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Weekly Digest - May 2, 2014


NOTE: This is a digest of news features provided by United Methodist Communications for April 28 - May 2. 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

United Methodist disaster response

United Methodists respond after deadly tornadoes
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (UMNS) — Deadly tornadoes that swept through the upper South and Midwest Sunday evening had United Methodists, among others, assessing damage and preparing to offer relief.


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Recovery begins for Ark. town, church
VILONIA, Ark. (UMNS) — Recovery efforts are under way in this suburb of Little Rock, following a devastating tornado April 27. This was the second tornado to hit Vilonia in three years, but the Rev. Nathan Kilbourne, pastor of Vilonia United Methodist Church, hasn't heard of any residents planning to leave. Read the report by Amy Forbus of the Arkansas Annual (regional) Conference.

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North Carolina hit by multiple tornadoes
GARNER, N.C. (UMNS) — Multiple tornadoes, including at least one EF3 and three EF2s, touched down in North Carolina April 26-27 damaging more than 300 homes, injuring at least 16 people, and killing one infant girl in Edenton. Steve Taylor, North Carolina Annual (regional) Conference, has the story.

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Preparedness, training: Key to disaster response
NEW YORK (UMNS) — With a new round of training and advance warning of severe weather, United Methodist annual (regional) conferences were ready to respond to the latest tornadoes, said Greg Forrester, U.S. disaster response executive for the United Methodist Committee on Relief. Linda Unger has the story.

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Men give devotional books to 200 responders to Washington mudslide
ARLINGTON, Wash. (UMNS) — Arlington United Church’s Men’s group distributed 200 “Strength for Service to God and Community” daily devotional books to first responders involved with the Oso, Wash., mudslide. The responders were involved in recovering victims of a March 22 landslide that broke off a steep hill, roared across the North Fork of the Stillaguamish River and buried a community at Oso, about 55 miles north of Seattle.

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United Methodist Women assembly

Hillary Clinton: ‘Time to roll up our sleeves, make it happen’
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (UMNS) — In her speech to the United Methodist Women assembly, Hillary Clinton highlighted her United Methodist roots and commended the denomination’s commitment to the social gospel.


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Women pray, march, celebrate at Assembly 2014
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (UMNS) — More than 7,000 women from around the world merged in the hallways of the Kentucky International Convention Center in Louisville April 25-27 for “Assembly 2014 –– Make it Happen.”

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Church Kitchens Institute names United Methodist ‘Blue Ribbon Church Kitchens’
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (UMNS) — The Church Kitchens Institute named nine church kitchens in five states as 2014 “Blue Ribbon Church Kitchens.” Nominated by participants in the United Methodist Women Assembly, the kitchens are characterized by exemplary hospitality, celebration, community and sustainability. The institute, which sponsored an exhibit at the assembly, announces the winning churches.

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News around the connection

Finance agency can grant same-gender benefits, court says
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (UMNS) — By virtue of its own authority, the finance agency of The United Methodist Church can provide benefits for same-gender spouses of general agency employees, the Judicial Council ruled during its April 23-26 spring session. The denomination’s top court also upheld a bishop’s decision that a certified clergy candidate should be allowed the opportunity for an interview regardless of sexual orientation and modified another bishop’s decision regarding a marriage-equality resolution from the Desert Southwest Annual (regional) Conference.


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United Methodist body considers change to sexuality stance
CHICAGO (UMNS) — The Connectional Table, one of The United Methodist Church’s governing bodies, has decided to draft legislation that could change church law “to fully include LGBTQ persons in the life and ministry of the church.” The April 29 decision came the same day the Connectional Table began a series of three public discussions on human sexuality.

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Report on investing, human rights offers guidelines
NEW YORK (UMNS) — A draft report on socially responsible investment, particularly related to international human rights, will be released for comment May 1 to The United Methodist Church by the Board of Pension and Health Benefits and Board of Global Ministries.

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Couple commits $1 million to fight malaria
HIGHLANDS RANCH, Colo. (UMNS) — Mary Joy and Jerre Stead, active in St. Andrew United Methodist Church in Highlands Ranch, have committed $1 million to the fight against malaria with the hope that the gift will keep on giving. Their donations are through the Rocky Mountain and Iowa annual (regional) conferences.

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Imagine No Malaria to distribute nets in Sierra Leone
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — Imagine No Malaria plans to distribute nearly 400,000 lifesaving, insecticide-treated bed nets in the Bo District of Sierra Leone on June 5. Trained volunteers will be distributing nets door-to-door, as well as educating people on how to use and maintain them properly.

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World Labyrinth Day celebrated
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — Scarritt-Bennett Center will join in the World Labyrinth Day celebrations May 3, from 1 to 2:15 p.m. CT. The event will focus on spiritual awareness, spiritual interactions and meditational activities.

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History of Hymns: ‘Now the Green Blade Riseth’
DALLAS (UMNS) — For those in the northern hemisphere who live in areas where springtime usually coincides with Easter, the image of growing plants and vegetation in this hymn speaks clearly. The connection of the Easter event — the rising of Jesus — is unmistakable. The simple phrase “Now the green blade riseth” reminds us that Jesus is risen today just as he rose on that first Easter morning, writes C. Michael Hawn of Southern Methodist University’s Perkins School of Theology.

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University and seminary news

Saint Paul at OCU nurtures Native Americans
OKLAHOMA CITY (UMNS) — United Methodist-related Saint Paul School of Theology at Oklahoma City University is giving Native Americans new reasons to hope, said the Rev. Anita Phillips, executive director of the Native American Comprehensive Plan of The United Methodist Church. The seminary is one of the programs providing educational opportunities to Native Americans, a goal supported by special offerings on Native American Ministries Sunday on May 4.


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Higher Education board supports Claremont decision
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — The United Methodist Board of Higher Education and Ministry supports Claremont School of Theology’s decision to end its relationship with Claremont Lincoln University, top executives said April 29. Claremont’s board of trustees announced last week that the two institutions agreed to end the 2011 joint venture to offer interreligious graduate education.

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Clark Atlanta awarded $7.4 million for cancer research
ATLANTA (UMNS) — The National Institutes of Health and the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities awarded a $7.4 million renewal grant to the Center for Cancer Research and Therapeutic Development at Clark Atlanta University, one of The United Methodist Church’s historically black colleges and universities.

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News around conferences

Minnesotans surpass 'Million Meals Marathon' goal
MINNEAPOLIS (UMNS) — In early February, the Minnesota Annual (regional) Conference launched a hands-on mission project that involved packing 1 million meals through Feed My Starving Children, an Advance Special and a nonprofit that provides lifesaving meals to especially needy people all over the world. The conference had hoped to reach the 1 million mark by the end of its annual conference session in May. As of April 24, Minnesota United Methodists and their families and friends had collectively packed more than 1.2 million meals - and there are no plans to stop now. Christa Meland of the Minnesota Conference has the story.


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More information on “Million Meals Marathon

Elvira Arellano: A Methodist in Ministry
CHICAGO (UMNS) — Elvira Arellano, an immigrant rights activist from Mexico who gained nationwide publicity for seeking shelter in Adalberto United Methodist Church seven years ago, has returned to continue to advocate for immigration reform. She will participate in the annual May Day March for Immigration Reform on May 1. Anne Marie Gerhardt, communications director for the Northern Illinois Annual (regional) Conference, has the story.

Read about Arellano

More information on May Day march

Pedaling to stop traffic
HICKORY, N.C. (UMNS) — The Rev. Mark Andrews, pastor of St. Luke’s United Methodist Church, is staring down the road at an ambitious challenge to pedal his bicycle from North Carolina to Oregon this summer. He is also using the ride to gather support for United Methodist Women’s efforts to stop human trafficking. The Western North Carolina Annual (regional) Conference has the story.

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Texas church honored for prison ministry
THE WOODLANDS, Texas (UMNS) Prison ministry outreach leaders at Christ Church United Methodist of The Woodlands recently received a Governor’s Criminal Justice Volunteer Service Award. The ministry provides Blessing Bags to inmates, containing toiletries, fresh fruit and inspirational messages.

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United Methodists in the news

United Methodist killed in gang crossfire in Chicago
CHICAGO (UMNS) — Chicago police are still looking for clues leading to suspects in the weekend shooting death of anti-violence activist, Leonore Draper, 32, a member of St. Mark United Methodist Church. Draper, who was shot and killed while sitting in her parked car, was a victim of gang crossfire, said Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy. Karen Jordan of WLS-TV has the story.


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See St. Mark Facebook post

Bishop Dyck leads effort to stop violence
CHICAGO (UMNS) — On April 28, Bishop Sally Dyck joined dozens of United Methodists at the site where Leonore Draper, a member of St. Mark United Methodist Church, was fatally shot. “We gathered in a misty rain,” said Dyck. “We walked up and down the street, invited the community to come join us for a prayer vigil, and called for, prayed for, and committed ourselves to stopping the violence that has gripped our city’s streets.”

Read the bishop’s remarks

Teens with disabilities sparkle at special prom
MEMPHIS, Tenn. (UMNS) — Christ United Methodist Church in Memphis was among the churches that organized the Memphis Joy Prom that gave teens with disabilities a special night including the red-carpet treatment. The prom was featured on ABC’s “Good Morning America” and made the front of Yahoo news.

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Missionaries find challenges in U.S. oil fields
WILLISTON, N.D. (UMNS) — Jim and Kathie Konsor lead the Bakken Oil Rush Ministry, named after the formation that lies beneath northwestern North Dakota. The group's logo, emblazoned on a 29-foot camper they use to distribute clothes, blankets and household items to the disadvantaged, takes the traditional United Methodist cross and flame and warps it into a fire intended to resemble the gas flares that burn across oil country. The Associated Press has the story.

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Church to offer sermons in three languages
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (UMNS) — Thanks to a $6,000 grant from the Western North Carolina Annual (regional) Conference, Central United Methodist Church soon will offer its Sunday sermons in English, Spanish and Zo, a language of Myanmar.

The Charlotte Observer has the story

Church holds Run to the Cross 5K
MOUNT AIRY, Md. (UMNS) — Eighty runners gathered at South Carroll High School for a Saturday-before-Easter “Run to the Cross 5K.”The event took runners from the high school to Taylorsville United Methodist Church where they were greeted by a praise band, food, drink and a worship service. The Carroll County Times shares the story.

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News of interest

Church delegation arrives in South Sudan
JUBA, South Sudan (UMNS) — A high-level ecumenical delegation representing church organizations, organized by the World Council of Churches, will arrive in South Sudan May 2 amid continuing conflict in the country with an imminent threat of widespread hunger and malnutrition among its people. The delegation will meet with church leaders and government officials, urging immediate actions for peace and reconciliation.


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WCC delegation visits Democratic Republic of Congo
KINSHASA, Democratic Republic of Congo (UMNS) — United Methodist Bishop David Yemba, president of the National Committee of Churches in the DRC, was among those meeting with a World Council of Churches delegation visiting the capital city of the central African nation April 25-May 2.

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First woman pastor for Riverside Church?
NEW YORK (UMNS) - A senior minister search committee of the historic Riverside Church in Manhattan has recommended hiring the Rev. Amy Butler, pastor of Calvary Baptist Church, in Washington. She earned a doctorate of ministry degree from United Methodist-affiliated Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington. She would be the first woman to lead the famous church.

Read Religion News Service story

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 Multicultural Journeys in Worship Conference, Monday, May 5 Event on reaching multicultural communities through worship, Friday-Saturday, May 9-10, at First Grace United Methodist Church, 3401 Canal St, New Orleans. United Methodist Board of Global Ministries sponsors in collaboration with four United Methodist congregations. $30 per person and $100 maximum per church. Details.

Deadline to register for United Theological Seminary’s “Light the Fire!” Church Renewal Conference, Monday, May 5 — Event Thursday-Friday, May 8-9 at Ginghamsburg Church, 6759 S. County Road 25A, Tipp City, Ohio. $149, Details.

Where Grace Meets Power — Standing for Each Others’ Greatness, Monday through Wednesday, May 5-7 — A United Methodist Clergywomen’s seminar, sponsored by the United Methodist Board of Higher Education and Ministry, Palm Beach Gardens, Fla. 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.

Deadline to register for six online courses offered by United Methodist Communications, Tuesday, May 6 — United Methodist Communications will offer the following courses May 7-June 18: “Communicating Faith in the 21st Century,” Welcoming Ministry 100,” “Web Ministry 100: What is Web Ministry?,” “Moodle 100 — Basic Training,” “Moodle 300: Course Facilitation” and “Connectional Giving.” Costs vary. Connectional Giving is free. Details.

Free webinar “Pastors Read: ‘#digitalvertigo: How Today’s Online Social Revolution is Dividing, Diminishing and Disorienting us,” Wednesday, May 7 — 10 a.m. CT, A discussion of Andrew Kern’s critical look at social media and its creators. To register.

Free webinar “Developing Your Ministry Plan 4: Worship, Small Groups and the Next 12 Months,” Thursday, May 8 — 6:30 p.m. CT, Building on the previous three sessions, church teams will be guided in a process to identify key steps for their congregational development To register.

Albertson Lectures at Wenatchee (Wash.) First United Methodist Church, Friday, May 9 through Sunday, May 11 — Jerry D. Campbell, President of Claremont Lincoln Univ., will speak to the topic “New in the World and Long Overdue.Details and lecture times.

Free webinar “Children’s Ministry: Weekday Preschool Guidelines,” Monday, May 12 — 10 a.m. CT, How to maintain high educational and ethical standards that are consistent across United Methodist Weekday Preschool Ministry Programs. To register.

Free “Lunch and Learn” about Southern Methodist University’s Perkins School of Theology, Monday, May 12 — 11: 45 a.m. to 1 p.m. CT, Jaime Clark Soles, associate professor of New Testament at Perkins, will speak on “The Bible and Disability” at St. Luke’s United Methodist Church, 3471 Westheimer Road, Houston. Details.

Free webinar “Binders Full of Women: How to Create, Maintain and Utilize a Talent Bank,” Tuesday, May 137:30 p.m. ET, 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.

A Day of Learning at Adrian College, Wednesday, May 14 — Starting at 1 p.m. ET, Adrian College in Adrian, Mich., will host a day of contlnuing education for United Methodists in and around the Michigan Area. Sessions will focus on the Paul’s Letter to the Philippians, the fight against human trafficking and the connections between the church and the academy. $30. Details.

Free webinar “Stewardship: What’s New in the Toolbox?,” Thursday, May 15 — 6:30 p.m. CT, An overview of new resources and ideas for increasing church giving. To register.

Deadline to apply for Spark12 grants, Friday, May 16 — Spark12, part of the United Methodist Board of Higher Education and Ministry, provides funding, coaching and other support for young adult leaders and those working with young adults who have innovative ideas they believe will change the world. To apply.

A Gathering of the Aldersgate Covenant, Friday-Saturday, May 16-17 — A 20-hour prayer for revival with guest speakers from across the United States at United Methodist Church of the Resurrection, Leawood, Kan. $35. Details.

Heritage Sunday, May 18 — The theme this year is "The Church’s Heritage in Mission: Remembering the 200th Anniversary of the Death of Thomas Coke.” Resources from the United Methodist Commission on Archives and History. Details.

Workshop “Tranformation: Equipping Churches to Transform Lives,” Tuesday-Thursday, May 20-22 — United Methodist-related Huston-Tillotson University in Austin, Texas, will host ecumenical event. $150. Details.

The 2014 conference of the International Association of Methodist-related Schools, Colleges and Universities, Saturday-Wednesday, May 24-28 — The event in Hiroshima, Japan is open to pastors as well as educators Hiroshima, Japan. The theme is “Peace, Reconciliation and Human Rights.” Details.

African American Summit, Tuesday-Wednesday, June 3-4 — Retired United Methodist Bishop Ernest S. Lyght will be the guest speaker for Peninsula-Delaware Conference event at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore, 11868 Academic Oval, Princess Anne, Md. $25. Call the Rev. Sheila Hunley at 410-810-4612. Details.

Lake Junaluska Summer Youth Events, June 12 - July 20 Focus on being the Body of Christ through service, worship, and community with afternoons free for groups to customize their trip and explore the mountains of North Carolina. Leadership includes Shane Claiborne, Duffy Robbins, Andy Lambert, and more. Register at

Prepare: A Training for New Leaders, Monday-Tuesday, June 23-24 & Summer Institute, Tuesday-Friday, June 24-27 — Both events at Emory University’s Candler School of Theology in Atlanta aim to address that need by training, equipping, and building a network for new, seasoned, or prospective United Methodist collegiate ministers. Collegiate ministers who register by May 5 will receive a $50 gift card toward resources for their particular ministry. Combined cost of events is $100. 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.

Deadline to register for School of Congregational Development 2014, Tuesday, July 15 — Gathering Thursday-Sunday, Aug.14-17 sponsored by the United Methodist boards of Discipleship and Global Ministries at Matthews United Methodist Church, 801 S. Trade St., Matthews, N.C. $425.Details.

United Methodist conference “Walking with Palestinian Christians,” 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 on PDF.