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Daily Digest - November 12, 2014

"People are looking to humanitarian assistance agencies to put out the fire, when typically what humanitarian assistance agencies do is help people who have been burned by the fire or are running from the fire." — The Rev. Jack Amick, United Methodist Committee on Relief.

As a medical disaster, Ebola calls for new strategies

NEW YORK (UMNS) — While Ebola’s impact in West Africa has been as devastating as a hurricane or earthquake, the epidemic has required religious and humanitarian groups, including The United Methodist Church, to look beyond traditional disaster response and devise new strategies. Linda Bloom reports.

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Pastor: Grand jury ruling calls for ‘courageous compassion’

FERGUSON, Mo. (UMNS) — As people in and around Ferguson await word from the grand jury, the Rev. F. Willis Johnson shares his thoughts on the protests and prayers that have followed the fatal shooting of a black teenager by a white police officer. Johnson is the pastor of Wellspring Church, a United Methodist congregation in Ferguson.

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Finding freedom from modern slavery

BALTIMORE (UMNS) — A tattoo artist’s skills may seem like an odd gift for ministry. But some of the residents at the Samaritan Women’s house in Baltimore were branded while they were held in modern-day slavery and prostitution. Removing those brands is one step toward healing. Melissa Lauber of the Baltimore-Washington Conference shares how area United Methodists are working to help people recover from human trafficking.

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U.S., Cuban religious leaders push for prisoners’ release

NEW YORK (UMNS) — A United Methodist pastor who serves as top executive of Church World Service traveled with two fellow religious leaders to Cuba last week for the latest in a series of meetings seeking the release of American Alan Phillip Gross from prison in Cuba, and of the three members of the “Cuban 5” still in prison in the United States. Leaders of the Cuban Council of Churches also were involved in the meetings with the Rev. John L. McCullough.

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Get bitter or get better?

WINTER HAVEN, Fla. (UMNS) — The Rev. Jim Harnish, an author and recently retired United Methodist pastor, describes how older people face a choice: Are they going to get bitter or get better? The Psalms, evangelist E. Stanley Jones and singer-songwriter James Taylor are among his references points.

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Skeeter Runs in Louisiana net $175,000

BATON ROUGE, La. (UMNS) — More than 5,800 walkers, runners and volunteers have participated over the past three years in the Skeeter Run sponsored by the  Louisiana Conference. The result is about $175,000 raised for Imagine No Malaria, The United Methodist Church’s global initiative to combat the disease. Betty Backstrom reports.

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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 and put Digest in the subject line.

Wednesday, Nov. 12
Free webinar "The Importance of Camp and Retreat Ministries for Vital Congregations" — 10 a.m. CT. The Rev. Tim Bias, top executive of Discipleship Ministries and Kevin Witt, Discipleship Ministries' Camp and Retreat Ministry staff, will highlight the importance of camp and retreat ministry in the priorities and processes at the heart of congregational vitality. Details.

Saturday, Nov. 15
50/50 Missional Equipping Workshop: Best Practices in Transformational Community Engagement Locally & Globally — Event is 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. ET at First United Methodist Church, 618 Eighth Street, Columbus, Indiana. How do you empower others without creating dependency? The paradigm shifting 50/50 Partnership equips your church to move from short-term, needs-based charity to long-term, asset-based development. $69 for individuals, $299 for five or more. Details.

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