Annual Conference Update: Clergy Session was held Monday afternoon via Zoom webinar, with members confirming the Board of Ordained Ministry’s approval of 2020 and 2021 candidates for ministry. The 2020 class includes five Elders and three Deacons approved for full membership and two Provisional Deacons. The 2021 Class includes 14 Elders and two Deacons approved for Full Membership, four Provisional Elders and three Provisional Deacons. Ordination and commissioning services will be held on Friday evening, June 18 at the Erie Bayfront Convention Center with a limited number of guests for each approved candidate. The service will be livestreamed. See candidate videos at wpaumc.org/AC.
AC2021 Registration: Later this week, Conference Secretary John Wilson will send emails invitations to register for the June 18-19 Annual Conference to voting members and others. While COVID restrictions have eased enough to allow some people to attend worship celebrations at the Bayfront Convention Center, most will participate in sessions of the via livestream. The hope is to have electronic voting and/or a mail-in ballot on three or four pieces of legislation. The Connectional Leadership Table will handle other legislation, as it has in the past year.
Memorial Service: Families of the 2020 and 2021Honored Dead will be invited to attend the Memorial Service on Saturday afternoon of Annual Conference. Those honored will include dedicated lay members who served the Conference. If you know of a layperson who should be listed among the Honored Dead, please contact Rev. Dale Reese at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Updated COVID-19 Guidelines: Earlier this week, our Abundant Health Team updated guidelines for churches to use in determining how to safely handle in-person gatherings as more people are vaccinated. Learn more
Running for Health: After stalling in efforts to improve his overall health, Pastor B.T. Gilligan sat down with fellow Abundant Health Team member Rob Giannamore to talk about the benefits of running. Read his Abundant Health blog post, Taking the First Steps.
May is Mental Health Awareness Month: “The United Methodist Church pledges to foster policies that promote compassion, advocate for access to care, and eradicate stigma within the church and communities.” (Social Principles, ¶162.X) United Methodist DisAbility Ministries offers some background and resources.
How-To on Health Promotion: The World Council of Churches has created a free handbook to help churches around the world promote good health in their communities. The book includes work plans for seven intervention areas: diet, physical exercise, tobacco, alcohol, mental health, tuberculosis and COVID-19. Learn more and Download PDF
Overwhelmed by Changing Times? In a reflection on the Conference blog, Treasurer Roger White reminds us that one thing in life is constant. Read his post
Emerging with God’s Grace: Care, Counseling, and Ministry after the Pandemic. This year’s online Pittsburgh Pastoral Care Conference, set for 9 a.m.-noon, Friday, May 21, will feature prayers and conversation to reflect on this past year and move into the future. Pittsburgh DS Dawn Hand is one of the presenters. Free registration is available at www.pghpcc.org.
Religion and the Common Good is the focus of an online Henderson Summer Leadership Conference at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary on Monday and Tuesday, May 24-25. Speakers include Parker Palmer, Valarie Kaur, Richard Mouw, Carrie Newcomer, and more! Registration is on a “pay what you will” basis. See the full schedule of workshops, worship, and keynotes at www.pts.edu/SLC-2021.
Five Ways Churches Move Outside the Building: The year 2020 may have forever changed our picture of church. A Barna Group study found that 59% of churchgoing Gen Zers will not return to regularly attending in-person church gatherings; they will engage with their church communities in other ways. The Rev. Ryan Dunn, minister of online engagement for Rethink Church, looks at creative ways the church has been and may continue to be in ministry outside of in-person worship. Read story
Travel As a Spiritual Act: The UM Board of Higher Education and Ministry recently hosted a conversation with PBS travel host Rick Steves on "Travel as a Spiritual Act." The agency has posted a recording of that conversation. Watch recording
UMCOR Sunday is March 14! There are downloadable resources, bulletin inserts, videos, podcasts and more to help you celebrate. Find them at ResourceUMC here
Learn more about UMCOR’s work at umcor.org
Idea for UMCOR Sunday: One local church, Baldwin Community UMC, is collecting two specific items needed for cleaning buckets. A small group of volunteers will visit the Eastbrook Mission Barn to pack cleaning buckets later in the month. See Mission Barn info
UMCOR Responds to COVID Crisis In India: The United Methodist Committee on Relief will assist two partners in India to provide ventilators, hospital beds, money and more to help combat the dire COVID-19 crisis there. India is suffering more than 3,000 COVID-19 deaths per day and recording more than 300,000 new cases every 24 hours, according to news reports. Read UMNews story
Growing More Than Veggies: Community gardening is a way to create interest in a church, get to know members of the community and show the love of Christ in a tangible way. Tricia K. Brown offers steps for churches to show their green thumbs and loving hearts.Read story
See impact of Spicewood community garden
Social Justice=A Christian Concern? Baldwin Community UMC will host a Zoom presentation and conversation with Dr. Luther Smith of Emory University’s Candler School of Theology about what social justice has to do with us as Christians. It’s scheduled for Sunday, May 16 at 4:30 p.m. All are welcome to participate. Get details and register
Taking Action and Creating Change: In today’s world, God calls us to be instruments of healing – transforming relationships and systems to pursue justice and peace among people, communities and nations. The UMC Board of Church and Society offers some practical ways to do that from your home as an individual or as a church in the Creating Change Together Toolkit.
Minimum or Living Wage? As state and federal lawmakers debate raising the minimum wage from $7.25 to $15 an hour, the USA Today Network in Pennsylvania wanted to know what makes a living wage in the commonwealth. Reporters across the state interviewed workers trying to make ends meet earning up to $15 an hour to determine if that wage hike would really be enough for those living in poverty. To help readers see “how the other shoe fits,” the network developed an online poverty simulator. Give it a try.
Subscribers to the Erie Times-News and other USA network newspapers can see the stories and photos of people interviewed in an in-depth feature Barely Making It.
Bread for the World’s 2021 Hunger Advocacy Workshop, offered online Saturday morning, May 15. will include a Racial Wealth Gap Simulation. Participants will explore the intersection of racism, poverty, and hunger and learn how to advocate for change with our nation’s leaders. Groups from the same congregation can choose to participate in the wealth gap simulation together in breakout rooms. To sign up for this free online workshop, visit http://bit.ly/breadworkshop2021.
Let’s Have a Real Conversation! “It is Christian silence, Christian assent, and Christian fear of having honest conversations that confront systemic racism that has left our nation in tatters,” writes Garlinda Burton. Originally written for the Commission on Religion and Race, her post on ResourceUMC includes suggested books and resources for discussion/action groups, and challenges Christians to end racism through hard conversations, penitent prayers and action.
Election of Bishops: The Council of Bishops held fast to their plans to delay electing new leaders until after the postponed General Conference. But the bishops rescinded a recommendation that no U.S. bishops be elected until 2024, opening the door for new leaders to be elected in November 2022. Read more
Judicial Council Rulings: New rulings released May 5 by The United Methodist Church's top court include five decisions related to the Greater New Jersey Conference. Working through pandemic restrictions, the Judicial Council has been deliberating on an extended docket via multiple Zoom meetings. Read story
WCA Continues Planning for New Denomination: The Wesleyan Covenant Association held a large in-person and online meeting April 30-May 1, continuing to plan for a new, traditionalist Methodist denomination and passing a resolution criticizing three bishops for recent appointment decisions. Read UM News story
Blessed Is the Church: The United Methodist Church has continued to carry out its mission despite the challenges and uncertainties of 2020. That's according to the new 2020 State of the Church Report produced by the Connectional Table and United Methodist Communications, themed "Blessed Is the Church." The report features a video message from four bishops. Read report and watch video
UM Communications Report: United Methodist Communications spent its 80th anniversary year providing resources for church leaders as they grappled with the twin pandemics of COVID-19 and racial injustice. The agency's 2020 annual report highlights that work. Read press release
See annual report
Inspire Local Church Giving! The #IGiveUMC campaign from Rethink Church inspires United Methodists and others to honor important individuals in their lives by donating to local churches. Upcoming celebrations, such as Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, are perfect opportunities to launch the campaign in your congregation and community! Learn more and download free resources
Connecting by Drone? A group at Napa United Methodist Church in California has taken keeping in touch with members to another level — literally. The Just Say Hi ministry uses drones to drop in on churchgoers. It's been a big hit. Read Napa Valley Register story
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