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UMNS Weekly Digest - October 13, 2017


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United Methodists help, struggle amid California fires

SANTA ROSA, Calif. (UMNS) — United Methodists were there to help amid deadly wildfires that destroyed the homes of some church members and a pastor. The wildfires still raging in northern California have burned through nearly 170,000 acres, killing at least 29, and forcing the evacuation of more than 20,000.  Mary Jacobs reports.
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Responding to court ruling on clergy housing

MADISON, Wis. (UMNS) — A federal judge’s ruling striking down the law that provides tax exemption on clergy housing allowances is not the final word. United Methodist leaders offer insights on the case. Heather Hahn reports.
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Planning the special General Conference

GALLANT, Ala. (UMNS) — The Commission on General Conference, meeting at a United Methodist camp, approved plans for the special General Conference on Feb. 23-26, 2019, in St. Louis. Heather Hahn reports.
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GC2020 delegate count holds steady

GALLANT, Ala. (UMNS) — The Commission on General Conference set the target for the number of delegates at the 2020 legislative assembly. They also discussed the possibility of completely digitizing the Daily Christian Advocate. Heather Hahn reports.
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Puerto Rico bishop speaks about Hurricane recovery

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (UMNS) — Bishop Hector Ortiz said the local Methodist churches in Puerto Rico are “communities of hope” in the wake of the destruction of Hurricane Maria. Ortiz, bishop of the Methodist Church of Puerto Rico, also thanked The United Methodist Church and urged those who want to help further to make donations to the United Methodist Committee on Relief.
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Churches have much to offer in health care

STUTTGART, Germany (UMNS) — Churches can, and often do, provide a spiritual and practical support network that benefits healing, said speakers at an international United Methodist health forum that examined how faith practices can benefit physical health. Vicki Brown has the story.
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Church networks reach remote corners for health care

STUTTGART, Germany (UMNS) — The church continues to have a unique role to play in global health care through an infrastructure that reaches the most remote corners of society, one speaker at an international United Methodist health forum said. Vicki Brown has the story. 
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European denominations agree to closer ties

LONDON (The Methodist Recorder) — A new era in European Methodist relationships began with the signing of an agreement to find ways for closer cooperation among Methodist, Wesleyan and Uniting churches. Moira Sleight has the story.
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Strengthening mission in the Americas

PANAMA CITY, Panama (UMNS) — Methodist and United Methodist leaders in Latin America are meeting to discuss how to bolster their mission across the American continents. They also heard an update on what’s happening in Puerto Rico. The Rev. Gustavo Vasquez reports. 
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Church repents for racism of its history

WASHINGTON — Mount Vernon United Methodist Church observed the 100th anniversary of the laying of the church cornerstone with a formal call to remembrance and repentance of the racist history of the church. The church was built by white slaveholders as “the representative church” of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, the denomination that was the result of an 1844 schism over the issue of slavery. Melissa Lauber reports for the Baltimore-Washington Conference. 
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A promise to pray: Honoring our United Methodist vow

NASHVILLE, Tenn. ( — Building a solid prayer life can be a struggle for some. While United Methodists vow to uphold their congregation through their prayers, many don’t know what that means. Julie Dwyer has the first in a five-part series looking at United Methodists’ membership vows.  
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Philippines United Methodists decry government killings

MANILA, Philippines (UMNS) — The Philippines Board of Church and Society has released a statement to reiterate its denouncement of killings stemming from President Rodrigo Duterte’s violent war on drugs. Gladys Mangiduyos has the story. 
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Turning church over to the children

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — The Rev. Corey Nelson and his small team have had so many children come through Grace United Methodist Church since they started ministering to their troubled southern Louisville neighborhood in 2013 that they finally took what they see as the next logical step. They turned Grace over to the kids. Alan Wild reports for the Kentucky Conference. 
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Church helps initiate ID program for community

MORRISTOWN, N.J. — When the Rev. Brandon Cho of Morristown United Methodist Church started getting calls from congregants worried about new federal immigration policies, he knew something needed to be done. In a joint effort with an immigration advocacy organization and the Morristown Clergy Council, with backing by city officials, the Morristown Municipal ID program was conceived.
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VIM to help with Harvey recovery

JOHNSON CITY, Texas — The Rio Texas Conference has recently been training United Methodist Volunteer in Mission team leaders for Hurricane Harvey recovery work. The leaders, meeting at First United Methodist in Johnson City, are to return to their home churches and recruit members for future deployments. Laura Bray reports.
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Church planting in Tanzania

RED BANK, N.J. — The Rev. Mutwale Ntambo Wa Mushidi left his home in Congo for Tanzania with his family and a call to plant churches. Twenty-five years later, Tanzania has 68 United Methodist communities. Melissa Hinnen reports on the lessons Mushidi shared while visiting the Greater New Jersey Conference.
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New book explores Methodism's origins

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The Rev. Ted A. Campbell, who teaches at Perkins School of Theology, is the author of the new book “Encoding Methodism: Telling and Re-Telling Narratives of Wesleyan Origins.” The book, published by the United Methodist Board of Higher Education and Ministry, tells of Methodism’s founding and the movement’s distinctive religious identity.
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In the aftermath of Harvey

ROCKPORT, Texas — Recovery is slowly happening in this coastal Texas town, hard hit by Hurricane Harvey. The Rev. Laura Merrill, assistant to the bishop in the Rio Texas Conference, reports in a photo-illustrated essay on her visit to the community and to the First United Methodist Church there.
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A better way to do stewardship testimonies

COLUMBIA, Mo. — The Rev. Nate Berneking of the Missouri Conference says testimonies about giving and money are powerful when done well, but disastrous when done poorly. In a commentary for the Lewis Center for Church Leadership, he outlines how an interview approach to testimony can keep things focused and on track.
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10 suggestions for preaching after disaster

DURHAM, N.C. (UMCOM) — Catastrophes come in all sizes. Some are local like the burning of a church. Others are national or international in scope. Richard Lischer, a professor emeritus at United Methodist Duke Divinity School, briefly offers 10 recommendations for preaching on the world’s heartache.
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Commentary: Simple gifts in tragedy

LAS VEGAS — University United Methodist Church, Las Vegas, stands not far from the Strip and regularly sees tourists at Sunday worship. The Rev. Susan Holden, the church’s associate pastor and university campus minister, recounts the experiences of two out-of-state visitors who came Sunday morning before attending the Route 91 Festival, the site of the worst mass shooting in modern U.S. history.
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Commentary: JFON embraces immigrants

SPRINGFIELD, Va. — Justice for Our Neighbors, a ministry of The United Methodist Church, helps low-income immigrants and refugees navigate the complex U.S. legal system. National JFON executive director Rob Rutland-Brown writes that the group is “guided by a vision that all immigrants should be warmly welcomed in the United States by caring and compassionate neighbors with open hearts and minds. And we are grateful that The United Methodist Church is helping lead the way.”
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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.

Monday, Oct. 16-Monday, Oct. 30

Online class — How to Build and Provide a Course Online  This online course from United Methodist teaches the basics of building, planning and teaching online courses and covers the fundamentals of using the Blackboard software. Online courses can allow those with valuable ministry resources to share those with clergy and laity in the local church. Eligible for 1 CEU. Price:  $100. Details

Tuesday, Oct. 17

Experiential Faith Formation webinar — Tuesday Tea with Melanie C. Gordon—11:30 a.m. CDT. The Faith Formation Team at United Methodist Discipleship Ministries wants to offer the opportunity to hear from some exceptional leaders from across the United Methodist connection as they share their wisdom, thoughts and challenges in Experiential Faith Formation. This webinar will address what Experiential Faith Formation is and what resources are needed to support this ministry in various settings with people of all ages. Details

See more United Methodist events