On the six Fridays between Ash Wednesday and Holy Week, I will be facilitating six Zoom conversations on six books that I believe will help us to reflect on what God is doing in and through the church’s ministry throughout this season of pandemic. Entitled, “A Pilgrimage Through Pandemic: Conversations About the Church and Its Journey Through a Hard Season,” this virtual book study will be a great opportunity for us to join our hearts and minds in a Lenten journey of meaningful reflection. Please see the additional document attached to this email for more specific information about these virtual conversations. I hope that many of you will join me in this virtual pilgrimage. Links will be sent out at the beginning of each week.
Bishop Cynthia Moore-Koikoi announced this week that when Indiana District Superintendent Jim Pond retires on June 30, a new shared leadership model will be tested. Rev. Jodie Smith will be appointed Indiana DS in addition to continuing as Franklin DS. Connellsville DS Robert Zilhaver will assist in the Indiana District while continuing in the Connellsville post. Read more
Decennial Report Required? Some local churches have received a postcard from the PA Dept of State (Bureau of Corporations and Charitable Organizations) requesting that a Decennial Report be submitted by December 31, 2021. This is a valid request. The state requires a Decennial Report of Association Continued Existence form to be filed every 10 years -- in years ending with the number 1. Conference Treasurer Roger White reports that the Conference has received the postcard as well, and will be completing the form and submitting the $70 filing fee to the state. He suggests that churches do the same before the December 31, 2021 deadline. The form and additional details can be found on the PA Dept. of State’s website Decennial Filing
Grants for Historic Churches: The National Fund for Sacred Spaces is accepting applications for funding to support restoration/preservation projects in historic buildings where congregations are serving their communities. Rev. Dr. Susan Moudry, who attended a webinar about the grants and is willing to consult with churches, reports that new additions, demolition, pipe organs and AV equipment are not eligible for funding. Letters of Intent are due by March 15. Learn more at fundforsacredplaces.org/
UMC Scholarships: 2021 Scholarship Applications due by March 24th
Get details at gbhem.org/loans-scholarships/
Online Worship Permissions Extended: The UM Publishing House is extending full permission to all churches for use of its copyrighted worship materials through July 2021. Read press release
Need a Break, Pastor? A bit of help is on the horizon! Rev. Amy Wagner, our Annual Conference worship coordinator, and Erie-Meadville DS Dennis Swineford are working with Bishop Cynthia and others to produce a recorded worship service that can be used by local churches on Sunday, April 11 (or later). It will be available as a complete service -- or in parts--and can be shown to in-person worshippers, shared online or both. Bishop Cynthia will be the preacher and offer the benediction. Watch for details to come.
Bishops Propose Hold on New Elections: In a webinar hosted by the Council of Bishops (COB) last Saturday, General and Jurisdictional Conference delegates in the U.S. heard about the state of church finances and a proposal from the COB to hold off on electing new Bishops to replace 16 who are retiring this year. Bishop Cynthia Moore-Koikoi offered an opening mediation for the webinar. See links to the webinar and read UM News story
The Post-Covid Church: Barry Winders says the COVID-19 crisis is a hinge point for the church. This pivotal time demands mission-focused leaders lest the church slip back into the busyness and nonmissional activities of the pre-COVID-19 past. Read more in Leading Ideas
February is Heart Month! Your Abundant Health Team offers some tips for heart health along with personal stories from two members about love, faith and health. Read them.
The 2021 session of the Annual Conference will be held at the Bayfront Convention Center.
Thursday, June 17 - Saturday, June 19, 2021
28 Greg Spencer
1 Jerry (Susan) Pickering
3 Hope Cummins
3 Linda (Dean) Ziegler
4 BT Gilligan
11 Sheelaugh (Thom) Bonomo
12 Andrew Spore
14 John (Mary Grey) Emmett
24 Audrey (Hughie)Orsborn
27 Emmett Anderson
28 Kathy (Howard) Russell
5 Robert & Sandy Fennell
20 Hughie & Audrey Orsborn
Lenten Prayer Initiative: Western PA United Methodists and friends are invited to join together in a spiritual Lenten journey called Cross Sections. Each Wednesday beginning on Ash Wednesday, February 17, and every day during Holy Week, a brief video devotion will premiere on the Conference website www.wpaumc.org at 8 a.m. You’re encouraged to watch and pray at that time. If that’s not possible, the video will stay on the website to view later. A print version will also be available. You can use the videos in Lenten studies, worship and prayer services. Watch the website and next week’s enews for more details.
Prayer Focus This Week
WPA Conference, and beyond as we deal with the effects of the Coronavirus Pandemic.
Register for SPARK! The annual Conference Youth Event is now scheduled for one day--April 17, 2021-- at the Bayfront Convention Center in Erie. Registration to attend in-person is limited, but the worship will be livestreamed so that churches can organize their own watch parties. Check out all the details and register your youth at wpaumc.org/spark.
Youth Theology Institute: Know a high schooler who is ready to learn how their faith in Jesus calls them to live in the world while earning college credit they can carry wherever they go after high school? Nominate and encourage them to apply for the Shenandoah University Youth Theology Institute. The two-week summer program is open to any current high school student. Through a daily rhythm of worship, academic study, experiential and service learning, students will become stronger Christian leaders. The 2021 Institute will run from July 18-31, 2021 on the main campus of United Methodist-related Shenandoah University in Winchester, VA. Thanks to a grant from the Lilly Endowment, the student will pay just $200 for room and board, program expenses, and three college credits. To learn more, nominate a student or apply, visit su.edu/youththeology.
Safe Sanctuaries and Online Youth Groups: WPAUMC’s Youth and Young Adult Ministry Coordinator Amanda Gilligan offers things for you to consider, as well as resources to help, as you adapt your church’s Safe Sanctuaries policy to include online gatherings. Read her blog post.
Jumonville Chaplains Needed: The following weeks are available for Chaplains: June 13-18, June 20-25, July 18-23, and August 8-11. The Chaplain’s role includes speaking at all-camp Tuesday night worship, being present at the Sunday opening campfire and closing ceremony Friday evening, leading a brief morning watch Monday-Friday, and being available to help lead Bible studies and answer questions when requested. For more information, email email@example.com
Upcoming Youth Events: Mark your calendars for these Conference youth events:
Jumonville Sports Camps will be offered this summer. Sports campers will enjoy basic instruction, game time, and healthy competition in a variety of sports. Fun drills and skill development are based on age appropriate abilities that allow for both basic instruction and plenty of time to play! Thanks to generous donors, financial aid and scholarships are available. More information on each event Register online
2021 Summer Camp Deans Needed! Jumonville is seeking several volunteers to serve as Deans. Openings are available for: elementary sports, elementary adventure, dance, and family events. For more information on a dean's responsibilities and the dates of the events, contact Rebekah by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Save the Date: Olmsted Manor’s two annual women's retreats are set to be held in-person in April and October this year. Mark your calendars to join us for these fun and restorative events.
Jumonville Chaplains Needed
The following weeks are available for Chaplains: June 13-18, June 20-25, July 18-23, and August 8-11. The Chaplain’s role includes speaking at all-camp Tuesday night worship, being present at the Sunday opening campfire and closing ceremony Friday evening, leading a brief morning watch Monday-Friday, and being available to help lead Bible studies and answer questions when requested. For more information, email email@example.com
2021 Jumonville Summer Staff Application is now open! Working at a summer camp will help you gain knowledge and skills that future employers will love to have! Check out the many positions we have to offer and complete the online application by visiting applyatjville.com Come have one of the best summers of your life!
2021 Jumonville Summer Camp Registration: We will be utilizing the same system as last year. If you created an account last year, use the same account and login for this year. You can register online by clicking here. Remember a parent/guardian will create a single-family account and register the campers for the events that are available. All required forms can also be completed here. If you need assistance, contact the office. The brochure will be mailed when it is ready. If you need extra copies of the brochure for either your family or your friends, you can call the Jumonville office (724) 439-4912 and we will mail them to you. We can also send them directly to your friends if you give us their contact information.
Feel free to check out the 2021 summer camp schedule on the Jumonville website.
We've got some great new events planned for this summer!
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
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.
Sunday, January 17, 2021 to March 27
Spring 2021 Online Health Minister Certificate: Scholarships are available for the 2021 online health minister certificate offered through Wesley Theological Seminary’s Heal the Sick program, an educational partner of Global Ministries. Through 10 weekly online learning modules from January 17 – March 27, the certificate provides foundational language, concepts, self-care and asset mapping skills in faith and health. It equips and trains faith community members, clergy, public health professionals, social workers, chaplains, and others to support whole person health in many settings. Register by January 4, 2021. Learn more
Thursday, February 11, 2021 to March 11
Teams of up to five people from eight WPAUMC churches will be selected to be part of a five-week collaborative planning cohort this spring designed to help pastors and congregations creatively redesign one congregational event, program or emphasis to address current realities. Before you apply, select one key event in the life of the church that can’t happen the way it usually does this spring or summer - Think Holy Week services, Confirmation, VBS, the spring youth retreat, etc. But just ONE! You’ll need to describe it on the application form. The team must participate in all five weeks of the cohort, which will include two personalized coaching sessions and three cohort conversations via Zoom with coaches and staff from Ministry Incubators. Get details and apply
Wednesday, February 17, 2021 to April 4
Where: Submit to the District Office
Monday, March 1, 2021 to March 2
Fund Balance Repots due in the District Office March 1st
Our Local Church Audit Guide can help your finance team and ministry leadership understand the ins and outs of the auditing process. Everything from key definitions, procedure recommendations and an internal control checklist are included in the guide. Download the Local Church Audit Guide
Monday, March 8, 2021 7:00 PM
Local churches will soon have access to a Guide for Copyright Licensing and Digital Strategies prepared for the Conference by a copyright attorney with the firm of Buchanan, Ingersoll & Rooney and funded through a grant from the United Methodist Foundation of Western PA. On Monday, March 8 at 7 p.m., John Sullivan, the attorney who prepared the guide, will be Amy Wagner’s guest for a Zoom conversation about it. Register
Friday, March 26, 2021 to March 28
"Opening to our Pre-existing Union with God" with/ Keith Kristich from
March 26-28, 2021. At this weekend retreat, we will explore centering prayer as a path of waking up to our pre-existing oneness with God. We are not ultimately separate from God, and we’ll explore the significance of opening to this reality through teaching, reflection, and prayer practice. Cost: $196/person Learn More
Thursday, April 1, 2021 to October 31
The Rev. Debra Flint, an ordained deacon in the WPA Conference, will be one of the facilitators for the 2021-22 Gestalt Pastoral Care Foundation Training Course. Classes will be held mostly in person on Saturdays in the Pittsburgh Area between April 2021 and October 2022. Get details
Saturday, April 17, 2021
This annual Conference Youth Event is now scheduled for one day--April 17, 2021-- at the Bayfront Convention Center in Erie. Registration to attend in-person is limited, but the worship will be livestreamed so that churches can organize their own watch parties. Check out all the details and register your youth at wpaumc.org/spark.
Tuesday, April 20, 2021 9:00 AM to 1:00 PM
For Clergy retiring 2021 only. (Virtual) Tuesday, April 20, 2021 9:00 AM - 1:00 PM Retirement Session
Healthcare in Retirement Session. Contact Alexis Soohy at Alexis.Soohy@wpaumc.org with questions.
Thursday, April 22, 2021 10:00 AM to 3:00 PM
An online conference from 10:00am - 3:00pm Central Time, April 22, 2021. Cost is $49 and includes The Art of Hospitality book. It is designed to equip church leaders to make everyone feel welcome and included, from first time visitors to deeply engaged members. Learn more and register.
Monday, July 26, 2021 to August 4
Join us for a week of wilderness canoeing and camping in the north woods of Ontario. (The trip will be relocated to the Adirondacks if the Canadian border does not reopen in time). For seven days and nights, travel through a rugged and beautiful land of lakes, rivers, and forests. Look for wildlife and camp on the lakeshore. Around the campfire, we learn about God, the wonders of his creation, and what it means to follow Jesus in community. This trip is physically demanding and involves primitive camping. Previous canoeing and camping experience is helpful, but not necessary. The cost includes canoeing and camping equipment, transportation and most meals. Open to adults and teens at least 15 years old (14 with approval of trip leaders). If you are 19 or older, you must have a passport. Cost: $475 for adults 18+, $445 for under 18. If registered and paid in full by June 1 there is a $25 discount. Trip will be led by Revs. Scott Hamley, Doug Burns, Craig Lindahl and Paige Townley. For more information, contact: Rev. Scott Hamley, firstname.lastname@example.org
Conference Announcements Updated Dec. 11, 2020. Our Bishop and District Superintendents urge church leaders to follow current state and local health mandates and guidelines to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus and to consider the risk to the most vulnerable in our churches and communities in determining whether to hold in-person worship services. On Dec. 11, 2020, after Gov. Tom Wolf issued a temporary executive order reducing the number of people permitted to gather both indoors and ... 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
7 Reasons Not to Abandon Online Services: Thom Rainer says it is a mistake for churches to give up their digital or streaming services after returning to in-person worship. He outlines seven reasons online worship can augment your place-based worship and reach the community. Read more
Digital Ministry Training: Have you watched UM Communication’s Local Church Learning Sessions? Each session explores a different online ministry tool or topic, such as social media, livestreaming, online giving, Zoom, and text messaging. See what’s available.
Digital Worship Webinar: On March 6 New Brunswick Theological Seminary will hold a day-long webinar offering training in digital worship - not just for now but the future. It will provide much to think about as we return to in-person worship, what should be done to maintain an online presence.Thanks to a Calvin Vital Worship Grant, the webinar is free. Get details
Leading Meaningful Digital Worship: Learn how to take your leadership of digital worship to the next level in this 90-minute interactive presentation with Dr. Tim Snyder at noon, Tuesday, March 23. He’ll explore key guiding questions that should drive digital worship design, case studies from the Religious Workforce Project (funded by the Lilly Endowment, Inc.), and answer your questions. Learn more and register
Roll Down, Justice! The United Methodist Commission on Religion and Race is offering a free six-week Lenten biblical reflection course called "Roll Down, Justice!" Each lesson is based on songs from Mark A. Miller's songbook of the same name and includes guides for study.
Churches Uniting in Christ is offering ecumenical resources for local congregations to use during Lent and Easter. The group brings together 10 Christian communions, including The United Methodist Church, to express unity in Christ and combat racism. Read press release
Planning for Holy Week: Amplify Media offers a live webinar in which a panel of worship leaders will help you creatively plan for ways to connect faith communities with traditions and each other after a year of living with a pandemic and deep cultural divides. It’s scheduled for 3 p.m. Eastern Time on Thursday, Feb. 11. Get details and register
Easter Outreach Resources: A limited number of $150 grants are available to help with the cost of customized Easter invitational tools --banners, yard signs and postcards -- from UM Communications partner Outreach Resources. Use code UMCEA21 to receive $150 off your order. See what’s available.
Grant Applications Now Open: The “Global Youth Service Fund” and “Grants for Ministries with Young People” grant programs are now accepting applications! Submitting an initial application should take 30 minutes or less and needs to be done before April 15, 2021, to be considered for funding in 2022. Read more
Youth Leader Retreat from Friday, September 10, 2021 to Sunday, September 12, 2021 at Olmsted Manor, Ludlow, PA 16333. Duffy Robbins will be the keynote speaker. Contact person: Amanda Gilligan
Connecting Faith and Justice: A new curriculum to help junior and senior high students actively engage the intersection of faith and justice and explore why our faith compels us toward justice. It is available to download today for free. Learn more and download
Connecting with Young Adults: In this week’s Leading Ideas, Discipleship Ministries’ Chris Wilterdink says a critical strategy for engaging young adults is to create discipleship opportunities and build relationships in the online communities where they are active. Within these spaces, the church can provide young adults an opportunity to explore identity, belonging, and purpose. Read more.
50 Ways to Strengthen Your Ministry with Youth: This resource sheet from the Lewis Center for Church Leadership is available to read or download in PDF.
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
Council of Bishops Devotions: The Council of Bishops is offering a weekly Lenten devotional series focused on Dismantling Racism. Each Wednesday during Lent and every day during Holy Week, a 15-minute recorded devotion, led by a bishop and leaders from their episcopal areas, will be released. Learn more
Sharing Stories: The East Ohio Conference Black Pastors' Fellowship and the office of Multicultural Vitality have produced a new video series aimed at creating discussion and moving all of us towards racial justice. Each video is accompanied by questions to be answered either for personal reflection or as part of small group discussions. See the videos
Justice or Just Us? is a new four-week study that explores what it means to be faith community that’s committed to anti-racist and justice-seeking work. A Feb. 25 Amplify Live webinar will feature a conversation with Pastors Jevon Caldwell-Gross, Nicole Caldwell-Gross, and Rob Fuquay, who all serve at St. Luke’s United Methodist Church in Indianapolis, and developed the study based on their experiences in leading the church to confront racism. Learn more and register
Resources and A Quiz: United Methodist Women has put together a list and links to church resources for observing Black History Month, including prayers, worship resources and a United Methodist Black History Quiz.
UMC Archives Resources: The General Commission on Archives and History (GCAH) has resources for Black History Month on its website. They include two videos from the Television, Radio, and Film Commission of the Methodist Church which dealt with race in the 1950s and over a dozen audio recordings of the call-in radio show, "Night Call," which discuss race in the mid to late 1960s. Check what’s there.
De-Colonizing the Church: A Commitment to Anti-Racism, a new 5-part weekly webinar series beginning Feb. 18 will provide a time to learn about the inherent racism in the church, as well as an opportunity for commitment to de-colonizing The United Methodist Church in the U.S. Anti-racism scholars and practitioners will lead each session. Get details and register.
One Man, Multiple Perspectives: Cam Belk has an African American mother and a white father. The United Methodist works in a Mexican restaurant where he speaks Spanish most of the day, and he has dreams of using his language skills as a missionary. Annette Spence profiles a college student who is trying to expand his world and that of others.
Antiracism Tips for White Christians: M. Garlinda Burton, the interim top executive for the General Commission on Religion and Race, offers some Do’s and Don’ts for white Christians starting on the antiracism journey. Read her commentary
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.
New- Holy Spirit: Transforming the ordinary - Many people have questions about the Holy Spirit. We have answers in this "Get Your Spirit in Shape" podcast. Listen
All God’s Children Ministries Seeks Executive Director: Rev. Debbie Hills, an ordained deacon and licensed physical therapist who served since 2012 as executive director of the ministry is retiring. The board of the Erie-based ministry serving people living with disabilities is seeking a new executive director. See the posting at wpaumc.org/classifieds.
Need a Website--or a New Look? If your church doesn’t have a website or would like to start over with a fresh, modern website UM Communications offers three Website Development Package options. They include training. See what they are
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