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Daily Digest: March 4, 2014

“Whatever our understanding of sexual orientation, the criminalization of homosexuality is not compatible with the United Methodist Social Principles including the one that states that basic rights and civil liberties are ‘due all persons … regardless of sexual orientation.’” — Bishop Hope Morgan Ward and Thomas Kemper, president and top executive, respectively of the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries.

Leaders of 2 agencies decry laws targeting gays

NEW YORK (UMNS) — Leaders of the United Methodist Boards of Global Ministries and of Church and Society have issued a statement critical of new, tough anti-homosexuality laws in Uganda and other countries.
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Ukraine missionary reports calm in communities

KIEV, Ukraine (UMNS) — A missionary serving in partnership with The United Methodist Church in Ukraine wrote March 3 in an email to UMNS that across the district of eastern Ukraine, which includes Crimea, pastors report their immediate communities are calm. “Yesterday worship services and prayer meetings were held in UMC congregations across the country,” wrote John Calhoun, who is with the Board of Global Ministries. “Church leaders and members in all regions are praying for peace. However, there is a great divergence of opinion… . As there is divided opinion in the country about the movement of Russian troops into Crimea, so too is there division within the UMC on this grave issue.”

Celebrating women’s contributions to church

CHICAGO (UMNS) — “Women of Character, Courage and Commitment” is the 2014 theme for the United Methodist Commission on the Status and Role of Women as it celebrates women’s history month. The commission is highlighting a different woman each day on its website, offering worship elements and sharing voices of today’s United Methodists on the agency blog.
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United Methodist Commission on the Status and Role of Women
Worship resources
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Dallas pastor performs same-sex wedding

DALLAS (UMNS) — More than 200 attended the service March 1 uniting George Harris, 80, and Jack Evans, 84, in marriage. The Rev. William McElvaney, 85, a retired pastor and seminary president, defied United Methodist Church law by presiding at the same-sex union.
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Crunching numbers for church ‘best job ever’

CHARLESTON, W. Va.(UMNS) — He thinks of himself as a guy who does “all the numbers stuff” and looks at his life as a faith journey. Jim Berner, treasurer/director of administrative services and executive secretary of pension funds for the West Virginia Annual (regional) Conference, tells the Gazette-Mail how he ended up in the “best job ever.”
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United Methodist-Rotary solar ministry heading to Africa

LOS GATOS, Calif. (UMNS) — Lighting for Literacy, which started as a joint youth program of Los Gatos United Methodist Church and Los Gatos Morning Rotary, provides solar-powered LED lights for families without electricity. It now has expanded to partner with a local middle school and is serving needs in Zambia, Kenya and Ghana, the San Jose Mercury News reports.
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Read United Methodist News Service on how the ministry got started 

Nominations sought for Culture of the Call awards

LAKE JUNALUSKA, N.C. (UMNS) — Does your church have a good track record of cultivating clergy? The Foundation for Evangelism is seeking nominations for the 2014 Culture of the Call Church Award. This annual award recognizes one local United Methodist congregation that encourages the next generation of leaders to enter full-time Christian service.
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History of Hymns: ‘There’s a Sweet, Sweet Spirit in this Place’

DALLAS (UMNS) — One of the most notable “Spirit Songs” of the 20th century is “There’s a Sweet, Sweet Spirit in this Place” by African American gospel songwriter Doris Mae Akers (1923-1995). It expresses in simple, heartfelt language the work of the Holy Spirit in the life of the church, writes C. Michael Hawn in his weekly column for the United Methodist Board of Discipleship.
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Legacy of service to deaf ministry

NORRISTOWN, Pa. (UMNS) — “We never know how the seeds we plant may grow into something much bigger when they mature and bear fruit,” notes Bishop Peggy Johnson of the Philadelphia Episcopal Area. She reflects on her brief interaction with Andrew Foster, who lost his hearing at 11 and went on to establish schools for the deaf throughout Africa.
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