Annual Conference Update: Conference Secretary John Wilson emailed clergy and laity designated as voting members of the 2020 Annual Conference on Monday asking them to indicate if they will attend the October 3 virtual session and to register separately through Zoom for the plenary session. Because of Conference rules requiring in-person voting, no votes can be taken during the virtual Annual Conference. The webinar will be recorded and posted along with other videos and information on the Conference website. Anyone else interested in “attending” the Zoom plenary session may register using this link.
Communications Enhancement Grants: Conference Treasurer Roger White this week emailed applicants to let them know if they are among the 64 churches who will receive full or partial funding of their grant requests. The United Methodist Foundation initially offered about $17,000, to be matched by the Conference, to help local churches connect online during the coronavirus shutdown. An overwhelming number of applications were received -- 114 requesting a total of just over $404,000. After hearing about the response volume, four medium-to-large-membership churches graciously withdrew their requests. Nine who already had online capabilities were also removed from consideration. Efforts were made to secure additional funds and the UM Foundation on Monday approved a request for an additional $40,000 from its Ministry Opportunities Fund. With additional matching funds from the Conference, 56 churches will receive the full amount they requested and eight will receive partial funding. Recipients include churches from both rural and urban areas throughout the Conference.
Celebrate 50 years of Christian Unity in SWPA! Join Christian Associates of Southwest Pennsylvania at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, September 30 for a Jubilee Celebration. Hear the first public singing of the winning hymn in the Jubilee Hymn Contest and celebrate the publication of “All One in Christ Jesus,” an anniversary book of sermons, essays, memories, and songs. The book includes writing by three WPAUMC clergy, Revs. Kimberly Greway, Scott Shaffer, and Dai Morgan. The celebration will be streamed to the front page of Christian Associates' website casp.org, on Facebook at facebook.com/christianassociatesswpa, and YouTube channel bit.ly/CASPYouTube.
Download the anniversary book and a discussion guide suitable for book clubs and Bible studies at casp.org/sermons.
National Faith & Blue Weekend is scheduled for October 9-12, 2020. Details were included in a prior enews and email to pastors and lay leaders. If your church plans to hold a “Faith & Blue” event, please email Rev. Renee’ Mikell, assistant to the Bishop, at Renee.Mikell@wpaumc.org and Rev. Alyce Weaver Dunn, Director of Connectional Ministries, at Alyce.Dunn@wpaumc.org by September 30. The national organizers would like to know which churches are holding events so they can provide support and guidance. Get resources at faithandblue.org/resources/
Number of Young Elders Near Record Low: Erasing a decade of progress, the number of young clergy elders in the United Methodist Church returned to near record lows this past year after four consecutive years of decline, according to the Clergy Age Trends in the United Methodist Church report released today by the Lewis Center for Church Leadership of Wesley Theological Seminary. The annual report is prepared in partnership from Wespath Benefits. This research examines elders, deacons, and local pastors. Learn more
Finding Sanity in the Storm: Many pastors seem to be experiencing symptoms of trauma from handling issues that have arisen since the onset of the pandemic. The crisis itself has not created most of the issues, but has surfaced them at a pace and ferocity that is creating damage to bodies, spirit, and souls. A post on the Horizons Stewardship blog says it’s time to talk about the trauma and how to find the way forward.
Managing Conflict in Polarized Circumstances: A high level of conflict is less likely when leaders engage conflict when it emerges, rather than after it erupts, says David Brubaker, who oversees MBA and organizational leadership programs at Eastern Mennonite University. See his five suggestions for managing conflict amid polarization in Leading Ideas.
Pray for Peace in Louisville! Kentucky Conference Bishop Leonard Fairley asked for all to remain peaceful as they react to the indictment of a former Louisville officer for wanton endangerment connected to the fatal police shooting of Breonna Taylor. "Just as we are called not to condone injustice, neither can we condone violence in any form," Fairley said. Read statement
Faith Leaders Protest ICE Arrest on Church Property: United Methodist and other faith leaders held a virtual press conference Monday to denounce actions by Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers who came onto Glenmont UMC property in Silver Spring, MD to arrest and begin deportation proceedings against an Indonesian asylum seeker who is a six-year member of the church and works as a custodian there. Binsar Siahaan, who came to the U.S. on an Indonesian work visa in 1989, lives on the church property with his wife, who arrived in 1995, and their two daughters, who were born in the U.S. Church leaders say they are “baffled and enraged because there’s a pending motion on the two parents’ asylum case.” Read story
Read Board of Church and Society press release
White Supremacy and the Church: The history of American Christianity is so intertwined with white supremacy that most people aren't aware, even if they benefit from it every day. That statement was at the heart of a Sept. 17 webinar hosted by Wesley Theological Seminary's Center for Public Theology, which explored the foundations of white supremacy in the church and ways to confront that entrenched system. Read story
Rather Not Deal with Racism? GoCampPro blogger Leilani Nussman highlights the institutional aspects of "white fragility." She provides practical resources for white leaders encountering resistance in our organizations, our communities, or in our own hearts. Why aren't there more Black kids (and leaders) at camp? Read more
Mission Support Grant applications and guidelines to apply for the 2021 grants are now available on the Conference website under Missions/Files and Forms. The grants provide support for new and ongoing outreach ministries within the boundaries of the WPA Conference, including local church ministries and ministries of the six regional mission agencies. Here’s a direct link to the forms.
Churches Pick Up After Hurricane Sally: Hurricane Sally blew slowly and torrentially through west Florida and south Alabama early on Sept. 16, and among other damage caused St. Paul’s bell tower to fall into the second tier of the roof. That let water into the sanctuary. Read UM News report
Dislocation: We have changed our understanding of home or homelessness, of work and no work, of play and where we play, of how we listen to music, how we spend our hours, how we cook, what we eat, how we pray, writes Rev. Dr. Susan Henry Crowe of the General Board of Church and Society. Read what she sees ahead.
UMC-Episcopalian Agreement on Hold: Citing the pandemic's ongoing threat, United Methodists and Episcopalians have agreed to put plans for full communion between their two denominations on hold for now. Read story
Committed People of God: The People of God campaign reminds us of who we know we have been at our best —the spirit-filled, resilient, missional, connected, faithful, diverse and deeply rooted people of God called The United Methodist Church. Each month it focuses on one of our core values. Learn more
September’s focus is our commitment to racial justice.To involve your church, download digital resources.
Order Stand Against Racism T-shirts
United Methodism’s Mr. Music! The Rev. Carlton R. “Sam” Young, at 94, is still composing and arranging music. The editor of The Methodist Hymnal (1966) and The United Methodist Hymnal (1989) has released a new collection of sheet music called “Today I Live: Hymns and Songs of Remembrance and Hope.” Read more
Register and Vote! John Wesley was a fan of voting. According to a 1774 journal entry, he urged Methodist Society members: "(1) To vote, without fee or reward, for the person they judged most worthy (2) To speak no evil of the person they voted against, and (3) To take care their spirits were not sharpened against those that voted on the other side." In the U.S., Sept. 22 is national voter registration day.
To check voter registration
Read 2012 Ministry Matters voting commentary
The Church and Politics: The people called Methodists have been actively involved in social and political matters since the church's founding in 18th-century England. Today, the United Methodist Social Creed and Social Principles express a commitment to fully participate in building a more peaceful and just world. But under U.S. law as a non-profit, churches are prohibited from partisan political activity; Churches cannot issue statements endorsing or supporting candidates or distribute materials biased toward or against a particular candidate or political party. Read Q&A
Advent Resources: Now is the time to order customizable banners, signs, invitation cards and postcards. Whether you’ll be worshipping online, in person or both, prepare to share a message of hope and invitation with your community! Choose from a variety of designs and languages. Save $300 on your order by using code UMCA20. See products
Preparing for Advent and Christmas: Last week, WPAUMC’s program staff offered a daytime and evening session for the September COVID-19 Clergy Conversations.Focused on preparing for Advent and Christmas, the session offered creative ideas and resources and some words of encouragement for addressing anxiety. More information and resources are being prepared! Takeaways from all the COVID-19 Clergy Conversations are posted under Resources on the WPAUMC website.