Daily Digest: December 20, 2013

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“My overall feeling is that this is very sad. I can’t believe we have been on this journey for nothing; somewhere God is going to use all the hearts and efforts for some good purpose down the line. This is the God we serve. It is Good Friday and Easter Sunday. We got the Good Friday, so come on Easter. I know it is Christmas but we are Easter people.” — Bishop Peggy Johnson, episcopal leader of the Eastern Pennsylvania Annual (regional) Conference.

Pennsylvania pastor to fight for clergy credentials

SPRING CITY, Pa. (UMNS) — The Rev. Frank Schaefer says he will immediately seek an appeal of a decision to take away his ministerial credentials. The United Methodist Eastern Pennsylvania Annual (regional) Conference’s board of ordained ministry made the decision Dec. 19 to follow through with a church trial penalty that required Schaefer to surrender his credentials if he cannot uphold the denomination’s lawbook “in its entirety.”
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Finance agency warns clergy on same-sex benefits

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — The denomination's General Council on Finance and Administration recently announced that church agency employees could apply to extend insurance benefits to same-sex spouses or partners. But in response to requests from some agency leaders, Moses Kumar, top executive of GCFA, issued a follow-up statement warning that clergy employees of agencies could be subject to discipline under church law if they make such a move, given the church's prohibition against "practicing" gay clergy.
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2013: Same-sex wedding issues abound

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — Weddings and trials sound disharmony for The United Methodist Church as it ends a year that included two well-publicized same-sex weddings and a high-profile church trial of a pastor who officiated at his son’s same-sex nuptials. That pastor, the Rev. Frank Schaefer, is appealing the loss of his ministerial credentials.
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2013: Church deaths of note

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — Those to whom we said goodbye include a global ecumenical leader, a social justice advocate, a lay leader active at all levels of the church, a civil rights activist and a pioneering British prime minister who never forgot her Methodist roots.
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Commentary: Sharing pain, hope, in typhoon’s wake

TACLOBAN, The Philippines (UMNS) — Amid the destruction of Typhoon Yolanda and the heartbreaking stories of suffering and hardship, April Grace Mercado writes that she has seen the human spirit spring forth, ready to provide aid and relief in all forms. She is the United Methodist Communications field representative in the Philippines.
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ABC to air United Methodist Christmas Eve special

WICHITA, Kan. (UMNS) — ABC-TV affiliates nationwide will have the opportunity to broadcast a one-hour United Methodist Christmas Eve special, “Rethink Christmas: Unwrap the Gift.” The hour-long broadcast, which was produced by United Methodist Communications and taped at Saint Mark United Methodist Church in Wichita, includes music, liturgical dance, a message by the Rev. Junius B. Dotson, and a special interpretation of the Walk to the Manger.
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See list of showtimes
See video UMTV: Choir's Christmas Gift about Saint Mark’s choir

The dog ate my … scholarship check?

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — Hurricanes, tornados, fires, and even a rambunctious puppy have claimed scholarship and loan checks from the United Methodist Board of Higher Education and Ministry. To the recipient, the loss can feel like a major disaster. Never fear! All reported lost or damaged checks can be reissued through the United Methodist Board of Higher Education and Ministry’s Office of Loans and Scholarships. Nicole Burdakin has the story.
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Video: The Christmas blender

ELK GROVE, Calif. (UMNS) — Jeremy Schulz, director of music ministries for Point Pleasant United Methodist Church in Elk Grove, wrote and created a short film for an Advent worship service focused on building community. His reflections explore the true and commercial meanings of Christmas and what that means when the church steps outside of its walls into the world. Another member of the church’s worship team, Jeremy Wayland, filmed and edited the video.
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Lessons from Joseph, Jesus' 'old man'

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — No question: Reserved, unobtrusive Joseph tends to hover in the background in most retellings of Christ’s birth. In a typical Nativity set, he can be easy to mistake for a shepherd. But the example he sets still offers lessons for Jesus’ followers today, say United Methodist scholars and clergy.
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