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WHAT'S NEW
April 15, 2016
Bishop Peggy Johnson announces new appointments:

Bishop Peggy A. Johnson announces the following 2016 appointments, effective  July 1, 2016 unless otherwise noted.

East
  • Rev. Randy Milner Brubaker (Elder), from 1/2-time at Phila.: Crescentville and 1/2-time at Phila.: St. Philip's to 1/2-time at Phila.: Crescentville and 1/2-time to Phila.: Frankford Memorial.

Northeast District 

  • The Rev. Scott Friedgen-Veitch (Elder) - From: Norristown: Haws Avenue UMC (CE District) To: Quakertown UMC (NE District).
  • The Rev. Mike Netznik (Full Time Local Pastor - From: Allentown: Emmanuel UMC (Bethany Campus) To: Moore Twp: Covenant (NE District).
Certified Lay Minister Graduation April 17
All clergy and laity are cordially invited to a service of recognition honoring the Eastern PA Conference Certified Lay Minister Graduates, Spring Class of 2016, on Sunday, April 17, at 3 PM at West Lawn UMC, 15 Woodside Avenue, Reading, PA. Bishop Peggy Johnson will preach.  
Conference Youth Rally, April 24, to show 'God cares'
"Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares for you." (1 Peter 5:7) That's the central message that will inspire young minds and hearts at the next Eastern PA Conference Youth Rally , set for Sunday, April 24, from 3 to 7 PM, at Hopewell UMC in Downingtown.

This second annual rally will feature Todd Waites, an extraordinary one-armed keyboardist for the Christian music group ApologetiX. He often shares with concert audiences his story of how Christ enabled him to overcome adversity. Also appearing will be Hopewell's own talented #JesusTrending Christian youth band, and dynamic, spiritual oratory from several remarkable youth and young adults:  Scott Smith from the Philadelphia Project, Anthony Washington from New Vision UMC, and Grace Puy of Hopewell and Jenny Kang of Drexel U., both of whom inspired listeners at the Peninsula-Delaware Conference Youth Rally in January.

There will be an optional, fun-filled pre-rally Nerf War at 3 PM. Then the rally will kick off at 4, with music and messages focusing on God's infinite, healing, caring love. Download and display the flyer Learn more...

Advanced Sexual Ethics: "Leading between the Lines"
Tuesday, April 26, 9 AM-3:30 PM. Cost: $35
West Lawn UMC, 15 Woodside Ave., Reading, PA

Please register today for this workshop,  "Leading between the Lines" created and taught by the Rev. David Woolverton Sr. pastor of St. Mark's UMC, Mount Joy, is all about applying family systems principles to your personal life in order to impact your leadership, ministry and church. Woolverton, a doctoral candidate in conflict management, says, "We will explore eight things that make pastoral leaders cross boundaries, as well as how to define yourself around leadership and personal values. Bring your Bible, too, as we explore 'best practices for accessing 'Axios' (a Greek word meaning "worthy") in enhancing overall effectiveness in ministry."
 
A continental breakfast (at 8:30 AM), lunch and course materials will be provided. This workshop will satisfy the quadrennial requirement of sexual ethics. A 0.5 CEU certificate will be issued at the completion of the workshop. Contact person: Rev. Andrea Brown, Pastoral Care Chairperson for the Board of Ordained Ministry:  andrea@grandviewumc.org


District prayer posts lift General Conference in prayer
Churches in two Eastern PA Conference districts hosted intercessory prayer services recently, welcoming more than 70 people in total who gathered to pray for the United Methodist Church's General Conference 2016. The last of six district "Prayer Posts," leading up to the May 10-20 global legislative assembly, will be hosted by Washington Crossing UMC in the East District on May 1, from 6 to 7:30 PM. Learn more about what happened at the two recent prayer services and what's planned for the final one.

Repentance for the Carlisle School's lost children
During its opening worship service on June 16 the Eastern PA Annual Conference will become one of many United Methodist conferences to perform an Act of Repentance toward Healing Relationships with Indigenous Peoples. The Rev. Thom White Wolf Fassett, our keynote preacher, will lead the ceremony. Many members may recall the uniquely moving tribute during the 2015 Annual Conference that remembered the many children buried at the former Carlisle Indian Industrial School, located just west of our conference. Read about the Carlisle School's troubling legacy and reactions of our members to last year's tribute, as well as a commitment to prepare our conference to embrace its Act of Repentance in June. Also learn about efforts of some Native American tribes to have the remains of their children buried at Carlisle returned to them. Learn more...
A pply May 1-16 for Education Society grants 
The Eastern PA Conference Education Society offers college aid grants for the 2016-17 school year. The "Grants to Defray Higher Education Costs" application is available on our Website or from local churches. All applications received from May 1 to May 16 will be considered. Contact Al Adey, Education Society Chairperson, at ahadey@verizon.net for more information.

Bishop Johnson to join dialogs with Catholics
Bishop Peggy Johnson has agreed to serve on the United Methodist team that dialogs with the Roman Catholic Church, on behalf of the Council of Bishops' Office of Christian Unity and Interreligious Relationships (OCUIR). OCUIR engages with other Christian denominations to work toward unity and peace, while also interpreting The United Methodist Church's role as it encounters other faith communities, cultures and ideologies.

"Our current dialogs with the Catholic Church, ongoing since the mid-1960's, focus on practical ways our two Christian denominations can partner together," said Bishop Johnson, who attends her first meeting at the end of May. United Methodists around the world have long joined with Roman Catholics in shared ministry and worship. For more than 40 years, their topical dialogs have ranged from public education to Holy Communion.

Church Refugees: People done with church but not their faith

Tuesday, May 24, 9:30 AM to 3:30 PM, at First UMC, 420 Saylor Street, Schuylkill Haven. 
Why are a growing number of people done with church but not their faith? It's a question for which many mainline churches are seeking answers. The Northwest District will sponsor a workshop led by sociologist and author Josh Packard of the University of Northern Colorado, who will share findings from his major study about the growing exodus from the American Church.

Learn why folks who have devoted a lifetime to the church are leaving, what we are losing by their departure, and where they are going. Dr. Packard will also share how we might re-engage those who have left and steps we can take to prevent others from leaving. He will lead three sessions, with responses from a panel of church leaders who are already applying some of the principles he will be teaching. Packard is co-author of Church Refugees: Sociologists reveal why people are DONE with church but not their faith (Paperback, 2015) and The Emerging Church: Religion at the Margins.  This event is open to clergy and laity from all districts. The $20 registration fee helps pay for lunch and this event. Continuing Education credits for pastors are being applied for . Register   by the May 17 deadline.

UMCom again cites St. George's as must-see historic site
Referring to its title as the "Cathedral Church of American Methodism," UM Communications once again features our own historic St. George's UMC in Philadelphia as one of "Seven sites every United Methodist should see." St. George's United Methodist Church, constructed in 1763 in Philadelphia, Pa., is the oldest house of Methodist worship in continuous use in America," reads the article, "and is designated a heritage landmark of The United Methodist Church." The article follows extensive historical reporting on St. George's last year, including a short video about the church and another about its monthly Time Traveler's tours.

Camps & Retreat Centers are springing into action
While they welcome registrations for Summer Camp, our four Camps & Retreat Centers are also welcoming active, fun-loving folks in celebration of spring. So don't wait. Contact them and get in on the action now before it's too late.

Pocono Plateau  hosts its annual "Dangerous Retreat for Boys (and Dads)" next weekend, April 22-24, for boys in grades 3 to 9, along with their dads. This retreat offers adventures for boys and their dads. The creative, spirit-filled Mothers & Daughters Retreat follows May 13-15, for daughters in grades 6 to 12 and their moms. And there's a Young Adults Retreat June 3-5.

Gretna Glen hosts its final Free Youth Night of the season this Sunday, April 17, from 4 to 6:30 PM. Then there's the famous Gretna Gritty Mud Run on May 7 and the annual Spring Fling Senior Adult Day on May 10.

Innabah  welcomes runners, walkers and even strollers to its annual Spring 5K Trail Run & 1.5 Mile Run/Walk for Kid's & Families. It all takes place this Saturday, April 16.

Carson Simpson Farm Christian Camp offers Disciple Training for youth leaders May 13-14 and also Little Critters Camp May 14.
 
In addition, all four sites will welcome visitors to Saturday open houses, an annual spring treat that includes guided tours, sample summer camp activities, refreshments and plenty of fun and fellowship. The dates are: Pocono Plateau, May 14; Gretna Glen, May 21; Innabah, May 14; and Carson-Simpson Farm, May 7 (along with its annual flower sale). Visit their Websites to learn more.
PA Bishops support state child protection bill
Philadelphia Area Bishop Peggy Johnson and her Pennsylvania episcopal colleagues, Bishops Thomas Bickerton of the Pittsburgh Area and Jeremiah Park of the Harrisburg Area, have co-signed a letter to the chairman of the State Senate Judiciary Committee supporting the "Safe Harbor for Sexually Exploited Children" bill. Senate Bill 851's purpose is to ensure that minor children who have come under the care of the state, because they have been victims of human trafficking for purposes of sexual exploitation, will be managed by the Department of Human Services, as opposed to being placed in the juvenile justice system. 
 
The Rev. Dai Morgan, Coordinator of United Methodist Advocacy in Pennsylvania, delivered the letter to PA Senator Stewart J. Greenleaf, who authored the bill, at his State Capitol office April 5. Greenleaf chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee. Here Morgan is flanked by Greenleaf on his right and Patrick Cawley, Senate Judiciary Committee Counsel and Executive Director. Read the letter...

SW District team plans General Conference prayer vigil
The Southwest District Lay Resource Team, concerned about decisions to be made at the upcoming General Conference, May 10-20, invites clergy and laity to join in a continuous prayer vigil "for our delegates and the issues at hand." They published a two-part schedule of prayer times that members-as well as groups and congregations--can sign up for over the two weeks General Conference is in session. 

"Our delegates will be spending long days discussing and listening to ideas for how our denomination should proceed," reads the appeal. "Even when they are sleeping, they should be covered in prayer for restful sleep so that their minds are sharp, and hearts are ready for the tasks at hand." The schedules are at General Conference Prayer Vigil (Part 1 May 10 thru May 14)    and General Conference Prayer Vigil (Part 2 May 15 through May 20).   Contact Julie Perkowski at liljcp@yahoo.com for more information. (Include in the subject line: "Questions for General Conference Prayer Vigil.") 

Visit our Local Church Events page for more exciting events
West Chester UMC to host Beat the Bug race against malaria  April 17
West Chester UMC will host its 5th Annual Beat the Bug 5K Run/2K Walk on Sunday, April 17. Come see the race and support competitors racing for an important, life-saving cause. The run and walk start at 2 PM. Learn more...  and download the event poster.
Covenant UMC youth raise funds for Congo kids clinic
Springfield: Covenant UMC's Sunday School students will sponsor a missions fundraiser on Sunday, April 24, at 6:30 PM, to support the Southeast District's efforts to help equip a new Pediatrics Clinic in Mpasa, Congo. The church's children and youth are inviting all to attend their benefit ice cream and cookies social to help them serve the needs of poor children and families in the Congo. The Rev. Jonathan Baker and Donna Baker, a missionary couple assigned to the Congo through the Congo Partnership, of which the Eastern PA Conference is a member, will speak during the event about living and working in the Mpasa District.  Learn more...

Jillian's Café hosts Battle of the Christian rock bands 
Jillian's Café at Conshohocken UMC will host the   Battle of the Christian Contemporary Rock Bands on Saturday evening, April 30. The event will raise funds for CUMC's 2016 Youth Missions Trip. Up to eight bands will compete for the prize from 5 to 8 PM. Admission is $5 for anyone over 10 years old. Great music, great food, a great cause! CUMC's famous smoker and hot dog grillers will be fired up!  Learn more
Siloam UMC to explore substance abuse epidemic
Siloam UMC (3720 Foulk Road  Garnet Valley, PA) invites all--but especially pastors and lay ministers--to attend a symposium on finding faithful solutions to widespread substance abuse on Saturday, May 14, from 8:30 AM to 12 noon. "How should he church be involved in this epidemic?" event organizers ask, promising "a morning of fellowship and education, as we take a backwards journey from loss to hope."  Learn more...
REMINDERS
Why not live-stream  General Conference at your church for people to watch together?
Is your church or any churches you know planning to publicly show live-stream video of any portion of General Conference 2016? That could include opening worship, Council of Bishops or Laity addresses, special celebrations, Holy Conferencing on a key legislative topic, etc. If anyone knows of any congregations planning to do so, please let us know so we can spread the word around the connection.  

Most people will likely view the live-stream video on their own computers or mobile devices. But it could be a nice thing for churches with Internet access, sufficient bandwidth and visual projection equipment to gather members and guests to experience this significant event together in a social setting.
Pastoral Transition Workshop May 21     
The conference will offer a Pastoral Transition Workshop  on Saturday, May 21, from 9:30 AM to  12:30 PM at West Lawn UMC. The Rev. David Woolverton will facilitate this important learning event for pastors and churches undergoing a church  and pastoral change.
Local Church Communicators Workshop coming June 4
Calling all Local Church Communicators in the Eastern PA Conference: We plan to have a  training event for you, to enhance your vital communications ministries  on Saturday  morning,  June 4, 8:30 AM to 12 noon . More info to come soon.
April town hall meetings exploring district changes
Bishop Peggy Johnson is conducting town hall meetings conference-wide to present and discuss a proposed 2017 redistricting plan. The plan would reduce our number of districts from six to four. Lay and clergy members are urged to attend.  The reduction in districts is proposed to reduce costs, as income from church apportioned payments has declined along with membership rolls. After sharing financial figures, trends and other information, along with a map of reconfigured districts, Bishop Johnson, Conference  Treasurer Jim Cruickshank and other cabinet members welcome suggestions and answer questions.
The remaining dates and district locations are as follows:
  • Tue. April 19, 2016 - 7:00 pm - Huntingdon Valley UMC ( East )
  • Mon. April 25, 2016 - 7:00 pm - Hope UMC in Ephrata ( Southwest)
  • Wed. April 27, 2016 - 7:00 pm - Quakertown UMC ( Northeast)
Delegates hearing members' General Conference concerns
The Eastern PA Conference delegation to General and Jurisdictional conferences are holding four Listening and Discernment Sessions in April--three of them face-to-face and one by telephone. Delegates do not speak but instead listen to annual conference members' concerns about important aspects of proposed legislation coming before the global legislative gathering.

The remaining listening sessions are:
  • Saturday, April 16 , from 10 AM to 12 noon, at Simpson House in Philadelphia.
  • Wednesday, April 20, from 7 to 8:30 PM, at Church of the Good Shepherd in Lebanon.
  • Saturday, April 23, from 9 to 10:30 AM, in which the delegation will conduct a telephone outreach session to hear members' views. They will call a dozen persons who sign up online in advance to request phone calls so they may offer their comments. Each call should last about five (5) minutes or less, with short breaks in-between, allowing the delegation to complete about 12 calls in the 90-minute session. Once again, they will only listen to comments for their discernment; but they will not respond.
Persons who wish to receive a telephone outreach call from the delegation on Saturday, April 23, from 9 to 10:30 AM, should use  this link  on our new SetMore.com call scheduling service to reserve a time for a call. If anyone needs help signing up, they may e-mail the  Conference Communications Office  or call 484-762-8215.

For information on General Conference issues the delegates will address, review our story, "Delegates prepare for General, NEJ conferences."

Please register for Annual Conference asap
Online registration is underway for the 2016 Eastern PA Annual Conference June 16-18, at the Lancaster Marriott Hotel and Convention Center. Hard-copy materials will be mailed out by next week. All clergy and selected lay members to annual conference are urged to please register online now or well before the May 13 deadline. The r egistration cost is $225 for all members. Registering after May 13 will incur a $50 late fee, with no exceptions. Also, please book your hotel room reservations now . Rooms are $129 a night and must be reserved by April 29.

The deadline to receive Annual Conference Resolutions and Reports is May 13, with no extensions. Instructions for preparing and submitting resolutions will be posted by next week. And you may register for display space online or e-mail Lori Henning or call her at 610-544-1400.

All districts will hold Pre-Annual Conference Meetings June 5, from 3 to 5:30 PM. To learn more visit our Annual Conference 2016 Webpage and read the news story about plans for this historic 230th annual conference session. 
Ads sought for NEJ Conference Program Book
It's time to shine to the farthest reaches of our northeast region. Advertise your church or ministry or agency to UMs across the church's Northeastern Jurisdiction by buying an ad in the NE Jurisdictional Conference souvenir program book. Don't wait any longer; pages are filling up, and the  April 30 deadline is fast-approaching. The Eastern PA Conference is soliciting ads for the book it will publish for the conference, which will meet July 11-15 at the Lancaster Marriott in Lancaster, Pa. 

A letter of invitation and ad submission form, offering various ad sizes and prices, went out in February with an April 30 deadline for submissions. Proceeds from ad space purchases will help fund two United Methodist mission causes and help cover conference costs. The mission causes are: the Imagine No Malaria campaign, the denomination's effort to eradicate a disease that has taken countless lives especially among children in Africa; and LUMINA, Lancaster United Methodist Inner-City Alliance, which serves low-income individuals and families. Learn more...
Denman Evangelism Award nominations sought
Nominations are open for the Harry Denman Evangelism Awards, which honor United Methodists in each conference "whose exceptional evangelism brings people into a life-transforming relationships with Jesus Christ." Once again we want to recognize three deserving evangelists--a youth, a clergy member and a layperson--at our annual conference in June. The awards are intended to celebrate, inspire and encourage all who feel called to be evangelists. Please prayerfully nominate disciples you know who share their faith in bold, innovative, nurturing, uplifting ways. Learn more . Download the nomination form , complete it and send it by April 30 to Suzette James, of the Eastern PA Conference Congregational Development Team, or to the Eastern PA Conference Office, P.O. Box 820, Valley Forge, PA  19482-0820, to the attention of Dr Christopher Kurien. 
Cross-Racial Cross-Cultural Appointments Part II Training: April 23
This training follow-up to Part 1 last fall will take place on Saturday, April 23, at Royersford UMC (380 Church St.). If you are a pastor serving in a cross-racial or cross-cultural appointment or belong to a congregation with a cross-racial or cross-cultural pastor then this full-day training is for you. It will be facilitated again by our partners at the General Commission on Religion and Race. Cost: The Annual Conference will cover the cost of clergy, missionaries and up to 3 members of your congregation to join you.  Additional participants are $10 per person. Register at  https://epaumc.churchcenteronline.com/registrations/events/19946
Associate Members & Local Pastors Retreat: April 24-26
The Fellowship Of Associate Members And Local Pastors will hold their annual retreat April 24-26, at Black Rock Retreat Center, 1345 Kirkwood Pike, Quarryville, PA. Associate Members, Local Pastors, Student Pastors and Certified Lay Ministers of both the Eastern PA and Peninsula-Delaware conferences are encouraged to attend and to register online now . The  $275 price includes 2 nights, 5 meals and 2.0 CEUs. For more information contact Mark Beiderman at 610-585-0575.  Download the brochure for a registration form.  The keynote speaker is the Rev. Dr. Charles Yrigoyen Jr., of Lancaster County, the author or editor of 16 books, mostly on Methodism and its founders, the Wesleys. 
"Tamar Speaks!" April 23 for 
survivors of childhood sexual abuse
Samaritan Counseling Center's SafeChurch Movement retreat for male and female adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse, at Gretna Glen Camp & Retreat Center in Lebanon, Pa. Adult survivors and members of faith communities invited for  reflection on "how our journeys of healing give voice" to victims and help faith communities better understand the long-term impact of childhood sexual abuse. Visit the   Samaritan Counseling Center's Website to register and get information.  Linda Crockett, Director of Samaritan SafeChurch, will co-lead the retreat with Lisa Hanna Witmer, MSW, LSW, a trauma-trained therapist. Contact Crockett at 717-560-9991 or   LCrockett@scclanc.org  for more information. The retreat's general cost is $25, and space is limited. The registration deadline is April 14.            
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 UMC.org, 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 www.epaumc.org/news-events/newspirit-digestShare 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 communications@epaumc.org. Thanks!
SAVE THE DATES
Please Save These Dates! 
 
Two Changing Racism Training Events will be held in 2016,  April 1- 3 and  Oct. 28-30 both at the  new location,  the Daylesford Abbey in Paoli.  Register online . The cost is $300.

May 10-20: UMC General Conference, Portland, OR

May 21:  Pastoral Transition Workshop  9:30 AM - 12:30 PM. at West Lawn UMC. The Rev. David Woolverton leading.

June 5: District Conferences
 
June 16-18: Eastern PA Annual Conference, Lancaster Marriott at Penn Square, Lancaster, PA
 
July 10-16: EPA Conference to host the 2016 UMC Northeastern  
Jurisdictional Conference Lancaster County Convention Center and the Penn Square Marriott Hotel. Each district will serve as the Hospitality Team for one day.

July 22-23: UMW's Mission u at the Inn at Reading
Eastern Pennsylvania Conference of The United Methodist Church
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