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Weekly Digest - January 16, 2015

NOTE: This is a digest of news features provided by United Methodist Communications for Jan. 12-16. 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

Keeping faith with Haiti
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (UMNS — Using photographs from 2010 to 2014, photographer Mike DuBose presents a visual record of how an earthquake changed this small Caribbean nation. The United Methodist Church has worked hand-in-hand with the Methodist Church of Haiti to rebuild churches, schools and homes.

View the slideshow


Five years after earthquake: recovery to development
NEW YORK (UMNS) — Five years after the devastating earthquake that left more than 200,000 dead and displaced 1.2 million, United Methodists, together with church and nongovernmental partners, continue to work with Haitian communities toward sustainable development. Linda Bloom has the story.

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Volunteers still answering call to serve Haiti
DALLAS (UMNS) — Five years after a devastating earthquake, Haiti continues to be a magnet for United Methodist volunteers who speak of the enormous needs there as well as the spiritual return they themselves receive. Highland Park United Methodist Church in Dallas is among the churches working in Haiti, despite having had a volunteer killed in the earthquake. Sam Hodges has the story.

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Read full UMNS coverage of the earthquake response


Earthquake survivor keeps commitment to Haiti
NEW YORK (UMNS) — After the Haiti earthquake in 2010, the Rev. James L. Gulley, an agricultural consultant for the United Methodist Committee on Relief, was trapped with his colleagues underneath the rubble of the Hotel Montana for more than two days. In a recent video interview, Gulley speaks about the earthquake recovery, his work and what drives his commitment.

Watch video

UMCOR Haiti: Investing in women

Haiti: Finding power in partnerships

Read more about UMCOR’s Haiti earthquake response


Ire, joy follow resolution of bishop complaint
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — The end of the complaint process against retired Bishop Melvin Talbert for officiating at a same-sex union has brought comfort to some United Methodists and consternation to others. What it will likely bring to General Conference is proposed legislation to ensure clergy who perform such unions face penalties. Heather Hahn reports.

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Promoting interreligious dialogue after Paris attacks
NEW YORK (UMNS) — The month before the deadly attacks on a Paris magazine office and a Jewish market, a small group of United Methodist and Muslim young adults in Norway discovered they had more in common than they realized. Now, they would like to continue the dialogue. Linda Bloom has the story.

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NCC condemns killings of Paris magazine employees

World Methodist Council also condemns shootings


A letter to Martin Luther King Jr.
ATLANTA (UMNS) — Retired United Methodist Bishop Woodie W. White reflects on the national conversation on race in his annual “birthday letter” to the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. The deaths of a number of unarmed black youth at the hands of police point to a deep racial divide even as the nation celebrates the 50th anniversary of the act that guaranteed the right to vote for black American citizens, he writes.

Read letter

Watch White read his letter


Turning racial nightmares into dreams
ASBURY PARK, N.J. (UMNS) — The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. taught us that we can transform evil into good. God enables us to do that. But we first have to acknowledge the evil before we, through God, can transform it, writes the Rev. Gilbert H. Caldwell, a veteran of the U.S. civil rights movement whose grandfather was born into slavery. For the United Methodist Commission on Religion and Race, he also put together a viewing guide for the movie “Selma.”

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Guide for the movie “Selma”


Ebola adds to struggles of Liberian elderly
MONROVIA, Liberia (UMNS) — Well before Ebola began ravaging their country, elderly Liberians were feeling vulnerable because of changing family structures. “Then came Ebola. It wiped out entire families, but in some cases, it carried away the primary breadwinners, leaving many vulnerable persons, primarily orphans and the elderly, who struggle to find a single meal for the day,” said Moses B. Kiadii, a member of a coalition of advocates for the elderly. Nyamah Dunbar reports.

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What can the church learn from Walt Disney World?
ORLANDO, Fla. (UMNS) — Walt Disney World finds a variety of ways to make its guests feel welcome. In a column shared by the Florida Conference, the Rev. Rich Birch, a New Jersey pastor, describes what churches can learn about hospitality and growth from the popular tourist destination.

Read blog


Churches offer alternative to payday lenders
RICHMOND, Va. (UMNS) — The Washington Post reports on Wesley Memorial United Methodist Church’s Jubilee Assistance Fund, which parishioners are using as an alternative to high-interest commercial lending.

Read story


A chaplain in hiking boots
DAMASCUS, Virginia (UMNS) — At an age when many people kick back in retirement, Dave Smith went on his own "Wild"-like adventure, hiking the entire Appalachian Trail. Though not a pastor, Smith served as the Holston Conference’s chaplain on the trail, offering counsel and friendship to fellow hikers.

View video


United Methodist layman to meet Pope Francis
MANILA, Philippines (UMNS — A United Methodist layman will be among 10 religious leaders and peace advocates from various denominations meeting with Pope Francis during his visit to the Philippines. Gladys P. Mangiduyos reports.

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Duke cancels Muslim call-to-prayer from chapel
DURHAM, N.C. (UMNS) — Duke University has reconsidered a previously announced plan to present a traditional Muslim call-to-prayer from the Duke Chapel bell tower, campus officials said Thursday.

Read press release

Read ABC coverage

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.

Sunday-Saturday, Jan. 18-24
Week of Prayer for Christian Unity — The Office of Christian Unity and Interreligious Relationships, part of the Council of Bishops, urges United Methodists to participate. Resources, including posters, daily Scripture, prayer guides, bulletins, pulpit announcements and prayer cards, are available online from the Graymoor Ecumenical & Interreligious Institute.

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