News In Brief - January 6, 2012
Brief items for use in local church newsletters
Prepared by United Methodist News Service
Minnesota United Methodists have raised $2,226,023 in pledges and gifts for Imagine No Malaria,The United Methodist Church's campaign to eliminate malaria deaths in sub-Saharan Africa by 2015. That total is the highest amount raised by a United Methodist annual (regional) conference to date. Imagine No Malaria, in partnership with other groups, already has diminished the death toll through medical aid, preventive measures, education and communication. United Methodists around the world are working to raise $75 million for the mission. The commitment from the Minnesota Conference now puts the amount raised at more than $19 million.
The United Methodist Board of Pension and Health Benefits announced Jan. 3 its decision to prohibit investment in companies that derive more than 10 percent of revenue from the management and operation of prison facilities. The board decided that profiting from the incarceration of other people was inconsistent with the denomination's Social Principles. The week after Christmas, the board sold nearly $1 million in stock in two companies that fell under the new screen - Corrections Corporation of America, more commonly called CCA, and the GEO Group. With almost $17 billion in assets, the United Methodist program is the largest church pension fund - and 80th largest pension fund - in the United States.
Strengthening the connection between U.S. farmers and the need for more nutritious food is the focus of Bread for the World's 2012 Hunger Report, "Rebalancing Act: Updating U.S. Food and Farm Policies." United Methodists have worked for years with Bread for the World, a Christian advocacy group dedicated to educating the public and urging U.S. decision-makers to end hunger at home and abroad. An accompanying Christian study guide allows people of faith to discuss how changes to U.S. food and farm policies can affect the poor and hungry while viewing the themes of the annual hunger report through a biblical lens. The study is available at www.hungerreport.org/2012/study-guide.
Stories of how people live out their faith through daily service and activities that glorify God and benefit God's people will be told in an ABC-TV special that will begin airing Jan. 8. The special, "Every Day is Sunday! Living Out Our Faith Together," is hosted by New York's Marble Collegiate Church and presented by the National Council of Churches through the Interfaith Broadcasting Commission. Check local listings.
The United Methodist Committee on Relief office in the Philippines is continuing to provide relief to survivors of Typhoon Sendong, also known as Typhoon Washi, which struck the southern Philippines, triggering flash floods. In Cagayan De Oro, staff distributed blankets and mats in the wee hours of the morning Dec. 22 as people sought shelter on the streets while a cold rain poured down. Donations can be made at http://goo.gl/IMGBL.
Last March, the United Methodist Committee on Relief introduced a fish farm program to improve livelihoods in a South Sudan village. The members of the Worok fishpond group in Kenyi Payam of Lainya County are pleased with the results. You can learn more about the program at http://goo.gl/8oGVF.
Margaret Ellen "Peggy" Railey, the victim of a brutal attack in 1987 that shocked The United Methodist Church, died Dec. 26 in a Tyler nursing home. She was 63. Railey was found strangled in the Dallas home she shared with her husband, Walker Railey, the prominent senior pastor of First United Methodist Church in downtown Dallas. The attack left her unable to communicate and in need of 24-hour care. Walker Railey, who surrendered his clergy credentials months after the attack, said he was with his lover at the time of the attack and was found not guilty in 1993 criminal proceedings. He was, however, found liable in an earlier civil proceeding. He ended his marriage to Peggy Railey in 1998, and now resides in California."What has often been lost in the midst of the publicity around this tragedy is that she (Peggy Railey) was a loving mother and spouse, a talented sacred musician and a Christian woman of strong faith," said the Rev. John F. Fiedler, now senior pastor of First United Methodist Church, in a statement on behalf of the congregation
Eleven professors at United Methodist-related colleges, universities and theological schools have received the Exemplary Teacher Award from the United Methodist Board of Higher Education and Ministry. Faculty members were nominated and selected based on exemplary teaching, service to students beyond the classroom and commitment to values-centered education. The program expresses the church's support of and appreciation for outstanding teaching at United Methodist-related colleges and universities. More information is at http://goo.gl/Y62tx.
The Human Relations Day offering is set for Jan. 15.The offering supports vital community ministries that teach and advocate for justice, especially among people struggling to survive in the margins of society. As one example, a Human Relations Day grant is helping students at United Methodist-related Philander Smith College in Little Rock, Ark., participate in the United Methodist Voluntary Service program.
Faith Advocates for Jobs, a campaign initiated by United Methodist partner Interfaith Worker Justice, will sponsor a national interfaith service to honor the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and highlight his championship of worker justice. The service will be at 3-5 p.m. Jan. 16 at Shiloh Baptist Church in Washington.