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UMNS Weekly Digest - June 3, 2016


NOTE: This is a digest of news features provided by United Methodist Communications for June 1-3. 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


Bishops in no rush to form sexuality panel

PORTLAND, Ore. (UMNS) — United Methodist bishops have yet to set a timetable for when they expect to have a new commission on human sexuality up and running. However, they already are talking about the kind of qualities they would like commission members to have. Heather Hahn reports on what many see as a last-ditch effort to keep the denomination together.

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Clergy vote not to commission gay deacon

WASHINGTON (UMNS) — Clergy members of the Baltimore-Washington Conference did not approve a married lesbian for commissioning as a deacon. Tara “T.C.” Morrow did not get the two-thirds vote of clergy meeting in executive session on June 1. The conference Board of Ordained Ministry had recommended Morrow for commissioning. Erik Alsgaard reports.
Read conference story


Violence leaves 5 dead, thousands homeless in Nigeria

DIDANGO, Taraba State, Nigeria (UMNS) — At least five people died and more than 2,000, mostly United Methodists, are homeless after violence broke out between the Shomo, Jole and Wurkun people here in a dispute over harvesting fish from a pond. Sharon Adamu Bambuka reports.
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Church ‘birthday ambassador’ dies at 111

ANDREWS, N.C. (UMNS) — At the age of 105, Jean Christy started a new hospitality ministry at her congregation. The United Methodist who proved you’re never too old to be a minister died May 28. She was 111, according to recently discovered records in her family Bible. Heather Hahn shares her story.
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Liberia no longer on deathwatch for Ebola

MONROVIA, Liberia (UMNS) — Liberia is well prepared to deal with any Ebola breakouts due to quick response and use of a test vaccine, said the head of the Liberia Ebola Response Team and deputy minister for public health. Julu Swen reports.
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Holston Conference launches ‘Vacation Church’

SEVIERVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — About 30 people participated in the first “Vacation Church” worship service held May 28. Annette Spence reports how the Holston Conference is reaching tourists with the gospel.
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Leadership lessons from Wesley’s successor

DALLAS (UMCom) — John Fletcher was a protégé to John Wesley, Methodism’s founder. The relationship between the two men offers leadership lessons for churchgoers today, writes Clay Morgan for United Methodist Communications.
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Commentary: Real hope for the church

MOBILE, Ala. (UMNS) — In the days after the 2016 General Conference, the Rev. Jeremy Steele writes that he has “a great hope for The United Methodist Church which, I am told, is an odd sentiment to have at this moment.” Steele, soon to be ordained an elder in the Alabama-West Florida Conference, explains the reasons for his hope.
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Dakota alliance focuses on wellness

MITCHELL, S.D. (UMNS) — United Methodist-related Dakota Wesleyan University and Avera Queen of Peace Hospital are joining forces to promote wellness for both the 900-student campus and the city of 15,500. Bishop Bruce Ough hailed the partnership and a new sports and wellness complex as part of an ecumenical endeavor that benefits the entire community. Donald E. Messer, former president of Dakota Wesleyan, reports.
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South Carolina church gets families into ‘bridge homes’

SIMPSONVILLE, S.C. (UMNS) — Advent United Methodist Church has bought a third transitional bridge home, designed to be a respite for families in transition from emergency shelters to a permanent home. Jessica Brodie of the South Carolina Advocate reports on the ministry.
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Inside a solitary confinement cell

HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. (UMNS) — To raise awareness of humane alternatives to solitary confinement, a full-size replica of a jail cell will be on display June 8-10 at the Hofstra University Mack Sports and Exhibition Complex. Sponsored by the United Methodist New York Conference and the National Religious Campaign Against Torture, the exhibit also will include people who were formerly incarcerated in solitary confinement, on hand to tell their stories and answer questions.
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Online course on preventing sexual misconduct

WASHINGTON (UMNS) — The Lewis Center for Church Leadership at United Methodist Wesley Theological Seminary offers an online course on preventing clergy sexual misconduct. “Keeping Our Sacred Trust” looks at the dynamics and vulnerabilities that can lead to misconduct. The course costs $49.
Learn more


Hispanic leaders celebrate apprenticeship

HOUSTON (UMNS) — A two-year Hispanic Leadership Apprentice Program in the Texas Conference helps to discern a calling into the clergy candidacy process and equip leaders to launch new Hispanic/multicultural ministries. The conference offers a progress report after the first year.
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New book takes on college issues

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — “The Prophetic Voice and Making Peace,” a collection of essays that consider five thorny issues that affect today’s college students, is the first book released by the new publishing ministry of the United Methodist Board of Higher Education and Ministry.
Read press release


Films offer new take on Bible

LONDON — Six new short films offering a contemporary slant on Bible stories have been funded by the Methodist Church in Great Britain, which calls the films “provocative, entertaining and often controversial.” Produced by Applecart, the films were released May 31.
Film and study notes links


How to love your church by letting go

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMCom) — How can you help your church grow? Sometimes, church leaders need to follow the advice of Elsa in “Frozen,” and “Let it go.” Tricia Brown, writing for United Methodist Communications, offers three areas where churches might benefit from loosening up.

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Florida church helps families out of poverty

ORLANDO, Fla. (UMNS) — St. Luke’s United Methodist Church is on a mission to serve its surrounding neighborhood by helping low-income residents make their way out of poverty. Key to their efforts is Circles USA, a national transformational approach that joins volunteers and community leaders with families wanting help to make a better life. Brenda Eggert Brader writes for the Florida Conference about how the church is helping people find economic stability.
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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.


Saturday-Sunday, June 10-11

Royal School of Church Music concert — Girls from all over the country will come together this summer at St. Paul’s United Methodist Church in Houston for the Royal School of Church Music Gulf Coast Course for Girls. St. Paul’s will host a compline service at 9:15 p.m. CDT June 10 and 11:05 a.m. CDT June 11. Details


Monday, June 20

Deadline to register for three United Methodist Communications online courses to be offered July 6 – Aug. 17. The courses are “Tools for Increasing Your Church’s Vitality;” “Communicating Faith in the 21st Century” and “Welcoming Ministry.” Costs vary. Details



More upcoming United Methodist events