WASHINGTON – "My name is Marilyn Shirley. I'm a survivor of prison rape," the former inmate said.
Shirley is one of tens of thousands of adults who suffered the traumatic experience of sexual abuse by a prison guard. The Texas woman recalled the nightmare in tears as she joined a broad coalition Tuesday, committed to ending rape in U.S. prisons.
"I have waited a long time for my country to take this problem seriously, she said. "No one ever deserves to be raped." more >>
As United Methodists in the U.S. continue to count losses in worship attendance and membership, the denomination is re-evaluating its structures and making efforts to identify and address the challenges it faces.
A newly released report by the denomination gave "below average" grades to the body's governance and agencies as it cited a lack of mission clarity and accountability, among other things, within The United Methodist Church.
"The agencies are a cacophony of voices," the report, titled "Operational Assessment Project," cited one surveyed Methodist as saying. "[T]heir 'brands and communications compete with one another' and result in confusion and dilution of impact at the Annual Conference and Local Church levels." more >>
Churches with a high number of small groups, effective lay leadership, faithful pastors, and both traditional and contemporary services tend to be the healthiest, a new study shows.
The "drivers of vitality" were identified through surveys conducted by an independent firm for The United Methodist Church, which is seeking to reverse its declining membership.
"We’ve taken a data-driven approach to identify what works for thriving congregations large and small, both rural and urban, all over the U.S.," said Bishop Gregory V. Palmer, chair of the denomination's Call to Action committee, in a statement. "While there’s no silver bullet, we believe these findings can lead to vitality for many more congregations." more >>
The United Methodist Church has rescinded its warning against a Southern California seminary.
Claremont School of Theology was placed on public warning earlier this year for reorienting its mission to offer clerical training to not only Christians but also Muslims, Jews and eventually those of other faiths.
Funds toward the UMC-affiliated school were suspended in February while an institutional review took place. more >>
A Southern California seminary affiliated with The United Methodist Church is opening its doors to Muslims and Jews and offering clerical training for those of other Abrahamic faiths, school officials announced Wednesday.
"The world is changing. And so is Claremont," states Claremont School of Theology on its website.
The unconventional move is part of the University Project, the school's effort to promote interreligious cooperation and to teach students to "recognize the legitimacy and integrity of the other religious traditions." more >>
Job guarantees for elders should be dropped, said a United Methodist Church panel in an interim report.
The Commission to Study the Ministry declared that the so-called "guaranteed appointment" system is a major factor contributing to mediocrity and ineffectiveness among leaders, as reported by the United Methodist News Service.
"It allows people to coast rather than to continue to strive and to grow," said Seattle Area Bishop Grant Hagiya, a commission member. "What we need is the flexibility to maximize our leadership to those who are going to make a difference." more >>