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UMNS Weekly Digest - January 6, 2017


Top viewed stories from Jan. 3 - Jan. 5. See all United Methodist News Service stories at


2016: The year in photos

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — From General Conference to natural disasters to community outreach, United Methodists were active across the world in 2016. Images of the global connection at work in the past year are captured in this photo slideshow.
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2 bishops rule on ordination questions

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — Two bishops ruled on the role of conference boards of ordained ministry in determining whether clergy candidates meet the denominational standards related to marriage and homosexuality. Heather Hahn reports.
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Commentary: Real issues facing churches in Africa

SEDGEWICK, Alberta (UMNS) — While much of The United Methodist Church focuses on LGBTQ issues, the church in Africa faces divisions and exclusions such as tribalism, regionalism and polygamy. The Rev. Lloyd Nyarota, an elder from Zimbabwe, writes about African church issues that General Conference hasn’t addressed.
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Backpacks of Hope fill need at border

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (UMNS) — The idea for Backpacks of Hope was born out of the need to help refugees and immigrants seeking refuge from violence in their countries. The Rev. Nema LeCuyer, pastor of El Calvario United Methodist Church in Las Cruces, New Mexico, talks about assisting families on their journey to a safe home. Alli Costello reports for the New Mexico Conference.
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Bishops invite church to 'pray our way forward'

GARNER, N.C. (UMNS) — United Methodist bishops launched a new phase of the “Praying Our Way Forward” initiative on Jan. 1. The effort began in the North Carolina Conference and will wrap up in the West Angola Episcopal Area in June 2018. "The aim of 'Praying Our Way Forward' is to ask and listen for God’s leadership at this critical time in the life of our church,” said retired Bishop Al Gwinn.

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Huston Smith, world religions scholar, dies at 97

BERKELEY, Calif. — Huston Smith, a renowned scholar of world religions and the son of Methodist missionaries, has died at age 97. His 1958 book “The Religions of Man,” later shortened and titled “The World’s Religions,” became a standard textbook in college comparative religion courses. The New York Times has an obituary.
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Free from Ground Zero dust, organ shines anew

ATLANTA — An organ from Trinity Church in New York, just three blocks from Ground Zero on Sept. 11, 2001, has been refitted and restored for Johns Creek United Methodist Church. A community concert is planned Jan. 29. Frank Reddy reports for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
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Read NPR story on organ’s dedication


Embrace Church pastor honored

LAKE JUNALUSKA, N.C. (UMNS) — The Rev. Adam Weber, lead pastor of Embrace Church, a United Methodist congregation in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, is the recipient of the Foundation for Evangelism’s 2016 Distinguished Evangelist of the United Methodist Church Award. Under Weber, Embrace has grown to six campuses with more than 4,000 in weekly attendance.

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The adventures of John Wesley and Francis Asbury

MADISON, N.J. ( — A series of comic books created for confirmation classes in the 1970s told of the dangers John Wesley and Francis Asbury faced as they carried the Gospel on horseback to early settlers. The “Winning the Frontier” series captured the sometimes harrowing story of the founding fathers of Methodism in the New World.

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Hurricane work blitz shows love in action

NICHOLS, S.C. (UMNS) — Thanks to the efforts of 236 United Methodist volunteers from across South Carolina, families devastated by Hurricane Matthew have new hope and a strong feeling of Christian love and support. Jessica Brodie reports on the South Carolina Conference’s work blitz.
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Intergenerational ministries blossom in Florida

TITUSVILLE, Fla. (UMNS) — Bridging the gap between generations, from young children to the elderly, is important for vital, growing congregations. D’Ann Lawrence White, writing for the Florida Conference, looks at the challenges and opportunities for building intergenerational ministry.

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Scholarships available for 2017 Wesley Pilgrimage

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — Registration is underway for the 2017 Wesley Pilgrimage to England for United Methodist lay and clergy leaders, and the deadline to apply for 25 available scholarships is Jan 15. During the 10-day journey, scheduled for July 10-20, pilgrims will learn, pray and explore places where John and Charles Wesley lived.
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Registration information


Agencies make plans for E-Reader Project

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — The United Methodist Board of Higher Education and Ministry and Discipleship Ministries plan to expand the E-Reader Project in the next four years. The expansion will support local congregations in Africa, schools and higher education, and an initiative on global health education.

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Global Ministries, WCC set Jan. 13 event

ATLANTA (UMNS) — A panel discussion on “mission from the margins,” sponsored by the World Council of Churches’ Commission on World Mission and Evangelism and United Methodist Board of Global Ministries, is planned for 7 to 9 p.m. EST on Jan. 13 at Grace United Methodist Church in Atlanta.

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North Georgia bishop is new Emory trustee

ATLANTA (UMNS) — United Methodist Bishop Sue Haupert-Johnson is among the three new members elected to Emory University’s Board of Trustees.

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Methodist Insurance seeks new president

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — Steve Hundley has resigned as president and chief executive officer of United Methodist Insurance, which provides coverage of United Methodist property. Mike Plesko, chief operating officer, will serve as the interim president/CEO while the nonprofit’s board seeks a new top executive.

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Looking ahead

Here are some of the activities ahead for United Methodists across the connection. If you have an item to share, email and put Digest in the subject line.


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. Get resources