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Weekly Digest: September 12, 2014


This is a digest of news features provided by United Methodist Communications for Sept. 8-12. 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

Can health care law save conferences money?

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (UMNS) — Facing mounting health care costs for an aging risk pool, some United Methodist annual (regional) conferences are turning to the Affordable Care Act for relief. Turning to state insurance marketplaces can bring both advantages and drawbacks for church employees. 

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A United Methodist deacon helped hundreds of uninsured people sign up for coverage.

Church extends support to Atlantic City workers

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (UMNS) — The Rev. Brian Roberts sees a storm headed for Atlantic City, New Jersey, that could inflict just as much damage as Superstorm Sandy did two years ago. This time, the telltale signs are not fierce winds and a churning ocean but an avalanche of pink slips as closing casinos disrupt the regional economy. United Methodists in the Greater New Jersey Annual (regional) Conference are responding to the crisis.

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Liberia needs faith to shake off despair amid Ebola crisis

MONROVIA, Liberia (UMNS) — “A feeling of despair” hangs over Liberians in the wake of the Ebola crisis and could keep the country from defeating the epidemic, said the Rev. Yatta R. Young, a dean at United Methodist University. Many still suffering from Liberia’s 14-year civil war are adopting a “defeatist attitude,” she told United Methodist News Service.

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Donate to UMCOR’s Ebola relief efforts.

Read full Ebola coverage and donate to United Methodist Communications efforts.

Liberia DS died of complications due to hypertension

Bishop McLee, 'champion' for marginalized people, dies

NEW YORK (UMNS) — Funeral services for Bishop Martin D. McLee will be held at 11 a.m. ET Monday, Sept. 15, at The Riverside Church, 490 Riverside Drive, New York, New York. Viewing will take place from 8:30 to 10:30 a.m. The service will be streamed live online with the prelude music at 10:30 a.m. ET and continue with the service at 11 a.m. To view the feed, go to the New York Annual Conference live stream page. Expressions of condolence can be sent to: The Family of Bishop Martin D. McLee, c/o The New York Annual Conference, 20 Soundview Ave., White Plains, New York, 10606. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to McLee’s “Young Clergy Debt Assistance Program.” Please make checks payable to “NYAC” and send to the attention of Ross Williams at New York Annual Conference.

Funeral arrangements and tributes to Bishop McLee 

McLee’s obituary by the United Methodist News Service 

Moving beyond conflict to ‘culture of peace’

UNITED NATIONS (UMNS) — During Liberia’s civil war, Christian and Muslim women learned how to work together to help bring about the war’s end. Nobel Peace Laureate Leymah Gbowee knows what such cooperation can achieve. She and other speakers talked about the goals for “The Culture of Peace” during a U.N. forum.

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Humanitarian need grows in Iraq

GENEVA (UMNS) — Agencies assisting the hundreds of thousands of people displaced by the self-proclaimed Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militant attacks warn that the onset of winter will intensify the humanitarian crisis in northern Iraq. Greg Brekke reports for the World Council of Churches.

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Watch videos from WCC team visit to Iraq

Game Changers: Grab your cell phone in typhoon, flood, or war

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — When it floods, or a typhoon hits, or you are caught in the middle of a civil war, grab your cell phone. That was the bottom-line advice from three people who have been in the middle of all those situations. The speakers were part of a panel about communication as aid on the last day of a three-day Game Changers Summit that was all about technology that helps rebuild and restore communities after they have suffered devastating events.

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Read full coverage of the Game Changers Summit

Groups to bishops: You must speak

LOS ANGELES (UMNS) — Two United Methodist groups — coming from different theological perspectives — are urging the Council of Bishops to take the lead and speak out on issues facing the church and wider world. The Western Methodist Justice Movement and Good News each released a statement this week encouraging bishops’ action.

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United Methodists work to reverse Scout losses

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — The number of young people involved in Scouting declined nationwide from 2012 to 2014, and programs in The United Methodist Church followed that trend – dropping from 365,565 in 2012 to 349,614 in 2013. Leaders of United Methodist Men are working to reverse that loss, Rich Peck reports.

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Emerging Ministry Grants launch new programs

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — Two deacons in The United Methodist Church have been awarded 2014 Emerging Ministry Grants by the United Methodist Board of Higher Education and Ministry. One will launch a community-wide day of service in Lancaster City, Pa., and the other will develop a ministry of spiritual formation for formerly incarcerated people in the West Ohio Conference. The Board of Higher Education and Ministry’s Nicole Burdakin reports.

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Is the simplest form of church a dinner table?

PORTLAND, Ore. (UMNS) — The Rev. Jeremy Smith shares the experiences of two United Methodist church plants — one in Massachusetts and one in Michigan — that begin with people sharing a meal together. Smith wonders what we can learn from these models of smaller religious communities.

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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.

Free webinar “Children and Sacrament” Monday, Sept. 1510 a.m. CT, United Methodist Board of Discipleship staff will answer questions on involving children in sacraments. Details 

Hispanic/Latino/a Heritage Month, Monday, Sept. 15–Wednesday, Oct. 15 — The United Methodist Board of Discipleship shares worship resources

Free webinar “Becoming a Praying Congregation” Tuesday, Sept. 166:30 p.m. CT, Event includes examples and ideas to help the community, small groups, individuals and families to have a deeper connection with God. Details 

Free webinar “What Is Lay Servant Ministries All About?” Wednesday, Sept. 17— 6:30 p.m. CT, This focuses on the nature of Lay Servant Ministry since the name change from "Lay Speaking Ministry.” Details

Webinar “In-Person Hybrid Learning in Congregational Faith Formation,” Thursday, Sept. 187-8 p.m. ET, The Rev. Kyle Matthew Oliver will lead a discussion on how digital tools can make faith formation more accessible to congregations, including a hybrid approach that combines small groups and online activities. $10. Details 

Free webinar “What’s a Methodist?” Tuesday, Sept. 23 — 6:30 p.m. CT, The class explores John Wesley’s definition of a Methodist found in his brief tract “Advice to the People Called Methodists.” Details 

United Methodist Church of the Resurrection Leadership Institute, Wednesday-Friday, Sept. 24-26 —  Church is in Leawood, Kansas. The keynote speaker is Len Sweet, United Methodist scholar and best-selling author. Details

Rich Church / Poor Church: Keys to Effective Financial Ministry, Wednesday, Sept. 24 and again Tuesday, Oct. 14 — Both seminars will be from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. CT and will feature United Methodist author and fundraiser, J. Clif Christopher. The Sept. 24 session will be at Platte Woods United Methodist Church in Kansas City, Missouri, and the Oct. 14 session will be at Manchester United Methodist Church in St. Louis. $25. Details.

Workshop “Get Their Names,” Saturday, Sept. 279:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. ET at Woodbury United Methodist Church, 577 Woodbury Road, Woodbury, New York. The Rev. Bob Farr of the Missouri Annual (regional) Conference will lead the seminar on sharing the Christian faith without anxiety. $20 per person for United Methodists. Details 

Classes in the Native American Course of Study, a national school for Native American local pastors and local pastors who work in Native ministries  —  “Mission: Evangelism.” Monday-Friday, Sept. 29 to Oct. 3, in Shiprock, Arizona, and “Personal and Social Ethics,” Monday-Friday, Oct. 6-10 in Window Rock, New Mexico. Details or contact the Rev. Fred Shaw at

Deadline to apply for two discernment events for Deaconesses and Home Missioner Ministry is Wednesday, Oct. 1 — Events are Friday-Sunday, Nov. 7-9 in St. Louis and Friday-Sunday, Nov. 21-23 in Tempe, Ariz. A discernment event is an opportunity to explore a sense of call to lay ministry with a group of fellow discerners. Details

Northeastern Jurisdiction Native American Ministries Committee meeting, Thursday-Sunday, Oct. 2-5 — Event at West River Conference Center, 5100 Chalk Point Road, West River, Maryland. For details, contact Sharon Schmit at

Free webinar “Focusing on the True Meaning of Christmas with Children,” Thursday, Oct. 2— 7-8 p.m. ET, ecumenical webinar shares how to teach children the true meaning Details

World Communion Sunday, Oct. 5— United Methodists observe World Communion Sunday by celebrating communion with other Christians around the world on this special Sunday. Churches are also encouraged to collect a special offering to support ethnic undergraduate and graduate students, which often enables first-generation students to attend college. To download the World Communion Sunday pastor’s kit. World Communion envelopes

2014 Wright Lectures: Practical Approaches to Emerging Ministries, Sunday-Tuesday, Oct. 12-14 — Gathering will be at Menucha Retreat and Conference Center near Portland, Ore. Keynote speakers include the Revs. Jim Walker and Jeff Eddings, co-founders of Hot Metal Bridge, an emergent church in Pittsburgh that is a joint ministry of United Methodists  and Presbyterians. Details 

Lake Junaluska's Choir Music Weekend, Friday-Saturday, Oct. 17-18 —  Members of small- and medium-sized church choirs at Lake Junaluska Conference and Retreat Center will learn and perform eight anthems that may then be performed at participants' home churches. Details 

2014 Downtown Church Network, Wednesday-Friday, Oct. 22-24 — A peer-learning event at First United Methodist Church of Arlington, Texas, aimed toward pastors and staff of churches in downtown metropolitan areas of at least 100,000 in population. Details 

Wesleyan Leadership Conference on baptismal living, Thursday-Saturday, Oct. 23-25 — Lay and clergy leaders will explore baptismal living in the Wesleyan tradition at the United Methodist Board of Discipleship in Nashville, Tennessee. Details 

Embracing Diversity: Developing Effective Ministries in a Multicultural World, Saturday-Monday, Oct. 25-27 — Gathering at United Methodist Church for All People, 946 Parsons Ave., Columbus, Ohio,  will focus on how to embrace diverse people and appreciate diverse gifts. United Methodist Board of Global Ministries is a sponsor. Details

Free leadership retreat for women church planters, Sunday-Tuesday, Nov. 2-4 — Path 1, part of the United Methodist Board of Discipleship, will hold at Sheraton Music City Hotel in Nashville, Tenn. Jane Creswell, author of "Christ-centered Coaching,” will speak.  Details