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News from around the connection - 2/3/2014

February 02, 2014

UMNS Weekly Digest

January 31, 2014

NOTE: This is a digest of news features provided by United Methodist Communications for Jan. 27 - Feb. 3. 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

The Super Bowl and the church

Denver, Seattle United Methodist pastors use Super Bowl to fight hunger

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — It may not reach Richard Sherman/Michael Crabtree levels, but some 50 churches in Seattle and Denver are engaging in a little friendly Super Bowl-related competition to help the hungry. Sophia Agtarap of Rethink Church has the story.

Read story and post a comment

Story of healing takes Arkansas teen to Super Bowl

HOPE, Ark. (UMNS) — Nate Carter, a member of First United Methodist Church, almost saw his football dreams disappear like the 70 pounds he lost during the month he spent in the hospital. His story of recovery from a life-threatening illness and return to the gridiron won an NFL essay contest, and he is now heading to the Super Bowl. Amy Forbus of the Arkansas Annual (regional) Conference shares Carter's story and how his church family helped his recovery.

Read story
See NFL video of Nate Carter's story

Does God care who wins the Super Bowl?

DES MOINES, Wash. (UMNS) — Patrick Scriven, director of communications and young people's ministries in the Pacific Northwest Annual (regional) Conference, worries when some fans or players even jokingly pray to God for a win. "Prayer is one of the most public ways by which we communicate our theology," he writes.

Read blog post

News around the connection

Donor gives $1.1 million to Imagine No Malaria

LOS ALTOS, Calif. (UMNS) — Barbara Ferguson, a laywoman from Los Altos United Methodist Church, donated $1.1 million toward the California-Nevada Annual (regional) Conference’s efforts in the denomination’s Imagine No Malaria campaign. This is the largest gift from an individual donor to date in The United Methodist Church’s campaign to eradicate malaria in Africa by 2015.

Read story and post a comment

New group aims to find way to ‘live in a divided church’

ATLANTA (UMNS) — The Wesleyan Covenant Network, a new United Methodist group, is forming with the aim of advancing “the Kingdom of Christ,” despite the denomination’s growing divisions over homosexuality. In practice, group members say, this means committing to mutual accountability, evangelism and upholding the United Methodist doctrine.

Read story and post a comment

United Methodist expert on sacraments dies

DURHAM, N.C. (UMNS) — The Rev. Gayle C. Felton, 71, a clergy member of the North Carolina Annual (regional) Conference known for her published works on baptism and the sacraments, died Jan. 25. She was the primary author of the 2004 denominational statement on Holy Communion.

Read obituary

UMCOR returns to help Philippine typhoon survivors

LEYTE PROVINCE, Philippines (UMNS) — The Rev. David D. Cosmiano, district superintendent in the Eastern Visayas District, reports that the United Methodist Committee on Relief returned to Leyte Province Dec. 5-6 to distribute more relief goods to survivors of Typhoon Haiyan, which is known in the Philippines as Typhoon Yolanda. “You are a church that remembers,” Cosmiano said survivors told him.

Read story and post a comment

Churches reap benefits of member shopping habits

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) —, launched by the General Council on Finance and Administration, in six months raised around $49,000 for local churches and other United Methodist organizations. The online service is designed for United Methodists to shop at hundreds of retailers and have a percentage of their total shopping purchase donated to the local church or other church organizations of their choice.

Read news release
Sign up for the UMCmarket

TV reporters to share in Olympic dream

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (UMNS) — United Methodist Neile Jones isn't an athlete, but she has been in her own way vigorously preparing for the Feb. 7-23, 2014, Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia. The evening news anchor at KNWA-TV in Fayetteville, Ark., will be reporting on the games for Nexstar NBC affiliates and their sister stations, working with more than 100 markets across the United States and the NBC network.

Read story and post a comment

Pension board to hold listening session

GLENVIEW, Ill. (UMNS) —The United Methodist Board of Pension and Health Benefits invites interested plan participants and other constituents to address the board of directors during a listening session at 11:30 a.m. CT Feb. 27 in Kansas City, Mo. To place your name and topic on the agenda and for specific presentation requirements, contact Colette Nies by Feb. 14 at 1-800-269-2244 (extension 4296) or

Read news release

WCC seeks young adults as stewards

GENEVA (UMNS) — Christian young adults between the ages of 18 and 30 are invited to apply to the World Council of Churches Stewards Programme to learn and assist at the June 26-July 10 WCC Central Committee meeting. Application deadline is Feb. 21.

Read story

News around conferences

Bishop asks prayers after D.C.-area mall shooting

WASHINGTON (UMNS) — “A deep sense of tragedy hangs in the air,” Bishop Marcus Matthews of the Baltimore-Washington Annual (regional) Conference wrote as he called Jan. 25 for prayers in the wake of the shooting at the Mall in Columbia, a few miles from the Conference Mission Center.

Read statement

Chef with a hunger for mission

GORE, Okla. (UMNS) — Steve Pool, a certified executive chef, filled his plate of life with United Methodist missions. People are fed physically and spiritually because of his ongoing commitment, Holly McCray and Ron Wallin of the Oklahoma Annual (regional) Conference report.

Read story
UMTV: Restaurant owner on a mission

Kissy UMC Hospital improving health care in Sierra Leone

FREETOWN, Sierra Leone (UMNS) — The United Methodist General Hospital at Kissy is improving the lives of Sierra Leoneans in multiple ways. United Methodist Communicator Phileas Jusu looks at two improvements. Physical therapy — which started as a volunteer service — is winning national acclaim, and a $750,000 maternity building addition has doubled maternal bed space to 50.

The physical therapy unit
The maternal health care unit

Church grants help once-troubled vet help others

SCHENECTADY, N.Y. (UMNS) — When singer-songwriter Jason Moon performs at Eastern Parkway United Methodist Church in February, the Iraq veteran will be bringing full circle a journey that started when that congregation reached out to him years ago. Beth DiCocco of the Upper New York Annual (regional) Conference shares Moon’s story.

Read story

Racoon hunters 'looking up for' Christ

GADSDEN, Tenn. (UMNS) — Hunters love their dogs and love their sport. And the approximately 90 people of all ages gathered at Center United Methodist Church in Gadsden Tenn., for a raccoon hunt fundraiser also love Christ. Lane Gardner Camp of the Memphis Annual (regional) Conference has the story.

Read story

Resources for churches

Science and faith: 9th Evolution Weekend ahead

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — The Rev. Paul Kottke has preached it before and he'll preach it again — Christian faith and science, including Charles Darwin's theory of evolution, are not incompatible. The United Methodist Church officially endorses the Clergy Letter Project, an interfaith initiative on religion and science whose projects include Evolution Weekend, which is set for Feb 7-9 this year.

Read story and post a comment

Resources for Black History Month

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — February is Black History Month and United Methodists are taking time to reflect on race and religion.

  • The United Methodist Board of Discipleship has music and worship resources. Choose from resources.
  • Abingdon Press offers “African American History Month Daily Devotions 2014.” To order the devotions
  • The Rev. Christopher Anderson, Methodist librarian at the United Methodist Commission on Archives and History and Drew University, on Wednesday, Feb. 5 hosts a program commemorating the visit Martin Luther King Jr. made to Drew. The program is from noon to 1:30 p.m. EST and is part of Drew’s Black History month observances. To listen online
  • African-American spirituals have a rich, sometimes unfamiliar history to the people who sing them today. Read the story in Interpreter Online
  • What started as a history project for students at United Methodist-related Rust College turned into Gracing the Table, an open dialogue forum that gives students, professors and community members the opportunity to begin the healing process of wounds left open more than a century ago during slavery. Read story at UMC Giving

Young Clergy Initiative grants deadline

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — Wednesday, Feb. 5, is the deadline for the Young Clergy Initiative grants, which will be awarded to applicants who develop innovative projects that could attract young people to ordained ministry in The United Methodist Church.

Apply at

Wesley pilgrimage open to church leaders

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — United Methodist clergy and lay leaders will have the opportunity to immerse themselves in the Christ-centered leadership of John and Charles Wesley this summer during a 10-day Wesley Pilgrimage to England. The pilgrimage, sponsored by the United Methodist Board of Discipleship and the Board of Higher Education and Ministry, will begin July 14.

To learn more
To register

Pete Seeger's connection to popular hymn

DALLAS (UMNS) — Pete Seeger, singer, songwriter and social activist, died Monday, Jan. 27, at the age of 94. He played a crucial role in adapting and popularizing "We Shall Overcome," an anthem of the U.S. civil rights movement that many congregations will sing during Black History Month. C. Michael Hawn of Southern Methodist University's Perkins School of Theology in Dallas offers a full history of the song.

Read story and post a comment

History of Hymns: ‘O Young and Fearless Prophet’

DALLAS (UMNS) — This hymn by S. Ralph Harlow calls us to become more Christ-like, following the prophetic example of Christ’s life. History of Hymns, a weekly feature made available by the United Methodist Board of Discipleship, is written by C. Michael Hawn of Southern Methodist University’s Perkins School of Theology.

Read story

Global AIDS Fund hosts free Atlanta event

ATLANTA (UMNS) — North Georgia Annual (regional) Conference Bishop Michael Watson and retired Bishops Woody White and Ann Sherer-Simpson will be special guests at Just Save One Atlanta, Feb. 25. The free event hosted by the United Methodist Global AIDS Fund will help attendees learn how they can be a part of eradicating HIV and AIDS around the globe.

Read more

United Methodists in the news

Maryland church opens doors to dogs

SMITHSBURG, Md. (UMNS) — “For those who love their pets,” said the Rev. Al Deal of Mt. Zion United Methodist Church, they’re not just animals. “They are part of the family.” If they are part of the family, he asked, “why not invite them to church?” That’s just what he has done, reports The Herald-Mail.

Read story

Farewell to Marine who 'fixed everything' for 6 decades

MORRISTOWN, N.J. (UMNS) — It's difficult for all congregations to lose a longtime and valued member. United Methodist Church parishioners tell that Joe Replogle, who passed away just before Christmas, could "build something that works from what seems to be just a pile of parts."

Read story

Arkansas scoutmaster receives valor honor

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (UMNS) — Barry Bray, scoutmaster of Troop 12 at Pulaski Heights United Methodist Church in Little Rock, has been honored with the Boy Scouts’ highest valor award for single-handedly guiding to safety a confused motorist who was barreling down the wrong way on busy Interstate 40. The Associated Press reports how Bray maneuvered ahead of the 90-year-old motorist, forcing him to stop.

Read story

Maryland church finds bell in unlikely place

SYSKESVILLE, Md. (UMNS) — Bethesda United Methodist Church may have an average attendance of just 22, but its voice rings through the valleys on Sunday mornings. The Carroll County Times tells how a more than a century-old bell fulfills the dream of a congregant’s mother.

Read story

University and seminary news

Pilot project to streamline student scholarships

BALTIMORE (UMNS) — Students who want to apply for college scholarships will find the paperwork lighter in a pilot project between the United Methodist Board of Higher Education and Ministry and the Baltimore-Washington Annual (regional) Conference. Students can go online and complete informational forms once instead of a new form for each application because their information will be stored in a database for reuse.

Learn more

Liberian president asked to keynote international college gathering

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, president of Liberia and 2011 winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, has been invited to be the keynote speaker at the 2014 International IAMSCU Conference in Hiroshima, Japan. Johnson Sirleaf is a United Methodist and the first elected female head of state in Africa. IAMSCU, the International Association of Methodist-related Schools, Colleges, and Universities, includes more than 800 Methodist educational institutions around the world.

Read story

Baker Scholarship recipient spearheads new Wesley House dorm

TYLER, Texas (UMNS) — A dilapidated dorm at Tyler Junior College has been transformed into a missional community that is helping students at two Texas colleges grow in their faith. The vision of a campus minister — who is also a United Methodist Board of Higher Education and Ministry Baker Scholarship recipient — came to life with help from the Texas Annual Conference, local churches, and the Wesley Foundation. Nicole Burdakin has the story.

Read story

Emory professor explores food and faith

ATLANTA (UMNS) — Jennifer Ayres, director of the Religious Education Program at Emory University's Candler School of Theology, is the author of the new book “Good Food: Grounded Practical Theology.” The book explores the link between food and the Christian faith.

Read news release

Blogs and commentaries

When is the right time to close a church?

COLUMBIA, S.C. (UMNS) — The Rev. Tim McClendon, a South Carolina district superintendent who has taught church polity at Emory University’s Candler School of Theology, reflects on “the distinction between abandoning a church or discontinuing it.”

Read blog

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.

Deadline to register for “Walking Together: Christian Communities and Faithful Responses to Mental Illness,” Monday, Feb. 3 — Feb. 6-8 conference in Houston. The Texas Annual (regional) Conference and Duke Divinity School are among the sponsors. Details

Free webinar “Robert’s Rules 101: Learning to Participate in Conference Legislative Sessions,” Tuesday, Feb. 4 — 7:30 p.m. CT, the first in a series of leadership webinars offered by the United Methodist Commission on the Status and Role of Women. To see schedule and register

World Interfaith Harmony Breakfast, Wednesday, Feb. 5 — 7:30 to 9 a.m. CT at Scarritt-Bennett Center, Nashville, Tenn. $12. Details

Free webinar “Developing Your Ministry Plan 1: Congregational DNA,” Thursday, Feb. 6 — 6:30 p.m. CT, the first of four webinars using the School of Congregational Development ministry plan to develop a focus for your church. To register.

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.

Free webinar “Children’s Ministry in New Church Starts,” Friday, Feb. 7 — 10 a.m. CT, the basics needed in new congregations to welcome and contribute to the Christian formation of children from birth to age 11. To register.

Cokesbury Vacation Bible School preview, Friday, Feb. 7 — 9 a.m. to noon CT, United Methodist Publishing House 201 Eighth Ave. S., Nashville, Tenn. Find more preview events near you

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

Free lunch and Learn about Southern Methodist University’s Perkins School of Theology, Monday, Feb. 10 — 11:45 a.m.–1 p.m. CT, Perkins School of Theology’s Houston-Galveston Extension Program, 3501 W. Alabama, Suite 107, in Houston. Details

Free webinar “Pastors Read: David and Goliath,” Wednesday, Feb. 12 — 10 a.m. CT, discussion of Malcolm Gladwell’s “David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits and the Art of Battling Giants.” To register.

Free webinar “No More Volunteers: Reclaiming Christian Servanthood,” Thursday, Feb. 13 — 5 p.m. CT, a new way for finding people with the time, skills, energy and inclination to serve the church. To register.

Deadline for legislative proposals at Global Young People’s Convocation and Legislative Assembly, Friday, Feb. 14 — The gathering organized by United Methodist Young People’s Ministries is July 16-20 in Tagaytay, the Philippines. Petitions considered at the legislative assembly could find their way onto the docket for the 2016 General Conference. Details.

Deadline for nominations for Wesley Theological Seminary’s Society of John Wesley Award of Merit, Saturday, Feb. 15Nomination forms.

Early registration deadline for Lake Junaluska Peace Conference, “Faith, Health and Peace: Seeking the Basic Right to Good Health for All God’s Children,” Saturday, Feb. 15 — Thursday-Sunday, March 27-30 at Lake Junaluska Conference and Retreat Center in Lake Junaluska, N.C. Partial student scholarships available. Details

Online registration deadline for Black Methodists for Church Renewal annual meeting, Saturday, Feb. 15 — Both BMCR and the Native American International Caucus will meet March 28-29 in Hilton St. Louis at the Ballpark Hotel in St. Louis. Call the hotel at 314-421-1776. Registration

Free webinar “Leaders Learn: Shaped by God, 12 Essentials for Nurturing Faith in Children, Youth and Adults,” Tuesday, Feb. 18 — 6:30 p.m. CT, a discussion of the book “Shaped by God,” which explores the role of story, liturgy and spiritual practices in faith formation. Read the book before the webinar. To register.

The Methodist School for Supernatural Ministry Session Six, "Power Evangelism,” Wednesday- Saturday, Feb. 19-22 — Course offered by Aldersgate Renewal Ministries in Goodlettsville, Tenn. A prerequisite for attendance is to have viewed or attended Session One, "The Basics" Details

Restorative Justice Weekend, Saturday-Sunday, Feb. 22-23 — Christ United Methodist Church in Sugar Land, Texas, near Houston, will host speakers from Alpha Prison Fellowship and the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. Jim Liske, president of Prison Fellowship Ministries, and Paul Cowley of Alpha International, London, will preach at worship services. 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

Deadline to register for online course “United Methodism 101,” Monday, Feb. 24 — Feb. 26-April 23, training from United Methodist Communications. Seating limited. $9.99. Details.

Deadline to register for online course “Moodle 300: Course Facilitation,” Monday, Feb. 24 — Feb. 26-April 23, training from United Methodist Communications, Moodle Basc and Moodle Advanced are prerequisite. Seating limited. $119.99. Details.

Early registration deadline for United Theological Seminary’s “Light the Fire!” Church Renewal Conference, Friday, March 21 — May 8-9 at Ginghamsburg Church, 6759 S. County Road 25A, Tipp City, Ohio. Details.

Ecumenical Advocacy Days, Friday through Monday, March 21-24 —Assembly co-sponsored by United Methodist Board of Church and Society, United Methodist Women, and other United Methodist ministries in Washington, D.C. The theme is “Jesus Weeps: Resisting Violence, Building Peace.” Details.

Increase Generosity in Your Church Conference, Saturday, March 29 — 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. ET, Myers Park United Methodist Church, Charlotte, N.C. The Rev. Lovett H. Weems Jr., director of the Lewis Center for Church Leadership, will speak. $35-45. Details.

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