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UMNS Weekly Digest - April 28, 2017


Top viewed stories from April 21-April 27. See all United Methodist News Service stories at

Court hears arguments over gay bishop

NEWARK, N.J. (UMNS) — Was last July’s election of a gay bishop by United Methodists in the denomination’s U.S. Western Jurisdiction a violation of church law or a legal elevation of a clergy member in good standing? Representatives of both positions argued their case before the United Methodist Judicial Council during an April 25 oral hearing. Linda Bloom reports. 
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See more photos from the hearing
Moderators to church: Focus on commission's work

Spectators pray, sing at Judicial Council

NEWARK, N.J. (UMNS) — About 200 people prayed and sang before a Judicial Council hearing on whether a gay bishop can be elected and consecrated in The United Methodist Church. Those attending included Bishop Karen Oliveto, the first openly gay bishop in the denomination. Kathy L. Gilbert has the story.
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Special 2019 General Conference date set

ST. LOUIS (UMNS) — The Council of Bishops announced the call to a special General Conference on Feb. 23-26, 2019, in St. Louis. The special meeting will be limited to dealing with a bishops’ report based on recommendations related to fostering church unity amid deep differences around homosexuality. Heather Hahn reports. 
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What does it mean to be evangelical?

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — Plenty of United Methodists of varied theological perspectives claim the name evangelical. No less than John Wesley himself applied the term to the Methodist movement he founded. Heather Hahn reports on the difference between evangelicals and fundamentalists.
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2 United Methodists among 10 mysterious deaths

GREENVILLE, Liberia (UMNS) — Two United Methodists are among 10 who died after eating food at a funeral; a third remains in critical condition. Health officials have ruled out Ebola. Julu Swen reports. 
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Bishop gives overview of United Methodist struggles

LAKELAND, Fla. — Florida Conference Bishop Ken Carter, a moderator on the Commission on a Way Forward, has written a blog post titled “How We Got to Where We Are: A Brief Overview of United Methodism in 2017.” He gives background on the denomination’s continuing struggles over Christian faith and LGBTQ inclusivity. 
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Madam turned brothel into Methodist mission 

SAN ANTONIO (UMNS) — In 1895, a San Antonio madam converted to Christianity and turned her brothel into a Methodist mission rescuing women from prostitution. Soon it would become a refuge for young women pregnant out of wedlock. Now known as Providence Place, it’s still a vital, United Methodist-supported ministry. Sam Hodges reports.
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Arkansas executes four men in April

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (UMNS) — Legal challenges and stays stopped four of eight planned executions in Arkansas but the state put four men to death in a series of executions. United Methodist clergy are among those who spoke out against the executions. Kathy L. Gilbert updates the story. 
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Migration as a mission challenge, blessing

ATLANTA (UMNS) — The conflicts, the numbers, the news coverage, the politics — every aspect of what is happening to refugees and migrants signals a global crisis. The United Methodist Board of Global Ministries addressed concerns about migration during its April 20-22 spring meeting. Linda Bloom reports.
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Thomas Kemper speaks on migration and mission

Grants for disaster recovery, health needs  

ATLANTA (UMNS) — Five United Methodist conferences handling major disaster response projects and four church-related health boards in Africa will receive new grants from the United Methodist Committee on Relief. Linda Bloom has the story.
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2017 annual conference reports

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — United Methodist News Service is posting reports from all annual conference sessions. Reports so far include Bulgaria-Romania, Hungary, Serbia-Macedonia, Sierra Leone and Southern Nigeria. 
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Diversity is key to discipleship

WASHINGTON — To really be the church God intends, United Methodists “need to get comfortable with being uncomfortable,” said the Rev. Ramon Jackson of Inspire D.C. Jackson was one of seven members of the Baltimore-Washington Conference who traveled to a Path One Multiethnic Church Conference. Melissa Lauber of the Baltimore-Washington Conference reports on lessons from the event.
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Quilt of vestments celebrates ministry

NEWBERN, Tenn. — After the Rev. Richard T. Carruth died, his daughter decided to honor his ministry and vocation by having his many clergy stoles and robes made into a quilt. But it took the United Methodist connection to help Amanda Carruth Peevyhouse find someone to make that quilt. Lane Gardner Camp reports for the Memphis Conference. 
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'Go Gray' to fight pediatric brain tumors

ALCOA, Tenn. — After three children in the Holston Conference were diagnosed with brain tumors, a group of parents and churches in the conference are supporting a new fundraising and awareness event. “Go Gray Sunday,” scheduled May 7, aims to fight pediatric brain tumors through research. Annette Spence reports.
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With reconciliation, cemetery returns home

WASHINGTON — Dumbarton and Mount Zion United Methodist churches have a long history. In 1816, Mount Zion was formed when African-American members left Dumbarton to form their own congregation after enduring discrimination and oppression. The church’s current pastors, the Revs. Mary Kay Totty and Johnsie Cogman, tell how these two historic congregations in the U.S. capital have reconciled and settled ownership of a cemetery.
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Church connects with Native American foods

DALLAS — The Dallas Indian Mission United Methodist Church has a remarkable history and a great way with food. “Friday Night Frybread and More” is a church tradition. And its recent wild onion dinner, drawing on a traditional Native American recipe, had people lined up before the doors opened. Linda Stallard Johnson reports for the North Texas Conference.
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Why we are called United Methodists

DALLAS ( — 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. Fran Coode Walsh has the story.
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Tiny house provides many lessons

DE PERE, Wis. ( — The Rev. Rebecca Rutter was finishing seminary, pastoring a church and parenting three children. She needed something to help her relax, so she built a tiny house. Along the way, the United Methodist pastor learned about going green, living simply and making room for Jesus in her busy life. Joe Iovino has the story and podcast. 
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Wespath plans listening session May 12

GLENVIEW, Ill. — Wespath Benefits and Investments, the United Methodist pension board, invites interested plan participants to address the board of directors during a listening session at 9 a.m., Central, May 12 at the Hilton Chicago/Northbrook, 2855 N. Milwaukee Ave., Northbrook, Ill. To place your name and topic on the agenda, contact Colette Nies at by April 28.
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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 29

Leadership Training for the Missional Congregation — 8:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m., Central, First United Methodist Church of Mendota, 100 East Sixth St., Mendota, Illinois. This event is a half-day workshop for pastors and congregational leaders who want to learn more about what it takes to be a congregation focused on God’s mission. The Rev. Rick Rouse will share the vital signs of a missional church and ways to help congregations reclaim their vocation as a mission outpost and training center for today’s disciples. Details   

Thursday, May 4

"Sonshine and Sunshine: Sunday School in the Summer" — 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