Church urged to keep focus on poverty

NEW YORK – In a meeting with denominational leaders, an international aid specialist urged United Methodists not to slack off or give in to the “sin of despair” in the church’s ongoing work to conquer poverty. Mary Roodkowsky, an executive with UNICEF, said that religious communities are essential in making the links among people on the different sides of economic divides, to make clear the “shared humanity” and to get everyone engaged in responding to needs.

Global AIDS Fund launches ‘20/20’ campaign

NEW YORK – The United Methodist Global AIDS Fund has launched a new campaign: “20/20: Visioning an AIDS-Free World.” A $20 donation can stop the transmission of HIV from a mother to child; teach young people and adults how to prevent HIV; be used for church workshops to fight stigma and discrimination or feed an HIV-positive person for a month or more, enabling them to take their medicine and lead productive lives. Support to the United Methodist Global AIDS Fund, can be made through UMCOR Advance #982345.

Council of Bishops calls for dialogue

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Bishop Larry M. Goodpaster, president of the United Methodist Council of Bishops, released a statement Feb. 3 calling for “thoughtful, prayerful dialogue about sensitive and challenging issues.” His statement follows the Jan. 31 release of a document signed by 33 retired United Methodist bishops that calls for the church to remove its ban on homosexual clergy.

Court takes up membership, marriage

DURHAM, N.C. — The United Methodist Judicial Council again is being asked to reconsider a 2005 decision allowing a pastor to bar a gay man from joining his congregation. During its April 27-30 meeting, the council also will take up a request from the New York Conference, deferred from its October meeting, for a ruling on the validity of a policy related to clergy and same-sex marriage.

Global Fund takes steps to prevent fraud

GENEVA – The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria on Feb. 4 announced extra measures to reinforce financial safeguards after its inspector general discovered the misuse of grant money in four countries. Those measures include expanding the mandate of those who monitor expenditures, doubling the budget of the fund’s inspector general and increasing the staff responsible for financial management. The United Methodist Church’s Imagine No Malaria ( campaign contributed $590,000 to The Global Fund in December. But the money had not yet been released when the fraud was detected and was held as The Global Fund carried out its review.

Western Jurisdiction to realign episcopal areas

SAN FRANCISCO – The Western Jurisdiction College of Bishops of The United Methodist Church plans to realign episcopal areas in 2012. The plan calls for the current Portland and Seattle areas - covering the Oregon-Idaho and the Pacific Northwest Conferences and the Alaska Conference – to become one episcopal area. A transition team is being formed to consider details of the realignment. The Western Jurisdiction covers 11 western U.S. states, Guam and Saipan.

United Methodism grows in a healed Rwanda

KIGALI, Rwanda – Sixteen years ago, the people of Rwanda endured a brutal genocide. Today, the country has been reborn, and The United Methodist Church there has expanded to 16,032 members, in 26 churches and five districts, since 1995. In December, Rwanda hosted the East Africa Annual Conference session, comprising members from Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Sudan and Uganda.

British Methodists transcribing Bible by hand

MANCHESTER, England – In an age when a hand-written letter is an increasingly scarce commodity, British Methodists have pledged to transcribe all 66 books of the Bible by hand during the first five months of this year. The “Written by Hand, Taken to Heart” national initiative is part of the denomination’s recognition of the 400th anniversary of the publication of the King James Bible.

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