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Posts from the ‘Announcements’ Category

Outside Railings Repainted!

During the day today, our dedicated Trustees repainted the outside black railings on 6th Avenue down into our Fellowship Hall and on our 13th Street Ramp.

The difference isn’t as dramatic on the 6th Avenue railings since Dave Beegle repainted them last year when he built the roof over the outside steps.  However, those railings get a lot of wear from our feeding ministries, and needed a touch-up. 

However, the railing on 13th Street hasn’t been repainted for a few years, and was badly faded and peeling.  A fresh coat of glossy black enamel has now restored their original luster.

A new coat of paint to the top of our building!

Many thanks to our Trustees for their continuing work to maintain and improve our Church building!




Repainted “Cross and Flame” Insignias

                    6th Avenue “After”

                          13th Street “Before”

During the day today, our dedicated Trustees repainted the “Cross and Flame” insignias on the exterior of our Church.

Over the past few years, the relentless sun had reduced our red flames to something a lot closer to pink, and our black crosses had started migrating toward grey!

Many thanks to our Trustees for their tireless work to maintain and improve our Church building!

                        13th Street “After”




Another Year of Ministry with Pastor Jan!

We are pleased to announce that Pastor Jan has been appointed to Central Church for another fruitful year of ministry!

Following the morning worship service last Sunday, we joined in a celebratory luncheon to welcome Pastor Jan back.




Of course, any Church event with food is a good event, but we were happy to have an excellent reason for a little caloric festivity.

Welcome back, Pastor Jan!




New Scam: Emails Target Worshipers

Rubber stamp with text email scam inside, vector illustration

Scammers are now targeting worshipers in a gift card scam, warns the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

Posing as a pastor or other church leaders (through an email that looks familiar and legitimate), these scammers ask worshipers for gift-card contributions to a good cause.

The FTC explains:

The imposter asks you to buy a popular gift card—frequently, iTunes, Google Play, or Amazon—and then asks for the gift card number and PIN on the back of the card. Those numbers let the scammer immediately get the money you loaded onto the card. And once that’s done, the scammer and your money are gone, usually without a trace.

Everyone is please asked to closely evaluate emails that appear to come from any church leader by carefully looking for some typical warning signs.

“For example, the email address isn’t the one normally used by the church, and the service provider is different, too.

The message may begin with a simple ‘Hi,’ but doesn’t include a recipient’s name.

There also may be spelling errors, including the pastor’s name,” says the FTC.

For more information, read the FTC’s full warning at:



Thanks to underwriting by a generous donor, Central Church was able to offer a Summer Street Picnic to our community this afternoon.

For this special, first-time event, 13th Street outside the Church was blocked off by the Beaver Falls Police, and tents and grilling rigs were erected all along the street, providing a dizzying array of grilled chicken, hot dogs, hamburgers, and roasted corn on the cob, in addition to coleslaw and other traditional picnic fare.

We even had a burning barrel set up with firewood in the middle of the street so those attending could toast marshmallows over the open flames and make s’mores!

In addition to seating under a tent in the street, our Fellowship Hall featured live music by several talented artists from our area and an opportunity to enjoy their performances in air conditioned comfort.

We lost count of how many folks came to eat after the first 128 plates we put out were gone, but people continued to come by to eat and stay for a while to hear the music all afternoon.

In addition to our usual neighbors and friends who regularly attend our feeding ministry outreach offerings on Tuesday, Friday, and Saturday, folks walking along 7th Avenue and other streets were drawn by the music and festivities and joined us for a time of food, fun, and fellowship.

We even had a gentleman riding by in a taxi, who asked the taxi to change his destination and drop him off at the Church so he could join us.

What a glorious day!



Many thanks to all of our dedicated volunteers who took time from their busy schedules to help make our event a big success, and many, many thanks to our generous donor who made all of the festivities possible!


Exterior Painting!

A new coat of paint to the top of our building!

Our Trustees have again been busy this week, working with a painting crew to renew the exterior paint on the fascia high up along the roof line, and even including our tower windows, 60 feet from the ground.

Armed with a 60′ lift, our angels with paint brushes have been flying around the top of the Church all week in the heat and humidity.

What a difference a little scraping and a lot of paint can make to spruce up Central Church for years to come.  (And it looks even better in person!)

Our thanks to our dedicated Trustees for their tireless work to maintain and improve out Church building!



New Ceiling Fan!

After enduring some time with an old, squeaky ceiling fan in our Sanctuary that had seen better days, our Trustees arranged to have it replaced today in a marathon of uninstalling the old one, and rewiring the fixture, and installing a brand new, white, commercial ceiling fan that should give us many years of service (as well as occasional gale-force winds).

(Note – remember that for our next Pentecost service!)

Our new ceiling fan.


Many thanks to our dedicated Trustees for their continuing work to maintain and improve our Church building!

Rest in Peace, El Squeako!



Church Alley Trees Trimmed!

The unusually-severe storm we had on Saturday night snapped the electric line from Duquesne Light to our pipe organ, so we used the piano on Sunday.  (In case you’re wondering, our pipe organ has historically had its own, separate electric meter, and all the rest of our Church was operated from a second, separate electric meter, so we had lights, but no pipe organ on Sunday.)

In preparation to have the pipe organ’s wire restrung to the Church tomorrow, the alley-side trees were trimmed back today, and a big improvement it is!

The alley-side trees before trimming.

The alley-side trees after being trimmed to size!

A big thanks to our dedicated Trustees for always working to improve our Church building!


Church Pipe Organ for Sale!

The pipe organ is located in the former First United Methodist Church in Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania.  It has a rich sound and considerable versatility considering its comparatively compact size.  (It is installed in the Church’s Choir Loft elevation and the front of the Sanctuary, immediately behind the altar rail and communion table.)  It was completely restored about ten years ago.

After First UMC’s congregation disbanded a few years ago, the Church property was eventually sold by the UMC’s Conference Trustees to a nondenominational church group named “Reach”.  Reach has now vacated the building and has sold the church building and contents to Tiger Pause (a Christ-centered organization that cultivates community by offering holistic programs to Beaver County’s young people and their families).

Tiger Pause is selling all of the Church-centric furniture and fixtures in order to use the building as a broader outreach facility.  The long, wooden pews have recently been sold for just $148 each, so it is likely that the pipe organ could also be obtained for a reasonable price.  Other worship-related items may also be available at reasonable prices.

For more information, please contact Matt Nance, the director of Tiger Pause, at the following coordinates:

Tiger Pause Youth Ministry
P.O. Box 34
Beaver Falls, PA 15010
Office Phone: 724-843-2384


Peace with Justice Sunday


Sunday is “Peace with Justice Sunday” in the United Methodist Church.

A special offering will be received to support denominational outreach initiatives.

Fathers’ Day

Join us this Sunday, June 16, 2019 at 11 am at Central Church!

Community Pentecost Service – Sunday, June 9, 2019

Instead of having our regular Sunday worship service, Central Church will join with other area Churches for a Community Pentecost Service in the LGI at the Beaver Falls High School at 10:30 am on Sunday, June 9.

See you there!


Concert in Our Area


Happy Mother’s Day from your friends at Central Church!

Join Us for Easter – This Sunday at 11 am!

Daylight Savings Time – Begins Tonight

Ash Wednesday

Ash Wednesday is this coming Wednesday.

Join us and the people of the other downtown Churches at First Presbyterian Church, 11th Street & 8th Avenue, at 7 pm for a combined worship service as we begin our season of Lent and consider the depth of love our Father God has for His children.

Ash Wednesday – March 1, 2017 – Joint Worship Service

Ash WednesdayCentral Church will join with the Beaver Falls Ministerium on Ash Wednesday – March 1 – for a joint worship service at First Presbyterian Church (across from the Post Office) at 7 pm.

Other combined Lenten worship services are currently being discussed at the Beaver Falls Ministerium, so stay tuned for further developments.

In the meantime, please mark your calendars to join us at First Presbyterian Church at 7 pm on March 6 as we begin our Lenten journey on Ash Wednesday.


Premium hikes have churches scrambling

Here is an informative article by the United Methodist news service that describes the situation now impacting many United Methodist local churches due to the financial challenges being faced by the United Methodist Insurance company.

Central Church is among those local UM churches.  UMI is now proposing an incredible 72% premium increase for Central Church, who has faithfully paid premiums and made no claims during the past few years that it has insured through UMI.

About a week before Christmas, historic Washington Street United Methodist Church in Petersburg, Virginia, got a certified letter stating that its annual premiums under United Methodist Insurance were going from about $6,000 to $30,000.

And a payment was due Dec. 28.

“We were shocked, to say the least,” said the Rev. Tom Lester, pastor.

Washington Street — host of the first General Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, in 1846 — scrambled to find more affordable insurance from another carrier.

The church even closed the doors of its 1842 sanctuary for the first two weeks of January.

“We didn’t have worship. We didn’t have recovery groups. We encouraged no one to be in the church. … We had no insurance,” Lester said.

Washington Street recently found property and liability insurance from another carrier for less than it had been paying.

But it was hardly the only church to have a tense Christmas because of large rate hike notices from United Methodist Insurance, a wholly owned, not-for-profit subsidiary of the denomination’s General Council on Finance and Administration.

“I was very frustrated to receive multiple calls just before the Christmas break from church pastors and trustees,” said Jim Allen, treasurer and director of administrative services for the Tennessee Conference. “Many indicated they were being held hostage by exorbitant premium increases with short notices over Christmas.”

About 3,700 United Methodist churches in the U.S. were covered by United Methodist Insurance as of December, and about 500 got premium notices just before Christmas.

The Virginia Conference treasurer, David Dommisse, shared his frustrations on the conference website.

“From my perspective, it is appalling and unacceptable that notifications were not sent out allowing local churches to be aware of large rate increases and affording time for review of options,” he wrote.

Moses Kumar, top executive of GCFA, addressed complaints in a Jan. 28 press release.

“We acknowledge there have been issues,” he said. “We apologize and are working diligently to find solutions, both to the issues around competitive (pricing) quotations and timing.”

The Book of Discipline — the denomination’s policy book — has since 1976 required the finance agency to provide an insurance program. It’s been organized and focused in different ways under different names, including United Methodist Insurance Program and United Methodist Property and Casualty Trust.

Since 2011, it’s been called United Methodist Insurance.

The program has been backed by reinsurers, such as Swiss Re, while retaining some risk for insurance-related losses. Until recently, Church Insurance Agency Corporation, affiliated with the Episcopal Church, handled much of the administrative work.

United Methodist Insurance itself has just two employees — Mike Plesko, president and CEO, and Sid Gray, vice president and treasurer.

Though enrolling more churches as clients in recent years, United Methodist Insurance has struggled financially. Its most recent audit shows net losses of $454,213 in 2017 and $835,216 in 2016. Those owed to individual large claims filed late in the year, Plesko said.

But a former president of United Methodist Insurance, the Rev. Stephen Hundley, said it has long needed more capital to grow and to take on more risk — thus being able to claim a greater share of income from premiums.

“That was always the challenge, to have enough capital,” he said.

In late August, GCFA announced in a press release that United Methodist Insurance had entered into an agreement with AmVenture, a subsidiary of AmTrust Financial Services, to provide property and casualty insurance to United Methodist churches.

When asked recently the reason for the shift, GCFA officials provided this written answer:

“The change is the result of the desire to be more competitive and provide more choices for the churches and less loss for GCFA. The change was made by UMI and its owner, GCFA, in order to move to a fully insured program — where all risk would be held by non UMC-related entities.”

In a Q&A prepared for United Methodist Insurance customers, GCFA elaborated on the change:

“Your prior coverage with UMI was administered through a captive program, where UMI assumed partial risk for insurance-related losses. As stewards of the church’s resources and to provide the best protection for United Methodist churches, the current program is being replaced to offer independent protection for the ministries it serves.”

GCFA, in its written responses to United Methodist News Service, described AmVenture as an insurance producer that secures coverage from insurance carriers “rather than insuring or reinsuring the risks themselves.”

Plesko, in a followup interview, noted that the GCFA committee overseeing United Methodist Insurance wanted it to return to being merely an endorser of a brokerage that would find carriers willing to take the risk.

The hope is that United Methodist Insurance will stop its losses and be able to pay back annual conferences that had provided capital in years past, he added.

But the August press release from GCFA did not mention United Methodist Insurance’s financial challenges. Instead it dwelled on the better customer experience churches could expect, as well as a wider array of insurance products.

The Pacific Northwest Conference had all 242 of its churches with United Methodist Insurance, and conference treasurer Brant Henshaw sought to learn what the new arrangement might mean for costs.

“We were told at the beginning that we probably would not see a big premium increase. When we got to December, after a few administrative slips here and there, we had a different story,” he said.

Henshaw said the increase was in the 40-50 percent range. He acknowledges that wasn’t as large as what some individual churches elsewhere would face.

“Our jaws still dropped,” he said.

The Pacific Northwest Conference chose to go elsewhere to insure its churches and with its longtime broker’s help found coverage for about what it had been paying, Henshaw said.

Wright’s Chapel United Methodist Church in Cookeville, Tennessee, also made a switch after learning just before Christmas that its United Methodist Insurance premiums would rise from about $900 to $4,600. A quarterly payment was due Dec. 28.

“Why didn’t we start getting letters back in October and November, so people could start looking?” said Morris Irby, administrative council chair of the small church, part of a three-point charge. “That rubbed a lot of us wrong.”

Why the late notice and large hikes?

Plesko said he understood that the carriers AmVenture was working with wanted more data about churches before premiums could be established.

“It was taking them quite a long time,” he said. “It’s a matter of reaching the church and reaching the right person at the church.”

The unfamiliarity with churches and the recent history of large individual claims by some churches were factors in the premium hikes, Plesko said. He added that United Methodist Insurance, as a nonprofit, had tax advantages that helped keep rates low when it operated a captive program.

Exactly how many churches have moved away from United Methodist Insurance since the December notices is unclear, Plesko said.

But the recent GCFA press release included a statement from Sam Liotta, president and founder of AmVenture, acknowledging churches’ and conferences’ unhappiness.

“We are actively seeking ways to correct any problems created by the coverage quotes received by churches insured with UMI,” he said. “We apologize for the timing and communications shared for January renewals.”

Hodges is a Dallas-based writer for United Methodist News Service.



In Memorium – Grace Schleiger

Central Church regrets to announce the passing of Grace Schleiger, one of our oldest members, earlier today while in hospice care at the Medical Center.

Details concerning a memorial service to be held to commemorate her life and service will be announced as information becomes available.

Please remember Grace’s family in your thoughts and prayers as they move through this difficult time.



Winter Weather Advisory

The weather forecasters tell us that there will be snow overnight Saturday into Sunday morning, with 1-2″ of fresh snow by early Sunday evening.


The downtown streets will be plowed and our sidewalk will be shoveled and salted as usual Sunday morning.


The coffee will be on for Sunday School at 10, and the Sanctuary will be toasty warm for our worship service at 11.


Singing a few hymns will warm you right up.




Central Church’s Congregation welcomes you!

Winter Weather Advisory

The weather forecasters tell us this morning that the snow is done until tonight. We have 4″ of powdery snow and no ice.

The downtown streets are plowed and our sidewalk is shoveled.

The coffee’s on for Sunday School at 10, and the Sanctuary is toasty warm for our worship service at 11.

Singing a few hymns will warm you right up. Come join us!

Central Church’s Congregation welcomes you!

Winter Weather Advisory

Tonight and tomorrow it will be snowing.

Tomorrow is Sunday.

Central Church will be open as usual. See you there!



Happy New Year!

Happy New Year to everyone from the kind folks of Central Church!

Our doors are always open to you. 

Why not make a New Year’s resolution to join us for worship on Sunday?

Central Church’s doors decorated for Christmas

You Are Invited! – Free Community Dinner, Concert, and Christmas Eve Traditional Candlelight Service

Christmas Eve - Worship With Us

Please join us for a free community dinner in our Fellowship Hall from 4-5 pm, followed by a full 30 minute piano and organ concert of carols and seasonal music at 6:30, and capped off with our Christmas Eve Traditional Candlelight Service at 7:00 pm!

Christmas Eve

Christmas Eve b

Christmas Caroling – Tonight at 6

Calling All Carolers!

Meet at the Church tonight at 6:00 pm for our annual Christmas caroling party.

After visiting our shut-ins, join in the refreshments!

Come and join us!

Christmas Poinsettias – Time to Order

It is once again time to order your Christmas Poinsettias that will be part of our Christmas display in the Sanctuary through our Christmas Eve candlelight communion service.


This year, our poinsettias are available in the following colors:

  • Red;
  • White;
  • Pink; and
  • Jingle (spotted red and white).

They are available in the following sizes and prices:

  •  6″ – $ 6.85;
  •  8″ – $16.85; and
  • 10″ – $20.75.


The nursery has requested that our orders be submitted early this year, so please contact the Church this week to ensure that your selections are included in our order.

When you order, you may also designate to whom your poinsettias are dedicated in honor or memory.

  • Orders can be submitted now through Sunday morning, December 9 in person at the Church, by email at, or you can leave your order on the Church’s answering machine at (724) 846-3474.

Christmas Eve Luminaries at Central Church

Merry Christmas!



Join Us This Christmas Season

A Thanksgiving Prayer

Grateful to GodFather in Heaven!  You have loved us first, help us never to forget that You are love so that this sure conviction might triumph in our hearts over the seduction of the world, over the inquietude of the soul, over the anxiety for the future, over the fright of the past, over the distress of the moment.

But grant also that this conviction might discipline our soul so that our heart might remain faithful and sincere in the love which we bear to all those whom You have commanded us to love as we love ourselves.

                                                               – Soren Kierkegaard

From the friendly folks at Central Church, may you have a blessed Thanksgiving holiday!

 As part of our Thanksgiving, we thank God for the opportunity to provide free warm and nutritious food for body and soul to many people in the City of Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania.

 This holiday, let us cultivate a Thanksgiving for the people God has placed in our lives.

Happy Veterans’ Day

Daylight Savings Time 2018

Please remember to turn your clocks back one hour Saturday night

or you will be very early for Church on Sunday!





Apple Dumpling Days Are Here !!

Central Church’s Delicious Apple Dumplings

UNBAKED or FROZEN apple dumplings will be available for pickup at the Church on 6th Avenue and 13th Street on:

   Thursday, November 8th

    from 9:00 a.m. -12:00 p.m.

   Apple Dumplings are just $3.75!


Call (724)   846-3474   to place your order now!



6th Avenue Bulletin Board Restored and Improved

Our Trustees have been busy again – this time with our outside 6th Avenue Bulletin Board.

The plexiglass window on the front door recently broke at the top left corner, leaving the inside open to the elements.  The broken plexiglass was removed and replaced with new plexiglass to give us a weather-tight seal once again.

While they were at it, the old fluorescent tube and ballast were removed and replaced with a brand new LED light fixture.

The restored 6th Avenue bulletin board is now fully functional once again, illuminating our Church’s name and washing light down over the message in the bulletin board, all while using 30% less electricity than the little we previously used with the fluorescent light.

A big Thank-You to our dedicated Trustees for another improvement to our Church!



New “Effective Stewardship” Page

Check out our new “Effective Stewardship” page!

Each month, we will feature a new Stewardship theme and reflection to help each of us be a better steward of what God has entrusted to us.



Our Trustees at Work – Restored Outside Concrete Steps

Our old steps with the deteriorated parts of the concrete removed.

Our Trustees have been busy over the past few weeks, working with a contractor to chisel out the deteriorated portions of our 114-year-old outside concrete steps from Sixth Avenue down to our Fellowship Hall.



After the bad parts were removed, the steps were patched with new concrete, tied into the existing concrete with steel mesh.  Then, 2 inches of new concrete, on both the treads and risers, were incorporated into the repaired concrete.




After the concrete cured, a sealer was applied, and the railings were scraped and repainted.

Now we have restored steps that we hope last us another 114 years!


A big thank-you to our dedicated Trustees for their tireless work to maintain and improve our Church!




Outside Steps Project is Underway!

Working closely with a contractor, this week we have removed the loose or deteriorating portions on each of our outside concrete steps to our Fellowship Hall with a hammer chisel.

The remaining concrete on the top step has been coated with a bonding agent to increase the adhesion of the new concrete.

Steel mesh is then screwed down onto the old concrete and 1½” of concrete is applied to the tread portion of the stair.  A final ½” of fine, finish concrete (i.e., with smaller aggregate) will be added to the top of the stair.

Our plan is to do the tread (top) portions of each of the other stairs, and then return to the top to apply about 2” of concrete to the riser (front) portion of each stair.

The edge of each stair will also be rounded off and the tread portion brushed to provide greater traction during bad weather.

As part of the process, the North railing (closest to 13th Street) will be re-cemented into the ground since it has loosened over years of heavy use.

Since the old concrete has degraded because of the amount of salt that must be applied during the winter to melt snow and ice on the stairs, a roof will be installed over the stairs.  The new roof will reduce the amount of snow and ice that land on the stairs, and therefore should also reduce the amount of salt that we need to apply to keep them clear during the winter.

The work should continue through the coming week.  Our thanks to our dedicated Trustees for these comprehensive repairs and improvements that should give us many years of maintenance-free use!



What Churches Need to Know About a New Donation Scam

The following information is kindly provided by Mike Batts, managing partner of Batts, Morrison, Wales & Lee.

A very kind but anxious fellow named Tom calls your finance office and informs your team that he just realized he accidentally submitted a donation to your organization in the amount of $5,000. He meant for it to be $50. He pleads for an immediate refund of the difference, since he is on a fixed income and a $5,000 charge to his account would create a terrible hardship for him. Your team wants to help the poor chap immediately. You check the records for your online gifts and sure enough, there it is: an online ACH gift from Tom, a new donor, in the amount of $5,000. You quickly come to Tom’s rescue and issue a refund through the ACH system to him in the amount of $4,950. Now that you’ve saved the day, you can move on to more mundane things.

You issued a refund for $4,950 of a $5,000 contribution you never actually received.

But two days later, you get a notice from your bank that the original $5,000 gift from Tom was rejected due to insufficient funds in his account. So, his original gift of $5,000 is debited from your organization’s account as a chargeback. You try to call Tom and the number is no longer a working number. After you think about it for a couple of minutes, the reality begins to sink in…you got scammed. You issued a refund for $4,950 of a $5,000 contribution you never actually received.

The scenario described above is happening with increasing frequency to nonprofit organizations across the United States.

Fraudsters attempt to steal funds by taking advantage of the lag time associated with bank processing of payments from deposit accounts (that is, the time between the date the transaction was made and the date it clears the banking system).

What to do

Refund requests for contributions made should ring alarm bells.

It is true that if a donor accidentally gave more than he/she intended, a nonprofit organization may have a moral duty (if not a legal one) to rectify the situation—but only if it was genuinely an accident and only if the organization ensures that it is not the victim of a scam in the process.

The organization should never issue a refund for an allegedly erroneous contribution until the organization ensures that the funds originally given have fully cleared the banking system and are settled. Simple awareness and adhering to such a policy can prevent an organization from being flimflammed.


United Methodists gather at Grove City to find unity as showdown looms on gay issues

Excerpts from the Monday, June 11, 2018 Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

A showdown is set for February 2019, when United Methodist delegates from throughout the world meet in St. Louis in a rare special convention. They will vote on a compromise their bishops are presenting.

The bishops’ so-called “One Church Plan” would remove long-standing language from the church’s Book of Discipline that bans “self-avowed, practicing homosexuals” from ordination. It would instead give Methodists in the U.S. a local option on such questions.

Under the proposal, recommended by an overwhelming vote of the worldwide denomination’s bishops, each pastor in the American church could decide whether to preside at a same-sex wedding; each congregation could decide whether to host one; each ​board of ministry could decide whether to ​recommend an openly gay person ​for ordination; and churches or congregations conflicted on the issue wouldn’t be forced to take a side, according to a summary presented by conference Bishop Cynthia Moore-Koikoi.

The overseas ​jurisdictions of the church​ ​would be able set their own rules​ based on their own cultural contexts​.​ These include large and typically conservative churches in Africa, where in some countries homosexual activity is illegal.​

Western Pennsylvania clergy already have engaged in various dialogue sessions that give a preview of what’s at stake…

In interviews before and during the conference, local Methodists agreed the church will face change of some kind in February 2019.
Efforts to repeal the current discipline have repeatedly failed at the once-every-four-year General Conventions by increasingly firm margins, largely on the strength of the large numbers of delegates from conservative African churches.

But some liberal U.S. conferences are installing openly gay pastors and one bishop in defiance of church law.

Those supporting the current language in the Book of Discipline say it reflects the church’s traditional understanding of the Bible…

Peter Smith: or 412-263-1416; Twitter @PG_PeterSmith.

Annual conferences mixed on bishops’ plan

By Heather Hahn
June 15, 2018 | UMNS

After singing “And Are We Yet Alive,” a number of U.S. annual conferences have weighed in on how The United Methodist Church might live in the future.

Various annual conferences have voted on resolutions related to the Council of Bishops recommendation for a way forward through the denomination’s potentially church-splitting divisions over homosexuality.

In May, a majority of United Methodist bishops recommended what they call the One Church Model.

Some conferences have endorsed that plan, which would leave questions of the ordination of LGBTQ clergy up to annual conferences and same-gender marriage up to local churches. Others have called for stronger enforcement of the denomination’s current prohibitions against same-gender weddings and “self-avowed practicing” gay clergy.

The resolutions are aspirational. Ultimately, decisions about the denomination’s direction will be in the hands of the 864 lay and clergy delegates — elected by annual conferences — to attend the special General Conference in 2019.

The U.S. annual conference season is still very much in full swing with more votes to come. Here is a brief overview of some of the actions thus far.

More on annual conferences

Annual conferences are yearly, regional gatherings around the globe that combine United Methodist worship and business. They celebrate the licensing, commissioning and ordination of new clergy and as well as clergy retirements.

United Methodist News Service is posting annual conference reports as we receive them.

See reports.

At least three annual conference sessions — Baltimore-Washington, Northern Illinois and Michigan — approved resolutions that support the One Church Model.

In Michigan, the vote for a “Call for Unity in Diversity” was overwhelming and brought together United Methodists across the theological spectrum, said the Rev. Melanie Carey, a General Conference delegate who presented the resolution.

“In our families, we don’t agree with everybody,” she said. “The church is like a giant family. We don’t agree, but we still get together. Sometimes in families, people don’t talk to each other or they break apart. But we’re hoping we’ll be able to work it out.”

The North Alabama Conference voted against a similar resolution on unity by a written vote of 412 no to 240 yes.

The Holston Conference substituted a One Church Model endorsement with a motion calling on its General Conference delegation to study the upcoming bishops’ report and subsequently set up listening sessions around the conference ahead of the 2019 session.

The New York Conference, which encompasses United Methodists in the greater New York City area and western Connecticut, reaffirmed its longtime stance that the denomination should remove language excluding LGBTQ individuals from the life of the church. The resolution also urges General Conference delegates to consider “the marginalized in any proposed changes in church structure.”

The conference — as permitted by the denomination’s Book of Discipline — also elected a new slate of eight delegates and eight reserves to the special General Conference. Of the 16-member delegation, seven are LGBTQ, 11 are people of color, 10 are women and five are immigrants. Some of the straight delegates elected identify as LGBTQ allies.

The high number of LGBTQ United Methodists was by design, said Dorothee Benz, who is openly gay and will be a lay delegate in 2019.

“At the very center of this effort was our conviction that we must do whatever we can to rectify the exclusion of LGBTQI people not just from equal standing in the church but from even being in the conversation,” she said. The initials stand for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and intersex.

The Upper New York Conference voted against two resolutions — one urging the end of all forms of discrimination against LGBTQ individuals and another urging a four-book study that advocates a traditionalist approach to sexual ethics and celibacy for gay people.

The conference did approve a resolution urging the General Council on Finance and Administration to add a “non-binary” column to the denomination’s membership statistical reports to allow the reporting of members who do not identify as male or female.

Other conferences are calling for an alternative to the bishops’ recommendation.

The South Georgia Conference approved a resolution urging affirmation of “the present standards of our Discipline” with added accountability when the Discipline is violated.

The South Carolina Conference also passed a resolution affirming the current language in the Discipline.

The Peninsula-Delaware Conference, similarly, amended a resolution that called for “openness to diverse perspectives in matters of human sexuality” to instead “maintain the current language” in the Discipline concerning matters of human sexuality.

At the same conference, Chelsea Spyres announced she was withdrawing from appointment as a licensed local pastor as long as LGBTQ individuals are barred from ordination.

For those who want to maintain the church’s prohibitions, the Rev. Rob Renfroe promised a traditionalist plan will be on the table at the special General Conference. Renfroe is the president of Good News, an unofficial advocacy group that seeks to strengthen enforcement of church laws on homosexuality.

At a luncheon with likeminded United Methodists in the Texas Conference, Renfroe declared he and other traditionalists would defeat the One Church Model at General Conference.

He also urged bishops who support that model to leave The United Methodist Church.

“Admit you no longer have the moral authority to lead this church,” he said. “And if you want to lead others out to something other than The United Methodist Church, we will bless you as you go.”

The bishops plan to make their report to General Conference public after it is translated into the main languages in which the church does business — English, French, Kiswahili and Portuguese. The deadline to submit legislation to the special General Conference is July 8.

The U.S. annual conference season will continue through the end of June with more annual conference meetings planned around the globe before the special General Conference.

Delegates often take annual conference actions into consideration, but they are not obligated to reflect the opinions of those who elected them. The church’s Judicial Council has stated that delegates must vote “as their conscience dictates” for what is good for the church of Jesus Christ.

Hahn is a multimedia news reporter for United Methodist News Service. Contact her at (615) 742-5470 or


Curse or Gift? – Go! Go! Go!

OverwhelmedKey Bible Verse: Oh, how I wish I had wings like a dove; then I would fly away and rest!   – Psalm 55:6

Bonus Reading:  Mark 3:20-21; 6:31-32

My good friend Ken once got pneumonia from staying up too late, getting up too early, teaching all day, writing and directing a musical all evening, and generally forgetting that he was human. Ken told me later that his sickness was the best thing that could have happened to him because he needed and wanted a break but didn’t know how to schedule one for himself. God did it for him, with a week-long stay in the hospital, complete with hospital food. Now he’s better at slowing down every now and then, but he still has a way to go. So do the rest of us.

Because so many things seem more urgent than they really are, it’s difficult to make the choice to read, write, and reflect—three keys to slowing down the pace of our lives. Our culture promotes the idea of working like crazy and then taking a short but intense vacation (which calls for another vacation we seldom get to take).

If those of us in our twenties do manage to slow down, work hard but less, pace ourselves, and make time for other things, we may not be received too well by those above us who “paid their dues” to the same exhausting system.

—Craig Dunham in TwentySomeone

My Response: When in my life am I overloaded?

Adapted from TwentySomeone (WaterBrook, 2003)

Prayer for the Week: Lord, I want to use the time you’ve given me in ways that yield long-term significance.

Memorial Day

Community Pentecost Service – Sunday, May 20, 2018

Instead of having its regular Sunday worship service, Central Church will join with other area Churches for a Community Pentecost Service in the LGI at the Beaver Falls High School at 10:30 am on Sunday, May 20.

See you there!



Happy Mother’s Day from your friends at Central Church!

Today is the National Day of Prayer

Please take a moment today to remember our country in prayer.

Collectible Dolls – Ebay Auction!

As many of you know, one of our members recently passed, leaving Central Church nine collectible dolls.

In order to convert these dolls into proceeds that can be used to further the work of God’s Kingdom, they have been entered this afternoon as separate items into 7-day Ebay auctions.

Some of the dolls are special, numbered limited editions, and none of the dolls are still being produced.  All but one of the dolls also have Certificates of Authenticity, and all of them are in great condition, still in their original boxes (although they have been removed from their boxes from time to time, and so are being sold at a reduced price as used).

If you or anyone you know are interested in high-quality, limited edition or collectible dolls at very affordable prices, here are the nine very special dolls (just click on the name to be taken to the Ebay auction page):

  1.  Ashton-Drake, “Dressed to Delight”;  (photo above)
  2.  Ashton-Drake, “Put on a Happy Face”;
  3. Ashton-Drake, “With Faith, All Is Possible”;
  4. Ashton-Drake, “Baby Mine”;
  5. Ashton-Drake, “Emerie”;
  6. Ashton-Drake, “Madison”;
  7. Marie Osmond Fine Collectables, “Baby Jessica Heartfelt”;
  8. Marie Osmond Fine Collectables, “My Friend Forever”; and
  9. Marie Osmond Fine Collectables, “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas” (photo below).

The auction ends in just 6 days, so don’t miss this opportunity to get a collectible or limited edition doll at affordable prices while helping the to further the ministry of Central Church at the same time!





The Spectator-to-Server Shift – Skill Position

Throwing a Football to a ChildKey Bible Verse: God has given to each of you … spiritual gifts … so that God’s generosity can flow through you.   – 1 Peter 4:10

Bonus Reading:  Mark 9:33-37

José Morena spends his workdays sweeping trash, wiping toilets, and scrubbing floors as a custodian at Lincoln Elementary School in Oxnard, California. Though he excels at his work, it isn’t what he’s known for at the school.

During recess, Morena’s a quarterback. With his ring of keys jangling from his belt loop, he throws spirals to pint-sized receivers. His presence on the field makes the friendly games more fun and prevents spats, according to the students. He does the same on the basketball court.

Morena also helps the teachers in the classroom. Because he’s bilingual, he can translate between teachers and parents. He also stands in for teachers when they have to leave their classrooms. Morena has two daughters of his own, but he also acts as a father figure to many students, particularly boys, who don’t have fathers at home.

The kids on the playground light up when asked about Morena: “José has always been there for me. He’s someone you can talk to, and he understands,” says ten-year-old Amber Castillo. He’s living proof that you don’t have to have an impressive job or powerful position to impact lives. Being important is about serving others, about being a role model for kids.

—Bill McCartney in 4th and Goal

My Response: Who am I uniquely positioned to serve today?

Thought to Apply: No one is useless in this world who lightens the burden of it for anyone else.—Charles Dickens

Adapted from 4th and Goal (Tyndale, 2002)

Prayer for the Week: You are never weary, O Lord, of doing us good. Let us never be weary of serving you.—John Wesley

Special Offering – Sunday, April 15, 2018

Prayer Request – Food Ministry – Update!

Yesterday at our “Soup Tuesday” food ministry outreach, a young man suffered a grand mal seizure, and we promptly called for paramedics to come to assist him.

That, and especially the abundance of prayers from Central’s corporeal and online communities, appears to have saved that young man’s life.

As emergency treatment continued at the Medical Center, they discovered that the seizure had been triggered by the combination of a number of very potent medications from several different sources that in combination produced a violent reaction.

The young man was successfully stabilized yesterday, and has now been released from the Medical Center!

We thank God for the skill and prompt treatment provided by medical professionals and praise Him for the quick answer to so many prayers offered for our young man’s care and well being.

We also thank God for the continuing ministry of our community food outreach program. Although we might at times take this important source of nutrition and socialization for granted, If our young man had suffered his violent reaction while at alone home or elsewhere, this story might have had a much more tragic ending.



Prayer Request – Food Ministry

Central Church provides over 10,000 free, nutritious meals to our community each year, and the numbers of the hungry coming to us continue to increase as we move through 2018, all through the generosity of many small givers and an active congregation of less than 20 dedicated souls.

Today, we are asking for prayers for a man who suffered a grand mal epileptic seizure while participating in our “Soup Tuesday” luncheon outreach.  We called paramedics to assist and medical personnel are attending to him now.