Coronavirus Vaccines: Jessica Price, M.D., chair of our Abundant Health Team, shares information on COVID-19 vaccines in a new video posted at wpaumc.org/covid-19.
Getting in Line for Vaccines: After being advised by UPMC to submit a group application for clergy to receive vaccines when available in Phase 1B, the Conference Benefits Office is gathering names and information from those who choose to be vaccinated. Active WPA clergy, including those not enrolled on the UPMC Health Plan, are eligible and encouraged to be a part of the group application. The deadline to submit your name as part of the group is Feb. 22. Get details.
Add your name/info to the list.
Safe Sanctuaries in 60 Seconds: The third segment of Chris Kindle’s series is posted on the WPAUMC YouTube channel for you to view and download. See it.
Watch the full Safe Sanctuaries in 60 Seconds playlist
Decennial Report Required? Some local churches have received a postcard from the PA Dept of State (Bureau of Corporations and Charitable Organizations) requesting that a Decennial Report be submitted by December 31, 2021. This is a valid request. The state requires a Decennial Report of Association Continued Existence form to be filed every 10 years -- in years ending with the number 1. Conference Treasurer Roger White reports that the Conference has received the postcard as well, and will be completing the form and submitting the $70 filing fee to the state. He suggests that churches do the same before the Dec. 31, 2021 deadline. The form and additional details can be found on the PA Dept. of State’s website Decennial Filing
Grants for Historic Churches: The National Fund for Sacred Spaces is accepting applications for funding to support restoration/preservation projects in historic buildings where congregations are serving their communities. Rev. Dr. Susan Moudry, who attended a webinar about the grants and is willing to consult with churches, reports that new additions, demolition, pipe organs and AV equipment are not eligible for funding. Letters of Intent are due by March 15. Learn more at fundforsacredplaces.org/
UMC Scholarships: The deadline to apply for scholarships administered by the denomination’s General Board of Higher Education and Ministry is March 24. Get details and apply.
Join Us on a Spiritual Lenten Journey! Invite your congregation and community to come along. It starts on Ash Wednesday at 8 a.m. with a brief video devotional on our website. Rev. Eric Park will tell you more about it in a video introduction at wpaumc.org/lent.
Ash Wednesday Guidelines: An ecumenical group of clergy, theologians, liturgical scholars and public health experts recently released guidelines for safely observing Ash Wednesday. It recommends no indoor meetings, lots of hand sanitizer and, when distributing ashes in a drive-thru, keeping the line moving. See the guidelines
Read Religion News Service report
Ash Wednesday in a Pandemic: Resource UMC addresses ways to observe Ash Wednesday during a pandemic. See what they are.
Lenten Social Media Graphics: Need ideas for Lent, Holy Week and Easter social media posts? Explore free graphics you can download from UM Communications. Post them on your church’s social media pages alongside Scripture passages, encouraging words or worship service details. See resources
Free Music Videos for Lent! With COVID-19 forcing churches to move to online worship, many are concerned about finding music they can legally use on the Internet. To help, two United Methodist clergy recorded and shared free hymns and special music that can be used during the Lenten season and on Easter Sunday. Read story
Ash Wednesday Service: Join the General Board of Church and Society at noon on Ash Wednesday for an online “service of bearing,” committing ourselves to a Holy Lent in which we work “to loose the bonds of injustice” (Isa. 56:8) and work for justice and peace. Register
Whitely-Fields Book Focused on Black Clergywomen: A new book by the Rev. Dr. Josephine Whitely-Fields, who retired from active ministry in Western PA in 2015, was released by Westbow Press just in time for Black History Month. Entitled Pioneer Black Clergywomen, it tells the stories of nine Black clergywomen, including Bishop Cynthia Moore-Koikoi and the author herself. Read more
Resources and A Quiz: United Methodist Women has put together a list and links to church resources for observing Black History Month, including prayers, worship resources and a United Methodist Black History Quiz.
White Ally Workshop: The Pittsburgh Presbytery invites United Methodists to join them for a free workshop (via Zoom) with Dr. David Campt, author of the White Ally Toolkit, from 7-9 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 24. Registration deadline is Feb. 22. Get details
Learn more about the White Ally Toolkit
Erie County Among Top CROP Walks! Out of hundreds of CROP Hunger Walks throughout the U.S., Erie County’s ranked 12th in raising funds to fight hunger “one step at a time.” The largest CROP Walk in Pennsylvania in 2020, many United Methodist congregations are involved in the Church World Service initiative in Erie County. Of the funds raised, 25 percent are returned to the local area to support food pantries and other efforts to ease hunger. Learn more and see if you recognize any people behind the masks at facebook.com/ErieCROPHungerWalk
Want to Do a Mission Trip? Try it virtually. Imagine the possibilities as you form a team, plan a week of mission, learn, explore, connect, and partner with project sites around the world! Read through the suggestions and determine which mission journey you will share. Adapt it as needed for small groups, Bible studies, Missions committee discussion, or simply explore as an individual. Visit umvim.org/virtual-missions
Offering Talks: Telling stories before receiving an offering -- even during virtual worship-- provides the best opportunity to communicate the impact your church is making. The foundation of a good offering talk is a story of a life that was changed, says Joe Park of Horizons Stewardship. See his Five Reasons to Include Stories in Your Offering Talk
Delegate Webinar Set for Saturday: The Council of Bishops and jurisdictional leaders will hold a webinar for U.S. General Conference and jurisdictional delegates at 2 p.m. U.S. Eastern time on Feb. 13. The event will include presentations on the Episcopal Fund, the Jurisdictional Study Committee report and General Conference options. The webinar can be viewed on ResourceUMC.org. To watch webinar
Read What goes into funding bishops?
UMC-Roman Catholic Dialogue: Representatives of The United Methodist Church and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops this week released a two-part publication entitled Catholics and United Methodists Together. It was the result of decades of dialog. Read more
WWW is My Parish: Next Monday, our WWW is My Parish virtual ministry series offers two segments with Conference Multimedia Production Specialist Bill Jacka sharing info about equipment and software you may need for online worship and virtual ministry. At 6pm, he’ll go over the basics -- what equipment you need if you are just starting to record, edit and manage video and online content as well as cost and factors to consider when purchasing. At 7:30 p.m., for those who have the basics in place, Bill will review what you can do to improve quality and expand your capacity for recording, editing and content management. If you haven’t already registered, sign up for one or both here
See recordings of past sessions
Disability Awareness Sunday: Our denomination’s Book of Discipline calls for churches to observe Disability Awareness Sunday each year to celebrate the gifts and graces of persons with disabilities and support their full inclusion in the community. The Western PA Annual Conference set the weekend of Feb. 20-21, 2021 as the time for the observance, although churches can choose any date. Worship resources and other information are available on the UMC DisAbility Ministries website.
Find other information at wpaumc.org/disabilityconcerns
Ministering to the Isolated During Pandemic: The next episode of Discipleship Ministries’ webinar series featuring innovative ways to care for the grieving and comfort the lonely is Feb. 23. The series is focused on ministry to/with/for Older Adults and Boomers during these challenging times. Get details.