UMNS Briefs

February 17, 2011

Discounts Available for Wesleyan Pilgrimage
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) United Methodist clergy and lay leaders who want to follow the footsteps of John and Charles Wesley may take advantage of early-registration discounts for a 10-day Wesleyan Pilgrimage to England in November. In addition, scholarships are available for provisional members. The Nov. 7-17 pilgrimage is being sponsored by the United Methodist Board of Discipleship and Board of Higher Education and Ministry.

An early registration discount of $400 is available through April 29, and a discount of $200 will be available from April 30 through July 31. After Aug. 1, the cost will be $2,395, except for provisional members. The Board of Higher Education and Ministry is making $1,000 scholarships available for provisional elders and deacons. More information is available here.

World Council of Churches Ponders Assembly Theme
GENEVA, Switzerland (UMNS) — The Rev. Walter Altmann, moderator of the World Council of Churches' Central Committee, argued forcefully Feb. 16 that unity should be included along with justice and peace, in the theme for the next assembly of the world's largest ecumenical body. The planning committee for the October 2013 assembly in Busan, South Korea, is proposing a choice of two suggested themes – "God of life, lead us to justice and peace," or "In God's world, called to be one."
 
"The proposed themes should not be seen as basically alternatives," the Brazilian Lutheran said in his opening address to the 150-member Central Committee (which includes United Methodist representatives), meeting Feb. 16-22. "Each of these two perspectives is part of the one overall understanding of the ecumenical calling and commitment that unites our fellowship."
 
March 4 World Day of Prayer Highlights Women of Chile
NEW YORK (UMNS) — The World Day of Prayer, an ecumenical event led by Christian women around the world for more than a century, will highlight the women of Chile on March 4. The 2011 theme of the annual event is "How Many Loaves Have You?" based on the biblical story (in Mark 6:30-44) of Jesus' feeding of 5,000 persons. Prayers on March 4 will follow the lead of Chilean women "to enter a process that draws us into the Bible, into the context of Chile, and into the real situations of our lives and communities," planners say. Find more information here.
 
Advocates to Rally in Support of Economic Justice for Women and Families
WASHINGTON (UMNS) — More than 700 people of faith are expected to visit Capitol Hill March 25-28 to advocate for development, security, and economic justice, especially for women and girls, at the ninth-annual Ecumenical Advocacy Days. Policymakers, expert speakers, and representatives from global regions will join church leaders and grassroots activists in reflecting on the 2011 Ecumenical Advocacy Days conference theme, "Development, Security, and Economic Justice: What's Gender Got to Do with It?"
 
"Gender's got a lot to do with it," said event coordinator Douglas G. Grace. "Around the world, women and girls comprise 70 percent of those living in poverty." He added, "Not specifically a gathering on 'gender issues,' this year's conference is for men and women of faith who want to be a force for change for the betterment of all." The United Methodist Church's Board of Church and Society is a sponsor. Find more information and registration information here.
 
Institute for Small Churches Planned
FAYETTEVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — A Small Church Leadership Institute will be held March 20-24 at Mount Sequoyah in Fayetteville. Speakers include the Rev. Tex Sample, former academic dean at Saint Paul School of Theology in Kansas City, Missouri, and retired Bishop Bruce Blake. The purpose of this event is to equip laity and pastors with the skills they need for leading their small-attendance churches. A limited number of scholarships are available. More information is available here.

U.S. Rural Church Realities
DURHAM, N.C. (UMTV)  When a church exists in an area where there are fewer than 200 people per square mile, it's considered rural. There are about 20,000 United Methodist rural congregations in the U.S. – more than 60 percent of the denomination in the country. Despite these significant numbers, a 2010 survey revealed that rural church members often feel unheard and misunderstood. Watch video here.
 
Harvest Hope: The Rural Church in America
Burdens or blessings? A multimedia United Methodist News Service series explores the current state of rural churches in the U.S. and ideas to keep them alive and well. The series is available at www.umc.org/rural.