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Weekly Digest - October 17, 2014


NOTE: This is a digest of news features provided by United Methodist Communications for Oct. 13-17. 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

Church agency uses animation to battle Ebola
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — An animated video created for use in West Africa attempts to dispel myths about how Ebola is spread and promote prevention of the disease. United Methodist Communications collaborated with Chocolate Moose Media and iHeed to create the video, which will be produced in different languages. Kathy Gilbert and Joey Butler report.

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Mission agency prepares long-term response to Ebola

United Methodist missionary shares her story of Ebola

Taking Ebola help to remote villages

Church brings hope to Ebola infected families

How technology could help General Conference delegates
LAKE JUNALUSKA, N.C. (UMNS) — General Conference delegates from Africa, Asia and Europe have all the same responsibilities as their U.S. counterparts do, but they often have far less time to study legislation that could affect the church for years to come. The Commission on General Conference has started a pilot project, using tablet computers that members hope will help overcome this obstacle. Heather Hahn reports.

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Christians call for dialogue in Hong Kong protests
HONG KONG (UMNS) — As student-led demonstrations continue for a third week in Hong Kong, Christians are repeating their calls for dialogue between the government and the protesters. Taking the lead is the Rev. Tin-Yau Yuen, head of the ecumenical Hong Kong Christian Council and The Methodist Church, Hong Kong and pastor of the Chinese Methodist Church near the demonstrations on Harcourt Road. Linda Bloom reports.

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Bishops find urban ministry ideas in Detroit
DETROIT (UMNS) — Michigan Area Bishop Deborah Lieder Kiesey recently invited a group of U.S. bishops to talk about new life in the church and visit entrepreneurial ministries in Detroit. The bishops found congregations that thrive while reaching those most in need. Mark Doyal, communications director for the Michigan Area, reports.

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Commentary: Bringing the gospel’s light to HIV in Africa
KIGALI, Rwanda (UMNS) — No one living with HIV was willing to speak at the AIDS workshop for United Methodist pastors because of stigma and discrimination against those with the disease. The Rev. Donald E. Messer, co-chair of the United Methodist Global AIDS Fund, writes about an infected woman who did tell her story privately and how the church was able to help.

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Dealing as a church with HIV

Worship goes on in Côte d’Ivoire despite destruction
ABIDJAN, Côte d’Ivoire (UMNS) — Bulldozers took down a fence and half the building at a United Methodist church here to clear a path for highway construction, but hand-clapping and shouts of “Hallelujah” during a recent service showed the community’s spirit was untouched by the destruction. Isaac Broune, communicator for The United Methodist Church in Côte d’Ivoire, reports.

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FCC should turn on mobile phone radio chips
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — After Typhoon Yolanda hit the Philippines, radio was the most reliable means of communication, often received on mobile phones. Radio could effectively transmit emergency communications in the U.S., too, except that many providers disable the chips that allow mobile phones to receive FM radio signals over the air. United Methodist Communication’s top executive, the Rev. Larry Hollon, has written the Federal Communications Commission saying that turning the chips on should be mandated.

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Finance agency partnership seeks to expand electronic giving
MINNEAPOLIS (UMNS) — Vanco Services, a provider of electronic payment solutions, has expanded its partnership with the General Council on Finance and Administration, The United Methodist Church’s finance agency. The partnership’s goal is to accelerate the adoption of electronic giving in United Methodist congregations.

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What does The United Methodist Church say about Halloween?
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — The United Methodist Church does not have an official statement or position regarding Halloween. But many local churches offer safe alternatives to traditional door-to-door trick-or-treating. Others turn the focus to giving rather than receiving. Collecting for UNICEF or giving fair-trade chocolate are ideas for using the occasion to give to others.

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Native American leaders work to expand ministries
INDIANAPOLIS (UMNS) — More than 50 United Methodist Native American leaders from 17 states worked on ways to expand their ministries across the United States during a three-day conference here. The Rev. Anita Phillips, executive director of the United Methodist Native American Comprehensive Plan, said the conference was an attempt to define Indian culture rather than letting institutions define it. Dan Gangler has the story for the Indiana Conference.

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Mission agency to match $1 million on #GivingTuesday
NEW YORK (UMNS) — United Methodists are invited to extend the spirit of giving thanks during the Advent season by participating in the denomination's #GivingTuesday.  The United Methodist Board of Global Ministries will match every gift made online through The Advance on Dec. 2 -- dollar for dollar up to $1 million. Banners, worship resources, graphics, toolkits, and other ideas are available for download on the mission agency's #GivingTuesday resource page.

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Hope of Hearing team assists children in Haiti
PORT AU PRINCE, Haiti (UMNS) — It was a miracle of biblical proportions, says Gil Hanke, top staff executive of the United Methodist Commission on United Methodist Men. During the week of Oct. 6, a six-member Hope of Hearing mission team tested 351 children and fit 97 with hearing aids.

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Order Rethink Church Advent resources by Nov. 1
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — Rethink Church shares a free video about making Christmas less complicated by focusing on helping others and sharing the greatest gift of all. New Advent resources, including sermon starters, bulletin covers, invitation cards and door hangers are available. For delivery by Thanksgiving, order by Nov. 1. For a limited time, door hangers will be printed with your church information.

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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. 19
Laity Sunday — The United Methodist Board of Discipleship has worship resources.

Monday, Oct. 20 to Friday, Oct. 31
“Living into the Answers: A Workshop on Personal Spiritual Discernment" — Online course from Upper Room. This workshop provides students with the opportunity to explore the process of discernment in an online setting. Details.

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