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Weekly Digest - August 8, 2014


NOTE: This is a digest of news features provided by United Methodist Communications for August 4 - August 8. 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
Church responds to international emergency of Ebola
MONROVIA, Liberia (UMNS) — With the Ebola outbreak in West Africa declared an international health emergency, United Methodist church leaders in Liberia are educating people about prevention, diagnosis and treatment of the disease. Above all they are reminding Liberians that Jesus Christ is a healer.

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Nurses, doctors save lives but lose their own
United Methodist Church responding to Ebola threat
Communication is aid in Ebola fight

Gaza conflict adds urgency to conference
NEW YORK (UMNS) - The deadly month-long conflict in Gaza has added a new dimension to the two-day Walking with Palestinian Christians Conference, meeting this week at Ginghamsburg United Methodist Church in Tipp City, Ohio. "We will spend even more time in prayer and discernment," said Thomas Kemper, top executive of the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries, the conference sponsor.

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Border crisis had him leading, tweeting
DALLAS (UMNS) — Clay Jenkins, a United Methodist, drew on his Christian faith and even tweeted words often attributed to John Wesley while leading Dallas County to offer shelter for unaccompanied minors coming across the U.S.-Mexico border. The offer by Jenkins, top official of the county commission, sparked protests but also won him kudos from faith leaders..

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Churches step up to help Afghan interpreters
GLEN ALLEN, Va. (UMNS) — After seven years translating for the highest echelons of the U.S. military in his homeland of Afghanistan, Hameed realized he was in grave danger. Given just hours to prepare to leave the country, he and his wife and two small children arrived in Washington in February with little in the way of belongings, money or future plans. A coalition of 10 churches in northern Virginia — eight of them United Methodist — learned about the situation of Hameed’s family and jumped in to help. Neill Caldwell shares the story.

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Action urged on attacks on Christians in Iraq
GENEVA (UMNS) — The World Council of Churches has issued an urgent call to the United Nations for an immediate response to the killing of Christians and others by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria militant fighters. The WCC also sent a letter to its 345 member churches making them aware of the situation in Nineveh Province, Iraq, where Christians are fleeing because of a two-day mortar attack.

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Letter to member churches
Read Washington Post story

Finance agency settles suit over UMCmarket
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) - The General Council on Finance and Administration, The United Methodist Church's finance agency, recently settled a federal lawsuit with Foundation Automation, one of the founding partners of In the settlement, the General Council on Finance and Administration regains full rights of, the online shopping portal that allows United Methodists to shop online retailers such as Amazon with a percentage of the sale donated to a local church or United Methodist ministry of their choice. Geir Thomas Kristiansen, the executive director of Foundation Automation, did not return requests for comment.

Read statement from the General Council on Finance and Administration
To learn about the background of the case

Seven sites United Methodists should see
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — World travelers may seek out pyramids, cathedrals and safari parks, but United Methodists have destinations across the globe that hold their own allure. Here are suggestions for seven fascinating places to visit.

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Technology changes game for communities, churches
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) - Some of the world's foremost game changers will gather Sept. 3-5 in Nashville for three days of sharing knowledge about communications technology and how it is making a difference in places such as Haiti, the Philippines and throughout Africa. The Game Changers Summit is sponsored by United Methodist Communications.

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Summer Camp changes interns as much as children
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) - "I had not been in Antioch United Methodist Church's gym for two minutes before I felt someone hugging my legs, and looked down to see a young girl's beaming face. The little girl's love welcomed me into an atmosphere where children are being nurtured and encouraged to grow." Kelly Caviness, a United Methodist Communications intern, reflects on her visit to the program that connects young adults with children and churches in underserved communities.

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Commentary: Bible not a book but a library
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (UMNS) — The Rev. Talbot Davis, pastor of Good Shepherd United Methodist Church in Charlotte, shares five benefits he sees to reading the Bible not as a single book but as a collection of God-breathed books.

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History of Hymns: ‘Precious Lord, Take My Hand’
DALLAS (UMNS) — Many hymns are conceived in the throes of tragedy. "Precious Lord" was written in Chicago in 1932 following the death of Thomas Andrew Dorsey's wife Nettie and their infant son during childbirth. In his column for the United Methodist Board of Discipleship, C. Michael Hawn shares how a musician who made his name in jazz and blues also became known as the “Father of Black Gospel Music,” and created a hymn still beloved today.

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Discipleship board offers back-to-school resources
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — Back-to-school resources to help congregations and families prepare for the new school year — from prayers and litanies to articles about bullying — are now available at the United Methodist Board of Discipleship website.

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Read the news release

Detroit Treads sales exceed $50,000 in first month
DETROIT (UMNS) - Detroit Treads, manufactured by Green Industries of Cass Community Social Services, a United Methodist ministry, surpassed $50,000 in shoe sales their first month. "Once something ends up on the Internet," says the Rev. Faith Fowler, "it can go everywhere. We've now sold Detroit Treads in 44 states, including two pairs in Alaska!" Fowler, executive director of Cass Community Social Services, is also pastor of Cass Community United Methodist Church. Kay DeMoss with the Michigan Episcopal Area shares the story.

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Church plans ‘Great Mustache Conspiracy’
MEMPHIS, Tenn. (UMNS) — Members of St. Mark’s United Methodist Church in Memphis wanted to celebrate the birthday of their pastor, the Rev. Brad Gabriel. The congregation’s idea, Gabriel writes, would do Groucho Marx proud.

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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.

Launch of online support group helps pastors in recovery, Tuesday, Aug. 12 Noon to 1 p.m. ET, sponsored by the United Methodist Special Program on Substance Abuse and Related Violence. Details

Deadline to apply to participate in the Social Principles consultation in Maputo, Mozambique, Friday, Aug. 15 – Consultation organized by the United Methodist Board of Church and Society will be on Oct. 17-18. Others will follow in Nigeria, the Czech Republic and Washington, D.C. 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

World Vision president speaks, Sunday, Aug. 17 – Rich Stearns, president of the Christian charity World Vision, will preach based on his book “Unfinished” at 8:15 a.m., 9:30 a.m., 11 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. CT at Bethany United Methodist Church, 10010 Anderson Mill Road in Austin, Texas. 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. 196:30 p.m. CT, The United Methodist Board of Discipleship offers tips for effective leadership in small groups and other classes. Details

Free webinar “The Importance of Preaching for Children,” Thursday, Aug. 21 10 a.m. CT, a United Methodist Board of Discipleship one-hour interactive webinar discussion on preaching to reach listeners of all ages and abilities. 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 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

Game Changers Summit, Wednesday-Friday, Sept. 3-5 United Methodist Communications invites local churches to attend a conference at Gaylord Opryland Hotel in Nashville, Tennessee. The event will focus on how congregations can use technology to strengthen international development. Details

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

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