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UMNS Weekly Digest - February 10, 2017


Top viewed stories from Feb. 3 - Feb. 9. See all United Methodist News Service stories at


Building a church growth strategy in Cuba

SAN JOSÉ and SANTA CLARA, Cuba (UMNS) — Through cell groups, missions and church planting, Methodists spread their faith throughout each district of Cuba. The idea is that each person is an evangelist. Linda Bloom and Mike DuBose report in the third of a four-part series.

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'Lord, I'm here'

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For Methodists in Cuba, 'These are good times'

HAVANA (UMNS) — Like others in Cuba, Methodists struggled through the “special period” of economic hardship in the early 1990s and have grappled with government restrictions. But under Bishop Ricardo Pereira, the church has taken its place in Cuban society while rekindling relationships with U.S. United Methodists. Linda Bloom and Mike DuBose report in the last of a four-part series.
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Solidarity and service in Cuba

2 big churches seek exit from denomination

TUPELO, Miss. (UMNS) — The most-attended church and another large congregation in the Mississippi Conference have taken the first steps toward leaving the United Methodist connection. Church leaders cite the denomination’s homosexuality debate. Mississippi Conference Bishop James Swanson Sr., who leads the conference, has hopes of the churches remaining. Heather Hahn reports. 
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Viewing Clinton's campaign through faith, gender

NEW YORK (UMNS) — When a group of young clergywomen joined an effort to provide a daily devotion to Hillary Clinton during the recent U.S. presidential campaign, they were looking to support a fellow United Methodist and also acknowledge the women who have broken both glass ceilings and stained-glass ceilings. Linda Bloom has the story.
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Conferences to consider 5 constitutional amendments 

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — Annual conference voters will decide whether five amendments will become part of The United Methodist Church’s constitution. Heather Hahn has an overview of the measures up for a vote.
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Indigenous people celebrated in Trondheim, Norway

TRONDHEIM, Norway (UMNS) — The United Methodist church in Trondheim was the scene of the 100-year celebration of the first Sami Congress. The Sami are indigenous to northern Norway. The recent gathering at the church was attended by indigenous people from around the world, including United Methodists. Karl Anders Ellingsen reports. 
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In the wake of ISIS

MOSUL, Iraq (UMNS) — Many residents took to the streets to celebrate when half the city was liberated from the control of the Islamic State, yet some Christians no longer see a future there. The Rev. Paul Jeffrey, a United Methodist missionary who went to Mosul, has the story.
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Church supports release of Puerto Rican nationalist 

WASHINGTON (UMNS) — Many Methodists and United Methodists had lobbied for the pardon of Oscar López-Rivera, a Puerto Rican nationalist now expected to be released in May after President Barack Obama pardoned him. The Rev. Gustavo Vasquez has the story. 
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Liberia churchwomen campaign for girls' rights

MONROVIA, Liberia (UMNS) — United Methodist Women in Liberia have launched a campaign to promote the rights of girls, including access to education and freedom from violence. Julu Swen reports. 
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Annual conference dates sought

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — The Council of Bishops and General Council on Finance and Administration are trying to collect the dates of all annual conference meetings around the globe. Conference secretaries can submit the dates and location of their meetings with an online form. The submitted dates will appear on the United Methodist calendar.
To submit annual conference dates
To see calendar

Western bishops oppose pipeline

DES MOINES, Wash. (UMNS) — Bishops of The United Methodist Church’s Western Jurisdiction have written President Trump to express support for the Standing Rock Sioux Nation in its opposition to the Dakota Access Pipeline. Trump signed an executive order Jan. 24 to advance the pipeline project.
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Islamic center fire prompts interfaith gathering 

AUSTIN, Texas (UMNS) — Lake Travis United Methodist Church hosted an interfaith forum after a nearby Islamic center burned on Jan. 7. Authorities are still investigating the fire’s cause. The interfaith event drew about 300 people for prayer and community-building. The Rio Texas Conference reports.
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United Methodist 'coffee church' offers warm welcome

NASHVILLE, Tenn. ( — There’s always a pot of hot coffee at Boise, Idaho’s Cathedral of the Rockies First United Methodist Church, one of the fastest-growing United Methodist congregations in the U.S.
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Hamilton interviewed by NPR

LEAWOOD, Kan. — National Public Radio recently featured an interview with the Rev. Adam Hamilton, pastor of the 20,000-plus-member United Methodist Church of the Resurrection in Leawood. Hamilton spoke about the church’s new sanctuary and about a sermon series he’s preaching that deals with political divisions in the U.S. over immigration and other issues.
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Holston Conference names new trail chaplain

MARYVILLE, Tenn. — Matt Hall, the 2017 Appalachian Trail chaplain for the Holston Conference, spoke recently about how struggles with addiction had taught him to dream again. Hall, who has started the ordination process in The United Methodist Church, will hike the 2,000-mile trail beginning in June. Melanie Tucker reports for The Daily Times. 
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Bishops explore refugee ministry

LANCASTER, Pa. (UMNS) — United Methodist Pennsylvania bishops learned more about ministry with refugees after visiting Church World Service’s Lancaster office, which is the largest in the country. The city has 20 times more refugees per capita than the rest of the U.S. 
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Ask the UMC: America's first annual conference

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS ) — Where was the first Methodist annual conference in America held and is there still a Methodist church on that site? InfoServ, a ministry of United Methodist Communications, has the answers in the latest installment of Ask the UMC. 
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Ask the UMC

Gil Caldwell: Voice for justice and human rights

ASBURY PARK, N.J. ( — The Rev. Gil Caldwell — who walked alongside the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. — says the civil rights movement inspired his ministry and taught him to advocate for causes beyond race.
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Ethnic-In-Service Training grant applications open

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — The United Methodist Board of Higher Education and Ministry is accepting grant applications through March 1 for Ethnic-In-Service Training grants of up to $10,000. The grants are awarded for initiatives and programming designed to recruit, train and retain ethnically diverse United Methodists in leadership positions in every level of the church and its ministries. 
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Young writers sought for worship resource

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — Young African-American United Methodists are being sought to write liturgies, prayers and calls to worship for an updated Africana worship series that will focus on the emerging music and worship practices in black congregations from the voices of young people. United Methodist Discipleship Ministries is leading the project.
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Monday, Feb. 13

Financial Tips for Clergy: Take the bite out of income taxes — 10-11 a.m. CST, webinar. The Rev. Don Joiner, a certified financial planner, offers tips to clergy who are navigating the preparation of taxes and planning for a sound financial future. This United Methodist Discipleship Ministries webinar addresses the unique challenges faced by clergy with things like Social Security payments, estimated tax payments, housing allowances or exclusions, and reimbursed expenses. Details

Wednesday, Feb. 15

"The State of Congregational Song in the Church" webinar — Noon to 1 p.m. EST. This webinar, sponsored by Candler School of Theology, will explore how congregational song in the church helps contribute to Christian formation, and how it can teach theological principles. Registration is free and required. The event meeting URL will be available upon registering. Details

More upcoming United Methodist events