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UMNS Weekly Digest - June 16, 2017


Top viewed stories from June 9-15. See all United Methodist News Service stories at

Reconsideration of gay bishop ruling sought

GREENWOOD VILLAGE, Colo. (UMNS) — The Western Jurisdiction College of Bishops filed a motion asking the Judicial Council to reconsider part of its ruling concerning a gay bishop. The motion contends that the ruling unlawfully changes the definition of “self-avowed practicing homosexual.” Kathy L. Gilbert reports. 
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First openly gay bishop ordains first elder 

Growing impact of new churches

EAST POINT, Ga. (UMNS) — In all the news of shrinking U.S. worship attendance, it’s worth noting that starting new churches is an area where The United Methodist Church shows strength. Just look at the example of Impact Church, one of the fastest-growing congregations in the U.S. Heather Hahn reports.
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Vegetable sows hope in parched Zimbabwe

CHIVI, Zimbabwe (UMNS) — Margaret Tagwira, an agricultural researcher at United Methodist Africa University, is promoting a nutrient-rich, drought-resistant plant in a country dying of thirst. Kathy L. Gilbert and Mike DuBose have the story and photographs.
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718 graduate at Africa University

MUTARE, Zimbabwe (UMNS) — An Africa University alumnus told the 718 graduates from 23 African countries that it was time for them to give back to Africa. Washington Madziwadondo told graduates to remember that “Africa University built you to stand tall and lead.” Andra Stevens has the story. 
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North Korea releases comatose U.S. student, Otto Warmbier

WORTHINGTON, Ohio (UMNS) — United Methodist Bishop Gregory Palmer offered prayers for Otto Warmbier, who was in a coma when released from a North Korea prison. Kathy L. Gilbert reports.
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Commentary: Christian ethics in volatile times

LANCASTER, Pa. (UMNS) — What should a United Methodist do when there is a conflict between church law and moral conscience? The Rev. Darryl W. Stephens looks at how that question has been answered in the denomination’s history.
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Connecting faith and culture

OKLAHOMA CITY (UMNS) — Balancing faith and culture is at the heart of youth ministry for Jason and Lynnetta Eyachabbe. The couple helps Native young people in the United Methodist Oklahoma Indian Missionary Conference gain a strong sense of identity and camaraderie. Ginny Underwood has the story.
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Sierra Leone hospital celebrates turnaround

FREETOWN, Sierra Leone (UMNS) — A certificate from the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries recognizes United Methodist Kissy Hospital’s transformation to a renewed, self-sustaining facility. Phileas Jusu reports. 
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Learning from biblical fathers

NASHVILLE, Tenn. ( — As the U.S. prepares to celebrate Father’s Day, what can biblical fathers teach United Methodists? The Rev. Joan LaBarr looks at how God uses biblical fathers, despite their imperfections, in the creation and salvation of the world.
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2017 annual conference reports

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — United Methodist News Service is posting reports from all annual conference sessions. New this week are reports from the Alabama-West Florida, Florida, North Alabama, Michigan, Illinois Great Rivers, Oklahoma, Peninsula-Delaware and South Georgia conferences.
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North Georgia bishop focuses on tolerance

ATHENS, Ga. — Bishop Sue Haupert-Johnson delivered a message of tolerance June 13 to the North Georgia Annual Conference. “We still have churches that are saying, ‘Don’t send us a woman pastor.’ We still have churches that say, ‘Don’t send us an African-American pastor,’ ” she said. “I don’t want to hear that anymore.” Lee Shearer reports for the Athens Herald-Banner.
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Educator who broke color barriers has died

ATLANTA — Samuel DuBois Cook, the first African-American faculty member at United Methodist-related Duke University, is dead at 88. When he joined the faculty there in 1966, he was the first tenure-track African-American professor appointed by a predominately white university in the South since Reconstruction. Cook went on to serve 22 years as president of Dillard University, one of the historically black colleges supported by The United Methodist Church’s Black College Fund. 
Read New York Times obituary 
Read Duke Today story   

The benefits of being in church choir

NASHVILLE, Tenn. ( — When John Wesley preached to the choir, he had some valuable advice: “Above all, sing spiritually.” Chris Fenoglio reports on the spiritual and health benefits experienced by United Methodist choral members. 
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Family planning funds critical, agencies say

ATLANTA — The Global Health Unit, United Methodist Board of Global Ministries, joins the denomination’s Board of Church and Society in calling for continued U.S. assistance for international family planning and reproductive health programs. United Methodist clinics and hospitals are filling the gaps in reproductive health services in many low-income countries, said Kathy Griffin and Dr. Olusimbo Ige.

For the love of five daughters

NEW YORK — Anyone who knew “Mark” had heard of his quest to bring his eldest daughter to the United States to reunite with her four sisters. Although “Mark” has died, the daughters will finally be reunited, thanks to TJ Mills, an attorney with The United Methodist Church's New York Justice for Our Neighbors chapter. 
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Chinese church thriving in new space 

EDMOND, Okla. — Edmond-Chinese International United Methodist Church opened a multi-purpose space two months ago. Now, people are playing basketball, volleyball, even badminton, as well as worshipping and fellowshipping in the Agape Family Center. The church now holds both Chinese- and English-language services, too. Holly McCray has the story for the Oklahoma Conference. 
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Is using medical marijuana acceptable?

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (InfoServ) — The United Methodist Church has long supported abstinence from illegal drugs, but is the church’s stance on medical marijuana different? 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 

Call to 'Stand With Refugees'

NEW YORK — In advance of World Refugee Day on June 20, the Stand With Refugees campaign — sponsored by a coalition led by U.S. refugee resettlement agencies, including Church World Service, a United Methodist partner — is asking Americans to contact their lawmakers during the week of June 12-16.
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An analog refuge in a digital world

BALTIMORE — Nestled in a grove of old oak trees northwest of Baltimore is a place where time has seemingly stood still. Small cottages line narrow streets where cars are forbidden to go. Erik Alsgaard of the Baltimore-Washington Conference writes about Emory Grove, a historic Methodist camp meeting ground still in ministry today. 
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Commentary: Small church as surrogate family

LEMOYNE, Pa. — The Rev. Lewis Park, author of “Small on Purpose,” writes that small churches offer surrogate families for those whose basic family unit is dispersed or in need of wider circles. He adds that they are not unlike the house churches of the New Testament era.
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Archives and History names award recipients

MADISON, N.J. — The United Methodist Commission on Archive and History announced the 2017 recipients of $17,000 in awards, grants and scholarships. These honors are the John Harrison Ness Memorial award, the Josephine Forman scholarship, the Women in United Methodist History Writing award, the Women in United Methodist History Research grant, the World is My Parish Research grant and the United Methodist Racial/Ethnic History Research grant.
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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.

Wednesday, June 21-Saturday, June 24

California-Nevada Annual Conference — The California-Nevada Annual Conference will meet at the Hyatt Regency in Burlingame, California. Details

Friday, June 23-Sunday, June 25

Western North Carolina Annual Conference — The Western North Carolina Conference will take place in Terrace Auditorium at Lake Junaluska Conference and Retreat Center in North Carolina. Details

See more United Methodist events