Connellsville District News

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Church Reopening?

Church reopening? Bishop Cynthia Moore-Koikoi said in a letter to clergy that you must follow governmental laws and official health guidelines.  Continue to have conversations with your church leadership and your District Superintendent as you make decisions about how and when to reintegrate in-person worship to your ministry. You can find our reopening guidelines and a video discussing our reasoning at  

WPA Health Team Updates Reopening Guidelines: As some Western PA counties move toward the Green phase of Gov. Tom Wolf’s Plan for Reopening Pennsylvania, the Conference Abundant Health Team issued updated guidelines for churches in “green” counties. Learn more

2020 Annual Conference

 Annual Conference 2020

Keep up with what’s happening at

  • The one-day Annual Conference session will be held on Saturday, Oct. 3, 2020 at the Erie Bayfront Convention Center. We hope to arrange for blocks of hotel rooms at special rates for voting members who want to stay overnight at their own expense. Read more Getting there information
  • The Clergy Session will be held on Saturday, June 27, 2020 at Ingomar United Methodist Church.
Clergy: Plan your vacation, weddings, mission trips, etc. around these dates and plan to attend.
Note: The 2021 session of the Annual Conference also will be held at the Bayfront Convention Center.

Pastor, SPRC and Congregational Evaluations

The due date for all three evaluations - May 15, 2020
Evaluation links were sent on Monday, March 2, 2020.  Reminder that the links to all three evaluations have been sent to the senior pastor.  Please make sure the links are sent to those responsible for completing the 2020 evaluations.  If you need help, please don't hesitate to call the district office.  


Staying Connected

Pastor Zack Bohinski: Fells UMC is steaming services online via the Fells UMC Facebook page

Pastor Christine Doren: Facebook live - Stahlstown United Methodist Charge -10am but can go back and watch anytime ... I do it in 2 parts - announcements and children’s sermon and second video is adult sermon 

Pastor Ken Haines: We are gearing up to do Drive in Worship on Easter Sunday.  I will offer two locations; Hyndman UMC parking lot at 9:00 A.M. and again at Palo Alto UMC parking lot at 10:30 A. M.  We will continue this for the foreseeable future.  Trying to make phone calls to as many person as possible each week now.
Pastor Chuck Hildbold: Jennerstown UMC is live streaming each Sunday @ 10am. Facebook live as well as on our chruch web page.
We are planning to meet in the parking lot in cars in addition to live streaming as I preach via radio 97.1 (in our area).
We had a great response this past Sunday with people as far as Erie and Ohio and Illinois listening in!

Pastor Steve Lamb: Albright post our worship services on Facebook live and later on our website 
We are planning a parking lot worship for Easter at 10:30 at Albright.   it will be posted on the website. 

Pastor John Logan:

Pastor Dave McCall: We are making services available by either Facebook or live stream. Check at Somersetfirstumc.
Pastor Rich Pearson: We are at - click on the attend button.

Pastor Eric Raygor: Somerset Grace is doing worship via Facebook Live and Zoom. and  at 10:30 each Sunday.  (Even those without a Facebook membership can access the Facebook Live feed by going to the website at the right time.)
Services will also be recorded in case the live stream fails--if so, they will be posted later.
Audio from our services is always available in podcast form (including a back catalog of the past two years) at
Also, the church is hosting two online Bible Studies through Zoom, to which others are invited. 
 Wednesday mornings at 10:00, we are doing the pastor's study of Ephesians.
Thursday evenings at 7:00, we are doing a study with video teaching from Dr. N.T. Wright.

Pastor Bev ROSCOE: .Calvary and Christ, we are using Zoom video to record our services and sharing on Facebook
 Pastor Valerie Stark @ the Confluence Charge is doing Facebook live on Sunday Mornings at 10:00 am Also doing Wednesday Lenten Services at 7:00 pm 
Pastor John Zimmerman: "The Gathering" hosted by About Face Church Outreach. Every Sunday at 7pm. Connect at

Prayer Concerns and Joys


Those working against the spread of COVID-19                                                                                 
Bishop Cynthia Moore-Koikoi and the WPA Cabinet
2021 General and Jurisdictional Conference
World Leaders                                                   
Our neighbors
For new Pastors and new appointments

Mark Blair to serve Sugarcreek/Grace
Justin Ernst to Serve Confluence Parish
Kenneth Haines to serve South Fayette Parish
Derek Platt to serve Hyndman Charge
Faith Purbaugh to Serve Confluence
Shawn Robbins to Serve Jacobs Creek, Owendale
 Ryan Washabaugh to serve Fay-West Parish

Please send your Joy's and Prayer concerns to:

Birthdays and Anniversaries


Art Gotjen—Pastor 10 
Joseph  Caola-Pastor 14                                          
Dawn Landman—Spouse 14                                          
Mark Sholtis—Pastor 22                                       
Beverly Lamb—Spouse 22                                        
Tabitha Penrod—Spouse 22                
Christine Doren—Pastor 27                 
Beth Blair—Spouse 30                   
Doug Burns—Pastor 30                     
Chuck & Cheryl Hildbold 7                      
Art & Marlene Gotjen 8                           
Roger & Lois Howard  10                        
Brenda & Tom Shaffer  11                        
Eric & Kim Raygor  11                               
Tom & Sharon Brown  17                         
Steve & Beverly Lamb 21
Anthony & Megan Hita 22
Charles & Marjorie Olson 26
Jeffrey & Audrey Popson 26
Roger & Beverly Saunders 30 

Changes to Annual Conference 2020

Bishop Cynthia Moore-Koikoi, after consultation with her Coordinating Cabinet, Conference Secretary John Wilson and Conference Sessions Team leaders, cancelled the Annual Conference session scheduled for June 11-13, 2020 at Grove City College. The business of the Conference will be cared for in different ways. 

  • A one-day session will be held on Saturday, Oct. 3, 2020 at the Erie Bayfront Convention Center.

  • The Clergy Session will be held on Saturday, June 27, 2020 at Ingomar United Methodist Church. 

  • Ordination services will be held regionally. The times and dates have not yet been determined.

See the Bishop's email about the changes sent on April 3, 2020. 

See Frequently Asked Questions.


2020 General Conference Dates Announced

Dates set for General Conference: August 29 - September 7, 2021, at the Minneapolis Convention Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Learn more.
General Conference to move to 2021 Read the news release


Global COVID Response: UMCOR continues to offer support to vulnerable populations affected by coronavirus through grants. Forty-seven were awarded recently through the “Sheltering in Love” campaign to partners addressing food and economic insecurity, water, sanitation, hygiene, and health in their communities. An additional 32 grants were sent as an immediate response to the outbreak, bringing the total to $818,626 around the world. Join the response!

Mission News: Check out updates on local and global ministries in this week’s issue of the Mission News.

Connecting with spiritual seekers: Who are spiritual seekers? What do they care about? How can we reach out to them? Would they be willing to visit a United Methodist church? Find answers to these questions and more in a new infographic that unpacks a 2019 seeker research study. Review infographic

Online Training

Video Editing: Church leaders can learn how to use the Adobe Rush video-editing tool through a new, free training program from UM Communications. Adobe Rush enables church staff and volunteers to produce ministry videos with a polished look for posting on church websites and social media channels. Learn more

Wesley Online Classes: Wesley Theological Seminary is offering all its upcoming summer courses online. The semester runs from May 26 to Aug. 1, with courses starting throughout the semester. Highlights include courses on Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Howard Thurman. Learn more or register
 Using phones to worship remotely: Most churches have members who can connect to online worship platforms and members who cannot. Incorporating call-in capability bridges the gap. See best practices and tips for making sure everyone can worship remotely, with or without internet access. Read more.

Facing Financial Challenges: Join a free webinar to explore some practical and positive ways pastors and lay leaders can turn the pandemic crisis into a hopeful opportunity for spiritual growth in financial stewardship. Register here.

Digital Church Is Here to Stay: The move to digital worship is here to stay. Putting it back on the shelf in the new normal would ignore the greatest opportunity the church today has to reach people. Read more now.

 Connecting Small Groups Digitally: A section has been added to our eLearning series to help you gain insights on how you might use technology to enhance small groups, no matter the circumstances. Learn more.

Clergy Facebook Group: Social Media Coordinator Liz Lennox has created a private Facebook group specifically so clergy can provide peer support during the COVID-19 crisis. You can request to join the group at
Facebook Prayer Group: We also have a public group for all our Facebook followers to offer prayer to one another at

WPAUMC Church Planning Resource List: Visit our Facebook COVID-19 Church Planning Resources here. 

Quickly launch online giving: As church members take shelter at home, they will yearn to continue their support of vital ministries. When done well, online giving can help your church thrive. A new article explores quickly launched giving options, communication best practices and tips for inspiring generosity. Read more

Christian Counseling Associates (CCA), seeks to be a support in this time of challenge for all who are searching for stability and guidance. CCA is available to provide counseling at their offices or online. Call 724-396-1510 to set up an appointment. Listen to their newest podcast! Resiliency in Times of Crisis

Online Payments: The Conference Center offers online payment capability. This service will allow churches and individuals to submit payments electronically instead of mailing checks to the Conference Center. Separate webpages have been set-up for Bishop's Initiative – WPA Coronavirus Relief Fund, Bishop's Initiative-Camping Campaign, Pension & Healthcare Payments and Local Church Remittances. Details

Standing in the pulpit — online: Pastors sharing messages of hope with their congregations during social distancing usually find themselves staring into laptop or smartphone cameras. While this might be challenging, online worship can be engaging and meaningful! Find out how by exploring 10 tips for online worship leaders.

Tracking Online Worship Attendance: Conference Secretary John Wilson points out that there's a place on the annual statistical report form to report online worship attendance. The denomination added the line a few years ago as an experiment. He explains more about it on his webpage Learn more about counting virtual attendance from GCFA data services

Becoming a Church Without Walls: Andrew Ponder Williams says that these trying times provide an opportunity to advance a new way of being church. He offers ideas on how digital connections can help us reach people not previously connected to our congregations. Read more now. Online Classes: Most conferences accept our CEU certificates (one hour of CEU credit for each hour online), which are sent to each registrant, along with a recording of the class, following the live session. Use the coupon code UMC to receive a 20% discount, making the cost of each class $20.

May 26, 2020 Anne Bosarge: Get Out of That Box!
Register at: Recorded versions of past classes are available here.

 Considering a New Normal? As congregations become comfortable with worshipping and connecting online, some are beginning to think about what the new normal might be. Rev. Dr. B. Kevin Smalls, pastor of Hope UMC in Southfield, Michigan, came up with a list of things church members may want to eliminate as normalcy returns. Read it

News from the General Council on Finance and Administration:

Like many of you, GCFA is staring at the stark reality of our nation attempting to flatten the curve and spread of Covid-19 by engaging in social distancing. For many of us, that may mean your weekly worship services are going to look a bit different than they have in the past. To support our United Methodist churches as we continue to make disciples, we have pulled out relevant articles that we feel may help during this time. We invite you to look through these, and we pray they may be of some help as we all face this uncertainty.
EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT eGIVING: In response to Covid-19 and social distancing, many churches many close as they put the health of their congregation first. This may lead to stress around the collection plate. Check out this handy guide to understanding electronic, text, and other forms of online giving.
UNDERSTAND LIVE STREAMING NOW TO BENEFIT YOUR CONGREGATION: As churches, theatres, and sporting events all press the pause button, churches across the nation will turn to live streaming to give their churches an option to worship. Download this guide to understanding different components of live streaming.

Clergy Session decision to be made on June 12

Clergy Session on June 27th:  Ingomar UM Church, 1501 West Ingomar Rd, Pittsburgh, PA 15237

A final decision on whether the Annual Conference clergy session can be held as scheduled will be made on June 12. Bishop Cynthia Moore-Koikoi said it will be rescheduled if federal, state and local health guidelines cannot be followed. She explained that decisions to be made at the clergy session can be postponed until after the start of the appointment year on July 1. Read her email.     See annual conference info at

Youth News

Virtual VBS: Cokesbury’s Vacation Bible School division is revising the content of its 2020 “Knights of North Castle” curriculum to let children and families participate completely online from home. It is also making all of its digital content available free to any church that wants it. Learn more. 
Uth4Mission: Although the 2020 Uth4Mission has been canceled due to concerns over COVID-19, leaders are encouraging local church youth groups to consider a work project in their community if conditions permit. 

Summer Without Church Camp? While traditional summer camp experiences might not be possible due to social distancing this year,virtual connections are offering new ministry possibilities. Discover how United Methodists across the U.S. are planning to continue camp programming for campers and their families. Read UM News story
(NOTE: As of now, WPAUMC camps still plan to offer programming beginning in late June. For schedules and updates, visit the camp websites using the links at

UMC Student Loans: Loan applications for the January to May 2020 period is open until May 5. Students are eligible to apply for up to $10,000 per calendar year from the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry. Click here for eligibility and application information.  

YOUTH INFORMATION: on the web at

  • Resources for Youth Workers
  • Explore weekly updates, devotions, games, and lessons on the Youth Worker Collective. Some of the top UM youth workers offer free resources from their real-world ministries. 
  • Check out all of the Youth news at
YSF Grants!
Your church can apply for a Youth Service Fund grant! Need some money to help run or launch a youth-led program or mission trip?
Apply at
Applications are accepted all year long.

Looking to connect with other UM Youth Leaders?
Be on the lookout for upcoming Youth Leader Networks! A small group regional program for you as a youth leader to grow and live life in
community with others who “get it.”
More info?        On Facebook: Western Pa UMC Youth Leaders

Save the Date

July 10-13th: NEJ Youth Convo (Hunt Valley, MD)
July 20-24th: Uth 4 Missions (Jumonville)

July 22-26th: Youth Mission U (CalU)


District Notables

Peace with Justice Sunday

 Peace with Justice Sunday – June 7th: Download digital resources

Conference News

Below you will find some conference news relevant to Connellsville District. To see all conference news, go to the News section at the very top of this page.
WPA COVID-19 Updates (read more )


Conference Announcements Updated May 22, 2020.  Read Bishop's Update on Reopening Churches See What's Next for Churches video with Bishop Cynthia Moore-Koikoi and Dr. Jessica Price. Download our Guidelines for Church Reopening   Get take-aways and other info from our twice weekly Covid-19 Clergy Conversations. See our Coronavirus Stimulus and Relief Package information for churches. Check our Covid-19 Church Planning Resources page on Facebook. Due to Pennsylvania and local government actions ... read more

Clergy Coaching Sessions Offered (read more )


To assist clergy as they strive to meet the on-going challenges of ministry in the age of the novel coronavirus, the Western PA Conference is offering Coaching on Demand.  Trained coaches in the Conference are offering their skills at no charge as a ministry to their colleagues. "Right now, we are each navigating personal and professional challenges, new realities, and unexpected ministry opportunities," said the Rev. Amy Wagner, who took a lead role in organizing the Coaching on Demand ... read more

Conference Call to Prayer (read more )


The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear?  The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?   (Psalm 27:1, NRSV)   As our world has become encased in fear and uncertainty because of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Western Pennsylvania Conference calls all laity and clergy to an intentional, daily time of prayer.  In the midst of the chaos, we need to stand in the power of prayer.   On March 24, 2020, Rev. Randall Bain, senior pastor at the Oakland United Methodist ... read more

Bishops Ask to Postpone GC2020 (read more )


UPDATE:  The Commission on the General Conference, in a March 16 press release said: As concerns over the coronavirus (COVID-19) epidemic continue to escalate, the Commission on the General Conference will meet on March 21 via teleconference to discuss plans for the 2020 General Conference, scheduled for May 5-15, 2020 in Minneapolis, Minn.  According to the United Methodist Book of Discipline, in the absence of a convened General Conference, only the full Commission, as the duly authorized ... read more

Worship in Virus/Flu Season (read more )


UPDATED - 3/16/20 On March 15, the Center for Disease Control recommended that for the next 8 weeks, throughout the U.S., organizers cancel or postpone in-person events that involve 50 people or more. Bishop Cynthia Moore-Koikoi will issue a statement on hope-filled ways United Methodists can offer ministry during this season. Updated CDC info on Mass Gatherings is at…/… With the number of Coronavirus 2019 (COVID19) cases increasing ... read more


Resources for Responding to Racism    more info

The Conference Anti-Racism Team (ART) compiled a list of suggestions for Western PA churches to address racism. Download it from the Conference's Discussing Racism page.

Millennial Pastor Holds Senior Church Together: Rev. Bryant Phelps is a 29-year-old millennial shepherding a senior-citizen congregation in one of the Dallas zip codes hit hardest by the coronavirus. His efforts to hold the church together and speak prophetically about inequities affecting his African American community drew the attention of columnist Sharon Grigsby. Read column

Standing in Solidarity-6 Ft. Apart! The coronavirus pandemic has reminded us that injustice is routine, too – ingrained in the fabric of society, writes Rev. Susan Henry Crowe of the Board of Church and Society. The systems and structures that routinely oppress have continued to disproportionately impact the most marginalized during COVID-19. See why

Quick Links

Mission Barn

The Eastbrook Mission Barn is one of six UMCOR Relief Supply Network depots across the United States.

Mission Barn & UMCOR Supplies- Due to Annual Conference in June being cancelled and therefore the UMCOR collection, Mission Barn Director Katie Peterson is looking for a church willing to be the collection point for their district for UMCOR supplies, cleaning buckets, and hygiene kits on a one or two time basis this summer.  Preferably they can keep track of what church brought the donations and then store the kits and supplies in a secure location. People can bring the kits and supplies from the collection directly to the barn or the conference center, or she can arrange to send a truck or trailer to pick them up. Contact: Katie Peterson


Scholarships and Grants

There are a variety of scholarships available at and at