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UMNS Weekly Digest - January 6, 2012


UMNS Weekly Digest

January 6, 2012

NOTE: This is a digest of news features provided by United Methodist Communications for Jan. 3-6. 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:




United Methodists reach out at Christmas

INDIANAPOLIS (UMNS) - While we often envision a Christmas tree surrounded by presents in colorful paper with glittery bows, some of the most memorable holiday gifts come wrapped simply in love and kindness. Here is a look at how some United Methodist congregations and agencies in 2011 kept Christ in Christmas. Read full story and post a comment»

New report connects farmers, the hungry

WASHINGTON (UMNS) - Strengthening the connection between U.S. farmers and the need for more nutritious food is the focus of Bread for the World's 2012 Hunger Report. United Methodists have worked for years with Bread for the World, a Christian advocacy group dedicated to educating the public and urging U.S. decision-makers to end hunger at home and abroad. Read full story and post a comment»

Minnesotans add $2 million to malaria fight

MINNEAPOLIS (UMNS) - Minnesota United Methodists have raised $2,226,023 in pledges and gifts for Imagine No Malaria,The United Methodist Church's campaign to eliminate malaria deaths in sub-Saharan Africa by 2015. That total is the highest amount raised by a United Methodist annual (regional) conference to date. Read full story and post a comment»

Board screens out private-prison investments

GLENVIEW, Ill. (UMNS) - For the past sevenmonths, The United Methodist Church's pension agencyhas pondered the question of whether it is moral for United Methodists to make an investment profit from the incarceration of individuals. On Jan. 3, the board announced its decision. Read more and post a comment»

Science can help church keep its young folk

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) - A nationwide study found three out of 10 young adults with a Christian background feel churches are out of step with the scientific world we live in. Embracing an attitude of reconciliation and partnership with science will be essential if we hope to attract young people and keep them engaged in pursuit of a rich spiritual life, writes Gary B. Sherman, a scientist and United Methodist. Read more and post a comment»

Transforming the lives of African orphans

KIGALI, Rwanda (UMNS) - "Don't talk to me about God," Angelique, a young Rwandan orphan, sobbed quietly. "If there is a God, he doesn't love me." Her life and faith changed dramatically with help from ZOE Ministry. The stories of orphans like Angelique, which have been turned into sermon illustrations paired with Scripture passages, are now part of the collection "A Little Child Shall Lead Them: Scenes of Faith from African Orphans." Read full story and post a comment»

Reflections on Epiphany

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) - Many of us were introduced to Epiphany through the familiar silhouetted image of Three Wise Men bearing gifts as they followed the Great Star by night. Safiyah Fosua of the United Methodist Board of Discipleship shares what we Christians can learn from the wise men and their "epiphany," which western Christians celebrate on Jan. 6. Orthodox Christians celebrate Jan. 6 as Theophany, celebrating Christ's baptism. Both occasions mark when Christ revealed himself to the world. Read full story»

Registration deadline looms for Pre-General Conference Briefing

TAMPA, Fla. (UMNS)-General Conference delegates and church communicators have until 12 p.m. Eastern time Thursday, Jan. 12, to register for the Pre-General Conference News Briefing. The briefing, set for Jan. 19-21 at the Tampa Convention Center, will feature expert speakers on topics that will be addressed at the 2012 General Conference this spring. The event also will include breakout sessions designed to help delegates and communicators prepare for the legislative gathering. Extra hotel rooms have been obtained for late registrations, but they must be reserved by Jan. 11. To register, go here or contact Linda Saunders, United Methodist Communications, at (615) 742-5119 or

Fish farm a hit in South Sudan

MKENYI PAYAM, South Sudan (UMNS) - Last March, the United Methodist Committee on Relief introduced a fish farm program to improve livelihoods in a South Sudan village. The members of the Worok fishpond group in Kenyi Payam of Lainya County are pleased with the results. Read full story»

Interfaith service honors King

WASHINGTON (UMNS) - Faith Advocates for Jobs, a campaign initiated by United Methodist partner Interfaith Worker Justice, will sponsor a national interfaith service to honor the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and highlight his championship of worker justice. The service will be at 3-5 p.m. Jan. 16 at Shiloh Baptist Church in Washington. Read full story»

ABC special focuses on daily faith

NEW YORK (UMNS) - Stories of how people live out their faith through daily service and activities that glorify God and benefit God's people will be told in an ABC-TV special that will begin airing Jan. 8. The special, "Every Day is Sunday! Living Out Our Faith Together," is hosted by New York's Marble Collegiate Church and presented by the National Council of Churches through the Interfaith Broadcasting Commission. Check local listings. Watch a preview»

Philippines typhoon survivors get help

MANILA, Philippines (UMNS) - The United Methodist Committee on Relief office in the Philippines is continuing to provide relief to survivors of Typhoon Sendong, also known as Typhoon Washi, which struck the southern Philippines, triggering flash floods. In Cagayan De Oro, staff distributed blankets and mats in the wee hours of the morning Dec. 22 as people sought shelter on the streets while a cold rain poured down. Read more»

Private-prison investment screen praised

WASHINGTON (UMNS) - The United Methodist Board of Church and Society saluted the recent announcement that the denomination's pension fund divestment from private-prison corporations had established a screen on investments in companies that derive more than 10 percent of their revenue from the management and operation of prison facilities. The agency called on all organizations and institutions of conscience to divest from the private-prison industry. Read more»

Human Relations Day offering Jan. 15

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) - The Human Relations Day offering supports vital community ministries that teach and advocate for justice, especially among people struggling to survive in the margins of society. As one example, students at United Methodist-related Philander Smith College in Little Rock, Ark., are becoming more involved in social concerns with help from the United Methodist Voluntary Service program. Read more»

Exemplary teacher awards to 11

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) - Eleven professors at United Methodist-related colleges, universities and theological schools have received the Exemplary Teacher Award from the United Methodist Board of Higher Education and Ministry. Faculty members were nominated and selected based on exemplary teaching, service to students beyond the classroom and commitment to values-centered education. The program expresses the church's support of and appreciation for outstanding teaching at United Methodist-related colleges and universities. Read more»

Dallas pastor's wife dies 24 years after attack

TYLER, Texas (UMNS) - Margaret Ellen "Peggy" Railey, the victim of a brutal attack in 1987 that shocked The United Methodist Church, died Dec. 26 in a Tyler nursing home. She was 63. Railey was found strangled in the Dallas home she shared with her husband, the prominent senior pastor of First United Methodist Church in downtown Dallas. The attack left her unable to communicate and in need of 24-hour care. Walker Railey, who surrendered his clergy credentials months after the attack, said he was with his lover at the time of the attack and was found not guilty in 1993 criminal proceedings. He was, however, found liable in an earlier civil proceeding. He ended his marriage to Peggy Railey in 1998, and now resides in California.

"What has often been lost in the midst of the publicity around this tragedy is that she (Peggy Railey) was a loving mother and spouse, a talented sacred musician and a Christian woman of strong faith," said the Rev. John F. Fiedler, now senior pastor of First United Methodist Church, in a statement on behalf of the congregation.

Concern voiced over soldier's death

NEW YORK (UMNS) - The National Federation of Asian American United Methodists has expressed "deep concern" over the death of Danny Chen, a 19-year old Chinese-American U.S. Army private in Afghanistan, after Chen was subjected to a steady stream of racial slurs, unabated hazing and incessant harassment by an officer and fellow soldiers. Charges have been filed against eight military personnel.

The federation, which represents 10 Asian-American ethnic groups in the denomination, asked United Methodists to pray for Chen's family and others "who face harassment and abuse" in the workplace and their communities. "No amount of military rhetoric can bring comfort to the grieving parents who have lost their only child. We wish to convey our deepest sympathy to the family and friends of Private Chen," said Don Hayashi (pictured), the federation's president, in a Dec. 23 statement. "Further, we call on appropriate leaders in the United States government to take positive action to improve the treatment of Asian Americans and other people of color in the military."

UMTV: Church Drive-Thru Prayer

ATLANTA (UMNS) - Because of volunteers from Snellville United Methodist Church, drivers stuck in rush-hour traffic can pull over for some comfort and connection with God. Watch video and post a comment»

The lesson from the Magi

WASHINGTON (UMNS) - The Gospel of Matthew's account of the Magi offers a reminder that Jesus came for the whole world and that the church needs to do more to evangelize even "hardcore" gentiles, writes the Rev. Dean Snyder in a blog for Huffington Post. Snyder is the senior pastor of Foundry United Methodist Church. The western Christian calendar marks the magi's visit on Jan. 6. Read blog»