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Weekly Digest - March 20, 2015


NOTE: This is a digest of news features provided by United Methodist Communications for March 16-20. 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

Church threatened with fines for taking in homeless

MCMINNVILLE, Ore. (UMNS) — McMinnville Cooperative Ministries, a joint United Methodist-Lutheran church, has been threatened with fines of up to $500 a day if it doesn't soon close an encampment of homeless people on its campus. Sam Hodges reports.
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Seeing ‘sacred worth’ in women and girls

NEW YORK (UMNS) — What would the world look like if women and girls were seen as children of God and of sacred worth? It’s a question that Susan Burton and other United Methodist and faith representatives have pondered over the past two weeks as they participated in forums tied to the 59th Session of the U.N. Commission on the Status of Women and the 20-year-old Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action. Linda Bloom has the story.
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Learn about women’s contributions to The United Methodist Church

Outler was great Wesley scholar — and a pack rat

DALLAS (UMNS) — The great United Methodist scholar Albert C. Outler (1908-1989) also was a pack rat, hanging onto to airline tickets, restaurant napkins and entire editions of newspapers. Archivists at Bridwell Library, part of Southern Methodist University’s Perkins School of Theology, spent 6,000 hours reorganizing and slimming down Outler's papers. The library has created an exhibit of the highlights, and put them online. And the collection beckons to scholars who still find Outler a compelling figure. Sam Hodges reports.
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Lyle Schaller, influential church observer, dies at 91

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — The Rev. Lyle E. Schaller, a United Methodist widely considered among the most influential observers of U.S. church culture in the 20th century, died March 18 at 91. He published 55 books between 1964 and 2005, all with the United Methodist Publishing House's Abingdon Press. Paul Franklyn offers a tribute to Schaller at Ministry Matters.
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Abingdon Press’ news release

Small hospital fills large need in Côte d’Ivoire

DABOU, Côte d’Ivoire (UMNS) — Dabou United Methodist Hospital is small but has a big reputation for quality medical care that makes it loom large in the lives of many people. Kathy L. Gilbert and Mike DuBose have the story.
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Heroin’s tragic story touches United Methodists

BALTIMORE (UMNS) — Heroin killed Hannah McLaughlin, a pastor’s 19-year-old daughter. But her parents know God saved her heart. According to the Centers for Disease Control, nearly half a million Americans are thought to be addicted to heroin. Melissa Lauber of the Baltimore-Washington Conference writes about the McLaughlin family’s struggle and how the church can help fight addiction.
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Dealing hope instead of dope: Robert’s story and struggle

BALTIMORE (UMNS) — The funeral of a close friend brought “Robert,” a drug dealer, inside the doors of a United Methodist church. Someone in the congregation invited him to come back, and now he is hooked on growing closer to God. Erik Alsgaard of the Baltimore-Washington Conference shares Robert’s transformation.
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Women church planters recognized

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — Methodism has long depended on women to spread the gospel and help the church grow. March is Women's History Month, and Interpreter magazine uses the occasion to spotlight two contemporary women who are church planters, the Revs. Amy Peters and Molly Simpson.
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Church history: The founding of Mother’s Day

PHILADELPHIA (UMNS) — The Methodist mother and daughter who started the May celebration didn’t have in mind greeting cards and Sunday brunches. Instead, Ann and Anna Jarvis wanted to honor the work mothers do to promote peace. As part of Women’s History Month, UMTV showcases the legacy of the two Jarvises.
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Dakota Wesleyan takes a bite out of hunger

MITCHELL, S.D. (UMNS) — In South Dakota, where one out of every five children is at risk of going hungry, discussing feeding programs is more than academic. Students and faculty at United Methodist-related Dakota Wesleyan University have a long history of working on hunger issues. Crystal Caviness, a public relations specialist with United Methodist Communications, has the story.
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‘Flat Wesleys’ help children practice intentional discipleship

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — Children throughout the United Methodist connection are learning about the history of the Methodist movement and practicing intentional discipleship with the help of drawings of John and Charles Wesley called “Flat Wesleys.” Churches in each conference are receiving laminated copies of the Flat Wesleys to begin the project. The ministry takes inspiration from the children’s literature character Flat Stanley©.
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5 out-of-the-box Easter ideas

MOBILE, Ala. (UMNS) — As people all over the world celebrate Christ’s resurrection, churches have an incredible opportunity to connect with their communities, writes the Rev. Jeremy Steele. He shares five ideas from across the United Methodist connection that can help churches do just that.
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Alternative spring breaks: Vacation with more meaning

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — Beaches and amusement parks are popular destinations but not the only places to find renewal. Some United Methodists choose an alternative spring break experience, spending the week serving people in need. Joe Iovino shares their stories.
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7 Abingdon Press books awards finalists

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — The United Methodist Publishing House has announced that seven of its Abingdon Press books are finalists for IndieFab Awards. The awards, voted on by librarians, honor books from the independent publishing community.
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Give thanks for the new generations of United Methodist pastors

MACON, Ga. (UMNS) — “Ministers are equal part grief counselors, marriage planners, fundraisers, alms dispensers and, on occasion, plumbers and politicians,” writes Dick Yarbrough in The (Macon) Telegraph. Yarbrough is part of a board of United Methodist pastors and laity who evaluate candidates for ordination into the North Georgia Conference.
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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-Wednesday, March 24 and 25
Bishop Medardo E. Gomez visits Perkins — 7 p.m. CDT Tuesday, March 24 and 11:30 a.m. CDT Wednesday, March 25. The Rev. Medardo Gomez, human rights activist and bishop of the Lutheran Church of El Salvador, will speak at Southern Methodist University's Perkins School of Theology. On March 24, he will speak in Room 106 of Elizabeth Perkins Prothro Hall. On March 25, he will be a guest preacher for a worship service honoring the memory of Archbishop Oscar Romero in Perkins Chapel. Details.

Wednesday, March 25
Eiesland Endowed Lecture "Violence, Disability and the Politics of Healing" — 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. EDT, Emory University's Candler School of Theology in Atlanta. Julia Watts Belser, assistant professor of Jewish Studies at Georgetown University, will speak. Details.

Women in the World Conference — 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. EDT at Boston University: Photonics Center, 8 Saint Mary's Street, 9th Floor, Colloquium Room in Boston. This conference, hosted by Boston University School of Theology's Anna Howard Shaw Center, will include panels and small-group discussions on the theme, "Celebrating Women and the World." United Methodist Bishop Hope Morgan Ward will preach, and panelists include Eunjoo Kim, Cristian De La Rosa and Diana M. Swancutt. Details.

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