News In Brief - March 30, 2007
Brief items for use in local church newsletters
Prepared by United Methodist News Service
Prayer and a ministry of presence are the most important services that churches can provide for servicemen and women and the families they leave behind, says a United Methodist chaplain. Families need a visit from the pastor before the military member leaves followed by monthly visits in behalf of the church. "Deployments aren't sprints. They are marathons," said Chaplain Gary Brown, deputy garrison chaplain at the U.S. Army Garrison Grafenwoehr in Germany. "Too many times the church does all these wonderful things for a spouse within a short period of time after the soldier deploys. But five months, eight months into deployment, not much is done."
United Methodist annual conference foundations have joined local churches, higher education institutions and the United Methodist Higher Education Foundation to quadruple the amount of scholarship money a United Methodist student may use for school. The "Quadruple Your Dollars for Scholars" is a new component of the 10-year old "United Methodist Dollars for Scholars" program of the denominational foundation. Participating conference foundations will provide an additional $1,000 to recipients sponsored by a church in their respective conferences for a total scholarship award of up to $4,000.
Against the backdrop of college basketball's March Madness, United Methodists have rallied around the Nothing But Nets anti-malaria campaign by sponsoring church and conference basketball tournaments, challenges and other fundraisers. The people of The United Methodist Church are partnering in Nothing But Nets with the United Nations Foundation, the National Basketball Association's NBA Cares initiative, Sports Illustrated and other organizations to prevent malaria by delivering insecticide-treated bed nets to Africa. A donation of $10 covers the cost of one bed net, which protects families from malaria-carrying mosquitoes. Go to www.UMC.org/nets to donate online, order "Buzzkill" T-shirts and other promotional material, and download resources, including suggestions about how churches can get involved, graphics and worship materials. Information is also available at www.nothingbutnets.net.
The "Night of 1,000 Conversations" will take place in homes and churches April 5 to call attention to comprehensive immigration reform. "With the continuing U.S. government raids of workplaces and the increased detainments and deportations of undocumented immigrants, the need for people of faith to step up our voices in this national debate is enormous," said Bill Mefford, executive with the United Methodist Board of Church and Society. For more information, visit www.rightsworkinggroup.org and follow the links.
Sager Brown, which serves as a depot for the United Methodist Committee on Relief in Baldwin, La., is celebrating 140 years of wide-ranging ministries. The depot receives, verifies, packages, stores and ships relief supplies throughout the world. A celebration will be held on April 21 on the campus. Those who have volunteered are invited to visit http://new.gbgm-umc.org/umcor/work/sagerbrown/140anniversary/ and submit essays and photos about their experiences. All churches and annual conferences are invited to collect relief supplies and sign a special card of congratulations. UMCOR invites contributions for more ministries at Sager Brown by giving to UMCOR Advance #901515, UMCOR Sager Brown. Mail checks to UMCOR at P.O. Box 9068, New York, NY 10087, with the words "UMCOR Advance #901515, UMCOR Sager Brown" written on the memo line. Credit card donations can be made by calling (800) 554-8583. Donations are accepted at http://secure.gbgm-umc.org/donations/advance/donate.cfm?code=156500&id=3018386.
The American Bible Society, the largest and among the country's oldest Bible organizations, announced March 26 the second season of "American Bible Society Presents," its award-winning, half-hour TV news magazine showcasing the enlightening and transforming power of God's word at work. A weekly syndicated series, "American Bible Society Presents" airs on 358 stations nationwide. Filmed in association with Associated Television International, the show is carried by the affiliates of Faith TV, the CW network, ION, America 1 and independent stations nationwide. For stations and airdates, visit to www.abspresents.com.
A new guide titled "Scaling Up Effective Partnerships: A Guide to Working with Faith-Based Organizations in the Response to HIV and AIDS" offers practical information and guidance for United Nations staff, government officials and secular organizations who want to collaborate with faith-based groups on joint projects related to HIV/AIDS. The guide was produced by Church World Service, the Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance, Norwegian Church Aid, UNAIDS and the World Conference of Religions for Peace. The guide can be downloaded from the Web site or ordered by mail. For more information, visit http://www.e-alliance.ch/hiv_faith_guide.jsp
"How can congregations establish a safe environment for youth workers, youth and young adults?" is the focus of an April 24-26 conference at Mount Sequoyah Conference and Retreat Center in Fayetteville, Ark. Sponsored by the South Central Jurisdiction, the Spirit of Youth Ministry gathering features the Rev. Karen A. McClintock, a United Methodist pastor and Oregon licensed clinical psychologist. Her background uniquely prepares her to assist congregations in conflict and decline, to train church leaders to
create a healthy, vibrant and growing church community, and to heal congregations of past secrets. Registration information, including downloading printable copies of the registration form, is available at http://www.mountsequoyah.org/Spirit_of_Youth_Ministry07.pdf or by contacting Diana Northcutt, Oklahoma Conference Director of Youth Ministries, at firstname.lastname@example.org
or by calling (800) 231-4166, ext. 2144.
For years, United Methodists in Michigan have pledged to provide hot lunches to schoolchildren in Haiti. Now, they want to ensure the children and their families have clean drinking water as well. The United Methodist Michigan Area Haiti Task Force is partnering with Rotary Clubs in the United States and Haiti on the Haiti School Water Project. The project also has been designated as an Advance Special with the United Methodist Committee on Relief, allowing congregations or individuals to contribute financially. Task force chairman R. Paul Doherty said the ministry is "in process" and that both Michigan United Methodists and the Methodist Church of Haiti are prepared for a 2007 startup. Water quality is a big concern in Haiti.
# # #