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Daily Digest: December 23, 2013

”The first step in a healing process for our broken church is that we humbly come to Christ.” — Bishop Rosemarie Wenner, in a Christmas message.

A Christmas message from Bishop Rosemarie Wenner

FRANKFURT, Germany (UMNS) — By becoming a child, God went “far beyond our image of what God might look like,” Bishop Rosemarie Wenner writes. “We are truly challenged to meet God in ‘the other.’ We United Methodists are in serious conflict because so far, we struggle to see Christ in the faces of the sister and the brother that have different opinions on questions like human sexuality — and we have difficulties in reaching out to more people, younger people and more diverse people.” Through Christ’s love and God’s grace, we can find new ways to live together and share Christ with others, she says.
Read her message

Perspectives on Schaefer case, same-sex debate, in United Methodist Church

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS)— The debate around same-gender weddings and human sexuality has heated up in The United Methodist Church following recent events that have included the defrocking of a pastor for performing the wedding of his gay son. The recent events have sparked statements and blogs from individuals, congregations and groups around The United Methodist Church.
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Pennsylvania pastor invited to join Cal-Pac conference

LOS ANGELES (UMNS) — The Rev. Frank Schaefer, who was asked Dec. 19 to surrender his ministerial credentials to the Eastern Pennsylvania Annual (regional) Conference, has been invited to join the California-Pacific Annual Conference by Bishop Minerva G. Carcaño. New Jersey Area Bishop John Schol also released a video statement on the decision to defrock Schaefer, urging the church to stop using clergy trials in handling these situations.
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See Bishop Schol’s video statement

Schaefer, family, join Foundry UMC in Washington

WASHINGTON (UMNS ) — Frank Schaefer, the United Methodist clergyman who was defrocked Dec. 19, is now a member of Foundry United Methodist Church, where he preached Sunday, and is mulling over an offer to move west.
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Mission leader calls for peace in South Sudan

NEW YORK (UMNS) — “It is imperative that all who have voice and power in (South Sudan) make every effort to find a peaceful resolution and to avoid a political, economic and humanitarian crisis,” said Thomas Kemper, top executive, United Methodist Board of Global Ministries, in response to the political violence that has erupted in South Sudan. United Methodists have a notable presence in the 2-year-old African nation.
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2013: A year in The United Methodist Church

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — You can read more about the issues and events that were front and center in the lives of United Methodists in 2013 in our series of year-end wrap-ups.
2013: Year of United Methodist growth, progress
2013: A year in United Methodist milestones
2013: Cleaning up after dangerous winds, floods
2013: Continuing to meet challenge of violence
2013: Same-sex wedding issues abound
2013: Notable passings in Methodism

Looking ahead

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

Christmas Eve, Tuesday, Dec. 24 — ABC-TV will air “Rethink Christmas: Unwrap the Gift,” produced by United Methodist Communications and taped at Saint Mark United Methodist Church in Wichita, Kan. See list of showtimes

New Year’s Eve and Watch Night, Tuesday, Dec. 31 — Whether you are at home or at church, the United Methodist Board of Discipleship offers devotions and worship resources to start 2014 with a focus on God.

Epiphany, Monday, Jan. 6 — Celebrate the magi and Christ’s revelation to the world with resources from the United Methodist Board of Discipleship.

Free webinar “Church Council Leadership,” Tuesday, Jan. 7 — 6:30 p.m. CT, advice for church council or leadership teams in overseeing a comprehensive plan for ministry and discipleship. To register

Free webinar “Stewardship and Finance: Getting It Right at the Starting Line,” Thursday, Jan. 9 — 6:30 p.m. CT, for stewardship team, finance committee and church council members from the United Methodist Board of Discipleship. To register

Deadline to apply for Peace with Justice grants, Friday, Jan. 10 — The United Methodist Board of Church and Society has allotted $48,000 in grants for 14 Peace with Justice ministries around the world. To apply

Deadline to register for Young Clergy Leadership Forum, Friday, Jan. 10 — The United Methodist Board of Church and Society is accepting applications from people 35 and younger for gathering Sunday to Wednesday, Jan. 26-29, 2014, at the United Methodist Building on Capitol Hill in Washington. Event is $175. Details

Certified Lay Ministers Academy, Friday-Monday, Jan. 10-12 — Lake Junaluska Program Ministries, in partnership with the Cal Turner Jr. Center for Church Leadership at Martin Methodist College, will present the academy at Lake Junaluska, N.C. Details

Free webinar “SPRC Overview of a Year of Leadership,” Tuesday, Jan. 14 — 6:30 p.m. CT, Guidance for how staff-parish relations committees can create a healthy work place for staff so that ministry is vital and effective. To register

Deadline to apply for local church racial/ethnic ministries grants, Wednesday, Jan. 15 — Applications for grants up to $10,000 to help local United Methodist churches build ministries that strengthen and support racial and ethnic church concerns are available from the United Methodist Board of Discipleship. Details

Early bird deadline for 2014 Large Church Initiative, Wednesday, Jan. 15, 2014 — April 28-30 at Mount Pisgah United Methodist Church in Johns Creek, Ga., for United Methodist churches with 1,000 or more members and/or with an average attendance of 350 or more in worship. Details

Shift Happens: Hope in the Midst of Transition, A gathering of Urban and Rural Practitioners, Thursday-Saturday, Jan. 16-18, 2014 — Workshop in Houston sponsored by iRUN (The International Rural and Urban Network of the United Methodist Church), Church and Community Workers, and the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries. Registration is $185. Details

Human Relations Day, Sunday, Jan. 19 — One of six churchwide Special Sundays with offerings of The United Methodist Church., Human Relations Day strengthens United Methodist outreach to communities in the United States and Puerto Rico, encouraging social justice and work with at-risk youth. Details