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UMNS Weekly Digest - July 22, 2016


NOTE: This is a digest of news features provided by United Methodist Communications for July 18-22. 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


Married lesbian consecrated United Methodist bishop

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (UMNS) — Bishop Karen Phyllis Oliveto received a standing ovation the first time she stood and faced a packed church as the newest bishop of the Western Jurisdiction. But many in The United Methodist Church are asking what the election of a married lesbian — despite the church’s ban on ordaining “self-avowed, practicing homosexuals” — means for the future of the denomination. Kathy L. Gilbert reports.
Read story

Western elects openly gay United Methodist bishop

Group asks bishops to remove discriminatory language

Coalition asks bishops to call for Oliveto’s resignation
Bishop Oliveto addresses reaction to her election

New women bishops make history

LAKE JUNALUSKA, N.C. (UMNS) — Even as bishop elections were ongoing, The United Methodist Church already was making history this year — electing the most women in any new class of bishops in this denomination or its predecessor bodies. All told, delegates elected seven women, four of whom are African American. Heather Hahn reports.
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U.S. bishops begin new assignments Sept. 1

NEW YORK (UMNS) — Most of the 15 United Methodist clergy elected as new U.S. bishops last week will be packing their bags to move to a new home within their region. The denomination’s five U.S. jurisdictional conferences announced assignments for new and old bishops in all 46 episcopal areas, effective Sept. 1. Linda Bloom has the story.
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Judicial Council to meet in October

NEW YORK (UMNS) — The United Methodist Judicial Council, including new members elected during General Conference 2016 in May, has scheduled its fall session for Oct. 25-28 in Chicago. The council also will have an orientation meeting in August.

Read earlier story about new members

Offering a prayer in Cleveland

CLEVELAND (UMNS) — The Rev. Steven R. Bailey, a local United Methodist pastor, will give the invocation Thursday night at the Republican National Convention. Linda Bloom reports.

Read story

Candidates pressed on hunger, poverty


Bishop Schäfer, bridge builder, dies at 95

ZURICH (UMNS) — Bishop Franz Werner Schäfer throughout his ministry served as a bridge between countries, ideologies and different streams of John Wesley’s movement. The retired bishop, who led the church in Central and Southern Europe as well as North Africa at the height of the Cold War, died July 14. Heather Hahn reports.
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Great Plains sets trial of lesbian pastor

CONCORDIA, Kan. (UMNS) — Bishop Scott J. Jones of the Great Plains Conference announced that the church trial for a lesbian pastor will be conducted Aug. 24 in Concordia. The Rev. Cynthia Meyer stated in a letter to her district superintendent earlier this year that she was in a committed homosexual relationship. The conference’s committee on investigation, which serves the role of a grand jury, decided in June that there was enough evidence to move the proceedings to a church trial.
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Commentary: A time to save lives and do justice

ALLENTOWN, Pa. (UMNS) — The Rev. Larry Pickens reflects on how United Methodists and other people of faith can work to de-escalate violence and address racial justice issues.
Read commentary


Bishop Harvey: ‘Let us be a voice for peace’

BATON ROUGE, La. (UMNS) — Louisiana Episcopal Area Bishop Cynthia Fierro Harvey called on United Methodists to be ‘a voice for peace’ in the midst of violence around the world, including the killing of three police officers in Baton Rouge. The city has been in turmoil since the police fatally shot an African-American man while he was pinned to the ground.  “Let us be a voice for peace, a voice for love, remembering that love casts out all fear,” she wrote.
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Baton Rouge clergy discuss violence, plan vigil

BATON ROUGE, La. (UMNS) — United Methodist clergy had already planned a gathering on July 19 to discuss the next steps in the wake of the shooting of a 37-year-old black man by police. But after a former U.S. Marine gunned down law enforcement officers, the meeting became a discussion of grief, anger and the deep division in the community. The clergy agreed on another prayer vigil to be held on July 21. Todd Rossnagel has the story for the Louisiana Conference.
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Zimbabwe churches find cash alternatives for giving

HARARE, Zimbabwe (UMNS) — Adjusting to Zimbabwe’s cash shortages, United Methodist churches there are encouraging members to give with credit cards and mobile money transfer. Priscilla Muzerengwa has the story.
Read story
Church council addresses crisis in Zimbabwe

Missionaries depart amid fighting in South Sudan

ALCOA, Tenn. (UMNS) — While heavy gunfire and violence escalate in South Sudan, missionaries related to Holston Conference have evacuated and are returning to the U.S. Not only was it unsafe for the missionaries, “It was also dangerous for the indigenous staff who were enabling those operations to happen,” said Danny Howe, mission coordinator. Annette Spence of the Holston Conference’s The Call reports.
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Churches embrace Pokémon GO

NASHVILLE, Tenn. ( — If you see people walking around a church campus staring at their smartphone, they may well be playing Pokémon GO. And some United Methodist pastors are finding ways to use the game's popularity for evangelism. Christopher Fenoglio has the story.

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How one woman shaped Methodism

EPWORTH, England ( — A visit to John Wesley's childhood home provides insight about how Susanna Wesley, mother of John and Charles, influenced the Methodist movement. “I was struck by the way Susanna Wesley challenged her husband, who wanted her to stop preaching. By being assertive, Susanna eventually enhanced the role of women in the church and even led to the formation of the entire Methodist Church… Susanna by all accounts is the mother of Methodism," writes Julu Swen in a blog.
Read blog


Southeastern Jurisdiction plans missional initiative

LAKE JUNALUSKA, N.C. (UMNS) — Bishops in the Southeastern Jurisdiction are launching a missional initiative that will focus on the following: new forms of church beyond the walls; children and poverty, unity and human sexuality; making disciples; and finally structure, finance and the future church. The hope is that this work will help guide the human-sexuality commission that the Council of Bishops is forming. Southeastern Jurisdiction delegates, by voice vote, affirmed the initiative late July 14.
Read statement


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 Northwest Texas, as well as Finland in the central conferences. If a report is missing, UMNS has not received it.
Read reports


Delaware pastor named director of men’s ministry

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) –– The Rev. Richard “Rick” Vance, pastor of Ebenezer United Methodist Church in Newark, Delaware, has been chosen as director of men’s ministry for the Commission on United Methodist Men. He will join the commission on Sept. 1.
Read press release


Missionary becomes U.S. citizen

NORMAN, Okla. (UMNS) — The Rev. Fuxia Wang, a missionary and the international director at the Wesley Foundation at the University of Oklahoma in Norman, says she believes God brought her to the United States. She is now a U.S. citizen enjoying the freedom she says she did not have in China to preach and worship the Lord. Chris Schutz reports for the Oklahoma Conference.
Read story


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.


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


Sunday, July 31

Discount deadline for HopeFest 2016: Building Hope for Humanity — Christian music fest to benefit Habitat for Humanity on Saturday-Sunday, Aug. 27-28. Milford United Methodist Church, 327 North River Road, Milford, New Hampshire, is the host. Overnight wooded camping sites are available. Performers include Mark Schultz, Jonas Woods, Epic Season, Ryan Stevenson and Rock My Soul. $35 for adults until July 31. Children under 12 are free. Details



More upcoming United Methodist events