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UMNS Weekly Digest - February 16, 2018


Top viewed stories from Feb. 9-15. See all United Methodist News Service stories at


Pastors, churches respond to Florida school massacre

CORAL SPRINGS, Fla. (UMNS) — United Methodist pastors near the Ash Wednesday mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, found themselves rewriting sermons and offering counseling and consolation to grief-struck parishioners. United Methodist leaders also responded to the horrific attack, with some renewing calls for legislation to curb gun violence. Sam Hodges reports.
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Details shared on Way Forward models

ABIDJAN, Côte d’Ivoire (UMNS) — An international group of United Methodist leaders heard more details on three possible models for how the church ministers with LGBTQ individuals. Three participants in the Commission on a Way Forward briefed four denominational leadership bodies holding a joint meeting in this western African country. Heather Hahn reports. 
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Evangelists seek to revitalize churches

FRIEDENS, Pa. (UMNS) — The Rev. John and Christine Zimmerman make their living as traveling United Methodist evangelists. Their ministry looks different from that of their sawdust-trail forebears. Still, church leaders say evangelists like the Zimmermans have an important role to play in reaching new people. Heather Hahn reports. 
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Evangelists aim to bring Bible to life

SYKESVILLE, Pa. (UMNS) — After 21 years in nursing, Luella Krieger found a new vocation portraying different women in the Bible. She and other United Methodist evangelists who proclaim the gospel are finding new ways to lead revival. But, as Heather Hahn reports, it’s a challenging career path. 
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Church agencies stress results, partnerships

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — The three largest program agencies of The United Methodist Church — Discipleship Ministries, Global Ministries and Higher Education and Ministry — are stressing results and partnerships. 
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Advocacy agency issues make headlines

WASHINGTON (UMNS) — Three United Methodist agencies that advocate for social justice and equality have seen their issues rocket into international headlines in the past year. Those headlines affect the work of the denomination’s Board of Church and Society, Commission on Religion and Race and Commission on the Status and Role of Women.
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Membership agencies focus on advocacy, connections

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — The membership agencies of the denomination — United Methodist Men and United Methodist Women — are advocates on issues that include domestic violence, maternal and child health and environmental justice. 
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Administrative agencies support church's ministry 

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — From helping The United Methodist Church understand how the past informs the denomination’s future to managing $23 billion in pension assets, the work of the administrative agencies touches ministry in myriad ways. 
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Immigrant supported by church deported

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (UMNS) — A Mexican immigrant allowed to stay in the U.S. to care for his family was deported last week — despite the efforts of a United Methodist church and an immigration coalition. The Rev. Gustavo Vasquez reports. 
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Church preaches peaceful Sierra Leone elections

FREETOWN, Sierra Leone (UMNS) — The United Methodist Church in Sierra Leone is working to curb election violence across the country ahead of March 7 elections. A team of young adults hit the road this month to promote an anti-violence message. The campaign is aimed at young people who often are targeted by politicians to incite violence. Phileas Jusu reports.
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United Methodists in DRC get farming help

KINDU, Democratic Republic of Congo (UMNS) — The Global Health unit of the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries is helping farmers in the East Congo Conference improve agricultural production. The mission agency has provided a grant to support a food security project aimed at fighting malnutrition in the area. The 12-month program targets United Methodists from 10 local churches, with 200 households participating. Chadrack Tambwe Londe reports.
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United Methodists celebrate launch of university

FREETOWN, Sierra Leone (UMNS) — Sierra Leone’s newly opened United Methodist University was dedicated at a ceremony attended by academics, diplomats, senior government officials and United Methodists from near and far. The event included the official launching of the Bishop Wenner School of Theology, named after German Bishop Emeritus Rosemarie Wenner, who was in attendance. Phileas Jusu has the story.
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United Methodists help displaced in DRC

SAMBA, Democratic Republic of Congo (UMNS) — United Methodists in the Democratic Republic of Congo, with assistance from partners in Switzerland and France, secretly distributed food and other assistance to people displaced by rebel violence. The church team also brought some widows and orphans into a safer area. Judith Osongo Yanga reports.
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South Bend Tribune
Stabbing highlights conflict over ministry

SOUTH BEND, Ind. — The Jan. 23 stabbing of a Saint Mary’s College nursing student who was volunteering at Broadway Christian Parish Church, a United Methodist congregation, has highlighted the conflict with neighbors over a church ministry program. Howard Dukes reports.
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Meet Bishop Sharma Lewis

RICHMOND, Va. ( — The Rev. Joe Iovino gets to know Bishop Sharma Lewis of the Richmond Episcopal Area in his latest “Get Your Spirit in Shape” podcast. The United Methodist bishop talks about her deep roots in the church — she is the 14th pastor in her family — her call to ministry from medicine, her love of shoes and her rich prayer life.  
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Council on Finance and Administration 
GCFA board approves changes to retiree benefit plan

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — During a Feb. 9 meeting, the General Council on Finance and Administration Board approved changes to the retiree benefit plan to allow for a retiree benefits exchange program. Changes become effective Jan. 1, 2019. The committee is scheduling information and education sessions to notify those affected by the change. 
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Council of Bishops
Lenten message from bishops

WASHINGTON — Bishop Bruce R. Ough, president of the Council of Bishops, issued a Lenten message on behalf of United Methodist bishops. The bishops asked United Methodists to engage in spiritual disciplines during Lent that include praying, fasting and sharing their resources with others in their communities. 
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Read full message  

Center for American Progress
Church and Society's 'faith leader to watch'

WASHINGTON — The Rev. Jeania Ree Moore, director for civil and human rights, United Methodist Board of Church and Society, has been named one of the “10 Faith Leaders to Watch in 2018.”
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Board of Church and Society 
Congressman talks about peace in Korea

WASHINGTON — U.S. Rep. Thomas Massie — a Kentucky Republican and United Methodist — talks about peace on the Korean Peninsula with Mark Harrison of the United Methodist Board of Church and Society. 
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Committee on Faith and Order 
Faith and Order reviews church feedback 

ABIDJAN, Côte d’Ivoire — The United Methodist Committee on Faith and Order reviewed church feedback on a statement on United Methodist ecclesiology. The committee said the feedback on "Wonder, Love and Praise" will provide a clear vision for redrafting the document to inspire the church “to more fully live into its mission and ministry as part of Christ’s body, the church.” 
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Commission on Religion and Race
Resources for observing Black History Month 

WASHINGTON — The United Methodist Commission on Religion and Race provides small group resources, reading lists and other materials to help churches observe Black History Month.
Get resources 




Lewis Center for Church Leadership
Serving a church of a different racial background

ATLANTA — Unique challenges arise when a church is served by a pastor from a different racial or cultural background or as it struggles to engage a changing community. The Rev. Jasmine Smothers, the first African-American lead pastor of First Atlanta United Methodist Church, shares her perspectives on ministry in cross-cultural settings.
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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.

Wednesday, March 7-Friday, March 92

Annual meeting of the United Methodist Association of Communicators

Sunday, March 11

UMCOR Sunday (Formerly One Great Hour of Sharing)


See more United Methodist events