WPAUMC enews - March 16, 2022



Same Mission, New Hope: Bishops Cynthia Moore-Koikoi and Sandra Steiner Ball have scheduled a series of regional gatherings for clergy and laity in the Western PA, West Virginia and Susquehanna Conferences to hear their thoughts and plans for leading the three areas in ministry and mission. See schedule and get details 

NEJ Bishops Offer Hope, Re-Commit to Church’s Mission: In a video statement issued today, the Northeastern Jurisdiction College of Bishops committed themselves to leading the church forward in mission and to serving as God’s instruments of peace and love.  See video  
Read the statement

Annual Conference Section Leaders Needed: Clergy and laity, including young adults, are invited to apply to serve as legislative section leaders during Annual Conference, set for June 2-4, at the Erie Bayfront Convention Center. Volunteers are required to participate in on online training in the spring, join in planning with teammates, attend an orientation session on Thursday morning, June 2; lead a section meeting Thursday afternoon, report results and representing the section to the Annual Conference as needed during the plenary sessions. If interested, email Greg Spencer at glspncr@gmail.com for more information and to volunteer. 

Annual Conference Youth Caucus: March 30 is the deadline for youth in 7th -12 grade to apply to serve as a page or a youth delegate to the Western PA Annual Conference from June 2-4 at the Erie Bayfront Convention Center. Delegates are voting members and are expected to attend all sessions and participate in Youth Caucus activities. Pages serve in a variety of roles.. See application with detail

Confirmation Journey Update: This Friday the Bishop and Conference staff will welcome the final groups of confirmation students to the Confirmation Journey events being held at Dutilh UMC. See photos of last week’s event.


UMCOR and the Ukraine Crisis: As people in our churches and communities seek ways to help the people of Ukraine, UMCOR has prepared a guide with frequently asked questions on Methodism in Ukraine, how UMCOR is responding to the crisis and the best ways for people to help now. See the guide with PDF to download and share at umcmission.org/umcor/faq-the-crisis-in-ukraine/

Bake Sale to Benefit People of Ukraine: Cabot UMC will host a huge bake sale and basket auction in its parking lot from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, March 19. Organized by two area women, Leigh Baxter and Pam Howryla, whose husband’s grandparents came from from Ukraine, organized the event as part of the nationwide #CookforUkraine effort.  Donations of baked goods are being accepted at the church from 8 to 10 a.m. Saturday.  Proceeds will go to ShelterBox, an international disaster recovery organization that will use the funds to provide Ukrainians with necessities like food, water, blankets, clothing and medical supplies. Download flier

Celebrate UMCOR Sunday on March 27! Gifts received through local church offerings on UMCOR Sunday underwrite UMCOR’s administrative costs. This allows UMCOR to use 100% of donations designated for specific programs like U.S. disaster response, international disaster response, and global migration to go to those areas of need.  Learn more and get resources.

UMCOR Grant Aids PA Flood Recovery: A $417,737 grant from the United Methodist Committee on Relief is helping recovery efforts in the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference after hurricanes Isaias and Ida spawned tornadoes and floods that devastated communities. Read story

UMC News

Bishops Discern Ways for Churches to Disaffiliate: United Methodist bishops in an online meeting March 15 discerned pathways for churches choosing to disaffiliate from the denomination. By an overwhelming majority, the bishops affirmed that Paragraph 2553 in the Book of Discipline would be the primary paragraph used for disaffiliation and separation. That paragraph, approved by the 2019 special General Conference, allows congregations to exit with property for “reasons of conscience” related to homosexuality if they meet certain requirements. The bishops also asked the Judicial Council to rule on whether regular jurisdictional conferences can be held before the next General Conference. Read press release 
Read UM News story: Church court clarifies disaffiliation rules

Judicial Council to Consider Jurisdictional Conference Question: The Judicial Council has added to its docket the request from the Council of Bishops to rule on whether regular U.S. jurisdictional conferences can be held before the next General Conference meets. Briefs are due April 19 and reply briefs are due April 29. See press release

World Methodist Council Honors Bishop Yambasu: The late Bishop John K. Yambasu received the World Methodist Council’s top peace award for his work as a bridge builder in his home country and across the United Methodist connection. His wife, Millicent, accepted the award on his behalf during the 142nd session of the Sierra Leone Annual Conference. Read story

Dismantling Racism

Saving Lives, Keeping the Peace: A Forum on Policing and Social Justice will be held on Sunday, April 10 from 1-3:30 p.m. at First UMC in Pittsburgh. The Pittsburgh District Anti-Racism Team and other community groups are sponsoring the event. Among the speakers will be Pittsburgh Police Chief Scott Schubert, Rev. Liddy Barlow of Christian Associates of SWPA, and Beth Pittinger of the city’s Citizen Police Review Board. Get details and register.

Evanston Church Donated to Reparations Fund: Members of a United Methodist church in Evanston, Illinois, have donated $50,000 to a fund to be used for reparations for Black citizens who are descended from enslaved people. The Rev. Grace Imathiu, who is Black, and Matt Johnson, a white lay leader, led the effort at the church. Learn more


Meet in the Middle: In this week’s episode of the Meet in the Middle podcast, Rev.  Dawn Lynn Check talks with Steve and Cathy Tanaka. Steve is a Japanese American whose parents and grandparents were in internment camps during WWII. Forty percent of  those in camps died there. Listen

From Doing to Being: It took a mental health crisis for the Rev. Juanita Rasmus to come to truly know God and herself. Listen to Get Your Spirit in Shape podcast


Accompanying Jesus on the Way to the Cross: Jessica L. Anschutz of the Lewis Center reports on one congregation’s unique approach to sharing the Stations of the Cross and the Stations of the Resurrection with its community and beyond. This creative, lay-led effort offers an example of sharing the Good News in visible, justice-oriented ways. Learn more

Outreach Resources: With Easter approaching on April 17, United Methodist Communications offers outreach resources to invite people to Easter worship and related events. See resources


Moving from Online Worship to Online Ministry: Online worship is the first step in developing a wholistic digital ministry. Nicole Reilley lists four keys to developing a digital ministry that engages people and moves them toward Christ and his church. See what they are.
See more online and hybrid ministry resources from the Lewis Center for Church Leadership

8 Ways to Nuture Faith in Children: Church isn’t the only place to learn about faith. Two leaders suggest eight ways to teach spiritual practices to young children on a daily basis. See what they are.

Preaching with Impact: On March 31, Pastor Adam Hamilton of The United Methodist Church of the Resurrection will host Preaching with Impact, a half-day webinar to equip ministry leaders who preach in local churches with skills to help maximize the messages they share from the pulpit. Get details and register

Upcoming Events

Boomers and Beyond Retreat! Celebrate positivity and abundant life at an Olmsted Manor retreat for older adults, scheduled from March 29-31. Rev. Jim Frazier will lead sessions including Finding God in Laughter, Finding God in Music, Finding God in Movies, and Finding God in Nature. Also enjoy opportunities for dancing, meditation, hiking, and games. Get details and register

Exploring the Practice of Prayer: Join Daniel Wolpert and the Conference Discipleship Team on Zoom to learn more about the practice of discernment and how to examine your life to notice the Spirit’s calling. 
 Get details and register

To Stay or Not to Stay? A number of congregations and church leaders are weighing whether they want to stay United Methodist or leave for a new theologically conservative denomination. The United Methodist Association of Retired Clergy and Friends, which plans to stay United Methodist, has scheduled a free webinar to explore issues surrounding whether “to stay or not to stay.” Speakers will be WPAUMC’s Dr. David Morse, Rev. B.T. Gilligan and Tracy Merrick, who authored a study comparing perspective and policies of the denominations. The webinar is set for 8 p.m. EDT on April 5. Learn more and register