connections: The Fourth Sunday of Advent
On the Fourth Sunday of Advent, Bishop Ward reflects on Christ’s birth and the peace that can come in sub-Saharan Africa by giving to the Imagine No Malaria campaign.
ePistle: Peace on Earth
Peace on Earth, Good Will to All: A Pastoral Letter from Bishop Hope Morgan Ward. Glory to God and on earth peace! – Luke 2:14. I greet you in the name of the One who comes embodying peace and offering peace to all. In Advent, our churches use beautiful hues of purple and blue on pulpits, communion tables and banners. Blue is the ancient color for Advent, the color of the Bethlehem sky and the color of Mary’s garments in classical Christian art. Purple, the color of royalty, summons us to a posture of humble, penitent yearning for the fullness of life the Messiah brings. These colors guide us during this turbulent time in our nation: grief, frustration and pain continue as people confess the fear and violence evident in Ferguson and New York and in our own communities here in North Carolina. more
Sacred Conversations: Because Black Lives Matter
Whether scanning the latest happenings on Twitter and Facebook, reading the newspaper or sitting down and watching the news, it’s hard to miss the continuous stream of stories about racial violence. “Black Americans make up 13 percent of the US population, but the FBI’s data shows that 32 percent of the felons killed by officers in 2012 were black. Fifty-two percent were white, and 12 percent were Hispanic.” (http://www.vox.com/2014/8/21/6051043/how-many-people-killed-police-statistics-homicide-official-black). As people called to love our neighbors as ourselves, we invite you to come be a part of the Sacred Conversations: Because Black Lives Matter event, Jan. 28, 6:30–8:30 p.m., at Duke Memorial United Methodist Church. The purpose of this gathering is to be in prayer and conversation with our sisters and brothers around the issue of anti-Black violence in our communities and our nation. We believe the church should be involved in discussions of race as both a prophetic voice and an instrument for change when and where needed. Our goal in this holy conversation is to create paths of solidarity, integrity, honesty, respect, compassion and action. To learn more, please contact Albert Shuler at firstname.lastname@example.org
Food arrives in time for Christmas in Ebola-ravaged village
A $15,000 Ebola response grant from the UM Committee on Relief has made Christmas a lot brighter for 350 families in the Topoe Village, outside of Monrovia, Liberia, through the distribution of much needed food. “This is going to make my Christmas better,” said Soko Kanneh, one of the recipients of a month’s ration of rice, fish, beans, salt and vegetable oil. Mammie Myers, a pregnant woman, walked away with a 25-kilogram (55-pound) bag of rice on her head. “It came on time, thanks to the church,” she said of the food.
Honor family and friends while feeding the hungry
While many families celebrate the joyous Christmas season, many Americans experience hunger and poverty. America is still the richest nation on earth, but some 40 million citizens suffer in poverty. This Christmas, give them hope by honoring a loved one with a gift donation to feed the hungry. Each $12 gift donation to the Society of St. Andrew provides about 600 servings of fresh, nutritious food to hungry families. It’s such a sincere and loving way to feed the hungry and honor special people in your life. And when you do, each person honored will receive an exclusive Alternative Christmas Card announcing the generous gift in their name.
4th Quarter Critical Drivers due Jan. 5
Reminder to Pastors – It is now time to enter your Critical Drivers data for the fourth quarter. The data entry page for critical drivers is available on the https://forms.nccumc.org and the deadline is Jan. 5. Please log-in and enter your church’s third quarter information to ensure it is included in the reports submitted to the Cabinet.
Discovering ways to engage young adults
The statistics are alarming: 19 out of 20 people under the age of 35 do not participate in Christian worship each week. The NC Conference is offering a workshop and coaching relationship for local churches to increase their capacity to engage younger adults in a discipleship pathway leading to a growing relationship with Christ and the church. The first workshop is scheduled for Feb. 20-21, at Spring Hill UMC in Lillington. The principles and practices taught and coached in this process have been derived from hundreds of interviews and relationships with people under the age of 35 who are actively involved in United Methodist churches. For more information about participating in this on-going training, go to Engaging Young Adults.
Sad at Christmas? Advice for coping with holiday blues
December is filled with “magical” Christmas movies, gift shopping, and songs proclaiming this as “the most wonderful time of the year.” There is pressure to be jolly, but sometimes we are not. If you or someone you love is struggling with the Christmas blues, you are not alone. To help with what may be a challenging Christmas season, here is sound advice from United Methodist pastors, counselors, and others.
Human Relations Day is January 18, 2015
Turn on the news or drive around the outskirts of your town and you will find what Jesus called “the least of these” – persons living in the margins of society, struggling to survive. Over and over Jesus served people like this and that’s what we want to model as the people of The United Methodist Church. To continue the ministry of Jesus, Human Relations Day was established as a Special Sunday that calls UM churches to participate in helping all God’s children to realize their potential.
The new vine newsletter
Thanks to feedback from so many of you, we’ve decided to continue publishing Belton Joyner’s Bible studies and Karl Zorowski’s Church Mice. These two pieces accompanied by a variety of church-related advertisements will comprise a new publication called vine. You can access digital copies of vine, beginning with the January issue, online at: Advocate/vine. vine, like Every Day Grace magazine, will be offered free for as long as possible. We are so very excited to offer this new publication and look forward to continuing to hear from you.
Director of Communications
IRS standard mileage rates for 2015 announced
The Internal Revenue Service issued the 2015 standard mileage rates used to calculate the deductible costs of operating an automobile for business, charitable, medical or moving purposes. Beginning Jan. 1, 2015, the standard mileage rates for the use of a car (also vans, pickups or panel trucks) will be: 57.5 cents per mile for business miles driven; 23 cents per mile driven for medical or moving purposes; and 14 cents per mile driven in service of charitable organizations.
Close-out period for 2014 apportionments
In order to receive credit for 2014, apportionment and advance specials payments must be received in the Conference Treasurer’s Office by 8:30 a.m. on Wednesday, January 21, 2015. Click here for more details and mailing instructions. To check your church’s balance, visit the District Remittances page to view reports, which will be updated daily beginning in January. If you notice a discrepancy from your records, please contact the Treasurer’s Office as soon as possible so that it can be corrected in a timely manner.
Conference Journal is now online
The 2014 Conference Journal is now online. Please go to the Conference Secretary’s Office webpage to view the Journal online.
**This will be the last News Briefs emailed in 2014. News Briefs will return on January 6. The UM Building will be closed for Christmas on Dec. 24-25 and for the New Year’s holiday on Jan. 1, 2015. We wish you peace and joy.