Pittsburgh District News


Events

Pittsburgh District Conference

Where: Zoom

Sunday, October 25, 2020 2:00 PM

Please mark your calendar for Sunday, October 25, when our District Conference will be held via Zoom.  Pastors appointed to churches, along with at least 2 laity, are expected to attend.  Retirees and those in Extension Ministry are invited and welcome to attend.  The Zoom link was shared with all appointed clergy, so reach out to your pastor for the Zoom access link.  

District Conferences are outlined in Article 4 of the Conference Rules.

Here is the written report:  report+for+district+conference+2020.pdf

Learn more about how you and/or your church can be involved with The Nyadire Connection:  Nyadire+Presentation.pdf


Announcements

Christmas Open House @ Olmsted Manor    more info

We are excited to once again invite our community to the Olmsted Christmas Open House. Held two Sunday evenings this December (6 & 13), this free event is open to the whole family. Come celebrate the Christmas season at a laid-back gathering with live music, refreshments, and lots of conversation hosted in both the historic manor house and Groves Lodge retreat center. We will be following COVID-19 precautions, so please stay tuned for additional directions closer to the event.  More information.


2021 Pension Calculation Worksheet

The 2021 pension calculation worksheet is updated at https://www.wpaumc.org/benefits under the Miscellaneous Files section.  Please note, there is a slight increase from 2020 in that the Benefit Reserve is changing from .1% to .5% for 2021.  If you have any questions, please contact Kathleen Lasky, Conference Benefits Officer at 724-776-2300, Ext # 274.
 


2020 Charge/Church Conferences

Pittsburgh District Charge/Church Conferences will be taking place in September, October, and November.  Here is the scheduleagenda, and instructions for using the Church Dashboard.  Use this checklist to ensure all required reports are included.  The Charge Conference Summary Form should include all of the requested information, including complete contact information where applicable.  Even if information is duplicated in other reports submitted, be sure to include all requested information on the Charge Conference Summary Form (i.e. don't write something like "see page # of the report to the church").  Direct any questions to the District Office.


CANCELED: Regional Ordination Services

This service has been cancelled due to the Coronavirus.

Crossroads UMC (1000 Crossroads Dr, Oakdale, PA ) Sunday, October 25, 3 pm
     (Pittsburgh District Ordinands:  
Grace Killian and Joshua Demi and former PB District, Luke Whipple)


Church Reopening?

Returning to Church During COVID-19 Playbook: How your congregation joins in worship and community activities has changed significantly. Members want to come together for services but appreciate the flexibility technology offers. Shifting back to in-person services while maintaining a vibrant virtual ministry presents a unique challenge for churches. But you can make this transition as easy as possible. Vanco created the Returning to Church During COVID-19 Playbook to guide you through safely reopening your church and preparing for the future of worship. In this playbook, you will find essential guidance and recommendations on…
• Adjusting church practices to accommodate safe, contact-free activities, sacraments, events and giving.
• Communicating virtually with staff, volunteers and your congregation.
• Infusing technology into ministry.
• Maintaining a sense of community wherever members are gathering.
Welcome your congregation back to in-person worship with confidence and embrace the new hybrid church. Download your copy of our playbook today.

Church reopening? Bishop Cynthia Moore-Koikoi said in a letter to clergy that you must follow governmental laws and official health guidelines.  Continue to have conversations with your church leadership and your District Superintendent as you make decisions about how and when to reintegrate in-person worship to your ministry. You can find our reopening guidelines and a video discussing our reasoning at wpaumc.org/covid-19-whats-next-for-churches.  

WPA Health Team Updates Reopening Guidelines: As some Western PA counties move toward the Green phase of Gov. Tom Wolf’s Plan for Reopening Pennsylvania, the Conference Abundant Health Team issued updated guidelines for churches in “green” counties. Learn more


Presering Your Church History    more info

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 begins September 14 and people can take it at their own pace.  Read press release.

 


Clergy Health Care

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


Worship Leader Wanted    more info

Roots of Faith, located in Sharpsburg, is seeking a part-time worship leader.  More details are here.
 


Fulltime Office Manager & Bookkeeper

Faith United  Methodist Church (261 West Chapel Ridge Road, Pittsburgh, PA 15238) is seeking an Office Manager & Bookkeeper.  More details are here.
 


At the Lake 2020 Ministry Dates    more info

At The Lake Ministries has released their open dates for the 2020 season! ATLM offers opportunities for persons with special needs to enjoy fishing and cruising on Lake Erie. To view the dates and for directions on how to schedule a charter for your family or group, visit atthelakeministries.org.


Laity Leadership Academy

In 2019 the United Methodist Foundation of Western Pennsylvania launched a Laity Leadership Academy designed to empower laity to lead the connection in the ever-changing landscape of congregational life.  Participants read some of the greatest books currently available on the topic, experience seminars led by the finest leaders in our Conference, engage with one another in dialogue, and build relationships that provide support for the journey.
Each one of the Academies is structured around two modules.  The first module is one year long, experienced together in several weekend retreats held at various locations around the Conference.  During these retreats, topics relevant to congregational leadership in the current culture are covered.
The second module is custom designed for each participant, allowing her or him to explore an area of leadership individually for which she or he is especially well equipped.  That determination is made after an assessment of the participant’s spiritual gifts and strengths.  That module is open-ended; it can be accomplished at whatever pace makes sense to the individual participant.
The next session of the Laity Academy will commence in the late summer of early fall or 2020.  Those who need additional information about enrolling should contact the Dean of the Academy, Rev. Joe Patterson at jpatterson@umfoundation.org.


2020 General Conference Dates Announced    more info

Dates set for General Conference: August 29 - September 7, 2021, at the Minneapolis Convention Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Learn more.
 
General Conference to move to 2021 Read the news release
 


Winter 2020 online CEU courses

Winter 2020 online CEU courses for UMC Clergy:  Fee: $25. Classes are one hour. Register before January 8 at clergyeducation.com,  for a 20 % discount using code: UMC20. CEU certificates following the session. Clergy who can’t attend a webinar at the scheduled time can receive a video of the session by registering for the class. A recorded video is sent to registrants. Questions?  kevin@marketsquarebooks.com
 


Tara & Eric Park Release New CD    more info

Tara Park, whose music ministry has been a blessing to the Western PA Conference for over 25 years, and her husband Eric, the Butler District Superintendent, have released a new music CD entitled “Feels Like Home!”  It includes eleven original songs along with three of their favorite hymns of faith.  Every dollar raised from the sale of the CDs, which are $10 each, will go directly to support the “Deeply Rooted, Upward Reaching” campaign supporting six Western PA Conference Camping and Retreat Ministries.  The CDs are available through the Pittsburgh District Office and through other sources.  Read more at the link above.


Seeds of HOPE    more info

Rev. Anais Hussian, Aftercare Mentor Coordinator at Foundation of HOPE, is hoping raise the level of consciousness regarding issues of incarceration and reentry in Allegheny County and is always happy to speak to congregations about this reality. Click here for a brochure that provides information about the Seeds of HOPE program and how individuals and congregations can help.  

Many former inmates lack the informal and formal support systems (“seeds”) needed to help them reintegrate back into their communities. The HOPE Aftercare Program is an interfaith pre- and post-release adult reintegration program for inmates and reentrants that helps ensure their successful return to the community. HOPE Aftercare Provides basic needs assistance, information resources, referrals, and guidance regarding employment, housing, education, food assistance, mental health services, clothing, and furniture. 


Handbells Available

Carnegie UMC has Malmark handbells, including cases and tables available. The church is planning on putting them on the open market at some point, but would be happy to give a good deal to a local UM church if anyone could use them. Interested, leave a message at the Carnegie UMC office at (412) 279-3020 or email umc.carnegie@yahoo.com.


Resources

Resources for Responding to Racism    more info

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.  


Circles Sharpsburg    more info

Roots of Faith (800 Main Street, Sharpsburg) hosts this anti-poverty campaign that surrounds and empowers families living in poverty with positive relationships of accountability on Tuesdays at 6 pm.  This program is part of Circles Greater Pittsburgh.


Mission Vision    more info

Do you have old eyeglasses at home? Donate them to Mission Vision, a non-profit based in Cranberry Twp. that equips mission volunteers to offer eyeglass clinics where people can be fitted and get glasses matching their prescriptions. Volunteers from Zion UMC in Sarver clean and categorize the used glasses. Teams from that church take them to Haiti and other locations. Others go with The Nyadire Connection teams to Zimbabwe. Used glasses are now being collected at the United Methodist Center in Cranberry and the Eastbrook Mission Barn. 


Sharpsburg Rocks    more info

Join us as we paint rocks, make new friends, and help spread joy in Sharpsburg. Mondays, 10:30 am at Roots of Faith, 800 Main Street, Sharpsburg.   Sharpsburg Rocks is a group that paints rocks with inspirational phrases and hides them around Sharpsburg. Residents find them and can connect with Roots of Faith. We encourage people to re-hide them, and we’ve had a few rocks travel long distance – Kenya, Switzerland, across the US. You can see more about it here: facebook.com/sharpsburgrocks.


The Neighborhood Table    more info

Roots of Faith (800 Main Street, Sharpsburg), invites everyone to a free community dinner the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Thursdays of each month at 6 pm.  A free legal clinic is available on the 1st Thursday and free health clinic on the 3rd Thursday. 


Conference News

Below you will find some conference news relevant to Pittsburgh District. To see all conference news, go to the News section at the very top of this page.
WPA COVID-19 Updates (read more )

6/5/2020

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


Clergy Coaching Sessions Offered (read more )

5/6/2020

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


Conference Call to Prayer (read more )

4/13/2020

The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear?  The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?   (Psalm 27:1, NRSV)   As our world has become encased in fear and uncertainty because of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Western Pennsylvania Conference calls all laity and clergy to an intentional, daily time of prayer.  In the midst of the chaos, we need to stand in the power of prayer.   On March 24, 2020, Rev. Randall Bain, senior pastor at the Oakland United Methodist ... read more


Bishops Ask to Postpone GC2020 (read more )

3/13/2020

UPDATE:  The Commission on the General Conference, in a March 16 press release said: As concerns over the coronavirus (COVID-19) epidemic continue to escalate, the Commission on the General Conference will meet on March 21 via teleconference to discuss plans for the 2020 General Conference, scheduled for May 5-15, 2020 in Minneapolis, Minn.  According to the United Methodist Book of Discipline, in the absence of a convened General Conference, only the full Commission, as the duly authorized ... read more


Worship in Virus/Flu Season (read more )

3/3/2020

UPDATED - 3/16/20 On March 15, the Center for Disease Control recommended that for the next 8 weeks, throughout the U.S., organizers cancel or postpone in-person events that involve 50 people or more. Bishop Cynthia Moore-Koikoi will issue a statement on hope-filled ways United Methodists can offer ministry during this season. Updated CDC info on Mass Gatherings is at https://www.cdc.gov/…/mass-gatherings-ready-for-covid-19.ht… With the number of Coronavirus 2019 (COVID19) cases increasing ... read more


Quick Links

WPA Facebook Page
Diversity Development and Inclusion
Mission Barn

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

 

Scholarships and Grants

There are a variety of scholarships available at www.umc.org/resources/scholarships and at www.wpaumc.org/scholarshipforms.