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Weekly Digest - October 24, 2014


NOTE: This is a digest of news features provided by United Methodist Communications for Oct. 20-24. 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

Top court hears appeal in Schaefer case
MEMPHIS, Tenn. (UMNS) — The question of whether an appeals committee was correct in restoring the clergy credentials of the Rev. Frank Schaefer opened the Judicial Council’s Oct. 22-25 fall meeting. Schaefer lost his standing in the denomination’s Eastern Pennsylvania Conference after being found guilty in a church trial last November of performing a same-sex wedding ceremony for his son. Judicial Council is the denomination’s top court. A decision is not expected until after the meeting ends. Linda Bloom reports.

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Early warning proposed for General Conference legislation
LAKE JUNALUSKA, N.C. (UMNS) — What if General Conference delegates could get a heads up that legislation might be in trouble without waiting for a Judicial Council ruling? That is an aim of the Advance Legislative Research Panel proposed by the Commission on General Conference. Heather Hahn reports on the proposal.

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Ebola grief: Every church service like a funeral
DALLAS (UMNS) — Across the United States, United Methodist churches with native Liberians and Sierra Leoneans are telling stories of grief and suffering, while trying to rally support for medical relief. Albert B. Travell, a member of First United Methodist Church in Arlington, Texas, had seven family members die from Ebola in July. Kathy Gilbert and Sam Hodges report.

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Litany for those affected by Ebola

Prayer for those affect by Ebola

United Methodist-related hospital answers Ebola call
DALLAS (UMNS) — Methodist Health System in Dallas has agreed to provide space for specialized treatment of Ebola, should more cases materialize in Texas. Gov. Rick Perry announced the involvement of Methodist, among other health care systems. A Methodist Health System facility in Richardson, Texas, near Dallas, will offer an entire floor for Ebola treatment. “It is the right thing to do,” said Stephen Mansfield, president and CEO of Methodist Health System.

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More than 10 ways to appreciate your pastor
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — In honor of Pastor Appreciation Month, Laurens Glass of United Methodist Communications asked clergy to share some of the ways church members had made them feel valued. She found that for congregants and clergy alike, simple acts of caring help build a connection beyond the pulpit. Here are some ideas.

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E-Reader Project set to expand
DALLAS (UMNS) — A United Methodist effort to get e-readers to pastors-in-training in developing countries will expand to 15 more schools in Africa and four in the Philippines. The E-Reader Project, which debuted at Gbarnga School of Theology in Liberia, provides an extensive library of e-books to students who struggle to find paper-and-print texts. Sam Hodges has the story.

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United Methodist ‘rabbi’ honored by Jewish school
DALLAS (UMNS) — The Rev. Lowell McCoy taught speech for more than 50 years at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion. Now the Cincinnati school has named an interfaith relations award for him. The retired United Methodist minister, 95, is credited with shaping the oratory of many Reform rabbis and was affectionately called "Rabbi McCoy" by his students.

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Great Plains votes to end clergy health benefits
WICHITA, Kan. (UMNS) — By a vote of 1,066 to 158, clergy and lay members of the Great Plains Annual Conference decided to end the conference health plan for local church clergy and enrolled lay employees in January 2015. That means many United Methodist employees in the conference, which encompasses Kansas and Nebraska, will need to get insurance from marketplaces created under the Affordable Care Act. Church pastors serving three-fourths- and full-time will receive a $14,232 “health care allowance.”

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How other conferences are using the Affordable Care Act

N.C. pastor shares recipe on ‘Today Show’
NEW YORK (UMNS) — The Rev. Carolyn Sims, pastor of Corinth United Methodist Church in North Carolina, recently was featured in a segment on NBC-TV’s “Today Show.” Sims and her cranberry-apple pork chops were among the three winners in the “Too Good to Be Healthy” search for low-calorie, apple-inspired recipes.

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Ministry idea: Move-in kits for seniors
MEMPHIS, Tenn. (UMNS) — United Methodists in the Memphis Conference have an innovative way to help people making the transition to the Wesley Living senior residence: move-in kits. The kits cost about $200 each and contain household and personal items. The Memphis Conference reports on the Golden Cross Senior Residents Fund ministry.

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Commentary: Reasons not to go into ministry
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (UMNS) — The Rev. Talbot Davis, pastor of Good Shepherd United Methodist Church in Charlotte, North Carolina, gives reasons not to go into ministry, including personal validation and emotional healing. He wraps up his commentary by offering the best reason to choose a ministerial career.

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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.

Tuesday, Oct. 28
Free webinar "Leading with Style" — 6:30 p.m. CT. Participants in this webinar will explore different leadership styles, discern their own approach to group engagement, understand the influence stress has on the ways they interact in group settings, and strategize ways they can help groups function most effectively. Details.

Native American Heritage Month — United Methodist Discipleship Ministries and Native American Comprehensive Plan offer prayer and worship resources.

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