNS) – United Methodist Bishops Minerva Carcaño and Julius Trimble will be among several United Methodists, undocumented immigrants and other faith leaders who will risk arrest at a pray-in on President's Day, Feb. 17, in front of the White House as President Obama nears a record-breaking 2 millionth deportation. United Methodist News Service will cover the event and provide updates.

Read story

United Methodists bridging global religious divide
WASHINGTON (UMNS) – Whether engaged in peace-building, social justice programs or interfaith dialogue, United Methodists around the world are increasingly open to those of other faith traditions, according to a survey of bishops from Africa, Europe and the Philippines.

Read story

Lesson from Lois: Be part of the struggle
NEW YORK (UMNS) – Kelly Martini recalls the late Lois M. Dauway as "a fascinating book of stories and lessons that taught me, a 20-something, to think bigger than myself. If you took my relationship and multiplied it by thousands, I’m sure you’d discover a small percent of people she touched.” Dauway, a former staffer with United Methodist Women, the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries and the National Council of Churches, died Feb. 4.

Read story and post a comment

World Council of Churches tribute

Dorsey, rural chaplain, agency director, dies
OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (UMNS) – The Rev. Frank Lee Dorsey, an active member of the United Methodist Rural Chaplains Association and former director of the denomination’s Board of Global Ministries and Board of Church and Society, died Feb. 5 at the age of 75.

See obituary

Clergy diversity mirrors membership
CHICAGO (UMNS) – The United Methodist Commission on the Status and Role of Women has found a 7.6-percent increase in the denomination’s U.S. clergy of color during a five-year period. The analysis also found the numbers mirror the racial/ethnic group proportions in U.S. membership.

Read story
See where clergy are

Wespath withdraws shareholder resolution
GLENVIEW, Ill. (UMNS) – The Wespath Investment Management division of the United Methodist Board of Pension and Health Benefits has withdrawn a shareholder resolution asking Tyson Foods Inc. to report on the use of gestation crates in its animal supply chain. Wespath cited “responsiveness” by Tyson, including new guidelines for suppliers, as the reason for withdrawing the resolution.

Read news release

Archives and History reopens chief executive search
MADISON, N.J. (UMNS) – The United Methodist Commission on Archives and History has reopened the search for its new chief executive, the position of general secretary. Inquiries, nominations and applications should be emailed in confidence to no later than March 31.

For job description and application

News around conferences
New Río Texas Conference OKs organizational plan
SAN ANTIONIO (UMNS) – The Río Grande and Southwest Texas annual (regional) conferences approved Feb. 8 by an overwhelming majority in both conferences what Bishop Jim Dorff called “the beginning organizational plan of the Río Texas Conference.” Members of the Unification Implementation Team have worked on the plan since 2012, when the South Central Jurisdictional Conference approved the two conferences pursuing unification.

Read story

See full report

Clergy urge change to Washington NFL team's name
WASHINGTON (UMNS) – A group of religious leaders around the Washington area – including four United Methodists – have signed a letter urging that the name of the Washington team be changed because it offends Native Americans and others. Erik Alsgaard of the UMConnection in the Baltimore-Washington Annual (regional) Conference has the story.

Read story

Read the Washington Post on U.S. Congress members’ effort

Tracking professions of faith in Florida
LAKELAND, Fla. (UMNS) – Encouraged by reports of more people coming to Christ, Florida Annual (regional) Conference church leaders nevertheless say statistics don't reveal everything about church health. Bonnie Dyson in the Florida Conference Connection shares the experiences of three United Methodist churches.

Read story

Liberia United Methodists address violence
GBARNGA CITY, Liberia (UMNS) – The church must find its prophetic voice in addressing the issue of violence, a United Methodist pastor and scholar told participants in a seminar that also focused on forgiveness and reconciliation. The Rev. Yatta Young, dean of the Gbarnga School of Theology at United Methodist University, challenged the church to become proactive in advocating against violence and human rights violations.

Read story and post a comment

What does it mean to be a United Methodist in Slovakia?
KRALOVSKY CLMEC, Slovakia (UMNS) – The Methodist presence in Slovakia has survived the harassment of Nazis and the rise and fall of communist rule. Through evangelistic efforts, new United Methodist congregations are emerging today. The Rev. Pavel Procházka, district superintendent in the United Methodist Church of Central and Southern Europe, shares how denominational support is bringing people to faith in Christ with a Wesleyan accent.

Read story

United Methodists and Valentine’s Day
Cupid and The United Methodist Church
LAFAYETTE, Ind. (UMNS) – Some call it “Methodist Destiny.” For Valentine’s Day, couples share how United Methodist ministries brought them together and have helped their marriages withstand the test of time.

Read story and share if the church helped your love connection

Better than chocolate: A vow renewed
PALM COAST, Fla. (UMNS) – Palm Coast United Methodist Church is among the Florida congregations spreading a message that expressions of love should not be reduced to just heart-shaped boxes of treats on Valentine’s Day. The church hosts an annual renewal-of-marriage vows for couples. It is not alone, reports Kathy Steele for the Florida Annual (regional) Conference.

Read story
Read Religion News Service about how love became part of marriage

United Methodists in the news
Pastor made history as applicant to Birmingham police in 1956
MOODY, Ala. (UMNS) – The Rev. Clyde M. Jones is retired after nearly 40 years as a United Methodist pastor and proudly wears a cap that denotes his service as a Korean War veteran. But he is in the history books for risking his job and his life to become one of the first black applicants for the job of a Birmingham, Ala., police officer. Greg Garrison of shares Jones' story.

Read story

Bridge Bread helps homeless, jobless
ST. LOUIS (UMNS) – The St. Louis Post-Dispatch shows in pictures how Centenary United Methodist Church in the downtown area is helping people regain their lives through baking bread.

See the photos

News of interest
WCC concerns about violence, displaced
BOSSEY, Switzerland (UMNS) – The World Council of Churches executive committee has expressed its strong concern over an “alarming trend” in the number of displaced worldwide. The Feb. 12 statement noted the increased number of displaced because of the violence in Syria, in the Central African Republic and in South Sudan.

Statement of rights on internally displaced
Minute on South Sudan

Bread for World’s 2014 letter campaign
WASHINGTON (UMNS) – United Methodists and other Christians are being invited to use their influence in urging the U.S. Congress to develop policies that end hunger by participating in Bread for the World’s 2014 Offering of Letters. The focus this year is “Reforming U.S. Food Aid.”

Learn more

Violence in Central African Republic escalates
BANGUI, Central African Republic (UMNS) – Religion News Service reports that African religious leaders have appealed for an end to violence against Muslims in the Central African Republic as thousands flee to neighboring Chad and Cameroon. The BBC reported Feb. 12 that Amnesty International says militia attacks have led to a Muslim exodus of “historic proportion” as other aid groups fight a major food shortage.

Read Religion News Service story

Read the BBC report

University and seminary news
Professor goes green by living in a Dumpster
AUSTIN, Texas (UMNS) – Could you live in a 33-square-foot trash container for a year? A professor from United Methodist-related Huston-Tillotson University has taken that challenge to prove it's possible to live on one percent of the water, energy and waste that the average American uses. ABC News has the story. Huston-Tillotson is among the schools supported in part by the denomination’s Black College Fund.

See ABC video

Read about Black College Fund

Five pastors from China to study at Wesley
WASHINGTON (UMNS) – On Feb. 4, five of the leading Christian pastors in Beijing arrived at United Methodist-related Wesley Theological Seminary to complete a semester of intensive study. “This is important for both Wesley Theological Seminary and for the Christian church in China,” says the Rev. Kyunglim Shin Lee, Wesley’s vice president of international relations.

Read story

St. Paul expands offerings on Oklahoma campus
OKLAHOMA City (UMNS) – United Methodist-related Saint Paul School of Theology at Oklahoma City University has reached a milestone. A recent visit from the Association of Theological Schools has recommended the campus be authorized to offer in Oklahoma City all courses leading to the Master of Divinity, Master of Arts in Christian Ministry, Master of Arts (Theological Studies), and Doctor of Ministry degrees.

Read news release

Blogs and commentaries
Can divorced clergy become bishops?
MONROVIA, Liberia (UMNS) – Sometimes, even among clergy, relationships do not last. James Massaquoi and Cletus A. Sieh of West Africa address the incorrect assumption that United Methodist rules prevent divorced clergy from becoming bishops.

Read blog

Doing community ministry when church is small
GLENVIEW, Ill.(UMNS) – Small churches can start very powerful community ministries, even though they face the challenges of scarce funds and people, writes church consultant Joy F. Skjegstad on the website of the Lewis Center for Church Leadership.

Read commentary

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.

Webinar "Get Their Name – Grow Your Church By Building New Relationships," Tuesday, Feb. 18 – 7-8 p.m. ET, offered by Practical Church Resources and led by the Rev. Bob Farr, director of the Center for Congregational Excellence at the Missouri Annual (regional) Conference. $10. Details.

Free webinar "Leaders Learn: Shaped by God, 12 Essentials for Nurturing Faith in Children, Youth and Adults," Tuesday, Feb. 18 6:30 p.m. CT, a discussion of the book "Shaped by God," which explores the role of story, liturgy and spiritual practices in faith formation. Read the book before the webinar. To register.

The Well-Played Life with the Rev. Leonard Sweet, Thursday, Feb. 2010 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. CT, Center of Excellence Innovation Studio, 1265 Union Ave., Memphis, Tenn., presented by the Clergy Coaching Network. $43.19. Details.

The Methodist School for Supernatural Ministry Session Six, “Power Evangelism,” Wednesday- Saturday, Feb. 19-22 – Course offered by Aldersgate Renewal Ministries in Goodlettsville, Tenn. A prerequisite for attendance is to have viewed or attended Session One, “The Basics” Details.

Inside Perkins, Thursday-Friday, Feb. 20-21 – Event for prospective students at Perkins School of Theology, Southern Methodist University, 5915 Bishop Boulevard, Dallas, Texas. $25. Details.

Restorative Justice Weekend, Saturday-Sunday, Feb. 22-23 – Christ United Methodist Church in Sugar Land, Texas, near Houston, will host speakers from Alpha Prison Fellowship and the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. Jim Liske, president of Prison Fellowship Ministries, and Paul Cowley of Alpha International, London, will preach at worship services. Details.

Lake Junaluska Signature Series featuring Rachel Held Evans, Saturday, Feb. 22 – 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. ET, The popular Christian blogger and author will talk about how the Bible is meant to be a conversation starter, not a conversation ender. $25-35. Details.

Deadline to register for online course "United Methodism 101," Monday, Feb. 24Feb. 26-April 23, training from United Methodist Communications. Seating limited. $9.99. Details.

Deadline to register for online course "Moodle 300: Course Facilitation," Monday, Feb. 24Feb. 26 - April 23, training from United Methodist Communications, Moodle Basc and Moodle Advanced are prerequisite. Seating limited. $119.99. Details.

United Methodist Global AIDS Fund event “Just Save One,” Tuesday, Feb. 25 – 6:30 to 8 p.m. ET, Saint Mark United Methodist Church, 781 Peachtree St. NE, Atlanta. The event focuses on how individuals and churches can fight AIDS. Details.

Welcome Table at Wesley Theological Seminary, Tuesday, Feb. 25; Tuesday, March 4; and Thursday, April 3 – 4-7:30 p.m. ET events for prospective students include a campus tour, networking opportunities and the chance to attend a class. Details.

Free webinar "Children's Ministry: Using Pockets Magazine in Groups, at Home and in Church," Tuesday, Feb. 25 – 10 a.m. CT, Lynn Gilliam, editor of Pockets, will offer suggestions and ideas for using this resource with the children of your congregation and community. To register.

Webinar "Does Your Church have a Personality?" Tuesday, Feb. 25 – 7-8 p.m. ET, finding out what Myers-Briggs can tell about a congregation, offered by Practical Church Resources and led by Julia Wallace, ministry coach and former staff member of the United Methodist Board of Discipleship. $10. Details.

Deadline for early-bird registration for “180 Turnaround Church Conference,” Friday, Feb. 28 – 8:30 a.m.- 4 p.m. ET Thursday, March 20 conference at Redeemer United Methodist Church in DeWitt, Mich. $49 per person. Details.

Transfiguration Sunday, March 2 – Resources from the United Methodist Board of Discipleship.

Ash Wednesday, March 5 – Mark the start of Lent with worship resources from the United Methodist Board of Discipleship.

Creating Sacred Time for Your Family workshop, Sunday, March 2 – 6 p.m. CT, First United Methodist Church of Hurst, Texas. Details.

Our Sacred Journey with Children workshop, Monday, March 3 – 7-8:30 p.m. CT, First United Methodist Church of Hurst, Texas. Details.

Early-bird registration deadline for Engaging Local Schools Conference, Monday, March 3 – 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. ET, Saturday, March 22 , Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, D.C. $20-50. Details.

Early registration deadline for United Theological Seminary's "Light the Fire!" Church Renewal Conference, Friday, March 21 May 8-9 at Ginghamsburg Church, 6759 S. County Road 25A, Tipp City, Ohio. Details.

Ecumenical Advocacy Days, Friday through Monday, March 21-24 – Assembly co-sponsored by United Methodist Board of Church and Society, United Methodist Women, and other United Methodist ministries in Washington. The theme is "Jesus Weeps: Resisting Violence, Building Peace."  Details.

Window on Wesley Theological Seminary, Tuesday, March 25; Saturday, April 26; and Tuesday, June 17 – 9 a.m.-3:30 p.m. ET, full-day events for prospective students include a campus tour, discussion of degree programs and the chance to attend a class. Details.

Lake Junaluska Peace Conference, “Faith, Health and Peace: Seeking the Basic Right to Good Health for All God’s Children,” Thursday-Sunday, March 27-30 – Lake Junaluska Conference and Retreat Center in Lake Junaluska, N.C. Partial student scholarships available. Details.

Increase Generosity in Your Church Conference, Saturday, March 29 – 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. ET, Myers Park United Methodist Church, Charlotte, N.C. The Rev. Lovett H. Weems Jr., director of the Lewis Center for Church Leadership, will speak. $35-45. Details.

One Great Hour of Sharing, Sunday, March 30 – Donations the United Methodist Committee on Relief receives through this offering, along with other undesignated gifts made throughout the year, cover the relief agency’s costs of doing business. The United Methodist Publishing House offers “Be Hope,” a new, four-week study in preparation for One Great Hour of Sharing. $6.29-10. To order.

Deadline to register for the 2014 United Methodist Women Assembly, April 1 – April 25-27, Louisville, Ky. Details.

The Professional Association of United Methodist Church Secretaries conference, Thursday through Sunday, April 3-6 – Asheville, N.C., Continuing education for Administrative Assistants and any office workers in United Methodist churches. 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. Tickets cost $5 for individuals, $8 for pairs. 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.

“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.