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UMNS Weekly Digest - August 5, 2016

Top viewed stories from Aug. 1 - Aug. 5. See all United Methodist News Service stories at


Filipinos hold forum on LGBTQ ministry

CABANATUAN CITY, Philippines (UMNS) — A recent forum on ministry to and with LGBTQ persons provided United Methodists in the Philippines a rare, welcome opportunity for discussion on the subject, organizers said. General Conference 2016, as it grappled with divisions over church law on homosexuality, also was on the agenda. Gladys Mangiduyos reports.

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Mount Sequoyah leaves United Methodist fold

FAYETTEVILLE, ARK. (UMNS) — Mount Sequoyah, overlooking downtown Fayetteville, has been a Methodist retreat center since 1922. But the relationship is set to change, with The United Methodist Church’s South Central Jurisdictional Conference having approved shifting ownership of the 32-acre site to a local nonprofit. Sam Hodges reports.
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Hymn-writing pastors honored

REDLANDS, Calif. (UMNS) — Two United Methodist elders who are much-published hymn writers have won the highest honor given by The Hymn Society in The United States and Canada, an ecumenical group. The Revs. Dan Damon and John Thornburg were elected fellows of the society at its recent annual conference. Sam Hodges reports.
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Merged church has passion for social justice

OKLAHOMA CITY (UMNS) — Mosaic United Methodist Church — a new congregation created from two churches that merged to improve their opportunities to serve — this summer celebrated the first anniversary of its ministry. Boyce Bowdon reports on the church, which focuses on inclusivity, diversity and social justice.
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Kansas-born deacon serves Swiss church

LAUSANNE, Switzerland (UMNS) — The Rev. Erika Stalcup, an ordained deacon born in Kansas and now serving a church in Lausanne, Switzerland, talks about the challenges and joys of her ministry, as well as the struggles of the church. Kathy L. Gilbert interviewed her via email.
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Judicial Council sets docket for October meeting

CHICAGO (UMNS) — The United Methodist Judicial Council, the denomination’s top court, has posted an 11-item docket for its Oct. 25-28 meeting. The Judicial Council also listed three items that are currently under review and require executive committee or full council action to be placed on docket, including a request from the South Central Jurisdiction for a declaratory judgment regarding gay and lesbian church leaders. The council’s meetings are closed except for oral hearings. No decisions have been announced yet regarding possible hearings.
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Read Great Plains story on declaratory judgment request


Men’s group, YWCA work to end violence against women

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — United Methodist Men and MEND, a Nashville YWCA organization, are collaborating to help men change how they view women and understand how men’s words and behavior often make violence against women and girls seem acceptable. The men’s organization will make “We are the Lions,” a video produced by MEND, available to groups of United Methodist men across the country, including pastors, men’s ministry leaders and Scout leaders.
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House church feeds souls, stomachs

MEMPHIS, Tenn. ( — In 2015, the Rev. Kristofer Roof launched Peace Tree United Methodist with no church building. Instead, there are meet-ups in apartments and restaurants almost every night of the week, with community service as a focus of every gathering. “I really just felt that God was calling me to do something that was ancient but modern. I saw that established, traditional churches were not reaching certain people,” he said.
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Global Ministries missionary dies in Nigeria

NEW YORK (UMNS) — Onema Lomoto Ombaku, 66, a United Methodist missionary in Nigeria, died on July 29 at the Jos University Teaching Hospital. He was being treated for a kidney disorder, said an announcement from the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries. Known as “Ombaku,” his area of expertise was mission finance and he had previously served for Global Ministries in Sierra Leone and his home country, the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

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United Methodist campers inspired by Malala

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (UMNS) — About 180 United Methodist campers were inspired by hearing Malala Yousafzai, the youngest ever Nobel Peace Prize winner. The shooting of Yousafzai, an advocate for education and for women, sparked an international outcry and support for her work. The director of the New England Conference’s Camp Aldersgate planned the trip to “widen the view” of the campers. Beth DiCocco reports for the conference.
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Deacon revisits journey to clergy status

OKLAHOMA CITY (UMNS) — As a high school senior, Emma Mae Richardson knew she was called to a Christian vocation, but not to be a pastor. Part of the first group of ordained deacons in the Oklahoma Conference, she reflected on what it means to have clergy status. This year marks the 20th anniversary of the Order of Deacons. Holly McCray of the Oklahoma Conference has the story.
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2016 annual conference reports

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — United Methodist News Service has posted reports from all the annual conference sessions in the U.S. New reports this week include Tennessee and Yellowstone.
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New course on religion and the presidency

WASHINGTON (UMNS) — Wesley Theological Seminary announced a new hybrid course focusing on how religion and faith shaped our U.S. presidents. Mike McCurry, a former White House press secretary and distinguished professor of public theology at Wesley, will teach the class, which will be a mix of in-person and Skype meetings.
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Ecumenical project grants available

WASHINGTON (UMNS) — Grants for 2017 to create ecumenical and interreligious ministries on a local level are available from the United Methodist Council of Bishops Office of Christian Unity and Interreligious Relationships to groups within the denomination’s conferences. Grant recipients for 2016 organized modular class sessions, sponsored a collaborative women’s retreat and summer urban ministry fellow and created study guides and a video series. The application deadline for 2017 is Sept. 16.
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7 tips for keeping cool in hot times

CASPER, Wyo. (UMNS) — With the U.S. election season in full swing, concerns about violence around the globe, and The United Methodist Church’s own debates, churchgoers have plenty of reasons to disagree these days. The Rev. Rebekah Simon-Peter, a United Methodist consultant, offers tips for keeping communication open in turbulent times.
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45 young adult missionaries commissioned

ATLANTA (UMNS) — Forty-five new United Methodist young adult missionaries were commissioned on Aug. 3 for service in 19 countries and five states of the United States. Another group of 19 Global Mission Fellows will be commissioned in September in Seoul, South Korea.
Read Global Ministries story

Date set for YOUTH 2019

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — The next national gathering of United Methodist youth will be July 10-14, 2019, in Kansas City, Missouri. Young People’s Ministries, a division of Discipleship Ministries, is announcing details of the event to give churches time to plan for their youth to attend. The national gathering for United Methodist youth takes place every four years.
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5 over-the-top ideas for a back-to-school kickoff

MOBILE, Ala. (UMCom) — For teens, there may be no bigger seasonal transition than starting back to school. Jeremy Steele writes that this is the perfect time for a church to plan a fun outreach event. Writing for United Methodist Communications, he offers five ideas.
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Finance agency holds organizing meeting

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — The new board of the General Council on Finance and Administration elected officers, and the 21 members began their work together July 27-29.
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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.


Monday, Aug. 8-Friday, Aug. 19

BeADisciple online course “Leading Public Prayer for Lay Leaders” — This Lay Servant Ministries course aims to help participants effectively prepare and lead various prayer forms, primarily in worship settings. This course follows the required text “Let the Whole Church Say Amen!” by Laurence Hull Stookey (Abingdon Press, 2001). $65. Details


Monday, Aug. 8-Monday, Aug. 29

Called to Teach: A “Practical Resources for Churches” online course — This three-week course will look at teaching children from preschool through sixth grade as a calling and ministry. Participants will be able to access this course at their own convenience. $45. Practical Resources for Churches, an ecumenical training organization, is offering this through Details


More upcoming United Methodist events