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Weekly Digest - July 2, 2015


NOTE: This is a digest of news features provided by United Methodist Communications for June 29-July 2. 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

Bishops offer advice after gay marriage ruling

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — How can a United Methodist pastor minister to same-gender couples and not run afoul of church law? A number of United Methodist bishops in the U.S. are striving to answer that question in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex civil marriage in all 50 states. Heather Hahn reports.
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The Protestant Hour brought mainline faith to radio

ATLANTA (UMNS) — This year marks the 70th anniversary of The Protestant Hour, now known as Day1, and carried on about 200 radio stations. That’s way down from the program's height, but supporters are grateful for a rich history and for a continuing broadcast presence for mainline denomination preachers, including United Methodists. Sam Hodges reports.
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Zimbabwe financial woes increase orphanage struggles

NYADIRE, Zimbabwe (UMNS) — A United Methodist orphanage is struggling to become self-sufficient. But government requirements mean big changes are ahead for the 18 children at Home of Hope. Vicki Brown has the story.
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United Methodist bishop salutes slain Charleston pastor

CHARLESTON (UMNS) — South Carolina Bishop L. Jonathan Holston represented The United Methodist Church when he joined religious leaders at the June 26 memorial service for the Rev. Clementa Pinckney, killed with eight others at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church. President Obama flew in on Air Force One to deliver the eulogy. Linda Bloom reports.
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AU Choir consoles, encourages South Carolinians

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — The Africa University Choir felt moved to comfort and encourage South Carolina United Methodists in the wake of the shootings at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston. The 16-person student choir was in its final week of a U.S. tour when the tragedy occurred on June 17. Andra Stevens has the story for Africa University.
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Commentary: Love in a post-Charleston world

HOUSTON — The Rev. Rudy Rasmus of St. John's United Methodist Church in Houston says the recent shooting deaths of nine black people at Charleston's Emanuel AME Church have tapped out his usual reserves of forgiveness and unconditional love. "The time has now come to confront racism and bring an end to divisive practices that create fertile environments of hostility," he writes for the Houston Chronicle.
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Survey finds clergy struggle with weight, cholesterol

GLENVIEW, Ill. (UMNS) — A survey of United Methodist clergy found nearly half are currently obese and that about half have had high cholesterol at some point. The Center for Health of the United Methodist Board of Pension and Health Benefits released the 2015 Clergy Health Survey Report on June 25. The online survey analyzed responses from 1,501 clergy.
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Making room — lots of room — for Youth 2015

ORLANDO (UMNS) — If you are wondering where the young United Methodists are, take a peek inside Orlando World Center Marriott. Bus after bus spilled hundreds of teens and preteens into the convention hotel for the start of Discipleship Ministries’ four-day event "Youth 2015 Go On." Susan Green, Florida Conference managing editor, has the story.
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Congregation bringing ‘homeless Jesus’ to Indianapolis

INDIANAPOLIS (UMNS) — In an effort to start a new conversation around the plight of those without homes or shelter, Roberts Park United Methodist Church, in partnership with several other community organizations, is working to bring the ‘Homeless Jesus’ sculpture by Canadian artist Timothy P. Schmalz to one of the popular cultural districts of the city. Skyler E. Nimmons, Indiana Conference communications director, has the story.
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United Methodists rally for education in Pennsylvania

HARRISBURG, Pa. (UMNS) — United Methodists gathered at the Pennsylvania State Capitol to help persuade legislators to increase and apportion more fairly the state’s funding for public education. Others attended a prayer service on June 20 and began a 10-day public fast as a witness for education justice. John Coleman reports for the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference.
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Follow action at annual conferences

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — New stories this week from conference gatherings include: Greater New Jersey, Northern Illinois, North Georgia, Poland, Susquehanna, Texas and Yellowstone. United Methodist News Service is posting reports.
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British Methodists look at ‘safeguarding’ policies

SOUTHPORT, England (UMNS) — The British Methodist Conference approved significant changes to its policy and procedures June 29 in a move to make the church a safer place for all, following an independent review of abuse cases from 1950 to 2014. “Safeguarding is everyone’s responsibility and each one of us has a duty to do what we can to make the church a safe place for everyone,” said the Rev. Gwyneth Owen, chairperson of the implementation group.
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Korean Methodists discuss strategy with mission agency

NEW YORK (UMNS) — Top leaders from the Korean Methodist Church, including Bishop Yong Jai Jun, president of the Korean Bishop’s Council, met recently with representatives of the United Methodist Council of Bishops and Board of Global Ministries to discuss theological matters and joint mission strategies. Judith Santiago reports for the Board of Global Ministries.
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Broadway actors on faith and Supreme Court ruling

NEW YORK — Playbill Magazine interviewed several “actors of faith,” including Victoria Clark, a Tony Award winner and member of the Church of St. Paul and St. Andrew, United Methodist, about the Supreme Court ruling legalizing same-sex marriage in all 50 states.
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John Lewis asks clergy to ‘fix’ Voting Rights Act

WASHINGTON (RNS) — U.S. civil rights veteran and Congressman John Lewis urged black clergy to work for changes in the Voting Rights Act on the second anniversary of the Supreme Court decision that removed key provisions of the law. Adelle M. Banks of Religion News Service reports.
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Magazine examines life, work of Francis Asbury

WORCESTER, Pa. (UMNS) — The latest issue of Christian History magazine examines the life and work of Francis Asbury, the early Methodist leader. “Francis Asbury — Pioneer of Methodism, America’s Most Explosive Church Movement” is published by the Christian History Institute and is available at no cost by subscription on its website.
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Independence Day resources

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — The Fourth of July celebrates the Declaration of Independence of the United States of America, but these worship resources from United Methodist Discipleship Ministries may be used for the Independence Day of any nation.
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Commentary: Changing the culture of a church

TUCSON, Ariz. (UMNS) — What does changing a football team have to do with changing a church? The Rev. Karen Vannoy, a retired United Methodist pastor, says the process can be the same. Her advice to pastors: Trying to go easy can mean nothing changes.
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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.

Tuesday, July 7
Deadline to register for five online courses offered by United Methodist Communications — United Methodist Communications will offer the following courses June 8-August 19: “Communicating Faith in the 21st Century,” "United Methodism 101," “Welcoming Ministry 100," "Moodle 200" and "Connectional Giving.” Costs vary. Connectional Giving is free. Details.

Monday, July 6-Sunday, July 19
Rediscovering Our Spiritual Gifts: Online course from BeADisciple for United Methodist Lay Servants — Participants in the Body of Christ depend on the spiritual gifts God has given them. Those gifts differ but they provide the foundation for whatever ministry we do. Learn more about your spiritual gifts — and how to help your congregation learn more about their spiritual gifts — in this two-week online course which has been approved by United Methodist Discipleship Ministries as an advanced course in Lay Servant Ministries and is the “spiritual gifts” component for Lay Speaker certification. 1 CEU also available. $65 Details.

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