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Weekly Digest - September 11, 2015


NOTE: This is a digest of news features provided by United Methodist Communications for Sept. 7–11. 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

European refugee aid goes beyond food

NEW YORK (UMNS) — As migrants continue to flow into Europe in unprecedented numbers, United Methodists are among the local citizens providing aid. Church leaders also are sensing the refugee crisis has created “Kairos” — an opportune moment — to pray and work for real change. Linda Bloom has the story.
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Coping with Europe’s migration crisis

Online ordination ends clergy candidacy

LANSING, Mich. (UMNS) — By getting an online ordination through another denomination, a United Methodist clergy candidate has dropped out of the ordination process and abandoned her church membership. Michigan Area leaders offered that explanation in a Sept. 9 statement about Ginny Mikita, who with credentials from the Universal Life Church officiated at the same-sex wedding of the Rev. Benjamin and Monty Hutchison. Heather Hahn reports.
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Liberian university president removed

MONROVIA, Liberia (UMNS) — Liberia’s United Methodist bishop has removed the president of the denomination’s university from the office he has held for more than 10 years. Bishop John G. Innis said in a letter to the Rev. Emmanuel Bailey, president of the United Methodist University, that the decision to replace him was based on the advice of the 21 district superintendents who make up his cabinet and the university’s board of directors. Julu Swen reports.
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Tandem trek for mission

AUSTIN, Texas (UMNS) — The Rev. Paul Escamilla, senior pastor of Saint John’s United Methodist Church, planned to cycle 670 miles to celebrate the church’s 67th anniversary and raise funds for its mission commitments. Then he broke his collarbone and shifted gears, with the help of church members. Heather Hahn reports.
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United Methodists planting churches with environmental focus

MINNEAPOLIS (NYT) — Young United Methodist church planters are starting churches with a focus on an environmentalist gospel. For them, environmentalism is about connections between consumption patterns and inequality, not just pollution and climate change. Mark Oppenheimer reports for The New York Times.
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Young clergy growth all among women

WASHINGTON (UMNS) — Women are responsible for gains in the percentage of elders under age 35 in The United Methodist Church, according to the annual Clergy Age Trends report from the Lewis Center for Church Leadership. In 2015, 986 young elders make up 6.56 percent of the pool of active elders, but the pool of elders is down by 3,000 since 2005. The percentage of women among young elders has increased from 31 percent in 2005 to 41 percent in 2015. Among young deacons, the percentage of women is 80 percent.
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Communications outreach after 9/11

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — With Igniting Ministry, United Methodist Communications turned to advertising to communicate the denomination's message to the world. Just six days after the national television campaign was launched, the country was reeling from the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The United Methodist Church was one of the first advertisers back on television, with a message of hope and support: “The people of The United Methodist Church are praying with you.” Laura Buchanan reports.
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A prayer for the anniversary of 9/11

Commentary: Sacrificing for sake of next generation

LAKELAND, Minn. (UMNS) — The people of St. Croix Valley United Methodist Church in Lakeland voted to turn over their building, their identity and their way of being church to fast-growing Embrace Church in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. The move allows Embrace to launch a Twin Cities campus in the building this fall. “The heroes of the story are the people of St. Croix Valley United Methodist Church in Lakeland. They were willing to give over everything — who they are, what they have, what has been sacred and meaningful to them — for the sake of reaching the next generation,” the Rev. Cindy Gregorson writes in a commentary.
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Read conference report on new campus

9 tips for communicating with Hispanics and Latinos

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — Today's congregations are challenged to become more effective in communicating across demographic and cultural divides. United Methodist Communications offers tips to help churches reach out to Hispanic and Latino families.
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Message in a bottle

FROSTPROOF, Fla. (UMNS) — The sight of children standing out in the hot Florida sun at bus stops prompted Sun Ray United Methodist Church to start a bottled water ministry. About 100 kids who use a bus stop near the church get water and some of them have become volunteers in the program. Brenda Eggert Brader reports for the Florida Conference.
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New worship community in Rio Texas

SHARYLAND, Texas (UMNS) — Revive Community church had its debut service on Aug. 30, packing a 151-seat movie theater. The Rev. Ruben Saenz III leads the United Methodist worship community, having built the foundation through leading Bible studies at local coffee shops. The Rio Texas Conference reports.
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Commentary: Let laity lead innovation

DES MOINES, Wash. (UMNS) — The church needs innovation but depending on clergy to deliver it can lead to a “savior mythology,” writes Patrick Scriven, director of communications and young people’s ministries for the Pacific Northwest Conference. Scriven argues that laity should be taking the lead in shaking things up.
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United Methodist teen launches laundry ministry

BONAIRE, Ga. (UMNS) — It’s 5 p.m. on a Friday, and 15-year-old Caroline Gowan is doing laundry. It isn’t typical teenage behavior, but then again, she isn’t a typical teenager. Kara Witherow of the South Georgia Advocate reports on how this member of Bonaire United Methodist Church is working to clean clothes and refresh spirits.
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Choir performing for Congressional Black Caucus

VAUGHAN, Miss. (UMNS) — The choir of Mount Pleasant United Methodist Church will represent the state of Mississippi at the U.S. Congressional Black Caucus’ 45th Legislative Conference Gospel Extravaganza. The event will be Sept. 17 in Washington. Sharon Pepper and Tammy Brown, choir members, tells how the group landed the invitation.
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Native American camp going strong

NORTHPORT, Mich. (UMNS) — Three years after Brandon Ahmicasaube Smith had a vision of creating a Bible camp for young Native Americans, Spirit Journey Camp is growing. About 50 children have attended camps held over the past two years. Kay DeMoss reports for the Michigan Area.
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When new district superintendents go to school

LAKE JUNALUSKA, N.C. (UMNS) — New district superintendents and directors of connectional ministries recently gathered to learn about “Cultivating Vital Ministries.” The Rev. Michael Rich of the Western North Carolina Conference has the story for the United Methodist Board of Higher Education and Ministry.
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It all began with watermelon

HUBBARD, Texas (UMNS) — First United Methodist Church of Hubbard, Texas, began a few summers ago to offer free watermelon slices to Hubbard High School football players practicing in the August heat. That gesture has led to a close relationship with the team and the school and the chance to show “God’s transformational power.” The Rev. Bob Rainey, pastor, shares details.
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Bishop: Most important issue facing the church

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (UMNS) — The most important issue facing The United Methodist Church is not what many United Methodists think it is, writes Arkansas Area Bishop Gary E. Mueller. The most important issue, he says, is “living, learning and loving together as the Body of Christ when no one thinks that is possible.”
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Celebrating digital launch of motive magazine

BOSTON (UMNS) — Boston University School of Theology and the United Methodist Board of Higher Education and Ministry on Sept. 16 will celebrate the launch of a website that digitizes motive magazine and makes it accessible to a new generation. The launch celebration, including a panel discussion, will be at 4:30 p.m. EDT in Readers’ Theater at the university. The official magazine for the Methodist Student Movement, motive magazine was known for its avant-garde editorial and artistic vision. In 1966, Time magazine said it stood out among church publications “like a miniskirt at a church social.”
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Memphis Conference partners with Alex Haley Museum

HENNING, Tenn. (UMNS) — The Memphis Conference is partnering with the Alex Haley Museum and Interpretive Center to offer private showings of the museum’s exhibit “Slaves and Slaveholders of Wessyngton Plantation,” along with a panel discussion and small group conversations about race relations. The first event was Aug. 30 and the second is scheduled for Sept. 27. Lane Gardner Camp reports for the conference.
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Scholarship promotes diversity among archivists

MADISON, N.J. (UMNS) — The United Methodist Commission on Archives and History provides financial support to ethnic minority students pursuing graduate education in archival science. Joanna Chen Cham is the 2014 recipient of the Josephine Forman Scholarship. The scholarship, offered in partnership with the Society of American Archivists, aims to help diversify the American archives profession. The deadline to apply is Feb. 28.
Learn more about the scholarship and how to apply

Resources for World Communion Sunday

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — United Methodists will join other Christians in celebrating Holy Communion on Oct. 4. United Methodist churches also are asked to receive a special offering to support scholarships for ethnic undergraduate and graduate students. United Methodist gifts often enable first-generation students to attend college.
Resources for World Communion Sunday

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, Sept. 15

Deadline to apply for grant to support ecumenical and interreligious ministries — The Office of Christian Unity and Interreligious Relationships, part of the Council of Bishops, is offering three grants, each in the amount of $1,000 to groups within conferences for special projects designed to strengthen ecumenical and/or interreligious relationships. Details

Webinar "How to Make Your Worship Service More Engaging for All Ages" — 7-8 p.m. EDT. Worship is central to who we are and what we do as communities of faith. This webinar will focus on how to use the visual, auditory and kinesthetic aspects of a worship service to engage more people and engage them more fully. This webinar also will have a special focus on intergenerational worship and incorporating interactive elements into existing worship services. Details

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