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Weekly Digest - July 3, 2014


NOTE: This is a digest of news features provided by United Methodist Communications for June 30-July 3. 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
Court: Contraception mandate violates religious freedom
WASHINGTON (UMNS) – The U.S. Supreme Court ruled June 30 that requiring some for-profit corporations to pay for insurance coverage of contraception violates a federal law protecting religious freedom. The 5-4 decision limits the coverage of birth control without patients' cost-sharing, as mandated under regulations for the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.  United Methodists and other Christians across the theological spectrum have been watching the case.

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See decision

Ebola changes church life in eastern Sierra Leone
KENEMA, Sierra Leone (UMNS) — The Ebola epidemic has forced the relocation of a United Methodist pastor from a new mission area in eastern Sierra Leone and significantly changed congregational life there. The United Methodist Church is launching an Ebola Emergency Response Plan in the West African countries of Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia.

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More on United Methodist Ebola response

Retired pastor dies in self-immolation
DALLAS (UMNS) — A retired United Methodist pastor doused himself with gasoline and set himself on fire June 23 in a parking lot in Grand Saline, Texas, where he grew up. The Rev. Charles R. Moore died that night at Parkland Hospital in Dallas. Moore had been an activist against the death penalty and for gay rights in The United Methodist Church. Family members released notes he left behind, showing he saw his final act as a protest against social injustice, including racism.

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Church mourns passing of Native American leader
WHEAT RIDGE, Colo. (UMNS) — United Methodists across the country are mourning the June 21 death of Zora “Susie” Aikman, an influential leader in the denomination’s Native American ministries. She was 69. An Eastern Band Cherokee, she was most proud of her work during the last 20 years with the descendants of the Sand Creek Massacre survivors. A memorial service is scheduled at 10 a.m. MT at Wheat Ridge United Methodist Church.

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Volunteers, residents work together in Appalachia
NEW YORK (UMNS) — This summer, residents of rural central Appalachia will be repairing their homes with the help of some 14,000 volunteers. The connection is made through the Appalachia Service Project. Susan Kim has the story for the United Methodist Committee on Relief.

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Civil rights and Freedom Summer
Civil Rights Act: Still relevant
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — Before the passage of the Civil Rights Act in 1964, long-distance travel meant sleeping in the car because hotels would not accept African Americans as guests, remembers retired United Methodist Bishop Melvin G. Talbert.

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UMNS seeks your reflections from summer of 1964
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — Did you participate in Freedom Summer? Where were you in July 1964 when Congress passed the Civil Rights Act declaring discrimination based on race was illegal? Send a short written reflection to United Methodist News Service.

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Reaching youth and young adults
‘Collective’ offers alternative faith community
DELAND, Fla. (UMNS) — Recognizing that many young adults still seek meaning in faith and in community, members of First United Methodist helped start a congregation, called “Collective,” for those they couldn't reach with modern traditional church services. Suzy Kridner Wymes reports for The Daytona Beach News-Journal.

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Gateway to church for young adults
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (UMNS) — An 8-year-old ministry in North Carolina’s largest city is flourishing where many mainline churches are falling short: reaching 20- and 30-somethings. Ken Garfield has the story of Charlotte/One, a cooperative ministry of 52 churches held at First United Methodist Church. Garfield is writing for Duke University’s Faith and Leadership.

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UMTV: Church soccer outreach
SEVILLE, Fla. (UMNS) – Caught up in World Cup fever? This video shares how Seville Trinity United Methodist Church is using soccer to connect with recent immigrants to the area.

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Other news of interest
British Methodist membership drops
BIRMINGHAM, England (UMNS) – Latest statistics for the British Methodist Church show a significant drop in membership over the past decade, the Rev. Martyn Atkins, the church's top executive, reported June 30. The British Methodist Conference, which meets through July 3, will consider the entire statistics report July 2.

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British Methodists to study same-sex marriage
BIRMINGHAM, England (UMNS) — The British Methodist Church has committed to a two-year period of listening, reflecting and discernment following the legalization of same-sex marriage in England, Wales and Scotland earlier this year.

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New WCC Central Committee meets
GENEVA (UMNS) — The first full meeting of the new Central Committee of the World Council of Churches started July 2 and continues through July 8. United Methodist representatives include retired Bishop Mary Ann Swenson, co-vice moderator. Swenson is also the ecumenical officer for the United Methodist Council of Bishops.

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United Methodists on Central Committee

NCC still concerned over Sudanese Christian
WASHINGTON (UMNS) – The National Council of Churches, one of a multitude of international government and religious organizations protesting the death sentence in Sudan of a Christian woman, expressed relief that Meriam Ibrahim's sentence has been vacated. But the council expressed ongoing concern that Ibrahim, 27, has been denied permission to leave Sudan and may still be in danger.

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Read CNN story

News around conferences
Bishop McLee requests leave of absence
NEW YORK (UMNS) – New York Area Bishop Martin McLee has been ill and is asking the Council of Bishops for a leave of absence "in order to continue my healing and restoration." Under Paragraph 410.1 of the Book of Discipline, the denomination's law book, a bishop may be granted a leave of absence for no more than six months. The leave requires the approval of the McLee's college of bishops, the Northeastern Jurisdiction committee on episcopacy and the executive committee of the Council of Bishops.

Read his message

Indiana Conference launches growth campaign
INDIANAPOLIS (UMNS) – More than 300 United Methodists in the Indiana Annual Conference are answering the call to establish a "New Point of Light." Indiana Area Bishop Mike Coyner has challenged Indiana United Methodist congregations to start a worship service, Bible study or other organized effort to reach new people with the light of Christ. Daniel R. Gangler shares the story of the overwhelming response.

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To contribute to campaign

Resources for churches
History of Hymns: 'Take this Moment, Sign and Space'
DALLAS (UMNS) – C. Michael Hawn of Southern Methodist University's Perkins School of Theology compares this hymn of consecration, first published in 1989, to the hymn "Take My Life," published more than a century earlier. John L. Bell's more recent addition to worship music is No. 3118 in the United Methodist "Worship & Song."

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Discounts available on 2015 program calendars
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — Before Aug. 31, United Methodist Communications is offering discounts on the 2015 Official United Methodist Calendar. The calendar, with the theme “Transforming the World for Christ,” comes in a variety of formats.

See details

Blogs and commentaries
Commentary: Why I am United Methodist
WASHINGTON (UMNS) — An aunt who served as a missionary, “the best Sunday school teacher in the whole world,” and the Methodist Youth Fellowship were among the influences on the Rev. Susan Henry-Crowe’s faith journey. She is the top executive of the United Methodist Board of Church and Society.

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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.

Deadline to register for five online courses from United Methodist Communications, Tuesday, July 8 — United Methodist Communications will offer the following courses July 9-Aug. 20. “Communicating Faith in the 21st Century,” “Connectional Giving,” “Moodle 200 — Advanced Training,” “Web Ministry 100: What is Web Ministry?” and “Welcoming Ministry 100.” Costs vary. Connectional Giving is free. Details.

Free webinar “Finding Treasure: The Story of our Newest Stewardship Resource,” Thursday, July 10 — 6:30 p.m. CT. Jacob Armstrong, pastor and church planter, will share how he helped his congregation discover “where our treasure goes, our hearts will follow.”  Details.

Deadline to register for Boards of Ordained Ministry Mid-Quadrennial Training, Friday, July 11 — Event for board officers and cabinet representatives will be Tuesday, Aug. 12 and ends by noon on Friday, Aug. 15 in Denver. The United Methodist Board of Higher Education and Ministry is sponsoring. Details.

SOULfeast, Sunday-Thursday, July 13-17 — Gathering sponsored by Upper Room Ministries of the United Methodist Board of Discipleship at Lake Junaluska, North Carolina. The theme is “Living Psalms.” 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.

Aldersgate 2014 Conference, Thursday to Sunday, July 17-20 — The national conference of Aldersgate Renewal Ministries will be at the Prairie Capital Convention Center in Springfield, Ill. The theme is freedom. 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 EEEEs — 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. Costs $25 per person, and $65 per church. 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 to join regional Healthy Families, Healthy Planet advocacy training, Friday, Aug. 15 — The free United Methodist training in advocating for women and girls will be Saturday, Sept. 6 with an optional session on Monday, Sept. 8 in Peoria, Illinois. Applications are required. Details and application.