Emily McFarlan Miller writes for the Religion News Service.

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Methodists Nominate 3 Openly Gay Candidates for Bishop

by Emily McFarlan Miller 06-29-2016

Image via Emily McFarlan Miller / RNS

At its quadrennial meeting last month, the United Methodist Church decided not to take up contentious LGBT issues. But that’s not stopping its regional conferences from making decisions on their own.

Two U.S. jurisdictions will consider three openly gay candidates for bishop next month.

Could Trump's Political Salvation Come from Christian Conservatives?

Bill Dallas, head of United in Purpose and a chief organizer of the summit, said the encounter with Trump was “overwhelming” and “exceeded our expectations on many levels.” RNS photo by David Gibson

Donald Trump’s flagging presidential bid is enjoying a boost of that old-time religion after conservative Christian leaders gave the candidate high praise and standing ovations at a critical closed-door meeting that one observer described as a “campaign rally.”

7 Conservative Christians Who Are Not Supporting Trump

by Emily McFarlan Miller 06-21-2016

Image via REUTERS/Stephen Lam/RNS

Heading into Donald Trump’s meeting with hundreds of conservative Christian leaders, mostly evangelicals, in New York on June 21, it was clear not all Christians have lined up behind him.

Not even all traditionally conservative evangelicals.

Former Mars Hill Church Elder Moves to Dismiss Lawsuit Against Him

by Emily McFarlan Miller 06-17-2016

Mark Driscoll with family. Image via Mars Hill Church / RNS

Former Mars Hill Church elder Sutton Turner has filed a motion to dismiss the civil racketeering lawsuit brought against him and former pastor Mark Driscoll by four former members of the now-defunct Seattle church.

That’s because, Turner said, he never was served with the lawsuit, which the state of Washington reportedly requires within 90 days.

Neither Coronation Nor Inquisition Expected When Trump Meets Evangelicals

by Emily McFarlan Miller 06-16-2016

Image via REUTERS/Jonathan Drake/RNS

When presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump meets behind closed doors next week with conservative Christians from across the country, no one expects a coronation.

But neither will there be an inquisition, according to organizers.

Here's How Some Christian Leaders Responded to the Orlando Massacre

by Emily McFarlan Miller 06-13-2016

A woman takes a photo at a makeshift memorial the day after a mass shooting at the Pulse gay nightclub in Orlando, Fla., on June 13. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri

Christians responded quickly to the shooting rampage at an LGBT nightclub in Orlando, Fla.

The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association immediately sent trained chaplains with the Billy Graham Rapid Response Team to Orlando to offer emotional and spiritual care to victims of the attack early Sunday at Pulse. The Washington National Cathedral tolled its mourning bell 50 times Monday morning for the lives lost.

Minnesota Churches Wish Muslim Neighbors a 'Blessed Ramadan'

by Emily McFarlan Miller 06-07-2016

Image via Wendy Gustofson / RNS

The sign in front of the building reads “Blessed Ramadan.”

But the building isn’t a mosque or Islamic Center — it’s Pilgrim Congregational Church, a United Church of Christ congregation in Duluth, Minn.

Episcopal Clergy Go Orange Against Gun Violence

by Emily McFarlan Miller 05-31-2016

Image via Rev. Jeff Bunke / RNS

Orange isn’t a traditional liturgical color in the Episcopal Church.

But on Sunday, June 5, Episcopal clergy across the country are planning to wear orange stoles as a stand against gun violence, inspired by the Wear Orange campaign.

For UFO Enthusiasts at Oregon Convention, 'It's All Extraterrestrial'

by Emily McFarlan Miller 05-25-2016

Image via Emily McFarlan Miller / RNS

Jan Woods believes.

She’s sure she saw a UFO back in 1978 when she was living in Nevada, something she spotted in the sky that was so amazing, she said, she had to pull her car over by the side of the road.

Methodist Conference Seen as Confusing Even to God

by Emily McFarlan Miller 05-23-2016

Image via Emily McFarlan Miller / RNS

The debate — over how to debate the rules — became so convoluted that at one point Missouri delegate Margie Briggs called for prayer and said:

“I believe we are confusing God at this point.”

African Methodists Worry About the Church That Brought Them Christianity

by Emily McFarlan Miller 05-20-2016

Image via Mike DuBose / UMNS / RNS

The Rev. Jerry Kulah has nothing but gratitude for the United Methodist Church.

In 1833, American Methodists sent their first missionary to his country, Liberia, which was founded for freed American slaves. Melville B. Cox died four months after he arrived in Africa, but the missionary’s legacy lives on in the United Methodist Church’s fastest-growing region, and in his words to his own church back in North Carolina: “Let a thousand fall before Africa be given up.”

Methodists Postpone Debate of Gay Issues That Could Split Denomination

by Emily McFarlan Miller 05-20-2016

Image via Emily McFarlan Miller / RNS

Amid protest, song, and fears of a denominational breakup, United Methodists at their quadrennial General Conference decided yet again not to decide anything regarding LGBT rights.

But in a groundbreaking move, the delegates from the U.S. and abroad voted 428-405 on May 18 to allow the church’s Council of Bishops to appoint a commission to discuss whether to accept same-sex marriage or ordain LGBT clergy.

Methodist Leader Acknowledges Struggle to Maintain UMC Unity

by Emily McFarlan Miller 05-18-2016

The United Methodist Church is struggling to maintain unity amid deep divisions over Scripture and sexuality, the presiding bishop of America’s second-largest Protestant denomination acknowledged.

Methodists Reject Alternative Format for LGBT Discussions

by Emily McFarlan Miller 05-13-2016

Bishop Elaine Stanovksy (left) receives Communion from activists Sue Laurie (right) and Julie Bruno. Image via Mike DuBose / UMNS / RNS

Delegates to the United Methodist Church General Conference shot down a strategy that would have allowed them to discuss contentious legislation in small groups.

Should Pastors Make a Comeback After Scandal?

by Emily McFarlan Miller 05-11-2016

It’s a story as familiar to small, neighborhood churches as it is to large megachurches, though those are the ones that grab headlines.

Hillary Clinton: 'We Need to Make Countering BDS a Priority'

by Emily McFarlan Miller 05-09-2016

Image via REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson/RNS

On the eve of her religious denomination’s quadrennial meeting, Hillary Clinton wrote a letter to Jewish agency heads saying she opposes the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanction movement targeting Israel, which the meeting will consider.

“I believe that BDS seeks to punish Israel and dictate how the Israelis and Palestinians should resolve the core issues of their conflict. This is not the path to peace,” Clinton wrote in a letter May 9 to David Sherman, chair of the Israel Action Network, and Susan K. Stern, vice chair of the Jewish Federations of North America.

6 Things to Watch at the Methodist General Conference

by Emily McFarlan Miller 05-09-2016

Portland, Ore. Image via REUTERS/Richard Clement/RNS

The United Methodist Church General Conference convenes once every four years to make policy decisions and set the direction for the denomination.

Beginning May 10, 864 delegates, half of them clergy, will converge on the Oregon Convention Center in Portland for 10 days for the General Conference. More than 40 percent of those delegates will come from outside the U.S.

Liberty University Board Member Resigns Over Trump Endorsement

by Emily McFarlan Miller 05-06-2016

Image via RNS.

DeMoss told The Washington Post two months ago that the Republican front-runner’s insult-laden campaign has been a flagrant rejection of the values Falwell Sr. espoused and Liberty promotes on its campus.

In late April, the executive committee of Liberty’s board of trustees had voted to ask DeMoss to resign from the board’s executive committee, which he chaired, according to a statement he made to Patheos blogger Warren Throckmorton. Days later, on April 25, DeMoss decided to step down from the board as well, citing “a concern about a lack of trust.”

Methodist General Conference to Discuss LGBT Issues—Again

by Emily McFarlan Miller 05-06-2016

Image via RNS.

“It’s time,” said the Rev. A. Wendy Witt during Sunday services at First United Methodist Church at the Chicago Temple.

Time to open the doors of the church to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, that is.

First United Methodist is one of the more than 750 congregations within the United Methodist Church that form the Reconciling Ministries Network, dedicated to including LGBT people in a denomination that bars them from ordination and does not allow its ministers to officiate same-sex weddings.

Ewan McGregor Explores the Humanness of Jesus

by Emily McFarlan Miller 05-04-2016

Ewan McGregor in Last Days in the Desert. Image via Sundance Institute / RNS

“Daunting” is one word Ewan McGregor used about stepping into the role of Jesus in the new film Last Days in the Desert.

“Freaked out” is another way he described his feelings about the task, McGregor said.