|MUSCLE ON THE MOUNTAINTOP — A team from OKC-St. Luke’s UMC donated time and energy in service at United Methodist-related Mount Sequoyah, a retreat and conference center on property overlooking Fayetteville, Ark. They repaired and painted interior areas of buildings and removed carpeting. Julie Robinson, Jamie Anderson, Marsha Manners, Leslie Bross, Rip Bross, Lisa Ross, John Humphrey, and Charlie Ludden were among the volunteers in late June. Mount Sequoyah is an agency of the denomination’s South Central Jurisdiction, which includes Oklahoma.
Dec. 3 breaks records for Advance giving
Giving Tuesday generated a record $6.5 million online on Dec. 3 for United Methodist missionaries and missions, according to the General Board of Global Ministries.
Nearly 11,000 donors in 34 countries gave more than 16,300 gifts through The Advance. GBGM matched the first $500,000 received.
The initiative built on the shopping traditions of Black Friday, Local Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday.
"We were overwhelmed by this giving that went far beyond our dreams," said Thomas Kemper, who leads GBGM.
The Advance is the Church’s second-mile giving channel, supporting more than 850 projects and more than 300 missionaries. Among them are ministries in the Oklahoma Indian Missionary Conference and missionaries who serve in Oklahoma and deploy from Oklahoma. — United Methodist Communications (UMCOM)
Church-led team rebuilding communications in Philippines
A United Methodist-led team has been providing communications relief in the Philippines, assessing needs and identifying ways to reconnect churches and communities after the recent typhoon.
After Typhoon Haiyan hit Nov. 8, "the Philippine government issued a call to international organizations for assistance to urgently restore communications in the affected area," said Larry Hollon of UMCOM.
The loss of communications capacity "meant that people were not only unable to report on the extent of damage in the affected area, it meant that people in remote places were literally isolated and did not know of rescue and relief efforts."
Bishop Ciriaco Francisco told United Methodist News Service (UMNS) it will take a year to fully restore power to the area.
Finance agency responds to clergy housing decision
The General Council on Finance and Administration, which is the denomination’s finance agency, responded Nov. 26 to a U.S. district court ruling in Madison, Wis., that found tax-free housing benefits for clergy to be unconstitutional.
In a statement, GCFA noted an appeal by the government is likely. Implementation of the ruling has been delayed to permit filing of any appeals.
GCFA stated it is too early to fully understand the impact of this case, or to predict the chances of a reversal of the court’s decision. The agency continues to actively monitor the case. — UMNS
Christmas shopping can benefit local churches
In partnership with some of the largest online retailers, GCFA 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 www.UMCMarket.org. — UMNS
Council of Bishops requests complaint against Talbert
After hours of closed-door sessions, the denomination’s Council of Bishops has requested a formal complaint be filed against retired Bishop Melvin G. Talbert, who officiated at a same-sex union on Oct. 26 despite Church law.
The council specifically urged the complaint be submitted by Germany Area Bishop Rosemarie Wenner, the council’s president, and Birmingham Area Bishop Debra Wallace-Padgett, who oversees the North Alabama Conference where the wedding took place.
The complaint would go before the Western Jurisdiction, from which Bishop Talbert retired.
The statement said, "Pain exists throughout the connection, including persons who support Bishop Talbert’s actions and persons who object to them. We express our pastoral concern and care for all people."
Oklahoma Area Bishop Robert Hayes Jr., who is the Council of Bishops secretary, read the full statement at the start of the council’s session Nov. 15. — UMNS
Solar phone chargers: Relief for Malawi pastors
Telephone communication with the Malawi United Methodist Church will no longer be a problem as partners at United Methodist Church of the Resurrection in Leawood, Kan., provided a set of solar chargers to every pastor, evangelist, and conference staff member in Malawi earlier this year.
Pastors and evangelists whose homes lack electricity are using the 2.5-watt solar phone charger kits. — UMNS
Letter signers call for immigration solutions
In less than one week in November, more than 1,300 UM clergy signed a letter to Congress that calls for "genuine solutions" for the U.S.’s broken immigration system. Among endorsers of the letter are 40 bishops. Endorsers came from 49 states.
The letter was sent to members of the House of Representatives. "We witness firsthand every day the fear and uncertainty that so many immigrant families are forced to live under," the letter stated. — General Board of Church & Society
Pastor suspended 30 days for same-sex wedding
Frank Schaefer has been given a 30-day suspension by the jury in his church trial and told that if he can’t uphold the Book of Discipline in its entirety he must surrender his credentials.
Rev. Schaefer was found guilty Nov. 18 of violating Church law that bans pastors from performing same-sex unions and of disobedience to the order and discipline of the Church. He acknowledged presiding at the same-sex wedding of his son, Tim, in 2007.
Schaefer is being monitored by his district superintendent in the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference and must meet with that conference’s Board of Ordained Ministry during his suspension. — UMNS