News Briefs: Dirdak leaves post at top executive at UMCOR


By United Methodist News Service 

The Rev. Paul Dirdak has left his position as chief executive of the United Methodist Committee on Relief, effective Jan. 31. His departure was announced by the Rev. R. Randy Day, chief executive of the Board of Global Ministries, UMCOR’s parent agency. Dirdak, who had led UMCOR since 1998, also oversaw Mission Volunteers and Health and Welfare Ministries for the board during his tenure. Dirdak resigned to pursue new professional opportunities, according to a statement from the board. He said he was pleased “to have been a part of the expansion of UMCOR’s capacity.” The Rev. Sam Dixon, a staff executive who currently oversees the board’s evangelization and church growth unit, will assume Dirdak’s duties on an interim basis. Dixon previously led UMCOR’s nongovernmental organization unit. 

UM churches provide 21M food servings

Last year, 386 United Methodist churches provided nearly 21 million servings of fresh, nourishing food to hungry Americans by donating $414,615 to the Society of St. Andrew, a national nonprofit hunger relief ministry and an Advance Special (#801600) of The United Methodist Church. Each church partnering with the society saved an average of nearly 18,000 pounds of food that provided 53,500 servings to the hungry. Partner churches were responsible for 27 percent of the 25.5 million pounds of produce that the society saved and distributed across the nation in 2006. For more information about the Society of St. Andrew’s hunger relief ministry and becoming a “partner church,” call 800-333-4597, write to or go to 

Event celebrates diaconal ministries

Thirty years of diaconal ministry in The United Methodist Church will be recognized at the Celebrating Diakonia Conference on April 19-22 in Orlando, Fla. Sponsored by the Board of Higher Education and Ministry, the conference will celebrate 10 years of the order of the deacon. The deadline for registration is Feb. 16, and more information is available at Click on Convocation 2007. 

Groups want education act revised 

As Congress considers reauthorizing the No Child Left Behind education act, civic and religious groups believe changes are needed to ensure that no child is left behind in the U.S. public school system. The Women’s Division of the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries, General Board of Church and Society and the National Council of Churches are among more than 80 national education, civil rights, religious, children’s, disability and civic organizations backing the “Joint Organizational Statement on No Child Left Behind,” issued by the Forum on Educational Accountability. The statement cites concerns that the law’s current practices have led to “over-emphasizing standardized testing, narrowing curriculum and instruction to focus on test preparation rather than richer academic learning; over-identifying schools in need of improvement; using sanctions that do not help improve schools; inappropriately excluding low-scoring children in order to boost test results; and inadequate funding.” 

Web site fosters online community, the Web site of The United Methodist Church, has been retooled with new technologies to bring people around the world together in new ways. Unveiled Jan. 29, the site is home to the first large-scale social networking community developed by a mainline denomination for people of faith. Similar to but offered as an alternative to MySpace and Facebook, the new social network is open to people of all faiths and is accessible day or night. 

Editor’s relative missing in Indiana 

Wade Steffey, a cousin of Tita Parham, managing editor of the e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service and the Rev. Ivan and Debbie Corbin of Trinity United Methodist Church, DeLand, Fla., has been missing since Jan. 13. He is a freshman at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Ind., and was last seen on the campus. Major searches have been conducted by police, FBI and more than 700 volunteers, but Wade’s whereabouts are still unknown. His parents are Dale Steffey and Dawn Adams of Bloomington, Ind. The family is asking for prayers and help in posting Wade’s missing person poster, available from the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children.