WPAUMC enews - March 23, 2022



Confirmation Journey Events Wrap Up: Last Friday, the Bishop and Conference staff hosted groups of students to the last of our three 2022 Confirmation Journey events held at Dutilh UMC. See photo album

Thoughts from Our Bishops: The first two Same Mission, New Hope gatherings in Western PA where Bishops Cynthia Moore-Koikoi and Sandra Steiner Ball will share their vision and plans for leading into the future will be this Saturday, March 26. One will be at 10 a.m. at St. Marys UMC and the other is set for 3 p.m. at Punxsutawney First UMC. Learn more

Conversion Conference Update: If you’re planning to attend Conversion: God’s Answer to Humanity’s Greatest Need, an April 30 event focused on the ministry of E. Stanley Jones, be sure to register by April 1 to get the “Early Bird Discount.” The Saturday event will be held at Dutilh UMC in Cranberry Twp. Get details and register 

Enslaved in Plain Sight: In this week's Meet in the Middle podcast, Pastor Drew Gordon talks with Rev. Jeff Bobin, who recently brought his  presentation on human trafficking to the pastors of the Franklin District. Jeff shares his insight, and reminds listeners that human trafficking can happen even at our back door. Listen

Workers Comp Payment Deadline Near: The 2022 Workers’ Compensation Premium for local churches is due on March 31, 2022. If your church has not submitted your payment and worksheet yet, please do so by next Thursday. A copy of the worksheet can be found here. NOTE: Even if your church does not have any paid employees, you still must complete and submit the worksheet along with the mandatory $35 Short-Term Incapacity Fund payment. If you have questions or need assistance with the worksheet, please contact Kristin Poerschke at 724-776-2300 x261.

Abundant Health

Clergy Assistance Benefits Extended:  On April 1, 2022, WPAUMC’s Employee Assistance Program (EAP) coverage will be extended to include all currently appointed clergy and their family members. To learn more about the free, confidential services offered, read this letter and service overview.

Health, Wellness Group Support: The 2022 UPMC Weight Race is well underway, running from January 24 – April 15. As we push into the final weeks of this event, the Abundant Health Team shines a spotlight on one group in Somerset area that found a way to incorporate health and wellness year-round. Read blog post

Johnstown District Aids Zimbabweans with Albinism: Through a partnership between Zimbabwe's Harare East District and WPA's Johnstown District, 73 Zimbabweans living with albinism recently received sunscreen, hats and food baskets. Some of the recipients shared the challenges they face, including discrimination. Read story

Nigeria Welcomes Church for Deaf People:The Nigeria Episcopal Area recently welcomed its first church for the Deaf community. First Wesleyan United Methodist Church of the Deaf has 30 members and will be led by Deacon Albert A. Pena, the denomination’s first ordained Deaf pastor in the region.  Read story


Make Pysanky, Help Ukraine! Bakerstown UMC invites you to learn how to make Ukrainian Easter Eggs on Saturday, March 26. Choose a 9-11:30 a.m. or 1-3 p.m. to attend a demonstration and decorate an egg using beeswax and dyes. Donations ($25 is suggested) will go to UMCOR Global Ministries to support aid to Ukraine. RSVP: 814-671-0799 or andrew.detar@gmail.com

Ukraine Fundraiser@Cabot Big Success: Pastor Jonathan Fehl reports that last Saturday’s  bake sale at Cabot UMC arranged by two area women to benefit Ukraine refugees was a huge success. The total raised (so far) is over $12,300, he said Tuesday:  $11,000 for Ukraine refugee support through ShelterBox and $1,300 for pet rescue efforts in Ukraine. “It was a tremendous success, and it was all accomplished in only 10 days! It was fantastic to see the community coming together to help people in such tragic situations,” the pastor said. 

Voices from the Field - Ukraine: The video recording of United Women in Faith's special March 14 Zoom webinar with women putting their faith into action in Ukraine and neighboring countries has been posted. Watch

Celebrating Women in Leadership 

Women’s Leadership Lunch and Learn:  To celebrate Women’s History Month, join Rev. Emily Chastain at 1 p.m. EDT, Friday, March 25 via Zoom to hear about our foremothers in Methodism and the Equal Rights Amendment. An ordained deacon, Rev. Chastain is a blogger and board member for the General Commission on the Status and Role of Women. Get details and register 

Laywomen Promote Hope and Healing: Within the life of Methodism, women have been the backbone of ministry. While they are often not front and center in the historical narratives, Wesleyan history always notes the women who have tirelessly exhorted, preached, served, and loved throughout the ages of the Methodist movement, writes the Rev. Emily Nelms Chastain, in a recent post on the GCSRW blog. Read more 

Family Resources for Times of Trauma:  A variety of useful resources for discussing traumatic events, including the war in Ukraine, are listed in the Michigan Conference’s Children’s Ministry Toolbox. See them

Congregational Development 

(RE)Mission Gathering: The 2022 Fresh Expressions gathering scheduled in person in Richmond VA or online from Wednesday evening, March 30 - Friday, April 1 is entitled A Church for the Future, A Future for the Church. Get details and register
NOTE: Western PA United Methodists can get a 10 percent discount using the code WPUMC10. (no A).

New Life for Small Churches: Decline and death are not inevitable for smaller rural churches, says retired pastor/consultant Roy Spore. While smaller churches are often skeptical of change imposed from the outside, many find new life and energy for ministry when a new vision emerges from within the congregation itself. Read more in Leading Ideas

Interest in Visiting a UM Church Grows: A new survey reveals that 51% of "spiritual seekers" would be willing to visit a United Methodist church online, and 44% would be willing to visit in person. In addition, the overall willingness to visit a United Methodist church increased from 42% in 2019 to 47% in 2021. Read press release

Can People Find Your Church? When was the last time you reviewed your church’s Find-A-Church profile? It may be in need of an update. With new people in your community and seekers looking to connect during the Lent and Easter season, there is no time to waste. To check/update your profile, go to umc.org/find-a-church/ (Put your Zip Code into the search bar if your area doesn’t show up.)

Leadership Ideas/Resources

What’s a Holy Week House Party? Discipleship Ministries suggests activities and devotions families can use to talk about the events that led up to Easter morning. Take the opportunity to share the stories of Holy Week and Easter together with children and your  church family. Read more

A Resource Deal for You! Amplify Media’s streaming service, allows a church to provide congregants and leaders access to a library of resources that encourage them to grow in their faith formation and discipleship. It’s great for small groups and classes, and with one subscription, anyone can access the resources on any device at any time. Right now there’s a 60-day free trial. Learn more at amplifymedia.com/

Is Your Church Low-Tech? While the Internet is an amazing tool, it’s not essential for every congregation. There are a variety of reasons why some churches aren’t doing online ministry. UM Communications offers some ideas for How Low-Tech Churches can Survive in a High-Tech World.

Meetings are Not Ministry:  But that doesn’t mean meetings don’t matter, says author Blake Brown. See strategies for keeping meetings focused and productive in this Leading Ideas post.
The #BeUMC Leader Toolkit seeks to help United Methodist leaders with resources to fuel the #BeUMC campaign, which calls us to embrace our Wesleyan heritage and envision a promising future. Learn more.

UMC News

FAQs on Pensions & Disaffiliations: Wespath Benefits and Investments, the UMC pension agency, has released answers to frequently asked questions related to church disaffiliations and the potential departure of annual conferences. Bottom line: Wespath says both departing churches and conferences still would have pension liabilities under policies passed by the 2019 special General Conference. 
Read FAQs (PDF)

Online Church Adopts Safe Sanctuary Policy: Checkpoint Church, a fully online United Methodist congregation, recently unveiled its new policy for providing safety for all individuals within the church’s digital faith community. Read story
Read policy (PDF)

Webinar on Church-specific Insurance: United Methodist Insurance Program, an affiliate of the General Council on Finance and Administration, will present a Zoom webinar "Church-Specific Insurance: Why It Matters." It’s scheduled for 2:30 p.m. Eastern Time on March 31. Register

Creation Care: The United Methodist Board of Church and Society recently joined other faith leaders with the Board of the National Religious Partnership for the Environment in a meeting with U.S. Representatives on Capitol Hill to build bridges for the care of creation and climate justice. Leaders representing Protestant, Roman Catholic and Jewish faiths discussed environmental complexities and climate-related issues with the House Select Committee on Climate Crisis. Read press release 

Earth Day is April 22. Get info at resourceumc.org/en/topics/creation-care

UMCOR Funds Speed Wildfire Recovery: Because of UM Committee on Relief funds, volunteers for the Okanogan Long Term Recovery Group are about to rebuild their eighth and final house destroyed by 2020 wildfires. That’s more houses built in a much shorter time than the team originally projected. Read story
See UMCOR Sunday resources