Laity Leadership Academy Grad Honored: Shaun Panek of Bradford First UMC was part of the first class in the United Methodist Foundation of Pennsylvania’s Laity Leadership Academy, launched in 2019. He recently completed the second module of the program, an individualized training, and the Rev. Dr. Joe Patterson, Dean of the Foundation’s School of Leadership, recognized his achievement during worship at Bradford First last Sunday. Learn more
Youngsville Church Fills Void in Community: Before the pandemic, the people of the Youngsville Charge decided to take a step back and look at whether their ministries were meeting the needs of the communities they serve. The result was the launch of the Brokenstraw Adult Activity Center in the Youngsville First UMC a few weeks ago! Read more and see photos
Meet in the Middle: In the second part of a podcast on the shooting death of a 15-year-old as he sat in a school van outside Pittsburgh’s Oliver Citywide Academy, Rev. Dawn Lynn Check talks with Brittany Bova, a member of Calvary UMC who works at the school. Listen
Orientation to Ministry: If you’re considering any form on set-apart ministry in the United Methodist Church, you may want to register for next Tuesday’s evening’s Orientation to Ministry session, which will be offered via Zoom from 7 to 8:30 p.m. The Orientation is a requirement for anyone pursuing licensed or ordained ministry. But this session is open to all. Register
Exploring the Practice of Prayer: Daniel Wolpert, co-founder and Executive Director of the Minnesota Institute of Contemplation and Healing (micahprays.org ) and author of several books on prayer practices and spirituality, will lead the three online Exploring the Practice of Prayer events for WPAUMC. The first of the one-hour sessions, sponsored by the Conference Discipleship Committee, is on Thursday, Feb. 24 from noon to 1 p.m. Get details and register
Evangelism Huddle: During the monthly Evangelism Huddle on Thursday, Feb. 10, Conference Evangelist Brittany Hartman will share testimonies of those who have felt unwelcome or hurt by the church, as well as the surprising fondness they still have towards Christian gatherings. She will also lead a discussion of ways to turn people’s unfortunate experiences of church into opportunities to welcome folks back with truly pure hearts, renewed minds, and empower them to do the same. To join live at 7 p.m., Feb. 10, go to af180.online.church.
Save the Date! The Conference Evangelism Team, in collaboration with the E. Stanley Jones Foundation, will present a Conversion Conference on Saturday, April 30 at Dutilh UMC. Speakers will be: Anne Mathews-Younes, author, missionary and global teacher-evangelist and president of the E. Stanley Jones Foundation; Dr. Robert Tuttle Jr., Emeritus Professor of World Christianity at Asbury Theological Seminary, and Dr. Bradford Lauster, retired WPAUMC District Superintendent. Get details and register.
30 Days with E. Stanley Jones: The life and ministry of noted Methodist evangelist E. Stanley Jones offer important lessons amid global tensions over faith, ethnicity and race, writes the Rev. John E. Harnish. Harnish, who grew up in Western PA, has published a new book on Jones, who was friends with Mahatma Gandhi and influenced the ministry of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. The book, “30 Days With E. Stanley Jones,” is available at online retailers.
Read press release
Confirmation Journey: It’s nearly time for church leaders to bring their Confirmation Classes to Cranberry Township to meet Bishop Cynthia Moore-Koikoi and learn more about Connectional Ministries. This year’s Confirmation events will be at Dutilh Church on three Fridays in March. Get details and register now
Feb. 14 - More than Just It's Valentine's Day! It's also your last chance to share the love with your youth group by registering them for SPARK in Erie at the Early Bird Discount rate. The youth event is April 9 -10 at the Bayfront Convention Center. Details.
Passing on Faith: What determines whether children will carry on the faith of their parents? Ann Michel of the Lewis Center for Church Leadership interviews noted sociologist Christian Smith about new research examining how parents shape their children’s faith. Watch iWatch interview or Read transcript
Empowering Parents to Raise God-Connected Children: Rachel Turner, author of It Takes a Church to Raise a Parent, began her keynote address at the Children’s Spirituality Summit with a question: “How can churches become centers for empowering parents to raise God-connected children?” Some shift changes are required. Learn more from Discipleship Ministries
Lift Every Voice: Any celebration of Black History Month without gratitude and appreciation for the contributions from the Africana traditions to the music life of the whole church would be incomplete. To give a taste of the scope and variety of musical styles and genres, Discipleship Ministries presents a four-part video series with Bishop Ernest Lyght and the Rev. Dr. Cynthia Wilson, Executive Director of Worship Resources. Learn more
Watch Lift Every Voice: A Celebration of Song from the Black Church Experience - Part 1.”
Stealing the Earth: Participate in a five-part discussion of the “Doctrine of Discovery,” a theological and legal concept that has legitimized the seizure of indigenous people's lands by those from supposedly Christian nations. It begins with discussion of its impact in North America and then broadens the inquiry to Africa, Asia, the Middle East, and beyond. Watch episodes.
Survivors Share Residential School Horrors: CBS News/60 Minutes had a moving segment last weekend about the unmarked graves found on the sites of residential schools operated by the Roman Catholic Church in Canada. Survivors talked about what they called cultural genocide and talked about various incidents of abuse. Similar schools existed in the U.S. including one in Carlisle, PA operated by the Methodist Church. Watch
Bishops Condemn Attacks, Threats: The Council of Bishops has released a statement condemning the recent attacks and threats against houses of worship and institutions of learning in the United States. Specifically, the Feb. 8 statement referred to the recent attack on a synagogue in Texas and bomb threats against historically Black colleges and universities. Read press release
Food Challenge Met: When students at the Bradford Area Christian School, housed at the First UMC, quickly reached the initial goal of a food donation challenge, Rev. Ricky Nelson upped the ante. He told them they could color his white hair whatever colors they wanted if they donated 1000 items of non-perishable food for a local outreach center. The Bradford Era on Feb. 3 featured a story and photos of Nelson’s multi-colored hair and beard. Read and see photos
Ruth M. Smith To Celebrate 100 Years: The Ruth M. Smith Center in Sheffield, PA, a national mission institution of the United Methodist Women, celebrates its 100th anniversary in May of 2022. The Center. Originally a private home, the facility first served as an orphanage, then a home for at-risk youth sent by the courts, and, since the late 1980s as a personal care home for elderly or those with mental or physical needs, as well as Day Care Center for children. See a 2022 update
Visit the Smith Center website
Haitian Recovery Continues: Haitians continue to be aided by The United Methodist Church as they recover from an earthquake in August and Tropical Storm Grace, which hit just two days later. The United Methodist Committee on Relief has released a series of grants to help, with the latest providing emergency food rations to more than 5,000 people. Read story
Stop Yelling! I Still Can't Hear You! Zoom and other technology have made it easier for people with hearing loss to experience church and maintain community with other members, but mask-wearing garbles speech and removes the ability to read lips. Barbara Dunlap-Berg describes steps churches are taking to include the Deaf and hard of hearing in worship. Read commentary
Don't Just Wait and See! Tony Morgan says churches can’t wait passively to see if things return to normal. Nor should they long for the return of old systems and strategies that often weren’t working even before the pandemic. The task of leaders in this moment is to create urgency, embrace change, and bring clarity to the mission God calls us to. Read more
Telling your Church's Story: Every United Methodist congregation has stories worth sharing. Aaron Crisler talked to the Rev. Joe Iovino and Crystal Caviness, who create content for UMC.org, about their tips for helping church members tell their congregations’ stories. Read story
Mental Health Webinars: United Methodists are invited to participate in "First Aid for Mental Health," a two-part webinar set for March 10 and 24. One in five Americans experiences mental illness each year, and the 2021 Clergy Well-being Survey revealed a steady decline in the mental and emotional health of clergy. The sessions will be led by Chris White, a hostage and crisis negotiator. Learn more and register
Churches Move to Disaffiliate: As General Conference continues to be delayed, an increasing number of congregations are parting ways with The United Methodist Church. Most are using the denomination's disaffiliation procedures, but some are heading to civil court instead.
Read UM News story
Judicial Council Clarifies Disaffiliation Rules:The United Methodist Church’s top court released six decisions dealing with a new church law that allows congregations to leave with property if they meet certain conditions. Because of the pandemic, the Judicial Council has been meeting online and releasing decisions as they are completed. Read story
United Methodist Super Bowl: Churches in Cincinnati and Los Angeles are competing in their own Super Bowl to raise money for charity. The Cincinnati Bengals and Los Angeles Rams play Feb. 13 to decide this year’s NFL champion. United Methodists in those cities are vying to see who can raise the most money to combat hunger. Read story