WPAUMC enews for March 25, 2020


Worldwide Christian Prayer: Bishop Cynthia Moore-Koikoi urged United Methodists in Western PA to join with Christians across the globe in praying The Lord’s Prayer on Wednesday at noon local time wherever they were. The invitation was shared widely by church leaders and on Facebook. Read more
See Bishop’s video

Lessons in Leadership: Adaptability is the focus of Rev. Susan Moudy’s Lessons in Leadership blog post this week. Key takeaway: “You don’t have to keep doing all the things you were doing.” Read more  

Online Communion? There has been a lot of discussion among our clergy on this subject in online forums. Bishop Cynthia Moore-Koikoi has said that in Western PA, clergy should not celebrate virtual or online communion. Butler District Superintendent Eric Park is intrigued by the theological discussions and offers some thoughts in a blog post, The Lord’s Supper and Virtual Communion.

Online Worship: If your church doesn’t offer online worship, invite your congregation to worship with one of our congregations who do. Links to some are on the Conference website. Pick a link or two and share them with your congregation. See the list.
Note: We will add to our list later this week, but suggest that if it’s your first time with livestreaming, do a trial run with your own congregation before sharing the link with us. 

Drive-In Church: The Indiana Gazette had a story about last Sunday evening’s drive-in church service with Pastor Bill Blair preaching from the church balcony over the parking lot. It was broadcast over WMUG-FM 105.1. See story

Cautionary Spending Note: All Conference  committees have been asked to curtail their discretionary, non-essential spending for the foreseeable future. Payments will be made to vendors and individuals will be reimbursed for costs or expenses already incurred. 

WPAUMC Resources

Clergy Conversations: This week Conference staff led two Zoom conversations with church pastors to share resources and information during the current pandemic. This week on Monday, Amanda Gilligan and Rev. Chris Kindle addressed Discipleship with individuals, children, youth and families. In Wednesday morning’s session, which drew about 85 participants, Treasurer Roger White and Assistant Treasurer Jason Dix looked at church finance, online giving and 
stewardship in this time. Links to takeaways and resources from each session will be posted later this week on the Conference website Covid-19 Announcement page

Upcoming ZOOM Conversations: Since participation is limited to 100, invitations to register for each session are emailed to pastors serving in local churches a few days before the session. Coming next week are three opportunities:

  • Monday, March 30 -“Pastoral Care” in a time of social distancing with District Superintendents Eric Park and Brad Lauster and a  funeral director as a special presenter.
  • Wednesday, April 1 - “Resources for Holy Week and Easter” with Rev. Amy Wagner and Shane Hinderliter.  Resources for worship and youth and children’s ministries.
  •  Friday, April 3  - “Resources for Easter Worship” with Jason Moore of Midnight Oil Productions.

Easter Preview! A team led by Rev. Amy Wagner, working with Midnight Oil Productions, is developing “Hope Unlocked” - an Easter resource bundle for local churches to use in planning Easter worship wherever and however you can celebrate.  It will include graphics, spoken word pieces, at-home liturgies, a Love Feast celebration, and sermon prompts. It speaks to the different kind of Easter celebration that we will likely have this year - with the promise that the resurrected Jesus comes to us even when we find ourselves fearful behind closed doors. Texts are John 20:1-20 and Jeremiah 31:1-6.


Are New Appointments Being Made? The Bishop and Cabinet are meeting online, but still working on appointment changes for this year. Any changes are being announced to congregations via email or postal mail, then posted at wpaumc.org/appointments.

What About Annual Conference? As of now, after consultation with Grove City College, our Conference Session Team leaders continue to plan for the Annual Conference to meet as scheduled in June. Because things may change rapidly, though, we will not open registration or process any additional requests for display area space that require deposits. This may eliminate the need to process refunds -- and incur associated fees--if the situation warrants cancellation of the session. 
Note: Youth page and delegate applications are still due March 30! Application can be found at wpaumc.org/youthevents

What Does the Stay-At-Home Order Mean? After Erie County was added to the areas with mandatory stay-at-home orders, GoErie published an article with a good explanation adapted from the Governor’s order by their county officials. Learn more

What About General Conference? After its leadership team learned that the 2020 General Conference must be postponed because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the full Commission on the General Conference decided to work toward setting a date in 2021. See why

But What About Legal Requirements? Postponing General Conference is the right thing to do, writes the Rev. William B. Lawrence, former president of the UMC Judicial Council. However, he says that church's laws require certain actions this year and he suggests how to get that work done. Read commentary

Cautionary Spending RequestAll Conference committees have been asked to curtail their discretionary, non-essential spending for the foreseeable future. Payments will be made to vendors and individuals will be reimbursed for costs or expenses already incurred. 

Leadership Resources

Leading the Church in the Face of Coronavirus: Bill Owens of the Center for Healthy Congregations offers some simple reminders and best practices in this Leading Ideas article. 

Chuck’s Back! He’s teamed up with #SeeAllThePeople for a Chuck Knows Church video series “Things We Can Do-Covid-19.”  It suggests simple things to maintain and build community during this time of crisis. Share them with your congregation. Take a look

UMC Resources

Helping Children Deal with Covid 19: Sheltering in place is confusing for children accustomed to daily contact with friends and teachers. In a UM News story, church leaders offer some advice on how to help them. Read story

Electronic Giving: Information and a video of last week’s Discipleship Ministries webinar on recurring online giving is available at umcdiscipleship.org/articles/electronic-recurring-giving

Communication is Key to Online Giving: Finding the right tool for online giving is important, but communicating effectively about the tool is key, writes the Rev. Jeremy Steele. He offers advice on online giving.
Read more

Resources for Digital Ministry: The ResourceUMC Facebook page will post Local Church Learning Sessions at noon daily from Friday, March 27 through Thursday, April 2. Experts will discuss topics including: Online worship tools and platform options, copyrights and licenses, E-giving and Connectional Giving, Using Zoom for virtual small group meetings, and connecting through text messaging. Starting Friday, find them on facebook.com/ResourceUMC

Other Ministry Resources

Dementia and the Church: The final webinar in Discipleship Ministries’ series is scheduled for April 22 at 1 p.m., EDT. The earlier webinars have been recorded and posted. To see the topics, register to watch the recordings or join live, click here.


No Travel? No Problem for Mission Board: It was past midnight in the Philippines when Bishop Pedro M. Torio Jr. of the Baguio Area finished a virtual meeting with his fellow directors of the Board of Global Ministries. Armed with instructions on connecting through WebEx, directors from around the globe  logged in March 20 to interact with each other and a select few staff members who were spaced carefully around a conference table at the mission agency’s Atlanta headquarters. Read what happened.

Mission Ambassador Update: Things have changed a lot since a year ago when Mission Ambassadors Lynn Sibley and Sandy McKee visited sites in the U.S. and Ireland before teaching at Mission u last July. Read what’s different.