News from around the connection - 3/3/2014


UMNS Weekly Digest

February 28, 2014

NOTE: This is a digest of news features provided by United Methodist Communications for Feb. 24 - Feb. 28. 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

South Carolina church makes a comeback
GEORGETOWN, S.C. (UMNS) - Herbert Memorial United Methodist Church was stunned nearly two years ago to find it was missing nearly a quarter-million dollars. The second blow was what happened to the money. Jessica Connor, editor of the South Carolina Advocate, tells the story of this church that climbed back through faith, commitment and forgiveness.

Read story

Michigan prayer reaches the Ukraine
MUSKEGON, Mich. (UMNS) - A banner and cell phone together became a prayer of encouragement Feb. 23 by a worshipper at Muskegon Central United Methodist Church for a frightened colleague in the Ukraine, a country embroiled in political conflict and violence.

Read story

Bishop Cho addresses Virginia legislature
RICHMOND, Va. (UMNS) - Virginia Area Bishop Young Jin Cho was already slated to open the Virginia House of Delegates with prayer on United Methodist Day, when hundreds of church members annually descend on the General Assembly to talk about key issues. As it turned out, however, Feb. 6 also happened to be an important day for Korean Americans in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Neill Caldwell has the story.

Read story

Washington Post story on Virginia invocations

Hispanic outreach booms in Oklahoma community
GUYMON, Okla. (UMNS) - Victory Memorial United Methodist Church one recent Sunday received 34 people into membership in its Spanish-language service. That's just one example of how the church's "Vida En Victoria" - Life in Victory - service is reaching new people in this increasingly diverse Oklahoma city. Melyn Johnson reports for the Oklahoma Conference.

Read story 

Needed: A million books for children
FLORENCE, S.C. (UMNS) - South Carolina United Methodists are tackling a "God-sized" project to help young people. The Million Book Effort is working to collect a million books for children by annual conference as a way to combat illiteracy and poverty. Jessica Connor, editor of the South Carolina United Methodist Advocate, has the story.

Read story

 Ukraine youth forum focuses on 'changing world'
UZHGOROD, Ukraine (UMNS) - "Christianity 4.0" was the theme for the Youth Forum 2014 that focused on the four dimensions of Christianity and its influence on the family, the church, the society and the future. Retired Bishop Hans Vaxby preached about the fourth dimension, Christianity and its perspective.

Read more

News around the connection

Devastation of deportations must end, letter says
WASHINGTON (UMNS) ) - Members of the United Methodist Immigration Task Force sent a letter to President Obama Feb. 25 stating the policy of mass deportations is "morally reprehensible and must end." The letter follows an act of civil disobedience by 32 faith leaders who were arrested in front of the White House on Feb. 17.

Read story 

United Methodist missions program in top 20
NEW YORK (UMNS) - The Global Mission Fellows program has been named one of the top 20 "Service Programs that Change the World" by the Center for Faith and Service and FAITH3 in 2014. Global Mission Fellows is the United Methodist young adult missionary program that is part of Global Ministries' Generation Transformation.

Read story

5 Adam Hamilton books top sellers
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) - The Rev. Adam Hamilton of the United Methodist Church of the Resurrection in Leawood, Kan., has claimed five slots on the March 2014 CBA Best Sellers Top 50 list, which is compiled from sales in Christian stores. The March list reflects sales through Feb. 1, 2014. Abingdon Press announced Hamilton's award-winning Lenten favorite "The Way: Walking in the Footsteps of Jesus" closed out the top 10, with "Final Words from the Cross," "24 Hours that Changed the World," "The Way: 40 Days of Reflection," and "Love to Stay: Sex, Grace, and Commitment" rounding out the list.

Find Adam Hamilton's books online.

Service for wife of bishop emeritus of Puerto Rico
ARECIBO, Puerto Rico (UMNS) - Rafael Moreno Rivas, the active bishop of The Methodist Church of Puerto Rico, presided over the celebration of life and thanksgiving in memory of Iris Janet Rivera Casanova, the wife of the Rev. Juan A. Vera Mendez, bishop emeritus. Rivera Casanova passed away Feb. 18, 2014. She is survived by her husband and her three children, Juan Carlos, Cristina María and Deborah.

Read story in Spanish

Donald Will, peace professor, dies
ORANGE, Calif. (UMNS) - Donald Scott Will, 65, Delp-Wilkinson Professor of Peace Studies at Chapman University and former seminar designer in the United Methodist Office at the United Nations, died Feb. 10 at his home. His father, Herman Will Jr., was the long-time peace program director at the denomination's Board of Christian Social Concerns.

Read story

Strength for Service becomes non-denominational
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) - United Methodist Men announced that the Internal Revenue Service officially granted Strength for Service Inc. status as a 501(c) (3) public charity. "Strength for Service to God and Country" which began as a pocket-sized book of daily devotions distributed to more than a million military troops before it went out of print after the 1953 Korean armistice, has evolved under United Methodist Men's leadership into devotions for first responders as well as military.

Read story 

Church leaders urge better U.S.-Cuba relations
WASHINGTON (UMNS) - The Rev. John McCullough, a United Methodist pastor and top executive for Church World Service, is urging the U.S. faith community to action around improved relations with Cuba as a delegation from the Cuban Council of Churches prepares to meet with Obama administration officials and members of Congress during a Feb.26-27 visit. "This is a particularly important time for congregational activism; for people to tune in to this issue and to make their voices heard to members of Congress," McCullough said.

Read news release 

UMCOR putting people first in Philippines work
CALOGCOG, Philippines (UMNS) - Following its strong commitment to provide permanent homes after a major disaster, the United Methodist Committee on Relief is working in Calogcog to help residents return to permanent homes after Typhoon Haiyan. David Tereshchuk explains what the organization is doing.

Read story

Human rights task force updates agencies 
GLENVIEW, Ill. (UMNS) - Two United Methodist general agencies - Pension and Health Benefits and Global Ministries - received an update from the Human Rights and Investment Ethics Task Force on the effort "to identify resources, principles, and procedures that express our commitment to human rights, taking into account fiduciary responsibility and ministry priorities, consistent with the global mission of The United Methodist Church."

Read news release

Resources and educational opportunities

Shift Happens: Hope in the midst of transition
HOUSTON (UMNS) - The first iRun Conference opened Jan. 16 with perspectives from rural and urban church leaders on the theme of change. The International Rural and Urban Network is a new ministry put together by the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries. Fred Koenig in The Missouri Methodists reports what was shared.

Story begins on Page 12 of the March issue

Summit to connect global missions with technology
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) - Registration is open for the Game Changers Summit, a technology conference to help churches, universities and organizations connect global mission agendas with technology solutions for the developing world. Attendees will learn how to undertake a project in a developing country and get advice from global experts. The conference is scheduled for Sept. 3-5, 2014.

Read story

Resources for church tutoring programs
GERMANTOWN, Tenn. (UMNS) - Germantown United Methodist Church is offering other churches access to resources and training for an elementary tutoring program. The church developed Team Read in partnership with education professionals at Caldwell-Guthrie Elementary School in north Memphis. Through the program, volunteers teach 1,000 foundational words to second graders while maintaining their own flexible schedules. The Memphis Annual (regional) Conference has the story.

Read story

UMCOR offers 40 days of Lenten devotionals
NEW YORK (UMNS) - "The practice of Lenten disciplines," says Bishop Hee-Soo Jung, "offers us the opportunity to deepen our faith, renew our commitment and prepare ourselves for the gift of Christ's Resurrection." Jung, who serves the Wisconsin Annual (regional) Conference, is one of several writers of a new collection of 40 Lenten devotionals that share the life-changing ministries of the United Methodist Committee on Relief.

To download

History of Hymns: 'We'll Understand it Better By and By"
DALLAS (UMNS) - The Rev. Charles A. Tindley was one of the eminent preachers of Methodism at the turn of the 20th century. His most famous hymn about faith in God in times of "somber skies and howling tempests" was written during a time of challenge for his ministry. Southern Methodist University's C. Michael Hawn has the story.

Read story

New website for higher ed and ministry agency
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) - The United Methodist Board of Higher Education and Ministry has introduced a new website. The redesigned website promises to resource the church more efficiently to "prepare global leaders for a global church," said the Rev. Kim Cape, the top executive of the agency. The web address for the agency remains

See website

Read story

The church and homosexuality

Age no obstacle in Dallas same-sex wedding
DALLAS (UMNS) - The longtime partners are 84 and 80 and the pastor is 85 and battling cancer. But the Rev. William McElvaney will unite Jack Evans and George Harris in marriage March 1, a violation of United Methodist church law. "We claim that our purpose is to make disciples of Jesus Christ and therefore to transform the world. ... by excluding a whole group of people? ... That's just myopic, blindness," McElvaney said.

Read story and post a comment

Announcement March 10 in Ogletree case
WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. (UMNS) - The Rev.William S. Shillady, secretary of the trial court in the case of the Rev. Thomas Ogletree, said Feb. 24 that there will be a news conference March 10 to announce the resolution of the case. Ogletree's trial for officiating at a same-sex wedding was scheduled to begin March 10 but was postponed Feb. 10.

Read about the Ogletree case

United Methodists in the news

Former Clinton spokesman marries faith with politics
WASHINGTON (UMNS) - Mike McCurry has gone from being President Bill Clinton's spokesman to a graduate of and now teacher at United Methodist-related Wesley Theological Seminary. In a profile, the Washington Post shares how McCurry, who also serves on United Methodist Communications' board of directors, now quietly lives out his faith.

Read story

Tea Party official opposes candidate because he's 'Methodist'
FORT WORTH, Texas (UMNS) - Bud Kennedy writes in the Star-Telegram that the co-founder and president of the Northeast Tarrant (County) Tea Party set off a controversy when she wrote on her Facebook page that Republicans should vote for a Southern Baptist instead of a Methodist for a vacant judgeship because Methodists believe "anything goes."

Read story

Faith leaders denounce opposition to 'Methodist' candidate
AUSTIN, Texas (UMNS) - Texas Impact and the Texas Interfaith Center for Public Policy, interfaith groups that include United Methodists, have released a joint statement critical of a Tea Party leader publicly urging voters not to vote for a candidate because he is United Methodist. "We raise our voices purely to affirm that there is no place for religious or denominational affiliation as a criterion for holding public office in the State of Texas," the statement says.

Read statement

Faith partnership to anchor poor neighborhood 
WICHITA, Kan. (UMNS) - United Methodist churches are working with Lutherans and Episcopalians in a project called Partners Church, which is trying to make a difference in one of the poorest neighborhoods of the state. The Wichita Eagle explains how Partners Church, which is housed in Brookside United Methodist Church, plans to help provide education and job opportunities for adults and soccer for kids in the predominantly Hispanic neighborhood.

Read story

Rwanda trip eye-opener for United Methodists
BOONE, N.C. (UMNS) - A team from Boone United Methodist Church made a two-week trip to Rwanda as part of a ZOE (Zimbabwe Orphans Endeavor) ministry to help orphans in Africa. What they saw and did gave them a new understanding of how to make a difference. The Watauga Democrat tells the story.

Read story

Heifer works with church on poverty program
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (UMNS) - Bethel United Methodist Church in Connecticut chose Heifer International's Seeds of Change Initiative to help its members better understand hunger and poverty in the United States. The Seeds of Change Initiative helps farmers increase production, builds an infrastructure for selling their products and provides access to resources and financial assistance.

Read story

Learn about Heifer International

Supporters walk for the homeless
ATHENS, Ohio (UMNS) - The walkers left from the First United Methodist Church for the 12th year to raise funds for Good Works, an organization that includes 20 different community-funded initiatives. The Athens News tells the story.

Read story 

Ohio church to begin rebuilding after fire
ADA, Ohio (UMNS) - March 17 is the big day when - weather permitting - the congregation of the First United Methodist Church plans to see construction begin on their new church building. The Toledo Blade tells what has happened in the two years since fire destroyed the previous building.

Read story

Nebraska church's glory returning after fire
FRIEND, Neb. (UMNS) - The first rush of grief is past and now the congregants at the United Methodist Church are eagerly watching their new structure rise from the rubble of a Dec. 4, 2012, fire that gutted the historic building. The Lincoln Journal Star tells how a piece of religious history is being lovingly restored.

Read story

University and seminary news

Spanish-language clergy program to graduate 2
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) - Two students are expected to graduate this year from a Bachelor of Theology program designed for pastors whose primary language is Spanish. The program, cosponsored by the United Methodist Board of Higher Education and Ministry and the Latin American Biblical University in Costa Rica and offered in collaboration with the National Plan for Hispanic/Latino Ministry, began six years ago. The program responds to the growing need for Hispanic/Latino leadership in The United Methodist Church and providing clergy who can help the church understand ministry in the context of Spanish-speaking communities.

Read story

Perkins names new Hispanic ministries director
DALLAS (UMNS) - Philip Wingeier-Rayo will be the new director of the Mexican-American and Hispanic-Latino/a Church Ministries Program at Perkins School of Theology at Southern Methodist University. Wingeier-Rayo also will be director of the Regional Course of Study School, under the auspices of The United Methodist Church.

Read news release

Meharry's student-run free clinic helps underserved
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) - Now in its second year, the 12 South Clinic was founded by students of United Methodist-related Meharry Medical College to address healthcare disparities. The clinic is funded in part by The United Methodist Church's Black College Fund.

Read story

University of Indianapolis OKs $50-million plan
INDIANAPOLIS (UMNS) - United Methodist-related University of Indianapolis has approved a $50 million investment in the university and the neighboring community through a five-year plan of capital projects and educational enhancements. University President Robert Manuel said students, alumni, faculty, staff and community contributed to the planning process.

Read story

Blogs and commentaries

Taking Lent outside of church
NOVI, Mich. (UMNS) - The Rev. June M. Marshall Smith of Novi United Methodist Church explains her reasons for offering "Drive Thru Ashes" on Ash Wednesday and offers examples of how it can be an effective outreach.

Read commentary

Commentary: Mandela showed us how to forgive
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) - As Black History Month nears its close, Tafadzwa W. Mudambanuki, central conference coordinator for United Methodist News Service, reflects on a visit to Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for almost three decades. "Purpose as demonstrated by Madiba is magnified when lives are affected positively and tremendously by a person's lifestyle," he noted.

Read commentary

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.

Women's History Month, March - Worship resources from the United Methodist Commission on the Status and Role of Women.

Early-bird registration deadline for Engaging Local Schools Conference, Monday, March 3 - 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. ET, Saturday, March 22, Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, $20-50. Details.

Webinar "Making Sure Your Church Website Works," Tuesday, March 4 - 7p.m.-8 p.m. ET, what belongs on the website, how to organize content and how best to use images, offered by Practical Church Resources. $10. Details.

Welcome Table at Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, Tuesday, March 4, and Thursday, April 3 - 4 p.m.-7:30 p.m. ET. Events for prospective students include a campus tour, networking opportunities and the chance to attend a class. Details.

Ash Wednesday, March 5 - Mark the start of Lent with worship resources from the United Methodist Board of Discipleship. Devotional and study resources are available from

Early-bird deadline for Evangelism Conference, Thursday, March 6 - Holston Conference event Friday-Saturday, March 14-15 at Cokesbury Center in Knoxville, Tenn. The speaker will be the Rev. Jorge Acevedo, lead pastor of Grace Church, a multi-site United Methodist congregation in Southwest Florida. $35. Details.

Free webinar "Developing Your Ministry Plan 2: Discovering Your Congregation's Niche," Thursday, March 6 - 6:30 p.m. CT, Understanding the missional context of your congregation and your community is key for creating ministry that connects to newcomers. To register.

Sprague Lecture Series, "Christian Ethics and the Crisis in U.S. Criminal Justice," Saturday, March 8 - 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. ET, the University Plaza Hotel and Conference Center in Columbus, Ohio. Speakers include Michelle Alexander, author of "The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness;" James Logan, author of "Good Punishment? Christian Moral Practice and U.S. Imprisonment;" and Ohio West Area Bishop Gregory V. Palmer. Details.

Deadline to register for "The Wizard of ALZ: A Different Perspective on Dementia," Monday, March 10 - Memphis Conference Older Adult Council event 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. CT Tuesday, March 18, First United Methodist Church, Jackson, Tenn. $15. Details.

Deadline to register for five online courses from United Methodist Communications, Monday, March 10 - March 12-April 23, choices include Communicating Faith in the 21st Century, Connectional Giving, Moodle 200: Basic Training, Web Ministry 100: What is Web Ministry? and Welcoming Ministry 100. Prices vary. Connectional Giving is free. Details.

Free webinar "Individual Faith Formation Planning for Children," Tuesday, March 11 - 10 a.m. CT, The interactive webinar explores what an individual faith formation plan for a child would look like and how it could shape the way a child engages. To register.

Free webinar "Multiplying Disciples: Part 1," Tuesday, March 11 - 6:30 p.m. CT, Explore the qualities needed to build a lay-clergy team that leads the congregation in disciple-making. To register.

Free webinar "Proof of Heaven: A Neurosurgeon's Journey into the Afterlife," Wednesday, March 12 - 10 a.m. CT, discussion of Dr. Eben Alexander's best-seller. To register.

Free webinar "Freed Up Financial Living: Start This Ministry in Your Church!" Thursday, March 13 - 6:30 p.m. CT, This course can help people in your church better understand their money and how to control it so that it doesn't control them. To register.

"180 Turnaround Church Conference," Thursday, March 20 - 8:30 a.m.-4 p.m. ET conference at Redeemer United Methodist Church in DeWitt, Mich. $59 per person and $20 for each additional person from the same church. 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. The theme is "Jesus Weeps: Resisting Violence, Building Peace."  Details.

"Prophets, Harlots, Witches, And Warriors: Untamed Women Of The Old Testament," Friday, March 21 -6 p.m.-8:30 p.m. CT, The Rev. Sherry Cothran, United Methodist pastor and singer/songwriter, will share songs and stories about some of the Bible's most interesting women at the Scarritt-Bennett Center in Nashville, Tenn. $10. Details.

Window on Wesley Theological Seminary, Tuesday, March 25; Saturday, April 26; and Tuesday, June 17 - 9 a.m.-3:30 p.m. ET, full-day events for prospective students include a campus tour, discussion of degree programs and the chance to attend a class. Details.

White Privilege Conference, Wednesday-Saturday, March 26-29 - A conference that examines challenging concepts of privilege and oppression and offers solutions and team-building strategies to work toward a more equitable world, co-hosted by the Wisconsin Conference Board of Church and Society and Wisconsin Council of Churches at Monona Terrace Convention Center and Concourse Hotel in Madison, Wis. 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.

One Great Hour of Sharing, Sunday, March 30 - Donations the United Methodist Committee on Relief receives through this offering, along with other undesignated gifts made throughout the year, cover the relief agency's costs of doing business. The United Methodist Publishing House offers "Be Hope," a new, four-week study in preparation for One Great Hour of Sharing. $6.29-10. To order.

Community Organizing for Social Change & Church Development training, Monday-Friday, March 31-April 4 - First Grace United Methodist Church, New Orleans. The training will teach how methods of community organizing can be a tool in congregational development, community transformation and engagement in justice ministries. Jointly offered by United Methodist Board of Church and Society, and Path 1 of the United Methodist Board of Discipleship. $295. Details.

Deadline to register for Church Communication: 10 Things, Tuesday, April 15 - Clinic sponsored by the Memphis Conference Communications Action Team, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. CT, Thursday, April 24, First United Methodist Church, Jackson, Tenn. $25 per person, $20 each for groups of three or more. Details.

Early-bird registration deadline for Game Changers Summit, Wednesday, April 30 - United Methodist Communications invites local churches to attend a conference Wednesday-Friday, Sept. 3-5 at Gaylord Opryland Hotel in Nashville, Tenn., focused on how congregations can use technology to strengthen international development. $215. Details.

Stay in the know

Sign up for our newsletters


Conference Office

735 Pierce Avenue - Macon, GA 31204

PO Box 7227 - Macon, GA 31209


Administrative Office

520 Professional Drive, Suite 1 - Macon, GA 31201

PO Box 13145 - Macon, GA 31208

478-738-0048 | 800-535-4224

Camping & Retreat Ministries

99 Arthur J. Moore Dr - St Simons Is., GA 31522

PO Box 20408 - St Simons Island, GA 31522

912-638-8626 | 888-266-7642

Contact us