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Weekly Digest - June 6, 2014

NOTE: This is a digest of news features provided by United Methodist Communications for June 2 - 6. 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 umc.org/news.

Casting a wide net in Sierra Leone
Campaign aims to save children like Ibrahim
FREETOWN, Sierra Leone (UMNS) — Ibrahim Massaquoi's dramatic arrival into the children’s ward hijacked everyone's attention on May 17. Most fatalities from malaria occur in children under 5. The United Methodist Church and Sierra Leone government are working to save lives like the 4-year-old. Phileas Jusu of Sierra Leone Annual (regional) shares the boy’s story.

Read story and post a comment


Anticipation and appreciation for Sierra Leone nets
BO, Sierra Leone (UMNS) — Villagers tell of lives saved thanks to mosquito nets, and more nets are on the way on June 5. They can now "Imagine No Malaria" thanks to United Methodist donations.

Watch video


Work to eradicate malaria deaths starts with God
FREETOWN, Sierra Leone (UMNS) — For a Sierra Leone congregation, it is first the worship, then the work as they gear up to help distribute more than 350,000 insecticide-treated nets. This is the first dispatch from Kathy L. Gilbert and Mike DuBose of United Methodist News Service, who are covering the distribution.

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Volunteers arming communities against malaria
BO, Sierra Leone (UMNS) — In a small, cramped schoolroom, scores of dedicated volunteers are sitting elbow to elbow, learning how to fight a foe that creeps into their homes in the dead of night, often taking the lives of children under 5. On June 5, they will start swarming every household within the 15 districts and capital city of Bo, handing out vouchers for insecticide-treated bed nets.

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Partners strive to help Bo become malaria-free
BO, Sierra Leone (UMNS) — The United Methodist Church works with Dr. Alhaji Sayani Turay, medical officer of the Bo District, and other anti-malaria groups, such as Nets for Life, to rid the area of the disease.

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Celebration sets stage for net distribution in Bo
BO, Sierra Leone (UMNS) — More than 1,500 people watched and cheered from the stands of the new Bo Stadium June 5 as leader after leader told them mosquito insecticide-treated bed nets were ready for pickup in the 15 chiefdoms of the district. ‘Everyone has the right to live,’ United Methodist Bishop John K. Yambasu told the crowd.

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Video Diary: Health team covers Sierra Leone
BO, Sierra Leone (UMNS) — You can see a video diary from each day as The United Methodist Church, in partnership with the Sierra Leone government, prepares for and completes its distribution of insecticide-treated bed nets.

Watch videos


Debate around sexuality and church unity
Poll: Making disciples tops sexuality as church priority
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — When it comes to issues facing The United Methodist Church today, same-sex marriage ranks far down the list. That’s according to a new survey of United Methodists across the United States. Nearly 4 in 10 United Methodists said the first or second most important issue facing the church is “creating disciples of Christ.” The poll found sexual orientation and same-gender marriage was listed as a top concern among 11 percent of members.

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Read news release


North Georgia clergy, laity take stand against schism
ATLANTA (UMNS) — As talk of splitting The United Methodist Church reaches a fever pitch, a theologically diverse group of clergy and lay members of the North Georgia Annual (regional) Conference are signing onto a covenant calling for unity.

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Hamilton: Give ‘local option’ for church law on homosexuality
DALLAS (UMNS) — Amid calls for an amicable split of the United Methodist Church because of division over church law on homosexuality, the Rev. Adam Hamilton has offered “A Way Forward for the United Methodist Church.” His proposal would give churches a local option on whether to host same-sex unions and welcome gay clergy. The question of ordaining “self-avowed practicing homosexuals” would be left to annual conferences. Hamilton answered UMNS’s questions about the proposal.

Read Q&A and post a comment


Schism: Gay free or gay-friendly?
CHICAGO (UMNS) — Chicago Area Bishop Sally Dyck reflects on the possibility of “amicable breakup” and what that would even look like. “If it’s a crisis in covenant that is at stake here, how is it that tearing apart the unity of the church isn’t a serious violation of covenant?” she writes.

Read blog


Does unity for unity’s sake work?
JOHNS CREEK, Ga. (UMNS) — The Rev. Steve Wood, pastor of Mount Pisgah United Methodist Church in Johns Creek, Ga., has been involved in multiple conversations about the future of the church, including with those calling for amicable separation. He shares thoughts on unity, including his belief that “to live in unity for the sake of unity while forsaking the church’s historical definition of the authority of Scripture is not God’s way forward for any of us in my opinion.”

Read blog


Correction to ‘Same-gender debate rekindles schism talk’
This story was updated June 2 to clarify that leaders reached "a just resolution" in the complaint against retired United Methodist seminary dean, and the charges were not "dropped." Also, some churches in the California-Nevada Annual (regional) Conference declared May a "Season of Love," not the conference as a whole.

Read corrected story


Resources for churches
A gift from Korean-American United Methodists
DALLAS (UMNS) — Korean-American United Methodists are sharing their Wesleyan small-group ministry training guide, through a new English language translation. Effective small-group ministry will yield church growth and more committed Christian lives, leaders say, adding that their ministry guide is a gift from Korean Americans to the larger United Methodist Church.

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History of Hymns: ‘The Head that Once Was Crowned with Thorns’
DALLAS (UMNS) — The Ascension of Christ 40 days after Easter is a longstanding observance of the church. This hymn fills in the gaps of the scriptural account by describing Christ's presence in heaven and the glory of those who "dwell above" (stanza three) with him in "heaven's eternal light" (stanza two). C. Michael Hawn of Southern Methodist University’s Perkins School of Theology shares the story of this hymn and its author in a column for the United Methodist Board of Discipleship.

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Chuck Knows Church: Pentecost
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — Seen any symbols of fire around your sanctuary? Do you know what’s the second most important day in the Christian year? The United Methodist Board of Discipleship series “Chuck Knows Church” explains.

Watch video


News around conferences
North Texas to IRD: Don't use member addresses
RICHARDSON, Texas (UMNS) — The North Texas Annual Conference has passed a resolution demanding the advocacy group cease using mailing list information bought from UMR Communications Inc.

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Greater New Jersey Conference holds Act of Repentance
WILDWOOD, N.J. (UMNS) — Greater New Jersey United Methodists and the Lenape Native Americans held an Act of Repentance, a way to mend the relationships between the two groups, during the recent annual conference. Cyndi Kent of the United Methodist Native American International Caucus led the litany.

Read story


Illinois Great River exceeds malaria fund goal
PEORIA, Ill. (UMNS) — An offering of more than $39,000 for Imagine No Malaria has propelled the Illinois Great Rivers Annual (regional) Conference past its $2.5 million goal.

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North Central Jurisdiction holds ride for Imagine No Malaria
OKEMOS, Mich. (UMNS) — Four United Methodist bicyclists have planned a 12-day ride from Brandon, S.D., to Port Clinton, Ohio, to raise funds for and awareness of Imagine No Malaria. Kay DeMoss of the Michigan Area has the story of the first United Methodist ride to touch all the annual (regional) conferences in the North Central Jurisdiction.

Read story


Russian church hosts teen club
SAMARA, Russia (UMNS) — Since January, Samara United Methodist Church has hosted a Christian Club, called “Teenager,” for young people ages 10 to 16. Irina Shestakova reports for the United Methodist Church in Eurasia.

Read more


UMTV: Samoans find church home in Alaska
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (UMNS) — “That’s our gift from God, to be Samoan,” says a United Methodist pastor. Meet some islanders who are preserving their traditions in a new locale.

Watch video


News around the connection
Counseling service aids kids with hydrocephalus
MUTARE, Zimbabwe (UMNS) — A participant in the United Methodist Board of Higher Education and Ministry’s Women of Color Scholars program now uses her pastoral counseling service to work with about 100 children suffering with hydrocephalus. Vicki Brown reports on how Mazvita Machinga helps combat superstitions about the brain condition.

Read story


New pollution rule ‘important step,’ says Church and Society
WASHINGTON (UMNS) — Officials of the United Methodist Board of Church and Society called the Environmental Protection Agency’s new proposed rule “an important step in reducing carbon pollution in the United States,” representing “a much-needed and much-overdue commitment” on climate change.

Read statement

EPA press release


Faith leaders urge support for sentencing act
WASHINGTON (UMNS) — More than 1,100 faith leaders urged the U.S. Congress June 3 to support a bipartisan sentencing reform bill to reduce mandatory-minimum sentences for federal drug offenses. The letter about the Smarter Sentencing Act (S 1410/HR 3382) was coordinated by the Faith in Action Criminal Justice Reform Working Group, a coalition of 43 faith organizations chaired by the United Methodist Board of Church and Society.

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In Sudan, water is life
EL SAHARIG, Sudan (UMNS) — Now that the United Methodist Committee on Relief has refurbished their water yard, the waiting time to obtain this precious resource has decreased for some 15,000 residents of El Saharig and the nearby El Neem Camp. Linda Unger has the story.

Read story


United Methodists in the news
United Methodists recognized for ‘Pay it Forward’ efforts
HOWARD CITY, Mich. (UMNS) — Fox-17 has recognized Nancy Johnson, of South Ensley United Methodist Church, as its “Pay it Forward Person of the Month.” Working in an elementary school cafeteria, Johnson noticed many kids came to school hungry. She and her pastor, the Rev. Darryl Miller, conceived the idea of “MacBaskets” bag meals for the kids to take home for the weekend. Johnson has worked with the local food pantry, which the church helps to support, to keep kids fed. Fox 17 has the story.

Watch video

Learn about South Ensley United Methodist Church


No keeping up with this Jones
DALLAS (UMNS) — At 79, Annie Jones is still on the job as a licensed vocational nurse at Methodist Charlton Medical Center in Dallas. She's been providing care at the hospital for more than 50 years and has no plans to retire. "A good nurse knows what that patient needs," she says. Jacquielynn Floyd of the Dallas Morning News has the story.

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A ‘power lunch’ that empowers mission
SAN FRANCISCO (UMNS) — Each year, investor Warren Buffett hosts a charity power lunch to help support the programs of Glide United Methodist Church, raising nearly $16 million over the past 15 years. This year’s bidding process opened June 1 on eBay and will close Friday, June 6.

Read more


LDS Scout repairs United Methodist church roof
KEARNS, Utah (UMNS) — A photo series from the Deseret News shows how an Eagle Scout and member of the Latter-day Saints is helping re-roof a building owned by Trinity United Methodist Church, where his home school group meets each week.

See photo series


Preacher not guilty in wife’s death
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (UMNS) — A judge on Wednesday, May 28, found Terry Greer, a former United Methodist pastor, not guilty by reason of insanity in a shooting that killed his wife and wounded his daughter. Greer has been assigned to a state mental hospital. He is on involuntary leave from all pastoral duties and not receiving any pay or benefits from the North Alabama Annual (regional) Conference. Bishop Debra Wallace-Padgett expressed hopes that people will continue to pray for everyone involved in these tragic events.

Read AP story on the verdict

Read earlier UMNS coverage on church response


Blogs and commentaries
A Pentecost remembrance: Tiananmen Square
VALLEY FORGE, Pa. (UMNS) — The Rev. Doris Kung Chi Pui Dalton shares her reflections on the 25th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre, which was June 4. “Please lift up a prayer for the people of China, that the winds of Pentecost would blow through their lands, and fan the flame that continues to flicker,” she said.

Read reflection


Engaging your mission field
CONWAY, Ark. (UMNS) — How can churches answer the call in Matthew 28 to go make disciples while also heeding the call in Matthew 25 to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, welcome the stranger, and visit the prisoner? The Rev. Bob Crossman, a United Methodist new church strategist with Path One, offers guidance in a column for the Lewis Center for Church Leadership.

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 newsdesk@umcom.org and put Digest in the subject line.

Free webinar “Children’s Ministry: Preparing Children for Kindergarten and Other Milestones,” Monday, June 9 — 10 a.m. CT. Program offers ways that the church can support and celebrate children as they embark on new stages in their lives. Details.

Free webinar “Key Responsibilities for an Effective Camp and Retreat Ministry Board,” Wednesday, June 11 — 3 p.m. CT, looking at specific aspects of the board’s work that must be done effectively to ensure a strong future for the mission and ministry.  Details.

Free webinar “Sunday School Curriculum Review,” Thursday, June 12 — 7-8 p.m. ET, A discussion of the different types of curriculum available and factors to consider in selection, led by Debbie Kolacki, a certified Christian educator and United Methodist lay servant. Details.

Lake Junaluska Summer Youth Events, June 12 - July 20 — Lake Junaluska Youth Events will focus on being the Body of Christ through service, worship, and community with afternoons free for groups to customize their trip and explore the mountains of North Carolina. Leadership includes Shane Claiborne, Duffy Robbins, Andy Lambert, and more. Register at http://www.lakejunaluska.com/youth.

Peace with Justice Sunday, June 15 — The offering taken during Peace with Justice Sunday will allow The United Methodist Church to advocate through a broad spectrum of global programs. Details and resources.

Day 1, Sunday, June 15 — The Rev.Charles Reeb, senior pastor of Pasadena Community Church (United Methodist) will be the featured speaker Pentecost and Trinity Sunday on the nationally syndicated radio program “Day 1.” To listen.

Deadline to register for online course United Methodism 101, Monday, June 16 — Course offered June 18-July 30. Course from United Methodist Communications gives overview of church history, structure, beliefs, ministries and challenges. $9.99. Details.

Window on Wesley Theological Seminary, Tuesday, June 17 — 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. ET, Opportunity for prospective students to get to know the Wesley community and to experience a day-in-the-life of a Wesley seminarian. Details.

“Fierce With Age: Aging as a Spiritual Path,” retreat, Monday through Wednesday, June 23 – 25 — Carol Osborn, bestselling author of “Fierce with Age: Chasing God and Squirrels in Brooklyn” will lead retreat at Scarritt-Bennett. Costs range from $152 to $272 depending on whether guests stay overnight. Details.

Prepare: A Training for New Leaders, Monday-Tuesday, June 23-24 & Summer Institute, Tuesday to Friday, June 24-27 — Both events at Emory University’s Candler School of Theology in Atlanta aim to address that need by training, equipping, and building a network for new, seasoned, or prospective United Methodist collegiate ministers.. Combined cost of events is $100. Details.

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.

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.

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.

Deadline to register for School of Congregational Development 2014, Tuesday, July 15 — Gathering Thursday-Sunday, Aug.14-17. The event is 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.

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 Just Save One conference to equip HIV and AIDS Ministries, Friday, Aug. 15 — The gathering will be Thursday through Saturday, Sept. 11-13 at the Renaissance Hotel in Denver and sponsored by the United Methodist Global AIDS Fund. Details.