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Weekly Digest: May 9, 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

Idea for ministry

Church's guitar program yields ‘amazing’ results

DALLAS (UMNS) — At Christ’s Foundry United Methodist Church, a low-income Hispanic congregation, any child who learns to play “Amazing Grace” on a loaner guitar gets to keep that guitar. Christ Foundry's foundation-funded music academy has boosted not only music skills but also faith among the youth, pastors say.

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University and seminary news

Paine College president asks for prayers after campus shootings

AUGUSTA, Ga. (UMNS) — The president of United Methodist-related Paine College is asking for prayer after campus shootings this week that resulted in one student in the hospital and another in police custody. “The investigation is still ongoing,” said George C. Bradley, the college’s president. “Without all the information, we are taking every precaution. Safety is the primary concern.”

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Scholars to focus on peace in Hiroshima

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) – Coming from a country where recent civil war and corruption claimed 3 million lives, the Rev. Kimba Kyakutala Evariste of Democratic Republic of Congo understands firsthand the importance of peace and reconciliation. He will join United Methodist scholars from around the world for the triennial International Association of United Methodist Schools, Colleges and Universities conference in Hiroshima, Japan, May 24-28.

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United Methodist leaders support Claremont seminary action

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) –– United Methodist leaders are expressing support for Claremont School of Theology in the wake of its separation from the Claremont Lincoln University.

See press release  

SMU to honor Heitzenrater

DALLAS (UMNS) — Richard P. Heitzenrater, a historian of Methodism, will receive an honorary doctor of humane letters degree at Southern Methodist University’s May 17 graduation ceremony. Heitzenrater, retired from Duke Divinity School, is a leading authority on John Wesley. SMU also will give honorary degrees to journalist Isabel Wilkerson and SMU law professor Joseph W. McKnight.

Read news release

Viera named dean of Drew Theological School

MADISON, N.J. (UMNS) –– Vivian A. Bull, president of Drew University, announced the appointment of the Rev. Javier A. Viera, executive minister of Christ Church in New York City, as the dean of the theological school. His appointment begins July 1.

Read press release

News around the connection

Agency wants bishop to account for use of funds

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — The United Methodist Church's finance agency announced May 2 that it is asking West Angola Area Bishop Gaspar João Domingos to account for how he used $100,000 in general church funds designated for theological education. The General Council on Finance and Administration board has given Domingos a deadline of May 30. If he does not provide a full accounting, the board warns it will recommend church entities withhold funding.

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Read news release

Complaint ends against elder accused of being ‘practicing’ lesbian

NEW YORK (UMNS) — The Rev. Sara Thompson Tweedy, a New York Annual (regional) Conference elder, no longer faces a complaint accusing her of being a "self-avowed practicing" lesbian. The New York Conference confirmed Tweedy’s announcement that the case has been dismissed.

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Judge: Agency can maintain control of UMCmarket

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — A federal judge on May 6 granted a request from the denomination’s finance agency for “temporary injunctive relief” in its ongoing lawsuit regarding UMCmarket. The order says Foundation Automation must stop using United Methodist trademarks and says the company must transfer registration of the domain name and UMCmarket Facebook account to the United Methodist Council on Finance and Administration. The order essentially extends an earlier temporary restraining order as the suit continues. The judge also granted the finance agency’s request to begin the discovery process in the suit. Foundation Automation has not filed any responses with the court since the lawsuit started.

To read more background on the case

Women theologians, clergy savor ‘trusting space’

EVANSTON, Ill. (UMNS) — Providing a trusting space for women theologians and ministers of Asian ancestry to debate ideas, discuss challenges and support each other’s work is one of the hallmarks of the annual conference of the Pacific, Asian, and North American Asian Women in Theology and Ministry. The United Methodist Commission on the Status and Role of Women sponsored the opening reception and panel discussion for this year’s event.

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Sri Lanka: Village livelihoods vs. migration

NEW YORK (UMNS) — After nearly three decades of ethnic-based conflict and enormous devastation inflicted by the 2004 tsunami, Sri Lanka might seem to have endured more than enough misfortune. But now an evolving threat stands in the way of the country’s recovery and development — work in which the United Methodist Committee on Relief has been involved ever since the tsunami’s aftermath. David Tereshchuk has the story.

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Report is needed reminder on climate change, agency says

WASHINGTON (UMNS) — The recently released scientific report on climate change is a sobering reminder of the impact overconsumption is having on God’s good creation, says the United Methodist Board of Church and Society.

Read story 

Programs geared toward young clergy receive grants

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — Twenty-nine grants totaling $1.36 million have been awarded for programs geared toward increasing the number of young clergy in The United Methodist Church and supporting the young clergy already serving the denomination.

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Active bishops gather for spring retreat

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — Active United Methodist bishops and the top executives of general church agencies will gather May 4-8 at Epworth-by-the-Sea in St. Simons Island, Ga., for a time of spiritual reflection and peer learning and sharing. The gathering is closed to the press. 

Read news release

Bishop Brown takes office as bishops’ president

ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. (UMNS) — San Francisco Area Bishop Warner Brown has begun his term as president of the United Methodist Council of Bishops, succeeding Bishop Rosemarie Wenner of Germany. A formal celebration and the traditional “passing of the gavel” will take place at the council meeting in November. Oklahoma Area Bishop Robert E. Hayes Jr. has served three terms as the council's secretary and has been succeeded by Louisiana Area Bishop Cynthia Fierro Harvey.

Read news release

Bishops and church leaders conclude learning retreat

ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. (UMNS) — Active United Methodist Bishops and the top executives of the church’s general agencies joined together this week at Epworth-by-the-Sea for a learning retreat that focused on leadership and living into community. The retreat was closed to the press and outside observers. What follows are press releases from the gathering:

Read Learning retreat begins at St. Simons Island 

Read St. Simons Island learning retreat continues 

Read Leadership retreat includes immersion experience

Read St. Simons learning retreat concludes

News around conferences

Despite tragic loss, church continues to grow

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — The largest church in the Holston Annual (regional) Conference and the second largest church in the Southeastern Jurisdiction unexpectedly lost its 62-year-old senior pastor to heart disease on May 2, 2013. One year later, Cokesbury United Methodist is experiencing an attendance growth surge while expanding with a recovery ministry network and new community center for addicted mothers and their children. Annette Spence, editor of the Holston Conference’s The Call, has the story.

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S.C. United Methodists reach out to mentally ill

SUMTER, S.C. (UMNS) — Thanks to a support group Fred Harmon now leads at St. John United Methodist Church, he, his son and others who live with mental illness have a safe place where they can talk, learn coping strategies and get the help they need. Jessica Connor of the South Carolina United Methodist Advocate shares the work of St. John’s ministry and others.

Read story

See more stories on faith and mental health

Kazakhstan youth testify to their faith

PAVLODAR, Kazakhstan (UMNS) –– Young people from Ushtobe, Kazakhstan, took the train for a three-day visit with youth of Pavlodar United Methodist Church. Ushtobe youth shared in worship, witnessed to their faith, visited the city, watched a 3-D movie, and slept in a dormitory. Pastor Khozhamuratov Kanat provides the details.

Read more  

Videos and slideshows of interest

A Mother’s Blessing: A Photo Reflection

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — Real people describe the impact their mothers had on their lives. From Zimbabwe to Mexico to Kansas, these moms modeled Christ for their children, and in doing so, helped their children become the people they are today. The video can be used as a meditation for Mother’s Day or inspiration on any day.

View video

Sierra Leone works to reduce mother, child deaths

FREETOWN, Sierra Leone (UMNS) –– Sierra Leone’s first lady Sia Koroma, a former nurse, visits United Methodist Kissy Hospital in Freetown as part of her effort to reduce maternal and child mortality in the West African nation. Imagine No Malaria will be distributing insecticide-treated bed nets in Sierra Leone.

View video

Slideshow: Assembly 2014

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (UMNS) — UMNS Photographer Mike DuBose captured the action in the Kentucky International Convention Center April 25-27 as United Methodist Women gathered for “Assembly 2014 — Make it Happen.”

View slideshow

Korean church celebrates culture with adoptive families

BRENTWOOD, Tenn. (UMNS) — A Korean United Methodist church hosts an annual event designed to help families with adopted children from Korea celebrate the Korean culture. Church members demonstrate Korean games and painting techniques, and offer a chance to try on traditional Korean clothing and sample favorite foods.

UMTV has the video

UMTV: Family saves baby from certain death

MORENCI, Mich. (UMNS) –– A United Methodist family recalls the dramatic circumstances that saved one baby's life and changed their future. Tedd Galloway and his wife, the Rev. Donna Galloway, adopted Ana, a child from Zambia who was slated to be buried with her mother who died of malnutrition.

View video

News of interest

Appeals for release of girls kidnapped in Nigeria

NEW YORK (UMNS) — Church leaders are asking for prayers for the safe return of nearly 300 girls kidnapped from their government secondary school in Chibok, Nigeria, more than two weeks ago. Among those expressing concern were United Methodist Bishop John Wesley Yohanna of the Nigeria Episcopal Area; Thomas Kemper, chief executive of the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries; and the U.S. National Council of Churches. Most of the girls are members of the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria, those denominational leaders have reported.

Global Ministries statement

NCC statement

Concern mounts over abduction of Nigerian girls

NEW YORK (UMNS) — As the crisis over the abduction of nearly 300 hundred Nigerian schoolgirls continued, the Rev. Olav Fykse Tveit sent a letter to Nigerian president Goodluck Jonathan encouraging “swift and peaceful” action to bring the students home. The World Methodist Council also expressed concern. “We believe that every human being is born with a God-given dignity, and a fundamental right to an education,” it stated.

Read WCC letter

Read WMC statement

Read Associated Press story

High court ruling favors prayer at council meetings

WASHINGTON (UMNS) — The U.S. Supreme Court said May 4 that prayers that open town council meetings do not violate the Constitution even if they routinely stress Christianity. The court said in 5-4 decision that the content of the prayers is not significant as long as officials make a good-faith effort at inclusion, The Associated Press reports. 

Read story

Church leaders call for end to South Sudan war

JUBA, South Sudan (UMNS) — A World Council of Churches ecumenical delegation visiting South Sudan expressed solidarity with local churches, advocated for a cease-fire, urged progress in the ongoing peace talks and encouraged support to humanitarian initiatives in the country.

Read WCC news release

New York Times update

Council seeks prayers, stories from youth, young adults

LAKE JUNALUSKA, N.C. (UMNS) — The World Methodist Council has launched a three-year project of gathering prayers, liturgies and worship material from youth and young adults for an e-book titled “Why We Worship.” Young people are invited to submit prayers, photos and stories for the first-year emphasis on “Jesus Christ for the Healing of Nations.”

Read more

United Methodists in the news

TV station features church’s special-needs ministry

BOAZ Ala. (UMNS) — A very special prom night took place in April thanks to organizers from St. Paul United Methodist Church in the North Alabama (regional) Conference. The church organized the annual Circle of Friends prom for special-needs adults. WAFF-TV, an NBC affiliate in Huntsville, featured the ministry. St. Paul has offered the Circle of Friends ministry since 2002, the Rev. Jeff Bayne, a retired United Methodist pastor, told United Methodist News Service. “Each month’s event, with a different theme monthly, begins with a circle/prayer time before a light supper is served, followed by a great program time,” he said.

See story

Resources for churches

Commission will fund intercultural ministries

WASHINGTON, D.C. (UMNS) –– The United Methodist Commission on Religion and Race is seeking to fund “innovative, bold, transformative” initiatives that will increase intercultural competency or support vital conversations about race, cultural diversity, and systemic equity. Applications are available in multiple languages.

Read more

New goes live

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — The United Methodist Church has a new website highlighting Hispanic ministries and resources. went live this week as the portal for Spanish-language resources and content in the church. Designed by United Methodist Communications, it will aggregate resources from around the denomination and also provide original content.

See the site

School of Congregational Development coming

MATTHEWS, N.C. (UMNS) — Conference leaders, pastors and laity can learn the best practices for revitalizing their congregations and starting new churches at the School of Congregational Development 2014 on Aug. 14-17 in Matthews, N.C. The event is sponsored by the United Methodist Board of Discipleship, New Church Starts (Path 1) and the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries.

Read news release

To register

History of Hymns: ‘Camina Pueblo de Dios’

DALLAS (UMNS) — This hymn, translated as “Walk On, O People of God,” shows the influence of liberation theology, writes C. Michael Hawn of Southern Methodist University’s Perkins School of Theology. Hispanic theological perspective often sees faith as a journey toward improved lives. In the refrain, the people are empowered to respond to a “nueva ley” (new law) and to participate in a “nueva alianza” (new alliance) and a “nueva creación” (new creation). 

Read story

Personnel news

Finance agency selects general counsel

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — The board of the General Council on Finance and Administration, The United Methodist Church’s finance agency, selected Steven Lambert as general counsel at the May board meeting. He will assume his duties fulltime in June.

Read news release

Bishop to lead United Christian Ashram International board 

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — Retired United Methodist Bishop William W. Hutchinson was elected president of the United Christian Ashram International board of directors at its meeting May 1-3 at the Upper Room in Nashville. He succeeds Roberto Escamilla, who has served as president for the last five years. The Rev. Tom Albin is the executive director, part-time.

Blogs and commentaries

Ukraine churches continue in stressful time

UZHOROD, Western Ukraine (UMNS) — Members of the Ukraine and Moldova Annual (regional) Conference celebrated their 125th anniversary and continued efforts to plant new churches, strengthen existing congregations, serve the poor and work for peace and justice, Bishop Eduard Khegay of The United Methodist Church in Eurasia reports. “Christian churches in Ukraine pray together every day like never before” said one pastor. The assembly transferred Crimea churches to the South Russia Annual Conference.

Read bishop’s column

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 “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. Details. 

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. 

Webinar “Using Visual Social Media to Embrace the Sacred and Build Community,” Tuesday, May 13  — 7-8 p.m. ET, offered by Practical Church Resources and led by Meredith Gould, author of “The Social Media Gospel: Sharing the Good News in New Ways.” $10. 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 

Global Partnership Summit, Wednesday, May 14 to Friday, May 16  — Event at the United Methodist Church of the Resurrection, Leawood, Kan., aims to equip church leaders for missional engagement locally and globally. Details 

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 continuing 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. Details. 

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. (link )

Change the World weekend, Saturday-Monday, May 17-19 — Learn how United Methodists are finding ways to serve others and connect with their communities. 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 

Webinar “A Church for Everyone — Messy Church,” Tuesday, May 20 — 7-8 p.m. ET, How to be a church  for families based around hospitality, creativity and celebration, offered by Practical Church Resources and led by the Rev. Rich Hill, an Evangelical Lutheran Church in America pastor. $10. Details 

Free webinar “Sharing Our Faith,” Tuesday, May 20 —  6:30 p.m. CT, tips for sharing the Christian faith and discussing your faith journey without coming across as pushy from the United Methodist Board of Discipleship. 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 —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

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. 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 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 

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 

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