WPAUMC enews - Feb. 3, 2021



Lenten Prayer Initiative: Western PA United Methodists and friends are invited to join together in a spiritual Lenten journey called Cross Sections.  Each Wednesday beginning on Ash Wednesday, February 17,  and every day during Holy Week, a brief video devotion will premiere on the Conference website www.wpaumc.org at 8 a.m. You’re encouraged to watch and pray at that time. If that’s not possible, the video will stay on the website to view later. A print version will also be available. You can use the videos in Lenten studies, worship and prayer services. Watch the website and next week’s enews for more details.

Pastoral Letter from our Bishop: Acknowledging the grief felt by so many in our Conference, Bishop Cynthia Moore-Koikoi today offered prayers and words of comfort for all who are mourning the loss of friends, colleagues and loved ones during the COVID-19 pandemic. Read her letter.

Join in Prayer for the family of the Rev. Dan Richter, pastor of the Marienville Charge, who died on Jan. 30. See obituaries


Register for SPARK! The annual Conference Youth Event is now scheduled for one day--April 17, 2021-- at the Bayfront Convention Center in Erie. Registration to attend in-person is limited, but the worship will be livestreamed so that churches can organize their own watch parties. Check out all the details and register your youth at wpaumc.org/spark.

Youth Theology Institute: Know a high schooler who is ready to learn how their faith in Jesus calls them to live in the world while earning college credit they can carry wherever they go after high school? Nominate and encourage them to apply for the Shenandoah University Youth Theology Institute. The two-week summer program is open to any current high school student. Through a daily rhythm of worship, academic study, experiential and service learning, students will become stronger Christian leaders. The 2021 Institute will run from July 18-31, 2021 on the main campus of United Methodist-related Shenandoah University in Winchester, VA.  Thanks to a grant from the Lilly Endowment, the student will pay just $200 for room and board, program expenses, and three college credits. To learn more, nominate a student or apply, visit su.edu/youththeology.


A Chaplain’s Log: In a Conference blog post this week, the Rev. Jane Ellen Nickell, chaplain and faculty member at Allegheny College, offers a glimpse of what life and ministry have been like on campus since the pandemic hit. Read her post

Messages and Messengers is the title for the Feb. 8 session of our WWW is My Parish Zoom series at 7 p.m.  Rev. Alyce Weaver Dunn will host a panel discussion on building a team to manage content creation and social media accounts. How do you decide what goes where, and when - and who makes it happen? The panel includes Liz Lennox, WPAUMC coordinator of visual communications and social media; Rebekah Greenawalt, program coordinator at Jumonville; Rev. Calvin Cook, pastor of First UMC in Kane; and Joshua Watts, worship pastor at Oakland UMC, Johnstown. If you haven’t already, you can still register

Last Chance for Ministry Planning Lab! A few spots remain for ministry teams to join our  five-week collaborative planning cohort called “Co-Laboratory” with Ministry Incubators. It’s designed  to help pastors and teams creatively redesign one congregational event, program or emphasis to address current realities. Registration deadline was extended to Friday, Feb. 5. Learn more and register

Mission/ Ministry with the Poor

Personal Care Kit Challenge! With many people looking for ways to help others who are struggling to make ends meet during the pandemic, a challenge issued by a Pittsburgh District church may be a great way to reach out. Learn more

Ramp Build in Erie: Despite the weather, hearty volunteers with All God’s Children Ministries (AGCM) will be building a ramp at a home on E. Eighth St. in Erie beginning at 9 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 6. They could use a few more workers. If you can help, contact Colleen Miller-Donor, program coordinator for AGCM at 814-580-8758 or AGCMROH2010@gmail.com for details.

Dismantling Racism

February is Black History Month: Learn more and find resources to learn and celebrate at wpaumc.org/blackhistorymonth

UMC Archives Resources: The General Commission on Archives and History (GCAH) has resources for Black History Month on its website. They include two videos from the Television, Radio, and Film Commission of the Methodist Church which dealt with race in the 1950s and over a dozen audio recordings of the call-in radio show, "Night Call," which discuss race in the mid to late 1960s. Check what’s there.

PBS Series on The Black Church: The General Commission on Archives and History worked with McGee Media and supplied over 40 images for a series examining the role of the Black Church in America. Henry Louis Gates, Jr., hosts the series "The Black Church: This Is Our Story, This Is Our Song." It’s set to air on PBS stations starting on February 16, 2021. Check local listings for air time. Learn more about the series 

Lenten Resources

Roll Down, Justice! The United Methodist Commission on Religion and Race is offering a free six-week Lenten biblical reflection course called "Roll Down, Justice!" Each lesson is based on songs from Mark A. Miller's songbook of the same name and includes guides for study.
View resource

Churches Uniting in Christ is offering ecumenical resources for local congregations to use during Lent and Easter. The group brings together 10 Christian communions, including The United Methodist Church, to express unity in Christ and combat racism. Read press release
See resources

Planning for Holy Week: Amplify Media offers a live webinar in which a panel of worship leaders will help you creatively plan for ways to connect faith communities with traditions and each other after a year of living with a pandemic and deep cultural divides. It’s scheduled for 3 p.m. Eastern Time on Thursday, Feb. 11. Get details and register 
Easter Outreach Resources: A limited number of $150 grants are available to help with the cost of customized Easter invitational tools --banners, yard signs and postcards -- from UM Communications partner Outreach Resources. Use code UMCEA21 to receive $150 off your order. See what’s available.

UMC News

Church Sees Year-end Giving Surge: Giving to denomination-wide ministries was better than the worst of the pandemic's projections, according to preliminary figures from the General Council on Finance and Administration. However, The United Methodist Church still faces financial strains. Read story

Discipleship Ministries Leader Fighting Cancer: The Rev. Junius B. Dotson, the top executive of Discipleship Ministries, told his staff and board Jan. 28 that he is battling pancreatic cancer. “Despite the low percentage of survivors, I am determined to fight,” he said in a statement. “I intend to beat the odds. I also plan on working as long as the Lord allows.” Dotson, 55, holds several other denominational leadership roles Read more

Duke Divinity Dean Steps Down: The Rev. L. Gregory Jones will step down as dean of Duke Divinity School at the end of the academic year. Jones has been named president of Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee. The Rev. Edgardo Colón-Emeric will begin a two-year term as Duke Divinity dean on July 1. Read Duke press release

COSROW Moves to Shared Space: The UMC Commission on the Status and Role of Women has moved into shared office space with the Northern Illinois Conference in an effort to be good stewards amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The relocation to a smaller space within the Chicago Temple allows the agency to share the cost of equipment and services. Read press release

Get Them Talking: The latest installment of "Get Them Talking" discusses setting goals and making changes. The devotional series, hosted by UMC.org, provides conversation starters to help families talk about issues of faith.View resource