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Weekly Digest - September 19, 2014

NOTE: This is a digest of news features provided by United Methodist Communications for Sept.15-19. 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

Bishop urges cooperation with Ebola lockdown
FREETOWN, Sierra Leone (UMNS) — A three-day lockdown begins Sept. 19 in an attempt to stem the Ebola outbreak. Bishop John K. Yambasu, leader of The United Methodist Church in Sierra Leone, says the lockdown will be hard on people but asks for their cooperation.

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Sierra Leone health workers receive support in Ebola fight

More Liberian United Methodists afflicted by Ebola

Ebola: “Their problems are our problems”

Historic Chicago church OKs same-sex unions
CHICAGO (UMNS) — First United Methodist Church at the Chicago Temple has affirmed a marriage-equality proposal that gives pastors a choice in whether to perform same-gender marriages and will support financially any pastor who does so if charges are filed.

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Duke study: More religious acceptance of homosexuals

British Methodists watch Scottish independence vote
EDINBURGH, Scotland (UMNS) — The Sept. 18 on independence for Scotland could have an impact on The Methodist Church in Britain. Religious denominations in the United Kingdom have discussed implications of a “yes” vote, but have not taken a position on the issue, says the Rev. David Easton, chairman of the church's Scotland District.

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Bishop Middleton named interim leader in New York
NEW YORK (UMNS) — Retired Bishop Jane Allen Middleton will be the interim bishop for the New York Annual (regional) Conference, from Jan. 1, 2015, through Aug. 31, 2016. Bishop Warner Brown, president of the Council of Bishops, announced that the council’s executive committee has approved the assignment, recommended by the Northeastern Jurisdiction College of Bishops. Bishop Martin McLee died on Sept. 6.

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Mourners celebrate life of Bishop McLee

‘Africa happens at Africa University everyday’
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — Since July 1, Munashe Furusa has served as vice chancellor of United Methodist-related Africa University in Mutare, Zimbabwe. It is a role similar to a university president in the United States. He recently spoke to United Methodist News Service about his plans for the university.

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MARCHA approves declaration on border crisis
LOS ANGELES, Calif. (UMNS) — More than 150 Hispanic/Latino clergy and lay leaders celebrated communion through a fence on the U.S.-Mexico border, approved a declaration addressing the humanitarian crisis of unaccompanied children coming to the United States, and defined strategies to achieve their goals within The United Methodist Church. The Rev. Gustavo Vasquez, who leads a federated Presbyterian-United Methodist congregation in West New York, N.J., has the story. A video of bishops explaining the border crisis accompanies the story.

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Jorge Berrios reflects on how border wall reminds him of Wailing Wall

AIDS conference: Just Save One
DENVER (UMNS) — Bishop Cynthia Fierro Harvey asked participants at a conference on fighting HIV/AIDS what they were willing to risk “to just save one?” The conference, sponsored by The United Methodist Global AIDS Fund, aimed to provide participants with the knowledge, resources and inspiration to take action in eliminating the AIDS virus. Charmaine Robledo, Mountain Sky Area director of communications, reports on the conference.

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Fight against HIV/AIDS an act of political will

Press the issue of compassion

Long-ago summer set course for many United Methodists
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — Hundreds of young students went to Mississippi in 1964 to focus the nation’s attention on racial inequality. Among them were many United Methodists who see that summer as pivotal to their lives. United Methodist News Service collected their reflections in a series in honor of the 50th anniversary of that historic summer.

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Civil rights movement ‘a galaxy away’

Freedom Summer inspired ministry ‘from that day to this’

Faith, community leaders pray for immigration action
WASHINGTON (UMNS) — On the morning of Wednesday, Sept. 17, more than 50 faith and community leaders and immigration lawyers gathered to pray outside the White House, calling on President Obama to stop delaying action on immigration and fully protect unaccompanied children fleeing violence in Central America.

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Displaced Iraqis appeal for security and tolerance
GENEVA (UMNS) - Few people who escaped to northern Iraq after the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria began what Amnesty International calls a genocide against non-Arab and non-Sunni Muslim groups think they will be able to return to their homes, reports Gregg Brekke for the World Council of Churches.

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Is Sunday school helping to kill church?
HOUSTON (UMNS) — Jonathan Aigner, a United Methodist worship leader, suggests in his blog “Ponder Anew” that churches may be doing youngsters and themselves a disservice by corralling kids in Sunday school while parents worship.

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Indiana Conference gets boost to clergy wellness
INDIANAPOLIS (UMNS) - The Indiana Conference will receive $3 million from Indiana University Health to address and promote clergy psychological and spiritual wellness. The funds also will be used to help clergy better deliver counseling to parishioners. Skyler Nimmons of the Indiana Conference reports.

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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 Online courses from Upper Room in September-December Sept. 22-Oct. 24: “Questions God Asks Us;” Oct. 6-31: “A Quiet Pentecost;” Oct. 20-31: “Living into the Answers: A Workshop on Personal Spiritual Discernment;” Nov. 3-7: “Companions in Christ Small Group Facilitator Training;” Nov. 20: “Speaking Your Mind to God;” Nov. 30-Dec. 27: “Taste and See: Experiencing the Stories of Advent and Christmas.” Details.

Window on Wesley Theological Seminary, Tuesday, Sept. 23; Tuesday, Oct. 21 and Tuesday, Nov. 11 — 9 a.m.-3:30 p.m. ET, full-day events for prospective students include a campus tour, discussion of degree programs and the chance to attend a class. Details.

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

Free webinar “iKids Webinar 1 — When Everyday is Disneyland,” Thursday, Sept. 25 — 10 a.m. CT, this introductory session will focus on the influence digital media is having in family life, based on “iKids: Parenting in the Digital Age” by Craig Kennet Miller. Details.

Free webinar “Stewardship: Show Me the Mission!” Thursday, Sept. 25 — 6:30 p.m. CT, how to tell stories that motivate generosity. 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 Conference will lead the seminar on sharing the Christian faith without anxiety. $20 per person for United Methodists. Details.

Classes is 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 register for online course “United Methodism 101,” Tuesday, Sept. 30 — United Methodist Communications will offer the course Oct. 1-Nov. 12. $9.99. Details.

Free webinar “Education in and for Mission,” Tuesday, Sept. 30 — 6:30 p.m. CT, how to provide “hands-on” experiences in Christian discipleship. Details.

Deadline to apply for Central Conference Theological Education Grants, Tuesday, Sept. 30 — Applications for the 2015 grants for theological education in Africa, Europe and the Philippines are available. The Central Conference Theological Education Commission expects to award an additional $1 million to theological institutions, Boards of Ordained Ministry, and agencies integrally related to training United Methodist pastors. Details.

Deadline to apply for two discernment events for Deaconesses and Home Missioner Ministry, 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.

Free webinar “Focusing on the True Meaning of Christmas with Children,” Thursday, Oct. 27-8 p.m. ET, ecumenical webinar shares how to teach children the true meaning of Advent and Christmas through crafts, games, drama, music and snacks. Details.

Moving Beyond Prejudice workshop, Saturday, Oct. 4 — 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. CT, Paul Saltzman, an Emmy Award-winning filmmaker, will lead workshop at The Great Hall, McDaniel student center, Oklahoma City University. The Oklahoma Commission on Religion and Race is the sponsor. $25 Details.

“Builders, Boomers and Busters: Bridging the 21st Century” conference, Saturday, Oct. 48:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. CT, Older adult ministry experts — author Carol Orsborn, the Rev. Will Randolph of the United Methodist Board of Discipleship, and motivational speaker Randy Frazier — will speak at St. James United Methodist Church, 321 Pleasant Valley Drive, Little Rock, Ark. $25. 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 receive 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 Convocation on the Black Church, Friday-Saturday, Oct. 24-25 — The event will be at Brandon Conference Center in Brandon, Miss. The theme will be “Living Out the Power of We through Vital Worship.” Details.