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Weekly Digest: February 7, 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

News around the connection

Grammy winner from family of pastors
WESTFIELD, N.Y. (UMNS) – Kent Knappenberger, son and grandson of United Methodist pastors and a United Methodist himself, won the first Grammy for a music educator. "It meant everything," said Mr. K, as his students call him, of the United Methodist influence on his life.

Read story

Denver United Methodists collect more in  SOUPer bowl
DENVER (UMNS) – While the Seahawks claimed an overwhelming victory against the Broncos, Denver-area United Methodists can brag that they outscored their Seattle area brethren in a SOUPer Bowl to help local food banks. But in the end, everyone won in this competition against hunger.


Read story

Rev. Jim Perry was 'a pastor to pastors'
MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. (UMNS) – The Rev. Jim Perry, remembered as a United Methodist with a heart for clergy, died Jan. 29 at age 67. From 2000 to 2004 he chaired the Commission on the General Conference. Christa Meland, director of communications in the Minnesota Annual (regional) Conference, shares a remembrance.



Read obituary

Lois Dauway, longtime mission staffer, dies
NEW YORK (UMNS) – Lois Dauway, former staff member with United Methodist Women, the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries and the National Council of Churches, died Feb. 4. She also served as a United Methodist representative on several committees of the World Council of Churches.


Read tribute

Obama adviser to be at peace event
LAKE JUNALUSKA, N.C. (UMNS) – Joshua Dubois, spiritual adviser to President Obama during his first term, will speak at the 2014 Lake Junaluska Peace Conference, "Faith, Health, and Peace: Seeking the Basic Right to Good Health for All God's Children." The conference will be March 27-30.


See more details

Training grants boost ethnic leadership
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) – The United Methodist Board of Higher Education and Ministry recently gave six Ethnic In-Service Training grants, totaling $52,500. The grants will help recruit, train and retain ethnic United Methodists for leadership across the church.



Read news release

News around conferences

Appalachian Trail chaplain to start 6-month hike
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) – At age 69, David Smith will be the second United Methodist chaplain sent by Holston Annual (regional) Conference to hike the Appalachian Trail. Annette Spence of the Holston Conference shares the story of Smith and this trailblazing ministry.


Read story

Zimbabwe district continues fasting tradition
HARARE, Zimbabwe (UMNS) – Three times a year – in January, July and October – United Methodists in the Harare East District in the Zimbabwe Episcopal Area are invited to participate in 10 days of fasting and prayer. Abigail Mvududu explains the tradition.


Read story

West Virginia clergy take the plunge
ROMNEY, W. Va. (UMNS) – Clergy in the Potomac Highlands District jumped in the (not so cold) water of Mount Storm Lake over the weekend. It was all for a good cause – Imagine No Malaria. So far they've raised $3,000 dollars to help save lives in Africa.



Watch video


See pictures

Resources for churches

Scouting Ministries Sunday is Feb. 9
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) – United Methodists will celebrate Scouting this Sunday, Feb. 9, and United Methodist Men offer resources for churches eager to support Boy Scouts of America, Girls Scouts of the USA, Big Brothers Big Sisters and other youth-service groups.

United Methodist Men resources

More about Scouting Ministries Sunday

2014 Scouting Ministry Sunday patch now available

15 outreach ideas for Easter
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) – Easter, the most important day of the Christian calendar, offers an opportunity to tell the most important story ever told. This year, the celebration of Christ's Resurrection is April 20 in the Western calendar. Eric Seiberling of United Methodist Communications offers ideas to help churches share the good news.

Read ideas

UMDF offers easy access to finance options
NEW YORK (UMNS) – For more than 50 years, the United Methodist Development Fund has helped United Methodists create new spaces for worship in existing and new places. Now, a new website will give local churches, districts, annual conferences and other United Methodist entities easy access to information about the fund's competitive loans and investment opportunities.

Read story

Observe Feb. 17 prayer day for students
NEW YORK (UMNS) – The Universal Day of Prayer for Students, observed Feb. 17 or during that week, will mark the World Student Christian Federation General Assembly's theme "We are Many, We are One, Sent to Build God's Peace." Students are being encouraged to organize worship services and events.

Download materials

History of Hymns: 'Christ Upon the Mountain Peak'
DALLAS (UMNS) – Christians in the Western tradition celebrate Transfiguration Sunday this year on March 2. C. Michael Hawn of Southern Methodist University's Perkins School of Theology suggests "Christ Upon the Mountain Peak," by Brian Wren, as a hymn for the occasion. Hawn also provides background about the hymn's composition.


Read story

Black History Month and the church

Drew radio program on MLK postponed
MADISON, N. J. (UMNS) – A Drew University radio program about Martin Luther King Jr.'s visit to the school has been postponed from Wednesday, Feb. 5, to Wednesday, Feb. 26. The time remains from noon to 1:30 p.m. The program is part of Drew's Black History Month observances.



To listen online

Resources for Black History Month
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) - February is Black History Month and United Methodists are taking time to reflect on race and religion.

  • The United Methodist Board of Discipleship has music and worship resources.

    Choose from resources

  • Abingdon Press offers "African American History Month Daily Devotions 2014."

    To order the devotions

  • Ideas for worship from the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries

    Read ideas

  • African-American spirituals have a rich, sometimes unfamiliar history to the people who sing them today.

    Read the story in Interpreter Online

  • What started as a history project for students at United Methodist-related Rust College turned into Gracing the Table, an open dialogue forum that gives students, professors and community members the opportunity to begin the healing process of wounds left open more than a century ago during slavery.

    Read story at UMC Giving

Connecting Black History Month to the church
JACKSON, Miss. (UMNS) – Mississippi Area Bishop James E. Swanson Sr. urges United Methodist churches "not to simply celebrate Black History Month in isolation from our relationship with the Risen Christ." He suggests ways to make this month count in the life of the church.


Read commentary

The church and evolution

Evolution Weekend: Different ways of knowing
NEW YORK (UMNS) – Michael Zimmerman, founder of The Clergy Letter Project, writes in The Huffington Post that this year's theme for Evolution Weekend – Different Ways of Knowing – was selected to recognize that religion and science use different methodologies to ask and answer different kinds of questions.

Read commentary


Science and Faith: 9th Evolution Weekend ahead

Overview of Ham-on-Nye creation debate
PETERSBURG, Ky. (UMNS) – Time's Elizabeth Dias shares a play-by-play of Science Guy Bill Nye's debate with creationist Ken Ham.

Read overview

What The United Methodist Church says about evolution

United Methodists in the news

King cakes project helps feed the hungry
MIDWEST CITY, Okla. (UMNS) – Douglas Boulevard United Methodist Church is keeping the ovens hot, baking king cakes, a part of Mardi Gras tradition, to fund the church's meal ministries. The Oklahoma Gazette explains how this fundraising effort began as a form of therapy for a parishioner recovering from a seizure.

Read story

Oklahomans speak against same-sex wedding ban
OKLAHOMA CITY (UMNS) – NewsOK reports that some United Methodists – clergy and lay ___ are placing newspaper advertisements to express their disagreement with the denomination's same-sex marriage ban. "We felt like, as United Methodists, we wanted to send a message of hope, because there are LGBT United Methodists that are hurt again and again when they read that our institution leaves them out," said the Rev. Trina Bose North.

Read story


Bishop Hayes says United Methodist stance on marriage in line with Scripture

News of interest

Anglican archbishops protest anti-gay laws
LONDON (UMNS) – Archbishops Justin Welby of Canterbury and John Sentamu of York have written the presidents of Nigeria and Uganda, in protest of the countries' anti-gay laws. The Huffington Post reports that the action comes after the two countries passed legislation to penalize homosexuals.


Read story

University and seminary news

Students personalize Black College Fund
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) – Nineteen young adults attended the Jan. 8-12 Lina H. McCord Intern Orientation program to improve communication, networking and leadership skills. The program attracted students or graduates of the 11 historically black United Methodist-related colleges and universities supported by the denomination's Black College Fund.



Read story

Funding sought for expanded e-reader project
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) – A pilot project to supply e-readers loaded with theological teachings to students and faculty at universities in Africa did so well that a second fundraising effort is under way. The pilot project was funded by the United Methodist boards of Higher Education and Ministry and Discipleship. The United Methodist Publishing House provided select texts that were loaded into the e-readers.



Read story

Centenary raises minimum wage for its staff
SHREVEPORT, La. (UMNS) – Workers at United Methodist-related Centenary College in Shreveport are already seeing the benefits of President Barack Obama's call to raise the minimum wage. The wage scale at Centenary is increasing for all campus workers, with a minimum wage of $10.10 an hour. The federal minimum now is $7.25 an hour. Obama announced in his State of the Union address that he would sign an executive order setting the minimum wage at $10.10 an hour for workers covered by new federal contracts.


Read news release

Blogs and commentaries

8 ways Pope Francis is changing conversation
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) – Pope Francis has changed public conversation about the Roman Catholic Church and Christianity in general, writes the Rev. Larry Hollon, top executive of United Methodist Communications.


Read blog and post a comment

Why a clergywoman teaches yoga
CLEVELAND, Miss. (UMNS) – For years, Christians have debated whether followers of Christ should practice yoga. The Rev. Darian Duckworth, a United Methodist pastor in the Mississippi Annual (regional) Conference, shares how she sees yoga strengthening her Christianity.  



Read blog

The silent impact of actor's death
MAPLEWOOD, N.J. (UMNS) – While the world mourns the loss of a tremendous actor this week, the Rev. Chris Heckert writes about the impact Philip Seymour Hoffman's death may have on those in recovery. Heckert is a pastor of the Memorial United Methodist Church in the Greater New Jersey Annual (regional) Conference.


Read blog

Wild Goose Festival integrates experiences
HOT SPRINGS, N.C. (UMNS) – "I began my search for an event that would integrate social justice, conversation, re-imagination and experimentation. I wanted to participate in an exchange of ideas and inspirations," wrote Cassandra Lawrence, who explains she found that event at the annual Wild Goose Festival.

Read commentary

United Methodists and the crisis in Ukraine
KIEV, Ukraine (UMNS) – The Rev. John Calhoun, a United Methodist Board of Global Ministries missionary in Ukraine, explains how United Methodists there have been gathering to discuss the impact of the months-long protests in that country on the life and ministry of the church and how United Methodists should respond.


Read commentary


New York Times analysis

Exploring the affirmation of being
ADRIAN, Mich. (UMNS) – Reflecting on sacrifice, the Rev. Chris Momany, chaplain at United Methodist-related Adrian College, poses two questions in The Christian Century: Who is it that offers and even enacts the sacrifice of atonement and for whom is this sacrifice given?


Read commentary

Personnel news

Eddie Fox to retire from World Methodist Evangelism
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) – The Rev. H. Eddie Fox, world director of World Methodist Evangelism, has announced his retirement after serving for 25 years in that role, but he will remain until his successor is in place. A job description for the position of world director is available by writing World Methodist Evangelism, P.O. Box 8388, Hermitage, TN 37076 or calling 615-885-5020. Recommendations and applications are now being accepted.


World Methodist Evangelism website

Installation service set for Church and Society exec
CHEVY CHASE, Md. (UMNS) – The Rev. Susan Henry-Crowe will be installed as the new top executive of the United Methodist Board of Church and Society during a worship service Thursday, Feb. 27. The service will take place at 7 p.m. ET at Chevy Chase United Methodist Church.

Read news release

Publishing House names two new executives
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) – The United Methodist Publishing House has announced two new senior executives will begin work in July. The Rev. Justin Coleman, most recently lead pastor of the Gethsemane Campus of St. Luke's United Methodist Church in Houston, will be the Publishing House's chief ministry officer. The Rev. Brian K. Milford of the Iowa Annual (regional) Conference has been elected chief content officer and book editor.

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 “No More Volunteers: Reclaiming Christian Servanthood,” Thursday, Feb. 135 p.m. CT, a new way for finding people with the time, skills, energy and inclination to serve the church. To register.

Deadline for legislative proposals at Global Young People’s Convocation and Legislative Assembly, Friday, Feb. 14 – The gathering organized by United Methodist Young People’s Ministries is July 16-20 in Tagaytay, the Philippines. Petitions considered at the legislative assembly could find their way onto the docket for the 2016 General Conference. Details

Deadline to sign up for pension board listening session, Friday. Feb. 14 – The United Methodist Board of Pension and Health Benefits invites interested plan participants and other constituents to address the board at 11:30 a.m. CT Feb. 27 in Kansas City, Mo. To place your name and topic on the agenda, contact Colette Nies at 1-800-269-2244 (extension 4296) or cnies@gbophb.orgDetails

Deadline for nominations for Wesley Theological Seminary’s Society of John Wesley Award of Merit, Saturday, Feb. 15 – Nomination forms.

Early registration deadline for Lake Junaluska Peace Conference, “Faith, Health and Peace: Seeking the Basic Right to Good Health for All God’s Children,” Saturday, Feb. 15Thursday-Sunday, March 27-30 at Lake Junaluska Conference and Retreat Center in Lake Junaluska, N.C. Partial student scholarships available. Details

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. 186:30 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.

Free webinar “Pastors Read: David and Goliath,” Wednesday, Feb. 1910 a.m. CT, discussion of Malcolm Gladwell’s “David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits and the Art of Battling Giants.” 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

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.

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

Transfiguration Sunday, March 2 – 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 21May 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.

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.

Community Organizing for Social Change & Church Development training, Monday-Friday, March 31-April 4 – First Grace United Methodist Church, New Orleans. The training will teach how methods of community organizing can be a tool in congregational development, community transformation and engagement in justice ministries. Jointly offered by United Methodist Board of Church and Society and Path 1 of the United Methodist Board of Discipleship. $295. Details.

Free webinar “Monitoring Reports: Increasing Participation through Gentle Mutual Accountability,” Tuesday, April 17:30 p.m. CT, 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

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

Category: Weekly Digest