Articles of Interest


June 8, 2012

NOTE: This is a digest of news features provided by United Methodist Communications for June 4-8. It includes summaries of United Methodist News Service stories, UMTV video reports and additional briefs from around the United Methodist connection. Full versions of the stories with photographs and related features can be found at

Bishop's retirement reversal sets new path

PLANO, Texas (UMNS) - The North Texas Annual (regional) Conference has entered untested waters, and decisions made in the coming months could have a ripple effect on The United Methodist Church. Bishop W. Earl Bledsoe announced June 1 that he was retiring voluntarily. But late on the afternoon of June 5, just before the conclusion of the North Texas annual conference session, he declared that he was reversing course. He was being forced out, he told conference members, and he had decided to fight...all the way to the Judicial Council - the denomination's equivalent of the U.S. Supreme Court - if he has to.
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Conferences voice support for gays

DES MOINES, Iowa (UMNS) - Promises of support for gays, lesbians, transgender and bisexual people are coming from bishops, pastors and laity, despite the recent decision by the denomination's top lawmaking body to continue to call homosexuality "incompatible with Christian teaching." The statements of support are coming through regional conferences held annually within The United Methodist Church. Among them: the Iowa Annual Conference at which hundreds of people signed documents expressing compassion for gays.
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Religious liberty, the church and the pill

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) - The debate over birth-control insurance coverage has traveled from the presidential campaign trail to the courts. For many United Methodists, the debate boils down to this: Does the Obama administration mandate violate religious freedom or is it expanding access to an important aspect of women's health care?
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Bishop calls for end to Chicago violence

CHICAGO (UMNS) - Chicago Area Bishop Hee-Soo Jung, in a pastoral letter, is calling for United Methodists to pray and take action after a spasm of gun violence that has rocked the third-largest U.S. city. During the Memorial Day weekend, the city experienced more than 40 shootings that took the lives of 10 people.
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Turner family gives $3 million to Meharry

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) - A prominent family of lifelong United Methodists has given a $3 million gift to build a multipurpose facility at Meharry Medical College. The Cal Turner Family Center will be used for community meetings, seminars and a gathering place for the medical students and faculty, and their families.
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Annual conference coverage

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) - This is peak annual conference season in the United States and United Methodist Communications is bringing you reports and news from the conferences as they occur.
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Foundation screens private-prison stocks

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) - The United Methodist Church Foundation at its May meeting took a stand against profiting from companies engaged in privatization of prisons. In an action affirming a recommendation by its investment committee, the foundation's board of directors amended the foundation's investment policy to add a screen for all of its portfolios and holdings. The board's decision follows the January announcement by the United Methodist Board of Pension and Health Benefits that it would prohibit investments in private-prison companies.
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Top 10 mobile apps for church leaders

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) - Following the example set by Ecclesiastes, this is the season of mobile apps for just about everything. You can use your phone to post the church potluck on Facebook, look up this week's biblical texts and instantly sift through 4,000 names in the Bible. United Methodist Communications has a top 10 list of must-have apps for United Methodists on the go.
Check out the list»

Emory prof named U.S. poet laureate

ATLANTA (UMNS) - Natasha Trethewey, who won the Pulitzer Prize for poetry in 2007 and is a professor at the United Methodist-affiliated Emory University, has a new honor to put on herrésumé: poet laureate of the United States. The Library of Congress made the announcement June 7, according to The Altanta Journal-Constitution.
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Alumnus to lead Philander Smith

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (UMNS) - Philander Smith College will welcome one of its own graduates back to campus to take the helm of the historically black, four-year school. Johnny Moore, 44, will become the 13th president of the United Methodist-affiliated institution. Moore, now executive vice president of student affairs at Tyler Junior College in Tyler, Texas, will start July 1 at Philander Smith.
Read his introductory remarks»

Seminar for church administrators

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) - A training seminar on church administration and administrative duties will be July 15-20 at the office of the General Council on Finance and Administration, the denomination's finance agency, in Nashville. This program is offered in support of the Professional Association of United Methodist Church Secretaries. Contact Cynthia Haralson at (615) 369-2386 for more information.

Foot-washing by bishop inspires

TULSA, Okla. (UMNS) - Bishop Robert E. Hayes Jr. removed his vestments, knelt and washed the feet of the 12 people who were being ordained last week in The United Methodist Church. About 1,000 delegates to the Oklahoma Annual (regional) Conference of the church witnessed the ceremony at Boston Avenue United Methodist Church. The Rev. James Hunt, associate pastor at First United Methodist Church in Broken Arrow, was one of the 12 being ordained. "It was one of the most powerful experiences of my life," he told the Tulsa World.
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Religious leaders oppose marriage amendment

MINNEAPOLIS (UMNS) - About 120 religious leaders of different faiths on June 7 announced the formation of Clergy United for All Families, which will work to defeat the marriage amendment on the November ballot, KARE 11 reports. The proposed amendment would write Minnesota's current law defining marriage as one man and one woman into the state constitution. Members of the Minnesota Annual Conference, meeting May 30-June 1, voted to send a resolution opposing a proposed amendment to the Minnesota state constitution that only a union of one man and one woman would be recognized as marriage.
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Church looks homeward

MARYVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) - A church known for its mission work overseas has decided to focus on a new project: the local community. Over the last several weeks, St. John United Methodist Church has begun a monthly community breakfast and strengthened its Hispanic outreach. The Rev. Bill Shelton told The Daily Times of Blount County that it's about giving more than food and clothing. "This is about offering the person of Jesus in a very real way."
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Churches hosting free medical clinics

CHARLESTON, S.C. (UMNS) - Three United Methodist churches in South Carolina are opening their doors to provide free, walk-in medical clinics. Murray United Methodist in Summerville, New Hope United Methodist in Ridgeville and Wesley United Methodist in Ladson will host monthly clinics that will be staffed by volunteer physicians. "No one will be turned away," the Rev. Willie Dicks, New Hope's pastor, told The Post and Courier newspaper.
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After 47 years, she's leaving classroom

FORT PIERCE, Fla. (UMNS) - After 47 years at the helm of the First United Methodist Preschool, the TCPalm reports, Elizabeth "Betty" Uhl looks at the faces of her students and sees their parents. At 84, Uhl has decided it is time to retire.
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A ladder, a roof and a mission

KENNEDALE, Texas (UMNS) - For the third consecutive year, Robin Evans climbed onto the roof of First United Methodist Church to camp out until 50,000 pounds of food are donated for local pantries. This year, she went up on June 1 and made her goal three days later, reports.
See the TV report»  and  Read her Facebook posts»

Criticism of Filipino government

GENEVA (UMNS) - In a public hearing at the Ecumenical Centre in Geneva, church activists from the Philippines criticized the Aquino government for not being able to improve the situation regarding human rights violations, the World Council of Churches reports. The speakers cited an increased number of victims of extrajudicial killings, forced disappearances, and evictions in the country.
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Liberian missionary Zigbuo dies

CREEDMOOR, N.C. (UMNS) - The Rev. Herbert Sei Lami Zigbuo, a missionary with the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries assigned to his home country of Liberia, died May 30 after a long illness. Zigbuo was superintendent of the Ganta United Methodist Mission Station as well as interim administrator of Ganta United Methodist Hospital. He served 19 years and 10 months as a missionary at Ganta. Zigbuo died in North Carolina, where his wife, Mary Randall Zigbuo, is serving as a missionary in the Western North Carolina Annual (regional) Conference. Services will be June 23 at the Miller-McAllister United Methodist Church at Ganta Mission Station. Send condolences to Mary Zigbuo, 327 Bridget Way, Creedmoor, NC 27522.
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Retired John Street pastor McGraw dies

NEW YORK (UMNS) - The Rev. James McGraw, 76, retired pastor of the historic John Street United Methodist Church, the oldest Methodist church in the United States, died May 30. The Hoosier native was a former magician and pianist, civil rights activist and author whose collection of meditations delivered over the 10 Sundays after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, "Prayers from Ground Zero," was published by the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries.

Tons of thanks!

BIG ISLAND, Va. (UMNS) - More than 60 truckloads of sweet potatoes were delivered to hungry families from Florida to New York, thanks to the generosity of United Methodists who pitched in to help with their time and money. The Society of St. Andrew, which issued the call for help during the United Methodist General Conference, the denomination's top lawmaking body, estimates that 2.6 million sweet potatoes were rescued.

UMTV: Ministry with the Roma

BUDAPEST, Hungary (UMNS) - Discrimination and persecution have followed the Roma wherever they go, but The United Methodist Church is responding. UMTV visited a village where Sunday morning services are standing-room-only at the Roma church. This United Methodist congregation formed 60 years ago when a non-Roma pastor reached out to the community. Today, they are led by one of their own.
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