News In Brief – Dec. 18, 2009
Brief items for use in local church newsletters
Prepared by United Methodist News Service
The Rev. Tracey K. Jones Jr., 92, former top executive of the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries from 1968-1980, died Dec. 16. Jones, son of YMCA missionaries, grew up in Canton, China. He served as vice president of the National Council of Churches and led delegations of church leaders to Vietnam in 1968 and to the Middle East in 1980. He was a missionary in China and Singapore. Jones’ 1963 book, “Our Mission Today: the Beginning of a New Age,” published by the mission board, sold 300,000 copies. After his retirement, he served as professor at Drew Theological Seminary and was active in Habitat for Humanity, Hospice, Resurrection House and his church in Sarasota, Fla. His funeral will be Dec. 21 in Sarasota, Fla.
Bishop David Kekumba Yemba and professor Fanuel Tagwira were inaugurated Dec. 5 as the third chancellor and vice chancellor of Africa University in Mutare, Zimbabwe. The new leaders pledged continuing commitment to the cause of higher education on the continent in a ceremony attended by more than 500 dignitaries around the world. In remarks, officials both celebrated the Africa University story and looked ahead to plans to make an even larger impact in Africa.
Meghan Roth called it “a life-changing experience” when Nobel Peace Prize laureate Desmond Tutu spoke Dec. 13 in Copenhagen to those concerned about the impact of climate change on the world. Roth, a 23-year-old student at United Methodist-related Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington and a director of the United Methodist Board of Church and Society, was part of that agency’s delegation attending the Dec. 7-18 climate change summit.
The Gbarnga School of Theology in Liberia is reaching out to help the country heal the wounds from a long civil war even as it struggles to rebuild its own campus. The university, occupied by rebel forces during the war, was among the institutions damaged in the conflict that left hundreds of thousands of people dead and ruined the country's economy. “The devastation on the campus is of monumental proportions and The United Methodist Church in Liberia cannot rebuild it on its own,” said the Rev. Yatta Rosyln Young, dean of the seminary.
The Rev. Scott Moore, director of pastoral care at Methodist Behavioral Hospital, makes sure more than 200 children and young mothers get a reminder of Christ’s love on Christmas Day. Come Christmas Day, Moore expects to be with the children at the hospital who either are not ready to go home or have no home. But he hopes to make the celebration of Christ’s birth as bright as possible for the youngsters. The kids at Methodist Family Health have a variety of experiences. But one thing they all understand, Moore said, is love.
Methodism’s founder John Wesley traveled on foot and horseback to spread the Gospel in Georgia more than 270 years ago. Today, one of the state’s newest United Methodist churches sends the word out via Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. Worshippers are even encouraged to text message during services. It’s working. On Dec. 20, Impact Church will be officially constituted as a United Methodist church by the North Georgia Conference. With two services most Sundays drawing as many as 1,000 people and an annual budget of about $1 million, it’s grown faster than any other new church plant in the conference during the last 20 years, said the Rev. Jamie Jenkins, executive assistant to Bishop Mike Watson.
Thirty-eight young Methodist leaders from eight countries have formed the Sixth Conference Asian Methodist Youth Network to explore ways they can work together for justice and peace. The Sixth Conference in Cambodia had the theme "Working Together for Justice and Peace in a Globalized World.” Participants were invited to share, discuss and decide on matters pertaining to programs and goals for the network, to learn more about globalization and to respond to issues and challenges that confront the group.
ABC television affiliates will broadcast a United Methodist-produced Christmas Eve candlelight service on Dec. 24 and 25. The hour-long broadcast was taped at First United Methodist Church of Dallas. The traditional service includes carols and Scriptures, and features a 100-voice choir, a brass and drum ensemble, and the church’s pipe organ. The Rev. John Fiedler delivers the message, “I Am Bringing You Good News.” Regularly updated television listings for the Christmas Eve service are available here
The first of a series of open conversations on “Ministry with the Poor,” a ministry focus of The United Methodist Church, was broadcast live Dec. 16. The conversation, sponsored by the General Board of Global Ministries, took place at the United Methodist Church of the Village. The discussion can be accessed online at Learning Circles.
The Rev. Heinrich Meinhardt, a key supporter and board member of Africa University, died Dec. 9 after a long battle with cancer. Meinhardt, 66, also served on the boards of the United Methodist Board of Higher Education and Ministry and the General Council on Finance and Administration representing the Germany Central Conference. In lieu of flowers, his family is asking for donations to Africa University. Donors may give to Africa University at www.support-africauniversity.org.
From now through Jan. 31, 2010, Nothing But Nets supporters can donate $10 or more and get two complimentary tickets to an NBA game, subject to availability and participating teams. The National Basketball Association and the United Nations Foundation’s Nothing But Nets recently tipped off the promotion to send anti-malaria bed nets to refugees in 11 African countries. ESPN sportswriter Rick Reilly, who inspired the foundation to create the Nothing But Nets campaign, will match fan donations up to a total of $25,000. Further information is available here. The United Methodist Church is a partner in the campaign.
Oral Roberts, the evangelist who died Dec. 15 at age 91, was remembered as a caring member of Boston Avenue United Methodist Church. “In person, Oral Roberts was warm, gracious, compassionate and engaging,” said the Rev. Mouzon Biggs, senior pastor of the church where Roberts and his late wife, Evelyn, were lay members. Biggs said Roberts was skilled at giving people his undivided attention. “When he talked to you one on one, you felt that he really cared about you.” Oral and Evelyn Roberts joined Boston Avenue United Methodist Church in 1968 and were active members until they moved to California in 1988.
The AIDS pandemic has orphaned nearly 20 million children in Africa. Youngsters left to fend for themselves face starvation. But 18-year-old Purity Muthoni supports herself and her three siblings through vocational training received from a project called Giving Hope. The program is run by North Carolina based ZOE Ministry, founded by the Rev. Greg Jenks. With proceeds from this year’s crops and business ventures, Muthoni is holding a Christmas party to share the fruits of her success with other orphans. UMTV’s “Christmas for AIDS Orphans” is available to view at http://www.umtv.org/archives/christmas_for_aids_orphans.htm.
Someday soon, Tupou Kelemeni fears, her ancestral home could be washed away. Pacific island nations are among the countries under immediate threat from global warming and Kelemeni, a United Methodist from Hawaii and native of Tonga, is concerned about all of them. As a member of the United Methodist Women’s delegation to the U.N. Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, she had a chance to interview young people from the Solomon Islands and the Maldives Islands, in the Indian Ocean, about the situation. By the summit’s final day on Dec. 18, it seemed unlikely that such threats would be addressed in the near future.
A Danish United Methodist pastor helped ensure that religious representatives from around the world had a significant presence at the Copenhagen summit. The Rev. Ole Birch, a United Methodist district superintendent and pastor of Jerusalem Church there, is coordinator of a working group on climate issues for the National Council of Churches in Denmark. Their organizing efforts around the summit were part of a larger strategy to promote “gronkirke” – a green church movement.