Skip Navigation

Weekly Digest - July 25, 2014


NOTE: This is a digest of news features provided by United Methodist Communications for July 21-25. 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 Methodist church vitality increases in U.S.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — Between 2010 and 2012, the denomination more than doubled its percentage of “highly vital” congregations in the U.S. from 14.8 percent to 33.9 percent. Here’s what makes churches vibrant and why some United Methodist churches are growing.

Read story and post a comment

Schaefer case appealed to Judicial Council
MYERSTOWN, Penn. (UMNS) — The Rev. Christopher L. Fisher, who was counsel for the church in the trial of the Rev. Frank Schaefer, has turned in an appeal to last month’s decision to reinstate Schaefer’s ordination credentials. The case will be heard during the October meeting of the denomination’s highest court, Judicial Council.

Read story and post a comment

See October Judicial Council docket

Reevaluating John Wesley's time in Georgia
DALLAS (UMNS) — Geordan Hammond’s “John Wesley in America: Restoring Primitive Christianity” is the first book devoted to the period in which Methodism’s founder served as a young pastor in the colony of Georgia. Hammond challenges the long-held view that Wesley’s ministry there was a failure.

Read a Q&A with Hammond and post a comment

Living the legacy of Freedom Summer
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — Many suffered during Freedom Summer of 1964 but the outcomes included the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. United Methodists share how that summer changed the direction of their lives.

Read story and post a comment

Path to Civil Rights Act took sacrifice, faith
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — United Methodist Edith Lee-Payne, who as a young girl heard the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. speak at the March on Washington in 1963, wants people to remember the struggle and sacrifice that led to the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Read reflection

Young people approve unity statement
MANILA, Philippines (UMNS) — Amid talk of schism resulting from debates over human sexuality, United Methodist young people from around the globe have urged church leaders to “seek solutions that promote our global unity.” The Global Young People’s Convocation and Legislative Assembly, attended by more than 300, adopted the unity statement.

Read story

3 ideas for using cell phones in worship
MOBILE, Ala. (UMNS) — What if we took advantage of that incredible little tool most people have at their fingertips? Learn from the Rev. Jeremy Steele, writing for United Methodist Communications, how cell phones can help people stay engaged and interact with worship services.

Read story

Commentary: Why Honduran children come to U.S.
TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras (UMNS) — The Rev. Juan Guerrero, superintendent of the United Methodist mission in Honduras, discusses the root causes of why unaccompanied children from his country are attempting the dangerous journey to the U.S. border.

Read commentary and post a comment

Pastoral letter from Texas bishops

United Methodist children’s home preparing for migrants
MECHANICSBURG, Pa. (UMNS) — Federal officials have asked the United Methodist Home for Children in this central Pennsylvania community to prepare to take in children from Central America. “In staying true to the Home's history and mission, we are committed to providing a safe and caring environment for any children who, through no fault of their own, are in desperate need of help while explorations are being made for their future,” said the home’s head, David Reed, in an email to

Read story

Iowa United Methodists to protest deportations
DES MOINES, Iowa (UMNS) — The Trinity Las Americas United Methodist Church in Des Moines is planning to send a group to the White House soon to demand an end to deportations of Central American children and families, and they're prepared to get arrested for civil disobedience. “It’s troubling for a person, like myself, who is a parent or grandparent, and persons who have children to imagine (that) children would put themselves through an arduous journey to travel up to 45 days for the simple chance of freedom,” said Bishop Julius Trimble. KCCI, the CBS affiliate in Des Moines, has the story.

Watch video and read story

Read New York Times story

UMTV: Justice for Our Neighbors aids ‘Lost Boy’
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — United Methodist-related Justice For our Neighbors is an advocacy and support group that provides legal help for immigrants and refugees. Church volunteers and staff attorneys work one-on-one with clients to navigate the complicated U.S. legal system. Here is how the program is helping a survivor of the Sudanese Civil War.

Watch video

Lina McCord Program scholar finds purpose in ministry
HOLLY SPRINGS, Miss. (UMNS) — Kevin Kosh Jr. credits his education at United Methodist-related Rust College with cultivating his faith and preparing him to lead others in ministry. As a Lina H. McCord Program scholar and ambassador, Kosh continues to travel throughout the denomination to tell his story and to demonstrate the importance of historically black colleges and universities.

Read story and post a comment

Trial and error in Nairobi
NAIROBI, Kenya (UMNS) — Living in Nairobi, Maeghan Orton has learned that no matter how impressive the app or device, if it isn’t seen as useful by the community it’s intended to help then community members won’t use it. She manages Medic Mobile’s East Africa program, and will be a panelist at the Game Changers Summit, hosted by United Methodist Communications, Sept. 3-5, 2014, in Nashville, Tenn.

Read story

World Methodist Evangelism names new director
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (UMNS) — World Methodist Evangelism, part of the World Methodist Council, has announced that the Rev. Kimberly Reisman of West Lafayette, Indiana, will be its new world director beginning Sept. 1. She will follow the Rev. Eddie Fox, who is retiring after 25 years.

Read press release

News around conferences
Susannah’s House helps recovering moms
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — Melissa was addicted to drugs when she gave birth to her children. She still feels the shame of being rejected by others in recovery groups, who felt that a mother should be able to walk away from addiction. Cokesbury United Methodist Church has started a ministry that helps mothers like Melissa and their children. Annette Spence, editor of The Call in the Holston Annual (regional) Conference, has the story.

Read story

Georgia church does not color inside the lines
ATLANTA (UMNS) — Since Eastside Church’s first Sunday, artists have used the United Methodist church’s worship services to create a visual piece inspired by the sermon. The church’s art ministry also has spread beyond the walls of the church. Ansley Brackin, communications specialist in the North Georgia Annual (regional) Conference, has the story.


Read story

Building relationships one swing set at a time
WASHINGTON, Ill. (UMNS) — Hope Swings in Washington — organized by three United Methodist congregations — is holding a seven-week mission blitz in central Illinois, where youth groups from across the United States are building 100 swing sets. But the bigger goal is building relationships. Paul Black of the Illinois Great Rivers Annual (regional) Conference shares the story.

Read story

UMW event urges awareness of disabilities
LAKELAND, Fla. (UMNS) — In many cases, churchgoers and ministry leaders alike can help people with disabilities fully enjoy worship, attendees were told during a “Mission u” event at Florida Southern College. Susan Green of the Florida Annual (regional) Conference shares ideas from the event sponsored by United Methodist Women in Florida.

Read story

Church featured in new Reba McEntire video
ROSE, N.Y. (UMNS) — Recently, Reba McEntire asked her fans to join her in a video about praying for peace. The congregation of Rose United Methodist Church responded. Beth DiCocco of the Upper New York Annual (regional) Conference shares how the congregation ended up in McEntire’s video.

Read story

Watch “Pray for Peace” video

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.

Deadline to register for United Methodist conference “Walking with Palestinian Christians,” Wednesday, July 30 — Gathering Thursday-Friday, Aug. 7-8 sponsored by the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries and host Ginghamsburg Church, 6759 S. County Road 25A, Tipp City, Ohio. Details.

Deadline for early-bird registration for “Make Worship More Creative” workshops in the Upper New York Conference, Friday, Aug. 1 — Day-long workshops featuring worship coach Jason Moore will be Monday, Sept. 8 through Thursday, Sept. 11 at different churches around the conference. Cost is $25 per person, and $65 per church. Details.

A Weekend of Music: The Lake Junaluska Singers & David Troy Francis, special guest star Broadway performer Mark Morales, Friday-Saturday, Aug. 1-2 — The Lake Junaluska Singers will be in concert Aug. 1, and David Troy Francis will perform Rachmanioff, Gershwin and American hymns at Lake Junaluska Conference and Retreat Center in North Carolina. Details.

Webinar “Plan Your Year Round Stewardship Campaign,” Tuesday, Aug. 5 — 7-8 p.m. ET. Course teaches how a congregation can develop a holistic process that will help people grow in faith and give generously, led by the Rev. Paul B. Nickerson, owner of Nickerson Coaching. $10. Details.

Free webinar “Revival: Faith as Wesley Lived It,” Thursday, Aug. 7 — 2 p.m. CT. The Rev. Adam Hamilton, senior pastor of United Methodist Church of the Resurrection in Leawood, Kansas, will talk about the life of John Wesley and the characteristics of a Wesleyan Christian. Details

Free webinar “Planning for Advent,” Thursday, Aug. 7 — 7:30 p.m. CT. This webinar will provide an overview of key themes of the Season of Advent and the Scriptures of the season. Details.

Annual meeting of MARCHA (Methodists Associated Representing the Cause of Hispanic Americans), Thursday, Aug. 7 to Sunday, Aug. 10 — Gathering will be at Hacienda Hotel LAX in Los Angeles. The Rev. Alexia Salvatierra, lecturer at New York Theological Seminary and expert on faith-rooted advocacy, will be the main speaker. Bishops Minerva Carcaño and Warner Brown will preach. Details.

Free webinar “S.O.S. for Teachers Schedule, Organization, Safety,” Thursday, Aug. 7 — 7-8 p.m. ET, Help for a successful Christian education season, led by Jane Kintzi, a consultant at the Parish Resource Center. Details.

Early bird deadline for “Revitup! … For a Lifetime in Ministry” event for young clergy, Friday, Aug. 8— Event Monday-Wednesday, Sept. 15-17, in Atlanta for young clergy, ages 25-39, sponsored by the United Methodist Board of Pension and Health Benefits. The focus is on financial and leadership skills. $119 before Aug. 8. Details.

Lion & Lamb Christian Festival, Friday-Sunday, Aug. 8-10 — A number of United Methodist entities, including the Indiana Annual (regional) Conference, are sponsors of this gathering at Fort Wayne, Indiana. $25 before Aug. 8. Details.

Shreveport, Louisiana Skeeter Run, Saturday, Aug. 9 — The first of six 5K and one-mile run/walks in the Louisiana Annual (regional) Conference to support Imagine No Malaria, the denomination’s initiative to eradicate preventable deaths from the disease. The other five runs will take place across the state on Saturday, Oct. 11. $20 registration. Details.

Free J. Mark McVey concert, Saturday, Aug. 9 — 7 p.m. ET. Lake Junaluska Conference and Retreat Center in North Carolina will presentFinding Your Voice: Lessons for the Soul from a Life on Broadway,” a special performance by tenor McVey, who has starred in “Les Miserables.” Details.

Free Lake Junaluska Signature Series event featuring Fred Bahnson, Sunday, Aug. 10 — 7 p.m. ET, Fred Bahnso is writer, permaculture gardener, and pioneer in church-supported agriculture.Details.

Deadline to apply for Ethnic Local Church Grants, Sunday, Aug. 10 — The grants, distributed by the United Methodist Board of Church and Society, aim to strengthen ethnic minority local churches through education, advocacy or leadership development as they engage in social justice. Details.

United Theological Seminary’s Preaching Retreat, Tuesday-Thursday, Aug. 12-14 — “The Promise of New Testament Apocalyptic” will be the theme of the retreat at the seminary’s campus at 4501 Denlinger Road, Dayton, Ohio. The event aims to help pastors and students gain competence in preaching apocalyptic texts in the New Testament. Details.

Deadline to apply to join regional Healthy Families, Healthy Planet advocacy training, Friday, Aug. 15 — The free United Methodist training in advocating for women and girls will be Saturday, Sept. 6 with an optional session on Monday, Sept. 8, in Peoria, Illinois. Applications are required. Details and application.

Deadline to register for Just Save One conference to equip HIV and AIDS Ministries, Friday, Aug. 15 — The gathering will be Thursday through Saturday, Sept. 11-13 at the Renaissance Hotel in Denver and sponsored by the United Methodist Global AIDS Fund. Details.

Game Changers Summit, Wednesday-Friday, Sept. 3-5 — United Methodist Communications invites local churches to attend a conference at Gaylord Opryland Hotel in Nashville, Tennessee. The event will focus on how congregations can use technology to strengthen international development. Details.

Early bird deadline for the United Methodist Church of the Resurrection Leadership Institute, Wednesday Sept. 3 — Gathering is Wednesday-Friday, Sept. 24-26. The keynote speaker is Len Sweet, United Methodist scholar and best-selling author. Details.

NOMADS annual meeting, Sunday- Friday, Sept. 7-12 — NOMADS, which stands for Nomads On a Mission Active in Divine Service, provide volunteer labor for United Methodist organizations.  Most travel by RV, They will meet in Branson, Missouri. Details.