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UMNS Weekly Digest - December 1, 2017


Top viewed stories from Nov. 27-30 See all United Methodist News Service stories at


Prayers for peace lifting Zimbabwe

HARARE, Zimbabwe (UMNS) — A new president after 37 years of what many called “a government of tyranny” is bringing hope, said United Methodists who are closely watching from inside the country. Kathy L. Gilbert reports.
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Liberian leper colony: A lifetime commitment 

GANTA, Liberia (UMNS) — Fears of leprosy cause many families to shun those with the disease. For almost 100 years now, one United Methodist rehab center has shown them compassion and love. Joey Butler has the story; Mike DuBose has the photos.
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Mobilizing the physically challenged in Liberia

GANTA, Liberia (UMNS) — Hand-cranked transportation devices are invaluable in areas where the terrain is too uneven for traditional wheelchairs. Liberia’s United Methodist Women distributed $54,000 worth of them. Julu Swen reports.
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Baptism for imprisoned Sierra Leone women

FREETOWN, Sierra Leone (UMNS) — Encouraged by regional missionary Finda Quiwa to “keep the faith, fight the good fight and continue to trust in God,” seven inmates of the Freetown Female Correctional Center were baptized and confirmed in The United Methodist Church. Phileas Jusu has the story.
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Florida Conference
Movie features deacon's work

KISSIMMEE, Fla. — Film director Sean Baker wanted to tell a story about the hidden homeless, but he needed access to their world along U.S. 192 in the shadow of Disney World. The Rev. Mary Downey, executive director of the Community Hope Center in Kissimmee, Florida, opened the door for him. Much of the movie “The Florida Project” is based on the work being done by Downey, a United Methodist deacon. Lilla Ross has the first story in a two-part series.
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South Carolina Conference
Retired pastor reportedly died from abuse

SALUDA, S.C. — United Methodists across South Carolina are mourning after an ailing retired pastor died, allegedly from neglect and abuse at the hands of his son and daughter-in-law. The Rev. James Boyd Chewning, 79, died Nov. 2. Jessica Brodie reports. 
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Michigan Conference
Detroit church lights up Puerto Rico

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — Two months after Hurricane Maria, much of Puerto Rico is still without power. Cass Community Social Services, a ministry of Cass United Methodist Church in Detroit, sprang into action. Formerly homeless members of the community are building solar generators to power cell phones, computers, fans, lights and even small refrigerators. The church made the first delivery of 50 generators in early November. John E. Harnish reports.
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Holston Conference 
Lake Junaluska regrets segregationist past

LAKE JUNALUSKA, N.C. — The Lake Junaluska Assembly Inc. trustees have issued an apology for past discrimination against African-Americans at the longtime Methodist retreat and conference center. The action came in response to a resolution from the Holston Conference. 
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Los Angeles Times
Malibu church pressured to end dinners

MALIBU, Calif. — City officials have called for an end to twice-weekly dinners for the homeless at Malibu United Methodist Church. Officials said the dinners were attracting more homeless people and making the problem worse. Gale Holland reports for the Los Angeles Times.
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Did Charles Wesley write any Christmas hymns?

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (InfoServ) — A prolific hymn writer, Charles Wesley wrote several hymns for Advent and Christmas. InfoServ, a ministry of United Methodist Communications, looks at a few of Wesley’s seasonal hymns, including a yuletide favorite, in this week’s installment of Ask the UMC. 
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Higher Education and Ministry
Hanshaw joins Division of Higher Education

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The United Methodist Board of Higher Education and Ministry has announced the appointment of the Rev. Mark Hanshaw as a staff executive of the Division of Higher Education, effective Feb. 1.
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Church and Society
Limited spaces left for young clergy forum

WASHINGTON — The United Methodist Board of Church and Society has a limited number of spaces still available for the Young Clergy Leadership Forum, Jan. 28-31, 2018. Speakers include U.S. Senate Chaplain Barry Black and Shane Claiborne from Red Letter Christians.
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CBS Religion
CBS-TV special looks at faith, Charlottesville

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — “Faith on the Frontlines,” a CBS Interfaith Special airing Dec. 3, looks at the interfaith clergy movement that has vowed to take on white supremacy. Check local listings for broadcast times. Among those interviewed about events in Charlottesville is the Rev. Phil Woodson, associate pastor of First United Methodist Church there.
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Sharing the stories of refugees

ARNOLD, Md. — Tacy Surrett, a high school senior and member of Asbury United Methodist Church, spent three years in Turkey with her family. Her work with refugees there inspired her to create a series of monologues and a photo exhibit to educate others about the plight of displaced people. In advance of Global Migration Sunday, Dec. 3, she writes about the project and her life-changing experience.
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Remaking the 'bad boy' culture

CASPER, Wyo. — With the news of prominent men sexually harassing women, the Rev. Rebekah Simon-Peter writes about how the church can help remake "bad boy" culture. “The time has come to expand the conversation for boys and men,” she writes.
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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, Dec. 3-Sunday, Dec. 24

Online guided meditation: Practices for Advent

Monday, Dec. 4-Friday, Dec. 15

Online Lay Servant Workshop: Rediscovering Our Spiritual Gifts



See more United Methodist events