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Daily Digest: October 30, 2014

"I appreciate my pastor, Mark Benge, because he can answer serious questions about the Bible one minute and have me belly laughing the next." — Nancy Stimson Brennan, First United Methodist Church, Lafayette, La.

Pastors: Keep those jokes coming

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — When it comes to what makes a pastor beloved, being funny ranks right up there with not judging others as the most appreciated traits. More than 650 people recently answered the question “What do you appreciate most about your pastor?” on the United Methodist Church’s official Facebook page.

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Bishops return to Oklahoma City after 36 years

OKLAHOMA CITY (UMNS) — When the Council of Bishops last met in Oklahoma City in 1978, the body dealt with family life, changing technology and increased polarization. Holly McCray, editor of the Oklahoma Conference’s Contact, notes United Methodist bishops will deal with similar issues when they meet in the city again next week.

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N.J. United Methodists still responding to Sandy

OCEAN, N.J. (UMNS) — In a letter marking the second anniversary of a "superstorm" that affected many communities, United Methodist Bishop John Schol discusses the response by the Greater New Jersey Conference. "What we have learned through this disaster is that when we go through deep waters, our hope is in knowing God goes with us," he writes. "We have also learned that by working together we are stronger when people need us most. We have become a hopeful future for thousands of people."

Read letter

See CBS-Philly story featuring United Methodist Sandy response

Imagine No Malaria offers Advent resources

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — Imagine No Malaria offers a video, sermon starters, lesson guides, posters, flyers and more to help United Methodist churches support the fight against a disease that claims a life every 60 seconds in sub-Saharan Africa.

View video

Get resources

Learn more about Advent

Pension board plans listening session

GLENVIEW, Ill. (UMNS) — The United Methodist Board of Pension and Health Benefits invites constituents to address the board during a listening session at 11:30 a.m. ET Thursday, Nov.13 in Atlanta. To be placed on the agenda and learn presentation requirements, contact Colette Nies by Nov. 7 at 1-800-269-2244, extension 4296, or at cnies@gbophb.org.

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Churches respond to rise in cremations

PHILADELPHIA (UMNS) — Steve Morton read a few years ago that changing religious views, convenience, and the recession were leading more people to choose cremation. As the senior pastor of Hopewell United Methodist Church in Downingtown, Pennsylvania, he knew he had to respond. So the church opened a memorial garden and two columbaria last year. Michaelle Bond reports for the Philadelphia Inquirer.

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Church camp offers burial for ashes from cremation

CRESCO, Pa. (UMNS) — A camp and retreat site for churches of all denominations also provides an alternative to a traditional cemetery for burying ashes from cremation. Ashes are buried at the roots of a tree in the EcoEternity Forest at Pocono Plateau.

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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.

Sunday, Nov. 2
Daylight Saving Time ends — In most of the United States, people will need to “fall back” and set their clocks an hour earlier to get to church on time. Details from National Geographic.

Sunday-Tuesday, Nov. 2-4
Lead Like a Woman: Free leadership retreat for women church planters — Path 1, part of United Methodist Discipleship Ministries, will hold this event at Sheraton Music City Hotel in Nashville, Tennessee. Jane Creswell, author of “Christ-centered Coaching,” will speak. Details.

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