WPAUMC enews -- August 26, 2020



A Call to UMC Laity! The executive team of the Association of Annual Conference Lay Leaders, which includes our WPAUMC Lay Leader Sharon Gregory, on Monday called on all laity to witness, care and act in the midst of the “dual pandemic” that grips our nation. “As laity we are 99.2% of the church and our voices matter. We cannot sit as observers to these events, they said. “We are vital to the unfolding of God’s hope for us, to be people who hold one another and the communities around us, in love. Our acts of witnessing are not those of a spectator or to record history, but to take action and cause change.” Read more and download statement.

Need Courage for a Conversation? These days conversations on many subjects are difficult, to say the least. Discipleship Ministries' online training may be able to help. Check out their free online course How to Have a Courageous Conversation, as well as other offerings for leadership development at discipleship-ministries.teachable.com/

2021 Benefits Rate Set: The Conference Board of Pensions approved the 2021 blended health care billing rate to the local church for those covered by the Conference Benefits program. Effective Jan. 1, 2021, the rate will be $1453.00 a month, including medical, vision and dental coverage.  This represents an increase of $40 a month. The monthly member cost share remains the same for 2021 at: $20 single / $35 two persons / $70 family. Get details

Need Some Quiet Rest? A Silent Retreat open to clergy and laity is scheduled for Oct. 12-14 at Olmsted Manor Retreat Center. Each participant will have a private room with bath. Rev. Amy Wagner is coordinating the event. See details and register


Back to School Prayer Request: Thinking about the challenges facing teachers as schools reopen in one form or another prompted Mary Agnew to send a special prayer request to others in her congregation.  Read more.

Bracing for Hurricane Laura: The Texas and Louisiana conferences called for prayers and preparations as Hurricane Laura approached from the Gulf of Mexico into a Category 4 storm, with landfall expected early Thursday near the Louisiana/Texas border. Evacuations were underway. Louisiana Conference Bishop Cynthia Fierro Harvey asked that churches check on the most vulnerable in their communities. Watch video with Bishop Harvey 
Read Texas Conference story 
Read Louisiana Conference story 


Sexual Ethics Training: To meet the requirements of the WPAUMC Policy on Sexual Ethics, Conference leaders have arranged for clergy to complete the training in sexual ethics online through the Lewis Center for Church Leadership. All active ordained, commissioned and licensed clergy should complete the course “Maintaining Boundaries in a Digital Age,” at any convenient time prior to October 31, 2020. Instructions for enrolling to receive the Conference rate were attached to an email to clergy this week. See instructions.
See sexual ethics policy

Selah: UMC leaders have created the Selah Generosity Pastor and Leaders' Kit to encourage congregations to pause and reflect on God's presence and the possibilities of The United Methodist Church. It’s designed to focus on the spirit of generosity and the impact United Methodists are making in the lives of individuals around the world. The resources will help you approach the subject of giving and generosity with a personal touch. Get Selah Generosity Pastor and Leaders' Kit

Chaplains Adjust to Pandemic: Rev. Gretchen Hulse, who serves as a chaplain with the Pittsburgh Veterans Administration Health System, is one of the chaplains featured in a story on the VA website. It describes how chaplains have adapted and continued their ministries during COVID-19. See story

Free Chaplain DMin Offered: Wesley Theological Seminary is once again offering a tuition-free Doctor of Ministry program for military chaplains. It prepares mid-career military chaplains for effective ministry at the next level in a changing and challenging world. The first cohort meets on Wesley's Washington, D.C., campus the first week of March 2021 (subject to COVID-19 policies in effect at that time) and includes a second on-campus week the following March. All other coursework will be completed online. Learn more and Apply
For more information, contact Special Assistant to the President, Dr. James Driscoll, CH (COL-Ret), US Army, at jdriscoll@wesleyseminary.edu.

Digital Ministry

Ministry Technology Training: Whether you are looking to improve your digital presence or just figuring out how to take your ministries online, Olmsted Manor’s Ministry Technology Training September 13-15 may provide the help you need. Topics will include using technology in church life, software, equipment, social media, legality, and best practices. Speakers include Conference communication staffers Bill Jacka and Liz Lennox; Rev. Alan Morrison, chair of the Conference Sessions Team, and  Rev. Sean Lewis, creative arts pastor at Christ UMC in Bethel Park. Get details and register

Livestreaming and Licenses: During recent Clergy zoom Conversations  and in phone calls and emails, church leaders have asked about licenses needed to legally livestream worship services. The denomination offers some guidance. Read article
ResourceUMC.org also offers some discussions and other info like this video 
There is more detail in this discussion about livestreaming via multiple platforms.  

Dismantling Racism

 Anti-Racism 101: Required Skills for White People Who Want to be Allies is a new course offered by the UMC General Commission on Religion and Race. It begins Sept. 1 and registration is now open. The course focuses on basics. Get details and register

Young Leaders Suggest Ways to “Move the Needle:” Four young United Methodists leaders discussed the history of racism in the church and ways the denomination can "move the needle" to eradicating racism. The internet broadcast was part of a series of United Methodist town hall meetings on race. Read story and watch video

Racial Reconciliation: No Hand-holding Kumbaya! “There are many times where an injury is more bearable than the surgery needed to heal it. Racism is in that category,” writes Rev. Brian Tillman. “The work of racial reconciliation is a process, one that is often painful and difficult. He offers an overview and explores the necessary steps. Read more 

UMC News

UMC Ads Promote Hope: A new advertising campaign from The United Methodist Church urges people to find hope together amid the challenges posed by this year’s COVID-19 pandemic and heightened calls for racial justice. “The people of The United Methodist Church believe that when we turn to God's love, we can find peace, joy and hope,” the ads proclaim. Read press release
Watch ad

Returning to Church: As some churches return to in-person worship, it’s clear that everything is not the same in worship spaces and it seems that online worship is here to stay. Read UM News report.

Planning to Offer Communion? Outreach, which often partners with UM Communications for local church marketing tools, is now selling boxes of Complete Communion Cups at 20% off. See details.

Dismantling Poverty

Ride for the Refuge: Erie UM Alliance’s Ride for the Refuge has gone virtual.  See how you can get involved or support riders or teams in this event to benefit The Refuge, EUMA’s 32-bed emergency shelter for families experiencing a housing crisis, click here
Learn more about EUMA’s ministries at euma-erie.org/

Be Counted! Time is running short to complete the U.S. Census. The new deadline is Sept. 30 and as of last week, over 20% of Pennsylvania households still need to be counted! Having an accurate count of all residents in our area makes a big difference in receiving a fair share of federal funding to support our neediest neighbors. For every person left uncounted, Pennsylvania loses $2000 per year in federal funding that supports schools, roads, health centers, food assistance, and more. Help spread the word about the importance of the census because that all people are made in God’s image and deserve to be counted. To raise awareness with a graphic, use this