WPA COVID-19 Announcements, Info

 

4/1/2020

Conference Announcements

This page will updated as needed.  It is a work in progress.

Check our Covid-19 Church Planning Resources page on Facebook.
Get take-aways and other info from our twice weekly Covid-19 Clergy Conversations.
See our Coronavirus Stimulus and Relief Package information for churches.

Due to the March 15 recommendations from the Center for Disease Control and later state and local advisories 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 is closed. Those who had scheduled meetings have been notified. Some have opted to meet by conference call; others will postpone their meetings.

Conference staff will be working remotely and available by email. Some leaders and staff may report 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.

Confirmation Class Visits to the Conference Center have been postponed until a later date. Those registered were notified via email. 

Other Conference Meetings/Closings

The Pre-General Conference Protocol Briefings scheduled at various locations around the Conference for March 22-26, 2020 have been cancelled.  Those registered were notified by e-mail. General Conference has been postponed until sometime in 2021.

Olmsted Manor will adhere to Gov. Tom Wolf's order that all non-essential businesses close. April  Effective until 4/31/2020, Olmsted Manor will be closed for overnight lodging and food service. In an announcement, Executive Director Al Hammer said, "The safety and health of our guests and staff are of the highest priority for this place of Christian Hospitality, physical and spiritual renewal.  We will continue to monitor the development of the COVID-19 virus and the protocols for managing its effect on all concerned.  Our prayers go out to those effected in a myriad of ways by the illness and for those who are stepping into the role of caregiving in this critical time.  Questions, Contact: Rev. Al Hammer, Executive Director Al@OlmstedManor.org.
 

Online Church and Worship Alternatives

Several WPAUMC churches opted for online worship on March 15 using a variety of methods, including Facebook Live and YouTube. Some broadcast a regular service as they normally do; others who opted to cancel regular services offered a sermon and prayers or a full service with music, but no congregants.  Most of the churches who were online March 15 already offered some form of online worship -- among them First Church Erie, Beulah in Johnstown, Crossroads, Sewickley, Christ UMC in Bethel Park, Knox UMC, Good Shepherd, St. Paul's in Allison Park, etc.  Others tried something for the first time. More churches went online on subsequent Sundays.

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.   NOTE: These pages and resources are available in several languages using the button at the top of the page.

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 solely 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.