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Weekly Digest - October 16, 2015


NOTE: This is a digest of news features provided by United Methodist Communications for Oct. 12–Oct. 16. 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

Pastor turns worship service reviewer

DALLAS (UMNS) — The Rev. Christy Thomas spent a year reviewing 50 worship services for her local newspaper in Denton, Texas, an odyssey that took her to all manner of churches and even a mosque and a synagogue. The retired United Methodist pastor, a popular blogger, had plenty of highs and lows on the worship trail. Sam Hodges reports.
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Churchgoers join push to rename Columbus Day

OKLAHOMA CITY (UMNS) — United Methodists have joined efforts in Oklahoma and other parts of the U.S. to rename the second Monday in October to honor indigenous people. Heather Hahn reports.
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Top court reviews agency structure plan

ST. LOUIS (UMNS) — The Judicial Council will meet Oct. 21-24 and review a revised plan to restructure The United Methodist Church. In 2012, the council voided a similar plan just after it was approved by the 2012 General Conference. Linda Bloom reports.
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Health care in rural Zimbabwe

NYADIRE, Zimbabwe (UMNS) — The hospital at Nyadire United Methodist Mission, along with six satellite clinics, provides much-needed care for an isolated rural area. The hospital serves about 150,000 patients a year, with an annual budget of between $120,000 and $130,000 — depending on income and donations. Vicki Brown has the story.
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UMW grants support maternal, child health
See how midwives save lives

Health needs assessed in Sierra Leone villages

MANJAMA, Sierra Leone (UMNS) — A team of United Methodist health workers visited eight villages to engage residents in a new community health program aimed at reducing maternal and infant death. Phileas Jusu has the story.
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Computer lab keeps rural students current

MUREWA, Zimbabwe (UMNS) — Staff at Murewa Central Primary School want to ensure children at the rural school at the United Methodist mission here are as knowledgeable about Internet and communication technology as their peers in urban schools. Taurai Emmanuel Maforo reports on the dedication of a new computer lab at the school.
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Global gadgets for small-town churches

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — New technology is making a difference in developing countries. Laurens Glass of United Methodist Communications offers examples of how the same tech innovations can boost ministries at local churches.
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Renewing waters: Church teachings on baptism

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — Baptism marks Christians’ initiation into the church and the beginning of a lifetime of discipleship. For, Joe Iovino explains what United Methodists teach about the sacrament.
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Chaplain writes workbook for inmates

BETHEL PARK, Pa. (UMNS) — Henry Huffman, a member of Christ United Methodist Church here, has drawn on his experience as a volunteer jail chaplain to write “A Character Driven Life,” a workbook that helps inmates prepare for a better future. The Western Pennsylvania Conference has the story.
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See UMTV feature on jail program

Who guides the pastors?

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — United Methodist pastors are often those to whom we turn for spiritual guidance, but who leads them? For Pastor Appreciation Month, Joe Iovino of asked several pastors to talk about the people who shaped their lives.
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Focusing on children’s ministries

LADY LAKE, Fla. (UMNS) — They’re entrusted with tending the cradle of the church’s youngest disciples. But who looks out for the spiritual health and professional growth of children’s ministry leaders? Mary Ann DeSantis of the Florida Conference has a two-part series on children’s ministry.
Committee to focus on children's ministries
Kids’ ministries boosted by intergenerational interaction

Ministry idea: Snapshots of vitality

LANSING, Mich. (UMNS) — United Methodist churches across the Michigan Area are witnessing to their faith on the pages of Facebook. Kay DeMoss collected these images of vitality that may remind many United Methodists of the ways their churches are at work in the world.
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How rural churches strengthen their communities

CULLOWHEE, N.C. (UMNS) — In declining rural communities, churches are some of the few viable institutions, writes Allen T. Stanton, a rural church fellow in North Carolina. He points to Cullowhee United Methodist Church as an example of a country church that strengthens its wider community. Duke Divinity School’s Faith and Leadership offers his commentary.
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10 commandments for a ‘Martian’ church

CASPER, Wyo. (UMNS) — The hit film "The Martian" offers lessons for congregations struggling in a difficult environment says the Rev. Rebekah Simon-Peter for United Methodist Ministry Matters. "The church has a history of thriving when the chips are down,” she writes.
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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 and put Digest in the subject line.

Sunday, Oct. 18
Laity Sunday — United Methodist Discipleship Ministries offers suggested Scripture, prayers and hymns for this day of celebrating discipleship. This year's theme is "Disciples Called to Action: Creating Unity in Ministry." Resources.

Tuesday, Oct. 20
Webinar "Create a Passion for Community Ministry in Your Church" — 7 to 8 p.m. EDT. This webinar will offer practical advice on teaching, community listening, engaging lay leaders, and highlighting ministry opportunities in creative ways. Details.

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