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UMNS Weekly Digest - March 17, 2017


Top viewed stories from March 10-16. See all United Methodist News Service stories at

Rückert elected United Methodist bishop

HAMBURG, Germany (UMNS) — The Rev. Harald Rückert was elected bishop by the Germany Central Conference on the fourth ballot. Klaus Ulrich Ruof has the story. 
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Scholars raise doubts about church's future

ATLANTA (UMNS) — The United Methodist Board of Higher Education and Ministry brought together 28 seminary professors to discuss the denomination’s current impasse on homosexuality. A number of the scholars expressed doubts the denomination can stay together in its current form; others believe unity remains a possibility. Heather Hahn reports.
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Black caucus celebrates 50-year legacy

CINCINNATI (UMNS) — More than 400 members of The United Methodist Church’s African-American caucus celebrated the 50th anniversary of its first meeting, even as many speakers addressed work that still needs to be done in fighting racism. John W. Coleman has the story.
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Court sets oral hearing on gay bishop issue

NEWARK, N.J. (UMNS) — An oral hearing on a petition questioning whether a gay pastor can serve as a bishop in The United Methodist Church will open the spring meeting of Judicial Council, the denomination’s top court. The hearing — set for 9 a.m. Tuesday, April 25, at the Hilton Hotel at the Newark Penn Station in Newark — is the only portion of the council’s April 25-28 meeting that is open to the public. Linda Bloom reports. 
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Seminary  placed on probation

LEAWOOD, Kan. (UMNS) — The Higher Learning Commission, one of two agencies that oversees accreditation for Saint Paul School of Theology, has placed the school on a two-year probation. Kathy L. Gilbert has the story. 
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Stressing evangelism in Europe

ZURICH (UMNS) — Bishop Patrick Streiff chose the Wesleyan theme “Offer Them Christ!” for his episcopal address to the 2017 Central and Southern Europe Conference gathering. Urs Schweizer reports.
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Filipino United Methodists condemn killings 

MANILA, Philippines (UMNS) — United Methodists are among the leaders of an alliance of human rights lawyers, civic organizations, survivors and families of victims who are speaking out against extrajudicial killings in the Philippines. Gladys Mangiduyos has the story.
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United Methodists join pipeline protest

WASHINGTON (UMNS) — United Methodists joined thousands of other protesters who marched to oppose President Donald Trump’s executive order allowing construction on the Dakotas Access Pipeline to resume. Erik Alsgaard has the story. 
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Church leader detained by ICE out on bail

DODGE CITY, Kan. (UMNS) — An evangelism leader at Casa de Oración United Methodist Church, detained for a month by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, has been released on $8,000 bond. The Rev. Gustavo Vazquez reports.
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Prayer vigil for detained mothers

LEESPORT, Pa. (UMNS) — United Methodist Bishop Peggy Johnson shared a message of hope and solidarity for Latina immigrant detainees at the Berks County Residential Center, surrounded by about 90 people who gathered to worship and witness during the interfaith vigil. John W. Coleman reports for the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference.
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Bush honors vets with art book

DALLAS — Former President George W. Bush, who attends Highland Park United Methodist Church here, has been at the easel a lot since leaving the White House. A new book of his art, “Portraits of Courage,” honors service members and veterans and has made the best-seller list. USA Today reports.
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Nurturing Native American leaders

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — The Native American International Caucus’ youth leadership training program has an interesting name and an important mission. The Peg-Leg Flamingos’ annual meetings bring together Native American youth to develop leadership skills, build camaraderie, explore Native history and address prevalent issues facing their communities today. Julie Dwyer has the story.
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New web page spotlights Native ministries

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — The United Methodist Church recognizes the contributions and gifts of Native peoples to the church and their communities around the globe. In support of Native Americans and indigenous peoples and their traditions, United Methodist Communications has launched a new “Native Peoples and the UMC” landing page on The site features stories by and about Native people, along with resources, information about upcoming events and links to ministries.
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A Wesley hymn about accepting forgiveness

NASHVILLE, Tenn. ( — Charles Wesley’s “And Can It Be that I Should Gain?” teaches that Jesus’ death and resurrection are expressions of God’s amazing love for us. In the second part of a series about musical devotions for Lent, Joe Iovino writes that the hymn expresses much of the meaning of the season of Lent.
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Read more musical devotions for Lent

Why does Lent last 40 days?

NASHVILLE, Tenn. ( — Why does Lent last 40 days? Test your knowledge with this and other questions about the seasons of Lent and Easter. The quiz has a new question each weekday.
Take the quiz

Mobile clinic provides medical, dental care

MAKILALA, Philippines (UMNS) — The first United Methodist mobile clinic in the Philippines offers medical and dental care to people in “far-flung areas,” said United Methodist Bishop Rodolfo Juan. Gladys Mangiduyos reports. 
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Mulenga to direct bishops' communications

WASHINGTON (UMNS) — The United Methodist Council of Bishops has named the Rev. Maidstone Mulenga its first director of communications. Mulenga has a background in both newspapers and ministry. He has been the assistant to the bishop and director of connectional ministries in the Baltimore-Washington Conference. He starts his new job April 1.
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Interim leader named for UMCOR

ATLANTA (UMNS) — Dr. Olusimbo Ige has been named the interim executive director of the United Methodist Committee on Relief, effective March 31. She will continue to serve as executive director of the mission agency’s Global Health unit.
See announcement
Read February 2017 New World Outlook article by Ige

Get ready for UMCOR Sunday 

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — The popular special Sunday observance One Great Hour of Sharing, now called UMCOR Sunday, is March 26. The offering underwrites the United Methodist Committee on Relief’s costs of doing business, which ensures that 100 percent of every gift made to a specific UMCOR project can be spent on that project. UMCOR provides humanitarian relief and disaster response to people in more than 80 countries, including the United States.
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United Methodist Men to gather in July

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — About 1,000 men are expected to come together for worship, workshops, service projects and fellowship at the National Gathering of United Methodist Men July 7-8 in Indianapolis. The event aims to inspire attendees to embrace new possibilities for ministry and discipleship.
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Baptism gown goes way back

PLANO, Texas (UMNS) — Six-month-old Payden Rose Manning was baptized recently at Christ United Methodist Church in Plano, wearing a gown purchased 150 years ago by her Methodist ancestors in England. Payden is the sixth generation and 31st infant to wear the gown. Martha Balogh reports for the North Texas Conference.
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Mississippi minister who fought racism dies

JACKSON, Miss. — Keith Tonkel, one of 28 white United Methodist ministers who signed a statement condemning segregation and racism in the Deep South in 1963, has died. Wells United Methodist Church, where he had been pastor since 1969, announced that Tonkel, 81, died Wednesday in Jackson. Emily Wagster Pettus of the Associated Press has the story.
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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.

Monday, March 20-Sunday, April 2

Online workshop: Biblical Storytelling 1 — Learning the sacred stories of Scripture by heart and sharing them with others is both an ancient-future art and a powerful spiritual practice. This course’s methods are for everyone who wishes to learn, to tell and to connect with God and other people through the spiritual discipline of telling the stories of Scripture. $65. Details 

Thursday, March 23-Friday, March 24

Preaching Conference: "Preaching a Relevant Word: Politics, Policy and the People" — 11 a.m. EDT March 23 to noon March 24 at Candler School of Theology, 1531 Dickey Drive, Atlanta. This preaching conference sponsored by Candler is designed to assist pastors and congregants in better understanding and addressing contemporary sociopolitical issues. The keynote speaker is the Rev. William Barber II, chair of the North Carolina NAACP and the Rebuilding Broken Places Community Development Corporation. The conference is free and open to the public. Registration is required. Details

See more United Methodist events