May 18, 2018
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Correction: The Rev. Lori Wagner will be a Provisional Elder as of July 1, 2018. Her status was listed incorrectly in the initial announcement.
Bishop Peggy Johnson
announces the following 2018 appointments & assignments, effective July 1, 2018, unless otherwise noted:
  North District
  • The Rev. Lori Wagner (Provisional Elder) from Springtown: Salem UMC (East District) to Bethlehem: Epworth UMC.
South District: 
  • Rev. Kevin Babcock (Full-time Licensed Local Pastor) from Clifton Heights (1/2 time) and West Grove (1/2 time) to Clifton Heights (1/2 time) and Swarthmore (1/2 time).
  • Rev. Etta McCall (Part-time Licensed Local Pastor) to Pottstown: Salem UMC, 1/4 time. This is Rev. McCall's first appointment.
What's New on our Website this Week
Annual Conference to hear voices of change, welcome, diversity

The registration deadline for Annual Conference attendees and exhibitors is TODAY, Friday, May 18.   Register Online .

Rev. Eric Law 
The 2018 Eastern PA Annual Conference, June 14-16, will fill its stage with diverse sights and sounds, voices and visions, and styles of worship and witnessing that together demonstrate the conference's vision statement, adopted in 2017, "United in Christ, Committed to Transformation."

The conference's 232nd Annual Session, returning to the familiar Expo Center in Oaks, Pa., will affirm who we are and who we are becoming--too slowly for some--as Christ's beloved community that welcomes all. Indeed, the conference's prophetic theme, "We Will All Be Changed," taken from 1 Corinthians 15:51, may be a timely one for a denomination that may soon undergo dramatic changes in structure and doctrine.

Anchoring the busy agenda will be a Friday morning teaching session on "Holy Currencies." The Rev. Eric Law will challenge members' to change radically their churches' perspectives and protocols to create "a holistic model for stewardship and congregational vitality." Members will sharpen Holy Conferencing skills not only in legislative debate but also in patient dialogue about the likely transformational "Way Forward" proposals offered by the denomination's bishops to the 2019 Special General Conference. Moreover, a busy session of reports, resolutions and recognition of special guests and special ministry leaders will follow.

Annual Conference worship and celebrations will highlight variations on the conference theme, offering diverse voices and visions on how to become changed disciples of Jesus Christ. The Rev. Justin Hancock, a young deacon with a disability, may be the first of that description to preach at a Eastern PA Annual Conference opening session, as he brings a message about welcoming all to the table. Bishop Cynthia Moore-KoiKoi of the Pittsburgh Episcopal Area and Presiding Bishop Peggy Johnson will preach at the ordination and memorial services, respectively. Meanwhile, diverse music and liturgy will enliven worship and gathering times. And members will support higher education, youth ministry and disaster response efforts through their generous offerings. Learn more...

Way Forward Commission ends its work. Bishops' clarify vote

After meeting nine times over 17 months, the 32-member UMC Commission on a Way Forward concluded its final meeting in Nashville, Tenn., May 16. Members reviewed petitions presented to previous General Conferences regarding human sexuality and examined how other faith communities and denominations are responding to the question of inclusion of LGBTQ persons.

"The key part of the early work was to build trust and intentional community among a group of people who had good reasons not to trust each other," said Bishop David Yemba, one of the moderators of the Commission.

Yemba and the other bishops serving on the commission also issued a statement, approved by the Council of Bishops Executive Committee, clarifying their vote on the resolutions they are sending to the Special General Conference in 2019. Their vote to provide all three of the commission's resolutions but recommend only one, the One Church Model, was reported to the denomination last week. However, confusion ensued, as several bishops offered different interpretations of the council's actions and intentions to their annual conferences. Learn more...
Also new on our website:
View parts of UMW Assembly meeting this weekend

Can't go the Columbus, Ohio, this weekend to attend this worldwide quadrennial UM Women's Assembly in person? Not a problem. You can still watch key portions of the program from Friday through Sunday via livestream video. Check the schedule below and click the web address ( livestream) to join in!
Live Stream Schedule:
FRIDAY, May 18, 2018
9 to 10:30 AM-150th Anniversary Celebration and Consecration of new Deaconesses (including our own Barbara Drake).
Community Gatherings
1:30 to 3:30 PM-featuring Climate Scientist Katharine Hayhoe
7 to 8:30 PM-featuring Nobel Laureate Leymah Gbowee
SATURDAY, May 19, 2018
9 to 10:30 AM-featuring Michelle Alexander and Marian Wright Edelman
4:30 to 6:30 PM-featuring Michelle Alexander
7 to 8:30 PM-featuring Hannah Adair Bonner, Tamika Mallory and Linda Sarsour
SUNDAY, May 20
9 to 11:30 AM-featuring Harriett Jane Olson and 11 female bishops of the UMC

Scene from the Latino Commission's 2017 Holy Convocation.
Latino leaders to gather for Holy Convocation Saturday
The Eastern PA Conference Latino Commission will gather for its annual Holy Convocation (Santa Convocaci├│n) on Saturday, May 19, from 9 AM to 2:30 PM, hosted this year by Casa del Pueblo at Lehman Memorial UMC in Hatboro. The Latino Commission comprises clergy and laity from six churches and eight ministries, all with predominantly Latino memberships. Their Pentecost-related theme will be El Espiritu Santo en Nuestra Tradicion Wesleyana ("The Holy Spirit in our Wesleyan Tradition").
Four workshops will follow opening worship, each taught by Latino church leaders from the starting point of the Holy Spirit's movement. The workshops will cover community involvement, outreach ministries, inclusiveness and spiritual integrity. A lunchtime discussion at noon will focus on implications of the UM Council of Bishops' proposals for a "Way Forward" for the denomination. A celebration of ministries will following lunch, ending with Holy Communion celebrated by outgoing district superintendent the Rev. Irving Cotto. For more information contact the Rev. Bruny Martinez.

Celebrating 50 Years of The United Methodist Church
May 20 is being called a "once in a lifetime" event for United Methodists, offering an opportunity to commemorate the church's history alongside the celebration of Pentecost. Numerous event-specific resources are available for congregations, including a  video created to honor the church's legacy since April 23, 1968, when leaders of the Evangelical United Brethren Church and The Methodist Church declared the creation of a new denomination, The United Methodist Church.
" May 20, 2018 is Pentecost PLUS!," said the Rev. Fred Day, general secretary of the  General Commission of Archives and History (GCAH). "Not only is the third Sunday of May, Pentecost, the culmination of the great 50 days of Eastertide, the day for celebrating the loosing of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost and the gift of Christian unity. It is also Heritage Sunday (which falls on the Sunday nearest Aldersgate Day). This year the Heritage Sunday theme is 'Jubilee' in a nod to the 50th anniversary, which often is referred to as the Golden Jubilee.

Be sure to view the illustrative video  WE STILL BELIEVE: Celebrating 50 Years of The United Methodist Church. Under 5 minutes long, it is well suited for local churches and annual conferences to help celebrate  50 years of The United Methodist Church transforming the world. The denomination's  Social Creed is set against the sweeping history of the Wesleyan movement, from John Wesley being saved from a fire in his childhood home, to the contemporary events that helped shaped the denomination's birth. Using historical and contemporary imagery, the film is a moving tribute to how  The United Methodist Church has helped shaped history.

Consider using this video and other resources for your celebration of Heritage Sunday. For example:
Celebrate, give on Peace with Justice Sunday, May 27
Offering provides conference grants for peace and justice ministries 
Prepare your church to observe the UMC's Peace with Justice Sunday May 27, and receive on that day the special offering that support life-affirming ministries of hope and change. The offering is divided between ministries worldwide funded by the General Board of Church and Society and ministries of peace and justice in our own conference. Since 2013, the BWC has granted more than $37,000 to local churches doing justice work.
Is your church engaged in a creative ministry of social education or action to further the cause of peace with justice? If you would like to apply for a Peace with Justice Ministry Grant, read the application and its funding criteria on our website, then complete and submit it to the Rev. Jessica Ross, Peace with Justice Coordinator, at   Learn more...

Anne Brockley, historian of Otterbein UMC, Lancaster. 
Boehm's Chapel Heritage Sunday to remember Otterbein
Summer events scheduled at historic Boehm's Chapel include the annual 'Heritage Sunday' worship celebration and business meeting June 24, at 4 PM. The condensed business meeting will segue into worship, featuring guest speaker Anne Brockley, historian of Otterbein UMC, Lancaster.

Brockley will present a 20-minute PowerPoint history program on the Otterbein congregation, established in 1904, based on her anniversary book, Otterbein Church 110 Years of History and Service. Copies of the book will be available for purchase.

Reformed Church Pastor Phillip William Otterbein and Mennonite Bishop Martin Boehm met at a 'Great Meeting' held at Long's Barn on Pentecost Sunday, 1767. Their pursuit of common spiritual beliefs created a friendship that lasted throughout their lifetimes. Gradually, a following of like-minded believers developed around their teaching and formally organized, in 1800, as the United Brethren in Christ Church. Boehm Chapel's Heritage Sunday 2018 will bring followers of Boehm and Otterbein together in worship.

Light refreshments will follow worship on the porch of The Tying Shed. For additional information contact

Healthy Transitions for Clergy Spouses  

Clergy spouses, are you preparing for the next church move? Get some help and peer support. Don't miss the annual Healthy Transitions for Clergy Spouses   workshop on Saturday, July 28, 10 AM to 3 PM, at Black Rock Retreat Center, 1345 Kirkwood Pike, Quarryville, PA 17566 .  The workshop is designed by clergy spouses especially for clergy spouses. The cost is $10. Lunch is included, and partial scholarships are available. New offer! Three individual, 45-minute coaching sessions will be offered to each registered participant.
Prepare your head and heart with other clergy spouses going through similar transition journeys. Enjoy small-group learning, led by a UM clergy spouse, with real-life clergy spouse scenarios to solve. Receive a personalized guidebook with helpful strategies.    This will be a sacred, safe space, with no pressure to be personally revealing.
Julie Anderman, a longtime clergy spouse and a partner at ARTOS Retreats, will facilitate the training.  Register online now  before the July 14 deadline.

Faith-Based Community Organizing Workshop

Experience a week of intensive training in faith-based community organizing, June 18-22, at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary in Evanston, Illinois.   Freedom's Journey: The Art of Organizing for Democratic Change and the Mission of Liberation will be led by Gerald Taylor, one of the most creative expert organizers, strategic campaign planners and trainers in the country.

The workshop will provide power-based, effective, and relational community organizing training grounded in helping you learn mission-based organizing and leadership skills. Designed for both clergy and lay members of congregations and nonprofit organizations, the workshop will include lectures, role plays, reading and discussion, case-studies, hands-on practice, and individual reflection. 

Registration Fee: $450:  Deposit: $200. Full Payment due by June 1.
Your registration fee includes 40 hours of training, course materials, transit costs, a certificate in community organizing, 4 Continuing Education Units (CEUs) and a $125 Garrett-Evangelical Scholarship towards the original $575 registration fee. Get more info.    Register now.

Young Preachers Festival, June 27-28
UM Church of the Resurrection, in Leawood, Kansas, will host another Young Preachers Festival June 27-28 to help young, gifted pastors or pastors-to-be, ages 18 to 34, foster a call to ministry and find networking support and practical tools and training in sermon preparation and presentation. Senior pastor the Rev. Adam Hamilton will host the event. The cost is just $79 (plus $20 to add a Preaching Feedback Session). Details and registration may be found at For more information contact Kari Burgess at or call 913-232-4139.

Timothy Circle online youth mentor training
You may have the power to strengthen a young person's faith through conversations about their interests, faith and potential calling. Join the online Timothy Circle mentor training course. Exercises, materials and discussions are spread over a three-week span to allow you to study and participate at your convenience. Be the caring adult who helps a young person find and stay committed to their faith. To enroll visit  (Provided by Britt Bradley, Marketing & Communications Institute for Discipleship at Southwestern College, for, a United Methodist ministry.  
Conference, District summer schedules begin in June 
Offices to close on Fridays through Labor Day
The Eastern PA Conference Office will operate on a modified summer schedule from June through August. Beginning on Monday, June 4, the Conference Office full-time staff will work Monday through Thursday, with the office open 7:30 AM to 4:30 PM. We will be closed on Fridays. This modified schedule will end after Labor Day, September 3, when we will reopen on Fridays.
District offices will also operate on a variable, Monday through Thursday summer schedule through Labor Day. Most will be open from 8 AM to 4:45 PM; but the East District will be open from 7:30 AM to 4:30 PM. Please contact district offices first before visiting, as their hours may vary. 

North District to celebrate Cotto's ministry May 20
All are invited to join in celebrating the ministry of the Rev. Irving Cotto as North (and previously Northeast) District Superintendent on Sunday, May 20, from 4 to 7 PM, at Covenant UMC, 2715 Mountain View Drive, Bath, PA. There will be food and festivities, including music, celebratory dance, Holy Communion and more, with each district church participating. Members are invited to:
  • Send photos of their churches in ministry for display.
  • Financially support the vision of developing Diamond UMC's evangelism and outreach among the large Latino population in the Hazleton community. Make checks payable to the Eastern PA Conference and write "Hazleton Vision" on the memo line. Bring donations to the May 20 celebration or mail them to the North District Office.
Dr. Cotto, who recently earned a Ph.D. in Theology from the Graduate Theological Foundation (GTF) in Indiana and the Instituto Teol├│gico Internacional de Puerto Rico (ITIPRI), will become the senior pastor of St. Paul UMC Warrington. There is no cost for this event, but please Register online so we can insure that there will be enough food.

Volunteers in Mission Team Leader training, July 14
Learning to show Christian Love in Action
The new Eastern PA Conference Disaster Response Leadership Team:  
(From left)   The Rev. Nick Camacho, who heads the Helping Puerto Rico Rise Again campaign; Robert Simcox, new Disaster Response Coordinator; the Rev. Russell Atkinson, new Volunteers in Mission Coordinator and Ben Botti, Disaster Response Leadership Team Advisor.
The Eastern PA Conference has a new Disaster Response Leadership Team in place and a training event on the calendar for the first time in a while. Anyone wanting to become a Volunteers in Mission Team Leader, to lead VIM response teams to disaster-stricken areas, must receive training. 
The new team will host its first training event on Saturday, July 14, from 8:30 AM to 3:30 PM, in centrally-located Reading, at West Lawn UMC, 15 Woodside Ave, West Lawn, PA.
Experienced team leaders should also consider this as a refresher training opportunity.
Leading the training will be:
  • the Rev. Tom Lank (Deacon), Northeastern Jurisdiction VIM Coordinator;
  • Ben Botti, longtime, retired VIM coordinator; and
  • the Rev. Russell Atkinson, our new Conference VIM Coordinator.
"Great passion and interest have been expressed throughout our Conference for the continuing struggles of the people of Puerto Rico following Hurricane Maria last year," said Atkinson. "The Methodist Church of Puerto Rico has developed a sound disaster response plan which our Conference has been asked to support."
Though the training will be appropriate for all who are interested in learning how to lead teams, emphasis will be put on preparing leaders to respond to the Puerto Rico recovery. The Rev. Nicholas Camacho, our Conference Special VIM Coordinator for Puerto Rico Response, will update the gathering on conditions, needs and expectations there.
The training cost of $45/person will include the book Mission Journey, the most up-to-date production of the VIM Team Leader Toolkit, a continental-like breakfast, and lunch.
For further information contact: Russell J. Atkinson, Eastern PA Conference VIM Coordinator at 610-675-7187 or See updates for this event on our website

To know and love transgender people
Advanced Sexual Ethics training, May 31
Register for Advanced Sexual Ethics Training May 31, 9 AM to 3 PM, at West Grove UMC, 300 N. Guernsey Road, West Grove, PA. Cost: $35.00 (includes lunch and materials)
Bishop Peggy Johnson has recognized the need for churches to better understand and show love to transgender people and their families. She has invited David Garrett, a layperson from the Peninsula-Delaware Conference, and the Rev. Andrea Brown, an elder from the Eastern PA Conference, to co-lead a workshop on this topic, primarily for clergy.
The workshop will provide information about scientific understanding of gender and explore biblical stories and teachings on the topic. Attendees will receive practical advice for children's, youth, and adult ministry that is "responsive, inviting, and life-affirming to transgender, non-binary, and gender fluid people." For more information and registration, please  click here.

Four Stations of the Holy Spirit training, June 2
Where:  New Birth (Nuevo Nacimiento) UMC 1025 Lehman St; Lebanon, Pennsylvania 17046
When:  June 2. Arrival: 8:30 AM. Start: 9 AM. Finish by noon.
Cost:  $15 for the packet, which includes the book Too Busy Not to Pray and convenient, travel-size containers of anointing oil, baptismal water and communion elements
Registration: Email Gordon Hendrickson:  or phone: 267-258-9507.   For full information, please  click here .
Grants to help pay higher education costs 
May 21 is the deadline for accepting grant applications, provided by the Education Society of the Eastern PA Conference to assist worthy individuals with defraying the cost of higher education for the 2018-2019 school year. The application is available on the conference website. Questions? Contact the Education Society Chairperson, Al Adey at All applications received in the Conference Office (between and including) April 30 to May 21 will be considered for a grant. Unless there is some disqualification, grant recipients will be randomly selected.
Clergy transitions workshop June 9 
The Eastern PA Conference will offer a workshop for clergy facing appointment transitions to newly assigned churches. The annual Clergy Transition Workshop, June 9 at West Lawn UMC in Reading, 9:30 AM to 12:30 PM, is open to any transitioning clergy and Staff-Parish Relations Committee members at their new church. There is no charge for the event, but registration is requested to provide sufficient accommodations.
Mission u 2018, July 20-21
Mission u returns to the Inn a Reading for two days, July 20-21. The annual academy of in-depth courses, mission activities and fellowship helps church members (lay and clergy, men, women and youth) understand and interpret the church's global mission and the responsibility of Christians within that mission. It also provides information about the work of United Methodist Women. For more information, contact Mission u Dean Jean Twardzik, 570-345-5061, or   Download the full brochure.   Download the mail-in registration form
Laity Academy Aug. 3-5
The 2018 Laity Academy will convene August 3-5 at Quakertown UMC. A curriculum of 14 planned courses so far will highlight the outreaching theme "Pass It On: Spreading God's Word through Action." Information on classes, registration and hotel reservations will be posted on our website in May. Visit our Lay Ministry page for updates. Be sure to read and share the flyer "What Is it? Why Should I Go?", and also share the " Save the Dates" mini-flyer.
Let's stay connected. Send us your newsletters
Please add our  Communications Office to your church newsletter's digital and/or print mailing lists. We find much of our news in church newsletters (when we find time to read them), and we try to report local church news and events as much as possible. (We also love seeing Conference news reported in your newsletters. Thanks!) However, we want to receive only your church newsletters please, not other e-mailed church announcements. Thanks!
Update your Find-A-Church profile
Developed by United Methodist Communications, Find-A-Church helps your church connect with people who may be looking online for a church to provide worship, fellowship, spiritual nurture and other needs. If your church has a Website, having a church page in Find-A-Church doubles your local visibility to reach people searching by city, town or zip code. It is the official online directory of United Methodist churches in the United States and  one of the most visited sections of, averaging more than 1,000 page views a day. You'll achieve the best results from your Find-A-Church profile when you update your church's information. For video instructions on how, visit Video Tutorial: Find-A-Church Overview
Missed any past issues of NEWSpirit Digest?
You can still read or share informative, colorful back issues of our weekly e-newsletter on the Eastern PA Conference Website at this link with others who might want to stay informed about our news, events, resources and concerns. And please encourage them to subscribe by e-mailing Thanks!
  •  Four Stations of the Holy Spirit - Saturday, June 2 - Lebanon: New Birth, 8:30am-11:45am 
  • Transitioning Pastor's Workshop Saturday, June 9 - West Lawn UMC, 9:30am - 12:30pm 
  • Relating with Clergy Spouses Saturday, June 9 - West Lawn UMC, 12:45pm - 2pm
  • Annual Conference - Thursday, June 14 - Saturday, June 16 Greater Philadelphia Expo Center, Oaks, PA.
  • Mission U July 20-21 - Inn at Reading, Reading, PA
  • Laity Academy - August 3-5 - Quakertown UMC
  • Vital Church Merger Workshop Saturday, September 15 - Christ Church, Lansdale, PA
  • Laity Sunday Sunday, October 21 - YOUR CHURCH!
  • Domestic Violence Workshop - Saturday, November 17 - West Lawn UMC
  • Equipping Church Leaders Saturday, January 19, 2019
  • Tools for Ministry - Saturday, March 2, 2019
Eastern Pennsylvania Conference of The United Methodist Church
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