WPAUMC enews - April 28, 2021



COVID Safety Guidelines: This week, the Center for Disease Control updated safety guidelines for people who have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and modified recommendations on wearing masks outdoors. The WPAUMC guidelines are being updated by leaders of our Abundant Health Team. They will be emailed to pastors and local church leaders and posted on the Conference website as soon as possible, most likely Friday afternoon. See CDC guidelines for fully vaccinated people 

In the News: Rev. Mark Goswick, pastor of New Virginia UMC, spoke at a gathering outside Shenango Area High School to pray for Dr. Michael Shreck, the school Superintendent and his 13-year-old son Aidan, who were severely injured when a tractor-trailor rear-ended their vehicle last week. Read New Castle News   

Smartphone App for Local Churches: The new Here I Am app, developed by two United Methodists and tested on a grandmother, may help you cut through communications clutter and improve engagement across your congregation. It seems easy to set up and use. You can learn more about it and see a demo in one of two WPAUMC zoom sessions -- Monday, May 10 @ 1 p.m. or Tuesday, May 18 @ 6:30 p.m.  Register
Watch Here I Am video
Get more info at hereiam.church


Thus Says the Lord! The annual Pastors Academy at Olmsted Manor, set for May 24-26, will focus on What the Prophets Are Saying Today. The Rev. Dr. Steven Tuell will lead the event. Get details and register.

Both/And--Maximizing Hybrid Worship: If you’re planning to attend our May 15 webinar with Jason Moore of Midnight Oil Productions on best practices for post-pandemic worship, don’t wait until the last minute to register! Ecumenical colleagues have expressed interest and registration will open to them on May 1. Learn more and register

Post-Pandemic Ministry: Discipleship Ministries will host a May 11 virtual panel discussion examining the realities of funding ministry and leading churches as we move into a post-pandemic world. After a brief presentation on Adaptive Leadership and congregational research gathered in the days before and during the pandemic, the discussion will focus on trends for the church’s future. There will be time to respond to questions from the audience. The event starts at 7:30 p.m. EDT. Get details and register

Fund Development Training: Space is still available for two events at Olmsted Manor Retreat Center co-sponsored by the United Methodist Foundation to help churches learn to tell their story and successfully fund ministry. The first, Telling Your Story with Charles Maynard is May 9-11. The second, Abundant Resources for Ministry with Dr. Amanda Stewart is June 13-15. There’s a discount if you register for both. Get details at olmstedmanor.org/events.html

Comparing Digital Platforms: Many congregations are planning to take a hybrid approach to worship, resuming in-person gatherings while maintaining online options. Tim Snyder of the Lewis Center outlines the pluses and minuses of two platforms commonly used for digital worship.   Read story

United Gets Lily Grant: United Theological Seminary has received a $50,000 planning grant from Lilly Endowment Inc., through its Pathways for Tomorrow Initiative. The initiative encourages theological schools to explore how they can be more effective in preparing church leaders for congregational ministry. United will use the grant to expand and evaluate the effectiveness of Houses of Study at the seminary. Learn more 

Imagining a Hybrid Future! Dr. Rosario Picardo, who will direct United's efforts to build partnerships through the Lily grant, is co-author of a new book Fresh Expressions in a Digital Age. He recently talked with Ann Michel of the Lewis Center for Church Leadership about how churches can continue to develop online ministry while resuming in-person ministries. Listen or read more

Worship and Music: John Wesley set out Guidelines for Congregational Singing and specified certain tunes that have been included in the Methodist hymnal since 1761. But a recent Christianity Today article looks at how our denomination helps worship leaders select music today. It focuses on Discipleship Ministries’ CCLI Top100+Beyond project. Read more

Dismantling Racism

Healthy Village Learning Institute (HVLI) in McKeesport continually adapted through the pandemic to support the community and connect youth and families with needed services. HVLI played a big role in providing PPE equipment and encouraging social responsibility and healthy practices. To highlight the effort, Keith Murphy, HVLI executive director, is featured in the Spring edition of The Pittsburgh Foundation’s quarterly magazine Forum. He’s one of 11 community and non-profit leaders and activists who helped the Foundation develop a grant-making program for racial justice. Read Keith Murphy’s HVLI story
See Spring Forum magazine (with HVLI cover photo)

Justice or Just Us? The Erie-Meadville District is offering Justice or Just Us? The Biblical Call to Confront Racism on Wednesday evenings in May from 7-8 p.m. via Zoom. Led by Sarah Roncolato and Bob Klingler, it’s open to all laity and clergy. Lay Servant course credit may be received by doing some supplemental work. Register 

Heritage Sunday is May 23! This day calls the church to remember the past by committing itself to the continuing call of God. This year’s theme is "Pride, Shame, and Pain: Methodist History with Racism and Efforts to Dismantle It."  Read more

WPA Black Methodist History: One hundred years ago, a small group of Christians on Pittsburgh’s Northside established the Charles Street Mission of the Methodist Episcopal Church. It was during the Great Migration when Black families began settling in the Charles Street valley near manufacturing plants. David Grinnell tells the story in a blog post for the WPA Commission on Archives and History. Read it

UMC News

Focus on Mission, Not Turmoil: In a public presidential address at this week’s Council of Bishops meeting, Bishop Cynthia Fierro Harvey encouraged church leaders to use this time of waiting for the postponed General Conference to focus on the church’s outward mission — not on its internal turmoil. “We must stop stirring the pots and creating our own chaos,” said Harvey, who also leads the Louisiana Conference. Read UMNews story

Megachurch Exit, Complaint: On Monday, after a weeklong protest over an appointment change, the pastor of Mt. Bethel UMC, the largest church in the North Georgia  Conference, announced he was surrendering his credentials and the church was leaving the denomination. The next day church leaders said will file formal complaints against Bishop Sue Haupert-Johnson and a district superintendent, accusing them of not engaging in consultation in the appointment process. The bishop’s account of what happened is somewhat different. Read story

Table Talk: The Connectional Table, the denomination’s equivalent of a church council, is urging United Methodists around the globe to join in conversations about the denomination’s identity, vision and mission. With General Conference now delayed to 2022, the leadership body hopes to bring more people to its table. Read story

Agencies Support Net-Zero Admissions: Eleven general agencies of The United Methodist Church are pledging to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 across ministries, facilities, operations and investments. The initiative was announced on Earth Day. Read story 

Ministry with the Poor

Help Smith Center through Warren Gives: Thanks to support from UMW units, some UM churches and individuals, the Ruth M Smith Center in Sheffield provides a home for 26 at-risk adults, none of whom can pay the full cost of care.  The Center, which also has a Day Care for children, depends on benevolent giving for one-third of its budget. "Warren Gives", an online giving event on May 19, is a good opportunity for donors to multiply the value of their gifts. A percentage of each donation through Warren Gives will be matched by funds from Warren County businesses and foundations. Donate on May 19 at www.warrengives.org or send a check payable to the Community Foundation of Warren County with Ruth M. Smith Center in the memo line may be mailed to the Ruth M. Smith Center, PO Box 576, Sheffield, PA  16347. The checks can qualify for the matching funds if received at the Center by May 10 for processing. 


Serve with Impact: Learn ideas and strategies for increasing mission engagement of your church at ShareChurch’s Serve with Impact: Missions training event on Thursday, June 24 from 10am-3pm. Over the course of 4 sessions in the full-day training, participants will gain an understanding of the importance of building sustainable partnerships and supporting a local community’s efforts to develop out of poverty, both locally and globally. Cost is $29 for an individual registration or $229 for a Watch Party for 10 participants (a 20% savings). Get details and register


Clergy Session is Monday, May 3: Registration is required to attend the online event at 1p.m.  If you are a clergy member of the Conference and haven’t registered yet, there’s a link in the email reminder sent April 26 by Conference Secretary John Wilson. 

A Conversation on First Corinthians: Not unlike the church today, the faith community in Corinth dealt with factions, sexual immorality, gender issues, money issues, theological questions, lawsuits, problems in worship, and problems in leadership. Author and Professor Jaime Clark-Soles discusses these issues, as well as church history, spiritual gifts, and the joys and challenges of living in community in a new study entitled First Corinthians: Searching the Depths of God. Join an Amplify Live event at 3p.m. ET, Thursday, May 6 to hear her conversation with Ray Jordan. Get details and register

Lay Servant Ministry: An approved online Lay Servant Ministry class, Leading Bible Study: Biblical Interpretation begins May 17 and runs through May 28 at BeADisciple.com.  Learn more