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UMNS Weekly Digest - May 19, 2017


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'Methodist middle' committed to living together

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — A group of “Methodist middle” church leaders gathered to talk about keeping the denomination strong despite debates around division. Kathy L. Gilbert reports.
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Church leaders connect with Norway's big day

OSLO, Norway (UMNS) — The Connectional Table opened its meeting in Oslo on the nation’s constitution and got to experience a bit of Norwegian Methodism. Heather Hahn has the story. 
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Little church looms large in black history

CAVE SPRING, Ga. (UMNS) — Chubb Chapel United Methodist is an unusual church founded by rural Southern blacks who had been free before the Civil War. The historic church and surrounding unincorporated community called Chubbtown are getting new attention thanks to Nick Chubb, a descendant of the founders who’s a star running back for the University of Georgia. Sam Hodges reports.
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Listen to a capella gospel singing from Chubb Chapel

Bringing back peace in Congo

ATLANTA (UMNS) — Reconciliation between indigenous pygmy tribes and another ethnic group is part of a larger goal for a new United Methodist episcopal leader in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The denomination has been at the forefront of peace, reconciliation and development work in the African nation, said Bishop Mande Muyombo. Linda Bloom has the story.
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United Methodist Radio Network takes shape

ABIDJAN, Côte d’Ivoire (UMNS) — Members of the United Methodist Radio Network from eight countries met to consider management strategies, training and fundraising expertise for growing church radio. Phileas Jusu reports. 
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Full communion plan with Episcopal Church

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The United Methodist Church is studying a draft proposal to establish full communion relationship with The Episcopal Church, a significant step toward bringing the two churches into a closer, visible unity.
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A new approach to disciple-making

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Discipleship Ministries is starting a grass-roots effort called #SeeAllThePeople, aimed at inspiring a disciple-making movement across The United Methodist Church. The agency will shift its focus to provide resources, events and a discipleship system that stresses congregations forming relationships with those outside church walls.
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See video on initiative

Study guide to help church discuss sexuality

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — A new study guide, “The Unity of the Church and Human Sexuality: Toward a Faithful United Methodist Witness,” has been released in support of the Commission on a Way Forward. The United Methodist Board of Higher Education and Ministry and the Association of United Methodist Theological Schools prepared the four-week guide to help the church hold conversations about sexuality.
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How faith helps parents as children leave

NASHVILLE, Tenn. ( — Parents throughout history have had to adjust as their children age. A United Methodist counselor shares ideas for navigating the changes, including how faith can help. The Rev. Joe Iovino has the story. 
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Minnesota ecumenical leader retires

MINNEAPOLIS —The Rev. Peg Chemberlin is retiring as CEO of the Minnesota Council of Churches after building it into “one of the most active and complex (councils) in the country,” said Jim Winkler, a United Methodist and president of the National Council of Churches. Jean Hopfensperger reports for the Minneapolis Star Tribune.
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Letter to persecuted Christians

NEWARK, N.J. — An ecumenical letter to persecuted Christians around the world commits to raising awareness of their plight. Christian Churches Together, a fellowship of Christian denominations in the U.S. that includes The United Methodist Church, conceived the statement during a March gathering of some 40 heads of communions and representatives of all the major Christian traditions. The May 9 statement also is intended for use in prayer, liturgical resources and Bible study.
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Learn more about Christian Churches Together

Runyon, influencer at Candler, dies at 87

ATLANTA — As “the young Turks,” Theodore H. Runyon Jr. and his academic peers were instrumental in Candler School of Theology’s early involvement in the civil rights movement and other hot-button issues. They also “laid a foundation of collegiality that would endure for decades and bless the United Methodist seminary with an academic culture that was, and to this day remains, the envy of many more fractious schools,” writes Kendall Soulen, a former student and current professor. Runyon, professor emeritus of systematic theology, died May 11 at the age of 87.
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Garrett-Evangelical tops $100 million goal

EVANSTON, Ill. — Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary has surpassed its $100 million capital campaign goal with a recent $5 million commitment to its unrestricted endowment from Ernest and Bernice Styberg of Naples, Florida. The Forging Our Future campaign is the largest fundraising effort in the United Methodist seminary’s 162-year history. 
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Commentary: Find a way to stay together

FORT SMITH, Ark. — The Rev. William O. “Bud” Reeves writes that as intractable as the issue of homosexuality has been, there is hope. Reeves wrote a commentary about Florida Bishop Ken Carter’s visit with a group of Arkansas clergy and laity. Carter talked about the work of the Way Forward Commission. Reeves writes that there may be “new definitions of unity that will allow us to disagree on some important issues.”
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Commentary: Health debate is personal for pastor

LANSING, Mich. — The Rev. John Boley writes on the “Theology of Health Care,” with reference to his own family’s experience. Boley, clergy assistant to Michigan Area Bishop David Alan Bard, has a daughter with cystic fibrosis.
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Commentary: Belonging to belong at church

CHICAGO — For Sharon McCart, adding the word “ability” to Article 4, Paragraph 4 of The United Methodist Church’s constitution means everyone can fully participate in a local church. That includes an autistic young man whose experience she describes in a blog for the United Methodist Commission on the Status and Role of Women.
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Five constitutional amendments head to vote

Ask the UMC: Communion questions 

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (InfoServ) — Can a layperson celebrate communion privately at home or is Holy Communion only valid when an ordained minister does it? InfoServ, a ministry of United Methodist Communications, has the answers with an explainer from the Rev. Mark W. Stamm, author of “Sacraments and Discipleship: Understanding Baptism and the Lord’s Supper in a United Methodist Context.”
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Ask the UMC

Bishop presents son with Master of Divinity

ATLANTA — When Joshua Swanson graduated from the United Methodist Candler School of Theology, he certainly expected his father to attend. But proud father, Mississippi Area Bishop James Swanson Sr., took an extra step, handing his son the diploma. The younger Swanson had his own surprise in store. Tamica Smith Jeuitt reports for the Mississippi Conference. 
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Taking church to the community

PHILADELPHIA — St. James United Methodist Church spends more time being a church in the community than it does inside church. The church had an average of six members attending when the Rev. John Brice arrived in July 2016. Now there are 79 members and ministries include free English classes, an after-school program with free music classes, food programs, a computer lab and free wireless access for community internet use, to mention a few. Samaria Bailey reports for the Philadelphia Tribune.
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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.

Saturday, May 20

Dealing with Shame and Forgiveness: Spring No Whispers Conference — 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Central, Christ Church, 4488 Poplar Ave., Memphis. The church will host a conversation on shame and redemption with the Rev. Phil Jamieson, president of the United Methodist Foundation for the Memphis and Tennessee annual conferences, and the Rev. Lenn Harris Milam, an ordained elder in the Memphis Conference who is a marriage and family therapist in private practice. Details

Monday, May 22-Friday, May 26

Five-Day Intensive Workshop on Creating a Safe Sanctuary Policy — This online workshop is for congregations without a Safe Sanctuary policy or with an outdated policy. Participants will learn why congregations should have an up-to-date policy, what the policy includes generally and specifically, and how to get a policy written, approved and implemented — or edited. The course from costs $50 and is eligible for 0.5 CEU. Details 

See more United Methodist events