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May 6, 2022

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A Vital Congregations feature

Churches offer healing ministries through GriefShare

Grieving the death of a loved one can become a healing journey when shared with others, and at least two United Methodist churches in Eastern PA are helping members and neighbors to take that journey together. 

Grove UMC in West Chester and Fallsington UMC are among the thousands of sponsors of GriefShare groups meeting weekly at churches and other locations around the world. Their small group ministries, using the widely valued GriefShare resource to inspire healing insights and human connection, have changed, and possibly saved, many lives burdened by loss. Read more  

Church’s prayer vigil responds to community tragedy


Washington Crossing UMC (“The Crossing”) hosted neighbors for a solemn, public prayer vigil Tuesday night, May 3, to remember two boys whose mother allegedly shot them as they slept in their beds, leaving them gravely wounded. “We don’t know why she stopped and parked at our church” said the Rev. Scott McDermott, lead pastor.  “We believe that these are the kinds of moments that God has made the church for. Right now our community needs a place to begin the process of healing.” Read more. .

Camps combine new and old in upcoming events, site improvements 


See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs forth; do you not perceive it? (Isaiah 43:19a) 

During nature’s season of vibrant vitality, EPA Conference Camp & Retreat Centers are springing forth into new things. They are hosting and planning exciting new events and site improvements, while making preparations and registering children and youth for the thrill of their summer camps.   Some old favorites do remain on the spring schedule, however, including Gretna Glen’s popular Gretna Gritty 5k Mud Run race this Saturday, May 7, Read more   

More things you should know...

1. Help needed to assemble Annual Conference ‘engagement boxes’  

Judy Ehninger (right) and EPA Conference staff hope to finish assembling “engagement boxes” at the Conference Office Monday, May 9. But they could use some help from  volunteers. Thousands of boxes will be mailed to Annual Conference members to help them engage and connect in spirit during the online conference session May 20-21, to be held via Zoom. The small white boxes contain pre-packaged Communion cups with wafers, donated prayer squares, candles, flowers and napkins. If you want to help assemble and prepare the boxes for mailing contact Regina Raiford Babcock at  


2. 3 Annual Conference offerings, 3 ways to give 

The 2022 Annual Conference, May 20-21, will again receive offerings to provide crucial support to conference youth and young adult ministries and scholarships for higher education—both undergraduate and seminary.  

While the Annual Conference will take place online for a third year due to the lingering COVID pandemic, there are again opportunities to give to these offerings easily by cell phone texting, postal mail and online use of the conference website. Gifts may be made before, during and after the Annual Conference session. Read more. 

3. Book explores multivocational ministry

What does it mean to embrace multivocational ministry? Laity, clergy and ministers in discernment are invited to explore this question together at an online ecumenical conference May 14, at 2 PM. The Embracing Multivocational Ministry Conference costs $35. The conference coincides with the publication of Bivocational and Beyond: Educating for a Thriving Multivocational Ministry, edited by the Rev. Darryl W. Stephens with a foreword by the Rev. Lovett Weems. Register for conference


4. Black leaders discuss church future 

Speakers at the annual meeting of Black Methodists for Church Renewal were leery of what a possible splintering of The United Methodist Church will mean for Black churches. The meeting was held virtually April 28-May 1 under the theme "We Are Strong. We Are Relevant. We Are Here." Read story. UM News: Research shows Black churches' resilience 



Church celebrates confirmation of 16 youth 

”It was my joy to confirm 16 youth from our church who claimed their faith on Confirmation Sunday,” announced the Rev. Candy LaBar, pastor of Wesley UMC Bethlehem. “I wish our confirmands every blessing on this new stage of their faith journey.” The Wesley youth completed eight months of instruction before the April 24 ceremony, guided by several mentors. Read more. ..


Church to pause from restoration efforts to say thanks 

Otterbein UMC in Mont Clare, now restoring its building from damages caused by Hurricane Ida-related flooding last September, will host a Service of Thanksgiving on Sunday, May 22 at 3 PM. “We will be celebrating God’s goodness and grace to the congregation, especially in the last eight months since the flood caused by the remnants of Hurricane Ida.,” reads their flyer. “We will also express our thankfulness for all the support, love and donations many have given to the work of restoration.” Contact the Rev. Catherine Bowers, pastor, at for information.


Look for updates of Appointments, Retirees and Open Churches on Sundays after 1 PM. Clergy should indicate their interest in new pastoral openings to their district superintendents by Monday at 9 AM, so DSs can share that information at Tuesday Cabinet meetings. See the Appointments page on our website for weekly updates.

Scam Email Alert   Email spoofing is once again at work using Bishop John Schol 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. Please do not respond to any email requesting money, your time, an "email-only" response, etc. 

Dismantling Racism Level II, Saturday, May 7  “Congregational Racial Audit: Are you Ready?” 9 AM – 12 PM via Zoom.   The congregational racial audit training will help congregations engage in self-examination, as they “conduct courageous conversations on race.” Such conversations must involve relationship-building to help leaders recognize and reveal to their congregations where they are on the journey toward racial awareness, justice and reconciliation, as they pursue the ideal of becoming “the Beloved Community.” Learn more.  REGISTER   

Apply for Education Society higher education grants by May 9 

The Education Society of EPAUMC began this week accepting applications for grants to help defray the cost of higher education for the next school year. The application—which must be submitted by May 9--is available on the Conference website as Grants to Defray Higher Education Costs.” Learn more.

Learn insights on small membership congregations at the next Bi-Vocational & Small Church Network May 10, at  6:30 PM.  The Rev. Steve Morton, North District Superintendent, will reflect on his learnings about, and outlook for, small-membership churches. Join our meeting on Zoom.  Passcode: 651396.  One tap mobile: +16465588656,,94667752196# US (New York)  


Pocono Plateau seeks food service manager now

Pocono Plateau Camp & Retreat Center is accepting applications for a new full-time Food Service & Hospitality Manager now, as they prepare for the start of Summer Camp in June. Housing is provided. For more information email

The Sun Does Shine, by Anthony Ray Hinton, is our “Learning for Leaders” Book Club selection for May. We will meet on Zoom on Wednesdays, May 11, 18 and 25, from 11 AM -12 noon. Hinton was exonerated and released from death row in Alabama in 2015, with the assistance of the Equal Justice Initiative. He had served 30 years for two capital murders he did not commit. Come hear him tell his story. Learn about critical problems that plague our criminal justice system and how you can help make needed changes. Learn more and register

EPA Women’s Spiritual Life Retreat May 14

EPAUMC’s United Women in Faith, formerly United Methodist Women, will sponsor their annual Spiritual Life Retreat on Saturday, May 14, on Zoom, at 9:30 to 11:30 AM. The theme is “Seeking Water in Spiritual Deserts.” The keynote speaker will be retired missionary and pastor Dorothy Killebrew, Write to to learn more and pre-register. Contact: Polly Riddle, UWF Spiritual Growth Chair, 215-674-9049.



Dismantling Racism Level II - “Congregational Racial Audit: Are you Ready?” 9 AM – 12 PM, via Zoom. Register.

MAY 11

The Learning for Leaders May Book Club, featuring The Sun Does Shine by Anthony Ray Hinton, begins! Wednesdays, May 11, 18 and 25, 11:00 AM -12 noon, via Zoom. Register.

MAY 14

Transition Workshop for New Appointments, led by Rev. David Woolverton. 9 AM – 12 noon, via Zoom. Learn more. Register.

Relating with Clergy Spouses, workshop for SPRCs, Led by Julie Anderman, Executive Director, Artos Retreats. 12:30 PM - 2 PM, via Zoom. The EPA Board of Benefits co-sponsors this program with Artos Retreats. Learn more. Register.

MAY 14

Conference UMW Spiritual Life Retreat. 9:30 AM – 11:30 AM via Zoom. Learn more.

MAY 20-21

Conference UMW Spiritual Life Retreat. 9:30 AM – 11:30 AM via Zoom. Learn more.

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