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Weeky Digest - November 14, 2014

NOTE: This is a digest of news features provided by United Methodist Communications for Nov. 10-14. 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 umc.org/news.

Top Stories

United Methodist surgeon may come to U.S. for Ebola treatment
FREETOWN, Sierra Leone (UMNS) — Dr. Martin Salia, chief medical officer and surgeon at United Methodist Kissy Hospital, was expected to be airlifted to Nebraska Medical Center on Nov. 14 if he was judged able to travel. Kathy Gilbert has the story for UMNS.

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Sierra Leone hospital closes after doctor gets Ebola

United Methodists provide food, consolation to Ebola victims

United Methodists fill churches during Ebola outbreak

Letter urges compassion, not stigmatization in Ebola crisis


As a medical disaster, Ebola calls for new strategies
NEW YORK (UMNS) — While Ebola’s impact in West Africa has been as devastating as a hurricane or earthquake, the epidemic has required religious and humanitarian groups, including The United Methodist Church, to look beyond traditional disaster response and devise new strategies. Linda Bloom reports.

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Same-sex marriage complaint against Michigan pastors resolved
FLINT, Mich. (UMNS) — Two United Methodist Michigan pastors will not go to trial for officiating at same-sex unions, Bishop Deborah Kiesey announced. Instead, the two hope to lead a series of discussions in the conference on the inclusion of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer or questioning people in the denomination. Kathy Gilbert has the story.

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Gay couple files complaint for refusal of wedding
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (UMNS) — A United Methodist pastor is facing a complaint for declining to perform a same-sex wedding. A gay couple at Green Street Church, a United Methodist congregation, has filed a formal complaint against their pastor. The church announced last year it would not hold any weddings in its building until the denomination lifted its ban on same-gender weddings. Heather Hahn reports.

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Bishops: Pray for us amid sexuality debate


Native Americans share struggles, hopes
OKLAHOMA CITY (UMNS) — Save a language, and you can save a people. United Methodist bishops and other guests heard that message at a service of repentance that blended worship of God and education about the challenges Native American still face. Heather Hahn reports.

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Berlin Wall: Call for freedom everywhere
FRANKFURT, Germany (UMNS) — Bishop Rosemarie Wenner recalls the joy and thanksgiving that accompanied the fall of the Berlin Wall 25 years ago this month. “For me, God’s gift of the unification of my nation is also a call. There are far too many walls in our world that seem to be too big and strong to pull them down, countless people longing for a life of freedom and dignity,” writes Wenner, leader of The United Methodist Church in Germany.

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Students say Claremont mirrors society’s diversity
CLAREMONT, Calif. (UMNS) — Future United Methodist leaders say it is Claremont School of Theology’s focus on interreligious education that has called them to study there. Students say a campus that mirrors the diversity of society not only prepares them for effective leadership, but also strengthens their personal faith as United Methodists. Natalie Bannon writes for United Methodist Communications.

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History of Hymns: ‘For the Beauty of the Earth’
DALLAS (UMNS) — Folliot Sandford Pierpont, the hymn’s author, initially wrote these words for the celebration of Eucharist. C. Michael Hawn of Southern Methodist University’s Perkins School of Theology shares the development of the beloved hymn.

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Pastor: Grand jury ruling calls for ‘courageous compassion’
FERGUSON, Mo. (UMNS) — As people in and around Ferguson await word from the grand jury, the Rev. F. Willis Johnson shares his thoughts on the protests and prayers that have followed the fatal shooting of a black teenager by a white police officer. Johnson is the pastor of Wellspring Church, a United Methodist congregation in Ferguson.

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Commentary: Is the Philippines ready for an earthquake?
QUEZON CITY, Philippines (UMNS) — A year after a 2013 typhoon, disaster preparedness is a high priority in the Philippines—especially since historic records indicate a possible 7.2 magnitude earthquake could hit Manila within our lifetime. April Grace G. Mercado writes about how the country is getting ready.

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United Methodist joins NCC staff
WASHINGTON (UMNS) — The Rev. Steven D. Martin, a United Methodist pastor, and the Rev. Aundreia Alexander, an American Baptist pastor, are joining the staff of the National Council of Churches as director of communications and development, and staff executive for action and advocacy for justice and peace, respectively. United Methodist Jim Winkler is the NCC’s top executive.

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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 newsdesk@umcom.org and put Digest in the subject line.

Sunday, Nov. 17
New missionaries commissioned — 11 a.m. ET. The United Methodist General Board of Global Ministries will commission seven new missionaries for service around the world. The new missionaries come from South Korea, the United States, Paraguay and the Philippines and will be serving in Tanzania, Côte d’Ivoire, Honduras, the United States and Taiwan. Bishop Silvio Cevallos of the Evangelical United Methodist Church will preach at the service in Quito, Ecuador.

Tuesday, Nov. 18
Free webinar "Engaging Families and Children with Special Needs" — 10 a.m. CT. In this interactive webinar, Elizabeth Christie of the New York Conference will present a broad overview of children and families who come to churches with special needs. She will offer tips for setting up classrooms and activities so that everyone is successful and engaged. Details.

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