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Weekly Digest - October 3, 2014


NOTE: This is a digest of news features provided by United Methodist Communications for Sept. 29-Oct. 3. 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

Ebola killing more people than those with virus
KENEMA, Sierra Leone (UMNS) — On the day Sento Conteh’s 14-year-old son died, so did eight other people, all just outside the doors of Kenema Hospital in Sierra Leone. None of them had Ebola but Ebola contributed to all their deaths because the outbreak has caused a collapse in the health care system in Sierra Leone and Liberia. Kathy Gilbert reports for UMNS.

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Message: Superstition won’t cure Ebola

UMCOR, health boards respond to Ebola

Liberia UMW feeding minds, stomachs during Ebola crisis

Working for redemption in Ferguson
FERGUSON, Mo. (UMNS) — Tensions remain high, and United Methodists in the St. Louis area warn that it will take a long time to build community and trust between law enforcement and people of color. But leaders across the denomination agree that churches have a role to play in the arduous healing process ahead. Heather Hahn has the story.

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Great American novelist had Methodist background
DALLAS (UMNS) — When young Stephen Crane went to family reunions, nearly every man there was a Methodist preacher. At one such event in 1874, 14 of them attended, including his father and maternal grandfather and a great uncle who was a bishop. The writer of the “The Red Badge of Courage” would go the other way, living fast and hard while creating a groundbreaking body of literature. Sam Hodges reports for UMNS.

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Creation care team brings global perspective
NEW YORK (UMNS) — Sotico Pagulayan knows firsthand how the acceleration of extreme drought and flooding in Cambodia has made life harder for many, including farmers. That is why he is one of six regional representatives on the creation care team organized by the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries. Linda Bloom reports for UMNS.

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Church agency heads meet with White House staff
WASHINGTON (UMNS) — Top executives with United Methodist agencies met with White House staff for more than hour to discuss how church resources can help improve the lives of children at risk, prevent sexual violence on campus and respond to global humanitarian concerns. Those concerns include the displacement of Christians in the Middle East.

Read press release

A dream come true for prison ministry
BRADENTON, Fla. (UMNS) — After nearly 40 years of helping ex-offenders get on their feet, Jim Russo Prison Ministries — founded by a former prison inmate — is opening a new center. Susan Green of the Florida Conference reports on how the ministry has grown and is changing lives even after the death of its founder.

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CBS special looks at redemption after prison
NEW YORK (UMNS) — The Rev. Douglas Walker, National Coordinator for Criminal Justice Reform, United Methodist Board of Church and Society, is featured in “Crime, Punishment & Redemption,” a CBS-TV Interfaith Special airing Sunday, Oct. 5. The documentary looks at how the faith community helps returning citizens and their family members put their lives back together after incarceration. Check local listings for broadcast time.

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Check local listings

Hong Kong Methodists call for calm
HONG KONG (UMNS) — The Rev. Tin-Yau Yuen, president of the Methodist Church in Hong Kong, has called for the government to “keep calm and not to abuse force” in the wake of continuing protests, reports the Rev. Howard Mellor, pastor of the Methodist International Church there. The Chinese Methodist Church in Wan Chai has become “a place of sanctuary” for protestors, he added.

Read report of Hong Kong protests

Academy marks 10 years of shaping young Hispanic/Latino leaders
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) – The Hispanic Youth Leadership Academy has become a United Methodist leadership initiative that provides an intensive summer leadership academy and long-term mentoring and guidance around topics of higher education, Hispanic/Latino identity, God’s calling and United Methodist studies.

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Two conferences ponder merger
DENVER (UMNS) — Leaders of the Rocky Mountain and Yellowstone Conferences received a task force recommendation this week to enter into a serious conversation about merging. Mountain Sky Area Bishop Elaine J. W. Stanovsky explains the process to consider a merger. The two conferences include about 400 churches.

Read statement on PDF

New pastor, merger offer hope for historic Dallas church
DALLAS (UMNS) — St. Paul United Methodist Church is one of the oldest African-American churches in Dallas, and it's in a historic, recently restored building. But the congregation has dwindled as African Americans have moved from the downtown area. Now a new pastor is offering hope, in part because he's bringing along the congregation from an interdenominational church he started. James Ragland, a columnist for The Dallas Morning News, reports on this creative merger and appointment in the North Texas Conference.

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Ice bucket challenge aids church's stewardship

LEVITTOWN, Pa. (UMNS) – Emilie United Methodist Church cashed in on the ice bucket challenge, an online fundraising fad, to bolster the congregation's apportionment payments while having some fun. A member agreed to donate $25 for all who poured a bucket of ice water over their own head and $25 for every bucket of ice water poured over the pastor's head. John Coleman, the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference communications director, has the story.

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A pastor’s call to speak out
WASHINGTON (UMNS) — How does a pastor fulfill the call to be a prophetic voice? The Rev. Clayton Childers, director of conference relations for the United Methodist Board of Church and Society, offers tips for positive, effective preaching on challenging subjects or social issues.

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Foodies flock to North Carolina’s hot dog church
GREENSBORO, N.C. (UMNS) — Foodies come from hundreds of miles away to sample the dressed dogs and secret chili recipe served every Saturday by Carraway United Methodist Church – nicknamed “the hot dog church.” The cooks say the secret behind their red-hot success is no mystery: they give away every dime and dollar they make.

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Future of Missouri Conference camps uncertain
COLUMBIA, Mo. (UMNS) — Next summer, the four camps owned by the Missouri Conference will be closed, and the conference has dismissed the camps’ directors. Conference officials say there will be camping ministries next year, just done in a new way. Still, a number of United Methodists oppose the camps’ closure.

Read story in the October issue of the Missouri Methodists

Read Columbia Daily Tribune story

Watch video of Camping and Retreat Ministries Board

Five most difficult questions for pastors
MONUMENT, Colo. (UMNS) — United Methodist pastors often get questions after worship on a Sunday morning, from a phone call on a Tuesday afternoon, or across the table at a church dinner. Some queries are straightforward, but others are far tougher to address. The Rev. Joe Iovino, associate pastor of Tri-Lakes United Methodist Church, writes about the five most difficult questions pastors get.

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Appalachian Trail chaplain nears end of trek
ALCOA, Tenn. (UMNS) — At age 69, the Appalachian Trail chaplain David Smith from Holston Conference is on target to complete his 2,200-mile, seven-month hike on Oct. 8. Annette Spence of the Holston Conference’s The Call has the story.

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How World Communion Sunday makes a difference
DAKAR, Senegal (UMNS) — As a community developer, Adolpe Lumuna Kimanwa tackled problems like poverty, inequality and food security issues. With the support of a scholarship funded through donations to World Communion Sunday, the student from the Democratic Republic of Congo plans to complete a master’s degree in economic policy and development management at the United Nations Africa Institute in Dakar. World Communion Sunday is Oct. 5.

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Learn about World Communion Sunday or donate online

Communion video: The meal that makes us one

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.

Monday, Oct. 6
Early-bird registration deadline for Reach New Disciples Conference: “Taking Church to the Community"— Lewis Center for Church Leadership Conference is 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. ET Saturday, Nov. 1 at Wesley Theological Seminary, Washington. $40. Details

Sunday, Oct. 12
Children's Sabbath — The United Methodist Board of Discipleship offers prayers and hymns celebrating the sacredness of children. This year’s theme is “Precious in God’s Sight: Answering the Call to Cherish and Protect Every Child."

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