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Weekly Digest - October 30, 2015


NOTE: This is a digest of news features provided by United Methodist Communications for Oct. 26–Oct. 30. 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

Court defers review of ‘Plan UMC Revised’

ST. LOUIS (UMNS) — A ruling on the constitutionality of legislation for a proposed organizational plan for The United Methodist Church has been deferred until May. During its Oct. 21-24 fall meeting, the United Methodist Judicial Council said that making a declaratory decision about one specific piece of proposed legislation “could intrude” on the full legislative authority of General Conference, the denomination’s top decision-making body.
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Could reorganizing agencies boost church vitality?

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — Plan UMC Revised, a proposed restructuring of United Methodist general agencies, aims to align denominational resources toward fostering vital congregations. Church members debate whether the plan meets its goals. Heather Hahn reports.
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Church transforms into Hogwarts

QUINCY, Mass. ( — Every October for the past 11 years, members of the Quincy Community United Methodist Church have transformed their church into the Hogwarts School from the Harry Potter series. One goal of the celebration is giving families with marginal incomes a magical day that adults and children could enjoy together.
Watch UMTV video

Wesley loved All Saints Day

NASHVILLE, Tenn. ( — John Wesley loved All Saints Day, a sometimes-overlooked holy day in United Methodist congregations. In a journal entry from Nov. 1, 1767, Wesley calls it “a festival I truly love.” On the same day in 1788, he writes, “I always find this a comfortable day.” Joe Iovino reports.
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Still recovering: Third Sandy anniversary

NEW YORK (UMNS) — Today, Oct. 29, marks the third anniversary of Superstorm Sandy wreaking havoc along the coastlines of New York, Connecticut and New Jersey. The New York Conference is looking at how the storm and recovery have affected homeowners, volunteers and those involved in coordinating the rebuilding efforts in New York and Connecticut. The Revs. Joanne Utley and Arthur McClanahan report.
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Information on volunteering

North Central Jurisdiction to retain nine bishops

NORTH CANTON, Ohio (UMNS) — The General Council on Finance and Administration has rescinded its recommendation that the North Central Jurisdiction reduce its number of bishops, jurisdictional leaders announced Oct. 28. The finance agency used revised numbers from conference statisticians to recalculate jurisdiction’s membership. Earlier totals inadvertently had left out members from new churches.
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Read GCFA press release

What confirmation means to United Methodists

NASHVILLE, Tenn. ( — Confirmation is not a sacrament in The United Methodist Church but is an important step in United Methodists’ journey of faith, writes Joe Iovino for He explains this rite of passage.
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A pastor’s report from North Korea

KIRKLAND, Ill. (UMNS) — The Rev. Kay Keyong-Ah Woo visited North Korea recently with other leaders of the Committee on Peace of the Korean Association of The United Methodist Church. Woo shared her impressions in the newsletter of First United Methodist Church of Kirkland, Illinois, where she is pastor.
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UMCOR helps Haitian earthquake survivors build homes

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (UMNS) — Haitian families uprooted by the 2010 earthquake are finally getting new homes, thanks to their own labors and assistance from the United Methodist Committee on Relief and its partners in Haiti. David Tereshchuk reports for UMCOR.
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How church mergers can work

ST. LOUIS (UMNS) — What happens when a healthy church takes on a fading church as a second campus? United Methodists from each U.S. jurisdiction recently gathered for the New Wineskins Conference to learn about making such mergers work. Fred Koenig of the Missouri Conference has the story.
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Vital merger model works for Florida church

Reaching out with little prayer box

VIBORG, S.D. (UMNS) — After Anita Stephenson reached out with prayer and Scripture to a friend contemplating suicide, she wondered how many other people in her small community were struggling and needed prayer. So she and her husband built a prayer box, stocked it with prayer cards and pencils, then shared their idea with all the churches in the South Dakota community. The box is in front of the Viborg Methodist Church.
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Commentary: Rethinking Halloween

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — Depending on whom you ask, Halloween is either harmless, secular fun or a dangerous, possibly satanic revel. Both interpretations ignore the holiday’s Christian roots. Shane Raynor of United Methodist Ministry Matters makes an argument for reclaiming the Christian observances of Allhallowtide on Oct. 31-Nov. 2.
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South Carolina focuses on flood recovery

COLUMBIA, S. C. (UMNS) — Weeks after catastrophic flooding, South Carolina United Methodists are working to help the thousands hurt by the storm — a process that could take as long as three years. The conference has set up a hotline to take requests for help and offers of assistance. Jessica Brodie reports for the Advocate.
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Local churches reaching out
S.C. Governor Haley distributes UMCOR health kits
How to make health kits
United Methodists reach out to Hispanic flood survivors

Historic church re-opens after earthquake repairs

NAPA, Calif. (UMNS) — Nearly 15 months after a 6.0-magnitude earthquake damaged Napa United Methodist Church, the congregation will go home. Weekly worship in the historic 1917 sanctuary will resume on Nov. 22 after a $2.5 million refurbishment. The California-Nevada Conference has the story.
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Protesters disrupt forum at L.A. church

LOS ANGELES — Protesters disrupted an Oct. 19 forum at Holman United Methodist Church featuring Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti. The Rev. Kelvin Sauls, pastor, decided against a return visit by the mayor. Emily Alpert Reyes reports for the Los Angeles Times.
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‘Classic Church' and millennials

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (UMNS) — Reaching the millennial generation through “classic church” worship combined with a theology of love and grace was the subject of the Rev. Jana Childers’ recent address at the Rocky Mountain Conference’s Preaching Academy. The Rev. Kerry Greenhill reports.
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History of Hymns: ‘A Mighty Fortress Is Our God’

DALLAS (UMNS) — No hymn is identified with the Protestant Reformation more than Martin Luther’s “A Mighty Fortress.” Luther left a body of congregational songs that both defined the Lutheran confessional tradition and became truly ecumenical in influence. C. Michael Hawn talks about the hymn’s development and dispels the myth that the melody began as a tavern song.
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What Martin Luther means to United Methodists

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, Nov. 1 and Sunday, Nov. 8
International Days of Prayer for Persecuted Christians — The first two Sundays of November are set aside to remember and speak out on the persecuted church. United Methodist Discipleship Ministries offers resources for Christians to pray for other Christians who are living under persecution. The United Methodist Board of Church and Society also urges churches to participate. Worship resources.

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All Saints Day — This is a day of remembrance for the saints, meaning all Christian people of every time and place. United Methodist Discipleship Ministries offers prayers and litanies for the day. Worship resources.


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