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Weekly Digest - June 12, 2015


NOTE: This is a digest of news features provided by United Methodist Communications for June 8-12. 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

‘Thy will be done’: Coping after police custody deaths

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — In the midst of pain and confusion following much-publicized cases of black men dying after clashes with police, where is the church? Can the church provide answers? Can the church be the vehicle that brings justice? Kathy L. Gilbert talks to several pastors close to the places of turmoil.
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Baltimore police chaplain offers advice for communities

Police incident stirs North Texas Conference

McKINNEY, Texas (UMNS) — The North Texas Conference's annual gathering got spun in another direction by a video showing a police officer manhandling black youth at a pool-party dispute. Bishop Michael McKee spoke about the incident, and black clergy organized a press conference and prayer meeting outside McKinney police headquarters. Sam Hodges reports from the scene.
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Africa University graduates are changing the continent

MUTARE, Zimbabwe (UMNS) — As 694 Africa University graduates prepare for their June 13 commencement, some of the more than 5,500 alumni of the United Methodist university are already fulfilling the church’s vision. In the first story of a two-part series, Vicki Brown interviewed graduates from Liberia, Malawi, Uganda and Zimbabwe about their work.
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Africa University graduates feeding, educating their homelands

MUTARE, Zimbabwe (UMNS) — As the United Methodist university’s class of 2015 graduates on June 13, alumni of Africa University are already making their mark in agriculture, education and business. Vicki Brown reports in the second of a two-part series..
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Research study shows church values differ

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — In the United States, perceptions of the denomination’s values differ by a United Methodist’s role and experience. What has a high degree of importance to a pastor may be of much less significance to a lay member. But most United Methodists agree that an emphasis on God’s grace is important. These are some of the findings of a new quantitative study by United Methodist Communications conducted in November-December 2014.
Read press release

Less litter, more love: Zimbabwean church cleans up

MUROMBEDZI, Zimbabwe (UMNS) — More than 100 United Methodists embarked on a cleanup campaign June 6 in the sleepy rural center of Murombedzi. Volunteers spent three hours picking up litter, sweeping the road curbs and clearing an informal dumpsite created by residents on the outskirts of Murombedzi. Eveline Chikwanah reports.
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Sexual misconduct: What every church member should know

CHICAGO (UMNS) — Pope Francis just ordered that Catholic bishops accused of mishandling cases of sexual abuse be tried by a special court. But as recent headlines show, problems of sexual misconduct and child abuse affect churches of all denominations, including The United Methodist Church. Joe Iovino of reports on how the denomination is working to prevent misconduct and addressing it when it does occur.
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Follow action at annual conferences

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — United Methodist conferences around the world have their annual gatherings throughout the year, but June is the height of annual conference season for many in the United States. United Methodist News Service is posting reports from the gatherings as we receive them at
See reports

Detroit, West Michigan conferences vote to join together

LANSING, Mich. (UMNS) — By a "yes" vote of 88.9 percent, the two United Methodist conferences in Michigan — Detroit and West Michigan — have decided to become one. Ballots were counted June 10.The union must be approved at the North Central Jurisdictional Conference convening in Peoria, Illinois, in July 2016.
Read press release

UMTV: Fish fry nets disciples

MOUNT JULIET, Tenn. (UMNS) — “God works in mysterious ways. He’s worked through fish before, hasn’t he?” Members of Grace United Methodist Church have discovered the secret ingredient to attracting new faces at church: fried catfish.
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Western Jurisdiction discusses transforming ministries

GLENDALE, Calif. (UMNS) — Clergy and laity from across the Western Jurisdiction gathered for the Transforming Ministries 4 workshop, the fourth annual session of a program intended to provide leadership development that is deeply transformational. Participants gathered with the five active bishops to learn their thoughts on the church’s future and visited DreamWorks Studios to learn storytelling. The California-Pacific Conference has the story.
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The secret of faith in high school? Parents

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — Many young adults fall away from church once they graduate from high school. But research shows parents can turn this around. Joe Iovino of talked to youth ministry leaders about how parents can help their children grow as disciples.
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History of Hymns: ‘See How Great a Flame Aspires’

DALLAS (UMNS) — While John Wesley’s Aldersgate spiritual awakening is widely known and celebrated, his brother Charles also went through his own conversion experience in 1738 on Whitsunday (Pentecost). Donté Ford of Southern Methodist University’s Perkins School of Theology argues that Charles Wesley’s own spiritual revival may have inspired him to write this hymn.
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Resources for Father’s Day

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — The third Sunday in June is Father’s Day, a special day for dads in the United States. United Methodist Discipleship Ministries offers prayers and other devotions to help churches honor fathers.
Get resources

4 summer sermon ideas

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — Want to prevent the summer doldrums from seeping into Sunday school and worship? United Methodist Communications offers four unusual ideas for bringing Scriptural lessons to life, including the Gospel of Mark featured in this year’s lectionary.
Read list

Commentary: Faithful disciples, signs of revival

LEAWOOD, Kan. (UMNS) — In 2014, almost 200 United Methodists gathered for the Aldersgate Covenant, a 20-hour experience of worship, prayer and holy conversation. Arkansas Bishop Gary E. Mueller and Mary Brooke Casad, both members of the covenant’s steering team, recently wrote about how participants say the gathering affected their discipleship journey.
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Book of Discipline updates distributed

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — The United Methodist Publishing House is distributing corrections to the Book of Discipline, the denomination’s book of law and teachings. The most significant corrections reflect a Judicial Council ruling in April that restores the conference committee on investigation in dealing with complaints against clergy.
Read UMNS on the ruling
See corrections in English

Jan Ott, wife of Bishop Ott, dies June 2

ELM GROVE, Wis. (UMNS) — Janet “Jan” Edith Pass Ott, wife of Bishop Donald Ott, died on Tuesday, June 2. She was 73. She taught in Illinois and Wisconsin public schools. Additionally, she worked for First Wisconsin Bank, the Milwaukee County Zoological Park and a Madison, Wisconsin, counseling center. Jan Ott for “seven decades plus, birthed, nurtured, protected and graced her world,” said her husband.
Read remembrance from Michigan Area

Episcopalians, United Methodists continue talks on full communion

NEW YORK (UMNS) — The Episcopal Church-United Methodist Church Dialogue Committee on Full Communion adopted a memorandum of understanding to guide its work through the end of 2017. Previous conversations resulted in an interim Eucharistic sharing agreement in 2006. The committee plans to agree to resolutions for the General Convention of the Episcopal Church and the General Conference of The United Methodist Church.
Read press release

Situation in South Sudan continues to raise alarm

GENEVA (WCC) — The executive committee of the World Council of Churches on June 8-13 discussed the alarming situation in South Sudan, where people continue to be killed, raped, displaced and tortured. The South Sudan Council of Churches gathered in Kigali, Rwanda, June 1-7 to reflect and propose a plan to achieve peace and reconciliation in South Sudan. Retired United Methodist Bishop Mary Ann Swenson is co-vice moderator of the WCC’s executive committee.
Read story
Statement from South Sudan Council of Churches

Letter to Congress: Support global relief work

WASHINGTON (UMNS) — The United Methodist Board of Church and Society is among more than two dozen signers of an interfaith open letter to Congress requesting robust funding allocations for international relief and development programs. Previous support has been important. U.S. investments in primary education, for example, have resulted in over 23 million children enrolled in USAID-supported primary and secondary schools in 2012 alone.
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Church and Society interns in place

WASHINGTON (UMNS) — The Ethnic Minority Young Adult Summer Internship program of the United Methodist Board of Church and Society is in full swing. This summer the program has 10 interns, ages 18 to 23. All are active in the denomination and have a passion for social justice. One is from the Philippines and one is from Ghana.
Read press release

History quiz: When did UMCOR begin?

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — The United Methodist Committee on Relief helps many people all over the world. Do you know what year UMCOR began its work?
Take the quiz

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.

Wednesday, June 17

Window on Wesley Theological Seminary — 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. EDT. Opportunity for prospective students to get to know the Wesley community in Washington and to experience a day in the life of a Wesley seminarian. Details.

Sunday-Friday, June 21-26

Music & Worship Arts Week 2015 at Lake Junaluska — Highlights the arts, worship, education and renewal in the beautiful mountains of North Carolina, presented by The Fellowship of United Methodists in Music and Worship Arts. Designed for all worship leaders, musicians, artists, dancers, actors and pastors, as well as children and youth. On-site registration is available in the Bethea Welcome Center from 3 to 8 p.m. EDT Sunday, June 21. Mention this listing to receive $30 off your registration. $354 adult; $199 children and youth. Details.

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