News from around the connection - 11/27/2013


UMNS Weekly Digest

November 27, 2013

NOTE: This is a digest of news features provided by United Methodist Communications for Nov. 25 - Dec. 2. 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  

Getting ready for the holidays

Making church more welcoming at Christmas

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — Outreach at any time of the year takes time, patience and persistence, but especially at Christmas. United Methodist Communications offers some tips on how to reach more people during the Advent and Christmas seasons.

Read tips

‘Tis the season … to think of alternative gifts

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — It is that time of year when shopping seems to overwhelm everything. Tita Parham points out in Interpreter Magazine how many are turning to alternative gifts.

Read story

UMC #GivingTuesday gifts have twice the impact

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — Kick off the season of giving by making an online donation to mission through The Advance on #GivingTuesday, Dec. 3, and double the impact of your gift. On that date, online gifts to any project through The Advance, the designated giving channel of The United Methodist Church, will be matched 100 percent up to the first $500,000. Every gift to The Advance goes to the intended ministry; no administrative costs are taken from donations.

UMC #GivingTuesday

Christmas shopping can benefit local churches

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — The United Methodist General Council on Finance and Administration, in partnership with some of the largest online retailers, has built a shopping tool that provides a cash benefit for your church when you purchase through the UMCmarket — items you might be buying anyway. How does it work? Create an account at and designate the church of your choosing.

To sign up


Help ‘Just Save One’ from HIV/AIDS on Giving Tuesday

NEW YORK (UMNS) — As a follow-up to the Dec. 1 observation of World AIDS Day, consider a donation to the United Methodist Global AIDS Fund on Giving Tuesday, Dec. 3, when contributions will be matched dollar for dollar. The fund’s new initiative, “Just Save One,” focuses on preventing mother-to-child transmission of HIV.

Learn more about the Global AIDS
Contribute to Advance Special No. 982345

Gifts to help to feed the hungry

BIG ISLAND, Va. (UMNS) — The Society of St. Andrew offers ways to honor your family and friends while still helping to feed the hungry. Gifts donated on Tuesday, Dec. 3, will be matched dollar for dollar. Society of St. Andrew is a nonprofit ecumenical organization with the mission of introducing people to God’s grace through meeting their hunger.

Giving Tuesday
Alternative Christmas Card

News in the church

Bishop remembered as wise, compassionate leader

MINNEAPOLIS (UMNS) — “Over the years, his primary concern was not so much organization or institution, but compassion for people,” said Harlyn Hagmann, a retired Minnesota pastor and a longtime friend of the late Bishop Wayne K. Clymer. The bishop passed away Monday, Nov. 25.

Read obituary
Background information

Publishing House lays off two executives

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — Neil Alexander, president and publisher of the United Methodist Publishing House, has announced that two executives who have made substantial contributions to the work of the publisher for more than a decade will be leaving Dec. 31. Ed Kowalski, senior vice president of marketing and sales, and Alyce Meadors, vice president of human resources, will end their full-time employment.

Read story

Developer backs out of purchase of Publishing House property

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — Neil Alexander, the president and publisher of the United Methodist Publishing House, announced Nov. 25 that the developer TVG Holdings LLC is not able to proceed with the purchase of the Publishing House's property at 201 8th Ave. in Nashville. "We will now pursue other options," Alexander said.

Finance agency responds to clergy housing ruling

MADISON, Wis. (UMNS) — A federal judge in Wisconsin has ruled that an Internal Revenue Service exemption that allows clergy to shield their housing allowances from federal income taxes is unconstitutional. But the ruling is on hold until appeals are exhausted. The General Council on Finance and Administration, the United Methodist finance agency, is monitoring the case.

Read statement from the General Council on Finance and Administration
Read Religion News Service story about the case

Diverse group of young adults consider God’s call

DENVER (UMNS) — Speaker after speaker told the 429 young adults gathered to explore ordained ministry in The United Methodist Church that God is calling them to go change the world and the church. Vicki Brown has the story about Exploration, sponsored by the United Methodist Board of Higher Education and Ministry.

Read story

British church issues letter after minister’s arrest

LONDON (UMNS) — The British Methodist Church issued a pastoral letter Nov. 25 to all its ministers, noting that “it has been a difficult and sad week for many of us because of the allegations made against the Rev. Paul Flowers and then his subsequent arrest.” Flowers, who had been suspended from his ministerial duties pending investigation, was arrested Nov. 21 in connection with a drug-related inquiry.

Read pastoral letter from The Methodist Church in Britain
Read more on the arrest

Apply now for central conference theological education grants

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — Applications for grants for projects aimed at improving United Methodist theological education in the central conferences in Africa, Europe and the Philippines can be submitted starting this week at

Read news release

Finance agency OKs insurance merger

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — The board of the General Council on Finance and Administration, the denomination’s finance agency, on Nov. 22 approved the merger of United Methodist Property and Casualty Trust into United Methodist Insurance Company. Board members expect the move to save the finance agency more than $100,000 a year.

Learn more about United Methodist Insurance

New director of older adult ministries starts

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — The Rev. William B. Randolph, former chaplain at a senior living community in Pennsylvania, will become director of aging and older adult ministries at the United Methodist Board of Discipleship on Dec. 1. Randolph will assume the position formerly held by Richard H. Gentzler Jr., who retired on June 30 after serving as director for 13 years.

Read news release

New post for church planter

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (UMNS) — Bishop Larry Goodpaster has announced the appointment of the Rev. Gary A. Shockley as Western North Carolina Annual (regional) Conference congregational development team leader.

Read news release

United Methodists aid Philippines

Church helps rebuild communications in Philippines

MANILA (UMNS) — When Typhoon Haiyan hit the Philippines, it was not just food and water that desperately were needed. The country’s communications infrastructure sustained a devastating blow. United Methodist Communications is helping to meet that critical need.

Read story and post a comment

Bringing comfort to survivors in the Philippines

MANILA (UMNS) — When the United Methodist Committee on Relief delivered food packages Nov. 20 to six storm-ravaged communities in Dagami, the Philippines, it was the first substantial emergency relief aid there since Typhoon Haiyan struck nearly two weeks earlier. Linda Unger, a senior writer for the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries, and Mike DuBose, a photographer for United Methodist Communications, were there to tell the story.

Read story and post a comment

United Methodists and sexuality

Schaefer says he does not blame others for trial

SPRING CITY, Pa. (UMNS) — When asked what he would say to the people who brought charges against him for officiating at his son’s same-sex marriage, the Rev. Frank Schaefer said, “I cannot blame them because at one point I also had a different opinion.”

Read story and post a comment

United Methodists in the news

Winkler move to NCC official

WASHINGTON (UMNS) — It's official. Jim Winkler will be the new top leader of the National Council of Churches, after a nearly 30-year career at the United Methodist Board of Church and Society, including serving as its top executive since 2000. Though he's changing jobs, Winkler will still be in the United Methodist Building in Washington, headquarters for both agencies.

Read story

Former United Methodist missionary honored in Rome

ROME (UMNS) —The Rev. Gerald “Jerry” Anderson, emeritus director of the Overseas Ministries Study Center in New Haven, Conn., met Pope Francis, gave a lecture and received an honorary Doctor of Missiology degree on Nov. 14 from the Pontifical Urbaniana University in Rome. The degree was presented to him by Cardinal Fernando Filoni, the grand chancellor of the university. It was the first time an honorary degree has been given to a Protestant by this university that was founded in 1627 and is owned by the Sacred Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples. Anderson, a former United Methodist missionary in the Philippines and president of Scarritt College in Nashville, is a retired member of the Western Pennsylvania Annual (regional) Conference and resides in Hamden, Conn.

News around the connection

After fire, Arkansas church trying to get ready for Christmas

HICKORY PLAINS, Ark. (UMNS) — Parishioners at Hickory Plains United Methodist Church are working hard to make sure their church is ready for Christmas services, reports. The Hickory Plains fire, ignited by lightning, destroyed the church May 30, 2012.

Read story
Church fires: Damage, recovery, prevention

Central Texas Conference breaks ground on new center

FORT WORTH, Texas (UMNS) — The Central Texas Annual (regional) Conference broke ground Nov. 15 on a conference service center, which will be on the campus of United Methodist-related Texas Wesleyan University.

Read news release

Businessman falls, finds church before leaving for prison

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — Annette Spence of The Call in the Holston Annual (regional) Conference shares the experiences of Bernard Addison, who on the verge of incarceration for mail fraud, found a new faith and a new church family.

Read story

UMTV: Hunger-free ZIP code

KENSINGTON, Md. (UMNS) — Members of St. Paul’s United Methodist Church in Kensington are making a bold promise to their neighbors: that no one in their area will go hungry, an effort they’re calling a “hunger-free ZIP code.”

Watch video 

Faith around the world

Call for release of abducted Syrian bishops

VIENNA, Austria (UMNS) — A call for the release of two abducted bishops in Syria has come from religious leaders at the 9th World Assembly of Religions for Peace. The bishops, Metropolitan Mar Gregorios Yohanna Ibrahim, the Syrian Orthodox Archbishop of Aleppo, and Bishop Boulous Yazigi, a Greek Orthodox Bishop in Damascus, were kidnapped in Aleppo on April 22, 2013.

Read story

In schools and seminaries

United Theological launches doctorate in sports chaplaincy

DAYTON, Ohio (UMNS) — United Methodist-related United Theological Seminary is launching a Doctor of Ministry in Sports Chaplaincy program. The program is designed to enhance the role and skills of chaplains ministering in sport environments.

Read news release
About sports chaplaincy

Blogs and commentaries

History of Hymns: ‘We Gather Together’

DALLAS (UMNS) — The Pilgrims likely never sang this hymn so closely associated with Thanksgiving. But this Dutch hymn celebrating Protestant independence from Catholic Spain carries a sentiment Christians everywhere still recognize: “Sing praises to His Name; He forgets not His own.” C. Michael Hawn shares the hymn’s colorful history.

Read story

The Billy Graham I know — and why he matters

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (UMNS) — As the Rev. Billy Graham passed the milestone of 95 years, Ken Garfield, director of communications at Myers Park United Methodist Church, writes, “There’s much that organized religion can learn” from the famous evangelist. Garfield covered Graham while a religion reporter for the Charlotte Observer.

Read commentary

Remembering C.S. Lewis

HOUSTON (UMNS) — The Rev. Chappell Temple, senior pastor of Lakeview United Methodist Church, offers his remembrance of Lewis, the beloved novelist and author of Christian apologetics. Lewis died on Nov. 22, 1963.

Read blog post
Read how a United Methodist church celebrated Lewis’ legacy

CNN blog on health care features United Methodist pastor

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (UMNS) — CNN talked to the Rev. Shane Stanford, senior pastor of Christ United Methodist Church in Memphis, about the expansion of Medicaid, part of the Affordable Care Act. Stanford, who is HIV-positive because of hemophilia, advocates for the expansion — which a number of states, particularly in the South, are declining to take part in.

Read blog

‘Tis a gift, but it’s not simple

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (UMNS) — The Rev. William Dobbs, clergy assistant to the bishop in the West Michigan Annual (regional) Conference, offers advice to clergy on when and when not to accept a gift from a congregation member.

Read essay

And she made pies: Apple and pecan

DETROIT (UMNS) — The Rev. Laurie Haller, senior pastor of First United Methodist Church in Birmingham, Mich., blogs about making Thanksgiving pies for homeless lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning youth at the Ruth Ellis Center in Detroit. Haller delivered her pies the same week as The United Methodist Church’s stance on homosexuality was in the national news.

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.

Advent, Dec. 1-24 — Resources for Advent wreath lighting and sermons from the United Methodist Board of Discipleship and resources for drawing and welcoming visitors to Advent and Christmas services from United Methodist Communications. Ministry Matters, part of the United Methodist Publishing House, also offers the free Advent series "Follow the Star."

#GivingTuesday, Dec. 3 — United Methodists are invited to participate in #GivingTuesday, when every gift made online through the The Advance will be matched dollar for dollar up to $500,000 total and $50,000 for any one project. Visit

Lecture by former ambassador, Tuesday, Dec. 35 p.m. CT, Miguel H. Díaz, professor of faith and culture at Dayton University and former U.S. ambassador to the Holy See, will deliver a lecture on peace at Southern Methodist University’s Perkins School of Theology. Learn more

Sermon by former ambassador, Sunday, Dec. 8 — 11 a.m. CT, Miguel H. Díaz, former U.S. ambassador to the Holy See, is scheduled to speak on “Becoming God’s Ambassadors to Build the House of God” at University Park United Methodist Church in Dallas. Directions to the church.

Free webinar “Best Practices for Teaching and Implementing Creation Care and Appreciation,” Wednesday, Dec. 4 3 p.m. CT. Seminar highlights the best practices of United Methodist camp and retreat ministries through their operations and programs. To register.

Free webinar “Developing Your Ministry Plan 4: The Next 12 Months,” Thursday, Dec. 5 6:30 p.m. CT. Building on the previous three sessions, your team will be guided in a process to identify key steps for your congregational development. To register.

Holy Spirit Seminar: Signs and Wonders, Friday, Dec. 68:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. ET, United Theological Seminary will present speaker Randy Clark, founder of Global Awakening, at Ginghamsburg (United Methodist) Church, 6759 S. County Road 25A, Tipp City, Ohio. Details

Deadline to register for Young Clergy Leadership Forum, Friday, Jan. 10, 2014 — The United Methodist Board of Church and Society is accepting applications from people 35 and under for gathering Sunday to Wednesday, Jan. 26-29, 2014, at the United Methodist Building on Capitol Hill in Washington. Event is $175. Details.

Certified Lay Ministers Academy, Friday-Monday, Jan. 10-12, 2014 —Lake Junaluska Program Ministries, in partnership with the Cal Turner Jr. Center for Church Leadership at Martin Methodist College, will present the academy at Lake Junaluska, N.C. Details.

Deadline to apply for local church racial/ethnic ministries grants, Wednesday, Jan. 15, 2014 — Applications for grants up to $10,000 to help local United Methodist churches build ministries that strengthen and support racial and ethnic church concerns are available from the United Methodist Board of Discipleship. Details.

Early bird deadline for 2014 Large Church Initiative, Wednesday, Jan. 15, 2014 — April 28-30 at Mount Pisgah United Methodist Church in Johns Creek, Ga., for United Methodist churches with 1,000 or more members and/or with an average attendance of 350 or more in worship. Details.

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