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Weekly Digest - June 19, 2015

NOTE: This is a digest of news features provided by United Methodist Communications for June 15-19. 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

United Methodists stand with AME after church shooting

CHARLESTON, S.C. (UMNS) — United Methodists across the U.S. are joining in prayer and offering whatever help they can to their African Methodist Episcopal brothers and sisters after June 17’s church shooting that killed nine. Heather Hahn and Matt Brodie report.
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United Methodists imagine new directions for denomination

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — The Love Your Neighbor Coalition has released its vision for The United Methodist Church. In the time leading up to the 2016 United Methodist General Conference, organizations, general agencies, coalitions and individuals are fine-tuning their vision for the denomination’s future. Kathy Gilbert reports.
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Why Martin Luther matters to United Methodists

WITTENBERG, Germany (UMNS) — John Wesley took inspiration from Martin Luther, and a group of United Methodists recently traveled to the 16th century reformer’s home of Wittenberg to help with preparations for the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation. Heather Hahn reports.
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Complaint ends against Upper New York pastor

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (UMNS) — Upper New York Area Bishop Mark J. Webb has accepted a recommendation to dismiss a complaint against a now-retired pastor who has officiated at multiple same-sex weddings, the bishop confirmed June 12. The decision to end the complaint was based in part on a recent decision by the denomination’s top court to change how complaints against clergy are processed. Heather Hahn reports.
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More rain for saturated Southwest

DALLAS (UMNS) — Already saturated Texas and Oklahoma were seeing additional heavy rains Wednesday, causing United Methodist officials to prepare for further flood-related relief efforts in those states and Louisiana, too. But Tropical Storm Bill did not rough up the Texas coast as much as feared. “Much ado about nothing,” said the Rev. Bill Ramsey, pastor of St. Paul's United Methodist Church in Bay City, Texas. Sam Hodges and Betty Backstrom report.
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United Methodists lead coastal cleanup in Philippines

PARANAQUE, Philippines (UMNS) — In observance of World Oceans Day, United Methodists led a coastal cleanup at Freedom Island, a critical habitat and eco-tourism area that is the nesting ground of fishes in Manila Bay and also serves as a bird sanctuary. Gladys P. Mangiduyos reports.
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United Methodists celebrate freedom on 150th Juneteenth

GALVESTON, Texas (UMNS) – On June 19, 1865, federal troops under the command of Union Major General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, Texas, with a message of freedom for slaves. More than two years after the Emancipation Proclamation was signed, slaves in Texas finally received word that they were free. Now, 150 years later, Juneteenth is commemorated across the country with parades, festivals, family activities, and worship services, reminding all of us that freedom was long sought and should not be taken for granted.
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United Methodist celebrate freedom on 150th Juneteenth

Women model United Methodist uniforms

HARARE, Zimbabwe (UMNS) — Winnet Matiza slowly made her way up the flight of creaky steps, holding on to the rail for support. A few concerned onlookers assisted her, wary that the 76-year-old might slip and hurt herself. Last month, this United Methodist church member was crowned “queen” at the inaugural Chitungwiza-Marondera District modeling show, organized by The United Methodist Church women’s union, Rukwadzano Rwe Wadzimai. Eveline Chikwanah reports.
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Follow action at annual conferences

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — New stories this week from conference gatherings include: Florida, Louisiana, Great Plains, the Dakotas, Memphis, Peninsula-Delaware and Illinois Great Rivers. United Methodist News Service is posting reports at
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West Ohio reaches $3.5 million Imagine No Malaria goal

LAKESIDE CHAUTAUQUA, Ohio — The West Ohio Conference has reached – and likely surpassed – its Imagine No Malaria goal of $3.5 million. A special offering taken during the conference’s Global Praise and Worship Service on June 9 raised $403,735.
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Commentary: Pioneering clergywoman gave moving gift

CARROLLTON, Ga. (UMNS) — When Blair Tolbert was saying goodbye to the Rev. Faith Cornwall, she didn’t know Cornwall was the first woman ordained in the Tennessee Conference. But learning that fact gave Cornwall’s gift of a red stole clergy wear during worship even more significance for Tolbert, who writes about the gift.
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Mobile tech monitors health in Congo

KAMINA, Congo (UMNS) — In remote villages in Africa, it’s common for the nearest health clinic to be a day’s travel away. It’s also common for villagers to make the long journey only to find out that a doctor isn’t there that day or that needed medication isn’t in stock. Joey Butler reports on a project funded by United Methodist Communications to improve communications between clinics and villagers through mobile phone and texting technology.
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Learn more about technology for social good

Methodist History: First Father’s Day at church

FAIRMONT, W. Va. (UMNS) — The congregation at Central United Methodist Church celebrates Father’s Day in a special way each year. They hear the story of the first Father’s Day church service in the United States, which was held in their town on July 5, 1908, after a Methodist church member suggested the idea.
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Read about the United Methodist woman who helped start Father’s Day

Fatherly advice for tough questions

‘Called' helps those considering ministry

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — Congregation leaders can draw on "Called: One Word, Many Ways," in helping individuals of various ages discern a call to ministry, be it ordained or not. United Methodist Communications worked with the denomination's Discipleship Ministries and Board of Higher Education and Ministry to produce the resource. It includes downloadable sermon starters, reflection questions, video stories and commitment cards.
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A prayer for pastors and churches in transition

SAVANNAH, Ga. (UMNS) — For many churches and pastors, this is a time to say goodbye and say hello. The Rev. Ben Gosden, pastor of Aldersgate United Methodist Church, shares a prayer for United Methodists experiencing transition in their congregations.
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Flat Wesleys circuit ride the connection

GREENVILLE, S.C. (UMNS) — The Wesley brothers traveled thousands of miles to share their beliefs and make disciples during the 18th century. Today, John and Charles are making their rounds again — in the form of laminated paper dolls. Meet the Flat Wesleys, a unique children’s ministry led by United Methodist Discipleship Ministries. The Flat Wesleys are visiting more than 700 United Methodist churches this summer.
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Church opens doors for stranger others turned away

HAM LAKE, Minn. (UMNS) — When Cedar United Methodist Church held a memorial service for a woman who died after a battle with cancer and had no resources or living relatives, the pastor thought the church was welcoming a stranger. Eight churches had declined to hold the service. But after the memorial, a church member told the Rev. H. Grant Tanner that he knew the woman, who he said had been baptized and confirmed at Cedar and was active in the youth ministry for many years. “Those eight churches that passed on her allowed her to come home,” Tanner said. Christa Meland reports for the Minnesota Conference.
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Church and Society helps launch Alzheimer’s coalition

WASHINGTON (UMNS) — The United Methodist Board of Church and Society, along with USAgainstAlzheimer’s, has established a new Faith United Against Alzheimer’s Coalition. The church aims to promote dignity and compassionate care, provide family support and “work urgently” to find disease-modifying treatments and a cure. Wayne Rhodes reports.
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Faith United Against Alzheimer’s petition

Home Depot rebates support 'Strength for Service'

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — The Home Depot will offer United Methodist churches and affiliate organizations an opportunity to help fund the distribution of free copies of the devotional books "Strength for Service to God and Country", to U. S. military troops and veterans. The nondenominational body that distributes the devotions is the recipient of rebates derived from The Home Depot Pro Xtra Loyalty Program.
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Iowa Conference aims to ‘Change a Child’s Story’

DES MOINES, Iowa (UMNS) — In Iowa, more than 8,000 fourth-graders live in poverty and read below their grade level. The Iowa Conference at its annual gathering committed to help these youngsters by distributing 500,000 children’s books and investing 1 million hours in reading with the children. The Rev. Arthur McClanahan and Courtney Gilenke report on the conference’s project “Change a Child’s Story.”
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Conference embraces loving God’s children

Remembering Harold E. Batiste Jr.

SAN ANTONIO (UMNS) — Harold E. Batiste Jr., former president of the National Association of Conference Presidents and a member of the first General Commission on United Methodist Men, died June 15. He was 84. “Harold lived his life as a man after God’s own heart,” said the Rev. Joe Harris, the agency’s first top executive. Rich Peck of United Methodist Men offers a remembrance.
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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, June 30

Deadline for early rates for Do No Harm 2015 Conference: Best Practices for Health, Accountability and Wholeness — “Do No Harm 2015” on Thursday-Saturday, Oct. 15-17 at the Crown Plaza Hotel, Chicago O'Hare, is a sexual ethics summit addressing the most recent developments and challenges in prevention of and response to abuse, misconduct, and harassment of a sexual nature, particularly by people in ministerial roles (both lay and clergy) within The United Methodist Church. The United Methodist Commission on the Status and Role of Women is the sponsor. $450 by June 30.  Details.

Wednesday, July 1

Registration deadline for The Academy of Faith and Money — This four-day training for provisional members and younger clergy will offer vital training for personal and church financial management, as well as consultation on educational loans repayment from student debt expert Heather Jarvis. Led by Horizons Stewardship and hosted by the United Methodist Board of Higher Education and Ministry, the event is in Atlanta. 1.8 CEUs are available. Details and registration.

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