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UMNS Weekly Digest - March 18, 2016


NOTE: This is a digest of news features provided by United Methodist Communications for March 14-18. 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

Promoting ‘Abundant Health’ at GC2016

NEW YORK (UMNS) — Eight years ago, United Methodists were asked to “Imagine No Malaria” and they have — raising more than $68 million to help eradicate the disease. Now, the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries is asking delegates at General Conference 2016 to endorse its “Abundant Health” campaign to reach 1 million children with lifesaving interventions between 2017 and 2020. Linda Bloom reports.
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Nearing a malaria goal before GC2016

NEW YORK (UMNS) — As the denomination’s roving ambassador for malaria prevention, United Methodist Bishop Thomas Bickerton has heard “story after story” about people energized around a cause that can make a difference. The Imagine No Malaria campaign, which United Methodists will celebrate May 18 at the 2016 General Conference, has raised more than $68 million so far. Linda Bloom has the story.
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Top agency executives urge sizable budget cuts

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — The top executives of The United Methodist Church’s 13 general agencies unanimously have recommended cutting the denomination’s general church budget to its lowest level in 16 years. Heather Hahn reports.
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Same-sex wedding officiant remains clergy candidate

ROCKFORD, Mich. (UMNS) — A United Methodist clergy candidate who got a quick online ordination to officiate at her friend’s same-sex wedding is still on track to become a deacon. West Michigan Conference leaders told Ginny Mikita that she had forfeited her candidacy and church membership, but the committee that oversees her candidacy disagreed. Heather Hahn reports.
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United Methodists pray for student sentenced in North Korea

WORTHINGTON, Ohio (UMNS) — The United Methodist West Ohio Conference and Friendship United Methodist Church in Wyoming, Ohio, are praying for the safe return of Otto Warmbier, a young University of Virginia student arrested in North Korea and sentenced to 15 years of hard labor. Warmbier was charged with stealing a political propaganda poster from his hotel. He stated he was bringing the poster to a church member from Friendship as a “trophy” from his trip. Kathy L. Gilbert reports.
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Making a Christian commitment in Pakistan

NEW YORK (UMNS) — Like most Christians in Pakistan, Insar Gohar can trace his family’s faith commitment back at least four generations. But that heritage — spread by missionaries during British rule in the second half of the 19th century — also sets Christians apart in the eyes of Pakistan’s majority Muslim population, he says. Linda Bloom has the story.
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Northernmost United Methodist church thrives

HAMMERFEST, Norway (UMNS) — The Rev. Per Bradley is exactly where he wants to be — “back home” in Hammerfest, Norway, serving the world’s northernmost United Methodist ministry. Johanna Lundereng and Karl Anders Ellingsen report on the church north of the Arctic Circle.
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Mashambanhaka clinic pioneers computer records

MUREWA, Zimbabwe (UMNS) — Mashambanhaka Health Centre is transforming into a modern health facility where paper records of patients may soon become a distant memory after the Zimbabwe government installed two computer systems at the clinic. The clinic is located at The United Methodist Church's Mashambanhaka Mission Centre. Eveline Chikwanah reports.
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Methodist woman was voice for women’s rights

MADISON, N.J. ( — Frances Willard might be best known for her leadership of the fight for temperance in the 19th century. But the Methodist reformer was also a force for seeking voting rights, better conditions for women and even full representation in the Methodist Church.
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Global AIDS Fund event will educate, inspire the church

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — A free United Methodist Global AIDS Fund-sponsored event on May 9 will feature leaders discussing the current realities of HIV and AIDS. The event is held a day before the 2016 General Conference meets in Portland, Oregon.
Read the press release
Register for the event

Cleaning buckets needed

BALDWIN, La. (UMNS) — The United Methodist Committee on Relief depots in Louisiana and Alabama are running low on cleaning buckets, the Mississippi Conference reports. Cleaning buckets enable people to begin the overwhelming job of cleaning up after a flood or hurricane.
To assemble and ship a cleaning bucket

Louisiana churches provide help amid floods

BATON ROUGE, La. (UMNS) — As rising floodwaters forced thousands to flee their homes in Louisiana, United Methodist churches stepped up to provide shelter for flood survivors. Other churches prepared to help with recovery and the United Methodist Committee on Relief issued an initial $10,000 emergency grant to the conference. Bishop Cynthia Fierro Harvey said disaster response teams will be deployed as the waters recede. Betty Backstrom reports for the Louisiana Conference.
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Church provides shelter

Fighting violence against women

CABANATUAN CITY, Philippines (UMNS) — United Methodist leaders in the Philippines are joining in the One Billion Rising movement to fight violence against women. Gladys Mangiduyos reports.
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#CTTalks begins series on human sexuality

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — An online forum and a series of videos and social media conversations on work done by The Connectional Table and the United Methodist Council of Bishops on human sexuality began March 10 and will be held weekly through the end of the month. This continues conversations around key issues related to the 2016 General Conference.
Read press release
Watch videos

Feeling ‘heard’ at U.N. women’s event

NEW YORK (UMNS) —Yasmin Beczabeth, 29, has been working for human rights since the age of five in Honduras. As one of 19 delegates for United Methodist Women attending the U.N. Commission on the Status of Women meeting this week, she shared her story and life challenges. The other delegates, she reported, “listened with unconditional love.” She said, “I felt heard.” Follow the UMW website, Twitter and Facebook accounts for updates this week as the event progresses.
Read UMW blog
See more on UMW and CSW-60 

Light in the darkness in Syria

NEW YORK (UMNS) — Since war broke out in Syria in March 2011, the United Methodist Committee on Relief has worked with local and international partners to respond to critical needs of people in harm’s way, both within Syria and in the nearby countries where refugees have fled. As Linda Unger reports for UMCOR, the help reaches just a fraction of those affected by the war’s catastrophic impact.
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How volunteers help small churches thrive

EDOM, Texas (UMNS) — Small-membership churches like First United Methodist Church in Edom depend on the willingness and flexibility of volunteers. The Texas Conference points to the example of longtime volunteers Keith and Karen Mills to highlight ways volunteers can get involved and benefit from that involvement.
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10 creative ways to explore a Bible passage

MOBILE, Ala. (UMNS) — The Bible is the word of God and the source of spiritual life, but sometimes it can be hard to understand. In those moments, it helps to have a tool to help unlock the meaning or simply keep us engaged. Jeremy Steele offers some creative options.
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Methodist ‘angel’ greeted immigrants

SAN FRANCISCO ( — Methodist deaconess Kathryn Maurer, herself an immigrant from Canada, devoted herself to the comfort of thousands of immigrants stepping off the boat at the Angel Island Immigration Center. Maurer, who served as a social worker primarily for Chinese women and children, was dubbed “the angel of Angel Island” by a San Francisco newspaper.
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Maryland church recognized for men’s ministry

BELTSVILLE, Md. (UMNS) — United Methodist Men leaders have given Queen’s Chapel United Methodist Church in Beltsville this year’s top award for effective ministry to and with men. Rich Peck reports on the ministry of the church’s 55-member EMS, which stands for Every Man Shares in Evangelism, Mission and Spiritual Life.
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Anti-hunger program honors two conferences
Basketball star urges men to end domestic violence
Conference presidents elect officers
Tally of Upper Room prayer line requests

‘God moments’ help blind student at Perkins

DALLAS — Inspired by “God moments,” United Methodist Mytchiko McKenzie is not going to let her blindness stop her. Hunter Johnson of The Dallas Morning News reports how the first-year student at Southern Methodist University’s Perkins School of Theology and former foster child sees God’s hand in her life.
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Lake Junaluska plans summer youth retreats

LAKE JUNALUSKA, N.C. (UMNS) — This summer, the Lake Junaluska Conference and Retreat Center has planned four youth group retreats for middle and high school students. The retreats feature high-energy worship, guest preachers, mission components and special meals. Registration is now open.
Learn more

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.

Sunday, March 20

Palm/Passion Sunday — This service can embody the sharp contrasts of Holy Week. In the entrance with the palms, Christians experience the joyous demonstration of loyalty to Jesus as he enters Jerusalem, even as they prepare to commemorate the more somber events of Christ’s passion. Worship resources from Discipleship Ministries

Thursday, March 24

Holy Thursday — On this night, Christians commemorate the supper Jesus shared with his disciples before his crucifixion, when Jesus washed the disciples' feet and instituted the sacrament of the Holy Communion. Worship resources from Discipleship Ministries.