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UMNS Weekly Digest - June 24, 2016

NOTE: This is a digest of news features provided by United Methodist Communications for June 20-24. 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


New England Conference won’t conform with sexuality stance

MANCHESTER, N.H. (UMNS) — Dramatically taking on the denomination’s official stance on homosexuality, the New England Conference approved a resolution of non-conformity that says the conference won’t comply with any Discipline provisions that “discriminate against LGBTQIA persons.” Sam Hodges and Beth DiCocco report.
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Two conferences call for full inclusion of LGBTQ

PHOENIX (UMNS) —  The Desert Southwest Conference, after its bishop gave an impassioned impromptu speech about full inclusion, voted for a nondiscrimination resolution that says the conference will not participate in or conduct judicial procedures related to the denomination’s prohibitions against LGBTQ persons. The California-Pacific Conference also asked for a halt to judicial proceedings. Vicki Brown has the story.
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Oregon-Idaho takes up support for RCRC

SALEM, Ore. (UMNS) — After General Conference 2016 told two general agencies to end membership in the faith coalition that supports reproductive health and abortion, the Oregon-Idaho Conference voted to support that same group: the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice. Kathy L. Gilbert reports.

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U.S. Northeast keeps bishops — for now

PORTLAND, Ore. (UMNS) — General Conference 2016 opted to keep the same number of U.S. bishops, but that’s so United Methodist leaders can take a hard look at remaking the denomination’s map. That means the Northeastern Jurisdiction is not losing a bishop. Heather Hahn reports.
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Tears, prayers at conference vigil for Orlando victims

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. (UMNS) —Tears, prayers and a show of unity in the face of heartbreaking sadness marked the Florida Conference’s prayer vigil for the victims of the June 12 massacre that killed 49 and injured 53 others at a gay nightclub in downtown Orlando. Suzanne McGovern has the story.
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Theological fund big winner at GC2016

DALLAS (UMNS) — In an otherwise hold-steady general church budget, the Central Conference Theological Education Fund is getting a big hike — from $5 million to $10 million for the next four years. General Conference delegates were persuaded by testimonies about how the fund has helped and how much more needs to be done to train church leaders in Africa, Europe and the Philippines. Sam Hodges reports.
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Once tortured for faith, now pastor

ALCOA, Tenn. (UMNS) — The Rev. Botrous Tutu, tortured in Sudan for refusing to renounce his faith in the 1990s, put on a clergy robe and celebrated his official status as a licensed local pastor in The United Methodist Church. Annette Spence reports for the Holston Conference.
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Deaf lay minister commissioned

WILMINGTON, Del. (UMNS) — The Peninsula-Delaware Conference recently commissioned a certified lay minister who is deaf — a first for the conference. Karen Miller, a member of Grace United Methodist Church in Wilmington, will do deaf ministry in her community. UM Disability reports.
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The power of a church’s second site

COLUMBIA, Mo. (UMNS) — In recent years, some of the strongest churches have been started by other churches. Fred Koenig of the Missouri Conference reports how multi-campus churches help make disciples.
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UMCOR battles flooding in Congo

KATANGA PROVINCE, Democratic Republic of Congo (UMNS) — The United Methodist Committee on Relief is working with the North Katanga Episcopal Area of The United Methodist Church to help local communities clean up the Kamina River and reduce vulnerability to future flooding. UMCOR reports.
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‘Watershed moment’ for refugees

NEW YORK — This year’s World Refugee Day is “a watershed moment” for refugees, said Filippo Grandi, U.N. high commissioner for refugees. “As wars spiral out of control we feel this must be a year to take collective responsibility and action to end the conflicts which force people to flee and also to help the millions of people whose lives have been destroyed by this violence,” he wrote in a June 20 statement.
Read U.N. statement

WCC on World Refugee Day


Wesley honors Charleston shooting victim

WASHINGTON (UMNS) — United Methodist Wesley Theological Seminary marked the one-year anniversary of the Charleston 9 shooting with a sign of hope: the establishment of a Doctor of Ministry program in Public Engagement in the memory of its slain student, the Rev. Clementa Pinckney.
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Lacing up for better health

NEW YORK (UMNS) — In Howard, Pennsylvania (pop. 718), United Methodists and their neighbors are lacing up their sneakers for a 10-week walking program organized by Howard United Methodist Church. Howard was among the first U.S. congregations to sign onto the 10,000 Church Challenge. Linda Unger and Dr. Olusimbo Ige report on the challenge, part of the Abundant Health initiative administered by the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries.
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Young advocates for social justice

WASHINGTON (UMNS) — Four intern organizers for the United Methodist Board of Church and Society are “lifting up the work of justice and peace” around the world.
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Why celebrate Native American Ministries Sunday?

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — United Methodist Communications needs your thoughts and feelings about Native American Ministries Sunday. Please take this brief survey about why United Methodists celebrate Native American Ministries Sunday.
Take survey


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 Texas, the Dakotas, Holston and Alabama-West Florida.
Read reports


Commentary: OK to pause sexuality debate?

COLUMBIA, S.C. (UMNS) — The Council of Bishops proposal on sexuality was designed for “those in the ever-present middle,” writes Jessica Brodie in a commentary for the South Carolina Advocate. “Is it so wrong to take a collective breath, turn inward and study this thing a little more before we are pressed into a vote?” Brodie asks.
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4 tips for healthy church politics

WASHINGTON (UMNS) — Every congregation is a political system, writes David R. Brubaker. However, he argues that church politics do not need to be ugly. In a commentary for the Lewis Center for Church Leadership, the church consultant outlines four requirements for healthy church politics.

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3 ways to encourage gratitude in church

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMCom) — Did you know that being thankful reaps health benefits as well as spiritual ones? Tricia Brown, writing for United Methodist Communications, offers a few ways to express thankfulness in life and ministry.
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Discipleship Ministries offers new Safe Sanctuaries videos

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — Discipleship Ministries offers a new series of Safe Sanctuaries® videos that can help your church ensure that all spaces of worship and gathering are places of trust.
Get details and watch videos


What do you know about John Wesley?

NASHVILLE, Tenn. ( — Test your knowledge about John Wesley, the man credited with creating the Methodist movement, with this 10-question quiz.
Take the quiz



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.


Sundays, June 26-Aug. 7

Summer Worship Series at Lake Junaluska — Lake Junaluska Conference and Retreat Center has invited distinguished Christian leaders to preach each Sunday. Services start at 10:45 a.m. in Stuart Auditorium. Speakers include the Revs. Kevin Wright, United Methodist pastor at Riverside Church in New York City; Ashley Crowder-Stanley, pastor at Mills River United Methodist Church near Asheville; Robert E. Long, pastor at St. Luke’s United Methodist Church in Oklahoma City; Harry J. Lyness, distinguished evangelist for the Foundation for Evangelism; Tony Campolo, internationally known evangelist; and United Methodist Bishop Larry Goodpaster. Details


Thursday, June 30

Early bird deadline for “Imagine What’s Next” conference — The event is Friday-Sunday, Nov. 4-6 in Atlanta. Sponsored by the United Methodist Board of Higher Education and Ministry, the gathering is designed to help college students connect their gifts with innovative discipleship. A $50 discount on registration is available through June 30. Details



More upcoming United Methodist events