Daily Digest - March 24, 2023

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“We thank God for sparing our lives. We believe the same God will help us surface from the rubbles of Cyclone Freddy.”The Rev. Maria Joao Budula, a United Methodist district superintendent in Mozambique.


Church responds after cyclone batters Africa

MAPUTO, Mozambique (UM News) — Cyclone Freddy ping-ponged along the southeastern coast of Africa in late February and early March, hitting Madagascar, Mozambique and Malawi. The record-breaking storm’s duration was at least 36 days, killing more than 600 people. United Methodists are reaching out to survivors as recovery continues. The Rev. João Filimone Sambo reports.
Read story
Read World Council of Churches letter of solidarity 

Alabama-West Florida Conference
Pastor simultaneously serves church and country

TAYLOR, Ala. — For one pastor and local church, not even 4,500 miles can keep them apart. During the past few months, the Rev. Craig Bailey has been preaching and teaching at Tabernacle United Methodist Church every Sunday and Wednesday as he serves on active duty as an Army Reserve chaplain in Alaska. The conference has the story.
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Missouri Conference
Traditionalists aren’t all leaving
COLUMBIA, Mo. — Some traditionalist leaders in the Missouri Conference are moving toward disaffiliation, but others are not. Fred Koenig spoke with four who remain committed to The United Methodist Church. One is the Rev. Lee Porch, who compared his covenant with the denomination to a marriage covenant. “You won’t always agree on everything in a marriage, but that doesn’t mean the covenant isn’t valid,” Porch said.
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Greater New Jersey Conference
Church holds lament for COVID’s devastation

WESTFIELD, N.J. — Three years after the World Health Organization declared the COVID-19 pandemic, Westfield’s First United Methodist Church held a service of lament for the deaths and other losses caused by the disease. The Rev. Alison V. Philip, senior pastor, also preached about where she sees God at work even in times of sorrow. John W. Coleman reports. 
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New England Conference
Bishop explores church debates in memoir

METHUEN, Mass. — Bishop Peggy A. Johnson, interim episcopal leader of the New England Conference, has released a memoir, “The Ever-Expansive Spirit of God: For All Who Feel Left Out.” In the book, she explores many of the church’s debates by sharing her story as a bishop of the church, wife of a transgender woman and mother of a gay son. Proceeds benefit Christ Deaf United Methodist Church in Baltimore. Beth DiCocco has the story.
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Pre-order book 


National Council of Churches in the Philippines
Philippines churches call for human rights

GENEVA — A representative of the National Council of Churches in the Philippines told the United Nations of continuing human rights violations under the Ferdinand Marcos Jr. government. Council members also are alarmed that human rights defenders, including church people and humanitarian workers, are targeted under the country’s anti-terrorism and related laws.
Read press release
California-Nevada Conference
Asian American caucus to hold festival

SAN JOSE, Calif. — The Asian American Caucus of the California-Nevada Conference plans to host a cultural festival at 10:30 a.m. U.S. Pacific time March 25 at Peace United Methodist Church in San Jose. Interim Bishop Sally Dyck will be featured as the special guest.
Read press release 


Monday, March 27-Friday, April 7

Online course: Becoming Accountable Disciples

Monday, April 10-Friday, May 5
Online course: 12 Secrets for a Top-Notch Church Website


Native immersion explores culture, horrors

CLINTON, Okla. (UM News) — A group of nearly 30 students, United Methodist church members and pastors toured central Oklahoma to learn about the culture and history of Native Americans. The Oklahoma Indian Missionary Conference Immersion Experience included tours of museums, modest United Methodist Indian churches and battlefields/massacre sites. Among the speakers was a child psychologist who spoke about the abuse suffered by Native American children at boarding schools. Jim Patterson has the story.
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Methodists work to preserve border park
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UM News) — Friends of Friendship Park, led by the Rev. John Fanestil, a United Methodist pastor, continues to defend the preservation of the San Diego park, located on the border between Mexico and the U.S. Supporters say the park is at risk of being seriously affected by construction of 30-foot-high walls that hinder the vision and access to those on both sides. The Rev. Gustavo Vasquez reports. 
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Court rules on General Conference questions
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UM News) — The United Methodist Church’s top court released a decision about the long-delayed General Conference, now set for 2024. The Judicial Council addressed bishops’ questions about how to deal with delegate vacancies and whether another General Conference must be scheduled before 2028. Heather Hahn reports.
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Church installs Christian recording studio in Congo
LUBUMBASHI, Congo (UM News) — A longtime dream became a reality for church choirs and directors in the South Congo Conference. With financial support from Connexio, the missional network of the Evangelical Methodist Church, The United Methodist Church installed an audio recording studio in the conference. Bishop Owan Kasap invited choir members to use the new resource and help sustain it. John Kaumba has the story.
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Eurasia and Estonia begin exit from church
COPENHAGEN, Denmark (UM News) — Church regions stretching across Russia, Belarus, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan and Estonia have begun the process of leaving The United Methodist Church. The Northern Europe and Eurasia Central Conference has approved the departures moving forward. Heather Hahn reports. 
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Commentary: When the poor share what they have
ZURICH (UM News) — An agricultural program initiated by The United Methodist Church in Albania to help those struggling economically led to an inspiring act of charity. Those involved in the farming project in the Albanian Mokra mountains barely have enough to live on and yet they were thinking about their struggling neighbors in North Macedonia, writes Urs Schweizer of the Central Conference of Central and Southern Europe. “They shared from the little they have, setting a strong sign of cross-border solidarity, love and hope.”
Read commentary

Western North Carolina Conference
Exiting churches’ lawsuit dismissed

HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. —  North Carolina Superior Court Judge Richard L. Doughton issued an oral ruling March 20, dismissing a lawsuit against the Western North Carolina Conference and its leaders brought by 36 churches seeking to exit the denomination without the financial obligations of the denomination’s disaffiliation policy. The Western North Carolina Conference has issued a statement saying the churches may leave the denomination using the process in the Book of Discipline, the denomination’s law book. The National Center for Life and Liberty, which represents the churches, is appealing the dismissal. 
Read conference statement

Louisiana  Conference 
Judge sides with conference in disaffiliation suit

BATON ROUGE, La. — A state district court judge on March 23 ruled that the Louisiana Conference is protected by the U.S. Constitutional guarantee of the separation of church and state in a lawsuit brought by a group of retired United Methodist pastors. The plaintiffs sued the Louisiana Conference and its board of trustees to force a change in the way the church is handling the process by which local churches can leave The United Methodist Church. The retired pastors also asked the courts to stop pending votes from local churches wanting to disaffiliate. The plaintiffs were given 30 days to amend or appeal.
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