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UMNS Weekly Digest - April 7, 2017


Top viewed stories from March 31-April 6. See all United Methodist News Service stories at

Bishop Fernandes, leader amid war, dies at 78 

LUANDA, Angola (UMNS) — Bishop Moisés Domingos Fernandes, who led United Methodists in East Angola during his nation’s devastating civil war and braved a rebel attack, died April 6. He was 78. Heather Hahn has his obituary. 
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Civil rights tour affects Hispanic youth

DALLAS (UMNS) — Hispanic youth from Dallas had an eye-opening spring break, taking a civil rights history tour of the South, thanks to the United Methodist National Plan for Hispanic/Latino Ministry. The Rev. Amy Spaur described the tour as “very impactful” for the young people from her church. Sam Hodges reports.
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Sierra Leone bishop: Overseas support at risk

MAKENI, Sierra Leone (UMNS) — The United Methodist Church in Sierra Leone needs to reduce its reliance on overseas support in case the global denomination splits over the issue of homosexuality, Bishop John K. Yambasu told members of the conference at their annual meeting in March. Phileas Jusu has the story.
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Read Sierra Leone Conference report

Q&A on Judicial Council hearing

GLEN ALLEN, Va. (UMNS) — The Virginia Conference is sharing a Q&A prepared by the Southeastern Jurisdiction bishops. It deals with the Judicial Council’s April 25 hearing on whether a gay pastor can serve as a bishop. The decision could affect the standing of Bishop Karen Oliveto, a lesbian married to another woman. Virginia Conference Bishop Sharma Lewis also has written a letter to her conference, calling for prayers for the Judicial Council and the Commission on a Way Forward.
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Read Bishop Lewis' letter

New film on Reinhold Niebuhr speaks to today

WASHINGTON (UMNS) — The American theologian Reinhold Niebuhr is today most closely associated with the Serenity Prayer, but his impact is more extensive than that. United Methodist Wesley Theological Seminary helped sponsor the debut of a new documentary and panel discussion on the Christian thinker. The documentary will air on PBS stations across the U.S. Erik Alsgaard has the story.
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Filipino churchgoers oppose death penalty

CABANATUAN CITY, Philippines (UMNS) — Many Filipino United Methodists, including all three bishops, are expressing opposition to the proposed return of the death penalty, which the Philippines abolished in 2006. Gladys Mangiduyos has the story. 
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Tractor-trailer takes out historic church

WELLERSBURG, Pa. (UMNS) — The historic building of Mount Harmony United Methodist Church appears to be a total loss after a tractor-trailer truck crashed into it April 4. Jackie Campbell reports for the Western Pennsylvania Conference.
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Dying Texas church gives life to new church

AUSTIN, Texas (UMNS) — After years of decline, Asbury United Methodist Church faced a question steeped in resurrection theology: Would they be willing to let their church die in order to have new life? Eileen E. Flynn has the story for Duke Divinity School’s Faith and Leadership. 
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District sponsors 'Steeple to Street' day 

LAKELAND, Fla. (UMNS) — The North Central District of the Florida Conference will have a “From the Steeple to the Street” event April 8, challenging churches to take God’s work to the sidewalks, city parks and fast-food restaurants. The effort links with the conference’s Fresh Expressions initiative to move church beyond church walls. The conference’s Doug Long reports.
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Denomination certifies first lay parish nurse

KINGSPORT, Tenn. (UMNS) — After nearly two decades serving as a church nurse in the Holston Conference, Joy Eastridge heard God’s call to take the next step in her ministry. She is now The United Methodist Church’s first certified lay minister with the specialization of parish nurse. Discipleship Ministries has the story. 
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Pastor's limo helps kids arrive in style

PECULIAR, Mo. (UMNS) — When you see a stretch limo cruise by, you probably wonder who is inside. A celebrity, a CEO of a large company, a foreign dignitary? But in this Missouri town, people are more likely to think, “Probably some kids going to youth group at their church.” The Missouri Conference reports on this peculiar ministry of Peculiar United Methodist Church. 
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Building harmony through student debate

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — In these volatile times when race, protest and civil disobedience are headline news every day in the U.S., Gordon Memorial United Methodist Church invited young students in Nashville to talk it out.
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Ask the UMC: Why is Easter 50 days long?

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — Easter for Christians is more than a celebration of the resurrection of Jesus. The season of Easter, or Eastertide, begins at sunset on the eve of Easter and ends on Pentecost, the day we celebrate the gift of the Holy Spirit and the birth of the church. InfoServ, a ministry of United Methodist Communications, has more details in the latest installment of Ask the UMC.
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Ask the UMC 

Two hymns that reflect on Holy Week symbols

DALLAS (UMNS) — What do the gospel hymns “The Old Rugged Cross” and “I Come to the Garden Alone” have in common? Each reflects on key symbols of Holy Week —  the cross of Good Friday and the garden of the Resurrection. C. Michael Hawn, a professor of church music at Perkins School of Theology, compares the two hymns.
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Observing Holy Week, Easter at home

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — Holy Week and Easter traditionally provide a wealth of opportunities for remembering, meditating and celebrating at church. Cindy Solomon, writing for Interpreter, offers ideas for what families can do at home to mark this sacred time.
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Wespath fund addresses conference concerns

GLENVIEW, Ill. (UMNS) — The denomination’s Wespath Benefits and Investments has revised the investment guidelines of its Equity Social Values Plus Fund, one of its 10 funds. The revisions address concerns raised by annual conferences about investments in fossil fuels and specific companies identified with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The revised fund is open only to Wespath’s institutional clients and individuals in certain retirement plans who self-direct their accounts. These changes do not affect any other Wespath funds.
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United Methodists win RCC awards

CHICAGO (UMNS) — Christie House, United Methodist Board of Global Ministries, won Best of Class for New World Outlook Magazine March 30 at the DeRose-Hinkhouse Memorial Awards, given to active members of the Religion Communicators Council. Diane Degnan, United Methodist Communications, won the 2017 Shoestring Award for the “Praying Our Way Forward” campaign. Other United Methodist communicators won awards of excellence and merit awards.
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See entire list of RCC award winners

Berryman leaving Reconciling Ministries

CHICAGO (UMNS) — Matt Berryman, executive director of the unofficial United Methodist advocacy group Reconciling Ministries Network, has announced he plans to leave the organization June 1. The group advocates for the full inclusion of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer or questioning individuals in the life of the church. He will remain a member of the Commission on a Way Forward, which is working on denominational unity despite deep divisions around homosexuality.
Read press release

Commentary: Who 'counts' in ministry?

ADRIAN, Mich. (UMNS) — As the denomination struggles with declining U.S. membership, the Rev. Chris Momany wonders how he should count people involved in his campus ministry. He is the chaplain at United Methodist-related Adrian College.
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10 ways to master the art of asking

WASHINGTON (UMNS) — Learning how to be effective in asking others to support your ministry is a key to fruitful leadership, says Ann Michel of the Lewis Center for Church Leadership. She provides 10 tips from her new book “Synergy” to enhance volunteer recruitment and fundraising.
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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.

Sunday, April 9

Palm/Passion Sunday — This holy day recapitulates the beginning and end of Christ’s final week in Jerusalem. Discipleship Ministries offers worship resources. Details

Sunday, April 9 to Saturday, April 15

Holy Week — Holy Week is the heart of the church’s ritual, theological and missional life. Everything we do in worship, doctrine and mission springs from this week. Discipleship Ministries has worship resources, including its “Through Death to Life" series. Details

See more United Methodist events