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UMNS Weekly Digest - June 22, 2012


NOTE: This is a digest of news features provided by United Methodist Communications for June 18-21. It includes summaries of stories and additional briefs from United Methodist News Service. Full versions of the stories with photographs and related features can be found at

News Stories:


Obama immigration policy decision praised

PHOENIX (UMNS)-United Methodist proponents of immigration reform are optimistic about the Obama administration's June 15 announcement that the United States would stop deporting and begin granting work permits to young undocumented immigrants who entered the United States as children. Phoenix Area Bishop Minerva G. Carcaño, a longtime supporter of the DREAM Act, said the statement "is an extraordinary way forward for much-needed immigration reform."
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Black caucus expresses concern over Bledsoe

PLANO, Texas (UMNS) - Black Methodists for Church Renewal has issued an open letter expressing pain and raising questions about the case of Bishop W. Earl Bledsoe. The North Texas bishop, who is African American, has said he is being pressured by his episcopacy committee to retire. The letter from the Black Methodists for Church Renewal is directed to the Judicial Council, Council of Bishops and the episcopal review committees of the South Central Jurisdiction and North Texas Annual Conference.
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How Book of Discipline comes to be

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) - It's said that the two items no one wants to see being made are laws and sausages. Perhaps the United Methodist Book of Discipline, the denomination's law book, should be added to that list. It takes almost six months - and a process defined by the rules of the General Conference - before the denomination knows exactly what happened after its big legislative assembly.
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Stalwart of rural ministry dies

COLUMBUS, Ohio (UMNS) - The Rev. Harold W. McSwain, who for 50 years played a pivotal role in the denomination's rural ministry network, died June 17. He was 87. A memorial service is planned for June 23 at Epworth United Methodist Church in Columbus.
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Shoeboxes of Christmas Joy

SHEYENNE, N.D. (UMNS) - It won't be long before treat-filled shoeboxes will begin arriving. By Christmas, these shoeboxes will be filled with gifts for the children living on impoverished reservations in South Dakota and North Dakota. Last Christmas, missionaries Mike and Libby Flowers gave away 5,652 shoeboxes. This year, they're hoping to give out seven times that many.
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'Grandfamilies' provide love, sanctuary

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (UMNS) - Mollie and John Moore raised four children and were just getting used to being empty nesters when tragedy struck, and they found themselves raising their two young grandsons. According to the AARP, this is an increasingly familiar demographic in the U.S. There's even a term for them: "grandfamilies."
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Women excel as Africa U. grads

MUTARE, Zimbabwe (UMNS) - The opportunity for African women to seek higher education is often difficult, and sometimes impossible. At the United Methodist-affiliated Africa University in Zimbabwe, nearly half of the 400 graduates on June 9 were women. The best overall student also was a woman - Chiedza Dziva. "I'm greatly honored to be leading the light to my fellow sisters out there as women continue to make strides in business, politics and various other areas of expertise," Dziva said.
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As with David and Goliath, size doesn't matter

T. CLOUD, Minn. (UMNS) - The Minnesota Annual (regional) Conference, with its 70,000 members, doesn't even come close to being one of the largest conferences in The United Methodist Church. But it has raised more than any other conference for the denomination's Imagine No Malaria campaign: about $2.5 million.
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Fighting malaria with bikes

LANCASTER, Pa. (UMNS) - Several cyclists gathered on Sunday, June 17, with dozens of members of Grandview United Methodist Church for a celebratory breakfast and prayer circle for the beginning of "Nothing But Spokes for Imagine No Malaria." The trip from Washington, D.C., to Pittsburgh has been in the works since last year, with the cyclists raising funds from fellow church members, friends, family members and business associates to support the denomination's anti-malaria charity. Anyone wishing to contribute to Nothing But Spokes for Imagine No Malaria may send a check payable to "SW District," P.O. Box 271, Bird-in-Hand, Pa. 17505.
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Help for cross-racial appointments

BALTIMORE (UMNS) - A networking and training event for United Methodist clergy committed to cross-racial and cross-cultural ministries is scheduled July 26-28 at the Westin BWI in Linthicum Heights, Md., near Baltimore. The event, "Facing the Future: A Clergy Network for Cross-Racial/Cross-Cultural Appointment and Ministry," is sponsored by the United Methodist Commission on Religion and Race. It aims to help clergy effectively engage with the changing and diverse communities that make up The United Methodist Church of the 21st century. Online registration ends July 5.
To register»

Web ministry training set

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) - Take the entire population of the United States and combine it with the population of India. That's just about how many people use the Internet - 1.6 billion give or take a few web masters. If you've been wondering how to reach some of these men and women with a web ministry or tweak the web presence you already have, tap into the Web Ministry Training Course offered by United Methodist Communications. The four online classes will help you set an action plan for your web ministry, identify your users, learn the nuts and bolts for your site, find software and develop content and graphics for an efficient and effective website. The course is from July 5 to Aug. 15. Registration is open through June 28. See details

Central Methodist president to retire

FAYETTE, Mo. (UMNS) - Marianne E. Inman, president at United Methodist-related Central Methodist University for the past 17 years, has announced plans to retire at the end of June 2013. One of the milestones for which Inman is particularly proud is that the university will award more than 1,000 college degrees this year for the first time in its history.
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Virginia bishop honored

RICHMOND, Va. (UMNS) - The Virginia legislature honored Bishop Charlene P. Kammerer on June 7 with a resolution praising her eight years of service in the Virginia Annual (regional) Conference. Kammerer plans to retire from the episcopacy in the fall and will join the faculty of Emory University's Candler School of Theology.
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Ideas exchanged for vital churches

EVANSTON, Ill. (UMNS) - Six weeks after the 2012 General Conference, denominational leaders met to discuss theories, best practices and challenges for increasing the number of highly vital United Methodist congregations. The Vital Congregations Initiative, which met on the campus of Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary on June 12-13, included United Methodist bishops, pastors, laity, researchers, practitioners, leaders from various United Methodist boards and agencies and evangelism professors from United Methodist theological schools.

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Learn more about vital congregations»

Church insurance company to issue policies

BENNINGTON, Vt. (UMNS) - United Methodist Insurance Co. has announced that it will begin issuing policies in its own name on Oct. 1. The insurance risk for these policies will be reinsured fully through insurance carriers, most of whom have been issuing policies. The Rev. Patricia Youngquist, an executive at the General Council on Finance and Administration, is the insurance company's newly elected chief executive officer.
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Not too late to watch CBS' AIDS special

NEW YORK (UMNS) - If you missed CBS' documentary about HIV/AIDS, which aired June 17, don't fret. You may view "HIV & AIDS: Awareness and Compassion" at CBS News Religion and Culture. Among the religious leaders featured on the program is the Rev. Donald E. Messer, executive director of the Center for the Church and Global AIDS. Messer and Linda Bales Todd, who is retiring from the United Methodist Board of Church and Society, were recently elected to co-chair the United Methodist Global AIDS Fund Committee. The 2012 General Conference endorsed the group's new "20/20: Visioning an AIDS-Free World" campaign, which encourages every church member to contribute $20, $200, or more to the United Methodist Global AIDS Fund.
Watch the CBS special
Visit United Methodist AIDS campaign website»

Young adults submit devotions

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) - The Young Adult Network has collected several devotions by young adults for young adults. The essays can be used for discussion groups or personal study. Applications also are being sought for new contributors.
For more information»

Grant provides 'Seasoning for the Soul'

NARBERTH, Pa. (UMNS) - When Marianna Tandayamo needed brain surgery, volunteers from the local church stepped in to provide meals, transportation and other support, courtesy of a program called "Sazon para el Alma" (Seasoning for the Soul). The program is a project of PlumbLine Fellowship, a multicultural new church start within Narberth United Methodist Church, near Philadelphia. Part of the funding came from a $10,000 Ethnic-In-Service Training grant from the United Methodist Board of Higher Education and Ministry.
To learn more»

Archives and History awards, grants

MADISON, N.J. (UMNS) - A history professor and a seminary student conducting separate research projects into the African-American history of The Methodist Church are among the recipients of grants and awards for 2012 from the United Methodist Commission on Archives and History.Applications for grants and awards for 2013 are now being accepted.
Read about 2012 recipients»

Planning inspired by the Spirit

BERNARDSVILLE, N.J. (UMNS) - What makes a strategic planning process fruitful? The Rev. Myung Sun Han, pastor of Bernardsville United Methodist Church, offers four tips for congregations preparing to grow their ministry. His commentary appears on the website of Wesley Theological Seminary's Lewis Center for Church Leadership.
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Church protests United Methodist stand on gay unions

AUSTIN, Texas (UMNS) - The Rev. Sid Hall, pastor at Trinity United Methodist Church in Austin for nearly a quarter-century, led a special evening worship service June 17 to protest United Methodist policies excluding gay and lesbian couples from sharing holy unions. About 200 people attended. Hall said it isn't enough just to quietly work for inclusion. "It's important to state it," he told The Austin American-Statesman.
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Bones dated back to John the Baptist era

SVET IVAN, Bulgaria (UMNS) - Claims that bone fragments unearthed by archaeologists at the site of an ancient church belong to John the Baptist have been bolstered by experts who have dated the bones to the first century. "We got some dates that are very interesting indeed," researcher Thomas Higham of the University of Oxford told MSNBC's LiveScience. "They suggest that the human bone is all from the same person, it's from a male, and it has a very high likelihood of an origin in the Near East." There is no way, however, to be absolutely certain the bones belong to John the Baptist, who the New Testament says baptized Jesus.
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UMTV: Buy a lunch, give a lunch

TAMPA, Fla. (UMNS) - It's simple math: for every meal a customer buys, a homeless person also gets a meal. So far, Inside the Box, a Florida cafe and catering company, has provided more than 8,000 meals to the homeless and needy in the Tampa Bay area. Inside the Box also trains homeless people and teen dropouts so they can get a job in the food industry. The program was created by the Rev. Morris Hintzman, a United Methodist pastor and CEO of Metropolitan Ministries of Tampa.
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Category: Weekly Digest
Tags: News Summaries