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UMNS Weekly Digest - December 15, 2017


Top viewed stories from Dec. 8-14 See all United Methodist News Service stories at


How an immigrant family found room at the inn

CHICAGO (UMNS) — Las Posadas is the Mexican tradition of re-enacting Joseph and Mary’s search for safe lodging for Christ’s birth. For at least one immigrant family, the tradition has special resonance. Heather Hahn reports how the family found safety with the help of the United Methodist ministry Justice for Our Neighbors.
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New life for church's 1943 Christmas film 

ALEXANDRIA, La. (UMNS) — Two women at First United Methodist here have revived interest in a World War II-era feature film, “Christ Is Born,” that their church made with movie professionals stationed at a nearby Army base. Sam Hodges reports. 
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Gay United Methodist choir director fired

JACKSONVILLE, N.C. (UMNS) — After serving as children’s choir director at a United Methodist church for more than three years, Ryan Mould was fired. He said he was told the denomination does not allow homosexuals to be “spiritual leaders.” Kathy L. Gilbert reports.
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Church-based 'Wesley Nurses' serve uninsured

EDINBURG, Texas (UMNS) — Wesley Nurses are registered nurses employed by Methodist Healthcare Ministries of South Texas and based in United Methodist churches across the Rio Texas Conference. Their focus is the uninsured, and pastors are their biggest fans. “If it were financially possible, every church should have one,” said the Rev. Michelle Vernone. Sam Hodges reports.
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Pastor shares experience of California fire

OJAI, Calif. (UMNS) — The Rev. Cathie Capp, pastor of Ojai United Methodist Church, evacuated along with other local residents earlier this week. Before the evacuations, the church had offered shelter to some families affiliated with the church. Kathy L. Gilbert reports that all California-Pacific Conference churches are offering “prayers and hope.” 
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Church helped ease the pain in Filipino siege

MARAWI, Philippines (UMNS) — The United Methodist Church was instrumental in alleviating the pain of Filipino civilians enduring the five-month siege of Marawi City by pro-Islamic State forces, says a United Methodist chaplain in the Armed Forces of the Philippines. Gladys Mangiduyos reports. 
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Congo United Methodists decry deadly attack

BENI, Democratic Republic of Congo (UMNS) — Bishop Gabriel Yemba Unda called for all Christians to pray for people in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. The Eastern Congo Area bishop called on authorities of the country to “do everything to bring peace” following a deadly attack by militant extremists that killed 15 U.N. peacekeepers and five Congolese soldiers. Philippe Kituka Lolonga reports.
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How long is the Christmas season? 

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Do you know when the Christmas season begins and ends? InfoServ, a ministry of United Methodist Communications, has the answer in this week’s installment of Ask the UMC.
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Ask the UMC   

Take the United Methodist Advent Quiz

NASHVILLE, Tenn. ( — Consider yourself an Advent know-it-all? If you’re ready to test your knowledge of the history and traditions of the season of Advent, take’s United Methodist Advent Quiz. You can also download the quiz to share with your church, family and friends. 
Take the quiz   

Joseph: A model of faith and fatherhood

LEAWOOD, Kan. ( — He is pivotal to the Christmas story, yet the Bible doesn’t tell us much about the quiet man who parented Jesus. The Rev. Joe Iovino talks to the Rev. Adam Hamilton of United Methodist Church of the Resurrection about what Joseph teaches us.
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Read UMNS story, Lessons from Joseph, Jesus'' old man' 

The Salvation Army's Methodist roots

NASHVILLE, Tenn. ( — The Salvation Army’s red kettles and ringing bells are part of the Christmas season. British Methodist preacher William Booth founded the organization in the 1860s, determined to bring lost souls to Christ and care for their basic needs. United Methodist Communications draws on the expertise of Dale Patterson, of the United Methodist Board of Archives and History, for a video on Methodism and the Salvation Army.
Watch video  

United Methodists bond with Muslim neighbors

CORDOVA, Tenn. ( — In 2010, tensions were mounting in the U.S. in places with growing Muslim populations. A pastor in Florida was threatening to burn Qurans, and protesters were fighting the construction of mosques in some communities. Despite these stories in national headlines, two faith communities near Memphis decided to give love a chance. Their friendship lasts to this day. 
Watch video   

Greater New Jersey Conference
Prayer shawl ministry brings warmth, comfort

HAZLET, N.J. — The St. John’s Prayer Shawl Ministry of St. John’s United Methodist Church is all about providing warmth and comfort to others. Denise Herschel has the story. 
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Oklahoma Conference
Majority white, majority black churches to share building

OKLAHOMA CITY — Two United Methodist churches — one majority African-American and one mostly white — joined hands Dec. 10 to share the same downtown space. On that day, First United Methodist — near the Oklahoma City National Memorial — welcomed The Christ Experience, which is moving out of its aging building. Chris Schutz has the story. 
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Memphis Conference
ESPN visits church to record Heisman finalist

JACKSON, Tenn. — Wells Johnstone, a decathlon competitor, is a top-10 finalist for the Wendy’s High School Heisman Award. She is also an active member of Jackson First United Methodist Church, so when ESPN decided to cover a day in Johnstone’s life, the church was part of the story. Bobbie Mays has the story.
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South Georgia Conference
Church's crops help grow congregation

CORDELE, Ga. — Midway United Methodist Church has deep agricultural roots and a former farmer as pastor. So it made sense for the church to begin a food and gleaning ministry in a field on its property. The conference has the story on how the church blossomed alongside its produce. 
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Council of Bishops
Booklet offers resources Way Forward has used

WASHINGTON — The United Methodist Council of Bishops offers an 88-page booklet that contains some of the resources the Commission on a Way Forward has used so far in its work. The booklet contains information on three proposals the bishops will discuss in their respective areas. The bishop-appointed commission has the task of trying to move the denomination past its impasse around homosexuality.
See booklet  
Read UMNS story on three models under consideration 

Theological education endowment fund
Pledges to central conference fund top $2.6 million

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The Endowment Fund for Theological Education in the Central Conferences has received financial commitments totaling more than $2.6 million. Central conferences are United Methodist regions in Africa, Europe and the Philippines. The Council of Bishops created the endowment fund.
Read press release  

Board of Higher Education and Ministry 
Book helps clergy navigate early days of ministry

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — A new book that features information about first appointments, first sermons, leadership development and community involvement can help clergy navigate the early days of their ministry. The Rev. F. Belton Joyner Jr. wrote “The United Methodist Clergy Book of Firsts” especially for licensing school and Course of Study students. The United Methodist Board of Higher Education and Ministry published the book.
Read press release 

Board of Higher Education and Ministry 
A better path for lay ministry

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Certification in specialized ministry needs to be more accessible and affordable for United Methodist laity. That’s the conclusion of representatives from United Methodist educational institutions and the United Methodist Board of Higher Education and Ministry at a recent meeting. Future meetings will look at how to make that happen.
Read press release  

Gammon Theological Seminary
Gammon names new president-dean

ATLANTA — United Methodist Gammon Theological Seminary has named the Rev. Ken J. Walden as the new president-dean. Walden, an elder in the California-Pacific Conference, previously was an administrator and professor at Hood Theological Seminary.
See announcement on seminary website   



Lewis Center for Church Leadership 
What’s at stake when schism is an option?

WASHINGTON — The Rev. Lovett H. Weems Jr., senior consultant for the Lewis Center for Church Leadership, writes about the schism threat facing The United Methodist Church. He draws on Methodist history, the recent experience of other mainline Protestant denominations and the crucial role of the trust clause in maintaining unity. “The easier it is to leave, the more congregations will leave,” he asserts. 
Read essay  

Archives and History
The Wesleyan addition to the Reformation

MADISON, N.J. — As the Reformation’s 500th anniversary draws to a close, the Rev. Alfred T. Day III reflects on what Wesleyans add to the reformers’ legacy. The reformers had five principles — Scripture alone, faith alone, grace alone, Christ alone and the glory of God alone. Day, the top executive of Archives and History, suggests that Methodists added a sixth idea — love alone. 
Read commentary 



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.

Monday, Jan. 8-Friday, Feb. 2

Online workshop on surviving the caregiver marathon with grace: Training for serving in the long run

Wednesday, Jan. 10

Webinar for local church leaders and members: What’s my job?


See more United Methodist events