Pray for the Healing of Our Nation! Rev. Susan Henry Crowe of the General Board of Church and Society, headquartered on Capitol Hill, suggested using words from the Prayer in a Time of National Crisis (UM Book of Worship 517):
May leaders be led by your wisdom;
May they search your will and see it clearly
If we have turned from your way,
Reverse our ways and help us to repent.
Give us your light and your truth, let them guide us;
Through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of this world, and our Savior. Amen.
Council of Bishops Calls for Prayer: On Wednesday afternoon, the Council of Bishops called us to "join together in praying and calling for peace and the protection of the public servants who are gathered at the U.S. Capitol to do their work as representatives of the people. Please add to your prayers the security officers and other first responders.
D.C. Bishop Issues Statement on Capitol Violence: Describing how the day of Epiphany unfolded in our nation's capitol today, Baltimore-Washington Bishop Latrelle Easterling said: “The rioters who climbed the steps and walls of the Capitol sought to overturn the law, a fair election, and justice, and claimed their motivation was to defend God and their freedoms. They waved banners emblazoned with the words, ‘Jesus Saves,’ but this is not what Emmanuel came to earth to embody. This is a perversion of the Gospel. This should drive all of us to our knees.” Read full statement.
Bishop Easterling’s comments were included in a Pittsburgh Post-Gazette article on faith leaders’ response.
Prayer for the New Year: Rev. Tom Strandburg, pastor of Mt. Lebanon UMC, offered the annual Prayer for the New Year for the Western PA-Eastern Germany Partnership. See the prayer.
Deaths: Please join in prayer for the families of the Rev. Audrey Baldwin and retired Pastor Bessie Maihle, who both passed away on December 28, 2020. See obituaries
First Round Forgiveness: While some churches have already applied for and received forgiveness for their original Paycheck Protection Program loan, many others have been left in the dark, wondering what is going on. If you have not received your invitation to apply for forgiveness, you are not alone. Lenders have been slow to roll out their forgiveness procedures. Note that the deferral period of the loan continues for ten months after the end of your 24-week covered period. If you have questions about the forgiveness process, contact your lender.
Second Round Eligibility: On December 27, 2020 the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 was approved. This act includes a second round of Paycheck Protection Program loans that churches are eligible to apply for. The SBA has not released all of the details for this second round yet, however, one key provision churches should be aware of is that eligibility is limited to those whose gross receipts were at least 25% less in one or more quarters of 2020, as compared to the same quarter of 2019. More information should be released soon. Consult the SBA website and your bank as to the specifics of the second round of PPP Loans before taking any action.
MLK Worship Celebration: The Greensburg District Anti-Racism team is planning the district’s annual worship celebration for Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. Sunday. It will be a pre-recorded virtual event, with the Rev. Debra Mason, WPAUMC Diversity Development and Inclusion Coordinator and pastor of John Wesley UMC, as the featured speaker. The service will premiere as a Youtube video on January 17, 2021 at 4 p.m. Watch next week’s enews or the Conference website for a link.
Martin Luther King, Jr. Unity Breakfast, an annual event sponsored by several civic and religious organizations in the North Hills area of Pittsburgh for the past 20 years, is scheduled for Monday, January 18 from 9 - 10 a.m. via Zoom. The theme is “Social Activism Past and Present.” The event is free and open to the public. More information is available in this flyer.
Online registration is required. To register, click here.
Telling Your Story: In the first of a series of blog posts, WPAUMC’s Visual Communications and Social Media Coordinator Liz Lennox offers some tips for churches in managing their social media. Read post
Preparing for Lent: The Revs. Magrey deVega, Adam Hamilton and Susan Robb will lead a webinar series to help church leaders prepare Bible studies for Lent, which starts Feb. 17 this year. "A Season of Reflection: Lenten Studies to Prepare for Easter's Celebrations" will be at 3 p.m. Eastern time Jan. 12-14. Learn more and register
Special Sunday Resources: With multiple shifts in the way we’ve worshipped over the past year, UMC Giving resources have been adapted and a guide created to help churches use the new (and older) resources for giving. See and download the guide
For WPAUMC Special Sunday dates and info, visit wpaumc.org/SpecialSundays
Older Adult Ministry: Discipleship Ministries offers training, tips and 48 Ideas for Older Adult Ministry in its latest Older Adult/Boomer Ministry newsletter. Read it
Notable Trends from 2020: Doug Powe and Ann Michel of the Lewis Center for Church Leadership identified eight notable trends in 2020's swirl of change. Some have been underway for some time, but accelerated significantly in the past year, e.g. the church's embrace of online ministry. But events of 2020 also have led to renewed emphasis on the basics -- prayer, fellowship, faith formation, and the call to racial justice. Read more.
Early Response Team Recertification, scheduled for January 9, 2021 has been postponed to Saturday, February 20. This four-hour course is required for those who were certified as Early Response Team member before 2017 and need to be re-certified to comply with the 3-year UMCOR standard. If you registered for the Jan. 9 session, you do not need to register again. For more information, contact Disaster Response Coordinator David Kissinger. Register
Cash for Clinics: The Nyadire Connection, which has partnered with the UM Mission in Nyadire, Zimbabwe to rebuild rural health clinics since 2013, held an online Cash for Clinics drive for funds to complete the fifth of six clinics, Mashambanhaka. TNC not only met its goal of $25,000, but exceeded it. The UM Foundation of Western PA agreed to match up to $25,000 in donations received by Dec. 31, 2020. Efforts will continue to raise about $22,000 more to complete Mashambanhaka, which has a
total cost of about $274,000. Read more from TNC
Covid, Travel Bans Affect Missionary Service: Travel bans and fear of COVID-19 complicated the service of United Methodist missionaries in 2020. Recruiting for the 2021 class has started, but a smaller number will be chosen and it remains to be seen if they'll be able to travel to their assignments. Read story
Earthkeepers Grows Via Online Training: Expanding from several days of in-person instruction to more extensive online training has attracted some to the EarthKeepers program who were unable to participate before, says the Rev. Jenny Phillips, program director. The UM Board of Global Ministries commissioned 24 new EarthKeepers from 14 United Methodist annual conferences through an online service on Dec. 8. Read story
COVID-19 Top UMC Story of 2020: The church's response to the COVID-19 pandemic was voted the top United Methodist news story of 2020 by conference communicators in the U.S., Africa, Europe and the Philippines and UM News staff. Read story
UM Men Focus on Wesley’s Ways: Although Rev. Rick Peck is bald, he admits he has never tried John Wesley’s “cure” -- rubbing onions on his head until it’s red. Although he cautions against following some of Wesley’s advice--or even his example in courtship and marriage, the editor of UM Men’s magazine writes that 229 years after his death, John Wesley still has much to teach us. Read his letter in the current issue.
See What Would Wesley Say to Us Today?
Higher Ed Scholarships: The United Methodist Higher Education Foundation is accepting scholarship applications for the 2021-2022 academic year. Through March 1, students are invited to apply for more than $2 million in funds available to help pay for attending colleges, universities or seminaries related to The United Methodist Church. Learn more and see media resources
Get forms to apply
Pastor Dies in Texas Church Shooting: A Jan. 3 shooting at Starrville Methodist Church left the pastor dead and two others wounded. Authorities charged a 21-year-old man with capital murder and assault and said he had hidden in the East Texas church overnight after fleeing police. Bishop Scott Jones said Starrville Methodist left the United Methodist denomination some decades back. He urged prayers for the congregation. Read story
Celebrating First Worship Broadcast: Last Sunday, when countless local churches were streaming worship services online, Calvary Episcopal Church in Pittsburgh commemorated the 100th anniversary of the first broadcast of a religious service. It was on KDKA Radio. Learn more on TribLive.