News In Brief - March 30, 2012

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News in Brief March 30, 2012
Brief items for use in local church newsletters
Prepared by United Methodist News Service

As the 2012 General Conference approaches, United Methodist News Service continues to offer information to help readers better understand how the church works. A number of proposals are aimed at restructuring the denomination and its general ministries, so UMNS asked the top executives of each agency to answer five questions about their agency's role in the church. This week's responses are from the Board of Pensions and Health Benefits, the Board of Church and Society, the Commission on the Status and Role of Women and United Methodist Communications. To read about how the agencies work, visit

The United Methodist News Service is reporting on activities related to General Conference 2012, the denomination's top lawmaking body, which will meet April 24-May 4 in Tampa, Fla.UMNS reports appear as they occurand also can be found onGeneral Conference 2012. Among the stories this week:

The General Conference delegation from the Arkansas Annual (regional) Conference has issued its response to various proposals to restructure The United Methodist Church's general agencies. "The Arkansas delegation agrees that The United Methodist Church must change in spirit and structure in order to fulfill its mission of making disciples of Jesus Christ for the Transformation of the World," the delegation's statement said. The delegates then listed the principles they would use in guiding its decision-making at General Conference, the denomination's top lawmaking body.Read full statement.

Ueen Joung (Cindy) Chang, 26, a member of a United Methodist Korean-American congregation in San Jose, Calif., who was detained for several weeks in Arizona on an immigration charge after being stopped on her way to a wedding, was released March 27. "Her case is still being in review in the ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) but she is being released under supervision without bail," said her pastor, the Rev. Sunae Frances Cho of Korean United Methodist Church in Santa Clara Valley. "We did not expect this to happen."

The National Federation of Asian American United Methodists and Black Methodists for Church Renewal have joined with a 2012 General Conference coalition that supports all people regardless of race, gender or sexual orientation in The United Methodist Church. This will be the first time two of the denomination's ethnic caucuses has joined with the Love Your Neighbor Common Witness Coalition, founded in the mid-1990s by Affirmation, Methodist Federation for Social Action and Reconciling Ministries Network, three unofficial United Methodist organizations.

Two hundred and six students from 44 countries will receive more than $1 million in leadership study grants for the 2012-2013 academic year from the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries.

Churches continue to feel the effects of "the Great Recession" of 2008 as contributions dropped $1.2 billion, according to the National Council of Churches' "2012 Yearbook of American & Canadian Churches."

Three young people from the Greater New Jersey Annual (regional) Conference are featured in a video promoting "Taizé: Pilgrimage of Trust" in Chicago this spring. The three were part of pilgrimages that New Jersey Area Bishop Sudarshana Devadhar annually leads to the ecumenical community in France. To watch video, visit

The Rev. Karen Greenwaldt, top executive of the United Methodist Board of Discipleship, will remain in her position for an additional year to help provide stability and leadership during the period immediately following the 2012 General Conference. Greenwaldt's term was to end this year. However, the agency's board voted overwhelmingly to use a provision in the Book of Discipline, the denomination's law book, which allows extension of service on an annual basis.

Religious leaders and organizations responded last week to concerns raised over the shooting death of Florida teenager Trayvon Martin. Some donned hoodies and went to church to pray for justice for the slain teen.

Other responses from Christian groups included:

  • "While people of faith must be agents for healing once these tragedies occur, we can and must also work to prevent such tragedies from occurring in the first place," said staff leaders of the United Methodist Board of Church and Society in aMarch 29 statement. "We call on our legislators to pass policies that protect our children and make the use of firearms a truly rare occurrence."
  • United Methodist Bishop Larry Goodpaster, president of the denomination's Council of Bishops, was among the signers of a March 28 statement fromChurches Uniting in Christcommitting "to raise the underlying issues of Trayvon's killing in our churches and wider society."
  • Erin Hawkins, the top executive of the United Methodist Commission on Religion and Race, said in a statement Martin's death "reminds us that the work for moving from racism to relationships is far from over."
  • The Pan-Methodist Commission also sent a letterMarch 24 to Florida's attorney general and the U.S. attorney general expressing outrage over Martin's death and the lack of action by law enforcement regarding George Zimmerman, the shooter.
  • President Kathryn M. Lohre and staff leader Clare J. Chapman of the National Council of Churches said March 26 in astatementthey were "profoundly disturbed" by the killing of Trayvon Martin and expressed concern about the racial stereotyping and endemic racism that sparks confrontations of the kind that led to Martin's death.
  • The Rev. Larry Hollon, top executive of United Methodist Communications, in his blog post "Trayvon Martin and the Muted Voice of the Mainline Church," discusses the need for United Methodists and other mainline Protestants to make their announcements part of the national U.S. media conversation.

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