Skip Navigation

Weekly Digest - September 25 2015


NOTE: This is a digest of news features provided by United Methodist Communications for Sept. 21-Sept. 25. It includes summaries of United Methodist News Service stories and additional briefs from around the United Methodist connection. Find full versions of the stories with photographs and related features at

Church can help close technology gap for women

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — In countries where women could be punished or even killed for owning a mobile phone, accessing technology is dangerous but necessary, said 2015 Game Changers Summit keynote speaker Revi Sterling. “Women bear the biggest brunt of global poverty, and if you don’t have access to information, you stay under-empowered,” said Sterling, whose work for NetHope focuses on empowering women through technology. Kathy L. Gilbert and Joey Butler report.
Read story and post a comment

Women can be game changers through technology

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — Gender divides lead to digital divides and women don’t get the important, life-changing messages they need, said speakers and participants at the 2015 Game Changers Summit sponsored by United Methodist Communications. Kathy Gilbert reports.
Read story and post a comment

‘Change the world,’ conference attendees told

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — The Rev. David Valera of the Pacific Northwest Conference told United Methodists at the Game Changers Summit how to embrace technological innovation to live out their calling to care for those in need. Joey Butler has the story.
Read story and post a comment

Political dissident leads revival behind bars

KINSHASA, Democratic Republic of Congo (UMNS) — Vano Kalembe Kiboko is wrongfully imprisoned in his native Democratic Republic of Congo, according to human rights observers. That has not stopped the United Methodist lay evangelist from leading his fellow prisoners to new faith in Christ. Heather Hahn reports.
Read story and post a comment

Number of U.S. bishops could drop

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — The number of United Methodist bishops in the denomination’s U.S. North Central and Northeastern jurisdictions could be reduced because of a decline in reported membership numbers, the General Council on Finance and Administration has announced.
Read press release

Commentary: Walking with Pope Francis

WASHINGTON (UMNS) — The Rev. Maidstone Mulenga has pledged to walk with Pope Francis in his visit to the Baltimore-Washington area, particularly as the pontiff addresses people affected by crime and the justice system. Mulenga writes about United Methodist healing communities that welcome formerly incarcerated people and families of prisoners to the denomination’s churches.
Read his commentary

Washington Area bishop meets with pope

WASHINGTON (UMNS) — Bishop Marcus Matthews, who leads the Baltimore-Washington Conference, was one of 11 ecumenical leaders invited to the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception Sept. 23 for the first Mass celebrated by Pope Francis in the United States. The conference’s Erik Alsgaard reports.
Read story
Commentary: What the pope can teach United Methodist bishops

Gere Reist: Behind the scenes at General Conference

PORTLAND, Ore. (UMTV) — “Being at General Conference is an act of constant prayer,” says the Rev. L. Fitzgerald “Gere” Reist II. Since 2004, Reist has served as secretary of the General Conference, a gathering that sets the direction of the church for the next four years. UMTV profiles the man often seen at the forefront of the proceedings.
Watch video and post a comment

An open table: How the church understands communion

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — The sacrament of Holy Communion is such a common occurrence in the landscape of our worship that its uncommon richness sometimes gets lost. With the approach of World Communion Sunday on Oct. 4, Joe Iovino shares how United Methodists understand the Eucharist.
Read story and post a comment
Learn more about World Communion Sunday

How the people called Methodist got their name

MADISON, N.J. (UMNS) — A group Charles Wesley gathered to help him improve his studies at Oxford University became so much more, especially once Charles’ brother John got involved. Andrew J. Schleicher details the history for
Read story and post a comment

Small church opens doors to NAACP march

BENNETTSVILLE, S.C. (UMNS) — A tiny United Methodist congregation on the North Carolina-South Carolina border honored “open hearts, open minds and open doors” in a big way recently, hosting a stop on a multi-state protest march organized by the NAACP. Jessica Brodie of the South Carolina Advocate reports on the welcoming church on a historic road.
Read story
Read about NAACP’s America’s Journey for Justice march

Using parking lots as safe space

SEATTLE — For the past four years, the members of Lake Washington United Methodist Church in Kirkland have opened their church parking lot overnight to people who had nowhere else to go. Homeless advocates in the Seattle area would like to see the program expand to other parking lots, reports Lynn Thompson for the Seattle Times.
Read story

Taking long-term view on refugees

GENEVA (WCC) — European leaders continue to grapple with the thousands of refugees arriving from Syria and elsewhere. But integrating refugees into a new country is a two-way process that requires a long-term view, says the top executive of the Churches' Commission for Migrants in Europe. Susan Kim reports.
Read story 
Welcoming refugees as ‘fellow pilgrims’ in Europe 

Blind pastor gives fresh vision to church

STAYTON, Ore. (UMNS) — The Rev. Janine DeLaunay has been senior pastor of Stayton United Methodist Church since July, and she’s already deeply involved in the small community. “Oh my goodness, the things that she can do,” says a church member. Annette Utz has the story for the Statesman Journal.
Read story

Energizing U.S. health ministry

HOUSTON (UMNS) — Nearly 200 participants from U.S.-based United Methodist conferences, local and regional health programs, hospital systems, seminaries, and five general agencies, gathered to share experiences and turn their gaze to the future of health ministry in the United States. Linda Unger reports for the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries.
Read story

Agency transforms global church communications

FREETOWN, Sierra Leone (UMNS) – United Methodist Communications, with General Conference support, has equipped communicators in Africa, Asia and Europe to share the stories of the global church. “With training and support, African communicators have been empowered to tell Africa’s story to the world,” said Phileas Jusu of the Sierra Leone Annual Conference. Tafadzwa Mudambanuki has the story.
Read story and post a comment

Discipleship Ministries hosts evangelism gathering

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — United Methodist Discipleship Ministries plans to host an evangelism conference that draws together about 60 representatives of the Protestant, Catholic and Orthodox branches of Christianity. The Oct. 29-Nov. 2 conference will focus on how to reclaim evangelism in North America.
Read press release

Bishop boosts fallen attorney’s ‘Second Chance’

MADISON, Miss. (UMNS) — Before he landed in prison, press accounts often described attorney Richard “Dickie” Scruggs as “ruthless.” Scruggs has been redeemed, reports Tamica Smith Jeuitt of the Mississippi Conference. And with help from Mississippi Area Bishop James Swanson Jr., Scruggs aims to help other Mississippi adults find redemption as well.
Read story

Lay ministers in training practice preaching

PORTLAND, Ore. (UMNS) — United Methodist lay men and women prepared a short sermon for critique by other participants at the first session of a Certified Lay Ministers training course, offered over two years in the Greater Northwest Episcopal Area. The certified lay ministers “provide key church leadership in rural and very small churches that have vitality, but are not large enough to be able to afford a full-time ordained minister,” Bishop Grant Hagiya said. Greg Nelson reports for the conference.
Read story

Teens launch building campaign

SANDY SPRING, Md. (UMNS) — Seven girls at Sandy Spring United Methodist Church decided they needed a bigger space for Sunday school. So the girls, age 10 to 17, started a $50,000 building campaign — on their own and in secret. Melissa Lauber reports for the Baltimore-Washington Conference.
Read story

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.

Wednesday, Sept. 30
Deadline to register for Exploration — This gathering for young adults, age 18-26, exploring a call to ordained ministry will be Friday-Sunday, Nov. 6-8 in Orlando, Florida. The United Methodist Board of Higher Education and Ministry is the sponsor. $225 by Sept. 30. Details

Deadline for Do No Harm 2015 Conference: Best Practices for Health, Accountability and Wholeness — “Do No Harm 2015” on Thursday-Saturday, Oct. 15-17 at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, Chicago O'Hare, is a sexual ethics summit addressing the most recent developments in preventing and responding to abuse, misconduct and harassment of a sexual nature. The gathering is particularly by people in ministerial roles (both lay and clergy) within The United Methodist Church. The United Methodist Commission on the Status and Role of Women is the sponsor. $525 by Sept. 30. $525 by Sept. 30. Day rates of $250 based on availability Sept. 1-30. Details

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