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Weekly Digest - November 6, 2015


NOTE: This is a digest of news features provided by United Methodist Communications for Nov. 2–Nov. 6. 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

African bishops speak out on terrorism, sexuality

VICTORIA FALLS, Zimbabwe (UMNS) — African bishops have called on The United Methodist Church to confront global terrorism and hold the line on church teachings regarding human sexuality. Heather Hahn has the story.
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Bishops focus on adaptive leadership

Russian, Ukrainian women seek peace together

NEW YORK (UMNS) — When United Methodist Women co-sponsored a celebration of a longtime United Nations resolution dedicated to women’s roles as peacemakers, the organization had a specific example to offer as testimony. Recently, UMW brought together Russian and Ukrainian women at an international location to talk about how to end the conflict between their two countries. Linda Bloom has the story.
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Video: German town works to assist refugees

NEW YORK (UMNS) — The number of refugees who have come to Messstetten, Germany, for assistance now exceeds more than half the town’s population. In a video interview with the Rev. Paul Jeffrey, the Rev. Rolf Held, a local United Methodist pastor, talks about the impact of the refugee/migration situation in Europe and how the refugees are giving back. The United Methodist Committee on Relief is responding to those needs through its Global/Refugee Migration fund, Advance No. 3022144
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Côte d’Ivoire radio station spreads vital information

ABIDJAN, Côte d’Ivoire (UMNS) — The Voice of Hope, a radio ministry of The United Methodist Church, has transmitted vital information about spiritual needs, health and legal matters to more than 1 million people in 18 languages daily across Côte d’Ivoire. Mahalia Smith reports.
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Faith helps power radio station

Open doors for the homeless

KINGSPORT, Tenn. (UMTV) — More than half the people who worship at Shades of Grace United Methodist Church are homeless. The Rev. Will Shewey, pastor, said the storefront ministry church tries in every sense of the word to honor the denomination’s slogan “Open Hearts. Open Minds. Open Doors.”
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Read conference story

Filipino United Methodists learn about ‘bright spots’

MANILA, Philippines (UMNS) — Churches should be focusing on “bright spots,” two U.S. bishops told Filipino United Methodists during a workshop in Manila about using the concept to establish vital congregations. Filipino United Methodists are the first outside the U.S. to use the “bright spots” approach. S. J. Earl Canlas reports.
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Tips for engaging your church with gratitude

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — It is a spiritual practice of many religions and a hallmark of Christianity: Showing appreciation for all that we have and the wonderful world God gave us. Laurens Glass of United Methodist Communications offers ideas to bring Christians together in the joyous practice of gratitude.
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Wings of the Morning changes lives in North Katanga

KAMINA, Democratic Republic of Congo (UMNS) — As a young pilot of 27, Gaston Ntambo flew a small plane from village to village, transporting sick people from villages to urban areas and critically needed drugs from urban areas to villages in the North Katanga Episcopal Area. African United Methodists shared the story of Ntambo’s ministry — Wings of the Morning — in the United States. The West Ohio Conference got on board, contributing $25,000 toward the project. The gift made a huge difference. Betty Kazadi Musau reports.
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Learning by experience: Ministry with the poor

SAN FRANCISCO (UMNS) — People need to be heard: That’s one thing Laura Barry of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, learned from leaders of Glide Memorial United Methodist Church during a recent training on ministry with the poor. Glide hosted the event, which was sponsored by the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries. The Rev. Larry R. Hygh Jr. reports.
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Church gets 100-year-old postcards

JACKSON, Tenn. (UMNS) — Jackson First United Methodist recently received mail — from a century ago. Lowell Joerg of Stockton, California, sent the church two postcards this summer that he discovered in an antique store. The cards featured photographs of the church and dated back to 1915. Lane Gardner Camp of the Memphis Conference has the story.
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Emory offers online Civil Rights course

ATLANTA (UMNS) — An online course focused on civil rights and nonviolence, taught by activist and former Candler School of Theology distinguished scholar-in-residence Bernard LaFayette Jr., is being offered at United Methodist-related Emory University. “From Freedom Rides to Ferguson: Narratives of Nonviolence in the American Civil Rights Movement” offers an inside look into LaFayette’s experiences as a civil rights activist and leader in the 1960s Civil Rights movement.
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Relief efforts resuming in Texas

SAN ANTONIO (UMNS) — Another round of flooding in Texas has United Methodists gearing up for more relief work. The Rio Texas Conference is focusing on a handful of areas, including the Rio Grande Valley. The Central Texas Conference will help hard-hit Navarro County and get support from the United Methodist Committee on Relief. Meanwhile, the Texas Conference plans to dispatch early-response teams to help with flood relief in other hard-hit areas.
Read Rio Texas Conference report
Read Central Texas Conference report
Read Texas Conference report

Commentary: Perkins dean speaks out

DALLAS — The Rev. William Lawrence, dean of Perkins School of Theology at Southern Methodist University, says apologies are necessary but not enough for two SMU fraternities’ use of racist messaging and images in promoting a party. Lawrence calls for campus-wide discussion. “We must create new knowledge about the depths and dangers of this evil,” he writes in a Dallas Morning News op-ed.
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#CTTalks about Christian conferencing

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — The Connectional Table on Nov. 2 began a series on Christian conferencing as part of the #CTTalks online forum. The forum aims to create conversation around key topics related to General Conference leading up to the denomination’s top lawmaking assembly in May 2016. The first video features Bishop Sharon Zimmerman Rader and Bishop Christian Alsted, both representatives from the Committee on Faith and Order.
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Order resources for Student Day, Nov. 29

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — United Methodists celebrate Student Day on Nov. 29, 2015. The special offering provides scholarships for United Methodist students attending undergraduate and graduate colleges and universities.
Get stories to share at church
Get resources for observing Student Day

Kentucky church celebrates $2.4 million gift

MURRAY, Ky. (UMNS) — Murray First United Methodist Church received a gift for All Saints Day: $2.4 million. The gift to the church’s endowment is a bequest from late members John and Rebecca Irvan. The Memphis Conference has the story.
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Vital congregations strategist offers advice

SUN PRAIRIE, Wis. (UMNS) — Churches should be a “movie trailer” for the kingdom of God if they want to make more disciples, said the Rev. Sara Thomas, Discipleship Ministries’ chief strategist for vital congregations. Thomas led workshops in the Wisconsin Conference as part of the conference initiative “Imagining Wisconsin Anew.” The conference reports.
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Commentary: A metric worth measuring

SAVANNAH, Ga. (UMNS) — Many of the metrics United Methodist churches collect aim to offer a snapshot of how healthy the congregations are. But those numbers tend to focus inwardly, writes the Rev. Ben Gosden. He suggests churches also measure their community footprint.
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Renovations underway on Saganing Center

STANDISH, Mich. (UMNS) — Renovations are well underway on the new Saganing Native American Center. And once the center opens next year, events already scheduled include the annual Pow Wow of the Saganing Band of the Saginaw Chippewa Tribe and a Lay Servant class focusing on Native American tradition. Kay DeMoss reports for the Michigan Conference.
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Ways to observe Native American Heritage Month

United Methodist school offers hope at the border

EL PASO, Texas (UMNS) — Arlet Burciaga is among the youth of Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, who rise before dawn to cross the border into El Paso and attend Lydia Patterson Institute, a United Methodist school that teaches them English and prepares them for college. KUT public broadcasting in Austin, Texas, followed Arlet through a typical day.
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Find news in Spanish

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — Looking for the latest United Methodist Church news for the Hispanic/Latino community? You can find the latest news in Spanish on our website. Or sign up for the monthly e-newsletter by emailing lider-imu@umcom.
View the website

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.

Sunday, Nov. 8 and Sunday, Nov. 15
Day1 special series “Faith & Science in the 21st Century" — The syndicated radio preaching program hosted by Peter Wallace will feature a range of speakers, including two from United Methodist seminaries. The Rev. Tom Long, recently retired from Candler School of Theology, will preach Nov. 8 on “Health and Healing/Death and Dying.” The Rev. Luke Powery, dean of Duke University Chapel and associate professor of homiletics at Duke Divinity School, will preach Nov. 15 on “Keeping the Conversation Going in Churches.” Along with the radio program sermons, brief videos featuring the speakers will be made available on YouTube and at Details.

Wednesday-Friday, Nov. 11-13
2015 Church Multiplication Conference on multi-site ministry — Southfield Hope United Methodist Church in Southfield, Michigan, will host a conference on launching multi-site ministry, one of the fastest-growing new church movements. $125 per person. Details.

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