Briefs: Cross-burning factor in pastor's heart attack


Prepared by United Methodist News Service

The Rev. Robert Utley is recovering from a heart attack after finding a burning wooden cross and noose on his front porch Dec. 10. Utley, pastor of Clark United Methodist Church, McMinnville, Tenn., reported hearing someone banging on his door shortly after midnight. When he investigated, he found a small wooden cross on a stack of newspapers burning on his porch. On his gutter a thin white rope had been tied into a noose.

The Rev. Daniel M. Hayes, a close friend and mentor, said the shock of the incident sent Utley to the hospital, where doctors determined he had suffered a small heart attack. Hayes is pastor of Gordon Memorial United Methodist Church in Nashville. Police are investigating the incident as a possible hate crime.

Task force targets education for Hispanic pastors
For some Hispanic men and women, life circumstances make it difficult to get the education required by The United Methodist Church to respond to God’s call to ordained ministry. A task force of members of the denomination’s National Plan for Hispanic/Latino Ministry and the United Methodist Board of Higher Education and Ministry spent Dec. 11 discussing how to develop Hispanic/Latino pastoral leadership and considered alternatives to education for ordained ministry. Bishop Minerva Carcaño of Phoenix, task force chairwoman, noted that some Hispanics do not have access to the denomination’s educational processes and institutional systems for ordination. Seminaries require an undergraduate degree, but only about half of Hispanic youth graduate from high school, and 9 or 10 percent go to college. “So the group that could go to seminary diminishes exponentially,” Carcaño said.

Africa University seeks to retain teachers, staff
Africa University officials are taking steps to keep teachers and other staff at a time when many professionals are leaving Zimbabwe because of the country’s struggling economy. The Africa University Board of Directors approved a policy for staff retention during its Nov. 28-Dec. 1 meeting. The policy is aimed at keeping professional and skilled staff. In the past three years, nearly 20 experienced staffers have left Africa University for jobs outside the country. The school has a faculty and staff of 250 people.

Bishop appeals to Congress concerning Philippines
The leader of The United Methodist Church’s international mission agency has asked Congress to assure that no U.S. military aid to the Philippines can be used in ways that violate human rights. Bishop Felton E. May, interim chief executive of the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries, sent a letter to members of Congress on Dec. 10, which was International Human Rights Day. Dealing with spending bills, Congress was considering a measure that would provide $30 million in military aid to the government of Philippines President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.