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UMNS Weekly Digest - September 15, 2017


Top viewed stories from Sept. 8-14. See all United Methodist News Service stories at

United Methodists helping those devastated by Irma 

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — Filling coolers with ice, loading trucks with diapers and chain saws and cooking community “cleaning-out-the-freezer” dinners are some of the ways United Methodists in Florida are responding to neighbors left devastated by Hurricane Irma. Kathy L. Gilbert has the story. 
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Churches outside Florida feel effects of Irma 

MACON, Ga. (UMNS) — While United Methodists across Florida began to take stock as Hurricane Irma left the state, church members in Georgia and South Carolina were dealing with flash flooding, downed trees and power outages as the storm headed north. And some reports have emerged from Hispanic-Latino churches in the Caribbean, where Irma began. Linda Bloom has the story. 
Read story  
Waiting to assess impact of Hurricane Irma
Personal calls unite Early Response Teams
Louisiana pastor ministers amid multiple floods
Early responder blessed to bless

United Methodists helping one bucket at a time 

BALDWIN, La. (UMNS) — People hit by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma need time to “get their arms” around the most pressing needs, but United Methodists around the connection can start helping by donating to the United Methodist Committee on Relief, collecting and assembling flood buckets and earnestly praying. Kathy L. Gilbert reports. 
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Houston churches go flat out with flood relief 

HOUSTON (UMNS) — From mucking out homes to passing out supplies to looking after children whose schools are closed, United Methodist churches here are still busy providing relief from the floods that came with Hurricane Harvey. Texas Conference Bishop Scott Jones is cheering them on, but also encouraging them to pace themselves. Sam Hodges has the story and Kathleen Barry has photos. 
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As Irma arrives, those in Harvey’s wake carry on  
Read about Beyoncé's flood relief work with a Houston United Methodist church
Churches respond to post-Harvey needs
Rio Texas church includes children in relief efforts

Chaplain brings word of God to cigar factory workers 

DANLÍ, Honduras (UMNS) — Every Friday, for about 10 minutes, the sound being blasted to the employees of Tabacos de Oriente is the word of God instead of Guns N’ Roses or some other rockin’ soundtrack. That word comes from the Rev. José Roberto Peña, pastor of Danlí Central United Methodist Church, who serves as chaplain of the cigar factory. Kathy L. Gilbert has the story and photos. Jan Snider has video. 
Read story   
Watch video interview with chaplain 

Survey seeks feedback on sexual harassment issues 

CHICAGO (UMNS) — The United Methodist Commission on the Status and Role of Women wants to know what has changed since its 2005 survey of sexual harassment in the church. Clergy and lay members across the denomination are asked to take the 2017 survey, now online, by Oct. 3. Linda Bloom reports. 
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Take the survey   

Committing long-term to Sierra Leone recovery 

FREETOWN, Sierra Leone (UMNS) — “This is the time we as a people are likely to fail the survivors, but I want the church to remain engaged in their lives when all the people are gone, including the government,” Bishop John Yambasu told two communities hard hit by recent mudslides and flooding. He committed The United Methodist Church for the long term. Phileas Jusu and Julu Swen have the story. 
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Raising orphans among crises in Sierra Leone 

Bishop to lead Congo ecumenical organization 

MUTARE, Zimbabwe (UMNS) — East Congo Area Bishop Gabriel Yemba Unda has been elected moderator of the ecumenical organization Eglise du Christ au Congo, a Protestant ecumenical group of 95 denominations in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Eveline Chikwanah reports. 
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United Methodist orphanage a beacon of hope 

JALINGO, Nigeria (UMNS) — More than 189 orphans, from babies to young people, live at the United Methodist Orphanage in Jalingo. Founded in 1999, the home has cared for, educated and given love to Nigerian children with no earthly parents. The orphanage recently celebrated the accomplishments of its residents at a high school graduation ceremony. Ande I. Emmanuel reports. 
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Clinton speaks of relying on prayer after election loss 

NEW YORK — Hillary Rodham Clinton, a lifelong United Methodist, said she relied on prayer in her grieving process after she lost the U.S. presidential election. Clinton spoke to about 1,300 people at a fundraiser for Camp Olmsted, which has served children in New York City since 1901. Joanne S. Utley reports for the New York Conference. 
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Mistaking urban decay for blackness 

WASHINGTON — Brittany Campagna, founder and chief executive officer of Inner City Innovations, will talk about how to avoid conflating urban struggles with “blackness” as part of the Vital Conversations series. The United Methodist Commission on Religion and Race, which organizes the series, will present a Facebook Live conversation with Campagna at 11 a.m. EDT Tuesday, Sept. 19. 
Learn more  
See the commission’s Facebook page   

The unexpected at 'Blessing of the Backpacks' 

PADUCAH, Ky. — Lone Oak United Methodist Church hosted a “Blessing of the Backpacks.” The Rev. Jason W. Jones writes about what happened when three young people not affiliated with the church showed up. 
Read Memphis Conference story   

Agency offers post-Charlottesville toolkit 

WASHINGTON — In the wake of Charlottesville and other protests around the U.S., the United Methodist Commission on Religion and Race is providing church leaders with resources to promote awareness and foster relationships across lines of difference. The toolkit is a curation of resources that may be beneficial for a small group, or congregation on the themes of white supremacy, hate and violence. 
See toolkit   

Commentary: Talking about politics in church 

WASHINGTON — The church should be a sanctuary for conversations about subjects that too often polarize Americans, write the Rev. Kristopher Norris and Mike McCurry. The two are co-directors of the National Capital Semester for Seminarians at United Methodist Wesley Theological Seminary. 
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Way Forward group to meet in Berlin 

WASHINGTON — The Commission on a Way Forward will hold its next meeting Sept. 18-20 in Berlin. The moderators are asking all United Methodists to continue to pray for commission members as they work to discern options for a way forward for The United Methodist Church in the midst of disagreement regarding church teachings related to homosexuality. 
Read press release   

Church musician influenced many 

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. — Booker T. Scruggs II, a locally renowned clarinetist and saxophonist, died after falling ill during a concert at St. Luke United Methodist Church. Scruggs was a resident musician for Bethlehem-Wiley United Methodist Church. Annette Spence of the Holston Conference has a remembrance of Scruggs’ life of service and deep roots in The United Methodist Church. 
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Bishop: Connection is a strength, struggle 

MONTGOMERY, Ala. — Bishop David W. Graves, who leads the Alabama-West Florida Conference, said The United Methodist Church’s connection “is the great thing about our denomination. Also, right now, it’s our biggest struggle.” In an interview with Mary Catherine Phillips, he reflects on what he has learned as a new bishop. 
Watch or listen to interview   

Vandals damage Native American church 

LAWRENCE, Kan. — An act of vandalism has stunned the congregation at Lawrence Indian United Methodist Church. Someone climbed the church’s roof and sawed off its Cross-and-Flame logo. As it fell, the cross punctured the church’s roof and severely damaged its gutters. Todd Seifert reports for the Great Plains Conference. 
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Small church in an oversized building 

LEMOYNE, Pa. — The Rev. Lewis A. Parks, a United Methodist pastor and author of “Small on Purpose,” describes how smaller congregations can squander their last resources trying to keep up with the demands of an aging facility. He offers a different approach in a Lewis Center for Church Leadership commentary. 
Read commentary   

Apply for 'healthy masculinity' workshop 

ROCK ISLAND, Ill. — The United Methodist Board of Church and Society and the Illinois Great Rivers Conference are teaming up with the Healthy Masculinities Action Project for an Oct. 23-26 workshop to train local church leaders to teach others about healthy masculinity from a biblical perspective. Grants are available and the registration deadline is Sept. 18. 
Read announcement   

Words of Jesus, John Wesley on dealing with disaster 

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (InfoServ) — When tragedy strikes, it is common to ask why. United Methodists often turn to their faith for answers, but answers don’t come easily. InfoServ, a ministry of United Methodist Communications, looks to the words of Jesus and John Wesley to offer comfort in the wake of natural disasters. 
Ask the UMC  



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, Sept. 18-Monday, Oct. 9

New Sunday school teacher online training  This course looks at teaching children from preschool through sixth grade. Participants will be able to access the course at their convenience. A minimum of four to five hours per week is necessary to benefit from the course content. and Practical Resources for Churches are sponsors. $45. Details

Tuesday, Sept. 26

Advent Resource Webinar — 11 a.m. CDT. Managing an outreach campaign is now simpler than ever. This event will carry viewers on a tour of our new Advent resources and discuss how to reach your church and your community with creative, welcoming messages. Register here

See more United Methodist events