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Weekly Digest - March 27, 2015


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

Top Stories

Africa University’s new leader: ‘Right kind of role model’

MUTARE, Zimbabwe (UMNS) — Africa University’s new vice chancellor has “a rags-to-riches story” as a first-generation college graduate, said the keynote speaker at Munashe Furusa’s inauguration as the university’s new leader. Furusa also is ready to take on the United Methodist school’s many challenges. Vicki Brown has the story.
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Africa University, new leader face many challenges

Kurewa: ‘This has been like Jesus at the mountain’

MUTARE, Zimbabwe (UMNS) — John Wesley Kurewa compared the commitment by the Foundation for Evangelism to endow a professorship in Africa University’s Faculty of Theology to the experience of Jesus on the mountaintop. “Don’t you wish we could stay here forever?” he asked supporters of the United Methodist university who were gathered for the chancellor’s dinner during several days of celebrations surrounding the inauguration of the new vice chancellor, Munashe Furusa. Vicki Brown has the story.
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Prayers asked for families of 150 dead in German plane crash

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — Germany “is in mourning” for those who died in a March 24 plane crash, said the episcopal leader of The United Methodist Church there. Bishop Rosemarie Wenner said, “As Christians we bring all who are mourning in God's presence, we pray for those who are working hard to rescue the victims and we are grateful for the service of counselors and others.” Kathy L. Gilbert has the story.
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Record number of conferences at 100 percent giving

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — If The United Methodist Church had a “Paid in Full” rubber stamp, it would likely need more ink. That’s because a record number of U.S. conferences — looking at recent history at least — have paid 100 percent of their apportionments, part of an overall bright picture in denominational giving. Heather Hahn reports.
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Persistence, prayer, patience pay off for South Georgia churches

Assuming role of ‘creation care’ as God’s mandate

DECATUR, Ga. (UMNS) — Glenn Memorial and other United Methodist congregations are engaging in sustainability practices that they hope will impact communities around the world. The denomination’s annual creation care conference, "Environmental Resurrection: Let Justice Roll Down Like Waters," meets in the Atlanta area April 24-25 at Decatur First United Methodist Church. Linda Bloom has the story.
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'Bloody Sunday' 50th: Sights and Sounds

SELMA, Ala. (UMNS) — On the weekend of March 7-8, tens of thousands converged on Selma, Alabama, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of “Bloody Sunday,” where civil rights workers were severely beaten by state and local police as they crossed the Edmund Pettus Bridge on March 7, 1965. United Methodist News Service photographer Mike DuBose was there to document the experience.
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United Methodists annually honor slain civil rights worker

SELMA, Ala. (UMNS) — Viola Liuzzo, a Detroit housewife and civil rights activist killed March 25, 1965, after the Selma-to-Montgomery marches, was not United Methodist, but she’s been embraced by several in the denomination. Her marker on Highway 80 in Lowndes County, near Selma, is a stop for many United Methodists and for civil rights heritage tours. Joey Butler tells the story.
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50 years later, Selma native still part of the movement

Ebola doesn’t stop 93-year-old’s return to Sierra Leone

FREETOWN, Sierra Leone (UMNS) — Dr. Lowell Gess, a retired medical missionary, went back after the Ebola outbreak to this country where he served for 58 years. He wanted to show the people someone cared. While in Sierra Leone, Gess helped the United Methodist hospital resume surgery. Phileas Jusu reports.
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Zimbabwe United Methodist revival ‘unrivaled’ in district

MAHUSEKWA, Zimbabwe (UMNS) — March 13-15 will remain entrenched in the minds of Mahusekwa area villagers. That weekend The United Methodist Church's Chitungwiza-Marondera District brought to town a revival unrivaled by any they had seen. Eveline Chikwanah reports.
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Filipino United Methodists rally for unity, discipleship

QUEZON CITY, Philippines (UMNS) — Nine thousand United Methodists converged March 21 to pray, march together and have fellowship in the interest of family unity and discipleship. Gladys P. Mangiduyos has the story.
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Time to rethink Hispanic/Latino ministry

DURHAM, N.C. (UMNS) — Did you know Latinos in the U.S. are more likely to be part of an interracial or interethnic couple than any other ethnic group? The diverse and changing realities of Hispanic/Latino people were the main topics of discussion at the recent National Consultation for Hispanic/Latino Ministry. The Rev. Gustavo Vasquez reports on what those realities mean for The United Methodist Church.
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Use Wesley’s playbook, UMM presidents urged

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — To carry out their goal of making disciples of Jesus Christ, United Methodist Men should use the playbook established by John Wesley — with the help of modern technology and terminology. That's what Gil Hanke, top executive of the Commission on United Methodist Men, advises. Rich Peck reports.
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United Methodists and Episcopalians draw closer

NEW YORK (UMNS) — In celebration of the ecumenical bonds developing between two denominations, members of the United Methodist and Episcopal churches came together to share in Holy Communion early this month at the John Street United Methodist Church in New York City. Joanne S. Utley of the New York Conference has the story on the growing ties between the two denominations.
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Is John Wesley trending?

ANN ARBOR, Mich. (UMNS) — The Rev. Adam Hamilton, pastor of the United Methodist Church of the Resurrection, is out with a book on John Wesley. In an interview with the website Read the Spirit, Hamilton asserts that the book, "Revival: Faith as Wesley Lived It," is part of a resurgence of interest in Methodism's founder.
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Do we understand what we’re signing up for?

TIPP CITY, Ohio (UMNS) — The Rev. Mike Slaughter, lead pastor of Ginghamsburg Church, a United Methodist congregation, writes that the season of Lent is an opportunity to ask ourselves, “Do I understand what I have signed up for?” In Ministry Matters, he offers a meditation on why Jesus wants followers, not volunteers.
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Lent quiz: Test your knowledge of the season

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — How much do you know about Lent and Easter? If you missed any of United Methodist Communication’s daily Lent quizzes, you can catch up.
To take the quiz

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.

Thursday, April 2
Deadline to submit Culture of Call Award nominations — The Foundation for Evangelism gives the award annually to one local United Methodist congregation that encourages the next generation of leaders with a passion for evangelism to enter full-time Christian service. Details

Sunday, April 5
Easter — Worship resources from United Methodist Discipleship Ministries and

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