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Weekly Digest - May 8, 2015

NOTE: This is a digest of news features provided by United Methodist Communications for May 4-8. 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 umc.org/news.

Top Stories

Bishops: Work to end racism and welcome the stranger

BERLIN (UMNS) — The United Methodist Council of Bishops unanimously adopted a pastoral letter on racism affirming that “all lives are sacred and that a world free of racism and xenophobia is not only conceivable, but worthy of our pursuit.” Heather Hahn reports from the council’s meeting in Berlin.
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Bishops urged to speak out as group on racism
Council of Bishops affirms missional direction
Bishops Ough, Carter elected to lead bishops

Bishops ask if agency restructure plan is constitutional

BERLIN (UMNS) — The denomination's top court will be asked to weigh in on a proposal to restructure The United Methodist Church’s general agencies before General Conference delegates consider the plan in May 2016. The Council of Bishops stressed that the decision to ask for a Judicial Council review did not endorse or oppose the plan. Heather Hahn has the story.
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Rural advocates finalize General Conference petitions

Access to villages in Nepal proves challenging

NEW YORK (UMNS) — Getting help to rural villages in Nepal that were damaged by the April 25 earthquake has proved a major challenge. Katherine T. Parker, assigned by the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries to the United Mission to Nepal, said mule trains as well as helicopters may be needed. Linda Bloom reports.
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UMCOR grant will bring aid to 1,000 Nepalese families

Methodist History: Founding Mothers of Mother’s Day

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMTV) — Statistics say that $20.7 billion will be spent on moms in honor of the U.S. holiday that falls on the second Sunday in May: Mother's Day.  All that cash and commercialism goes against everything the women who originated the idea wanted. Meet the Methodist mother and daughter team who worked to create a day to honor a mother's love and to emphasize how important a mother's role is in building a peaceful world.
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Mother learns first-hand about malaria during pregnancy

O’FALLON, Mo. (UMNS) — The Rev. Jennifer Long delivered a healthy baby boy even after she was diagnosed with malaria four months into her pregnancy. The experience taught the Imagine No Malaria field coordinator first-hand about the disease. “I couldn’t help but think of the 3,000 mothers who were holding their babies that day, as (the infants) were dying of malaria, simply because they lived on the other side of the ocean,” she said.
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Motherly advice for tough questions

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — Young girls from around the United States were invited to ask their deepest questions to older women from around the world. Read the "grandmotherly wisdom" offered on such questions as “How do I know God is real?” Susan Passi-Klaus reports.
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Rebuilding hope in Baltimore

BALTIMORE (UMNS) — After an emotional roller coaster of a week, members and others at Ames United Methodist Church in the Sandtown-Winchester neighborhood of Baltimore — near where recent riots took place — packed hygiene items and food provided by the United Methodist Committee on Relief to give to local residents. The Baltimore-Washington Conference has the story.
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UMCOR, churches help those affected by Baltimore unrest

Pastor works to bring Baltimore community together

BALTIMORE — The pastor of Ames United Methodist Church grew up with Freddie Gray, who died after being in police custody. Michael Parker found that after Gray’s death, many from their old neighborhood needed an outlet for prayer and a forum to talk. So he organized a prayer vigil and began running a mediation group out of his house. The group drew police officers, pastors, and community leaders together. Erica Hellerstein reports for Think Progress.
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BMCR president calls for real action from churches

ATLANTA (UMNS) — United Methodists and their churches need to take real, intentional action in addressing deaths of young African American men in police custody, writes the Rev. Cedric Bridgeforth, head of Black Methodists for Church Renewal. “Real action at this time calls for every person who calls her or himself a follower of Jesus to ponder what righteous statement of faith or act of mercy you must perform to demonstrate your commitment to healing our land. Too many of our black men are dying and too many of us are too silent to make a difference,” Bridgeforth writes.
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NCC makes change in Bible translation management

WASHINGTON (UMNS) — Riggins International Rights Services will assume responsibility for domestic and international rights management of the Revised Standard Version and New Revised Standard Version translations of the Bible, effective June 1. The NCC owns the copyright to the RSV and NRSV translations.
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Zimbabwe churches call for immediate end to xenophobia

HARARE, Zimbabwe (UMNS) — United Methodists joined other ecumenical church leaders in calling for an immediate end to xenophobic violence in South Africa. The violence against immigrants to South Africa is cause for concern because 3 million Zimbabweans live in South Africa. Taurai Emmanuel Maforo, communicator for the Zimbabwe East Conference, has the story.
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Student loan application open for fall semester

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — The United Methodist Loan application opened May 1 for students seeking loans for fall 2015. The mother of loan recipient Mikala Mayhugh credits the United Methodist student loan with helping her daughter pay for school when the family faced financial difficulties.
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Learn more or apply for a loan

Sierra Leone Conference meets amid Ebola restrictions

BO, Sierra Leone (UMNS) — Because of the Ebola crisis, the United Methodist Sierra Leone Annual Conference that ended April 26 conducted its business in two days rather than five. But Resident Bishop John Yambasu said he was grateful to God that the conference, postponed from early March, happened at all. Phileas Jusu has the story.
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Bridge provides lifeline for Chitora community

CHITORA, Zimbabwe (UMNS) — Octogenarian Keresia Muzaruwetu from Nyamana village carefully minced her steps toward the newly completed Chitora-Gwarada Bridge — a bridge that had been gone since 2000. Dedicated last month, it is the first bridge project completed under The United Methodist Church’s Chabadza Community Development Program. Taurai Emmanuel Maforo, Zimbabwe East Conference communicator, has the story.
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Amis House designated as historic site

ROGERSVILLE, Tenn. — The Amis House, where Bishop Francis Asbury visited as he pushed the western expansion of Methodism in the late 18th century, recently achieved United Methodist Historical Site status. Holston Conference Bishop Mary Virginia Taylor and the Rev. Alfred Day, top executive for the General Commission on Archives and History, attended the dedication ceremony. Jeff Bobo reports for the Kingsport Time-News.
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Sunday: Pray for peace in South Sudan

GENEVA (WCC) — Churches are invited to observe Sunday, May 10, as a special day of prayer for those affected by the conflict in South Sudan, for the revival of fruitful peace talks, and for new ways ahead. The invitation comes from the World Council of Churches, which has accompanied the churches in South Sudan for more than 40 years. In a recent visit there, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry urged both sides to honor a ceasefire.
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Kerry’s visit to South Sudan

Positive adoption language celebrates families

MOUNT AIRY, Md. (UMNS) — Our culture and The United Methodist Church have a blind spot about how harmful the language we use about adoption might be, writes the Rev. Angela Flanagan. Flanagan, who has adopted children, offers suggestions for ways to communicate in a more positive way about adoption.
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Language to avoid

History of Hymns: `We Cannot Measure How You Heal’

DALLAS (UMNS) — John L. Bell has earned acclaim for his work as a hymn writer and the attention he has given to congregational singing. For this week’s History of Hymns, Perkins School of Theology student Taylor Vancil offers background on Bell and Bell’s hymn “We Cannot Measure How You Heal.”
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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 newsdesk@umcom.org and put Digest in the subject line.

Tuesday, May 12
Deadline to register for United Methodist Communications online course "United Methodism 101" — Course offered May 13-June 24 on the denomination's history, structure, ministries and challenges. $9.99.& Details.

Thursday, May 14
Deadline for nominations for the 2015 Distinguished Evangelist of The United Methodist Church Award — With this honor, the Foundation for Evangelism celebrates a United Methodist clergy or lay person whose personal ministry in evangelism is recognized throughout the denomination. Details.

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