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UMNS Weekly Digest - January 13, 2017


Top viewed stories from Jan. 6 - Jan. 13. See all United Methodist News Service stories at


Dorothy Height stamp debuts Feb. 1

WASHINGTON (UMNS) — Dorothy Height, a United Methodist who championed civil rights and women’s rights over a long career, is the subject of a U.S. Postal Service stamp that goes on sale Feb. 1. Sam Hodges reports.
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Lawson: Befriending Ray after King's death

CLINTON, Tenn. (UMNS) — Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in Memphis in 1968, during a trip he made at the urging of the Rev. James M. Lawson. At age 88, Lawson talks about what drove him years later to reach out to James Earl Ray, the man accused of killing his close friend.
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Bishop White's 2017 'Letter to Martin Luther King Jr.'

ATLANTA (UMNS) — In his annual “birthday letter” to the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., retired United Methodist Bishop Woodie W. White tells how he almost didn’t write this year because he needed more time to sort out the results of the election.
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Affirming Wesleyan values as Trump takes office

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — United Methodists from across the country plan to have house parties on the evening of Jan. 20 to pray and talk about ways to affirm Wesleyan values and explore challenges ahead as the 45th president takes office. Kathy L. Gilbert reports.
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40 United Methodists in new U.S. Congress

WASHINGTON (UMNS) — The overall number of United Methodists in the U.S. Congress has dipped to 40, but at least two appointees to President-elect Donald Trump’s Cabinet are United Methodists. Albert J. Menendez reports. 
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Pastor: 'In the midst of evil, there was peace'

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (UMNS) — The Rev. John Schlicher lay on the ground praying, thinking he and his family would die at the hands of a gunman who killed five people at the Fort Lauderdale airport. Kay Panovec of the West Ohio Conference reports on the pastor’s experience.
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6 tips on crowdfunding for churches

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — The United Methodist Church’s finance agency has published a guide for U.S. churches considering fundraising on crowdfunding sites. The General Council on Finance and Administration’s overall message: User beware. Heather Hahn reports. 
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New church in Sierra Leone Muslim area

PUJEHUN, Sierra Leone (UMNS) — A new church in southern Sierra Leone is the first United Methodist church to be built in the mostly Muslim Pujehun District. Phileas Jusu has the story. 
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New Liberian bishop looks at pastor salaries

MONROVIA, Liberia (UMNS) — During his induction as the new United Methodist bishop of Liberia, Bishop Samuel J. Quire Jr. said he wants to find ways to augment pastor salaries, especially rural pastors. Julu Swen has the story.
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Wesley's health tips apply today … mostly

LONDON ( — John Wesley, the founder of The United Methodist Church, is known for his caring for souls, but he also was passionate about keeping himself and others physically fit. Joe Iovino of offers a glimpse of the equipment Wesley used to stay in shape. 
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Agency report: Church and Society

WASHINGTON (UMNS) — The United Methodist Board of Church and Society’s ongoing goals are to advocate for issues of peace, justice and equality with both church and national leaders. A highlight for 2016 was hosting a conference on gun violence prevention. Part of a series of reporting on the work each general agency accomplished in 2016.
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What are your prayers as 2017 begins?

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — United Methodists said they are praying for elected officials, peace, an end to bigotry and much more as 2017 begins. Interpreter magazine asked readers about their prayers at the start of a new year. Here are some of their answers.
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Iowa group helps man get legal residency

MOUNT VERNON, Iowa (UMNS) — Through the work of United Methodist Iowa Justice for Our Neighbors and support from Mount Vernon United Methodist Church, an undocumented immigrant from El Salvador was able to get legal residency. Now, he can stay in the U.S. with his wife and family without fear of deportation.
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Getting beyond 'fast food' Christian books

LEXINGTON, Ky. (UMNS) — A lot of Christian books offer the theological equivalent of fast food, writes the Rev. Teddy Ray, a United Methodist pastor in Lexington, Kentucky. He shares his list of Christian books that are more comparable to fine dining. 
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Contest recognizes men's ministries

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — United Methodist Men welcomes submissions to its third annual contest to recognize the most outstanding local church, district and conference ministries to men. The deadline for entries is Feb. 1.
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Values stressed as part of confirmation hearings

WASHINGTON (UMNS) — In a Jan. 9 letter to U.S. Senators, the Rev. Susan Henry-Crowe, top executive of the United Methodist Board of Church and Society, asked that each nominee for the new Trump Administration be considered using the values of dignity, justice, peace and the common good.
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Homeless helped by youth-inspired Blessing Box

PUYALLUP, Wash. (UMNS) — Homeless people can get emergency food, clothing and other items in a take-what-you-need Blessing Box outside Puyallup United Methodist Church. One of the church’s youth, Kheira Bach, had the idea. She writes about her motivation and seeing the Blessing Box become a reality.
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Ministry idea: Try a GaGa Pit

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — Wesley United Methodist Church is drawing community attention with its octagonal GaGa Pit, which also is a hit with its youth. Steve Pokin of the Springfield News-Leader explains.
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Clergy bless badges of first responders

DELANCO TOWNSHIP, N.J. (UMNS) — Clergy joined in a blessing of the badges of police, firefighters and emergency medical workers at Dobbins United Methodist Church. “We wanted to pray for them, that God would continue to be with them and give them patience, strength, compassion, and grace whenever they encounter difficult aspects of their jobs,” said the Rev. Chuck Mitchell, who helped organize the event. Josh Kinney reports for the Greater New Jersey Conference.
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United Methodists give hope to foster children

MACON, Ga. (UMNS) — The Heart Gallery of Georgia and Foster Hope are offering hope and healing to children who have no resources and no one to turn to for help. Founded by South Georgia United Methodists, these two organizations — and the people who run them — strive to help children in seemingly hopeless situations. Kara Witherow of the South Georgia Conference has the story.
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New Course of Study options for part-time pastors

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — Three new Course of Study options for part-time licensed local pastors are available, reports the United Methodist Board of Higher Education and Ministry. One is at United Theological School in Dayton, Ohio, and another is a satellite program, offered in Hays, Kansas, with Saint Paul School of Theology. The third is a pilot Spanish language program in Denver.
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United Methodist foundation selects new director

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — The board of the United Methodist Church Foundation has selected Ehren Congdon as director. Congdon, who served as manager of investor relations for the past year, assumed his role Jan. 1.
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Wesley studies lay certification available

WINFIELD, Kan. (UMNS) — The Wesley Theological Seminary Lay Academy offers 11 online courses. The program is in partnership with The Richard and Julia Wilke Institute for Discipleship, based at United Methodist-related Southwestern College.
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Wespath joins effort on climate concerns

GLENVIEW, Ill. (UMNS) — Wespath Benefits and Investments, the United Methodist pension agency, has joined 13 major global investors representing $2.4 trillion in assets in launching the Transition Pathway Initiative. The initiative will assess how individual companies are positioning themselves for the transition to a low-carbon economy. 
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Wilke to lead Scarritt Bennett

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — Sarah Wilke, formerly publisher and world editor of Upper Room Ministries, has been appointed interim executive director of Scarritt Bennett Center. Scarritt Bennett is a nonprofit education, retreat and conference center owned by United Methodist Women. 
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Sunday, Jan. 15

Human Relations Day — United Methodist communities come together on Human Relations Day to invest in those in need of hope and an opportunity to thrive. The offerings from this Special Sunday support after-school programs, prison outreach, gang intervention, youth development and other important ministries. See resources

Monday, Jan. 16

The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. Day — United Methodist Discipleship Ministries offers worship and historical resources for celebrating the U.S. civil rights leader who taught that “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” See resources