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UMNS Weekly Digest - April 29 , 2016

NOTE: This is a digest of news features provided by United Methodist Communications for April 25-29. 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 umc.org/news.

Bishop again officiates at same-sex nuptials​

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (UMNS) — Retired United Methodist Bishop Melvin Talbert, for the second time, has defied church law to officiate at a ceremony celebrating the union of two men. He co-officiated with the Rev. Val Rosenquist at the April 23 wedding of Jim Wilborne and John Romano at First United Methodist Church in Charlotte. ​He was previously under complaint for officiating at a same-gender union in 2013. Heather Hahn reports.
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Bishop writes about role in clergy complaints

Analysis: GC2016 tackling 44-year stance on homosexuality

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — Words that bind or hurt: “The United Methodist Church does not condone the practice of homosexuality and considers this practice incompatible with Christian teaching.” Kathy L. Gilbert looks back over 44 years of struggle and previews legislation going before the church’s top lawmaking body.
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Ugandans join push for bishop accountability

KAMPALA, Uganda (UMNS) — Three Ugandan United Methodists say their bishop is using their nation’s legal system to silence their calls for accountability. They also are urging the 2016 General Conference, the denomination’s top lawmaking body, to approve proposed legislation to increase bishops’ accountability — especially on financial matters. Rich Peck and Heather Hahn report.
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To reach ‘nones,’ try church experiments

PORTLAND, Ore. (UMNS) — Portland, the host of the denomination’s 2016 General Conference on May 10-20, is on the leading edge of the “None Zone” — where more people answer “none” when asked their religion than identify with any single faith group. United Methodists in Portland are taking the lead in another way: They are coming up with new ways to do church for people who don’t like church. Heather Hahn reports on two examples.
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Prayer vigil focuses on deportation plan

NEW YORK (UMNS) — United Methodist Bishop Jane Middleton was among those leading an “Interfaith Prayer Vigil for Immigration Reform” Monday at the Church of St. Paul and St. Andrew, sponsored by the denomination’s New York Conference and the New Sanctuary Coalition. The U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments last week regarding the legality of a White House plan to defer deportation for about 5 million immigrants. Linda Bloom reports.
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United Methodists protect Filipino farmers

QUEZON CITY, Philippines (UMNS) — A Filipino bishop said United Methodists have engaged in risk-taking mission work in sheltering farmers and Lumads after a protest demanding rice turned deadly. Gladys Mangiduyos reports on the denomination’s work to help the farmers.
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Africa University keeps dream alive

MUTARE, Zimbabwe (UMNS) — The dreams expressed at the 1988 General Conference — that the Africa Initiative would bring together United Methodists around the world with a common agenda — became a reality. Today, Africa University boasts 6,200 alumni. Countless people in the worldwide connection have supported AU with their prayers, presence, gifts, service and witness. Tom Gillem reports.
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Song celebrates church’s malaria fight

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMC.org) — As United Methodists mark World Malaria Day, go behind the scenes for a preview of a new anthem affirming the denomination-wide Imagine No Malaria initiative. Nashville songwriters created the “God Is Able” song, and “American Idol” contender Jeremy Rosado is the performer.
Watch video
United Methodists key partners in malaria fight

Refugees appeal to Ghana church

BUDUBURAM, Ghana (UMNS) — Hundreds of undocumented Liberian refugees have appealed to the Buduburam United Methodist Church to assist them in repatriating to Liberia. The group approached the church because upcoming general elections put them at risk. E. Julu Swen reports.
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Every United Methodist can be part of GC2016

PORTLAND, Ore. (UMC.org) — United Methodists who are not delegates still can participate in General Conference May 10-20, 2016, in Portland, Oregon. General Conference is the denomination’s top policy-making body and meets once every four years. Joe Iovino reports on how United Methodists around the globe can stay connected and get involved.
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History and highlights of General Conferences

Guide to GC2016 available in 3 languages

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — The General Conference Guide provides a handy reference to The United Methodist Church’s top assembly, with an overview of the legislative process, highlights to expect and key topics that will be addressed. It is available for free download in English, French and Portuguese.
Download guide

Attending General Conference 2016

PORTLAND, Ore. (UMNS) — Here is everything you need to know about attending General Conference 2016 — from the fact that the convention center will be a gun-free zone despite Oregon’s open carry law to how to get wireless, translations and public transportation information.
Read press release  

Bishops: Repeal North Carolina’s HB2

RALEIGH, N.C. (UMNS) — Eight United Methodist bishops who live in North Carolina are calling on the state’s legislators to repeal House Bill 2. The law makes it illegal for cities to expand upon state laws related to workplace discrimination, use of public accommodations and the minimum wage. The law has gotten significant pushback from business leaders. “We urge all United Methodists to engage in prayer, in study of the issues, in patient listening and persevering conversation with others who hold differing opinion,” the bishops’ statement said.
Read bishops’ statement
Read Charlotte Observer about the law

Oklahoma church loses sanctuary to storm

DAVIS, Okla. (UMNS) — The sanctuary of First United Methodist Church in Davis is considered a total loss due to damage from an April 26 storm. Church members rushed to save a Bible and other items on the altar. Chris Schutz of the Oklahoma Conference reports.
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Prince had ties to United Methodist church

MINNEAPOLIS (UMNS) — Music megastar Prince was not United Methodist, but had multiple ties to Park Avenue United Methodist Church — including going on mission trips in high school and marrying his first wife at the church. Christa Meland reports for the Minnesota Conference.
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London council rejects ‘homeless Jesus’ statue

LONDON (UMNS) — The Westminster city council has rejected an application to place a life-size bronze cast of homeless Jesus in front of Methodist Central Hall because it “would fail to maintain or improve (preserve or enhance) the character or appearance of the Westminster Abbey and Parliament Square conservation area,” the Guardian newspaper reported. Methodist Central Hall has started a petition to appeal the decision.
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See petition

United Methodists, Episcopalians meet

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (UMNS) — Episcopalians and United Methodists conducted the third session of a dialogue on achieving full communion between the two denominations. The April 25-27 meeting included conversation, meals, prayer and a celebration of the Eucharist.
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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.

Monday, May 2
Deadline to register for United Methodist Global AIDS Fund gathering The gathering, titled “AIDS is not over! … Global Issues and the Church” will be from 8:45 a.m. to 4 p.m. PDT Monday, May 9 at Rose City Park United Methodist Church, 5830 N.E. Alameda St., Portland, Oregon. Details

Tuesday, May 10 to Friday, May 20
2016 General Conference ─ The United Methodist Church’s top lawmaking body will meet at the Oregon Convention Center in Portland. Details

More upcoming United Methodist events