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UMNS Weekly Digest - April 1, 2016


NOTE: This is a digest of news features provided by United Methodist Communications for March 28 - April 1. It includes summaries of United Methodist News Service stories and additional briefs from around the United Methodist connection. Full versions of the stories with photographs and related features can be found at

Guaranteed appointment debate to resume at GC2016

DALLAS (UMNS) — At the 2016 General Conference, the Association of Annual Conference Lay Leaders will renew the fight to end guaranteed appointment for ordained elders of The United Methodist Church. It will require amending the denomination’s constitution — a high hurdle. Sam Hodges reports.
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GC2016: Should bishops have term limits?

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — Multiple proposals heading to General Conference would limit how long bishops can serve and, in some cases, require them to face re-election. The bishops themselves also have been studying bishop tenure. Heather Hahn reports.
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After Brussels attack, 'missioning with fear'

NEW YORK (UMNS) — For one young adult serving as a United Methodist mission volunteer in Brussels, the deadly terrorist attacks on the city’s airport and subway system have led to a new description of his ministry: “missioning in fear.” He and religious leaders around the world reflect on fear that terrorism inflicts, but also on God’s hope for peace. Linda Bloom has the story.
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Read earlier UMNS coverage

Easter attack on Pakistan’s Christians

LAHORE, Pakistan (UMNS) — As Easter Sunday ended in Lahore, Pakistan, Bishop Samuel Azariah was still at a hospital visiting those injured by a suicide bomb attack in a public park where many Christian families were celebrating the holiday. Linda Bloom reports.
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Resurrection celebrated in town terrorists attacked

GRAND BASSAM, Côte d’Ivoire (UMNS) — United Methodist Bishop Benjamin Boni asked for God’s blessings on this coastal town and every nation “going through the sad phenomenon of terrorism” during an Easter service near the site of a deadly terrorist attack that killed 19 people. Herve´ Koutouan reports.
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Commentary: Who really has a say at General Conference?

LANCASTER, Pa. (UMNS) — The Rev. Darryl W. Stephens, director of United Methodist studies at Lancaster Theological Seminary, doesn’t buy the argument that Europe and the Philippines have more than their fair share of power at General Conference.
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Women by the numbers at GC2016

CHICAGO (UMNS) — A total of 864 delegates will meet for General Conference on May 10-20 in Portland, Oregon. Their task will be to revise church laws, adopt new ones and approve plans and budgets for churchwide programs. Of those delegates, 311 are women. As part of its monitoring responsibilities, the United Methodist Commission on the Status and Role of Women digs into the numbers.
Read story about central conferences
Read story about U.S. jurisdictions

Methodism’s American saint: Bishop Francis Asbury

MADISON, N.J. ( — Francis Asbury's efforts helped Methodism become the largest Protestant church body in the United States just 75 years after his death. This video tells his story.
Watch video

Church lay leader’s story goes Hollywood

JACKSON, Tenn. (UMNS) — Joey Williams, lay leader at Lambuth Memorial United Methodist Church, made headlines when he went back to college and ended up playing football alongside his son. Now his inspiring story is set to be made into a movie starring Kevin James. Lane Gardner Camp reports for the Memphis Conference.
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Read previous UMNS coverage

Make a prayer lantern for GC2016 climate vigil

PORTLAND, Ore. (UMNS) — United Methodists are invited to celebrate Earth Sunday by making or decorating a prayer lantern for use at a climate vigil before General Conference 2016. The Pacific Northwest Conference is hosting the vigil on May 12 at 7:30 p.m. at the Oregon Convention Center Plaza. The Rev. Jenny Phillips writes about how churches can make the lanterns to celebrate Earth Sunday.
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Click here to learn more about the vigil
Click here to RSVP on Facebook

BU offers online course on ethical leadership

BOSTON (UMNS) — The Boston University School of Theology, a United Methodist seminary, is joining with the university’s School of Education to offer a Massive Open Online Course on ethical leadership. Walter E. Fluker, professor in the theology school, is teaching. The course debuts May 24.
Read press release

Filipina deaconess focuses on women confronting violence

QUEZON CITY, Philippines (UMNS) — When states commit human rights violations, it’s often women who must find a way to pick up the pieces and hold their families together. Darlene Marquez-Caramanzana, a United Methodist deaconess, has won an award for documenting how women fight for justice for human-rights victims. Gladys Mangiduyos reports.
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UMCOR takes stock, looks to future

NEW YORK (UMNS) — Over the past four years, the United Methodist Committee on Relief has tripled its response to disasters large and small around the world, the Rev. Denise Honeycutt recently told UMCOR’s board of directors. Linda Unger has the story for UMCOR.
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Professor scores with 'Sports and Spirituality'

DALLAS (UMNS) — The Rev. Mark Stamm, professor of worship at Southern Methodist University’s Perkins School of Theology, is drawing on his theological and baseball expertise in teaching the new course “Sports and Spirituality.” He landed Texas Rangers manager Jeff Banister as a guest speaker.
Read press release

At 90, laywoman still leads her congregation

TAZEWELL, Va. (UMNS) — At 90, Jackie Cecil is still working hard to get people into Wilbur Memorial United Methodist Church, to serve people in her community and to lift up United Methodist history. “She’s the one who makes everything happen. She makes the wheels turn,” her pastor says. Annette Spence has the story for the Holston Conference’s The Call.
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Church goes bald as show of support

LEBANON, Pa. (UMNS) — Following a recent worship service at Nuevo Nacimiento (New Birth) United Methodist Church, 32 people had their heads shaved, an act of solidarity with two girls in the community who lost their hair while undergoing cancer treatment. John Coleman reports for the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference.
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Parish nursing certification now available

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — United Methodist parish nurses now have the opportunity to earn certification in their specialized ministry.
Read press release

Effort to provide 100,000 daily devotionals by Sept. 11

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — The Strength for Service board hopes to provide police officers, firefighters, first responders and military personnel with 100,000 copies of “Strength for Service” on or before the 15th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Rich Peck of United Methodist Men tells how churches can join the effort.
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Norwegian scholarships aid Ebola orphans, others

LUNGI, MOYAMBA, Sierra Leone (UMNS) — Orphans of Ebola and HIV as well as other disadvantaged children in four United Methodist primary schools in Sierra Leone are benefiting from Norwegian scholarships that provide fees and learning materials. Phileas Jusu reports.
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Restoring the Sacred Circle with Nez Perce

MOSCOW, Idaho (UMNS) — Two Idaho United Methodist churches in the Pacific Northwest Conference are trying to make the conference’s Act of Repentance to Native Americans mean more than saying, “I’m sorry.” The Rev. Sue Ostrom of Moscow First United Methodist Church tells how her congregation is building relationships with Lapwai United Methodist Church, where many members are Nez Perce.
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Downtown church is 'messy … grace-filled'

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (UMNS) — The Church of the Reconciler is “messy, disorganized and grace-filled,” according to its pastor, the Rev. Matt Lacey. This United Methodist church in downtown Birmingham seeks to meet the needs of the homeless, offering a weekday meal and other services.
Read the North Alabama Conference report

Zimbabwe churchgoers pledge to fight child abuse

HARARE, Zimbabwe (UMNS) — The United Methodist Church has become the second church after the Salvation Army to implement a Child Protection Policy in the country under the Zimbabwe Council of Churches. The policy seeks to protect children against all forms of abuse and exploitation. Kudzai Chingwe has the story.
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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.

Sunday, April 10
Native American Ministries Sunday
— Offering for this special Sunday funds urban ministries with Native Americans, scholarships for Native American attending United Methodist seminaries and conference Native American ministries.  Details

Monday, April 11
Deadline to register for Wesley Heritage Tour
— On July 12-20, The Rev. Mark and Lisa Johnsen of South Dakota are leading an Educational Opportunities tour of England with a focus on the ministry of John Wesley. Costs vary. Details

More upcoming United Methodist events