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Weekly Digest - May 1, 2015


NOTE: This is a digest of news features provided by United Methodist Communications for April 27-May 1. 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

Responding with prayer, aid after Nepal earthquake

NEW YORK (UMNS) — United Methodists are joining Christians around the world in a prayerful response to the earthquake that has claimed some 4,000 lives in Nepal and neighboring China and India. Missionaries working in Nepal for the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries were reported safe. Linda Bloom reports.
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Nepal earthquake survivors in dire need of food, shelter

NEW YORK (UMNS) — In rural Nepal, the number of earthquake casualties was lessened by the fact that many people were outside of their homes when the disaster occurred, reports a United Methodist missionary couple based there. But emergency needs of food and shelter remain dire. Linda Bloom has the story.
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Alternative process offered for sexuality debate

PORTLAND, Ore. (UMNS) — Organizers of the 2016 General Conference, The United Methodist Church’s top lawmaking assembly, plan to offer an alternative process for considering legislation related to the denomination’s stance on homosexuality. The hope is to bring out middle voices that often go unheard. Heather Hahn reports on how the proposed process would work.
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Gay marriage opponents protest at United Methodist church

WASHINGTON (UMNS) — Same-sex marriage opponents carried signs and shouted through bullhorns outside Foundry United Methodist Church on April 26. The Supreme Court will hear arguments on gay marriage Tuesday. Kathy L. Gilbert has the story.
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General Conferences planned for Asia, Africa

PORTLAND, Ore. (UMNS) — Plans are underway for the first United Methodist General Conference gatherings outside the United States — in the Philippines in 2024 and in Zimbabwe in 2028. But the commission that plans the legislative assembly has concerns about the Zimbabwean government's treatment of gay people. Heather Hahn reports.
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Read press release
Technology will bridge languages at 2016 General Conference

United Methodists respond to Baltimore riots

BALTIMORE (UMNS) — The Rev. Cynthia Moore-Koikoi prayed and then joined the city’s other clergy in a march for peace. The pastors put themselves between bottle-throwing demonstrators and lines of police officers with pepper spray. Their goal was to ease tensions in the wake of violence after the death of Freddie Gray, who was injured while in police custody. Melissa Lauber and Erik Alsgaard report for the Baltimore-Washington Conference.
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Bishop Matthews issues statement on Baltimore riots
United Methodist churches, leaders pray for Freddie Gray

Conference seeks donations for Baltimore

FULTON, Md. (UMNS) — United Methodist Baltimore-Washington Conference leaders have announced a missional response to the riots and other unrest in Baltimore. Health and hygiene items are being collected immediately and will be distributed at three Baltimore churches this weekend. Also, the United Methodist Committee on Relief is sending 1,000 health kits and 500 layette sets for immediate distribution.
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Faith leaders grieve events in Baltimore, Nepal

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — United Methodist faith leaders are calling for prayer in the wake of violence in Baltimore and the earthquake in Nepal. Bishop John Schol of the Greater New Jersey Conference, Bishop Peggy Johnson of the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference and Erin Hawkins, top executive of the United Methodist Commission on Religion and Race, all issued statements. Schol was bishop of the Baltimore-Washington Conference for eight years and Johnson served as a pastor in Baltimore.
Read the statements:
Bishop Schol
Bishop Johnson
Erin Hawkins

Turning to the Bible when sorrow strikes

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — After a tragedy of the magnitude of the Nepal earthquake, people of faith are filled with questions. We wonder how God could allow this to happen. We wrestle with making sense of the suffering in light of our Christian faith. The Rev. Joe Iovino reflects on finding comfort in Lamentations.
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Kids Capes of Courage help sick children

CUYAHOGA FALLS, Ohio (UMNS) — Kids Capes of Courage, a ministry of Northampton United Methodist Church, sews special custom gifts for children facing tough times. When children are diagnosed with cancer or a terminal disease, those who love them often feel powerless. Kids Capes of Courage allow children to be brave in struggle.
View UMTV video

South Carolina pilgrimage to ease pain of racism

ORANGEBURG, S.C. — A United Methodist racial reconciliation pilgrimage centers on the 1968 police shooting of unarmed black students during a segregation protest. But since the May 15-16 pilgrimage comes just weeks after a North Charleston police shooting left an unarmed man dead, organizers say it is even more critical for people to attend and work together as a church body for healing. Jessica Brodie reports for the South Carolina United Methodist Advocate.
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Lightning destroys Tennessee church

DRESDEN, Tenn. (UMNS) — Multiple lightning strikes destroyed Mt. Pleasant United Methodist Church on April 20 after a severe electrical storm. No one was at the church at the time of the blaze. The church was built in 1944. Lane Gardner Camp, director of communication for the Memphis Conference, has the story.
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Natchez Trace walk brought peace, raised funds

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — Troy Waugh felt called by God to walk the nearly 450 miles of the Natchez Trace. He did just that last summer, raising nearly $10,000 for Nashville's United Methodist Community Care Fellowship. A video titled "Finding God and Goodness on Natchez Trace Walk" documents his experience.
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‘Priceless’ offering demonstrates incredible gift

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A handful of change — 18 cents — and a simple note on the offering envelope, “Please don’t be mad I don’t have much. I’m homeless. God bless,” represents a sacrificial gift, said the Rev. Patrick Hamrick, First United Methodist Church. “It took some bravery, I think, to write that (note). And for us, we acknowledge that individual gave out of his poverty proportionally a big deal.” Michelle Boudin, WCNC-TV, Charlotte, has the story.
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New initiative will promote healthy congregations, communities

NEW YORK (UMNS) — United Methodists engaged in health ministries can learn about a new initiative at a summit scheduled for Sept. 8-10 in Houston. "Healthy Congregations, Healthy Communities" is a joint effort by the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries, Board of Pension and Health Benefits and Wesley Theological Seminary. Houston Methodist Hospital and St. Paul's United Methodist Church are the co-hosts and co-sponsors.
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Global Ministries directors approve grants

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, May 5

Deadline to register for four online courses offered by United Methodist Communications — United Methodist Communications will offer the following courses May 6-June 17: “Communicating Faith in the 21st Century,” “Connectional Giving," "Moodle 100: Basic Training" and “Welcoming Ministry 100.” Costs vary. Connectional Giving is free. Details on most courses. Details on Moodle 100.

Free webinar "Creating Your Plan for Christian Faith and Discipleship" — 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. CDT. Christian faith and discipleship don't just happen — they must be developed, nurtured, encouraged, challenged and "grown." Participants in this webinar will receive practical suggestions about how to create a specific plan for their particular congregation and context. Details.

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