Daily Digest - October 29, 2013

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"He was standing there, but what I saw was God standing there in the midst of the destruction. The outreach of The United Methodist Church has overwhelmed me. It was our lifeline." - Long Island resident talking about a United Methodist pastor who helped in the Hurricane Sandy recovery.

Hurricane Sandy: Anatomy of a disaster response

NEW YORK (UMNS) - It has been a year since Hurricane Sandy left its mark from Cuba to the upper east coast of the United States. In a report on the unceasing work of United Methodist disaster response and recovery teams, UMNS reporter Linda Bloom and photographer Mike DuBose explain why the recovery has been slow. For those who have been helped, there is gratitude, perhaps best summarized in the words of Nancy Werner, 61, of Seaford, Long Island. One day, the Rev. Jeffry Wells, pastor of Community United Methodist Church in Massapequa, stopped by and changed the lives of Werner's family. "He was standing there, but what I saw was God standing there in the midst of the destruction. The outreach of The United Methodist Church has overwhelmed me. It was our lifeline."
Read the special report

Bishop Talbert performs Alabama wedding for two men

CENTER POINT, Ala. (UMNS)-At 4:30 p.m. on Oct. 26, the doors shut out the disagreements about church law as United Methodists Joe Openshaw and Bobby Prince vowed to love each other for the rest of their lives in a wedding ceremony performed by retired Bishop Melvin G. Talbert.
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Upper New York pastor expects to face church trial

BINGHAMTON, N.Y. (UMNS) - The Rev. Stephen Heiss, a pastor in the Upper New York Annual (regional) Conference, said he expects to face a church trial on charges that he has violated the denomination's ban on clergy officiating at same-sex unions. Bishop Mark J. Webb, who leads the Upper New York Conference, announced that he has referred a complaint against Heiss to the counsel of the church, the equivalent of a prosecutor. The counsel then will determine whether enough evidence supports that Heiss has committed a chargeable offense or recommend to the bishop that the matter be dismissed.
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Top court says Texas bishop must rule on process question for lesbian clergy candidate

BALTIMORE (UMNS) - Among the decisions reached during the Judicial Council's Oct. 22-26 fall meeting was that a United Methodist bishop in southwest Texas must rule within 60 days "on the merits" of a process-related question regarding the elimination of a lesbian clergy candidate, Mary Ann Kaiser, from the ordination track. The denomination's top court also declared that a petition adopted by the 2012 Western Jurisdictional Conference suggesting a light penalty for bishops convicted of ordaining self-avowed practicing homosexuals is "null, void, and of no effect."
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Many weigh in as church sees escalating struggle over homosexuality

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) - The United Methodist Church's long controversy over homosexuality has intensified of late, because of a retired bishop's decision to perform a same-sex wedding; a pastor's imminent church trial for having performed such a ceremony and a planned protest from clergy colleagues sympathetic to that pastor; and the General Council on Finance and Administration's decision to extend benefits to same-sex spouses and domestic partners who work for general church agencies. With news of these developments have come statements and commentary from across the church, reflecting a range of views.
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Historic first meeting of African Methodist school leaders occurs in Kenya

NAIROBI, Kenya (UMNS) - More than 45 participants from 10 countries and 15 institutions of higher education gathered on the Kenya Methodist University campus in Nairobi Sept. 18-21 for the First International Conference for Educational Leadership of Methodist Universities and Institutions of Higher Education in Africa. The meeting, organized by the United Methodist Board of Higher Education and Ministry, brought the leaders together to share information, discuss possible fundraising initiatives and explore partnership opportunities.
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Ecumenical community mourns Bishop Thomas L. Hoyt Jr.

WASHINGTON (UMNS) Friends and colleagues of Bishop Thomas L. Hoyt Jr. received word of his Oct. 27 death with "deep regret and sadness." Hoyt, Senior Bishop and Presiding Prelate of the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church, was president of the National Council of Churches from 2004 to 2005. He had a long history of involvement with United Methodists through the Pan-Methodist Commission and ecumenical organizations.
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Hoyt at 2012 General Conference

Retired pastor starts house church in nursing home

ONEIDA, N.Y. (UMNS) - The Rev. Fred Jackson, 89, has started a house church at Oneida Healthcare's Extended Care Facility, where he's lived for about a year. Beth DiCocco of the Upper New York Annual (regional) Conference shares his story.
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