Conference Blog


Decide to Abide

By Brian Bauknight


I have never tried to grow grapes.  When we purchased our small farm property in 2007, there was about an acre of mature grape vines.  My first impulse was to harvest grapes and make my own wine.  After reading some manuals on wine-making, I decided that was much too complicated.  Too much trial and error.  The next Spring the grape vines were removed.   Grapes receive a lot of attention in the geography of Biblical times.  Everyone who owned property grew grapes.  The Old Testament is full of ...

What We See

By Susan Moudry


I love Groundhog Day.  I don’t know why.  It’s probably that it speaks to an inner childlike, silly nature.  In fact, this year I declared that since we were back in PA we needed to watch the ceremony on TV and “celebrate.”  (I’m not sure my husband knew what to do with that.)  But this year, as I watched the celebrations, I noticed the men in their tuxedos and top hats who are part of the Groundhog Club's Inner Circle.  I noticed that they were all men, that they were all white men.  And I ...

Flint's Water: An Environmental Disaster

By Dianne Glave


In Flint, Michigan, a city with a predominately African-American population where 41 percent of residents live below the poverty level, the public learned last October that lead levels in the water supply are dangerously high. Since then United Methodists in the area have been doing what they can to address the crisis. Now Michigan Area Bishop Deborah Kiesey has issued a wider appeal. Dianne Glave addresses issues of implicit bias in this post, first published on her environmental blog Rooted in...

Black Lives Matter vs All Lives Matter?

By Chris Kindle


When I first heard that presidential candidate Martin O’Malley was booed off of the stage at a political rally for making the statement that all lives matter, I have to admit, I was angry. I didn’t understand how that statement could be misunderstood. You matter. I matter. UMNS Photo  We all matter. Right? Whether the life in question is black or white or any shade in-between, they all matter. Can’t we just agree and move on? At the Conference Center, the staff has entered into an ...

Called to Serve – Blessed to Remember…

By WPa United Methodist Women


A few weeks ago, six United Methodist Women from WPA climbed into a rented van and drove nine hours to a United Methodist Retreat Center in Lake Junaluska, North Carolina for Leadership Development Days.  We had plenty of time during our drive to share stories and get to know each other.  As we moved through West Virginia we learned that Sharon Stollings had roots there.  Sharon lived up that road when she was growing up; her uncle has his farm up that road; her husband, Gene, owned land back ...


By Brian Bauknight


In the waning months of 2015 and early 2016, a number of the presidential candidates as well as print columnists spoke and wrote in strident terms about the “military might” of America.  They fervently maintain that we must always be about strengthening our military.  Many of them disparage the apparent lessening of military emphases over the past 5-10 years. For some, “making America great again” means reclaiming our presumed military might over the rest of the world.   How does a Christian ...

Having the Hard Conversations

By Greg Cox


I’ve come to believe over the past few months that conversations about race and racism cannot take place in 140 characters. In some social media platforms such as Twitter, you have limited space.  You can’t say it all.   Emotion and detail cannot be fleshed out.  Certain conversations about racism demand that we sit with one another and wrestle with what it means to be in community. Over the last year, many of our staff and many within the annual conference have been wrestling with the issues ...

Gaining Perspective on Racism

By Roger White


In reading the January 2016 Joyful Noise feature article (MLK Day:  A Call to Action) I was particularly struck by the following paragraph: “One of the challenges of their [the Conference Anti-Racism Team] work is a response that is common among whites in Western Pennsylvania:  I don’t encounter people of color, so there is nothing I can do.”   As a white male, while I understand this reaction, I also believe that it is indicative of a lack of understanding, awareness and recognition of the ...

The Energy of Light

By Brian Bauknight


We currently have five hens and two roosters on our farm property.  For many months, we received enough fresh eggs from those five hens for two families.  Usually 3 or 4 eggs per day.  We almost never purchased any eggs at the local store. Then, sometime around the end of September, the eggs stopped coming.  The hens seemed fine.  I still fed them “egg layer” food daily.  But no eggs.  Or very rarely one or two.  Was it old age? Was it “chicken change of life?”  Was it something I said or did ...

How Will You Approach Christmas?

By Brian Bauknight


Will you come to Christmas as a Magi or a shepherd this year?  The Magi seemed to be learned men, well educated for their time. They seemed to know a lot about their world.  They followed star faithfully, laboriously across the wilderness.  The shepherds were different.  They had simple hearts. They were open to the Divine.  They embodied enthusiastic wonder and awe.  They sensed divinity in what they heard and saw. Which are you this year?  Magi or shepherd?   Probably more the former than the ...

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