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UMNS Weekly Digest - August 19, 2016


Top viewed stories from Aug. 15 - Aug. 19. See all United Methodist News Service stories at


United Methodists among dead from bloody attack in Beni

BENI, Democratic Republic of Congo (UMNS) — A district superintendent in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo was wounded and two of his sisters were killed when the city was attacked on Aug. 13. Although the government is reporting 51 deaths, the district superintendent said the death toll was closer to 101. The attack is being linked to Islamist rebels.

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World Methodist Conference looms

HOUSTON (UMNS) — The once-every-five-years World Methodist Conference, set for Aug. 31-Sept. 3 in Houston, will bring together some 2,500 people from Methodist-related groups around the world. There’s no legislation, but plenty of preaching, teaching, singing and mingling, and United Methodists will be in the thick of it. Sam Hodges reports.

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Bishop: ‘Golden years of Methodism’ ahead

HOUSTON (UMNS) — Bishop Ivan Abrahams believes “the golden years of Methodism don’t lie behind us, but in the future.” The South African is top executive of the World Methodist Council and will be in the spotlight at the World Methodist Conference. He answered questions from Sam Hodges of United Methodist News Service.
Read interview


Floods wreak havoc in Louisiana

BATON ROUGE, La. (UMNS) — Many United Methodists are among the Louisianans who have been flooded out of their homes, and some United Methodist churches in the state also have had flood damage. One church served as a shelter, then had to be evacuated itself because of rising waters. Bishop Cynthia Fierro Harvey says it’s too early for volunteers, but monetary contributions are much needed. Sam Hodges reports.
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How to help with flood relief

BATON ROUGE, La. (UMNS) — Want to help people coping with Louisiana flooding? Consider a United Methodist Committee on Relief cleaning bucket, writes Todd Rossnagel for the Louisiana Conference.
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MARCHA attendees call on members to vote

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (UMNS) — More than 200 members of MARCHA elected a new president, passed resolutions calling on members to vote in the 2016 U.S. presidential election and another calling for an end to discrimination against LGBTQ people in the church. The Rev. Hector Burgos, communicator for the denomination’s Latino/Hispanic caucus, reports.

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Parents missing since Ebola

MOYAMBA, Sierra Leone (UMNS) — The effects of the deadly Ebola outbreak in West Africa still linger at June Hartranft Memorial Primary School for Girls. Several of the school’s boarding students face an uncertain future as authorities struggle to locate their parents nine months after Ebola ended in the country. Phileas Jusu reports.
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University opening soon in Sierra Leone

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — Representatives of United Methodist agencies gathered recently to consider how they might help the United Methodist University of Sierra Leone, set to open in October. The School of Theology and Ministry will be the debut program, with others scheduled to follow. Leaders want the university to pair academics with service through a focus on sustainable agriculture, public health and other critical needs. Jan Snider reports.

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Maintaining the church in a chaotic time

WHITEVILLE, N.C. (UMNS) — In an open letter to The United Methodist Church, the Rev. Paul T. Stallsworth writes about the need for a doctrine of the church, or ecclesiology, as the Commission on a Way Forward begins its work. Stallsworth is the president of Lifewatch, an unofficial United Methodist advocacy group.
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Methodism ‘a big tent’ from its beginnings

NEW YORK (UMNS) — John Wesley’s movement generally has made space for multiple theological views, writes Glen Alton Messer II, a church historian and United Methodist ecumenical staff member. “We are not trapped by fate, and we are not without resources for dealing with the stresses and conflicts facing us as a church right now,” Messer says.

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South Central Jurisdiction realignment studied

HOUSTON (UMNS) — A task force has been making plans for the possible realignment of the South Central Jurisdiction. The work is under way because of the likelihood that the jurisdiction will, due to membership losses and Book of Discipline requirements, lose a bishop in 2020. The Texas Conference reports.

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Finding contemporary songs in Wesleyan tradition

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — Worship leaders and music ministers can now use a new online tool developed by Discipleship Ministries to select contemporary worship songs that most closely align with Wesleyan theology. The songs are rated numerically in three categories — theology, language and singability — and the interactive tool also suggests where the songs could fit into a worship service.
Read press release
See tool


UMW protests North Carolina law

NEW YORK (UMNS) — United Methodist Women members are standing with mission partners in North Carolina protesting the state’s HB2 law. The organization will hold an action against HB2 in January 2017 during its Leadership Development Days training in Charlotte, and will move the May 2017 training for its Mission u program from Charlotte to Jacksonville, Florida, in protest of the law.

Read press release


Bishop retiring to family farm

HOUSTON — Bishop Janice Riggle Huie’s 12-year tenure as Texas Conference leader is almost over, and she’ll be moving back to her family farm in Bee County, Texas. As the first woman to lead that large conference, she is credited with offering energetic, pragmatic leadership and serving as a role model to clergywomen.

Read Houston Chronicle profile

See photos of skydiver Huie


Bishop: Pray for Milwaukee

SUN PRAIRIE, Wis. (UMNS) — Wisconsin Area Bishop Hee-Soo Jung is asking United Methodists to pray for Milwaukee, where riots have followed a police shooting of an armed suspect. “Pray not only for peace. But pray for the systems that are in place that need changing,” the bishop writes. “Pray for restorative and racial justice for Milwaukee and all Wisconsin communities.”
Read statement


California wildfire destroys 170-year-old church

LAKE COUNTY, Calif. (CBS13) — The Clayton Fire, which has forced the evacuation of 10,000 people, has already destroyed some 200 structures — including Lower Lake United Methodist Church. The 170-year-old church runs a thrift store and is known as a cornerstone in the community, reports CBS 13 in Sacramento. “Fire destroys but it also purifies so let’s see where it takes us,” says the Rev. John Pavoni, the church’s pastor.
See story and video


Bishop: ʽWe are stories, not symptomsʼ

WHITE ROCK, S.C. (UMNS) — Retired United Methodist Bishop Kenneth Carder serves as chaplain in a memory care unit. In his latest blog post, he writes about how people with dementia are often treated by medical personnel as a collection of symptoms rather than as individuals with stories that deserve to be heard and understood.
Read blog
Read UMNS story about Carder’s work


Panovec to direct West Ohio communications

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — Kay Panovec will join the West Ohio Conference staff as the director of communications effective Sept. 20. In assuming this new role, she joins the executive staff team of Bishop Gregory Palmer. Panovec, an Ohio native, has been chief relationship officer in charge of U.S. partnerships for United Methodist Communications.

Read announcement


Olympic kayaker ministers with river people

BRYSON CITY, N.C. — The Rev. Wayne Dickert, a member of the U.S. kayak team in the 1996 Olympics, now leads River of Life, a campus of Bryson City United Methodist Church. As WYFF4 in Greenville, South Carolina, reports, the man who built his life on the river “now uses the river to help change lives.”

Watch video

Watch 2015 video on River Church


Board named for New Room Books

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — The United Methodist Board of Higher Education and Ministry has announced the editorial board members for its academic publishing imprint, New Room Books. The imprint is named for John Wesley’s New Room in Bristol, England, and offers works by scholars in the Methodist tradition.
Read press release


Nominations sought for Culture of the Call Award

LAKE JUNALUSKA, N.C. (UMNS) — The Foundation for Evangelism invites nominations for its 2016 Culture of the Call Church Award, which recognizes local United Methodist churches that excel in nurturing young people who are called to Christian service. The award includes a plaque and $1,000 grant. The deadline for nominations is Sept. 15. Self-nominations are welcome.
To learn more



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.


Monday, Aug. 22-Saturday, Sept. 3

Online course "Biblical Storytelling I" for lay servants from — This course’s methods, developed by the Network of Biblical Storytellers International, are for everyone who wishes to learn, to tell and to connect with God and other people through the art and spiritual discipline of telling the sacred stories of Scripture. $65. Details


Monday, Aug. 22-Sunday, Sept. 11

Online course "Life Together in the United Methodist Connection" for lay servants from — Why does The United Methodist Church do things the way it does? What happened at General Conference in May that may affect us? This course will help United Methodists get their bearings. Participants must obtain the book, “The Method of Our Mission: United Methodist Polity & Organization” by Laceye C. Warner. This course has been approved by United Methodist Discipleship Ministries as an advanced course in lay servant ministries and is the “polity” class required for lay speaker certification. $70. Details



More upcoming United Methodist events