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Weekly Digest - June 27, 2014


NOTE: This is a digest of news features provided by United Methodist Communications for June 23-27. 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

Repentance and Native American ministry
Conference brings hundreds to massacre site
EADS, Colo. (UMNS) — Hundreds of members of the Rocky Mountain Annual (regional) Conference rode buses for three hours to visit the Sandy Creek Massacre Historical Site, an effort to promote understanding of and healing for an 1864 atrocity that had Methodist involvement. Bishop Elaine Stanovsky led the Friday, June 20, pilgrimage, which included Cheyenne and Arapaho descendants of the massacre's survivors.

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Letter: Act of Repentance not a one-time event
OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. (UMNS) — A group of Native American United Methodists has a message for the church: Repentance for sins against indigenous peoples is an ongoing process — not a one-time event. The letter asserts that the church not only must confess past sins but also must address present challenges in ministering effectively with Native Americans and other indigenous people.

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Pastor nurtures Native American, church relationships
OKLAHOMA CITY (UMNS) — The Rev. Chebon Kernell, an ordained United Methodist elder and member of the Seminole Nation of Oklahoma, talks about his calling to ministry and his work as executive secretary of Native American and Indigenous Ministries for the Board of Global Ministries. Holly McCray of the Oklahoma Annual (regional) Conference has the story.

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Sexuality debate and church unity
Frank Schaefer reinstated as United Methodist pastor
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — The Rev. Frank Schaefer had his ministerial credentials reinstated by a United Methodist regional appeals committee June 23, three days after a hearing held near Baltimore. The denomination’s Northeastern Jurisdictional Committee on Appeals also ordered the Eastern Pennsylvania Annual (regional) Conference to compensate Schaefer — who had been found guilty of violating church law by performing a same-sex wedding ceremony for his son — for all lost salary and benefits dating from Dec. 19, 2013.

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Bishop Trimble: ‘Let’s stay together’
DES MOINES, Iowa (UMNS) — “My response to those who are predicting schism and splitting of The United Methodist Church is an invitation to wait on the Lord and be of good courage,” writes Bishop Julius Calvin Trimble. He shares his thoughts on church unity in a blog post that quotes the hit song by the Rev. Al Green.

Read bishop's statement

Bishop Davis: Be not anxious
CRESTWOOD, Ky. (UMNS) — Bishop Lindsey Davis, whose area includes the Kentucky and Red Bird Missionary conferences, shares his thoughts on the denomination’s intensifying conversation around human sexuality. “Most of you know that I am very traditional in my views on marriage and human sexuality,” he writes. He also says he vowed to be a “sign of unity” to the church.

Read bishop’s statement

What’s a pastor to do about same-sex unions?
INDIANAPOLIS (UMNS) — After a federal judge overturned Indiana’s same-sex marriage ban, Indiana Area Bishop Michael J. Coyner offers guidance to pastors on ministry to and with gay individuals. He cautions clergy that church law still bans officiating at same-gender weddings. However, he also cautions against the sin of religious hypocrisy.

Read bishop’s statement

United Methodists and immigration
United Methodists tend to immigrant minors, women
TUCSON, Ariz. (UMNS) — United Methodist faith leaders are joining with other religious leaders to provide hospitality and basic needs for hundreds of undocumented Central American women and children who are being dropped off at bus stations in Tucson and Phoenix.

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UMCOR responds to border crisis
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) – At the request of San Antonio Area Bishop James E. Dorff, the United Methodist Committee on Relief will expedite an emergency grant to help with the denomination’s response to the increased flow of refugees coming from Mexico into the United States. Many of those coming are unaccompanied children.

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Bishop: Immigrant families are not poker chips
PASADENA, Calif. (UMNS) — In an open letter, United Methodist Bishop Minerva G. Carcaño urges President Obama not to “deport your way” to immigration legislation. “We don’t gamble with the lives of families hoping to win something potentially better,” the bishop writes in the letter published by Huffington Post.

Read letter

Resources for churches
Guide to pastoral transitions
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — Moving to a new appointment? A new leader has 90 days to prove himself or herself, according to author Michael Watkins. United Methodist Communications offers tips based on organizational research to help clergy make a successful transition to a new church.

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Faith and aging: A spiritual pilgrimage
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — The book, “Pilgrimage into the Last Third of Life: 7 Gateways to Spiritual Growth,” already is striking a chord with boomers. The authors, the Rev. Richard L. Morgan and Jane Marie Thibault, offer professional expertise in this article that originally appeared in Interpreter magazine.

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Bible study available on gun violence
WASHINGTON (UMNS) — The United Methodist Board of Church and Society has developed a three-session Bible study about the use of guns in committing violence. The study, “Kingdom Dreams, Violent Realities,” uses Micah 4:1-4 as its scriptural foundation.

See details

Agency exec uses birthday to raise new church funds
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — Doug Ruffle, New Church Starts (Path 1) associate executive director, celebrated his 63rd birthday on June 11 by swimming more than three miles to raise more than $4,200 to support church planters in the United States and a new church in Argentina. New Church Starts (Path 1) is part of the United Methodist Board of Discipleship, which has the story.

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Donations continue to be accepted

Palestinian Christians conference lists workshops
TIPP CITY, Ohio (UMNS) — A wide array of workshops for the upcoming “Walking with Palestinian Christians … for Holy Justice and Peace” conference will help United Methodists explore the theological background and political realities of the Holy Land. The Aug. 7-8 conference is hosted and co-sponsored by Ginghamsburg Church, a United Methodist congregation in Ohio.

Read more from the Board of Global Ministries

Warren McGuffin: ‘Giving away fishing poles’
THOMAS, Haiti (UMNS) — Warren McGuffin, a United Methodist who started a food program in Haiti, is now working to give Haitians the technological tools to feed themselves. In September, McGuffin will speak at the Game Changers Summit, sponsored by United Methodist Communications.

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Learn more about Game Changers Summit

Training college students to be missionaries
PRITCHARD, Ala. (UMNS) — has the story of the QuadW internship program, a cooperative effort of United Methodist churches in Mobile and Montgomery, Alabama; Pine Bluff, Arkansas; and Kansas City, in both Missouri and Kansas. “(We’re) hoping to produce people who understand and practice church in a missional, incarnational way,” said the Rev. Don Woolley, the United Methodist who heads the program. He is a member of the Alabama-West Florida Annual (regional) Conference.

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History of Hymns: ‘Wellspring of Wisdom’
DALLAS (UMNS) — Miriam Therese Winter has been a prophetic voice in liturgical studies and feminist ritual for several decades, writes C. Michael Hawn of Southern Methodist University’s Perkins School of Theology. “Wellspring of Wisdom,” commissioned by the Hymnal Revision Committee for The United Methodist Hymnal (1989), reflects both. Hawn shares the story of a hymn that takes inspiration from Proverbs.

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News around the connection
German United Methodists seek peace for Russia, Ukraine
FRANKFURT, Germany (UMNS) — United Methodists in Germany are encouraging their government to work toward a negotiated, peaceful settlement of the dispute between Russia and Ukraine. The denomination’s Eurasia episcopal area includes congregations and social ministries in both countries.

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Church leaders meet on peace for Korean peninsula
BOSSEY, Switzerland (UMNS) – Church leaders from 34 countries, including North and South Korea, met this week near Geneva to seek ways to advance reconciliation and peace on the Korean peninsula. It was the first time the group had met since 2009 and last year’s appointment of a new leader for the Korea Christian Federation of North Korea. The meeting was sponsored by the World Council of Churches.

Read WCC story

Story on July 25-26 Korea peace rally in D.C.

What does a 95-year-old want for her birthday?
SPOONER. Wis. (UMNS) — If you’re Florence Millard, relief kits. This great-great-grandmother, a member of Spooner United Methodist Church, has made helping people after a disaster her “forever mission.” Susan Kim of the United Methodist Committee on Relief has the story.

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Saint Paul trustees name Howell as interim leader
OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (UMNS) — The board of trustees has named the Rev. H. Sharon Howell as interim president of Saint Paul School of Theology, effective July 1. Howell will serve in that capacity while the work of the United Methodist-related seminary's presidential search committee continues.

Read press release

Blogs and commentaries
Bishop Swanson: Remembering Freedom Summer
PHILADELPHIA, Miss. (UMNS) — Bishop James E. Swanson Sr., the first African-American bishop of the Mississippi Annual (regional) Conference, writes about traveling to Mount Zion United Methodist Church to a memorial service for James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner, who were murdered 50 years ago. Mount Zion’s building was burned to the ground in 1964 for the congregation's role in the civil rights movement .

Read bishop’s journal

U.S. volunteer spirit helps move mission
NEW YORK (UMNS) — As a German United Methodist, Thomas Kemper was deeply involved in volunteer mission work worldwide. Now, as top executive of the Board of Global Ministries, he says, “I continue to admire and be impressed by the enormous volunteer spirit and movement in the United States.”

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.

Deadline to apply for CORR Action Fund grants, Monday, June 30 — The United Methodist Commission on Religion and Race will award grants of $20,000 to $80,000 to “innovative, bold, high-impact initiatives” that will increase intercultural competency or support vital conversations about race, cultural diversity and systemic equity. Details.

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.

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.

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 EEEE’s — 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.