Mission u Focus: Who Can We Be Together?



Revs. Beth L. Nelson and Terry Shaffer, longtime pastors who have been involved in mission and community outreach throughout their ministries, will lead participants at the 2022 Mission u in exploring Who Can We Be Together? The focus will be on Building Communities of Hope and Joy, becoming the communities God wants us to be.  Mission u will be held from Friday evening, August 19 through lunch on Sunday, August 21 at Jumonville. 

Beth Nelson has much experience in building communities of hope and joy. After graduating from Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, D.C., her first appointment was to Erie, PA, where, during her ministry, she was one of the founding pastors of The Refuge, The Rainbow Connection and San Juan United Methodist Church.  The Refuge and the Rainbow Connection Thrift Store continue to serve those in need, providing housing and support as part of the Erie United Methodist Alliance, whose ministries are aimed at ending homelessness.  Later, while serving churches in Mars, Carnegie, and Coraopolis, Beth led the congregations as they expanded outreach ministries to their communities. 

Beth later served as The Director of Training and Resources for the Western PA Conference for many years, often working other staff and local church leaders in developing new ministries, mission and outreach.  While serving as pastor pastor of Salem United Methodist Church in Wexford from 2011 until June of 2020, when she retired, she also served on the board of United Methodist Church Union. Although retired after 43 years of active ministry, Beth has been working “part time” at Church Union, where outreach ministries have expanded over the past several years to serve individuals and communities in need throughout the Pittsburgh region. Beth also currently serves on the Mission Strategy Team of the Pittsburgh District.

Terry Shaffer has served both rural and urban churches in his 40 years of ministry, and been involved in mission wherever he served. He served as a member and then chair of the WPAUMC "Mission Support Committee” for 11 years and was leader on the School of Christian Mission committee, a predecessor of Mission u, for 12 years, include two as chair. He has traveled to Africa as a Mission Ambassador, visiting mission sites and congregations in Kenya, Sierra Leone, and Nigeria. He also traveled to  Zimbabwe to visit Victorian Falls and a church in Harare that was a sister congregation to Albright in Pittsburgh.  Terry has led work teams to areas hit by natural disasters, including the Gulf Coast (Katrina), Vermont for two years (flooding) and Nashville (flooding).  He  currently leads yearly trips to Red Bird Mission from the Shenango Valley Cooperative Parish.

As they lead 2022 Mission u participants in looking at ways to build communities of hope and joy in the coming years, they'll draw on their own experience as well as the text. 

Rev. Rick Nelson, pastor of First UMC in Bradford, is dean of Mission u.  A graduate of West Virginia Wesleyan College and Duke Divinity School, he too has an extensive background in community service and outreach. During most of his ministry Rick has been involved with The United Methodist Committee on Relief. Rick served as WPA Conference Disaster Response Coordinator for many years and worked for The UMCOR - Katrina Aid Today program from 2006 – 2008.

Rick believes in the “God image” in all persons and seeks to discover and foster that image in all people. He believes in reaching out through mission with the love of God sharing that nothing separates us from the love of God through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Mission u is sponsored jointly by the Conference and United Women of Faith. Learn more about 2022 Mission u, including opportunities for children and youth, on the event page . Registration is open through August 5.