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UMNS Weekly Digest - March 3, 2017


Top viewed stories from Feb. 24-March 2. See all United Methodist News Service stories at

Way Forward group looking to get feedback

ATLANTA (UMNS) — The Commission on a Way Forward is still in its early stages, but the group already is talking about how to gather feedback for eventual proposals related to church unity. Commission members expressed optimism about the work ahead. UMNS staff report.
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Bishop Felton May is dead at 81

ELLICOTT CITY, Md. (UMNS) — Bishop Felton E. May, who led United Methodist churches, conferences and agencies over five decades of ministry, died Feb. 27 at age 81. May spoke of the need for “holy boldness,” and admirers say he lived the phrase, combining evangelical fervor with a commitment to social justice. Sam Hodges reports.
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Migrants find help from Italian Methodists

NEW YORK (UMNS) — A small Methodist congregation in Italy is teaming up with others to address one of the country’s biggest challenges — the overwhelming influx of migrants and refugees over the past five years. The Casa Delle Culture is one of several ways that Mediterranean Hope, a project of the Federation of Protestant Churches in Italy, addresses Europe’s refugee crisis. Linda Bloom has the story.
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Artist works to disrupt prison pipeline

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — Ndume Olatushani is one of the featured artists in the Stations of the Cross art exhibit in Washington, which begins at the United Methodist Building. Olatushani spent 28 years in prison for a murder he did not commit. Kathy L. Gilbert, Mike DuBose, and Joey Butler have the story, photos and video.
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Reformation lessons for United Methodists

MARBURG, Germany (UMNS) — This year marks the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. While there is much worth celebrating, the early reformers in their internal disputes offer a lesson in how not to handle disagreement. Heather Hahn reports.
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'Praying Our Way Forward'

MEDIA, Pa. (UMNS) — Annual conferences and central conferences are holding vigils, prayer services and conversations in support of the work of the Commission on a Way Forward, which is charged with trying to bridge the denomination’s deep divisions on homosexuality and foster church unity. Crystal Caviness has the story.
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Church: Don’t deport 'Dreamers' 

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — As President Trump moves forward with a more restrictive approach to immigration, some United Methodist leaders are supporting a bill in Congress that would extend protection from deportation to "Dreamers" — young people brought into the United States illegally as children. The Rev. Gustavo Vasquez reports.
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Democrats invite pastor to Trump's speech

WASHINGTON (RNS) — A United Methodist pastor who denounced an immigration roundup outside the homeless shelter at his church was a guest at President Donald Trump’s address to Congress. The Rev. Keary Kincannon was invited by Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va. Lauren Markoe reports for Religion News Service. 
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Bishop Devadhar reflects on hate crimes

BOSTON (UMNS) — After the Feb. 22 shooting of two Indian immigrants in Kansas, New England Area Bishop Sudarshana Devadhar reflects on the long relationship between India and the U.S. and wonders how Christians should respond to hate crimes. For inspiration, he turned to a conversation between E. Stanley Jones, a Methodist missionary, and Mahatma Gandhi when they met nearly 100 years ago. 
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Resolution reached in bishop complaint

DES MOINES, Iowa (UMNS) — A just resolution has been reached in a complaint against Bishop Julius Trimble, which means he will not face a church trial. The complaint filed by 17 lay and clergy members of the Iowa Conference stemmed from the bishop’s dismissal of a complaint against a clergywoman who announced at annual conference that she was “a self-avowed practicing homosexual.” Bishop Laurie Haller, who now leads the Iowa Conference, announced the resolution to the conference. 
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Sexuality colloquy papers to be posted

ATLANTA (UMNS) — Papers from the colloquy “The Unity of the Church and Human Sexuality: Toward a Faithful United Methodist Witness,” will be posted on a new website after the March 10-12 event at Candler School of Theology. The website already features information such as event updates and speaker bios. The United Methodist Board of Higher Education and Ministry and the Association of United Methodist Theological Schools are hosting the event, with support from the Council of Bishops.
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Seeking support for Standing Rock march

OKLAHOMA CITY (UMNS) — Native leaders in The United Methodist Church are urging members of the denomination to join the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and others in a peaceful protest of the Dakota Access Pipeline in Washington on March 10. 
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Tips for using humor in preaching

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMCOM) — “If you help people to laugh, it’s helpful. Laughter and tears are both windows into the soul,” says one pastor. Brett McArdle and Cindy Caldwell offer tips for preaching with humor.
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James Lawson: Reflections on civil rights, King

LOS ANGELES ( — At age 88, the Rev. James Lawson reflects on his life as a United Methodist pastor, activist, professor and friend to the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. He credits his parents with sowing the seeds of nonviolence.
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Ecumenical backing for Philippines' peace talks

DAVAO CITY, Philippines (UMNS) — It is vital to continue peace talks between the Philippines’ armed forces and national police and the New Peoples' Army, say the member churches of the National Council of Churches in the Philippines. The United Methodist Church was among the denominations represented during a Feb. 24 press conference. Gladys Mangiduyos has the story.
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Judge rules conference's lawsuit can continue

MOUND CITY, Ill. (UMNS) — A county circuit judge has ruled that the Illinois Great Rivers Conference can continue its lawsuit to recover real estate occupied by a breakaway congregation. However, the judge also ruled that the conference has yet to show cause for pursuing personal property related to the congregation. Paul Black, who testified for the conference at a hearing in the case, reports on the ruling. 
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New church blazes trail to boost attendance

KALIMA, Democratic Republic of Congo (UMNS) — United Methodists built the denomination’s first church in the Kalima District with help from the Memphis Conference. However, many still couldn’t attend worship during the rainy season because the downpours would flood two fishponds and block access. So the congregation contributed money to build a new road to the church. Judith Yanga has the story. 
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Religion and Race at the border

SAN DIEGO (UMNS)  — Directors of the United Methodist Commission on Religion and Race dedicated a day of their Feb. 22-25 meeting to learn about the realities of immigrants, refugees and borderland communities. The trip included travel through the San Ysidro Port of Entry as well as worship and communion at the border wall between California and Mexico. 
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Goal: Plant a church a day

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — A Discipleship Ministries report celebrating the success of new United Methodist faith communities also includes a plan to plant a United Methodist church every day in the United States.
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'Messy Church' reaches the unchurched

NORTH CANTON, Ohio (UMNS) — Messy Church is bringing “some of the lost and forgotten into the church,” said one woman whose church started the ministry last October. About 75 people attended a workshop on Messy Church sponsored by the East Ohio Conference Spiritual Formation Committee and East Ohio Conference Christians Engaged in Faith Formation. Rick Wolcott reports. 
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The words on Wesley's tomb

LONDON ( — The epitaph on the tomb of John Wesley, the founder of the early Methodist movement, contains a lesson etched in stone as poignant today as it was in the days immediately following his death. Joe Iovino reports. 
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Test your knowledge of Lent, Easter

NASHVILLE, Tenn. ( — How well do you know the traditions and symbols of the Lenten season? offers a different question five days a week through April 14 about these two important seasons of the church year. 
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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 7

Children’s Ministry webinar, "Creating PrayGrounds in Worship" — 12:30-1:30 p.m. EST. This webinar is part of a series from Discipleship Ministries that opens up the enlivening questions at the center of children’s faith formation: Will our children have faith? Details

Thursday, March 9

The Church Audit: You Can Do This! — 7:30-8:30 p.m. EST. This Discipleship Ministries webinar will explore tools that can make the audit process easier, including the Local Church Audit Guide, available free to United Methodist churches. Details

See more United Methodist events