Conference News


Teen Launches Hats of Hope Project for Cancer Patients

December 12, 2014
-By Leslie Spehar- When Joseph Totin couldn’t find a scarf to wear for the first day of hunting season, he decided to try to knit one himself.  A senior at New Castle Junior/Senior High School, the 18-year-old is a self-described do-it-yourselfer. As he was watching instructional videos on YouTube to teach himself to knit, he started thinking about his mother who had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in March and was undergoing chemotherapy. It occurred to him that he could knit hats for ... read more

Pianist Still Strikes a Chord at 100

December 8, 2014
     Rhea Hornyak was just eight years old when she began playing piano for Bethany United Methodist Church in Portage, PA. That was 92 years ago and she’s still tickling the ivories each week during worship.     Hornyak  turned 100 on November 29.  “I think the secret of a long life is to not worry,” she said. “I made up my mind a long time ago that if I’m going to pray and ask God to help me, then it’s an insult to the Lord to keep worrying. I give it all to the Lord.”     With just one year ... read more

Bible Study Helps Vets at WVU, Churches

December 3, 2014
--By Renee Elder-- Entering college after a tour of military duty is a little like stepping into another world. “There’s a feeling of being isolated when you come back,” said Timothy Woody, who spent six years as a member of the Air Force Reserve with tours in the Middle East before starting college at West Virginia University in 2009. “You try to reintegrate, but you have people asking you about military service a lot, so you’re forced to revisit it; sometimes that is something you want to ... read more

Celebrating Christmas with a Fijian Flair

December 3, 2014
Christmas worship at Point Marion UMC will be a little different this year. The December 14 service at the church in Fayette County will feature music sung by a Fijian choir in the native Fijian language. The tiny borough, located between Uniontown, PA and Morgantown, WV, had a population of just over 1300 as of the census of 2000, but that number is growing as more and more native Fijians have moved there to work in the shale gas industry.  Many of those immigrants attend worship at Point ... read more

Credit Union Offers Tips for Holiday Season

December 3, 2014
Between shopping for presents and wrapping all of them, baking special goodies, planning and attending gatherings, and addressing and mailing Christmas cards, the most wonderful time of the year is also the most stressful time for many of us. Add in reduced daylight hours and plunging temperatures and the combination has the potential to really bring out our inner Scrooge. If Christmastime leaves you feeling more frazzled than festive, Keystone United Methodist Federal Credit Union has some ... read more

GCFA Continues Sanctions Against East Africa Bishop

November 26, 2014
The board of The United Methodist Church’s finance agency is taking separate actions against two African bishops over financial and accounting issues. Some relate to issues raised by the Western PA Conference regarding use of $100,000 given to the East Africa Conference.  In one instance, the General Council on Finance and Administration board decided Nov. 21 that the finance agency will withhold funds from East Angola Area Bishop José Quipungo’s episcopal office until he provides “a ... read more

Help Make Mission VIMpossible!

November 21, 2014
-By Leslie Uriss Spehar- Scholarships for Volunteers in Mission trips (VIMships) have been available for several years through the Western PA Conference, but the supply has been limited due to lack of resources. To increase the number of VIMships available, the Conference Volunteers in Mission leadership team has launched a fundraising plan that will enable them to assist people who feel called to the mission field.  They are on a mission to make the impossible VIMpossible. The costs ... read more

Churches Welcome All for Thanksgiving Meals

November 19, 2014
-By Jackie Campbell- In many communities across Western PA, United Methodist churches open their doors on Thanksgiving Day to welcome friends and neighbors for a Thanksgiving feast. It’s a love gift  and a way to see that no one has to be without a “family”meal on the holiday.  At Beulah Park UMC in McKeesport, church youth, seniors, families and community volunteers help to prepare a community meal. Several families rearranged their family dinners in order to help at the church.   “We are ... read more

Camp Dean Sets Sites on New Telescopes

November 18, 2014
During the past 20 years, Rev. Dale Shunk, who serves as co-dean of an Astronomy, Rocketry and Computer camp each summer, has placed professional grade telescopes at all three of the Western PA Conference camps. He's done it "in order for our campers, young and old, to enjoy an original and personal view of God’s creation," he said. Shunk's latest project was at Jumonville, where the camp purchased the newest edition of the Meade Telescope line called the Meade Light Switch or LS.   "This ... read more

Family Loss Leads to Thanksgiving Ministry

November 18, 2014
By Leslie Uriss Spehar Family traditions are the foundation on which holiday celebrations are built. When those traditions change, for whatever reason, how we experience the holiday does as well. When Jeanne Cosgrove of Coraopolis UMC lost her mother and sister in 2011, the idea of celebrating anything seemed a daunting task. Cosgrove tried her best to create a festive atmosphere at Thanksgiving that year for her husband and two children, but when the meal was done and the dishes washed and ... read more

Missionary Requests Prayer for Peace in Jerusalem

November 18, 2014
Conference missionary Tina Whitehead of Oakmont UMC is in the Holy Land, where tensions have been escalating in East Jerusalem.  She asks for prayers for peace and sent the following report of what she has experienced. I’ve been in Jerusalem for one month now and should have written long ago.  Where to start?  At present, the situation is very tense in East Jerusalem and has been since July.  While the world was focused on Gaza this summer, life in Jerusalem became more and more difficult.  ... read more

Conference Evangelist Named My Hope Coordinator

November 12, 2014
Conference Evangelist John Zimmerman has been selected as the Pennsylvania coordinator for My Hope with Billy Graham. Regional coordinators were named across the nation this year to encourage local pastors in their efforts to share the Gospel. The My Hope organization on Nov. 7 released a new film called “Heaven,” which includes a never-before-seen message from Billy Graham that was filmed last year at his home in Montreat, N.C., as well as the impactful stories of writer and speaker Laurie ... read more

Bishops Issue Statement on Human Sexuality; Call for Prayer

November 7, 2014
Oklahoma City, Okla.: The Council of Bishops has issued a statement concerning human sexuality, addressing their diverse perspectives and calling the people of The United Methodist Church to be in prayer, both for their leaders and for one another. The statement reads: As bishops of The United Methodist Church, our hearts break because of the divisions that exist within the church.  We have been in constant prayer and conversation and affirm our consecration vow “to guard the faith, to seek ... read more

Crossroads Launches Campus in Weirton, WVA

October 29, 2014
By Jackie Campbell Crossroads UMC officially launched a new campus on Oct. 25, something not all that unusual for the small-group-based congregation that developed a multi-site strategy about nine years ago. But this time the campus is in a different state and a different annual conference.  It’s in the city of Weirton, West Virginia—about 25 miles due west of Crossroads’ North Fayette campus near Greater Pittsburgh Airport. The groundwork for the launch was done over several months by Barry ... read more

Students Raise $40,000 for Zimbabwe Clinics

October 29, 2014
By Jackie Campbell Two United Methodist college students from the Pittsburgh area have raised $40,084 through a seven-week online campaign to help rebuild the rural Nyahuku health clinic in northeastern Zimbabwe. Because they surpassed their $30,000 goal, Natalie Geer, a junior at Ohio Wesleyan College, and Jessi Mazzoni, a senior at Allegheny College, will take the 2014 Pittsburgh Polar Bear Plunge into the frigid waters of the Allegheny River in December -- and they'll be shouting out the ... read more

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