Skip Navigation

UMNS Weekly Digest - February 24, 2012


UMNS Weekly Digest

February 24, 2012

NOTE: This is a digest of news features provided by United Methodist Communications for February 2024. It includes summaries of stories, UMTV video reports and additional briefs from United Methodist News Service. Full versions of the stories with photographs and related features can be found at

Stories this week:




Africa theological education effort at work

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) - Funds from the $2 million Africa Theological Education Initiative are being used for scholarships, training programs and development of training materials for pastors in the central conferences in Africa. The United Methodist Church is growing faster in Africa than in any other part of the globe. Today, United Methodist membership in Africa is nearly 4.2 million, compared to 7.7 million in the United States.

Read full story»

When keeping Sabbath, simply rest

COLUMBIA, S.C. (UMNS) -Bishop Linda Lee sets aside one day a week as Sabbath, devoting that time to prayer, reading, writing and reflection. She does the same each morning, cherishing silence and solitude with God. "I believe theSabbath is so important because of the depth of relationship," says Lee, who leads the Wisconsin Annual (regional) Conference. Setting aside Sabbath time, she tells Interpreter OnLine, empowers the practitioner to be in the world for God with disenfranchised people who need to know God is with them.

Read full story»

Church 2092: Transforming our congregations

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) - How will The United Methodist Church look in 80 years? Church leaders ponder that question in the first installment of a five-part video series, "Dreaming of Vital Congregations," by the United Methodist Board of Discipleship.

Watch video»

Why ashes on Ash Wednesday?

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) - Many United Methodists today this week marked the start of the Lenten season with the mark of a cross on their foreheads.

Here's an explanation»

Creating a Holy Lent

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) - The Rev. Preston Price recites a prayerful liturgy and extinguishes a candle on each of the six Sundays of Lent. Other United Methodists use daily devotions or fast to mark the season of penitence. Interpreter OnLine offers ideas for remembering Christ's betrayal and death and anticipating his Resurrection.

Read full story»

What is Lent, and why does it last 40 days?

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) - Lent is a time of repentance, fasting and preparation for the coming of Easter. It is a time of self-examination and reflection. In the early church, Lent was a time to prepare new converts for baptism.

Read more»

Could you go alcohol-free for Lent?

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) - During Lent this year, from Ash Wednesday on Feb. 22 to April 8, the United Methodist Board of Church and Society is asking all United Methodists to give up alcohol, donate the funds they would have used to buy alcohol and start an international conversation about the harm done by this common vice.

Read more and post a comment»

Mixed blessings in U.S. church numbers

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) United Methodist churches in the United States continued a declining membership trend and weathered a difficult economy in 2010, but recently released statistics for that year also show increased giving.

Read full story and post a comment»

Many U.S. presidents have Methodist ties

WASHINGTON (UMNS) - They escorted Abraham Lincoln's body to his burial in Illinois. They served lemonade to guests at the White House in an age of temperance. They had roles in inaugurations and extended spiritual advice to presidents on justice issues, ranging from slavery to war. United Methodists have a long history of ties to U.S. presidencies. In fact, Methodism began its relationship with the presidency through the general who would become the nation's first elected leader.

Read full story and post a comment»

President honors ex-inmate's ministry

FORT WORTH, Texas (UMNS) Lonnie Bingmon, a man who has been in youth detention centers nine times and in jails or a prison six times, received The President's Volunteer Service Award for his ministry in prisons. Bingmon moved to Fort Worth, where he found his way to Alliance United Methodist Church. It was there that he engaged in a life-changing Walk to Emmaus in 2003 and became involved in Kairos Prison Ministry.

Read full story»

Helping the Homeless 101

PHILADELPHIA (UMNS) - College students in Philadelphia are helping the homeless find stability and hoping to make a long-lasting difference. The Student-Run Emergency Housing Unit of Philadelphia includes three facilities, one of which is at Arch Street United Methodist Church.

Read full story and post a comment»

Countdown to GC2012:Online course

TAMPA, Fla. (UMNS) - General Conference 2012 begins in less than 60 days and one way to prepare is to use a self-directed course about the function and importance of General Conference now available online. "Exploring General Conference" invites users to read content, watch video clips, listen to audio clips, take quizzes, find supplementary materials, and participate in discussion forums.

See countdown»

Brush up on your Shakespeare at camp

EAGLE POINT, Ore. (UMNS) - Camp Latgawa, a United Methodist camp in southern Oregon, plans to have a Shakespeare Camp on June 20-25. Each day a Shakespearean scholar will lead discussions to help campers better understand how Shakespeare's writings can enrich their spiritual lives. The camp will include trips to productions of "The Very Merry Wives of Windsor, Iowa," "As You Like It" and "Romeo and Juliet" at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in nearby Ashland. Fees range from $149 for children to $299 for adults, plus $65 for play tickets and $20 for a raft trip on the Rogue River.

To register»

Prayers for peaceful elections in Senegal

NEW YORK (UMNS) - The top executive of the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries called for prayer and for peace after violent outbreaks in Senegal preceding the Feb. 26 elections. In a statement, Thomas Kemper said the agency's national person in mission there, Aly Bashir, has reported deaths, injuries and arrests related to pre-election violence. The United Methodist Church in Senegal currently has 19 worshipping fellowships.

Read more»

Lenten study for young adults

CHICAGO (UMNS) - Young adult clergy in the Northern Illinois Annual (regional) Conference have written weekly Lenten studies for young adults. The six weeks of study address some of the basic questions and needs of young adults such as time, fasting and money management.

To download»

Lake Junaluska offers youth mission work

LAKE JUNALUSKA, N.C. (UMNS) - During their summer mission experience in 2011, youth from St. James United Methodist Church in Spartanburg, S.C., served at Autumn Care, a rehab and nursing facility in Waynesville, N.C. That is just one of the mission opportunities for youth groups offered by the United Methodist conference and retreat center.SURGE into Missions at Lake Junaluska runs weeks and weekends from June 14 through July 22.

To learn more»

Asbury, hunger group to produce curriculum

WASHINGTON (UMNS) - Bread for the World has formed a partnership with United Methodist-approved Asbury Theological Seminary of Wilmore, Ky., and Eastern University of St. David's, Pa., to produce an online curriculum on global poverty and foreign assistance for evangelical Christian seminaries and colleges. "As Asbury Theological Seminary becomes more deeply engaged with our Christian partners around the globe, we want to follow in the rich Wesleyan tradition of advocating for the poor and marginalized," said Terry Muck, dean of the seminary's E. Stanley Jones School for World Mission and Evangelism.

Read more»

African students reject restructuring proposal

MUTARE, Zimbabwe (UMNS) - The Africa United Methodist Student Movement, which represents about 150 members from 10 African countries, has issued a response to the proposed consolidation of nine general agencies under a 15-member board. Nine members recently attended the Pre-General Conference briefing for African General Conference delegates in Harare, Zimbabwe. After prayer and study, the group announced its response "in rejection of the proposal as it fails to be considerate of the needs and circumstances of the African church." The United Methodist News Service Daily Digest will publish statements from General Conference delegations and other groups as they are received and space is available.

Read full statement»

Preaching from Dr. King's pulpit

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (UMNS) - The Rev. Jay D. Cooper writes about the experience of students at Emory University's Candler School of Theology. As part of The Teaching Parish Program, the students recently preached sections of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech from King's first pulpit at Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist Church. Cooper is pastor of Montgomery First United Methodist Church.

Read commentary»

Web ministry training

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) - United Methodist Communications plans to offer four online courses Feb. 29-April 11 to help churches integrate web ministry into the broader picture of a church's outreach. A syllabus for each course, cost and registration information are available online.

Register online»

Bishop Joe Wilson honored

SAN ANTONIO (UMNS) - The Texas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty has honored retired United Methodist Bishop Joe Wilson with its Founder's Award. The organization called Wilson a persistent voice for justice on multiple issues who works to raise awareness and advocate for change. The Methodist Church officially called for the abolition of the death penalty in 1956, and The United Methodist Church has maintained the position of its predecessor body. The South Central Jurisdictional Conference elected Wilson bishop in 1992. He served for eight years before retiring in 2000. He now serves as bishop-in-residence at United Methodist-related Southwestern University in Georgetown, Texas.

Read more»

Texas Methodist Foundation grows

AUSTIN, Texas (UMNS) - The Texas Methodist Foundation, the largest United Methodist foundation in the United States, has acquired the majority of assets and liabilities of the Central Texas Methodist Foundation, headquartered in Fort Worth. Assets for the Texas Methodist Foundation, following the acquisition, now exceed $400 million. The Texas Methodist Foundation assists United Methodist churches, institutions and individuals with a variety of financial and leadership resources within the five geographic conferences of Texas, in addition to the Rio Grande Annual (regional) Conference of Texas and New Mexico.

Read more»

Resources for Lent and Easter

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) - United Methodist Communications has compiled an online guide for Lenten resources. Find devotionals, meditations, news articles, suggestions for family observances, aids for worship, study guides, videos and ways to take action.

Read more»

New Wesley Foundation at former Lambuth

JACKSON, Tenn. (UMNS) - The United Methodist Church will continue to have a presence on the campus of the former Lambuth University, thanks to a new campus ministry with an appointed minister from the Memphis Annual (regional) Conference. The University of Memphis-Lambuth campus ministry in Jackson has joined four other Memphis Conference Wesley Foundation campus ministries.

Read more»

Bitter immigration rhetoric discouraged

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) - Dozens of Tennessee faith leaders urged Republican presidential candidates to keep the bitter rhetoric on immigration out of the Volunteer State. Tennessee's Republican presidential primary is March 6. The plea came in the form of a statement signed and released by some 45 leaders representing the Abrahamic faiths across Tennessee.

Read more»

'Economy of water' a theme for Lent

GENEVA (UMNS) - During the seven weeks of Lent, the Ecumenical Water Network focuses on the theme "economy of water" in its Seven Weeks for Water campaign, inspiring churches to pray, reflect and act together for local and global water justice. TheSeven Weeks for Water will begin on Feb. 20 and will be approaching World Water Day andMaundy Thursday with special resources produced for this event. Weekly reflections are available for download.

Read more»

George Tinker to keynote repentance service

NEW YORK (UMNS) - The Rev. George E. "Tink" Tinker, renowned indigenous advocate and theologian, will be the keynote speaker for The United Methodist Church's "Act of Repentance to Indigenous Peoples," April 27 in Tampa, Fla. The service will take place during the denomination's 2012 General Conference. Tinker, a citizen of the Osage Nation, serves as the Clifford Baldridge Professor of American Indian Cultures and Religious Traditions at United Methodist-related Iliff School of Theology in Denver and is an ordained pastor in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

Read more»

Pastor attends Whitney Houston service

ATLANTA (UMNS) - The Rev. Michael McQueen, pastor of St. James United Methodist Church in Alpharetta, Ga., was among those seated in the pulpit for the Feb. 18 memorial service for singer Whitney Houston. St. James was the last place where Houston, who lived in the Atlanta area during the mid-2000s, attended a worship service before her death Feb. 11. "The amazing thing about yesterday was the whole world came to church," McQueen told his congregation the day after Houston's service. The pastor said he told the Houston family that St. James would nurture them through the process of grieving and asked his church members "to keep them lifted up in prayer."

Watch McQueen video»

UMTV: Street Pastor with a Past

HOMESTEAD, Pa. (UMNS) - The Rev. Keith Kaufold is a pastor in a tough neighborhood where drug dealers and school dropouts abound. Kaufold grew up nearby and can speak firsthand about addiction - and redemption. Watch video and post a comment»

Blog: What I've learned about church planting

CRESTVIEW, Fla. (UMNS) - Six months ago, the Rev. Sean Peters began planting a new church, The Journey, in the Pensacola District of the Alabama-West Florida Annual (regional) Conference. In his blog, he shares some of the lessons he has learned so far. Read blog»

Blog: Can you hear the birds sing?

LEE'S SUMMIT, Mo. (UMNS) - The Rev. Jeff Brinkman, a United Methodist pastor, writes that Whitney Houston's death offers a lesson in being grateful. "For her life, and for ours. Today is God's gift to you." Read blog»

Blog: An Inconvenient Ministry

NEW YORK (UMNS) -"Why can't you work in a place that's easier to get to?" In a blog post, Linda Unger of the United Methodist Committee on Relief says the denomination's relief agency is dedicated to work with all in need, despite the challenges. Read blog»

Blog: The Death of Whitney Houston

Whitney Houston, like of all of us, lived her life between the valleys and the mountaintops, observes the Rev. Gilbert H. Caldwell, noting that she helped take many of us to the mountaintop.

Read blog and post a comment»

Category: Weekly Digest
Tags: News Summaries