Conference Blog


Solid Encouragement

By Brian Bauknight


Sometimes, despite our best efforts, traces of cynicism or discouragement set in.  Nothing seems to be happening in and through the church.  Critics seem to be everywhere.  The church is going nowhere, and we can’t seem to get it started again.  Where do we turn for sustenance?  For encouragement? Jesus once told a parable—about a seed that grows secretly.  The kingdom of God is as if someone would scatter seed on the ground, and would sleep and rise night and day, and the seed would sprout ...

Report from the Mission Field: Florida 2018


It was an honor and blessing for me to lead a VIM team from Western Pennsylvania to Tampa, Florida last week. We had eight team members, two from the Johnstown District, one from the Greensburg District, three from Erie-Meadville and two non-United Methodist guests.  Team members ranged from age 85 to 20. We were a very diverse team, but as always God pulled us together and we got a lot of work done during our five days there. Day 1-2 We met at the Conference Center on Saturday, Feb. 3 and ...

Pass the Plate!

By Greg Cox


Giving is down in most local churches. Church leaders and “stewardship experts” cite several reasons for this. I’ve done a lot of reading, studying and speaking about stewardship, and while all the usual reasons given are valid, I think there’s more to it.   What I’ve seen while visiting local churches has prompted some wrestling with God over the way we receive –or don’t receive—offerings during our worship services. Gone are the days when we gave by passing the plate or basket across pews ...

A Perfect Gift

By WPa United Methodist Women


‘Tis the season for gift giving!  We know the ultimate gift to us was God’s Son. We also know how easy it is to get sucked up in the world’s value system, sometimes using gifts to try to prove our love.   We live in a time of abundance – and of great need; for many, conspicuous consumption – for others, hunger and not enough to make ends meet.  We are bombarded with so much information, it’s tough to sort it all out.  So, many times we take the easy way out, ignoring what we say we believe. We ...


By Susan Moudry


“We live in a time when there is more talk of walls than bridges, more fear about being stuck in gridlock rather than seeing a way across or through,” wrote Rev. Alfred Day, executive for the United Methodist Church's  General Commission on Archives and History, in a recent newsletter.  Many of us would echo that statement.  Whether it’s the political climate, internal struggles in our own church, or simply our changing communities, we see the fear and we see the gridlock.   Recently I have ...

UMW Assembly Update

By WPa United Methodist Women


From Diane Miller, Conference UMW President You are important messengers!  Whether or not you attend Assembly (Columbus, OH May 17-20, 2018), the gathering of United Methodist Women held every four years, you can invite and enable others to attend – with information, encouragement and assistance in finding funding.  You might even register for someone who doesn’t have a computer or is uncertain about how to register online.  (If not you, Faith Geer or Diane Miller will gladly perform this ...

Report from the Mission Field: Nicaragua 2017

By Jessica Speer


  Nicaragua Trip 11/07/17 It is with excitement that I begin to journal our experience here in Nicaragua.  If today is any indication of what is to come, I know that God  is preparing us for great things. Today we used our 3.5 hours of travel time to begin bonding as a team. The ride was filled with laughter as Marcia and I began to learn how to count to 10 in German and we shared many other cultural differences with each other.  With a stop at a local smoothie place we continued ...


By Brian Bauknight


A lot is spoken (and written) today regarding a growing sense of nationalism in America: economic nationalism, America first nationalism, isolationism, nativism, and such.  Comments come regularly out of Washington, out of social media, and even out of some Christian faith-based leaders. I tire of such talk. I don’t know much about the particulars of our economic and trade structures.  I don’t know exactly what trade deficits mean or how to interpret the GNP, GDP, or the findings of the CBO.  ...

Fit to Be Tithed

By Brian Bauknight


I learned about tithing when I was 11 years old—when I had my first paper route in the Pittsburgh suburbs.  My parents talked about tithing freely and naturally as a part of dinner table conversation. I also learned how deeply passionate my parents were about this spiritual discipline.  And spiritual discipline is what tithing is!  Much like prayer or devotional practices or regular worship or even fasting, tithing is a spiritual matter. And yet many churches fail to acknowledge or talk about ...


By Susan Moudry


“We live in a time when there is more talk of walls than bridges, more fear about being stuck in gridlock rather than seeing a way across or through,” writes Rev. Fred Day, General Secretary of the UMC Commission on Archives and History, in the Commission's recent enewsletter.  In his article, he tells the story of a church in changing neighborhood that almost met its end because of a bridge project -- and how a small group of people saved it by moving that bridge. That's not the whole story. To...

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