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Weekly Digest - May 23, 2014


NOTE: This is a digest of news features provided by United Methodist Communications for May 19 - 23. 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
Aldersgate Covenant event focuses on Holy Spirit
LEAWOOD, Kan. (UMNS) — More than 160 people attended the Gathering of the Aldersgate Covenant on May 16-17 at the United Methodist Church of the Resurrection in Leawood, Kan. Many described it as a church meeting like no other. The weekend’s event focused on prayer for the Holy Spirit to revive the people called United Methodist.  Amy Forbus of the Arkansas Annual (regional) Conference has the story. Kathryn Witte of the Great Plains Conference also contributed to this story.

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Bishop urges Scout leaders: Be loyal to God
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — Mississippi Area Bishop James E. Swanson Sr. shared the stage with country star Lee Greenwood at the national Boy Scouts of America prayer breakfast. “I know it is tough in this day in which we live in to be loyal. All around us people are asking us to be selfish,” he said. “But in Scouting, we are asking you not to put yourselves first.”

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Group calls for amicable split of UMC
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — Differences within the United Methodist Church over homosexuality and other issues are so deep that an amicable split of the denomination is needed, a group of United Methodist pastors and theologians argues in a just-released statement. The group describes itself as traditionalist and says its ranks include more than 80 members, including pastors of some of the larger United Methodist congregations. The group's statement met with early opposition from some, including the Rev. James Howell, pastor of Myers Park United Methodist Church in Charlotte, N.C., who says denominational division would split congregations.

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Archives and History names new top executive
MADISON, N.J. (UMNS) — The pastor and chief historian of one of the oldest United Methodist churches in America will soon become the denomination's chief historian. The Rev. Alfred T. Day III has been unanimously elected as the new top executive of the United Methodist Commission on Archives and History, succeeding the Rev. Robert J. Williams. John Coleman of the Eastern Pennsylvania Annual (regional) Conference shares his background.

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Read news release

Curating a “ministry of memory”
MADISON, N.J. (UMNS) — In appreciation of Heritage Sunday, observed this month, presents a visual trip through the Commission on Archives and History’s collection of rare and treasured pieces of Methodism.

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United Methodist staff connects with China partners
NEW YORK (UMNS) — For several decades, Liu Ruhong supervised United Methodists who came to China to teach English or to work as short-term volunteers through the nonprofit Amity Foundation. Now, she is working for the church itself.

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‘Bridges’ program connects North Georgia, Philippines
CABANATUAN CITY, Philippines (UMNS) — A new congregation has been strengthened by a partnership between Wesleyan University-Philippines and Bridges Philippines, a project of the United Methodist North Georgia Annual (regional) Conference in the U.S. Gladys P. Mangiduyos has the story.


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15 missionaries and their families blessed for service
NEW YORK (UMNS) — With joyful anticipation, new United Methodist missionaries received a blessing and foot washing before being commissioned at annual (regional) conferences.

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Church groups get $49,315 in Peace with Justice grants
WASHINGTON (UMNS) — The United Methodist Board of Church and Society awarded a total of $49,315 Peace with Justice grants to church groups in five U.S. jurisdictions and the Philippines. Grants went to programs addressing immigration, Korea, the death penalty, community development, and racial discrimination.

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‘Doug Swims’ for new church starts
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — A ministry supporting church planters in the United States and a new church in Argentina will benefit from a special three-mile swim by New Church Starts (Path 1) associate executive director Doug Ruffle. His son Ben will join for part of the swim, which will take place on Ruffle’s 63rd birthday, June 11, at a Nashville-area YMCA.

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Armenia: Stepping in for special needs children
GYUMRI CITY, Armenia (UMNS) –– A unique school in Armenia that provides special needs children with love, support and everyday care receives help from the United Methodist Committee on Relief.

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History of Hymns: ‘Lonely the Boat’
DALLAS (UMNS) — This hymn, No. 476 in the United Methodist Hymnal, is the creation of Helen Kim. Kim, born Kim Hwal-lan, was one of the most important Korean Methodists of the 20th century. In this post-9/11 world, “Lonely the Boat” still offers comfort and hope to a world full of war and terrorism, writes C. Michael Hawn of Southern Methodist University’s Perkins School of Theology.

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News of interest
Serving up fair wages should be No. 1 tip
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (UMNS) — According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, restaurant workers hold seven of the 10 lowest-paying jobs. Tip workers legally earn $2.13 an hour and that figure has not changed in over 20 years. Saru Jayaraman, author of “Behind the Kitchen Door,” is leading an effort to include tip-workers in the minimum wage bill. “No worker should be dependent on living off the mercy of customers,” she said.

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Military caregivers face lifelong battles with few resources
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — They are the “hidden heroes” — 1.1 million parents, spouses and friends serving as caregivers for post-9/11 military veterans. They are overwhelmed, under-trained and mostly unsupported in their unexpected lifelong roles as caregivers. United Methodist congregations can offer vital support.

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NCC condemns death sentence for Sudanese woman
WASHINGTON (UMNS) — Officers of the National Council of Churches have condemned “in the strongest possible words” the death sentence in Sudan for a woman whose only crime was to marry a Christian man. Jim Winkler, a United Methodist and top executive at the Council of Churches, said the sentencing of Meriam Yahya Ibrahim Ishag “is inhuman and an act of unspeakable religious ignorance and bigotry. It is a fundamental violation of the most basic religious precepts that declare God’s love and openness to all people.”

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Student Christian groups looking for organizer
NEW YORK (UMNS) — The World Student Christian Federation and the Student Christian Movement- USA are looking for an organizer for the Student Christian Movement (USA). The application deadline is June 20.

See details

Change the World
Garden of Eatin' changes the world one carrot at a time
BARTLESVILLE, Okla. (UMNS) — Yes, carrots can change the world. So can tomatoes, corn, beet greens, squash, peppers and garlic. Five years ago, a healthy handful of church members — some with green thumbs and some without — at Bartlesville First Church in Oklahoma got on their knees, emptied seed packets and dug their hands into the dirt. The church’s garden is just one of the United Methodist endeavors that have been part of the denomination’s annual Change the World weekend.

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Here’s how to #changetheworld
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — Thousands of United Methodists rolled up their sleeves over the weekend to address the needs of their neighbors locally and globally. Many shared their activities via social media outlets.

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News around conferences
Oklahoma Conference focuses on Native American influence
OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. (UMNS) — As part of the denomination’s Act of Repentance with Native Americans, members of the Oklahoma Annual (regional) Conference are engaging through education, hands-on service and joint worship with members of the Oklahoma Indian Missionary Conference. On May 27, the conference teaching time will feature six people reading Tash Smith's writings about the Native American influence on Methodism in Oklahoma, alternating with a Native American choir.

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Devotional by Bishop Robert Hayes Jr

U.M. ARMY heading to Louisiana
BOSSIER CITY, La. (UMNS) — Armed with hammers and paintbrushes, hundreds of workers with a mission will descend this summer on the Bossier City and Ringgold communities in the Louisiana Annual (regional) Conference as part of U.M. ARMY (United Methodist Action Reach-out Mission by Youth). The Louisiana Conference has the story.

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Volunteer boosts agriculture activities at Liberian institute
BREWERVILLE, Liberia (UMNS) — A volunteer of Waco, Texas-based World Hunger Relief, Camille Cody ended a six-months teaching tour to help the Department of Agriculture at the Ricks Institute in Brewerville. One goal was boosting farming, including the use of organic products, to feed the students of the institution. Cody grew up United Methodist. Julu Swen of the Liberia Annual (regional) Conference has the story.

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UMTV: Young cancer survivor cares for kids
BEL AIR, Md. (UMNS) — You could call her Amazing Grace. Despite her own illness, Grace Callwood focuses on comforting other kids who are sick or homeless. She created We Cancerve to inspire others.

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United Methodists in the news
Raleigh, N.C., church goes green for God
RALEIGH, N.C. (UMNS) — The community garden at Highland United Methodist Church is just one of the ways the church is tending the earth, reports the During the 11 a.m. worship service June 15, the congregation will dedicate the 136 solar panels being added to the flat rooftop.

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NOMADS wander for good causes
MOORE, Okla. (UMNS) — By day, the volunteers worked on tornado repair and rehabilitation projects. By night, they met at First United Methodist Church to eat and sleep. They are NOMADS — Nomads On a Mission Active in Divine Service. reports.

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Childhood home of 3 church leaders burns down
CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas (UMNS) — The home of Marcela Alegría burned down May 3. She is the mother of six children, including Richard Alegría, former president of the Rio Grande Annual (regional) Conference United Methodist Men; Raúl Alegría, president of MARCHA, the caucus for Hispanics within the United Methodist Church; and the Rev. Frank Alegría, a United Methodist pastor in Duncanville, Texas. Their sister, Elizabeth Riley, and her three daughters were living there when the fire erupted.

Kiii News reports on salvage attempts

United Methodist Men report

University and seminary news
United Methodist seminary opens farm
DELAWARE, Ohio (UMNS) — Methodist Theological School in Ohio, a United Methodist seminary, has founded Seminary Hill Farm to be a place of theology, ecology and good food for all. Beginning with this year’s harvest, all produce served in the seminary’s dining hall will come from Seminary Hill Farm. The seminary also plans to reach out to partners who can help make fresh, healthful food available to those who don’t typically have the financial means to access it.

Learn more about the farm

Harding, Iliff professor and MLK friend, passes
DENVER (UMNS) — Vincent G. Harding, a civil rights leader and professor emeritus of religion and social transformation at United Methodist Iliff School of Theology in Denver, died May 19. Harding worked throughout the South in the 1960s on the anti-segregation campaigns of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and the Congress of Racial Equality. He drafted speeches for the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., including King’s famous 1967 anti-Vietnam war speech, “Beyond Vietnam.” “Dr. Harding's death is a loss to the church and world. His legacy will be rich in part because of all those he mentored and who now carry his commitment and passion for truth and righteousness into the future,” said Erin Hawkins, the top executive of the United Methodist Commission on Religion and Race.

Read Christian Century’s remembrance

AU grad influences change in Malawi
KATONDO, Malawi (UMNS) –– Mercy Chikhosi Nyirongo remembers her early struggles — divorced parents at age 5, minimal education and a teenage marriage with children. Now, the 2010 nursing graduate of Africa University in Zimbabwe helps empower former street kids, prostitutes and school dropouts without parents. Tom Gillem reports in Interpreter Online.

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Wesley Theological Seminary honors alum
WASHINGTON (UMNS) — At the Wesley Theological Seminary commencement ceremony May 12, David McAllister-Wilson, president of the United Methodist seminary, presented the 2014 Society of John Wesley Award of Merit. This year’s recipient is the Rev. Kenda Creasy Dean, the Mary D. Synnott Professor of Youth, Church and Culture at Princeton Theological Seminary.

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Blogs and commentaries
Marking the 60th anniversary of Brown decision
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — The Rev. Gilbert H. Caldwell, a United Methodist elder, was 21 and a seminary student at Boston University the first time he was in a classroom with students who were not black. A veteran of the civil rights movement, he reflects on the 60th anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education and his hope United Methodists will use this as an opportunity for prayerful reflection.


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Michelle Obama’s experience with landmark ruling

Reaching the millennial generation
WASHINGTON (UMNS) — Asa J. Lee of the Lewis Center for Church Leadership, gives an overview of recent Pew research about today’s young adults and what it means for churches.

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Birds, bees, flowers and faith
FRANKLIN, Tenn. (UMNS) — What seem to be simple signs of new life may have deeper meanings for people of faith. The Rev. Mark Price, minister of spiritual formation at Christ United Methodist Church, shares some of the legends surrounding common images of spring including robins, daffodils and honeybees.

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Remembering our fallen on Memorial Day
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — As he shares a story from Arlington Cemetery, United Methodist Chaplain Ray Bailey asks others to help him “to never forget the price that is beyond imagination paid by our warriors and their families.”

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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 “Safe Sanctuaries for Camps and Retreats — Part Two,” Tuesday, May 27 — 11 a.m. CT, This training is for local church leaders who do camps and retreats as well as leaders serving at camp and retreat centers. Details.

Free webinar “Children’s Ministry: Created by God,” Thursday, May 29 — 10 a.m. CT, Advice for using the “Created by God” curriculum, which teaches  'tweens about bodies, growth and development, relationships, reproduction and God's role and desire for this process.  Details.

Ascension Day, Thursday, May 29 — “Ride on King Jesus” is among the litanies and meditations from the United Methodist Board of Discipleship to celebrate Christ’s Ascension.

“Only Four Things to Grow a Church” seminar, Saturday, May 31 — 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. CT, the Revs. Bill Tenny-Brittian and Bill Easum. a retired United Methodist pastor who helped a dying church grow to a membership exceeding 2,000, are at Bethany Lutheran Church in Slidell, La. $75. Details about their tour across the United States.

African American Summit, Tuesday-Wednesday, June 3-4 — Retired United Methodist Bishop Ernest S. Lyght will be the guest speaker for this 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.

Deadline for Distinguished Evangelist nominations, Wednesday, June 4 — The Foundation for Evangelism is seeking nominations for the 2014 Distinguished Evangelist of the United Methodist Church Award. To nominate someone.

Stop Human Trafficking of Children, Friday, June 6 — An interdisciplinary training for practitioners and students in nursing, medicine, social work, law, business, law enforcement, and those who serve youth will be held at The Lunda Center, Western Technical College, in La Crosse, Wis. Details from Wisconsin Annual (regional) Conference.

Pentecost, Sunday, June 8 — Throw the church a Spirit-filled birthday party with resources from the United Methodist Board of Discipleship.

Day 1, Sunday, June 8 and Sunday, June 15 — The Rev.Charles Reeb, senior pastor of Pasadena Community Church (United Methodist) will be the featured speaker on Pentecost and Trinity Sunday on the nationally syndicated radio program “Day 1.” To listen.

Free webinar “Children’s Ministry: Preparing Children for Kindergarten and Other Milestones,” Monday, June 9 — 10 a.m. CT, ways that the church can support and celebrate children as they embark on new stages in their lives. Details.

Free webinar “Sunday School Curriculum Review,” Thursday, June 12 — 7-8 p.m. ET, A discussion of the different types of curriculum available and factors to consider in selection, led by Debbie Kolacki, a certified Christian educator and United Methodist lay servant. Details.

Lake Junaluska Summer Youth Events, June 12 - July 20 —Lake Junaluska Youth Events will 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

Peace with Justice Sunday, June 15 — The offering taken during Peace with Justice Sunday on June 15 will allow The United Methodist Church to advocate through a broad spectrum of global programs. Details and resources.

“Fierce With Age: Aging as a Spiritual Path,” retreat, Monday through Wednesday, June 23 – 25 — Carol Osborn, bestselling author of “Fierce with Age: Chasing God and Squirrels in Brooklyn” will lead retreat at Scarritt-Bennett. Costs range from $152 to $272 depending on whether guests stay overnight. Details.

Prepare: A Training for New Leaders, Monday-Tuesday, June 23-24 & Summer Institute, Tuesday to 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. 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 Boards of Ordained Ministry Mid-Quadrennial Training, Friday, July 11 — Event for board officers and cabinet representatives will be Tuesday, Aug. 12 and ends by noon on Friday, Aug. 15 in Denver. The United Methodist Board of Higher Education and Ministry is sponsoring. Details.

Aldersgate 2014 Conference, Thursday to Sunday, July 17-20 — The national conference of Aldersgate Renewal Ministries will be at the Prairie Capital Convention Center in Springfield, Ill. The theme is freedom. 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, Matthews, 801 S Trade St., Matthews, N.C. $425. Details.

Introduction to United Methodist Board of Church and Society seminar program, Wednesday-Friday, July 23-25 — Youth group and young adult leaders are invited to attend a three-day “In Focus” familiarization event about United Methodist Seminars on National and International Affairs. The program will introduce the seminars and will explain how to organize and lead a group for these tailored study experiences in the U.S. capital. Details.

Festival of Wisdom and Grace, Monday to Thursday, July 28-31 — Columbia (S.C.) Area Bishop Jonathan Holston will be the conference preacher at this time of worship and learning at Lake Junaluska (N.C) Conference and Retreat Center. The theme is “Living Ordinary Time with EEEE’s — Enthusiasm, Encouragement, Engagement and Empowerment.” 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.

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.