Friday Digest - May 7, 2021

“In times of crisis, the way we make it through is by coming together. The Methodist connection has served as our biggest asset during this pandemic.” The Rev. Dorlimar Lebrón Malavé, pastor of First Spanish United Methodist Church in New York City.

TODAY'S HEADLINES

Ethnic churches collaborate to feed neighbors
NEW YORK (UM News) — Recognizing the seriousness of food shortages in the local community since the COVID-19 pandemic began, many ethnic churches have initiated food ministries that are still going strong. The Rev. Thomas E. Kim has the story.
Read story 

Missouri Conference
Clergywomen answer call to motherhood
COLUMBIA, Mo. — Three female pastors of the Missouri Conference have shared their experiences of becoming mothers to needy children through foster care or adoption. Fred Koenig reports. 
Read story 

United Methodist Communications
Hymn's 'sweet, sweet Spirit'-filled origins
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — One choir director’s insistence that her singers weren’t “prayed up enough” resulted in a beloved United Methodist hymn. A favorite since being added to the United Methodist Hymnal in 1989, “Sweet, Sweet Spirit” has become a staple during the greeting time in worship. Crystal Caviness reports on the song’s history.
Read story 

Holston Conference
Sunday dinner for 37 grannies
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — With simple and large-type recipes, Concord United Methodist Church makes it easy for volunteers to join in meal preparations. On a recent Sunday, the mission was to prepare dinner for the 37 “grannies” served by Wesley House Community Center. Annette Spence has the story in her blog Call2Cook.
Read story 

PRESS RELEASES

Central Texas Conference
Bishop Lowry announces retirement
FORT WORTH, Texas — Bishop Mike Lowry, leader of the Central Texas Conference, has announced his intent to retire, effective Jan. 1, 2022. Lowry is the longest-tenured bishop in the history of the Fort Worth Episcopal Area, having led the area since his election in 2008.
Read press release 
South Georgia Conference: Bishop Bryan announces retirement 

World Council of Churches, Christian Conference of Asia 
Pastoral letter offers support to India
GENEVA — The World Council of Churches and Christian Conference of Asia are speaking out in support of churches in India that are facing a surge in COVID-19 cases. A letter of “concern, grief and prayerful solidarity” was released May 5. Both organizations, which have Methodist denominations as members, were also observing May 7 as a day of prayer and fasting for India’s healing.
Read letter

RESOURCES

The Liberation Project
Online event focuses on Asian American justice
BOSTON — For Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, the Liberation Project will have an online roundtable titled “AAPI Justice in the Age of BLM.” The United Methodist discussion will deal with efforts to build solidarity among Black, Asian and other ethnic communities. The discussion is scheduled for 7 p.m. U.S. Eastern time May 10 on Facebook.
To watch 

EVENTS

Sunday, May 30
Peace with Justice Sunday

Sunday, June 6-Friday, July 16
Online course: Connecting with Military Families


TOP STORIES FROM THE WEEK

Grants go to fight COVID-19 pandemic in India
ATLANTA (UM News) — The escalating COVID-19 crisis in India will be addressed by The United Methodist Church through grants to entities there that have partnered in the past with the United Methodist Committee on Relief. Daily, India is suffering more than 3,000 COVID-19 deaths and recording more than 300,000 new cases. Jim Patterson reports.
Read story  

Holocaust research leads to spiritual journey
KINGSPORT, Tenn. (UM News) — Telling the stories of Jewish musicians who tried to bring hope to Nazi Germany concentration camps and ghettos has led musician Kellie D. Brown in a new direction: She's training for the ministry. Jim Patterson reports, with photos by Mike DuBose.
Read story  

WCA plans for new denomination 
MONTGOMERY, Ala. (UM News) — The Wesleyan Covenant Association held a large in-person and online meeting April 30-May 1, continuing to plan for a new, traditionalist Methodist denomination and passing a resolution criticizing three United Methodist bishops for recent appointment-making decisions. Sam Hodges reports.
Read story   

Judicial Council releases more decisions
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UM News) — New rulings released May 5 by The United Methodist Church's top court include five decisions related to the Greater New Jersey Conference. Working through pandemic restrictions, the Judicial Council has been deliberating on an extended docket via multiple Zoom meetings. Linda Bloom reports.
Read story   
UM News: Court won't rule in advance on protocol legislation   

Church leaders urge stronger pandemic response
MANILA, Philippines (UM News) — Amid increasing COVID-19-related cases and deaths, the Philippines United Methodist Board of Church and Society is urging government action and coherent direction. Gladys P. Mangiduyos reports.
Read story   

Oregon-Idaho Conference
Church property returned to Nez Perce
WALLOWA, Ore. — In a ceremony of friendship and repentance, the Oregon-Idaho Conference returned Wallowa United Methodist Church to the Nez Perce people. The Nez Perce, also known as Nimíipuu, are exploring multiple uses for the property, which sits on their ancestral land. Kristen Caldwell has the story.
Read story   

Connectional Table, United Methodist Communications
2020 State of Church Report released
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The United Methodist Church has continued to carry out its mission despite the challenges and uncertainties of 2020. That's according to the new 2020 State of the Church Report produced by the Connectional Table and United Methodist Communications, themed "Blessed Is the Church." The report features a video message from four bishops.
Read press release   
Read report and watch video  

Claremont School of Theology
Seminary carries on after court decision
CLAREMONT, Calif. — The California Supreme Court has declined to review an appellate court decision unfavorable to Claremont School of Theology in its effort to get fair market value for its property, should it sell to neighbor Claremont Colleges. The United Methodist seminary's president, the Rev. Kah-Jin Jeffrey Kuan, called the development "disappointing." But he noted record enrollment numbers and said the seminary would continue to offer "transforming theological education" both in Claremont and at Willamette University in Salem, Oregon.
Read press release  

Christmas Covenant
A call to prayer and remembrance
HARARE, Zimbabwe — Central conference and U.S. leaders will participate in a virtual prayer service on May 8 to remember lives lost to the pandemic, pray for the sick and lift up the justice and compassion ministries of The United Methodist Church. Bishops Cynthia Fierro Harvey, Rodolfo Juan, Christian Alsted, Harald Rückert and James Swanson are among those taking part. The service will be livestreamed on the Christmas Covenant’s Facebook page and YouTube channel.
Read press release   
Watch livestream   

Great Plains Conference
Kansas church is old hand at outdoor services
LENEXA, Kan. — Many United Methodist churches have given outdoor worship a try in the COVID-19 pandemic. Lenexa United Methodist Church, near Kansas City, is marking its 35th year of holding warm-weather worship services in a nearby park. David Burke reports.
Read story   

United Methodist Communications
Agency report showcases power of communication
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — United Methodist Communications spent its 80th anniversary year providing resources for church leaders as they grappled with the twin pandemics of COVID-19 and racial injustice. The agency's 2020 annual report highlights that work.
Read press release  
Read annual report  

Commentary: Online communion should not be here to stay
ATLANTA (UM News) — While administering communion online was necessary due to the coronavirus, seminary student Chase Crickenberger feels it should be suspended once churches can meet in person again. The church would risk further marginalizing shut-ins and others by denying them a physical experience of the Body of Christ, he writes.
Read commentary 

Black Methodists for Church Renewal
Virtual Harambee youth event planned
HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. — Harambee, which means "Let's come together," is a U.S. youth event organized by Black Methodists for Church Renewal. This year, with COVID-19 still hindering mass gatherings, the Southeastern Jurisdiction's BMCR group has organized a virtual event for youth ages 12-18 on June 25-26.
Learn about event   
To register   

Greater New Jersey Conference
Soul Café feeds body, mind and spirit
MAGNOLIA, N.J. — In the three years since it began, the one constant at Soul Café Supper & Service has been adapting to change. The ministry of Magnolia United Methodist Church began as a community food pantry and worship service, but has branched out into helping neighbors with home repairs, distributing books and performing baptisms. Heather Mistretta reports.
Read story   

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Daily Digest - June 15, 2021

Groups help alleviate hunger in Zimbabwe; Ask The UMC: Is our time of death predetermined?; Church stretches outreach to India

Daily Digest - June 14, 2021

Cicadas show up for church, testing clergy; Bishop Taylor to retire; Church hosts memorial for Pulse victims

Daily Digest - June 11, 2021

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