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Weekly Digest - August 14, 2015

NOTE: This is a digest of news features provided by United Methodist Communications for Aug. 10-14. 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

Proposals aim to increase bishop accountability

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) – Legislation is coming to General Conference, the denomination’s top lawmaking body, with the goal of increasing bishops’ accountability. Bishops themselves also are discussing how to hold each other accountable. Heather Hahn reports on some proposals on the table.
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General Council on Finance and Administration meeting

United Methodists join in Ferguson protest

FERGUSON, Mo. (UMNS) – About 75 United Methodists gathered at sundown Aug. 12 in Ferguson, Missouri, to offer peace and hope amid renewed unrest. With his community now in an official state of emergency, the Rev. F. Willis Johnson Jr., a United Methodist pastor, urged his colleagues to join him in nonviolent protest. Kelley Hartnett has the story.
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Pastor calls United Methodists to Ferguson

Ebola animation seen by thousands

FREETOWN, Sierra Leone (UMNS) – A video animation created to dispel myths about Ebola has directly reached nearly 60,000 individuals in two northern districts of Sierra Leone in three months. Phileas Jusu writes about the animation that United Methodist Communications helped develop.
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Pastors offer differing responses to Texas jail death

DALLAS (UMNS) – The Rev. Hannah Adair Bonner, a United Methodist elder, continues her vigil at the Waller County, Texas, jail where Sandra Bland died. Bonner said she's keeping faith with Bland's family, who doubt her death was a suicide, as authorities have declared. Other pastors have responded differently to the high-profile case. The Rev. Katy Ware, pastor of First United Methodist Church in nearby Hempstead, Texas, says she's working for "long haul" racial reconciliation in the area. Sam Hodges reports.
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Oregon ministry plan: Join forces, expand outreach

SALEM, Ore. (UMNS) – By combining forces, six churches in the Salem-Keizer area of the Oregon-Idaho Conference hope to expand their outreach in the community. Mahalia Smith reports on the plans for United Methodist Ministries of Salem-Keizer.
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Church proves best way to reach rural Africa

KAMINA, Democratic Republic of Congo (UMNS) – The church often has a bigger presence in rural Africa than the government, making it a good channel to spread health information aimed at saving the lives of mothers and infants and publicizing safe practices about diseases like cholera. Vicki Brown reports on efforts to use technology to improve health in Africa.
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Church tracks Ebola orphans to stop trafficking

MONROVIA, Liberia (UMNS) – Children orphaned because of Ebola are at risk for human trafficking, so The United Methodist Church has announced a campaign to track these orphans. The campaign is a response to the growing risk of child trafficking in Liberia, said Jefferson Knight, director of The United Methodist Church Human Rights Monitor. Julu Swen reports.
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Liberian government abruptly cancels school again

MONROVIA, Liberia (UMNS) – Liberian schools, already closed seven months for Ebola, are shuttered again. The government announced schools would close until September to allow an overall of the education system. United Methodist schools plan to remain open to offer enrichment programs. Nyamah Dunbar reports.
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Teens discover hope in YouthFirst

WINLOCK, Wash. (UMNS) – High school students in a small, rural community in the Pacific Northwest have secured their first jobs, graduated from high school and are heading to college with support from a community program called YouthFirst, led by Winlock United Methodist Church. The Rev. Pam Brokaw, the church’s pastor, has the story for Interpreter magazine.
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Top 12 things churches should do more often

MACON, Ga. (UMNS) – Open up to the surprising things God has in store and think about where God has gifted you to serve. The church should stop “talking trash and start hauling trash.” These are just a few tips members of the South Georgia Conference offer in a lighthearted video.
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Commentary: Small groups can be life-changing

NASHVILLE, Tenn. ( – “I know what to do. I just have to do it.” Discipleship growth, like staying healthy, only works when we put our knowledge into practice, writes Joe Iovino of He explains how Wesleyan small groups help.
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Developer plans hotel on Publishing House site

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – A developer who paid about $28.4 million for the property that was home to the United Methodist Publishing House has scrapped plans for an office building, but still plans to build a JW Marriott hotel on the property. Getahn Ward reports for The Tennessean.
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Church rebuilt from Civil War ashes

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - Huntsville’s First United Methodist Church - a big, white brick church with purple doors - rises in a tall, cool statement of post-Civil War pride. Kay Campbell of recounts how the whole town helped rebuild the church after a January 1864 fire.
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Back-to-school resources available

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) - United Methodist Discipleship Ministries offers resources for children, youth and adults. These include small-group studies, back-to-school blessings and prayers.
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Senate legislation aims to help women, children

WASHINGTON (UMNS) — Bipartisan legislation introduced in the Senate will improve how the United States provides life-saving assistance to women and children around the world, says Susan Burton, director of women’s and children’s advocacy for the United Methodist Board of Church and Society.
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UMCOR at work in Detroit

DETROIT (UMNS) — Nearly a year after flooding in Detroit, long-term recovery is, in some ways, just beginning. The United Methodist Committee on Relief is working with partners there to help flood survivors and a United Methodist Global Mission Fellow will join the recovery team in August. Susan Kim reports for UMCOR.
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5 secrets for church revitalization

LEXINGTON, Ky. (UMNS) – United Methodist leaders generally agree: Making disciples requires not just planting new churches but also reviving existing ones. Ministry Matters, part of the United Methodist Publishing House, offers these tips for congregational revitalization from the Rev. Ron Edmondson, senior pastor of Immanuel Baptist Church in Lexington.
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History agency names communications director

MADISON, N.J. (UMNS) – The United Methodist Commission on Archives and History has announced that James “Jay” Rollins of New York City has been named director of communications, effective July 29. Rollins previously worked with the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries and the United Methodist Committee on Relief.
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