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UMNS Weekly Digest - March 24, 2017


Top viewed stories from March 17-23. See all United Methodist News Service stories at

Congo Central Conference delegates elect bishops

KAMINA, Democratic Republic of Congo (UMNS) — Delegates to the Congo Central Conference elected three new bishops on March 18 and re-elected Bishop Gabriel Yemba Unda. Eveline Chikwanah reports. 
Unda re-elected   
Lunge second elected bishop
Congo delegates elect Owan    
Muyombo elected     

'Middle' churches could feel pain if schism comes

DALLAS (UMNS) — United Methodist churches with diverse views on homosexuality are, their pastors say, particularly vulnerable if a denominational breakup occurs and they have to decide between aligning with a traditionalist or progressive group. “I think a choice of two options, if our church had to vote, would be a horrible strain,” says the Rev. Cathy Johns, co-pastor of Hyde Park Community United Methodist Church in Cincinnati. Sam Hodges reports.
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Discipleship exec: 'Stop fixing churches'

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — The top executive of Discipleship Ministries has a message for The United Methodist Church: “Let’s stop fixing churches and start seeing the people Christ called us to reach.” Heather Hahn reports on the agency’s plans to help the denomination make 1 million new disciples in the next four years.
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Churches, ministries see fear over immigration policy

SAN ANTONIO, Texas (UMNS) — San Antonio is important in the history of Hispanic Methodism, and it’s a good place to ask United Methodists about the early effects of President Trump’s stricter approach on immigration. More fear — that’s what many say they’re seeing. Sam Hodges reports.
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Taking the lead for peace

UNITED NATIONS (UMNS) — What began as an effort by United Methodist Women in 2015 to bring Ukrainian and Russian women together to talk peace has evolved into a permanent regional forum called the Women’s Peace Dialogue Platform. Linda Bloom has the story.
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Offering solidarity to Cubans stuck at border

NUEVO LAREDO, Mexico (UMNS) — Every morning, hundreds of Cuban refugees come to the Plaza Benito Juarez, just a block from Mexico’s border with the United States. They spend the day sharing news and rumors that fuel the hope they can soon cross that border. Methodists on both sides of the border are sharing food, shelter and faith with the stranded families. Paul Jeffrey has the story and photos.
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Transforming young adults into Christian leaders

NEW YORK (UMNS) — When United Methodists take part in a leadership training program this week, they will be part of a denominational connection that dates back more than 120 years to the founding of the World Student Christian Federation. The federation’s ecumenical training for young Christian leaders is a project of The Advance, The United Methodist Church’s voluntary giving program. Linda Bloom reports.
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Donate to the Advance  

Ask the UMC: What is UMCOR Sunday?

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS ) — For more than 50 years, United Methodist congregations have been taking part in a special offering that lays the foundation for the United Methodist Committee on Relief’s work. This year, the Special Sunday has a new name, but the mission remains the same. InfoServ, a ministry of United Methodist Communications, has more details in the latest installment of Ask the UMC.
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Ask the UMC 

Harkness: Methodist trailblazer in theology

NASHVILLE, Tenn. ( — Georgia Harkness (1891-1974) was a theologian who broke ground for women in Methodism when the pulpits and seminaries were closed to females. Harkness was a voice for racial and gender equality, a prolific author, and her hymns and prayers are still known today. 
Watch video 

Liberian bishop calls for women's inclusion

MONROVIA, Liberia (UMNS) — Bishop Samuel J. Quire Jr. is calling on all United Methodists in Liberia to be an example of inclusiveness of women in church programs and activities. He makes that call during International Women’s Month. Julu Swen reports. 
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Agency details non-discriminatory amendment

CHICAGO (UMNS) — The United Methodist Commission on the Status and Role of Women reports on the proposed constitutional amendment that adds “gender,” “age,” “marital status” and “ability” to the non-discriminatory clause in the membership section of The United Methodist Church’s constitution. The commission proposed the amendment. 
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Satellite campus votes to leave denomination

WICHITA, Kan. (UMNS) — The west campus of Asbury United Methodist Church has voted to withdraw from its mother church, the Great Plains Conference and The United Methodist Church. Todd Seifert reports for the conference. 
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United Methodist photographer dies

EMERSON, N.J. (UMNS) — John C. Goodwin, who worked for many years as a photographer for the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries and captured the scene at 10 United Methodist General Conferences, died March 22 at Emerson Healthcare after a long illness. Goodwin also photographed some of the most well-known people of the 1960s, many of whom lent their celebrity to the peace movement. Survivors include his two sons, David and Ben Goodwin.
UMTV: Church photos of a lifetime
UM photographer captures King's last year 

Global Ministries helping South Sudanese

ATLANTA (UMNS) — The United Methodist Board of Global Ministries is, through its disaster relief and global health units, working to relieve suffering of those who have fled South Sudan. South Sudan is beset by civil strife and drought-related famine, causing many residents to flee to refugee camps in other African countries.
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Relational leadership helps church grow

BULLARD, Texas (UMNS) — Bullard First United Methodist Church, just south of Tyler, was seeing its community grow but had not yet pushed its average worship attendance past the 200 mark. The Texas Conference reports how the Rev. David Brasher’s relational leadership style helped the church reach more people and flourish.
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Churches worship side by side

ELGIN, Okla. (UMNS) — Drawing on the example of Paul and Barnabas, two United Methodist churches are holding worship services at the same time on the same church campus. First United Methodist of Elgin and Elgin: Community United Methodist reach different audiences, using different worship styles. They share child care space and staffing. Holly McCray of the Oklahoma Conference reports.
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Kansas church makes service part of worship

LENEXA, Kan. (UMNS) — A United Methodist church in Kansas decided to make service part of worship. The result was “Servant Sunday,” a day in which a brief worship time was followed with nine hands-on activities to serve others. The Great Plains Conference has a video.
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South Carolina youth collect bikes for needy

GREENVILLE, S.C. (UMNS) — United Methodist youth across South Carolina are continuing local efforts to collect new and gently used bikes for people in need. Jessica Brodie reports for the Advocate. 
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Peace committee organizing North Korea visit

BELMONT, Mass. (UMNS) — The Peace Committee of The Korean Association of The United Methodist Church, which has been actively working to promote peace in the Korean Peninsula, is organizing a program that involves a visit to North Korea. The committee is inviting interested United Methodists to join the trip.
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Theologian says Old Testament headed to extinction

ATLANTA (UMNS) — Old Testament professor Brent Strawn of Emory’s Candler School of Theology says the Bible’s Old Testament may be headed for extinction. His latest book, “The Old Testament Is Dying: A Diagnosis and Recommended Treatment,” documents the decline of the Old Testament among Christians and other groups, the consequences of that and what might be done to counter it.
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How long is Eastertide?

NASHVILLE, Tenn. ( — How long is Eastertide? 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


Looking back to find a way forward

INDIANAPOLIS (UMNS) — As The United Methodist Church seeks a way forward amid differences on homosexuality, retired Bishop Mike Coyner offers an overview of how the church reached its current state.
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Understanding renewal, reform group positions

THE WOODLANDS, Texas (UMNS) — Renewal and reform groups say some of their positions are misunderstood or mischaracterized writes the Rev. Walter Fenton, an analyst for Good News Magazine.
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Can our 'way forward' be reconciliation?

SEDGEWICK, Alberta (UMNS) — For The United Methodist Church to move forward, the denomination needs to reconcile after years spent battling each other, writes the Rev. Lloyd T. Nyarota. Reconciliation takes dialogue and partnership to a new level, he writes.
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9 things preachers should never say

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (UMNS) — Many preachers hurt their message when they start off with hackneyed or formulaic phrases that fail to capture the fleeting attention of those in the pew, writes the Rev. Charley Reeb, a Florida United Methodist pastor. The Lewis Center for Church Leadership offers his suggestions.
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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.

Tuesday, March 28

The Generosity Ingredient: Not Fundraising, Disciple-Making — 9:30 a.m. – 10:30 a.m., CST. This new webinar series will help pastors explore how to keep generosity as a key ingredient in the recipe for making faithful disciples of Jesus Christ. Led by the Rev. Ken Sloane, Discipleship Ministries' director of stewardship and connectional ministries, four sessions are scheduled every other Tuesday morning beginning March 28 and continuing Apr. 11, Apr. 25 and May 9. Details 

Monday, April 3-Tuesday, April 4

Conference: The 500th Anniversary of the Protestant Reformation — 9 a.m. April 3 to 5 p.m. April 4, EDT. Candler School of Theology joins Emory University’s Center for the Study of Law and Religion in a scholarly celebration of the contributions of the Protestant Reformation to the transformation of theology, art, music, liturgy, church life, politics, economics and the law. The celebration will include a Bach organ concert by Emory University Organist Timothy Albrecht and a presentation on Reformation archives by Pitts Theology Library’s M. Patrick Graham. Free. Details

See more United Methodist events