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Weekly Digest - August 29, 2014


NOTE: This is a digest of news features provided by United Methodist Communications for August 25-29. 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
A UMNS special report on immigration
MCALLEN, Texas (UMNS) – A United Methodist delegation recently visited the Rio Grande Valley to get a first-hand look at the border crisis caused by a surge of unaccompanied minors and families crossing into the United States. UMNS reports on what delegation members saw and how that shapes recommendations for a deeper United Methodist response on immigration issues. The coverage includes stories on a United Methodist Women-supported community center in Laredo, Texas, and on United Methodists who do full-time ministry on the border, and what this summer has meant for them.

Read Border trip brings immigration crisis into focus

Read Nonprofit finds life in meeting immigrants’ needs

Border trio answers call to help immigrants

Downtown Napa earthquake damage includes church
NAPA, Calif. (UMNS) — A 97-year-old United Methodist church was among the historic buildings in downtown Napa damaged by the Aug. 24 earthquake that struck northern California. First United Methodist Church of Vallejo suffered superficial damage in what is being called the strongest earthquake to hit the area in 25 years.

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Officially closed, but open to new ministry
SAN DIEGO (UMNS) — When it seemed inevitable that Christ United Methodist Church in San Diego would eventually close, the Rev. Bill Jenkins convinced his dwindling congregation to take a slightly different path. Now, rooms that hadn’t been used in decades are providing space for community programs and worship.

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Slight budget gains projected for agencies
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — The denomination’s general agencies will soon start preparing budget proposals that will go before the 2016 General Conference, and for now they expect to have slightly more money. Church leaders approved a bottom-line budget of $611.4 million for general church funds in 2017-2020.

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Bishop: Beware costs of sexuality debate
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) – The United Methodist Church’s intensifying debate around human sexuality has substantial financial implications for the global church, a bishop warned the denomination’s finance agency.

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New forum on human sexuality and the church
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) – “Sharing in Faith” is a new online forum where United Methodists can share perspectives on human sexuality and better understand one another’s journeys on this issue. United Methodist Communications is providing this forum for first-person perspectives. The idea is not to persuade or dissuade people, but to help them understand one another as persons of faith dealing with a challenging issue.

View forum

Prayers going out to West Africa in wake of Ebola
FRANKLIN, Tenn. (UMNS) – Thousands of United Methodists in the U.S. with family and friends in West Africa are donating, fasting and praying for an end to the Ebola outbreak.

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Read Education, economy suffer in Ebola outbreak

Read Post-war trauma, mistrust, fuel Ebola crisis

Read Responding to worst Ebola outbreak in history

More coverage of Ebola

Church’s top communication exec to retire next year
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) – The Rev. Larry Hollon, top executive of United Methodist Communications for more than 14 years, announced Aug. 25 that he plans to retire in about 10 months. United Methodist Communications is the agency charged with sharing the denomination’s message around the globe.

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McElvaney, social justice advocate, dies at 86
DALLAS (UMNS) – The Rev. William McElvaney, a retired United Methodist pastor and seminary president known for social justice advocacy, died Sunday, Aug. 24. McElvaney made news earlier this year by defying church law to officiate at a same-sex wedding for two longtime members of Northaven United Methodist Church, where he was pastor emeritus.

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Church helps change lives of farmworkers
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) - Nothing about picking tomatoes is easy for the workers toiling in the Florida fields from October to May each year. They earn low wages and sometimes face physical and verbal abuse. The United Methodist Church has been pushing for better farmworkers' rights since 2001.

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12-year-olds preach to 55,000 United Methodists in Zimbabwe
HARARE, Zimbabwe (UMNS) – A 12-year-old girl and boy each preached to thunderous applause from about 55,000 United Methodists attending the Ebenezer Convention, a gathering that included United Methodist delegations from around the world. Taurai Emmanuel Mafora, the Zimbabwe episcopal area communicator, has the story.

Read the story

Resources for church planters
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — Church planters, who often feel isolated as they work to establish new churches and faith communities, will be more connected and have better resources as a result of a road trip New Church Starts (Path 1) made throughout the five jurisdictions of The United Methodist Church.

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See video

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.

National Hunger Action Month, September — United Methodist partner, the Society of St. Andrew, offers resources to make September a time to take a stand against hunger including a daily prayer calendar, study guides and children’s sermon ideas. Resources.

Deadline to register for online course “United Methodism 101,” Wednesday, Sept. 3 – United Methodist Communications will offer the course Sept. 3-Oct.15. $9.99. Details.

Early bird deadline for the United Methodist Church of the Resurrection Leadership Institute, Wednesday Sept. 3— Gathering is Wednesday-Friday, Sept. 24-26. The keynote speaker is Len Sweet, United Methodist scholar and best-selling author. Details.

Free webinar “What Can a Congregation do to Change?” Thursday, Sept. 4 6:30 p.m. CT, Phil Maynard, author of “ Shift: Helping Congregations Back into the Game of Effective Ministry” will offer practical ideas for congregational transformation. Details.

Free webinar “Working with Exceptional Children: ADHD and the Autism Spectrum,” Thursday, Sept. 4 — 7-8 p.m. ET United Methodist Christian educator and certified special education teacher Elizabeth Christie will provide information, strategies and activities for working with those with ADHD and autism. Details.

NOMADS annual meeting, Sunday- Friday, Sept. 7-12 — NOMADS, which stands for Nomads On a Mission Active in Divine Service, provide volunteer labor for United Methodist organizations.  Most travel by RV, They will meet in Branson, Missouri. Details.

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, Mo. 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.

Deadline to register for six online courses from United Methodist Communications, Tuesday, Sept. 9 — United Methodist Communications will offer the following courses Sept. 10-Oct. 22.“Communicating Faith in the 21st Century,” “Connectional Giving,” “Moodle 100: Basic Training,” “Tools for Increasing Your Church’s Vitality,” “Web Ministry 100: What is Web Ministry?” and “Welcoming Ministry 100.” Costs vary. Connectional Giving is free. Details.

GO On Tour, Saturday, Sept. 13-Saturday, Nov.15 — A worship concert featuring Christian hip-hop artist Tedashii and speakers from next year’s national United Methodist youth event YOUTH 2015, will visit each of The United Methodist Church’s five U.S. jurisdictions this fall. Tickets are $15. Details of 10-city tour.

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.

Worship Design Studio Planning Retreat, Sunday-Wednesday, Sept. 14-17 — At Lake Junaluska Conference and Retreat Center, the Rev. Marcia McFee will guide participants through the entire liturgical year (starting with Advent) in order to map out worship themes and general plans for each season. Details.

Catapult Conference, Monday-Wednesday, Sept. 15-17 — Conference on “launching leaders into kingdom mission” will be at Cornerstone Church, a United Methodist congregation, 2125 Hamilton Road, Auburn, Alabama. Details.

Hispanic/Latino/a Heritage Month, Monday, Sept. 15–Wednesday, Oct. 15 — The United Methodist Board of Discipleship shares worship resources.

Free webinar “Becoming a Praying Congregation” Tuesday, Sept. 16 6:30 p.m. CT, Event includes examples and ideas for the community, for small groups, for individuals and families to have a deeper connection with God. Details.

How to Reach New People workshop by Jim Griffith, Friday-Saturday, Sept. 19-20 — Union United Methodist Church, 3543 Watson Road, St. Louis, will host event for pastors and church leaders. $25 per person or $75 per team of five (teams are encouraged). Details on PDF.

Rich Church / Poor Church: Keys to Effective Financial Ministry, Wednesday, Sept. 24 and again Tuesday, Oct. 14 — Both seminars will be from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. CT and feature United Methodist author and fundraiser, J. Clif Christopher. The Sept. 24 session will be Platte Woods United Methodist Church in Kansas City, Missouri, and the Oct. 14 session will be at Manchester United Methodist Church in St. Louis. $25. Details.

Spaghetti dinner, Unity Run/Walk and Indian Mission Homecoming Service, Friday-Sunday, Oct. 3-5 — Spaghetti dinner is at 5-7 p.m. ET Friday, Oct. 3, the Unity Run/Walk starts at 8:45 a.m. ET Saturday, Oct. 4, and the homecoming service is at 11 a.m. ET Sunday, Oct. 5. Both the dinner and run are at Nanticoke Indian Center, and the service is at Indian Mission United Methodist Church. Details on PDF.

Deadline to apply for two discernment events for Deaconesses and Home Missioner Ministry, Wednesday, Oct. 1 — Events are Friday-Sunday, Nov. 7-9, in St. Louis and Friday-Sunday, Nov. 21-23, in Tempe, Ariz. A discernment event is an opportunity to explore a sense of call to lay ministry with a group of fellow discerners. Details.

World Communion Sunday, Oct. 5 — United Methodists observe World Communion Sunday by celebrating communion with other Christians around the world on this special Sunday. Churches are also encouraged to receive a special offering to support ethnic undergraduate and graduate students, which often enables first-generation students to attend college. To download the World Communion Sunday pastor’s kit .World Communion Sunday envelopes and posters.

Deborah’s Daughters Women in Ministry and Leadership Conference, Wednesday-Friday, Oct. 22-24 — United Theological Seminary announces it will hold the conference at the seminary’s main campus at 4501 Denlinger Road, Dayton, Ohio, and at the Hilton Garden Inn in Beavercreek, Ohio. Details.