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Hello Church!

Not the Kind that Jingles, but the Kind that Transforms

I played Space Invaders, Pac Man, Galaga, Asteroids and Donkey Kong.  For those that do not know what I am speaking about, these were some of the popular video games of my youth.  Unlike the video games of today, they could only be played at the neighborhood arcade.  Teenagers cashed in their allowances for quarters, then hurried to the neighborhood arcade to play their favorite video games.  I couldn’t wait until school let out so I could run to the arcade to beat the high score.  Hour after hour, I would reach into my pocket, grab hold of a shiny quarter, and shove it into the machine.  As I look back, I can’t remember a time when I reached into my pocket and I was not able to grab a quarter.  Having an endless supply of quarters was all I could hope for during my video game playing days. That was the change I wanted, the kind that jingled, not the kind that transforms. 
 
“But blessed are those who trust in the Lord and have made the Lord their hope and confidence.” (Jeremiah 17:7, NLT)
 
Change has always been a normal, accepted part of our lives.  Every year, spring changes to summer, summer changes to fall, and fall changes to winter.  Not too long ago, we experienced change as daylight savings time ended. Now it is brighter during the morning commute and darker during the evening commute.  Although the change in season and the end of daylight savings time caused us to adjust our wardrobes, our clocks, and our lifestyles, these changes are accepted as part of our existence in Western Pennsylvania.  But, not all change is accepted and embraced.  Transformational change can be met with pushback because it requires a change in direction, which involves a change of thought, process, and action.  A perceived drawback of change is that change results in things being different; routines are no longer the same.  Many thrive in an atmosphere where the process has already been laid out and all that is needed is to follow that process.  “You pair A with B, then attach C to D, put it all together and the product is E.”  Simple right?  Yes, it is simple, but it may not be transformational.  Over the past few years, we have experienced some life altering events, events that have forced us to look at the world through a different lens.  As a result, we learned to adapt and adjust the way we show the love of Christ to the communities we serve.  We have displayed a renewed energy that has birthed new ministries, new models of leadership, and a renewed spirit throughout the Church.  I am grateful to walk alongside of you as you reach out to your communities in Christ’s love.  Now I encourage you to continue walking boldly into your future.  You are in the midst of a season where change is sometimes happening daily.  You are being transformed by that change.  As people of hope, look forward to your Christ-filled future and embrace what God has in store for you.  Everyone should hope to find some change; not the kind that jingles, but the kind that transforms.   
 

God’s blessings in all we do,
Pastor Ross


Spring 2023 Lay Servant Classes

The Washington District is once again offering Lay Servant Ministry classes for the Spring 2023 Session.  Classes will be held on five Sundays beginning on February 26 through March 26 at First United Methodist Church of Washington, 29 North College St, Washington, PA 15301.  On February 26, classes will begin at 1:30 pm and end at 4:30 pm.  The remaining classes will begin at 2:00 pm and end at 4:30 pm.  A small closing ceremony will be held on March 26 at the end of the day.  Cost for each class is $25.  
Registration deadline is February 6, 2023

  • Basic Course - Pastor James Kimmel and Rosemary Ozvath
  • Leading Worship - Pastor William Lawler and Kim Provance
  • Soul Reset - Breakdown, Breakthrough and the Journey to Wholeness - Pastor Jacob Judy and Jeanie Waters
  • Anti-Racism - God and Race - Pastor James Pond and Leanna Lake

​You can view the brochure with all the information and class descriptions here and register online here.

Class size is limited and advanced registration is required.  If you have any questions, please contact Diana Barnes at dianabarnes622@yahoo.com.  


Statistical Reporting for 2022

Statistical Reports for 2022 are to be completed by Tuesday, January 31. Senior pastors should have received an email from John Wilson, Conference Secretary, on December 5, 2022, with detailed instructions.  The default password (the first time you login) is wpa2022! (all lowercase and note the special character exclamation point at the end). You are asked to change the password the first time you login.  If you have any questions, please contact John Wilson at john.wilson@wpaumc.org.  
 
Year-end Statistical Reports (Login Required)


Fund Balance Report

Fund Balance Reports are due March 1, 2023.  Submit reports to the Washington District Office at washington.office@wpaumc.org or Washington District Office, 29 North College Street, Washington, PA 15301.

Section 258.4(d) of the Book of Discipline makes it mandatory that every local church finance committee “shall make provision for an annual audit of the financial statements of the local church and all its organizations and accounts. The committee shall make a full and complete report to the annual charge conference.” 
Below are resources to help you through the process:


Showing the WAY

The Observer-Reporter featured a new youth group launched by Washington County United Methodist churches called The WAY (Washington Area Youths), which provides area youth with a place to establish relationships with each other and their religion. Read article.
 


The Washington District Ministry Fund

The Washington District Ministry Fund is due March 31, 2023.  The amount is $3 per average attendee.  Checks can be made payable to "Washington District Office" and mailed to 29 North College Street, Washington, PA  15301.  The form is available here.  
 


Mission u 2022

Join Western PA laity and clergy at Olmsted Manor Retreat Center for Mission u 2023, scheduled for March 12-14. This program is based on the theme of community and Rev. Renee' Mikell will lead the study on the book "Who Can We Be Together? A Biblical Exploration of Luke 13" by Candace Simpson. Learn more and register.

The Mission Barn is in need of hygiene kits and cleaning buckets. Supplies are running low. Click for more information on what is included in a kit. Looking to volunteer? The Mission Barn currently has openings on some Saturdays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays from 10-2 for groups 2-15 people. Email Katie at missionbarn@gmail.com to schedule your team.


Scholarships Available

Local church grants available for outreach: The Foundation for Evangelism has opened the 2023 Equipping the Local Church grant cycle. A total of $350,000 is available for grants of $5,000 or $10,000 to small and medium-size congregations, or clusters of churches working together, in a Wesleyan-tradition denomination. A grant application webinar is set for 2-3 p.m. U.S. Eastern time Jan. 26. Learn more.

Scholarship for lay women available: The deadline to apply for the United Women in Faith National Scholarship for lay women is April 18. The scholarships are designed to be used for undergraduate or graduate study or student internships in religion or a related field such as social work. Preference will be given to people affiliated with The United Methodist Church and women involved with UWF. The average scholarship is $1,000, and the maximum is $5,000. Read press release.

Scholarships Available for United Methodist Students! Applications are now open for scholarships from the United Methodist Higher Education Foundation. Every year, UMHEF awards $2+ million to students planning to attend one of the 100+ UM-related colleges, universities, and seminaries across the country. Don’t let finances get in the way of achieving your dreams of a quality education! Apply by March 1. (Scholarships from UMHEF are separate from those offered by the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry.)


UM News

UMC Bishops Ask Church Court for Clarification on 2024 Conference: The Council of Bishops (COB) of The United Methodist Church is petitioning the denomination’s top court for clarification on its recent decision regarding the General Conference that will be held in 2024. Read more

Good and Bad News in State of the Church: In the debut of his “Bar of the Conference” podcast, United Methodist campus minister Derrick Scott III talks to the Rev. Jeremy Smith, senior pastor of First United Methodist in Seattle and longtime blogger on church issues. Smith likens this season for The United Methodist Church to the year's longest night. However, he also believes 2023 will bring better days. Listen to podcast.

Reflecting on 2022: The year in photos: NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UM News) — Amid challenges from an evolving denomination, multiple natural disasters, the war in Ukraine and a continuing struggle to address migration, United Methodists continued to live out their faith and serve their communities in 2022. Photographers from UM News, the denomination's official news service, documented a year in the life of United Methodism worldwide. See photo presentation.

Noteworthy United Methodists Remembered: United Methodists over the past 12 months have marked the passing of influential church leaders, a storied NFL coach, a beloved contemporary Christian music artist, the denomination's first Asian American bishop and a pastor named Bible. Heather Hahn shares remembrances for 40 notable church members memorialized in 2022. Read

Church court: No new elections needed for GC2024: The United Methodist Church’s highest court ruled that new delegate elections “are not required” for the long-delayed and potentially pivotal General Conference, now set for 2024. That means the same lay and clergy delegates can vote at what many United Methodists expect to be a momentous gathering. Read UM News Story

The United Methodist Church has published informative articles relating to frequently asked questions related to the future of The United Methodist Church.  Please take a moment to read these articles: 
Part 1: Theology
Part 2: Human sexuality
Part 3: Misprecpetions and misinformation
Part 4: Misprecpetions and misinformation
Part 5: Voting, delegates, and Discipline violation
Part 6: 
Part 7: BSA and disaffiliation and retired clergy

What is the United Methodist Trust Clause?
What should United Methodist congregations know about disaffiliation?
You can find additional resources and information at Ask The UMC-FAQs


Confirmation Events

Confirmation Events: Confirmation classes are invited to attend one of two afternoon events held on March 30 and 31 to meet Bishop Cynthia Moore-Koikoi and learn more about connectional ministries. Hosted by the Conference staff at Ingomar United Methodist Church in Franklin Park, Journey 2023 offers an opportunity for local church Confirmation Classes to gather together to meet our Bishop, worship, play games, learn with Conference program staff and dive deeper into this thing we call discipleship. Learn more and register


Continuing Education

Stewardship Preaching Institute: Returning for the second year, the Stewardship Preaching Institute (SPI) hosted by the United Methodist Foundation of New England will once again offer education, excellence, exegesis, and encounters in the ministry area of stewardship. This series will feature four individuals who are known for excellence in preaching, including Bishop Cynthia Moore-Koikoi who will present January 18. See more and register.

Early Response Team (ERT) Training: Join us for this an UMCOR certified training for Disaster Response ministries of Volunteers in Mission. Non-United Methodist participants are welcome but will not be badged or deployed through the UMCOR-UMVIM ministry network. Clearances are required from United Methodists on the day of the training. These trainings are scheduled for January 28 (at Ingomar UMC) and February 25 (at Grace UMC Meadville). Register.


Antiracism Summit

Reflections from the Western PA Conference Anti-Racism Summit: Carlen Blackstone, a member of Dutilh UMC in Cranberry Township, reflects on her experience at the Western PA Conference Anti-Racism Summit. This summit was organized by the Conference Anti-Racism team and focused on the intersection of faith and race. Read more.
 


Attention Churches!

Please take time to update your leadership information on the Church Dashboard on the WPAUMC Conference Website HERE.    If you need help with your username or password, please contact the Washington District office at washington.office@wpaumc.org or 724-225-6632 for assistance.  You can access a Church Dashboard User Guide here.


Clergy Dashboard Updates

Clergy Dashboard Updates: All pastors are asked to please update their information on the clergy dashboard. Contact the District Office at washington.office@wpaumc.org or 724-225-6632 if you need help with your Username and/or Password.  
 


NEJ Conference Summary

The Northeastern Jurisdictional Conference of the United Methodist Church met November 1-4 in College Park, Maryland to worship, elect and consecrate a new bishop, celebrate retirees, hear reports, and vote on various legislation. While there were many moments worth celebrating, such as the election of the jurisdiction’s first Hispanic bishop and the retirement of four bishops, the delegation grappled with dead-locked voting during the election of a second bishop and a vital but difficult discussion about racism. Read summary.


Bishop Addresses Disinformation

As churches discern whether to disaffiliate from the United Methodist Church and the Western PA Conference, disinformation about who we are as United Methodists has spread. In this video, Bishop Cynthia Moore-Koikoi addresses some of that disinformation. Video can be found here

She discusses: 

  • The ways in which the United Methodist Church remains unchanged when it comes to our core beliefs
  • The United Methodist Church's foundational documents (and the unlikelihood of these being changed by the denomination)
  • The accountability of bishops
  • Our commitment to the inclusion of theological diverse laity and clergy
Bishop Moore-Koikoi also committed to sharing frequent communication in the upcoming weeks and months to equip leaders with the tools to talk to others with accurate information. 
 


#BeUMC

What makes you proud to #BeUMC?

#BeUMC honors the core values that connect the people of The United Methodist Church (The UMC). This grassroots campaign, built upon powerful stories of congregations and people living their faith, celebrates what draws us to The UMC and what we aspire to be.

The UMC is founded on a Wesleyan theology of grace, anchored in Scripture, and based in the life and teachings of Jesus Christ and the continuing movement of the Holy Spirit.

Share your story! The full story of The UMC reflects all of our interwoven experiences. Consider our common roots and your answer to the question, “Why am I United Methodist?” Then, post a video, photo or written testimony on your preferred social media platform – don’t forget to use the hashtag #BeUMC.  More information and download the video here.

We Are the Church Together Presentation: United Methodist Communications has created a special presentation called We Are the Church Together that will remind congregations of their identity as United Methodists while also inviting them to have constructive conversations about what they hope the future will bring, both for The UMC as a whole and their congregation. Download the customizable presentation

The Mission We Share: Celebrating Our Call: Following God’s call to transform the world might seem impossible, but it’s a reality for United Methodists. Together, our global connection provides and supports a wide variety of robust ministries that change and save lives every day, from health care to education to social justice, and much more. Watch video.


Intentional Missional Alignment Task Force

IMAP Household Description Survey: Since accurate and helpful descriptions of the three Households will be crucial as congregations, laity, and clergy discern their futures, the IMAP Task Force has decided to invite various groups and individuals from across the Annual Conference to assist in developing the Household descriptions. If you are so inclined, please take some time to prayerfully discern which Household you are most likely to join and provide input to the IMAP TF as they do the work to describe each Household. Take survey.

Intentional Missional Alignment Task Force: The IMAP Task Force continues to provide updates on their work. Visit the IMAP webpage to watch a new explanation video about their process and read answers to frequently asked questions.


United Women in Faith

Women Call for Better Climate Response: United Women in Faith has responded to the flooding in Jackson, Mississippi by calling for focused action to address the climate crisis in communities burdened with systemic inequalities. "These communities must be prioritized not only in the rebuilding process but also in the transition to a green and just new economy and green and just new jobs," the women's group said in a Sept. 7 statement. Read press release


Available Grants

CORR Action Fund (CAF) Grant Program: The General Commission on Religion and Race announced a new cycle of the CORR Action Fund (CAF) grant program that will support creative initiatives that will transform the United Methodist Church (UMC) and the world. The 2022-2023 grant program will provide up to $10,000 to fund projects that increase intercultural competency and support vital conversations about race, cultural diversity, and systemic equity leading to action. Apply

2023 Mission Support Grant Application: Guidelines and the application for 2023 Mission Support Grants are now available. The Mission Support Team and the Conference Board of Global Ministries will work together to distribute the Mission Share Funds that have been allocated to promote life-impacting ministries. Download the 2023 application


Deeply Rooted

The Deeply Rooted, Upward Reaching Campaign sent out a fall update sharing progress and encouraging congregations to launch a three-week appeal. Read more

 


Ministry Opportunities

Ministry with the Incarcerated: "Some of the world’s greatest leaders found themselves behind bars at some point in their lives," writes coordinator of UMC Advocacy in Pennsylvania, Joyce Davis. "History tells us just because someone went to jail doesn’t mean they’re worthless, dangerous or beyond redemption. Many former prisoners are capable of becoming great leaders in our communities if we give them the chance." Read PennLive article

As Memory Fades, Ministry Grows: As the number of dementia diagnoses grows, congregations have an opportunity to serve their community in meaningful ways. In Leading Ideas, Jessica L. Anschutz of the Lewis Center shares ideas for pastoral care and spiritual support for persons with dementia and their caregivers. See what they are here https://www.churchleadership.com/leading-ideas/as-memory-fades-ministry-grows-ministry-alongside-persons-with-dementia/


Clergy Community of Practice

UMC/ELCA Shared CCOP Pilot Project: A new shared opportunity  is being launched this fall for clergy who are serving in the United Methodist Church and the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America. Group participation requires 2-4 hours per month in addition to the assigned reading for the sessions.  Both in-person and Zoom options are available.  Each meeting will be led by a trained facilitator who is a clergy peer. Learn more or register.

Clergy Communities of Practice: CCOPs are a type of covenant group meant to support development and focus on engagement with peers, helping to reverse trends of isolation among clergy. Meetings invite participants to share in prayer and fellowship, as well as a time of learning and application with an emphasis is on bringing learning into practice. Learn more or register.


2022 Annual Conference

Five Areas of Focus Videos: The Five Areas of Focus videos shown at Annual Conference are available on YouTube for use in the local church. This week, check out the Abundant Health video highlighting various ministries around health and wellness initiatives in our conference. 

AC Videos and Photos: Videos of the Bishop's State of the Church Address, found here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kOsKLyJGgQY as well as the Five Areas of Focus videos  found here https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL2F3XS7EBSp-9r_uZYNPHVYmRgATWrGWxto share are available on the WPAUMC YouTube channel. 

Additional  photos of the Ordination Service are posted on the WPAUMC Flickr feed. found here https://www.flickr.com/photos/wpaumc/albums/72177720299628499

 A written wrap-up of the 2022 Annual Conference is posted in the news section of the Conference website here. https://www.wpaumc.org/newsdetail/2022-annual-conference-wrap-up-16527814

AC Livestream: Videos and a wrap-up of the 2022 Annual Conference will be available through links on the Annual Conference page of the Conference website in the coming week. Find the links at www.wpaumc.org/AC.


Meet in the Middle Podcast

WPAUMC has a Podcast!

You can subscribe to the Meet in the Middle podcast on Spotify, Google Podcasts, or online here https://meetinthemiddle.buzzsprout.com/1838961   The podcast is brought to you by the WPAUMC Anti-Racism team and covers a variety of topics.

"A space to engage a broad range of topics that encourage civil discourse and promote common good. Each week we consider issues about racial tolerance and inclusion, social justice and equity, peaceable and collaborative relationships, while issuing the reminder to 'Do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with God.'"   


UMCOR Needs and Responses

UMCOR and CWS Launch New Menstrual Hygiene Kits: The United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) and Church World Service (CWS) launched a new joint menstrual hygiene kit initiative to provide essential health and dignity products to vulnerable communities across the U.S. See more


Resources

Leadership Resources

What is the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity? During the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, held Jan. 18-25, Christians everywhere are invited to remember one another in prayer and strengthen the bonds of love and mutual mission shared in Jesus Christ. Ask The UMC, a ministry of United Methodist Communications, has more on the annual observance, which is sponsored by the World Council of Churches and the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity. Read story and See World Council of Churches resources.

Webinar Tackles Racism: A webinar on what the local church can do to combat racism is available for viewing. “Called: Doing God’s Work for the Beloved Community” happened on Dec. 1 and featured Andrew G.I. Hart, assistant professor of theology at Messiah University. Read press release or watch webinar

Committed to The UMC: As churches take votes to disaffiliate, some may wish to remain in the United Methodist Church. Information for those committed to The UMC can find resources here. Return to this page regularly to explore the latest resources as they emerge.

Get bookish in 2023: NASHVILLE, Tenn. — For many United Methodists, a new year is a good time to plan to read more, research a new area of interest or dig deeper in the Bible. Crystal Caviness has recommendations to help with those studious endeavors. Read story


2023 Planning Calendar: Download the calendar that highlights all of the Special Sundays, Awareness Sundays and Annual Conference Sundays. This calendar offers tips and tools to ensure every box is checked to provide an opportunity for your church to come together and make an impact throughout the world. Download

Camping Weekend: Camping Weekend is a Special Sunday to be celebrated on January 28-29, 2023 (or another date chosen by the local church) for the purpose of receiving a Camping Weekend Offering; to promote the continued support of the “Deeply  Rooted, Upward Reaching” campaign; and to encourage participation in the 2023 summer camp season. Download resource toolkit

Human Relations Day Special Sunday: This year, the official date for Human Relations day is January 15, 2023. This 2023 Special Sunday kit provides a full package of ready to use resources to help your church celebrate Human Relations Day and define how we give, why we give and the impact we make through connectional efforts. Download resource kit.

 


Resources for Responding to Racism    more info

Reflections from the Western PA Conference Anti-Racism Summit: Carlen Blackstone, a member of Dutilh UMC in Cranberry Township, reflects on her experience at the Western PA Conference Anti-Racism Summit. This summit was organized by the Conference Anti-Racism team and focused on the intersection of faith and race. Read more

"What Is?" Series: In its new series, the United Methodist Commission on Religion and Race offers a compilation of concise definitions, examples and biblical/theological foundations to create common vocabulary for Christians engaging in anti-racism work. Topics addressed include ableism, cultural bias and gaslighting. See resource. 

Racial Justice Prayer Service Outline: The General Commission on Religion and Race recently released a prayer service outline aimed at helping churches host a racial justice prayer service in their ministry context. Download the prayer service outline

Asking the Hard Questions About Race: The Rev. Giovanni Arroyo poses a difficult question to white United Methodists who say they want an end to racism. “Do you want racial justice enough to voluntarily relinquish some of your power?” A native of Puerto Rico, he knows firsthand what it’s like to be a minority in America, and that experience informs the way he pursues his mission as The United Methodist Church’s point person on inclusion. Read UM News story.  here https://www.umnews.org/en/news/asking-the-hard-questions-about-race
Listen to Our Conexión podcast with Arroyo on racism and Christianity here https://www.resourceumc.org/en/content/our-conexion-episode-1

Racial Justice Prayer and Action Challenge: The General Commission on Religion and Race will launch its Racial Justice Prayer and Action Challenge on Juneteenth, but now’s the time to sign up. Rev. Debbie Hills has submitted one of the prayers. You and your congregation are invited to join in the challenge. Learn more  here https://www.r2hub.org/racial-justice-prayer-action-challenge

African American Methodist Heritage Center: The African American Methodist Heritage Center in Madison, NJ needs money and attention so it can continue to preserve the history of African American Methodists. The center is prioritizing fundraising in 2022 and considering a name change. See UM News story. here https://www.umnews.org/en/news/preserving-black-church-history

Risky Discipleship: Watch a video to learn the story of The Village at Glencliff, a unique respite care community for persons experiencing homelessness, and the risky discipleship required by the
United Methodists who made it happen. Watch  here https://www.umc.org/en/content/risky-discipleship-the-village-at-glencliff

Tips for Building Relationships: Elizabeth Mae Magill wanted to create a food ministry that wasn’t a charity, but a demonstration of Christ’s radical welcome. For months, she did street ministry to get to know food-insecure neighbors, hear their stories, and build relationships. In Leading Ideas, she shares nine practical tips for meeting people and learning their needs. Learn more. 

Discipleship and Anti-Racism: Realize the connection and learn how to have courageous conversations on a difficult topic through a new online course from Discipleship Ministries. There’s no cost. See video and learn more 


Conference News

Below you will find some conference news relevant to Washington District. To see all conference news, go to the News section at the very top of this page.
Jesus Christ is Our Anchor (read more )

9/6/2022

We have this hope, a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters the inner shrine behind the curtain, where Jesus, a forerunner on our behalf has entered, having become a high priest for ever according to the order of Melchizedek.  Hebrews 6:19-20 Siblings in Christ,   I pray that all our souls are anchored in Christ, who is our hope.    This past summer I had the opportunity to rest and relax with my husband and fur baby, be educated around leadership and my African American ... read more


Episcopacy Committee Thanks Bishop Moore-Koikoi (read more )

7/7/2022

The 2021-2022 Committee on Episcopacy today released a statement thanking Bishop Cynthia Moore-Koikoi for her continued care and leadership of the Western Pennsylvania Conference, while she also served with Bishop Sandra Steiner Ball of West Virginia as Interim Bishops of the Harrisburg Area, which includes the Susquehanna Conference. The shared leadership model was announced shortly before Harrisburg Area Bishop Jeremiah Park retired in 2021. The 2021-2022 Committee on Episcopacy of The ... read more


Chenda Lee Named Coordinator of Clergy and Lay Excellence (read more )

4/24/2022

The Rev. Chenda Innis Lee, a lifelong United Methodist and ordained elder in the Virginia Conference, has been selected by the WPA Conference Personnel Committee to serve as the new Coordinator of Clergy and Lay Excellence.  Rev. Lee has been serving as the Regional Coordinator of Spiritual Formation in the Pittsburgh/Butler area since December 1, 2021. She will begin her new position on the Conference Program Staff on July 1, 2022.   “Rev. Lee has a quiet confidence and a deep spiritual ... read more


Quick Links

Mission Barn

The Eastbrook Mission Barn is one of six UMCOR Relief Supply Network depots across the United States.

January Birthdays

Michael Airgood - January 4

January Anniversaries

Ed Hanley and Nancy Hanley- January 26