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Weekly Digest - February 20, 2015

 

NOTE: This is a digest of news features provided by United Methodist Communications for Feb. 16-20. 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 umc.org/news.

Top Stories

Plans underway to make Discipline global

MAPUTO, Mozambique (UMNS) – What are the essentials that bind all United Methodists and what can be adapted for use outside the United States? That is the heart of the debate before an international body of church leaders, who met last week in Maputo, Mozambique. The hope is that a truly global Book of Discipline can answer these questions. Heather Hahn reports.
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Becoming the (United Methodist) ‘Church of Why Not’

NEW YORK (UMNS) – When Theatre 167 created a play to celebrate the diversity of the United Methodist Church of St. Paul and St. Andrew, the title could only come from the pastor’s description of the religious community as the church of “why not.” Linda Bloom has the story. Read story and post a comment

Slain hostage was following call to offer aid

PRESCOTT, Ariz. (UMNS) — Kayla Mueller died 6,000 miles from her Arizona home, taken hostage and then killed as she followed her call to offer humanitarian aid in Syria. Friends and family say the 26-year-old was walking the path she believed God set for her. Kathy Gilbert has the story.
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E-readers offer better, cheaper theological texts

ABIDJIN-DOUMÉ, Côte d’Ivoire (UMNS) — Tété Gnamba Laurent Martial, a freshman at a United Methodist seminary, has spent $400 copying textbooks in the past four months. But a program to provide e-readers for theological students in Africa and the Philippines has brought relief for 50 students and faculty members at the theological school. Isaac Broune reports.
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WCC mourns killings of Egyptian Christians

GENEVA (UMNS) – The World Council of Churches has joined its member churches, partners and people in Egypt as they mourn the killings of 21 Egyptian Christians kidnapped by militants in Libya.
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WCC, NCC decry acts of terror in Denmark, Libya

GENEVA (UMNS) — In a letter to the Lutheran bishop of Copenhagen, the Rev. Olav Fykse Tveit of the World Council of Churches expressed deep concern over acts of terror in Denmark but noted the church’s “strong voice for justice and for peace” and its “special calling to show that this unity of humanity is real.” In the U.S., the National Council of Churches stated its “great distress” over the execution of 21 Coptic Christians by ISIS in Libya. Along with The United Methodist Church, the Coptic Orthodox Church is one of the National Council of Churches’ 37 member communions.
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See NCC statement

UMCOR addresses needs in Ukraine

NEW YORK (UMNS) – Whether the latest ceasefire holds or not, the United Methodist Committee on Relief will continue working through the church and the Union of Young Christians of Ukraine to address people’s needs. David Tereshchuk reports.
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Religious leaders try peace effort

Join Rethink Church in a Lenten photo challenge

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) – Some will choose to give up something for Lent, others will choose to be more reflective. Whatever your practices this season, Rethink Church asks that you join a photo-a-day-challenge to share how you perceive each word or phrase for the day.
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Lent: Find your own spiritual path

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) – During Ash Wednesday services, many United Methodist pastors invited their congregations “to observe a holy Lent.” There is no one way to observe Lent. Instead, we are each encouraged to find our own method of confronting our sinfulness, remembering our mortality, and giving thanks for the gift of salvation we receive through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Joe Iovino has some suggestions.
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Methodist History: Mother African Zoar’s long legacy

PHILADELPHIA (UMNS) — African Zoar United Methodist Church has served as a refuge for 220 years. The historic church was a stop on the Underground Railroad and housed the first well-baby clinic for African Americans in Philadelphia. “And the name ‘Mother’ is significant because we birthed five other churches,” says Betty Henderson, a member of the church.
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Church partners get Lilly grant on financial literacy

GLENVIEW, Ill. (UMNS) — The Lilly Endowment Inc. has awarded a $50,000 planning grant for improving financial literacy and overall financial well-being of pastoral leaders in The United Methodist Church. The United Methodist Boards of Pension and Health Benefits and Higher Education and Ministry, along with the Texas Methodist Foundation, will collaborate on this effort.

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Pulpit swaps promote diversity

CINCINNATI, Ohio (UMNS) – Clergy in 30 United Methodist churches swapped pulpits to promote diversity and spark dialogue. The effort grew out of Circles of Grace conversations taking place in the district. The West Ohio Conference has a report.
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Sharing in Faith: Resolutions or Reconciliation?

HIGHLAND, Ill. (UMNS) – The Rev. Beverly L. Wilkes-Null writes about learning her brother was bisexual, and calls on The United Methodist Church to move toward reconciliation. “God is calling us to move beyond the rhetoric of resolutions to a place of reconciliation; a place where there will be no winner and loser; mediation, not litigation; restoration, not adjudication,” she writes in a blog for the Sharing in Faith forum.
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Smart Loan program costs less

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — Daniel Mateer knew the United Methodist Smart Loan option made the most sense for helping pay for his electrical engineering courses at West Virginia University in Morgantown. “Do the numbers,” he said. After running a spreadsheet with figures from various student loans, it was obvious that the non-deferred loan cost less. The United Methodist Board of Higher Education and Ministry is accepting applications for spring and summer loans until May 5.
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How did the early church observe Lent?

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — The early church viewed Lent slightly differently than we do today. Do you know how they observed the season? Find out by taking the United Methodist Communications’ daily quiz.
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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 newsdesk@umcom.org and put Digest in the subject line.

Tuesday, Feb. 24
Deadline to register for online course "United Methodism 101" from United Methodist Communications — Course offered Feb. 25 -April 8 on the denomination's history, structure, ministries and challenges. $9.99. Details.

Youth ministry webinar "Measuring Success: The Dangers of Playing the Numbers" — 7-8 p.m. EST. The last of three webinars led by the Rev. Sam Halverson, longtime youth minister and associate director of connectional ministries in the North Georgia Conference. This one looks at viable and more sustainable ways of measuring success in ministry, beyond counting program attendance. Details.

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