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UMNS Weekly Digest - April 15, 2016


NOTE: This is a digest of news features provided by United Methodist Communications for April 11-15. 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

United to propose new hybrid Course of Study

DAYTON, Ohio (UMNS) — United Theological Seminary has announced plans for a “self-sustaining, non-jurisdictional, non-geographic, nationwide hybrid Course of Study program,” beginning Jan. 1, 2017. The United Methodist Board of Higher Education and Ministry is charged with administering the study program for licensed local pastors and will need to approve United’s program before it can begin. The proposal comes after the board discontinued the current hybrid Course of Study as of December. Kathy L. Gilbert reports.
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Ceasefire grants reprieve, but refugees still in need

NEW YORK (UMNS) — The latest partial ceasefire in Syria was showing signs of collapse this week, but not before the country’s besieged civilians were granted a reprieve. United Methodists and religious partners respond as the crisis continues for Syrians and others seeking refuge in the Middle East and Europe. Linda Bloom reports.
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Water shortage threatens Zimbabwe clinic

MUREWA, Zimbabwe (UMNS) — Dindi Mission is grappling with an acute water shortage as the lone borehole fails to cope with demand from the United Methodist center and the neighboring community. A Maryland church is spearheading efforts to raise funds for two new boreholes. Eveline Chikwanah has the story.
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Satellite clinics for remote areas of Zimbabwe

NYAHUKU, Zimbabwe (UMNS) — In a community so rural that elephants are frequently seen and the only access to the country’s mobile phone network can be found under a single tree, The United Methodist Church is providing quality medical care. The Nyadire Mission Hospital’s satellite clinics in six remote Zimbabwe communities are being expanded and upgraded with the help of United Methodists from Pennsylvania. Eveline Chikwanah has the story.
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Grant helps Alaskans address community issues

WASILLA, Alaska (UMNS) –– The Peace with Justice Sunday special offering is helping an Alaskan United Methodist organize churches to address local social problems. Barbara Dunlap-Berg reports on how church-based community organizing is building community, thanks to this grant. Peace with Justice Sunday is May 22.
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Resources for this Sunday

Immigrant men find help in Michigan

CHELSEA, Mich. (UMNS) — When Samil, an immigrant from Bangladesh, fled from religious persecution, he ended up in Michigan. Volunteers at the Southeastern Michigan Justice for Our Neighbors helped him connect with an attorney who has filed for political asylum on his behalf. Barbara Dunlap-Berg reports on the program supported by a grant through Peace with Justice Sunday.
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Get resources for Peace with Justice Sunday

E-readers reach students in heart of Congo

WEMBO NYAMA, Democratic Republic of Congo (UMNS) — Delivering e-readers to theology students at Patrice Emery Lumumba University required a harrowing 600-mile journey to the heart of the Congo. But each e-reader is loaded with about 1,000 books, profoundly enhancing students’ access to theological texts, including John Wesley’s sermons. Pierre T. Omadjela reports.
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E-Reader Project expands to Asia

Grave found of church founder, a former slave

CLINTON, Tenn. — Thanks to a historian’s research, members of Haven Chapel United Methodist Church can visit the gravesite of the church’s founder, Elijah Knott, a former slave who served in the Union Army. Bob Fowler of the Knoxville News Sentinel reports on the historical detective work that led to the discovery of Knott’s final resting place.
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Religious Americans happier, more engaged

WASHINGTON — A Pew Research Center study of the ways religion influences the daily lives of Americans finds that people who are highly religious are more engaged with their extended families, more likely to volunteer, more involved in their communities and generally happier with the way things are going in their lives.
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How a church creates culture of call

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (UMNS) — Mandarin United Methodist Church in Jacksonville could teach other churches how to help young people discern God’s call to ministry. The church has successfully applied simple steps to boost the culture of call among its 1,000 attendees. In less than a year, the church has seen 23 children and teens profess a call to ministry. Julia Boyd Cole writes for the Florida Conference about how the church did it.
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Duke professor named Perkins dean

DALLAS (UMNS) — Perkins School of Theology at Southern Methodist University has named the Rev. Craig C. Hill as dean, effective July 1. Hill, a United Methodist ordained elder, taught at Wesley Theological Seminary and since 2010 has been executive director of the Doctor of Ministry and Master of Christian Practice programs at Duke Divinity School.
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Boosting memory with music

MACON, Ga. (UMNS) — Rufus Jones, a musician who played with James Brown and Otis Redding among others, came alive as soon as he listened to an iPod shuffle. The gift of a music player was part of Centenary United Methodist Church’s Music and Memory Project. The church provides music players with 20 free songs to residents of a senior-living center. Kara Witherow of the South Georgia Conference reports on how the ministry brings smiles and refreshes memories.
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Coaching transforms ministry

NEPTUNE, N.J. (UMNS) — More than 150 clergy in the Greater New Jersey Conference have signed up for coaching, and many say the eight-month coaching experience has been nothing short of transformational. Paige Chant reports for the conference.
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Do extroverts dominate General Conference?

DALLAS (UMNS) — Some people get energy from being around and talking with others, while other people prefer to hang back and listen. The Rev. Ted A. Campbell, professor of church history at Southern Methodist University’s Perkins School of Theology, wonders if the denomination’s top lawmaking assembly makes room for the quieter people to communicate their ideas.
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Quiz: Test your knowledge of General Conference

PORTLAND, Ore. ( — Just how much do you know about The United Methodist Church’s big legislative gathering that sets church policy? This 10-question quiz lets you check what you know.
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#CTTalks series on strategic directions

CHICAGO (UMNS) — The Connectional Table began a new series of #CTTalks this week, highlighting the work done to develop strategic directions in each of the Four Areas of Focus. The online forum features a series of videos and social media conversations around key topics related to General Conference 2016.
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Watch videos

Bias named district superintendent

WORTHINGTON, Ohio (UMNS) — The Rev. Timothy L. Bias, former top executive of United Methodist Discipleship Ministries, has received an appointment to be a district superintendent in the West Ohio Conference. He will begin that new role July 1. Bias left Discipleship Ministries on Dec. 31.
Read West Ohio Conference announcement
Read UMNS story on Bias’ departure
Read UMNS story on next top executive

7 college outreach ideas

MOBILE, Ala. (UMCom) — Reaching college students doesn’t have to mean adding a new worship service or planning a big mission trip. The Rev. Jeremy Steele offers seven free or inexpensive ways churches can make college students feel welcome and nurture discipleship.
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2016 candidacy guidebook available

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — A new guidebook for candidates for ordained ministry in The United Methodist Church has been released by The United Methodist Board of Higher Education and Ministry. The book, “Answering the Call: Candidacy Guidebook,” is designed for group candidacy mentoring.
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Relief after spring storms in U.S.

NEW YORK (UMNS) — Late winter and early spring storms have caused widespread damage across the U.S. Though the extent of damage is different in every community, no disaster is small for those affected. Support from the United Methodist Committee on Relief is making a difference, reports Susan Kim.
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10 church faux pas that turn off millennials

MOBILE, Ala. (UMCOM) — Don’t hate on social media; do be deeply spiritual. These are just two tips the Rev. Jeremy Steele offers for ministering with millennials, based on social science research. Many of the faux pas he points out are turnoffs no matter your generation.
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Pastor’s book becomes prison church’s study

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (UMNS) — A United Methodist church housed in a women’s prison got a boost this Lent through the United Methodist connection. Lane Gardner Camp of the Memphis Conference reports on how the women of Grace Place United Methodist Church ended up with a Lenten study based on a United Methodist pastor’s book.
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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.

Thursday, April 21
Workshop “Navigating Healthy Change” — 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. CDT. Nationally recognized consultant and church leader Mike Bonem will be featured at the ninth Leadership Institute at Central Methodist University, Inman Student and Community Center. He works with congregations, denominational bodies and other organizations to conduct in-depth assessments, discern God’s vision and initiate healthy change. The Missouri United Methodist Foundation is sponsoring the event. $35. Details

Friday, April 22
Earth Day — The observance of Earth Day celebrates God's gift of the earth. To celebrate, United Methodist Discipleship Ministries offers worship resources.

More upcoming United Methodist events