As part of an effort to get back to the basics of Christian faith through local church ministries, the Western PA Conference has launched an experimental leadership model deploying two-person laity-clergy teams to work directly with congregations in two regions. In this Regional Staff Leadership Model, one staff member serves as a Regional Coordinator of Spiritual Formation (Love God) and the other as Regional Coordinator of Community Engagement (Love Neighbor). Two regions, covering four districts, were identified for the experiment: The Erie-Meadville/Kane region and the Butler/Pittsburgh region.
The regional staff works to help local churches to: 1) identify spiritual gifts / strengths for ministry, and 2) better understand their community and its needs. The goal is to help local churches more effectively apply their gifts/strengths in their community to make disciples of Jesus Christ.
The regional positions are part-time; two of the coordinators continue to serve in Conference/local church staff positions with time adjustments to allow for their regional roles. Rev. Alyce Weaver Dunn, as the Director of Connectional Ministries, provides supervision.
Tawni Betts - Love God
Tawni Betts grew up in Corry, PA, and graduated with a BA in Elementary Education from Grove City College. She has served as Director of Christian Nurture
at First Presbyterian Church Corry and later at Warren First UMC. Currently at Warren First UMC, Tawni is involved with a Covenant Discipleship ministry group,
serves as a lay minister, SPRC chair, and team teaches the new member and confirmation classes. She also volunteers weekly with the Women’s Care Center of Warren.
“The past several years I have especially enjoyed studying and then leading classes about the Holy Spirit—encompassing the fruits of the Spirit, Spiritual disciplines, and gifts of the Spirit,” Tawni said. “I am excited to work with congregations in the Erie-Meadville and Kane Districts to help them identify and use their Spiritual gifts to share God’s love with their communities.
Megan Miles - Love Neighbor
Megan Miles graduated from Pittsburgh Theological Seminary in 2020 and was commissioned as a provisional deacon in 2021. Because she thinks “ministry is most exciting
when there is freedom to try new things, she is happy to be part of the Regional Ministry project. It allows her to follow her call as a deacon and “bridge builder” and use
her gifts of teaching, shepherding and encouragement as she helps churches discover how to best love their neighbors.
Megan is also on staff at Erie: Asbury UMC leading children and youth ministry. She grew up in West-Central Pennsylvania in the tiny town of Irvona with her parents and two sisters. She has worked with teens at a faith-based therapeutic residential center for in Missouri, been a camp counselor and dorm resident assistant and served as an intern in the Conference.
Chenda Innis Lee - Love God
The Rev. Chenda Innis Lee was born in a rural village in Liberia in West Africa. She was baptized as an infant by her uncle, a United Methodist pastor, and comes from a long line of preachers -- female and male.
Her father, retired Bishop John G. Innis, was director of a rural mission school that also served as a rescue center for displaced people fleeing the cities during the early 1990s civil war in Liberia. In 1993, their home was raided by rebels, so they had to leave and move to Monrovia, the capital city of Liberia.
In 1996, four years before being elected bishop and assigned to the Liberia Area, her father was offered a job with the United Methodist Committee on Relief and moved the family to the United States. Rev. Lee was 16 at the time.
She attended Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, D.C., where she met her husband. Known as a gifted preacher and teacher, she served as an associate and senior pastor of churches in the Northern Virginia region for more than 10 years before coming to Pittsburgh when her husband, the Rev. Dr. Asa Lee, was named president of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary in May of 2021. The Lees are parents of four young daughters.
Sandra Matoushaya - Love Neighbor
Sandra Matoushaya is a native of Harare, Zimbabwe and is the Missional Engagement Coordinator for the Western Pennsylvania Conference. In the role, she assists in fundraising
for projects of Western PA's Global Partnerships, as well as coordinating, teaching, resourcing and equipping churches through missional experiences.
She earned a Bachelor's Degree in Management and Marketing from Ohio Valley University and a Masters degree in International Development with a focus on NGOs and Civil Society at the University of Pittsburgh. She was hired as the Zimbabwe Partnership Coordinator in 2010 and, in 2018, became the WPAUMC Missional Engagement Coordinator. She currently chairs the UMVIM-NEJ board and serves on the UMVIM Inclusive board, a group formed with the hope of creating one platform to share resources within the denomination and collaborate for training.
Sandra enjoys the regional staff position because she is able to closely work with churches and ministries, provide resources, connect them with international ministries and “creatively ignite a 'Mission Fire' in the conference by sharing this amazing work."