WPA Student Elected to UMW National Board

published 6/23/2016
Denise Nicole Stone, a college student who has been attending United Methodist Women gatherings for her entire life, has been elected to the Board of Directors of the 800,000-member women’s mission organization. At age 19, she will be the youngest member of the newly structured 25-member national board.   In a sense, Denise’s election demonstrates the success of one of organization’s area of emphasis: to equip and involve young women in leadership at all levels.   “I am honored to have been ...

We'll Miss You, Bishop Bickerton!

published 6/21/2016
By Sara Richardson MAP dining hall was full of bright faces and laughter Sunday morning, June 12, as annual conference members enjoyed breakfast before the ordination service. The service marked a beginning for the newly ordained, but also a bittersweet end as we prepare to say goodbye to Bishop Bickerton. Reflecting on what they would miss most about the Bishop, many breakfast-goers mentioned his personable nature. “Oh, how would I word it?” one member from the Butler district said. “Hugs. ...

Annual Conference Wrap-Up

published 6/15/2016
The 2016 Western Pennsylvania Annual Conference, held June 9-12 at Grove City College, focused on practical ways for those on the Road to Discipleship to reach out and engage new people in new places. Highlights included the teaching of the Rev. Adam Hamilton, commissioning and ordination of new clergy, and celebrations of Bishop Thomas J. Bickerton’s leadership over the past 12 years.   Twenty-two women and men were commissioned and received as provisional members. Eight were ordained as elders...

Churches Remember Orlando Victims

published 6/15/2016
Western Pennsylvania United Methodist churches are offering services and opportunities for prayer, reflection and remembrance for those affected by the mass killing in Orlando, Florida last weekend.   In California, PA, about 30 individuals gathered on the front steps of the California United Methodist Church on Tuesday, June 14 and prayed for acceptance of LGBT people and for those killed and wounded in Sunday's bar shooting in Orlando, Florida.   “We will gather to remember and mourn those ...

Youth Ministry Team Presents Awards

published 6/15/2016
The lights went low and a familiar theme began to play during Annual Conference as members of the Conference Youth Ministry Team rushed the stage with dark robes and bright lightsabers Saturday afternoon. “The Light Side” finished off “The Dark Side” before joining the group on stage to present reports and awards. Josh Kennedy presented the award for Youth Worker of the Year, chosen from leaders nominated by local churches. “The reality is that there are many gifted and passionate people who...

New Clergy "Offer Hope to a Crushed World"

published 6/13/2016
By Sara Richardson The words of Newsboys’ song “We Believe” rang out as the conference praise band welcomed families and friends to the June 11 commissioning service at the 2016 Western Pennsylvania Annual Conference session - “in this broken generation, when all is dark you help us see."   After the 22 provisional candidates, the largest in at least 12 years, processed in with Bishop Thomas J. Bickerton, Lay Leader Sharon Gregory and other worship participants, the Rev. Stephanie Gottschalk, ...

State of the Church: Bishop Calls for Unity in Christ

published 6/9/2016
Politics are part of the church as much as they are part of the culture today, Bishop Thomas J. Bickerton told members of the 2016 Western Pennsylvania Annual Conference in his State of the Church address. “So are agendas, structures, and secularism.  But. . . We Are More!” he declared.   Describing celebrations and listing positive decisions made at the denomination’s General Conference in Portland, Oregon in April, the Bishop noted that “there was a different mood in Portland, one that was ...

AC2016: The Road to Discipleship

published 6/5/2016
 The 2016 Western Pennsylvania Annual Conference, meeting June 9-12 at Grove City College, features the teaching of Rev. Adam Hamilton and a celebration of Bishop Thomas J. Bickerton's ministry in Western Pennsylvania. After 12 years in the area, the Bishop will be reassigned and begin serving in a new area of the Northeast beginning September 1. The theme for the Conference, which brought together about 800 clergy and an equal number of lay members, is The Road to Discipleship: New Places, New...

Cyclists Find Welcome at Boston UMC

published 5/27/2016
The people of Boston United Methodist Church in McKeesport, PA are used to seeing unfamiliar faces around the church, which sits along the Greater Allegheny Passage (GAP), a bike trail that runs from Pittsburgh to Cumberland, MD and connects to the C&O Canal Towpath to Washington, DC. The church attempts to reach out to those who pass by on the trail. Karen Prescott, a retired pastor who is part of the congregation, said she has passed out bottles of water to people on the trail. “I have met a ...

Northeast to Keep Nine Bishops

published 5/25/2016
A proposed reduction in the number of bishops for the Northeastern Jurisdiction of the United Methodist Church has been put on hold until 2020 by action of the General Conference.  As a result, delegates to the NEJ Conference, meeting in Lancaster, PA from July 11-15 are expected to elect two new bishops – one to replace Bishop Marcus Matthews, who is retiring, and the other to replace the late Bishop Martin McLee.   After the election, bishops will be assigned to episcopal areas. Because Bishop...

Monitors Need for Annual Conference

published 5/18/2016
The Commision on the Status and Role of Women (COSROW) has monitored Annual Conference the past 5 years to gather information about who is present and who has a voice and to raise awareness awareness about the need to be inclusive. In that time, said Peggy Ward, a COSROW leader, "We have learned that female clergy have the least voice in our legislative sections, which are a very important part of decision-making in this conference. We want to continue the work we have done in the past, but this...

Join Walk Around the Conference

published 5/16/2016
June 6 Update: After making made some adjustments in their method of walking 500 miles to annual conference, Revs. Justin Judy and Scott Gallgher had only 38 miles to go as of Monday, June 6. The Walk is scheduled to conclude on June 7 when they reach Grove City College for Annual Conference.  Read their daily journal at  occasionalthoughts.org   Follow Justin and Scott's journey in real time Follow them on Twitter @PastorGallagher. Revs. Scott Gallagher and Justin Judy invited church members...

Healing Communities Training Set for June 5

published 5/11/2016
The Rev. Dr. Harold Dean Trulear, the founder of Healing Communities, a national program that helps congregations become Stations of Hope for those impacted by the criminal justice system, will lead a training session in Pittsburgh on June 5. For clergy and church leaders interested in starting a Healing Community in their congregation, it's scheduled from 1:30 - 5 p.m. at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary. The training is co-sponsored by the National Religious Campaign Against Torture, Christian...

Ground-Breaking Celebrates Missions, Building Project

published 5/3/2016
A ground-breaking ceremony Sunday, May 1 at Christ United Methodist Church in Bethel Park celebrated the Giving Hope missions and building project, which will benefit local and global missions, as well as update the church campus.   The $500,000 mission portion of Giving Hope will substantially impact several local ministries and rebuild a health clinic in rural Zimbabwe, affecting the lives of thousands of people otherwise without health care.   The construction at Christ Church includes ...

Morgan Speaks at Ecumenical Training

published 4/27/2016
Dai Morgan, director of United Methodist Advocacy in Pennsylvania and pastor of Swissvale UMC, led a workshop last week at the United Methodist Ecumenical and Interreligious Training event in Louisville, KY.   The gathering was part of the 52nd National Workshop on Christian Unity, organized jointly by the Roman Catholic Church, the Episcopal Church, the Lutheran Church (ELCA), and the United Methodist Church.   Morgan’s presentation was entitled United Methodist Ecumenism 101.   UMEIT includes ...

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