Gottschalk Named Volunteers in Mission Coordinator

published 10/1/2013
The Rev. Stephanie Gottschalk, pastor of Emanuel UMC in Pittsburgh’s West End and associate director of United Methodist Church Union, has been selected to serve as the Conference Volunteers in Mission coordinator. She’ll succeed Diane Miller, who officially retired last month after seven years in the post. “Stephanie brings a depth of experience to the position and is going to build upon the great work that began with Diane Miller,” said the Rev. Greg Cox, director of connectional ministries. “...

Miller Retires as Volunteers in Mission Coordinator

published 9/13/2013
In seven years as Volunteers in Mission coordinator for the Western PA Conference, what has fed Diane Miller’s spirit the most are the many people who call to tell her about something extraordinary that happened on their mission trips. “I have not only my own stories of God-moments, but other people’s,” she said. “Many are about how much the experience changed them and helped somebody else.” Miller officially retired on August 31 from the full-time job that was created, in a sense, by popular ...

New Superintendent Lauster Has Gift of Faith

published 9/5/2013
When he hears God call, the Rev. Brad Lauster doesn’t hesitate. He jumps right in. “I have the gift of faith. I am not someone who has to be persuaded,” he said.  “I’m like a dog when the car door opens. Wherever you are doing, I know you love me.  I don’t want you to leave me behind. I am in!” Lauster demonstrated that when Bishop Thomas J. Bickerton him to leave Indiana Grace United Methodist Church, where he had just started his 13th year as senior pastor, to serve as superintendent of the ...

Lauster Appointed Washington DS

published 8/7/2013
The Rev. Brad Lauster, senior pastor of Grace United Methodist Church in Indiana, PA, has been appointed as superintendent of the Washington District.  He’ll step into the post left vacant when current DS Eric S. Park moves to Butler to serve as senior pastor at First UMC on September 1. (See related story) “Brad Lauster brings a holistic vision of God's world to our cabinet and to the people of the Washington District,” said Bishop Thomas J. Bickerton, who announced the appointment.  “Brad has ...

Nyadire Connection Leader Honored

published 8/7/2013
Drew Harvey of Christ UMC in Bethel Park has been named as a Jefferson Award winner for his work with The Nyadire Connection (TNC) helping to support and sustain the people and programs of the United Methodist Mission at Nyadire, Zimbabwe.  The Jefferson Awards program is a prestigious national recognition system honoring community and public service in America. Jefferson Awards are presented on two levels: national and local and were established in 1972 by Senator Robert Taft, Jr., Jacqueline ...

Washington DS Park Moving to Butler Church

published 8/5/2013
Washington District Superintendent Eric S. Park has been appointed to serve as senior pastor of the Butler First United Methodist Church, effective September 1, 2013. There he hopes to continue the multi-faceted ministry developed under the leadership of the Rev. J. David Panther, the longtime senior pastor who died May 26 after a prolonged battle with cancer. Panther was first appointed to the church as an associate in 1992.  "Eric's appointment to First Church Butler is a confirmation of his ...

Zimbabwe Experience Energizes WPA Team

published 8/5/2013
A team of Western PA laity and Director of Connectional Ministries Greg Cox returned to Western PA from Zimbabwe inspired by the worship, music and ministry of United Methodist brothers and sisters there and warmed by the extreme hospitality shown to them as they helped lead a Lay Academy at Africa University in July. About 500 people, who all seemed enthusiastic and excited to learn, attended the Lay Academy, Cox said.  Sponsored jointly by the Western PA Conference and the Zimbabwe Episcopal ...

Need for Volunteers, Cleaning Buckets Continues

published 7/31/2013
Volunteers are needed in several areas of Western PA to help with clean-up of homes flooded by storms in late June and July. The DuBois-Reynoldsville area was hit with torrential rains of up to 6 inches of water in 24 hours on June 27. Hundreds of homes and businesses were damaged in the storm. On July 10, a tornado hit the New Castle area,which also saw flooding from heavy rains. Areas south of Pittsburgh saw severe flooding that same day, and subsequent isolated storms created problems caused ...

Ready, Set, Sew

published 7/23/2013
When Dr. James H. Ritchie heard about the disaster in Oklahoma he knew exactly who to turn to, Center United Methodist Church. Likewise, when it came to helping the school students receive bags of school supplies, once again he knew exactly who would help, the Fawn Township Sewing Group.   The Sewing Group meets every first Thursday of the month at the church. Their community projects have included sewing cancer robes, beds for dogs and cats at Animal Protectors, neck coolers for the troops in ...

Team Participates in Zimbabwe Lay Academy

published 7/20/2013
 A team of four Western PA laity, accompanied by Director of Connectional Ministries Greg Cox and Zimbabwe Partnership Coordinator Sandra Matoushaya, traveled to Zimbabwe to visit ministry sites and teach along with Zimbabwe church leaders at a Lay Academy. The theme of the Lay Academy, held at Africa University's main campus, was "Developing Effective Lay Leadership". The academy is sponsored in partnership with the Western PA Conference.   Western Pennsylvanians leading session at the academy,...

First Reflections from Zimbabwe

published 7/15/2013
Having returned only yesterday from Zimbabwe, three things keep playing over and over again in my heart.  First of all, to experience the loving expressions of our God in the people of Zimbabwe, and their tender, gentle and powerful hospitality, was to experience anew the very touch of Christ in my life.  Our United Methodist friends there shared all they had in every moment of encounter without hesitation.  They offered not only themselves in service to God and to us, but also their homes, ...

People of God Help Erie Tornado Survivors

published 7/3/2013
On May 28, 2013, an EF1 tornado swept across southern Erie County, PA. Miraculously, there were no major injuries, but dozens of homes were damaged or destroyed. A few families have lost everything and some have no insurance. The clean-up has gone well, with the help of the Red Cross and hundreds of volunteers. But the rebuilding has yet to begin. This tornado was too small to qualify for state or federal assistance. So what the government won't be doing, the people of God will! The Erie ...

Pittsburgh Area Pastor Among 20 Selected as Lewis Fellows

published 7/3/2013
The Rev. Tom Parkinson, pastor of Faith UMC in the Pittsburgh suburb of Fox Chapel, has been selected as one of 20 young clergy to participate in the 2013-14 Lewis Fellows program at The Lewis Center for Church Leadership of Wesley Theological Seminary. The young clergy were chosen from a broad field of applicants and represent five denominations and 11 states.  Every year the Lewis Fellows program brings together outstanding young clergy persons (generally those under the age of 35) for ...

Annual Conference 2013 Focused on Disciples Making Disciples

published 6/20/2013
Western PA Annual Conference members were blessed by dynamic preaching, insightful creative presentations on disciple-making and the joyful participation of church leaders from Zimbabwe during its 2013 session June 13-16 at Grove City College. The theme was Disciples Making Disciples, chosen by Bishop Thomas J. Bickerton to focus “conversations, training, and strategies around how we once again find the courage and passion to invite people into the heart of God through Christian discipleship.  ...

State of the Church: Disciple-Making Must Be Priority

published 6/14/2013
“This disciple-making venture is a very tough nut to crack,” Bishop Thomas J. Bickerton declared in his State of the Church address at a Western Pennsylvania Annual Conference focused on the theme Disciples Making Disciples. “We have spent countless hours developing theories, statements and catch words that affirm our belief in this theme,” he said on the opening day of the June 13-16 gathering. Yet, he added, we continue to struggle. “The drive to grow our churches with disciples seems to, at ...

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