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Weekly Digest: March 28, 2014


NOTE: This is a digest of news features provided by United Methodist Communications for March 24 - March 28. 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

United Methodists ready to assist after mudslide

SNOHOMISH COUNTY, Wash. (UMNS) — United Methodist Early Response Teams stand ready to assist after the deadly mudslide in Washington State, but coordinator Jim Truitt doesn’t expect a call soon, due to the extensive debris and damaged roads.
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Bishop urges prayer after mudslide

SNOHOMISH COUNTY, Wash. (UMNS) — Bishop Grant Hagiya, who leads the Greater Northwest Episcopal Area, is asking for prayer for those affected by this weekend’s deadly mudslide in Washington. Patrick Scriven of the Pacific Northwest Annual (regional) Conference shares the bishop’s words and an update.
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Missouri Conference gives $150,000 for Joplin

JOPLIN, Mo. (UMNS) — The Missouri Annual (regional) Conference on March 19 gave a check for $150,000 to Rebuild Joplin to help more families affected by the catastrophic May 22, 2011, tornado. The Rebuild Joplin development director told the gift is a game changer to clear the current waiting lists for homes.
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Hearing his call in the beat of a drum

THONOTOSASSA, Fla. (UMNS) — Meet Dock Green Silverhawk, the spiritual leader of the American Indian Christian Circle of Thonotosassa. The circle meets at Thonotosassa United Methodist Church and gives Native Americans the opportunity for Christian worship that honors their spiritual and cultural heritage. Kathy Steele of the Florida Annual (regional) Conference has the story.
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Church shops and sells with a purpose

LYONS, Ga. (UMNS) — It’s not often that shopping and service come together, but that’s exactly what happens each time a purchase is made at the Wings of Hope Thrift Store, a new ministry of Lyons First United Methodist Church. The South Georgia Annual (regional) Conference has the story.
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2 conferences join forces for mission trip

LAKELAND, Fla. (UMNS) — The Florida and Western North Carolina annual (regional) conferences are sending a joint delegation to deepen relationships with the Methodist Church of Southern Africa. Each conference has sent three representatives for the two-week mission trip that began March 24.
Read Western North Carolina story
Read Florida Conference story

News around the connection

Chicago faith leaders join call to end deportations

CHICAGO (UMNS) — United Methodist Bishop Sally Dyck joined Congressman Luis Guitierrez, Mexican immigrant Elvira Arellano and other faith leaders in a rally and sit-in at the Immigration and Customs Enforcement office March 27 in an act of civil disobedience. Watch for coverage on and the Northern Illinois Annual (regional) United Methodist Conference
UMNS Facebook page

Dallas pastor faces complaint for same-sex service

DALLAS (UMNS) — The Rev. William McElvaney says he is the subject of a formal complaint for going against United Methodist Church law by officiating at a March 1 same-sex wedding. He confirmed to UMNS the details of a letter he sent to members of Northaven United Methodist Church in Dallas, where he once was pastor and now is pastor emeritus.
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Supervisory response begins for Dallas pastor

DALLAS (UMNS) — A supervisory response is under way for the Rev. William McElvaney, the retired pastor who officiated at a same-sex union in violation of United Methodist Church law. “It is my prayer that our members, both clergy and laity, affirm the goals of this process with their prayers and respect for the confidential nature of this process, which seeks reconciliation as its ultimate goal,” Bishop Michael McKee said in a March 24 statement to the North Texas Annual (regional) Conference.
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Scholarships help youth leaving foster care

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — For youth aging out of a foster care home and unsure of how they will pay for rent and food, much less tuition, funding a college education can seem an impossible dream. However, that dream is becoming a reality for many, thanks to scholarships through the United Methodist Board of Higher Education and Ministry.
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‘Band of Angels’ assists Sandy survivors

NEW YORK (UMNS) — A family in New Jersey was barely hanging on to a faint glimmer of hope when a “band of angels” came to their door. Before Hurricane Sandy swirled through, the father, an ironworker, became disabled when he hurt his back at work. Then, the family was devastated when they lost one of the children, 6 years old, to cancer. Susan Kim reports for the United Methodist Committee on Relief.
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United Methodists work to protect water

NEW YORK (UMNS) — Two of the denomination’s general agencies are providing material to help understand the threat to water resources throughout the world. The United Methodist Committee on Relief joined with the United Nations to mark World Water Day on March 22. “Water, Holy Water” is the theme of this year’s Earth Day resource from Creation Justice Ministries of the United Methodist Board of Church and Society. The material for the April 22 day to remember the environment explores “water as a gift from God being threatened by overuse and pollution.”
Five ways to make water last
“Water, Holy Water” (Earth Day 2014)

Communications relief progresses in Philippines

TANAUAN, Leyte (UMNS) — United Methodist Communications is continuing to work on communication relief for the survivors in Central Philippines. Its work has included funding mobile tools seminars conducted by partner Inveneo to equip organizations working in the disaster areas to respond more efficiently.
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Agency's board prepares for General Conference

WASHINGTON (UMNS) — Members of the United Methodist Commission on Religion and Race's board recently dedicated three days of prayerful discernment and preparation for the agency’s work at the 2016 General Conference. The focus was on monitoring, supporting delegates and preparing legislation for the denomination’s top lawmaking assembly to help further the values of institutional equity.
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Study Bible award finalist

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — The CEB Study Bible, the first study Bible available for the Common English Bible translation, has been selected as a finalist for an award from the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association. Abingdon Press, part of the United Methodist Publishing House, distributes the Common English Bible and related materials.
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Resources and educational opportunities

How to protect your church from theft NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — Often, people are shocked to learn of the significant losses congregations face from embezzlement and dishonesty by church workers. Paul Stephens, vice president of marketing and risk-management services for The Church Insurance Agency Corp., offers ways churches can reduce their risk.
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See series on protecting churches when disaster strikes

Event will focus on churches in mission

POWDER SPRINGS, Ga. (UMNS) — The Rev. Jorge Acevedo of Grace United Methodist Church in Fort Myers, Fla., and Brian Fikkert of the Chalmers Center will be keynote speakers for the Beyond These Walls Mission Conference, May 1-3, at McEachern Memorial United Methodist Church. The event will focus on churches interested in or doing mission work. Early registration discount is available until April 1.
Learn more

History of Hymns: ‘Blessed Assurance’

DALLAS (UMNS) — This hymn is the creation of two notable Methodist women — the prolific poet Fanny Crosby and song composer Phoebe Palmer Knapp. This is the story of the song that helped generations of Christians to be “Praising my Savior all the day long.”
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United Methodists in the news

Rebuilding Haiti, one computer at a time THOMAS, Haiti (UMNS) — The international news service Reuters features how individual United Methodists and United Methodist Communications are providing technology for development and improving lives in Haiti.
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Google honors United Methodist

WASHINGTON (UMNS) — The late Dorothy Irene Height, famed as "the godmother of the civil rights movement," was the Google doodle on Monday, March 24, what would have been her 102nd birthday. She also was a member of the Methodist movement for most of her life. You can read more about her contributions to her church and country.
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Alabama church to remember Palm Sunday tornado

PIEDMONT, Ala. (UMNS) — March 27 marked the 20th anniversary of what has become known as the Palm Sunday tornado. Forty people died in that tornado, 20 of them inside the Goshen United Methodist Church. The Anniston Star reports that the church will have a special service March 30 to reflect on the events of that day and what has happened since.
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Katrina survivors training to help others

NEW ORLEANS (UMNS) — The horrifying images of the destruction when Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast in 2005 are hard to forget. For those who lived there, the work of the United Methodist Committee on Relief is something never to be forgotten. Now, some residents of the Gulf Coast are in training to give the kind of care they received. has the story.
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About the Epworth Project

Minneapolis church reaches out to homeless teens

MINNEAPOLIS (UMNS) — The Rev. Rachel Morey, pastor of Brooklyn Mosaic United Methodist Church in Brooklyn Center, has been working with city officials, other denominations and civic groups to help build what will be a shelter for homeless teens. “They go to incredible measures to hide the fact they have no place to do laundry or sleep at night,” Morey told the Star-Tribune.
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Listen to Minnesota Public Radio story

Church honors Civil War soldier

WESLEY, N.Y. (UMNS) — They gathered March 22 in the one-room Wesley United Methodist Church to remember Anson Park, who died on that day 150 years ago during the Civil War. The land for the church and its nearby cemetery was given by Park’s family generations ago and some of his descendants remain active in the church. describes a ceremony replete with Civil War remembrances.
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Storage pod becomes portable medical facility

BRIDGE CITY, Texas (UMNS) — It took almost a year but the Orange County United Methodist Men have turned a storage pod into a portable medical facility that soon will go to Belize. explains how this project came together.
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Three years after blaze, church almost rebuilt

SOUTH SEAVILLE, N.J. (UMNS) — Lightning struck South Seaville United Methodist Church in June 2011 and the building was lost to fire. It has taken three years but the rebuilt structure is about to resume its place as a community hub. The explains how the congregation overcame the obstacles.
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How to protect your church

North Carolina couple make sure youth are fed

GASTON, N.C. (UMNS) — Preston and Martha Taylor joined with their church, First United Methodist, more than 10 years ago to perform an act of kindness. The Feeding the Children Ministry now provides food for more than 300 area children on school breaks when free and reduced lunch programs are not active. reports the Taylors also prepared a manual for any other churches interested in starting a similar ministry.
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Ministry with the Poor

Milwaukee project aims to de-stigmatize poverty

MILWAUKEE, Wis. (UMNS) — United Methodist Children’s Services, a nonprofit organization that helps Milwaukee citizens living in poverty, is a finalist in this year’s Milwaukee Awards for Neighborhood Development Initiatives. Neighborhood News Service explains how this project is working to de-stigmatize poverty.
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Ministry with the Poor

University and seminary news

Huston-Tillotson University president to retire

AUSTIN, Texas (UMNS) — Larry L. Earvin, now in his 14th year as president of United Methodist-related Huston-Tillotson University, has announced he will retire June 30, 2015. The university’s board has established a presidential search committee to find Earvin’s successor, who will be Huston-Tillotson’s sixth president.
Learn more about Huston-Tillotson 

Reinhardt University president to depart

ALPHARETTA, Ga. (UMNS) — J. Thomas Isherwood, the 19th president of United Methodist-related Reinhardt University, has announced he plans to leave the university June 30, 2015.
Read news release

News of interest

Alban Institute closing

HERNDON, Va. (UMNS)  The Alban Institute, which has long provided support to mainline denomination congregations through consulting and publications, is closing amid financial struggles. United Methodist-related Duke Divinity School is in discussion with Alban Institute officials about carrying on some of the work, the Religion News Service reports.
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Urgent call to end violence against Bangladeshi minorities

GENEVA (UMNS) — Persecution of minorities in Bangladesh is not an “overnight crisis” but is a phenomenon deeply rooted in the country’s history and politics and women suffer the most, say participants in a March 26 meeting organized by the World Council of Churches’ Commission of the Churches on International Affairs and the Bangladesh Minority Council.
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Student group seeks U.S. regional co-chair

NEW YORK (UMNS) — The World Student Christian Federation North American Regional Committee is now accepting applications from U.S. students and recent graduates to serve a two-year term in the volunteer position of U.S. co-chair of the Regional Committee. The application deadline is April 1.
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Re-organized NCC to host national gathering

WASHINGTON (UMNS) — The National Council of Churches will have its first national gathering May 18-20 since a 2013 reorganization that reduced the size of its governing board and created four ‘convening tables’ responsible for key mission and programs. Jim Winkler, a United Methodist, is the NCC’s top executive. 
Read news release

Blogs and commentaries

Chaplains: Part of the medical team

LAFAYETTE, Ind. (UMNS) — The Rev. Chris Madison, a United Methodist elder in the Indiana Annual (regional) Conference, shares why he is a hospital chaplain and the important role chaplains play in medicine. “Chaplains don’t want to ever be underfoot or in the way. We often work as ”he writes.
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‘Protect the common good’

WASHINGTON (UMNS) — “As a Christian, I reject this use of my faith as a weapon when the core message of Christianity is the commandment to love and care for one another,” Katey Zeh told a March 25 rally in support of the Affordable Care Act. Zeh is project director of the Healthy Families, Healthy Planet initiative of the United Methodist Board of Church and Society. The Supreme Court heard arguments on a case in which a private company is challenging the act on religious grounds.
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Category: Weekly Digest