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Weekly Digest - January 30, 2015

NOTE: This is a digest of news features provided by United Methodist Communications for Jan. 26-30. 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

A United Methodist 'first' at National Cathedral
WASHINGTON (UMNS) — When the Rev. Gina Campbell presided over communion Sunday at Washington National Cathedral, it was a visible sign of Christian unity between the Episcopal and United Methodist churches. Melissa Lauber of the Baltimore-Washington Conference was there.

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Music minister brings together opera star, Street Choir
DALLAS (UMNS) — Jonathan Palant, music minister at Kessler Park United Methodist Church, brought together an ecumenical choir, the Dallas Street Choir and a famed mezzo-soprano for a concert to benefit a Dallas homeless ministry. They performed a new piece called “Street Requiem.” Sam Hodges reports.

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Campaign anticipated misuse of bed nets
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — The Imagine No Malaria campaign anticipated the problems of net misuse such as those highlighted in a recent New York Times story, writes the Rev. Larry Hollon, top executive of United Methodist Communications. In his blog post, Hollon describes the training of community health workers and the follow-up efforts to monitor net use.

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6 questions with ‘Chuck Knows Church’ star
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — The United Methodist Discipleship Ministries online series “Chuck Knows Church” is now seen by more than 50,000 people around the world. A big part of the series’ appeal is actor Josh Childs, who brings Chuck to life. He talks about the series and his own Christian walk in a Q&A.

Read Q&A and post a comment

Church in the making: Sustainable expectations
CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (CC) — In a blog for The Christian Century, the Rev. Carol Howard Merritt tells how the former Saint Andrew's United Methodist Church, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, has taken on new life as a center for faith-based outreach. She also reflects on possible models of sustainability for congregations or ministries.

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Iowa Conference complaint on same-sex wedding ends
DES MOINES, Iowa (UMNS) — A retired United Methodist pastor in Iowa will not face a penalty for officiating at a same-sex wedding in violation of church law. Bishop Julius Calvin Trimble announced in a pastoral letter that the Iowa Conference cabinet has reached "a just resolution" with the Rev. Larry Sonner this week in the complaint filed in November. 


Read pastoral letter

Read full test of just resolution

Read Des Moines Register story

Rethink Church: Conversations on race
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — For Black History Month in February, Rethink Church has collected articles that can spark conversations about race and is offering episodes of "Night Call," one of the first national radio call-in shows. The show, which aired in the 1960s, was aimed at getting whites and blacks to talk to each other — over the airwaves — during a period of incredible racial tension in the United States. The show was created by the church agency that eventually evolved into United Methodist Communications.

Read more and listen to "Night Call"

Read UMNS coverage of Ben Logan and "Night Call"

Liberian church to start graduate school of theology
MONROVIA, Liberia (UMNS) — The United Methodist University plans to launch its graduate school of theology in March with the goal of ensuring clergy in Liberia have a place to earn a Master of Divinity degree. Julu Swen reports.

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National Bible Quiz winner plans to keep studying
MANILA, Philippines (UMNS) — The first-place winner in the senior division of the Ninth National Bible Quiz plans to keep studying the word of God. “I am so blessed, really, and it will not end here. We will start in small groups,” Alexis John Caguingin said. The United Methodist Church Board of Christian Education and Discipleship sponsors the quiz in partnership with the Philippine Bible Society. Gladys P. Mangiduyos reports.

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Business experience helps church planter
LAWTON, Okla. (UMNS) — At age 28, Phil Hodson sold the last of five companies he had launched and looked forward to golfing for pleasure. Then "I woke up one day with nothing to do, and there was God, waiting," he said. Now, the former entrepreneur is Oklahoma’s newest church planter. Holly McCray reports for the Oklahoma Conference.

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Intercepting traffickers ahead of Super Bowl
SEATTLE (UMNS) — Members of United Methodist Women at Seattle’s First United Methodist Church are huddling together to bring awareness to human trafficking in the week leading up to Super Bowl Sunday. They are asking others to join a photo campaign called “Intercept the Traffickers.” Elizabeth Blanton and Cary Lee have the story for the Pacific Northwest Conference.

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How a church is using blended worship to reach new people
SHREVEPORT, La. (UMNS) — Summer Grove United Methodist Church is in a neighborhood transitioning from majority white to majority African-American. If the church didn’t change, its pastor said, it would die. So Summer Grove has started a service that blends contemporary and traditional elements led by an African-American worship leader. Sherry P. Shephard of the Shreveport Times reports on the results.

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Commentary: Leaving the funeral for the church
SEATTLE (UMNS) — Gloomy predictions of The United Methodist Church’s demise will not save the church, writes Patrick Scriven of the Pacific Northwest Conference. He suggests ways of telling a more positive story about the church.

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Young adult mission program accepting applications
NEW YORK (UMNS) — Global Mission Fellows, a two-year mission service program for young adults ages 20-30, is now accepting applications. The priority date for submission is Jan. 31 and the final application deadline is March 31.

To apply

Council of Bishops to take up global nature of church
DALLAS (UMNS) — When the Council of Bishops meets in Berlin in May one of the topics of conversation likely will be the Global Book of Discipline, being developed at the request of the 2012 General Conference. The council’s executive committee got a preview of this and other church issues when it met this month.

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Why not to engage unhappy folks in email
SOMERVILLE, Mass. (UMNS) — It’s a predicament many pastors have experienced — how to respond to an email from an unhappy parishioner. The Rev. Molly Phinney Baskette has some advice: Don’t. In a column for the Lewis Center for Church Leadership, the pastor instead shares her tips for drawing an email correspondent into a face-to-face conversation.

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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.

Lenten resources
Society of St. Andrew — An anti-hunger ministry, this United Methodist partner provides the devotional booklet "Into the Wilderness" for Feb. 18 through April 25, as well as a resource for Friday fasts, "In Remembrance of Me." Order by Feb. 2 to get in time for Lent. Details.

Black History Month — Preaching notes and other worship resources from United Methodist Discipleship Ministries.

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