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Weekly Digest - July 17, 2015


NOTE: This is a digest of news features provided by United Methodist Communications for July 13-July 17. 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

Early Methodist mission photos wow scholars

MADISON, N.J. (UMNS) — Thanks to a professor from France, scholars of various academic disciplines are beginning to explore a collection of photos showing early 20th century Methodist mission work around the world. The public is getting a look too, since the United Methodist Commission on Archives and History is steadily putting online more than 100,000 black-and-white images. Sam Hodges reports.
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Concern grows over rape in Liberia

BREWERVILLE, Liberia (UMNS) — United Methodists are protesting a growing wave of rapes in the Brewerville community of Liberia. A march called for government attention to a recent brutal rape that resulted in the death of a 17-year-old girl — one of 18 such deaths over the past four years. Julu Swen has the story.
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A Methodist reading of 'Go Set a Watchman'

DURHAM, N.C. (UMNS) — Retired United Methodist Bishop Will Willimon offers a review of Harper Lee's "Go Set a Watchman," with attention to its Methodist references. Willimon, himself a novelist, finds that "Go Set a Watchman" confirms the "artistic genius" Lee showed with "To Kill a Mockingbird" and offers an accurate, unflinching portrayal of small-town Southern racism in the 1950s.
Read review and comment

General Conference video: Portland venue tour

PORTLAND, Ore. (UMNS) — More than 860 delegates from 130 conferences will participate in The United Methodist Church’s top legislative assembly in May 2016. As United Methodists anticipate the global church gathering, here is a behind-the-scenes trip around the site.
Watch video

United Methodist motorcycle ‘gang’

TULSA, Okla. (UMTV) — “I’ve been stabbed twice, I been shot twice, been in prison twice and look where I’m at now, riding a motorcycle for Jesus.” Tim Lawson rides with the United Methodist Motorcycle Association and is just one of the many people who have found peace and a new purpose in the group.
Watch UMTV video and post a comment

How Legos can interlock with the unchurched

GAINESVILLE, Fla. (UMNS) — What connects the unchurched to church members, constructs relationships in the community and builds bridges between generations? Celebration United Methodist Church discovered one answer: Legos. Julie Boyd Cole has the story for the Florida Conference.
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Church takes on after-school program

WHITE RIVER, S.D. (UMNS) — White River United Methodist Church had unused building space during the week, so it stepped forward to be the home of an after-school program run by volunteers and funded by donations. Now 20 to 35 kids head there after the school bells ring and have a couple of hours of safe play, as well as learning enrichment and Bible stories. The Dakotas Conference reports.
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Grants aim to help make disciples

HUGO, Okla. (UMNS) — A clergy couple, pastoring different churches in southeast Oklahoma, looks forward to helping new people become disciples of Christ through the Oklahoma Conference’s New People New Places grant program. One grant will support toy making and another will help fund mentoring for preteen and teen girls. But as Chris Schultz reports for the conference, these activities are just the start of the churches’ disciple-making work.
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United Methodist paddling for clean water

MEDFORD, N.J. (UMNS) — Margo Pellegrino, a member of Medford United Methodist Church, is paddling 2,000 miles in her canoe to bring attention to the need to take care of waterways. “This is the fresh water ocean,” she says of her trip from New York City to Chicago. Jeff Wolfe, communicator in the Greater New Jersey Conference, reports.
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Conference looks at new generation of seniors

WINTER PARK, Fla. (UMNS) — Today’s grandmas and grandpas stay healthy and active longer than their forebears. They continue to have a deep spiritual faith, but their needs and interests have changed. The Florida Conference and First United Methodist Church in Winter Park will present a conference Oct. 22-24 designed to help both clergy and laity minister to the growing over-50 population. Sept. 1 is the early-bird registration deadline. Raymond Joseph reports for the Florida Conference.
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Analysis: Rate of new female clergy slowing

CHICAGO (UMNS) — In its latest “Women By the Numbers,” focusing on clergy in 2014, the United Methodist Commission on the Status and Role of Women finds “the number of female clergy is increasing but at a slower rate compared to 1992 and 2002. United Methodist clergy are getting older, with fewer young people coming up through the process to replace an aging population.”
See analysis  

United Methodist Church joining global ‘public library’

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — United Methodist Communications, the communications agency of The United Methodist Church, has joined an effort being dubbed “Humanity’s Public Library.” It’s the first faith-based organization participating in the innovative initiative.
Read press release gets upgrade

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — The General Council on Finance and Administration, the denomination’s finance agency, has relaunched the online shopping portal UMCMarket, using more advanced technology and faster delivery of donations. The site allows online shoppers to donate a percentage of what they spend back to their church or to the United Methodist ministry of their choice.
Read press release

Youth 2015 provides resources for future growth

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — Nearly 4,500 United Methodist young people attended Youth 2015 in Orlando, Florida, and their experiences will provide youth ministry video resources for years to come. Many youth expressed either hearing or confirming a call to ministry because of the gathering, and others requested to be baptized when they returned home. United Methodist Discipleship Ministries organized the event.
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Cokesbury offering Christmas in July sale

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — It’s Christmas in July time at Cokesbury. If you’re already making your list, check out the sales.
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Annual conference as evangelism tool

GLENDALE, Ariz. (UMNS) — Annual conference gatherings can be a disciple-making opportunity. At the end of the Desert Southwest Conference annual meeting, one hotel staffer was overheard asking a group of hotel staff members, “Are you guys ready to become United Methodists? I am — sounds to me like they’re all just a bunch of regular people wanting to make a difference in this world.” Christina Dillabough reports.
Read Desert Southwest Conference report
Read other reports

Church goes cookie crazy for troops

ALPHARETTA, Ga. — Alpharetta First United Methodist Church recently collected a record 5.64 tons of Oreos for U.S. service members stationed in the Middle East. The church has had the cookie drive every year since 2009. Appen Media Group has the story.
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Liberian churches honored for service during Ebola outbreak

MONROVIA, Liberia (WCC) — The Liberian Council of Churches, which includes The United Methodist Church, will be honored by the Liberian government for their prayers and action during the Ebola crisis. The council will receive the “Commander, Order of the Star of Africa,” during a ceremony on July 17. The Liberian Council of Churches includes member churches of the World Council of Churches.
Read press release
Read United Methodist News Service coverage of the Ebola outbreak

New leaders join Discipleship Ministries

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — New leaders in the areas of adult discipleship, research and strategic evaluation, music resources and congregational vitality are joining the staff at United Methodist Discipleship Ministries.
Read press release

Coyner: Reclaiming our Methodist heritage

INDIANAPOLIS (UMNS) — In the midst of talk about a potential split of The United Methodist Church over issues such as human sexuality, Indiana Bishop Michael Coyner explains that his picture of the denomination  “is not either/or, but both/and.”
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Commentary: 3 myths about evangelism

INDIANAPOLIS (UMNS) — Evangelism is not something we do to someone but something we share, writes the Rev. Kimberly Reisman. The theologian, who is executive director of World Methodist Evangelism, tackles this and other problematic myths in a commentary for Seedbed.
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Commentary: Sacrificing our buildings for God’s kingdom

SAVANNAH, Ga. (UMNS) — “What if we encouraged more churches to give their space away? Yes, you read that correctly. What if God is leading us into a season of downsizing our physical space?” The Rev. Ben Gosden, pastor of Aldersgate United Methodist Church, ponders how doing so might shift the church’s priorities.
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Commentary: 3 myths about young clergy

ASHEBORO, N.C. (UMNS) — As a United Methodist pastor under 35, the Rev. Drew McIntyre says he often encounters misinformation about himself and fellow young clergy. In a blog post for the United Methodist Publishing House’s Ministry Matters, McIntyre tackles the three biggest misconceptions he has encountered.
Read commentary

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.

Tuesday, July 21

Deadline to RSVP for Robert M. Pitzer Award banquet, sponsored by The DisAbility Ministries Committee of The United Methodist Church — 6 to 9 p.m. CDT Friday, July 31 at Lovers Lane United Methodist Church, 9200 Inwood Road in Dallas. The committee will honor United Methodist Women for the group offering “The Church and People with Disabilities” as a Mission U study in 2014 and 2015. Philadelphia Area Bishop Peggy Johnson will be among the guests. Tickets are $15.Details

Friday, July 24

The Rev. Helenor Davisson Tour — Starting at 11 a.m. CDT at Trinity United Methodist Church in Rensselaer, Indiana, take a free tour the grave site and four other locations related to the Rev. Helenor Alter Davisson, a Methodist Protestant woman circuit-rider who was ordained a deacon in 1866. The Indiana Conference recently designated the locations a United Methodist Historic Site. Other tour sites include the stone farmhouse where her ordination took place and a former Methodist Protestant church building that now houses the Jasper County Historical Museum. To join the tour, email Richard Stowe at

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