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Daily Digest — January 21, 2015

"We decided to create a website to see if anybody else cared. ... It turns out a lot of people do care." — Sonny Seals, co-founder of the online project Historic Rural Churches of Georgia.

Shining a light on rural church buildings

ATLANTA (UMNS) — The online project Historic Rural Churches of Georgia celebrates and promotes preservation of the lovely but vulnerable old church buildings found off the state’s back roads. Traffic to the website has been brisk, and now a book is in the works. Fields Chapel United Methodist Church is among those featured through text and photos. “It’s been good for us,” said the Rev. April Ellis, pastor. Sam Hodges has the story.
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View photos of churches

Third human sexuality panel set in Mozambique

MAPUTO, Mozambique (UMNS) — The Connectional Table’s third and final panel on human sexuality and the life of the church will be Feb. 10. It will feature United Methodist leaders from Africa, Europe and the Philippines. The discussion will be available online Feb. 15. United Methodists can still contribute questions ahead of time via Twitter.
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MLK inspiration in Boston remains ‘fresh’ today

BOSTON (UMNS) — For 44 years, two churches in Boston’s South End — Union United Methodist and St. Cyprian’s Episcopal — have hosted the annual Martin Luther King Jr. breakfast. The Black Lives Matter movement in Boston proves King’s mission remains as fresh today as when he lived in Boston more than 60 years ago, the Rev. Jay Williams, Union’s pastor, told WBUR radio.
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United Methodist church was haven for demonstrators

FERGUSON, Mo. (UMNS) — During the unrest that followed the fatal shooting of Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager, by a white police officer, Wellspring Church, a United Methodist congregation, became a haven for demonstrators. A New York Times story by Eli Yokley compares the current push for criminal justice reform to the 1960s fight for civil rights.
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Puno praises pope’s grasp of global problems

MANILA, Philippines (UMNS) — Retired Chief Justice Reynato Puno, a United Methodist layman, said Pope Francis has a good understanding of the causes of worldwide problems such as poverty and human rights violations. Puno and nine other religious leaders and peace advocates from various denominations met with the Catholic pontiff on Jan. 18. Correspondent Gladys P. Mangiduyos has the story.
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Minnesota pilot program to explore call to ministry

MINNEAPOLIS (UMNS) — A pilot leadership internship will offer new opportunities to 10 college students who are exploring a call to ordained ministry in the Minnesota Conference. The Exploring Leadership Internship Project offers a weeklong orientation with trips to seminaries and an opportunity to learn about The United Methodist Church. Each intern will then serve a host church or organization for eight weeks to get hands-on experience. The program is funded through a $60,000 Young Clergy Initiative grant.
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History of Hymns: ‘Soon and Very Soon’

DALLAS (UMNS) — Andraé Crouch, a giant of gospel music, died Jan. 8. C. Michael Hawn of Southern Methodist University’s Perkins School of Theology says it is difficult to overestimate Crouch’s importance for gospel music and beyond. For example, he was the choral conductor for the film “The Lion King.” The United Methodist Hymnal contains three of his songs, including “Soon and Very Soon.”
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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, Jan. 22
Climate Conversation 7-9 p.m. EST. The Theological Commons at Methodist Theological School in Ohio will host a public Climate Conversation, presented by Ohio Interfaith Power and Light, Alford Centrum on the MTSO campus, 3081 Columbus Pike in Delaware, Ohio. The event is free but those who plan to participate are asked to register in advance. Details

Friday, Feb. 27
First 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.