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Weekly Digest - October 2, 2015


NOTE: This is a digest of news features provided by United Methodist Communications for Sept. 28–Oct. 2. 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

Trending Local: The Rise of Local Pastors

Local pastors on the rise
FORT MYERS, Fla. (UMNS) — Licensed local pastors, both part-time and full-time, are growing in number in The United Methodist Church as the number of seminary-trained ordained elders declines. The first part of the UMNS series “Trending Local: The Rise of United Methodist Local Pastors,” with articles by Sam Hodges and photos by Mike DuBose, looks at the important and varied roles such clergy are playing in the denomination.
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Read the full series

Part-time local pastors filling more pulpits
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (UMNS) — Part-time licensed local pastors, many of them bivocational, are growing in number as more small churches conclude they can’t afford a full-time clergy leader. The UMNS series continues, with articles by Sam Hodges and photos by Mike DuBose.
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Local pastors crucial in Africa, Philippines
ABIDJAN, Côte d’Ivoire (UMNS) — Non-ordained local pastors or lay pastors make up a large part of the clergy in The United Methodist Church’s central conferences. Isaac Broune and Sam Hodges feature Raphaël Aboua, who oversees 11 churches in Côte d’Ivoire, in the UMNS series on local pastors.
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Local pastors lead Hispanic outreach
HOUSTON (UMNS) — The United Methodist Church has struggled to reach the growing Hispanic population in the U.S., and some conferences are trying to change that by strategically using Hispanic licensed local pastors. Such pastors have recently come to outnumber Hispanic ordained elders in the denomination. The series "Trending Local: The Rise of United Methodist Local Pastors," reported by Sam Hodges with photos by Mike DuBose, continues.
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Profiles of part-time local pastors in West Virginia
A pastor named ‘Bible’
Teacher of the Year leads 3 United Methodist churches
From police officer to local pastor
Plant manager called home to preach

Other news from around the connection

United Methodists offer prayer after college shooting

ROSEBURG, Ore. (UMNS) United Methodists joined in expressions of distress and grief, as well as calls for prayer, after another mass shooting in the United States left 10 people dead and seven injured at Umpqua Community College in southwest Oregon. “My heart aches, and my prayers go out to all of those who were killed or injured,” said Bishop Grant Hagiya. Sam Hodges reports.
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Get resources to help cope with violence

Execution doesn’t halt church’s prayers

JACKSON, Ga. (UMNS) — Kelly Renee Gissendaner, 47, was executed by the state of Georgia at 12:21 a.m., Sept. 29, with people of faith, including many United Methodists, standing outside the prison walls praying for her. Prayer vigils continued after the execution, which evoked comments from some United Methodist leaders. Kathy Gilbert reports.
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Candler students supporting death-row inmate

U.S. faith leaders: Take in more Syrian refugees

WASHINGTON (UMNS) — The U.S. must act on the refugee crisis, said church leaders who gathered Sept. 28 near the U.S. Capitol to press Congress and the Obama Administration to resettle 100,000 Syrian refugees. The resettlement of Vietnamese refugees provides a precedent, Bishop Minerva G. Carcaño pointed out. Linda Bloom has the story.
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Pastor expects trial for same-sex wedding

LANSING, Mich. (UMNS) — The Rev. Michael Tupper notified his bishop on Sept. 28 that he would not agree to a just resolution after helping to officiate at the same-sex wedding of his friend, the Rev. Benjamin Hutchison. His decision opens the way for a process that could culminate in a church trial. “I don’t believe God wants me to get ‘off the hook,’” he said. Heather Hahn reports.
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Church working for calm after street violence Liberia

GANTA, Liberia (UMNS) — In the wake of street violence, The United Methodist Church is leading a call for a day of fasting and prayer on Oct. 1, after a series of gruesome deaths in Ganta. Julu Swen has the story.
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Scholarship recipient applies lessons to life

BUFFALO, N.Y. (UMNS) — After watching her mother suffer a stroke due to taking incompatible prescribed medications, 19-year-old Lena Kuffuor-Afriyie decided to pursue a career in pharmacy. A World Communion Scholarship helped with that goal. United Methodists traditionally observe World Communion Sunday — a Special Sunday with offering — on the first Sunday in October, Oct. 4 this year. Heather Peck Travis reports for Interpreter magazine.
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Get resources for World Communion Sunday
Chuck Knows Church on World Communion Sunday

The future of United Methodist Communications

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — Even as it celebrates 75 years of history, United Methodist Communications is looking ahead toward new and more globally relevant ways to tell the church's story. Meet the agency's new top executive, the well-traveled Dan Krause, who is responsible for charting that future. Diane Degnan reports.
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Hispanic/Latino neighbors vital to church

COLUMBIA, S.C. (UMNS) — When she visits United Methodist churches across South Carolina, Jessica Brodie says she sees few of her Hispanic/Latino neighbors although they are a substantial part of the state's population. In a commentary, she writes about the ways United Methodists might welcome more diversity and better reflect God's kingdom.
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Resources for blessing of animals

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — Does your church do a blessing of the animals? You can thank St. Francis, whose love of all of God's creation has inspired countless churches to celebrate animals around the saint's feast day on Oct. 4. Discipleship Ministries offers a liturgy for such a blessing.
Service for the blessing of animals
What St. Francis can teach United Methodists

Retreat is music to United Methodist souls

EAGLE CREEK, Ore. (UMTV) — The Rev. Laura Jaquith Bartlett, who will lead worship at the 2016 General Conference, regularly leads retreats on “Great Hymns of Faith” for United Methodist hymn fans who celebrate the songs and tradition. “Charles Wesley said he could sing religion into people faster than John could preach it in,” noted one participant.
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Planting seeds of hope for Hispanic Ministries

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — The Rev. José Palos, founding director of the National Plan for Hispanic/Latino Ministry, shares his perspective on the progress of planting Hispanic ministries. The Rev. Gustavo Vasquez of United Methodist Communications offers a Q&A.
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Technologies to change the game

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — The United Methodist Church uses technologies to transform the world. This French language story highlights the Game Changers Summit, sponsored by United Methodist Communications. Isaac Broune translated and adapted this story into French.
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Bishop, UMCOR leader visit fire-stricken area

LAKEPORT, Calif. (UMNS) — Bishop Warner H. Brown Jr. and the Rev. Denise Honeycutt, a top United Methodist Committee on Relief official, led a delegation of United Methodists to visit pastors and volunteers involved in fire response efforts in Lake County, California. Larry R. Hygh Jr. reports for the California-Nevada Conference.
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Taking action on Alzheimer’s

WASHINGTON (UMNS) — Recognizing that someone in the United States develops Alzheimer’s disease every 67 seconds, the United Methodist Board of Church and Society is collaborating with USAgainstAlzheimer’s to mobilize people of faith to take action against this devastating disease. One way to take action is to sign a petition asking Congress to pass critical research funding.
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Greater New Jersey churches join Team Vital

OCEAN, N.J. (UMNS) — Some 25 churches in the Greater New Jersey Conference are beginning a journey with the goal of becoming highly vital congregations. Team Vital builds on the principle that bringing teams of leaders together from various churches strengthens learning and creative energy. Jeff Wolfe has the story for the conference.
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Bishop attends ‘Belief’ screening at Oprah’s home

MONTECITO, Calif. (UMNS) — Bishop Warner H. Brown Jr., along with religious and community leaders from across the country, attended a private screening of Oprah Winfrey's upcoming television series, “Belief,” at Winfrey’s home. The seven-night documentary series, which premiers Oct. 18, will explore beliefs around the world and humankind's ongoing search for meaning and connection. 
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A holistic gospel call in revising Social Principles

WASHINGTON (UMNS) —  The Rev. Jacob Dharmaraj was among a group of United Methodists who met recently to discuss revising the denomination’s Social Principles. “Our radically altered world today warrants new transformative mission principles that take people, societies, cultures, traditions, histories and worldviews seriously,” he writes for the United Methodist Board of Church and Society.
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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. 4

World Communion Sunday — United Methodists will join other Christians in celebrating Holy Communion. United Methodist churches are also encouraged to receive a special offering to support scholarships for ethnic undergraduate and graduate students. Those gifts often enable first-generation students to attend college. Resources for World Communion Sunday 

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