Celebration of Life Services will be held on Saturday, Dec. 11 at Avery UMC for the Rev. George Dran, on Sunday, Dec. 12 at Karns City UMC for Kenneth Foster, and on Saturday, Dec. 18 at Somerset First UMC for Rev. Donald Krestar. Find details at wpaumc.org/obituaries.
A Message of Hope Today: Rev. Chuck Hildbold, pastor of Jennerstown UMC, appeared in a segment of Cornerstone TV Network’s Hope Today show on Tuesday. He talked with host Tom McGough, a leader at Holiday Park UMC, about his late wife Cheryl Hildbold, how he’s moving through grief and her writing about life and ministry. A collection of her popular newsletter columns, Ponderings from a Pastor’s Partner, was published after her death on June 1, 2021. Watch video
Learn more about Cheryl’s book
Join the Evangelism Huddle! Join Conference Evangelist John Zimmerman at 7 p.m., Thursday, Dec. 9 for the first virtual Evangelism Huddle. He’ll facilitate a discussion with Evangelist Paul Morelli centered on how Paul has trained his heart and eyes to see opportunity for outreach and relationship in common community gathering places. Consider your own local contexts for sharing the love of Jesus. Join the discussion at af180.online.church
Alyce and the Grinch: Alyce Weaver Dunn loves the Grinch! In this week’s Meet in the Middle podcast, she talks about why she appreciates Mr. Grinch. Listen on Spotify, Google podcasts or on the Meet in the Middle area of Buzzsprout.
Catch up on past episodes such as “Asking for a Friend,” a two-part conversation on race with Renee Mikell and Liz Lennox.
Still in Mission: UM missionaries from around the world will host a virtual Christmas worship service on Thursday, Dec. 9 at 9 a.m. EST. You’re invited to worship along with them in their mission field as the lead in prayer, song, and Scripture readings. Register for this special event here.
If the Zoom limit is reached, you’ll get a link to join the service live at umcmission.org/stillinmission.
UMCOR’s Year in Review: The United Methodist Committee on Relief answered many appeals for assistance in 2021. To see some key responses and a few of the major grants awarded this year to help alleviate suffering around the world, use this link.
Tired of Waiting? The season of Advent is one of hope, as Christians not only wait for the coming of the Christ child, but also for Jesus’ second coming. The Rev. Rebekah Simon-Peter admits the experience of the pandemic has made her weary of waiting. She suggests multiple prayers to help through an uneasy time. Read commentary
Advent Devotional: Forty laity in the West Virginia Conference have created an Advent devotional that can be downloaded or received in daily emails. Learn more
Sacred & Still: Each Thursday morning during Advent, the Abundant Health Team shares a guided meditation and question to encourage discussion about how to find ways to be still and rest during a hectic time. Sacred & Still:Coming to the Well encourages us to be still, rest, rejuvenate and intentionally pray. Find the meditations on the Conference Facebook page facebook.com/wpaumc
UMC Promoting Vaccines in Africa: The United Methodist Church continues to collaborate with governments in Africa to promote COVID-19 vaccinations. Zimbabwe congregations and church-related clinics offer COVID-19 vaccines and testing. Similar efforts are underway in Malawi, Mozambique and Congo. Eveline Chikwanah and Chadrack Tambwe Londe report for UM News. Read story
Racial Disparities in Public Health: Black researchers, medical professionals and allies knew that people of color experienced bias in public health policy, even before the pandemic. As the deadly virus emerged, data analysts from Carnegie Mellon and the University of Pittsburgh, foundation directors, epidemiologists and others pooled their talents to configure databases from unwieldy state data to chart COVID-19 cases. Their work documented that people of color in the Pittsburgh area were at higher risk of catching the deadly virus and at higher risk of severe disease and death from the infection. Read Kaiser Health News report
Rescue Plan Funds to Aid Seniors, People with Disabilities: Federal officials have approved a spending plan from the Wolf administration to distribute approximately $1.2 billion to home and community-based services for seniors and people with disabilities in Pennsylvania. The funds are from the federal American Rescue Plan, which was signed by President Joe Biden in March. Learn more
Bill Seeks to Remove Surplus Food Donation Barriers: Americans each year trash about 108 billion pounds of food -- 40 percent of the food supply in this country, the U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates. Much of that waste is generated by restaurants, retailers and wholesalers, who all face challenges and restrictions in moving surplus food to consumers. Now U.S. Senators Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) have introduced a bill to make it easier for the businesses to donate food. Learn more
Scenes from the U.S.-Mexico Border: UM News Photographer Mike DuBose has visited the U.S.-Mexico border at least a half dozen times over the years. Each time, his experience has been different. Cindy Andrade Johnson, a United Methodist deaconess serving in Brownsville, Texas at an emergency shelter for those fleeing to the U.S., also has seen fluctuations in the situation at the border -- over decades. Part of her ministry is finding ways “to amplify the voices of the migrants.” Learn more
See I Was A Stranger photo essay
Racial Profiling? The experience of a Pittsburgh activist when he boarded the airport shuttle to his hotel in LaCrosse, Wisconsin, where he was scheduled to speak at the White Privilege Symposium, provided him with a relevant example for his talk. Learn more
Pastors Reflect on Native Boarding Schools: The latest episode of "GCORR Real Talk" looks at the troubling history of Native American boarding schools, churches' roles in operating them and what the church can do now to bring about healing from those experiences. "Real Talk" is a series of conversations with community and faith leaders to discuss and uncover the disparities of race, ethnicity, age and socioeconomic status. Watch video
Toxic Busyness: Most of us experience daily tension between the things we would ideally do and the things we have to do. The Rev. Ryan Dunn, minister of online engagement for Rethink Church, says it’s healthy and not a selfish act to say “no” more often, citing occasions where even Jesus said no. Read commentary
Come, Sinners, to the Gospel Feast: In this week’s Tuesdays at the Table, Dr. Edgardo Colón-Emeric, the dean of Duke Divinity School, talks about what it means to invite everyone to the Lord's Table. Watch
Practicing Story Stewardship: Brene Brown says she no longer believes we can read and recognize other people’s feelings based on what we understand about emotions. We need to ask, really listen, acknowledge, and become trusted stewards of their stories. She cautions that such conversations can go wrong if we feign interest, impose our own perspectives or shut down the discussion when it becomes uncomfortable. Learn more
Which Lane Are You In? There are four distinct lanes in the church -- ministry, management, leadership, and governance -- but we often have difficulty figuring out which lane belongs to who, writes Kay Kotan in a post on the Impressions Unlimited blog. This often leads to frustration and ultimately lack of the Kingdom impact we are called to provide for our community. Read more.
2022 Resolution: Buy a Field While in Exile - Like Jeremiah, who trusted in God’s plan and bought a field despite uncertainty, Michelle J. Moore sees the church’s move to hybrid ministry as a sure sign of hope amidst conflict and uncertainty. See why
Is Your Find-A-Church Profile Up-to-Date? People searching for places to celebrate Christmas, and perhaps to find meaning in the new year, so make it easier for them to find you. Through Find-a-Church you can offer words of welcome, list details about worship services, add links to your website and social media channels and more. Find your church using the search function at umc.org/find-a-church, then review and add using the update button at the bottom of the page.
BSA Bankruptcy Update: More than 9,000 United Methodist churches that sponsored Scouting troops have a say in the Boy Scouts of America’s sex abuse-related bankruptcy proceedings. United Methodist leaders are advising the churches to vote "no" on a proposed BSA bankruptcy reorganization plan. Read more on the Conference website.
See UM News story
UMMen News: The winter edition of United Methodist Men's magazine features stories on Scouting and dismantling racism, as well as new top executive Greg Arnold's vision for the agency's future. Read it
Pittsburgh Prayer Vigil: The Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) will co-lead the monthly community prayer vigil in memory of Jim Rogers on the lawn of Pittsburgh First UMC at 1 p.m. Sunday, December 12. Mr. Rogers, a homeless man, died at UPMC Mercy Hospital a day after he was tased by Pittsburgh police responding to a call about a stranger on a porch and a possible bicycle theft. So church-goers can attend the vigil and not be hungry, the Revival Chili Food Truck will be on hand immediately after First UMC’s 11 a.m. worship service. Other faith groups interested in working with First Church to organize and co-lead upcoming 2nd Sunday Vigils in memory of Jim Rogers may contact Nancy Ross at firstname.lastname@example.org or Tracy Merrick at email@example.com.
Pittsburgh SPARK Registration Ends Dec. 17! 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. It's also the day that registration opens for the April sessions in Erie. Get details at wpaumc.org/spark
Human Relations Day Encourages Community Outreach: Be a part of building beloved community with your gifts on Human Relations Day, January 16, or a day of your choosing. Your contributions spark hope, develop skills and reimagine neighborhoods. Find resources to help your church celebrate this Special Sunday in the Pastor and Leader's Kit.