WPAUMC Update - May 31, 2022
WPAUMC Update - January 10, 2021
As the New Year begins, COVID-19 transmission remains high in much of the United States, including in Pennsylvania. To keep yourselves, your loved ones, your communities, and congregations safe and healthy, the WPAUMC Abundant Health Team recommends vaccinations and taking the precautions detailed in its late November update.
WPAUMC Update - August 6, 2021
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommended in early August that even vaccinated people return to wearing masks indoors in places where the coronavirus is spreading rapidly. The recommendation was based on new evidence showing the delta variant of COVID-19 is highly transmissible. Current CDC data tracker maps show substantial or high spread in several Western PA counties. For information about the need for masks, NPR's health shots page is updated regularly and offers easily understood information, including the CDC's map of spread by county.
Our Bishop and District Superintendents throughout the pandemic have urged church leaders to follow state and local health mandates and guidelines to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus and to consider the risk to the most vulnerable in our churches and communities in determining whether and how to hold in-person worship services. Bishop Cynthia Moore-Koikoi has emphasized that church leaders have a moral obligation to do everything they can to ensure the safety of the most vulnerable.
The CDC in early August also recommended indoor masks for all teachers, staff, students and visitors at schools nationwide.
After COVID-19 vaccines were approved and became available in limited supply, Dr. Jessica Price, a physician and chair of our Abundant Health Team, created a video to explain and address concerns about vaccines.
Below are links to guidelines developed by the Abundant Health Team and other relevant resources and information.
To help stop the spread of the COVID-19 virus, the Bishop and Conference leaders have taken the following actions:
The United Methodist Center remains closed to the public.
Conference staff who are able to are working remotely and available by email. Some staff members are at the Conference Center to conduct essential business from time to time, but the intent is to limit the number of people in the building. Email is the recommended method of contact. Voicemails left on office phones are checked regularly and returned as soon as possible.
The 2021 Western PA Annual Conference Session was held in hybrid form. Get details here.
The United Methodist General Conference has been postponed until August 29 - September 6, 2022. The Northeastern Jurisdictional Conference will be held about two months after the General Conference.
Olmsted Manor Retreat Center developed safety guidelines and reopened for groups of up to 25 people in mid-September, 2020, but shut down on Oct. 20 through Nov. 1, 2020 so staff could quarantine after learning of possible exposure to two individuals who tested positive for COVID-19. Neither exhibited symptoms at Olmsted. Olmsted opened for in-person retreats in late spring 2021. Questions? Contact: Rev. Al Hammer, Executive Director Al@OlmstedManor.org.
All three camps were open for the 2021 Summer Season. Click the links below for details.
Camp Allegheny welcomed nearly 400 campers for programs from June 28 - August 1, 2021
Jumonville, which cancelled summer camp sessions in 2020, had a robust 2021 summer camping program.
Wesley Woods, which restructured staff in August of 2020, offered some programmed camping sessions and new opportunities for churches to bring groups to choose their own camping activities.
See a list of Western PA churches offering worship online.
ResourceUMC offers instruction about how to take your worship online at resourceumc.org/en/content/taking-your-worship-online-a-guide-for-beginners-and-everyone-else
WPAUMC Facebook Church Planning Resource List contains links to a variety of resources, some of which are also listed here.
UMC Discipleship Resources: As local churches seek appropriate ways to respond, many congregations have questions. UMC Discipleship Resources offers some answers.
Pandemic Worship Resources: The UM music and worship arts fellowship is providing a space on its website for those involved in providing worship can share resources and ideas. Find it at umfellowship.org/pandemic.
The Pennsylvania Department of Health has relevant information that is updated regularly on its website at health.pa.gov/topics/disease/Pages/Coronavirus.aspx
The Center for Disease Control website offers information and downloadable resources on its main COVID-19 page and a page devoted to information for faith-based organizations.
NOTE: We recommend using these official sites for information, rather than relying on social media. Although we try to provide accurate info through our WPAUMC Facebook page and groups, there have been many reports of inaccurate information posted on social media by others about "cures" and prevention methods (some detailed on CDC site).