WPAUMC enews - Jan. 12, 2022


Clergywomen Share Hopes and Prayers for 2022: You may recognize two of the United Methodist clergywomen from across the U.S. who shared their hopes and prayers in this video. 

Meet in the Middle: In this week’s Meet in the Middle podcast Rev. Drew Gordon talks with Rev. Leo Yates, Jr., an ordained deacon in the Baltimore-Washington Conference who has written several books and articles on Deaf ministry and services. Drew and Leo discuss personal experiences in the Deaf community and how churches can assist in building ministry for the Deaf, Deaf/blind ministry, and those who are losing their hearing as they mature. Look for Meet in the Middle on Google Podcasts or find it and check out earlier episodes at https://meetinthemiddle.buzzsprout.com/1838961
Martin Luther King Day is Monday, Jan. 17! Conference offices will be closed. The Greensburg District Anti-Racism Team has prepared a virtual worship celebration that will be posted by 4 p.m. Sunday on the Conference website (Find a link on the homepage). Other observances have been scheduled for later in the month. Read more. 

Upcoming Events

I Go On Singing: Renowned baritone Anthony Brown will present  “I Go On Singing: Paul Robeson’s Life in His Words & Songs”, his multimedia musical documentary, at 6 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 26 at Dutilh United Methodist Church. It’s sponsored by the Pittsburgh District Anti-Racism Team as a special event for Black History Month. Brown, a member of the Wrestling with Racism Team of Warren and Pittsburgh First UMC Pittsburgh, has performed internationally in concert halls and fine arts centers, and has used music to promote peace and reconciliation in hotspots around the world. Watch video
The Case for Heaven: Rev. Howard Greenfield will lead a clergy book study on The Case for Heaven – A Journalist Investigates Evidence for Life After Death, written in 2021 by Lee Strobel. It will be held on the second Wednesday of each month beginning on February 9 at Punxsutawney First UMC from 9:30-11:30 a.m. Clergy from other districts are invited to participate. Read the intro and Chapter 1 before the first session.

Love is in the Air! Olmsted Manor Retreat Center is partnering with Christian Counseling Associates of Western PA to offer a weekend marriage course February 11-13 at the retreat center in Ludlow, PA. A trained CCA counselor will offer Biblical teachings, relationship assessments, communication tools, and activities for couples to grow closer. It begins Friday evening and runs through Saturday; couples can choose to stay Saturday night free and enjoy brunch and a service on Sunday. Get details and register at olmstedmanor.org/marriage-tune-up.html  

2022 Ignite Conference: Pastors are invited to Crossroads’ Oakdale campus for the 2022 Ignite Conference on February 4-5 with Alex and Hannah Absalom. Get details

The January Project: What would happen if we gathered around the table because of our differences instead of in spite of them? What blessings and inspiration would we gain if we celebrated our unique perspectives and how we praise God in our own language? Bilingual pastors from five UMC conferences will lead a one-hour informal Bible study conversation featuring insights for Korean, Spanish and American Sign Language.The virtual gathering, organized by teacher, author and creativity coach Teryl Cartwright of the Susquehanna Conference, will be online at 8 p.m., Tuesday, January 18.  Register at https://form.jotform.com/213204957260149

Leadership Development

SPARK Pittsburgh Draws Youth: About 250 youth and adult leaders gathered at Pittsburgh’s Station Square for SPARK 2022 last weekend. During the event, youth discussed ways to be in mission in their communities and put together 200 Blessing bags for homeless people. The bags were shared with three ministries in the Pittsburgh District – United Methodist Church Union, 8th Avenue Ministries and Roots of Faith in Sharpsburg. Bishop Cynthia Moore-Koikoi joined in worship on Sunday. See photos at .facebook.com/wpaumc
SPARK 2022 will be held in Erie on April 9-10. Get details and register at wpaumc.org/spark
Register for A Confirmation Journey: Confirmation Class events with Bishop Cynthia Moore-Koikoi are scheduled on three Fridays in March – March 4, 11 and 18, 2022 – from Noon to 4 p.m. at Dutilh UMC. The event begins with an optional lunch and will feature a Confirmation lesson and conversation with the Bishop. For details, click the link on the day of your choice on the Conference website March calendar. Or use this link to Register

Feeling a Call to Ministry? Learn about the various types of ministry in The United Methodist Church during an Orientation to Ministry Session scheduled via Zoom on Saturday, Feb. 15. Get details. 

Christian Unity

The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity is Jan. 18-25!  This annual observance invites all Christians to remember one another in prayer and strengthen the bonds of love and mutual mission. This year’s theme is based on Matthew 2:2 and invites  churches across the globe to reflect on the hope and joy in the verse: “We saw the star in the East, and we came to worship him.” Learn more
Download booklet of info and resources
Get details from the World Council of Churches
See resources from the Council of Bishops

Christian Unity Workshop Scholarships: The Council of Bishops is offering scholarships for seminary students and first-time attenders to participate in the National Workshop on Christian Unity and UMEIT: USA 2022. UMEIT: USA stands for United Methodist Ecumenical and Interreligious Training in the USA. The national workshop is scheduled for May 3-6 in Anaheim, California. Learn more

Fijian Methodist Leader Mourned: The World Council of Churches and Methodists in Fiji are mourning the death of the Rev. Iliesa Naivalu. The general secretary of the Methodist Church in Fiji is remembered for his work toward Christian unity. He died Dec. 17 after a period of illness. 
See World Council of Churches announcement

UMC News

Miracle Landing at PA Church: A medical helicopter taking an infant to Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia landed on its side on the lawn of Drexel Hill United Methodist Church and split in half. As the chopper lost altitude, the pilot was able to land it without severe injuries to passengers or damage to property in the residential community in Delaware County. Officials called it a miracle. Read Eastern PA Conference story
See CBS Local report 

Workout Bible Study: A year ago at the start of 2021, Kindall Strahan resolved to take her health more seriously. She decided to use her lunch break to exercise and study Scripture. That effort in the gave rise to Central United Methodist Church’s Work-Out Bible Study. Read more

United Welcomes First Bishop in Residence: Retired Bishop J. Michael Lowry is the first bishop-in-residence at United Theological Seminary. Lowry retired in 2021 as the resident bishop of the Central Texas Conference. Read press release and interview
Investment Insights from Wesley and Improv: Andy Hendren, Wespath’s new top executive, writes about the UMC pension agency’s approach to sustainable investing by using a lesson he learned from studying improv comedy. Read commentary

Abundant Health

Churches Face Test with Omicron Variant: The high-speed surge of the omicron variant is presenting another pandemic challenge to United Methodist churches, prompting some to back away from in-person gatherings, with others making more modest changes. Read story
See WPAUMC Covid Guidance
Wespath Offers Mental Health First Aid Training: The National Council of Mental Well-Being reports that one in five Americans has a mental illness or a substance use disorder, yet many are hesitant to seek help or simply don’t know where to turn. Recognizing this gap and the  steady decline in mental and emotional health shown in the 2021 Clergy Well-Being Survey, Wespath is offering no-cost Mental Health First Aid training for all Wespath participants and their spouses, church leaders, and congregation members. Visit the Mental Health First Aid webpage to learn more.  


People of God: The “People of God” campaign from UM Communications reminds us of who we are at our best — the spirit-filled, resilient, connected, missional, faithful, diverse, deeply rooted, committed, disciple-making, Jesus-seeking, generous, justice-seeking, world-changing people of God called The United Methodist Church. Downloadable resources are available for you to be a part of it. This month’s theme is resilience. Learn More

News and Views

Conference Asked to Help Fund Boy Scout Survivor TrustPending court approval of a settlement agreement in the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) bankruptcy case, United Methodists have agreed to contribute $30 million to a $3 billion Survivor Trust Fund that will receive contributions from the Boy Scouts of America (BSA), insurance companies and charter organizations.  Every annual conference in America is asked to contribute toward the $30 million. The Western Pennsylvania Annual Conference has been asked to contribute $ 650,300 to the Survivor Trust Fund. Learn more

God and Guns: In two blog posts this week, Bible scholar Ben Witherington, Amos Professor of New Testament for Doctoral Studies at Asbury Seminary, looks at the book God and Guns: The Bible Against Gun Culture, edited by Chris Hays and C.L. Crouch. Read Part 1
Read God and Guns - Part 2