WPAUMC enews, August 12, 2020



Struchen Remembrance: The Zoom recording of the August 5 memorial service for the Rev. Don Struchen wraps up with a video clip of Don’s acceptance speech at the 2019 Western PA Annual Conference when, at age 96, he received the Thoburn Cane as the oldest clergy member. There are also references during the service to a cookbook that contains, among other things, a recipe from Olmsted Manor. Watch at youtube.com/watch?v=SpNovxSXzgU. 

Death: Pastor John Hickman, co-pastor with his wife Carol of the CHG Charge (Christ, Grove Avenue and Homestead Avenue UMCs) in Johnstown, passed away August 6 after a two year battle with glioblastoma. See obituary

Olmsted Fall Programming: Olmsted Manor is hosting three events this fall, including a photography retreat, fall women's retreat, and Christmas open house. They are following strict health and safety guidelines, as well as limiting registrations, in order to continue serving guests during this time. Register today.

Methodists in Fiji Work to Prevent Gender Violence: Domestic violence in Fiji is almost twice the global average, affecting nearly two out of every three women ages 18-64. As the majority Christian religion, the Methodist Church in Fiji is uniquely positioned to encourage cultural shifts in attitude that can decrease and prevent violence against women. The Thursdays in Black movement against gender-based violence is part of the effort. Read story

Learn more about Thursdays in Black

Dismantling Racism

New Online Course for Christians on Race & Racism: You Are Here: First Steps for White Christians on Race and Racism is an online course for Christians who want to acquire a fundamental understanding of race and racism from a biblical perspective. This four-part self-directed course offers videos featuring Robin DiAngelo and Rev. Dr. Anderson Hooker, reflections, and activities to help people of faith to recognize racism and begin to challenge it in their lives. Enroll here.

Seminary Dean Discusses Racial Justice: Leah Gunning Francis, author and dean of the faculty at Christian Theological Seminary in Indianapolis, bases her anti-racism work on the concept of imago dei — that all beings are created in the image of God. In the latest episode of the "Get Your Spirit in Shape" podcast, she and the Rev. Joe Iovino discuss where The United Methodist Church is already at work in the area of racial justice and what more needs to be done. Listen to episode.

Wake Up Call for White Christian America: By confronting their faith’s legacy of racism, white Christians can build a better future for themselves, and their fellow Americans, writes Robert F.  Jones, author of White Too Long: The Legacy of White Supremacy in American Christianity. Read more. 

Children and Family Ministry

Time for 'Blessing of the Devices':  For many churches, one of the markers of the beginning of the fall program year is the "Blessing of the Backpacks." In this time of remote learning, churches may also want to add a "Blessing of the Devices" to fall rites of passage. Elizabeth Drescher, a religion professor at Santa Clara University, offers a blessing churches might use. See blessing

J-ville U: Pittsburgh television station WPXI featured a story about Jumonville's plans to offer space for students with working parents to complete virtual schooling. Watch the news segment.


Panel discussion from GBHEM : August 19: "Does end-of-life ministry need to be in-person?"  In Part II of the series, "Coronavirus at the Crossroads of Faith and Science," experts will discuss how to best carry out end-of-life ministry and mourning practices at a time when it is unsafe for clergy and family members to visit sickbeds. Panelists will be Rev. Dr. Trina Armstrong of Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary and palliative care specialist Dr. Austin Dalgo of Le Bonheur Children's Hospital. This panel discussion  will be streamed live on GBHEM's Facebook page and YouTube channel at 11 a.m. CDT. 

Africans rely on survival skills to fight COVID-19: For centuries, Africans have relied heavily on their culture and traditions to address health issues. As the world grapples with the COVID-19 pandemic, United Methodists here are treating it like other viruses and diseases that have tested the continent, using age-old practices to stay healthy and stop the spread of the coronavirus. Kudzai Chingwe has the story.

Pastor's death shows coronavirus spread to rural areas: A small United Methodist church in Texas is "absolutely heartbroken" after losing its pastor to COVID-19. The Rev. Tom Wood, pastor of First United Methodist Church, died July 29 at the age of 83. The rural church had begun meeting in person again May 3 while utilizing cleaning and distancing measures. Read story

Deaf ministries navigate COVID-19 challenges: The COVID-19 pandemic has been a season of challenges and opportunities for Deaf ministries in The United Methodist Church. One definite plus is that people who are Deaf or hard of hearing are enjoying greater access to worship thanks to online services with sign language interpreters or captioning. Read story