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Publishers in seventh heaven over near-death memoirs

By Craig Wilson, Religion News Service Do people really see a light at the end of a tunnel when they have a near-death experience? And could that be heaven up ahead? That light is shining brighter than ever these days. Heaven is hot. Hotter even than that other place. Just ask any bookseller in America. […]

Q&A: A stand for Christian universalism

Can everyone be saved through Jesus Christ? The Rev. Heath Bradley, associate pastor of preaching and Christian education at Pulaski Heights UMC in Little Rock, Ark., thinks so. In his new book, Flames of Love: Hell and Universal Salvation (Wipf and Stock Publishers), Mr. Bradley builds a theological framework for the doctrine of hell that […]

History of Hymns: Translated German hymn points us toward hope

The German hymn “Jesu, meine Freude” which literally means “Jesus, my joy,” is the model for Catherine Winkworth’s translation. It was written by Johann Franck, who was born in Guben, a small town in Brandenburg. His birth year, 1618, was the first year of the Thirty Years’ War, one of the most violent wars humanity has ever seen. An advocate by profession, Franck wrote both sacred and secular poems.

Commentary: How an intergenerational mixer changed our church

By Josh Fitzpatrick, Special Contributor… In youth ministry we’ve begun to notice that two things occur as our youth programs become increasingly self-sustaining and disconnected from the rest of the church: The adults in our congregation feel left out, uninformed and unappreciated, and the teenagers in our groups fail to become a part of the […]

Denomination urged to trust, share leadership

Don’t be surprised if you hear church leaders use the phrase “adaptive leadership” multiple times during the next four years. That phrase served as the recurring theme of the 2013 Quadrennial Training Event, which drew nearly 1,000 United Methodists to the Gaylord Opryland resort in Nashville, Tenn., Jan. 17-20. Put another way, the gathering attracted […]

History of Hymns: Ash Wednesday hymn guides us toward hope

If one were asked to describe Brian Wren to a complete stranger, what would be the choice of words? Some might choose hymn writer, while others might propose that he is a musical theologian. I would suggest that he is a scriptural architect.

2013 hunger report: Goals are ‘within reach’

Sometimes, reducing childhood malnutrition and mortality can be as easy as substituting one crop for another. That has been the result of a United Methodist initiative in the Kamina area of the Democratic Republic of Congo, in which farmers were introduced to moringa and soybean as replacements for nutrient-poor cassava. For June Kim, an executive […]

Q&A: Lenten study on Jesus’ miracles

In his new book, The Miracles of Jesus: Meditations and Prayers for Lent (Upper Room Books, 2012), the Rev. Wessel Bentley says the miracles of Jesus, performed 2,000 years ago, can still change hearts and lives today. Mr. Bentley, an ordained minister in the Methodist Church of Southern Africa, is a part-time lecturer in the […]

Performing arts ministries on the rise in Florida

By Colleen Hart, Special Contributor… In Shakespeare’s Hamlet, the young prince of Denmark decides to send a message through stage drama, declaring “the play’s the thing wherein I’ll catch the conscience of the King.” Likewise, United Methodist churches across Florida are finding that performing arts ministries provide an effective way to reach out to the […]

Digital Devotion: Social media prompts for the season of Lent

By Liz Applegate, Special Contributor… Many churches are beginning to take advantage of social media, such as Facebook, Twitter and blogs. But church communicators are also discovering that maintaining these on a regular basis can pose a real challenge. Even though social media posts are typically short, churches do need to post new, timely and […]