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UMNS Weekly Digest - July 15, 2016


NOTE: This is a digest of news features provided by United Methodist Communications for July 11-15. It includes summaries of United Methodist News Service stories and additional briefs from around the United Methodist connection. Full versions of the stories with photographs and related features can be found at


U.S. jurisdictional meetings

North Central Jurisdiction elects four bishops

PEORIA, Ill. (UMNS) — The Rev. Laurie Haller of the West Michigan Conference was elected by the North Central Jurisdictional Conference on July 14. Haller was the fourth bishop elected by the jurisdiction, which completes the voting. Others elected by North Central delegates on July 13 were the Rev. Tracy Smith Malone (Northern Illinois), the Rev. Frank Beard (Indiana) and the Rev. David Bard (Minnesota). Read stories on each bishop.
Laurie Haller

Tracy Smith Malone
Frank Beard
David Bard


Second bishop elected in Northeast

LANCASTER, Pa. (UMNS) — The Rev. LaTrelle Easterling was elected bishop July 14 by the Northeastern Jurisdictional Conference, on the 17th ballot. Earlier, the conference elected the Rev. Cynthia Moore-Koikoi. Both new bishops are African-American women. Easterling’s election completes the voting for this jurisdiction. Beth DiCocco reports on Easterling, Erik Alsgaard and Melissa Lauber have the story on Koikoi.

LaTrelle Easterling

Cynthia Moore-Koikoi


South Central Jurisdiction elects two bishops bishop

WICHITA, Kan. (UMNS) — The Rev. Ruben Saenz Jr. and the Rev. Jimmy Nunn have been elected bishops by the South Central Jurisdictional Conference. Saenz, elected July 14, comes from the Rio Texas Conference, where he has been director of connectional ministries. Nunn, elected July 15, has been the director of mission and administration for the Northwest Texas Conference. The South Central Jurisdiction has one more bishop to elect. David Burke reports on both new bishops.

Jimmy Nunn
Ruben Saenz Jr.


New Southeastern bishops include historic first

LAKE JUNALUSKA, N.C. (UMNS) — United Methodist delegates made history July 13 by electing the denomination’s first African-American woman bishop for the Southeastern Jurisdiction. Sharma Lewis (North Georgia Conference) was the first of five bishops elected, followed by David Graves (Holston), Leonard Fairley (North Carolina),  R. Lawson Bryan (Alabama-West Florida) and Sue Haupert-Johnson (Florida). Delegates are electing 15 bishops at five U.S. jurisdictional conferences this week.
Sharma Lewis

David Graves

Leonard Fairley

R. Lawson Bryan

Sue Haupert-Johnson


Resolution recommends letting regional bodies adapt Discipline

LANCASTER, Pa. (UMNS) — The Northeastern Jurisdiction approved a restructuring resolution recommending the bishops’ study commission on sexuality include a plan to allow regional bodies — such as jurisdictions — to decide for themselves to adapt the Book of Discipline within their own ministry context. Erik Alsgaard and Maidstone Mulenga write about that resolution and others that aimed to show disagreement with church law on sexuality issues.
Read story


Bishops address racism, gun violence

LANCASTER, Pa. (UMNS) — Bishops in the Northeastern Jurisdiction have released a statement calling on United Methodists to advocate against racism and gun violence.  Bishop Jonathan Holston of the South Carolina Conference read his own statement, calling for prayer and reconciliation, at the Southeastern Jurisdictional Conference.
Read Northeastern Jurisdiction bishops’ statement
Read Bishop Holston’s statement


A Kentucky tradition

LAKE JUNALUSKA, N.C. (UMNS) — After 20 years as an active bishop, Lindsey Davis is retiring. But like his Kentucky predecessors, he is passing the torch to the next generation — he is passing on a collection of extremely rare books that has been handed down among bishops from the Kentucky Conference, which has the story.
Read story

Southeastern United Methodists hold vigil

LAKE JUNALUSKA, N.C. (UMNS) — In a faithful response to recent tragedies in the United States, bishops of the Southeastern Jurisdiction held a Hope and Unity Prayer Vigil the night before the official opening of jurisdictional conference. Madeline Pillow of the Virginia Conference reports.
Read story

Watch video of vigil


Response to violence

United Methodists help with service for slain officers

DALLAS (UMNS) — United Methodists assisted with the July 12 interfaith memorial service in Dallas for five police officers slain by a sniper. A United Methodist elder was one of those chosen to pray before remarks by President Obama and former President George W. Bush. University Park United Methodist Church contributed singers to an interfaith choir, which sang a hymn composed by a United Methodist who teaches at Drew Theological School. Sam Hodges reports.
Read story


Baton Rouge church supports youth rally

BATON ROUGE, La. (UMNS) — Wesley United Methodist Church served as a start and end point for a peaceful youth rally on July 10 in response to the shooting death of Alton Sterling. The Rev. Joe Connelly, Wesley’s pastor, said that later, a “rowdier” crowd of adults began a second march that ended in 48 arrests. Connelly talked about the rally in an interview with the Rev. Todd Rossnagel and Betty Backstrom of the Louisiana Conference. Sterling’s funeral is set for July 15.
Read story
Listen to interview


United Methodist-supported interns flee rally where police shot

DALLAS (UMNS) — United Methodists joined in the anguished response to the killing of five police officers in Dallas. Some 20 interns in the United Methodist-funded Project Transformation program were at the Black Lives Matter rally when the shootings occurred. The students were unharmed, but trapped downtown until two United Methodist pastors used a church van to get them back to Southern Methodist University. Sam Hodges reports.
Read story

‘Embolden us to understand and act’


Louisiana prayer service after shooting

BATON ROUGE, La. (UMNS) — Bishop Cynthia Fierro Harvey and about a dozen pastors led a prayer vigil after the shooting of Alton Sterling, a 37-year-old black man killed by police here this week. “We offered a witness that God cares about injustice and that the church cares about injustice,” said the Rev. Susie Thomas. The Rev. Todd Rossnagel reports for the conference.
Read story


U.S. shootings draw continuing response

NEW YORK (UMNS) — As outpourings of concern, protest and prayer continued in the wake of last week’s shootings of two African-American men by police and the killing of five police officers in Dallas, United Methodists were among those responding. In May, the United Methodist General Conference passed a resolution calling for an end to the “criminalization of communities of color in the United States.” Linda Bloom reports.
Read story


Discussions on sexuality issues

No pause by conferences on sexuality debate

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — The agreement reached at General Conference 2016 didn’t inspire compliance among the denomination’s conferences as some pledged ‘non-conformity’ with the church’s stance on LGBTQ people. Kathy Gilbert has a roundup of various actions from annual conference meetings.
Read story


Commentaries: What do conference votes mean?

Widening the divide over sexuality

THE WOODLANDS, Texas (UMNS) — In a commentary on the meaning of annual conference votes on sexuality, the Rev. Thomas Lambrecht of Good News writes that the votes are jettisoning the connectional covenant and moving the denomination toward schism.
Read commentary


Conferences progress toward LGBTQ equality

CHICAGO (UMNS) — Matt Berryman of Reconciling Ministries Network, in another commentary on the meaning of annual conference votes on sexuality, writes that conference votes not to conform with anti-LGBTQ policies and to endorse openly gay candidates for bishops are moving the denomination toward justice and equality.
Read commentary


United Methodist news

Rural Texas church votes for same-sex weddings

SEVEN POINTS, Texas (UMNS) — In many ways, Aley United Methodist Church fits the small, rural Texas church stereotype. But it has voted overwhelmingly to back its longtime pastor in his vow to conduct same-sex weddings in the church sanctuary – acts that would violate United Methodist Church law. Sam Hodges has the story.
Read story

Death of Kathleen Thomas-Sano

OAKLAND, Calif. (UMNS) — Kathleen Thomas-Sano, the wife of retired United Methodist Bishop Roy Sano, died July 6. Thomas-Sano, a native of Hawaii, served numerous positions within the church, including staff positions with the Board of Global Ministries, the California-Nevada Conference and the Commission on Religion and Race. She was a former executive director of the National Federation of Asian American United Methodists.
Read announcement


Engaging young people about racism

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — Young People’s Ministries, a division of Discipleship Ministries, will convene a gathering on July 28-30 to identify more effective ways to resource the church for conversations with young people about racism. The Racism Gathering will bring young African-American leaders and allies from each of the five U.S. jurisdictions together at the Montserrat Jesuit Retreat House in Lake Dallas, Texas, to create an action plan for more effective and additional resourcing on the topic of racism.
Read press release


2016 annual conference reports

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — United Methodist News Service is posting reports from all the annual conference sessions. New reports this week include Desert Southwest, Oklahoma Indian Missionary Conference and Rio Texas.
Read reports


Inspired by Wesley Pilgrimage

OXFORD, England (UMC.ORG) — Writer Joe Iovino is following in the footsteps of John and Charles Wesley on a “Wesley Pilgrimage in England.” The United Methodist trip is sponsored by Discipleship Ministries, the Commission on Archives and History, and the Board of Higher Education and Ministry.
Read blog


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.


Thursday-Friday, July 21-22

Young Preachers Festival and Conference — The gathering will be at United Methodist Church of the Resurrection, 13720 Roe Ave, Leawood, Kansas. United Methodist Board of Higher Education and Ministry is helping to organize the event for seminarians, declared candidates for ministry and young clergy to cultivate their preaching skills. $79. Details


Wednesday-Friday, July 27-29

“Reimagining Incarceration and Re-entry” Conference — St. Paul’s United Methodist Church, at 5501 Main St., Houston, will host the conference about how communities can help individuals reintegrate after their release from prison. ProjectCURATE in partnership with Houston:revision is spearheading the conference. Details


More upcoming United Methodist events