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Weekly Digest - September 4, 2015


UMNS Weekly Digest

September 4, 2015

NOTE: This is a digest of news features provided by United Methodist Communications for Aug. 31–Sept. 4. 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

Coping with Europe's migration crisis

NEW YORK (UMNS) — In Messstetten, Germany, where a former military barrack serves as an initial processing center for asylum-seekers, United Methodists are among those who are offering assistance to an influx of some 1,000 refugees. It is part of a new wave of migration washing over Europe. Linda Bloom reports.
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Churches should make fighting racism a priority

WASHINGTON (NCC) — Churches across America should make ending racism and race-based violence a priority, an African Methodist Episcopal bishop told a gathering of four historically African-American Methodist denominations in announcing a new initiative to fight racism. Steven Martin has the story.
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Bishops, agencies to see insurance changes

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — The board of The United Methodist Church's finance agency is making changes to the health coverage offered to bishops and general agency employees. The board is taking steps to avoid the Affordable Care Act's “Cadillac tax” on high-cost health plans that has the potential to affect far more than church employees. Heather Hahn reports.
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Read General Council on Finance and Administration press release

Gulfside Assembly re-imagining future of historic site

WAVELAND, Miss. (UMNS) — The Gulfside board of directors, which includes Mississippi Bishop James E. Swanson Jr., is rethinking the assembly’s purpose since Hurricane Katrina demolished every building on the 60 acres. Kathy L. Gilbert and Mike DuBose have the story and photos. Eighth in a series.
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Pretty on the outside, still broken inside

NEW ORLEANS (UMNS) — Many people didn’t live, many places didn’t recover to celebrate Hurricane Katrina’s 10-year anniversary on Aug. 29, 2015. However, The United Methodist Church connection was at its best in responding to the monster storm. Kathy L. Gilbert and Mike DuBose report on the stories of rescue and rebuilding.
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View all Katrina 10th anniversary coverage

Churches more prepared for disasters

NEW YORK (UMNS) — Many United Methodist Committee on Relief responders believe churches and individual United Methodists are more prepared for disaster response than they've ever been. Susan Kim of UMCOR reports on what's working.
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MARCHA 2015 focuses on equity, justice and peace

MADISON, Wis. (UMNS) — The local church is the foundation of ministry, the Rev. Amaury Tañon-Santos told the annual gathering of MARCHA, United Methodism’s Hispanic/Latino caucus, during its Aug. 13-16 meeting. Michelle Maldonado reports.
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Can your work bring you closer to God?

NASHVILLE. Tenn. (UMNS) — No matter the nature of the work, our jobs are an opportunity to serve Christ every day, writes Joe Iovino in a feature for
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Connecting via Wesleyan small groups

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — Wesleyan small groups can connect across borders and barriers, strengthening faith and relationships. Joe Iovino concludes his series on such groups by looking at how they can work together in different contexts.
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Read other stories in the series

Ebola vaccine participant happy with results

MONROVIA, Liberia (UMNS) — A United Methodist doctor who took an experimental Ebola vaccine said he is healthy and has no signs of complications.  Julu Swen reports on Dr. Francis Karteh’s experience.
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Telling the story of General Conference

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — A General Conference covered in real time with participation from countries around the world could not have been imagined in 1939 when the building blocks were laid for United Methodist Communications. Through all the changes over 75 years, United Methodist Communications has been telling the story of the denomination's top lawmaking assembly. From print to livestream, the agency has made sure news and information is readily available to churches and the public from General Conference. Maggie Hillery has the story.
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Blessings flow at river church

BRYSON CITY, N.C. (UMTV) — One United Methodist pastor has found a way to make sure those who work or play near the Nantahala River — paddling, climbing or hiking — can also worship on Sunday. “This is the perfect marriage of worship and recreation and re-creation and having that opportunity to have new life breathed into them,” said the Rev. Wayne Dickert of the River of Life Church.
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Tough questions wanted

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — What are the most common — and the most challenging — questions people ask you about giving? What would you like to know about modeling generosity in your local church? United Methodist Communications' Connectional Giving Team is working on a new FAQ resource to address your questions. Help by sharing your questions or questions that others have asked you about giving.
Submit questions

Joining in prayers for creation on Sept. 1

GENEVA (WCC) — Joined in prayer, Christian churches around the world will again observe the ecumenical “Time for Creation” from Sept. 1 to Oct. 4, bolstered by Pope Francis’s recent proclamation of Sept. 1 as the “World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation.”
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Liturgical resources

One doctor’s eye-opening ministry

WASHINGTON (UMNS) — Faith is about vision. It’s about seeing, with eyes wide open, and sensing the presence of Christ. But for Dr. Stephen Waller, this talk of faith and sight is much more than metaphor. Melissa Lauber of the Baltimore-Washington Conference reports on an eye surgeon who has brought light and sight to people in 20 countries, including Iraq.
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Children lead malaria fight

COLUMBIA, S.C. (UMNS) — Children are leading an Imagine No Malaria initiative in South Carolina, said the Rev. Jeri Katherine Warden Sipes, Imagine No Malaria field coordinator for the conference. She said the most significant amount of money right now is being raised by children and youth of local congregations. Jessica Brodie reports for the South Carolina Advocate.
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How can churches support teachers?

LADY LAKE, Fla. (UMNS) — Three churches in the Florida Conference have found three different ways to support public school teachers in their neighborhoods. Mary Ann DeSantis reports for the Florida Conference on these ministry ideas.
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New resource: ‘Developing Your Operating Budget’

WASHINGTON (UMNS) — The Lewis Center for Church Leadership, part of United Methodist Wesley Theological Seminary, is offering a new video series with church budgeting advice. The cost is $39.
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History of Hymns: ‘Leave it There’

DALLAS (UMNS) — The Rev. Charles Albert Tindley (1851-1933) was one of the eminent preachers of Methodism at the turn of the 20th century. C. Michael Hawn of Southern Methodist University’s Perkins School of Theology shares a bit about the man called the “father of African-American Hymnody” and “the prince of preachers.”
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Watch video on Tindley Temple United Methodist Church

Kansas Wesleyan, Saint Paul set theological collaboration

SALINA, Kan. (UMNS) — Kansas Wesleyan and Saint Paul School of Theology are establishing a 3-plus-3 theological studies undergraduate program. Under the program, students from the United Methodist-related university will condense the four-year degree for the Christian Ministry major into three years, followed by the completion of the three-year Master of Divinity degree at Saint Paul, a United Methodist seminary. This allows students to prepare for ordination and entry into the ministry in six years instead of the usual seven.
Read press release

Women of Color Scholar writes book about Ferguson events

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — Leah Gunning Francis, a Women of Color Scholar, interviewed more than two dozen local clergy and activists for a book about the events in Ferguson, Missouri, following the police shooting of an unarmed black teenager. The book — “Ferguson and Faith: Sparking Leadership and Awakening Community” — shares a behind-the-scenes look. The Women of Color Scholars Program provides scholarships for women of color who hope to teach, lecture, write and research at the Ph.D. level at a seminary. Tyrus Sturgis reports for the United Methodist Board of Higher Education and Ministry.
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Game Changers addresses technology for social good

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — Learn how the latest technological tools, including humanitarian drones, 3D printers and alternative energy, are reshaping the way we understand and interact with the environment to benefit underdeveloped communities throughout the world. The Game Changers Summit 2015, hosted by United Methodist Communications, will be Sept. 17-19.
Read press release

What Instagram taught me about God

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — How many times have we put God in a box — or a square if you will — for simplicity’s sake? Shane Raynor of United Methodist Ministry Matters shares this and other lessons from the social networking platform Instagram.
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Commentary: The story of John Wesley’s sisters

FITZGERALD, Ga. (UMNS) — Ever wondered what happened to John Wesley’s seven sisters? The Rev. B.J. Funk, a columnist for the South Georgia Advocate, offers a quick overview of each sister’s story and search for love.
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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, Sept. 6 

Day of Confession, Repentance, Prayer, and Commitment to End Racism — The African Methodist Episcopal Church, a full-communion partner of The United Methodist Church, asks every church, temple, synagogue, mosque and place of worship to focus on race and asks every worship leader to preach on race and be reminded that out of one blood, God created all of us to dwell together in unity. Details

Tuesday, Sept. 8-Saturday, Sept. 26

Online course "Life Together in the United Methodist Tradition" for lay servants from BeADisciple.comWhy does The United Methodist Church do things the way it does? What are the rules and why are there rules? And what does this have to do with the Kingdom of God? This course will help new United Methodists get their bearings and longtime members consider the specific structural challenges the church faces in the 21st century. This course has been approved by United Methodist Discipleship Ministries as an advanced course in lay servant ministries and is the “polity” class required for lay speaker certification. Therefore, the course provides 1 CEU for clergy and CLMs also available. $65. Details

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