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Weekly Digest - July 11, 2014


NOTE: This is a digest of news features provided by United Methodist Communications for July 7-11. 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

News around the connection
‘My Eternal King’ launched top Methodist composer
DALLAS (UMNS) — At 89, Jane Marshall is revered by music ministers and choir members for her anthems, hymns and other sacred music compositions. She was a 26-year-old homemaker and alto in the Highland Park Methodist Church choir when she wrote the anthem that launched her career — “My Eternal King.” Says Marshall: “I just decided to do it.”

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Complaint received for Philly same-sex union
PHILADELPHIA (UMNS) — United Methodist Bishop Peggy Johnson, episcopal leader for the Philadelphia Area, said she has received a complaint against the 36 pastors who officiated at the Nov. 9 same-sex union of two men at Arch Street United Methodist Church but added the matter is confidential and will be “prayerfully” considered according to church law.

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A plea for unity in The United Methodist Church
GARNER, N.C. (UMNS) — Two North Carolina Annual (regional) Conference clergy members — the Revs.  Laurie Hays Coffman and Paul T. Stallsworth, who admit to “profound disagreements” on human sexuality — recently wrote a call for unity in The United Methodist Church. The statement was endorsed by the vast majority of voters at the conference’s annual meeting June 11-14. “By the grace of God, with the guidance of God, and under the judgment of God, let us United Methodists meet this test as one church — and remain one church — even as we work through strong disagreements, and discern Christian truth, about human sexuality,” the statement says.

Read statement

Read North Carolina Conference report

Ebola outbreak closes UMC health center
MANJAMA, Sierra Leone (UMNS) — The United Methodist Health Center in Manjama, near Bo City, was quarantined July 4 following the deaths of two Ebola-infected children who were found at the center.

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Pastors urge fast for Mideast peace
HOUSTON (UMNS) — As violence escalates between Israeli forces and Hamas, two Texas pastors say their fellow United Methodists can do something in response. They are urging fellow Christians to join with a movement of Jews and Muslims who on July 15 plan to fast and pray for peace between Israel and its Palestinian neighbors. The pastors were inspired by news reports that the families of slain Israeli teen Naftali Fraenkel and slain Palestinian teen Mohammed Abu Khdeir are drawing comfort from each other.



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Can Christian commitment help lead world to peace?
GENEVA (UMNS) — In the midst of global conflict, members of the World Council of Churches are taking seriously a pledge for a “pilgrimage of justice and peace.” United Methodists were among the participants in a July 2-8 meeting as the WCC Central Committee set its agenda.



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Freedom Summer anniversary brings reflection
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — The signing and passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 came in the midst of what was known as Freedom Summer, the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee’s voter registration drive in Mississippi. To commemorate the 50th anniversary, Interpreter magazine invited six civil rights veterans to share their reflections.

Read reflections

Send your own reflections

Pursuing peace in Nigeria
CHICAGO (UMNS) — People around the world recently took to social media to demand #BringBackOurGirls in Nigeria. But for the Rev. Eunice Iliya, advocating for women in Nigeria is nothing new. One of the first women ordained as a United Methodist elder in Nigeria, Iliya serves as Special Advisor on Christian Religious Matters to the governor of Taraba. She also is a board member of the United Methodist Commission on the Status and Role of Women.

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United Methodists find more ways to ‘go green’
WASHINGTON (UMNS) — From solar panels to “green roofs” to geothermal systems, United Methodists across the United States are responding to the call to be faithful stewards of God’s good creation. 

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Young people to gather for global convocation
TAGAYTAY, Philippines (UMNS) — Nearly 400 United Methodist youth, young adults and adult leaders from 34 countries will gather at the Global Young People’s Convocation and Legislative Assembly in the Philippines next week to worship and pray together and to discuss the future of their church. The quadrennial event, organized by the Young People’s Ministries division of the United Methodist Board of Discipleship, will be held July 16-20.

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Lives were changed forever in Alabama
NEW YORK (UMNS) — United Methodist Nancy Cole vividly remembers April 27, 2011, the day that 62 tornadoes ripped through Alabama, leaving massive damage and killing 250 people. The United Methodist Committee on Relief contributed more than $2.1 million toward the recovery and hundreds of United Methodist volunteer teams responded. Susan Kim has the story for UMCOR.

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Hispanic church mentors through music
DALLAS (UMNS) — A Texas congregation is using its music ministry to draw young people in the community to classes and the praise team at the church.

View UMTV report

Read UMNS story

News around conferences

Irons to fill in for New York bishop
NEW YORK (UMNS) — Retired Bishop Neil Irons will fill in for New York Area Bishop Martin McLee while he is on a leave of up to six months, McLee reported in a July 7 letter to his conference. McLee, who has been ill, said he “will be focusing all of my energies on my healing and recuperating” during the leave.

Read letter

3 years later, Joplin church retains focus on relief
JOPLIN, Mo. (UMNS) — Three years after an F5 tornado ripped apart the core of Joplin, the town is recovering well. In the heart of it all, Saint Paul United Methodist Church maintains a focus on disaster response, for past, present and future calamities. Fred Koenig, publications editor for the Missouri Annual (regional) Conference, reports.

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Resources for churches
Imagine No Malaria launches new website
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — Imagine No Malaria has launched an easier-to-use website, providing visitors with a visual introduction to malaria, which claims a life every 60 seconds. The site also explains the importance of Imagine No Malaria, a United Methodist initiative, in beating this disease through prevention, communication, trained health workers and improved health facilities, and grassroots education.

Visit website

Special coverage: Sierra Leone mosquito net distribution

Board of Discipleship launches new website
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — A completely redesigned website,, is making the resources, training events, webinars, books, best practices and networking opportunities provided by the United Methodist Board of Discipleship available to church leaders with just the click of a mouse.

Read press release

To view video about the new site<

Resource considers sex from faith perspective
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — As youth wrestle with what it means to be Christian and a sexual being, a new resource will attempt to open the door for sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders for serious conversation, decisions and commitments. “SEX: A Christian Perspective on our Bodies, Decisions, and Relationships” is the first of a series of resources being developed by Young People’s Ministries, a division of the United Methodist Board of Discipleship.

Read press release

The dos and don’ts of technology for development
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — Much like the people he chronicles in his book “The Rise of the Reluctant Innovator,” Ken Banks didn’t set out to be a pioneer in the technology for development movement. After seeing poverty and inequality while traveling and living in Africa, Banks designed Frontline SMS, a text-messaging service that blends dual passions for technology and international development. Banks is a panelist at the upcoming Game Changers Summit, hosted by United Methodist Communications Sept. 3-5 in Nashville. 

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History of Hymns: 'Pass It On'
DALLAS (UMNS) — Sing along with us: "It only takes a spark to get a fire going, and soon all those around can warm up in its glowing. ..." C. Michael Hawn of Southern Methodist University's Perkins School of Theology shares the story of this church camp and altar call favorite by Kurt Kaiser.

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Chuck Knows Church: The Ten Commandments
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — Can you recite the 10 commandments? The United Methodist Board of Discipleship video series “Chuck Knows Church” discusses the two tablets the faithful are to use as directed. 

Watch video

United Methodists in the news

Bishop among those visiting detained immigrants
NAVAL BASE VENTURA COUNTY, Calif. (UMNS) — United Methodist Los Angeles Area Bishop Minerva Carcaño led a group of faith leaders who toured Naval Base Ventura County on Tuesday, July 8. About 575 children between the ages of 13 and 17 are held there, some of the unaccompanied minors fleeing violence in Central America. The Los Angeles Times reports.

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N.C. pastor, 23, leads two churches
LEXINGTON, N.C. (UMNS) — At age 17, Tyler Hege delivered a unity sermon to his divided church, Shiloh United Methodist. On July 1, at age 23, he became the lead pastor of not one but two North Carolina churches, the reports.

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Fast-growing church may replace bowling alley
VERONA, Wis. (UMNS) — Sugar River United Methodist Church, a fast-growing congregation in Verona, is close to finalizing plans for the purchase of a once-popular bowling alley and banquet facility that has fallen on hard times. Doug Erickson of the Wisconsin State Journal reports on the church’s growth and how its request fared before the city council.

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Church provides Native American connection
EAST PEORIA, Ill. (UMNS) — Dayspring Native American United Methodist Church offers a sense of belonging, especially for those who remember the prejudice that family members faced. Gatehouse Media Illinois has the story.

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Leadership programs nurtures Native Americans

Sexuality issues rarely create serious congregational conflict
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. (UMNS) — David Briggs offers an overview for the Association of Religion Data Archives of recent surveys across denominations that show issues such as same-sex marriage are seldom the cause of splits at the level of individual congregations. Briggs is a former United Methodist News Service editor.

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Playground dedicated to Sandy Hook victim
WOODBURY, N.Y. (UMNS) — Woodbury United Methodist Church has dedicated a playground to Madeleine Hsu, one of the victims of the December 2012 shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. The CBS station in New York has the story.

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Church shares space with Jewish congregation
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (UMNS) — A United Methodist church and a Jewish congregation here are sharing space and exploring ways to work together for social justice. The partnership by Via de Cristo United Methodist and Congregation Kehillah has the endorsement of Bishop Robert Hoshibata of the Desert Southwest Annual (regional) Conference. “I think it sends a positive message that we live in concert with our neighbors, regardless of the faith,” Hoshibata said.

Read the Arizona Republic story

University and seminary news

Reinhardt student helps Mexico youth soccer team
WALESKA, Ga. (UMNS) — Lindsey White, a student at United Methodist-related Reinhardt University, has two passions: soccer and mission. During a recent spring-break mission trip to Ixmiquilpan, Mexico, with her sociology class, the two came together in what she calls a “God moment.”

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Candler to explore today's theological education
ATLANTA (UMNS) — Emory University's Candler School of Theology, a United Methodist seminary, has received a $460,000 grant from the Lilly Endowment to lead a study of the purposes of theological education in a time of significant change.

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Wesley seminary hosts icon exhibit
WASHINGTON (UMNS) — The Dadian Gallery of United Methodist-related Wesley Theological Seminary will host the exhibit “Living Tradition: Icons for the Liturgical Year by Davydov & Shalamova” through Sept. 19. An artist talk and reception is planned July 15 and Sept. 16. Philip Davydov and Olga Shalamova were born in Moscow and St. Petersburg, Russia, and teach icon painting around the world.

Learn more

Blogs and commentaries

Mission Musings: Desert walk at U.S. border
TUCSON, Ariz. (UMNS) — For Alex Devoid, a mission intern with the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries, the plight of migrants trying to cross into the U.S. is more than a political debate. The Pfeiffer University graduate, assigned to Borderlinks, leads groups who come to the border to learn more about the complexities of the immigration issue.

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Congregations change: The question is how
WICHITA, Kan. (UMNS) — The Rev. Evelyn Fisher, director of congregational excellence for the Great Plains Annual (regional) Conference, says: “It is possible for a declining congregation to be renewed by reclaiming the vision and passion for mission.” She offers advice to church leaders in dealing with a congregation’s lifecycle.

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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.

Border Crisis Prayer Vigil, Tuesday, July 15 — 5-10 p.m. CT, Gathering at St. Luke’s United Methodist Church Gethsemane Campus, 6856 Bellaire Blvd. in Houston. It is sponsored by the Texas Annual (regional) Conference Hispanic Ministries Committee. Details.

Deadline to register for School of Congregational Development 2014, Tuesday, July 15 — Gathering Thursday-Sunday, Aug.14-17 sponsored by the United Methodist boards of Discipleship and Global Ministries at Matthews United Methodist Church, Matthews, 801 S. Trade St., Matthews, N.C. $425. Details.

Free webinar “What’s the Job of Conference and District Lay Leaders?” Wednesday, July 16 — 6:30 p.m. CT. Jodi Cataldo of the United Methodist Board of Discipleship will facilitate a conversation on these ministries.  Details.

Free webinar “Creating a Culture of Innovation Part 1: Can My Leaders Innovate?” Thursday, July 17 — 6:30 p.m. CT. This 90-minute session led by Craig Kennet Miller of the United Methodist Board of Discipleship will introduce tools for implementing new ministry strategies in local churches. Details.

Deadline to register for online course “United Methodism 101,” Tuesday, July 22 — United Methodist Communications will offer the course July 23-Sept. 3. $9.99. Details.

Free webinar “Congregations as Discipling Communities” Tuesday, July 22 — 6:30 p.m. CT. This webinar will focus on a model where congregations can create safe, open and relational spaces where disciples at all stages of their faith journey can share their experiences. Details.

Introduction to United Methodist Board of Church and Society seminar program, Wednesday-Friday, July 23-25 — Youth group and young adult leaders are invited to attend a three-day “In Focus” familiarization event about United Methodist Seminars on National and International Affairs. The program will introduce the seminars and will explain how to organize and lead a group for these tailored study experiences in the U.S. capital. Details.

Korea Peace March and Vigil, Friday-Saturday, July 25-26 — The event in Washington, sponsored in part by the United Methodist Board of Church and Society, will include an ecumenical roundtable and focus on how to establish lasting peace and eventual reunification on the Korean Peninsula. Details.

Festival of Wisdom and Grace, Monday to Thursday, July 28-31 — Columbia (S.C.) Area Bishop Jonathan Holston will be the conference preacher at this time of worship and learning at Lake Junaluska (N.C) Conference and Retreat Center. The theme is “Living Ordinary Time with EEEE’s — Enthusiasm, Encouragement, Engagement and Empowerment.” Details.

Deadline to register for United Methodist conference “Walking with Palestinian Christians,” Wednesday, July 30 — Gathering Thursday-Friday, Aug. 7-8 sponsored by the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries and host Ginghamsburg Church, 6759 S. County Road 25A, Tipp City, Ohio. Details.

Deadline for early-bird registration for “Make Worship More Creative” workshops in the Upper New York Conference, Friday, Aug. 1 — Day-long workshops featuring worship coach Jason Moore will be Monday, Sept. 8 through Thursday, Sept. 11 at different churches around the conference. Cost is $25 per person, and $65 per church. Details.

Webinar “Plan Your Year Round Stewardship Campaign,” Tuesday, Aug. 5 — 7-8 p.m. ET. Course teaches how a congregation can develop a holistic process that will help people grow in faith and give generously, led by the Rev. Paul B. Nickerson, former pastor and now owner of Nickerson Coaching. $10. Details.

Annual meeting of MARCHA (Methodists Associated Representing the Cause of Hispanic Americans), Thursday, Aug. 7 to Sunday, Aug. 10 — Gathering will be at Hacienda Hotel LAX in Los Angeles. The Rev. Alexia Salvatierra, lecturer at New York Theological Seminary and expert on faith-rooted advocacy, will be the main speaker. Bishops Minerva Carcaño and Warner Brown will preach. Details.

Free webinar “S.O.S. for Teachers Schedule, Organization, Safety,” Thursday, Aug. 7 — 7-8p.m. ET,Help for a successful Christian education season, led by Jane Kintzi, a consultant at the Parish Resource Center. Details.

Lion & Lamb Christian Festival, Friday-Sunday, Aug. 8-10 — A number of United Methodist entities, including the Indiana Annual (regional) Conference, are sponsors of this gathering at Fort Wayne, Indiana. $25. Details.

Shreveport, Louisiana Skeeter Run, Saturday, Aug. 9 — The first of six 5K and one-mile run/walks in the Louisiana Annual (regional) Conference to support Imagine No Malaria, the denomination’s initiative to eradicate preventable deaths from the disease. The other five runs will take place across the state on Saturday, Oct. 11. $20 registration. Details.

Deadline to apply for Ethnic Local Church Grants, Sunday, Aug. 10 — The grants, distributed by the United Methodist Board of Church and Society, aim to strengthen ethnic minority local churches through education, advocacy or leadership development as they engage in social justice. Details.

Deadline for early-bird discount on 2015 United Methodist Program Calendars, Sunday. Aug. 31 — Order before date and receive 10 percent discount. Use Promo Code CAL15EP.