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Weekly Digest - November 13, 2015

NOTE: This is a digest of news features provided by United Methodist Communications for Nov. 9–Nov. 13. 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

Which Methodist women made this quilt?

NEW YORK (UMNS) — When Joseph Briddock’s family found a handmade quilt among the tins of food in a CARE package delivered to their South London home, the only clue to its origin was a notation on the back: a gift from “the Methodist Ladies of New York.” Seventy years later, he still would like to express his thanks to the quilters. Linda Bloom reports.
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Amid declines, diversity grows in U.S. church membership

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — The General Council on Finance and Administration has newly released 2014 membership figures that show The United Methodist Church continuing its decades-long slide in the United States. However, the numbers also show slight growth in ethnic diversity. Heather Hahn takes a closer look at the numbers.
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GCFA announces online data and more
 

How to reclaim ethical evangelism

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — What constitutes ethical evangelism? That was a question woven throughout many of the conversations at the first North American ecumenical evangelism conference. The gathering, hosted by United Methodist Discipleship Ministries, brought together Christians of varied traditions. Heather Hahn reports on the discussion.
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United Methodists gives thanks for end of Ebola

FREETOWN, Sierra Leone (UMNS) — United Methodists held thanksgiving services and joined in celebrations tinged with sadness and caution as the World Health Organization declared the end of the 18-month Ebola outbreak after Sierra Leone reported no new cases for 42 days. Phileas Jusu has the story.
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Devotional for veterans, active duty

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — Congregations that want to do more than pray for veterans on Veterans Day might consider providing copies of a historic book of devotions to military troops and veterans in Veterans Affairs hospitals. Chaplains who distribute “Strength for Service to God and Country” say the devotionals have an impressive reach and a powerful spiritual effect. Rich Peck reports.
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Football star feeds hungry children

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (UMC.org) — Brandon Chubb, captain of the Wake Forest University football team and an active member of Ben Hill United Methodist Church back home in Atlanta, is using his status as a local celebrity for more than winning games. Chubb is one of thousands of volunteers in the H.O.P.E. ministry, which bridges the food gap between school lunch on Friday and breakfast on Monday.
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Bishop Kiesey announces retirement

LANSING, Mich. (UMNS) — Michigan Area Bishop Deborah Lieder Kiesey, who has post-polio syndrome, has announced her plans to retire in 2016 at the end of her current four-year assignment to the Michigan Area. “God has blessed me with plenty of energy, so throughout my life, polio has not slowed me down much, until recently,” Kiesey said in a video announcement. Her area comprises the Detroit and West Michigan conferences, which under her leadership have voted to merge.
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Watch video
 

Steps to small-group facilitator success

DALLAS (UMNS) — Stepping up as a small-group facilitator is a great way to serve Christ, but it can also be intimidating. In an article for United Methodist Communications, Clay Morgan offers five steps for making the work easier and more effective.
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Commentary: The inconvenience of apportionments

BELTSVILLE, Md. (UMNS) — The Rev. B. Kevin Smalls admits that he cringes each year when he sees what his churches are asked to pay in apportionments that support his conference and the general church. But as much as local churches could do if they kept the money, he says the money also does a lot of good through church’s connection, including helping to pay for the education of pastors like him. Smalls is the pastor of Queen’s Chapel and Ebenezer United Methodist churches.
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Overview of general church apportionments
 

Faith leaders: Strengthen witness despite persecution

NEW YORK (UMNS) — A call for solidarity among all churches to strengthen the Christian witness in the face of modern-day discrimination and persecution was issued by a diverse group of Christian leaders. The group attended a consultation Nov. 1-5 in Tirana, Albania, that was organized by the ecumenical Global Christian Forum. The United Methodist Board of Global Ministries was among the funding sponsors. Elliott Wright has the story for Global Ministries.
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More on consultation
 

Commentary: Red Starbucks cups no reason to see red

SUGAR LAND, Texas (UMNS) — The Rev. Chappell Temple, lead pastor of Christ United Methodist Church, offers his take on the “brew-ha-ha” around Starbucks’ Christmas cups. All the controversy, he says, rather misses the point.
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Resources for Native American Heritage Month

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — United Methodist Discipleship Ministries offers resources for churches that want to observe Native American Heritage Month in November.
Get resources
 

Follow United Methodist news on Facebook and Twitter

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — Want to follow developments as the 2016 General Conference approaches? You can find the latest news on UMNS Facebook page and Twitter feed.
To follow on Facebook
To follow on Twitter
 

Commentary: How to address hot topics

LEAWOOD, Kan. (UMNS) — "If you hope to influence an audience ... you should treat those on either side with respect," writes the Rev. Adam Hamilton, senior pastor of United Methodist Church of the Resurrection. He shares what he has learned about speaking on controversial subjects. Ministry Matters shares this excerpt from his new book, "Speaking Well."
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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.

Sunday-Monday, Nov. 15-16
Fiser-Christie Endowed Mission Lecture Series celebrating UMCOR's 75th anniversary — St. James United Methodist Church, 321 Pleasant Valley Drive, Little Rock, Arkansas, will celebrate the 75th anniversary of the United Methodist Committee on Relief. The Rev. Denise Honeycutt, the relief agency's executive, will speak at 11 a.m. CDT Sunday, Nov. 15, during a worship service that will be live-streamed. At the church, young adults will also construct an "UMCOR Schoolhouse" where children can deposit special offerings. Details.

Monday, Nov. 16
Webinar "The Intersections of Mass Incarceration and Women's Health" — 3 p.m. EST. The United Methodist Board of Church and Society and its Healthy Families, Healthy Planet project will hold this webinar. Speakers include Andrea James, founder of Families for Justice as Healing, and staff members from the National Advocates for Pregnant Women. Details.

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