Conference Blog


NJ Early Response Team - Day 3-Sea Bright

By Diane Miller


On our second full day in Sea Bright, we returned to finish work on Herbert and Desiree’s house and the house across the street that belonged to Natalie.  Each time we touch base with the people whose homes we’re working on, we learn more about them.  Herbert and Desiree are living in the house she grew up in.  Her grandmother lived next door (the plot and new house now owned by a developer), and another relative lives a block over.  This explains why people are so attached to their homes.  It’s...

New Jersey ERT Team Day 2 -- Survivors in Sea Bright

By Diane Miller


Myrna Bethke, our host pastor, connected us with a couple of small jobs in Sea Bright, a spit of land between the Atlantic Ocean and the Shrewsbury River – where the two bodies of water met during Hurricane Sandy.  There was work and conversation during the day with people needing assistance.  Each team member had unique conversations that revealed pieces of the puzzle as they were shared when we met together after supper. See our photo gallery. Sue Sphar-Calhoun shared Jorge's story: "Jorge is ...

Early Response Team Arrives in Red Bank, NJ

By Diane Miller


Western Pennsylvania's first team of volunteers arrived in Redbank, NJ December 4.  Setting out from three locations in three vehicles, the seven team members from six districts all arrived at RedBank UM Church within three minutes of each other. Jack Mallick  of Good Shepherd UMC in the Kane District was joined by David Kissinger of Elton Zion UMC in Johnstown District.  They pulled the newly furnished Eastbrook Mission Barn tool trailer and traveled Interstate 80 – at one point driving 25 ...

Hurricane Sandy Early Response in New Jersey

By Diane Miller


  Hurricane Sandy – Early Response in New Jersey   At least through December, and probably through January (as long as it takes), New Jersey regions affected by this disaster will be in clean-up and assessment mode. Volunteers are now invited who do not have special early response team training, as long as they have some people on their teams who have that training and the badges that go with it.    These teams … muck out churches and homes tear out carpet and drywall that has been flooded ...

Guarantees and Security

By Bishop Thomas J. Bickerton


As many of you are now aware, the Judicial Council of The United Methodist Church recently ruled that the church’s long-standing tradition of offering guaranteed appointments to its clergy will continue, thus keeping ¶337 and ¶354 of The Book of Discipline intact.  The Council’s decision addressed the action of the 2012 General Conference to eliminate what the Book of Discipline calls “security of appointment.”   This decision came as no surprise to me.  I believed all along that the General ...

Picking Olives in Palestine

By Tina Whitehead


  Picking Olives in Palestine This past week a Palestinian friend invited a group of us to join her in a day of olive picking near a village between Ramallah and Nablus. I half teased her as I asked if we would be near any settlements as settler violence is heightened during olive season and especially this fall there had been numerous reports of the destruction of olive trees as well as violence against those who were attempting to begin the harvest. She assured me that this particular grove, ...

Sewing Ministry in WPA

By Diane Miller


   Sewing ministry/mission in Western Pennsylvania is going strong!  Volunteers from Christ UMC in Franklin sewed personalized quilts for Zimbabwe orphans. Each quilt was made using material that matched the age and gender of the recipient. Each one had a tag sewed in the corner with the child’s name on it. When that child is old enough to leave the Home of Hope orphanage in Nyadire, he/she will take the quilt along.   Volunteers from the Fertigs Charge make specially designed hospital gowns ...

Building and Nurturing Relationships

By Diane Miller


Building and Nurturing Relationships Relationships are fertile soil for growing disciples; they are the cement that holds our connectional system together.  Wednesday (8/15) I dropped everything to make a quick trip to King’s Restaurant at the Barkeyville Exit of I-80.  Rebecca Airgood Miller (GBGM missionary Michael Airgood’s sister) called as she entered Pennsylvania on her way to Kane and we agreed to meet at Barkeyville. With her was Nazar, a newly commissioned GBGM mission intern who has ...

Prayer Energy

By Brian Bauknight


I have been through at least two severe crises in my adult life.  One was the winter night in 1994 when my wife, Elaine, sustained major injuries in a terrible crash caused by a drunk driver.  She was months in recovery when doctors thought she might never walk again.   The second crisis came a few days ago when a large Maple tree fell on our youngest son (Dwayne) who is the “farmer” on our 40-acre property.  He was trying to take down the tree with the help of others when it cracked and fell in...

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