WPA COVID-19 Updates



Conference Announcements

Updated Dec. 11, 2020. 

Our Bishop and District Superintendents urge church leaders to follow current state and local health mandates and guidelines to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus and to consider the risk to the most vulnerable in our churches and communities in determining whether to hold in-person worship services. On Dec. 11, 2020, after Gov. Tom Wolf issued a temporary executive order reducing the number of people permitted to gather both indoors and outdoors to address a continuing spike in cases, the Bishop sent an email to clergy and church leaders. She cautioned that, while the Governor's order said it did not apply to worship services, church leaders have a moral obligation to do everything they can to ensure the safety of the most vulnerable in their congregations and communities. 

Due to Pennsylvania and local government actions and recommendations from the Center for Disease Control to help stop the spread of the COVID-19 virus, the Bishop and Conference leaders have taken the following actions:

Conference Center Building Use

The United Methodist Center will remain closed through the Green Phase of Pennsylvania's plan to reopen Pennsylvania. Those who had scheduled meetings have been notified. Some have opted to meet by conference call; others will postpone their meetings.

Conference staff is working remotely and available by email. Some leaders and staff may report to the office to conduct essential business from time to time, but the intent is to limit the number of people in the building. Email is the recommended method of contact. Voicemails left on office phones will be checked regularly and returned as soon as possible.

The Western PA Annual Conference Session has been rescheduled. 

General Conference has been postponed until August 29 - September 7, 2021The Northeastern Jurisdictional Conference will be held about two months after the General Conference in 2021.

Camping and Retreat Ministries

Olmsted Manor is now open for up to 25 people who must observe certain guest guidelines.   As of June 11, the retreat center is taking reservations for individuals and families for overnight lodging.  Olmsted offered Takeout Dinners on Friday evenings in May and expanded to Tuesdays and Fridays in June. Get details at olmstedmanor.org/take-out-dinners.html
Questions? Contact: Rev. Al Hammer, Executive Director Al@OlmstedManor.org.

Camp Allegheny, as of May 5, shortened its season and will offer summer camps from June 28 - August 1. 
Jumonville summer camp sessions have been cancelled.
Wesley Woods also plans to offer camp sessions beginning in late June. 


Online Church Services

See a list of Western PA churches offering worship online.

ResourceUMC offers instruction about how to take your worship online at resourceumc.org/en/content/taking-your-worship-online-a-guide-for-beginners-and-everyone-else

Conference Evangelists John and Christine Zimmerman have offered help and resources. They have been live-streaming for 20 years. Here is what they have to offer :
  • Sunday morning Live Stream from various churches at various morning times on our Facebook page:  https://www.facebook.com/af180 . Schedule details are available on the page.
  •  Sunday evening online worship gathering every Sunday at 7pm (ET) at our website: www.umworship.org. We will meet there live for worship, a message, live chat, live prayer, etc.
  • A full slate of 2-week online Bible study, book study, Lay Servant classes offered through beadisciple.com.
WPAUMC Facebook Church Planning Resource List contains links to a variety of resources, some of which are also listed here. 

Christian Associates of Southwest PA has a list of resources and information on its website. Use this link: www.casp.org/covid19

UMC Discipleship Resources: As local churches seek appropriate ways to respond, many congregations have questions. UMC Discipleship Resources offers some answers.   

Pandemic Worship Resources: The UM music and worship arts fellowship is providing a space on its website for those involved in providing worship can share resources and ideas. Find it at umfellowship.org/pandemic.

Public Resources 

The Pennsylvania Department of Health has relevant information that is updated regularly on its website at health.pa.gov/topics/disease/Pages/Coronavirus.aspx

The Center for Disease Control website offers information and downloadable resources on its main COVID-19 page and a page devoted to information for faith-based organizations.

NOTE: We recommend using these official sites for information, rather than relying on social media. Although we try to provide accurate info through our WPAUMC Facebook page and groups, there have been many reports of inaccurate information posted on social media by others about "cures" and prevention methods (some detailed on CDC site). In addition, there were reports on 3/17 and 3/18 that Facebook's automated system had removed some valid posts about COVID-19.