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UMNS Weekly Digest - April 8, 2016


NOTE: This is a digest of news features provided by United Methodist Communications for April 4-8. 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 Methodist church shelters farmers in Philippines

MANILA, Philippines (UMNS) — A United Methodist Church compound is giving sanctuary to 4,000 farmers and indigenous people after a protest for food relief turned deadly on April 1. Three were killed and more than 100 injured when security forces fired on the crowd blocking a major highway. Protesters poured into the Spottswood United Methodist Church for refuge. Gladys Mangiduyos and Kathy L. Gilbert report.
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United Methodists urge support for Filipino farmers

Church works to end gun violence

PORTLAND, Ore. (UMNS) — A United Methodist proposal to end gun violence cites Micah’s “prophetic dream” of turning weapons into plows and offers practical suggestions. The proposal coming from the United Methodist Board of Church and Society, the denomination’s social action agency, will be considered by delegates at the 2016 General Conference. Kathy L. Gilbert reports.
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GC2016: Shining a spotlight on Sand Creek

PORTLAND, Ore. (UMNS) — Delegates to the 2016 General Conference will get a 30-minute plenary session tutorial on the 1864 Sand Creek Massacre, an attack on Cheyenne and Arapaho Indians led by a Methodist pastor-turned-cavalry officer. They’ll also get a 173-page report offering more details on Methodist involvement in the massacre. Sam Hodges reports.
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Budget cuts head to GC2016

PORTLAND, Ore. (UMNS) — The United Methodist Church’s lowest general church budget proposal in 16 years is now heading for a vote at the 2016 General Conference. Two denominational leadership bodies in the past week have agreed to propose a bottom-line budget of $599 million for general church funds in 2017-20. Heather Hahn reports on how this proposal came to be.
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Lesbian pastor moves closer to church trial

TOPEKA, Kan. (UMNS) — The Rev. Cynthia Meyer moved a step closer to a church trial after she and Bishop Scott Jones failed to agree on a just resolution to the complaint that she is a “self-avowed, practicing” homosexual. One option the Great Plains Conference bishop offered Meyer was that her church could withdraw from the denomination and retain Meyer as pastor in a new denomination. Kathy L. Gilbert and Heather Hahn report.
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Student occupation continues at Duke

DURHAM, N.C. (UMNS) — Students demanding higher wages for Duke University employees have shut down the building that houses the president’s office for more than a week. The students at the United Methodist-related university said they won’t move until the administration agrees to negotiate. The administration said no negotiations until the students leave. Kathy L. Gilbert and Heather Hahn have the story.
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Mission agency, Upper Room open first regional office

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (UMNS) — The opening of the Latin American office of the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries and the Upper Room will strengthen the church’s work throughout the region, leaders said. Tim Tanton reports.
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Multi-campus church pastor to lead Discipleship Ministries

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — The Rev. Junius Boyd Dotson, senior pastor of a 3,500-member multi-campus church in Wichita, Kansas, will take the helm of United Methodist Discipleship Ministries. The former top executive of the agency resigned abruptly in January. Vicki Brown reports.
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Maryland church partnership helps Zimbabwe school

MUREWA, Zimbabwe (UMNS) — Pupils, parents and members of the community at Mashambanhaka Secondary School celebrated the construction of two classroom blocks by Community United Methodist Church in Crofton, Maryland. Eveline Chikwanah has the story.
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Former football player, now evangelist, tackles disability

KUWADZANA, HARARE, Zimbabwe (UMNS) — Rolling his wheelchair toward the pulpit, Tawanda Mupingo stretched out his right hand to hold a microphone, while in the other hand he held a Bible. For centuries, many Africans have viewed disability as a curse. Mupingo is changing those perceptions. Taurai Emmanuel Maforo reports.
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Lay evangelist remains imprisoned in Congo

KINSHASA, Democratic Republic of Congo (UMNS) — A United Methodist lay evangelist and political dissident imprisoned in the Democratic Republic of Congo has been allowed more visits, his brother said. But the family of Vano Kiboko fears for his safety in a military prison. Kiboko has not been allowed to preach and minister to other prisoners as he did in the civilian prison. Art McClanahan has the story and audio for the Iowa Conference.
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Methodists meet with Pope Francis

ROME — Pope Francis said that Catholics and Methodists have much to learn from one another as they work together in loving service to the world, Vatican Radio reports. The Pope met April 7 with leaders of the World Methodist Council, the Methodist Council of Europe and the Methodist Church in Britain. A new ecumenical office also was dedicated at the Methodist Church at Ponte Sant’Angelo in Rome.
Read story and hear radio report
Full remarks by Pope Francis
Vatican Radio interview with Irish Methodist lay leader

Train crash survivors find refuge in church

CHESTER, Pa. (UMNS) — Survivors of an April 3 Amtrak crash that killed two and injured 35 took refuge in Trainer United Methodist Church after the collision. “We must have had well over 300 people in the gym and adjoining rooms and some in the sanctuary,” the Rev. James Ford said. Emergency workers asked the pastor if passengers could stay in the church while they dealt with the injured. John Coleman reports for the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference.
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Cross, stained glass saved from burned church

MILLVILLE, N.J. — Stained glass and a cross were salvaged from the historic Mount Pleasant United Methodist Church after a fire destroyed the sanctuary on Sunday, April 3. Firefighters recovered the cross from a steeple that collapsed in the blaze.
Read The Daily Journal report

From Quonset to sanctuary

SPIRIT LAKE NATION, N.D. (UMNS) — Easter 2016 was a day of celebration for the Spirit Lake Ministry Center. In a new sanctuary converted from a Quonset, 22 worshippers from on and off the reservation participated in the ministry center’s first worship and Holy Communion service. “It’s our prayer Spirit Lake Ministries will be a place of refuge and hope,” said United Methodist co-directors Mike and Libby Flowers.
Read the story from Dakotas Conference

E-readers: A lifetime of ministry

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — The E-Readers for Theological Education initiative is committed to providing electronic libraries on e-readers with important theological texts. The goal is to send the e-readers to libraries of United Methodist-related and sponsored theological schools in Africa and the Philippines by Dec. 31, 2016. The partnership between the United Methodist Board of Higher Education and Ministry and Discipleship Ministries was expanded to provide e-readers to 18 theological schools.
Watch a video about the project 

Drum ministry helps church bind cultures together

NEW YORK, N.Y. ( — The Steel Pan Ministry at Westchester United Methodist Church fits the community perfectly, said Charlene Brown. "There are about 28 different cultures in the church. We have different parts of the Caribbean and parts of Africa. But what binds us all together is the religion and the music," said Brown, a church member.
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60 days of prayer for GC2016

NASHVILLE, Tenn. ( — The Rev. Tom Albin, dean of The Upper Room, explains why all United Methodists should join the 60-day effort to pray for General Conference 2016. “Our denomination will only be as healthy as the prayer life of all of our people,” Albin says.
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Read UMNS story

Videos enrich Native American Ministries Sunday

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — Inspirational videos and other resources for celebrating Native American Ministries Sunday, April 10, are available from United Methodist Communications. Ten videos — each just 19 seconds long — include music and a quote. The special offering supports urban ministries with Native Americans, scholarships for Native Americans attending United Methodist seminaries and conference Native American ministries.
Get resources
Watch videos

Ecumenical staff officer to retire

WASHINGTON (UMNS) — The Rev. Stephen J. Sidorak Jr., ecumenical staff officer for the Office of Christian Unity and Interreligious Relationships of the Council of Bishops, is retiring effective July 1. He is taking an immediate leave of absence to address medical issues.
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Commentary: Numbers matter, so do mission, ministry

EVANSTON, Ill. (UMNS) — The Rev. Amy Valdez Barker, executive secretary of the Connectional Table, asks how numbers about The United Methodist Church can be used to inspire “hope and possibility.”
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7 practices of John Wesley that change hearts

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (UMNS) — “God’s spirit created such a holy discontent in John Wesley’s heart that he abandoned conventional modes of ministry and experimented with several innovative approaches,” writes the Rev. Roger Ross, senior pastor of First United Methodist Church in Springfield. In a commentary for the Lewis Center for Church Leadership, he shares Wesleyan practices that can help ministers today.
Read commentary 

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.

Sunday-Monday, April 10-11
Thrive: Ministry in the New Millennium — Hilton Garden Inn, Canonsburg, Pennsylvania. Methodist Theological School in Ohio and the Western Pennsylvania Board of Higher Education and Campus Ministry are sponsoring this conference, which offers pastors and church leaders new perspectives and tangible ways to enhance 21st century ministry. Keynote speaker is Joel Comiskey, a cell church coach and consultant. Details and registration

Friday-Monday, April 15-18
Ecumenical Advocacy Days — The event, organized in part by the United Methodist Board of Church and Society, draws Christians from across the United States to advocate on Capitol Hill. The theme this year is “Lift Every Voice against Racism, Class and Power.” Speakers include Marian Wright Edelman, founder and president of Children’s Defense Fund, and the Rev. William Barber, convener of the Forward Together Moral Movement. Details

More upcoming United Methodist events