WPAUMC enews, April 1, 2020



Feeling Afraid? Not unusual in this time. Bishop Cynthia Moore-Koikoi recommends reading Fear: Not my Favorite Spiritual Companion, a post by Patricia Adams Farmer.

Into the Unknown! Susan Moudry can’t get the song from Frozen 2 out of her head -- only partly because that’s where many church leaders find themselves heading these days. Read more in her latest Lessons in Leadership blog post. 

Hope Unlocked: Rev. Amy Wagner assembled a small team to work with Midnight Oil Productions on a bundle of Easter worship resources, “Hope Unlocked.” It will be available this week on the Conference website.  

Clergy Conversations: Over the last few weeks, local church pastors have been invited to Zoom sessions with Conference staff or guest presenters on specific topics related to pastoral ministry during the Covid-19 pandemic. Learn more.

Churches & COVID-19 Stimulus/Relief: The Conference Treasurer’s office has compiled information on how the Coronavirus Stimulus and Relief legislation applies to churches and other non-profits. The information has been released over the past few days, and more changes may be made. Visit our Coronavirus Stimulus and Relief webpage.

Information and resources on ministry during the coronavirus pandemic are updated regularly on our Conference Facebook page facebook.com/wpaumc/ and website WPAUMC.org. On the website, the homepage feature photo link will take you to COVID-19 Announcements. Use the Resources drop-down menu on the top blue bar to find other COVID-19 resources. The page with take-aways from our Clergy Conversations is there. 

Decluttering? Many people are doing it these days. Maybe someone wants to go through old church records and clean up some files. What should be saved? The UMC General Commission on Archives and History has a guidebook with some answers. See the guidelines 
 Questions? Email Susan.Moudry@wpaumc.org or Conference.secretary@wpaumc.org

Dismantling Poverty 

Food Bank Distribution Draws 1500: After coronavirus safety concerns forced the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank to cancel food distribution from its large-scale Produce to People, FoodShare and Oakland Free Food Spot locations, they arranged for drive-up food distribution from their warehouse in Duquesne, PA. The first one on Monday drew lines of traffic so long, it made national news. See WTAE-TV report
 Read Newsweek story. 
 See Trib Live story
Learn more at Pittsburghfoodbank.org

Filling the Gaps: Foundations and corporations are stepping up to fill gaps in the food distribution network, according to a Pittsburgh Post-Gazette story


Controlling Infection in Communities: UMC Global Ministries is developing an ongoing, flexible plan to help communities implement infection control aimed at breaking the coronavirus transmission chain. UMCOR and the agency’s Global Health unit also are working on ways to increase the capacity of United Methodist networks in global and local settings. Read story

Mini Mission u Postponed: Mini Mission u, which was scheduled this month at Olmsted Manor, has been postponed. When it’s safe to be together, it will be rescheduled – hopefully in September.  While we wait, connect with Mini Mission u leader Eric Park’s blog.

Mission Barn in the News: Today’s New Castle News has a feature story with photos about the Mission Barn.  See story
Note: The last paragraph references making layette items and school bags. While that was done in the past, UMCOR no longer collects layette kits -- and school kit items now must be in clear plastic bags.  

Dismantling Racism

Racism in COVID-19 Era: In the 1980s Republic of Korea, the Rev. Thomas Kim was held as a political prisoner for eight months, and he likens that imprisonment to the enforced isolation brought on by COVID-19. While that isolation is hard to take, he writes that it is nearly impossible to take the racism and xenophobia aimed at Asian Americans. 
Read commentary

Creative Ministry

Together While Apart: While nothing replaces being physically together, congregations can find creative ways to engage members and communities in prayer, worship and ministry. UM Communications’ Ask The UMC team offers tools to help church members stay connected during the coronavirus pandemic. Read story

Connecting with Kids: With preschools closed, Rev. Jeff Vanderhoff, pastor of Trinity UMC in McMurray, has enlisted his puppet friend Patterson to join him in offering Facebook live video messages to Trinity’s children at 3 p.m. Monday through Friday.  Check them out here

Tools for Ministry

Effective Tech Tools: A new online course offers bite-sized trainings that will teach church leaders how to get the most out of communication tools and bridge physical gaps with virtual solutions.  See Effective Technology Tools for Churches

Local Church Learning Sessions with experts discuss streaming worship online, e-giving, using Zoom for small group meetings, connecting through text messaging and more are available on the ResourceUMC Facebook page

Find What You Need All in One Place! If you’re feeling overwhelmed by so many places with so much information on how to respond to the coronavirus, may we recommend ResourceUMC’s page. It may be the best collection we’ve seen. Check it out!

Improvising for Holy Week: United Methodist churches are scrambling to figure out how best to observe Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and especially Easter while COVID-19 restrictions limit in-person gatherings. Read UM News story

UMC News

GCFA Addresses Budget, More: The General Council on Finance and Administration board on March 27 wrestled with budget issues and heard an update on the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. Wrestling with budget after GC2020 postponed

Student Loan Payment Suspension: A three-month suspension of student loan payments is being offered by the United Methodist Board of Higher Education and Ministry in response to the economic impact of the coronavirus. The pandemic may cause financial hardship for many paying off student loans. Read press release

Pandemic and Church Giving: Worshipping online and cancelling church events poses a financial challenge for some local churches. But leaders have found ways to sustain giving. You may recognize some of the clergy quoted in this UM News story.
Bishop Cynthia is quoted in this Pittsburgh Post-Gazette story on the subject.

Weddings and Funerals: The coronavirus spread has prompted many churches to downsize or put a hold on a hold on weddings, baptisms, funerals, memorial services. A UM News story quotes some Western PA clergy on the subject.  Read story

One Final Note

Here’s Your Big Chance! You’ve seen the viral videos of singers and artists coming together digitally to produce uplifting music. Discipleship Ministries invites you to join a virtual Easter Sunday choir! You’ll have to create your video according to directions and upload it by April 6. They’ll post the final product on Easter Sunday! Get directions