Bishop Calls for Prayer: After spending time in Central Africa with five other United Methodist bishops meeting church and government leaders last month, Bishop Cynthia Moore-Koikoi called for a Day of Prayer for the people of the Democratic Republic of the Congo on Dec. 23, the day set for a long-delayed presidential election there. Learn more
Clergy Health Insurance Rate: Thanks to the efforts by the Conference Board of Pensions and Health Benefits, the 2019 rate local churches will be billed for full-time appointed clergy health insurance is $151 a month less than the amount anticipated earlier in the fall. The 2019 blended rate will be $1385.00 a month for health, vision and dental. Learn more
Deaths: Funeral services will be held at 10 a.m. Friday for the Rev. Fredrick Vanderhoff, who passed away on Saturday, Dec. 8. See obituary
Contrasting Lives of Immigrants: Nemoria Ramirez, a leader at Baden UMC who serves on the Conference Connectional Leadership Table, is featured in a story that offers an in-depth look at the plight of immigrants in Beaver County. Read story
A Warm Place to Sleep: Our Neighbors’ Place in Erie is again providing safe and warm overnight shelter to those who are homeless and have nowhere to go this winter. The Erie UM Alliance (EUMA) has been involved in the community project the last few years, but it is now officially part of EUMA’s ministry. They now provide organizational support and financial oversight. Learn more and see how you can help.
National Homeless Persons Memorial Day is Friday, Dec. 21: Every year on the winter solstice and the longest night of the year, Operation Safety Net (OSN) organizes a candlelight memorial service to remember those who have died while living on the streets of Pittsburgh during the previous year. It’s set for 6 pm. Read about last year’s service.
Learn more about Operation Safety Net
Blue Christmas: For those overwhelmed by sadness during Advent and Christmas, some local churches in Western PA offer Longest Night/Blue Christmas services on Dec. 21. Chuck explains this practice further in a Chuck Knows Church video.
Discipleship Ministries offers worship resources.
Advent Resources for Home: UMC.org offers some downloadable prayers, print resources and videos to help people remember God’s place as we prepare for Christmas and the New Year. Take a look.
Do Your Visitors Return? Most churches get some visitors during Advent and at Christmas. To invite them to return, check out these ideas.
And try to avoid the pitfalls listed in 4 Reasons Visitors Do Not Return.
Taking It Online: When weather makes it unsafe for people to get to church, use online options for worship and giving. How? UM Communications shows you options for every budget and technical ability. See what they are.
Books for Children: Children’s books that reflect the diversity of God’s creation can help to decrease bias and boost the self-worth of children. To help you find books that teach all of the children in your midst that they are beautifully created in the image of God, the UMC Board of Church and Society has created a searchable database. Learn more.
Orientation to Ministry: Required of candidates pursuing licensed or ordained ministry, the orientation is open to anyone interested in learning more about the various types of ministry in the United Methodist Church. It will be held Saturday morning, Jan. 5, 2019. Get details.
Safety Day: Garden City UMC will host a Jan. 12 event addressing everything from safety at home to how to respond to an active shooter. Law enforcement personnel and medical professionals will offer presentations to help participants take charge of their own safety. Get flyer with details.
To Love and To Cherish: Rev. Paul and Sue Fields will lead a Feb. 8-10 marriage retreat at Olmsted Manor for couples looking for some time away and a chance to focus on their relationship. Get details
Report Shows UMC Growth: A new report from The United Methodist Church on the state of the church says that 50 years after the merger that created the denomination, church ministries around the world are thriving. The 2018 State of the Church report shows the multinational denomination has seen a 12 percent increase in membership from 2006 to 2016.
Read press release
Website Spotlights One Church Plan: A group of bishops has launched a website to provide information on the One Church Plan, one of multiple proposals heading to the special General Conference Feb. 23-26 in St. Louis. The new site is getting pushback but also support. Read story
Judicial Council February docket: When the UMC Judicial Council holds a special session in February, the agenda will include its first administrative appeal. But a request for a partial reconsideration of its unanimous October ruling on two proposed plans for the denomination's future was denied. Read story
UMC Sign In the News: Read Washington Post story.
Revitalizing Church in Harrisburg: Congregations at 10 United Methodist churches will be organized into a multisite configuration, part of a revitalization effort by the Susquehanna Conference as it deals with aging buildings and declining membership. The existing church buildings will be sold. Read story
Read Susquehanna conference press release
Christmas Break: The United Methodist Center in Cranberry Twp. will be closed for Christmas break from Dec. 24-28.