The business of the Conference will be cared for in different ways.
Watch Bishop Cynthia Moore-Koikoi's announcement on the WPA Conference Homepage
In an email to clergy and voting members of the 2020 Annual Conference, Bishop Cynthia Moore-Koikoi announced late last week that the Annual Conference session on October 3 will be an online event. Get details and watch video
Share Your Photos for Annual Conference!
The Worship Team for our 2020 Annual Conference is asking churches throughout Western PA to send a (high resolution) photo or two of ministries your church has engaged in since our 2019 Annual Conference. These pictures will be shown during the Annual Conference 2020 worship to highlight the incredible work of our Conference and connection. Please email your pictures to email@example.com by September 15, 2020
As you have already heard from Bishop Cynthia, our one-day session of Annual Conference on Saturday, October 3, which was to have been an in-person gathering in Erie, has been changed to an online time of connection and information-sharing.
In order to maintain consistency in our efforts to ensure safety in these continuing days of COVID-19, I am informing you that our Butler District Conference, scheduled for Sunday, September 20, will be changed to an online District Conference. (It was to have been held at Monaca UMC, and I am grateful to that congregation for its willingness to host.)
It saddens my heart that we will not be in-person for our District Conference. But I believe this to be the best way for us to comply with restrictions that are still in place.
So, the Butler District Conference will be held via Zoom on Sunday, September 20, at 4:00 p.m. (notice the time change from 3:00 to 4:00). You will receive an invitation closer to this date with login/call-in information.
Please plan on being present. If a lay person from your church is joining you (which I hope is the case), please limit that to one lay person so that we might have a numerically manageable online attendance.
I pray that you enjoyed a great holiday weekend.
Please be aware we have updated the 2021 pension calculation worksheet on our webpage.
It can be found by visiting us at :
Drop down to misc files and it can be found there.
Please note, there is a slight increase from 2020 in that the Benefit Reserve is changing from .1% to .5% for 2021.
Please let me know if you have any questions and please feel free to communicate this information to your local churches as I’m aware they
are working on Charge Conferences.
Have a nice day,
Conference Benefits Officer
Director Human Resources
724-776-2300, Ext # 274
The Conference Board of Pensions approved the 2021 blended health care billing rate to the local church. Effective 1.1.2021, the rate will be $1453.00 a month. This includes medical, vision and dental coverage. This represents an increase of $40.00 a month. The monthly member cost share remains the same for 2021 at: $20.00 single / $35.00 two persons / $70.00 family
Although the 2020 Annual Conference has not met, the Conference Commission on Equitable Compensation issued its annual letter on how to set pastors’ salaries for 2021, including the minimum base salaries for those appointed to local churches. The commission is not recommending any change to the minimum salaries set for this year. The letter will be emailed to pastors and local church leaders this week. See the letter.
The WPAUMC Ordination services for 2020 have been canceled due to the COVID-19 virus.
WPA Ordination services will be held regionally at three locations:
Grace UMC, Warren, at 1 p.m., Saturday, October 10
Crossroads UMC, N. Fayette Campus, at 3 p.m., Sunday, October 25
New Stanton UMC at 1 p.m., Saturday, November 7
Clergy Communities of Practice will launch in September! We would love for any clergy person to prayerfully consider participating. CCOPs are a type of covenant group meant to support the development of Christian leaders. They focus on engagement with peers, helping to reverse trends of isolation among the clergy. Meetings invite participants to share in prayer and fellowship, as well as a time of learning and application. Emphasis is on bringing learning into practice. Participants earn 4 CEUs.
Meetings last four hours and include a meal, with the exception of our online group—geared for local pastors—which will last two hours. Each meeting is led by one of your clergy peers, a trained facilitator, who invites conversation and asks questions rather than acting as an expert. Learning is focused topically and participants can expect to read around 75-100 pages each month in preparation for gatherings. There will be 9 meetings over the course of the year; one month will be taken off at the discretion of the facilitator. It is expected that participants will engage in every meeting and come prepared to discuss readings.
Questions may be directed to Susan Moudry, firstname.lastname@example.org.
The following locations and times are available: (each location is limited to the first 10 to register)
17 Allan Brooks
20 Darlene Ryniec
24 Linda Scott
25 Michelle Hilton
26 David Alleman
30 Wayne Smith
Prayer Focus This Week
WPA Conference, and beyond as we deal with the effects of the Coronavirus Pandemic.
Youth Worker Recharge: In this taxing time, Discipleship Ministries invites youth workers to find time to spiritually recharge. Join them for up to 45 minutes at noon on Thursdays and receive encouragement from a leading youth ministry voice. Fit this into your daily spiritual health routine and reflect on how it is with your own soul around people who know what it's like to minister to teens! Register once, attend any time. Get details.
SPARK 2021 has been rescheduled for April 17 at the Bayfront convention Center in Erie. Plans include options to attend in person or virtually. Details TBA.
Church and Scouting Now: How does a church successfully navigate conversations with active scout troops about social distancing guidelines, masks, and use of church buildings these days? Read more from Young People’s Ministries.
Online Devotions for and by Youth Workers: You need a recharge after a week of working with teens! Premieres August 6! Join us for a weekly time to be encouraged by a leading youth ministry trainer and spend a couple minutes focusing on how it is with your own soul around people who know what it's like to minister to teens! Join us every Thursday at noon Eastern, 9am Pacific to recharge!
YOUTH INFORMATION: on the web at https://www.wpaumc.org/youthevents
CLERGY: 2020 Evaluations due - The evaluations will need to be completed online one week prior to your one-on-one with the District Superintendent. The original links have timed out. New ones have been sent out. If you didn’t get yours, contact Thelma in the District Office. Continuing Education form. Complete online before your one on one.
Like many of you, GCFA is staring at the stark reality of our nation attempting to flatten the curve and spread of Covid-19 by engaging in social distancing. For many of us, that may mean your weekly worship services are going to look a bit different than they have in the past. To support our United Methodist churches as we continue to make disciples, we have pulled out relevant articles that we feel may help during this time. We invite you to look through these, and we pray they may be of some help as we all face this uncertainty.
EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT eGIVING: In response to Covid-19 and social distancing, many churches many close as they put the health of their congregation first. This may lead to stress around the collection plate. Check out this handy guide to understanding electronic, text, and other forms of online giving.
UNDERSTAND LIVE STREAMING NOW TO BENEFIT YOUR CONGREGATION: As churches, theatres, and sporting events all press the pause button, churches across the nation will turn to live streaming to give their churches an option to worship. Download this guide to understanding different components of live streaming.
The executive team of the Association of Annual Conference Lay Leaders, which includes our WPAUMC Lay Leader Sharon Gregory, called on all laity to witness, care and act in the midst of the “dual pandemic” that grips our nation. “As laity we are 99.2% of the church and our voices matter. We cannot sit as observers to these events, they said. “We are vital to the unfolding of God’s hope for us, to be people who hold one another and the communities around us, in love. Our acts of witnessing are not those of a spectator or to record history, but to take action and cause change.” Read more and download statement.
WPA Camps and Olmsted Retreat Center
Camp Allegheny Fall Work Days are Sept. 26 and Oct. 24 from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. (or when you can). Pick your day and help to complete projects or do fall cleanup to get ready for winter retreats. Work for any skill level or age! Email Joe@campallegheny.org if you can help. Lunch is provided.
Prefer Eating to Work? Head to Camp Allegheny between 11 a.m.-2 p.m. for a Chicken Barbecue with homemade noodles and a gob on Sept. 27 and/or October 11. Cost is $10. Visit CampAllegheny.org
Upcoming Events at Olmsted:
To meet the requirements of the WPAUMC Policy on Sexual Ethics, Conference leaders have arranged for clergy to complete the training online through the Lewis Center for Church Leadership. All active ordained, commissioned and licensed clergy should complete the course “Maintaining Boundaries in a Digital Age,” at any convenient time prior to October 31, 2020. Instructions for enrolling to receive the Conference rate were attached to an email to clergy. | See instructions.
Monday, August 3, 2020 to November 20
Monday, August 31, 2020 to May 6
Foundations for Ministry online course August 31, 2020 – May 16, 2021: This course helps Certified Lay Ministers, first-time pastors, and District Superintendent assigned persons to develop best practices for serving the local church in sermon writing, developing relationships with their congregation, building mission and vision. The course focuses on a different aspect of ministry each month with all work and discussion forums taking place online, including monthly meetings. www.larcm.org
Tuesday, September 15, 2020 to October 15
Hispanic Heritage Month is September 15-October 15, 2020 resources.
Saturday, September 19, 2020 to September 20
Retired Clergy Weekend: Saturday, September 19 to September 20. Retired Clergy Weekend Local churches are encouraged to use this weekend, or another that they choose, to recognize and honor the retired clergy, their spouses, and the surviving spouses of clergy who continue to support the church in various and significant ways. This recognition may also provide inspiration to those considering ministry.
Thursday, September 24, 2020 to September 25
Leadership Institute 2020: on Thursday, September 24 - Friday, September 25. The online format is packed with relevant and actionable leadership development content through a live-streamed event. There will be two Breakout Sessions on Friday, with six topics to choose from at each session, followed by Live Q&A with the presenters. PLUS there will be a library of on-demand workshops. These workshops cover a wide variety of ministry topics, all with tangible takeaways. All Sessions will be recorded and available to registered participants for replay. You'll have access to ALL the content to explore and review on-demand for an entire year after the conference. Individual tickets are just $49. With the low ticket price and no travel expenses, you can include and engage more of your team leaders in every ministry area across the church. Register Questions? Email email@example.com or call (913) 232-4139
Saturday, September 26, 2020
In an effort to address racism and the continuing violence against African Americans, United Methodist Men will host a National Day of Prayer with leaders of men's ministries from the African Methodist Episcopal Church, African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church and Christian Methodist Episcopal Church. The event will be held via Zoom Sept. 26 at noon Eastern time and is open to all.
Saturday, September 26, 2020 to September 30
Tour the Camps Bike-a-thon! Since 2018, the Campership Bike-a-Thon has raised more than $44,000 to support the Deeply Rooted, Upward Reaching camping campaign. After two seasons of riding from Pittsburgh to Washington, D.C., the 2020 route will take in our three camps, Olmsted Manor retreat center, At the Lake Ministries and Healthy Village Learning Institute. The ride will be September 26-30. Get details and register.
Thursday, October 1, 2020 to November 19
In the book of ACTS (with 28 chapters), we read about the Holy Spirit at work in the lives of
believers & about his power unleashed in the communities in which they lived & traveled. How
did that happen? It all began with prayer!
Before Jesus ascended into heaven, he told his disciples to stay in Jerusalem & wait for his gift,
promised by the Father. As they waited, they all joined together constantly in prayer. And, God sent his Holy Spirit to fill them. God is the same yesterday, today, & forever.
He wants to send the Holy Spirit into the Butler and Kane Districts….throughout the world in a powerful
way. We too are called to join together constantly in prayer to pray for the action of the Holy
Spirit, in churches & in our communities. That is where Acts 29 begins …with God
continuing to be at work in the world today.
YOU ARE INVITED to join together (via zoom) for the study: Acts 29: 50 Days to Invite the Holy Spirit, by Terry Tekyl. Our facilitator will be Rev. Christopher Kindle, who is responsible for Discipleship & Spiritual Formation for the WPAUM Conference. The study will be conducted on Thursday evenings at 7PM, beginning on Thursday, October 1, 2020, & concluding on
November 19, 2020.
Copies of the book will be available at the Kane District Office. Donations are welcome, but not required. (The plan is to have Dr. Tekyl come to the Kane District sometime in the spring of 2021.)
To participate in the Study please contact; Chris at the Kane District Office so you can receive the information to join in the study.
Contacted Chris at: (814) 837-6115 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Sunday, October 4, 2020
In an email to pastors this week, Bishop Cynthia Moore-Koikoi noted that every United Methodist congregation is expected to celebrate World Communion Sunday and receive a special offering to support scholarships for General Board of Global Ministries work and for ethnic persons pursuing higher education and in-service training. She also addressed how to celebrate communion during a pandemic. Read her email
Get worship and promotional resources in the Pastor and Leader’s Kit
Monday, October 5, 2020 to October 23
You’re invited to join in a Conference-wide COVID-19 Prayer Initiative that begins October 5. A daily video with scripture and prayers by the Rev. Dr. Renee Mikell and Rev. Chris Kindle will be posted on the Conference website and social media each weekday for 19 days to guide you. Watch for more details next week. Invite your friends, neighbors and congregation, especially prayer groups and small groups, to join in.
Monday, October 5, 2020 to November 20
Mediation Skills Training: Registration is now open for sessions of Mediation Skills Training Institute scheduled for October 5-9 and November 16-20, 2020. The institute is designed for clergy and church leaders to learn skills that will help them deal more effectively with interpersonal, congregational, and other forms of group conflict. Registrants will attend remotely and will need a device with both a camera and microphone in order to participate fully. Download brochure
Thursday, October 8, 2020 to October 10
: Not your ordinary conference, women are invited to come together to be inspired, empowered and equipped at this Oct. 8 -10 virtual event hosted by the General Commission on the Status and Role of Women and sponsored by Garrett Seminary and others. This summit will focus on worship and relationship building, and offer courses to help participants learn how women in leadership have overcome challenges, and created solutions that supported their success. Get details.
Friday, October 9, 2020 to October 13
The National "Faith & Blue Weekend," an exciting, ecumenical initiative designed to foster good relationships between local law enforcement and the community they serve, is scheduled for October 9-12, 2020. Local congregations are invited to plan and host activities (in person or virtual) that break down biases and build bridges of understanding and reconciliation. In the midst of polarization and tension magnified by Covid-19, churches have an opportunity to promote healing within their local communities. For more information about this effort and how to plan an event, go to www.faithandblue.org.
Tuesday, October 13, 2020 to November 2
Rev. Karen Lampe and the Caring Congregation Team will offer national training via webinar from Oct 13-Nov 2, 2020 in four weekly evening sessions. They will introduce the CCM model of caring for church congregations, with special emphasis of ministry during the challenges of COVID-19. Learn more at thecaringcongregation.com
Watch their promo video.
Where: DoubleTree by Hilton, 910 Sheraton Drive, Mars, PA 16046
Tuesday, October 20, 2020 to October 21
2020 Biennial Clergy Pre-retirement Seminar is scheduled for Tuesday, October 20 - Wednesday, October 21 at the DoubleTree by Hilton, 910 Sheraton Drive, Mars, PA 16046. This event will feature topics such as Wespath/Pensions, EY Financial Services, Highmark, UPMC, WorkPartners EAP, healthcare in retirement, Social Security and more! Contact Alexis Soohy, Assistant Benefits Officer, at 724.776.2300 x 278. Register Participants who wish to have a one on one personal pension projection with Wespath during the event will be scheduled in the order they register. If we have to postpone, cancel, or reformat this event to virtual, participants will be refunded.
Please note: this event is open to any Clergy and their spouse! You do not need to be planning your retirement in the upcoming year or two to attend. Clergy who may be 5-10 or even more years away from their retirement are still welcome and encouraged to attend.
Thursday, October 22, 2020 to April 15
: Pittsburgh Theological Seminary offers a monthly Community and Conversations Series with women who have found ways to anchor and sustain themselves spiritually in the midst of these times. Presenters include Barbara Brown Taylor, Lerita Coleman Brown and Carrie Newcomer. Sessions are monthly Oct. 22, 2020-April 15, 2021. Get details and register.
Friday, October 23, 2020
United Theological Seminary’s Pohly Leadership Center partners with The Matthew Initiative to present an Oct. 23 webinar on developing family home church models to meet present needs. For details, go to united.edu/family-home-church/
Saturday, October 24, 2020
Conference UMW Meeting Going Virtual: The Conference United Methodist Women’s annual meeting, scheduled for Saturday, October 24, will be offered in an online webinar format, rather than in person. The keynote address by the Rev. Debra Flint, an ordained deacon and licensed clinical social worker, is entitled “There’s Nothing Selfish About Self Care.” Register by clicking here.
Thursday, November 12, 2020 1:00 PM
Each week, three to four missionaries from around the world are sharing their stories. Katie Peterson will be sharing how the Joy of Missions has and continues to be with her through Eastbrook Mission Barn - UMCOR relief Supply Network and ramp ministries. Her assigned day and time is November 12 at 1 pm by Zoom. Connection information will be sent the week before and should be shared with your local UMW units, small groups and congregation
Saturday, April 17, 2021
Plans are being made to hold SPARK, the annual WPAUMC Youth gathering, in the Spring of 2021. The event is usually held at a Pittsburgh hotel in January. Details to be announced.
Koreans Thank Missionaries with Masks: Officials with Yonsei University Health System in South Korea, recently shipped 10,000 protective face masks to Atlanta as a gesture of thanks to the United Methodist missionaries who helped their country decades ago. Retired missionaries receiving the masks live in 38 different states including one in Hawaii; 16 in North Carolina; 14 in Texas; 19 in California; and nine in Florida. Read more from the Atlanta Journal Constitution. Mission Hospital Staff ... read more
Conference Announcements Updated June 12, 2020. Read Bishop's Update on Reopening Churches See What's Next for Churches video with Bishop Cynthia Moore-Koikoi and Dr. Jessica Price. Download our Guidelines for Church Reopening Download Green Phase Guidelines Get take-aways and other info from our twice weekly Covid-19 Clergy Conversations. See our Coronavirus Stimulus and Relief Package information for churches. Check our Covid-19 Church Planning Resources page on Facebook. Due to ... read more
To assist clergy as they strive to meet the on-going challenges of ministry in the age of the novel coronavirus, the Western PA Conference is offering Coaching on Demand. Trained coaches in the Conference are offering their skills at no charge as a ministry to their colleagues. "Right now, we are each navigating personal and professional challenges, new realities, and unexpected ministry opportunities," said the Rev. Amy Wagner, who took a lead role in organizing the Coaching on Demand ... read more
3 Steps to Guard Against Sexual Abuse: Phill Martin, a clergy coach and executive with the National Association of Church Business Administrators, says churches should take proactive steps to guard against the possibility of sexual abuse or misconduct before an incident occurs. See Leading Ideas article
See WPAUMC Sexual Ethics Policy
Building Community Partnerships: Rev. Liddy Barlow’s Powerpoint presentation from last week’s Clergy Conversation on building community partnerships has been posted on the Conference website at wpaumc.org/covid-19-clergy-conversations
Rev. Barlow also recommended a video to learn how to communicate effectively with elected officials. Watch Southwest PA Bread for the World’s 2020 Advocacy Workshop Top Ten Tips for Effective Congressional Office Visits
Want to Preserve Your Church's History? The UMC Commission on Archives and History is offering a free online course that will cover a range of skills needed to become a church historian. The 12-week course will begin Sept. 14 and people can take it at their own pace. Read press release
Leading in Crisis: The General Board of Higher Education and Ministry is offering a series of e-panel discussions for church leaders. Today’s edition dealt was Setting Next Steps when your Feet Are Weary. Watch
Past sessions, including one on Church Finance, are on the GBHEM YouTube Channel
Racism and Faith: Three theologians from across the U.S. wrestled with how Christianity can overcome racism at a time when polls show that many white Christians don’t see racial injustice as a problem. Heather Hahn reports on the most recent online panel in the UMC series on dismantling racism. Read story
New Online Course for Christians on Race & Racism: You Are Here: First Steps for White Christians on Race and Racism is an online course for Christians who want to acquire a fundamental understanding of race and racism from a biblical perspective. This four-part self-directed course offers videos featuring Robin DiAngelo and Rev. Dr. Anderson Hooker, reflections, and activities to help people of faith to recognize racism and begin to challenge it in their lives. Enroll here.
Seminary Dean Discusses Racial Justice: Leah Gunning Francis, author and dean of the faculty at Christian Theological Seminary in Indianapolis, bases her anti-racism work on the concept of imago dei — that all beings are created in the image of God. In the latest episode of the "Get Your Spirit in Shape" podcast, she and the Rev. Joe Iovino discuss where The United Methodist Church is already at work in the area of racial justice and what more needs to be done. Listen to episode.
Wake Up Call for White Christian America: By confronting their faith’s legacy of racism, white Christians can build a better future for themselves, and their fellow Americans, writes Robert F. Jones, author of White Too Long: The Legacy of White Supremacy in American Christianity. Read more.
The Conference Anti-Racism Team (ART) compiled a list of suggestions for Western PA churches to address racism. Download it from the Conference's Responding to Racism page.
Listen First! As congregations work toward equality for all, it may be helpful to hear from some local church experts on how to improve communication with people from different racial and ethnic groups. Here are some tips about listening, language choices and more. Read story
Bishops Vow This Time Will Be Different! Watch and learn more about the official launch of the UMC’s renewed effort to dismantle racism and press on to freedom. Bishop Cynthia Moore-Koikoi is one of five bishops in the video announcement on Juneteenth. See video and story
Talking About Race: No matter where you are on your journey of understanding, the resources on the Smithsonian National Museum of African-American History and Culture can help. Explore Talking About Race
Be Part of the Change! How can the church reach out with sensitivity about race and injustice? To effectively communicate beyond your congregation and culture, try to forge a true, interpersonal connection with those you want to reach. It would help to also do some homework, says John Coleman, Communications Director in the Eastern PA Conference. Read more.
United Methodists stand against racism: A new campaign is uniting the denomination against racism. Church leaders can turn to ResourceUMC.org to find the latest diversity and inclusiveness information and tools, including downloadable campaign graphics. Resources to engage members as they listen, act, speak and pray are available at UMC.org/EndRacism.
Learn how United Methodists are taking a stand against racism at UMC.org/EndRacism.
Race and Protest: Two relevant resources regarding race and protest for young people: How to Acknowledge Hurt in Youth Ministry and Tools for Processing Protests with Teens
Racial Justice Conversations: GCORR offers excellent resources to help churches discuss and learn more about racial justice. See Racial Justice Conversations Guide.
Hunger Pandemic: “The difference between the COVID-19 pandemic and the hunger pandemic is that we already have the cure for the hunger pandemic,” writes Rev. Tom Parkinson in a Dutilh UMC blog post. “We know exactly how to cure hunger: by getting food into the bellies of those who need it.” He highlights a way to do that for brothers and sisters in Zimbabwe. Read more
Ride for the Refuge: It’s not too late to participate as a rider or donor in the virtual Ride for the Refuge! You have until the end of September to participate as a rider or donate to a team to support The Refuge ministry of the Erie UM Alliance. Get details and see the leaderboard.
Ministry Partners: The General Council on Finance and Administration has added two companies to its ministry partner program: Subsplash and Ecolab/Guest Supply. GCFA vets ministry partners to make sure they respond to church needs. Subsplash is an online giving platform and Ecolab sells cleaning and food-handling supplies. Read press release
Livestreaming and Licenses
The denomination offers some guidance. Read article. ResourceUMC.org also offers some discussions and other info like this video. There is more detail in this discussion about livestreaming via multiple platforms.
Create a Plan for Re-Engaging Your Community: Life has shifted for every one of us. Our lives within the church have been altered and our community is in isolation. But, this will not last forever. Now is the time to have a plan for re-engaging your community. Now is the time to create an intentional disciple-making system. #SeeAllThePeople will give you the foundation for you and your congregation to get started! Learn more
WPAUMC Facebook Page https://www.facebook.com/pg/wpaumc/notes/
The Eastbrook Mission Barn is one of six UMCOR Relief Supply Network depots across the United States.
Mission Barn & UMCOR Supplies- Due to Annual Conference in June being cancelled and therefore the UMCOR collection, Mission Barn Director Katie Peterson is looking for a church willing to be the collection point for their district for UMCOR supplies, cleaning buckets, and hygiene kits on a one or two time basis this summer. Preferably they can keep track of what church brought the donations and then store the kits and supplies in a secure location. People can bring the kits and supplies from the collection directly to the barn or the conference center, or she can arrange to send a truck or trailer to pick them up. Contact: Katie Peterson