The Rev. Alyce Weaver Dunn, WPAUMC Director of Connectional Ministries, has been elected to chair the Western PA delegation to General Conference 2020. She is the first clergywoman to do so. Two laywomen have served in the post.
Dunn is just the second woman to be elected first as a clergy delegate. The first was the Rev. Aimee Twigg, now a retired elder, in 2000. That year, the first-elected laity delegate served as chairperson of the delegation.
At the close of the annual conference session about 7 p.m. on Saturday, June 8, the laity and clergy who were elected to serve as delegates and alternates for the 2020 General and Jurisdictional conferences gathered to organize for their work ahead. That's when Dunn and other leaders were chosen as leaders: Vicki Stahlman, vice-chair; Rev. Bob Zilhaver, secretary; and Paul Morelli, treasurer.
At the initial gathering of the delegation, which also for the first time includes an Asian-American (the Rev. Duk Hee Hann), Dunn invited the delegates to join her in following what she called 3Rs in their meetings and other activities leading up to the 2020 General Conference. They are:
In the few days since we met, I have prayed and discerned that a 4th R is needed. I invite you to Reflect with me on the current and future realities of our denomination as we read, discuss and live with the General Conference legislation in the months ahead. Please note that I do not say we will debate or convince each other about the merits of the legislation. We will invite the Holy Spirit to lead us to deep places of reflection as we talk together, inspiring each of us to a place of conviction and confidence in how we will respond at both the General and Jurisdictional Conferences.
In addition to the 4Rs that will guide our shared experience, I also want each of you to know that you are a valued, beloved member of the WPA Delegation. Whether you are a General, Jurisdictional or Alternate Delegate, you have a voice that we need to hear. Whether you are Clergy or Laity, your witness is vital to the task before us. Whether you are a veteran or a first time delegate, your heart is needed as we find our way together. You are valued and loved, not just by me, but most importantly by our God!
Being elected as a Delegate for our Western Pennsylvania Conference is an awesome privilege. You have been entrusted with great responsibility. You will have opportunity to meet new people from around the world and to offer your gifts for the building up of God’s kingdom. You will impact the ministry of The United Methodist Church!
Yet, your election is also a weighty burden. You have been elected to represent not just one particular segment of our Conference, but the entire WPA Conference, even with all of its brokenness, shortfalls and blemishes. You have been called to long hours, time away from home, and interaction with people with whom you will disagree. This journey will be difficult.
In the midst of the privilege and responsibility, we turn to scripture to sustain us. As we read in II Corinthians 12:9b, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.”
With God’s grace, we will walk together on this journey and represent our WPA Conference to the best of our collective ability! God’s grace will not just be enough – it will be abundantly more than we could ever dare to ask for or expect!
The delegation includes, for General and Jurisdictional Conference: Clergy Alyce Weaver Dunn, Robert Zilhaver, Janet Lord, Duk Hee Han, Steve Cordle and Keith McIlwain, and Laity Nancy Denardo, Paul Morelli, Vicki Stahlman, Holly Fugate, Richard Hoffman and Katherine Fehl.
Elected to serve as alternates for General Conference and delegates to the Northeastern Jurisdictional Conference were: Clergy John Seth, Eric S. Park, Randall Bain, D. Renee Mikell, Laura Saffell, Joseph Stains, and alternates William B. Meekins Jr., Anais Hussian, Amy Wagner, Sung Shik Chung, Timothy Goodman and Brett Dinger. Laity are William Patrick, Jerry Rectenwald, Alexander Hoffman, Sherry Meterko, Joseph Emigh, Kayla Schwanke, and alternates Andrew Chung, Denise-Nicole Stone, Peggy Ward, Diane Miller (who resigned immediately after being elected), TRacy Merrick, Jennifer Gordon and Brad Smith.