Want to submit a letter to the editor? Email Kathryn Witte at email@example.com.
For more information about events going on around the Conference, visit the events calendar.
To view job openings and items for sale, or submit a listing, visit the Employment/Classifieds page.
Click here for a printable version of UMconnect.
TAMPA, Fla. (UMNS) — By a vote of 567 to 384, the 2012 United Methodist General Conference gave tentative approval to a slightly amended version of “Plan UMC” to reconfigure general agencies and downsize their boards.
It will be up to the lawmaking assembly to give final approval after the General Council on Finance and Administration, the denomination’s finance agency, reports on the plan’s financial implications.
Click here to read the full story.
UPDATE: General Conference moves to refer “Plan UMC” to the Judicial Council — As the Wednesday afternoon session began delegate Scott Campbell moved referral of “Plan UMC” to the Judicial Council for a declaratory decision. The requested review is to determine if the plan is in conflict with articles 16.8 and 16.9 of the United Methodist Church’s constitution. The move to refer was approved by a 59.5 percent to 40.5 percent margin.
United Methodists celebrated the approval of recognizing full communion with five Methodist denominations, what Bishop Alfred Norris called an “ecumenical watershed moment.”
There is also a commentary by General Secretary Stephen Sidorak Jr., available on the United Methodist News Service website and a story called “Sankofa Moment” by Nathan Stanton, Kansas Area, in this edition of Umconnect.
In the above photo, Pan-Methodist church leaders joined together at the 2012 United Methodist General Conference in Tampa, Fla. From left are: Bishop Sharon Zimmerman Rader, United Methodist Church; Bishop Thomas Hoyt Jr., Christian Methodist Episcopal Church; Bishop John F. White, African Methodist Episcopal Church and the Rev. W. Robert Johnson III, African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church. The group gathered for a press conference and then joined the GC body later in the day to recognize the historic coming together of the long-time estranged denominations.
Tuesday was a day of celebrating ecumenical connections. The symbol of the rope was used as a metaphor for our ministry work together. From the schedule notes: “Rope is good as it connects, hoists sails, and make the boat secure at the dock. But rope is also not good when it binds, whips or suffocates. We are called to cut the binding rope to shreds and create life lines instead.”
Tuesday night’s worship message was delivered by the Rev. Dr. Olav Fykse Tveit, General Secretary, World Council of Churches. He preached from Mark 6:45-51 telling the story of the disciples reacting in fear as they perceive Jesus as a ghost coming toward them in the boat. His preaching capped a day full of ecumenical celebration.
Bishop Sharon Rader, ecumenical officer for the Council of Bishops, Rev. Dr. Olav Gykse Tveit, general secretary, World Council of Churches and Stephen Sidorak Jr., general secretary, Commission on Christian Unity and Interreligious Concerns, presented information and answered questions during a Tuesday afternoon press conference focusing on our ecumenical connections and in particular the World Council of Churches. Tveit (pictured above) talked extensively about the important role the United Methodist denomination has as a member of the World Council of Churches.
Bishop Ann B. Sherer-Simpson is among 17 bishops retiring effective Sept. 1, 2012. A short recognition took place on the General Conference floor on Tuesday afternoon.
Click here to view a list of retiring bishops. (PDF)
She loves her United Methodist Church. And her United Methodist Church loves her. There was no doubt of that when 106-year-old Louise Short was introduced and greeted by a standing ovation at the morning plenary May 1.
A series of petitions that changed the Book of Discipline language around Lay Speaking Ministries and changing it to Lay Servant Ministries were approved on the Consent Calendar. The first petition changed the term “lay speaker” to “lay servant” and took review of certified lay servants away from the local church’s Pastor/Staff Parish Relations Committee because lay speakers are different from lay preachers.
Another petition changed the name of the district committee to District Committee on Lay Servant Ministry and asked districts to name a director of Lay Servant Ministry. The position should be filled by a Certified Lay Servant.
Note: The Association of Conference Directors of Lay Speaking Ministries, in their annual January meeting held in Oklahoma City this year, voted to affirm the resolution to change the name of Lay Speakers Ministries to Lay Servant Ministries. Certified/Local Lay Speakers will be known as Certified/Local Lay Servants.
The Nebraska delegation is getting a bit weary with only four days remaining in the General Conference Session. Delegates noted they are getting more sleep this week, and that it is good a thing people can be more rested as the body takes on controversial topics.
As they enter Wednesday’s work there is concern over the new proposed UMC restructuring plan. District Superintendent Nan Kaye-Skinner has many questions. “If they are turning the Commission on the Status and Role of Women and the Commission on Religion and Race into committees of an overall inclusiveness group, what does it to for their funding?” she asked. In addition, all of the general committees would be optional on the conference level.
There is also concern about GC representation numbers. The plan would see the Southeastern Jurisdiction with five times as many people as the Western Jurisdiction. While the numbers represent the population of members it doesn’t allow for the church to be diverse. Dominance will act to silence many voices.
One positive from the new proposed plan is that general agencies and boards would be smaller.
The delegation is concerned about the tone of the GC. They noted that many people came with an attitude that someone is “out to get us.” Trust issues are prevalent and lived out in that a much greater percentage of the work coming out of committees is being voted down. Traditionally only two percent of what comes out of committee is voted down.
Tom Watson said it best, “Regardless of what happens here, I’m pretty sure it will not impact whether we make disciples or not.”
His point is that disciples are made at the local church and has less to do with polity and more to do about our personal faith journeys.
Correction to yesterday's (05/01/12) special edition of UMconnect: In the story on the worship setting up close, one caption read, "There are a few art installments within the conference center. The one above is located at the back of the plenary session hall and depicts a foundation full of prayers." It should have read a "fountain" of prayers.
Photo: Nebraska delegates Cindy Karges and Tom Watson prepare to vote during the Monday morning session of General Conference. Photo by Kathryn Witte.
By Nathan Stanton, Kansas Area
United Methodist Bishops Alfred Norris and Sharon Zimmerman Rader, Bishop John White, African Methodist Episcopal Church, Bishop Thomas Hoyt, Senior Bishop, Christian Methodist Episcopal Church, Dr. Robert Johnson, representing African Methodist Episcopal Church – Zion and Dr. Stephen Sidorak, Commission on Christian Unity and Interreligious Concerns presented good news Tuesday afternoon at General Conference in Tampa. Bishop Rader began the press conference praising the moment as “our great joy,” to announce that these proud denominations were covenanting to be in full communion after “a history of some difficulty.” Tucked away among the pushing and pulling of ecclesiastical politics was an announcement that what has been pulled apart for several hundred years is now beginning to come back together.
Each of the bishops and representatives took the opportunity to speak to the importance of the event. After generations of the Methodist denominations splintering over prejudice, the heart of this new beginning for several was the prophet Isaiah’s image of healing being “repairers of the breech” that had arisen out of racism and discrimination equally rooted in the church as it was in the society.
It was Bishop Hoyt of the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church who put this moment in another context for all of the participating denominations.
Hoyt defined this covenant as a “Sankofa moment.” Sankofa is an African symbol or description of a bird flying forward and looking backwards with an egg in its mouth. The Sankofa is a celebration of past, present and future generations in movement together. The covenant of the Pan Methodists recognizes this is something to be proud of as well as something that impacts the future mightily.
When asked how this will get played out at the local church level, Bishop White recognized that this would be a relational one. The “Sacrament of the Coffee Cup,” would have to be rediscovered in order to make this really work. Folks from the different denominations would need to gather to build relationships and dig into the theology of the covenant allowing the healing and understanding that needs to take place to grow. There are real issues that are theological issues that will teach us how to get along with one another. Gathering around the table to drink coffee together is where that can begin.
Participating Methodist denominations include: African Methodist Episcopal, African Methodist Episcopal Zion, African Union Methodist Protestant, Christian Methodist Episcopal, Union American Methodist Episcopal and United Methodist.
Photo: Pan-Methodist church leaders join together on May 1 at the 2012 United Methodist General Conference in Tampa, Fla. From left are: Bishop Sharon Zimmerman Rader, The United Methodist Church; Bishop Thomas Hoyt Jr., Christian Methodist Episcopal Church; the Rev. W. Robert Johnson III, African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church; and Bishop John F. White, African Methodist Episcopal Church. A UMNS photo by Mike DuBose.
The following was submitted by the Conference’s Risk-taking Mission and Justice Ministries Team.
"Profit from Pain is Inhumane! Dignity Not Detention!"
On April 28 about 500 persons came together in Tampa Fla., to protest the growing trend across the United States to privatize prisons and detention centers. The private prison industry encourages state legislatures to fill their jails for profit. The event was organized and sponsored by the United Methodist Task Force on Immigration and United Methodist Women; the United Methodist General Conference is taking place in Tampa April 24-May 4.
United Methodist policy affirms that “God’s people must stand in solidarity with the migrants in our midst.” A resolution from the 2008 General Conference calls on the U. S. government “to immediately cease all arrests, detainment, and deportations of undocumented immigrants, including children, solely based upon their immigration status until a fair and comprehensive immigration reform is passed.” (“Welcoming the Migrant to the US,” The Book of Resolutions of the United Methodist Church, 2008, Resolution 3281, pp. 412-420.)
Click here to read more.
Photo: The Rev. David Lux and the Rev. Zach Anderson take part in the April 28 rally in Tampa, Fla., to protest the growing trend across the United States to privatize prisons and detention centers. Photo by Stephanie Ahlschwede.
The list of presenters and awards is nearly complete for the Wednesday, June 6, Celebrate! luncheon, honoring Nebraska laity and clergy ministries.
If you are planning to participate in this event as a presenter, and have not yet reserved your time, please contact Kathryn Witte, Conference communications/marketing director, as soon as possible. Email Witte at firstname.lastname@example.org and she will let you know if time remains in the schedule to accommodate your award presentation or courtesy.
The 2012 Nebraska Annual Conference session, being held June 6-9, at Lincoln St. Mark’s UMC, will again be a site for collecting UMCOR Relief Supplies (Kits and Cleaning Buckets). UMCOR stands for the United Methodist Committee on Relief.
During 2012, UMCOR Sager Brown will celebrate its 20th anniversary, along with 145 years of Methodist mission service on the property in Baldwin, La. During this year, UMCOR’s Relief-Supplies Network Newsletter will feature a segment of UMCOR’s material resources history, from the origins of Sager Brown in 1867, to the development of the kit ministry, building the first depot at Sager Brown, and the growth that has brought into being today a nationwide relief-supply network. Click here for more information on the network.
The UMCOR Relief Supplies Web page also provides a list of UMCOR relief supplies that were distributed during December 2011 and January 2012 to serve people affected by disasters around the world, touching 29,000 lives.
The Rev. Lyle Schoen, Conference Secretary of Global Ministries, reports that UMCOR’s most critical needs right now are for monetary donations, school kits, and cleaning buckets.
“Church groups and individuals can begin to collect supplies, assemble kits, and publicize the needs and opportunities for this annual major mission project of Nebraska United Methodists,” Schoen said. “Monetary donations, designated ‘UMCOR Supplies #531’ may be given through any local United Methodist church and forwarded to UMCOR through the Annual Conference Treasurer.”
Click here to download and print a flier with assembly instructions (PDF).
Photo: The Rev. Lyle Schoen sorts through UMCOR Kits donated at last year's Annual Conference.
Please join us for an informative and educational evening at Aldersgate UMC in Lincoln as a great way to kick-off the week of the Annual Conference. This session, back by popular demand, will help you gain a better understanding of employment law, charitable giving legal issues, and real estate ownership and the Church's "Trust Clause." It is being provided at no cost to all Nebraska United Methodist pastors, Conference delegates, local church officers, board and committee members, and other interested lay members who would like to be better informed about how these issues can and do impact their churches.
Refreshments will be provided after the seminar. Please RSVP to Jackie Urkoski by calling 877-495-5545 or emailing email@example.com.
The seminar will be presented by Andrew M. Loudon, Gail S. Perry, and Jarrod P. Crouse of Baylor Evnen. Speaker bios are available at www.numf.org.
The “Daily Messenger” staff is looking for a few good reporters, photographers and social media aficionados for the 2012 Annual Conference Session. Volunteers are asked to work with Nebraska Conference communicators to tell the stories and report on the proceedings during this year’s session.
Those interested should contact Kathryn Witte at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“This, this is where children belong, welcome as part of the worshiping throng. Water, God’s Word, bread and cup, prayer and song: This is where children belong.” — UMC FWS #2233
Children’s Annual Conference (CAC) 2012 is singing into action. Our biblical lessons will focus on how to worship no matter where you are: close to home, traveling, or helping others near or far. The days will be filled with worship as we gather together for mission work, swimming, crafts, and loads of fun activities. The fun is waiting for your children!
Your child’s involvement with CAC will rekindle old friendships and encourage new ones. This is a time to worship as only children can do through their word and actions.
CAC will take place at Lincoln St. Mark's UMC. Click here to download and print a CAC flier. (PDF)
Questions? Contact call Tammy Wells at 308-928-3111 or 308-991-5189, or email her at email@example.com. Subject CAC.
Registration is now open — go to www.umcneb.org/register.
“Lord, listen to your children praying, Lord, send your Spirit in this place; Lord, listen to your children praying, send us love, send us power, send us grace.” — UMC FWS #2193
Nebraska United Methodist congregations have supported Mission Share giving during the 2012 year at 22.32 percent as of April 30. At the same time period in 2011, Nebraska United Methodist churches had contributed 23.26 percent towards the approved funding plan. Thank you to all churches for your faithful support of our connectional ministries.
Robin Kilgore, Conference Treasurer/Director of Administrative Services
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — More than 600 new United Methodists churches have been planted since 2008, according to Gary A. Shockley, executive office of the Path 1 New Church Starts Division. At this pace, Shockley said, the campaign should surpass the goal set four years ago of having 650 new churches in the United States by the end of 2012. Path 1 is a collaborative partnership with the church’s annual (regional) conferences and the United Methodist Board of Discipleship. The goal of 650 new churches was set by the 2008 General Conference. The new-church pace of 11.8 churches per month is almost three times the monthly rate from 2004 to 2007.
Click here to read more.
“I think this will be an amazing summer that I will never forget!” wrote Elizabeth Swearngin as she applied for the Risk-taking Mission and Justice Ministries internship, the Micah Corps.
Elizabeth is one of six young adults accepted for the fourth summer of the Micah Corps, a 10-week internship which helps young adults deepen their spiritual walk with God, learn about linking faith with social justice action and sharpen their leadership skills.
Elizabeth is completing her junior year at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, majoring in English-Creative Writing. She grew up in Craig, Neb., and participated in church activities such as youth group, volunteering at various suppers, and going on a mission trip to Chicago.
“Throughout my life I have had many learning experiences that will aid this program, like the value of hard work, which my mother and father instilled in me as a child,” she wrote.
Adam Neely is completing his freshman year at Hastings College majoring in theatre and religion with a minor in Christian ministries. He is a member of Christ UMC in Lincoln, but attends Hastings First UMC while in school.
“I believe that this will be an outstanding experience that will show me the inside workings of the United Methodist Church and will also help me when I become a youth pastor,” Adam wrote in his application. “I have taken part in multiple mission trips that worked with the homeless. I am currently taking a class called Race, Gender and Class. We have a focus on inequality in America, including minorities and immigrants.”
Elizabeth and Adam will spend part of their summer learning more about children in poverty in Nebraska and will be sharing what they learn with congregations throughout the Conference.
They will also be teaching the upper elementary class at the week-end School of Christian Mission with a focus on Haiti.
The interns begin Tuesday, May 29 and are supported through your Mission Share dollars!
Stay tuned next week to learn about two more Micah Corps interns!
I am Jenna Williams, from Omaha. I am deeply honored to have been chosen by the Conference to attend the 2012 Ecumenical Advocacy Days in Washington, D.C. The event took place on March 23-26. By receiving this scholarship I was able to be a part of something not only informative, but something extraordinary. Over the course of four articles, I will be sharing my experience to my fellow United Methodist brothers and sisters in Christ. Not only was this my first opportunity to attend Ecumenical Advocacy Days, but it was my first time in Washington, D.C. as well. This opportunity was only going to be great.
I was first presented with this opportunity by my father, the Rev. William Williams. When he first told me about this conference, he knew this was something I would enjoy immensely. So I filled out the application for a scholarship and a month later received news that I was one of two people to receive the scholarship provided through the Peace with Justice Special Offering. I prayed to the Lord to open my find, my heart, and my spirit to be fully accepting of what was to be presented to me during this time. I was opened more than expected, which just goes to show you how wonderful the Lord truly is. The weekend was filled with knowledge, sorrow, and enlightening information about men, women, and kids from all over the world. We also discussed the federal budget and each state lobbied to their state legislatures about the concerns they had about the budget. There was also an exhibit hall, filled with organizations fighting for justice.
I am excited to be able to share my story and what I have learned. I pray that you will be enlightened and as informed as I have been. My mindset is changed because of this experience. The things I learned and the people I met gave me hope that we can make a difference. This can be done one letter at a time and one person at a time.
I hope you will plan to observe Peace with Justice Sunday in your congregation, June 3 or a date more convenient. The offering provides many opportunities for strengthening God’s vision of shalom such as this one give to me!
Many blessings to all of you, and I look forward to sharing my story.
Your sister in Christ,
Omaha Rockbrook UMC
Justice for Our Neighbors of Nebraska (JFON-NE) has been welcoming immigrants into our communities since 1999, by providing free high-quality immigration legal services, education, and advocacy. JFON-NE is a faith-driven organization that operates under the auspices of the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) and the Nebraska Conference Risk-taking Mission and Justice Ministries. It is supported in part through Mission Share dollars.
Providing legal counsel to immigrants in need and providing such protection to the most vulnerable, including abandoned children, battered women, and refugees fleeing persecution is at the heart of our mission. JFON-NE prioritizes representation of immigrants with the greatest need, which includes persons in removal proceedings, asylum applicants, juveniles, and victims of domestic violence. Attached is an example of the type of client JFON-NE has been able to serve. Please take time to read this touching story about a girl named Rosa who would have lost everything had it not been for JFON-NE’s services.
Please visit www.jfon-ne.org to learn more about immigration, JFON-NE, or to sign-up for our monthly newsletter. Consider joining us as a volunteer at one of our monthly immigration legal clinics or at our office in Omaha. Also please consider making a donation; JFON-NE's Advance Number is 895 or you may send a check directly to 2414 "E" Street, Omaha, NE 68107.
Photo: Shaun Downey (paralegal) and Shane Ellison (Regional Attorney) assist JFON-NE client Rosa.
This is an open invitation to all communities of faith to attend a conference on substance abuse, May 10 at the downtown Holiday Inn, in Lincoln.
Congregations are encouraged to bring teams (leader, associate leader, parent, youth leader, etc.) to share in the community discussions. Conference presenter Carlton Hall is an outstanding motivational speaker. In addition to a wealth of information received in the afternoon, we will be issuing an invitation to get involved in the creation of LAM, Lincoln's new Associated Ministries project. Communities of faith provide the most valuable resources in any community. For that reason, the Statewide Substance Abuse Action Coalition (SAAC) is offering this great opportunity. The conference fee is small ($25/person or $50 for a team of three or more). It’s one afternoon you will not want to miss.
For more information, please see the attached flier.
Representatives from the Nebraska United Methodist Bike Ride for Hunger (NUMB) recently presented a check for $11,259.12to the Omaha Food Bank to support the Food Bank’s fight against hunger.
Each year NUMB holds a bicycle tour of Nebraska and riders are asked to collect pledges to support five hunger projects around the world. In addition to the Omaha Food Bank, NUMB also presented checks to the Lincoln Food Bank, Heifer International, Bread for the World and the Nigerian Hunger Relief project of The United Methodist Church. Since it began in 1996, NUMB has contributed over $519,000 to combat hunger around the world.
NUMB 2012 will be June 23-27 and will have overnight stays in Beatrice, Neb., Auburn, Neb., Sabetha, Kan., and Marysville, Kan. during the 300-mile trek.
“This year NUMB has riders coming from 10 different states and also two from Canada,” reports NUMB Director, the Rev. Bill Ritter.
Persons interested in NUMB should visit the NUMB Website, www.numbride.org, for more information or to donate. There are still a few openings on the ride.
Photo: From Left to Right: Food Bank President and CEO Susan Ogden, Sandy Lozier, Ray Preston, Regina Bergman, the Rev. Bill Ritter and Food Bank Public Relations Director Brian Barks.
By Marcia Huff, Risk-taking and Mission Justice volunteer
United Methodist Women (UMW) is the largest denominational faith organization for women. Worldwide they have over 800,000 members working toward the mission of fostering spiritual growth, developing leaders and advocating for justice.
The members of Nebraska United Methodist Women are working hard to make their contributions toward mission. Many brilliant activities and programs have been planned for 2012 to take the Nebraska UMW’s commitment to the next level. To educate the conference and to promote these activities this series will highlight various aspects of the work being done by our Conference’s UMW.
Midwest Mission Distribution Center (MMDC) is a disaster relief facility located in Chatham, Ill. MMDC’s mission is to compassionately help God’s people in need locally, nationally and around the world. The MMDC provide disaster relief kits and resources as well as educational and medical supplies. Although not an official UMW sponsored project, beginning in 2002, Nebraska Methodist women have been making two trips a year to MMDC. The relationship between Methodist women and the MMDC began with a visit by Miriam Miller.
For years Miriam has been traveling to Red Bird Mission in Kentucky and returning home to Nebraska; in 2001 she made a stop at MMDC and decided to take a tour of the facility. She was thoroughly impressed and amazed at the work that was being done. The idea to start mission trips to the MMDC was planted in her heart and in January 2002 the first trip was taken. Led by Miller and Mary Ann Bede, women from Nebraska travel to MMDC each spring and fall. The group drives the seven to eight hours it takes to get to MMDC.
Those who volunteer perform a variety of tasks including cutting, sewing and filling school bags, making hospital gowns and backpacks, cutting rags, packing flood buckets and making birth kits. Nebraska UMW groups also support MMDC by making monetary donations and sending in-kind gifts. Hundreds of pounds of material donations are sent from Nebraskans. Examples of items sent: work gloves, facial dusk masks, flood buckets, tool kits, and personal hygiene products. Women who are not able to travel use their time to make hospital gowns and school bags from home. This is a wonderful way for those who lack mobility travel or who are home bound can make a contribution to MMDC!
To learn about MMDC, visit www.midwestmissiondc.org.
Spring Trip: May 21 – 25; Fall Trip: Sept. 4- 8. Work is done at the center for three days each trip. If you are interesting traveling to volunteer or making a donation to support the trip please email Mary Ann Bede at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 402-421-8264.
By Melva Kube, Karen Warner and Andrea Paret
On Maundy Thursday, April 5, 23 United Methodist Women from nine local units across the Elkhorn Valley District came together to participate in the School of Christian Mission Study (SCM) on Haiti; praying and learning about Haiti’s history, its present situation and its dreams for the future. Haiti’s troubled and yet exciting history reminded us that Haiti’s economy was in deep trouble with a lot of instability and corruption before the earthquake happened in 2010.
This situation made Haiti even more vulnerable when the devastating earthquake hit. Updates from the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) revealed the challenge to help and support Haitian work to rebuild their country in a way that does not harm their efforts. In the two years since the earthquake UMCOR has distributed 137,353 health kits, 300 birthing kits, and 48,928 school kits across Haiti. Volunteers in Mission teams contribute financially to the projects they are working on. The Haiti Response Plan aims to maintain a ratio of at least 2:1 of Haitian workers to volunteers on project sites, resulting in project continuity and local ownership (in the two years the ratio has been 3.5:1). The SCM study ended with each participant writing commitment cards about how we as Christian women can make a difference and support the women and children in Haiti.
Quotes from the book “Hidden in the Rubble” by Gerard Thomas Straub were shared making the connection to Maundy Thursday and the Easter celebration of Christ’s resurrection:
"And so we look forward to the hope of the resurrection, in Haiti, in the world, in our communities, in our families, and in ourselves. Hope is faith in action, and it allows
us to face even the most difficult problems, trusting God for a way through them."
"We live in a world of stark inequality and injustice. So did Jesus. Jesus had a deep concern for those who suffered and were marginalized. So should we.
For the follower of Jesus, compassion is not an option; it's an obligation."
Click here for information about this year’s School of Christian Mission in July.
Missouri River District United Methodist Men (UMMen) gathered Saturday, April 21, for a service project supporting the Intercultural Senior Center and to learn more about the plans for Hispanic ministry in the district.
Twelve men worked at three sites in south Omaha doing yard work and home repairs for Hispanic seniors in need during the afternoon. That evening, 30 people attended a dinner provided by the Hispanic community at St. James UMC in Bellevue. Seven churches in the district were represented.
District Superintendent Dr. Dan Flanagan presented his vision for Hispanic ministry in the Missouri River District, stressing the importance of reaching out to the Hispanic community as the demographics of neighborhoods around our churches change. Juan Carlos Veloso told the story of his calling to start a Spanish language worship community in Bellevue and how that group found a church home as part of St James UMC that has allowed them to expand their ministry and service to the Hispanic community.
By Maureen Vetter
We are blessed to have a potter in our church community — Nancy Fairbanks has been a potter all of her adult life after getting her degree in art at Nebraska Wesleyan University.
Fairbanks makes a living off of creating pottery and after a conversation with her a few years ago she and I dreamed up the idea to have her create 60 or 70 bowls for missions! She would create bowls at her cost as her mission project, we would pay her at cost and the rest of the event ticket price ($15) would go to three mission causes chosen by each Grand Island United Methodist church for a progressive dinner.
Since the new UM4GI (United Methodists for Grand Island) Cooperative Parish in Grand Island has been forming the last two years, it seemed like a good time to get into the three church buildings, to meet folks from the other churches and to do a mission project together. A progressive meal with handmade bowls sounded like an especially great idea for Palm Sunday!
This was our second year for the progressive mission dinner, with salads at Trinity UMC, soups at Faith UMC and dessert at First UMC. Folks have had fun carpooling to the three churches or riding the church bus, many making new friends on the way. We wash the bowls between stops to be more green too!
The three causes chosen this year were Red Bird Mission (Faith UMC), Habitat for Humanity (First UMC) and the Nigeria Orphanage/Hassan Fund (Trinity UMC).
Some people wanted to BYOB, or Bring Your Own Bowl, this year and reuse their bowl from last year; the whole amount of their ticket ($15) would go to missions.
We raised about $700 Palm Sunday evening again that was divided by ticket sales, and our bowls remind us of MISSIONS now all year round.
Special thanks to Nancy Fairbanks as the colorful, shiny bowls she creates from clay and glaze on her potter's wheel are what we look forward to each year, along with our giving to missions!
Photo: Some of the attendees of the progressive dinner select their bowls.
Congregations are invited to turn an umbrella upside down and receive a shower of offerings to help Camp Norwesca with water projects aimed at repairing some of the infrastructure as well as to enable enhancements to the camp experience. For more information, contact Norwesca Director Valerie Rahrs at email@example.com.
youTheology is a Saint Paul School of Theology program focused on developing Christian leadership skills in high school youth as well as developing the skills of youth workers. Participants are involved in activities that help deepen their faith and offered opportunities for loving and serving God. youTheology is also a resource for help in developing youth leaders.
Click here to find out more about what’s happening at youTheology — Saint Paul School of Theology and how you can be involved in preparing young leaders.
Newman United Methodist Church in Lincoln is planning a mission trip to Lydia Patterson Institute (LPI) June 10-15, 2012.
For more information, view the attached flier.
A real life look at the system of capital punishment: Risk-taking Mission and Justice Ministries endorses the witness of Nebraskans Against the Death Penalty.
As you are aware, "The Social Principles of The United Methodist Church" affirm: “We believe the death penalty denies the power of Christ to redeem, restore, and transform all human beings . . . We believe all human life is sacred and created by God and therefore, we must see all human life as significant and valuable” (Social Principles, ¶164 G). Even with such a strong statement, many United Methodists remain unaware of our church’s position and uneducated about the death penalty in the United States.
One way of engaging people in a discussion about the death penalty is through the lens of innocence. Since 1976 there have been 140 people exonerated from death row after evidence revealed that they were sentenced to die for crimes they did not commit. That means that for every 9 executions carried out there has been 1 person released from death row because they were innocent. That is a startling error rate that should give everyone pause.
The United Methodist General Board of Church and Society (GBCS) has developed an exciting partnership with an organization called Witness to Innocence, which helps match death row exonerees with audiences in order to give a real life look at the system of capital punishment. This is an opportunity to have one of those 140 people come and tell their story to your congregation.
If this partnership is of interest to you, please contact Stacy Anderson at Nebraskans Against the Death Penalty. She will be glad to coordinate with Witness to Innocence and GBCS and help you plan how to present this in your community. Anderson can be reached at 402-477-7787 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If inviting an exoneree to your congregation doesn’t seem like the right tool for engaging in this issue, consider at least devoting one week to raising this issue on a Sunday. This can take the form of a table with information at the back of the sanctuary, an adult education class devoted to the topic, a sermon on the subject, a guest speaker, or any other action that helps raise awareness of the death penalty. Nebraskans Against the Death Penalty is willing to help you plan your Death Penalty-focused Sunday, provide materials, send a speaker, or help in any way to make this easiest for you.
I think we can agree that this is a matter of some urgency, as the state of Nebraska continues to seek executions. Will you join me in encouraging our UMC members to engage and take action on this important issue?
Nebraskans Against the Death Penalty
Do you ever feel that there is no one you can trust and that promises are made simply to be broken? As Christian women it is important to be reminded often that God has promised to never leave or forsake us and that God’s promises are true and unshakeable. We can always trust God to be there for us no matter what hurt or disappointment may come our way.
“The Shelter of God’s Promises” is a 10-week study by Bible teacher and inspirational speaker Sheila Walsh. Using Scripture, Bible stories and her own powerful personal stories, Walsh offers women a study on what God has promised us, what those promises mean and that God’s promises are eternal, offering us a foundation for daily hope and joy.
The 10 lessons are:
Both a leader and participant guide are included with the study.
Encourage the women in your church to join you this summer in a Bible study that will bring them not only a renewed sense of companionship with other Christian women, but will renew within them a deep sense of God’s abiding love for them. To learn about other women’s studies at the Resource Center call Diane Dunkerson at 1-800-435-6107 or email her at email@example.com. Also browse our on line catalog at www.umcneb.org/ResourceCenter for other wonderful women’s studies.
Platte Woods UMC in Missouri has three openings. Click here to view this employment listing.
The Westerville UMC, in Westerville, Neb., has some furniture for sale. Click here to view the posting on the classifieds page.
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