Conference Blog


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 ...

Bishop's New Year's Covenant

By Bishop Cynthia Moore-Koikoi


In my tradition one of the most moving worship experiences we had during the holiday season was the Watch Night Service.  On New Year’s Eve we would gather together and through song and testimony we would praise God and rehearse the many ways God had blessed us throughout the year. Then, about twenty-five minutes before midnight my father, who was my pastor during my childhood and youth, would start preaching.  He was never a long winded preacher, but on New Year’s Eve it was especially ...

A Shepherd Who Stayed Behind?

By Brian Bauknight


Occasionally, in my imagination, I see one shepherd who did not go to Bethlehem that first Christmas night.  One shepherd stayed with the sheep while the others ran to see if the news was true.  Why would this have been his choice?  Why did he not go?   Consider some possibilities!   He was too tired.  It had been a long week, or a long series of weeks. He did not have the time or the energy to do one more thing What about you?  Are you simply worn from the pace and competing claims of recent ...

Waiting Room

By Brian Bauknight


Every day in December, our youngest granddaughter asks my wife or me the same question: “How many days now until Christmas?”  I am quite sure she knows the answer.  But still she asks!   We don’t much like waiting.  Most of us have had the experience of sitting and waiting for a doctor office appointment.  We know our turn will come eventually.  But still we check our watch.  And often we fret.  We also wait impatiently (and occasionally, fearfully) for a doctor’s visit to our hospital room or ...

Theological Correctness

By Brian Bauknight


I am not someone to quickly correct another person’s theology; but on some occasions, I cannot help myself.  We heard a lot of banter about “political correctness” in the recent presidential campaign.  Is there such a thing as “theological correctness?”  I think there may be times….   Recently, someone posted this thought on FaceBook: When God pushes you to the edge, trust him fully, because only two things can happen: either he catches you when you fall or he will teach you how to fly.  On ...

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