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News from around the connection - 1/20/2014

January 18, 2014

UMNS Weekly Digest

January 17, 2014

NOTE: This is a digest of news features provided by United Methodist Communications for Jan. 13 - Jan. 17. It includes summaries of United Methodist News Service stories and additional briefs from around the United Methodist connection. Full versions of the stories with photographs and related features can be found at

News around conferences

Trial set for theologian who officiated at son’s wedding
NEW YORK (UMNS) — A United Methodist theologian and retired elder in the New York Annual (regional) Conference will face a church trial for officiating at the 2012 same-sex wedding of his son. The trial of the Rev. Thomas Ogletree is scheduled for March 10 at First United Methodist Church in Stamford, Conn.
Read story and post a comment

Chicago pastor dies after being injured on mission trip
CHICAGO (UMNS) — The Rev. Ramon Nieves, pastor of Humboldt Park United Methodist Church, died Jan. 16 in Chicago after an apparent swimming pool accident Jan. 10 in Guatemala City while on a volunteer mission trip with his wife, Yolanda. The Chicago native and member of the Northern Illinois Annual (regional) Conference led the New York 9/11 response program for the United Methodist Committee on Relief.
Read more
New York 9/11 response

West Va. churches help during water ban
CHARLESTON, W. Va. (UMNS) — United Methodist congregations in the denomination’s West Virginia Annual (regional) Conference helped provide clean water to residents after a chemical spill left 300,000 people without potable water for several days. Laura Harbert Allen, the conference’s director of communications, reports.
Read story

Missionaries postpone South Sudan visit; pray for peace
ALCOA, Tenn. (UMNS) — Missionaries Fred and Libby Dearing have postponed their return to South Sudan after deciding they could do more to help their ministry partners while in the U.S. than in Africa. On Jan. 8, the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries suspended mission travel to South Sudan “for security purposes.” Annette Spence of the Holston Annual (regional) Conference has the story. 
Read story

Cass Community beats the cold
DETROIT (UMNS) — The Rev. Laurie Haller, pastor of Birmingham (Mich.) First United Methodist Church, reflects on the warmth and shelter provided by Cass Community Social Services, a United Methodist ministry, as nearly a foot of snow piled up in Detroit. “Jesus may have never experienced sub-zero temperatures, but Jesus is right here,” Haller writes.
Read story

Church building gets new life as homeless agency
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — Church closings are sad, but Annette Spence, editor of The Call in the Holston Annual (regional) Conference, reports how church property in Knoxville will now serve homeless families.
Read story

UMTV: Church in a diner
LANSING, Mich. (UMNS) — With work schedules, football games, and family commitments, Sunday morning is no longer always set aside for church. A worship service in a Michigan diner offers a different time and place, and appeals to many who are looking for a more casual experience than traditional church offers.
Watch video

News around the connection

Bishop Tuell, church law expert, dies at 90
DES MOINES, Wash. (UMNS) — Retired Bishop Jack M. Tuell, a widely respected expert of United Methodist church law, died Friday, Jan. 10. He was 90. “He will be considered one of the two or three giants of our Council (of Bishops) in the latter part of the 20th century and the first part of the 21st century,” said retired Bishop William B. Oden, a longtime friend.
Read obituary and post a comment

Human Relations Day is Jan. 19
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — One of six churchwide Special Sundays with offerings for The United Methodist Church, Human Relations Day strengthens United Methodist outreach to communities in the United States and Puerto Rico, encouraging social justice and work with at-risk youth.
Find resources and examples of how grants are used

Church and Society opposes new sanctions for Iran
WASHINGTON (UMNS) — The United Methodist Board of Church and Society is among more than 60 organizations that signed a letter to U.S. senators urging them not to support new sanctions that could “critically endanger” the possibility of a diplomatic resolution to the nuclear standoff with Iran.
See letter

How sexual misconduct is still an issue
CHICAGO (UMNS) — The United Methodist Commission on the Status and Role of Women reports some interesting responses to sexual ethics questions asked of clergy attending a boundaries training session. For example, 41 percent of the respondents said they personally know someone who reports being the victim of sexual misconduct by a ministerial leader. Erin Kane offers the full report.
Read report

Commission on women offers free leadership webinars
CHICAGO (UMNS) — A series of webinars aimed at helping develop principled leaders in The United Methodist Church is being offered this year by the United Methodist Commission on the Status and Role of Women. Among the topics are the following of Robert’s Rules of Order and submitting petitions to annual or General Conferences. The webinars start at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 4. 
To see schedule and register

History of Hymns: ‘Word of God, Come Down on Earth’
DALLAS (UMNS) — Father James Quinn, a Jesuit, is the writer of this hymn, No. 182 in the United Methodist Hymnal. He aimed to provide a commentary on John 1:14, “And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory.” C. Michael Hawn of Southern Methodist University’s Perkins School of Theology shares Quinn’s story.
Read story

Housing accommodations for General Conference
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — The Commission on General Conference has selected Connections Housing as the official accommodations partner for the 2016 General Conference in Portland, Ore., and the 2020 General Conference in Minneapolis. General Conference, which meets every four years, is the denomination’s top lawmaking assembly and the only body that can speak for The United Methodist Church.
Read news release

Latin American, Caribbean women leadership gathering
LIMA, Peru (UMNS) — The first Latin American and Caribbean Methodist women leadership conference will be January 22-25 in Lima. The theme of the event is “Afirmación de la Dignidad de las Mujeres en América Latina y El Caribe y el Rol de las Mujeres en la Iglesia” (Affirmation of the Dignity of Latin America and Caribbean Women and Their Role in the Church). The United Methodist Board of Higher Education and Ministry is a co-sponsor.
More information

Ideas for vitality

How do United Methodists define evangelism?
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — The Rev. Heather Lear, director of evangelism ministries for the United Methodist Board of Discipleship, offers ideas to share the good news in the Wesleyan way.
Read story

A New Year’s resolution that will transform the church
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — Gil Hanke, top executive of the Commission on United Methodist Men, suggests how churches can cultivate small groups that turn “pew sitters” into disciples of Christ for the transformation of the world.
Read commentary

Preaching professor turns ‘player coach'
DALLAS (UMNS) — In an unusual, possibly unprecedented, experiment, the Rev. Alyce McKenzie of Perkins School of Theology is serving as preacher-in-residence for a local congregation. McKenzie is providing coaching on preaching to the clergy at Christ United Methodist Church in nearby Plano and is preaching there herself once a month.
Read story

May gathering focuses on lasting revival
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (UMNS) — A group of United Methodists hope the word Aldersgate will signify present-day revival. A Gathering of the Aldersgate Covenant is scheduled from 4 p.m. Friday, May 16 to noon Saturday, May 17, at United Methodist Church of the Resurrection in Leawood, Kan. The 20-hour prayer gathering is open to everyone. Amy Forbus of the Arkansas Annual (regional) Conference has the story. 
Read story

Honoring Martin Luther King Jr.

Musical brings words of Martin Luther King Jr. to life
MIAMI (UMNS) — United Methodist Brigitte Keane is a supporter of a production of a musical about Martin Luther King Jr. and the civil rights movement that is being performed in Miami and hopes to see the production tour elsewhere.
Read story and post a comment

Bishop’s letters to MLK trace highs and lows of race relations
WASHINGTON (UMNS) — For decades, retired United Methodist Bishop Woodie W. White has marked the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday by writing a “birthday letter” to the civil rights leader. Adelle M. Banks of the Religion News Service offers background on how the bishop began the ritual and the bishop’s involvement in the U.S. civil rights movement.
Read story

Bishop White’s 2014 letter to Martin
ATLANTA (UMNS) — “I write this year with mixed emotions,” says Bishop Woodie W. White in his annual letter, published this year by InterpreterOnline. He shares his thoughts on the passing of civil rights champion Evelyn Gibson Lowery and elder statesman Nelson Mandela as well as his concerns about where he sees bigotry on the rise. 
Read letter

Wisconsin Conference to celebrate MLK
MILWAUKEE (UMNS) — Bishop Hee-Soo Jung of the Wisconsin Annual (regional) Conference has announced a conferencewide celebration Monday, Jan. 20, in honor of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. Bishop Julius Trimble of the Iowa Conference will be a guest preacher at the gathering at 7 p.m. CT, at Albright United Methodist Church, 5555 W. Capitol Drive in Milwaukee. An offering will be taken for the Rising Sun Camp, a Wisconsin United Methodist-sponsored summer camp that serves school-age children who have incarcerated parents.
Read news release
To watch livestream of the service

Working toward Christian unity

Week of Prayer for Christian Unity resources
NEW YORK (UMNS) — United Methodists around the world are encouraged to participate in the annual Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, which is Jan. 18-25 this year. The Office of Christian Unity and Interreligious Relationships, United Methodist Council of Bishops, has online resources.
See resources

Cardinal celebrates ecumenism at United Methodist church
SUDBURY, Mass. (UMNS) — Catholic Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley preached at a special service at Sudbury United Methodist Church in honor of the 50th anniversary of Cardinal Richard Cushing’s historic visit to the same congregation to discuss the Second Vatican Council’s efforts toward Christian unity. United Methodist Bishop Sudarshana Devadhar, who leads the New England Annual (regional) Conference, also presided at the service, along with the Rev. Joel B. Guillemette, pastor of the host church. The Boston Globe has the story.
Read story

Cardinal, United Methodist pastor team up on baptism renewal
SUDBURY, Mass. (UMNS) — The Rev. Anne Robertson has baptized more infants and youngsters than she can count in her years as a United Methodist pastor in Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Florida. But the Massachusetts Bible Society director never imagined that she’d get the chance to share a ritual drop of baptism water with a Roman Catholic cardinal. It happened Sunday, when Cardinal Sean O’Malley asked her. The Patriot Ledger has the story. 
Read story

Internet buzz over church anointing
BOSTON (UMNS) — The Boston Globe reports that the Dec. 12 interaction between Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley, the Roman Catholic archbishop of Boston, and the Rev. Anne Robertson at Sudbury United Methodist Church is creating much internet conversation.
Read story

University and seminary news

Seminary receives grant for large-church project
WASHINGTON (UMNS) — Lilly Endowment Inc. has awarded United Methodist-related Wesley Theological Seminary a major research grant for a unique, three-year, large-church leadership project. The project will study large congregations and identify ways to develop the leadership-education resources and strategies required to help future congregational leaders. 
Read news release

News of interest

Religious hostilities reach six-year high
WASHINGTON (UMNS) — The share of countries with a high or very high level of social hostilities involving religion reached a six-year peak in 2012, according to a new study by the Pew Research Center. The sharpest increase was in the Middle East and North Africa, which still is feeling the effects of the 2010-11 political uprisings known as the Arab Spring.
Read story

Mission Society elects new president and CEO
NORCROSS, Ga. (UMNS) — The Rev. Max Wilkins has been elected president and CEO of The Mission Society, effective June 1. A board member, Wilkins has served in nearly 20 countries for the society, an independent organization with ties to The United Methodist Church.
See video announcement

Blogs and commentaries

The power of the small
CROSS LANES, W. Va. (UMNS) — Three parts of the polluting chemical in a million parts of water is all it took to shut down the entire water distribution system, notes the Rev. Gary Nelson, pastor of Cross Lanes United Methodist Church. He ponders, “What’s the power of one selfless act of love in an ocean of selfishness, greed and hatred?”
Read commentary

2013 an amazing year, but 2014 may be better
WASHINGTON (UMNS) — “United Methodist engagement in justice ministries has reached sky-high levels,” writes Bill Mefford of the United Methodist Board of Church and Society. He then outlines his agency’s priorities for 2014.
Read commentary

Seeing food insecurity, income disparity hurt
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (UMNS) — The loss in 2013 of two regulars at the Lord’s Table in the basement of Trinity United Methodist Church gave Lewis W. Diuguid pause to reflect in the Kansas City Star on the increasing food insecurity and income disparity he sees.
Read commentary

Communications and technology

Moving forward and looking back — in summary
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — In this final installment of his blog series on how the intersection of technology and communication is shaping the church, the Rev. Larry Hollon, top executive of United Methodist Communications, points out that communication is ministry, not just a technical tool.
Read blog 

Earlier posts

Read Moving forward and looking back — transparent communication

Read Moving forward and looking back — communication is aid

Read Moving forward and looking back — giving

Read Moving forward and looking back — connecting

Looking ahead

Here are some of the activities ahead for United Methodists across the connection. If you have an item to share, email and put Digest in the subject line.

Free webinar “Starting Small Groups,” Tuesday, Jan. 21 6:30 p.m. CT, Explores the varying purposes, audiences and formats for small groups, and provides leadership advice. To register.

Free webinar “Health Care Tax Credits and the Church,” Wednesday, Jan. 227-8 p.m. ET, shows congregations how to file a form 8941 and claim a tax credit on staff health insurance costs, offered by Practical Church Resources. To register

Free webinar “Nominating Committee Develops Leaders,” Thursday, Jan. 23 6:30 p.m. CT, Advice for committees to identify, train and support leaders throughout the year. To register.

Free Human Trafficking Seminar, Saturday, Jan. 258:30 a.m. to noon CT, Trinity United Methodist Church, 607 Airport Road, Huntsville, Ala. Speakers include Pat McCay, director of Human Trafficking Task Force in Madison County, Ala.; Lacy Tolar, executive director of Rescue 1 in Nashville, Tenn., and Tajuan McCarty of The WellHouse in Birmingham. To learn more or if child care is needed, contact Kay West at

Free webinar “Children’s Ministry: What Every Child Should Experience,” Tuesday, Jan. 28 10 a.m. CT, Using the resource “What Every Child Should Experience in United Methodist Congregations” to help children’s ministers choose and write curriculum. To register.

Webinar “Facebook Ministry 101,” Tuesday, Jan. 28 — 7-8 p.m. ET, An introductory look at how to set up a church Facebook Page and engage your community, led by the Rev. David Czeisel of Village Church of Bayville and Glen Cove United Methodist congregations. $10. To register

Free webinar “Trustees Manage for Ministry,” Tuesday, Jan. 28 6:30 p.m. CT, Overview of the legal and fiduciary responsibilities for new and returning trustees. To register.

Deadline to apply for Central Conference Theological Education grants, Thursday, Jan. 30 — Supports projects to improve United Methodist theological education in the central conferences in Africa, Europe and the Philippines. To apply

Black History Month, February — The United Methodist Board of Discipleship has music and worship resources.

Deadline to apply for 2014 Urban Fellows and Missional Fellows programs at Wesley Theological Seminary. Saturday, Feb. 1 — Urban and Missional Fellows receive a $10,000 stipend for educational and living expenses. Details.

Deadline for U.S. conference members to apply for 2014 Young Adult Summer Internship, Saturday, Feb. 1May 29–Aug. 2, the United Methodist Board of Church and Society invites those ages 18–22 from United Methodist racial/ethnic minority caucuses to apply. Details.

Ministers Week at Southern Methodist University’s Perkins School of Theology, Monday-Wednesday, Feb. 3-5 — The theme will be “Engaging the Bible.” Details.

Deadline to apply for the Young Clergy Initiative grants, Wednesday, Feb. 5 — Supports applicants who develop innovative projects that could attract young people to ordained ministry in The United Methodist Church. To apply

Caring for God’s Creation Conference, Thursday through Sunday, Feb. 6-9 — Peachtree Road United Methodist Church, Atlanta. Matthew and Nancy Sleeth will be keynote speakers. The theme is “Keeping the Sabbath and Mindfulness as Sustainable Practice.” Sponsored by United Methodist group Caretakers of God’s Creation. Details.

Workshop on “Preaching Lent and Holy Week: Dying and Rising with Christ,” Friday, Feb. 7  8:45 a.m.– 4:20 p.m. ET at United Theological Seminary, 4501 Denlinger Road, Dayton, OH 45426. $95. Details

Lake Junaluska Signature Series featuring Rachel Held Evans, Saturday, Feb. 22 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. ET,  The popular Christian blogger and author will talk about how the Bible is meant to be a conversation starter, not a conversation ender. $25-35. Details

The Professional Association of United Methodist Church Secretaries conference, Thursday through Sunday, April 3-6 —Asheville, N.C., continuing education for administrative assistants and office workers in United Methodist churches. Details

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