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UMNS Weekly Digest - October 21, 2016


Top viewed stories from Oct. 14 - Oct. 21. See all United Methodist News Service stories at


Mass shooting victim works to reduce gun violence

TUCSON, Ariz. (UMNS) — Pam Simon keeps on her desk the bullet that went through her wrist and into her torso in the Jan. 8, 2011, shooting near Tucson that killed six and wounded 13, including former U.S. Rep. Gabby Giffords. Simon, a United Methodist, has become a strong advocate for gun violence prevention, working to bring churches into the cause. Sam Hodges reports.

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Read about United Methodists and gun violence prevention


Judicial Council takes up gay ordination issue

NEW YORK (UMNS) — A controversial decision by United Methodists in New York last June to commission and ordain openly gay clergy candidates is one of the 11 docket items on the agenda when the United Methodist Judicial Council meets Oct. 25-28 at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Lisle, Ill., in the Chicago area. Oral hearings are scheduled on two other docket items. Linda Bloom reports.

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Laity want more representation on commission

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — More than 500 laity from across the denomination signed a letter protesting the under-representation of laity in the composition of the Commission on a Way Forward. The letter went to Bishop Bruce Ough, president of the Council of Bishops, and the council’s executive committee on Oct. 16, Laity Sunday. Kathy L. Gilbert has the story.

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Remembering professor who shaped worship

GAITHERSBURG, Md. (UMNS) — The Rev. Laurence Hull Stookey, a pastor and worship professor who influenced how United Methodists worship and understand the sacraments, died Oct. 16 at the age of 79. Heather Hahn and Sam Hodges have a remembrance.

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Filipino women, youth prepare for bishop elections

ANGELES CITY, Pampanga (UMNS) — Three separate gatherings were held to prepare women and youth delegates for the work at the Philippines Central Conference meeting — which includes electing bishops. Gladys Mangiduyos reports.
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Liberian Ebola survivors report sight problems

GANTA CITY, Liberia (UMNS) — Liberia is now Ebola-free, but many stricken with the virus are now experiencing poor vision, fatigue and severe headaches. Julu Swen reports how United Methodist health institutions are trying to help.

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Normal life elusive for Ebola survivors


United Methodists among richest U.S. religious groups

WASHINGTON (UMNS) — United Methodists are among the 10 most financially successful religious groups in the United States, reports a new study by Pew Research Center. Using data from its 2014 Religious Landscape Study, Pew found about one in four U.S. United Methodists makes at least $100,000 a year. The study found that richer religious groups also tended to have higher levels of educational attainment.

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How churches can communicate vision

LAKE JACKSON, Texas (UMNS) — A church’s vision can be like an amazing travel brochure, said the Rev. Kate Walker. “It paints a beautiful picture of a destination, and attracts us with highlights,” she says. “But it also sets some clear milestones for getting there.” The Texas Conference shares Walker’s advice for casting a vision that can revitalize a church.

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Car accident claims lives of Claflin students

COLUMBIA, S.C. (UMNS) — Four students at United Methodist-related Claflin University died in an Oct. 14 car accident on Interstate 77 in Columbia. A fifth student remains hospitalized.

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Michigan Area pushes Haitian relief

LANSING, Mich. (UMNS) — The Michigan Area Haiti Task Force and Bishop David Bard are asking for generous contributions to relief efforts in Haiti after Hurricane Matthew devastated the country’s southwestern section. The task force has formed a sub-committee to consider other ways to help. Kay DeMoss has the story.

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South Georgia churches respond to storm

MACON, Ga. (UMNS) — South Georgia United Methodists responded to Hurricane Matthew as swiftly as the storm ripped through the state. When mandatory evacuations were issued in six coastal counties, several churches opened their doors as shelters for those displaced by the storm. Kara Witherow, editor of the South Georgia Advocate, reports.

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Valdosta opens doors to evacuees and pets


Turning food waste into healthy meals

WASHINGTON ( — Members of Metropolitan Memorial United Methodist Church prevent carloads of fresh meat and vegetables from ending up in a landfill. They have joined an effort to turn food waste into healthy meals for the hungry.
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Movie affirms teachings on human trafficking

NASHVILLE, Tenn. ( — One man's desire to "do the right thing" turns into a struggle to save others and lift his own life out of despair and resentment in "Priceless," a new film starring Joel Smallbone, lead singer of the Grammy Award-winning band for KING & COUNTRY. The film affirms United Methodist teachings on human trafficking. Christopher Fenoglio has the story.

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Life lessons from a 95-year-old United Methodist

FRANKLIN, Tenn. ( — In the latest episode of the “Get Your Spirit in Shape” podcast, Shirley Bachelder shares what she has learned about life, love, faith, friendship, prayer and gratitude.

Listen to podcast


Discovering God's will: John Wesley's difficult decision

NASHVILLE, Tenn. ( — Sometimes, we face a choice between two good options. Oct. 21 marks the anniversary of John Wesley setting sail to serve as a missionary in America. Joe Iovino writes about Wesley’s discernment process, which included a stained-glass window and a Bible story.

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Publishing House plans new distribution, layoffs

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — The self-supporting United Methodist Publishing House announced it is forming a partnership with LSC Communications for print and digital product distribution. As part of the change, the Publishing House will close its distribution center in Nashville in March 2017. The closure will mean the layoffs of around 40 employees.

Read press release about new distribution

Read Tennessean article on distribution center

Read about organizing meeting


Dotson installed as Discipleship Ministries head

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — The Rev. Junius B. Dotson was installed as the top executive of United Methodist Discipleship Ministries at the agency’s organizational board meeting. The board also elected Upper New York Area Bishop Mark Webb as president.

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Archives and History holds organizing meeting

MADISON, N.J. (UMNS) — The United Methodist Commission of Archives and History honored the Rev. Ted Campbell with a Distinguished Service Award, inducted its 24-member board and began planning for the next four years. Bishop Jeremiah Park, who also leads the Susquehanna Conference, is the board president, and the Rev. Alfred T. Day is the agency’s top executive.

Read press release


Status and Role of Women Commission organizes

CHICAGO (UMNS) — The 19-member board of the United Methodist Commission on the Status and Role of Women held its organizing meeting Oct. 6-8 at First United Methodist Church (Chicago Temple). The board elected Ohio East Area Bishop Tracy Malone as president and unanimously re-elected Dawn Wiggins Hare as the agency’s top executive.

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UMW meeting focuses on identity, mission

NEW YORK (UMNS) — The United Methodist Women board discussed at a recent organizing meeting the self-supporting group’s identity and mission priorities for the next four years. United Methodist Women will focus on alleviating problems in four areas: climate justice, economic inequality, maternal and child health, and mass incarceration. Julia Chance reports.

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UMW's board and Program Advisory Group


Making the most of a church advertising budget

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMCOM) — While churches don’t necessarily want to employ the same tactics as fast-food restaurants and cola companies, successful commercial advertising campaigns do offer some lessons for churches seeking to reach more people. Tricia Brown, writing for United Methodist Communications, offers a few things to keep in mind when advertising.

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10 things great preachers do differently

WASHINGTON (UMNS) — The Rev. Charley Reeb, a United Methodist pastor in Florida, writes about the 10 things that distinguish great preachers from the simply good ones. The Lewis Center for Church Leadership shares his advice.
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Churches demand action on Aleppo

LONDON (UMNS) — The Methodist Church in Britain has joined five other U.K. churches in calling upon the Syrian and Russian governments and other forces to stop their bombardment of Aleppo, Syria. The statement also urges the international community to take action and hold responsible parties accountable.

Read full statement



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.


Thursday, Oct. 27

Reformation Day at Emory University — 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. EDT. “Law and Grace: Martin Luther, Lucas Cranach and the Promise of Salvation” is the theme for the conference. The gathering will explore the Reformation painting by Lucas Cranach the Elder, “Law and Grace,” from the standpoints of art history, biblical studies and theology. The event will be at the Pitts Theology Library at Emory University’s Candler School of Theology, 1531 Dickey Drive. Optional $10 for lunch. Registration required. Details


Saturday, Oct. 29

Jubalani: A Concert of Remembering and Rejoicing — 6-8:30 p.m. CDT at Evanston Township High School Auditorium, 1600 Dodge Ave., Evanston, Illinois. This music and arts event celebrates the launch of the Center for Music and Worship in the Black Church Experience at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary. Tickets are $20 for adults, $7 for students. Details


More upcoming United Methodist events