Conference News


Imagine No Malaria Gift Surprises Bishop

March 1, 2014
Members of the 2014 Confirmation Class of Grace UM Church in Indiana, PA surprised Bishop Thomas J. Bickerton with a check for $11,500 for Imagine No Malaria during a visit to the United Methodist Center in Cranberry Township at the end of February. The gift came from Indiana Grace's Christmas Eve offerings. It was presented to the Bishop, who leads the denomination's Imagine No Malaria ministry, at the start of an afternoon of Confirmation Class visits to the Center.  "As part of our Advent ... read more

Damaged Scrolls Crisis Turns into Blessing

February 21, 2014
By Tom Harrison* Of all the misfortunes that could befall a Jewish congregation, the one that recently visited Congregation B'nai Abraham in Butler, PA was especially painful. The Torah scrolls — the Butler synagogue's most cherished and most holy items — got wet. Cantor Michal Gray-Schaffer, the spiritual leader, discovered the damage during shabbat — the sabbath service — on Jan. 10 when she pulled one of five scrolls from the tabernacle to read a passage from Exodus. The fabric covering ... read more

UMCOR Offers One Great Hour of Sharing Study

February 21, 2014
One Great Hour of Sharing 2014 from Global Ministries on Vimeo. Connect to the work of UMCOR through a new church-wide Sunday school study for adults, youth, and children. Being Hope, United Methodists in Global Mission is a four-week Bible study that explores the biblical and Wesleyan foundations for our work as a denomination in the areas of disaster relief, global health, and global development, as well as the role we play in our churches’ mission efforts close to home. The study follows ... read more

Ash Wednesday: Offering Christ Outside the Church

February 19, 2014
To mark the start of Lent, Rev. Larry Dunn and Lay Leader Carol Diemert of Herminie United Methodist Church took to the streets from 7 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. on March 5 offering imposition of ashes to anyone who wanted to receive the Ash Wednesday sign of mortality and repentance. They   were at the corner of Pike St. and Sewickley Ave. in Herminie.  "This gives people the opportunity to begin their Lenten season on the way to work. It also gives us the opportunity to be out in the community sharing... read more

Mission Barn Ministry Continues to Grow

February 19, 2014
Eastbrook Mission Barn Director Nelson Thayer reported this week that "despite the snow, we have been making real progress on our ministries." The Mission Barn, which serves as an official UMCOR Depot, has developed a network of satellites to collect kits and donations of relief supplies.    "Volunteers will be glad to hear that we have taken serious steps to complete the indoor bathroom project," Thayer said.  "The old Milking Parlor has been transformed - with glass block windows, new double ... read more

Volunteers in Mission Training Sessions Scheduled

February 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 ... read more

Bishop Names Lenox as Kane District Superintendent

February 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 ... read more

Woman Donates $1.1 Million to Imagine No Malaria

January 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 ... read more

Mission of Peace Life-Changing for WPA Youth

January 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 ... read more

Meekins: Like King, Seek Authentic Community

January 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 ... read more

Orientation to Ministry Draws 45; New Dates Set

January 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 ... read more

SPARK 14 Rocked! 200 Commit to Christ

January 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, ... read more

Newsmaker Profile: Rev. Patricia Nelson

January 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 “... read more

Newsmaker Profile: Rev. Paul D. Taylor

January 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.” ... read more

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

January 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 ... read more

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