WPAUMC enews, April 22, 2020



Continuing Call to Prayer: The Western Pennsylvania Conference has called all laity and clergy to an intentional, daily time of prayer in the midst of the chaos of the COVID-19 pandemic. At the 19th hour of the day, 7p.m., you're invited to stop and pray for seven minutes. Oakland UMC in Johnstown launched the practice in late March. Read more.

Deaths: Rev. George Tutwiler, well-known in church music circles and professor emeritus at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, where he taught church music and Methodist Studies for many years, passed away on April 16. See obituaries

Church Vandalism: The Food Pantry at Rosedale UMC in Penn Hills was able to serve families this week despite vandalism that nearly ruined  the food in the walk-in cooler and freezers. Director John Dick told TribLive that someone cut a portion of the copper piping to the compressors at the church, the pantry’s home for nearly 20 years. Read more

Need Streaming Services? About Face Church Outreach Consultants (Conference Evangelists John and Christine Zimmerman) offer their mobile multi-camera broadcasting platform to serve your live streaming and video recording needs. They can quickly set up their four-camera studio in almost any setting for worship services, funerals, weddings, training sessions and more. They can livestream to multiple platforms -- Facebook, Zoom, YouTube, your website or their streaming site. Cost is $250.00 for onsite event streaming/recording up to one hour. Email john@af180.org or learn more at  www.af180.org .

New Dates Proposed for General Conference: The Council of Bishops has disclosed a proposal that would push General Conference to Aug. 31-Sept. 10, 2021, more than a year and four months after the lawmaking assembly was originally scheduled. The dates have not been confirmed. Read story

Earth Day/Creation Care

Church of the Recyclers: Caring for our neighbor is a commandment. Caring for creation is a United Methodist social principle. At Church of the Reconciler, caring for both has become a daily mission. In honor of Earth Day’s 50th anniversary on April 22, UM News Service spotlighted this Alabama ministry. Watch

Preaching Creation in the Land of Fracking: The continued rise of fracking activity in West Virginia, much like in southwestern Pennsylvania, has divided not only communities, but churches — usually between those who stand to benefit financially and others concerned about the long-term environmental impact. A UMNews story by Joey Butler is packaged with excellent photos by Mike DuBose. See the report

Is Climate Change Man-Made? For the first time, a majority of Protestant pastors believe global warming is happening and caused by humans. A 2019 survey from LifeWay Research found 53% of Protestant pastors — and 80% of Methodists — agree with the statement, “I believe global warming is real and man-made.” Read story

Allegheny Carbon Neutral: Allegheny College recently became the first college or university in Pennsylvania, and only the eighth in the nation, to achieve carbon neutrality, which involves reducing carbon emissions as much as possible and then offsetting remaining emissions through investments in other carbon-reduction projects. Read more

Earth Day Marks 50 Years: The first Earth Day called for action to clean up pollution, and while there’s been some improvement, the air in the Pittsburgh metro region still isn’t up to par, according to the American Lung Association's “State of the Air” report. The Tri-State region that includes Pittsburgh was the eighth-most polluted in the nation for airborne particle pollution or soot. Read more

Study Links Pollution with COVID-19 Deaths: Long-term exposure to higher concentrations of airborne particle pollution significantly increases the death rate for those infected with the novel coronavirus known as COVID-19, according to a new Harvard University study. Read more

Pandemic Opportunity? In a recent blog post, Dr. Jane Ellen Nickell, chaplain at Allegheny College, writes that the coronavirus slowdown might force us to rethink how we live, as individuals and a society. That could help address the climate crisis that still looms before us. Read more


Opportunity Amidst Crisis: In her latest Lessons in Leadership blog post, Susan Moudry borrows some ideas from the business world to encourage looking at our current situation in a new way. Read more 

Are You A Swamp, Reservoir or Canal? Howard Thurman asked this question about personal lives, but F. Douglas Powe and James Logan say it is relevant for congregations too. Read more in Leading Ideas. 

Questions to Ask Before Return to In-Church Worship: Ken Braddy of Lifeway Resources has a blog post with 24 questions to ask before people return to your church. Some apply to larger churches or other denominations, but others are relevant all types/sizes of church. See what they are.

Zoom Fatigue: Some clergy and staff are experiencing what might be called Zoom fatigue. If you’re among them, we have some resources that with tips to avoid it. In Psychology Today, Dr. Suzanne Degges-White offers cheats to avoid Zoom fatigue 
Steven Hickman lists six ways manage Zoom to find balance and stay connected connection.
An article from Fast Company has practical tips for overcoming Zoom fatigue

Avoid Zoom Bombing: Especially if you’re using a personal Zoom account for virtual meetings, take note of the advice in this article from Northstar Meetings Group.

Meaningful Ministry Online: United Theological Seminary is offering a free webinar series on conducting meaningful ministry online. The 3-week series will explore platforms, teaching methods and technologies for online ministry. Webinars will run from 2 to 3 p.m. on Tuesdays, April 28, May 5, and May 12. Learn more and register

Now is the Time for Online Giving: Many churches are scrambling to set up some form of recurring electronic giving. Three common methods  are online bill payment, automatic bank withdrawals, and online giving through church websites. The first two options are available to churches that do not have an online giving portal or even a website! Read more

UMC Resources

Download Upper Room Devotional: With churches are unable to gather safely in their buildings, The Upper Room offers its May/June 2020 issue, in English and Spanish, as a free, downloadable PDF. The Upper Room also has a web page with resources to help create and maintain spiritual wellness during anxious times. Download issue
See resources
GBHEM Resources: The General Board of Higher Education and Ministry has e-resources and tools to keep your daily ministries connected. On the GBHEM e-Resources page are live online training opportunities, recorded webinars, downloadable ministry resources, videos, answers to frequently asked questions and more. See what’s available


UM Mask-makers: WJAC-TV in Johnstown featured a story on women of Ferndale UMC who are making masks to help others during the COVID-19 pandemic.  Watch

Funding to Aid Black Community: Hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, Pittsburgh's black community will get an infusion of financial support from a fund established by the Poise Foundation. The Critical Community Needs Fund was launched this week to provide money to small- and mid-sized organizations that serve black residents and may be overlooked by government aid programs and larger funds. Seed money came from the Heinz Endowments and the Richard King Mellon Foundation. Read more

Where Are Coronavirus Cases? The Pennsylvania Department of Health is now including an interactive map of coronavirus cases searchable by ZIP code as part of its online dashboard of specific information on the virus. State health officials began posting on the map Monday to show the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 and the number of negative virus tests. Read more
To see the map, scroll down on this page

UMC News

COVID in Central Conferences: United Methodist hospitals in the central conferences are racing to prepare facilities to identify and treat patients with COVID-19, even though most lack ventilators and other crucial equipment. Read story

Seeker Survey Says: A new survey of U.S. spiritual “seekers” ages 25-49, conducted by the Barna Group on behalf of United Methodist Communications, found willingness to visit a United Methodist church rose to 42 percent in 2019 among U.S. adults seeking more spirituality in their lives and who are aware of the denomination. That's up from 28 percent in 2017. Read more

Judge Upholds Trust Clause: An Arizona judge has ruled that property used by a breakaway congregation rightfully belongs to The United Methodist Church. The case upholds the trust clause in the Book of Discipline. The order by Judge Krista R. Carman of Yavapai County Superior Court in effect required the now independent congregation, which withdrew from the UMC in 2017, to find a new location. Read more

Addressing Hunger 

Need for Hunger Relief Up 30%: Feeding America, a domestic hunger-relief organization, estimates that $1.4 billion in additional resources will be needed over the next six months to provide enough food for those struggling with hunger. That’s a 30% increase from the baseline operating costs of its 200 member food banks nationwide, according to a Somerset Daily American report.
The Somerset Mobile Food Pantry, meanwhile, also has moved to pre-packaged drive-thru distribution. See WJAC-TV report

Emergency Food Distributions: The Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank continues to provide food to those hit hard financially by the coronavirus pandemic, with its largest emergency distribution event yet — at Pittsburgh International Airport. Another is scheduled for Friday at PPG Paints Arena.  Read more

State to Aid Food Banks:  Gov. Tom Wolf has announced nearly $16 million in funding for Pennsylvania food banks, which are providing critical assistance to Pennsylvanians during the COVID-19 health crisis. Learn more at GoErie.com 

Marching in the Light of God

Easter Joy: As we move toward the 3rd Sunday of Easter, experience some Easter joy with the voices of the Africa University choir and photos of United Methodists around the world “Marching in the Light of God.” See video