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UMNS Weekly Digest - August 11, 2017


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Closed meetings find support, criticism

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — The Commission on a Way Forward, charged with helping the denomination avoid schism amid divisions over homosexuality, continues to meet behind closed doors. Some in the church say that’s needed for commissioners to build trust and candor. Others question whether the approach is wise or even permissible under church law. Sam Hodges reports.
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Commentary: Closer to a Way Forward  

Louisiana needs flood-recovery volunteers

BATON ROUGE, La. (UMNS) — United Methodists observing the first anniversary of devastating floods in Louisiana are looking for more volunteer teams to help the most vulnerable of the storm’s survivors get back on their feet. Linda Bloom has the story. 
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Bishop grapples with great needs and growth

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — Bishop Kasap Owan — one of three new Congolese bishops — leads an episcopal area that is home to more than 1.1 million United Methodists in two countries. During a visit to Nashville, he spoke to Heather Hahn about his goals for the area.
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Church provides sanctuary for man facing deportation 

NEW HAVEN, Conn. — A Connecticut United Methodist church has offered sanctuary to an undocumented immigrant from Ecuador just hours before he was to be deported. Marco Reyes Alverez is now living at First and Summerfield United Methodist Church. Reyes “faces danger and death” if he returns to Ecuador, said a U.S. senator who believes Reyes has a valid claim for asylum in the U.S. Joanne Utley reports for the New York Conference. 
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Native American Family Camp returns

GORE, Okla. (UMNS) — For the first time in nearly a decade, Native American United Methodists gathered for the Native American International Caucus’ Family Camp. The theme for the gathering was “Act of Repentance: Healing the Wounds from Within.” Ginny Underwood reports.
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Sierra Leone hospital brings needed relief

ROTIFUNK, Sierra Leone (UMNS) — Twenty-two years after the facility was closed down because of the civil war in Sierra Leone, Hatfield Archer Memorial Hospital in Rotifunk has started doing surgeries again. Hernia and hydrocele surgical operations were performed on nine men in July, the first of 300 patients diagnosed for those surgical needs. Phileas Jusu has the story. 
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The development of Hatfield Archer hospital 

Blog: Lessons from a rural church

COLUMBIA, La. — The rural area where the Rev. Stephen Fife is a United Methodist pastor is struggling economically and in other ways. But he’s found much to appreciate there, and plenty to keep him busy. He writes in a recent blog post: “The best thing that I can do for people where I serve is continually reconnect them to Christ and to their community.” 
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2017 annual conference reports 

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — United Methodist News Service is posting all annual conference reports. New reports are Indiana and Tennessee.
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A call to prayer for a just peace

WASHINGTON — The past few months have seen increasing tension surrounding North Korea’s nuclear program. Citing the denomination’s stance that war is “incompatible” with Christian teaching, the Rev. Susan Henry-Crowe, top executive of the United Methodist Board of Church and Society, has issued a call to join in prayer for peace on Sunday, Aug. 13.
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WCC urges dialogue, engagement   

Artistic witness can deepen young people's faith

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Young people in The United Methodist Church are being encouraged to deepen their faith by using artistic witness in the same creative tradition as prolific hymn writer Charles Wesley. The Conspiritor Collective, a new project of Young People’s Ministries, a unit of United Methodist Discipleship Ministries, seeks to inspire new generations of artists to use the spiritual practice of artistic witness to share the Gospel and craft faith community revivals.
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University Senate commemorates 125th anniversary 

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The University Senate, established as the oldest educational accrediting agency in the U.S., turns 125 this year. Since its founding, the University Senate has provided oversight for the requirements, fulfillment of those requirements and general operational health of the 118 schools, colleges, universities and theological schools affiliated with The United Methodist Church.
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N.J. church adds a 'digital equivalent'

CLINTON, N.J. — It has taken time, work and a lot of refinement with a six-month rollout and launch plan, but it’s finally official — Clinton United Methodist Church will offer another way for the community to worship with the debut of its “online church” on Sept. 10. Denise Herschel reports for the Greater New Jersey Conference.
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Sustaining an Iowa State Fair tradition

DES MOINES, Iowa — West Des Moines United Methodist Church is the last remaining Christian organization to host an eatery at the Iowa State Fair. The congregation’s food stand debuted at the fair back in 1949. Courtney Crowder reports for The Des Moines Register.
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Commentary: Life as a Boy Scout chaplain

GLEN JEAN, W.Va.  — The Rev. John Partridge just spent two weeks living in a tent, sleeping on a cot and walking miles each day — and considers it one of the best times of his life. Partridge joined dozens of other pastors of all faiths as a chaplain for the 2017 National Boy Scout Jamboree. He shared his experience with the East Ohio Conference News. 
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Going forward after Standing Rock

OKLAHOMA CITY — The Rev. David Wilson, superintendent of the Oklahoma Indian Missionary Conference, got deeply involved in the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation protest of the Dakota Access Pipeline. Faith & Leadership has an interview with him on what the protest meant and where things go from here.
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Where did the use of acolytes originate?

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (InfoServ) — Acolytes have been part of the church in some form for nearly 2,000 years. In the latest installment of Ask the UMC, InfoServ, a ministry of United Methodist Communications, looks at the role of acolytes in the early church and today. 
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Ask the UMC 

Heading toward new mission destinations

ATLANTA — A “liturgy of placement,” marking both place of origin and mission destination, was a highlight of the commissioning service for a new batch of young adult missionaries at the headquarters of the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries. Ivy Couch reports for the mission agency.
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UMW opposes delay on methane regulations 

NEW YORK — United Methodist Women is calling on the Environmental Protection Agency to enforce methane regulations passed in 2016, avoiding a proposed two-year delay. “A delay will have severe health effects, especially on pregnant women and children,” the organization said.
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Ministry swaps tradition for coffee, music

RAHWAY, N.J. — After forming a successful coffee shop ministry in the Philippines, Roy Vilallva applied the same idea in New Jersey. The object of the Solid Rock Café is to offer an alternative to traditional worship services and bring people closer to Christ through music. Kamelia Ani reports for the Greater New Jersey Conference.
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Racing through life? Make the laps count

INDIANAPOLIS ( — The Rev. Rob Fuquay, senior pastor of St. Luke’s United Methodist Church in Indianapolis, sees a parallel between the flags used in auto racing and “the signals God sends us in our fast-paced lives.” He wrote a book and companion DVD when he served in NASCAR country in North Carolina and later adapted it to Indy car racing. Christopher Fenoglio has the story.
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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, Aug. 13

Room at the Table: Celebrating People of All Abilities  This gathering, from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. EDT at United Methodist Candler School of Theology in Atlanta, offers workshops on ways to be in ministry with people with mental health, sensory, intellectual and other disabilities. Sponsors include the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries, North Georgia Conference and the DisAbility Ministries Committee. $10. Details

Tuesday, Aug. 15

Tuesday Tea with Melanie: Blessing Our Children in Meaningful Ways — 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. CDT. This webinar will discuss supporting children as the new school year begins. Kelly Duke, director of children and family ministries at Sierra Vista United Methodist Church in San Angelo, Texas; the Rev. Ed Stallworth, pastor at Inman United Methodist Church in Inman, South Carolina; and Charlie Ludden, associate director of Project Transformation, Oklahoma Conference, will be featured in this webinar from Discipleship Ministries. Details

See more United Methodist events