WPAUMC enews, May 6, 2020



COVID-19: What’s Next for Churches? Bishop Cynthia Moore-Koikoi and Dr. Jessica Price of the Conference’s Abundant Health Team sat down last Friday to discuss what it means from churches as areas move from the red to yellow phase in Gov. Tom Wolf’s plan for reopening Pennsylvania. ’s plan Watch the video and download Guidelines for Reopening

Ministry Now and Later: Our May 6 Clergy Zoom Conversation dealt with Building Relationships Now and Later and focused on engaging those connecting online into faith conversations, small groups, or other spiritual formation opportunities. Guest speaker was Rev. Dr. Scott Hughes of Discipleship Ministries.  See the takeaways

Camping and Retreat Updates: Camp Allegheny has shortened its summer camping season to guard against possible spread of the novel coronavirus. It will run from June 28  to Aug. 1. Learn more at campallegheny.org/covid19-info 

Olmsted Manor Retreat Center continues to receive reservations for individuals/families for overnight lodging, but will not open to groups for any kind of on-site programming until at least June 1. Visit olmstedmanor.org

Jumonville and Wesley Woods had not announced any change in their summer camp schedules. Check for updates at Jumonville.org or Wesley Woods.com

Poverty Team Offers Mini-Grants: The Conference Poverty Team is grateful for ministries striving to serve marginalized people during the pandemic. The team has funds to provide small grants to ministries feeding, sheltering or reaching out to those hardest hit. To apply, send an email summarizing your work and needs during this time to Glenna Wilson (glennapw@gmail.com). You do not need to complete the full application available on the WPAUMC website. 


Coaching on Demand: To assist clergy as they strive to meet the challenges of ministry in the age of the novel coronavirus, the Western PA Conference has launched Coaching on Demand. Trained coaches in the Conference are offering their skills at no charge as a ministry to their colleagues. Read more
Get details/See the Coaches

We Need One Another! Susan Moudry reflects on the importance of personal connections, whether we’re in the midst of a pandemic or not. Read her latest Lessons in Leadership post.

Festival of Homiletics: Take advantage of the opportunity to participate in  the  May 18-22 Festival of Homiletics via livestream. You’ll hear from a variety of amazing preachers around the country, without leaving home! Our Pittsburgh DS, Rev. Dawn Hand, will appear on Wednesday, May 20 and other nationally known UMC preachers are featured. Sign up for free here: https://www.festivalofhomiletics.com/ 
Note: For a fee you can access the content any time after the livestream. Our Conference Clergy Zoom Conversation on May 27 will focus on learnings from the Festival and practices you can adopt.

Addressing Grief: Anticipating a great need for ministry to those grieving the loss of family, friends, jobs, finances or a sense of safety related to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Grief Recovery Institute is offering  4-day online certification training in its Grief Recovery Method. Get details at griefrecoverymethod.com/

Dismantling Racism

Making History: Bishop Cynthia Fierro Harvey of the Louisiana Area made history last week by becoming the first Hispanic woman to lead  the Council of Bishops. She is also the first woman of color to serve in the post. Learn more

Racism Declared Public Health Crisis: Both the Allegheny County Council and Pittsburgh City Council this week approved motions designating racism as a public health crisis. Their actions were based on data from a 2019 report from the University of Pittsburgh revealing extremely disparate health and economic outcomes across race and gender in Pittsburgh compared to other cities across the U.S. Learn more

Pre-Existing Disparities Exposed: In addition to taking more American lives in four months than the number lost in the two decades of the Vietnam War, the COVID-19 pandemic has magnified societal, political, and economic disparities. The Board of Church and Society offers a series of Thursday webinars exposing some of them. The first, on May 21 at 2 p.m., will focus on Systemic Racism and Discrimination. See full schedule and register.

Native Caucus Sounds Alarm: The pandemic has hit Native Americans particularly hard, and in the midst of it, a decision to revoke the reservation status of a tribe’s more than 300 acres in Massachusetts has gone relatively unnoticed, according to the Native American International Caucus of the UMC. Learn more

Online Ministry

Amplify Your Connection: Many churches are turning to a new app to assist with online worship and small group meetings. Amplify offers streaming services, a resource library and media such as videos and podcasts. The app comes from the United Methodist Publishing House and Abingdon Press. Learn more

Preaching Virtually: If you are uncomfortable with or want to know more about preaching online, the Institute on Preaching’s recent webinar with Christine Burkett, a lecturer in speech at Duke Divinity School and Carrie Ferenac, president of CNTV, might help. As a bonus, in the last part of the webinar, you can see and hear from Western PA native Rev. Jim Harnish, who grew up in Clarion with his twin brother Rev. Jack Harnish. See webinar

Left out of Online Worship: Even in 2020, some areas of Western PA  lack internet connections. Some churches, especially in rural areas, do not have sufficient broadband to live stream services. Income, age, geography and knowledge of technology can all hinder churches from streaming and congregants from receiving the stream. Resource UMC suggests some other ways to worship remotely.

UMC News

General Conference Dates: UMC Bishops say a request to change the dates of the next General Conference should get a fair hearing. A petition by young adults asks General Conference organizers to reconsider the proposed Aug. 31-Sept. 10, 2021, dates because they conflict with the start of the academic year. At its online meeting May 1, the Council of Bishops approved a motion that “strongly encourages” the Commission on the General Conference to consider the petition. Read more 

Bishops to Address Funding Spiral: Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, the fund that supports bishops' work was at risk of running out of money in four years. During their online meeting, bishops agreed to examine ways to prevent that. Read UM News story

Conferences Cut Staff: The financial fallout of the pandemic is affecting some United Methodist conferences. The Alabama-West Florida Conference is eliminating 14 conference and district positions and cutting senior staff salaries. The Virginia Conference has laid off five employees and reduced two positions to part-time. The Greater New Jersey Conference is furloughing staff. Read Alabama-West Florida Conference story
See Virginia Conference details 
Read message from GNJ Bishop Schol

UM Publishing House Layoffs: The denomination’s oldest and largest agency, the United Methodist Publishing House, is feeling the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and will lay off about 70 of its 296 employees in June. Learn more.

New Leader Sought for Archives and History: The Rev. Alfred T. Day, top executive of the UM Commission on Archives and History, has announced plans to retire before the end of 2020. The search is on for someone to fill the position. Application materials must be submitted by June 15. Read press release

#IGiveUMC, a new campaign launched last week invites donations in honor of a loved one (Think Mother’s Day) to the church their honoree attends, their own church or a church with family ties. The giving campaign by United Methodist Communications in partnership with the General Council on Finance and Administration encourages donors to post a photograph or video on social media using the campaign hashtag. Read press release