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Weekly Digest - August 28, 2015

NOTE: This is a digest of news features provided by United Methodist Communications for Aug. 24-28, 2015. 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

Hurricane Katrina: 10 years later

Mission reborn from Katrina’s destruction

NEW ORLEANS (UMNS) — One decade later, people in Louisiana and Mississippi are looking at Hurricane Katrina in their rear-view mirrors and giving thanks to hundreds of thousands of United Methodists who put their money, hearts and hands into healing the Gulf Coast region. Reporters Kathy L. Gilbert and Linda Bloom and photographer Mike DuBose look back over the 10 years since the hurricane. First in a series.
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Read full UMNS coverage of Katrina

Before and after Katrina

NEW ORLEANS (UMNS) — Photographer Mike DuBose takes a visual trip back in time to 2005 in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and compares the devastation then to the recovery that is still in progress.
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Disaster response, then and now

Volunteers put lives, homes back together

SLIDELL, La. (UMNS) – Since Hurricane Katrina smashed into Louisiana in 2005, the Epworth Project at Northshore Disaster Recovery Inc. has assisted 7,631 clients and hosted more than 56,000 volunteers who have repaired 2,447 homes. Kathy L. Gilbert and Mike DuBose revisited Slidell and met volunteers and homeowners who are still picking up the pieces. Second in a series.
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From Katrina to Detroit: New collaborations

DETROIT (UMNS) – Relationships strengthened and expanded through the Katrina recovery process have created a new normal for local disaster response.  Linda Bloom takes a look at how United Methodists in Michigan are helping Detroit homeowners recover from the 2014 floodwaters using lessons learned and connections made during Katrina. Third in a series. 
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Katrina brought terror – and caring

Coming soon: ‘The Spirit Church’

NEW ORLEANS (UMNS) – Once home to three United Methodist churches, the 7th Ward has not had a United Methodist presence in 10 years. The Rev. Hadley Edwards plans to change that with the Spirit Church. Kathy L. Gilbert and Mike DuBose have the story and photos. Fourth in a series.
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Read Louisiana Conference report on 7th Ward

9th Ward church endures after Katrina

NEW ORLEANS (UMNS) – The 9th Ward has gone from the most populous ward in New Orleans to a ghost town. But Hartzell United Methodist Church endures in the ward where the levees broke. Writer Kathy L. Gilbert and photographer Mike DuBose report on the courage of the United Methodists who still live and worship here. Fifth in a series.
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Homeless shelter feeds bodies and souls

BILOXI, Miss. (UMNS) – Hurricane Katrina destroyed Seashore Mission, but it has relocated and serves more than 200 meals, three days a week, to the poor and homeless. Kathy L. Gilbert and Mike DuBose have the story and photos.
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United Methodist free clinic arose from Katrina

NEW ORLEANS (UMNS) – A free clinic started by United Methodists after Hurricane Katrina is now open two nights a week with expansion plans that include an eye clinic. Kathy L. Gilbert and Mike DuBose have the story and photos.
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After the storm: Hope from small hands and big hearts

NEW ORLEANS (UMNS) – Hurricane Katrina swept Betty Johnson out of her east New Orleans home in 2005. United Methodist volunteers are completing repairs so she can finally return, 10 years later. Kathy L. Gilbert has the story, with photos by Mike DuBose.
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Other news around the connection

Relief for those fleeing Washington fires

NEW YORK (UMNS) - Last summer, a wildfire scorched the back of Pateros Community United Methodist Church in Washington State and burned down its parsonage. This August, as fires once again devastate the drought-plagued western U.S., the church in Pateros is open 24 hours a day to those in need of shelter, food and a place to escape the smoke. Linda Bloom has the story.
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Fallen firefighter's mother is United Methodist pastor
See family’s video statement
Firefighter Wheeler was United Methodist

Commentary: AME pastor salutes 2 United Methodists

SAN ANTONIO, Texas (UMNS) – The Rev. Sharon Grant, an AME pastor and church historian, sees a Wesleyan influence in Gov. Nikki Haley and state Rep. Jenny Horne of South Carolina. Both are United Methodists, and Grant lauds their work in helping remove the Confederate flag from the state Capitol grounds.
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Liberian president opposes Christian state plans

MONROVIA, Liberia (UMNS) – President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, a United Methodist, says efforts to declare Liberia a Christian state would create “division among the citizens based on religious belief.” Julu Swen reports.
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Covenant Discipleship: Tranforming lives

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) – Christians grow as disciples through sharing their successes and struggles with small groups of trusted friends. Joe Iovino reports on Covenant Discipleship, a small group ministry offered by United Methodist Discipleship Ministries. Third in a four-part series. 
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Bishop Swanson: ‘Something good is going on’

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) – “Something good is going on with UM Men,” Bishop James Swanson, president of the Commission on United Methodist Men, told the 20-member governing board of the Nashville-based agency. “We have to find––and we don’t have to look far––to see what God has done in our lives, and we need to tell those stories,” he said. Rich Peck reports for United Methodist Men.
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Agency wants leeway to fight gay teen suicide

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — The United Methodist Discipleship Ministries board is proposing General Conference legislation that would lift church funding restrictions related to homosexuality. The proposal’s main rationale is to enable Discipleship Ministries to provide resources aimed at preventing teen suicide, particularly among youth who feel marginalized by their sexual identity. Heather Hahn reports.
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Discipleship Ministries submits hymnal legislation

United Methodist Freedom Rider dies at 99

SANTA ROSA, Calif. — The Rev. George M. Houser, a United Methodist pastor and founder of the Civil Rights organization Congress of Racial Equality, died Aug. 19 at the age of 99. The New York Times has the obituary of the man believed to be the last living member of the inaugural Freedom Ride — the volatile, sometimes violent bus trip through the South by a racially mixed group in 1947.
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Death of young woman in Sierra Leone sparks protests

FREETOWN, Sierra Leone (UMNS) – United Methodist women in Sierra Leone have joined with women’s rights, religious and civil society leaders to protest the brutal death and gang rape of a 17-year-old. Phileas Jusu reports.
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75 years of telling the United Methodist story

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) – Whether spotlighting the innovative ministry of a local congregation or reporting on a global campaign against a killer disease, United Methodist News Service has been chronicling the life of the denomination for 75 years. Rich Peck reports on the development of the news service as the authoritative source of information about the work of the church and the church’s response to such major events as desegregation in the 1960s, the 9/11 terrorist attacks in America and the 2004 South Asia tsunami.
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Technology helps gives women a voice

WASHINGTON (UMNS) – Revi Sterling says women in developing nations rarely have smart phones — if they have a phone at all. "Women have a lot of things to say and often, only men have the technology,” she says. Sterling works with NetHope to improve connectivity among humanitarian organizations in developing countries and areas affected by disaster. How access to technology can empower women is one of her main focus areas. Sterling is a speaker at the upcoming Game Changers Summit, Sept. 17-19. The event in Nashville, Tennessee, is hosted by United Methodist Communications. Joey Butler reports. 
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Learn more or register for Game Changers

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.

Sunday, Aug. 30
Time of remembrance to mark 10th anniversaries of massive hurricanes – The Louisiana Conference is inviting congregations to have a time of remembrance during worship for those affected by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, which struck the Gulf Coast of Louisiana and neighboring states in August and September, 2005. The conference offers a litany of remembrance. Louisiana Area Bishop Cynthia Harvey also has a letter than can be read aloud

Tuesday, Sept. 1
Deadline to apply for the United Methodist Children's Fund for Christian Mission — The United Methodist Children’s Fund for Christian Mission helps children learn about, and contribute to, a select group of mission projects. Each year, the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries identifies four projects — two from outside of the United States and two from within the United States — for their value in helping children understand what it means to “be in mission.” In the past the fund raised $8,000-$15,000 per project. The project must be an existing program for children under 12 years of age. To apply

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