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UMNS Weekly Digest - May 6, 2016


NOTE: This is a digest of news features provided by United Methodist Communications for May 2-6. 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

15 clergy, candidates come out as gay

NEW YORK (UMNS) — Fifteen United Methodist clergy and clergy candidates took a leap of faith together and came out as lesbian, gay, bisexual and queer members of the New York Conference. Kathy L. Gilbert reports.
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Boards challenge others to remove LGBTQ bar

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — Two boards of ordained ministry challenged others to remove a hurdle that has stopped many lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people from answering their call into ordained ministry in The United Methodist Church. Kathy L. Gilbert reports.
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General Conference 2016

Remaking the denomination’s map?

PORTLAND, Ore. (UMNS) — Could reshaping the map of The United Methodist Church help strengthen the denomination? Delegates to the 2016 General Conference, the denomination’s top lawmaking body, will consider proposals that aim to do just that. Heather Hahn reports.
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GC2016: When does Africa get more bishops?

DALLAS (UMNS) — Wide agreement on the need for more United Methodist bishops in Africa is evident; however, a key committee wants a comprehensive plan in place to establish more effective episcopal area boundaries and to make sure funding is in place. Others say the needs are too pressing to wait. The opposing viewpoints could make for lively debate at General Conference 2016. Sam Hodges reports.
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General Conference items on top court’s agenda

PORTLAND, Ore. (UMNS) — The top court of The United Methodist Church will consider two items related to the upcoming General Conference when its spring meeting begins May 6 at the Oregon Convention Center, just prior to the denomination’s May 10-20 legislative session. The Judicial Council has scheduled two oral hearings on May 6.
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Divestment debate continues

PORTLAND, Ore. (UMNS) — Through petitions and advocacy, some United Methodists are again asking delegates to the denomination’s top legislative body to use divestment as a way to address the Israel-Palestine conflict. Linda Bloom reports.
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Keeping faith with young clergy effort

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — Delegates to General Conference 2016 will be asked to renew funding for the Young Clergy Initiative. The grant-based program, created by General Conference 2012, aims to bolster the ranks of young pastors in The United Methodist Church. While officials say it is too soon for statistical evidence that the program is working, anecdotal accounts offer encouragement. Sam Hodges reports.
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Supporting central conference clergy

DALLAS (UMNS) — Providing everything from scholarships to solar electrification of rural theological school campuses, the Central Conference Theological Education Fund is making a big difference, advocates say. The $5 million, grant-based program is up for renewal at General Conference 2016. Sam Hodges reports.
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Bishop Coyner’s advice for GC2016

INDIANAPOLIS (UMNS) — A week before the 2016 General Conference convenes, Indiana Area Bishop Michael Coyner has some advice. “Relax, breathe, pray and seek God's guidance rather than your preconceived positions,” he writes in his E-pistle. “The prayer of Jesus ‘not my will, but thine, be done’ would be a great place to start.”
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New time set for GC2016 prayer event

PORTLAND, Ore. (UMNS) — Organizers have announced a time change for the Prayer Room dedication and Prayer Walk on Monday, May 9, at the Oregon Convention Center. The new time will be 11 a.m. in Oregon Ballroom 204. The event will precede the May 10 opening of the 2016 General Conference.
More about prayer at GC2016

General Conference: Livestream and photos

PORTLAND, Ore. (UMNS) — Not traveling to Portland for General Conference? Watch events live beginning Tuesday at Photos are available for use with proper credit. United Methodist News Service will provide up-to-the-minute coverage that you can follow through the free Daily Digest.
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Around the connection

Susanna Wesley: Mother of Methodism

NASHVILLE, Tenn. ( — She never preached a sermon, published a book or founded a church, yet Susanna Wesley is known as the Mother of Methodism. The example of faith and religious reverence she set for her children John and Charles inspired them to become powerful spiritual leaders and to launch the Methodist movement.
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Commentary: 10 women church leaders who inspire

AUGUSTA, Ga. (UMNS) — John Street United Methodist Church, which celebrates 250 years in ministry this year, owes its existence to a woman. So does the Holiness Movement. The Rev. Carolyn Moore, a United Methodist church planter in Georgia, offers a list of 10 women, both from within and outside the Methodist tradition, who can inspire church leaders today. Seedbed published Moore’s commentary.
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Church offers refuge to former prostitute

YAOUNDE, Cameroon (UMNS) — After hearing former prostitute Marthe’s story of survival and redemption, 55 participants in a Peace with Justice seminar here focused on using healing language that conveys acceptance and love. In this commentary, one participant – the Rev. Collins Etchi Ako – encourages United Methodists to be agents of change.
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Shareholders target climate change

GLENVIEW, Ill. (UMNS) — During the current season of corporate annual meetings, the United Methodist Board of Pension and Health Benefits and Wespath, its investment division, are joining with other global, sustainable investors to file and support shareholder resolutions aiming to improve company responses to the threat of climate change.
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Video captures 'A Bishop’s Memories'

DALLAS (UMNS) — Retired United Methodist Bishop John Wesley Hardt, 94, tells stories of his life and ministry in “A Bishop’s Memories,” a 45-minute video interview done by Southern Methodist University. SMU’s journalism division chair, Tony Pederson, asks the questions. Hardt is an alumnus of SMU and its Perkins School of Theology.
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Church members hurt after building collapse

NAIROBI, Kenya (UMNS) — Four members of Huruma United Methodist Church in Nairobi were hurt when a seven-story residential building collapsed during heavy rains and flooding. Ten church families, rescued with minor injuries, lost all of their belongings in the rubble. Wilton T.A. Odongo reports.
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'Changing the game' for Zimbabwe school

DUNKIRK, Maryland (UMCOM) — After attending the 2015 Game Changers Summit, Smithville United Methodist Church member Dave Bonney came home with new ideas and communication strategies. In a commentary, he shares how lessons learned at Game Changers helped his church's mission to improve education at a small rural school in Zimbabwe.
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Denomination’s seminaries yield more clergy

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — Nearly two-thirds of The United Methodist Church’s deacon and elder ordinands in 2015 received their seminary degree from a United Methodist-affiliated school. That continues an upward trend started in 2009. The Board of Higher Education and Ministry reports.
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Looking toward sustainable development

NEW YORK (UMNS) — The Rev. Liberato Bautista spoke about the power of information and communication technology in developing countries at the InfoPoverty World Conference at the United Nations. Bautista cited examples from United Methodist Communications' ICT4D Church Initiatives. The Rev. Neelley Hicks has the story.
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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 15

Pentecost  — Celebrate the guidance of the Holy Spirit and the birthday of Christ’s church with worship resources from United Methodist Discipleship Ministries.

Sunday, May 22

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 sister denomination, the African Methodist Episcopal Church. The United Methodist Commission on Archives and History offers resources.


More upcoming United Methodist events