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Weekly Digest - April 17, 2015


NOTE: This is a digest of news features provided by United Methodist Communications for April 13-17. 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

Top Stories

Answering the pastoral call, despite terminal cancer

NITRO, W.VA. (UMNS) — The Rev. Shelly Nichols long felt a call to be a United Methodist pastor. But two weeks after beginning the process, she was diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer. Nichols, 53, didn't give up, making it through local pastor licensing school and gaining appointment as associate minister at Cross Lanes United Methodist Church. She's faced terminal illness while beginning to preach and baptize. "It's worked out more perfectly than I could ever imagine," Nichols said. Sam Hodges reports.
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Oklahoma City bombing survivor says God helped her forgive

OKLAHOMA CITY (UMNS) — Ruth Schwab, a United Methodist, was working in the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building when it was bombed on April 19, 1995. But she tells the Rev. Boyce A. Bowdon how she found peace even after the attack took her friends, her eye and her job.
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Love guided church after 1995 bombing

OKLAHOMA CITY (UMNS) — St. Luke’s United Methodist Church sheltered hundreds of people displaced by the 1995 bombing of the federal building. The church assisted families desperate to locate loved ones or grieving the dead and served thousands of meals to survivors and rescue workers. Twenty years later, the Rev. Bob Long identifies that loving response as a significant lesson from a terrible time. Long spoke with Holly McCray for the Oklahoma Contact.
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Oklahoma mission trip results in partnership

MOUNT JULIET, Tenn. (UMNS) — A lasting friendship among United Methodists in two states began with a phone call. That’s how Providence United Methodist Church in Mount Juliet connected with Clinton Indian United Methodist Church and Community Center in Oklahoma. As United Methodists prepare for Native American Ministries Sunday on April 19, Barbara Dunlap-Berg shares an example of how United Methodists work together to help Native communities.
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‘Easter miracle’ in New Jersey

RAHWAY, N. J. (UMNS) — Members from Elim United Methodist Church, Manantiales de Vida Pentecostal Church and other neighboring churches worshipped together to remember the “Easter miracle” in Rahway. A 30-square-foot section of plaster from the ceiling fell while the Pentecostal congregation, which rents the space from the Korean church, was holding a service on April 5. Though falling debris injured 14 people, none of the injuries were serious. Gustavo Vasquez reports.
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United Methodist church disinvited to Easter parade

EUREKA SPRINGS, Ark. (UMNS) — Members of First United Methodist Church stood on the sidelines and cheered during the annual Jesus Parade — despite being excluded from the festivities. Suzie Bell, a member of First United Methodist Church, believes the church was turned away because it is a “reconciling” congregation that is committed to full inclusion for all. Kathy L. Gilbert has the story.
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'We shall be raised!'

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — "I believe in ... the resurrection of the body and the life everlasting." Christians have repeated these words for centuries. But what do they mean? Several scholars offer their perspectives. Cecile S. Holmes has the story in Interpreter magazine. 
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Debates continue about what Bible really means

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — For countless numbers of people, the Bible is the most important guide to living a faithful Christian life. With an estimated 5 billion copies printed between 1815 and 1975, the Bible remains the top-selling book of all time. What the Bible really means to its readers, however, has been a constant source of debate. Tita Parham reports for Interpreter magazine.
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Bishop: Liberian Christians don’t need legislation to expand faith

MONROVIA, Liberia (UMNS) — United Methodist Bishop John G. Innis opposes a proposal approved by a recent constitutional review committee to make Liberia a Christian country. “Liberians, especially Christians, do not need any legislation to practice or expand their faith in Liberia,” Innis said in an interview after delivering his annual Easter sermon at First United Methodist Church. Other United Methodist leaders agreed, calling for tolerance and evangelism to promote Christianity. Julu Swen reports.
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Nigeria holds Social Principles discussion

ABUJA, Nigeria (UMNS) — Representatives from The United Methodist Church in Nigeria said the Social Principles have given them the opportunity to put their faith into action for the transformation of the world. Thirty-five representatives from the Nigeria area attended the eighth Social Principles discussion organized by the United Methodist Board of Church and Society. The Rev. Ande I. Emmanuel reports.
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Zimbabwe churches embrace contemporary music

CHITUNGWIZA, Zimbabwe (UMNS) — More and more, The United Methodist Church in Zimbabwe is turning to modern music to attract young adults. The use of contemporary music comes in response to the mushrooming of new churches perceived to be “modern and appealing” by younger members of United Methodist congregations. Eveline Chikwanah has the story.
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Class draws on Adrian's abolitionist history

ADRIAN, Mich. (UMNS) — Former president John Quincy Adams is troubled. It is 1845, and he is part of a vicious debate surrounding Frederick Douglass and the former slave's just-released autobiography. Recapturing this history is part of teaching students at United Methodist-related Adrian College about how to address modern-day slavery, writes the Rev. Chris Momany, college chaplain.
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Religious freedom re-emerges as timely topic

WASHINGTON (UMNS) — From fervent debates over U.S. state laws to shocking global reports about terrorists targeting the faithful, religious freedom once again is a topic of public discussion. So, when the 2015 Religion Communicators Council convention met April 9-11 in the Washington area, the intersection of religion and government was part of the focus on local and global communications. Linda Bloom has the story.
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Call for prayer after Charleston police shooting

NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (UMNS) — United Methodist churches are calling for peace, advocacy and prayerful healing after a police shooting left an unarmed Charleston man dead. Officer Michael T. Slager has been charged with murder in the shooting of Walter Scott. Jessica Brodie, South Carolina United Methodist Advocate, has the story.
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Two bishops talk about church’s future

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (UMNS) — Michael Rich of the Western North Carolina Conference recently asked Bishops Charlene Kammerer and Ken Carter about the future they see for The United Methodist Church. Rich shares their response in this short audio interview.
To listen

Two historic churches unite to create new place for new people

WACO, Texas (UMNS) — Establishing a new church is always fraught with peril, but merging two established congregations into one church comes with its own unique set of circumstances, decisions and emotions. The Rev. Jerry Roberson and Vance Morton report for the Central Texas Conference on how two Waco congregations that date to the 19th century are coming together as a new church.
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Rethink Church encourages discussion of the death penalty

HUNTSVILLE, Texas (UMNS) — A United Methodist clergywoman in Texas talks about her commitment to abolish the death penalty, even as Texas executes a man convicted in the slaying of a police officer. Rethink Church is encouraging discussion about the death penalty and issues of mass incarceration.
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Help for churches ministering to veterans

WASHINGTON (UMNS) — JustPeace, the United Methodist Center for Mediation and Conflict Transformation, has launched Soul Care. The initiative aims to help churches speak to the trauma returning veterans and their families often experience and help them re-integrate into their communities.
To learn more

New resource helps youth understand sexual identity issues

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — A new resource to help youth struggling with their sexual identity is now available as part of the “SEX: A Christian Perspective on Our Bodies, Decisions and Relationships” series from Young People’s Ministries Division of United Methodist Discipleship Ministries. “We know that teens dealing with issues of sexual identity are two to six times more likely to attempt suicide because of issues of isolation and hopelessness,” said Michael Ratliff, head of the Young People’s Ministries.
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Article looks at Hillary Clinton’s faith as United Methodist

WASHINGTON (RNS) — Hillary Clinton has become the first United Methodist to enter the 2016 U.S. presidential race. The last United Methodist elected to the White House was George W. Bush, who served 2001-2009. Religion News Service analyzes the role that United Methodism has played in shaping Clinton’s faith and views.
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Hillary Clinton spoke at the United Methodist Women’s Assembly last April. Read UMNS story

What do we mean when we pray for revival?

SAVANNAH, Ga. (UMNS) - The Rev. Ben Gosden, pastor of Aldersgate United Methodist Church, wonders what United Methodists mean when they pray for revival. "When we pray for revival or renewal in the church, are we willing to hear God's voice calling us to change?" he asks. He offers suggestions what such change might look like.
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Looking ahead

Tuesday, April 21
Free webinar "Evangelism in a Multifaith Context" — 1 to 2:15 p.m. CDT. Father Darren Dias, professor of theology, St. Michael's College University in Toronto and Bishop Tony Richie, of the Church of God (based in Knoxville, Tennessee) will lead this webinar in partnership with United Methodist Discipleship Ministries. Details 

Wednesday, April 22

Earth Day in the U.S. — Resources on creation care from Caretakers of God's Creation, a United Methodist group, and the United Methodist Board of Church and Society.

You can see more educational opportunities and other upcoming events in the life of the church here.