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UMNS Weekly Digest - November 17, 2017


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Uniting participants call for unity, bravery

ATLANTA (UMNS) — As The United Methodist Church faces a decision on how to include LGBTQ people, more than 300 people at a conference grappled with the issue by asking themselves: What would Jesus and John Wesley do? The Uniting Methodists Conference was held Nov. 13-14 in Atlanta.
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AU campus, students safe amid Zimbabwe unrest

HARARE, Zimbabwe (UMNS) — Classes were held as usual at Africa University in Zimbabwe on Nov. 15 while United Methodists prayed for their country as the military took control in the capital city of Harare. Vicki Brown has the story. 
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Read WCC statement: Zimbabwe churches issue pastoral statement  

Bishops: Be respectful in difficult times

LAKE JUNALUSKA, N.C. (UMNS) — As United Methodists’ debate about the church’s direction intensifies, bishops say that they are hearing of increased animosity leading in some cases to disruption of worship and harm. The bishops have published a letter in response. Heather Hahn reports.
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More churches seek active shooter training

DALLAS (UMNS) — The massacre at a Texas Baptist church has United Methodist churches across the United States refocusing on security, including seeking training for what to do in the case of an active shooter. Sam Hodges reports.
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Joining the call for peace on Korean Peninsula

WASHINGTON (UMNS) — Korean-American United Methodists are adding their voices to the growing number of people calling on the U.S. government to tone down the rhetoric on North Korea. More than 60 people came together to learn about the situation on the Korean Peninsula from policy experts and to engage their lawmakers on Capitol Hill. Erik Alsgaard reports on the Nov. 13-15 seminar co-sponsored by the United Methodist Board of Church and Society and the Korea Peace Committee. 
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Native American creates oasis for troubled teens

MUSKOGEE, Okla. (UMNS) — Phillip "Bugsy" Barnoski, a member of Fife Indian United Methodist Church, said he sees himself in the troubled youth at the Rougher Alternative Academy. He’s made it his mission to help the students find their purpose in life and embrace their Native American heritage. Ginny Underwood reports.
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Read more about Native peoples  

'Poldark' on PBS features Methodist storyline 

CHARLESTOWN, England (UMNS) — How often are Methodists called “those Wesleyan renegades”? Viewers of “Poldark” have heard those exact words — although in reference to fictional Methodists. Mary Jacobs reports on how the television series portrays Methodists. 
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Methodists meet challenges in Central America

GUATEMALA CITY (UMNS) — Gang violence and corruption plague the countries of Honduras and Guatemala. The United Methodist Church in Honduras and the autonomous Methodist Church in Guatemala are addressing poverty and violence through faith and fortitude. In the summer of 2017, a visit by United Methodist leadership signaled a growing commitment to these churches. Jan Snider reports.
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Mudslide survivors worried over future

FREETOWN, Sierra Leone (UMNS) — Several months after deadly mudslides and floods, the United Methodist Sierra Leone Conference has continued to provide psychosocial support and trauma counseling at camps set up for homeless survivors. But the government officially closed the camps on Nov. 15. Phileas Jusu has the story.
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Sharing of gifts goes beyond money

NASHVILLE, Tenn. ( — As part of the Baptismal Covenant, United Methodists vow to participate in a local congregation through their prayers, presence, gifts, service and witness. While the term “gifts” often brings to mind money, there’s much more to it. Julie Dwyer reports in the third in a five-part series on membership vows.
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Read Part 1: A promise to pray   
Read Part 2: What it means to witness   

Pastor teaches martial arts to refugees

CHARLOTTE, N.C. ( — The Rev. James-Michael Smith is a United Methodist pastor and a black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu. He founded Disciple Dojo and RefugeeJitsu, a martial-arts ministry that builds up children physically and spiritually.
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Greater New Jersey Conference
Native American church named historic site

CUMBERLAND CO., N.J. — St. John United Methodist Church in Bridgeton has officially been designated a Historic Native American Methodist Church, making it the only church to receive such designation in New Jersey. Josh Kinney has the story.
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New England Conference
Former medical examiner heads to seminary

HOPKINTON, N.H. — Dr. Thomas Andrew, former chief medical examiner in New Hampshire and a deacon candidate, will start classes at United Theological Seminary in January. He did not retire from the medical examiner role because he was overwhelmed. It was part of his plan from the start. Beth DiCocco reports.
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Texas Conference
For Harvey survivors, it’s raining gift cards

HOUSTON — Along the Texas Gulf Coast, it’s raining again, but this time it’s raining gift cards. The Texas Conference Clergy Spouse Association has collected thousands of gift cards from across the denomination to help clergy spouses affected by Hurricane Harvey’s flooding. 
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Oklahoma Conference
Riding out hurricane's winds in Puerto Rico 

OKLAHOMA CITY — Chelsea Riley, the daughter of a United Methodist pastor in Oklahoma, rode out Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico. Holly McCray of the Oklahoma Conference reports on Riley’s experience and the role Volunteers in Mission played in helping her reach her new job in Spain.
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Florida Conference
Prison ministry offers fresh start

SAINT GEORGE ISLAND, Fla. — A bridge separates this pristine place from a low-income community adversely impacted by the methamphetamine drug trade. St. George Island United Methodist Church is working to close the gap through a prison ministry program. Ed Scott has the story.
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Migration — a personal reflection

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (UMNS) — In advance of Global Migration Sunday Dec. 3, Bishop Minerva G. Carcaño of the California-Nevada Conference shares her experiences with migrants. “I truly believe that as we walk with migrant sisters and brothers, our faith will be strengthened as we see God at work in their lives,” she writes. 
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Read more about Global Migration Sunday  

The church's news and why it matters

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — Today more than ever, professional news reporting is needed in both The United Methodist Church and the public square, writes UMNS director Tim Tanton in a commentary.
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The New York Times
AU grad says Zimbabwe unrest is coup

HARARE, Zimbabwe (NYTimes) — Glen Mpani argues the military action in Zimbabwe is a coup and not a step toward reform. Mpani, an Africa University graduate who is now a fellow at the Harvard University School of Government, writes that any prospects for reforming the country lie in returning power to the citizens — and for the army to respect civilian authority.
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United Methodist Communications
21-city 'True Meaning of Christmas' tour

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMCom) — More than 500 volunteers are taking 16,400 cups of cocoa and a truckload of Christmas spirit on the road to 21 cities. The goal of the tour, which is hosted by United Methodist churches in each city, is to help people unwrap the true meaning of Christmas. 
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Board of Church and Society
Taking action on World AIDS Day

WASHINGTON — The United Methodist Global AIDS Committee has created several resources for churches and church members to use on or near World AIDS Day, Dec. 1. The theme of World AIDS Day 2017 is #LetsEndIt, a statement compelling action through advocacy.
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Get resources 



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.

Monday, Nov. 27-Saturday, Dec. 9

Online workshop: For Such a Time as This, based on Bishop William Willimon's "Fear of the Other"

Monday, Nov. 27-Friday, Dec. 8 

Online workshop: Tactile Prayer — The History, Theology and Practice of Prayer Beads


See more United Methodist events