United Methodists are responding on multiple fronts as the Ebola epidemic continues to spread in western Africa.
• UMCOR (the United Methodist Committee on Relief) has channeled more than $400,000 in emergency grants, chiefly to Sierra Leone and Liberia. The funds support construction of holding units, purchase of tents and personal protective equipment, training for health staff, public messaging about Ebola, and psychosocial counseling for affected people. When possible, the funds go to UM health boards to purchase healthcare and supplies locally. UMCOR also is cooperating with trusted partner agencies.
• United Methodist Women in Liberia are handing out love and food, and training people in preventive health measures, even in quarantined areas. In late September, the UMW president for the Liberia Annual Conference said 18 church members, including two pastors and a UMMen president, had died in one district.
Camping ministries will not be conducted next summer at the four sites owned by the Missouri Conference. The proposal of that Camps board to sell the sites was the result of a two-year discernment process. The future of those sites will be determined by that Annual Conference in June.
"What we’re good at is programming and discipling, and that can happen anywhere," said the board chairperson.
United Methodists were confronting family violence long before the NFL’s response to players’ assault charges was making headlines. Still, church leaders say we can do more to address the problem. A survey by LifeWay Research found 29 percent of Protestant senior pastors said they believe domestic violence is not a problem in their churches.
UMM and UMW groups in the Baltimore-Washington Conference plan to offer Domestic Violence Church Team Training.
Coming to church and not singing is like going to the gym and not working out," wrote Michael White and Tom Corcoran, Catholic priests, in an online newsletter by the UM Lewis Center for Church Leadership.
They listed principles for worship music in the Sept. 17 issue of Leading Ideas.
"The music must be all about attracting the lost and growing disciples through worship. It’s about discovering what music works in your community — not the personal preferences of the pastor and the music director, not the demands from the pews, not even the stated preferences of the majority."
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A pilot project to provide e-readers loaded with theological texts to remote, low-power areas has proven so successful that this collaborative effort has been extended until December 2016 by the General Board of Higher Education & Ministry and General Board of Discipleship.
The "E-Reader Project" assists 16 UM schools of theology in Africa and four in the Philippines.
Gbarnga School of Theology in Liberia reported faculty previously wrote chalkboard notes for students to copy or depended on lectures before the pilot project began.
Leaders of the Rocky Mountain and Yellowstone Conferences received a task force recommendation in September to begin intentional conversation about merging. The two conferences include about 400 churches. The Futures Task Force of the Yellowstone Annual Conference made the proposal, and a Transformation Team will be formed. Final decision on any changes is up to the Western Jurisdictional Conference.
The General Board of Church & Society is seeking people to participate in consultations about the UM Social Principles. The goal is to make the Principles more succinct, theologically founded, and globally relevant.
Two consultations will be in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 16-17 and 23-24. Others will be in Mozambique, the Philippines, Czech Republic, and Nigeria.
For information about applying: Katie Montfortte, firstname.lastname@example.org, 202-488-5679; or Neal Christie, email@example.com, 202-488-5611.
Have you ever lost a job or known someone who has? Well-intended friends or family may say things such as "It must be nice not having to go to work" or "God has a better plan for you" to a person whose career just took a detour. A pastor in Colorado offers a few sensitivity tips to truly provide comfort and hope:
In a meeting lasting more than an hour, staff of President Barack Obama’s administration and the heads of UM general agencies shared views and discussed how resources of the Church support U.S. initiatives to improve the lives of children at risk, prevent sexual violence on campuses, and address global humanitarian concerns.
The president’s initiative "My Brother’s Keeper" and the "It’s on Us" campaign against sexual violence were among topics. UM leaders at the recent meeting were Gil Hanke of UMMen, Harriett Olson of UMW, Kim Cape of GBHEM, and Stephen Sidorak, ecumenical and inter-religious affairs.
Brad Jenkins, associate director of the White House Office of Public Engagement, hosted the group and arranged the briefing, working with Susan Henry-Crowe of the UM General Board of Church & Society.
– Compiled from United Methodist News Service, www.umc.org