Skip Navigation

Weekly Digest - July 10, 2015


NOTE: This is a digest of news features provided by United Methodist Communications for July 6-10. 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

Top Stories

United Methodists achieve milestones despite differences

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — Different viewpoints over societal changes have led some to question whether the unity of The United Methodist Church will hold when its top legislative body meets in May 2016. But the lens of history shows that significant General Conference actions occur despite serious disagreements, says the Rev. Alfred T. Day III, top executive of the United Methodist Commission on Archives and History. Linda Bloom and Kathy L. Gilbert have the story.
Read story and post a comment

Black churches weigh security vs. openness

DALLAS (UMNS) — Churches are responding in various ways to the June 17 shootings at Charleston’s Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal. But for many black United Methodist churches, reviewing safety procedures is a priority. “We are looking at how we balance hospitality and security,” said the Rev. Kelvin Sauls, pastor of Holman United Methodist Church in Los Angeles. Sam Hodges reports.
Read story and post a comment

Q&A: Responding to Charleston

DALLAS (UMNS) — Bishop Marcus Matthews of the Baltimore-Washington Conference grew up in South Carolina and joined in civil rights demonstrations there as a college student. He answered questions from UMNS about how the church should respond to the June 17 massacre at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina.
Read interview and post a comment

Slideshow: 2015 annual conferences

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — Each year, clergy and lay members attend their conference's session for worship, fellowship and to conduct business. Kathleen Barry, with help from conference volunteers, assembled a slideshow with highlights from many of the 2015 meetings around the global United Methodist Church. This is the first of two slideshows.
Watch slideshow

Follow action at annual conferences

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — New stories this week from conference gatherings include Iowa, New York, Oregon-Idaho, Pacific Northwest, Rio Texas and South Carolina. United Methodist News Service is posting reports.
See reports

Liberian sowing seeds for country’s future

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — Nyamah Dunbar’s calling to feed the people in her native land of Liberia collided with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. Jan Snider and Kathy L. Gilbert report about Dunbar’s efforts and how Ebola highlighted the need for Liberia to grow more of its own food.
Read story and post a comment

Church delivers food, water in wake of Ebola

MONROVIA, Liberia (UMNS) — The United Methodist Church in Liberia is providing hot meals, food and building water wells. Julu Swen writes about how the needs of many Liberians have increased because of the Ebola crisis.
Read story

Women’s commission launches clergy family website

CHICAGO (UMNS) — Building upon a clergy-family care summit held last November, the United Methodist Commission on the Status and Role of Women has launched a website dedicated to addressing the needs and concerns of clergy families. Heather Peck Travis reports for the commission.
Read story

United Methodist school gets new building

MILE 91, Sierra Leone (UMNS) — The new $98,000, six-classroom building for the United Methodist Primary School at Mile 91 replaces an unsafe building that had collapsing bricks on one side. Parts of the roof had been blown off in a storm. The new building was funded by Operation Classroom in Minnesota. Phileas Jusu reports.
Read story and post a comment

Retired bishop to address tribunal

WASHINGTON (UMNS) — Retired United Methodist Bishop Solito Toquero will speak to the International People’s Tribunal here, July 16-18, on behalf of the Filipino people. The tribunal is tackling allegations of human rights violations in the Philippines, which has seen an increased U.S. military presence.
Read story

Three bishops, cabinets help forge ‘A Future with Hope’

OCEAN, N.J. (UMNS) — A Future With Hope, a Greater New Jersey Conference initiative, has inspired more than 9,000 volunteers from more than 38 states to help with Superstorm Sandy recovery. West Virginia Area Bishop Sandra Steiner-Ball and Pittsburgh Area Bishop Thomas Bickerton, along with New Jersey Area Bishop John Schol, have all joined their conference leadership in volunteer teams helping with the rebuilding process. Chris Carter of A Future with Hope has the story.
Read story

Church celebrates 40 baptisms on one weekend

PITTSBURGH (UMNS) — Crossroads Church, a multi-campus United Methodist congregation, saw 40 individuals baptized and 105 others reaffirm their baptism during the weekend of June 27-28. Jackie Campbell of the Western Pennsylvania Conference reports how the church was able to prepare so many for the sacrament.
Read story

Pink hair and other tips for healthy youth ministries

BRADENTON, Fla. (UMNS) — For David Stump in Cocoa Beach, the secret is mission trips. For the Rev. Charley Watts in Moore Haven, it’s a pink coiffure — sported from the Sunday morning lectern. At a time when many U.S. churches struggle to attract young people, these youth ministry leaders in the Florida Conference share how they are drawing in new generations. Raymond Joseph reports for the Florida Conference.
Read story

Church’s Manna Monday satisfies many

ORANGE, N.J. (UMNS) — Orange United Methodist Church is helping answer the prayers of the hungry by providing physical and spiritual food for 150 to 200 people each Monday at the church. They call it Manna Monday, and it has been made possible due to a partnership with the nonprofit Table to Table. Jeff Wolfe of the Greater New Jersey Conference has the story.
Read story

Closed church gets new life

BARDWELL, Ky. (UMNS) — It’s always sad when a United Methodist church closes, but with endings sometimes come new beginnings. Bardwell First United Methodist Church, which closed in 2013, is reopening as the Carlisle County Museum and Library. The church’s history plays a role in its building’s new use. Lane Camp of the Memphis Conference has the story.
Read story

Conference helps tribe with firefighting

GREENWOOD VILLAGE, Colo. (UMNS) — As part of its commitment to healing relations with indigenous peoples, the Rocky Mountain Conference is working to improve firefighting capacity by the Northern Cheyenne Tribe. The conference has received grants from the United Methodist Committee on Relief and is combining that with fundraising to buy a fire engine and other equipment.
Read story

Agency urges vigilance in wake of church fires

WASHINGTON (UMNS) — “The burning of many black churches in recent weeks reminds us of our need to be ever vigilant against acts of hate and racism,” says a statement from the Rev. Susan Henry-Crowe, top executive of United Methodist Board of Church and Society. Some of the recent fires have been identified as arson. She offers advice for how Christians can respond to acts against sacred havens.
Read press release

Commentary: Confessions of a white Southerner

WASHINGTON (UMNS) — The Rev. Clayton Childers was a pastor in South Carolina in 2000, when state residents debated removing the Confederate battle flag from the top of the statehouse. Now that South Carolina is removing the flag from the capitol’s grounds, Childers reflects on how his understanding of the U.S. Civil War and the flag has changed since childhood. Childers is director of conference relations for the United Methodist Board of Church and Society.
Read commentary

Missionary couple receives World Methodist Peace Award

ZURICH, Switzerland (UMNS) — Hugh and Shirliann Johnson, retired missionaries with the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries, worked for peace and reconciliation in Algeria for more than 40 years. The couple was honored June 19 with the 2014 World Methodist Peace Award, presented by the World Methodist Council. Barbara Streit and Urs Schweizer report.
Read story

China Mission Fellow: ‘12 Lessons in 12 Months’

GUYUAN, China (UMNS) — “It’s all about the journey and it’s all about taking risks,” writes Maria Niechwiadowcz, a Global Mission Fellow with the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries, as she shares the “12 Lessons in 12 Months” learned while on assignment with the Amity Foundation in China. She is teaching at Ningxia Teacher’s University.
Read blog

2 Montana churches close doors

BUTTE, Mont. (UMNS) — At the end of the 19th century, Cornish miners laid the cornerstone of Trinity United Methodist Church, while company “mine owners” were part of Mountain View United Methodist Church. Both churches are closing after a combined 254 years. They held farewell services July 5. Renata Birkenbuel reports for the Independent Record.
Read story

To-Do List: 1) Volunteer…

NEW YORK (UMNS) — From Colorado to Florida to New Jersey, communities struck previously by natural disasters still depend on volunteers during the long-term recovery process. Susan Kim, writing for the United Methodist Committee on Relief, tells how to help.
Read story

Video: Are Christians serving an imaginary Jesus?

TIPP CITY, Ohio (UMNS) — The Rev. Adam Hamilton, lead pastor of United Methodist Church of the Resurrection, sat down with the Rev. Mike Slaughter, lead pastor of Ginghamsburg Church, a United Methodist congregation, to talk about why most Christians miss the true Jesus and often replace him with a sort of civil religion. Ginghamsburg Church posted a video of the pastors’ conversation.
Watch video

Lawrence to retire as Perkins dean

DALLAS (UMNS) — The Rev. William Lawrence has announced that he’ll retire as dean of Perkins School of Theology, part of Southern Methodist University, on May 31, 2016. Lawrence, president of The United Methodist Church’s Judicial Council, has led Perkins since 2002. His tenure has seen construction of one building and major renovation of others.
Read announcement

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.

Friday, July 17
Deadline to submit youth and young adult video and text for the 2016 General Conference — United Methodist youth and young people are invited to share their best personal stories, visions and innovations for the church, and two people will be selected to express their thoughts in person at the 2016 General Conference, the denomination's top lawmaking body. The messages from youth and young people about the church’s impact on their lives and their vision for the future can be either in the form of written text or 1-2-minute video presentations. Details.

Monday-Thursday, July 27-30
Festival of Wisdom and Grace Conference — The 2015 Festival of Wisdom and Grace Conference's theme is "Let Each Generation Tell." Led by Derrick-Lewis Noble, this event will be full of worship, workshops, professional training and fellowship designed for individuals, couples, small groups or church leaders relating to the second half of life. The event is sponsored by the Southeastern Jurisdictional Association of Older Adults at Lake Junaluska Conference and Retreat Center in Lake Junaluska, North Carolina. Details.

You can see more educational opportunities and other upcoming events in the life of the church here.