WPAUMC enews - Oct. 20, 2021



Health Plan Deadlines: Open Enrollment for active clergy/enrolled laity (UPMC Health Plan) and retired clergy/enrolled spouses (Medicare Advantage Plans) runs from October 15 through November 19, 2021. Active and retired participants who are not making any changes are not required to submit applications. Their current plan will remain the same in 2022.
Note: UPMC Health Plan active participants have until October 31, 2021 to complete Take a Health Step (TAHS) requirements to earn Conference Board of Pensions funding. For more info, see the benefits page. Questions? Email Alexis.Soohy@wpaumc.org or Kathleen.Lasky@wpaumc.org.

Becoming People of One Book: John Wesley, who called himself a man of one book, acknowledged in the preface to his Sermons that the meaning of Scripture is not always simple and straightforward: The meaning of a passage may not be immediately apparent and is not limited to any single interpretation. On Nov. 3, during an online Zoom version of the annual Albright-Deering lecture at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, Rev. Dr. Steven Tuell will address how, amidst diversity, we can be “People of One Book.” Rev. Chenda Innis Lee will join Dr. Tuell for an afternoon presentation. The event is free, but registration is required. Get details

Diversity and Inclusion: Bishop Cynthia Moore-Koikoi talks with Pastor Zayzay Kapedah about diversity and the theology of inclusion in our latest Meet in the Middle podcast. 

Tips for Online Worship: John Shumway and Robb Montgomery of St. Paul’s UMC in Allison Park recently offered a workshop for Pittsburgh District churches with tips and best practices for broadcasting worship via livestream, Zoom or other platforms. Shumway is a veteran TV and radio broadcaster with KDKA (CBS) in Pittsburgh. Listen 

SPARK 2022: Registration is open for our SPARK 2022 youth event at Pittsburgh’s Station Square on Jan. 8-9. But if you want the early bird discount, there are only 10 days left to register! Registration for SPARK 2022 in Erie will open in December. Get details at wpaumc.org/spark

Autism Friendly Open Mic: Band Together Pittsburgh will offer an Autism Friendly Open Microphone/Stage beginning at 2 p.m., Sunday, October 24, at Calvary UMC on Pittsburgh’s North Side. Band Together open mic events have been held at Trinity UMC in Brackenridge for a few years, but the group now hopes to reach out to people on the spectrum across the Pittsburgh region. Sunday’s event will feature a tour of the historic Calvary sanctuary and the opportunity to sing, play, offer comedy, and experience fellowship and support. The event is free and open to the public. Learn more at bandtogetherpgh.org/
Get details and register for Oct. 24 event


New Leaders for The Nyadire Connection: TNC is celebrating its 15th anniversary this year and will have a new leadership team in 2022 as part of its "Forward 15" strategy. Chairman Drew Harvey and Treasurer Richard Dickey will be retiring from the roles they've held since the organization began and will be succeeded by a five-person leadership team of experienced TNC members. TNC supports the Nyadire Mission in Zimbabwe. Read more
UM News: TNC celebrates 15 years of sharing God's love

Mission Support Grants: Applications for 2022 Mission Support Grants will be available next week. The grants help to support ministries within the WPA Conference. Half of the available funding goes to the approved WPAUMC Regional Ministries. The remainder is for grants to new or ongoing outreach ministries of local churches, mission churches, or ecumencial agencies affiliated with WPAUMC. The deadline for applications is November 30. 

2021 Busy Year for UMCOR: Disasters – natural and human-made – have increased the world over, which means UMCOR’s work has increased as well. UMCOR has responded to hurricanes, tornadoes, typhoons, catastrophic flooding, earthquakes, political unrest, wildfires and volcanoes. The numbers keep going up.  Learn more

Eastbrook Mission Barn is accepting volunteer teams on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays from 10-2. Teams can help verify or make up UMCOR kits, build ramp modules, or help to install a ramp. Email missionbarn@gmail.com to register your team. Learn more at wpaumc.org/missionbarn

Abundant Health

Love Beyond Borders: UM Global Ministries is launching a new initiative, joining interfaith partners in an effort to increase equitable distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine around the world. Funds donated to the new Advance #3022671 will support Love Beyond Borders: The Interfaith Movement to End the Pandemic campaign. It will assist UNICEF’s global COVID-19 response, including distributing 1.4 billion COVID-19 vaccines to approximately 196 participating COVAX countries and economies by the end of 2021. Just $37 dollars can help provide 10 people with two doses of the vaccine. Learn more

Ministry with Dementia: Discipleship Ministries is launching a hybrid online teaching series to help churches see and engage with those living with dementia and other vulnerable adults. It includes online lessons and three live webinars. Learn more

Ministry with the Poor

Biblical Approach to Addressing Hunger: United Methodists around the connection volunteer with the Society of St. Andrew to address food insecurity through the ancient practice of gleaning. Crystal Caviness writes about this ministry and the farming practice described in Leviticus. Read story

Strengthen the Safety Net! Indiana Bishop Julius C. Trimble writes about the conflict between claims that the United States was founded on Christian principles and the lack of urgency to help the least among us. He urges people of faith to support legislation that would strengthen the social safety net for those most in need of help. "Is the world better off when some of us are doing just fine while millions wake up hungry and go to bed without shelter? I think not," he writes. Read commentary

'I Was a Stranger …' In September 2021, a UM News team accompanied leaders from The UMC and the Methodist Church of Mexico on visits to growing migrant communities in towns on the U.S.-Mexico border. While policymakers in Washington struggle to find solutions, the response from faith leaders has been simple: Welcome the strangers, as Jesus instructed. UM News photographer Mike DuBose documented the ministry in photos. View photo essay

Congregational Development

Church for Nerds, Geeks and Gamers: “Church doesn't need to be boring. Worship shouldn't be lackluster," says Rev. Nathan Webb, a/k/a Nerd Pastor Nate, of Checkpoint Church, an online congregation. Checkpoint was designed to be exclusively virtual. It doesn’t even have a building. Read story
See UM News: Online gamer ministry offers unique outreach

Small Churches in the Pandemic: Small churches are often isolated so one congregation may not be aware of how other congregations are coping. The Rev. Rebekah Simon-Peter shares different ways small churches have kept worship alive and Christian education thriving in the pandemic. Her main message to churches: “You are not alone.”
Read commentary

Reimagining Church Buildings: How can your church building be an asset rather than a liability? Dave Harder says we must question the dominant narrative that says church is what happens in the building for a few hours on a Sunday and let a new narrative emerge — one that focuses on God’s hopes and dreams for the neighborhood. Read more in Leading Ideas

UMC News

United Celebrates 150! United Theological Seminary on Oct. 10 celebrated its 150th anniversary and burned the mortgage on its current campus facilities. In 1871, what was then Union Biblical Seminary began with 11 students. The United Methodist seminary has since grown to 488 students. Read press release
Watch video highlights

Bethune Statue in U.S. Capitol:  Educator and civil rights activist Mary McLeod Bethune will soon make history as the first Black person to have a state-commissioned statue in the U.S. Capitol's Statuary Hall. Bethune was a pioneering Methodist who advised U.S. presidents and founded what is now Bethune-Cookman University in Daytona Beach, Florida — one of 11 institutions supported by the United Methodist Black College Fund. Read NPR story
Learn more about Mary McLeod Bethune


Get Ready for The Bible Year! Amplify Media, part of the United Methodist Publishing House, is offering “The Bible Year” to help small groups and churches that want to read the entire Bible over 12 months but are feeling a bit overwhelmed by the idea. A webinar introducing  project resources and key contributors will start at 2 p.m. ET on Oct. 26. Get details and register

Podcasts are the New Open-Air Preaching! So says Ryan Dunn of UM Communications. There's a podcast for just about everything — from cooking to home decorating to cleaning to self-motivation and, yes, helping people in their spiritual walk. And millions are listening. Podcasts have ushered in a new yet familiar way of ministry. Is it for you? Read more and get podcasting tips

Cybersecurity Webinar: The United Methodist Insurance Program is offering church members a free cybersecurity webinar at 11:30 a.m. Eastern time on Oct. 26. The purpose of the webinar, led by a former FBI agent, is to help ministries protect against digital threats like email scams and ransomware. To register

All Saints Day: Saints are people who offer their lives as a home for God, to make room in the world for God’s life to grow, writes Pastor Isaac Villegas. “They bear witness to what it looks like to let God live in this world through them. In other words, saints show us how to be disciples.” Read more