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UMNS Weekly Digest - December 2, 2016


Top viewed stories from Nov. 28 - Dec. 1. See all United Methodist News Service stories at


Torio re-elected bishop in the Philippines

ANGELES CITY, Philippines (UMNS) — Bishop Pedro M. Torio Jr., currently serving as resident bishop of the Baguio area, was re-elected as a United Methodist bishop by delegates at the Philippines Central Conference on Dec. 1. Gladys Mangiduyos reports.
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Joe Hale: Worldwide ministry, sprinkled with magic

NEW YORK (UMNS) — The Rev. Joseph Rice Hale was a committed Methodist who used Houdini-like magic tricks to attract a crowd, counted Pope John Paul II as a friend and united the followers of John Wesley. Linda Bloom has a remembrance of Hale, 81, who died Nov. 14.
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Church helps Zimbabweans keep home in Canada

EDMONTON, Alberta (UMNS) — The United Methodist Church-Edmonton, like many churches founded by Zimbabwean migrants, faces financial struggles. But a new partnership and missionary approval are hopeful signs for one such church in Canada. Vicki Brown reports with photos by Mike DuBose.
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Liberia ban on divorced bishops could be tested

MONROVIA, Liberia (UMNS) — The firm intention of Liberian United Methodists not to have a bishop who has been divorced could be tested at the West Africa Central Conference, set to meet in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, Dec. 14-18. Julu Swen reports.

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Rolling up a sleeve for HIV/AIDS awareness

CABANATUAN CITY, Philippines (UMNS) — Filipino United Methodist clergy and laity rolled up their sleeves and were tested for HIV/AIDS infection to promote awareness and reduce the stigma associated with the disease that infects as many as 37 million worldwide. World AIDS Day was observed Dec. 1. Gladys P. Mangiduyos reports.

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Tornadoes shock churches dealing with fire

ALCOA, Tenn. (UMNS) — Holston Conference churches were already responding to devastation caused by wildfires when tornadoes touched down Nov. 30 in three eastern Tennessee counties. Annette Spence of The Call reports on how United Methodists are responding to these disasters.
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Church leaders respond to Tennessee wildfires


Federal judge blocks U.S. overtime rule

TYLER, Texas (UMNS) — A U.S. federal judge on Nov. 22 put on hold a new rule making millions more Americans, including church workers, eligible for overtime pay. The move indefinitely pushes back the Dec. 1 effective date while the judge weighs a challenge to the requirement.
Read USA Today story on ruling
Read Missouri Conference story on church impact




Church's historic divide over homosexuality

DALLAS — Conflict over homosexuality has become a large, threatening reality in American church life, writes the Rev. William Lawrence in a Dallas Morning News commentary. Lawrence, professor of American church history and former dean at United Methodist Perkins School of Theology, as well as former president of the denomination’s Judicial Council, draws on North Texas for examples.

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Concerns about Wesleyan Covenant Association's beliefs

DENVER (UMNS) — In a commentary about the Wesleyan Covenant Association meeting, the Rev. Paul Kottke raises concerns he says must be addressed “if this renewal movement is to be authentic.” He addresses gender equity, the local option, the Nicene Creed and more.
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Progressives, traditionalists find different meanings

MONUMENT, Colo. (UMNS) — While progressive and traditionalist United Methodists often use the same words, it’s pretty clear that the words do not mean the same to both groups, writes the Rev. Bob Kaylor.
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The costs of schism

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (UMNS) — The Rev. James Howell writes that breaking up The United Methodist Church would be the "worst conceivable witness to the unchurched." He also spells out possible practical consequences of schism for his own church, 5,200-member Myers Park United Methodist.
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Wesley on holding right opinions

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — Was John Wesley a “fan” of orthodoxy? He certainly was. However, it is important to understand what he saw as orthodoxy’s role in Christian formation, writes the Rev. Steven W. Manskar. He is the director of Wesleyan Leadership at Discipleship Ministries.

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Pastor changed by experience at Standing Rock

DES MOINES, Iowa — The Rev. David Swinton, pastor of Grace United Methodist Church, returned from a trip to the protest site near the Standing Rock Reservation in North Dakota a changed man. He told Dana Larsen of the Storm Lake Pilot Tribune that the protest is about more than a pipeline.

Read the story

Read New York Times story on ongoing protests


4 functions of a church choir

RICHARDSON, Texas — Brian Hehn, music minister at Arapaho United Methodist Church, has written a blog post for ChoralNet, “The Four Functions of a Church Choir.” Number one on Hehn’s list: “lead and enliven the congregation’s song.”

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Water is a human right: mission agency

ATLANTA (UMNS) — The United Methodist Board of Global Ministries is hosting an awareness event about access to water and the impact of a new pipeline on an indigenous people, the Standing Rock Sioux, at 11 a.m. EST Dec. 10 at the National Center for Civil and Human Rights in Atlanta.

Read press release


Women of Color scholars gather

SAN ANTONIO (UMNS) — The current class of Women of Color scholars recently gathered at La Trinidad United Methodist Church for a two-day event focused on academic updates, inspiration and open and honest conversation. The United Methodist Board of Higher Education and Ministry is the host of the scholarship program, which has 10 recipients.

Read press release


Bergquist appointed Ordained Ministry executive

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — The Rev. Greg Bergquist, superintendent for leadership development for the California-Nevada Conference, has been appointed associate general secretary for the Division of Ordained Ministry at the United Methodist Board of Higher Education and Ministry. His new role begins January 2017.

Read press release


Test your Advent knowledge

NASHVILLE, Tenn. ( — As United Methodists anticipate celebrating Christ’s birth, offers a quiz testing your knowledge of the season. Do you know why Advent wreaths are shaped in a circle? A new question is posted five days a week.

Take the quiz


Follow UMNS on Facebook for church news

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — Want to keep up with breaking news in The United Methodist Church? You can see the latest news stories on the UMNS Facebook page.

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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, Dec. 5

Deadline to register for Creating a Culture of Renewal for churches in Western North Carolina, Thursday, Jan. 5 to June 2017 — The Rev. Rebekah Simon-Peter, a United Methodist church consultant, leads this series of events aimed at helping churches reach their God-given potential. Details


Tuesday, Dec. 6

Webinar "Healthy Families Series: (Spiritual Health) Experiencing God Together"

2 p.m. CST. This interactive webinar will share ways families can practice spiritual disciplines as they connect to God and each other. Details


More upcoming United Methodist events