2018 Appointments

Appointments effective July 1, except where noted.

Sorted by Announced Date

Tracy Cox Appointed to Pittsburgh First UMC

Announced: 07-29-2018

About Tracy J. Cox
Tracy Cox was born in Detroit, MI and raised in the North Hills of Pittsburgh. She is a graduate of The University of South Carolina with a B.A. in Journalism.  After several years working in Charlotte, North Carolina she returned home to Pittsburgh. Tracy attended Duke Divinity School and received her M.Div in 1998.
 
Tracy’s home church is St Paul’s UMC in Allison Park, where she was confirmed, answered her call to the ordained ministry, married, celebrated the lives of her dad, sister and father-in-law and mother-in-law, and had her three children baptized.  She has served God’s people throughout the Conference:  Blooming Valley UMC 1998–2002; Ingomar UMC (associate) 2002–2012;  New Brighton UMC 2012–2014 and Coraopolis UMC since 2014. 
 
Tracy currently serves on the Western PA Board of Ministry.  She also is a board member of the denomination's General Commission on Communication, where she serves on the finance team.  She enjoys being connected with churches all over the globe, especially in this season of The United Methodist Church.  Tracy has participated in local and global missions throughout her ministry of more than 20 years.
 
Tracy’s spiritual gifts include mercy, faith, helps, preaching and teaching.  She is passionate about sharing God’s unconditional love through Christ to ALL people.  She notes that we are called to create community by building relationships, loving one another, and serving one another in our neighborhood and around the world.

Tracy is part of a clergy couple.  Her husband Greg is appointed as Co-Pastor at Ingomar UMC.  They are the proud parents of three daughters.  Sarah is a rising Junior at Allegheny College.  Rebekah is a rising Senior at Seneca Valley High School.  Elisabeth is a rising Sophomore at Seneca Valley High School. 
 
Tracy enjoys spending time with her family, supporting Pittsburgh sports teams, (especially the Pirates, because everyone knows baseball is the best sport!), reading and all types of music.  She loves to be amazed by the beauty of nature…she loves to learn history…watch movies…
 
Most of all, Tracy is grateful, not just because of overflowing blessings in her life, but grateful because God’s best is yet to come.
 
This blessing defines Tracy’s call, ministry and her life:

“God is beside you; behind you, before you, and for you. 
No doubt about it — no way around it.

About Pittsburgh First UMC
First United Methodist Church of Pittsburgh began with the formation of a Methodist Society in 1796. The first church building was built in downtown Pittsburgh in 1810, and it was not until 1893 that the cornerstone was laid for the current building at Center Ave. and S. Aiken Ave. in the Shadyside/Bloomfield area of the city.
 
The people of First Church continue the commitment to social justice, relieving suffering, and living out their faith that dates before their founding to days of John Wesley. The church was an early supporter of women in ministry and battled societal evils such as child labor and continues that legacy today. The people advocate for equality and respect for all people. A Reconciling Congregation, First Church welcomes all, has an active Wrestling with Racism group in partnership with the historically black Warren UMC, operates a feeding program and encourages efforts to advocate for alleviate hunger through Bread for the World.
 
The Christ-centered church continues its legacy of excellent preaching and strong leadership that leads people into committed membership.  A significant music ministry, Christian education programs, and a newer Messy Church program engage those in the congregation and community.

First UMC of Pittsburgh is described as "welcoming, healing, and serious about forgiveness – a safe sanctuary for many." The congregation is diverse and cherishes diversity–including people of all age groups, income and educational levels. There are singles, families with young children, students, grandparents and those who have felt unwelcome at other churches. It includes about 400 members. The traditional service on Sunday morning typically has an attendance of 130-150 persons, while the Wednesday contemporary “Worship Jam” service usually has about 20 attending.

McIlvaine to Serve Muhleman Memorial

Announced: 06-03-2018

About Steven C. McIlvaine
Bishop Cynthia Moore-Koikoi will appoint Steven C. “Steve” McIlvaine, to serve at Muhleman Memorial UMC, effective July 1, 2018.  This is Steve’s first appointment since completing Local Pastor Licensing School in March of this year.
 
Steve became associated with Trinity UMC in Erie at age 5.  As his family moved, he became involved in other United Methodist churches in Clarion and Shippenville. Since 2012, he has been a member of Murrysville UMC. He credits his active involvement and participation in Murrysville’s youth, prayer, and outreach ministries as helping him grow in love of God and that love grow in him. 
 
He enjoys Bible studies for the opportunities to learn and understand the basis for his faith in God and to share fellowship with others in a small group setting.  He enjoys participating in all types of outreach ministries and going on mission work trips.  Recently, he led a mission trip to Spirit Lake, ND, where the team painted and helped the Dakota Tribe build handicap ramps.  
 
Steve has a heart for children and persons struggling with addictions because he wants them to know that God’s grace is for them, too. 
 
He is employed in the custom wood products industry, specializing in kitchen and bathroom cabinetry. His hobbies include house renovation projects and working on cars. 
 
Steve and his wife Rebecca are the parents of four children and the grandparents of two. They value time with family.  
 
About Muhleman Memorial UMC
Since1914, Muhleman Memorial has been at its present location in the diverse community of North Braddock known the "Birthplace of Steel" because Andrew Carnegie opened his Edgar Thomson Steel Works there in 1875.  After the closure of the steel mills in the 1980’s, North Braddock became an economically distressed area, but glimpses of revitalization are beginning to appear. 

The congregation is an aging, small worshipping community that welcomes everyone, including persons in a nearby group home. There is a wonderful, caring spirit in the congregation. While most members live nearby, a few travel a distance to attend. 

The congregation gathers for traditional worship service on Sunday at 10 a.m. and is intentional about including all participants in worship. Its strengths include Bible studies and hospitality.  The congregation faithfully continues to collect food, clothing, and Christmas packages for Deborah House, a shelter for women and children in Braddock.
 
The congregation desires for its church to again become an active center of community life. Its goals are to reach out and minister to its neighbors; remain a strong nurturing place for members, friends, and guests; increase membership; and become financially sustainable.  It currently seeks to partner with area UM churches and other faith communities in ministry and community outreach.
 

Thomas to Serve at Baldwin UMC

Announced: 06-03-2018

About Ginger Thomas
Ginger A. Thomas, an Elder in North Carolina Conference, will begin serving as Associate Pastor at Baldwin Community UMC on July 1, 2018.   Rev. Thomas relocated to the Pittsburgh area five years ago and is currently appointed to extension ministry with Fully Alive Retreat Ministries in Pittsburgh.
 
A graduate of Duke Divinity School, she has received additional training in Spiritual Formation and Clinical Pastoral Education. She is a gifted preacher and received Duke Divinity School’s Jameson Jones Preaching Award. 
 
One of her principal ministry strengths is spiritual formation.  She has served as retreat team leader in The Upper Room Two-Year Academy for Spiritual Formation, facilitated a Spiritual formation workshop at Mifflin Avenue UMC, and at women’s retreats.
 
Her excellent administrative skills were honed as Associate Pastor of Epworth UMC (Durham, NC) Co-Pastor of Trinity UMC (Louisburg, NC) and Co-Pastor/Pastor of the Congregation at Duke Memorial UMC (Durham, NC).  She has developed a thriving young adult ministry.
 
In Pittsburgh, Rev. Thomas has served as Coordinator of Worship Activities for Fox Chapel Presbyterian Church. She also has served as a children’s Sunday School teacher and a Bible study leader at Fox Chapel Faith UMC.
 
Rev. Thomas enjoys a cup of coffee, journal writing, singing and listening to music, completing a crossword, reading novels, and creative crocheting. She and husband Roger Owens, Associate Professor of Christian Spirituality and Ministry at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, are the parents of three children.  
 
She looks forward to meeting and being in ministry with the senior/lead pastor and people of Baldwin Community.  

 
About Baldwin Community UMC
Baldwin Community UMC, a large suburban church in Pittsburgh's South Hills, has a heart for urban ministry and community outreach.  Its strengths include worship, discipleship formation, pastoral care, community outreach, strong volunteerism, and outstanding laity leadership.
 
It offers traditional worship services at 5:30 pm on Saturday, where Communion is celebrated weekly, and on Sunday at 8 a.m. and 11 a.m.  The Chancel Choir provides an outstanding music ministry at the 11 a.m. worship service.  The 9:30 Sunday worship service, called “Engage,” is focused on unique music, imagery, intercessory prayer, discussion, and small groups to spark spiritual passion and connection with community.
 
Baldwin’s vision as a “sending forth” church is centered in a “Connect, Grow, Serve, Go” discipleship plan.  Pastor-and laity-led Bible studies, small group ministries, Sunday school for persons of all ages, youth ministry, and adult and children youth music programs are other parts of the congregation’s discipleship formation ministry.
 
Baldwin Community collaborates with Eighth Avenue Ministry in Homestead and United Methodist Church Union’s school reading and youth mentoring ministry. It engages the community through its Neighbor Helping Neighbor program that offers minor repair and building services, clothing ministry, community kids’ VBS, and Food Pantry.  Other community and ecumenical endeavors include participation in the South Hills Interfaith Movement, hosting the Developed Local Ministerium, and cooperation with Whitehall Library, Brothers Brother, and Daily Bread (Northside).
 
The congregation supports The Nyadire Connection (TNC), which partners with the people of the  Nyadire United Methodist Mission in Zimbabwe to support a hospital, orphanage, nursing school, preschool through high school education, teacher’s college, farm, and renovation of six rural clinics.
 
Baldwin Community’s national and global mission activities include supporting Bread for the World, sending work teams to Red Bird (KY), and providing financial support of other local, national, and global organizations.
 
Its goals include launching more small group ministries and expanding its food ministry known as The Lord's Pantry Ministry.
 

Walker to Serve Bridgeville, Houston UMCs

Announced: 06-03-2018

About Brenda Walker
Bishop Cynthia Moore-Koikoi will appoint Brenda K. Walker as Senior Pastor at Houston First UMC and Bridgeville First UMC effective July 1, 2018.   Pastor Brenda’s personal mission statement is “Inspired by the Spirit, I seek to create safe spaces for others to explore their faith through art, worship, study, and fellowship.” 
 
Brenda’s gifts include discipleship, preaching, worship design, administration, and mentoring.   She is comfortable leading traditional and contemporary worship experiences.  She considers it a privilege to have been able to guide people in their exploration of faith in single and multiple-point charges in suburban, urban, and large and small church ministry settings.
 
One of her strengths is the ability to engage with people of different ages, experiences, and cultures. Inspired by her belief that God is calling her to lead the church in making connections with a diversity of people and making new disciples, Brenda is intentional about developing personal relationships with laity leaders, creating age-diverse leadership teams, collaborating on new ideas, and providing opportunities for reflection.  She has served as an interim pastor in a cross-cultural setting at Chinese Community UMC in Oakland, CA.
 
Brenda is a life-long learner whose spiritual disciplines are prayer, meditation, study, and service.  She is passionate about meeting, connecting, and engaging new people, sharing God’s story of grace and unconditional love, and helping a diversity of people grow in their faith.
 
She effectively empowers and equips lay people in leadership and builds and is intentional about creating space for conversation.  Recently, she designed and facilitated an event named “Dinner and Conversations of Faith” to encourage discussion about difficult topics in a relaxed safe environment.
 
During her ministry as an ordained Elder, Brenda has designed successful stewardship campaigns for capital improvements and to meet operating expenses; facilitated training for volunteer teams; initiated and fostered community partnerships to provide weekly low-cost meals; and launched a weekly youth gathering in partnership with parents from the community.  In her current appointment, she organized an annual Christian education event with an average attendance of 80.  
 
Brenda is the mother of two adult sons who live in the Pittsburgh area.  She is an avid reader of all literary genres and also enjoys movies, cycling, and hosting gatherings at her house.
 
About Houston First /Bridgeville First UMCs
Houston First UMC, begun as a branch of the Canonsburg Methodist Church in 1894 in the Washington County  borough of Houston, is a welcoming, caring, and growing congregation “centered on faith in Jesus Christ.”  The congregation has a strong focus on children and youth and is blessed with strong, gifted, and generous lay leadership. 

Its blended worship service on Sunday at 11 a.m., enhanced by an awesome music minister, has a wonderful Spirit-filled rhythm. The congregation’s expanding children and youth ministry includes their worship on Sunday and VBS. 
 
Lay-lead and pastor-led Bible studies; a mentoring ministry; small group ministries; adult, family, women’s, men’s, and senior citizens programs and fellowships, and an active UMW round out opportunities for discipleship formation and growth. 

The congregation’s community involvement extends beyond its small geographic borders. 
It participates in Meals on Wheels, Poverty Circles and Interfaith Hospitality Network programs; builds handicap accessible ramps; and does small building and repair jobs as part of its “neighbor helping neighbor” ministry.  The congregation’s dedicated volunteers perform work for area organizations.
 
In addition, the congregation responds to needs of others through its clothing, feeding, Food Pantry, and health and support ministries.  It supports local, national, and global charitable organizations, and The UMC’s Advance Specials, as well as being engaged in other mission work.

Bridgeville First UMC is located in one of Bridgeville’s three principal residential areas, surrounded by a thriving business district.  Many of the community's 5,116 people are life-long residents and there is a growing number of young families. It is a welcoming congregation, where all people can discover their faith and discipleship, experience the joy of Christ’s love, and grow in their Christian faith.
 
Bridgeville First's strengths include active adult and older adult ministries, committed laity, and community outreach. The people of Bridgeville First value the importance of service and stewardship as an expression of thankfulness to God.
 
Discipleship is nurtured during a Saturday 6 p.m. contemporary worship service, a 9:15 a.m. Sunday traditional worship service, Sunday school at 10:15 a.m., pastor-led Bible studies, prayer gatherings, and a shoe-box ministry for shut-ins.  They value working together in the Spirit of Christ to nurture everyone regardless of differences.
 
Bridgeville First engages the community through its clothing ministry, the community food pantry, Angel Tree, and water ministries, racers-for-tots and parent’s day out programs,  At Christmas, it adopts families. The congregation also collects flood buckets and assists flood victims.  
 
The congregation hosts, supports, and partners with a new non-denominational church plant called Beloved, which shares its space, and seeks to collaborate with other churches. 

Farls To Serve Sheraden/McKees Rocks Charge

Announced: 05-20-2018

About Roberta Farls
Roberta L. Farls, a Certified Lay Minister, will begin serving as associate pastor at the McKees Rocks: Christ/ Sheraden Charge, effective July 1, 2018.  Roberta returns to these churches after leaving in 2016 to serve at Muhleman UMC.

Roberta’s personal mission is to live Christ-like and to walk alongside of others as they seek to know God more deeply and live fully into their unique calls to ministry.  Her strengths include administration, organization, collaborative leadership, and consensus building.  Roberta has strong relational skills that help her engage, interact, and relate with people of different ages, races, ethnicities, backgrounds, economic stations, and perspectives.
 
Her gifts of active listening, empathy, caring spirit, and professional experience as a paramedic enable her to provide excellent pastoral care.
 
Roberta understands preaching as helping people apply scripture to their daily lives and lived experiences and see God’s presence in theirs and others’ lives.  She accomplishes this with a conversational preaching style that integrates contemporary events, relevant illustrations, and humor.
 
Roberta focuses on possibilities for ministry and creatively develops ministries that nurture the worshipping community and engage the surrounding neighborhood.  She is an abstract thinker who can understand and translate difficult and complex concepts. 
 
Roberta currently serves on the Pittsburgh District Committee on Ministry.  She is employed by "WorkCare” as an Occupational Health Technician/Paramedic at the Shell PA Chemicals construction site, Monaca, PA.  In her free time, Roberta enjoys cooking, baking, and family time.  She lives in the McKees Rocks area and looks forward to again working with the Sheraden and Christ Church congregations and being in ministry in the community.  
 
About McKees Rocks: Christ Community/Sheraden Charge
Sheraden UMC is an urban, multi-generational, racially diverse congregation that has had a strong community presence in the Sheraden neighborhood of Pittsburgh since the late 1880’s. The church’s roots are in a sewing group formed in the early 1880’s that expanded into an interdenominational religious mission whose Methodist members ultimately founded The First Methodist Episcopal Church of Sheradenville that is Sheraden today.  In 2011 Sheraden and McKees Rock: Christ Community UMC came together as a charge. 
 
Sheraden's traditional/blended Sunday worship service, anchored in relevant, contextual preaching, is at 9:45 am with Sunday school at 10:00 am.  In July and August, the Sheraden and McKees Rock: Christ Community congregations come together for one Sunday worship service at 10 am.
 
Sheraden’s strengths include a committed lay leadership team, an energetic congregation, and thriving community outreach and engagement. ItsTuesday evening community KIDZ Klub—offering a safe place for homework help, tutoring, computer access/use, computer skills training and recreational activities—is well attended, as is its community VBS. 
 
In partnership with United Methodist Church Union, it offers a summer feeding program for children and youth. Other community outreach includes a monthly community meal, a weekly meal in collaboration with McKees Rock: Christ Community, Food Pantry/Cupboard, and Caring and Sharing Thrift Shop that provides clothing and other small household essentials.  Sheraden participates in the Lazarus Fund that provides emergency rent and utilities assistance.  Through its Hope For Tomorrow ministry, children learn social, etiquette and entrepreneurial skills.
 
The congregation actively participates in the West End Christian Ministry and other ecumenical ministries through its financial support, volunteering, and service.  The congregation’s capable lay leadership and members are committed to a vision of becoming an even more vital Christ-witness in the community. 
  
McKees Rock: Christ Community UMC is a diverse church with a focus on community and service  in the McKees Rocks community of greater Pittsburgh. The church's history reaches back to 1888. In 1974 the McKees Rocks Presbyterian Church and Christ Community Church of McKees Rocks became federated as one congregation operating under both the United Methodist and Presbyterian USA denominations.

In 2006 McKees Rock: Christ Community became a charge with nearby Sheraden UMC and, together they offer a wide array of community ministries.  The congregation is especially known for its hospitality, community outreach, and genuine welcome of everyone.

Traditional worship service is on Sunday at 11:15 am, and is built around relevant, contextual preaching.  In July and August, the McKees Rock: Christ Community and Sheraden congregations come together for one Sunday worship service at 10 am.
 
Discipleship formation occurs through pastor-led Bible studies and other small group ministries. Its Communion Visitation Ministry maintains connection and community with persons unable to regularly attend worship services.  It offers an opportunity for parolees to be involved in the life of the church and ministry in the community.  
 
The congregation's community engagement is centered around Meals on Wheels, community VBS, Food Pantry, and hosting a weekly community dinner.  Its Kindness of Strangers Thrift Shop provides clothing and small household items.  It hosts a summer children/youth meal program in partnership with United Methodist Church Union. It supports other community service agencies through donations and volunteers. The church's dedicated lay leadership team and hard-working congregation remain focused on their mission to bear Christ to their community and make disciples for Jesus Christ.
 

Ackley-Killian to Serve Heckathorn UMC

Announced: 05-06-2018

About Deborah Ackley-Killian
Deborah Ackley-Killian is returning to active ministry from Family Leave that began after her husband, Rev. Earl Killian, contracted meningitis and encephalitis that resulted in permanent consequences and complications. Earl died in March from end-stage renal disease and received the promise of restoration and resurrection.  For the last two decades, Deborah served in a ministry of care-giving presence as wife, mother, friend and pastor.

"Our lives are shaped by the sacred vows we make before God and one another," she said. "On a hot humid summer day, my parents brought me to First Bethel United Methodist Church where I was baptized and nurtured in the faith. On an unseasonably warm winter day, I pledged to honor and keep Earl Killian in sickness and in health. As Advent began on a snowy November day, we promised to raise our infant daughter, Grace, in a Christian home and to lead a life of faith before her. On hot rainy days in Grove City, Earl and I both promised to serve the Lord in a Ministry of Word and Sacrament."

Deborah is a graduate of Adrian College and Pittsburgh Theological Seminary. Their adult daughter Grace is a student at Harvard Divinity School and Tufts University in Boston.

In active ministry, Deborah served Goodwill Industries as a chaplain and four local congregations--Walton, Warren Grace, Johnstown Christ and New Castle Epworth-- as pastor. She has served on the Board of Ordained Ministry, the Wesbury Board of Directors, Camp Allegheny Board of Directors and several District Committees on Ministry. For several years, I was dean of the Nature Quest Mini Camps at Camp Allegheny. She was elected as a delegate to Jurisdictional Conference in 1996.

Throughout the years of Family Leave, the Killians participated in the life of faith at Mt. Lebanon UM Church where Deborah served as Stephen’s Ministry Coordinator, Confirmation Coordinator, Samaritan Ministries Cooperation, Youth Director Mentor, Adult Sunday School teacher and guest preacher. She also substituted at Asbury Heights and South Hills Partnership. She currently serves as part of the ministerial team at South Hills Partnership (Carnegie, Fairhaven, Hilltop and Spencer churches) preaching at monthly Communion Worship and providing pastoral care. She also serves as a chaplain at Gracious Living Personal Care Center in Castle Shannon.

"As my husband Earl has entered into a new life of joy and resurrection in the Church Triumphant, I too enter a new personal and professional lifestyle awaiting the future with joy and hope as I return to active ministry at Heckathorn Church," she said. 
About Heckathorn UMC
Heckathorn UMC is located in Seneca, PA in the northern Franklin District. The church is blessed to have a multi-generational ministry. While many members have been part of the Heckathorn congregation all of their lives, there is ministry happening for children with a weekly weekday ministry throughout the year and the Sunday morning WOW (Worship our Way) children’s church.  The youth group meets regularly and the youth group members are active in many facets of the congregation’s ministry.

Heckathorn UMC is a member of the CHRISTAR cluster of United Methodist Churches in the area surrounding Seneca. The cluster hosts a weekly, “Free Skate” for the community at the local Roller Skating Rink during the school year. In addition, the congregation participates in a clothing ministry, a ramp building ministry, supports a food pantry, sponsors mission trips, hosts Vacation Bible School and helps their neighbors in need.

Kephart To Serve Homestead Park

Announced: 04-29-2018

About Donald Kephart
Rev. Donald “Don” Kephart, who has served the past eight years as pastor of Asbury UMC in Uniontown, will be appointed as senior pastor of Homestead Park UMC, effective July 1. 
 
Don is a leader who actively seeks laity involvement in the life of the church and strives to build consensus. Congregational care is one of his principal gifts for ministry. He is a dynamic preacher and engaging teacher who helps people apply God’s word to their lives and see their full potential in Christ.
 
As an effective administrator, Don has led congregations through change and successful capital campaigns. His entrepreneurial spirit has helped his congregations develop various new income streams in addition to offering plate giving.
 
Don is comfortable leading traditional, contemporary, and blended worship services. He has a passion for ministry with young families and describes himself as a “community pastor” who constantly seeks creative ways to engage the community. He is active in the ecumenical ministry of the Uniontown Area Ministerium and The Uniontown UMC Shared Ministries.
 
He serves on the Conference Committee of Finance and Administration and Connellsville District’s Committee on Ministry.  He has received Mosaix training for multi-cultural congregational development opportunities and currently serves on a Conference subcommittee working to develop leadership internships for Africa-Americans and other persons of color in our Conference.
 
Don was born on and grew up on the North Side of Pittsburgh. He and wife Julie are the parents of three adult children. He is a sports enthusiast who has worked for the West Virginia Blackbears, a Pirates minor league affiliate.  He enjoys bicycling and riding his Suzuki C50T Boulevard 800 Cruiser motorcycle.  He looks forward to serving at Homestead Park.
 
About Homestead Park United Methodist Church
Homestead Park UMC, established in 1966, is a multi-generational suburban church in the close-knit Borough of Munhall in the Steel Valley area. Like the area, the congregation is one with heart, soul, and the fortitude to adapt, reinvent, and push forward.
 
Worship experiences include a 6 p.m. Saturday evening contemporary service and a Sunday 10 a.m. traditional/blended worship service with a praise band.
 
Nurture ministries include pastor and laity-led Bible studies, covenant discipleship classes, small groups, membership mentoring, and Sunday school and spiritual formation classes for persons of all ages.  There is an active women’s ministry and the annual Women’s Retreat is well attended.
 
The church building also functions as a community center.  It hosts a variety of groups including Scouts, senior groups, and support groups.  Its summer VBS program is open to all children in the community. 
 
Through Sponsor a Child Ministry under Compassion International, the congregation supports children in developing countries.  The church offers a Begin-der-garten pre-school program with a top-notch staff and curriculum. 
 
The church operates a food pantry and bread and pastry ministry; provides lunches each Saturday for persons who are homeless, and has a ministry at five area nursing homes that includes providing crocheted afghans.  It connects with military personnel and college students with its Away from Home Ministry and Shoe Box Ministry.  Through its H.E.L.P.S. Ministry, a group of lay volunteers serve others by doing small repairs, cutting grass, and other help.
 
The congregation seeks to grow and live more fully into its vision as people who reflect the compassion, grace, love, justice and peace of Christ and anticipates more engagement with the community and increased cooperation with other area UM churches.  
 

Smith to Serve Mifflin Avenue, South Avenue UMCs

Announced: 04-22-2018

About Kelly J. Smith
Bishop Cynthia Moore-Koikoi will appoint Rev. Kelly J. Smith to the newly created Wilkinsburg Charge in the Pittsburgh District that includes South Avenue UMC and Mifflin Avenue UMC. Kelly has served as Mifflin Avenue’s pastor since 2012.  She has strong connections in the wider Wilkinsburg community through her service as president of the Wilkinsburg Community Ministries and work with Equality PA.
 
Pastor Kelly served the charge of Uniontown UMC and Fairchance: Trinity in the Connellsville District after graduation from Perkins School of Theology.  She was certified in urban ministry in seminary and has a heart for it, with a longing to reach and include all people within a welcoming, inclusive, and affirming community. 
 
Preaching is one of Pastor Kelly’s strengths. She engages congregations in ways that allow them to grow and reflect on their faith.  She is comfortable designing and leading traditional, contemporary, and alternative worship experiences.
 
Pastor Kelly’s passion for ministry is rooted in her deep desire to share God’s love and the Good News of Jesus Christ.  She is intentional about helping others to define and understand their faith in God, their call to discipleship, and their faith goals.
 
She is committed to building and nurturing healthy, loving, and lasting relationships with persons within and outside the church.  Her energetic spirit and outgoing personality make others feel comfortable, welcomed, and affirmed for who they are.  She counts opportunities for pastoral care as grace and privilege that build relationships and trust. 
 
Kelly was involved in youth ministry for 10 years at Garden City UMC, Oaklawn UMC (Dallas, while in seminary), and Penn Hills: Trinity Towers.  She actively seeks and welcomes young adults, young families, and persons in recovery and desires to build ministries that respond to their faith, emotional, and spiritual needs.   
 
She serves as an Annual Conference Floor Manager, Chair of the Board of Church and Society, and as a member of the executive team of the Order of Elders, the Ethnic Local Church Concerns committee, Reconciling Ministries Core Team, Board of Ordained Ministry, and Pittsburgh District Committee on Ministry.
 
Kelly is the mother of a son, Jeremiah, and a daughter, Micah Jean. She eagerly looks forward to being part of a clergy, laity, and community team focused on ministry renewal in the Wilkinsburg area.
 
About Mifflin Ave. and South Ave. UMCs
Mifflin Avenue UMC is located in a residential area near the border of Wilkinsburg and the City of Pittsburgh's Regent Square area. The population is a mix of older residents, young professionals and families and the area is increasingly diverse. The congregation embraces diversity as a moral and spiritual imperative.  The congregation is blessed with a passionate, capable, and energetic laity leadership team and committed congregants who actively seek ways to engage the changing community in meaningful and transforming ways. 
Strong nurture, discipleship, outreach, social, and justice efforts influence their lives and the church’s ministry, shape their care and concern for others, and determine their response to persons within and outside the congregation. Members, friends, and guests are nurtured in a traditional worship experience with strong preaching.  Discipleship formation revolves around pastor and laity-facilitated Bible and book study groups, Sunday school for persons of all ages, nursery ministry, a variety of small group ministries, and VBS.

The church engages the community through its clothing ministry, Food Pantry, and financial; volunteer support for local community, national, and global service agencies and missions; and standing with others to address social and justice concerns.  The congregation supports UMC global ministries and provides financial and volunteer support for the Wilkinsburg Community Ministry, Circle of Faith, Church World Service, Shepherd Wellness Center, The Nyadire Connection, Wilkinsburg Sanctuary Project, and Foundation of Hope Prison Ministry.

The congregation is in the midst of a visioning initiative to determine what its future looks like.  Areas of visioning include other possible styles of worship services, leadership development, assessment of financial capacity, ways to increase evangelism, public witness, community invitation, and efficiency of space and facility utilization. 


South Avenue UMC is located in the changing and increasingly diverse urbanized Wilkinsburg community that is economically distressed, but beginning to experience revitalization. The church is located within about a mile of Mifflin Avenue UMC.  Its beautiful sanctuary with historic organ reflects the old-world charm of a European cathedral.  

South Avenue is deeply invested in the Wilkinsburg community, even though most members of its aging congregation live outside the community and do not reflect surrounding demographics. The Sunday worship service offers a blended style with an excellent music ministry that is one of the church’s key strengths.  Its nurture ministries include a pastor-led Bible study and adult and youth Sunday school. 
The congregation has a reputation for hospitality and a facility that functions as a community center for youth and other ministry groups and houses a large state-certified school for children on the autism spectrum. 

The church hosts an active community children and youth program with tutoring, meals, and life-skills training coordinated by a youth director, a Food Pantry, ramp building team, variety of UMW projects, and financial and volunteer support of local community service groups, and national and global ministry and mission projects. 

South Avenue's ecumenical ministry includes Wilkinsburg Community Ministry, Sanctuary Project, Ministry Council, and sharing its sanctuary with Living Waters congregation.  Hospitality meals, monthly meal ministry for a women's shelter, UMCOR projects, music concerts, and a summer lunch program are the nucleus of the congregation’s outreach ministry.
 
The congregation is working with an outside congregational consultant to identify ways to elevate its presence in the community, increase its engagement and witness with and in the changing community, and determine the future strategic direction for the church.  With the support and encouragement of the congregation, South Avenue’s capable and effective laity leadership team is committed to moving forward, as God’s calling for the congregation is discerned.
 
 
 

Keith Dunn to Serve Bakerstown

Announced: 03-04-2018

About Keith A. Dunn
Bishop Cynthia Moore-Koikoi has appointed The Rev. Keith A. Dunn, an ordained Elder, visionary, gifted and engaging preacher and excellent administrator as Senior Pastor at Bakerstown UMC.  Rev. Dunn is entering his 30th year of full-time ministry since graduating in 1989 from Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, where he met his wife, the Rev. Alyce Weaver-Dunn. 
 
In addition to preaching, administration, and leadership, his strengths for ministry include teaching and pastoral care. He embraces the role of pastor as a sacred calling and prefers to be called “pastor” over all other religious vocational titles.  He describes himself as an extrovert with strong relational skills and the gift of laughter that creates space for easy but meaningful engagement and conversation with others.
 
Pastor Keith currently serves at Belmont in Johnstown UMC where he has been senior pastor since 2010.  His previous appointments have been to Oakmont, Nixon, Monessen and Webster, the former Sonrise church and Central UMC, Beaver Falls. 

He considers it an honor, privilege, and sacred charge to serve the WPA Conference in a variety of ways. Pastor Keith currently is co-chair of Clergy Gifts for the Bishop’s Camping and Retreat Initiative. Serving in this role grows out of his passions for children and youth and camping ministry.  For many years, he has served as the Bible teacher for the Music, Arts, Creative Drama Camp and chaplain of the week at Wesley Woods. 
 
Pastor Keith is a trained facilitator for a Clergy Community of Practice and recently completed a year with a group.  He previously served with distinction as a member of the Board of Ordained Ministry for 12 years and led efforts related to clergy call and recruitment.  At the district level, Pastor Keith has worked with committees on ministry, served as a ministry mentor, and taught classes for laity on preaching.
 
Having grown up in northern Washington County, where he graduated from Canon-McMillan High School, Pastor Keith earned his bachelor's degree from Robert Morris University and is a life-long fan of the Steelers, Penguins, and Pirates. He and Alyce are pleased to share their home with his mother-in-law. 
 
Pastor Keith joyfully anticipates returning to Bakertown area, where his wife Alyce served as the student assistant  from 1986 to 1988, to renew connections and walk alongside of the people as they continue to grow as disciples in service to Jesus Christ.
 
About Bakertown UMC
Bakerstown United Methodist Church has a long-standing tradition and presence in the Gibsonia area dating back to 1832. Traditional, contemporary, and periodic revival worship services are enhanced with state of the art sound and visual systems, excellent music ministry, and a strong tradition of biblical preaching and teaching.  Its Chapel in the Woods, dedicated to 12-year old girl, offers a quiet place of reflection and meditation and beautiful setting for weddings.
 
Members, friends, and visitors learn, grow, and deepen their spirituality through pastor and lay-led Bible studies; covenant discipleship classes; Christian education and Sunday school classes; men, women and other small group ministries; Christian mentoring; and a Care and Share team. The congregation embraces children and youth through a vibrant youth fellowship, children’s ministry, VBS program, highly regarded day school and pre-kindergarten, summer camp, and financial support of Camp Allegheny, Jumonville, and Wesley Woods.
 
The Bakerstown congregation partners with Faith: Fox Chapel’s Roots of Faith ministry in Sharpsburg; Hosanna Industries; The Lighthouse serving over 6,000 children, adults, seniors, and families; and the North Hills Community Outreach organization to meet the spiritual, emotional, physical and material needs of people in Allegheny County. Their extensive outreach initiatives include: financial support UMCOR; Advance Specials; and UMW projects; ramp building; Habitat; clothing, Angel Tree, Food Pantry, and feeding ministries; Circles Program; and participation in the Interfaith Hospitality Network, Northside Common Ministry, Campus Coalition, Hipwell’s Missionary, Christian Sports International, and Richland Ministerium. They host an International Student Dinner and events for My Hope America the UM Army. Their mission endeavors include China Outreach Ministries, the Heifer Foundation, and trips to Alajuela, Costa Rica, and the Rosebud Reservation in South Dakota.
 
The church is forward-looking, as it continues to add small group ministries using a class-meeting model, to strengthen its hospitality evangelism, and to deepen its community and global engagement.
 

Greg Cox Appointed to Ingomar

Announced: 02-18-2018

About Gregory D. Cox
Bishop Cynthia Moore-Koikoi has appointed Gregory D.  “Greg” Cox as Co-Pastor at Ingomar United Methodist Church.  Greg declares that Christ is the center of who he is, and continually challenges himself to grow in relationship with Jesus, as he presses forth on his road of ministry.
 
A graduate of Allegheny College and Duke Divinity School, Greg is an ordained Elder in our Conference with 20 years of pastoral ministry experience in rural, small town, and suburban settings. He grew up in St. Paul's UMC in Allison Park, PA.
 
Greg’s spiritual gifts include teaching, preaching, administration, and leadership.  He is passionate about relationship building, leadership development, and stewardship.
Greg has served for eight years with distinction as the Conference’s Director of Connectional Ministries, leading a large staff and overseeing the broad ministry and mission of our Annual Conference, while staying engaged in the local church as a guest preacher and small and large group teacher, presenter, and facilitator.  
 
Understanding service as an extension and expression of a deepening relationship with God, Greg has traveled extensively on local, national, and international mission trips and gained valuable experience.  He has led delegations of both adults and youth on international mission trips. 
 
In addition to his Conference responsibility, Greg has been a delegate to the 2012 and 2016 Northeast Jurisdictional Conferences and has served on the Jurisdictional Vision Table for more than 6 years.  He served eight years on the General Commission on Communications and currently serves as president of the Foundation for United Methodist Communications in Nashville, Tennessee.
 
Greg is part of a clergy couple. His wife Tracy is Senior Pastor at Coraopolis United Methodist Church. They are the proud parents of three daughters: Sarah, (a sophomore at Allegheny College), Rebekah and Elisabeth.  Greg enjoys running and has participated in several marathons.  He also enjoys hunting.
 
Greg is passionate about helping congregations grow and become vital, excited about sharing his gifts and passions for ministry within the local church once again, and finds joy in building relationships with others who serve.  He looks forward to serving and growing alongside of servants at Ingomar as they continually deepen their relationship with Christ through worship, service, witness, and stewardship.

 
About Ingomar UMC
Ingomar United Methodist Church, located in the growing North Hills suburbs of Franklin Park and McCandless, is a large membership church that offers three creative traditional and contemporary worship experiences, enhanced by a strong music ministry, each Sunday.  An active children and youth ministry, well-respected pre-school and child care programs, creative VBS, and active, capable laity leadership are among its strengths. 
 
Ingomar offers a wide array of spiritual formation, discipleship, and nurture ministries for people of all ages, including multiple Bible studies, extensive small group opportunities, and Christian education/Sunday school classes for people of all ages.
 
The congregation is actively engaged in community, regional, national, and global outreach. Its many initiatives include Support our Troops, building ramps, neighbors helping neighbors, Wonders of Christmas family program, Food Pantry, clothing and feeding ministries, participation in Habitat for Humanity, as well as volunteer and financial support for other UM churches and local, regional, national and global organizations.  

Mission is integral to Ingomar’s identity.  The Church staff does mission projects.  Other local and global mission and ecumenical projects include a Share in Mission Trip to Honduras with Bakerstown Presbyterian Church, Youth Mission Trip to Philippi, WVa, Pittsburgh Project, Kenya Mission Trip, and an annual Thanksgiving Eve Service with Northmont Presbyterian Church.  
 
The congregation is actively engaged in an ongoing visioning initiative as it seeks to make disciples, grow, and become an even more significant presence for Jesus Christ and in the community and around the world. 

Hand Appointed as Pittsburgh District Superintendent

Announced: 02-05-2018

About Dawn M. Hand
The Rev. Dawn M. Hand is an ordained elder of the Western North Carolina Conference who in 2011 was appointed to Foundry United Methodist Church in Washington, D.C. and currently serves as its Executive Pastor and Chief of Staff.  In this role she is responsible for managing the day-to-day operations of an historic downtown church with a congregation of more than 1200 members.



Her 38 years of ministry began in 1980 when she served as a Youth Ministry Team member and youth delegate to the Western North Carolina Annual Conference, as well as a Southeastern Jurisdiction youth devotional leader. Since then, Rev. Hand has served on several boards and foundations, including the United Methodist Communications Board of Directors, the Chris Canty Foundation, and the United Methodist Foundation of Western North Carolina. She also has been a part of missions to the Dominican Republic, Haiti, and Belize.
 
Before being appointed to Foundry, Rev. Hand was an Associate Pastor at Matthews United Methodist Church in Matthews, NC.  Hand was one of five associate pastors who together with the lead pastor helped care for the spiritual growth of the nearly 3000-member suburban congregation.
 
Prior to parish ministry, Hand served on the staff of the Western North Carolina Conference.  Joining the staff in 1991 as Assistant Director of Communications, she became its Director in 1996 and served until 2006 when she was commissioned as a probationary elder and appointed to a local church. She was ordained an elder in 2009.
 
A prominent advocate for social justice, Hand has been active in a variety of local and national initiatives including immigration reform, alleviating child poverty, ending chronic homelessness, providing affordable housing, LGBTQ+ advocacy, and the sanctuary, sacred resistance, and Black Lives Matter movements.  She has a special passion for young people and is deeply committed to efforts to correct the grave injustices prevalent in our society.
 
A native of Charlotte NC, Hand is a product of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg public school system and graduated from West Charlotte High School.  She earned a Baccalaureate degree in Mass Communications from Winston-Salem State University and a Master of Divinity degree from Hood Theological Seminary.  At Winston-Salem State University, she became a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. in which she continues to be active.  From 1989 until 1991, she worked at WBTV, a CBS affiliate in Charlotte.
 
Hand enjoys travel, music, sports, hiking and cycling.  She is an avid NFL and WNBA fan.  She likes to cook and has an adventurous appetite for food.  She enjoys spending time with friends and family, especially with her nieces Ashlee and Micah and nephew Walter, whom she calls her “three heartbeats.” She loves to laugh and suggests that God has a wonderful sense of humor for calling her to ordained ministry.

"It is my privilege and joy to serve in the cabinet of Bishop Cynthia Moore-Koikoi as  Superintendent for the Pittsburgh District," Rev. Hand said. "I am grateful for this opportunity and excited to begin this part of my ministry journey.  I look forward to serving in the WPA Conference and am eager to learn more about the mission and ministry of the Conference and the District.
 
"As I approach this new challenge I am looking forward to touring the District and listening to the hopes and concerns of those who serve there," she added. "I believe strongly in a “partnership” ministry where laity and clergy engage together to serve God and achieve the goals we set in kingdom building." 
About Pittsburgh District
The Pittsburgh District includes the city of Pittsburgh and most of its suburbs in Allegheny County, a region that has more bridges than any other metropolitan area in the world. Just as the bridges provide vital links between the hills and valleys and across three rivers, the United Methodist congregations and agencies of the district endeavor to serve as bridges to offer God’s love to all.  The current model of ministry includes a variety of cooperative and inter-parish relationships to more faithfully and fully use our gifts to reach God's children with the good news of the grace of Jesus Christ. The churches of the district include 22,599 members, 58 congregations, 88 pastors and several outreach programs and agencies.

Swineford Appointed Erie-Meadville DS

Announced: 02-05-2018

About Dennis W. Swineford
Rev. Dennis Swineford is a life- long United Methodist, baptized, confirmed, converted and called to ministry among the people of Grace United Methodist Church in Indiana PA. 

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. 

 
About Erie-Meadville District

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!