Reserved Parking Could Cost Your Church $$: Provisions In the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 require non-profit organizations to treat “transportation fringe benefit expenses” as unrelated business taxable income (UBTI) for 2018. The IRS issued guidance on the issue on Dec. 10, 2018 and the UMC General Council on Finance Administration (GCFA) followed up with a white paper that includes answers to frequently asked questions and instructions for churches to assess their own situations. Learn more at wpaumc.org/FinanceAnnouncements.
See IRS and GCFA documents
In Focus in 2019: The January 2019 issue of In Focus, a monthly 12-page magazine with news, feature stories and information on upcoming events related to the Five Areas of Focus, has been mailed to WPAUMC clergy and church leaders. Most stories and photos are submitted by volunteer reporters working with their District Superintendents and the Conference Communications office. Please share your copies with others in your congregation. Get January issue in PDF format.
Celebrate with Olmsted in 2019! As you plan for the coming year, give yourself some time away. Consider one of the 2019 retreats at Olmsted Manor, as it celebrates 50 years of offering retreat programs. (Space is also available for church and other groups to use for their own retreats.) See the list and get details at olmstedmanor.org/events
New Beginnings: The lyrics of a hymn and the coming of a new year prompted UMW leader Diane Miller to look back at the blessings a new baby and his family brought to her small country church. Read her UMW blog post.
Student Engineers in Nyadire: Students from the Engineers without Borders chapter at Carnegie-Mellon University are currently at the Nyadire UM Mission in Zimbabwe with Don Ziegler of The Nyadire Connection and Mission Vision. The students will assess the performance of the Solar Street Lighting System earlier groups designed at the mission, and also collect important data for design of a Bio Gas Cooking System for the Nyadire Primary School. Ziegler and Nyadire mission personnel also will conduct eyeglass clinics at the hospital and its rural health centers.
SPARK 2019: Pray for the more than 650 youth and youth leaders registered to attend SPARK the weekend of Jan. 11-13 at the Sheraton Station Square in Pittsburgh. Get details on breakout sessions, speakers, etc. at wpaumc.org/spark
Apply Now for 2019-2020 Scholarships: Scholarships are available through the UM Higher Education Foundation for United Methodist students who need help with tuition expenses at UM-related colleges and seminaries. A variety of scholarships are offered to UM students who meet specific designations, such as state or conference of residence, area of study, or career goal, etc. See available scholarships
Internships: The Western PA Conference offers summer internships for seminarians and students who may be discerning a call to ministry. Apply by Jan. 31. Get details
Register for Summer Camp! Check out the 2019 opportunities at our three Conference camps.
Prayer Initiative Training is offered this Saturday, Jan. 5, at 10 a.m. at the Conference Center. Learn more at wpaumc.org/events.
Martin Luther King Service: McKeesport First UMC will host the annual Pittsburgh-Greensburg District service celebrating the life and ministry of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Pastor Raphael Koikoi will be the keynote speaker at the 4 p.m. service on Sunday, Jan. 20.
The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity is Jan. 18-25. This year’s theme, “Justice, Only Justice, You Shall Pursue,” was selected by representatives in Indonesia from Deut. 16:20. Information and resources are available here.
Clergy Tax Seminars: If the prospect of filing your Federal Income Tax return fills you with dread--or you simply want to get the latest info--attend the UM Foundation of Western PA’s Clergy Tax Seminar in February. The seminar will be offered in two locations -- at the downtown Holiday Inn in Johnstown on Feb. 22 and at the UM Center in Cranberry Township on Feb. 29. Details at umfoundation.org/seminars.
Ministry Clutter: While churches may be quick to add new programs, they don’t usually eliminate old ones. The result: Ministry clutter and program overload. It may be time for some pruning to avoid losing focus and draining human and financial resources. Read more in Leading Ideas.
Adult Christian Ed Resources: The Wesley Ministry Network’s study materials offer contemporary Christian resources for your congregation’s small groups or adult Bible studies. The video-based courses encourage energetic discussion and personal reflection that are keys to a life of informed discipleship. They are also appropriate for individuals seeking self-study opportunities. See what’s available
Looking for a Churchwide Lenten Study? Adam Hamilton’s new six-week study on Simon Peter, a “faithful, but flawed” disciple, may help individuals discover special gifts and abilities that God can use to make a difference today. It has components for adults, youth, and children. Visit Cokesbury's website to explore it and other Lenten studies.
Considering a Lenten Drama? Bill Kemp, a retired WPAUMC elder, author and consultant, has revised his Lenten drama I Believe. It’s a production for a cast of about 25 and includes musical numbers between each scene. He’s produced it in sanctuaries and school auditoriums. For more info, go to amazon.com/dp/099976876X
Learn more about Bill at notperfectyet.com