Conference Blog


A Deep Calm


The biblical narrative contains a story of Jesus masterfully stilling a storm. (Mark 4:35-41) The boat is taking on water big time and the disciples are frightened and not too happy with Jesus seemingly sleeping through the storm.  They wake him.  Jesus challenges their lack of faith, and the stills the storm.   Storms come in every life.  Some are minor storms that pass in a few days or weeks: a broken bone, minor surgery, a bad cold.  Some are medium storms that take longer to adjust and ...


By Brian Bauknight


For many years, my wife and I were regular viewers of the Tonight Show—first with Johnny Carson, then with Jay Leno.  As the years moved on, we watched it less and less at the broadcast time (about 11:30 PM) and more and more on a recorded (TiVo-ed) version the next day.  We are now somewhat regular viewers of the new Tonight Show and its latest host, Jimmy Fallon. Jimmy Fallon   Fallon has a consistent way of beginning each night.  He emerges from behind the stage curtains with joy, ...


By Brian Bauknight


This past week, TIME magazine published an annual issue on “The 100 Most Influential People.”  Several categories of influence were cited from around the world: pioneers, artists, leaders, titans, and icons. Because of my current role in leadership development for our Annual Conference, I was most interested in the “leadership” category. Who are the world leaders of today, and why? Clergy in Brian Bauknight's  2016-2017 leadership development group are, from left, Adam Stump, Megan Berkebile, ...

Keeping Kids Safe

By Chris Kindle


You may have seen the recent commercials for It is a wonderful resource for the many volunteers we have in our churches. There is information on mandated reporters, child abuse clearances and a wonderful “frequently asked question” page. I am thankful that our state is again reminding us of the importance of keeping our children, youth and volunteers safe. All volunteers having contact with children must obtain the Act 33 clearance (PA Childline child abuse history ...

Easter Worshippers

By Brian Bauknight


Easter brings crowds to worship.  Even where attendance is very small, almost every church has an attendance factor beyond the “normal” pattern for a Sunday morning.   Why do they come?  Why the extraordinarily high numbers on this day?  Why tens or scores or even hundreds above average?   Some people come because they want to oblige an insistent family member: “It’s Easter, and you are going to church [with me].”  The matter may even come as a bribe: “If you will go to church today, I will ...

A National Vision?

By Brian Bauknight


David Brooks, columnist for the New York Times, wrote one week ago about the loss of a national “vision” in this country.  He suggests we may have held such a vision at the beginning, but we lost it along the way.  He concludes his article with this statement: “What’s needed is an act of imagination, somebody who can tell us what our goal is and offer an ideal vision of what the country and the world should be.”   Is that an invitation to the church, or what?   We have a vision of what can be ...

Appointment Values

By Bishop Cynthia Moore-Koikoi


After this the Lord appointed seventy others and sent them on ahead of him in pairs to every town and place where he himself intended to go.  He said to them, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the laborer are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest. Go on your way.  Luke 10:1-2   Now when the apostles at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had accepted the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them. Acts 8:14   There is a strong biblical history of God’s ...

Word of God -- Delayed

By Brian Bauknight


Early one cold and blustery Pittsburgh January morning, I was listening to the school closings and delays on my car radio.  The list was long.  Some schools on the northern tier of our area were closed for the day.  Most were delayed or “modified.”  It was a particularly nasty weather morning for traffic, even though scenic and attractive in many ways. Suddenly one school announcement caught my immediate attention: “Word of God—delayed.”   Located somewhere in Western Pennsylvania is a school ...

Meet Black College Fund Ambassador

By WPa United Methodist Women


February is Black History Month and presents a good opportunity to learn more about our denomination's historically black colleges and the ways our Conference UMW has helped to tell that story. The historically Black colleges and universities of The United Methodist Church are responsible for educating some active and popular leaders - from preachers, district superintendents and bishops to college professors and presidents to general agency staff, legislators and community leaders. These ...

Leaning into Hope

By Brian Bauknight


Domenico Ghirlandaio's Zechariah Writes Down the Name of His Son (1490, fresco in the Tornabuoni Chapel, Florence) The first two chapters of Luke tell the heart of the Christmas Story.  Most of us are familiar with Luke 2:1-20 – a narrative which is read, sung, and performed in many churches each December.   But these two chapters are also about four elderly folks: Elizabeth and Zechariah, who Luke says (rather delicately) are “getting on in years.” Simeon, who is ...

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