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Weekly Digest - August 7, 2015


NOTE: This is a digest of news features provided by United Methodist Communications for Aug. 3-7. 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

Conference sues breakaway church over assets

GRAND CHAIN, Ill. (UMNS) — The Illinois Great Rivers Conference filed a lawsuit seeking to keep property now used by a breakaway congregation. The Aug. 6 lawsuit comes on the heels of a highly publicized property settlement between the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference and a fast-growing church that left the denomination. Heather Hahn reports.
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50 years on, churches still fight for equal voting rights

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — The Voting Rights Act of 1965 turned 50 on Aug. 6. People of faith had a big hand in that landmark legislation. Just as the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s depended upon groups like the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, today’s civil rights leaders seek allies in the faith community. Mahalia Smith, an intern with United Methodist Communications, reports.
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Missouri pastors still fighting racism one year after shooting

FERGUSON, Mo. (UMTV) — Two United Methodist pastors were on the frontlines of racial unrest and protests after 18-year-old Michael Brown was shot fatally in an altercation with police on August 9, 2014. In an interview with United Methodist Communications, they spoke about how their churches are working for change.
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Wi-Fi problems interfere with election results

MACUNGIE, Pa. (UMNS) — An analysis of ballots for 2016 General Conference delegates taken during the Eastern Pennsylvania Annual Conference showed that Wi-Fi glitches caused discrepancies with the presentations of ballot results. Lloyd Speer, conference secretary, and Ruth Daugherty, judge of elections, reported the problems. A new election will take place Nov. 14 at the Macungie campus of Bethany United Methodist Church.
See announcement

Early morning prayer service draws hundreds

HARARE, Zimbabwe (UMNS) — Eggester Jokomo sits huddled near the church pulpit, her eyes closed and her lips muttering an inaudible prayer. Around the 80-year-old, people of varying ages pray. Eveline Chikwanah reports on the daily 4 a.m. service at St. Mark United Methodist Church that now draws as many as 500 worshippers.
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Sierra Leone works to meet post-Ebola challenges

FREETOWN, Sierra Leone (UMNS) — When Bishop John Yambasu spoke to a trauma healing workshop in June, he was worried about both continuing isolated cases of Ebola in the Freetown area and how to ensure post-Ebola challenges are met. Phileas Jusu, Sierra Leone Conference communicator, has the story.
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Church media form new Africa radio network

KAMINA, Democratic Republic of Congo (UMNS) — A new United Methodist Radio Network of Africa has already produced its first story, which features information about how community health workers are saving lives with text messaging in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Vicki Brown reports on the network formed by the directors of the denomination’s four radio stations in Africa — Voice of Hope in Côte d’Ivoire, Radio ELAM in Liberia, Kairos in Angola and Lokole in Congo.
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How should faithful Christians care for animals?

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — What does the Bible mean when it says humans are given dominion over animals? Reports of the killing of a lion known as Cecil in Zimbabwe have brought that question to the fore. Joe Iovino talks to a United Methodist theologian for thoughts on that question.
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Graduate theology classes begin in August

MONROVIA, Liberia (UMNS) — More than 20 students begin classes this month at the United Methodist University Graduate School of Theology. The Rev. Yatta R. Young, dean, said the school is starting with a Master of Divinity program with the intention of adding other disciplines, such as human rights and peacebuilding. Julu Swen reports.
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Technology aids in telling church’s story

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — From manual typewriters in the 1940s to today’s sleek hand-held devices, United Methodist Communications has a record of embracing useful technologies and equipping the local church with modern ministry tools. The agency’s strength has been in its willingness to evolve. Laura Buchanan has the story as United Methodist Communications continues its 75th anniversary observance.
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WCC pilgrims remember atom bombs’ deadly destruction

HIROSHIMA, Japan (WCC) — Seventy years after nuclear fireballs exploded over two Japanese cities, an ecumenical group of pilgrims has come to listen to those who survived and renew the struggle against their own countries’ continued reliance on nuclear weapons. United Methodist Bishop Mary Ann Swenson preached about the need for peace during an Aug. 5 ecumenical worship service in the Catholic Memorial Cathedral for World Peace in Hiroshima. Paul Jeffrey, a United Methodist missionary, reports.
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Freeing the world of nuclear weapons
Watch video with Bishop Swenson in Japan

Procession of hopefulness: Church and school partnerships

OMAHA, Neb. (UMNS) — Every afternoon at 3:15, the Rev. Chad Anglemyer watches what he calls “a procession of hopefulness.” He sees 50 or more students making their way across a busy street from nearby Burke High School straight to the doors of St. Luke's Teen Center. That’s just one example of a successful church-school partnership that Vince Isner highlights in Interpreter.
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Agency leader on racial violence: ‘Enough is enough’

WASHINGTON (UMNS) — Erin Hawkins, top executive on the United Methodist Commission on Religion and Race, writes a deeply personal reflection on the past year of highly publicized incidents of violence against African Americans. “It’s time that we join hands, say ‘enough is enough,’ and take action on that conviction,” she writes.
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President defends Iran deal at United Methodist school

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama championed the Iran nuclear deal in a speech at United Methodist-related American University — the same venue used by President Kennedy in 1963 to encourage a landmark arms control treaty with the Soviet Union. The Washington Post covered his address.
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Pastors in hog heaven for Arctic ride

FARGO, N.D. (UMNS) — The Revs. Dennis Miller of West Ohio and Randy Shrauner of Oklahoma City are motorcycling circuit riders heading north. Over three weeks and 10,000 miles, the two plan to head to the Arctic to benefit Imagine No Malaria. Susan Passi-Klaus has the story on these masters of Methodism and the art of motorcycle maintenance.
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Proposal for new hymnal endorsed

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — Legislation is heading to the 2016 General Conference that, if approved, would begin the process of developing a new official hymnal and provide for ongoing revision of the hymnal in the future. Boards of the United Methodist Publishing House and Discipleship Ministries have endorsed the proposal. The denomination’s most recent hymnal dates from 1989.
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Mission agency commissions 15 young adults

NEW YORK (UMNS) — Fifteen new United Methodist young adult missionaries for the U.S. were commissioned July 30 by the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries. Elliott Wright has the story.
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UMW members put ‘feet on their prayers’ at seminar

CHICAGO (UMNS) — In worship, workshops, site visits and actions across the city, United Methodist Women members put feet on their prayers at "Interrupting Injustice: Jesus, Justice and Joy," the quadrennial National Seminar at the University of Illinois in Chicago on July 29-Aug. 2. Yvette Moore has the story for UMW.
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This Charlie Brown loves to help

YORK, Pa. (UMNS) — This Charlie Brown really is a good man. He's the 10,000th volunteer with the Greater New Jersey Conference's A Future With Hope initiative, devoted to recovery from 2012's Superstorm Sandy. Jeff Wolfe of the Greater New Jersey Conference shares the story of the retired postal worker who has not retired from working hard.
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Church starts clergy debt relief program

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (UMNS) — Killearn United Methodist Church is creating an annual grants program to give financial help to newly ordained ministers in full connection and to aspiring missionaries. The goal is to help reduce student loan debt and encourage others to follow their call into full-time mission work. Kathy Steele has the story for the Florida Conference.
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Secret society offers comfort, support

AIKEN, S.C. (UMNS) — For the past 11 years, a secret society of neighbors at Trinity United Methodist Church has been quietly reaching out to the congregation, cheering them on in times of joy and offering comfort in times of sorrow or illness. Their members are entirely anonymous — for years, reportedly not even the pastor knew who was a member of the group. Jessica Brodie reports for the Advocate.
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Building bridges after the shootings

ALCOA, Tenn. (UMNS) — What can churches and church members do right now to build peaceful communities? Annette Spence of the Holston Conference’s The Call asked five United Methodists of diverse backgrounds to address that question following multiple mass shootings, including the attack in Chattanooga that took the lives of five service members.
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Schools association explores Wesleyan identity

WILLIAMSBURG, Va. (UMNS) — The National Association of Schools and Colleges of The United Methodist Church is undertaking two projects — developing essays on what it means to be a United Methodist-related educational institution and putting into action the association’s earlier commitment to justice and dignity. Bonnie Atwood reports for the United Methodist Board of Higher Education and Ministry.
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Learning from the stupid things we do

BIRMINGHAM, Mich. (UMNS) — “Don’t do anything stupid. It really is good advice, but stupid things don’t always have to be bad,” writes the Rev. Laurie Haller for the Lewis Center for Church Leadership. She offers advice from her own experience in ministry on learning from mistakes.
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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. 9

Joint prayer for peaceful reunification of Korean peninsula — The National Council of Churches in Korea (South Korea) and the Korean Christian Federation Central Committee (North Korea) have prepared this prayer and an order of worship. This year marks the 70th anniversary of Korea’s liberation from Japanese colonialism and also its division into two occupying zones, which subsequently led to the Korean War and continued hostilities. Details

Wednesday, Sept. 30

Deadline for Do No Harm 2015 Conference: Best Practices for Health, Accountability and Wholeness — “Do No Harm 2015,” on Thursday-Saturday, Oct. 15-17 at the Crown Plaza Hotel, Chicago O'Hare, is a sexual ethics summit addressing the most recent developments and challenges in prevention of and response to abuse, misconduct and harassment of a sexual nature, particularly by people in ministerial roles (both lay and clergy) within The United Methodist Church. The United Methodist Commission on the Status and Role of Women is the sponsor. $525 by Sept. 30. Day rates of $250 based on availability Sept. 1-30. Details

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