United Methodist Church News Feed

Agency employees to see changes in pay scales
The General Council on Finance and Administration board unanimously approved new pay ranges for agency staff, despite objections of agency top executives.
‘Missio Dei’ proves challenging colloquy topic
Board of Higher Education and Ministry gathers United Methodist bishops, seminary scholars for discussion of God’s mission for the church
Uniting participants call for unity, bravery
More than 400 people participated in a conference that emphasized The United Methodist Church’s strengths despite its differences over LGBTQ issues.
Joining the call for peace on Korean Peninsula
United Methodists need to educate themselves, others to become faithful advocates for peacebuilding.
AU campus, students safe amid Zimbabwe unrest
Classes were held as usual at Africa University on Nov. 15 while United Methodists prayed for their country as the military took control in Zimbabwe.
‘Poldark’ on PBS features Methodist storyline
Popular MASTERPIECE drama set in 18th century Cornwall, England, shows how Methodism renewed heartfelt faith.
Mudslide survivors worried over future
Camps for survivors of August mudslides, flooding in Sierra Leone will close Nov. 15.
Native American creates an oasis for troubled teens
“Bugsy” Barnoski sees himself in the young people at Oklahoma’s Rougher Alternative Academy. He’s made it his mission to help them find their purpose and embrace their Native heritage.
Bishops: Be respectful in difficult times
As the church’s debate about its future intensifies, bishops say they are hearing of increased animosity leading in some cases to disrupted worship.
Commentary: The church’s news and why it matters
Today more than ever, The United Methodist Church and society in general need professional news reporting.

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The Generous Soul

Why overcoming the Scrooge in all of us begins with gratitude.

One of my not-so-winsome Christmas traditions involves complaining to family members about the relentlessness of The Christmas Carol. Every year it seems there is another spin-off or remake of Charles Dickens’s classic. While I love the story, I am fatigued by the repetition. Ebenezer comes to his senses every December 25 but then reverts to being all Scrooge-like again in time for the next holiday season. Dickens penned this story 174 years ago—maybe it’s time for a new Christmas classic.

Still, even with my grumbling, I keep reading and watching The Christmas Carol or its variants most years. Some inner force draws me there even as my cortex complains.

Maybe one of the reasons that Scrooge has survived so long is that Dickens speaks to some primordial inner conflict that all of us know, and perhaps this inner conflict is even more ubiquitous than the movies and books and plays that I mutter about each Advent. The conflict between miser and benefactor, between thrift and munificence, is so familiar to each of us and powerful enough to keep us watching and reading Dickens year after year.

One part of us, like the miserly Scrooge, wants to live with fists closed, accumulating possessions even if it hurts others, focusing on our own goals and achievements, protecting ourselves by shutting out relational risk and the pain of the world. But another part, a better part, sees more complexity in the world, recognizes blessings, holds palms up to heaven, and gives time, empathy, and money to others as a reflection of gratitude for all the gifts life offers, including the gift of life itself.

If Scrooge persists in order to remind us of this inner tension, then perhaps I should be more patient, and even grateful, that ...

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Inclusive Leadership: What We Need to Be Effective Leaders in Today’s Diverse World

Are you close friends with someone who is significantly different?

As a PhD student studying inclusive leadership,* I’m exploring how leaders effectively assemble a diverse team of people and then ensure their different perspectives are included and valued.

I’m curious to know…

  • How can a team of missionaries from different parts of the globe effectively work together to reach others for Christ?
  • How can the actions of the head of an NGO communicate that the locals are real contributing partners whose opinions matter?
  • How can a pastor lead a church towards including people from many different ethnicities and walks of life?

As a Christian, I see this way of valuing and including human variety as something grounded in Scripture. In 1 Corinthians 12, Paul talks about the unity and diversity of the Body of Christ. After reminding the Corinthian church that many different people together make up the Body of Christ, he chastises them for being jealous of others or dismissing someone else’s contribution. Each person’s unique giftings, culture, gender, personality, and background all add something to a group that no one else can.

I suspect if I stopped writing at this point, most Christians would walk away nodding their heads, “Yes! Each of us is a unique creation of God and is important for the healthy functioning of the community.”

If only it were that simple.

Just turn on the news, peruse Facebook, read some Twitter posts. I’m sure you see where I’m going with this. There aren’t a lot of places where we can witness healthy dialogue around God-given differences. In today’s ever-increasingly connected world, clarity on how diversity can be generative is still often elusive. Even in the church.

It has become a cliché that the most segregated ...

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‘Wonder’ Reveals the Face of True Human Strength

What the box-office hit tells us about beauty, weakness, and the imago Dei.

Wonder opens with a boy wearing a space helmet. August Pullman is a child who lives in his imagination—as evidenced by Chewbacca and Darth Sidious showing up from time to time in his classroom. He dreams of being normal and longs to be unnoticed.

In the opening scene, we see a montage of his ordinary life: August playing video games, riding on the merry-go-round at the park, jumping on the bed. In every shot, he wears the space helmet. When he finally takes it off in front of his window, we recognize in his reflection exactly why he longs to keep his face covered. The image that stares back at us is a face stretched and scarred, eyes that seem weighted downward, a nose that protrudes unnaturally, and a mouth that looks as though it’s been built by surgical procedures. His bulletin board—covered entirely with hospital bracelets—gives evidence of a lifelong medical struggle.

Based on the best-selling novel by R. J. Palacio, the family flick Wonder stars Julia Roberts, Owen Wilson, and Jacob Tremblay as their son, the main character. The film netted $27 million at the box office on opening weekend alone and has been accompanied by a popular social media campaign led by the Twitter hashtag #choosekind.

Although it’s never clearly stated in the movie nor in the book by the same name, Auggie likely has Treacher Collins syndrome. His older sister, Via, tells her boyfriend that both her parents carry the rare gene that, when combined, made his facial differences possible. “Auggie won the lottery,” she says.

Every child with a disability has won some kind of lottery. “The lottery” is how my husband and I have always talked about our son with Down syndrome, whose condition is much ...

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