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Daily Digest - February 25, 2015

"She was not there as a slave, as an African American. She was there as one more person opening her heart to Christ." — The Rev. James F.W. Talley, president of the Strawbridge Shrine Association, said of Annie Sweitzer.

Slave was member of first Methodist class in America

NEW WINDSOR, Md. (UMNS) — A slave named Annie Sweitzer was a member of the first Methodist class formed in America in about 1763 at what is now the Strawbridge Shrine. “The Methodist movement has always been a movement of diversity. It was open to anyone who would come to listen,” said Helen Kemp, curator of the shrine.
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Church reaches youth with weightlifting ministry

SAVANNAH, Ga. (UMNS) — A partnership between Aldersgate United Methodist Church and a former member of the U.S. Women’s Weightlifting National team has grown into a powerful ministry that is drawing youth to the church multiple days a week, including Sunday worship. Kara Witherow of the South Georgia Conference has the story.
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Mississippi churches uniting to address health care issues

COLUMBUS, Miss. (AP) — It's not uncommon to hear about missionaries and medical volunteers in far-flung corners of the world who deal with health crises every day. More unusual is news of churches uniting to address the health of their own congregations, clergy and communities at home. Team HOPE and The United Methodist Church hope to change that. Read The Associated Press story by Jan Swoope.
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Lay leaders discuss past, shape future

BALTIMORE (UMNS) — Nearly 80 conference lay leaders from around The United Methodist Church gathered in Baltimore to learn about the denomination’s past while looking at ways to shape the future. Erik Alsgaard of the Baltimore-Washington Conference reports.
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4 named ‘seminaries that change the world’

CHICAGO (UMNS) — The Center for Faith and Service at McCormick Theological Seminary has named four United Methodist seminaries to its 2015 list of U.S. seminaries that change the world. Among the list of 27 seminaries are Emory University’s Candler School of Theology in Atlanta, Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary near Chicago, Iliff School of Theology in Denver and Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington. The seminaries were chosen based on a “commitment to invite, welcome, support, train and launch individuals into the world as community leaders.”
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Does The United Methodist Church have official rules for observing Lent?

NASHVILE, Tenn. (UMNS) — Are you sure you know what the church expects of you at Lent? Find out by taking the daily quiz.
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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 newsdesk@umcom.org and put Digest in the subject line.

Thursday, Feb. 26
Free webinar "Flipping Your Classroom" — 6:30 p.m. CST. In this webinar, Discipleship Ministries staff will discuss new methods and mediums for faith formation that can offer convenience, as well as benefits, for participants, facilitators and the church. Details.

Friday, Feb. 27
Deadline for early registration for “Do No Harm 2015: Best Practices for Health, Accountability, and Wholeness” — A sexual ethics summit set for Oct. 15-17 in Chicago is sponsored by The United Methodist Church’s Inter-agency Sexual Ethics Task Force, convened by the United Methodist Commission on the Status and Role of Women. Details.

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