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UMNS Weekly Digest - December 8, 2017


Top viewed stories from Dec. 1-7 See all United Methodist News Service stories at


Protest for Dreamers leads to arrests

WASHINGTON (UMNS) — United Methodists were among hundreds arrested on the steps of the U.S. Capitol as they demonstrated in support of the DREAM Act. Heather Hahn reports.
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Refugee U.S. mayor-elect is United Methodist

HELENA, Mont. (UMNS) — Major news organizations in the U.S. and beyond covered the recent story of a Liberian refugee getting elected mayor of overwhelmingly white Helena. Wilmot Collins also happens to be a longtime, active United Methodist. Sam Hodges reports.
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Migrant churches provide piece of home

HAMBURG, Germany (UMNS) — Even as new immigrants from the Middle East and Africa struggle to find a place in German society, many from Ghana and Vietnam have been here for decades. Those who are United Methodist worship mostly in their own language at their own churches. Vicki Brown and Mike DuBose have the story and photos. 
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Journey to pulpit began in peril 

FRANKFURT, Germany (UMNS) — The Rev. Chi My Nguyen’s journey to become the only Vietnamese United Methodist pastor in Germany began in peril. Nguyen and his wife almost died when they fled Vietnam by boat in 1982. Vicki Brown and Mike DuBose have the story and photos.
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Serving God and others: Honoring United Methodist vows  

NASHVILLE, Tenn. ( — Founder John Wesley called the early Methodists to live out their faith by “doing good of every possible sort, and, as far as possible, to all [people].”  That call to service is one of the reasons 78-year-old Ridge Pilcher joined The United Methodist Church six years ago. Julie Dwyer reports on the pledge of service in the fourth in a five-part series on membership vows. 
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Read Part 1: A promise to pray   
Read Part 2: What it means to witness   

Deaconesses speak out about violence against women

QUEZON CITY, Philippines (UMNS) — United Methodist deaconesses took part in an ecumenical gathering that addressed the vulnerability of women to violence and called for an end to that violence. Gladys Mangiduyos has the story.
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Zimbabwean women train in organic farming

HARARE, Zimbabwe (UMNS) — Grocery stores around the world are expanding their organic food aisles, and Zimbabwean farmers are stepping up to meet the demand — with United Methodist help. Kudzai Chingwe has the story. 
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Celebrating Native American outreach, advocacy

ELIOT, Maine (UMNS) — The Northeastern Jurisdiction Native American Ministries Committee annual gathering exemplified the importance of relationships, while also acknowledging painful realities as The United Methodist Church continues to walk the path of repentance. Suzanne Wenonah Duchesne has the story.
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Western Pennsylvania Conference
Church jury revokes former pastor's credentials

BEAVER FALLS, Pa. — The ministerial credentials of a former Beaver County pastor were revoked after he pleaded guilty at the start of a church trial to three charges: immorality, committing a crime, and disobedience to the order and Book of Discipline of The United Methodist Church. The charges stemmed from allegations of missing or misappropriated funds at Chippewa United Methodist Church.
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New York Conference 
Church gives sanctuary to second immigrant

NEW HAVEN, Conn. — Just a week after Marco Reyes Alvarez left sanctuary at First and Summerfield United Methodist Church, a second Ecuadorean immigrant has taken refuge at the church. Joanne S. Utley reports. 
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Global Ministries
Generosity on #GivingTuesday

ATLANTA — More than 3,350 gifts totaling $677,399 were received by United Methodist Global Ministries for missionary support, mission projects and disaster relief in the 2017 United Methodist #GivingTuesday campaign on Nov. 28. All gifts through the denomination’s mission arm go where donors directed their gifts. Elliott Wright reports.
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Florida Conference
'Florida Project' film assisted by Florida clergywoman

KISSIMMEE, Fla. — Not far from Disney World, homeless families find temporary shelter in tourist motels. The Rev. Mary Downey runs the Community Hope Center that serves this population, and she played an important role in developing the script for “The Florida Project.” Lilla Ross has the second in a two-part series. 
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Read the first story    

East Ohio Conference
Growing arts ministry births modern baptismal font

NORTH CANTON, Ohio — Faith United Methodist Church has a growing arts ministry that invites people to discover their creativity and provides opportunities for them to use their talent. In May, the group was asked to design a new baptismal font for the church’s modern worship service. The finished piece surprised even the artists. Rick Wolcott reports. 
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Global Ministries
Safe water for Mayan communities 

SANTA APOLONIA, Guatemala — Maria Santos Baquiax often made 12 trips on foot with two heavy jugs and a baby strapped to her back to get water. Although the water was contaminated, she used it for cooking, laundry and personal hygiene. Thanks to a partnership between the United Methodist Committee on Relief and Asociación Bienestar Progreso Desarollo, Baquiax and other Mayan families now enjoy safe water at home. Bella DiFilippo reports. 
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World Council of Churches
Swenson shares joys of ecumenical movement

GENEVA — Retired United Methodist Bishop Mary Ann Swenson talks about her love for ecumenical work as vice-moderator of the World Council of Churches Central Committee. Susan Kim reports. 
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Commission on the Status and Role of Women
Gender gap persists for United Methodist clergy

CHICAGO — Women are still under-represented as clergy in The United Methodist Church, although the percentage varies by region. And, overall, clergywomen receive almost $4,000 less in annual salary than clergymen, according to the second half of a study conducted by Magaela C. Bethune on behalf of the United Methodist Commission on the Status and Role of Women.
See salary study  
See first half of the salary study   

Louisiana Conference 
New life for church's 1943 Christmas film

ALEXANDRIA, La. — During World War II, First United Methodist Church here made a feature film of the Christmas story for Advent, getting help from an Army communications team stationed nearby. The film was lost, found, lost again and recently found once more. Restored by Louisiana Public Broadcasting, the film will get a special screening at the church on Dec. 17. 
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Mountain Sky Area
Lucile Wheatley, bishop's widow, dies at 100

ESCONDIDO, Calif. — Lucile Elizabeth Wheatley, wife of the late Bishop Melvin Wheatley, died Nov. 23 at age 100. Her husband was bishop of what is now the Mountain Sky Area from 1972 to his retirement in 1984. During World War II, she and her husband protected the Fresno, California, home of a Japanese-American family who had been interned. Like her husband, she advocated for the full inclusion of LGBTQ Christians in the life of The United Methodist Church. 
Read death notice   


Global Ministries, Board of Church and Society
2 agency heads: Jerusalem should be 'city of peace'

WASHINGTON — The top executives of two United Methodist agencies said the decision by President Donald Trump to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and move the U.S. embassy there goes against 70 years of consensus within the international community. Thomas Kemper and and the Rev. Susan Henry-Crowe pointed to a 2016 resolution that spells out the denomination’s vision of a shared Jerusalem, as a city of peace and reconciliation.
Read statement  
Read resolution
World Methodist Council statement

Board of Higher Education and Ministry
Book features scholarly essays on unity, sexuality

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — A new collection of essays provides help to United Methodists struggling with issues of sexuality and church unity. “Unity of the Church and Human Sexuality: Toward a Faithful United Methodist Witness” showcases presentations made at a March 2017 academic colloquy. The book is sponsored by the United Methodist Board of Higher Education and Ministry and the Association of United Methodist Theological Schools. 
Read press release   

Connectional Table
Connectional Table names top staff executive

CHICAGO — The Rev. Kennetha Bigham-Tsai, who has served on the West Michigan Conference cabinet, will be the Connectional Table’s chief connectional ministries officer starting Jan. 22. In that role, Bigham-Tsai will be the top staff executive of the body that acts as a sort of church council for the denomination, coordinating mission, ministry and resources. She has been a member of the Connectional Table since 2012. 
Read press release   

Religion and Race
Facing the Future 2018

WASHINGTON — The United Methodist Commission on Religion and Race plans its third “Facing the Future” conference for clergy serving in cross-racial/cross-cultural appointments. The conference is scheduled for May 7-9, 2018, in New Jersey. Early registration is open through Jan. 14.
To register   

Interfaith Healthcare Coalition
United Methodists join letter to oppose tax bill

WASHINGTON — A group of United Methodist bishops, agency staff and clergy joined more than 2,400 leaders of various faiths who signed a letter to the U.S. Senate opposing the Senate tax bill currently being considered for vote. “The United Methodist Church will continue to call for increased access to affordable, quality health care, no matter what vehicle is used to threaten it. To add measures that would dismantle health insurance for millions of people to pay for tax cuts that disproportionately benefit the wealthy is immoral,” said the Rev. Susan Henry-Crowe, top executive of the United Methodist Board of Church and Society.
Read the full text of the letter  

Commission on General Conference
Delegate count announced for GC2020

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The secretary of the General Conference announced Dec. 1 the number of delegates assigned to each annual conference for the 2020 General Conference has been calculated. Of the 862 delegates, about 56 percent will come from the U.S. and about 32 percent will come from Africa. The remaining delegates will come from the Philippines, Europe and Concordat churches.
Read press release 



'I have decided to follow Jesus'

GENESEO, Ill. (UMNS)  — The Rev. Chris Ritter has long admired the hymn “I Have Decided to Follow Jesus,” inspired by the words of a Christian convert from India who was killed along with his family for professing his faith. Ritter explores the concept of sacrifice in the latest installment of “Many Voices, One Faith,” a forum for sharing theological perspectives on topics of interest in The United Methodist Church.
Read commentary  

Taking up my cross

DALLAS (UMNS) — For Nicole Melki, following Jesus comes with its own set of obstacles. Melki, who is LGBTQ, feels called to be part of a church that often has excluded her. “Following Jesus means staying when I have been told to leave,” Melki writes in the latest installment of “Many Voices, One Faith,” a forum for sharing theological perspectives on topics of interest in The United Methodist Church.
Read commentary  

Joining Jesus in the neighborhood

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — “Being a disciple is a state of being where we learn to look and listen for God’s next move,” writes the Rev. Stephen Handy in the latest installment of “Many Voices, One Faith,” a forum for sharing theological perspectives on topics of interest in The United Methodist Church. For Handy, God’s “next move” was being appointed the first African-American pastor in an Anglo church’s more than 200-year history.
Read commentary   
Many Voices, One Faith home page  



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.

Thursday, Jan. 4

Online guided meditation: Practices for Advent

Monday, Jan. 8-Tuesday, Jan. 16

Coffee with Qoheleth: Ruminating Later in Life


See more United Methodist events