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Weekly Digest - February 19, 2016


UMNS Weekly Digest

Feb. 19, 2016

NOTE: This is a digest of news features provided by United Methodist Communications for Feb. 15-19. 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

Pre-GC2016 video on divestment gets pushback

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — Some United Methodists believe the denomination’s Board of Pension and Health Benefits went too far in telling delegates from outside the United States how to vote on General Conference petitions. The board says it was trying to convey its message in a way easily understood in multiple languages. Heather Hahn reports on the debate.
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United Methodists go the distance to aid refugees

DALLAS (UMNS) — Feeling called to offer a Christian response to a humanitarian crisis, a small group of United Methodists recently traveled to the Greek island of Lesbos to help care for refugees arriving by boat or raft. The group joined a grassroots relief effort, providing clothes, hot tea and tent space to families from Syria and other countries. Sam Hodges reports.
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How a church overcomes hostility to Christianity

EBERSWALDE, Germany (UMNS) — While United Methodists in the United States frequently face indifference to their faith, reactions to Christianity in formerly Communist eastern Germany can be outright hostile. But Immanuel United Methodist Church is defying the odds by welcoming newcomers, including recent asylum-seekers. Heather Hahn has the story.
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Church celebrates 100 years and 100 Habitat houses

DALLAS (UMNS) — This month, Highland Park United Methodist Church will finish building its 100th Habitat for Humanity house in the Dallas area. The timing is sweet, since the church is observing its 100th anniversary. Sam Hodges reports.
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Filipino United Methodists hold sexuality dialogue

MANILA, Philippines (UMNS) — Two hundred people gathered recently at Central United Methodist Church to talk about how to be in ministry with LGBTQ people. Gladys P. Mangiduyos reports.
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Divorce legislation prevails at Liberia Conference

BUCHANAN CITY, Liberia (UMNS) — The Liberia Conference upheld legislation banning divorced clergy from running for bishop before endorsing episcopal candidates to send to the West Africa Central Conference for election in December 2016. E. Julu Swen reports.
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Help for those displaced by Boko Haram

ABUJA, Nigeria (UMNS) —  A United Methodist congregation in Nigeria is providing refuge for some of the thousands escaping the Boko Haram war in northern Nigeria. That assistance is happening despite the scarce resources of the Don Peter Dabale Memorial United Methodist Church in Abuja, which has been trying to complete a church building project since 2009. E. Julu Swen reports.
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Sierra Leone hospital gives sight to the blind

FREETOWN, Sierra Leone (UMNS) — A United Methodist eye hospital is working to help save the sight of Ebola survivors by providing free treatment of a dangerous eye inflammation related to the deadly virus. Phileas Jusu has the story.
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Superintendent speaks out about imprisoned brother

DES MOINES, Iowa (UMNS) — The Rev. Kiboko I. Kiboko of the Iowa Conference says the Congolese government recently transferred his brother, Vano Kiboko, from a civilian to military prison in part because the brother “was befriending the prisoners.” The Rev. Arthur McClanahan offers this update on the ordeal of the United Methodist, who according to Human Rights Watch is wrongfully imprisoned.
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Reasons for young people to stay in church

GATLINBURG, Tenn. (UMNS) — The Rev. Jasmine Smothers of the North Georgia Conference recently challenged United Methodist teens to take a bigger role in church leadership and help reduce the flight of young people from the pews. “Why have you abdicated your power?” she said. Annette Spence of the Holston Conference has the story.
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Event explores future of worship

RALEIGH, N.C. (UMNS) — How do you fuse Wesleyan traditions with today’s varied worship needs? “Fusion: The Future of Worship in The UMC,” an event organized by United Methodist Discipleship Ministries, brought together more than 400 United Methodists to discuss this question.
Read press release

Podcast: 'Get your spirit in shape'

NASHVILLE, Tenn. ( — “Get Your Spirit in Shape” is a free, 30-minute, monthly podcast from United Methodist Communications featuring conversations with leaders, authors and others who offer spiritual nutrition and exercises for our everyday lives. In the first episode, J. Brent Bill, author of “Life Lessons from a Bad Quaker,” discusses how we strive to deepen our spiritual lives.
Listen to podcast

Center honors black United Methodists’ history

MADISON, N.J. ( —The African American Methodist Heritage Center is preserving the story of the African Americans who stayed, despite hardships, with what became The United Methodist Church.
Watch video

Black History Month: UMW resources

NEW YORK (UMNS) — An online flipbook charting a racial justice timeline is one of several resources for Black History Month available through United Methodist Women. Dorothy Ravenhorst also recalls adopting the organization’s Charter for Racial Justice in Virginia in 1965.
See timeline | Read story

Discussion guide available for ‘Vital Conversations’

WASHINGTON (UMNS) — The United Methodist Commission on Religion and Race presents a discussion guide to go along with its “Vital Conversations” video series. The Rev. Dianne Glave of the Western Pennsylvania Conference wrote "Vital Conversations on Realities of Race and Racism: A Guide to Small-group Discussions" about the video series.
To see guide and related videos

Honduras trip underscores immigration crisis

SPRINGFIELD, Va. (UMNS) — “The will to live in safety cannot be discouraged through policy,” writes Melissa Bowe, National Justice for Our Neighbors director, after visiting Honduras. People of faith must see the humanitarian crisis underlying immigration, she argues. NJFON is a United Methodist immigration ministry.
Read her report

Church promotes education in Congo

NICEVILLE, Fla. (UMNS) — Crosspoint United Methodist Church has formed lasting relationships with the people of the North Katanga Annual Conference in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The church also has provided them with Bibles, bicycles and tools for improving schools. The United Methodist Board of Higher Education and Ministry reports.
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Young Preachers Festival opens registration

LEAWOOD, Kan. (UMNS) — Registration is open for the July 21-22 Young Preachers Festival and Conference, at the United Methodist Church of the Resurrection in Leawood, Kansas. Co-sponsored by the United Methodist Board of Higher Education and Ministry, the event aims to boost the preaching skills of seminarians, declared candidates for ministry and young clergy. The $69 early-bird discount goes through May 31.
To learn more 

Publishing House board names next president

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — The Rev. Brian K. Milford has been selected to be the next president and chief executive officer of the United Methodist Publishing House. Milford is the Publishing House’s United Methodist Church book editor and chief content officer. He will officially assume office in October after Neil Alexander retires as president and publisher.
Read press release 

Alabama-West Florida hosts prayer breakfast

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (UMNS) —  Alabama Supreme Court Justice Lyn Stuart and several other state officials, along with state representatives and many United Methodists, attended the annual prayer breakfast Feb. 11 hosted by the denomination’s Alabama-West Florida Conference and its Board of Church and Society.
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Lent-Easter quiz: John Wesley and fasting

NASHVILLE, Tenn. ( — How often did John Wesley fast? You can test your knowledge of the season with this and other questions from now until Good Friday.
Take the quiz

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.

Monday, Feb. 22

Webinar “Financial Tips for Clergy: Take the Bite Out of Income Taxes” — 10:30 a.m. CST. Clergy face some unique challenges when it comes to things like Social Security payments, estimated tax payments, housing allowances or exclusions, and reimbursed expenses. It is important to know the rules, but also the way to minimize the impact of your tax liability. United Methodist Discipleship Ministries hosts the Rev. Don Joiner, a certified financial planner, who offers tips to clergy who are navigating the preparation of taxes and planning for a sound financial future. Details

Tuesday, Feb. 23

Webinar “Quick and Dirty Intro to Live Streaming Worship” — 6 to 7 p.m. CST. This session will provide an overview of how to live stream church services and events. Discussion will include necessary hardware, hospitality issues (including chat rooms), and whether to upload print content. Practical Resources for Churches, an ecumenical group, presents this webinar. Details

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