Conference Blog


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 ...


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 ...

More Than Meets the Eye

By Brian Bauknight


I don’t know if Jesus was born in Bethlehem. Or not.  I don’t know if there really was a Roman world census at that time.  Or not. I don’t know if a man named Quirinius was governor of Syria at that time. Or not.  I don’t know if angels sang for all to hear in the night sky or if a blazing star really shone over Jesus’ birthplace.  Or not.  I don’t know how much Mary really understood as she “pondered” the events in her heart. This, I do know: There is more to this child whose birth we celebrate...

The Labyrinth

By Chris Kindle


Anyone who has been to the Conference Center in the last month or so may have noticed work being done at the back of the property.  I am excited to share with you what was being constructed. About two years ago Bishop Bickerton shared with Jessica Gamache, our camping coordinator, and I a vision for a labyrinth at the Conference Center. He saw the need for an area devoted to more than business or busyness, a vision to add a sacred space. A space where visitors to the conference center would be ...

Trusting God's Abundance

By Brian Bauknight


We live in a time of unimaginable abundance.  We do not always see it; but abundance is always present.  Perhaps we are experiencing in America the greatest abundance the world has ever known. This is a time of amazing plenty. Yet we live as though scarcity will be the rule.  We fear scarcity.  We read our Bibles with one eye on the daily Wall Street numbers.  We pray for just $1,000 more each month or even each year. As the slick catalogues arrive in the mail every day between now and ...

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