Interlink Printer Out of Business: UMR Communications, which prints and mails the monthly WPAUMC newspaper Interlink will cease operations May 31. The June Interlink, which will be dated May 31, is scheduled to be mailed this week. The board of the independent non-profit UMRC voted on May 16 to shut down due to insurmountable financial difficulties. Read more. Upcoming editions of the Interlink will be posted online in PDF format and news will be posted continuously on the wpaumc.org as Conference staff and leaders explore options for delivery of a newspaper.
Separate the Medium and the Mission: Lovett Weems uses Encyclopaedia Britannica, which has stopped producing bound volumes, as an example of how to remain focused on a mission and grow, while changing with the times. Read more in Leading Ideas.
Pray for Tornado Survivors:Please keep in prayer all those in communities from Texas to Minnesota who have suffered the destructive effects of severe weather over the past week. Especially remember those in Granbury TX, Shawnee OK, Moore OK, where dozens of lives were lost and homes, schools, and medical facilities destroyed in separate events. UMCOR is in contact with the Texas Central Conference and the Oklahoma Conference and asks your prayers for all who have been affected by the Midwest tornadoes.
What Not To Do! Remember that first-responders need to complete their work before volunteers can be of any real help. Do not self-deploy to a disaster area. It takes time for emergency responders to complete their tasks and assess needs. Read more from Disaster Response leaders.
Don’t Underestimate Need for Prayer: Rev. D.A. Bennett, pastor of St. Andrew’s UMC in Moore, OK, and his family were featured yesterday on NPR’s Here and Now. He was one of the anxious parents with children in South Moore High School waiting to hear if his son had survived the May 20 tornado. His words to the reporters were powerful. Like many who were asked what people could do, he called for prayer, saying,. “Do not underestimate how desperately we need prayers.” Read and listen.
How to Help After Tornadoes: With a gift to UMCOR, you can be there to help. UMCOR provides assistance and spiritual support to survivors when they need it most. Donors can be sure that 100 percent of their gifts go directly toward disaster response.
Donating to UMCOR through WPAUMC: To donate to UMCOR by check, mail checks payable to WPAUMC, noting US Disaster Response, UMCOR Advance 901670 –Tornado, to the Conference Treasurer, United Methodist Center, Box 5002, Cranberry Twp., PA 16066-0002.
Buckets and Kits Needed: UMCOR’s material resource ministry provides people who sit in the pew an opportunity to use their hands in a tangible way to respond to disasters and help individuals all over the world when they cannot personally go and volunteer. They are still the hands of Christ that have put the kit together. Get kit recipes. Cleaning buckets and other kits are collected at Western PA’s Eastbrook Mission Barn for UMCOR.
Kits at Annual Conference: Kits and material for kits will be collected at Annual Conference – in the parking lot behind the REC building.
Ministry with Children Conference: Rejuvenate your spirit at a pre-conference retreat July 22, then connect with other leaders at the 2013 UMC Conference on Ministry with Children from July 23-26 in Greenville, SC. It’s sponsored by the General Board of Discipleship. Get details.
Online Classes for Church Members: UM Communications will offer two online courses from June 19-July 31. You can start whenever it fits your schedule and proceed at your own pace. A course facilitator responds to questions in an online forum. United Methodism 101 is for for church members who want to know more about the denomination. It includes four web-based lessions with interactive features that each take about 30 minutes to complete. The cost is $9.99. Register. For those involved in stewardship ministries, Turning Connectional Living into Connectional Giving is a free four-part course worth one CEU. Register.
Cokesbury NEXT: Feeling lost without the Cokesbury store? Don’t know where to get resources for new programs or classes? Cokesbury can still help—whenever you need it. Check out this video to learn how. Cheryl Cotten is our in-Conference representative.
New Grads Get $25 from Credit Union! A Grad Account from Keystone UM Federal Credit Union has everything a new high school or college graduate needs to get started on the next chapter in life. Open to graduates 18-24 years of age, this special account includes a $25 graduation gift, no-fee debit card, free checking with 150 free checks, Visa credit card, online banking, paperless e-statements, and more. Help ensure that the new grad in your life has what it takes to succeed with Grad Account from a financial institution you can trust. For more info, visit www.keystoneumfcu.org or call (724) 252-3200.
Involved in Health/Wellness Ministries? You’re invited to the first conference-wide gathering of parish nurses, health ministers and others involved in health and wholeness initiatives. Join the group at Grove City College for the Thursday, June 13 Laity Academy session A Wesleyan RX for Ministry to the Whole Person at 9:30 a.m. (You must register, but it’s free.) It will be followed by a lunch meeting at 11:30 a.m. Bring your own lunch or buy it at the student union. Get details.
Down to the Wire: May 31 is the last day to log your miles for the Golden Sneaker Challenge. Go to wpaumc.org/walkchallenge. The district with the most miles walked (or equivalent physical activity) will receive the coveted Golden Sneaker during annual conference.
Orientation to Ministry: Anyone who wants to learn more about set-apart ministries of the UMC is invited to attend an orientation from 2-5 p.m., Wednesday, June 12 at Sticht Hall in the HAL building at Grove City College. The event is sponsored by the Board of Ordained Ministry. Pre-register by June 10 or learn more by emailing Faith Geer (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Janet Lord (email@example.com).
Tibetan Bon Leader to Visit Pittsburgh: The Menri Trizin, head of one of the world’s oldest religions will visit Pittsburgh Saturday to teach at a fundraiser for a community of nuns in India. The session and dinner to follow will be at First UMC in Pittsburgh’s Shadyside area. Read Post-Gazette story.
The Cosmic Christ and Historical Jesus: Theologian/author/activist Matthew Fox and author/mystic Andrew Harvey will offer the second of 12 ChristPath Seminars at First UMC of Pittsburgh on June 28-30. Harvey and Fox have authored over 60 books on spirituality, Christianity, and culture and will be integrating their combined wisdom on the “The Cosmic Christ and the Historical Jesus. ” Dr. Bruce Chilton, early Christianity scholar and author of Rabbi Jesus: An Intimate Biography will be their guest on Saturday evening. All three will participate in 10 a.m. worship at First UMC on Sunday. The seminar runs from 7p.m. June 28 to 1p.m. on June 30 and is available on-site or through live streaming. Registration is $50 at www.ChristPath.org.
College Ministers Gathering: United Methodist collegiate ministers will join with colleagues from at least five mainline denominations in Chicago this summer to explore how they can work together in the increasingly diverse and pluralistic atmosphere of the college campus. The event, Shared Space, will begin with a lecture and time of interaction with Diana Butler Bass, author of the best-selling “Christianity After Religion.” The event will be held June 26-29 at Loyola University. Register by May 24.
Censoring the Bible: On Ministry Matters, Dave Barnhart says preachers and teachers use three ways to give people a skewed view of the Bible. By doing so, he argues, they silence God. Read more.
Green Colleges: Allegheny College is among 17 United Methodist colleges listed in the 2013 edition of The Princeton Review’s Guide to 322 Green Colleges. It was the second year that Allegheny received high marks for improving the quality of life and caring for the enviroment. Mt. Union, Ohio Wesleyan and Dickinson also made the list. Read more.
Thieves Hit Cambria Churches: WJAC-TV reported that Summit Chapel UMC was one of three Cambria County churches hit by thieves over the weekend. Read report.
Facebook Fakes Pose as Pastors: The Centre Daily Times picked up the story about scammers posing as religious leaders on Facebook, using the Rev. Adam Hamilton of the Church of the Resurrection in Leawood, KS as an example.
Greenstone Celebrates 200! The Post-Gazette ran a story on Greenstone UMC’s 200th anniversary. Read it.
Appointment Changes: Several have appeared on our website this week at wpaumc.org/appointments.
Bishops to Oversee UMAdvocacy PA: United Methodist Advocacy in Pennsylvania, which provides a voice of faith in the halls of the state capitol, will cease to exist as a non-profit corporation and become a ministry under Pennsylvania’s three bishops, beginning July 1. Learn more.
AC2013: There’s an App for that! You can view the Annual Conference agenda, keep track of the Twitter feed, get a map of Grove City College, and upload your own pictures from the conference session for all to see. Learn more. Register for AC and related events and get updates at WPAUMC.org/AC2013.
Order AC2013 Shirts: T-shirts with the WPAUMC logo AND the Annual Conference 2013 “Disciples Making Disciples” logo, as well as, polo shirts with the WPAUMC logo will be available at annual conference. But you have to pre-order online. They come in a variety of sizes and colors. Get more info.
Retired Clergy Lunch: The annual conference retired clergy luncheon will be held on Friday, June 14, 2013 at noon in a private dining room in the Rathburn Building at Grove City College. (It’s a new building located behind the chapel). All retired clergy and their spouses are invited. The deadline to register and pay has been extended to May 22. Get details.
UMW Dinner: The UMW will hold a dinner on Friday, June 14 during annual conference. Reservations may be made on the Conference website, but payment must be sent to Sharon Gregory by May 31. Space is limited. Get details.
The Marketplace: The Clergy Spouse Brunch at annual conference will provide space for spouses to sell their handmade crafts, culinary creations or home-based business products. The event will also feature musical presentations by harpists Anne Phipps and Emily Hayes. Reservations and payments are due May 25. Learn more.
Orientation to Ministry Event: The Conference Board of Ordained Ministry is sponsoring an Orientation to Ministry event immediately prior to Annual Conference. It will be held on Wednesday, June 12 from 2 – 5 p.m. in Sticht Hall (in the Hall of Arts and Letters) at Grove City College. This event is now a requirement for anyone pursuing ministry, but it is open to anyone who would like to learn more about the various types of set-apart ministry in the UMC. Representatives will be available to speak opportunities including CLM, professional certification, local pastor, and ordained ministry. Pre-registration is requested and can be completed by emailing either Faith Geer (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Janet Lord (email@example.com) prior to June 10.
Help Set Up AC Cokesbury Display! Cheryl Cotton, the Western PA customer service representative for Cokesbury, needs volunteers to help with the Cokesbury "store" at Annual Conference. Volunteers are needed to set-up on Wednesday, June 12 and to tear-down on Saturday, June 15. Contact Cheryl at 412-918-0427 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Young Adult Work Team: UM Church Union is forming a young adult work team to help with Hurricane Sandy recovery in Crisfield, MD from August 18-23. Cost is estimated to be $300. Get details. Contact Rev. Stephanie Gottschalk at email@example.com with questions and to apply.
Young Adult Oasis: The timing of the above-mentioned young adult mission trip coincides nicely with the NEJ Young Adult event called The Oasis from Aug.16-18 in Washington, DC. Find out more about Restoration Generation and register for The Oasis at www.resgenumc.org
Apply for Mission Key Awards by May 20! Mission Key Awards recognize the efforts of local congregations in the area of missions. Three levels of awards are given: bronze, silver, and gold. Each is dependent upon the church paying its apportionments in full for the 2012 year and the number of mission-related actions from a qualifying list. Check out the qualifying list and download an application or contact Kenneth Haines at 814-842-3857 for the list and application. Send applications to Kenneth A Haines, firstname.lastname@example.org or PO Box 601, Hyndman, PA 15545.
Register for Mission u: Mission u is for adults and youth with a passion for mission and for those who want a family mission experience. In addition to Mission u activities and classes, Conference Mission Coordinator Diane Miller will lead a Volunteers in Mission team during afternoons (Tuesday-Thursday) at Mission u. If you have questions, call Diane at 814-498-2308). To get brochure/registration forms or register online for Mission u, go to the July calendar on the WPAUMC website and click on the event of your choice – Youth Mission u (July 7-12) or the July 8-12 weekday or July 12-14 weekend for adults and children.
Roma in the News: The Roma people of Eastern Europe are the subject of the geographic study at Mission u this summer. The New York Times had a feature article likening the struggle to integrate them into Slovakian life to the efforts to end segregation in the U.S. Read it.
Damascus Gate Demonstrations: Tina Whitehead reports that she was caught in Nakba Day demonstrations at Damascus Gate. “First had to scramble to get out of range of the water cannons. Then came the police on their horses. Then some stone throwing. Later in the evening was surprised by how quiet it was going into Ramallah.” See photos.
How Facebook Changes Affect You: In March, Facebook announced a major update to the news feed. Watch a slideshow to learn about the changes and how you can use them to your church's advantage.
Engage Your Community with Social Media: Rather than waiting for people in your community to find you, try engaging them through social media. Find out how and what NOT to do.
Rethink VBS! Promotion is important for a successful VBS. UM Communications offers some tips from generating interest in your VBS and for keeping people connected after VBS has ended. Learn more.
Golf for a Cause: If you’re not going to annual conference, you can support Family Promise (www.familypromise.org) and The Nyadire Connection (www.nyadire.org) while you have fun playing golf on June 15. Invite your friends to join you for a 4 person scramble with a shotgun start at 9 am at the Ponderosa Golf Course in Hookstown, PA (www.ponderosagolfcourse.com). The event includes lunch at the turn, and after the golf, a dinner and awards reception. Included with your online registration is a 1-year subscription to Golf Digest (a $10 value). Click here to learn more and register.
Golf for a Cause AFTER Annual Conference: The 17th annual golf tournament to support The Refuge, the Erie UM Alliance’s emergency shelter for homeless families, will be held at noon Monday, June 17 at Riverside Golf Course in Cambridge Springs. The cost is $65. It’s a four-person scramble format with skill prizes and a trophies to top teams. Mail checks payable to The Refuge for $65 per person to Cal Close, 10314 Sharp Rd., Waterford, PA 16441.Questions? Call Cal at 814-796-4489 or Jim Renshaw at 814-833-1222.
Blessing of the Riders: Community UMC will host its fourth annual blessing of the riders on Saturday afternoon May 18 at the church on Route 130 in Harrison City. There will be live music, food and lots of bikes from 1-4 p.m., with the blessing about 3 p.m. Check out the promotional video.
Gospel Concert: Garden City UMC’s Spring Full Gospel Concert featuring the Mt. Ararat Men’s Choir is scheduled for 4 p.m., Sunday, June 2 at the church. A free will offering will benefit the Richard Payne Laity Scholarship Fund to develop tomorrow’s Christian leaders.
Poverty as a Childhood Disease: Children in the U.S. suffer from poverty-related conditions, and more professional groups are urging that poverty be treated as a childhood disease. Learn more in a New York Times blog post by Perri Klass, M.D.
Child Advocacy Ministry Event: Join clergy, seminarians, Christian educators, young adult leaders and other faith-based advocates for children at CDF Haley Farm in Clinton, Tennessee, in July for the 2013 Proctor Institute for Child Advocacy Ministry. It offers five days of spiritual renewal, networking, movement building workshops, and continuing education about the urgent needs of children. Once home to the late Roots author Alex Haley,CDF Haley Farm is the spiritual home of the children's movement
Aldersgate Anniversary: May 24, 2013 marks the 275th Anniversary of John Wesley's Aldersgate Experience. To commemorate the event, the World Methodist Council would like to hear your stories of faith. Here's how to share...
Making Social Principles More Global: Based on a 2012 General Conference directive, the denomination’s Connectional Table is launching an effort to make the Social Principles more global. This is no easy task. Read more and test your knowledge.
Agency Calls Gosnell Actions Reprehensible: The UM Board of Church of Society issued a statement yesterday saying, “Both those who oppose abortion and those who support it find the illegal and immoral actions of Dr. (Kermit) Gosnell reprehensible.” Gosnell was convicted Monday of three counts of first-degree murder. “What he did was not just against the United Methodist Social Principles; it was against the basic laws of this country and edicts of humanity,” the statement said. “Christians should not use this case as an opportunity to point fingers or cast stones at one another. Rather, all members of The United Methodist Church must take seriously our shared responsibility for the sanctity of all human life — at all stages of life.”
No Regrets for Mullen: Martha Mullen, the United Methodist from Virginia who arranged for the burial of Boston Marathon bombing suspect Tamarlan Tsarnaev, says she has no regrets. The United Seminary graduate said she was motivated by her faith and had the support of her pastor. "Nobody is without sin," she told reporters. "Certainly this was a horrific act, but he's dead and what happened is between him and God. We just need to bury his body and move forward. Read more
Press Club of WPA Honors Jones: Dr. Nancy C. Jones, a member of West View UMC who serves on the Conference Communications Commission and is active in the Pittsburgh District UMW, received the Press Club of Western Pennsylvania’s 2013 Service to Journalism Award. She was honored at the May 13 Golden Quill Awards dinner for her contributions to journalism education. Jones worked for newspapers in Virginia and Florida and the Associated Press Louisville bureau before becoming an assistant professor at Penn State’s School of Journalism. Later she chaired the journalism departments at Duquesne University and Point Park College and directed Point Park’s graduate journalism program.
Food Pantry Gets Surprise: Volunteers at the Plum Food Pantry at Holiday Park UMC got a surprise Tuesday night when a local resident walking in with an $8,000 donation, according to a Triblive story.
Pre-Conference Journal Online Now! The 2013 Preconference Journal is now available on the Conference website. It includes proposed legislation, reports from various teams and agencies, and projected 2014 apportionments. Print copies will be mailed to Annual Conference members the last week of May. You can get to it from wpaumc.org/AC2013.
AC2013 Registration Update: Registration for annual conference is proceeding smoothly, with 425 already signed up and only a few questions/issues. To register for the conference, the Lay Academy, child care, Recess, the clergy spouse brunch, etc. go to wpaumc.org/AC2013. Check back often for updates.
Bishops’ Border Immersion: Bishop Thomas J. Bickerton joined other active UM bishops who traveled to the U.S. border with Mexico yesterday to immerse themselves in the reality of life there and sharpen their focus on how the church can be in ministry to those in border areas. The active bishops are meeting in San Diego. Read more or Watch slideshow.
Share the Love, Save Lives for Mother’s Day! Watch and share this video, then make a donation to Imagine No Malaria in honor of a mother, aunt, sister, teacher, friend or a woman who has nurtured you over the years. Your tax-deductible gift will all go to the work of the Imagine No Malaria campaign.
Moms for Moms Advocacy Campaign: The Imagine No Malaria advocacy campaign is asking mothers (and others) to sign on to a "Moms for Moms" congressional petition to preserve U.S. government global health funding. With funding cuts, we risk losing the great gains we have made in our fight against diseases of poverty like malaria, tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS. The petition drive runs through Mother’s Day 2013 and they will be delivered to members of Congress next Tuesday.
Killer in the Dark: UM Communications has released an updated version of the Imagine No Malaria documentary, Killer in the Dark: An Extraordinary Effort to Combat Malaria,” in collaboration with the Interfaith Broadcasting Commission. Originally produced in 2011, it is about the denomination’s work to help make the world malaria-free. The sequel, set to air on NBC affiliates from now through November 3, reflects new research and scientific advancements in the fight against malaria. Actress Pauley Perrette, who stars in the TV series “NCIS,” narrates the documentary. An active member of Hollywood UMC, she donated her time and services to the effort. The show is set to air on WICU-TV in Erie on June 2. It’s also expected to air on WJAC Johnstown, but a date has not yet been confirmed. Ask your NBC affiliate to air A Killer in the Dark or thank them if it’s already scheduled.
Roma Travel Journal: Volunteers in Mission Coordinator Diane Miller is heading back from 15 days in Eastern Europe, where she led a study team to connect with and learn about the Roma people. Read her latest daily blog posts and see some photos. The Roma are the subject of the geographic study at this year’s Mission u.
Benefit from UMC Advertising! If your church has projects planned for Change the World weekend May 18-19, be sure you register them with Rethink Church. If you don’t, you won’t benefit from the web-based advertising that helps people to see church as more than a Sunday morning activity. Go to Rethinkchurch.org to see what’s listed for your church.
Peace with Justice Sunday is May 26! Gifts to the church-wide Special Sunday appeal change lives in places where the joy of knowing Christ is mixed with the tragedy of violence. Read about some examples and get resources at umcgiving.org .
Are You a Savvy Donor? Many who try to help after a disaster are not. Take UMCOR’s quiz.
Relief Supplies Needed: Relief-supply kits are desperately needed. UMCOR depots are running low in their inventory of layette, sewing, and bedding kits. Visit the UMCOR Relief-Supplies webpage to learn how to assemble these kits and help UMCOR meet needs worldwide. They can be delivered to the our Mission Barn at Eastbrook UMC.
Fair Trade Day is May 11, but Fair Trade events are going on most of the month. Check out this video and make a Fair Trade purchase this month. The newest area in the Fair Trade movement is clothing, especially after last month’s factory collapse that killed 800 in Bangladesh, according to today’s New York Times.
May is Mental Health Awareness Month in the United States. Find info here. Just as Jesus healed people struggling with mental, emotional and physical ailments, United Methodists reach out to their sisters and brothers who seek healing. United Methodist News Service shares stories of individuals and congregations tackling the challenges of mental health through a variety of ministries.
Imagining the Small Church: In his new book, Steve Willis celebrates the simplicity of the healthy small church and the nimble way it can respond to needs. But the book’s energy, writes Lewis Parks, is in the argument that these churches are assailed by “overbearing central culture values” that measure success in terms of size, constant growth, and ability to meet consumer needs and by denominational leaders prone to compromise with those values. Read more from Parks’ review in Leading Ideas.
Like Jesus or the Pharisees? Recent Barna Group research found that more than half of self-identified Christians in the U.S. show attitudes and actions that are more like the Pharisees than like Jesus. Read more.
Offensive Labels? Applying the label “Pharisaical” to certain attributes in Barna report cited above offended the Rev. Taylor Burton Edwards, who was raised a Southern Baptist in a Jewish neighborhood. He says it’s historically problematic to contrast “Christlike” and “like the Pharisees.” Read why.
Cokesbury’s a Click or Call Away: Now that the Cokesbury stores have closed, trained community resource consultants across the United States are providing quick access to resources and friendly customer service. Kind of like your own personal shopper. Ours is Cheryl Cotten. You can reach her at 412-918-0427 or email@example.com. Browse available materials at cokesbury.com.
How to Welcome New Youth: Each Spring or Summer, new youth pop their heads into the church youth room, ready to get involved in youth ministry. They may be a little scared. Stephen Ingram gives some step-by-step instructions on welcoming “newbies” on OrganicStudentMinistry.com
revGo? REVGO.org is a collaborate effort of United Methodist ministries involving young adults in mission. According to the website, it’s about “revving our missional engines in support of young adults. It’s about reviving generative connections among the many ministries who engage these young people. It’s about revamping the way the church hears about and is invited to support this amazing movement among young disciples. Learn more at revGO.org.
Ministry Beyond the Seniors Luncheon: One important ministry model for congregations seeking to develop a comprehensive older adult ministry is the S.E.N.I.O.R.S. Ministry model, writes Rev. Richard Gentzler, director of the UMC’s Center on Aging and Older Adult Ministries. The seven components are Spiritual, Enrichment, Nutrition (Wellness), Intergenerational, Outreach, Recreation and Service. Read more.
Retired Seminary Dean to Face Church Trial: The Christian Post reports today that Dr. Thomas W. Ogletree, professor emeritus at Yale Divinity School and a retired UMC elder, will face a church trial for officiating at his gay son’s wedding last year in New York. UM News Service reported on the situation Monday, and Ogletree himself explained his reasoning on the Washington Post’s On Faith blog today
Dallas Willard Dies at 77: Dallas Willard, a professor and author specializing in Christian spiritual formation, died early Wednesday morning at age 77 after a battle with cancer. Read more
Walk a Day in My Shoes: The Johnstown Tribune-Democrat listed some of the choices those living in poverty must make each day as part of a story about the May 21 poverty simulation that will be held at Greater Johnstown High School. Rev. Wayne Cleary is quoted in the article.
Annual Conference Registration Open: Go online to wpaumc.org/AC2013 to register for the 2013 annual conference, as well as child care or Recess for children in grades K-6. You’ll find links to other information on the page too. It will be updated regularly as additional events are announced and registrations open. Lay Academy registration will be ready soon.
Annual Conference Hotels Missing Link: In last week’s enews, the link to the list of Grove City hotels offering discounted rates for annual conference (if booked by May 10) was missing. Here it is.
Reports from the Roma: Conference Mission Coordinator Diane Miller has been reporting back daily from her travels to learn more about the Roma people in Eastern Europe. GBGM Missionary Michael Airgood of Kane, who serves in Ukraine, joined Diane and her group during the early part of the trip. Read her Roma Travel Journal. (Although the posts are listed in descending order, you may want to start reading with #1.)
GBGM Grant to Aid Roma Ministry: Among grants approved by the General Board of Global Ministries last month was $50,000 to support a new building for the oldest United Methodist Roma congregation in Europe. The Alsózsolca UMC in the southeastern Hungarian town of the same name has existed since 1952. Worshiping first in homes and then in a small building, the church began construction of a new structure with worship, education, and community space in late 2010 but ran out of funds before completing it. The Roma–often pejoratively called "gypsies"–are a growing minority in the area.
Connect in Mission: For more information on GBGM’s recent actions, check out the latest ConnectNmission newsletter, with a prayer for peace in Korea, a report on the strides made in Haiti earthquake recovery, and info on changes to the young adult missionary programs.
Youth Worker Awards: Nominate a youth worker for an outstanding achievement award to be presented at the 2013 annual conference by downloading and completing this form. Awards will go to a profession youth worker and a volunteer youth worker. Nominations should be submitted to Conference Youth Coordinator Renaye Hoffman by May 25.
Attitudinal and Architectural Accessibility: Rev. Debbie Hills and Barb Baird of the Conference Disability Concerns Committee will lead a workshop on the need for architectural and attitudinal accessibility for churches in the Erie-Meadville and Franklin districts from 6-9 p.m., Thursday, May 16 at Hickory UMC in Hermitage. Download a brochure.
Committed to Christ Stewardship Webinar: The newest resource on the Stewardship scene is Committed to Christ: Six Steps to a Generous Life. Author Rev. Bob Crossman joins a May 16 Board of Discipleship webinar to share the journey that led him to create this resource and the impact it is having on churches large and small across the UMC. It’s FREE and it starts at 7:30 p.m. EDT. Click here to register.
Mittelberg Message Reaches Many: Rev. John Emigh reports that 250 people attended last weekend’s Evangelism Clinics with Mark Mittelberg and more than 650 heard him at worship services at Grace UMC in Indiana. The church ran an ad in the Indiana newspaper and interviewed Mittelberg on a local radio station. Check out photos from the clinics.
Age Discrimination in Clergy Recruitment? The Texas Conference has stirred controversy with proposed changes to its minimum standards for ordained ministry to discourage people over 45 from becoming candidates. Jan Love, dean of the Candler School of Theology in Atlanta, says it wouldn’t surprise her to see other conferences move in this direction. The Texas Conference Board of Ordained Ministry is seeking feedback through September and won’t make any final decision until October. But the possible changes have sparked debate across the UM blogosphere. Some call it an example of blatant age discrimination, while others hail it as a welcome consideration for serving the needs of tomorrow’s church.
Mission Focus Key in U.S. Protestant Church: The American Protestant church’s great innovation was its voluntary organization, but organization alone did not guarantee success. The real key to thriving is focus on mission, says one of the nation’s top church historians. Read a Q&A on Duke Divinity’s Faith and Leadership website.
Clergy Peer Groups: When professor and researcher Penny Long Marler told a UM bishop about some positive research on the value of clergy peer groups, he expressed surprise. He said that there didn’t seem to be any point to a group he and some fellow bishops were required to participate in. “All people did was complain,” she quotes him as saying. Marler offers some observations on what makes peer groups successful and why some don’t work in this blog post.
Think Theologically About Digital Technology: Leaders in faith communities need more than primers in building websites and using social media. Christian Theological Seminary offers the New Media Project to help religious leaders think theologically about digital technology. Explore the project on its website. There’s a blog, case studies, and theological essays.
Obituaries: Funeral services will be held Thursday, May 2 at Christ UMC in Bethel Park for the Rev. Conway Keibler, 85, who passed away on Saturday night. Read obituary.
Classifieds: Oakland UMC in Johnstown has joined the list of churches searching for children’s or youth ministry directors. Read our classifieds.
Appointment Changes: Some newly announced appointment changes have been added to the list on our website. Visit wpaumc.org/appointments.
50 Ways to Welcome New Pastor: If your congregation will receive a new pastor this year, you may want to share the updated pdf 50 Ways to Welcome your New Pastor from the Lewis Center for Church Leadership. OR—if you only need 40 ways—check out this list on Ministry Matters. Might be fun to compare the two.
The Elephant in the Church: In times of pastoral change—and other times—older, long-time church members may wonder what a young pastor fresh out of seminary can team them. Plenty, writes Lew Parks in a Ministry Matters post. The pastor need only have the courage to point out the proverbial elephant in the room.
Diverse Church in White Suburbs: How’d that happen? Watch this UMTV report about Garfield Memorial UMC in the Cleveland suburbs, which casts a wide net in every direction to welcome all ages, races and socio-economic groups.
Windber Calvary Youth Aid in Flood Recovery: The Johnstown Tribune-Democrat reported on the Really Outrageous Christian Kids youth group’s Volunteers in Mission trip to help in the on-going flood recovery in the Susquehanna Conference. Read story.
National Day of Prayer Events: Revs. Marvin Watson and Paul Fiedhoff are pictured in the Connellsville Courier along with a story on National Day of prayer events in the Laurel Mountain area. The Tribune-Democrat also ran a story on events slated around Johnstown in conjunction with Thursday’s National Day of Prayer. Read it.
Bridges Out of Poverty: A Tribune-Review story based on an informational meeting at Latrobe UMC tells how the Circles Initiative is helping families move out of poverty in Westmoreland County.
Erie:Trinity Celebrates 50: The Erie Times-News featured the church in a celebration notice.
Resources for Times of Tragedy: Numerous resources are available from the General Board of Discipleship (GBOD) to help congregations deal with the aftermath of the bombings at the Boston Marathon on Monday. Resources include articles on how to deal with trauma, including how to talk with children about the events in Boston; a list of hymns and songs in response to terrorism; appropriate calls to worship and an act of praise response to terrorism. See resources.
Choose Love Over Fear: Alexx Wood of the New England Conference shares how Old West Church, a United Methodist congregation in Boston’s Hope District, opened its door Tuesday night for people to grieve, pray and find a way toward healing. Learn more. The page includes a link to other stories and a list of services.
May is Mental Health Month: Mental Health Month was created 50 years ago to raise awareness about mental health conditions and the importance of mental wellness for all. Our Conference Health as Wellness Team recommends checking out the information and resources available in Mental Health Ministries’spring newsletter.
Addressing Suicide: As the suicide of Rick Warren's son Matthew brings renewed attention to mental health, depression, and suicide, Al Hsu writes on Christianity Today’s website that his case is not uncommon. Every 15 minutes, someone in the United States takes his or her own life. Suicide occurs among Christians at essentially the same rate as non-Christians. Read more from Hsu, author of Grieving a Suicide: A Loved One's Search for Comfort, Answers and Hope
World Malaria Day is April 25: Invite your friends to a party to watch HBO’s new movie Mary and Martha. It stars Hillary Swank and Brenda Blethyn as two women who meet in Africa and work to help raise awareness of the preventable, treatable disease that kills a child every 60 seconds. Learn more and download a party kit.
Concerned About Media Addiction? Consider attending God and the Media, an event aimed at helping individuals and families evaluate the benefits and pitfalls of digital media use by youth and adults. Cabot UMC is hosting the event Friday evening, April 26 and Saturday, April 27. PhillipTelfer, founder of Media Talk 101, a nonprofit ministry aimed at providing biblical help for living in today’s pervasive media culture, will be the keynote speaker.
Explore Open Table Poverty Ministry: Open Table is a ministry that trains church members to partner with individuals and families living in poverty to develop and implement plans to move to sustainability. On May 1, Jon Katov, founder of Open Table, and Charley Hodges, whose church in Jamestown NY is using the model, will be in Pittsburgh to meet with members of Hot Metal Bridge Faith Community and others interested in learning more about the ministry. Anyone interested is invited to drop by Hot Metal on Pittsburgh’s Southside from 9:30-11 a.m. on Wednesday, May 1.
The Poor in Ministry: The Rev. Paul Slentz says the poor can be very effective in ministry because the “least of these” are people they know and understand. He is the pastor of Sixty-First Avenue United Methodist Church in Nashville, a small congregation whose membership mostly have incomes below poverty level. Almost all members are engaged in ministries of service. Learn more.
Welfare:What’s in a Name? The name Department of Public Welfare was certainly an improvement over the names of the two Pennsylvania agencies that were merged to form it 90 years ago, says a Philadelphia Inquirer story about efforts to change the name to Department of Human Services. But there’s growing bipartisan support to change it for several reasons. Steve Drachler of UM Advocacy in PA is quoted in the story. Read more.
Erie Alliance Benefit Concert: Erie United Methodist Alliance has a new logo, a new tagline and a new website – and a benefit concert with Tennessee Backporch scheduled for April 26. Its new mission statement: “Centered in Christ's love and compassion, EUMA is a ministry providing hope and the promise of a brighter future to the homeless members of our community.” Those who work and volunteer at EUMA remain committed to its purpose of providing homeless and in-need people with safe shelter, basic necessities, and life skills training as they work toward achieving their greatest potential.
Walk-Ins Welcome at Evangelism Clinics: Organizers of this weekend’s Clinics on Evangelism with Mark Mittelberg say walk-ins are welcome at the events: Saturday, April 20 at Charter Oak UMC and Sunday, April 21 at Lakeside UMC in DuBois. Payment will be accepted at the door from those who have registered online, but did not pay or from walk-ins.
Deaths: Memorial services will be held later this week for Kelly Stranford-Wasser, wife of the Rev. Rex Wasser of Greenville, and the Rev. Robert Foltz, who retired as CEO of Goodwill Industries in 2002. Both died on Sunday, April 14. The celebration of Rev. Foltz’s life will be Friday at 11 a.m. at Smithfield United Church in Pittsburgh. The memorial service for Mrs. Wasser is scheduled for 4 p.m., Saturday, April 20, at 4 pm at First UM Church in Greenville, with calling hours beginning at 1 p.m. See obituaries. A news obituary about Rev. Foltz appeared in Wednesday’s Pittsburgh Tribune.
Gospel Soloist Shea Dies at 104: George Beverly Shea, the son of a Wesleyan minister who helped popularize the hymn "How Great Thou Art," during a decades-long career with evangelist Billy Graham, died Tuesday at 104. The Associated Press offers an obituary.
Annual Conference Info: Letters with registration information and other details on the 2013 annual conference are on the way to clergy and lay members who will represent their church, charge or district. Online registration opens May 1. The 2013 pre-conference reports and a “new member survival guide” are already available online.
Children and Annual Conference: Child care for infants and pre-school age children will be available from Wednesday afternoon through the Sunday morning Ordination service at annual conference. Members can register online. A Recess program for children from K-Grade 7 also will be offered Thursday-Saturday. Registration and details will be online beginning May 1.
Annual Conference Heads-Up: Practice smiling! Photos will be taken during annual conference for a new pictorial directory. You’ll receive more info from Lifetouch photography.
Different Kind of Church Shopper: They are highly committed Christians who believe that God is calling them to different places and different contexts. Rev. Sarah Dorrance calls them “nomads.” Nomads can frustrate some pastors and laity because they seem to have no permanent church home, but they are highly gifted in many areas of the church life, she adds in a Leading Ideas article. Instead of getting mad at them for leaving our congregations, what if instead we helped nomads live into their giftedness?
Calvary to Host Harp Concert: Calvary UMC in Pittsburgh will host a concert by Welsh harpist Clair Jones, who was Prince Charles’ official harpist until 2011. Read more. It’s at 4 p.m. Sunday, April 21.