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Daily Digest - April 13, 2015

" ‘Jesus loves all. All are welcome.’ Can’t argue with that. It’s a pretty great message." — Suzie Bell said of the banner First United Methodist Church in Eureka Springs, Arkansas, had planned to carry in the Jesus Parade on April 4.

United Methodist church disinvited to Easter parade

EUREKA SPRINGS, Ark. (UMNS) — Members of First United Methodist Church stood on the sidelines and cheered during the annual Jesus Parade — despite being excluded from the festivities. Suzie Bell, a member of First United Methodist Church, believes the church was turned away because it is a “reconciling” congregation that is committed to full inclusion for all. Kathy L. Gilbert has the story.
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Bishop: Liberian Christians don’t need legislation to expand faith

MONROVIA, Liberia (UMNS) — United Methodist Bishop John G. Innis opposes a proposal approved by a recent constitutional review committee to make Liberia a Christian country. “Liberians, especially Christians, do not need any legislation to practice or expand their faith in Liberia,” Innis said in an interview after delivering his annual Easter sermon at First United Methodist Church. Other United Methodist leaders agreed, calling for tolerance and evangelism to promote Christianity. Julu Swen reports.
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Churches urge normalization of Cuba-US relations

HAVANA (UMNS) — Leaders and representatives from ecumenical church councils in Cuba, the United States, and the world urged Cuban President Raúl Castro and President Barack Obama to “break bread together” while they are at the Summit of the Americas in Panama. The church leaders urged the two presidents to “have conversations in a spirit of mutual respect and equality that will accelerate the process of normalization” of relations between the two countries.
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Michigan Area exceeds $1.5 million for Imagine No Malaria

FLINT, Mich. (UMNS) — Nearly two years after the Michigan Area committed to raise $1.5 million for Imagine No Malaria, United Methodist churches there have exceeded that goal. Molly Turner, Imagine No Malaria field coordinator for the area, reports on the success.
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Rethink Church encourages discussion of the death penalty

HUNTSVILLE, Texas (UMNS) — A United Methodist clergywoman in Texas talks about her commitment to abolish the death penalty, even as Texas executes a man convicted in the slaying of a police officer. Rethink Church is encouraging discussion about the death penalty and issues of mass incarceration.
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New resource helps youth understand sexual identity issues

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — A new resource to help youth struggling with their sexual identity is now available as part of the “SEX: A Christian Perspective on Our Bodies, Decisions and Relationships” series from Young People’s Ministries Division of United Methodist Discipleship Ministries. “We know that teens dealing with issues of sexual identity are two to six times more likely to attempt suicide because of issues of isolation and hopelessness,” said Michael Ratliff, head of the Young People’s Ministries.
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Methodist education associations break new ground in Africa

NAIROBI, Kenya (UMNS) — Long-established networks of United Methodist-related educational institutions exist around the world, but recently developed networks are emerging on the continent of Africa. Last month, two African associations met to explore new opportunities and reaffirm commitments to leadership development in the Pan-African context. The United Methodist Board of Higher Education and Ministry’s Nicole Burdakin reports.
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Looking ahead

Here are some of the activities ahead for United Methodists across the connection. If you have an item to share, email and put Digest in the subject line.

Tuesday, April 14
Free webinar "Re-imagining Your Retirement" — 9 a.m. CDT. This webinar focuses upon the psycho-social dimensions of leaving behind work and career, and changing one’s purpose, identity and meaning. Featuring best-selling author Ed Zinkiewicz of the “Retire to Series,” it will have practical suggestions on planning for retirement, making adjustments along the way and navigating the many obstacles of retirement. Details.

Free webinar "The United Methodist Way" — 6:30 p.m. CDT. This webinar is designed for staff and volunteer leaders who have responsibility for planning classes, small groups, and Bible studies. The Rev. Tom Albin, dean of The Upper Room and ecumenical relations, discusses what the United Methodist Way is. Details.

You can see more educational opportunities and other upcoming events in the life of the church here.