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Weekly Digest - December 12, 2014


NOTE: This is a digest of news features provided by United Methodist Communications for Dec. 8-12. 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

WWI truce spurs Christmas Eve call for peace
NEW YORK (UMNS) — Two Methodist congregations — one in England and one in Germany — are using the 100th anniversary of the unofficial “Christmas Truce” of World War I for a joint Christmas Eve service, to signal the hope for peace in today’s conflicted world. Linda Bloom has the story.

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After grand jury rulings, what is the church’s witness?
NEW YORK (UMNS) — After separate grand juries decided not to indict officers involved in the deaths of two African Americans, United Methodists are seeking ways to bear witness that all lives matter. Church leaders also plan to advocate for long-term reforms aimed at serving both the police and the people they are called to protect. Heather Hahn reports.

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Commentary: How is the church doing with injustice?

All lives matter — a lesson from Hebrew midwives

Chaplain looks back on 50 years of service
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — The Rev. W. Thomas Carter, who served as an Army chaplain during the Vietnam War, will retire on Dec. 31 as director of the agency that endorses United Methodist chaplains. He shares his recollections from Vietnam and talks about the challenges service members still face. Kathy Gilbert offers this profile.

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President Obama: Faith is seeing the stranger as yourself
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — President Barack Obama and United Methodist Bishop Minerva Carcaño have cited the Christmas story as the best example of how to welcome the undocumented “strangers among us.” Both were in Nashville on Dec. 9. Kathy Gilbert has the story.

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Arizona church takes lead in offering sanctuary
TUSCON, Ariz. (UMNS) — The people at St. Francis in the Foothills United Methodist Church love having Francisco Perez Cordova around. But for his sake they’d love to see him go, provided he first gets assurance that he won’t be deported. Perez Cordova lives fulltime at the church after he accepted sanctuary from a possible deportation order. Sam Hodges has the story.

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Typhoon Hagupit batters Philippines
MANILA, Philippines (UMNS) — United Methodists provided shelter for evacuees from Typhoon Hagupit, while other church members who survived last year's Typhoon Haiyan took refuge in evacuation centers. Gladys Mangiduyos and April Grace G. Mercado report.

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Communications agency a leader at global summit
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — The Ebola crisis makes a real case for why communications technologies are so desperately needed in low-resource parts of the world. United Methodist Communications took a leadership role in the 2014 GETHealth Summit, aimed at closing communication gaps that exist among health workers and their communities.

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Communicating hope amid Ebola crisis
ABIDJAN, Côte d'Ivoire (UMNS) — With United Methodist Church help, West African countries without Ebola are looking at communications needs if there is a further outbreak. Isaac Broune of Côte d'Ivoire has the story.


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Why do largest churches not have female pastors?
PORTLAND, Ore. (UMNS) — According to the most recent data from the General Council on Finance and Administration, only two of the 100 largest United Methodist churches in the United States have women as senior pastors. In a blog post, the Rev. Jeremy Smith ponders this trend in a denomination that has long welcomed women clergy and offers some ideas for increasing the numbers.

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Hot wings, church and a Letterman shout-out
BIRMINGHAM, Ala.  (UMNS) — Riverchase United Methodist Church wants to reach people who are more comfortable seated in a booth than a pew, so it’s launching a worship service at a nearby Buffalo Wild Wings on Dec. 14. The story inspired the Top 10 list on “The Late Show with David Letterman.” His focus: what people might overhear at a Buffalo Wild Wings church.

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Meet the new chief strategist for vital congregations
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — The Rev. Sara B. Thomas of the West Ohio Conference joined the staff of the denomination's Discipleship Ministries on Dec. 1 as chief strategist for vital congregations.  

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History of Hymns: ‘Advent Hymn’
DALLAS (UMNS) — Noted United Methodist composer Jane Manton Marshall celebrated her 90th birthday on Dec. 5. C. Michael Hawn of Southern Methodist University’s Perkins School of Theology says Marshall’s “Advent Hymn,” is representative of her work “as both an astute text writer and gifted musical composer.”

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Read UMNS story on Marshall

Nativity scenes: More than meets the eye
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — Nativity scenes are a common sight at Christmastime but what could seem like a simple decoration has a lot of spiritual lessons if you look hard enough. St. Francis of Assisi created the first crèche in 1223, in an attempt to bring the focus of Christmas back to the birth of Christ and away from material, gift-giving customs.

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What makes a meaningful gift?
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — Giving cost-free gifts isn't always about low budgets or Scrooge-like reputations. Instead, freebies can be about kindness, memories, and creativity. Gifts of meaning and not money are bestowed out of gratitude for the difference someone has made in your life, or to make a difference in the life of another. Susan Passi-Klaus has the story.

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