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Weekly Digest - March 13, 2016


NOTE: This is a digest of news features provided by United Methodist Communications for March 9-13. 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

United Methodists return for ‘Bloody Sunday’ 50th anniversary

SELMA, Ala. (UMNS) — United Methodist leaders — two who took part in the original civil rights marches in 1965 and one who comes each year with his seminary students — joined President Barack Obama and thousands of others who marched across Selma's Edmund Pettus Bridge to remember the violent clash between police and protesters known as “Bloody Sunday.” Joey Butler and Mike DuBose have the story and photos.
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UMTV: Eyewitness to Selma

At 75: UMCOR training extends church’s reach in disasters

NEW YORK (UMNS) — Call it the “Katrina effect.” As the United Methodist Committee on Relief celebrates its 75th anniversary this year, the focus on formal training for church members responding to disasters has increased, most notably over the past decade. Linda Bloom has the story.
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Faith helps power Côte d’Ivoire radio station

ABIDJAN Côte d’Ivoire (UMNS) — Daily devotionals fuel the United Methodist radio ministry, Voice of Hope. More than 1 million people tune in to hear topics ranging from religion to finance, offered in 18 languages. Kathy L. Gilbert and Mike DuBose report.
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Does U.S. theological education have a future?

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — A longtime scholar says if trends persist, the modern way of training United Methodists pastors could disappear. The Rev. M. Douglas Meeks and nearly 40 other scholars recently met to discuss the denomination’s theological education crisis and what to do about it. Heather Hahn has the story.
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Mission teams glad to be back in Juárez

CIUDAD JUÁREZ, Mexico (UMNS) — In 2007, United Methodist mission teams helped build about 200 homes for the poor at Proyecto Abrigo (Project Shelter) in Ciudad Juárez. But drug-cartel related violence in the border city halted those trips for nearly three years. Now the violence is way down, and some mission teams are returning. Sam Hodges reports.
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Defining women’s progress on the grassroots level

NEW YORK (UMNS) — In some ethnic cultures in Cameroon, a woman whose husband dies is isolated in a dark room for three days, with only other widows for company. Justine Kwachu Kumche and Women in Alternative Action had to find just the right way to intervene in what it viewed as a harmful cultural practice, she said during a U.N.-related panel discussion March 11 co-sponsored by United Methodist Women. Linda Bloom has the story.
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2 clergy face suspensions for performing same-sex weddings

GLEN ALLEN, Va. (UMNS) — Two Virginia United Methodist clergy will face suspensions for officiating at same-sex weddings under resolutions reached in each complaint, Virginia Area Bishop Young Jin Cho announced March 6. Heather Hahn reports.
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Netball, others sports are win-win for Zimbabwean women

CHITUNGWIZA, Zimbabwe (UMNS) — The St. Peter’s United Methodist Church netball team for women has proved something of a prodigy, despite challenges with the playing field and transportation. Eveline Chikwanah reports for the Zimbabwe East Conference.
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Religious leaders train for post-Ebola support

FREETOWN, Sierra Leone (UMNS) — Faith leaders in Sierra Leone, both Christian and Muslim, are hoping to become a major voice in healing the country in the aftermath of Ebola, assisted by a new training tool. Phileas Jusu has the story.
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UMTV: Finding God on the Natchez Trace

FRANKLIN, Tenn. (UMTV) — United Methodist Troy Waugh said he was surprised to find God calling him to take a long journey from Mississippi to Tennessee, yet he learned that God gives the faithful strength beyond their own. He used the walk to support a United Methodist ministry.
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Schools reopen as Ebola cases decline

MONROVIA, Liberia (UMNS) — Students are glad to be back in class at United Methodist schools, but Ebola still casts a shadow over education in Liberia. Nyamah Dunbar reports, with help from Julu Swen.
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History of Hymns: ‘Come, We that Love the Lord’

DALLAS (UMNS) — Isaac Watts, known as the “Father of English Hymnody,” composed this hymn that was a favorite of John Wesley’s. Taylor Vancil, a Master of Sacred Music student at Southern Methodist University’s Perkins School of Theology, traces the hymn’s origins to its inclusion in today’s United Methodist Hymnal.
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2015-2016 Dempster Scholars named

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — Ten students have been selected by the United Methodist Board of Higher Education and Ministry as Dempster Scholars. The graduate fellowship supports doctoral students who plan to serve the church by becoming professors who will educate the next generation of the denomination’s pastors.
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How MLK used the Bible

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (UMNS) — Preachers often debate whether they should make the Bible relevant to culture or the culture relevant to the Bible. The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., did not make that distinction, writes the Rev. Dave Barnhart in a commentary for Ministry Matters. The United Methodist pastor suggests ways King’s biblical citations might inform Christians today.
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Are churches really welcoming?

BALTIMORE (UMNS) — The pastor and parishioners might consider themselves open and welcoming, but there are ways — both subtle and unsubtle — that church members can signal to newcomers they aren’t welcome. As congregations prepare to welcome Easter visitors, the Lewis Center for Church Leadership shares a column by two Catholic priests on the sort of behavior church regulars should avoid if they want to reach the lost.
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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, March 17
Livestream of "Moving Faith Communities to Fruitful Conversation on Race" panel — 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. EDT. Wesley Theological Seminary's Institute for Community Engagement will have a panel to examine theologically and strategically race relations in the United States. Among the speakers will be Krista Tippett, host of NPR's "On Being;" Michel Martin, NPR, and a student at Wesley; as well as United Methodist clergy. To see list of speakers and to watch livestream.

Webinar "The Generosity Project: A Cross+Generational Approach to Stewardship" — 7 to 8 p.m. EDT. The Generosity Project is based on these beliefs: (1) All generations are to be equipped as stewards of God’s abundant grace. (2) Generosity is essential to the daily expression of one's faith and best formed and practiced in households, with the support of the congregation. (3) When values and finances are discussed between people of all ages, trust is built and faith nurtured. (4) The understanding of stewardship needs to be expanded. (5) As Christians, our lives, our identity and daily decisions as consumers are shaped by God’s Story in Jesus. Details.

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