Appointments effective July 1, except where noted.
Sorted by Announced Date
Oliver to Serve Erie: Trinity UMC
She received her call to Pastoral Ministry in 1995. Retiring from her career as a Realtor, and excited to return to school in preparation for service, Roseanne earned a BA in Religion and a BA in Africa and African American Studies at Wright State University in Dayton Ohio. After graduation, while she was packing to move on to Seminary, Roseanne received a call from the University Urban Studies Department, inviting her to stay and complete a Master of Public Administration (MPA). While the two-year MPA program delayed her entrance into Seminary, she believes that the skills she acquired were designed to enhance her ministerial skills in the community. Roseanne entered seminary, where she earned a Master of Divinity Degree from Payne Theological Seminary, Wilberforce, Ohio. While at Payne, Roseanne completed her CPE Certification at Kettering Hospital in Kettering, Ohio.
Ordained an Elder in the AME Church, Roseanne served as an Associate Pastor for six years on the campus of Payne Seminary. She served as Senior Pastor to churches in the Marysville, and Kenton Ohio areas, as well as Monessen and West Newton, Pa. Roseanne worked on many committee as well as serving as Chair of Xenia/Springfield and the Ohio Conference Organization of Women in Ministry.
After transferring to the UMC, Roseanne became a member of Laketon Heights, UMC, Pittsburgh, where Rev. Judith Winston Thomas is Senior Pastor. In her spare time, Roseanne teaches in the local community elementary schools and works summers in inner city camps with an emphasis on combatting “summer slide” in disadvantaged communities. She is passionate about preaching and teaching God’s word. Well-known for her contagious evangelism, her love of music and creative preaching, Roseanne enjoys traditional, contemporary and blended worship services. Her passion for ministry includes community outreach, the elderly, and the elimination of homelessness in our communities.
Roseanne often thinks… “there are people right outside the walls of our local churches who need healing and who are lonely. We have in our hands good medicine from the Great Physician to dispense—it is a gospel message that heals hearts, changes lives, and reconciles sinners to a merciful Savior.”
The congregation is strongly Bible-based, mission-minded and guided by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. They reach out to the community in a number of creative ways, including Friendship Ministries, an organization that ministers to adults who are mentally and physically challenged. They have a good working relationship with the Erie United Methodist Alliance, a ministry that seeks to makes homelessness in the region rare and brief. They also have recently conducted a number of outreach ministries to children and youth.
Trinity Church is comprised of loving and caring people, who are ready to discover their future as the Body of Christ!
Shaughnessy to Serve Cochranton UMC
Encouraged by a dear friend who was Director of Christian Education at First UMC Franklin and through prayerful discernment, Terry enrolled in the Master of Christian Education program at Duke Divinity School. During his first assignment as an intern at Duke's Chapel UM Church in Durham, he received the call to pastoral ministry. The call was confirmed by his acceptance into the Master of Divinity program at Duke and an appointment as a Student Local Pastor to the Mt.Tabor-Riverview Charge in the Durham District of the North Carolina Annual Conference.
After graduation from Duke in the spring of 1986 Terry returned to Western PA for his first full-time appointment at the Eastbrook UMC and subsequent ordination as an Elder by Bishop James Ault in 1988. From there he was appointed to First UM Church in Union City, where he served for 15 years. After leaving Union City First Church, Terry served at Grove City Grace, Washington First, and Erie First UM churches until his retirement from full time ministry December 2012.
While serving churches in the annual conference Terry also served on the Board of Directors for Wesley Woods and Olmsted Manor as well as on the Board of Ordained Ministry for the Erie-Meadville District as both secretary and registrar.
After his retirement Terry moved to Zephyrhills, Florida, where he was involved in New Walk Church as lead usher for one of four worship services, as a member of one of five prayer ministry teams, and officiated weddings as needed. Terry was also a volunteer Chaplain at Florida Hospital of Zephyrhills. He was asked to serve as interim pastor for First United Methodist of Seffner in the Florida Annual Conference in January, 2016, then was appointed in June 2016 as the (part time) pastor. He will leave that post, giving up the sunshine and warm winters of Florida, to return to ministry in the Erie-Meadville District, where he will be closer to extended family and friends and will once again have to put winter tires on his car.
Terry has enjoyed long-distance bicycling and travel to Alaska for halibut fishing and is an avid Duke basketball fan. (He lived one of his bucket list dreams by attending the 2017 season Duke/UNC game at Cameron Indoor Stadium when Duke beat Carolina).
The congregation reaches out in several ways, sometimes alone and sometimes in partnership with other congregations or community partners. They work with the Salvation Army, support a food pantry, and participate in a community fair. In addition, they join in with the local ministerial association to offer worship services throughout the year, including an annual community Christmas music extravaganza! They hold Election Day luncheons, support the Samaritan’s Purse Christmas Child program.They have opened their doors to host Narcotics Anonymous and have become active with Ramps of Hope. One of their Lay Servants has even been recruited by another congregation in town to serve as their interim leader while they search for a new pastor!
Judd to Lead Erie Urban Cooperative Ministries
Matthew Judd, pictured at front right, has been appointed the lead pastor of the new (but yet unnamed) urban cooperative parish in Erie, effective July 1.
Matt grew up in the North Hills of Pittsburgh with St. Paul’s UMC as his home church and current Erie District Superintendent Joseph Patterson as his youth leader. He became a Christian shortly after the death of his grandfather, then felt his call to ministry about a year later. He attended Grove City College and Asbury Theological Seminary in Wilmore, KY where he earned his Master of Divinity degree.
Matt is passionate about biblical preaching, teaching about discipleship, and youth ministry. Each of these gifts have been utilized as he served Erie: Kingsley, Cabot, and Erie: Glenwood over the course of his ministry. He is currently working on initiatives aimed at providing opportunities for urban youth who are in poverty. These include including helping the youth get their drivers' licenses, finding summer jobs, or attending summer camp at Wesley Woods, where he is an adventure camp dean.
Matt has been married to Allison, his partner in life and ministry, for 22 years. They have two home-schooled daughters – Anna is 18 and a freshman at Houghton College, majoring in Philosophy, and Caroline is 15, in tenth grade at the Judd Academy for the Wayward Children of United Methodist Clergy, and keeps active at the Erie Playhouse.
He looks forward to the opportunities and challenges ahead as the cooperative seeks to meet the spiritual, relational, and physical needs of the people of Erie.
About Harold BlairHarold Blair (at back left in photo) grew up in a Wesleyan Methodist parsonage, living first in Brownsville, Pa, and then in Akron, Ohio. He graduated from Kansas City College with both a liberal arts degree and a bachelor’s degree in theology. Following graduation, he served two Wesleyan Methodist churches, one in Western Pennsylvania and the other in New York State. Harold speaks of this phase of his life as his early "Moses" stage, in which he attempted to do ministry on his own strength with less than desirable results. Disillusioned, he left ministry and the church, entering into a desert stage of spiritual existence. Not much went right during that period of his life. After losing his marriage, home and job, Harold turned back to God in desperation, finding not a burning bush, but true peace and a never-before-experienced sense of God's awesome love. Shortly thereafter, he met the love of his life, Jerri. They have been married 32 year. Harold says, "She is truly my co-pastor."
Jerri and Harold were active lay persons, first at Erie's Tenth Street UMC and then at Glenwood UMC. When they first went to Glenwood, he said he would never join nor hold any office in the church: words that were meant to be eaten, for he ended up as a member and chairperson of the SPRC. Those eaten words were but an appetizer for his next statement: "I will never re-enter pastoral ministry!" In 2010, Harold did exactly that as he completed Licensing School and was appointed to Kingsley UMC in Erie, where he has served up to now. Over the years, Harold has completed the Basic Course of Study at Duke Seminary and views these past eight years as the best ones of his life. Harold is a people person and loves the ministries of preaching as well as teaching and visitation. He is excited about the new urban ministry partnership that is forming in Erie knowing and loving both the pastors as well as the churches involved. He’s confident that even better years lay ahead.
Harold and Jerri are the parents of five adult children, fifteen grandchildren, and three great grand children. Their very alpha Pomeranian – Chihuahua mix, Bayley, shares his home with them in Erie.
About Donald BlystoneDonald (Donnie) Blystone (front left in photo) has served the church since he was a teenager. His first "official" role was that of youth representative to the Ad Council at First UMC in Union City. Since then he volunteered at Wesley Woods for 16 years as a maintenance helper, serving as a counselor of Mini Camp, Pony Camp, Sports Camp, and as dean of Fishing Camp. At the local church level, he has served as the Lay Leader, youth leader, Sunday School teacher, and committee member of every other church committee.
At the Conference level, Donnie has served as member of Camping and Retreat Ministries, conference Nominating Committee, conference Board of Laity, and Bishop Bickerton’s Lay Cabinet. Donnie also was elected as an alternate to General Conferences in 2012 and 2016, Jurisdictional Conference alternate in 2012, and first elected Lay Delegate to Jurisdictional Conference in 2016.
Most recently Donnie has served eight years as Erie/ Meadville District Lay Leader. In that role he has taught several lay leadership classes, taught classes at various churches, and delivered many Sunday morning messages.
Donnie recently decided to give in to the call to a more formal pastoral ministry role, a calling that has been on his life since age 10. Donnie will licensing as a Local Pastor and Course of Study.
Donnie and his wife Tammy have three children: Andy, Kim, and Amy; a daughter-in-law Sandi, and son-in-law Marvin. They also have two grandsons, Jason and Joey.
About Shirley DeemerPastor Shirley (back row, right in photo) was born and raised in Erie in a Christian home where Bible study, worship and fellowship were an important part of her spiritual formation. Shirley earned her B.A. in music education from Bethel College, a small Christian liberal arts college in Mishawaka, Indiana. She taught elementary music in Indiana and Pennsylvania and spent 30 years in the insurance business.
In 2012, after an early retirement and while serving as the music director at Glenwood UMC, Shirley felt the call to ministry and was licensed as a local pastor in 2013.
Shirley has two daughters. Sarah has her degree in elementary education and is currently a substitute teacher. Abby will be doing her rotations this year for her Physician’s Assistant degree.
In using her spiritual gifts of teaching and music, Shirley prays that people will experience God through all of their senses. Her vision is for children to know how precious they are in His sight, to understand how much they are loved and prepare them to be kingdom builders.
About Mary StewartMary Stewart (center, back row in photo) has a life-long passion for serving God. Whether serving as a layperson or as a local pastor, she has focused on ministry with the poor, victimized and struggling. God has blessed her with many opportunities to live into her calling. She has served as a pastor both in urban and country settings within Erie and Crawford counties. She has a particular interest in social justice concerns including racial and ethnic discrimination.
Mary lives in the Harborcreek suburb of Erie with her husband Jim and father-in-law Paul. Mary and Jim have three adult sons, three wonderful daughter-in-laws, three grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
Mary’s hope is that every person can feel the love of their Creator and experience, in and through the church, welcome and acceptance regardless of their life circumstances. Her favorite scripture is Micah 6:8: “…what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God.”
The truth of the matter was that several of the churches already had been cooperating in ministry. Leadership was being shared. Projects were accomplished together. So late last year, the Cabinet decided to ask the churches if they were ready to formalize the movement. Conversations were held on several levels among the pastoral and lay leadership. Great latitude was given to opt in or not. But after a long process, all of the parties involved decided to live into the future together.
The Cooperative Ministry has been designed intentionally around a campus model. Each congregation will retain its own identity and presence in the City. The pastors will continue to relate primarily to the congregations to which they are currently appointed. There will be no co-mingling of funds; the congregations will retain oversight over most administrative matters. But the leadership of the five churches will be “cut loose” to approach ministry in creative new ways, taking advantage of a remarkably talented group of pastors and a remarkably vibrant group of congregations.
Glenwood Church is a vital congregation in the center of the City, a group who reaches out to the community with energy and passion. Henderson Church is a richly multicultural congregation, which bravely proclaims the Good News of Jesus Christ from a platform of diversity. Kingsley Church is a rock-solid congregation with a history of creativity and outreach. San Juan Church reaches out to the vibrant Hispanic community in the City of Erie, offering culturally relevant worship. They also work with community partners to be in ministry to the marginalized. Table of Grace Church is a renewing congregation that has caught of vision, fiercely dedicated to the City and the future, and effectively reaching those caught up in addiction.
Matt Judd will serve as the Lead Pastor. Harold Blair, Don Blystone, Shirley Deemer, and Mary Stewart will serve with him as Associate Pastors. Together they bring a rich set of talents, experience, training and passion for urban ministry.
The name assigned to the project, “Erie Urban Cooperative Ministry," is temporary. One of their tasks will be to discover a more creative way to describe themselves.
Patterson to Serve Woodcock, Meadville Grace UMCs
She questioned her faith as a young college student, then left school to marry. Several years later, when her marriage was crumbling, a neighbor invited her to a Bible Study for young moms. By experiencing God’s love through her new friends, she found that God has always remained faithful. This drew her back not just to the church, but to a new personal commitment to Jesus Christ.
After a few years as a single mom, she enrolled at the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford, where she finished her degree in Applied Mathematics. Shortly before she graduated, and while serving as a church organist, Becky was introduced to Eddie Patterson, the pastor of a neighboring UM church. Content to serve the Lord as a clergy spouse, she sang in or directed a number of church choirs, as well as holding local and district offices in the UMW, teaching Sunday School and VBS, serving as a lay speaker, and doing other church-related work.
In 2002, Becky was asked to serve as a supply pastor for a charge adjacent to Eddie’s appointment at the time, and through a season of prayerful exploration, she discerned that God was indeed calling her “to the other side of the pulpit.” After perceiving that her call was to ordained ministry, she earned her M. Div. at Asbury Theological Seminary. She was ordained in 2013, the same year Eddie retired, and currently serves as pastor of Grace UMC in Meadville, where she also directs the choir.
The Pattersons have five children and eight grandchildren. They enjoy local history, walking the bike trails, and travellng. Becky also knits and crochets, and plays clarinet in the Franklin Silver Cornet Band.
Grace recently began a new outreach to the community through “Thursdays for Jesus,” a weekly children’s ministry that provides supper and a Bible story activity for all who attend. For several years, they have offered a free Saturday luncheon each month, open to the community. Dozens of children attend VBS each August and there is a lively year-round adult Sunday School class. An active 5-star UMW unit hosted the 2016 WPA Conference UMW Annual Meeting and reaches out to the community with spring and fall rummage sales, and a fall election day bake sale & bazaar, with many items made by the Sew & Sews, a weekly craft group. The choir presents Christmas and Easter cantatas each year, and a men’s group meets monthly for breakfast.
The church building is home to the Rainbow Connection Preschool, and the church has recently signed a lease with the Creating Landscapes Learning Center, a private K-8 school, to begin using classrooms in the church building when their new school year starts in August.
Groundwork is being laid for a ministry to persons with disabilities, as Grace continues to look for more ways to serve the community and to nurture and share the love of Jesus Christ.
Woodcock Church was first organized as a class in 1806 as part of the Erie Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church. They first met in the home of a Mr. and Mrs. Ford. The first log Church was built in 1811; the second Church in 1817; this church burned in 1838 and the third brick Church was erected in 1838. A parsonage was built in 1879. Later it was made into a Church Hall and in 1959 it was enlarged to become a Fellowship Hall.
Woodcock today is a small congregation the influences the community in big ways. They sponsor Art and Music festivals, and collect warm, winter clothing for the less-fortunate in the region. They are a warm congregation that keeps others warm, too!
Grace Church and Woodcock Church are looking forward to serving God’s people together!
Hixson To Serve Conneaut Lake: Trinity
In his 31 years as a pastor, Russ has been honored to serve the St. John’s, West Liberty, and Forestville United Methodist churches of the Butler District; the Mapletown and Mt. Pleasant United Methodist churches of the Washington District, and the Weis Library United Methodist Church of the Erie/Meadville District. He currently serves the Wattsburg and Phillipsville United Methodist churches of the Erie/Meadville District.
Russ believes the primary calling of the Church is to make disciples, and as a result, his leadership has emphasized the spiritual practices of prayer, Bible study, and hands-on Christian service. As part of this emphasis Russ has either led or participated in many prayer events, Bible Studies, and mission trips in his tenure as a pastor.
Russ has been blessed with an amazing wife and partner in ministry, Elaine. Elaine is the Director of Finance and Administration for CHOSEN IMA, a Christian mission that refurbishes medical equipment for Christian hospitals and leads medical mission trips. Russ and Elaine have two adult children: Luke, an attorney and CPA in Pittsburgh ,and Leah, a teacher in Laurinburg, NC.
Russ looks forward to the challenges of this new appointment and wishes to thank the Wattsburg and Phillipsville churches for their love and support during the past ten years.
Trinity Church connects with the community in many forms: feeding the hungry, assisting the marginalized, and partnering with other congregations to make life better for those who struggle. The church has a strong youth group and an iconic musical program at Christmas known as the “Living Christmas Tree.” Singers are arranged on risers in the shape of a huge tree and tell the news about Jesus’ birth in festive style!
The church is dedicated to transforming the world for Jesus Christ!
Melissa Geisler to Serve Lawrence Park
Pastor Melissa was born and raised in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. She is the youngest and only girl of four children. Raised by a Christian mother, Melissa answered her call to go into ministry during her junior year of college at the University of South Florida, where she earned a B.A. degree in Religious Studies from the University of South Florida. She continued her education at Asbury Theological Seminary in Wilmore, KY, and earned a Master of Divinity degree.
While in seminary, Melissa met her husband Ron, an ordained Elder serving Christ UM Church in Erie. The couple has two sons: Caleb, 18, who attends Messiah College in Mechanicsburg, PA, and Andrew, 15, who attends McDowell Intermediate High School.
After graduating from Asbury, Melissa served as a Diaconal Minister of Christian Education in local churches, in private Christian schools, and at Christian youth camps. In 2010, Melissa heard the call to begin the process toward ordination as an Elder. At the 2016 Western PA Annual Conference, she was ordained as a Full Elder. Melissa has served in the Washington District as associate pastor at the Community Churches Charge and as senior pastor at Trinity UMC in Erie. Melissa also serves on the Erie-Meadville’s District Committee on Ministry (DCOM) and on the Western PA Episcopacy Committee.
In using her spiritual gifts of helping, teaching, and administration, Melissa believes that her ministry focuses on transforming lives through reaching out, building up, and forming relationships with those within the community.
Melissa enjoys spending time with family, hiking, camping, playing games, doing jigsaw puzzles, and watching Pittsburgh sports.
Lawrence Park Church has been a steady presence through the many changes that have taken place in the neighborhood. They also stand ready to minister to the neighborhood as the next wave of change takes place. Born out of the needs of a struggling human community, and formed though the giftedness of a pioneering woman, God still guides them bravely into the future.
Morrison to Serve Wattsburg, Phillipsville
Rev. Morrison has served as the Pastor of First United Methodist Church of Monongahela since December 1, 2013. Previously he served on the staff of The General Council on Finance and Administration (GCFA) of The United Methodist Church 2005-2013) and as a pastor of small membership congregations in Allegheny County (1990-2005).
In the Western Pennsylvania Conference, Alan served as the Supportive Ministries Team chair (now Conference Council on Finance and Administration) for 6-1/2 years. He was the the Host Operations Director for the 2004 General Conference of The United Methodist Church in Pittsburgh; and has served in a variety of volunteer leadership positions for the Conference Sessions Ministry Team for 26 years. Currently he is the Vice Chair and Program/Agenda Coordinator for the Conference Sessions Team. A member of the Board of Ministry, he chairs the Conference Relations Committee. He also serves as a process mentor for those considering ordained ministry and is vice chair of the Washington District Committee on Ministry.
Rev. Morrison has been a part of the Scouting program for 50 years and is currently serving on the executive board of the Laurel Highlands Council of the Boy Scouts of America as the Youth Protection Champion. He also is volunteering as the lead United Methodist Chaplain for the 2019 World Scout Jamboree and the 2021 National Scout Jamboree.
Alan is married to the former Lois Carl Granlund of Platteville and Stevens Point, Wisconsin. They have one son, Ron. Lois is an ordained United Church of Christ clergy and currently serves as Chaplain of Meadville Medical Center. Ron lives in Pittsburgh and is the maintenance supervisor at the Pendleton in Cranberry Woods. The family also includes Maxey, an 8-year-old Pointer mix.
Phillipsville also traces its history through the Erie Conference. It began as a class that was organized in 1840 and later became a preaching appointment as part of the Wesleyville Circuit. The church property was purchased and the present church building built in 1862. It was renovated in 1944. In 1952 social rooms were added to the rear of the church and further substantial improvements were carried out in 1960.
The two congregations have been in partnership since the early 1970s. Today they are vibrant places of worship and service. They work closely with “Chosen,” an international outreach ministry based in Erie. They provide wells for the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico. In addition, they are active with “Ramps of Hope,” the Lowville Food Pantry, a Jamaican ministry called “One on One,” and other mission trips. In the community, they host “Kids Alive,” a school release program that offers religious instruction in cooperation with the local school district. They also participate in a community hot dog roast and an annual Easter egg hunt.
Rose to Serve Elgin, McCray, Wayne Valley
Ed graduated from Methodist University in 1985 and completed the basic Course of Study at Candler Seminary. He brings a wealth of experience and training to ministry in the Western PA Conference.
Ed has been married to Sandylee Rose for 47 years, has four children, and 10 grandchildren, and they share their home with Ginger, their mighty rescue dog.
Ed’s grandfather, Rev. Edwin F. Armitage, served churches in Western Pennsylvania and the Western New York Conference for 40 years until his retirement. From his earliest years, Ed felt his grandfather’s love and encouragement to pursue a Christian vocation. After serving as a Chief Religious Program Specialist in the U. S. Navy, Ed began the process that led to licensing and appointment as a local pastor.
The exact date of the organization of the Elgin Church cannot be determined, but we know that it was somewhere around 1850. The present building was originally the home of a congregation of another denomination, built in the nearby community of Beaverdam. Sometime after 1867 it was purchased by Methodists and moved into the Borough of Elgin. They have been a faithful presence there ever since.
Robert McCray gave land to a congregation around 1845 that was comprised of a Methodist Society and a Congregational Church. Sadly, sometime prior to 1900 the two bodies began to dispute about which one had use and control of the building. A lawsuit ensued; the court ruled that both bodies should have joint use of the property, and that the Methodists should pay court costs. Those costs were never paid and the church was placed on the market at a public sale. A member of the Methodist Board of Trustees purchased the building and sold it back to the Methodist congregation at an exceptionally reasonable price. It has been their home ever since. Several descendants of Robert McCray still participate in the congregation’s life, which reaches out to the community in creative and effective ways.
Not much is known about the history of Wayne Valley UMC, except that it was organized in 1869 by the Erie Conference of the United Brethren. The church building was constructed in 1871 and enhanced in 1926. The good folks on the Wayne Valley Church are faithful to serve the community around it in the name of Jesus Christ!
The new alignment that brings these three fine congregations together promises to be a new day of cooperation and commitment, making their ancestors proud.
Andy Blystone to Serve in Corry
In the fall of 2004 Andy entered Asbury College (now University) and graduated with a Bachelor's degree in Christian Ministries. He continued to return to Wesley Woods during the summers and worked as a lifeguard, program staff counselor, and as the summer program director. While in college Andy took advantage of the opportunity to serve the people of Mississippi in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina with four different work crews over three years. While those trips were formative in thinking about what it means to help people on a variety of levels, his most meaningful memory was meeting a young woman from Florida who was also an Asbury student named Sandi. After graduating, they married in Wilmore, KY and returned to NWPA.
For three years Andy served as the program director at Wesley Woods. In 2012 he answered God’s call to pastoral ministry and began serving the Tionesta-Tylersburg Charge as the associate and as the senior pastor in 2013. Sandi and Andy have doubled the size of their family since living in Tionesta and are the proud parents of Jason,4, and Joseph, 2. Andy enjoys time with family and friends, cooking, baking, grilling and smoking (meats), is an avid Pittsburgh sports fan and relishes the magic of theme parks. Sandi works as a hospice social worker and enjoys documenting the adventures and exploits of her family in photo books.
Andy is currently enrolled as a student in Course of Study. He looks forward to using his gifts for ministry to help the church be the hands and feet of Jesus to those in need and far from God and teaching and leading groups as they grow together in Christ. He continues to be active as a summer chaplain and Bible study leader at Wesley Woods and together with his wife has a heart for disaster relief and international missions. While they have loved the beauty of God’s country in Forest and Clarion Counties and have been humbled by the people of the Tionesta and Tylersburg Charge, they look forward to what God has in store as they begin the next chapter of their story at Corry Evangelical UMC in July 2018.
The congregation has been a tenacious presence in the Borough of Corry, offering the Good News of Jesus Christ for a long time. They are an active community partner, working with agencies and other churches to bring relief to those who are marginalized or underserved. One of those community partners, Love INC (Love in the Name of Christ) has offices located in the church building. They also have a long and proud history of support for global missions and provide leadership for an annual Missionary Conference.
Jay Sterling to serve Wurtemburg/Koppel
Upon graduation Jay did not feel he was completely ready for further studies, so he entered the US2 program through the General Board of Global Ministries. As a US2, his call to ministry became clear and he entered Wesley Theological Seminary. Jay is well versed in history and shines at being a student of scripture. He preaches contextually, helping the listener not only to understand what the scripture meant when first written, but what it means today.
Jay and his wife Martha have three daughters – Sarah, Joanna, and Lydia. Jay has served at Creekside, Eldersville, Clarks Mills, and Conneaut: Trinity, where he's currently appointed. The people at Wurtemburg and Koppel and the Sterlings are optimistic about the potential of these historic churches as they continue to find ways to make the gospel relevant to their communities and the world beyond.
Wurtemburg UMC is a small, but active church. Located on the outskirts of Ellwood City in the borough of Ellport, the church cares for its members while engaging in a variety of outreach ministries. In addition to supporting various missions and missionaries, the congregation is involved in an Ellwood City ministry called the Carpenter’s Project in which homes are repaired for their low-income neighbors. They also collect backpacks and school supplies for the Ellwood City School District’s low-income and homeless students every year. Additionally, their Breaking Free ministry offers Bible Study and outreach to the inmates of the Lawrence County Jail. Church members pride themselves on caring for each other and the wider community, both local and global. They see their mission as loving God and their neighbors, no matter where they are.
Though Koppel United Methodist Church is small, it is mighty. It is the only church in the small mill town of Koppel, PA, which has a population of around 800, many of whom identify as Catholic. The church is active with community events and has a relationship with the local fire department. Koppel hosts soup suppers, with the proceeds going back into the community. It also has an active youth group that reaches local youth of the neighborhood. The church has much potential for growth. The people of Koppel UMC love to love on people and see it as their God-given mission.
Ronnie Cox to Serve Lake City First UMC
During his sophomore year of college, Ronnie began to discern the call to ministry. He was heavily involved in campus ministry, which played a role in his call. It was on a retreat called Radiate that he first truly knew God was calling him to pastoral ministry. Over the next few years on campus he was a weekly meeting leader with Campus Crusade for Christ.
Ronnie graduated from Penn State Behrend in 2017, earning a bachelor’s degree in science with a focus in mathematics. In the Summer of 2017 he married the love of his life, Jamie. Ronnie is currently a student at Northeastern Seminary at Roberts Wesleyan University in Rochester, NY.
Ronnie has been serving as the youth director at Park UMC in North East, PA, where he lives with his wife and their new puppy Perry. He enjoys video games, home improvement projects and spending time with friends and family.
Lake City itself has seen a number of changes; the church has been part of the fabric of the community through it all. Today the congregation stands on the foundation built by those who came before, ready to discover its future.
Han to Lead Cooperative Ministry
Pastor Han was born and brought up in a countryside of Korea as the youngest of three boys. He was most influenced by his parents, who were passionate Christians. Though they farmed in a secluded place in the mountains, they implanted conviction and courage in their son, allowing him to experience and live out Jesus' love through their examples.
Duk Hee married his soul mate, Eun Young, 19 years ago and they have been blessed with two wonderful sons, Kyu Hyung, 18, and Kyu Hyek, 15.
Duk Hee graduated from Korean Methodist Seminary in February 1993 with a degree in theology. While at seminary, in addition to accumulating theological knowledge, along with some friends, he devoted himself to helping less fortunate neighbors such as orphans, blind children, and tuberculosis patients.
Following his 1994 ordination in the Central Annual Conference of the Korean Methodist Church, Duk Hee engaged in mission in Zambia, Africa. Initially he found many contradictions between mission theory and practice, but it was very helpful to establish his own philosophy and principle about mission based on the Incarnation of Jesus Christ. He was convinced that effective mission depends on the attitude of the missionary, ideally someone who can absorb other cultures and thought and establish good partnerships by mixing with the local people.
While Duk Hee was working in the Philippines, he earned his masters and doctoral degrees. After completing his doctorate in church administration at Union Theological Seminary, he taught Christian Leadership at Wesley Divinity School in Cabanatuan City for a year. Through his teaching experience, he further enhanced his organizational and leadership skills and came to better understand the importance of respecting the viewpoints of native people in trying to carry out God's mission effectively in foreign countries.
Duk Hee has been privileged to serve God through the United Methodist Church since he immigrating to America in 2004. His 13 years of experience serving as pastor with local churches in Western PA, including YESS Shared Ministry, Seward, College Hill and Grace, has provided him with enthusiasm for serving God's people regardless of gender, age, color, national origin or economic circumstances.
Duk Hee’s personal mission statement is "To be a model of the believers by loving, forgiving, serving, giving and witnessing in Jesus Christ." He practices the 2,3,7 every day for his spiritual disciplines:
- 2 - He meditates on the word of God twice a day in the morning and in the evening (Joshua 1:8).
- 3 - He prays three times a day in the morning, noon, and in the evening (Daniel 6:10).
- 7 - He sings praise to God seven times a day (Psalm 119:164).
Albion: Grace was organized in 1833 in the home of Albert Jackson. Albion was then known as Jackson's Crossroads. Services were held in the Jackson log cabin home at first, then in Juliet Academy from 1839 to 1853. A white frame church was constructed in 1854; the current brick building was erected in 1913 and the educational unit was added in 1958. The congregation has a long history of involvement in the community, including involvement in outreach programs to children and adults. After the catastrophic tornado hit the Borough of Albion in 1985, the church emerged as a community center of refuge and resource, offering peace and comfort in the name of Jesus Christ.
Cranesville UMC traces its history to 1835 when Methodist Societies in Cranesville and Wellsburg joined forces to create a strong congregation. The building has seen a great number of modifications through the years, many of them done by the church members themselves. Cranesville Church is a warm and loving group of people who love their church and envision a bright future. They are dedicated to missions and work to spread the love of God in Christ to everyone!
West Springfield traces its history to 1800 when a circuit rider from Ohio was invited to come to the new settlement and preach there. It is the “mother church” of the original Erie Circuit. The first church, built of round logs and covered with clapboard, was the first church building in the territory of the Erie Conference. Today West Springfield is a caring congregation, dedicated to the community in which they live and looking forward to the future guided by the Holy Spirit.
Miller to serve Harrisville/Forestville
Other ministry influences include training and experience in law and mediation, business management and marketing, depth psychology and American storytelling and literature.
Ken enjoys Chicago electric blues, visionary art, authentic Italian cuisine, American football and basketball and anything which quickens the soul and brightens the mind in this wide, wide wonderful, fascinating world.
Ken is looking forward to beginning a new stage of his life in which he plans to write and to share his ministry "with my lovely bride-to-be, Diane."
Harrisville United Methodist Church is a small town church that still seeks to stimulate a revival of the Holy Spirit in our daily lives. In worship, they explore scripture to seek a deeper understanding of the call of Christ upon their lives. They strive to take the message of Good News out to others while serving those in the community in need.
The Forestville church is in a more rural area with fewer younger people. The congregation supports the local food pantry, helped with a summer feeding program for children and has provided funds for a school nurse to purchase socks, mittens and winter items for children in need.
The Harrisville and Forestville congregations are constantly looking for the next right answer as they strive to connect with their communities and make God's love real in their area and the world.
Little Appointed to Saegertown UMC
After working with campus ministry Jeff worked as a manager of a Christian bookstore and eventually became a full-time youth director at a United Methodist church in Franklin, PA. Growing up in the United Methodist Church he realized while doing youth ministry that he had been running from pastoral ministry.
Jeff graduated from Asbury Seminary in 2007. He began his opportunity of ministry serving both Johnsonburg United Methodist Church (as a senior pastor) and Kane First United Methodist Church. In 2011 he continued the pastoral journey at Franklin First United Methodist Church where he currently serves. He will begin a new chapter July 1 at Saegertown UMC.
Jeff loves to incorporate art in worship has a passion for discipleship and relational small group ministries. When not involved with ministry, Jeff enjoys drawing, bike riding, board games and hanging out with his cat Sam.
Verner to serve Girard/Weis Library Charge
Andy began ministry in 1992 as a student pastor in the Washington District and has spent the last 26 years serving small, medium and large churches. He has specialized in church growth, evangelism, congregational transformation and family ministry. He is a gifted preacher, leader and administrator focused on building strong effective teams for the work of God’s kingdom in the local church. Currently he serves as pastor of Weis Library UMC.
Andy and his wife Julie met at Camp Allegheny and have been married for 23 years. They are the proud parents of four children: Tom, 21, a senior at Grove City College; Ryan, 18, a recent enlistee to the United States Navy; Jesse, 16, a sophomore at Fairview High School, and Emily, 12, in seventh grade at Fairview Middle School.
Girard Church traces its history back to 1815, including a revival in 1847 that lasted 72 days! Bishop Matthew Simpson, a personal friend of President Abraham Lincoln, preached at the dedication service of the present building in 1870. The building has been enhanced over the years to provide for better services. They are involved in vital and important ministries to children and youth, and in community ministry.
The congregation of Weis Library Church began its life together when a sermon was preached on the site of the current church building in 1833. Meetings and worship services were held in homes, school houses and even barns, until the first church building was erected in 1858. Since then, the church’s physical presence has been enlarged and enhanced, but the congregation still gathers at the same location. They have a lively presence in the community that they have called “home” since 1833, ever adapting and changing to meet the needs of a changing community.
Greenawalt To Serve Franklin: Christ UMC
Darrell’s 29-year ministry career began at Jeanette: Gethsemane UMC. He later served Lander UMC, South Greensburg UMC and Girard/Lake City UMC’s before moving to Saegertown, where he has been helping the church to develop an intentional discipleship plan focusing on small group development.
Darrell married Sharon in 1998 and is the very proud father of four boys: Nathan, 28; Aaron,26; Noah,16, and Toby,13. The family enjoys hiking, biking and traveling. Their family also includes a black cockapoo dog named Trixie.
During Darrell’s ministry, he has served on the Sessions Ministry Team, the Superintendency Committee of the Greensburg District, the Erie-Meadville District Committee on Ministry, the Episcopacy Committee, and on the board of directors of EUMA (The Erie United Methodist Alliance).
Bargar to Serve Rimersburg/Lawsonham Charge
During those 18 years, John and Lynne raised two wonderful kids, Joshua and Sarah. Joshua and Sarah have now completed their collegiate careers and have “left the nest.” John also graduated from Gannon University with a master’s degree in business administration, served as a Lay Speaker of the Saegertown UMC for 12 years, and enjoyed doing prison ministry for seven years at Albion SCI. John and Lynne maintain a residence in Saegertown, PA since Lynne is a teacher with the Penncrest School District, and has been the Treasurer of the Saegertown Library for several years. After all their married years of life together, they still enjoy Friday Night “Date Night,” enjoying home-made gluten free pizza, movies, board games and the kids when they stop by for a visit.
And then God called again. John left the business world, working as assistant chaplain at Wesbury United Methodist Retirement Community in Meadville and serving the Shermansville and Palmer United Methodist churches as a student pastor (2005 – 2008) and as an interim pastor of the Congregational Christian Church in Meadville. He received his Master of Divinity degree from Ashland Theological Seminary in 2007. John served under full-time appointment with the Pymatuning Charge (Jamestown, State Line, and Westford) in Franklin District for eight years (2008 – 2016), and the past two years has served as pastor of the Cochranton UMC in the Erie-Meadville District.
John’s passion is to make disciples for Jesus Christ, helping them to realize that asking Jesus to be Lord and Savior is only the beginning of an awesome adventure of life eternal in Christ Jesus. He enjoys his annual sojourn to Aldersgate Renewal Ministries’ Holy Spirit Conferences, playing a round of golf and riding his bicycle on occasion. He is humbled to be able to serve in any capacity as a servant of the Lord and is looking forward to rejoining the Franklin District to make new disciples in the communities of Lawsonham and Rimersburg, as pastor of that Charge.
Swineford Appointed Erie-Meadville DS
He is a graduate of Asbury College and Asbury Theological Seminary. In 1993 he earned a Doctor of Ministry degree from Pittsburgh Theological Seminary with a focus on stewardship programming.
Ordained a deacon in 1981 and an Elder in 1984, Rev. Swineford served five pastoral appointments across 36 years of ministry. The settings include rural, urban, small town and suburban areas, including the Titusville Bethel Charge (1982-1988); The Sharpsburg/Millvale Charge (1988-1993); Cabot UMC (1993-2003); Bradford First UMC (2003-2010); and Bakerstown UMC (2010 to present). They include rural, urban, small town and suburban congregations.
"I have found each setting to be challenging and rewarding and each congregation to be a blessing," he said. "In each of my appointments I have worked with congregational leaders to discern the unique gifts and calling of each congregation to win and grow disciples of Jesus Christ.
My passions have been preaching and teaching God’s Word and developing congregational programs and projects that help people apply its values to to their daily living," he said. "I firmly believe that genuine faith can only be worked out through relationships with others, both within the congregation and with those not yet a part of the faith community. Pastoral Care of individuals has been and remains a priority of my ministry."
Rev. Swineford has been married to Deborah, a United Methodist minister’s daughter, since 1979. They were married by her father in one of his former Churches in Sebastian Florida. After the service, Rev. Swineford said, his -new father-in-law shook his hand and said, “Well, at least she knows what she is getting into.”
"We have been 'into it' together since and in each congregation Deborah has found her place of service," Rev. Swineford said. Her top priority, he added, has always been the discipling of their five children: Sarah Taylor (Nick); Hannah Daugherty (Jake); Rev. Rebekah Clapp (Ben); Leah, a student at the Deaf Missions Training School in Council Bluffs IA, and Caleb, a student a CCAC. Recently this task has expanded to include a growing contingent of grandchildren.
The Erie-Meadville District is a place of extreme diversity. Within its borders are found every expression of faith and life, including a large city, several smaller cities, suburban areas, small towns, vast farmlands and a completely undeveloped wildlife reserve! Residents and visitors enjoy a beautiful shore line, rolling mountains, and numerous lakes and streams.
The faith community in the district is equally diverse, including small churches, traditional worship services, large churches, contemporary services with praise bands and mutli-media elements, urban and rural ministry, service teams, outreach to the homeless and the home-bound, a United Methodist-related college (Allegheny in Meadville) and a United Methodist retirement community (Wesbury).
Within the diversity the people and churches of the district embrace unity in Jesus! They live, worship, serve, reach out and care because of their common love for our Savior. It is a beautiful place to live, worship and serve!