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Weekly Digest - June 5, 2015


NOTE: This is a digest of news features provided by United Methodist Communications for June 1-5. 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

6 examples of effective Wesleyan evangelism

PORTLAND, Ore. (UMNS) — United Methodists who are effective at sharing the Good News show that evangelism need be neither intimidating nor intrusive. Heather Hahn shares lessons from five Harry Denman Evangelism Award winners as well as the Foundation for Evangelism’s 2014 distinguished evangelist.
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Minnesota church recognized for ‘culture of call’

Supporting community life in Afghanistan

NEW YORK (UMNS) — The daily struggles of those living in Afghanistan’s remote rural areas rarely make the news. Yet these communities are where United Methodists have offered support during decades of war and political turmoil, says David Wildman, an executive with the denomination’s Board of Global Ministries who travels frequently to Afghanistan. Linda Bloom reports.
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Baltimore mayor thanks church for support

BALTIMORE (UMNS) — Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake thanked The United Methodist Church for its leadership following riots spurred by the death of Freddie Gray. “I cannot say enough about the faith leaders we have across the board in our community of every faith tradition, but I also want to specifically thank the members of The United Methodist Church,” Rawlings-Blake said. The mayor, who was raised as a United Methodist, was on hand for the opening day of the Baltimore-Washington Annual Conference on May 29. Crystal Caviness has the story.
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The spiritual issue of racism

BALTIMORE (UMNS) — United Methodist Bishop Marcus Matthews was a survivor of the shootings of student protesters at South Carolina State University in 1968. He draws on that experience in calling the church to recognize racism as a spiritual issue. Matthews, who leads the Baltimore-Washington Conference, shared his thoughts through an op-ed column in the Baltimore Sun.
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Motorbikes, bikes revitalize ministry in Sierra Leone

BO, Sierra Leone (UMNS) — Motorbikes and bicycles mean pastors can stay connected to their churches in remote areas of Sierra Leone. Phileas Jusu reports from that country, a stronghold of United Methodism in West Africa.
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Commentary: Should next Duke Divinity dean be United Methodist?

DURHAM, N.C. (UMNS) — The Rev. Richard Hays recently announced that he'll be stepping down next year as dean of Duke Divinity School, a United Methodist seminary. The Rev. Jayson Byassee, a graduate of the school, has written an essay for the Duke Chronicle, looking at whether Hays' successor really needs to be a United Methodist.
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UMTV: English Circle builds church community

SILVER SPRING, Md. (UMNS) — Food and fellowship are big at United Methodist churches. Silver Spring United Methodist Church took this hospitality a step further when members reached out to clients of the church food pantries to ask what other ways they could enhance life in their community. When neighbors asked for more help learning languages, a popular social group called the English Conversation Circle was formed.
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Wife and mother of bishops dies at 98

OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. (UMNS) — Benja Lee Crutchfield, spouse to the late Bishop Finas A. Crutchfield and mother to retired Bishop Charles Crutchfield, passed away May 31 at Epworth Villa in Oklahoma City. She was 98. As a bishop’s spouse, she was active in the Louisiana and Texas conferences. She visited many international mission sites and presented numerous programs about the church’s mission work.
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Resources for clergy families

CHICAGO (UMNS) — The United Methodist Commission on the Status and Role of Women is compiling an online list of resources to address the unique struggles and stresses of clergy families. A larger resource hub will be developed in 2016, but here is a preview of resources already available.
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Imagining a mosquito sculpture

FERRISBURGH, Vt. — Children of North Ferrisburgh United Methodist Church used a mosquito sculpture and coffee cans to raise money for Imagine No Malaria, the denomination’s public health initiative in Africa. The innovative fundraising approach got coverage in the local paper, The Eagle.
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Creating a culture of call in the Korean-American community

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — How can The United Methodist Church assist Korean-American young clergy candidates for ordained ministry? Twenty-four Korean American clergy candidates — most in their 20s and 30s — gathered from all around the United States to explore this question. The Rev. HiRho Park of the United Methodist Board of Higher Education and Ministry has the story.
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Church property becomes urban village

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (UMNS) — After 20 years of declining membership, Sharon United Methodist Church is proposing to tear down its building and redevelop its 7-acre site as an urban village. The development will leave room for the church, which plans to build new worship space and other facilities. Faith and Leadership, an online magazine of Duke Divinity School, interviewed the Rev. Kyle Thompson about the church’s plans.
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How do Americans view faith groups?

WASHINGTON (RNS) — Many Americans today don’t think they have a place for church in their lives. “But they believe the church has a place for them, when or if they are interested,” said Scott McConnell, vice president of LifeWay Research, which issued a new survey June 3 on perceptions of religious denominations. The survey found that 52 percent of Americans had a favorable opinion of Methodists. Cathy Lynn Grossman reports for Religion News Service.
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Barton to lead Perkins’ Hispanic ministries program

DALLAS (UMNS) — Paul Barton will be the new director of the Mexican American and Hispanic-Latino/a Church Ministries Program at Perkins School of Theology, a United Methodist seminary. Barton has been on the faculty at the Seminary of the Southwest in Austin, Texas, and is author of the book “Hispanic Methodists, Presbyterians, and Baptists in Texas.”
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The awkward lives of clergy husbands

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — How does your church or conference treat clergy husbands? The Rev. Kira Schlesinger, an Episcopal priest with a lay husband, discusses the challenges today’s clergy spouses can face in church systems that developed with pastors' wives in mind. Her commentary appears in Ministry Matters, part of the United Methodist Publishing House.
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Quiz: Test your knowledge of United Methodist History

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — Do you know what the Central Jurisdiction was? Test your knowledge of church history with the latest question in our quiz.
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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.

Wednesday, June 10
Free webinar "Addressing Elder Abuse in Your Faith Community" — 2-3 p.m. EDT. Many victims and survivors of elder abuse turn to their faith communities for help. This webinar is designed for all clergy, faith leaders and therapists who want to know more about elder abuse, how to respond, and where to refer, as well as for advocates who are building partnerships with faith communities. The webinar is sponsored by United Methodist Women Domestic Violence Initiative in partnership with the FaithTrust Institute. June 15 is World Elder Abuse Awareness Day. Details

Thursday-Friday, June 25-26
Native American International Caucus annual meeting — The official United Methodist caucus meets 7:30 a.m. EDT June 25 through 5:30 p.m. EDT June 26 at Lambuth Hall of the Lake Junaluska Conference and Retreat Center in Lake Junaluska, North Carolina. Contact Lake Junaluska about accommodations

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