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UMNS Weekly Digest - April 21, 2017


Top viewed stories from April 17-April 20. See all United Methodist News Service stories at

Church braces for ruling on gay bishop

DALLAS (UMNS) — Prayer vigils and a flurry of press releases are just some of the signs of interest in and concern about a Judicial Council hearing set for Tuesday, April 25. The case before the denomination’s top court could affect the standing of Bishop Karen Oliveto, the first openly gay pastor elected to the United Methodist episcopacy. Sam Hodges reports on the pre-hearing activity.
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Preview to Judicial Council hearing

NEWARK, N.J. (UMNS) — The United Methodist Church’s top court faces a number of questions about the election of the denomination’s first openly gay bishop — including whether it should weigh in at all. Heather Hahn summarizes some of the legal arguments going before the Judicial Council next week.
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Faith groups bring hope, new life to refugees

UNITED NATIONS (UMNS) — Abdul Saboor’s journey as a refugee to the United States from Afghanistan began “when I saw my own community on fire.” Saboor, who now works for an interfaith agency in Syracuse, New York, was part of an April 13 panel discussion at U.N. headquarters on the role of faith-based organizations in refugee assistance and resettlement work. Linda Bloom reports.
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Norwegian pastor has unusual post

MINNEAPOLIS (UMNS) — When a Lutheran congregation was considering the Rev. Kristin Sundt as pastor, some members had misgivings because Sundt is a United Methodist. Now, Lutherans and United Methodists alike are praising the unusual collaboration. Susan Keaton has the story. 
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Clergy speak out against executions

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (UMNS) — Legal challenges stopped three of the four planned executions in Arkansas this week, but Ledell Lee was put to death on April 20. United Methodist clergy are among those who spoke out against the multiple executions. Kathy L. Gilbert has the story. 
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Bishop: Church must stand for peace in Korea

SUN PRAIRIE, Wis. — Wisconsin Area Bishop Hee-Soo Jung says United Methodists must stand for peace in the face of tensions on the Korean peninsula. “Let us join together in solidarity with our Korean brothers and sisters in this sacred task of peacemaking, peacekeeping and restoration,” writes Jung, who was born in Kwang hwa do, Korea. Jung also details the denomination’s official statement on Korea in the Book of Resolutions and urges President Donald Trump and other officials to use “caution, discretion and patience.”
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Why we are called United Methodists

DALLAS (UMNS) — There have been many nicknames for the band of believers who followed the lead of John and Charles Wesley in their early ministry in England. On April, 23, 1968, United Methodists got their current moniker on what was the denomination’s official birthdate.
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Church builds lights for literacy

LOS GATOS, Calif. ( — When the sun sets, 20 percent of the world lives in darkness. In the Silicon Valley of California, two men, with the help of their church, came up with a simple, inexpensive way to give families the gift of light and literacy.
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$1.5 million study of changing congregations 

DURHAM, N.C. — United Methodist-related Duke University will use a $1.5 million grant from Lilly Endowment Inc. to expand research on America's religious congregations to assess how they are changing over time.
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Native American Ministries Sunday on April 30

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Native American Ministries Sunday on April 30, 2017, is one of The United Methodist Church's six special Sundays designated by General Conference to recognize and support particular ministries annually with a special offering. This observation focuses the attention of church members on the gifts and contributions of Native Americans to society and the denomination. Polly House has the story for Interpreter magazine.
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7 questions when starting a youth ministry

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — What’s the first step in starting a youth ministry? Brad Fiscus of the Tennessee Conference says it’s to get all the stakeholders — youth, their parents, other adults and key leaders — to discuss possibilities and frame a vision. In a commentary for the Lewis Center for Church Leadership, he suggests seven questions to frame the conversation.
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Bishop runs Boston Marathon

BOSTON — Iowa Bishop Laurie Haller ran in the 2017 Boston Marathon. Haller, elected bishop in 2016, has run the marathon 10 times. “By running in the Boston Marathon, and in everything I do, my only goal is to praise God and give thanks.” The Rev. Arthur McClanahan has the story for the Iowa Conference. 
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Children's home campus sale announced

DECATUR, Ga. — The United Methodist Children’s Home here has agreed to sell its 77-acre campus to the city of Decatur for $40 million. The proceeds will allow for expanded community-based services by the ministry. Decatur has agreed to preserve the historic Moore Chapel.
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'God is with me more than grief'

DALLAS — The Rev. William Jennings Bryan III learned on Jan. 25 that he has stage 4 pancreatic cancer. The longtime United Methodist pastor and Perkins School of Theology administrator was the subject of an Easter profile in the Dallas Morning News. “God is with me more than grief,” Bryan says.
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5 out-of-the-box ideas for men's ministry

MOBILE, Ala. (UMCOM) — Whether it’s painting or un-conferencing, creativity in planning men’s ministry is a must. The Rev. Jeremy Steele, writing for United Methodist Communications, suggests ideas beyond an early-morning devotion over eggs to help men engage with church.
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Ask the UMC: What is expected of godparents?

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — An invitation to serve as a child’s godparent is an honor and serious responsibility in The United Methodist Church. InfoServ, a ministry of United Methodist Communications, addresses the role of godparents in the latest installment of Ask the UMC.
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Ask the UMC



Here are some of the activities ahead for United Methodists across the connection. If you have a United Methodist event to share, you can add it to the calendar with this submission form.

Saturday, April 22

Online Lay Servant Workshop: Teach Adults — This two-week interactive, Discipleship Ministries-approved Lay Servant course from aims to help teachers guide adult learners through faith development. Students will need the book “Start Here” by Barbara Bruce, and should read it before the course begins. Cost is $65. Details

Tuesday, April 25

Leadership Development: Discipleship Models and Practice — 7-8 p.m. Central. This webinar from United Methodist Discipleship Ministries focuses on helping congregational leaders walk through disciple-making practices as they become a missional-focused church. Understanding how evangelism, Christian education and leadership development work together to increase congregational vitality is crucial for developing new models and practices. Details

See more United Methodist events