News Briefs


By United Methodist News Service 

African bishops glad they could host recent Council of Bishops meeting
United Methodist bishops across Africa were elated that the denomination’s Council of Bishops decided to conduct its first meeting outside the United States. Seventy bishops met in Mozambique Nov. 1-6 for the council’s semiannual meeting. Bishop Kainda Katembo, Southern Congo, spoke for his colleagues when he said, “I think all the African bishops are more than happy to have it here.”

Conferences may disagree, but not violate Book of Discipline,’ Judicial Council rules
The United Methodist Church’s top court says the denomination’s regional conferences may pass petitions that disagree with court decisions, as long as they do not mandate any violation of the Book of Discipline or ignore directives included in those decisions. The United Methodist Judicial Council, meeting in Cincinnati, considered several petitions that stemmed from a ruling it issued last fall, Decision 1032, which dealt with a Virginia pastor who denied membership to an openly gay man. The nine-member council ruled that a pastor has the right to determine who is ready for church membership. During last summer’s annual meeting of the Baltimore-Washington Annual Conference, a petition encouraging churches to be inclusive was ruled to be in order by Bishop John R. Schol because it “represented the hope of the annual conference.” Judicial Council agreed with Schol. A petition from the Kansas East Annual Conference went beyond the court’s standard, the council said, but did not violate the specific paragraphs in the Book of Discipline that were cited in the request for a decision. The difference is in the wording. 

Heavily damaged by Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans church finally reopens
 Almost a year and two months after Hurricane Katrina struck, Bethany United Methodist Church in New Orleans rededicated its newly renovated worship center. During the 2005 storm, the church’s sanctuary and buildings sustained almost 11 feet of standing flood water. An overflow crowd of more than 520 at the Oct. 22 service included people from California, Maryland, Arizona, Tennessee, Texas, Mississippi and Georgia who had served on work teams to rebuild the church. “Katrina brought us to our knees as it relates to the possessions we have accumulated over the years,” said the Rev. Hadley Edwards. “The devastation of Hurricane Katrina brought us to uncomfortable places. But in those places, we became more God-centered, power-filled and more aware of our Savior’s love and trust. God gave more than Katrina could have ever taken away.”  

New Web site seeks to help recruit young adults into Methodist ministry, a Web site launched Nov. 6, is the newest piece of the United Methodist Board of Higher Education and Ministry’s efforts to develop young clergy for the church. Youth and young adults attending EXPLORATION 2006, Nov. 17-19, in Jacksonville, Fla., will receive a CD with information about the Web site and other resources.