Friday Digest - May 14, 2021

“This pandemic has paralyzed several activities of the church, but we will have to continue to help the Congolese government in the awareness component in order to eradicate this pandemic.” East Congo Bishop Gabriel Yemba Unda.


Church leaders urge COVID-19 vaccines in Congo 
BUKAVU, Congo (UM News) — With a downward trend continuing in church attendance, finances and evangelism efforts due to the pandemic, church leaders are encouraging members, especially those living with underlying conditions, to agree to be vaccinated against COVID-19. Philippe Kituka Lolonga reports. 
Read story

National Justice for Our Neighbors
Helping a young asylum seeker
SOMERSET, Ky. — Eitan was only 7 years old when his grandmother sent him from his native Guatemala to be with his parents in Kentucky, fleeing from increasing danger. After several months, he was reunited with his parents but faced navigating the complex asylum system in order to stay. The Neighbors Immigration Clinic, part of the United Methodist immigration ministry Justice for Our Neighbors, was able to step in and help.
Read story 

Greater New Jersey Conference
Conference reports on designated fund use
NEPTUNE, N.J. — Recently, Greater New Jersey Conference’s financial leaders organized an independent team to identify how $13 million in designated program funds was used to underwrite congregations’ health and property insurance. The conference’s Council on Finance and Administration has released the team’s report and plans to bring an action plan to annual conference on May 24-25. 
Read team report 
Read Bishop John Schol’s letter 


Western Jurisdiction
Western Jurisdiction to meet July 17 online
DES MOINES, Wash. — The Western Jurisdiction College of Bishops has called a special session of the jurisdictional conference to be held virtually July 17. The purpose is to approve bishops’ requests for retirement and to determine the number of bishops to be elected at the next regular jurisdictional conference, now scheduled for Nov. 2-5, 2022.
Read press release 
UM News: Bishops say no episcopal elections until 2022 


Monday, May 24-Tuesday, May 25
Greater New Jersey Annual Conference  

Friday, May 28-Saturday, May 29
Great Plains Annual Conference   


Churches get COVID-19 vaccines to thousands
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (UM News) — Fifteen United Methodist churches in Charlotte have launched an effort to be a trusted place for vaccinations in a community that may lack access or be hesitant. Joey Butler reports, with photos by Mike DuBose.
Read story  

Europeans make plans for separation
COPENHAGEN, Denmark (UM News) — United Methodists in Europe are beginning to make plans for what happens under a proposal to separate the denomination. Ultimately, the continent's four bishops expect the church's map to look very different. Heather Hahn reports.
Read story

Bishops’ election plans draw mixed reaction
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UM News) — Many General Conference delegates praised the bishops for retracting an earlier recommendation of a four-year hold on episcopal elections. But some still have misgivings about delaying elections until 2022. Heather Hahn reports.
Read story   

Publishing House sees rebound
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UM News) —  The United Methodist Publishing House was hit hard by the pandemic as churches, unable to meet in person, slowed or halted orders of curriculum materials. But with COVID-19 case numbers down in the U.S., the self-supporting agency is seeing sales bounce back. The Publishing House also has reached a purchase agreement for its Nashville headquarters. Sam Hodges reports.
Read story   

Georgia group questions bishop in full-page ad
ATLANTA (UM News) — An anonymous group of North Georgia Conference laity placed a full-page ad in May 9’s Atlanta Journal-Constitution with an open letter to Bishop Sue Haupert-Johnson seeking answers around the appointment dispute at Mt. Bethel United Methodist Church, LGBTQ inclusion and the future of the church. Heather Hahn reports.
Read story  

Greater New Jersey Conference
Church leaders fight school segregation
NEPTUNE, N.J. — In 2019, Bishop John Schol and leaders from the Greater New Jersey Conference stood with other organizations to file a lawsuit against the state of New Jersey and the Board of Education to desegregate the state’s public schools. As they await a ruling later this year, the conference is working with other desegregation advocates to end the huge disparities in New Jersey’s educational system, one of the most segregated in the nation. Heather Mistretta reports. 
Read story 

Illinois Great Rivers Conference
Bishop Beard plans medical leave
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — Bishop Frank J. Beard, who leads the Illinois Great Rivers Conference, will take medical leave, effective July 1, to care for his eyesight. Bishop Gregory V. Palmer, who formerly led the conference in 2008-2012, will serve as interim bishop and continue to lead the West Ohio Conference. Beard said he plans to return Jan. 1 “to lead with or without eyesight.” Paul Black has the story.
Read story   
Read Bishop Beard's ‘Vision and Sight’ column  

New 2021 annual conference reports posted
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UM News) — United Methodist News is posting 2021 annual conference reports. New this week are the Hungary Provisional and Liberia conferences.
Read reports   

South Carolina Conference
South Carolinians help eye care in Guatemala
QUETZALTENANGO, Guatemala — About 350 Guatemalan men and women can see more clearly now thanks to the efforts of a United Methodist medical mission there. Jessica Brodie writes about the "Cataract Camp" organized by a clinic supported by the South Carolina Conference.
Read story     

Michigan Conference
Church serves African French speakers
LANSING, Mich. — A growing church in Birmingham, Michigan, caters to African immigrants who speak French. The French United Methodist Church of the African Diaspora meets at the Embury United Methodist Church building. John E. Harnish reports.
Read story  
Finding purpose as a deaconess   

United Methodist Communications
Celebrate Peace with Justice Sunday
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Peace with Justice Sunday is May 30. This Special Sunday offering helps the church strengthen its capacity to advocate publicly in communities and nations throughout the world. The United Methodist Board of Church and Society administers the offering, which supports grants benefitting peace with justice ministries in conferences and around the world.
Download resources   

Archives and History
Racism workbook released for Heritage Sunday
MADISON, N.J. — A workbook on racism in The United Methodist Church is available for Heritage Sunday on May 23, published by United Methodist Archives and History. Heritage Sunday is a day for United Methodists to reflect on church history and commit themselves to the continuing call of God.
Read press release   
Download workbook (PDF)   

Commentary: Is church separation a good or bad idea? 
ABIDJAN, Côte d’Ivoire (UM News) — The Rev. Dr. Jean Claude Masuka Maleka, a missionary in Côte d’Ivoire, said that separation in the church could affect Africa more than any other continent, and United Methodists must work to keep the unity of the Body of Christ. “The American church should resolve the issue without including Africans in the debate of traditionalists or centrists,” he writes.
Read commentary   

Three bishops announce retirement
HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. — Three bishops announced their plans for retirement this week. Bishops Paul L. Leeland of the Western North Carolina Conference and Hope Morgan Ward of the North Carolina Conference said they intend to retire Sept. 1. Bishop Bob Hoshibata, who leads the Desert Southwest Conference, plans to retire Oct. 1.
Read Bishop Leeland’s announcement 
Read Bishop Ward’s announcement 
Read Bishop Hoshibata’s announcement 

United Methodist Communications
5 reasons why smaller numbers may be better
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — COVID-19 has left many churches worrying about how to increase attendance. Could smaller in-person worship lead to more engaged members and a more inviting environment for visitors? Tricia K. Brown writes about five reasons bigger isn’t always better.
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

Churches have a role in overcoming vaccine hesitancy; Where is John Wesley's birthplace?; Top stories from the week