WPAUMC enews - Dec. 1, 2021



New Regional Coordinator Named: The Rev. Chenda Innis Lee began serving as the Regional Coordinator for Spiritual Formation for the Pittsburgh/Butler region, effective today. The part-time position is part of an experimental leadership model designed to get back to the basics of Christian faith -- Loving God and Loving Neighbor. Learn more. 

Hope Today: Rev. Chuck Hildbold was interviewed this week for Cornerstone TV network program to air next Tuesday at 9 a.m. as part of the Hope Today program. Just six months after the death of his wife Cheryl, he’ll talk about the recently published book of her writing, Ponderings of a Pastor’s Partner and how he’s moving through grief during Advent and Christmas this year. To watch, visit Hope Today: Home Page - CTVN

Mourning and Hope: After describing the church grief that many in The United Methodist Church are experiencing and the theological message of hope that Christians have in the midst of mourning and grief, the Rev. Lynette Moran concludes her three-part series of blog posts with some practical affirmations about the work of moving with and through our grief. See the Theology of Mourning and Hope - Part 3


Advent Resources: For links to a variety of new and recently updated Advent and Christmas resources prepared by our Conference staff and Western PA partners, visit wpaumc.org/adventresources.

Glimmers of Advent Hope Amid Exhaustion:  This Advent season, Pastor Gabby Kudjoe Wilkes, sees a community that is still living through a pandemic that none of us anticipated would ever last this long. But she sees glimmers of hope. “We are in a different place than we were 12 months ago,” she writes in an Advent post for Duke Divinity’s Faith and Leadership site. Read more

Looking Ahead to Christmas Eve: As pastors and congregations prepare to receive guests on Christmas Eve, Bishop Kenneth H. Carter offers simple, heartfelt advice. Keep the sermon brief but grace filled. Appeal to people’s generosity. And make sure those inspired to begin their faith journeys are invited to take the next step. Read more

Christmas Eve Dos and Don’ts: Barry Howard names some dos and don’ts to help make your Christmas Eve service meaningful and welcoming. A festive and effective Christmas Eve service, he says, can go a long way toward building durable relationships and enhancing community connections. Learn more

Youth Ministry

Dec. 17 Key Date for SPARK Reservations! The 2022 SPARK youth gathering will be held in two locations: January 8-9, 2022 at the Sheraton Station Square in Pittsburgh and April 9-10 at the Bayfront Convention Center in Erie. December 17 is the deadline to register youth for the January event in Pittsburgh and the also the day that registration opens for the April sessions in Erie. Get details at wpaumc.org/spark

Confirmation Journey: Confirmation classes are invited to attend one of three Friday afternoon events -- March 4, 11 or 18 -- to meet Bishop Cynthia Moore-Koikoi and learn more about connectional ministries. Hosted by the Conference staff at Dutilh United Methodist Church in Cranberry Twp., the sessions will begin at 1 p.m. with an option for lunch with the Bishop at noon. The day will end at 4:30 p.m.  Registration will open January 5, 2022 on the Conference website. 

Climate Justice

Zim Mission Schools, Homes Damaged: In Zimbabwe, heavy rains and strong winds left a trail of destruction of property worth thousands of dollars at two United Methodist missions, which are home to several schools. Bishop Eben K. Nhiwatiwa attributes the destruction to climate change. Kudzai Chingwe reports on the damage and its impact on students and teachers. Read story

After COP26: What Should Christians Do Next? Climate change is not simply a technical, policy or engineering issue. It is above all a moral and spiritual issue in which the meaning and value of all life is on the table, writes a theologian who took part in the climate summit. Read more

Faithful Action for Climate Justice: Climate and Community is a Winter Webinar Series offered via Zoom from Dec. 6-9 by the General Board of Church and Society. It’s a follow-up to COP26, the U.N. Climate Justice Conference in Glasgow, for people of faith. Get details and register.

UMC News

Sharing Grief After School Shooting: The day after a Nov. 30 shooting at Oxford High School that left four dead and seven injured, Oxford United Methodist Church hosted an open-door prayer and meditation time to offer comfort and support to the community. In a statement, Michigan Conference Bishop David Bard said, "We must never allow ourselves to grow numb to the tragic consequences of gun violence in our society. Let us pray from our broken hearts." Kay DeMoss reports. Read story
Read bishop's statement

Native History Immersion Experience: Rev. Jeff Sterling, a recently retired elder, and his wife Dara Sterling, who serves on our WPAUMC Board of Pensions, were among a group of United Methodists from nine states who traveled to the Oklahoma Missionary Conference for a deep dive into Native American ministries and challenges. Read UM News story

Local Churches Welcome Afghan Refugees: Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst in New Jersey is one of eight in the United States where tens of thousands of Afghans who were evacuated from Kabul are being housed. Area United Methodist churches have mobilized to welcome their new neighbors, hosting fundraisers, donating clothing and other items and helping connect them with potential area sponsors. Read story
Churches that help Afghans eligible for UMCOR grant

Seminaries Get Lilly Grants: Seven United Methodist seminaries are among those getting grants of about $1 million each from the Lilly Endowment Inc., as part of Lilly's Pathways for Tomorrow Initiative. The United Methodist grantees are Claremont School of Theology, Iliff School of Theology, Methodist Theological School in Ohio, United Theological Seminary, Wesley Theological Seminary, Duke Divinity School and Candler School of Theology at Emory University. Read press release (PDF)

Christmas Greeting 

Christmas Greetings from Bethlehem: The World Methodist Council General Secretary and the Jerusalem Liaison office share a Christmas message of hope. Watch