WPAUMC enews - Dec. 15, 2021



Be An Instrument of God’s Miracles: In a statement after tornadoes carved a path through communities in the Midwest and Tennessee Valley, Bishop Cynthia Moore-Koikoi urged United Methodists in Western PA to make themselves available as instruments of God’s miracles.  Read her statement

Responding to Deadly Tornadoes: United Methodists in Kentucky, Tennessee and neighboring states are coming to terms with the death and property devastation caused by the tornadoes, while also mobilizing quickly to provide food, emergency shelter and other relief. Read UM News story

CBS Features Pastor’s Testimony: Rev. Joey Reed and his wife took shelter from a tornado in a basement closet at First United Methodist Church in Mayfield, KY. In an interview with CBS News' Nora O'Donnell, he described his experience and talked about the power of the United Methodist connection in responding to disasters and helping survivors. Watch 

How to Help: In addition to prayer, the best way to help now is to donate to UMCOR's U.S. Disaster Response fund umcmission.org/united-states-disaster-response/ 
How it Works: When disaster strikes, local churches provide the first response in their area. This basic understanding—that disaster response is local—forms the foundation for UMCOR’s U.S. disaster training and response. UMCOR regularly trains early response teams in annual conferences. Because those ERTs are local, they can respond quickly to assess the situation when disaster strikes and do what is needed to help. If additional trained ERTs are needed, the local leaders can request help from neighboring conferences. When responding to a disaster in the United States, UMCOR provides financial assistance (through your donations), expertise, supplies from its network of warehouses (e.g. Eastbrook Mission Barn) and community collaboration for churches and partners. 

Advent and Christmas

Children and the Holidays: Many parents are searching for ways to help children have meaningful, sacred moments amid the excitement of Christmas. Rev. Joy and her father, Rev. Bob Dister reminisce and provide some helpful suggestions for how pastors, care ministers and parents can create intentional space for celebration and remembrance. Listen on The Caring Congregation (TCC) podcast. 
Learn more about empowering a team of Congregational Care Ministers, laity and clergy, to serve your congregation and community at thecaringcongregation.com/

Cokesbury Kids offers FREE resources that help children and families experience the hope, joy, and wonder of the season. Resources include songs and videos, coloring pages, as well as helpful hints for leaders and parents. Download The Kids Advent Guide

Getting Through the Holidays: In this week’s episode of the Meet in the Middle podcast, Pastor Drew Gordon talks with Jacob Penvose and Becky Edwards, both pastors and trained professional counselors, about some ways to handle stress and depression. They discuss Blue Christmas services and an Advent initiative from the Abundant Health Team. Listen

Welcoming 2022 at a Watch Night Service: The traditions of Watch Night — hymn lining, testifying and praying — are a reminder that life is often a struggle, but we draw strength from one another, writes church historian Quinton Dixie. Read more on Faith and Leadership

Telling Our Stories

2021 in Pictures:  Amid challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic and uncertainties about the future of the denomination, United Methodists continued to live out their faith and serve their communities in 2021. Photographers from UM News, the denomination's official news service, documented a year in the life of United Methodism worldwide.  View photos

Show, Not Tell-Faith Edition: If you do communications for your church, consider attending a free virtual writing workshop designed to help you tell vibrant, engaging stories. It's offered by Chris Hedlin, faith & religion reporter for PublicSource, who recently wrote the in-depth Pittsburgh Magazine feature about Bishop Cynthia Moore-Koikoi. During Show, Not Tell: Faith Edition on Tuesday, January 11 from 7-8:30 p.m., she’ll share five practical strategies to energize your writing. Register here
See Pittsburgh Magazine story about Bishop

New Places for New People

COVE Featured in City Paper: The COVE Art Center at Greenstone UMC is included in Pittsburgh City Paper's story listing area churches that have been “born again with new purposes.” Conference Evangelist Brittany Hartman is director of The COVE. See City Paper story. 
Learn more about the COVE at facebook.com/TheCOVEArtCenter/
Learn more about Brittany's ministry at Evangelism Cooperative website
Evangelism Grants Offered: The Foundation for Evangelism will launch a new $250,000 Equipping the Local Church grant cycle in January 2022. Grants for $5,000 or $10,000 will be awarded to small and medium church congregations or clusters of churches in a Wesleyan-tradition denomination. The focus of the grants is on launching an experiment or initiative to share the Gospel, tell their faith stories, and invite others into a relationship with Jesus. Application materials will be posted on January 1 at foundationforevangelism.org/grant-seekers/

In the News

Prayer Service after Warren Student Deaths: First UMC In Warren hosted a community prayer service after the deaths of two high school students within a week. A funeral service for one of the youth was held at Grace UMC in Warren. See story

A Dec. 12 Prayer Vigil outside First UMC in Pittsburgh for Jim Rogers, who died in a hospital the day after he was tased by police responding to a call in a neighborhood near the church, received coverage by local media. See Post-Gazette photos and story
See KDKA-TV report
The Post-Gazette reported Wednesday that Allegheny County police, who were investigating the tasing incident by Pittsburgh police, had turned their findings over to the District Attorney’s office.

Rebuilding and Restoring Relationships: To help rebuild trust and restore neighborhoods, Christian Associates of SWPA (in partnership with the Center for Loving Kindness, the Center for Victims, and Rodman Street Baptist Church) is organizing Rebuilding & Restoring: The City of Pittsburgh's Police-Spiritual Leader Councils in each of the city's six police zones. The Zone 1 event, for neighborhoods on the North Side of the City, will be hosted by Calvary UMC on Tuesday, January 18 at 8:30 a.m. 

Dismantling Racism

Report for U.N. Includes UMC Anti-Racism Info: The anti-racism work of The United Methodist Church is now included in a report to the U.N. General Assembly. The 13-page submission is supported by official statements from the denomination’s Book of Discipline and Book of Resolutions, Read story

Rethinking the Image of Christ: What images of Christ did you grow up with? A counter-cultural art exhibit in Pennsylvania challenges inaccurate representations of Jesus while encouraging visitors to consider decolonized depictions of the Messiah. Read more and see photos

Ministry with the Poor

Refugee Resettlement: Hello Neighbor, a Pittsburgh-based nonprofit, has received federal approval to resettle Afghan refugees and special VISA holders across Allegheny County. Some are expected to arrive in early January. Christ UMC in Bethel Park will be among the community partners assisting in the effort. Outreach Coordinator Jeanna-Mar Simmons said the church initially will donate a portion of its Christmas offering to help in resettlement, as well as providing in-kind donations, and assistance in finding housing and employment opportunities. Learn more about the program
Watch video about the effort

The Fascinating Paradox of Christmas: In the Christmas message from the World Council of Churches, the Rev. Ioan Sauca reflects on how Jesus became poor for the sake of humanity. The message also includes a Christmas video and Christmas card that people can download. The United Methodist Church is part of the World Council of Churches. Read message and watch video

UMC News/Resources

Grant Helps United Reduce Student Debt: United Theological Seminary has received $3 million to reduce the educational indebtedness of its students. Under the grant from an anonymous donor, each graduate will receive up to $20,000 to reduce his or her educational debt from both theological and previous academic studies. Read press release

Appalachian Trail Chaplain Named: The Rev. Randy Simpkins, a local pastor serving Bowdon First UMC in the North Georgia Conference, has been named the 2022 Appalachian Trail chaplain. Each year, the chaplain hikes from Georgia to Maine with the purpose of listening, helping and showing God’s love. The chaplaincy is a ministry of the Holston Conference. Read story

My Portal offers an easy way to ensure you're receiving the most helpful information from United Methodist Communications. Church leaders, staff, volunteers, members, and those seeking to know more about The UMC can update contact information, roles, interests, subscriptions and more. Learn more.

Join in Tuesday at the Table Service Dec. 21! To mark the end of the Tuesdays at the Table 2021 discussion series, all United Methodists are invited to attend a Service of Remembrance of Baptism and Renewal of Covenant on December 21 at 9 a.m. EST on The UMC’s Facebook page

Registered your Youth for SPARK Yet? You only have until Friday of this week if you want to go to the Jan. 8-9 event in Pittsburgh! Planning to go to the Erie event April 9-10? Registration opens on Friday – and the early bird discount is available until Valentine’s Day. Learn more and register at wpaumc.org/spark.