Plans for witness at Annual Conference

The Western PA Reconciling Ministries Core Team is preparing some very exciting, inspirational and significant activities at Annual Conference on June 4th – 8th in Grove City.

Although many details are still being addressed, we are wanted to share the these very noteworthy plans. Please consider joining us for any or all of the following events:

Lay Academy – At the Lay Academy offered Wednesday evening and Thursday morning, Steve Tuell and Frank Schaefer will be leading two sessions with the same content which will address inclusion and hospitality in the church. Lay Academy classes are open to both laity and clergy and individuals who are not members of Annual Conference.

WPA Reconciling Ministries Dinner – Thursday evening during the dinner break, WPA Reconciling Ministries will be hosting a dinner in the Carnegie Room with Frank Schaefer. At that time, he will share his journey which led him to perform a marriage for his gay son and his subsequent defrocking. To ensure that those who wish to hear him have a seat, a link to a reservation system will be distributed within the next couple of weeks. Please make your reservation as soon as you are able to do so. This gathering will be open to Annual Conference attendees and others interested in attending. The nominal cost for this dinner and an opportunity to contribute to a love offering for Frank will be explained later.

Daily Communion – An informal communion with gluten free elements will be celebrated on the lawn outside the plenary hall about 20 minutes before the session convenes after lunch on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.

Advocacy for all of God’s people – In collaboration with other groups, we are planning a way to clearly convey advocacy for the inclusion of all of God’s people in the life of the Western PA Annual Conference. Everyone at Annual Conference will have an opportunity to participate, if they wish!

Display Table – A table will be set up in the Display Room with materials and as place for conversation. We are asking for volunteers to be present during strategic times. If you are willing to assist, please e-mail us!

We believe these will be some very energizing offerings during Annual Conference!

For more details on these plans please email Tracy Merrick.


First UMC Pittsburgh hosted screening of “Call Me Malcolm.”

Report from Tracy Merrick:

How well do we understand the “T” in LGBTQ? Many of us want our churches to be more inclusive of LGBTQ folks, don’t we? In my opinion, if we are to be more inclusive, it is important for us to understand more about the lives and issues faced by L – G – B – T – Q people. In the society in general and in many of our churches, there are on-going discussions with and about gay and lesbian folks … but few conversations about and little understanding of those who consider themselves transgender or bisexual.

Since First UMC, Pittsburgh will be hosting a national transgender event later this year, we feel it is especially important for us to become more familiar with the lives of and issues faced by transgender people.

In this light, we recently hosted a showing of the 90 minute film “Call Me Malcolm.” Michael David Battle, the founder of the GARDEN of PEACE PROJECT and a transgender man, was present to lead a discussion of the film after we viewed it.

If you are looking for a good book on this topic, I recommend Trans-Sister Radio  by Chris Bohjalian. The DVD “Trans” is another highly recommended resource.



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