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UMNS Weekly Digest - February 24, 2017


Top viewed stories from Feb. 17-23. See all United Methodist News Service stories at

Church invests in fighting climate change

GLENVIEW, Ill. (UMNS) — The United Methodist Church’s pension agency is investing in solar lighting and evaluating how companies are reducing their carbon emissions. Heather Hahn reports. 
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Rescuing children in Sierra Leone

BO, Sierra Leone (UMNS) — When Mohamed Emmanuel Nabieu was 8 years old, his father was shot during the Sierra Leone civil war. Separated from his mother, Nabieu ended up at the United Methodist Church’s Child Rescue Center. Now, he’s one of five staff members helped by the center as children. Phileas Jusu has the story. 
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200 years of Methodism in Haiti

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (UMNS) — A special church service at En L’Eglise Methodiste de Port-Au-Prince, a large Methodist church in the center of the capital city, commemorated 200 years of Methodism in Haiti. Fred Koenig reports for the Missouri Conference.
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The loneliness of being a millennial in church

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (UMNS) — The Rev. Sarah Howell, associate minister at Centenary United Methodist Church here, laments that so few of her generation can be found in the pews on Sunday. A too-often-inward-looking church is part of the problem, she says.
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Immigration raid outside church sows fear

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — Immigration and Customs Enforcement arrested Hispanic men leaving a homeless shelter at Rising Hope United Methodist Mission Church. The seemingly random arrests have sent fear through the nation’s immigrant communities. 
Read Washington Post story  
Watch NBC4 report   
Pastor seeks to reassure immigrants

Commentary: Bishop writes about swimsuit issue

DES MOINES, Iowa (UMNS) — Iowa Conference Bishop Laurie Haller is a longtime subscriber to Sports Illustrated, but she’s not a fan of its annual swimsuit issue. She wrote an open letter to the magazine, criticizing it for the “sexual objectification of women” and calling for a swimsuit issue that features ordinary people who are making a difference, male and female.
Read commentary  

Bishop Ough takes the plunge

LAKE KORONIS, Minn. (UMNS) — Bishop Bruce Ough, who leads the Minnesota and Dakotas conferences, jumped into frigid Lake Koronis on Feb. 18 after United Methodists donated more than $10,000 for camp scholarships.
Watch video   

Exploring the church's role in fighting racism

SPARTANBURG, S.C. (UMNS) — Gatherings at two United Methodist-related colleges in South Carolina explored the church’s role in confronting the sin of racism. Bishops and pastors shared thoughts on preaching against racism at Wofford College on the 70th anniversary of the state’s last known lynching. At Claflin University in Orangeburg, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Eugene Robinson moderated a panel on race relations and the role of the church. Jessica Brodie reports for the South Carolina Advocate.
Read story on Wofford panel
Read story on Claflin forum   

All-faiths prayer vigil connects community

EAST LANSING, Mich. (UMNS) — United Methodists, including Bishop David Bard, were among a diverse interfaith group of 300 who gathered to affirm their care for immigrants and pray for the nation and President Donald Trump. Kay DeMoss reports for the Michigan Area. 
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Lewis Center changing its leadership

WASHINGTON (UMNS) — The Rev. F. Douglas Powe Jr. will become the new director of Wesley Theological Seminary’s Lewis Center for Church Leadership on July 1. The Rev. Lovett H. Weems Jr., the center’s founding director, is stepping down but will remain on the Lewis Center staff as senior consultant. The Lewis Center, among other endeavors, annually puts together a report on United Methodist clergy age. 
Read press release and watch announcement   

Japanese church members recall internment

SEATTLE — Seventy-five years ago, the entire membership of Seattle Japanese Methodist Episcopal Church — now known as Blaine Memorial United Methodist Church — was interned in a government relocation camp. Several congregation members gathered recently to talk about what happened to them during World War II. Christine Clarridge of The Seattle Times reports.
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Former atheist finds happiness as pastor

FALLSINGTON, Pa. — A former atheist who once saw Christians as hypocrites says that he’s happier than he’s ever been now that he’s serving God as a United Methodist pastor. The Rev. Joe Martin, pastor of Fallsington United Methodist Church, was interviewed by MeTV. 
Watch video   

Conferences join to help Congo rape survivors

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — The Tennessee, Memphis and California-Pacific conferences are collaborating with The United Methodist Church in East Congo to address the needs of rape survivors. Congo Women Arise will provide shelter, counseling and long-term sustainability training. 
Read press release   
Read UMNS story about rape survivors  

Assistance after Mozambique cyclone

ATLANTA (UMNS) — Cyclone Dineo killed at least seven people, displaced thousands and destroyed homes, health centers and schools when it struck southern Mozambique on Feb. 15. The United Methodist Committee on Relief granted $10,000 to The United Methodist Church in Mozambique for food distribution in the Inhambane area. The Missouri Conference’s Mozambique Initiative also is in touch with the church there.
Read press release
Read Missouri Conference story

Ecumenical meeting planned

MINNEAPOLIS (UMNS) — The National Workshop on Christian Unity and the United Methodist Ecumenical and Interreligious Training will be May 1-4 in Minneapolis. The Council of Bishops offers six scholarships for young adult, first-time participants. Scholarship applications are due Tuesday, Feb. 28. 
Learn more
See application

What spiritual 'methods' might Methodists use?

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — Methodists use “methods” to practice spiritual growing in the same way Jesuits use “exercises.” What is a method that Methodists might use? InfoServ, a ministry of United Methodist Communications, has the answer in the latest installment of Ask the UMC.
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Ask the UMC

Agencies join on scholarship project

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — Discipleship Ministries and the United Methodist Board of Higher Education and Ministry have teamed up to host an online scholarship application process for international students.
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To apply

Folklore and family form country churches

BRANDON, Fla. (UMNS) — Small churches form the backbone of the Florida Conference and much of The United Methodist Church in the U.S. They mostly are long-standing churches located in small towns or rural settings, with deep, rich histories that can go back more than 100 years. Joe Henderson, writing for the Florida Conference, shares the story of some of these small congregations.
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Nigerian United Methodists absorb denomination

JALINGO, Nigeria (UMNS) — Nigeria Area Bishop John Wesley Yohanna has welcomed a 250-member church group, which had been a registered denomination in Nigeria, into the United Methodist fold. The move does not require General Conference approval, according to the Council of Bishops. The Rev. Ande I. Emmanuel, Southern Nigeria Conference secretary, reports on the welcoming of new United Methodists and other developments at the annual conference session.
Read Southern Nigeria Annual Conference report

Pilot program for small churches

HOUSTON (UMNS) — The Texas Conference is partnering with Spiritual Leadership Inc. in a pilot program with a dozen churches averaging fewer than 50 in worship. The goal is to help them become more effective through training, coaching and peer support. The Texas Conference reports.
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Boston University joins immigration lawsuit

BOSTON (UMNS) — United Methodist-related Boston University joined seven other Massachusetts universities in a federal lawsuit challenging President Donald Trump’s executive order on immigration. The Associated Press reported that the Trump administration said in court documents that it wants a pause in the legal fight so it can issue a replacement ban. 
Read Boston University press release
Read AP story  



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

Transfiguration Sunday — Christians around the world celebrate God’s exaltation of Jesus and anticipate their own transfiguration in Christ. United Methodist Discipleship Ministries offers lectionary help. Details

Wednesday, March 1

Ash Wednesday — Christians begin the season of Lent with the imposition of ashes. United Methodist Discipleship Ministries offers worship resources and information about the holy day’s traditions. Details

See more United Methodist events