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UMNS Weekly Digest - June 9, 2017


Top viewed stories from June 2-8. See all United Methodist News Service stories at

Climate accord pullout dismays church leaders

WASHINGTON (UMNS) — United Methodist bishops and other Christian leaders objected to President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw the United States from the Paris accord on climate change. The bishops urged Trump and other U.S. leaders to reconsider the decision, while also calling on Christians to prioritize climate justice. Heather Hahn reports.
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Claremont facing financial difficulties

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — Claremont School of Theology, one of The United Methodist Church’s 13 seminaries, is having financial problems that may mean the school will have to leave its current campus in California. At the same time, the seminary is celebrating its largest enrollment in the past 35 years. Kathy L. Gilbert reports
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Spiritual pilgrimage to Wesley's grave

NEW YORK (UMNS) — A trek on foot this summer by the Rev. Jörg Niederer, a United Methodist pastor, will take him from his home in Frauenfeld, Switzerland, to the gravesite of John Wesley, located behind Wesley’s Chapel in London. Linda Bloom has the story.
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Growing church blends cultures, worship

OSLO, Norway (UMNS) — What does church vitality look like in Norway? One example is a growing United Methodist church that brings together hip-hop, K-Pop and multiple nationalities to praise God. Heather Hahn has the story.
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Teen pregnancy problem after Ebola

MOYAMBA, Sierra Leone (UMNS) — Teenage pregnancy jumped in Sierra Leone during the Ebola outbreak when thousands of girls got pregnant while schools were closed. Educators are now trying to get those girls back in school. Phileas Jusu reports.
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Pastor donates 500 trees for reforestation

KINDU, Democratic Republic of Congo (UMNS) — The United Methodist Church in East Congo is doing its part to protect the environment through reforestation efforts. Judith Yanga reports. 
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Transgender person commissioned as deacon

ST. CHARLES, Ill. (UMNS) — The Northern Illinois Conference on June 4 commissioned an openly transgender individual as a provisional deacon. The Rev. M Barclay is believed to be the first openly “non-binary trans person” to become a United Methodist deacon. Heather Hahn reports.
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Great reads for United Methodists

NASHVILLE, Tenn. ( — Looking for summer reading? Staff at the United Methodist Publishing House and Abingdon Press offer some suggestions for books that feed your faith. The Rev. Joe Iovino reports. 
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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 Alaska, Baltimore-Washington, Red Bird Missionary and Upper New York conferences.
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Methodist pastor shears his last sheep

BUCKHANNON, W. Va. — A United Methodist pastor who broke records, won championships and sheared 101,400 sheep has likely sheared his last. The Rev. Calvin McCutcheon, who has been shearing sheep for 65 years, got his start at his local 4-H club when he was just 14 years old. Monica Zalaznik reports for The Record Delta.
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Academic gathering planned on church future

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The United Methodist Board of Higher Education and Ministry and the Association of United Methodist Theological Schools plan to co-host an academic theological colloquy. The gathering’s title is “Missio Dei and the United States: Toward a Faithful United Methodist Witness.” The meeting, planned in support of the Commission on a Way Forward, will take place Nov. 12-15 at United Methodist Boston School of Theology, Boston University.
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Book examines Wesley's works in light of diversity

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — A new book examines three of John Wesley’s key sermons and his interpretation of holiness in terms of Methodist identity and diversity — especially as it relates to human sexuality. “Bid Our Jarring Conflicts Cease: A Wesleyan Theology and Praxis of Church Unity” is by David N. Field, a research associate at the Research Institute for Theology and Religion at the University of South Africa and academic coordinator for the Methodist e-Academy. 
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Ferrum president released from contract

FERRUM, Va. — Less than a year after Joseph “Jody” Spooner became president of United Methodist-related Ferrum College, the school announced June 1 that Spooner has been released from his contract. Amy Friedenberger reports for The Roanoke Times. 
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Results from Wespath's work with oil giants 

GLENVIEW, Ill. — Wespath Benefits and Investments, the United Methodist pension agency, filed and actively supported successful shareholder resolutions asking the world’s largest oil and gas companies for greater transparency on how they are preparing for a low-carbon future. Under these resolutions — which received overwhelming shareholder support — Chevron, Occidental Petroleum and ExxonMobil will provide detailed reports assessing the impact of climate change. Harvard Business Review said the ExxonMobil resolution, in particular, suggests the investment community has reached “a tipping point” in the recognition of climate risks.
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Read Harvard Business Review story 

Iowa Conference announces just resolution

DES MOINES, Iowa — The Iowa Conference announced that a complaint under church law has reached a just resolution. The complaint by the conference cabinet was against the Rev. Anna Blaedel, who officiated at a same-gender wedding in April. All involved have agreed to issue an invitation to the Iowa Conference and broader United Methodist Church to “strive to live lives marked by faithfulness and integrity, and seek to build a more just and loving church and world.”
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Fanny Crosby: Legendary hymn writer

MADISON, N.J. ( — The favorite hymn “Blessed Assurance” is one of more than 8,000 penned by musical visionary Fanny Crosby, who was blind. Her songs are favorites in The United Methodist Hymnal. The Rev. Alfred Day of the United Methodist Commission on Archives and History tells why the life story of this 19th-century poet is as inspiring as the words we sing today.
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Mountain Sky offers digital devotion 

GREENWOOD VILLAGE, Colo. — This summer, Bishop Karen Oliveto and the Joint Cabinet of the Mountain Sky Area want to encourage daily worship so they are inviting United Methodists to join in a 20-minute worship service at 9 p.m. MT every Monday through Friday, through July. People can join in via their cell phones or by calling a toll-free number.
Read about how to join 

Bishop hosts Ukrainian-Russian dialogue

BIRŠTONAS, Lithuania — While no longer in international headlines, the conflict between Russia and Ukraine continues. More than 9,000 people have been killed so far. Bishop Eduard Khegay — whose area includes both Russia and Ukraine — brought together United Methodists from both countries for a peace dialogue. Missionary John Calhoun has the story.
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Global Ministries names new creation care staff

ATLANTA —The Rev. Jenny Phillips, most recently minister for environmental stewardship and advocacy of the United Methodist Pacific Northwest Conference and a creation care leader in the denomination, is joining the staff of the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries, effective July 1. Elliott Wright reports for Global Ministries.
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Bishop: Why the church will stay united

LAKELAND, Fla. — In a video, Florida Area Bishop Ken Carter offers the seven reasons he believes The United Methodist Church will stay united. He is a moderator on the Commission on a Way Forward as well as president-elect of the Council of Bishops.
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Commentary: Pet peeves of a church visitor

WASHINGTON — Churches need their most positive and smiling personalities on their front lines. Greg Atkinson, a church consultant, offers tips on where churches too often fall short in making visitors feel welcome. The Lewis Center for Church Leadership shares his commentary.
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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.

Sunday, June 11

Peace with Justice Sunday — Congregations around the country will join together to help break down barriers so that all God’s children have equal access to jobs, education, food, clean water, health care and much more. For a collection of resources to help celebrate, download the Peace with Justice Pastor and Leader’s Kit. Download resources

Wednesday,  June 14-Tuesday,  June 20

Online Congregational Leadership Workshop on United Methodist History and Polity — 10 a.m., CDT. Designed for part-time local pastors and certified lay ministers, but open to any person, clergy or lay, this online course will cover the development of The United Methodist Church, as well as its doctrinal roots in both the Methodist and Evangelical United Brethren traditions. This course is one of the elective courses for the Certificate in Congregational Leadership program and is eligible for 1.0 CEU. Price: $49. Details

See more United Methodist events