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Daily Digest: April 4, 2014

“Early in March, disaster response coordinators from across the Western Jurisdiction gathered with UMCOR officials and trainers in Federal Way, Wash. for the first-ever Western Jurisdiction Disaster Response Academy. We agreed at the academy that we would help each other respond to disasters without regard to conference borders. Little did we know that we would be called on to use our training and honor our agreement in less than three weeks.” — The Rev. Stanley J. Norman, disaster relief coordinator for the United Methodist Pacific Northwest Annual (regional) Conference, in response to the March 22 mudslide.

Church agency sues over UMCMarket

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — The United Methodist Church’s finance agency has filed a lawsuit, alleging a vendor contracted to promote a program for giving has failed to pay what’s due and is now infringing on the denomination’s trademarks. In the meantime, the agency announced that it has launched UMCMarket.net to enable United Methodists to continue to shop at online retailers and donate part of the sale to a church or United Methodist ministry of their choice.

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United Methodist response to mudslide

OSO, Wash. (UMNS)—The United Methodist Committee on Relief sent a $10,000 grant “within six minutes” of a request from Greater Northwest Episcopal Area Bishop Grant Hagiya. The Rev. Stanley J. Norman, the United Methodist Pacific Northwest Annual (regional) disaster relief coordinator, tells how pastors, local churches and disaster-response teams from the Western Jurisdiction are responding and preparing to help after the tragic mudslide on March 22. “Your support is needed for the long-haul,” he says.

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Clergy rock out for charity

DALLAS (UMNS) – Connections, a rock band composed of United Methodist clergy in the Dallas area, will play a benefit concert April 4 at Northaven United Methodist Church. Donations will go to the United Methodist Committee on Relief. The band, which covers hits by Fleetwood Mac, Jackson Browne, James Taylor and others, has raised nearly $250,000 for charity.

Band website

UMTV: Making an old church new

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (UMNS) — Measuring a “vital congregation” goes beyond Sunday attendance and the tally from each week’s offering. The Rev. Russ Breshears of the Arkansas Annual (regional) Conference says that new ideas have reenergized his historic church. He offers tips on how any church can be reborn.

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Disaster recovery is much more than cleanup

NEW YORK (UMNS) — Survivors may experience an inability to cope, a crisis of faith or a loss of hope. The United Methodist Committee on Relief considers spiritual healing as necessary as physical rebuilding, explains Barbara Dunlap-Berg.

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Memphis children decorate sidewalks for Easter

MEMPHIS (UMNS) — Here’s a fun idea for children’s ministry. The combined children's Sunday school classes from First United Methodist and First Presbyterian churches in downtown Memphis spent some creative time outdoors March 30 decorating the sidewalk between the churches. The Memphis Annual (regional) Conference has the story.

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Bishop Steiner Ball reflects on ‘In God We Trust’

CHARLESTON, W. Va. (UMNS) — West Virginia Area Bishop Sandra Steiner Ball was part of a forum discussion entitled: "In God We Trust: Finding the We" at the University of Charleston March 27. Members of the forum discussed what it means for our society to have a religious message on our currency and in other government settings. The statement “reflects a belief that trust lies in God rather than in government, even in matters of national economics,” she wrote.

Read the 600-word essays participants, including the bishop.