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UMNS Weekly Digest - August 26, 2016


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Bishops respond to gay colleague

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — Even before Bishop Karen Oliveto takes office Sept. 1, her election as The United Methodist Church’s first openly gay bishop has prompted reactions from her episcopal colleagues. Meanwhile, as a married lesbian, she is already facing complaints under church law. Heather Hahn reports.
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Top court will take up Oliveto election in spring

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — The executive committee of the United Methodist Judicial Council has decided to place a petition from the South Central Jurisdiction regarding the election of Bishop Karen Oliveto on its Spring 2017 meeting docket. Oliveto, a married lesbian serving a church in San Francisco, was elected bishop in July. Linda Bloom reports.

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Africans look at changing the church’s map

LUANDA, Angola (UMNS) — If an African proposal wins approval, the map of The United Methodist Church’s fastest-growing region could look very different in years to come. The proposal, which splits one central conference into four new central conferences, has implications for bishop elections and ministry. Heather Hahn and Tafadzwa W. Mudambanuki report.
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United Methodists grieve after massacre

BENI, Democratic Republic of Congo (UMNS) — The East Congo Episcopal Area is still reeling from an Aug. 13 attack. Judith Yanga interviewed a United Methodist youth leader who came home from shopping to find his family and neighbors massacred in an attack blamed on the rebel Allied Democratic Forces, a group linked to Islamists in Uganda.
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Flooded-out church meets at funeral home

BATON ROUGE, La. (UMNS) — Flooded out of its own building, St. Luke’s United Methodist Church in Baton Rouge held Sunday worship at a nearby funeral home. Members shared heartbreaking stories of damage that the recent, historic flooding had done to their homes and neighborhoods. Betty Backstrom reports for the Louisiana Conference.
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Replacement toys ease pain of floods
Read about other Louisiana churches coping with flood damage
College loan relief for Louisiana flood survivors

ʽKatrina without the windʼ

BATON ROUGE, La. (UMNS) — Bishop Cynthia Fierro Harvey of the Louisiana Conference says the recent flooding in her state amounts to “Katrina without the wind” in its level of damage and displacement. Harvey writes that amid the grief there are signs of hope, including support shown by United Methodists across the connection.
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Birthday parties a gift to the church

FREETOWN, Sierra Leone (UMNS) — Churches in the Sierra Leone Conference have good reason to celebrate. Thanks to some healthy competition, annual birthday celebrations are bringing in big money for area churches, with proceeds going toward a variety of church development programs. Phileas Jusu reports.
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Prayers for Philippines peace talks

QUEZON CITY, Philippines (UMNS) — As the government of the Philippines begins peace talks with opposition forces, the faith community prays they will be successful. The United Methodist Church in the Philippines joined other religious groups in hosting an ecumenical forum on peace in advance of the formal negotiations. Gladys Mangiduyos has the story.

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Sierra Leone pastor defrocked after sex with minor

FREETOWN, Sierra Leone (UMNS) — The Sierra Leone Conference’s board of ordained ministry defrocked James Sapato Fornah, former pastor-in-charge at Kambia United Methodist Church, after he pleaded guilty and was sentenced to prison for having sex with a 13-year-old in his congregation. Phileas Jusu reports.
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Church partners with Zimbabwean army on school

NYADIRE, Zimbabwe (UMNS) — In its quest for providing quality education, The United Methodist Church has partnered with the Zimbabwe National Army to build a state-of-the-art facility for training early childhood development teachers. Taurai Emmanuel Maforo, a communicator in the Zimbabwe Episcopal Area, reports.

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Freedom Schools shape students’ lives

COLUMBUS, Ohio ( — While the U.S. continues to wrestle with racism and inequality, one United Methodist church in Ohio is addressing the issues with young people, using a formula from the civil rights era. The Children’s Defense Fund-created Freedom Schools teach literacy, self-empowerment and civic engagement.

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Poor maternal health care remains concern

HARARE, Zimbabwe (UMNS) — The lack of sound maternal health facilities at satellite clinics around three mission hospitals in Zimbabwe is hampering the fight against maternal deaths, according to Netsai Ndlovu, the sister-in-charge at Nyadire Hospital. Adding to the problem are delays in the referral process. Zimbabwe East Conference communicator Kudzai Chingwe reports.
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Choosing a new church

WASHINGTON (UMNS) — When U.S. adults look for a new house of worship, they look first for a place where they like the preaching and where they feel welcomed. Fully 83 percent of Americans who have looked for a new place of worship say the quality of sermons plays an important role in choosing a congregation, according to a new Pew Research Center study.

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Ebola animation selected for film festival

WASHINGTON (UMNS) — “Ebola: In Praise of Prevention,” the second collaboration between United Methodist Communications and Chocolate Moose Media to raise awareness of Ebola, has been selected for screening at the 2016 Global Impact Film Festival in Washington Aug. 26-28. The festival seeks to educate socially minded filmmakers on how to create social change through media.

Visit festival website

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Help revise the hymnal

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — Discipleship Ministries is accepting applications for membership on the committee that will oversee revision of The United Methodist Hymnal. The agency will appoint seven of the 15 committee members, and wants applicants who have a background in both music and liturgy.
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How the church can break taboo on mental illness

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMCom) — Since about one in four people in the United States will suffer some sort of mental illness this year, at least one person sitting in your pew this week is probably among them. Tricia Brown, writing for United Methodist Communications, shares how the church can help through education and encouragement.

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Florida church connects with local school

PANAMA CITY, Fla. — St. Andrew United Methodist Church has found an effective way to connect with a nearby elementary school, Oakland Terrace School for the Arts. Collin Breaux of the Panama City News Herald reports how the church provides supplies and a luncheon for teachers and administrators.

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Seeking innovative evangelists

LAKE JUNALUSKA, N.C. (UMNS) — The Foundation for Evangelism invites clergy and laity to apply to be named 2016 Distinguished Evangelist of The United Methodist Church. The distinguished evangelist is invited to train and inspire others to share Christ. The deadline for applications is Thursday, Sept. 15.

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To apply


Commentary: Learning from being lousy at prayer

WOODINVILLE, Wash. (UMNS) — “Scripture reminds us that when it comes to prayer, none of us really knows what we’re doing,” writes the Rev. Meredith Dodd, pastor of Bear Creek United Methodist Church. She writes for the Pacific Northwest Conference about how she improved her prayer life through writing.

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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 and put Digest in the subject line.


The month of September

Hunger Action Month — Nearly 50 million people in the United States today are hungry or food insecure. The Society of St. Andrew, a United Methodist partner, offers resources for churches to work against hunger. Details


Thursday, Sept. 1

Registration deadline for the Northeastern Jurisdiction Native American Ministries Committee annual meeting, which will take place Thursday-Saturday, Oct. 6-8 — Accommodations will be at the Hampton Inn and the meeting will be held at Christ United Methodist Church in Wheeling, West Virginia. This is a time to share updates on Committee on Native American Ministries activities, connect with the resource representatives who work in Native ministries, receive updates on Native issues, and share fellowship. Details



More upcoming United Methodist events