Many in our UMA and UMC ministry families have been heavily involved in hurricane relief and rescue efforts in Texas and Louisiana. One UMA member, Mission Central, prepares year- round to assist in disaster response and is now making a significant contribution to relief efforts by providing hygiene kits and cleaning buckets.

In the wake of Hurricane Harvey and in advance of Hurricane Irma, Rob Visscher, Executive Director of Mission Central, says this ministry and its staff is working hard and continues to be “focused on operating in readiness”.

Mission Central is the mission warehouse affiliate of the Susquehanna Conference of the United Methodist Church. They have a network of 38 HUBs in operation, where volunteers assemble hygiene kits and cleaning buckets throughout the year to be distributed by UMCOR in the greatest areas of need. To find out more or to make donations to their disaster response, mission outreach and education ministry, go to their website at:

Trivia: There are 36 cleaning buckets to 1 pallet, and 52 pallets to a truck, for a total of 1872 buckets. Small things come together to make a big difference, in the name of Christ!

God of rain and rainbow, we pray for safety for those in peril, for courage and peace for those in fear, for discernment, that we would make good decisions, for inspiration and power, that we might know how to put our faith to work in love, for wisdom, that we would remember what really matters….
– home page, St. Luke’s United Methodist Church, Houston, TX

Please join us as we pray for UMA leaders and their communities as our Texas and Louisiana members cope with ongoing recovery from Hurricane Harvey while they and others eye the path a powerful Category 5 hurricane that threatens more destruction and suffering.

Support is still needed for Hurricane victims, especially in the smaller communities, reports UMA board member Tim Brown, CEO of Methodist Children’s Home which provides residential and foster care and has 13 Family Outreach offices located across Texas and New Mexico.
“It’s sad because people have been so generous, but the [resources] are not getting to the smaller areas,” Brown said.

Fortunately, all of UMC’s foster parents and children were unscathed as was the Corpus Christi outreach office. The Outreach office in Houston re-opened yesterday. This week, UMC took in 23 girls and 6 staff a residential care site in Beaumont, located east of Houston. The girls were transported by pick up and airboat, and though they were a bit traumatized from their experience, they were relieved and settling in at UMC in Waco.

Brown reports that UMCOR, St. Luke’s and other local churches are serving as great sources of support. Below are some organizations who are accepting donations for and working to provide relief:

8 Days of Hope
Red Cross

Mt. Vernon, IL: The United Methodist Children’s Home (UMCH) formally announced its new name today at the ‘Breakfast with a View’ event. The agency will now be known as SPERO FAMILY SERVICES. For over one hundred years this agency has operated children’s homes. However, in recent years, the organization has expanded to include nine other programs in ten counties, serving 1,000 people annually.

“It is so much more than a children’s home yet for many of us in Southern Illinois when we hear the name United Methodist Children’s Home that’s what we think,” said Spero Board Member Tony Wielt. “Frankly, the name was not descriptive enough of the body of work that we do,” Wielt added.

The new brand is a name that is rooted in God’s love and promise of an abundant life. “Spero” is the Latin word for “I hope” from the phrase “While I yet breathe, I have hope.” The new name, pronounced like “sparrow,” speaks to the agency’s core value of providing hope, help and healing to those longing for a better life.

The new agency logo, a stylized anchor, is rich in imagery and meaning. The top of the anchor is a cross; at the bottom a sparrow’s head –its wings intertwined with the anchor. This represents the very heart of agency’s mission and values. The rising anchor is a symbol for Hope. – “We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.” Hebrews 6:19. When a ship’s anchor weighs, or is raised up, it signals the beginning of a new voyage, a new adventure. The stylized image of the bird reminds us of the value God places on us in Matthew 10:29-31.

“This was a historic day in the United Methodist Children’s Home’s history, and with this new name, we are poised to grow and help even more individuals, youth, and families – which we could not do without the support of our donors, church partners, and businesses in the communities we serve,” says John Shadowens, President & CEO of Spero Family Services.

The organization had considered a name change before, but it wasn’t until this year that the Board made a unanimous vote to undertake a rebranding initiative. The decision was made upon hearing survey results gathered from a professional marketing firm. The firm interviewed individuals, businesses, and other churches in the area and found that some had never heard of the agency, others knew of them only as a children’s home, and still others still thought it was an orphanage.

Although the name has changed, the mission and vision remain the same. The strong and enduring tradition and affiliation with the United Methodist Church also remains the same. This new name opens more doors for support, and allows the people throughout Southern Illinois to become more aware of the full array of services available in addition to the youth homes in Mt. Vernon and Murphysboro. Those other services include outpatient counseling services with locations in 6 counties throughout the region; a Foster Care program, a Youthbuild program to help teens get their HSE/GED and learn a trade, parenting support, an on campus school, a nurse-family partnership program that helps first-time mothers, transitional living, and Bright Start, a faith-based childcare center in Mt. Vernon.

Learn more by visiting Spero Family Services welcomes volunteers (groups and individuals), mentors and potential new foster parents.

Is your community a great place to grow up and grow old?
If so, we encourage you to apply for the Intergenerational Award. The Generations United/ MetLife Foundation Best Intergenerational Communities Awards program is the United States’ only recognition program exclusively focused on communities that are serving, empowering, and engaging residents of all ages. Awardees will receive public recognition, National and local media exposure, award logo for use on website and materials, and more!
The deadline to apply is February 24, 2017. Apply or Learn More

October 10, 2016 — Two UMA member organizations praised the response of their staff and residents as they work to recover from damages sustained from severe weather over the weekend as a result of Hurricane Matthew.

The preliminary assessment to the Florida United Methodist Children’s Home revealed that residential cottages, staff buildings and service areas on campus sustained minimal damage. The most notable damages included downed tree and the unfortunate loss of part of the chapel cross. Most importantly, no injuries were reported as a result of the storm which hit the community as a Category 2 hurricane.

“I couldn’t be more proud of our residents and staff for their exemplary conduct before and during the storm,” reported Kitwana McTyer, interim President and CEO. FUMCH just completed their EAGLE site visit for reaccreditation last month.

As the storm headed north to Georgia, Magnolia Manor, also completed a preliminary assessment of two campuses located on the Georgia Coast. One campus suffered roof damage resulting in flooding. The second campus had trees down, but no structural damage. Their third campus St. Simons, located on St. Simons Island in Georgia, cannot be evaluated until access is granted to the area.

Please continue to pray for our UMA member organizations as they begin to clean up and make repairs. We are grateful that, according to their reports to us, their residents and staff avoided the worst of the dangerous storm situation.

Was your organization also affected by the storm? If you would like to share details with your UMA community for prayers and support, please share your news with us, please email

We ask for your prayers for our member communities that have been affected by the threat and impact of the powerful hurricane Matthew, which pounded the U.S. Eastern coast on Friday, October 7.

Member community Magnolia Manor with three communities on the Georgia coast, reportedly safely evacuated 370 residents to family or other facilities. They ultimately moved 110 skilled nursing residents and disbursed them among three other campuses. Many of their independent living residents opened their homes and spare bedrooms to share.

Steve Vinson, Sr. V.P. for Communications at Magnolia Manor praised his staff for going above and beyond in their efforts in the crisis.

“I’m in awe of how our staff has stepped up and responded,” he said as they continue to monitor weather conditions and the impact on their two Florida communities.

Florida United Methodist Children’s Home, located in Enterprise, FL, closed two cottages in preparation for the hurricane. Residents were moved from the closed cottages to buildings on the main campus. Four cottages lost power when a tree fell on the power line.

Ray Barr, Director of Quality Assurance for the home, explained the conditions on campus, “We have not completed a full assessment, but there is no other obvious damage to buildings. No injuries. God is good.”

As the east coast continues to be effected by this massive storm, please keep residents of this area in your prayers. UMA has asked the communities to keep our staff posted on how we can help.

We are thrilled to announce that the UMA is planning several shared learning and networking experiences across the country. These content-rich events will highlight EAGLE best practices relevant to all ministry types with an emphasis on critical areas identified by the EAGLE commission and broader membership. We will explore valuable principles of governance, philanthropy, spiritual life and more. In each of these events, we are excited to be able to take advantage of regional and national expertise and include member tours to enhance the learning experiences.

Save these dates for you and your team. More details to follow!

·       January 25-26 Aldersgate – Charlotte, NC
·       May 15-17       Asbury Methodist Village – Gaithersburg, MD (Annual Meeting)
·       August 1-2       Frasier Meadows – Boulder, CO
·       A fall meeting in the Midwest is in the works. Stay tuned!

 SE MI Aging Services Executive Receives National Award for Visionary Leadership

 United Methodist Retirement Communities CEO John Thorhauer Receives LeadingAge 2016 Public Trust Award

 Chelsea, MI, Aug. 18– A national association representing 6,000 nonprofit aging services organizations across the U.S. has honored a Southeast Michigan senior living executive.

John Thorhauer, President & CEO of United Methodist Retirement Communities (UMRC), was chosen by Washington, D.C.-based LeadingAge as recipient of its 2016 Public Trust Award. The award honors Thorhauer’s commitment to quality, leadership excellence, innovations in care and service, and professional contributions.

“John’s vision, compassion and entrepreneurial spirit are extraordinarily valuable as we prepare to serve a large and growing number of older adults,” said UMRC board chair John Nixon III. “Through his leadership, combined with our mission and 110-year-old commitment to Michigan’s aging population, UMRC has dramatically expanded its services and facilities to meet the growing needs of seniors. Even better, we’re moving toward a new vision for aging in the 21st century—a future where older adults are connected, dynamic, and ready to embrace all their senior years have to offer.” 

Thorhauer has been with UMRC since 2005. Since that time the organization has expanded from three locations to nine, now serving more than 1,600 senior citizens annually across 12 Michigan counties. And Thorhauer’s still not done.

“John’s vision is to continue the accelerated growth of the organization, creating options to double the number of seniors we can serve,” Nixon said. “But more than that, he’s all about serving people in the ways they want and need to be served. Today’s seniors have different expectations than past generations did, and John’s preparing our services and facilities not just to meet them, but to exceed them to an unheard-of degree.”

Under Thorhauer’s leadership, UMRC has garnered numerous regional, state and national awards for innovation, excellence, business leadership and environmental awareness. These honors all reflect public trust in UMRC and Thorhauer as a leader. 

Thorhauer will accept the award at the LeadingAge national conference taking place Oct. 30 – Nov. 2, 2016, in Indianapolis.


 Building on a foundation of more than 100 years of service, United Methodist Retirement Communities is a faith-based, non-profit organization that promotes the wellness, dignity and independence of older adults, by providing high quality, innovative and compassionate senior residential care services across Southeast Michigan.|734.433.1000

For Immediate Release
Contact: Stacey Olson
United Methodist Retirement Communities
Phone 734-433-1000 ext. 7324

Tupelo, MS, Aug. 15, 2016 — The United Methodist Association (UMA) announced today that its Board of Directors unanimously appointed Mary Kemper as its new President and Chief Executive Officer, effective September 12, 2016. The UMA, a national network of health and welfare ministries dedicated to improving the quality of life for the people they serve, also announced plans to relocate its headquarters to the D.C. metro area. These two major decisions are part of UMA’s new strategic plan to energize and reposition the UMA for the future.

“We are delighted to welcome Mary Kemper as President and CEO of the UMA,” said Mr. Kim Williams, Chair of the Board of UMA. “She brings a wealth of knowledge and valuable experience to our new strategic direction.”

Mary Kemper, currently Director of Education at LeadingAge, has served diverse leadership roles in LeadingAge over the past 25 years. She brings to UMA expertise in association management, member and sponsor relations, leadership development, accreditation and communications.  She has more than a decade of successful experience in developing state and national shared learning experiences in collaboration with noted experts, business leaders and member executives.

“I am honored to lead such a prestigious faith-based, mission-driven organization that aims to achieve excellence in children, youth, family and senior services,” said Kemper. “I’m excited about UMA’s future and believe that together, with its members and supporters, UMA can make a tremendous impact.”

The UMA Strategic Plan calls for the Association to build on the strength of its 75-year history of spiritual care and service as a network of organizations affiliated with the United Methodist Church. It will re-enforce its commitment to the highest quality standards by expanding pathways to EAGLE accreditation. EAGLE, the Education Assessment Guidelines Leading Toward Excellence, is a unique faith-based accrediting body that aims to recognize organizations that voluntarily go beyond minimum requirements to achieve excellence. With opportunities for shared learning experiences for UMA members and increased sponsorships, this plan reflects the mission of UMA to improve the quality of life of those served by its members, expand the footprint of services to those in need, and to lead the setting of quality standards through EAGLE.

“The need for the UMA has never been more important for our identities and for the United Methodist Church,” stated Mr. Williams. “We believe the new UMA plan positions us well to provide essential faith-based leadership at this critical time in our history and beyond.”

The new UMA national headquarters will be co-located with Asbury Communities, Inc. at 20030 Century Boulevard, Suite 300, Germantown, MD 20874. Asbury Communities, Inc., an EAGLE-accredited organization, is one of UMA’s most outstanding senior service providers located just outside the D.C. beltway.

GERMANTOWN, MD.  ¾  Asbury Communities (Asbury), a not-for-profit system of communities serving older adults headquartered in Germantown, Maryland, and founded in 1926, announced today that it has welcomed Tennessee-based Asbury Place via affiliation.  As a result of the affiliation, Asbury Communities will grow to eight locations in four states, serving more than 4,300 older persons and employing more than 3,000 associates.

“We look forward to welcoming those who live, work and volunteer at Asbury Place,” said Doug Leidig, Asbury Communities’ President and CEO. “The similar faith-based heritage and charitable missions of our two organizations provides opportunities for us, together, to build upon our successes and reach more older adults in the communities we serve.”

Asbury Place is a not-for-profit continuing care retirement provider with communities in Maryville and Kingsport, Tennessee. It opened in 1956, and in the 60 years since, has grown to serve approximately 600 older adults while employing more than 400 associates in East Tennessee. 

“The affiliation honors each organization’s respective mission-driven commitment to serve older adults, both to ‘do all the good we can’ for seniors, as well as to ‘celebrate life, every day, through every circumstance, with every person, in every way,’” said Marge Shonnard, Vice President of Operations for Asbury Place.

Both systems have achieved a level of excellence in senior care that led to accreditation through the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities and the Continuing Care Accreditation Commission (CARF-CCAC). 


Asbury Communities, Inc. is a management organization providing life-enhancing housing and services for older adults. Asbury is ranked by LeadingAge and Ziegler Capital Markets Group’s AZ 100 as the 17th– largest not-for-profit multi-site senior living organization in the country.

Asbury, Inc., (DBA Asbury Place) a not-for-profit corporation, operates Asbury Place, CARF-CCAC accredited continuing care retirement communities in Kingsport and Maryville, Tenn. For more information, visit

2015 CYF Summer Workshop:

Navigating the Seas of Change


Hurry…this room rate is only available until July 3rd!

We will open on Monday with breakfast followed by Worship and Communion.

Tom Woll will discuss the state of the industry and what CYF organizations can do now to position themselves for the latest paradigm shifts.

Leaders from four UMA organizations who have successfully transitioned to the new paradigm will share their experience and insights. The featured member organizations are:  Flat Rock Homes, Louisiana UM Children & Family Services,OhioGuidestone, and UM Family Services of Virginia.

Wespath Investment Management is our special sponsor for dinner at a unique-to-Cleveland restaurant on Monday night.

OhioGuidestone will treat us to breakfast along with a presentation of their Workforce Development program and campus.

Meals included in your registration fee are:

Monday – Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner

Tuesday – Breakfast & Lunch

PLEASE NOTE: There is an optional group outing to the Indians vs Royals game Tuesday evening, July 28. We are negotiating ticket prices at this time, but seats are limited and will be sold on a first come/first served basis. Please tell us how many tickets you wish to purchase (if any) and we will contact you separately to complete the ticket transaction. Click here to go to the Indians’ website.