Volunteers in Mission Training Sessions Scheduled

published 2/18/2014
Rev. Stephanie Gottschalk, Conference Missions/VIM coordinator, has scheduled Volunteers In Mission (UMVIM) training sessions in March and April at 13 locations around Western PA.     The training sessions are open to anyone interested in hands-on mission opportunities and are required for those leading a mission team through the United Methodist Church. Teams with certified leaders are eligible for UMVIM insurance coverage.   UMVIM, which provides everyday people with the opportunity to be ...

Bishop Names Lenox as Kane District Superintendent

published 2/17/2014
By Jackie Campbell Bishop Thomas J. Bickerton has selected the Rev. J. Patrick Lenox, pastor of Glenwood UMC in Erie, to become superintendent of the Kane District, effective July 1. Previously he named the Rev. Patricia Nelson to lead the Greensburg District and the Rev. Paul Taylor as superintendent of the Pittsburgh District. “Pat Lenox is a person of integrity and brings a strong history of church growth to the ministry of the Kane District.  His long tenure at Glenwood: Erie is a ...

Woman Donates $1.1 Million to Imagine No Malaria

published 1/31/2014
Imagine No Malaria will get a million-dollar-plus boost, thanks to a generous gift from a lifelong United Methodist who just wants to give back – the largest gift to date from an individual donor. “I think it’s important that we all give back in some small way to make this world a better place for folks to live,” said Barbara Ferguson, a laywoman from Los Altos UMC who is donating $1.1 million towards the California-Nevada Conference’s effort to raise $2 million to save 200,000 lives through ...

Mission of Peace Life-Changing for WPA Youth

published 1/29/2014
Two young women from Western PA have returned home after spending nearly three weeks on a Mission of Peace to South Africa. Kayla Schwanke of Russell UMC in Kane District and Kirsten Miller of Grace UMC in Coal Center, Washington District, were among a group of 18 youth and adult advisers, including Philadelphia Area Bishop Peggy Johnson, on the annual journey of discovery sponsored by the Northeastern Jurisdiction’s Council on Youth Ministries.  The group worshiped and enjoyed fellowship with ...

Meekins: Like King, Seek Authentic Community

published 1/20/2014
By Jackie Campbell "God wants an authentic community, and when God is present, there is opportunity,” Greensburg District Superintendent William B. Meekins Jr., told those gathered at Monroeville UMC for a June 19 service celebrating the life and ministry of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. “God calls us to seek that authentic community,” he explained, saying that is how God created us. Seeking a community that is not divided is what Dr. King was all about, Meekins said.  It was not about ...

Orientation to Ministry Draws 45; New Dates Set

published 1/15/2014
About 45 people attended an orientation to ministry event sponsored by the Conference Board of Ordained Ministry on January 4, 2014 at St. Paul's UMC in Allison Park.  Representing all 10 districts, they came to find out more about ordained, licensed and set-apart ministry within the United Methodist Church.  Speakers included Rev. Jeffrey Sterling and Rev. Amy Wagner, co-chairs of the Board; Faith Geer, Administrative Director of St. Paul's; Louise Patterson, CLM and Chair of the Conference ...

SPARK 14 Rocked! 200 Commit to Christ

published 1/15/2014
By Jackie Campbell About 500 youth and their leaders attended SPARK last weekend, with at least 200 youth coming forward for a commitment to Christ, according to Conference Youth Director Renaye Hoffman. There were 17 students that came forward for the call to ministry, she added.    “From my perspective, the event was wonderful,” Hoffman said. “The youth were fun, yet well-mannered and kind.  The dodge-ball tournament was a lot of fun; karaoke was rocking as always, and the photo booth, ...

Newsmaker Profile: Rev. Patricia Nelson

published 1/8/2014
The Rev. Patricia Nelson has been selected by Bishop Thomas J. Bickerton to serve as the next superintendent of the Greensburg District. She shared some thoughts after the appointment, effective July 1, was announced. By Jackie Campbell When the Rev. Pat Nelson joined the pastoral staff of First UMC in Butler in February of 2010, it was primarily to focus on congregational care for the large multi-site church. Her ministry involved working with and supervising 12 to 15 ministry teams who “...

Newsmaker Profile: Rev. Paul D. Taylor

published 1/8/2014
Paul D. Taylor, pastor of Bethel UM Church in Lower Burrell, has been selected to serve as superintendent of the Pittsburgh District beginning July 1. He recently shared some of his journey with Christ. By Jackie Campbell The Rev. Paul Taylor received what he describes as a Samuel-like call to ministry when he was a junior in college.  “I rejected it,” he says. “Really I was not very happy with God.  My father (Arthur James Taylor) had died in an industrial accident before I turned 16.” ...

Newsmaker Profile: Rev. William B. Meekins, Jr.

published 1/8/2014
By Jackie Campbell After eight years as superintendent of the Greensburg District and five years as dean of the Cabinet, the Rev. William B. Meekins Jr. said his role will be a lot different when he becomes the assistant to Bishop Thomas J. Bickerton on July 1. “The assistant to the Bishop is not supposed to to have opinions,” he joked. “The assistant is supposed to represent the Bishop.” While he will represent the Bishop on many occasions, in reality, Bishop Bickerton said one reason he ...

Bishop Names New Assistant, Two Superintendents

published 1/6/2014
By Jackie Campbell Bishop Thomas J. Bickerton has named two new district superintendents and an assistant to the bishop for the 2014-15 Conference year that begins July 1. The Rev. Patricia Nelson, associate pastor at Butler First UMC, will serve as superintendent of the Greensburg District, replacing the Rev. William B. Meekins, Jr., who will become assistant to the Bishop after serving the maximum eight years as a superintendent. The Rev. Paul Taylor, pastor of Bethel UMC in Lower Burrell, ...

UM Foundation Grant Helps Ramp Ministry Grow

published 1/2/2014
By Debbie Hills* Three years ago a new mission outreach program called Ramps of Hope had built a handful of ramps at the homes of people who otherwise could not afford one. These ramps allowed people affected by physical disabilities a safe way to come and go from their homes. As the program became better known in the community, more and more requests were received, and the limited resources of our churches were being stretched way beyond their breaking points. As the director of this new ...

Bishop Bickerton Reflects on the Life of Nelson Mandela

published 12/6/2013
Today I have been reflecting on the life and work of Nelson Mandela. My family and I had the wonderful opportunity of meeting and hearing Mandela speak when he made a surprise visit to the Council of Bishops' meeting in Mozambique in 2006. His wife, Graca Machel, really stole the show that night when she shared with us that the reason she and her husband came to the Council meeting was to say thank you. You see, she was born in a United Methodist hospital, taught in a United Methodist school, ...

Western PA Group Among 429 Exploring Ministry

published 11/20/2013
Speaker after speaker told the 429 young adults gathered to explore ordained ministry in The United Methodist Church that God is calling them to go change the world and the church.  “This is not your momma and daddy’s church. We have to be about making disciples, not members,” Bishop Cynthia Fierro Harvey told those attending Exploration 2013 in Denver, Colo.  Among the participants were 15 young adults from Western PA accompanied by the Revs. Keith Dunn and Alyce Weaver Dunn and Janet Lord.  ...

Bishops Take Action After Same-Sex Ceremony

published 11/15/2013
Press Release: Following the action of a retired bishop to conduct a same-gender ceremony in violation of church law, the United Methodist Council of Bishops took a series of actions to address the issue during their annual meeting this week in Lake Junaluska, N.C. The Council requested that Bishop Rosemarie Wenner, president of the Council, and Bishop Debra Wallace-Padgett of the North Alabama Conference file a complaint regarding Bishop Melvin Talbert’s action, for “undermining the ministry of...

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