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UMNS Weekly Digest - May 20, 2016

NOTE: This is a digest of news features provided by United Methodist Communications for May 14-20. 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

GC2016 puts hold on sexuality debate

PORTLAND, Ore. (UMNS) — General Conference delegates apparently have hit the pause button on the denomination's quadrennial debates related to homosexuality. On May 18, delegates voted 428-405 to accept the recommendation of the Council of Bishops to delay a debate on homosexuality at this gathering of the denomination’s top legislative assembly and let a proposed commission study church regulations. Heather Hahn and Sam Hodges report.
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GC2016: How much does the bishops’ plan cost?
Delegates react to holding human sexuality petitions
Delegates, supporters stand with LGBTQ people
Clergy offer support to LGBTQ pastors
Schaefer, son join campout for LGBTQ rights

Church hanging onto unity despite cracks in the walls

PORTLAND, Ore. (UMNS) — Bishop Bruce Ough acknowledged the pain and anger that has been bubbling up at the 2016 United Methodist General Conference over the full inclusion of LGBTQ people, but he also said the Council of Bishops supports church unity. Sam Hodges and Kathy L. Gilbert have the story.
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Conference pleads with bishops for leadership
Bishops vow to work toward unity, accountability

GC2016 passes $604 million general church budget

PORTLAND, Ore. (UMNS) — General Conference delegates voted to increase the general church budget to $604 million to boost support of United Methodist theological education in Africa, Asia and Europe. Getting to the final bottom line took time, including some laughter. Heather Hahn reports.
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Bumpy start for GC2016

PORTLAND, Ore. (UMNS) — The third day of General Conference 2016 saw more conflict over whether delegates should use iPads or old-fashioned placards to signal a desire to speak on the plenary floor. Some participants said prolonged debate over rules and procedures illustrated the lack of trust here and the challenges of being a global church. Sam Hodges reports.
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GC2016: Oppose mascots that demean Native Americans

PORTLAND, Ore. (UMNS) — Delegates to General Conference 2016 overwhelmingly approved a resolution calling on United Methodist agencies to raise awareness about the harm caused by sports teams that use mascots or symbols that disrespect Native Americans. But the petition was amended in committee, deleting language that would have called on United Methodist groups not to have meetings in cities that have sports teams with such mascots or symbols. Sam Hodges reports.
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History of The United Methodist Church and mascots

GC2016 pauses for Black Lives Matter demonstration

PORTLAND, Ore. (UMNS) — Chanting “Black Lives Matter! Black Lives Matter,” close to 150 United Methodists swarmed the plenary floor at General Conference on May 16 to voice concern for the oppressed and marginalized. Jessica Brodie has the story.
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Mandatory clergy penalties ruled unconstitutional

PORTLAND, Ore. (UMNS) — Imposing a mandatory penalty during the “just resolution” process for a clergyperson admitting to committing a chargeable offense is unconstitutional, The United Methodist Church’s top court has ruled. Linda Bloom has the story.
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Sand Creek Massacre remembered at GC2016

PORTLAND, Ore. (UMNS) — Concerns about legislation and the future of The United Methodist Church got set aside for a half hour at General Conference 2016 on May 18, as delegates focused instead on the 1864 Sand Creek Massacre, a historical tragedy with deep Methodist involvement. Sam Hodges reports.
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Church ends membership in reproductive health coalition

PORTLAND, Ore. (UMNS) — The 2016 General Conference voted to withdraw United Methodist general church agency membership from the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice. The church was a founding member of the organization in 1973. Kathy L. Gilbert has the story.
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Imagine No Malaria celebration rocks the house

PORTLAND, Ore. (UMNS) — General Conference 2016 celebrated the Imagine No Malaria initiative launched in 2008 and learned of its next phase: Abundant Health. The 12-minute celebration debuted “Able,” commissioned by Imagine No Malaria as a gift to United Methodists across the globe. Jeremy Rosado, a Top 12 contestant on “American Idol,” performed the song for more than 1,000 people attending the event. Crystal Caviness and Barbara Dunlap-Berg report.
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Imagine No Malaria song

Ecumenical Day marks new relationships

PORTLAND, Ore. (UMNS) — United Methodists celebrated new relationships with the Moravian Church and the Uniting Church in Sweden as they marked Ecumenical Day on May 17 at General Conference 2016. The denomination also hosted numerous ecumenical guests, bestowed three ecumenical awards and received an award from Church World Service. Linda Bloom reports.
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Blog: Ecumenism is about unity

Oklahoma Indian Missionary Conference celebrates 40 years of voting rights

PORTLAND, Ore. (UMNS) — The 2016 General Conference on May 17 marked the 40th anniversary of members of the Oklahoma Indian Missionary Conference being granted voting rights in the top legislative assembly of The United Methodist Church. Although recognized as a conference by the 1972 General Conference in Atlanta, Oklahoma Indian Missionary Conference delegates had voice but no vote until the 1976 General Conference, which also met in Portland. Kyle Wallace reports.
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Indigenous Filipinos bring pleas for justice

PORTLAND, Ore. (UMNS) — Lumads, the indigenous people of Southern Philippines, have been the target of cruelty for decades. A small group of Lumads is in the United States to bring the atrocities to light. On May 16, the 2016 United Methodist General Conference will view a video produced by United Methodist Communications. Kathy L. Gilbert and Gladys Mangiduyos have the story.
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Remember rural churches, advocates say

PORTLAND, Ore. (UMNS) — Supporters of the 25,000 United Methodist rural congregations across the United States want a seat at the denominational table. United Methodist Rural Advocates is hoping to remind General Conference 2016 of what it considers an often-neglected constituency. Linda Bloom has the story.
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Helping homeless with a meal and a message

Tenure limits for bishops fails

PORTLAND, Ore. (UMNS) — Term limits for United Methodist bishops got strong support in a vote at General Conference 2016, but fell short of the two-thirds majority needed to change the church constitution. Sam Hodges reports.
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More bishops for Africa, but not right away

PORTLAND, Ore. (UMNS) — General Conference 2016 delegates approved adding five more bishops in Africa, but not until 2020, when a comprehensive plan is to be in place for the continent's central conference and episcopal area boundaries. Some African delegates wanted to add two bishops right away, arguing that the church's growth in Africa demands it. Sam Hodges has the story.
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Guaranteed appointment survives

PORTLAND, Ore. (UMNS) — Some clergy-related petitions have passed at General Conference 2016, and others are likely to be adopted, having made it onto the consent calendar. But a petition for "early ordination" and another that would have removed the constitutional bar to ending guaranteed appointment for ordained elders failed in committee. Sam Hodges reports.
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United Methodists grapple with being a worldwide church

PORTLAND, Ore. (UMNS) — How do you run a legislative assembly for a Protestant denomination of more than 12 million members from the U.S., Africa, Asia and Europe? Managing diversity is essential, say planners of the 2016 United Methodist General Conference meeting here May 10-20. Elliott Wright has the story.
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Green light for new hymnal project

PORTLAND, Ore. (UMNS) — The United Methodist Church is on track to get its first new hymnal since 1989, and this one will be Internet-cloud based and print-on-demand — the first high-tech hymnal for a mainline denomination. Sam Hodges has the story.
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Native American young people lack history in church

PORTLAND, Ore. (UMNS) — The concern United Methodist church leaders voice over the declining number of young people involved in the denomination also applies to Native Americans. Even though most Native youth believe in God, says Nocona Williford, many do not want to be involved in The United Methodist Church. The Oklahoma Comanche and layperson in the Oklahoma Indian Missionary Conference is an observer at General Conference 2016. Kyle Wallace has the story.
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Hearing the plea: Safe water for all

PORTLAND, Ore. (UMNS) — From Michigan to Liberia, Portland to Philippines and Honduras, poor and marginalized communities struggle with water contamination that threatens everyday life. United Methodist Women called attention to this plight during a lunchtime rally on May 16 at the Oregon Convention Center plaza. Linda Bloom has the story.
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GC2016: What can churchgoers do together?

PORTLAND, Ore. (UMNS) — Delegates heard news that might surprise some: United Methodists together are doing great things that bring God’s reign into the world. Both the Connectional Table, which coordinates the work of church agencies, and the General Council on Finance and Administration, the denomination’s finance agency, gave reports that highlighted the good United Methodists do as a global church. Heather Hahn reports.
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Prayers, paper lanterns at climate vigil

PORTLAND, Ore. (UMNS) — An evening climate vigil May 12 featured lanterns lit by small LED lights, music and testimony from United Methodists around the world and a prayer space outside the General Conference legislative sessions. Linda Bloom has the story.
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Immigration rally calls for end to deportations

PORTLAND, Ore. (UMNS) — For United Methodists gathering for witness on May 13 at the Oregon Convention Center plaza, the phrase “Stop deportations” was a rallying cry. As the Rev. Rosanna Panizo, academic dean of the Methodist seminary in Peru, pointed out, faith both inspires and demands that Methodists take a stand on immigration rights. Linda Bloom reports.
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Church ‘growth committee’ fails constitution test

PORTLAND, Ore. (UMNS) — The proposed establishment of a United Methodist “Standing Committee on Strategy and Growth” funded by $20 million taken from denominational coffers was ruled unconstitutional May 19 by the Judicial Council, the church’s top court. Linda Bloom has the story.
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GC2016 proposal calls for new panel on growth

Judicial Council rules on Congo inquiry

PORTLAND, Ore. (UMNS) — The United Methodist Judicial Council ruled May 19 in response for a declaratory decision related to the Congo Central Conference. Linda Bloom reports.
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Liberian is new Judicial Council president
Five elected to Judicial Council



29 new missionaries commissioned at GC2016

PORTLAND, Ore. (UMNS) — The liturgy of commissioning, both solemn and joyful, was believed to be the first as part of a United Methodist General Conference. Twenty-nine new missionaries, commissioned on May 19, will serve globally as church developers, chaplains, teachers, health practitioners or administrators, agricultural specialists and youth workers. Elliott Wright has the story.
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Deaconesses, home missioners consecrated at GC2016

PORTLAND, Ore. (UMNS) — Twenty-six deaconesses and home missioners were consecrated May 16 on the plenary floor of the United Methodist General Conference. The newly consecrated deaconesses and home missioners come from across the United States as well as the Philippines. The service was a culmination of answering and discerning a call to full-time vocation in lay ministry.
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Ambassadors of God’s love share young people’s address

PORTLAND, Ore. (UMNS) — While only two young people spoke on the General Conference stage on May 14, thousands more stood with them. Chelsea Spyres and Peter Cibuabua began their witness by identifying themselves as “ambassadors sharing young people’s voices from around the world.” Kay DeMoss reports on the young people’s address.
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Laity urged to share Jesus with the world

PORTLAND, Ore. (UMNS) — Lay members of The United Methodist Church admonished their peers who are delegates to General Conference to remember that they share in the responsibility of making disciples of Jesus Christ in the world. The May 13 laity address included lay leaders from the Upper New York, Virginia, Missouri, Tennessee, Zimbabwe and Great Plains conferences. Todd Seifert reports.
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Bishop Stanovsky: ‘We will not leave divided’
Bishop Yambasu: Go … with passion and compassion
Bishop Swanson: ‘Evil is going, too.’
Bishop Abrahams urges Wesleyan commitment to marginalized
Bishop Harvey: ‘Wear the robe like it matters’
Bishop Devadhar: Listen to each other and God
Bishop Dyck says pope inspired her



May 19 wrap-up: New missionaries commissioned, special GC costs discussed

PORTLAND, Ore. (UMNS) — A day after tabling potentially contentious legislation on human sexuality, General Conference 2016 moved through its calendar at a steady clip, possibly noticing that time to finish its task is running short. They passed legislation to oppose Native American mascots, voted to stop supporting the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice and created a new provisional central conference in Asia. And the Judicial Council declared a $20 million plan for church growth unconstitutional. Joey Butler reports.
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May 18 wrap-up: Sexuality dominates debate
May 17 wrap-up: Schism rumors quashed​
May 16 wrap-up: Week Two begins with elections, celebrations, protests
May 14 wrap-up: Sermon, protest, committee work
May 13 wrap-up: Laity address, State of the Church Report


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, May 22

Peace with Justice Sunday ─ Offering on this Special Sunday supports United Methodist peace with justice ministries through conferences and the United Methodist Board of Church and Society. has resources for pastors and lay church leaders

Heritage Sunday — The United Methodist Church celebrates Heritage Sunday on the Sunday before Aldersgate Day, May 24, when John Wesley had his spiritual rebirth. This year, United Methodists mark the 200th anniversaries of the death of Francis Asbury and the birth of a sister denomination, the African Methodist Episcopal Church. The United Methodist Commission on Archives and History offers resources.

More upcoming United Methodist events