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Weekly Digest - October 9, 2015


NOTE: This is a digest of news features provided by United Methodist Communications for Octt. 4–Oct. 9. 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

Trending Local

Running a grocery store, leading 4 churches

PARKERSBURG, W.Va. (UMNS) – The Rev. Jamie Sprague credits skills acquired as a grocery store manager with helping him as a part-time licensed local pastor leading four rural United Methodist churches in West Virginia. “I learned time management from Kroger,” he said. Sprague is among the local pastors profiled by in “Trending Local: The Rise of United Methodist Local Pastors,” reported by Sam Hodges with photos by Mike DuBose.
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Read the full series

Corrections officer doubles as local pastor

HAMBLETON, W.Va. (UMNS) – When he gets off his overnight Saturday shift as a jail guard, the Rev. Bradley Barton heads straight to the first of four small United Methodist churches he serves. And if he’s running late, he preaches in his uniform. Barton’s story is the final profile in the series reported by Sam Hodges with photos by Mike DuBose.
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Slideshow: A look at local pastors

CLINTON, Ky. (UMNS) — For the series "Trending Local," about the growing importance of licensed local pastors in The United Methodist Church, photographer Mike DuBose traveled around West Virginia and Kentucky — two states with many local pastors. He captured images of these pastors, many bivocational, in their varied ministry settings.
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Other news from around the connection

South Carolina churches join in flood relief

COLUMBIA, S.C. (UMNS) — United Methodists joined in as South Carolina began picking up the pieces after catastrophic weekend flooding. Bishop Jonathan Holston urged prayer and volunteerism. Local churches were already pitching in, providing emergency shelter and food for flood victims. Jessica Brodie reports for the South Carolina Advocate.
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Scam e-mail seeks relief funds
Donate to the conference disaster fund

Seeking climate justice in Paris

NEW YORK (UMNS) – When world leaders gather in Paris at the end of November to broker an accord on climate change, representatives of the faith community, including United Methodists, will be there to urge them to act. Linda Bloom has the story.
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A global presence in Argentina

NEW YORK (UMNS) — Buenos Aires, Argentina, will be home to the first of three new global regional offices for the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries. Board directors also got a progress update on the Atlanta relocation, approved a new mission initiative in the Central African Republic, and commissioned eight new missionaries during their Oct. 1-3 meeting. Linda Bloom reports.
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United Methodist Church sends eight new missionaries
Mission agency: Reach 1 million children
New mission work in Africa

German theologian makes White House connection

WASHINGTON (UMNS) — For a United Methodist theologian from Germany, an invitation to a U.S. forum for educators came at an opportune time. Achim Härtner was one of 50 international guests from 24 countries attending the "Fifth President's Interfaith and Community Service Campus Challenge." Linda Bloom has the story.
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‘The day I lost Momma’

JACKSON, Miss. (UMNS) — "It was a little more than six months after my 18th birthday that the man she chose to marry killed her because she was tired of his drunken ways and abusive language," Bishop James E. Swanson Sr. writes in an essay about the tragic day he lost his mother. The essay originally appeared in UM Men magazine.
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Safe, healthy churches training

United Methodist agencies address global migration

WASHINGTON (UMNS) — Representatives from various United Methodist agencies met to discuss how United Methodists are responding to the immigration crisis in Europe and in the United States. The Rev. Gustavo Vasquez reports.
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Hispanic/Latino churches developing large congregations

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) – Hispanic/Latino United Methodist churches, traditionally seen as primarily small congregations within the connection in the United States, are using small groups and other disciple-making efforts to develop larger churches with 350-plus worshipers. United Methodist Discipleship Ministries reports on this trend.
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A church for people with disabilities

LEXINGTON PARK, Md. (UMNS)  – The Rev. Don Geller has started a new United Methodist church in the Baltimore-Washington Conference, where people with disabilities and their caregivers will be welcomed into a worship experience designed for them. Wesley Theological Seminary reports on Community with a Cause.
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Pre-General Conference video series launched

CHICAGO (UMNS) – The Connectional Table is launching a series of weekly videos in October to help inform United Methodist church leaders and General Conference delegates leading up to the 2016 General Conference next May. The videos are part of an online forum called #CTTalks.
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2 United Methodist churches among fastest growing

CALEDONIA, Mich. (UMNS) – Cornerstone United Methodist Church in Caledonia and Embrace Church in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, made Outreach Magazine’s annual list of the 100 fastest-growing U.S. Protestant churches. Kay DeMoss of the Michigan Area has the news.
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Pre-General Conference Briefing set for Jan. 20-22

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — United Methodist Communications will be hosting the Pre-General Conference Briefing Jan. 20-22 in Portland, Oregon. The event is to inform delegates, church and secular journalists and other interested parties about topics to be discussed during the 2016 General Conference, the denomination’s top lawmaking assembly. An early-bird registration rate of $199 will be offered through Nov. 30; after that, the cost will be $229.
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Taking action against gun violence

NASHVILLE (UMNS) — Last week’s mass shooting at an Oregon community college no doubt has many United Methodists wondering what they can do beyond pray for an end to gun violence. Joe Iovino of digs into the denomination’s Book of Resolutions for 11 action steps, dealing with everything from education to advocacy.
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Bishop: Prayers needed on sexuality impasse

LANSING, Mich. (UMNS) — In a pastoral letter, Michigan Area Bishop Deborah Lieder Kiesey asks for prayers after church leaders could not reach a just resolution in a same-sex marriage complaint. “I plead now for your prayers as I seek to find a path that will cause the least amount of harm to all of you and to the work of Christ that is before us.”
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Read more about the complaint

Northeastern Jurisdiction talks leadership

HERSHEY, Pa. (UMNS) — More than 700 young United Methodists from around the Northeastern Jurisdiction gathered for a first-of-its-kind event focusing on transformational leadership. Erik Alsgaard of the Baltimore-Washington Conference has the story.
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$1.4 million for U.S. recovery

NEW YORK (UMNS) — Directors of the United Methodist Committee on Relief approved $1.4 million recently to assist communities in Oklahoma, Texas and Maryland where moments in the headlines because of disaster have long faded, but recovery is far from over. Linda Unger reports for UMCOR.
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Church helps families after hotel condemnation

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (UMNS) — After city officials condemned an extended-stay hotel, East Ridge United Methodist Church went into overdrive to help newly homeless families. The church already had a relationship with many of the families for three years. Annette Spence of Holston Conference's The Call has the story.
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Taking church to the laundromat

ATLANTA (UMNS) — Members of McKendree United Methodist Church in Lawrenceville, Georgia, go to local laundromats to offer free detergent, fabric softener and even quarters for running the machines. It's one example of the "church can happen anywhere" philosophy in the Atlanta Emory District of the North Georgia Conference. Ansley Brackin reports for the conference.
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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. 11
Children's Sabbath 
— On this day, many United Methodists celebrate the sacredness of children. United Methodist Discipleship Ministries offers worship resources

Tuesday, Oct. 13
Deadline to submit 2016 General Conference petitions online
 — To be considered at General Conference, petitions must be submitted online no later than Oct. 13.  The denomination's top lawmaking assembly next meets May 10-12, 2016, in Portland, Oregon. Details on how to submit

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