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Weekly Digest - August 1, 2014


NOTE: This is a digest of news features provided by United Methodist Communications for July 28- August 1. 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

United Methodists and immigration
United Methodists, faith leaders arrested
WASHINGTON (UMNS) — Luis Orellana, a United Methodist from Des Moines, Iowa, has seen what happens to families when people are deported against their will. That’s why he joined faith leaders and immigrant activists who stood in the hot midday sun in front of the White House July 31 with a strong message for President Barack Obama: Save the children, no more deportations. About 112, including 45 United Methodists, were arrested by U. S. Park Police and loaded into waiting buses for their act of civil disobedience.

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Bishop Harvey: Pray for the children
BATON ROUGE, La. (UMNS) — Want to do something to help the migrant youngsters fleeing dire circumstances in Central America and coming to the United States? Bishop Cynthia Fierro Harvey, who leads the Louisiana Annual (regional) Conference and is the granddaughter of a Mexican immigrant, suggests something every person can do: pray.

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Church at center of border crisis response
DALLAS (UMNS) — First United Methodist Church of Dallas is playing a lead role in the city's interfaith humanitarian response to the immigration crisis along the U.S.-Mexico border. The Dallas Morning News has the story.

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Pastor seeks response to undocumented teens
VASSAR, Mich. (UMNS) — Demonstrations and counter-demonstrations have taken place in Vassar since the announcement by Wolverine Human Services that undocumented Central American teens could be coming to the community. The Rev. Cathy Christman, pastor at Vassar United Methodist Church, is demonstrating her faith by talking with town leaders, calling for prayer and seeking advice on practical ways to minister to the needs of the young people if/when they arrive. Kay DeMoss of the Michigan Episcopal Area has the story.

Read story

Top stories
Sierra Leone task force targets Ebola
FREETOWN, Sierra Leone (UMNS) — Sierra Leone's two main faith groups — Christians and Muslims — have formed an alliance to join the fight against Ebola amid increasing infection and death rates from the epidemic in the country. The Religious Leaders Task Force on Ebola, chaired by United Methodist Bishop John K. Yambasu, was launched this month.

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Liberia declares national emergency on Ebola
MONROVIA, Liberia (UMNS) — Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, a prominent United Methodist, is now heading the task force for the fight against the Ebola virus, which she has declared a national emergency. E. Julu Swen of the Liberia Annual (regional) Conference has the story.

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'A dream for peace on the Korean Peninsula'
WASHINGTON (UMNS) — Standing behind a banner that read "Pray to End the War; Reunite Families; and Bring Peace to Korea," the Rev. We Chang, of the United Methodist New England Annual (regional) Conference, echoed the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. as he declared, "We too have a dream, a dream for peace on the Korean Peninsula."

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Group to bishops: Enforce rules on homosexuality
DALLAS (UMNS) — A group of more than 100 pastors and laypeople is asking United Methodist bishops to enforce and support publicly church law restrictions against same-sex marriage but stopped short of calling for amicable separation after a July 18 meeting in Atlanta. The group also has set up a website.

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Freedom rings for happy summer scholars
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — Freedom Schools in 29 states are helping more than 11,500 children develop a love for reading and gain extra self-esteem. Many of the schools were held in United Methodist churches like this one at Gordon Memorial United Methodist Church. The six-week summer schools are sponsored by the Children's Defense Fund.

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Seminary welcomes Mexican, Colombian pastors
DALLAS (UMNS) — This summer, some Methodist pastors from Colombia and Mexico have engaged in distance learning the old-fashioned way — traveling to Dallas for classes at Southern Methodist University’s Perkins School of Theology.

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2016 General Conference logo unveiled
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — The Commission on the General Conference has chosen a logo for the 2016 General Conference, developed by United Methodist Communications to complement the conference theme, "Therefore Go." Stephanie Henry of the Upper New York Annual (regional) Conference chairs the Logo and Theme Committee. General Conference, which meets every four years, is the denomination's top lawmaking assembly.

Read press release

Ukraine crisis affects UMC congregations
KIEV, Ukraine (UMNS) — Missionary John Calhoun offers an update on the political crisis in the Ukraine and how local United Methodist congregations are bringing relief to families displaced by the conflict. Calhoun serves in Kiev (Kyiv) in ministry with The United Methodist Church in Ukraine.

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Milestones for Imagine No Malaria
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — The United Methodist Church has raised more than $62 million toward its $75 million goal for the Imagine No Malaria initiative, with annual (regional) conferences providing much of the momentum.

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Apply for Social Principles consultations
WASHINGTON (UMNS) — Want to have a say in refining The United Methodist Church’s Social Principles? The United Methodist Board of Church and Society is seeking applicants to participate in consultations to consider a process to make the principles more succinct, theological and globally relevant. Seven consultations have been planned: five in central conferences around the globe and two in the United States.

Read about consultations

Read about effort to make Social Principles more global

Why purity rings don’t work
MOBILE, Ala. (UMNS) — The Rev. Jeremy Steele, a United Methodist writer and pastor in the Alabama-West Florida Annual (regional) Conference, writes about research that shows purity rings aren’t preventing teen sex and makes the case for what the church can do to encourage teen abstinence. He put together the new United Methodist curriculum on sex education: “Sex: A Christian Perspective on Our Bodies, Decisions, and Relationships” for the United Methodist Board of Discipleship.

Read Steele’s blog

More about the curriculum

Pastor finds spiritual truths in 'Doctor Who'
PONCHATOULA, La. (UMNS) — God's love, the Rev. Matt Rawle says, is like the TARDIS. It's bigger on the inside. Rawle is lead pastor of The Well United Methodist Church and ardent fan of the British science fiction series "Dr. Who." He shares spiritual lessons from the series with the Baton Rouge Advocate.

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The Theology of Technology
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — “When we allow and empower people to have access to technology that allows them to get information that they can use to improve their lives, we are fulfilling the call of God to be in the world and be a transformative presence in the world,” says the Rev. Larry Hollon, top executive of United Methodist Communications. The denomination’s communications agency will host the Game Changers Summit Sept. 3-5, in Nashville to demonstrate how information and communications technology can be used to improve lives.

Read Q&A with Hollon

Native American Youth Leadership Training set
LEBANON, Pa. (UMNS) — The Native American International Caucus of The United Methodist Church will hold "Peg-leg Flamingos: Native American Indian Youth Leadership Training" Thursday-Sunday, Oct. 16-19, at Gretna Glen Camp and Retreat Center. The gathering is for seventh-graders through high school seniors. Registration is $70.

Brochure on PDF

Memories of Freedom Summer
Freedom Summer remains vision of hope
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — Retired Bishop C. Joseph Sprague was a 25-year-old student pastor and father of two young children when he joined a small delegation from his Ohio seminary and traveled to Mississippi during the summer of 1964. What he experienced there "wrote a new song, a not-yet-achieved vision, on my heart," Sprague says in a reflection for United Methodist News Service.

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Freedom School leads to fulfillment of dream
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — Dorothy V. Smith’s experience at a Freedom School in 1964 led to her determination “to become a teacher who taught black students about our history.” Smith is a dean at United Methodist-related Dillard University in New Orleans.

Read reflection

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.

Webinar “Plan Your Year Round Stewardship Campaign,” Tuesday, Aug. 5 — 7-8 p.m. ET. Course teaches how a congregation can develop a holistic process that will help people grow in faith and give generously, led by the Rev. Paul B. Nickerson, owner of Nickerson Coaching. $10. Details.

Free webinar “Revival: Faith as Wesley Lived It,” Thursday, Aug. 7 — 2 p.m. CT. The Rev. Adam Hamilton, senior pastor of United Methodist Church of the Resurrection in Leawood, Kansas, will talk about the life of John Wesley and the characteristics of a Wesleyan Christian. Details

Free webinar “Planning for Advent,” Thursday, Aug. 7 7:30 p.m. CT. This webinar will provide an overview of key themes of the Season of Advent and the Scriptures of the season. Details.

Annual meeting of MARCHA (Methodists Associated Representing the Cause of Hispanic Americans), Thursday-Sunday, Aug. 7-10Gathering will be at Hacienda Hotel LAX in Los Angeles. The Rev. Alexia Salvatierra, lecturer at New York Theological Seminary and expert on faith-rooted advocacy, will be the main speaker. Bishops Minerva Carcaño and Warner Brown will preach. Details.

Mission RoundUP for United Methodist Volunteers in Mission, Friday-Sunday, Aug. 8-10 — Workshops for Volunteers in Mission in the North Central Jurisdiction at Epworth Camp and Retreat Center, North Webster, Indiana. The theme is “Achieving our Mission: Barriers vs. Opportunities.” Details.

Free webinar “S.O.S. for Teachers Schedule, Organization, Safety,” Thursday, Aug. 7 — 7-8 p.m. ET, Help for a successful Christian education season, led by Jane Kintzi, a consultant at the Parish Resource Center. Details.

Early bird deadline for “Revitup! … For a Lifetime in Ministry” event for young clergy, Friday, Aug. 8— Event Monday-Wednesday, Sept. 15-17, in Atlanta for young clergy, ages 25-39, sponsored by the United Methodist Board of Pension and Health Benefits. The focus is on financial and leadership skills. $119 before Aug. 8. Details.

Deadline to register for Impact Kentucky in Louisville, Friday, Aug. 8 — Kentucky Annual (regional) Conference gathering for community service will be Saturday, Aug. 16. Other Impact Kentucky events will be Saturday, Aug. 23, in the Covington and Elizabethtown Districts, an Friday-Saturday, Sept. 19-20, in Henderson, Kentucky. Details.

Shreveport, Louisiana Skeeter Run, Saturday, Aug. 9 — The first of six 5K and one-mile run/walks in the Louisiana Annual (regional) Conference to support Imagine No Malaria, the denomination’s initiative to eradicate preventable deaths from the disease. The other five runs will take place across the state on Saturday, Oct. 11. $20 registration. Details.

Free J. Mark McVey concert, Saturday, Aug. 9 — 7 p.m. ET. Lake Junaluska Conference and Retreat Center in North Carolina will presentFinding Your Voice: Lessons for the Soul from a Life on Broadway,” a special performance by tenor McVey, who has starred in “Les Miserables.” Details.

Free Lake Junaluska Signature Series event featuring Fred Bahnson, Sunday, Aug. 10 — 7 p.m. ET, Fred Bahnso is a writer, permaculture gardener, and pioneer in church-supported agriculture. Details.

Deadline to apply for Ethnic Local Church Grants, Sunday, Aug. 10 — The grants, distributed by the United Methodist Board of Church and Society, aim to strengthen ethnic minority local churches through education, advocacy or leadership development as they engage in social justice. Details.

United Theological Seminary’s Preaching Retreat, Tuesday-Thursday, Aug. 12-14 — “The Promise of New Testament Apocalyptic” will be the theme of the retreat at the seminary’s campus at 4501 Denlinger Road, Dayton, Ohio. The event aims to help pastors and students gain competence in preaching apocalyptic texts in the New Testament. Details.

Deadline to apply to join regional Healthy Families, Healthy Planet advocacy training, Friday, Aug. 15 — The free United Methodist training in advocating for women and girls will be Saturday, Sept. 6, with an optional session on Monday, Sept. 8, in Peoria, Illinois. Applications are required. Details and application.

Deadline to register for Just Save One conference to equip HIV and AIDS Ministries, Friday, Aug. 15 — The gathering will be Thursday through Saturday, Sept. 11-13, at the Renaissance Hotel in Denver and sponsored by the United Methodist Global AIDS Fund. Details.

Online courses from in August and SeptemberAug. 18-Sept. 2: Come to the Table (study of United Methodist theology and practice of the sacrament of Holy Communion); Aug. 18-Sept. 2: Come to the Waters (study of United Methodist theology and practice of the sacrament of Baptism); Aug. 18-Sept. 2: Biblical Storytelling I; Sept. 8-23: Life Together in the United Methodist Connection; Sept. 8-23: Living Our United Methodist Beliefs; Sept. 8-19: Becoming an Even Better Sunday School or Small Group Teacher; Sept. 15-26: Youth Ministry 101; Sept. 22-Oct. 3: Active Learning for Today's Children. Details.

Free webinar “What Every Teacher Needs to Know,” Tuesday, Aug. 19 — 6:30 p.m. CT, The United Methodist Board of Discipleship offers tips for effective leadership in small groups and other classes. Details.

Seven Levers Workshop: Missional Strategies for Conferences with Bishop Robert Schnase, Saturday, Aug. 23 — 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. CT at Collierville United Methodist Church, 454 W. Poplar Ave., Collier, Tennessee. $10. Details.

Symposium on “Understanding Human Trafficking: From Awareness to Action,” Saturday, Aug. 23 — 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. ET, sponsored by Frankfort District United Methodist Men and United Methodist Women at Frankfort (Kentucky) First United Methodist Church, 211 E. Washington St. $16. Details.

Deadline to register for workshop “Small Churches Can Have A Big Impact: Making your Voice & Vote Count!” Monday, Aug. 25 — Event is at 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. ET Saturday, Sept. 6. Ohio West Area Bishop Gregory V. Palmer will be the keynote speaker at this workshop at The Methodist Theological School in Ohio, 3081 Columbus Pike, Delaware, Ohio. $20-25. Details on PDF.

Webinar “Planning Your Fall Financial Campaign,” Tuesday, Aug. 26 — 7-8 p.m. ET This ecumenical webinar will give advice on how to customize a stewardship campaign by meeting people where they are on their journey of faith. $10. Details.

Deadline for early-bird discount on 2015 United Methodist Program Calendars, Sunday. Aug. 31 — Order before date and receive 10 percent discount. Use Promo Code CAL15EP.

Converge 2014: A Gathering of Pastors for Pastors, Monday-Wednesday, Sept. 8-10 — The event for clergy and church staff will be at St. Paul’s United Methodist Church in Joplin, Missouri. Erwin Raphael McManus, founder of MOSAIC community of faith in Los Angeles, will be the keynote speaker. $70, discounted from what’s on the website. Details.

One Board Model Seminar, Sunday, Sept. 142 p.m. CT. The Rev. Bob Farr, director of congregational excellence for the Missouri Annual (regional) Conference, will lead training for churches to implement a one-board model at The Connection, 6701 Virginia Ave., St. Louis. Details on PDF.

Christians Engaged in Faith Formation conference “CEF2014: May the Circle be Unbroken,” Friday-Monday,Oct. 17-20 — This is a conference for United Methodist Christian Educators and leaders in faith formation from other denominations at Millennium Maxwell House Hotel in Nashville, Tennessee. Details.