Conference Blog



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...

Right on the Money

By Brian Bauknight


It is that time of year!  A season when many or even most churches begin to talk about budgets and income and giving for the next calendar year.  Unless, of course, some official word or unspoken edict is widely understood: “We do not talk about money in this church.”   No position could be more inappropriate to the Good News.  About 500 verses in the Bible are about prayer.  Another approximate 500 verses are about faith!  But over 2000 verses are about money and possessions.  Jesus spoke more ...

Renew, Invent and Reinvent

By Brian Bauknight


Amid some continuing unemployment and rampant underemployment, we hear continuously discomforting news from the working world.  One analyst says: jobs are never coming back; companies have learned how to produce—and even grow—with fewer employees.  Another says: robotics and computers are radically changing how we manufacture; thus companies need fewer humans on the job.  Now, more recently, a commentator said something like this: Employers today are looking to hire persons who can renew, ...

Destination: Nowhere?

By Edward Bailey


Last month I had the pleasure, as I so often do, to visit a church that some might think to be in the middle of “nowhere”. One of the blessings of Western Pennsylvania is that you do not have to travel far to be in the middle of “nowhere”. I arrived at the white-framed church, like many across the Western Pennsylvania Annual Conference, at 6 o’clock in the evening, and met with the Finance Committee for an update on church “business” and to learn how the United Methodist Foundation might be ...

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 ...

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