WPAUMC enews, Dec. 23, 2020



As we celebrate the birth of our Savior in new ways this year, look for opportunities to share the hope and joy with all who need assurance that God is with us. 

Reimagining Christmas: More than half of our churches have moved to virtual services to guard against the spread of coronavirus in their congregations and communities. Some also will offer parking lot services. Others have chosen to offer in-person worship, some by reservation. As Bishop Cynthia Moore-Koikoi put it in a Pittsburgh Post-Gazette interview, “Our churches are not closed: we’re just doing church in a different way.” Read story
See links to WPAUMC online services

In the News: Several  other Western PA news outlets included United Methodist churches and leaders in their reports of how worship will be different this Christmas. 

  • TribLive’s story quoted Kevin Haley of Greensburg First and mentioned St. Paul’s in Allison Park. Read it
  • David Hurst’s story in the Johnstown Tribune Democrat focuses on parking lot services and mentions some UM churches. See story
  • Go Erie points people to the online worship listings on our Conference website
  • Rev. Erik Hoeke of Avery UMC in Washington is quoted in the Observer-Reporter’s story about services in their area. Read story
  • Rev. Jeff Sterling of St. Paul’s UMC in Allison Park was one of two pastors featured in KDKA-TV’s report about Christmas Eve plans. Both he and the pastor of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Mt. Lebanon talked about moving to online or outdoor services to keep people safe. See report

Ministry - Police Partnership: KDKA-TV also was on the scene when Pittsburgh police and UM Church Union worked together to distribute new winter coats, hats and gloves to children and teens from Pittsburth’s North Side. Rev. Larry Homisky was interviewed during the distribution at the former Church of Our Saviour in Northview Heights. See the KDKA video, along with still photos from the distribution, on Church Union’s Facebook page 

In Memoriam

Prayers for Yurko Family: Greensburg DS Pat Nelson led a funeral service Monday for the Rev. Joseph J. Yurko, pastor of South Greensburg and Youngwood: Christ UMCs, who died on Dec. 17 at age 49. Pray for his family and congregations. See obituary
Watch service video on Facebook

Remembering United Methodists: United Methodists this year marked the passing of civil rights giants, groundbreaking bishops, founding leaders of Africa University and a mathematician who charted the way for astronauts. Heather Hahn of UM News has 34 remembrances of notable church members memorialized in 2020. Read story

Do You See What I See?

The Star of Bethlehem: A rare planetary conjunction was dancing in the night on Dec. 21, although clouds blocked in view in most of Western PA. In a UM News feature, a United Methodist astronomer explains this year's "Christmas star" and what heavenly body might have guided the magi to the Christ child. Read story
Another astronomer more familiar to WPA United Methodists -- the Rev. Dale Shunk, who moved to Wilmore, KY from Somerset after retiring from pastoral ministry in 2015 -- was able to see the event. He posted photos on his Facebook page. 

Creative Christmas Greeting: The Erie-Meadville District’s online Christmas greeting opens with a creative video illustration and reading of the Christmas story from Luke’s Gospel. Watch 

Do You Hear What I Hear? Two Christmas choir videos are available for small groups, Sunday school classes, online worship services and other uses. The first is a Christmas medley and the other is a version of "Silent Night" in three languages.
Watch medley video  (You may recognize some choir members!)
Watch "Silent Night" video

Upcoming Events

UM Men Watch Night Service: United Methodist Men will post a virtual, international watch night service on Facebook and YouTube. The one-hour service on Dec. 31 will include leaders of UM Men from Kenya, India, the Philippines, Estonia, Germany and the United States. Watch on Facebook
Watch on YouTube on Dec. 31

Christmas Break: Conference offices (and staff home offices) will be closed for Christmas/New Year’s break from December 24 through January 1, 2021. The next edition of the e-news will be sent during the first week of January. 

We Wish You A Merry Christmas! In this year’s Christmas greeting, your Conference Program Staff shares the light of Jesus Christ with a reminder that darkness cannot, and will not, overcome. Watch