August 12, 2020
What an outstanding opportunity for us to gather as the church. Allow me to extend my thanks to you for caring for the work of the business of the Washington District Conference. On August 9th roughly 60 of us were able to gather at the Boyce Road Campus of Crossroads UMC to meet for worship and to care for our annual business. And while the Covid-19 virus has made it difficult to meet together in large groups, we were able to take care of this important meeting in preparation for the Charge Conference Season.
During our gathering together, we were able to cover the annual reports given by each of the district committees, to welcome some new pastors to the District, to recognize those who are taking part in Lay Servant ministry, and to recognize our Ordinands and Provisional Elders. We were also able to hear from our new District Treasurer, Mallory Miles, and to gather as part of the Body of Christ to enjoy a time of worship together.
One of the joys for me on the 9th was the opportunity to see you, and for Suzanne and I to be able to (socially distanced of course) at least be able to share our gratitude for the love and care you have extended to us. We so greatly appreciate the honks of welcome and affirmation for our call to serve God here in the Washington District.
One piece of legislation that we were able to care for at this meeting has to do with our Zimbabwe connection. As was mentioned in the District Packet, for the past decade we have had a partnership agreement with the Mazimauya church in the Mutasa-Nyanga District in the Zimbabwe East Annual Conference of the United Methodist church. We still owe a balance of roughly $11,000 towards our commitment to this church. At District Conference, we looked at ways to not only pay this debt, but also to fund some new ministries in the District, and to provide some much needed program and building grants for local churches.
A motion was made to increase our District Apportionment from $1 per person in average attendance per year, to $3 per person in average attendance per year effective January 1, 2021. This means that if you have had 25 people in attendance, your apportionment for 2020 would remain at $25 per year, however, beginning January 1st, 2021, that would increase to $75 per year. For every first dollar brought in by this increase, we will be sending that dollar to our Zimbabwe partners. For every second dollar we will be using it to create and fund some new and existing District wide ministries, like Ramp building, mission outreach, and food Pantry support. For every third dollar we will be establishing both program grants and trustee/building grants for churches and charges to apply for in order to either fund a local church ministry, or to do some needed repairs around the church.
Later this month, the District Connectional Ministry Team (CMT) will meet to discuss how these grants will function, eligibility of churches/charges, and amounts to be granted. It is our hope that twice a year we will be able to distribute grants to assist you in the ministry of the local church.
I know that in this time of financial desperation for some, that an increase in apportionments may not seem wise. However, I have had a lot of conversation with the majority of churches who have informed me that giving to the local church is near normal or increasing during this time. For those churches that are having difficulty, I am encouraging churches, that as you are able, to simply take a special offering throughout the year during one of the many special worship services you may hold to help pay this increase.
It is my hope that in the next few years we will be able to pay our obligation to our partners and sister churches in Zimbabwe, and then be able to redirect that first dollar giving to more ministry here in the Washington District, or to possibly a new partnership as God leads us.
Please feel free to contact me either through the District Office phone or through the Washington.email@example.com email address , I’d love to hear from you.
Serving Christ With you…
Rev. Paul Ritchey
Washington district Superintendent
The Conference Board of Pensions approved the 2021 blended health care billing rate to the local church. Effective 1.1.2021, the rate will be $1453.00 a month. This includes medical, vision and dental coverage. This represents an increase of $40.00 a month. The monthly member cost share remains the same for 2021 at: $20.00 single / $35.00 two persons / $70.00 family
Although the 2020 Annual Conference has not met, the Conference Commission on Equitable Compensation issued its annual letter on how to set pastors’ salaries for 2021, including the minimum base salaries for those appointed to local churches. The commission is not recommending any change to the minimum salaries set for this year. The letter will be emailed to pastors and local church leaders this week. See the letter.
The WPAUMC Ordination services for 2020 have been canceled due to the COVID-19 virus.
WPA Ordination services will be held regionally at three locations:
Grace UMC, Warren, at 1 p.m., Saturday, October 10
Crossroads UMC, N. Fayette Campus, at 3 p.m., Sunday, October 25
New Stanton UMC at 1 p.m., Saturday, November 7
Returning to Church During COVID-19 Playbook: How your congregation joins in worship and community activities has changed significantly. Members want to come together for services but appreciate the flexibility technology offers. Shifting back to in-person services while maintaining a vibrant virtual ministry presents a unique challenge for churches. But you can make this transition as easy as possible. Vanco created the Returning to Church During COVID-19 Playbook to guide you through safely reopening your church and preparing for the future of worship. In this playbook, you will find essential guidance and recommendations on…
• Adjusting church practices to accommodate safe, contact-free activities, sacraments, events and giving.
• Communicating virtually with staff, volunteers and your congregation.
• Infusing technology into ministry.
• Maintaining a sense of community wherever members are gathering.
Welcome your congregation back to in-person worship with confidence and embrace the new hybrid church. Download your copy of our playbook today.
Church reopening? Bishop Cynthia Moore-Koikoi said in a letter to clergy that you must follow governmental laws and official health guidelines. Continue to have conversations with your church leadership and your District Superintendent as you make decisions about how and when to reintegrate in-person worship to your ministry. You can find our reopening guidelines and a video discussing our reasoning at wpaumc.org/covid-19-whats-next-for-churches.
WPA Health Team Updates Reopening Guidelines: As some Western PA counties move toward the Green phase of Gov. Tom Wolf’s Plan for Reopening Pennsylvania, the Conference Abundant Health Team issued updated guidelines for churches in “green” counties. Learn more
Youth Worker Recharge: In this taxing time, Discipleship Ministries invites youth workers to find time to spiritually recharge. Join them for up to 45 minutes at noon on Thursdays and receive encouragement from a leading youth ministry voice. Fit this into your daily spiritual health routine and reflect on how it is with your own soul around people who know what it's like to minister to teens! Register once, attend any time. Get details.
SPARK 2021 has been rescheduled for April 17 at the Bayfront convention Center in Erie. Plans include options to attend in person or virtually. Details TBA.
Church and Scouting Now: How does a church successfully navigate conversations with active scout troops about social distancing guidelines, masks, and use of church buildings these days? Read more from Young People’s Ministries.
Online Devotions for and by Youth Workers: You need a recharge after a week of working with teens! Premieres August 6! Join us for a weekly time to be encouraged by a leading youth ministry trainer and spend a couple minutes focusing on how it is with your own soul around people who know what it's like to minister to teens! Join us every Thursday at noon Eastern, 9am Pacific to recharge!
YOUTH INFORMATION: on the web at https://www.wpaumc.org/youthevents
As United Methodists, we promise to stand against evil and oppression in whatever forms they present themselves. Here are some resources you are welcome to use in your work and ministry to fight against racism. Our Greensburg District Anti-Racism Team (DART) is working diligently to provide resources and support for our churches to have practical tools in order to begin to stand together. If you have questions, contact Rev. Jeff Conn, Greensburg DART chair. Please also explore and utilize the resources on the WPAUMC.org website for additional contacts, resources, and helps.
To view the Bishops' announcement of this denominational focus, please click here:
United Methodists Stand Against Racism
We recognize racism as a sin.
We commit to challenging unjust systems of power and access.
We will work for equal and equitable opportunities in employment and promotion, education and training; in voting, access to public accommodations, and housing; to credit, loans, venture capital, and insurance; to positions of leadership and power in all elements of our life together; and to full participation in the Church and society.
What can you do?
Like many of you, GCFA is staring at the stark reality of our nation attempting to flatten the curve and spread of Covid-19 by engaging in social distancing. For many of us, that may mean your weekly worship services are going to look a bit different than they have in the past. To support our United Methodist churches as we continue to make disciples, we have pulled out relevant articles that we feel may help during this time. We invite you to look through these, and we pray they may be of some help as we all face this uncertainty.
EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT eGIVING: In response to Covid-19 and social distancing, many churches many close as they put the health of their congregation first. This may lead to stress around the collection plate. Check out this handy guide to understanding electronic, text, and other forms of online giving.
UNDERSTAND LIVE STREAMING NOW TO BENEFIT YOUR CONGREGATION: As churches, theatres, and sporting events all press the pause button, churches across the nation will turn to live streaming to give their churches an option to worship. Download this guide to understanding different components of live streaming.
The business of the Conference will be cared for in different ways.
A one-day session will be held on Saturday, Oct. 3, 2020 online. Because of Conference rules requiring in-person voting, no votes can be taken, but there will be worship, fellowship, and highlights of ministry. Instructions for registering and participating will be sent later in September.
The Clergy Session: After a second postponement, clergy session will not be held in 2020.
Ordination and Commissioning services will take place in 2021.
I greet you in the name and with the love of Jesus Christ!
Since mid-March I have been inviting clergy and lay leadership to imagine how to do ministry creatively in light of the coronavirus pandemic. Well, what is good for the goose is good for the gander. When it looked as if we were going to have to postpone our June 2020 Annual Conference gathering, I began to imagine what a postponed annual conference would look like. I invited our Conference Sessions team and other leaders to think creatively with me. And I believe we came up with a very good plan for a one-day in-person gathering on October 3, 2020.
However, because of the ongoing nature of this pandemic, it has become evident that we are not going to be able to gather in person on October 3rd as we had planned. So we have had to be even more creative.
We, like many of you, looked across the connection to see how other annual conferences are meeting the challenges of the pandemic. Almost every other annual conference has or will be having a virtual meeting in order to vote on the essential business of their annual conference. Some might be expecting me to say that is what we are going to do also.
Have I told you lately what a joy it is to serve an annual conference as unique as Western Pennsylvania? Here is our unique joy: Our Western Pennsylvania Annual Conference corporation bylaws specifically state that all votes of the annual conference corporation must be in person. I asked our sessions team, co-chancellors and Conference Secretary to be creative and explore all options. And they did. There is just no reasonable way around this in-person provision for voting.
Therefore, we will not be voting on any business matters on October 3rd. We will, however, meet virtually on October 3rd for fellowship and to celebrate and provide information about the kingdom-building ministries of the Western Pennsylvania Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church. I am excited about sharing the State of the Church with you on that day. I am also excited about giving you the opportunity to hear from and ask questions of conference leaders.
Do not worry! We will provide you with all of the information you need to connect virtually with your WPA family. We are going to ask pastors to work with their lay member(s) to annual conference in order to find locations with adequate internet service so all can participate in the virtual gathering.
I know that many of you will have practical and theoretical questions about the fact that we will not be able to vote on matters as an annual conference. So let me answer some of those questions now.
Our Conference Sessions, Arrangements, and Worship teams have been working extraordinarily hard over the last year. They have shown tremendous flexibility and creativity in managing the ever-evolving COVID-19 landscape. I am extremely grateful to them and to our Rules Committee, co-chancellors and Conference Secretary. I want to specifically name Rev. Alan Morrison, Rebecca Brammell, Amy Benz, Rev. John Wilson and Rev. Amy Wagner. Please mention them and lift the leadership teams they represent the next time you talk with God.
I also want to encourage all of us to continue to pause daily at 1900 hours or 7 p.m. in order to pray and entreat God to release the world from COVID -19; to comfort those who have lost loved ones; and to heal those who are ill. Rev. Renee Mikell and Rev. Chris Kindle will soon release another prayer resource to help us focus our prayers regarding the virus. Please look for and utilize that resource when it becomes available.
Some of you will worry about how we will manage without taking votes at an annual conference session this year. After all, we have never done it this way before. Your feelings of anxiety and concern are appropriate and will help us to make sure we act in ways that bring God glory. But in your anxiety, please do not yield to the temptation of becoming negative or inferring intentions or motivations that are not there. In your anxiety and concern, search even more diligently for God. Stretch your hand even further to grasp onto the hand of God. God has got this! And if we cooperate with God, God will make even this work out for our good and for the good of God’s kingdom.
If you need some convincing, think about all of the unexpected good God has done through your ministry during this season of COVID-19. If you need more convincing, re-read the May InFocus magazine where I shared a few of the many creative, new things God has been doing during this pandemic through the people of WPAUMC. Because we have never been here before God can take us to where we have never been before. And sometimes that’s a good thing.
God bless you! See you on October 3rd!
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
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.
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
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
COVID Door signs provided by our Bishop
As disciples we owe it to our congregation and community to provide them with a safe place - a sanctuary - in which to worship and do ministry.
Coronavirus Protections Door Sign - PDF
Coronavirus Protections Door Sign - Word
COVID Door Sign-PDF (Includes questions/conditions required to enter)
COVID Door Sign - Word (no logo)
Conference UMW Meeting Going Virtual: The Conference United Methodist Women’s annual meeting, scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 24, will be offered in an online webinar format, rather than in person. The keynote address by the Rev. Debra Flint, an ordained deacon and licensed clinical social worker, is entitled “There’s Nothing Selfish About Self Care.” Registration will open on the Conference website by September 1.
We are again offering Clergy Communities of Practice—a type of covenant-learning group for pastors in various locations around our Conference. This year we’ve even offered added an online group which will meet in the evening so that more clergy can be involved. The groups meet together monthly beginning in September. Each meeting includes worship, conversation, learning and accountability. Now is a great time to be involved, as pastors can connect with other clergy and hear new ideas, while supporting one another! Each meeting focuses on a different topic such as: worship, leadership, mission, diversity, etc. Questions can be directed to Susan Moudry: firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information and to register visit: https://wpa-reg.brtapp.com/CCOP2020
Register Now for Clergy Communities of Practice! Many clergy have felt alone or confused or simply need people to bounce ideas off of in our rapidly changing world. CCOPs can help. Clergy who participated this year report being inspired to refresh their preaching, practice new prayer rhythms, use study material in other small group ministries and engage in difficult conversations about racism. Groups are offered all around our Conference, and this year an online group has been added to increase accessibility. Please see options below and register online.
Questions? Email email@example.com.
What if Someone in Church has Covid-19?
PLAN FOR WHEN A STAFF MEMBER OR CONGREGANT BECOMES SICK
• Identify an area to separate anyone who exhibits symptoms of COVID-19 during hours of operation, and ensure that children are not left without adult supervision.
• Establish procedures for safely transporting anyone who becomes sick at the facility to their home or a healthcare facility.
• Notify local health officials if a person diagnosed with COVID-19 has been in the facility and communicate with staff and congregants about potential exposure while maintaining confidentiality as required by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) or other applicable laws and in accordance with religious practices.
• Advise those with exposure to a person diagnosed with COVID-19 to stay home and self-monitor for symptoms, and follow CDC guidance if symptoms develop.
• Close off areas used by the sick person and do not use the area until after cleaning and disinfection. Ensure safe and correct application of disinfectants and keep disinfectant products away from children.
• Advise staff and congregants with symptoms of COVID-19 or who have tested positive for COVID-19 not to return to the facility until they have met CDC’s criteria to discontinue home isolation.
• Put systems in place to: Encourage staff and members who come to your facility or attend events sponsored by your organization to self-report to a designated point of contact if they have symptoms of COVID-19, a positive test for COVID-19, or were exposed to someone with COVID-19 within the last 14 days in accordance with health information sharing regulations for COVID-19. CLEANING AND DISINFECTING YOUR BUILDING OR FACILITY IF SOMEONE IS SICK
• Close off areas used by the person who is sick. � Companies do not necessarily need to close operations if they can close off affected areas.
• Open outside doors and windows to increase air circulation in the area.
• Wait 24 hours before you clean or disinfect. If 24 hours is not feasible, wait as long as possible.
• Clean and disinfect all areas used by the person who is sick, such as offices, bathrooms, common areas, shared electronic equipment like tablets, touch screens, keyboards, remote controls, and ATM machines.
• Vacuum the space if needed. Use vacuum equipped with high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter, if available. � Do not vacuum a room or space that has people in it. Wait until the room or space is empty to vacuum, such as at night, for common spaces, or during the day for private rooms. � Consider temporarily turning off room fans and the central HVAC system that services the room or space, so that particles that escape from vacuuming will not circulate throughout the facility.
• Once area has been appropriately disinfected, it can be opened for use. � Workers without close contact with the person who is sick can return to work immediately after disinfection.
• If it has been more than 7 days since the person who is sick visited or used the facility, additional cleaning and disinfection is not necessary. � Continue routine cleaning and disinfection. This includes everyday practices that businesses and communities normally use to maintain a healthy environment.
WPA Camps and Olmsted Retreat Center
Camp Allegheny Fall Work Days are Sept. 26 and Oct. 24 from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. (or when you can). Pick your day and help to complete projects or do fall cleanup to get ready for winter retreats. Work for any skill level or age! Email Joe@campallegheny.org if you can help. Lunch is provided.
Prefer Eating to Work? Head to Camp Allegheny between 11 a.m.-2 p.m. for a Chicken Barbecue with homemade noodles and a gob on Sept. 27 and/or October 11. Cost is $10. Visit CampAllegheny.org
Upcoming Events at Olmsted:
The new meeting dates are as follows:
Monday, October 22, 2020 Trinity
All meetings are at 7PM.
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.
Monday, August 3, 2020 to November 20
Monday, August 31, 2020 to May 6
Foundations for Ministry online course August 31, 2020 – May 16, 2021: This course helps Certified Lay Ministers, first-time pastors, and District Superintendent assigned persons to develop best practices for serving the local church in sermon writing, developing relationships with their congregation, building mission and vision. The course focuses on a different aspect of ministry each month with all work and discussion forums taking place online, including monthly meetings. www.larcm.org
Saturday, September 19, 2020 to September 20
Retired Clergy Weekend: Saturday, September 19 to September 20. Retired Clergy Weekend Local churches are encouraged to use this weekend, or another that they choose, to recognize and honor the retired clergy, their spouses, and the surviving spouses of clergy who continue to support the church in various and significant ways. This recognition may also provide inspiration to those considering ministry.
Thursday, September 24, 2020 to September 25
Leadership Institute 2020: on Thursday, September 24 - Friday, September 25. The online format is packed with relevant and actionable leadership development content through a live-streamed event. There will be two Breakout Sessions on Friday, with six topics to choose from at each session, followed by Live Q&A with the presenters. PLUS there will be a library of on-demand workshops. These workshops cover a wide variety of ministry topics, all with tangible takeaways. All Sessions will be recorded and available to registered participants for replay. You'll have access to ALL the content to explore and review on-demand for an entire year after the conference. Individual tickets are just $49. With the low ticket price and no travel expenses, you can include and engage more of your team leaders in every ministry area across the church. Register Questions? Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (913) 232-4139
Saturday, September 26, 2020 to September 30
Tour the Camps Bike-a-thon! Since 2018, the Campership Bike-a-Thon has raised more than $44,000 to support the Deeply Rooted, Upward Reaching camping campaign. After two seasons of riding from Pittsburgh to Washington, D.C., the 2020 route will take in our three camps, Olmsted Manor retreat center, At the Lake Ministries and Healthy Village Learning Institute. The ride will be September 26-30. Get details and register.
Where: DoubleTree by Hilton, 910 Sheraton Drive, Mars, PA 16046
Tuesday, October 20, 2020 to October 21
2020 Biennial Clergy Pre-retirement Seminar is scheduled for Tuesday, October 20 - Wednesday, October 21 at the DoubleTree by Hilton, 910 Sheraton Drive, Mars, PA 16046. This event will feature topics such as Wespath/Pensions, EY Financial Services, Highmark, UPMC, WorkPartners EAP, healthcare in retirement, Social Security and more! Contact Alexis Soohy, Assistant Benefits Officer, at 724.776.2300 x 278. Register Participants who wish to have a one on one personal pension projection with Wespath during the event will be scheduled in the order they register. If we have to postpone, cancel, or reformat this event to virtual, participants will be refunded.
Please note: this event is open to any Clergy and their spouse! You do not need to be planning your retirement in the upcoming year or two to attend. Clergy who may be 5-10 or even more years away from their retirement are still welcome and encouraged to attend.
Saturday, October 24, 2020
Conference UMW Meeting Going Virtual: The Conference United Methodist Women’s annual meeting, scheduled for Saturday, October 24, will be offered in an online webinar format, rather than in person. The keynote address by the Rev. Debra Flint, an ordained deacon and licensed clinical social worker, is entitled “There’s Nothing Selfish About Self Care.” Register by clicking here.
Koreans Thank Missionaries with Masks: Officials with Yonsei University Health System in South Korea, recently shipped 10,000 protective face masks to Atlanta as a gesture of thanks to the United Methodist missionaries who helped their country decades ago. Retired missionaries receiving the masks live in 38 different states including one in Hawaii; 16 in North Carolina; 14 in Texas; 19 in California; and nine in Florida. Read more from the Atlanta Journal Constitution. Mission Hospital Staff ... read more
The Cove **Newsletter** click here to review
The Cove is an arts-based youth drop-in center at Greenstone UMC in Avalon. It is an accessible, magnetically designed space for youth to experiment with various art expressions, all within an environment that cultivates discipleship.
Area young people, ages 12 to 18 are welcomed into the space Monday - Friday, 3pm to 6pm, by artists-in-residence that reside at Greenstone UMC's Home of the Nomad. The Home of the Nomad is an artistic hub for touring musicians & artisans as well, which has facilitated growth in Greenstone's young adult ministry.
Young people continue to be engaged through The Cove's ministry called "Skill Share." These are individual lessons in visual & performing arts that seeks to build disciple-making relationships between a young person and artist.
I am excited to announce that The Cove has a WPAUMC Advance Special Number. To support The Cove, checks can be made out to WPAUMC with the advance special "COVE" or "The COVE Art Center" in the memo line. Mail to 1204 Freedom Road, Cranberry Twp, PA 16066.
The Eastbrook Mission Barn is one of six UMCOR Relief Supply Network depots across the United States. Our WPAUMC has supported the Mission Barn, in New Castle, with UMCOR kits, a ramp ministry, and on-site tours and assembling of materials for use as needed.
In 2000, Eastbrook United Methodist Church acquired a former dairy barn as part of its purchase of a new parsonage. In 2008, the church began using the heated office space to store UMCOR cleaning buckets. Today, it is dedicated to storing relief supplies year-round, as well as to providing a work space for volunteers.
Teams of volunteers show up every week at the barn to verify kits, make kits from scratch, sew tiny nightgowns for infants or school bags for children in some far off place. There are teen-agers, elderly women and men. Sitting and sewing or checking kits is something easily done by even those with handicapping conditions.
The facility has also served as a center for building UMVIM-designed modular handicap-access ramps for residents of Lawrence and Mercer counties.
Mission Barn Address:
724-856-8241 Directions to the
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
Keeping the Mission Alive: GBHEM will offer a free webinar Leading in Crisis: Keeping the Mission Alive at noon, Wednesday, August 12 with Bishop Cynthia Fierro Harvey and F. Douglas Powe Jr. director of the Lewis Center for Church Leadership. They’ll discuss ways to continue evangelizing and keep your mission moving forward. Watch live August 12 on GBHEM's Facebook page and YouTube channel
Next Steps When Your Feet are Weary: Clergy and lay leaders are facing serious risks for burnout and exhaustion right now. As we confront the twin pandemics of coronavirus and systemic racism, it may be difficult to discern the right path forward for your ministry. A recent Leading in Crisis webinar from the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry presented some ideas that might help. Watch.
Tips for Fighting Disaster Fatigue: Five months of living in the coronavirus pandemic, with no end in sight, can wear on anyone. Early in a disaster, people pull together in unity, but as time goes on those positive feelings often give way to cynicism and discouragement. The Rev. Rick Vance, director of the Center for Men's Ministries for the Commission on United Methodist Men, offers some tips for combating disaster fatigue. Read story
Tips for Connecting in the Digital Realm: As many churches have learned recently, digital platforms provide opportunities to reach more people through listening, prayer, storytelling, and evangelism. Tim Snyder of the Lewis Center for Church Leadership offers six tips to strengthen digital outreach and build relationships that might be as strong as our face-to-face ones. See 6 Tips for connecting in the Digital Realm
Need a Church Website? If your church doesn’t have a website, you’re invited to apply for a Website Development Package from United Methodist Communications. It includes one year of web hosting and domain name registration, WordPress online training and support,pre-designed templates and email accounts and storage. Get details.
Ecumenical/Interreligious Project Grants: The Council of Bishops is offering three grants, each in the amount of US $1,000 to groups within annual conferences for projects designed to strengthen ecumenical and/or interreligious relationships. The application deadline is September 14, 2020. Get details.
Today I had to opportunity to join a Zoom conversation about reopening church with Dr. Joseph G. Allen, an internationally known expert on the topic of Healthy Buildings. The session was sponsored by the Boston Collaborative, a connection of churches, non-profit organizations and Christians in the workplace.
Dr. Allen's work has been featured widely in the popular press, including the Wall Street Journal, Harvard Business Review, National Geographic, Time, NPR, Newsweek, Washington Post, and Fortune. An associate professor at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, he directs the Healthy Buildings program and created "The 9 Foundations of a Healthy Building" to optimize indoor environments for health.
Dr. Allen’s research is widely published in academic journals and he is an Associate Editor of the Journal of Exposure Science and Environmental Epidemiology. He earned his Doctor of Science (DSc) and Master of Public Health (MPH) degrees from the Boston University School of Public Health, and a Bachelor of Science (BS) degree in Biology from Boston College. He is a Certified Industrial Hygienist (C.I.H.) and has been involved with infectious disease research and control strategies for over 12 years. During the Covid-19 pandemic, he has appeared on television as a leading expert and published op-eds in newspapers translating science into actionable tips for the public.
The following are highlights shared by Dr. Allen during the Zoom meeting.
Need Help with Online Ministry? UM Communications has seen demand for online church leader training double amid COVID-19 and they’ve stepped up to launch a new set of courses to assist leaders with creating and maintaining engaging online worship experiences in a socially distanced world. Check out what’s offered.
3 Steps to Guard Against Sexual Abuse: Phill Martin, a clergy coach and executive with the National Association of Church Business Administrators, says churches should take proactive steps to guard against the possibility of sexual abuse or misconduct before an incident occurs. See Leading Ideas article
See WPAUMC Sexual Ethics Policy
Building Community Partnerships: Rev. Liddy Barlow’s Powerpoint presentation from last week’s Clergy Conversation on building community partnerships has been posted on the Conference website at wpaumc.org/covid-19-clergy-conversations
Rev. Barlow also recommended a video to learn how to communicate effectively with elected officials. Watch Southwest PA Bread for the World’s 2020 Advocacy Workshop Top Ten Tips for Effective Congressional Office Visits
Want to Preserve Your Church's History? The UMC Commission on Archives and History is offering a free online course that will cover a range of skills needed to become a church historian. The 12-week course will begin Sept. 14 and people can take it at their own pace. Read press release
Leading in Crisis: The General Board of Higher Education and Ministry is offering a series of e-panel discussions for church leaders. Today’s edition dealt was Setting Next Steps when your Feet Are Weary. Watch
Past sessions, including one on Church Finance, are on the GBHEM YouTube Channel
Missionaries Explained“The church exists by mission, just as fire exists by burning. Where there is no mission, there is no Church.” E. Bruner
Missionaries are people that have been called to serve by God. They are witnesses of Christ and serve in many locations (locally, nationally and globally) as well as in many cultures. Missionaries serve within many profession, activities and ministries.
Global Ministries connects The United Methodist Church, its people and congregations to partner with missionaries engaged in God’s global work.
Missionaries are commission and called to serve outside of their home area and or country of origin. They serve in many ways; as pastors, teachers doctors, nurses, evangelists etc.
Global Ministries has many missionary opportunities for individuals in many circumstances. These are:
Finding Peace in an Anxious WorldThe three- day Mission u Session scheduled for July 23-26, 2020 at California U of PA has been cancelled. Because the Spiritual Growth Study, Finding Peace in an Anxious World, edited by Erin James-Brown, seems particularly appropriate for this time, Rev. Lisa Grant, the study leader, and the Mission u team have planned three options:
Mission Volunteer TrainingDue to concerns related to COVID-19, the Mission Volunteer office is postponing in-person training events. It will, however, offer a virtual orientation experience on September 3 and 4, 2020 for all individuals and couples interested in learning more about the Mission Volunteer program or those who are discerning future long-term volunteer service as part of their journey. There is no registration cost to share in the virtual orientation, but please register using the online form below. Registrations will be accepted through August 15, 2020.
Sessions during the Mission Volunteer orientation will be held from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. EDT and will include topics such as The Theology of Mission, Cross-Cultural Expansion, Fundraising for Volunteer Service and more. Participants are expected to prepare by completing required readings provided upon receipt of the online registration and give their full commitment to the learning process and virtual environment. For more information visit Global Ministries.
Volunteers in Mission Opportunties
Rebuild opportunityWPA Missions is looking volunteers willing to help rebuild a home in Reynoldsville, PA in partnership with the Red Cross. A tree fell on a home, so there is need for roof repair on the second floor, including shingles and siding. If you have any construction experience or are willing to offer any assistance please contact the missions office at email@example.com
Global Ministries Virtual Mission Opportunities
Summer Mission Opportunities
WPA missions wants to know what mission opportunities you have been engaged in. We would like to share your story. Please send pictures and stories to firstname.lastname@example.org
Things to look forward to
Starting a New Small Group or Ministry Team? Resource UMC offers Seven Creative Icebreakers to help people get to know each other. See them.
Use the 2020 Social Principles in Your Church! The new Social Principles are a resource the whole church can use. Learn how you can use the Social Principles preface and preamble in your pulpit, Sunday school class, and in advocacy. Visit umcsocialprinciples2020.org/resources
If you’re planning ahead for your youth ministry or looking for something to do next week, Discipleship Ministries recommends the Youth Worker Collective resources. Everything on it is written by people active in youth ministry. Visit youthworkercollective.com/
UMResources: you will find resources to assist you in understanding General Conference and how General Conference works. Also, there is much information on matters that will be addressed 2020 General Conference Session.
Racism and Faith: Three theologians from across the U.S. wrestled with how Christianity can overcome racism at a time when polls show that many white Christians don’t see racial injustice as a problem. Heather Hahn reports on the most recent online panel in the UMC series on dismantling racism. Read story
New Online Course for Christians on Race & Racism: You Are Here: First Steps for White Christians on Race and Racism is an online course for Christians who want to acquire a fundamental understanding of race and racism from a biblical perspective. This four-part self-directed course offers videos featuring Robin DiAngelo and Rev. Dr. Anderson Hooker, reflections, and activities to help people of faith to recognize racism and begin to challenge it in their lives. Enroll here.
Seminary Dean Discusses Racial Justice: Leah Gunning Francis, author and dean of the faculty at Christian Theological Seminary in Indianapolis, bases her anti-racism work on the concept of imago dei — that all beings are created in the image of God. In the latest episode of the "Get Your Spirit in Shape" podcast, she and the Rev. Joe Iovino discuss where The United Methodist Church is already at work in the area of racial justice and what more needs to be done. Listen to episode.
Wake Up Call for White Christian America: By confronting their faith’s legacy of racism, white Christians can build a better future for themselves, and their fellow Americans, writes Robert F. Jones, author of White Too Long: The Legacy of White Supremacy in American Christianity. Read more.
The Conference Anti-Racism Team (ART) compiled a list of suggestions for Western PA churches to address racism. Download it from the Conference's Responding to Racism page.
Listen First! As congregations work toward equality for all, it may be helpful to hear from some local church experts on how to improve communication with people from different racial and ethnic groups. Here are some tips about listening, language choices and more. Read story
Bishops Vow This Time Will Be Different! Watch and learn more about the official launch of the UMC’s renewed effort to dismantle racism and press on to freedom. Bishop Cynthia Moore-Koikoi is one of five bishops in the video announcement on Juneteenth. See video and story
Talking About Race: No matter where you are on your journey of understanding, the resources on the Smithsonian National Museum of African-American History and Culture can help. Explore Talking About Race
Be Part of the Change! How can the church reach out with sensitivity about race and injustice? To effectively communicate beyond your congregation and culture, try to forge a true, interpersonal connection with those you want to reach. It would help to also do some homework, says John Coleman, Communications Director in the Eastern PA Conference. Read more.
United Methodists stand against racism: A new campaign is uniting the denomination against racism. Church leaders can turn to ResourceUMC.org to find the latest diversity and inclusiveness information and tools, including downloadable campaign graphics. Resources to engage members as they listen, act, speak and pray are available at UMC.org/EndRacism.
Learn how United Methodists are taking a stand against racism at UMC.org/EndRacism.
Race and Protest: Two relevant resources regarding race and protest for young people: How to Acknowledge Hurt in Youth Ministry and Tools for Processing Protests with Teens
Racial Justice Conversations: GCORR offers excellent resources to help churches discuss and learn more about racial justice. See Racial Justice Conversations Guide.
Hunger Pandemic: “The difference between the COVID-19 pandemic and the hunger pandemic is that we already have the cure for the hunger pandemic,” writes Rev. Tom Parkinson in a Dutilh UMC blog post. “We know exactly how to cure hunger: by getting food into the bellies of those who need it.” He highlights a way to do that for brothers and sisters in Zimbabwe. Read more
Ride for the Refuge: It’s not too late to participate as a rider or donor in the virtual Ride for the Refuge! You have until the end of September to participate as a rider or donate to a team to support The Refuge ministry of the Erie UM Alliance. Get details and see the leaderboard.
Ministry Partners: The General Council on Finance and Administration has added two companies to its ministry partner program: Subsplash and Ecolab/Guest Supply. GCFA vets ministry partners to make sure they respond to church needs. Subsplash is an online giving platform and Ecolab sells cleaning and food-handling supplies. Read press release
Livestreaming and Licenses
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.
Create a Plan for Re-Engaging Your Community: Life has shifted for every one of us. Our lives within the church have been altered and our community is in isolation. But, this will not last forever. Now is the time to have a plan for re-engaging your community. Now is the time to create an intentional disciple-making system. #SeeAllThePeople will give you the foundation for you and your congregation to get started! Learn more
Faith Community Conversations about Race is a resource about race in America that may be used to help your church bring people together to talk about moving forward bravely and boldly in the name of Christ. The free resource is divided into four videos. See Moving Faith Communities to Fruitful Conversations about Race
Conference Announcements Updated June 12, 2020. Read Bishop's Update on Reopening Churches See What's Next for Churches video with Bishop Cynthia Moore-Koikoi and Dr. Jessica Price. Download our Guidelines for Church Reopening Download Green Phase Guidelines Get take-aways and other info from our twice weekly Covid-19 Clergy Conversations. See our Coronavirus Stimulus and Relief Package information for churches. Check our Covid-19 Church Planning Resources page on Facebook. Due to ... read more
To assist clergy as they strive to meet the on-going challenges of ministry in the age of the novel coronavirus, the Western PA Conference is offering Coaching on Demand. Trained coaches in the Conference are offering their skills at no charge as a ministry to their colleagues. "Right now, we are each navigating personal and professional challenges, new realities, and unexpected ministry opportunities," said the Rev. Amy Wagner, who took a lead role in organizing the Coaching on Demand ... read more
The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? (Psalm 27:1, NRSV) As our world has become encased in fear and uncertainty because of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Western Pennsylvania Conference calls all laity and clergy to an intentional, daily time of prayer. In the midst of the chaos, we need to stand in the power of prayer. On March 24, 2020, Rev. Randall Bain, senior pastor at the Oakland United Methodist ... read more
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Keep Up With Upcoming Events - WPAUMC Conference
The website for upcoming events is: http://www.wpaumc.org/events
See all of the upcoming events in Leadership Development.
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Diversity Development -(https://www.wpaumc.org/diversity)
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Scholarships and Grants -(http://www.umc.org/resources/scholarships)
Also at (http://www.umc.org/resources/scholarshipforms)
Mission Barn - (https://www.wpaumc.org/missionbarn)
UMCOR Relief Supply Network
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The Eastbrook Mission Barn is one of six UMCOR Relief Supply Network depots across the United States.
Mission Barn & UMCOR Supplies- Due to Annual Conference in June being cancelled and therefore the UMCOR collection, Mission Barn Director Katie Peterson is looking for a church willing to be the collection point for their district for UMCOR supplies, cleaning buckets, and hygiene kits on a one or two time basis this summer. Preferably they can keep track of what church brought the donations and then store the kits and supplies in a secure location. People can bring the kits and supplies from the collection directly to the barn or the conference center, or she can arrange to send a truck or trailer to pick them up. Contact: Katie Peterson
Rico Vespa - September 14
Laura Saffell - September 30
Ed Pope and Bonnie Pope- September 7