Welcome to our website!! We are hope-filled, joy-filled, Spirit-filled and excited for what the Holy Spirit is doing and will do in this season of ministry. You are invited to join us in this journey of faith by checking out the resources and upcoming events for the global WCA as well as this regional chapter of the WCA here in Western Pennsylvania. Reach out anytime with any questions you may have. May we embrace the ideal of John Wesley when he said, “I continue to dream and pray about a revival of holiness in our day that moves forth in mission and creates authentic community in which each person can be unleashed through the empowerment of the Spirit to fulfill God’s creational intentions.”
WPA WCA Annual Meeting Update
On Monday, November 13, we had our Annual Meeting for the WPA WCA via Zoom. It was good to connect with people, to pray together, to talk about the future, and to vote for those in leadership in the new year. A motion was made and passed to affirm those currently serving in leadership to remain in place through 2024 anticipating that our chapter will likely close at the end of June 2024, having accomplished all that we set out to do.
We felt it was important as a leadership team and as the general body of the WPA WCA to keep leaders where they are to see us through General Conference of the UMC in the coming months in order to provide continuity and guidance to those churches who continue to discern their future. Some leaders have chosen to step down and focus on other ministries while the majority have chosen to stay in place through June of 2024. Thank you to all who have served so faithfully and to those who are continuing to serve in this final season.
PRAYER FOR DELEGATES
Another important action that was taken at the Annual Meeting was to not only pray for one another and for churches and clergy discerning their future but also to invite people to pray for all the WPA General Conference Delegates in the UMC. The election for delegates occurred on June 8, 2019, and was updated August 15, 2023, reflecting the resignations of those delegates who are no longer in the UMC and the provisional jurisdictional lay delegates elected June 16, 2023, pending the Judicial Council ruling. I am personally inviting you to join with me in praying for every delegate in the lead up to General Conference 2020 being held April 23 – May 3, 2024 in Charlotte, North Carolina.
1) Alyce Weaver Dunn 1) Vicki J. Stahlman
2) Robert F. Zilhaver 2) Richard C, Hoffman
3) John W. Seth 3) Katherine M. Fehl
4) Eric S. Park 4) Alexander R. Hoffman
5) D. Renee Mikell 5) Kayla J. DeCristoforo
6) Joseph R. Stains 6) Denise-Nicole Stone
(Jurisdictional Conference delegates will serve as alternates)
7) William B. Meekins, Jr. 7) Peggy D. Ward
8) Anais L. Hussian 8) Tracy R. Merrick
9) Amy R. Wagner 9) Bradford C. Smith
10) Sung Shik Chung 10) Maliory L. Miles *
11) 11) Jerra L. Jenrette *
*Elected 06-16-2023 as Provisional Jurisdictional Lay Delegates (pending Judicial Council decision in Fall 2023)
WCA INTERNATIONAL PRAYER NETWORK
In addition, you are invited to join the WCA’s international prayer network at one of our Zoom prayer meetings on the third Monday of each month at 9:00 AM EDT and 9:00 PM EDT. Rev. Dale Shunk is the WCA (IIPN) Coordinator. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org and he will send you the Zoom link.
GLOBAL WCA FOCUS
Rev. Keith McIlwain as our Global Representative on the WCA shared that the focus for the WCA now is primarily on advocating at General Conference for a fair and just exit for Central Conferences. As is found on the WCA’s website and communications, the WCA’s Fair for Some Fair for All is an appeal to General Conference delegates who will be meeting in Charlotte, North Carolina to authorize a fair, transparent, and feasible pathway for congregations, particularly Central Conference United Methodists, to separate from the UMC if they choose.
As we move forward into the new year and the WPA WCA winds down, we are encouraging everyone to connect with Rev. Ed Rodarmel and Rev. Patti Molik through the newly formed regional chapter through their Facebook page that brings together people throughout the Northeast Region at https://www.facebook.com/WCANEJ.
HOPE & LIGHT
In this hopeful, expectant time of Advent, I will leave you with this good Word from the gospel of John 1:
9 The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world.10 He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. 11 He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. 12 Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— 13 children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.
My prayer is that more and more people receive Him, believe in His name, and become His children. May we be bold witnesses of Jesus as the true light that has come into the world and into each of our hearts and lives!
Gratefully serving Jesus,
The Allegheny West Provisional Annual Conference of the Global Methodist Church came online officially on April 1, 2023. This new Conference serves all of Ohio and the Western third of Pennsylvania. As a Conference of the Global Methodist Church, its purpose is to connect clergy and laypeople in this region for shared ministry and accountability. They are here to share knowledge and assist local churches, and to equip ministries and support the planting of new churches. Check out their website here:
Reviving Wesleyan Methodism in Ohio and Western Pennsylvania
20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.
This is the Scripture that was used throughout the Global Legislative Assembly for the Wesleyan Covenant Association on Saturday, October 7th, as together many gathered for the primary purpose of voting to affirm Rev. Scott Fields as the new WCA President. It began with prayer as people gathered from all over the world giving glory to God for all that He has done since we last gathered.
After Scott was voted in officially as the new WCA President, he took the time to give glory to God and then to remind us of where we’ve been and where we are heading. Ephesians 3:20 formed the basis of all that he shared. He will be sharing in more detail about all of that moving forward and we will make sure to share with you his vision and the ways we can come together to accomplish God’s purposes in this world-wide movement.
In our own context here in Western Pennsylvania, all of us are navigating new waters. Many are adjusting to being a part of the Allegheny West Provisional Annual Conference in the Global Methodist Church and are excited about the Convening Annual Conference that will occur October 13-14 in Reynoldsburg, Ohio. Some are adjusting to remaining in the UMC for now and continuing to contend for the faith once delivered. With all that is going on, it is easy for us all to feel a bit disconnected from each other in the WCA.
I thought I’d take a moment to remind us of God’s faithfulness to us and commend all of you for the work that you have done and are doing to make Christ known and to encourage clergy and churches who have been through monumental transition and change. Thank you! God has indeed done more than anything we could ask or imagine as we’ve seen His Holy Spirit move blowing fresh wind and fresh fire among believers and congregations.
My prayer is that we will continue to do the work to which God has called us as we continue to pray for both churches and clergy as they discern their next faithful steps. To that end, the WPA WCA has made the decision to continue to serve until after General Conference 2024 which will be held in May.
All of those who are current members of the WCA are invited to attend our Annual Meeting which will be held via Zoom on Monday, November 13th, at 6:00 pm to affirm the work that has been done and the work that is yet to be done in the coming months and for those who will lead this effort moving forward. You will receive a link to this meeting a few days before we gather.
In the meantime, I invite you to be in prayer:
- for the UMC worldwide
- for Annual Conferences who still have more special called Conferences to vote on disaffiliation
- for the Central Conferences who have not been given the opportunity to disaffiliate
- for leaders throughout Africa who are being attacked
- for churches and clergy in Western Pennsylvania to make disciples of Jesus
Now my prayer joins with Paul’s in his letter to the Ephesian church for God to continue to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine in order that Christ would be made known and the Father to be glorified.
Gratefully serving Jesus,
Rev. Laura Saffell
Reflections on WPA Annual Conference 2023
What a year it has been and what an Annual Conference season it has been! There have been nearly 6,200 churches disaffiliated in regular and special sessions of Annual Conferences throughout the country thus far with more on the docket in special sessions in the coming months before ¶2553 sunsets at the end of 2023. In some of these sessions, things have gone very well with those on both sides of disaffiliation blessing and sending one another in the spirit of the Protocol. In other sessions, the contention was palpable, and many churches have found themselves vilified for leaving, even having a “holy hex” pronounced over them as was the case in East Ohio, or stuck without a way out or a way forward.
Here in Western Pennsylvania, we find ourselves grateful for the way that our Conference Trustees and leadership as well as the churches discerning disaffiliation handled the process over these past eleven months. Robust conversations and hours of prayerful discernment and meetings enabled 298 churches to successfully disaffiliate from the Western Pennsylvania Conference of the United Methodist Church at a Special Called session on June 14 at the Erie Bayfront Convention Center. Of those 298 churches, so far more than 210 have affiliated with the new Allegheny West Provisional Annual Conference of the Global Methodist Church while others have chosen to affiliate with other denominations or remain independent for the time being.
Throughout this summer, more of these churches will be paying the exit fee for disaffiliation and discerning their next steps. As so many of these churches move into this new expression of Methodism, they are finding themselves unleashed to do ministry in new and creative ways as they live into the vision of the Global Methodist Church – “to join God in a journey of bringing new life, reconciliation, and the presence of Christ to all people, and to helping each person reflect the character of Christ.” The stories and testimonies of hope and blessing, transformation and new growth are inspiring, and these churches are just getting started!
Though we are excited about how Methodism is being multiplied in this new season, we also recognize that there will be many of our brothers and sisters struggling in situations where they feel as though the UMC has left them, and they see no exit path for their church. Sixteen churches have opted to close and were prayed over at the end of the regular session of Annual Conference. So, we pray for fervently for all of those who are struggling during this time of difficulty and encourage them to “continue to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to God’s holy people” (Jude 3).
God is doing a new thing among us and so we pray for a fresh outpouring of His Holy Spirit upon United Methodists and Global Methodists, upon historic churches and new churches, upon those worshiping less than 10 in a weekend and those worshiping in the hundreds and even thousands. We should never be ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes! Our focus should always be on Jesus and proclaiming the gospel in order that hearts and lives, individuals and families, churches and communities would be transformed. As the writer of Hebrews encourages us “…let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfector of faith.”
Now may the God of peace—
who brought up from the dead our Lord Jesus,
the great Shepherd of the sheep,
and ratified an eternal covenant with his blood—
may he equip you with all you need
for doing his will.
May he produce in you,
through the power of Jesus Christ,
every good thing that is pleasing to him.
All glory to him forever and ever! Amen.
Spirit Filled Gatherings
For the past few years, the WPA WCA has hosted May Gatherings for the purpose of connecting Spirit-ﬁlled, orthodox churches, clergy, and laity who hold to Wesleyan theology from Western Pennsylvania. We have gathered for prayer and communion, information and discernment, witness and testimony, and inspiring talks to equip us as we move forward in ministry. This past May 20th was no exception!
We gathered in DuBois and Greensburg beginning our time with inspiring worship as we focused on Jesus – the Author and Perfector of our faith. We were encouraged by leaders who honored the thousands of hours spent in prayer and meetings discerning where God was leading churches over these past several months. We heard testimony from two pastors who shared their own journeys of faith and ministry. We were encouraged by the Rev. Dr. Jeff Greenway as he brought a hope-filled and challenging vision for the future as many seek to multiply Methodism in the coming months and years, decades and generations. We closed our time appropriately with prayer and sharing in holy communion together as we heard these words of Scripture: May he produce in you, through the power of Jesus Christ, every good thing that is pleasing to him. All glory to him forever and ever! Amen.
I want to thank all of you who came out to engage in these life-giving conversations and to thank the churches who hosted. Thank you to the worship teams at each church who led us all in focusing our eyes on Jesus who is the only One worthy of our worship. Thank you to all of the leadership of the WPA WCA for the hours of preparation, the miles of traveling, and the profound love out of which you served. Thanks be to God for bringing us together where we could truly be equipped in the name of Jesus through the power and presence of the Holy Spirit!
As we make the turn to both the Special Called Annual Conference on Wednesday, June 14, and the regular session of Annual Conference up at the Erie Bayfront Convention Center, June 15-17, I would ask you all to be in prayer. My hope is that we could meet together in holy conferencing to bless and send all of the churches of Western Pennsylvania whether they are staying in the UMC to continue their ministry in the name of Jesus or whether they are disaffiliating and moving into a new chapter of their life of service in the name of Jesus.
Now, for those who are attending this year’s regular session of Annual Conference, the WPA WCA is hosting a gathering on Friday, June 16th, during the lunch hour in Ballroom East. So, grab a boxed lunch and meet us there for a time of fellowship and prayer as we continue to seek to glorify God as we are led by His Spirit to be an encouraging and hope-filled presence.
One more thing…as you pray over these next few days for holy conferencing, for laity and clergy, for congregations, and for Conference leadership, let me leave you with this prayer from Ephesians: I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.
Reflections on Beyond These Walls
Beyond These Walls Conference was held April 27-29, 2023, and drew over 600 participants from the United States and around the world to the campus of The Woodlands Methodist Church in the Houston, Texas area. The over-arching theme of these few days of conferencing was to “take the church outside the four walls!” With inspiring speakers, workshops on evangelism, discipleship, church planting and gospel-centered community development led by amazing leaders from all over the world, it was an incredible and motivating experience. Take a moment and hear from two participants from Western Pennsylvania – Rev. Randy Bain and Rev. Brett Dinger – as they share their own perspective on this event.
From Rev. Randy Bain:
I was blessed to be able to attend Beyond the Walls conference at the Woodlands Methodist Church near Houston, TX. The conference was put on by the Missions Ministries of the Woodlands Church with many other sponsors. The twenty plus sponsors included the Global Methodist Church, World Gospel Mission, United Theological Seminary, Asbury Theological Seminary, the Wesleyan Covenant Association, and One Mission Society.
The worship atmosphere at the conference felt very similar to the recent revival at Asbury University. My wife, Darlene, and I attended the Asbury revival the first Saturday when Hughes Auditorium was completely full, and worshippers gathered on the steps outside. The same feeling of the overwhelming love of God and Jesus-focused worship filled the Woodlands Church.
There was no mention of the ongoing disputes between the UMC, GMC, WCA, and disaffiliation. The focus was on Jesus and sharing the Good News with the world. The plenary speakers challenged and inspired each of us to be better witnesses and more in mission for the Lord. If this was a foretaste of what future Annual and General Conferences could look like, I’m all in.
I attended three breakout sessions with Kevin Watson of Making Disciples, Billy Coppedge on Scriptural Engagement and Disciple Making in a digital age, and Steve Cordle on Church Planting. Each session was inspiring and informative. Praise the Lord!
The Friday evening worship was exceptionally inspiring as we concluded with prayers of confession and surrender around the altar. I left the conference inspired, empowered, and more committed to reaching the unreached with the Good News of Jesus.
As Jesus said, “Lift up your eyes and look on the fields, that they are white for harvest” (John 4:35). I believe the best is yet to come. “Do not call to mind the former things, or ponder things of the past. Behold, I will do something new, now it will spring forth; will you not be aware of it? I will even make a roadway in the wilderness, rivers in the desert” (Isaiah 43:18-19). Bring it on, Lord, Jesus, Amen!
From Rev. Brett Dinger:
My recent experience at the Beyond These Walls conference, which offered a powerful glimpse into the vibrancy of the next Methodist movement, invited me to consider the habits of vital, growing churches who walk with God and enjoy His favor. These habits and dispositions are more than suggestions; they are the very foundations and expectations for churches who long to be everything God called them to be. If we want to be the church God continues to use for generations to come, we would do well to embrace the following Kingdom-minded positions.
First, Kingdom-minded churches are clear about one thing: the church is God’s and God’s alone. We hold ministries, teams, projects, visions and even our histories and traditions loosely because we are stewards, rather than owners, of God’s resources. We ask God to reveal His plans instead of simply hoping God will “baptize” and approve of ours.
Secondly, Kingdom-minded churches never sacrifice the Great Commission. Jesus is the author and “head” of the church (body of Christ), but He also defines and sets the mission. In Matthew 28, Jesus sends the disciples out to make more disciples. That’s it. That’s why the church exists. Kingdom-minded churches plan all their activity and focus by asking this question: Does this help us make disciples? If not, Kingdom-minded churches do some holy housecleaning.
Thirdly, Kingdom-minded churches are prayer-saturated churches. John Wesley once said, “God does nothing except in response to believing prayer,” and yet most churches find themselves too busy, too frantic, to cluttered, too inwardly focused to do the one thing that moves God’s heart to action—pray. “Prayerlessness,” says Daniel Henderson, “is our declaration of independence from God.” Whoa! I’m convicted!!!
Fourthly, Kingdom-minded churches are a light in a world of darkness. In other words, Kingdom-minded churches behave and believe differently in this world, even if it means standing out from the crowd. And when the “world” takes up a bit too much residence in our lives, Kingdom-minded churches are quick to confess and repent of sin, which is the fifth characteristic. “More like Christ and less like me” is a pretty good rule of thumb for those who want to be used by God.
Kingdom-minded churches are also Spirit-led churches. Kingdom-minded churches seek to be filled with the Spirit, led by the Spirit, governed by the Spirit, and sanctified by the Spirit. Without the Spirit, we have no power, no equipment, no passion, no desire to walk with Christ or to seek first His Kingdom. Without the Spirit, we are self-made, self-directed humans producing self-made, self-directed churches. But with the Spirit, we long to know and obey Christ and share His heart for the world. Churches, then, became about His desires, and not our own.
Finally, Kingdom-minded churches are infused with a passion to see Revelation 7:9-10 come to fruition. This passage speaks of a day when an uncountable multitude from every nation, tribe and language are standing before the throne of God and worshipping the Lord. God cares about our neighbors, our communities, and our backyards, but God also cares about “every nation, tribe and language.” We should be a people marked by God’s passion for the nations.
This is a critical juncture for many churches. God is ready to gift churches with new seasons of vitality and vibrancy if they are open to receive His grace and yield to His will. As Paul says, “To live is Christ and to die is gain.” May we find new, sustained life by dying to ourselves and living in Him.
As you read through these reflections on Beyond These Walls, we at the WCA of Western Pennsylvania pray that you are inspired and ready for the next steps into which God is calling you as followers of Jesus and recipients of His Holy Spirit. Beyond These Walls was not just a one-off conference but rather is a movement of God – so mark your calendars now for the next Beyond These Walls:
AT THE WOODLANDS METHODIST CHURCH | 2200 LAKE WOODLANDS DRIVE
THE WOODLANDS, TEXAS 77380
THURSDAY MAY 1 – SATURDAY MAY 3, 2025
The Holy Spirit is blowing afresh upon the people of God! Join us as we gather next week, May 20th, at Lakeside in DuBois and Charter Oak in Greensburg for worship, for prayer, for a fresh anointing of the Holy Spirit, for inspiration, for fellowship, for communion as we hear from the Rev. Dr. Jeff Greenway, Pro Tempore of the Allegheny West Provisional Annual Conference. Let’s see what God chooses to do among His people here in Western Pennsylvania as we offer ourselves to Him in repentance and expectancy!