Daily Digest - July 23, 2021

“Since the COVID-19 lockdown, Rev. (Annamore) Kahlari has been there for us. She schedules quality time to be with us, the old-aged members in the circuit, teaching, counseling and praying with us.” — 82-year-old Mbuya Loveness Chikotora, talking about her pastor, who walks long distances to minister to church members in rural Zimbabwe.


TODAY’S HEADLINES

Rural pastor perseveres amid challenges

MAKONI BUHERA, Zimbabwe (UM News) — Every Sunday, the Rev. Annamore Kahlari awakens before sunrise to pack a bag for her long walk. As the pastor in charge of Zimbabwe’s Chikore Circuit, she journeys about 15 miles each way, carrying a Bible, hymnbook and bottle of water. Her destination is not just one local church, but five. Chenayi Kumuterera reports.
Read story

Ask The UMC
Do United Methodists pray for the dead?

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — United Methodists have confidence that deceased loved ones are in God’s keeping, but how do we remember them in our prayers? Ask The UMC, a ministry of United Methodist Communications, explores that question and others regarding United Methodist beliefs about death and resurrection in a new series.
Read story
Read series
Read more Ask The UMC

Greater Northwest Area
Help needed bracing for wildfire impact 

DES MOINES, Wash. — With the largest wildfire in the country currently burning in southern Oregon and almost three dozen more popping up throughout Washington and Idaho, the Greater Northwest Area disaster response teams are asking churches across the area to be ready. Cleaner air kits are among the needed supplies. Kristen Caldwell has the story. 
Read story

New England Conference
Economic ministry raises the roof

SALEM, Maine — Just six months after beginning its “Stronger Together” capital campaign, the United Methodist Economic Ministry of the New England Conference has already been able to fund its two highest priorities. The ministry, founded to assist economically struggling rural communities in western Maine, operates several thrift shops and one was badly in need of a new roof. Funds from the campaign paid off loans for previous repairs and fully funded a new one. Dan Dolan reports.
Read story


PRESS RELEASES

National Council of Churches
NCC decries rise in antisemitism

WASHINGTON — The National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA has issued a statement decrying an increase in incidents of antisemitism in recent months. “Our Jewish friends and neighbors know we have them in our hearts, and that we hold them in prayer, during these difficult days. Today and always, we will continue to stand with them, and with all people of goodwill, against the serious danger of antisemitism in our society,” the statement says.
Read statement


EVENTS

Tuesday, Aug. 10

Webinar: What You Really Need to Know About Housing Allowances

Monday, Aug. 16-Friday, Aug. 27
Symposium for Spiritual Formation and Youth Ministry


TOP STORIES FROM THE WEEK

2 jurisdictions plan for church future

LAKE JUNALUSKA, N.C. (UM News) — Two United Methodist jurisdictions held special online sessions in recent days with an eye to The United Methodist Church's future. The Southeastern Jurisdiction approved the union of two annual conferences and the Western Jurisdiction looked at possible changes ahead, including to its number of bishops. Heather Hahn reports.
Read story

Nyadire Connection celebrates years sharing God's love
HARARE, Zimbabwe (UM News) — The Nyadire Connection, a faith-based nonprofit organization that has supported the Nyadire United Methodist Mission since 2006, is celebrating 15 years of ministry in northeastern Zimbabwe. Some 50 teams have returned to the mission over the years, with projects and programs valued at more than $5.5 million, including the construction and rehabilitation of five rural health clinics. Kudzai Chingwe has the story.
Read story

United Methodist Communications
The two Methodists who integrated baseball

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The man who integrated Major League Baseball had a little-known ally in his quest. Jackie Robinson had his Methodist faith, something he shared with Brooklyn Dodger executive Branch Rickey, who recruited him for the task. Robinson never publicly lost his composure while dealing with death threats, racial abuse and physical danger. Jim Patterson has the story.
Read story
UM News: Church TV show and Jackie Robinson

New 2021 annual conference reports posted
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UM News) — United Methodist News is posting 2021 annual conference reports. New this week are the Memphis, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oregon-Idaho and Tennessee conferences. 
Read reports

Western Pennsylvania Conference
Outdoor services build community

ELRAMA, Pa. — A very small church in a very small village (population 356) has become outward-focused and is reaching new people. Because of the pandemic, Elrama United Methodist Church began having outdoor drive-in worship services at the local fire hall's parking lot and pavilion so that its own members could come to worship, but those services became an outreach that is still growing. Gwen and Clay Kisker report in a video story.
Watch video

Northern Illinois Conference, NBC
Olympic triathlete’s church connection

AURORA, Ill. — One of the U.S. competitors in the Olympic triathlon will be a familiar face to a number of United Methodists. Kevin McDowell was in high school when he started attending Flowing Forth United Methodist Church, said his former pastor and now district superintendent, the Rev. Jeffry Bross. McDowell, 28, also has a story of triumph over cancer. Anne Marie Gerhardt has the story for the Northern Illinois Conference.
Read conference story
Read and watch NBC story on McDowell

Eastern Pennsylvania Conference
United Methodists respond to gun violence crisis

PHILADELPHIA — Gun violence is on the rise nationwide, and Philadelphia is experiencing a 34% increase in 2021, with 224 shootings in the month of June alone. Eastern Pennsylvania Bishop Peggy Johnson and other United Methodist leaders have joined ecumenical faith groups holding prayer vigils and T-shirt memorials, and calling for city leaders to increase funding for anti-violence efforts. John W. Coleman has the story.
Read story
UM News: Seeking gun violence remedies, policing reforms

Greater New Jersey Conference
Churches become partners in ministry, mission

TRENTON, N.J. — In June, Turning Point United Methodist Church, African United Methodist Church and The Village Deaf Church NJ blended their different cultures, ideas and backgrounds to become the New Hope for Trenton Parish Ministry. Their vision is to combine resources to bolster the impact they make on the community. Heather Mistretta reports.
Read story

Florida Conference
Pastor urges support for Cuban people

CAPE CORAL, Fla. — The Rev. Rinaldo "Rini" Hernandez served The Methodist Church in Cuba for 23 years before moving to Miami in 2001. The United Methodist pastor and the group Methodists United in Prayer offer ideas for how United Methodists can help the Cuban people protesting their government, starting with prayer. Joe Henderson has the story.
Read story

Minnesota Conference
Gaming camp offers creative faith-building

PARK RAPIDS, Minn. — In his 14 years, Cole Belton has never wanted to go to camp out of fear that he wouldn't be accepted. But when another teenager at his church — Park United Methodist in Brainerd — invited him to a camp for tabletop gamers, he decided to give it a try. The week was transformational for him and its positive impact stayed with him after returning home. Christa Meland has the story.
Read story

North Georgia Conference
4 lessons from the pandemic-era church

ATLANTA — Church never stopped even as the pandemic forced so many activities to pause. The Rev. Blair Boyd Zant, director of the North Georgia Conference Center for Congregational Excellence, offers four lessons that can help congregations going forward, including that church buildings should be an asset of mission.
Read lessons

Church and Society
Commentary: The right to vote matters

WASHINGTON — In light of a growing number of states introducing legislation that could make it more difficult for people to vote, Church and Society top executive the Rev. Susan Henry-Crowe is urging faith leaders to call for the passage of the For the People Act, which would expand voting rights. "People of faith see fair representation, voting rights and accountability for elected leaders as moral issues of utmost importance," she writes.
Read commentary

Florida Conference
Carpenter’s Shop brings joy to kids, seniors

LARGO, Fla. — Seniors at St. Paul United Methodist Church use their woodworking skills and enjoy fellowship while bringing smiles to children. The Carpenter’s Shop produces wooden toys that first responders and community groups distribute to kids in crisis. The quilting ministry is also involved, making quilts for the toy doll beds. Joe Henderson and Brittany Jackson have the story. 
Read story

Holston Conference
Peachy keen cookies pay for air conditioner

WEATHERFORD, Texas — Summer festivals are back this year, and a group of Texas United Methodists hoped their peach cookies would prove a big draw at the Parker County Peach Festival. The Rev. Clint Jones of Calvary United Methodist Church said the group’s cookie sales netted $2,100 for a church air conditioner and hundreds received invitations to church. Annette Spence has the story. 
Read story

Louisiana Conference
Assets of destroyed church distributed

GRAND CHENIER, La. — The third time Grand Chenier United Methodist Church was damaged by a hurricane, there was nothing left but a slab of concrete and a plaque displaying the Lord’s prayer. In the aftermath of Hurricane Laura, members decided not to rebuild and are distributing more than $200,000 in assets to United Methodist churches in the local area. 
Read story and watch video

United Methodist Communications
5 summertime giving tips

PORTLAND, Ore. — It’s a truism that church giving tends to go down as the summer temperatures go up. Cesie Delve Scheuermann, her church’s finance committee chair and a consultant in stewardship, offers five ideas to inspire summertime generosity. 
Read tips

Council of Bishops
Grants available to support ecumenism

WASHINGTON — The Council of Bishops of The United Methodist Church invites applications for the 2022 Local Initiatives Grants, which support ecumenical and interreligious work. The Council of Bishops offers three grants of $1,000 each to groups within conferences for special projects. The deadline is Sept. 17.
Read press release
To apply

Deseret News
Why some churches are done with buildings

HOUSTON — Two United Methodist churches in Texas and Florida offer examples of congregations that went virtual during the pandemic and don’t want to go back to maintaining a building. Mya Jaradat looks at whether congregations actually need buildings to build communities. 
Read story

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