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UMNS Weekly Digest - February 17, 2017

Top viewed stories from Feb. 10-16. See all United Methodist News Service stories at umc.org/news.

Historic black church making new mark

DALLAS (UMNS) — Few churches are as rich in black history as downtown Dallas’ St. Paul United Methodist. The church just went on the National Register of Historic Places and its pastor was recently honored for helping to bridge racial divides. St. Paul also is growing again, both in attendance and community influence. Sam Hodges reports.
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'Hidden Figures’ mathematician raised Methodist

WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W.Va. (UMNS) — United Methodists in White Sulphur Springs remember Katherine Coleman Goble Johnson — the main character in the movie “Hidden Figures” — counting steps as a child. Johnson grew up near and attended St. James Methodist, which was then an African-American church. West Virginia Conference communications director Deborah Coble reports.
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United Methodist church was ‘Hidden Figures’ location 

ATLANTA (UMNS) — Collins Memorial United Methodist Church was used as a location for the movie “Hidden Figures.” The church’s interior, exterior and grounds were filmed for the box-office hit, the story of three African-American women who made significant contributions to the early U.S. space program. 
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Immigration officials detain United Methodist leader

DODGE CITY, Kansas (UMNS) — A member of the lay leadership at House of Prayer United Methodist Church in Dodge City, Kansas, was arrested by officials with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The Rev. Gustavo Vasquez has the story. 
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Faith leaders cheer latest ruling on Trump travel ban

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — It has been an extraordinary two weeks for refugees and their supporters as the president and courts battle over whether to ban or not to ban people from seven mostly Muslim countries. The latest ruling rejects the ban. Kathy L. Gilbert reports.
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Universities join amicus brief against immigration orders

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — United Methodist-related Duke and Emory universities are two of 17 private colleges joining a legal challenge to President Donald Trump’s immigration restrictions. Kathy L. Gilbert reports.
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Most religious-minority refugees to U.S. are Christian

WASHINGTON — Slightly over a third of the refugees who were admitted into the United States in fiscal 2016 were religious minorities in their home countries. Of those, 61 percent were Christians, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of data from the State Department’s Refugee Processing Center.
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Commentary: An executive order with memory

LOS ANGELES (UMNS) — As U.S. President Donald Trump wields the power of executive order, bringing fear to vulnerable communities in 21st-century America, Japanese Americans across the country recall a similar moment in history from the last century, writes the Rev. Mark M. Nakagawa with the California-Pacific Annual Conference. 
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Way Forward group has membership change

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — The three bishops who moderate the Commission on a Way Forward gave an update on the group’s work and announced a change in commission membership. Bishop Ciriaco Francisco of the Philippines has withdrawn from the commission because of the demands on his schedule as leader of the Standing Committee on Central Conference Matters. Bishop Peter Torio, also of the Philippines, is succeeding Francisco on the commission. 
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Free surgery for Ebola survivors

FREETOWN, Sierra Leone (UMNS) — A partnership involving Emory University, Christian Blind Mission and other organizations is providing free cataract surgery to Ebola survivors at the Ruth and Lowell Gess United Methodist Eye Hospital. Phileas Jusu reports. 
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Philippines church holds sexuality forum

CALOOCAN CITY, Philippines (UMNS) — A recent forum at a local church was part of an effort by United Methodists in the Philippines to hold conversations on human sexuality. Gladys Mangiduyos reports on the forum.
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Churches welcome refugees in Nigeria

LAU, Taraba State, Nigeria (UMNS) — United Methodist churches are serving as refugee camps for people displaced after attacks on villages in Northern Nigeria. The violence is believed by many to be part of a continuing conflict between the Fulani herdsmen and farmers in the Lau area. The incidents have forced more than 7,000 people to flee their homes. The Rev. Ande I. Emmanuel, Southern Nigeria Conference secretary, reports.
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John Wesley's rescue from fire

LINCOLNSHIRE, England (UMC.org) — John Wesley, Methodism’s founder, grew up knowing he was “a brand plucked from the burning.” Joe Iovino recounts the harrowing story of the rectory fire that changed Wesley’s life at the age of 5.  
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Preparing for Lent

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — The Upper Room, Abingdon Press and others have a variety of new resources to use during this season of preparation for Easter. Polly House has the story for Interpreter magazine. 
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Religion and Race offers Lenten Bible study

WASHINGTON (UMNS) — The United Methodist Commission on Religion and Race offers a new Lenten Bible study, “Roll Down, Justice!,” aimed at reminding United Methodists of their commitment to be more Christ-like. The study includes a video series and guides for study.
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A ‘carbon fast’ for Lent

GENEVA (WCC) — The Church of South India, Green Anglicans and other groups are sharing creative ways to observe a “carbon fast” during the Lenten season, the World Council of Churches reports. Such activities also help support the “Seven Weeks for Water” Lenten campaign, offered by the WCC’s Ecumenical Water Network.
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UMCOR earns 4-star rating

ATLANTA (UMNS) — The United Methodist Committee on Relief has earned a 4-star rating from Charity Navigator, America’s largest independent charity evaluator, for its strong financial health and commitment to accountability and transparency, the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries has announced.
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Church makes ConneXion across races

SAVANNAH, Ga. (UMNS) — A new United Methodist church is trying to break down barriers and be an intentionally multiracial and multigenerational congregation. Kara Witherow of the South Georgia Conference has the story of ConneXion Church, a new congregation birthed out of three Savannah churches.
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'The Vessel' launches in Oklahoma

CLAREMORE, Okla. (UMNS) — Sails swelling with the wind of the Spirit and 188 people aboard, The Vessel, a satellite campus of First United Methodist Church in Claremore, launched recently. Holly McCray of the Oklahoma Conference reports.
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Missionary focuses lens on climate refugees

DES MOINES, Wash. (UMNS) — The Rev. Paul Jeffrey, photojournalist and United Methodist missionary, shares a few images of the struggle faced by people driven from their homes by drought and conflicts exacerbated by changes to weather patterns. The Pacific Northwest Conference published his photos and commentary on the modern-day exodus.
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New national ads promote childlike faith

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMCOM) — In this year’s national advertising campaign, The United Methodist Church features the words of children, who share their thoughts about open hearts, minds and doors, to extend an invitation to people searching to give their lives deeper meaning.
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Commentary: 4 functions of a church choir

RICHARDSON, Texas (UMNS) — Choir director Brian Hehn has helped Arapaho United Methodist Church become a “singing congregation” by emphasizing the choir’s four key functions. The Lewis Center for Church Leadership shares his advice. 
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Bishop Johnson: Celebrate today’s ‘Hidden Figures’

VALLEY FORGE, Pa. (UMNS) — After seeing the film “Hidden Figures,” Philadelphia Area Bishop Peggy Johnson notes that  “people who are hidden figures continue to abound in this world of ours.” In a blog, she calls on United Methodists to recognize the individuals who promote good in the world no matter their race, gender or walk of life. 
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Commentary: The importance of Deaf ministry

FULTON, Md. (UMNS) — Deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals are frequently missing from United Methodist pews. The Rev. Leo Yates Jr., a deacon on the United Methodist Committee on Deaf and Hard of Hearing Ministries, offers tips for churches seeking to reach out to the Deaf community.
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LOOKING AHEAD

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.
 

Sunday, Feb. 26

100 Guitars in Worship — At 9 a.m. EST, Rock Spring United Methodist Church in Rock Spring, Georgia, plans to have 100 acoustic stringed instruments in worship. The service will be streamed live. Details

Day 1 sermon — The Rev. Matt Rawle, lead pastor of Asbury United Methodist Church in Bossier City, Louisiana, is the featured preacher Feb. 26 on “Day 1” with host Peter Wallace, the nationally broadcast ecumenical radio program also accessible online at Day1.org. Details

See more United Methodist events