WPAUMC enews, April 15, 2020



Lessons in Leadership: This Eastertide, the Rev. Susan Moudry notices a disorienting fog in the air. Read about grief in her latest post on the Conference blog.

Tracking Online Worship Attendance? Conference Secretary John Wilson points out that there's a place on the annual statistical report form to report online worship attendance. The denomination added the line a few years ago as an experiment. He explains more about it on his webpage wpaumc.org/conferencestatistician.
Learn more about counting virtual attendance from GCFA data services

WPA Coronavirus Relief Fund: Bishop Cynthia Moore-Koikoi established a fund to raise support for those in our Conference who are financially affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. She announced the special appeal during her online Easter worship service. Funds will be used to support clergy families, lay staff or Conference-wide ministries in need. Individuals can give through their local church or directly online at wpaumc.org/onlinepayments.


UMC Survey Says Giving Down: Not being able to pass an offering plate as usual every week is affecting income in most churches. Seventy-six percent of United Methodist churches say that giving is down and one-third report that it is down by 40 percent, according to new research by United Methodist Communications based on a survey of 1,000 local churches. Read story

Ways to Encourage Giving in Uncertain Times: In Wednesday’s Zoom conversation for local church pastors, Rev. Mike Ward offered some positive examples and steps to take to encourage giving in these times. See the takeaways from his presentation 
Get takeaways from other conversations at wpaumc.org/covid-19-clergy-conversations

April 26 is Native American Ministries Sunday. Native and Indigenous people are defined as a protected category of people, many times because they have been subject to generations of repression, demonization of their cultures and languages, and systemic racism. Learn how your congregation can participate in Native American Ministries Sunday here.

Dismantling Racism

Pandemic of Hatred: An article in the Patheos Evangelical newsletter points out the need for Christians to stand up to what it calls the “pandemic of anti-Asian hatred” that has been seen across the U.S. in an increasing number of incidents since March 14. Read more

Call to Action vs COVID-19: United Methodist black church leaders issued a call to action in the fight against COVID-19 in light of recent findings that African Americans are dying from the disease at disproportionate rates in the U.S. Learn more

Stay at Home Opportunity: Many of us are taking time these days to watch movies or read books. Why not take this opportunity to learn about other cultures and increase your intercultural competence? GCORR has compiled links to lists of movies and books that will help you do that. See the lists

Ministry With the Poor

Don’t Let Out of Sight = Out of Mind: A new Western PA UMW blog post focuses on how we can demonstrate care for residents of personal care and nursing homes. It was written by Diane Miller, a member of the board of the Ruth M. Smith Center, a personal care facility and UMW National Institution in Sheffield that is home to 28 vulnerable adults. Read the blog post.

The Smith Center now has a way for individuals and churches to donate online.  Check it out at out at ruthmsmithcenter.org/support

Push for Urban Community Gardens: Miles-long lines for food bank distributions and  churches scrambling to cook for communities prompted three Pittsburgh Councilwomen to push for quick establishment of neighborhood gardens as residents deal with job losses and hunger, according to a Pittsburgh Post-Gazette report.   

Online Engagement

10 Tips for Online Worship: If you feel a bit awkward preaching on camera, Resource UMC offers 10 tips for leading online worship. See what they are.

Considering a New Normal? As congregations become comfortable with worshipping and connecting online, some are beginning to think about what the new normal might be. Rev. Dr. B. Kevin Smalls, pastor of Hope UMC in Southfield, Michigan, came up with a list of things church members may want to eliminate as normalcy returns. Read it

Reach More with Digital Connections: Andrew Ponder Williams says that these trying times provide an opportunity to advance a new way of being church. He offers ideas on how digital connections can help us reach people not previously connected to our congregations. Learn more

Need a website? An engaging church website is key during this time of virtual connection. Website development grants are available through UM Communications for local churches and church entities who do not currently have a website. Learn more and apply for a Website Development Package

Climate Justice -- Earth Day 2020

Earth Day 2020 is April 22: But the threat of COVID-19 means United Methodists and other people of faith may need to find new ways to observe the 50th anniversary of the environmental event. In South Carolina, for example, they’ll have a virtual event instead of a previously planned in-person gathering at the South Carolina State House. Read story

Seeking Net-Zero Emissions: Wespath Benefits and Investments has become the 22nd member of the United Nations-convened Net-Zero Asset Owner Alliance. The alliance is a group of pension funds and insurers that pursue investment strategies to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. Read press release
Watch Wespath video

COVID-19 Reflections and Resources

Pandemic and The End-Times? In a series of blogs, Pittsburgh Theological Seminary Professor Steve Tuell reflects on what the Bible says about the end of the world. His study was prompted specifically by the concern that the COVID-19 pandemic is a biblical sign of the end times. Does the Bible have something to say about our times? Read the blog posts.

Never Waste a Crisis! Outreach magazine is sharing some pastoral perspectives on Covid-19. In one, Matthew Watley, founding pastor of a multi-site AME church headquartered in Maryland, points to eight ways the current crisis may help leaders change themselves and lead change in their churches.  Read it

Resist Busyness in Pandemic: Pastors can be tempted to fill this time of fear with over-productivity. Resist that urge, writes Rev. Melissa Florer-Bixler. Read more.

COVID-19 Resources for Leaders: The Faith and Leadership website regularly updates its list of resources to guide leaders as they adjust to the current reality. See what’s available. 

Collaboration Helps Contain COVID-19: Multilateralism is often misconstrued to be about the global and not about local and daily life. But the novel coronavirus pandemic is showing that the local and the global are simultaneous realities, writes the Rev. Liberato C. Bautista, who leads the U.N. office of the United Methodist Board of Church and Society. Read commentary

WPAUMC Items of Note

Deaths: Prayers are invited for the families of Pastor Kimberly King, 57, of Owensdale and Jacob’s Creek UMCs, who passed away at Shadyside Hospital in Pittsburgh on April 7, and the  Rev. Bonnie Tyack Friend King, a retired elder, who died at her daughter’s home in Georgia on April 8. Get details at wpaumc.org/obituaries.

Seaside Escape Retreat Kit: If your church has this kit and is willing to lend, give or sell it, check our classified ads at wpaumc.org/classifieds.