WPAUMC enews, May 27, 2020



WPA Health Team Updates Reopening Guidelines: As some Western PA counties move toward the Green phase of Gov. Tom Wolf’s Plan for Reopening Pennsylvania, the Conference Abundant Health Team issued updated guidelines for churches in “green” counties. Learn more

Annual Conference Update: Bishop Cynthia Moore-Koikoi said a final decision on whether the Annual Conference clergy session can be held as scheduled on June 27 at Ingomar UMC will be made on June 12. She said it will be rescheduled if federal, state and local health guidelines cannot be followed. In an email to clergy on Friday, she explained that decisions to be made at the clergy session can be postponed until after the start of the appointment year on July 1. Read her email. 
See annual conference info at wpaumc.org/AC

New Dates for General/Jurisdictional Conferences: The next General Conference of the UMC is scheduled for Aug. 29-Sept. 7, 2021, in Minneapolis.  U.S. Jurisdictional Conferences, where new Bishops are elected and assigned, are scheduled for Nov. 10-12. Learn more.

NEJ Bishops Stay in Place in 2021: The Northeast Jurisdiction’s College of Bishops announced that Bishops will remain in their current supervisory assignments through the Nov. 10-12 NEJ Conference. Two will postpone plans for retirement in 2020. Get details.

Deaths: Please pray for the families of Rev. Arlene Bobrowicz, who died  last week and retired Rev. Lee Baker, who passed away today (Wednesday) at his home in Titusville. Visit wpaumc.org/obituaries.
 (Rev. Baker’s is not yet available.)

In the News: Bishop Cynthia Moore-Koikoi was one of the faith leaders interviewed for a KDKA-TV report on the reopening of churches. See video

Abundant Health

How Are You Staying Healthy? The Abundant Health Team is looking for photos and videos showing how our pastors, congregations and communities are staying healthy and/or participating in health ministry during the pandemic. To share your photos or videos, email them to abundanthealth@wpaumc.org

Know a Community Health Nurse/Minister? The Abundant Health Team is building a registry of Community Health Nurses and Health Ministers who have been trained at Pittsburgh Mercy or NWPA programs. Please send names, church affiliation and contact information to Health Team Member Linda Hiles, Ph.D. at lindagh.071@gmail.com.

How Safe Are Outdoor Activities? A panel of infectious disease experts weighed in on the risks factors associated with 14 popular summer outdoor activities related to COVID-19 and offered some ways to lessen them. Read or listen to NPR story 

Fauci on Singing, Communion: In a May 26 interview, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said churches should adopt “common sense” measures to protect worshippers and the wider community, like requiring masks, practicing social distancing and prohibiting singing. And Communion? “I think for the time being, you just gotta forestall that,” he told a correspondent for America, a Jesuit Review. Read more


Why Reopening a Church is Different: A Leading Ideas post notes that the question of whether to reopen is different for a church than for other institutions. Rather than just reacting to what others are doing, churches need to model responsible decision making and exceed basic health guidelines to protect the most vulnerable. Read more. 

Growing Your Online Outreach: This week’s Leading Ideas podcast looks at how to grow online outreach beyond streaming worship. Orlando Evans, Online Pastor at Impact UMC in Atlanta, talks about how to build relationships with online worshipers and engage them in studies, small groups, and even membership classes. Listen or read transcript.

Finding Your New Normal: This season of change calls for a new leadership stance. Susan Beaumont outlines five practices that can help you lead more effectively as you discover the new normal for your congregation. See what they are.

Unstuck by COVID-19? As churches prepare to re-open, Rev. Rekekah Simon-Peter, a coach and consultant, says that it’s fair to ask if COVID has undone church decline. She notes that, “You have created new forms of worship, established new means for people to give, and launched new forms of communication. Most importantly, you have found new purpose in your communities. Bottom line: your congregation has gotten unstuck. Read more

Female Bishops at Leadership Conference: Retired UMC Bishop Mary Ann Swenson has spent her career voicing the need for a church that includes all people, regardless of the amount of hate mail she received. Swenson and Bishop Cynthia Moore-Koikoi were among five female United Methodist bishops who took part in a panel discussion as part of a women's leadership conference hosted at California State University. Read story

Dismantling Racism

Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month: The blaming and harassment of Asian Americans during the COVID-19 pandemic recalls the World War II internment of 120,000 Japanese Americans, writes the Rev. John Oda in a commentary about Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month.
Read commentary

Moving Toward the Pain: Erin Hawkins, chief executive for the UMC General Commission on Religion and Race responds to the May 25 death of George Floyd, a black man who stopped breathing while a white police officer in Minneapolis continued to kneel on his neck.  Read her reflection.

No Room for Racism: Minnesota Bishop Bruce Ough also issued a statement on George Floyd's death. Read it

Racial Justice Conversations: GCORR offers excellent resources to help churches discuss and learn more about racial justice. See Racial Justice Conversations Guide.  

Undermining Hate Webinar: Religions for Peace USA, whose members include The United Methodist Church, is hosting an hourlong webinar at 2:30 p.m. Eastern time May 28 to help participants learn more about approaches for undermining hate and division during the COVID-19 pandemic. Read about webinar


Reaching Gen Z: The latest MyCom podcast helps you learn more about Gen Z, young people who represent nearly one-third of the world’s population. Listen to grow your knowledge about this diverse, tech-savvy, well-educated generation, including the best ways your church can connect with them. Listen


Nyadire Hunger Relief: Drought, the lockdown, an increase in malaria, the currency and economic situation have created food shortages and hunger concerns for many in Zimbabwe. The Nyadire Connection in Western PA is raising funds to purchase food for distribution to families connected with the Nyadire United Methodist Mission. Photos posted this week showing about 300 bags of rice purchased for the first distribution. Visit The Nyadire Connection Facebook page.

Upcoming Events

March for Jesus: Scheduled for Saturday, May 30 in the City of Pittsburgh, will be virtual this year. Participants will join together for prayer and praise in a Car Caravan, by watching an 11a.m. Facebook live feed on Pittsburgh March for Jesus page or by tuning into a Word101.5FM.  Get details at www.pittsburghmarchforjesus.com


Criminal Justice and Poverty: A June 2 webinar, part of a Conversations at the Crossroads series offered by the Pennsylvania ACLU will address Criminal Justice and Poverty. The webinar from 6:30 - 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, June 2 is a chance to learn from experts at the forefront of the battle against systems of injustice. Learn more and register