September 2, 2021
Bishop Schol begins leadership of Eastern PA
Dear Friends in Christ of the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference,

Today (September 1) I become your bishop, not as one who is over you, but one with you as we together seek to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. I could not be more excited about the opportunity of being your bishop. EPA with its significant United Methodist history, rich diversity, its strong creative faithful leadership and its missional congregations is a beacon of hope and possibility for the church and the world.

I am deeply grateful for the ministry of Bishop Peggy Johnson who has led you for 13 years and has been gracious and helpful to me during this season of transition. In my one-to-one conversations with leadership across the conference, person after person spoke of her warm heart, her presence throughout the conference, and how she led, particularly through a financial challenge. I look forward to building on Bishop Johnson’s leadership.

In the coming months, I look forward to continuing to learn more about you and your ministry and how we together can grow deeper in faith, develop transformational leaders and grow vital congregations that are connecting with the people in their communities…. Read more and visit our website’s newly revised Bishop’s Office page.
Bishop offers compassion, support to churches affected by hurricane
In the wake of storms generated by Hurricane Ida that besieged local communities, Bishop John Schol sent letters of support to pastors in both his conferences, Greater New Jersey and Eastern PA. He became episcopal leader of the latter conference on Wednesday, Sept. 1. 

Today we pray for everyone who was in the path of Hurricane Ida from the Caribbean through the U.S.” he wrote. “The storm moved through our area yesterday and last night, and it caused severe flooding and wind damage, with some places reporting tornadoes.”

Bishop Schol reported that UMCOR’s director for National Disasters had contacted him to inquire about any needed support. But for now, he said, “our disaster response leadership and superintendents are assessing damage and challenges.”

By Thursday afternoon, NEWSpirit received word only about extensive damage to the basement of Calvary UMC in Ambler; but there may be more damage reports to come. Superintendents are sharing information with the Rev. Dawn Taylor-Storm, conference Connectional Ministries Director, and Bob Simcox, conference Disaster Response coordinator. 

"We want to support our churches and clergy as they begin recovery efforts in their churches and communities," said Taylor-Storm.

Bishop Schol began his letter quoting familiar lyrics by the Rev. Charles Albert Tindley, iconic pastor and hymnodist: “When the storms of life are raging stand by me.” “I know there are many challenges you are facing already and storm damage adds further to the demands upon your leadership,” he wrote. “We are grateful for all you do to lead the church and are here to support you.”
Hurricane Ida's aftermath and relief efforts
After ripping through parts of the Caribbean, Hurricane Ida wreaked havoc across southeast Louisiana early this week, including United Methodist-owned buildings among its targets. But the historic storm continued its destructive onslaught of roaring winds, devastating tornadoes and dangerous flooding into Mississippi, Alabama and up the East Coast, through Pennsylvania, New Jersey and as far as New York. 

Widespread power outages, unprecedented flooding levels, mass evacuations and other difficult conditions are making damage assessment harder. But the power and the people are slowly coming back; and financial gifts are the best way to help for now, though major recovery work looms on the clearing horizon.

“UMCOR is currently assessing Hurricane Ida’s impact and widespread damage in coordination with the conference disaster response coordinators and has awarded a grant to the Louisiana Conference to support initial relief efforts,” the agency said in a statement. UMCOR’s Sager Brown Depot in Baldwin, Louisiana, a hub for supplies for relief operations, appears to have come through the hurricane OK.

The Alabama-West Florida Conference announced that it has early response teams ready to help with debris removal in southeast Louisiana, including mucking out houses and applying tarps — as soon as the green light comes.

Louisiana has had a ruinous stretch of natural disasters, including Hurricane Laura, which hit last August. Bishops Cynthia Fierro Harvey of Louisiana and James Swanson Sr. of Mississippi both stressed that it’s too early for response teams to begin helping churches and communities, given that damage assessment and prioritizing continue — and that traveling conditions and overall living conditions are tough. “The best way to help right now is to send financial contributions,” Harvey said.

Read more in the UM News story “Hurricane Ida takes out church buildings.”

How to help

Give to UMCOR’s U.S. Disaster Response and Recovery through Advance #901670. Donations also can be made through the Louisiana Annual Conference’s disaster response fund or by texting RELIEF to 800-500-5858. For information on relief supply kits, visit
Read & share NEWSpirit Newspaper’s Summer 2021 issue
Enjoy a review, in words and images, of our challenging but safe and successful Summer Camps, as well as Bishop Peggy Johnson’s farewell fete and parting sentiments.

See visual reminders of our important conference learning and celebration events coming up in September and October. That includes a new, thought-provoking, truth-telling book study, Plantation Jesus.

And we remember some significant, even historic, church transitions that happened this summer and in the past year. Read it all online now!
Notice: Email Spoofing & Fake Texts
Email spoofing is once again at work using conference leaders as the sender. Remember, spoofing is when the sender of the email forges (spoofs) someone’s email address, so that the message appears to come from a legitimate email address.

Also, if anyone receives texts asking for a favor and requesting the purchase of gift cards to address some need, they are most certainly part of a periodic, widespread scam. Such texts have been reported by persons identifying the senders as Eastern PA Conference clergy, including district superintendents.

Please do not respond to any emails or text messages from your District Superintendent requesting money, your time, an email response, etc.

Do not respond to these fake texts. Delete them immediately. Learn more…

Death Notice Update: Mrs. Carol von Minden
We have received word that Mrs. Carol von Minden, an Eastern PA Conference retired staff member, died on August 28, 2021. She served the Eastern PA Conference for 26 years.

Expressions of sympathy can be sent to her surviving spouse, Mrs. Linda Flood, at 2101 Belmont Avenue, Apt. 2005, Philadelphia PA 19131.

A funeral service will be held on Saturday, September 11, 2021, with visitation at 10:00 AM, and service at 11:00 AM. The location will be Drexel Hill UMC (Drexel Hill UMC, Burmont Road & Bloomfield Avenue, Drexel Hill, PA 19026).

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to Drexel Hill UMC, or Simpson House (2101 Belmont Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19131).

Conference Office returns to regular schedule Sept. 7
The Conference Office returns to regular schedule Sept. 7. All staff will be in the office on Mondays and will take turns working at the office on other days, reports Jo Fielding, Director of Administrative Services. Office hours are 8 AM to 4 PM, Monday through Friday. If you visit the Conference Office please wear a mask and try to maintain at least 6 feet of social distancing. Do not come to the office if you do not feel well, have a runny nose or cough (non-allergy), or have a fever.