June 29, 2020
Greetings in the name of the Risen Christ!
It has been said that there are only three universal constants in our world; death, taxes, and the great love of Jesus Christ. The desire for more things we can cling to as constants and our need to seek a level of normalcy has never been more needed in our world today, especially as we navigate the sometimes overwhelming change that has been brought about over the last few months. So where can we look for more constants in our lives? The answer is simple; it is in Christ, who, as Hebrews 13:8 reminds us, is “the same yesterday, today and forever.”
This being my first week in the office as your new District Superintendent reminds me that we get to open a new chapter in life together. A new opportunity to look for constants where they can be found. And as we look for ways to celebrate some of those things that bring about our desire for consistency, we need to go back to the basics of life and turn to our true constant for guidance in all things.
I heard on the radio this morning that this year’s celebration of the Fourth of July with family and friends will probably look different than it has in year’s past. Some people won’t have that large gathering of family, or that neighborhood block party, or even go to see the public displays of fireworks; and that’s okay. Because as our nation celebrates its independence, we as followers of Christ should be looking for ways to celebrate our dependence on Him. And in doing that, we need to start with our own dependence on God, as we help others find this new constant for themselves, a dependence that is solid and sure, true and faithful.
Psalm 25 reminds us:
In you, Lord my God,
I put my trust.
I trust in you;
do not let me be put to shame,
nor let my enemies triumph over me.
No one who hopes in you
will ever be put to shame,
but shame will come on those
who are treacherous without cause.
Show me your ways, Lord,
teach me your paths.
Guide me in your truth and teach me,
for you are God my Savior,
and my hope is in you all day long.
Remember, Lord, your great mercy and love,
for they are from of old.
Do not remember the sins of my youth
and my rebellious ways;
according to your love remember me,
for you, Lord, are good.
Let’s make it easier for our world to see Christ in His church, as we continue to show them the solid rock of Christ, the foundation of our faith, and the great love of God; which is of course, the greatest constant in the universe.
Regional Ordination Services: The dates and times for the three regional ordination services have been set for Saturdays in October and November. Get details at wpaumc.org/AC.
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
Annual Conference 2020
Annual Conference Updates: Keep up with Annual Conference news, see a list of Frequently Asked Questions, download the Appointment book, read reports, and legislation at wpaumc.org/AC.
Clergy: Plan your vacation, weddings, mission trips, etc. around this date and plan to attend.
The 2021 session of the Annual Conference also will be held at the Bayfront Convention Center.
Explore info and resources for COVID-19 ministry with people in the disability community
Millennial Pastor Holds Senior Church Together: Rev. Bryant Phelps is a 29-year-old millennial shepherding a senior-citizen congregation in one of the Dallas zip codes hit hardest by the coronavirus. His efforts to hold the church together and speak prophetically about inequities affecting his African American community drew the attention of columnist Sharon Grigsby. Read column
Standing in Solidarity-6 Ft. Apart! The coronavirus pandemic has reminded us that injustice is routine, too – ingrained in the fabric of society, writes Rev. Susan Henry Crowe of the Board of Church and Society. The systems and structures that routinely oppress have continued to disproportionately impact the most marginalized during COVID-19. See why
Free "Basics of Faith Formation" Download: Get to "the why" behind your ministry. The Directors of Young People’s, Children’s, and Adult’s Ministries at Discipleship Ministries co-wrote this resource. Disciple-making is at the core of your ministry, and this resource will aid you and your team to think intentionally about “the why” behind every opportunity that you create for young people to grow in their faith. Download free
Resuming in-person worship: After weeks of worshiping online, many United Methodist congregations will resume in-person services in the weeks ahead. What might we expect? Read »
Discover the latest Church Leader Guide: Explore local church tools and resources specially designed to help you communicate all the good you can! Our recently updated Church Leader Guide includes:
• Marketing and outreach tools
• Online training courses
• Digital ministry ideas
• Giving resources
Training Opportunities: Join leaders within our jurisdiction as we cover theological and Biblical foundations for mission, intercultural considerations, planning, budgeting, logistics, health & safety, and how to build a mission relationship. Register For other ongoing learning opportunities visit the jurisdictional page.
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.
We regret that the Washington District Picnic scheduled for Saturday, July 11th has been cancelled due health concerns regarding the sharing of food during this COVID pandemic. We hope to schedule something in the future.
WPA Camps and Olmsted Retreat Center
Olmsted Manor Retreat Center: At this time, all of the planned Olmsted events have been cancelled or postponed through the end of June.
Olmsted Manor Take-out Community Dinners: Olmsted is expanding the Community Meals pick-up from 50 meals given out by RSVP each Friday evening to 75 meals each Friday and Tuesday evening from 5-6 pm. There is no cost, but donations will gladly be accepted by check or through our donation page.
Olmsted is now able to serve small clergy family groups and clergy for overnight stays. Food service is not available but you are welcome to bring your own low-prep food or enjoy takeout from Kane’s restaurants. The Olmsted campus, set in the middle of the Allegheny National Forest, is open for exploring or simply relaxing. Come shoot your next video sermon amidst the water and rock formations of the awesome Olmsted estate. Special discount for WPAUMC Pastors: receive 50% off a stay Sundays through Thursdays from now until the end of August. Contact us at (814) 945-6512 or firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule.
New- Now accepting groups of up to 25 people with physical distancing and masking, along with the other CDC recommended protocols for lodging, food service, and meeting space. Interested in booking a group? Check out our guest guidelines and questionnaire and then call to book your next retreat with us.
Upcoming Events at Olmsted:
At The Lake Ministries: Our schedule starts July 17th. ATLM offers opportunities for persons with special needs to enjoy fishing and cruising on Lake Erie. To view the dates and to schedule a charter for your family or group, visit atthelakeministries.org Lots of dates are still available!
Youth Worker/Young People Heads Up: Later this summer, the Youth Worker Collective website will become part of a larger umbrella of ministry resources for young people at an updated UMCyoungpeople.org, the homepage for Young People’s Ministries. Young People’s Ministries is a part of UMC Discipleship Ministries and the crew that runs UMCyoungpeople.org is also runs the Youth Worker Collective, so the same quality content will still be easy to find. Visit umcyoungpeople.org
UMC Student Loans: Loan applications for the January to May 2020 period is open until May 5. Students are eligible to apply for up to $10,000 per calendar year from the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry. Click here for eligibility and application information.
YOUTH INFORMATION: on the web at https://www.wpaumc.org/youthevents
The new meeting dates are as follows:
Monday, May 18, 2020 Liberty
Monday, August 24, 2020 Greenock
Monday, October 26, 2020 Trinity
All meetings are at 7PM.
Where: Olmsted Manor Retreat Center in Ludlow, PA
Sunday, July 26, 2020 to August 5
Summer Licensing School: The 2020 Summer Residential Licensing School will be held from Sunday evening, July 26 - Wednesday, August 5 at Olmsted Manor Retreat Center in Ludlow. Apply as soon as possible. Class size will be limited due to COVID-19 precautions. Get application with details.
Hygiene Kits: UMCOR is accepting requests for Hygiene Kits for shelters. If you know any shelters in the conference in need of Hygiene Kits, please suggest they fill out the Relief Supply Request Form, or have them contact our Disaster Response Coordinator, David Kissinger at email@example.com UMCOR Relief Kits: UMCOR provides relief all around the world and works in partnership with United Methodists everywhere. The Relief Supply Network program provides cleaning kit, hygiene kit ... read more
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
United Methodist Communications can help you communicate all the good you can. Use the new Church Leader Guide to find training courses, outreach tools, marketing support, giving resources, web ministry tips, grant opportunities, information sources, inspirational ideas and more. See guide online
The Lewis Center for Church Leadership’s Top 10 list of trending articles offers you a chance to glean insight and inspiration from the authors and articles most popular with their nearly 20,000 subscribers. See the list
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.
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.
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
Grant Available: Applications for Racial Ethnic Local Church Grants to strengthen ethnic congregations, are due September 1. Learn more
Racial Justice Conversations: GCORR offers excellent resources to help churches discuss and learn more about racial justice. See Racial Justice Conversations Guide.
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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See full list of upcoming webinars at -(www.gbod.org/webinars)
Dawn Hargraves - July 5
Sandy Conti - July 23
Bill Parker - July 30
Ken Custer and Susan Custer- July 6
Jim Lewis and Linda Carol Lewis- July 6
Sue Hoover and Paul E Hoover- July 14
Gale Cobb and Cathy Cobb- July 27