April 16, 2021
Bishop Peggy A. Johnson announces the following appointments & assignments, effective July 1, 2021, unless otherwise stated:
North District

  • Rev. Dr. Edward L. Bean (Retired Elder) to serve Belfast: Wesley UMC, quarter time.
What more shall we, can we do?
Another mass shooting with multiple murders to further afflict us today. More families and friends robbed of the precious lives of their loved ones. This, while our beleaguered “City of Brotherly Love” endures multiple murders of its young night by night. This, while the nation is transfixed on a trial to find justice and enact judgment for a senseless, brutal, lawless police killing that has gripped us since Memorial Day 2020.  

We memorialize in grief so many lost lives today and every day. Press conferences, prayer vigils, protests, patriotic flags flown at half-staff, public funerals, and finally, police investigations “of the people, by the people and for the people” that may eventually produce trials…or worse—no trials.

These sorrowful, mind-numbing drumbeats of unaccountable deaths play a never-ending dirge of lament for a people more saddened than shocked. And the drumbeats go on. And our tears, our anxious cries, our heartfelt prayers must go on. But they must not lose the name of action. So what more shall we do? What more can we do?

NEWSpirit Communications invites our readers’ prayerful responses to those questions. Please write to us at communications@epaumc.org. Tell us what you think or how you feel. Or post to our Facebook page or Twitter page.
--John Coleman, Editor
Native American Ministries Sunday is April 18
Native American Ministries Sunday (third Sunday of Easter) nurtures mission with Native Americans and provides scholarships for United Methodist Native American seminarians. information for how the offering is shared is available here: http://www.nacp-umc.org/native-ministries-sunday-grant.html.  

When you give generously on Native American Ministries Sunday, you equip seminary students who honor and celebrate Native American culture in their ministries. You also empower congregations to find fresh and culturally appropriate ways to minister to their communities with Christ’s love. Read stories about the impact you are making with your gifts. Give Now! Click here to learn more and download additional resources.

Registration open for April 18 Annual Conference rule suspension vote and District Conferences
Conference members will meet via Zoom on Sunday, April 18, at 3 PM, to vote on a motion to suspend the Session Rules of Order and thus, allow for a second online Annual Conference with online voting.

District Conferences will follow at 4 PM, convening in separate Zoom Webinars to handle key District matters.

April 18, 2020
  • 3 PM - Rule Change Vote with all Conference Members
  • 4 PM - District Conferences

You will receive the webinar link for the 3 PM Vote and the 4 PM District Conference (for your own district) in your confirmation email. Register for the April 18 Rule Vote & District Conferences
Celebrate, support Native American Ministries April 18
By Bishop Peggy A. Johnson

Every year on the third Sunday of Easter, The United Methodist Church observes Native American Ministries Sunday. It includes the opportunity to take a special offering for our many local and denominational ministries. 
Half of our total offering stays in our annual conference each year to carry on the work of our Committee on Native American Ministries (CONAM). The rest is used connectionally to support seminary scholarships and mission efforts among Native Americans beyond our conference. 

This year the needs are greater due to the ongoing plight of the COVID-19 pandemic that has been especially harsh in Native American communities. Pastors, please take a special offering on Native American Ministries Sunday, April 18, or on a more convenient occasion. 

As we pool together our resources, so much more good work can be accomplished! It is the gift of our connectional system and it is our commitment to inclusivity and our embrace of all as part of “the beloved community.”  Learn more...
Eastern PA churches host vaccinations
A number of our UM churches are joining others in hosting COVID-19 vaccination clinics, in partnership with nearby hospitals and pharmacies. They are providing a much-needed resource to getting the vaccines disseminated, especially among under-served residents in their communities. (And some churches also served as critically needed COVID testing sites in the early months of the pandemic.)

Swarthmore UMC, Union UMC in Darby and Wharton-Wesley UMC in Philadelphia have all hosted COVID -19 vaccine clinics. Christ UMC Fairless Hills hosted a clinic April 10. (See photos). And African Zoar UMC in Philadelphia will host one on Saturday, April 17, to distribute the Moderna vaccine from 10 AM to 2 PM or until they run out of doses. Their partner, the Broad and Snyder Pharmacy, will return May 15 to administer second shots. 

We would like to report in our media on more churches that have hosted or will host COVID-19 vaccination clinics and also testing sites (which are still needed). Please let us know if your church has or will participate in these crucial public health efforts. Tell us who, what, when, where and how (with what healthcare partner). And as always, we love to receive and use photos. Write to us at communications@epaumc.org. Thanks. 
View recording and slides from Vaccines, Variants, etc. webinar
Our Zoom recording from Monday's "Vaccines, variants and the road ahead" webinar, led by clinical pharmacologists Dr. Elsen Jacob and Dr. Susan Jacob, is available on our website and well-worth viewing and sharing. The two presenters’ PowerPoint slides are also there. The webinar was richly informative, with clear, helpful explanations and answers to questions. Learn more
Creation-care: Working toward net-zero carbon emissions
By Bishop Peggy A. Johnson

Five General Agencies of the UMC are joining together this year to commit to Net-Zero Carbon Emissions in their operations and as a resource for the whole denomination. We look forward to their initiative and the harvest of responsible stewardship of the earth’s resources that it will produce in years to come…

What a timely agenda as we approach Earth Day 2021, Tuesday, April 20. “Earth Day” is an annual reminder that this planet urgently needs our protection, care and respect…. We can all do simple things. Our churches are places where numerous environmental protective practices can be employed and taught. Learn more…
Publication offers focus on climate emergency
United Methodist Insight, one of our favorite publications, features a weeklong focus on our national and global climate emergency and endangered ecology. Here is what editor Cynthia Astle writes:

The climate emergency – the third major crisis of our time alongside racism and the coronavirus pandemic – will be the focus as we prepare to mark Earth Day on April 22 and Earth Sunday on April 25. As a partner in Covering Climate Now, a worldwide collaboration of some 400 publications aiming to amplify and enhance climate reporting, United Methodist Insight will post relevant articles daily from now through April 23. (One article published today is From Ecological Habits to Ecological Virtues by Mark Davies.)  

For starters we suggest considering the Earth Day worship resources offered by the General Board of Global Ministries. Those who are ready to make a greater commitment to caring for creation may want to enroll in the next EarthKeepers training offered online by Global Ministries; registration closes April 19. Most of all, keep in mind these words from the world’s leading experts with which we at Insight agree: “Climate Change: It’s real. It’s us. It’s serious. Experts agree. But there is hope.”
Policing in African American Communities, April 22
Join us for an important discussion to benefit our communities…

The Eastern PA Conference Urban Commission’s Fight for Floyd and Beyond Initiative will sponsor a webinar on African Americans and Policing: Developing Healthy Police and Community Relationships on Thursday, April 22, 6:30 to 8:30 PM on Zoom.

Discussion leaders, from Philadelphia, Chester and Montgomery County, will share their insights, experiences and ideas for improving police community relations in communities of color. They include: a police chaplain and pastor; a church and community leader; and a community organization leader. 
Camp & Retreat Centers foresee ‘a future with hope’
What a difference a year can make—especially this year, and especially for the four Eastern PA Conference’s Camp & Retreat Ministry (CRM) sites.

“Spring has sprung, and we are so excited,” writes Apryl Miller, Director of Gretna Glen Camp & Retreat Center in a recent newsletter. Despite the ongoing, debilitating pandemic, she and the other camp directors are hoping to spring forward into CRM-saving time, when their recovering sites can escape the winter of their discontent and thrive once again.

But for now, they look forward to hosting modest, mostly outdoor gatherings and retreats; more independent family getaways; and finally a cautious return to the exhilaration of summer camp. Learn more…
Conference youth are socially distanced but spiritually connected
Most teenagers by Saturday are no doubt tired of looking, listening and talking to computer screens all week for school instruction and social interaction during the COVID-19 pandemic. Yet, Eastern PA Conference youth gladly gather on-screen twice a month for Conference Council on Youth Ministry (CCYM) meetings that for some have become like talk therapy.

“We’ve maintained an active membership throughout the pandemic, meeting virtually every two weeks,” reports the Rev. David Piltz, CCYM Coordinator. “Our meetings are for more than business. They are times for us to enjoy fellowship and laughter and to discuss important topics, such as faith, diversity, dealing with society’s -ism’s, and how to live as a Christian in today’s world.”

In February and March, CCYM tried something new. The youth gathered with students from Drexel University’s Open Door UM Campus Ministry on Zoom for a six-week series of inspirational talks for youth and young adults on topics like relationships and personal healing. Now CCYM is planning a rally for August 28, tentatively onsite at Covenant UMC in Bath Township. While the youth yearn to gather face-to-face again, they will follow safety precautions. Learn more
Conference commission leads the way to ‘Dismantling Racism’
Dismantling Racism. The term, growing in use, conveys an apt understanding that this social scourge is large, systemic and complex, with many parts—and that it must be taken apart or demolished from different angles. That is how the Eastern PA Conference is approaching the stubborn sin of racism.

A busy calendar of workshops, book studies, meetings and dialogues is a good start, as minds are opened, conversations are started, hearts are convicted, and both behaviors and policies are changed. The actual dismantling that follows can be witnessed in:
  • more deliberate, interracial, culturally competent interactions;
  • more successful, cross-racial pastoral appointments;
  • more administrative moves to create equitable leadership, financing and growth opportunities;
  • more interracial advocacy and alliances pushing for racial justice, equity and inclusion.

In its fifth year of responding to the UMC Northeastern Jurisdiction’s (NEJ) Call to Action for Racial Justice and Reconciliation, the Eastern PA Conference is working through its own Racial Justice Transformation Process from various angles. Helping to lead that effort and reporting on it yearly to the Annual Conference, the Cabinet and the NEJ is the Conference Commission on Religion and Race (CORR). Learn more...
UMDF Board Announces Name Change to Wesleyan Investive
The United Methodist Development Fund was created in 1969 by the UMC Board of Global Ministries to offer and manage private investments and to fund loans for construction and renovation of church properties. In 2017 TMF (formerly the Texas Methodist Foundation), became a partner to manage the fund’s loans and investments. Their new board implemented a new marketing plan and now it announces a new name for the fund.

UMDF is officially becoming the Wesleyan Investive, as part of its intent to “expand the reach of our loans and leadership ministry and give us the opportunity to claim an identity that reflects our widening commitment to the church’s mission.” Learn more...
Mission Link proves good things can come when adversity hits
During the COVID-19 pandemic, as our congregations were struggling in 2020 to follow new regulations and maintain social distance, the Eastern PA Conference’s West Lebanon Mission Link (WLML) discovered a great opportunity for joint ministry. 
Before the pandemic the youth at St. Luke’s UMC led the way by placing outside the church a “blessing box” filled with food for others to take every week. It was being emptied almost as soon as it was refilled. Soon many residents were no longer working but being kept at home by the pandemic without incomes to sustain their families.

The youth group's small gesture pointed church leaders to the larger idea of developing a food pantry. The Mission Link decided there was a greater need to provide more food and it was a need we could meet as a group by creating a food pantry. Learn more...
Celebrating 25 years of the UM Deacons Order
The 25th Anniversary celebration of the Order of Deacons in the UMC is a collaboration of Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary in Evanston, Ill., the Deacon Order Chairs Planning Group, and the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry (GBHEM) of the UMC. It is being held online via Zoom. Learn more… To register for any event Register Now.  

Two presentation events occurred April 13. There are two upcoming events:
  • A Service of Worship featuring deacons from across the UMC connection. Saturday, April 17, at 12 PM Learn More
  • Social Justice: Deacons in Ministry: A panel discussion featuring the Revs. Doris Dalton, Hank Jenkins and Paul Perez. Saturday, April 24, at 12 PM. Learn More
There's no going back to the pre-pandemic church
Many churches feel a natural desire to return to the familiar, comfortable patterns of the past. But Kay Kotan, author of "Being the Church in a Post-Pandemic World," says churches that embrace this time of disruption as a catalyst for lasting change are most likely to be vital in the "new normal." Read commentary
Farewell fete planned for Bishop Peggy Johnson
Eastern PA Conference leaders are planning a retirement celebration to bid a fond farewell to Bishop Peggy Johnson, after her 13 years of providing service and leadership here. The virtual farewell fete on Zoom is scheduled for Monday, July 26, at 6:30 to 8 PM, and will include greetings from members of the conference and the NEJ College of Bishops, among others.  

We are requesting the submission to communications@epaumc.org of photos of our bishop from across the conference. Short, well-done video farewell greetings are also welcome. The Rev. Scott McDermott, Episcopacy Committee chair, is working on a gift and will soon share how churches can contribute to a mission project of the Bishop's choice.  

Meanwhile, we have created a Kudoboard where members and friends can post messages to the bishop. Please visit the online board at  Expressions of Gratitude from the Eastern PA Conference to read some messages and add your own.
To attend the farewell webinar click on the Zoom link:
Webinar ID: 966 9511 7530. Passcode: 891085.   
Or join by telephone: US: +1 646 558 8656 
Save the Date!
A Welcome Service is being planned for Bishop Schol on Saturday, Sept. 18, at West Chester UMC. Time to be determined.
5 surprising ways churches move outside the building
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The year 2020 may have forever changed our picture of church. A Barna Group study found that 59% of churchgoing Gen Zers will not return to regularly attending in-person church gatherings, meaning they will engage with their church communities in other ways. The Rev. Ryan Dunn, minister of online engagement for Rethink Church, looks at creative ways the church has been and may continue to be in ministry outside of in-person worship. Read story
Church needs VIMs to make floors safe for children
There is pent-up energy among the UM Volunteers In Mission community right now. Because of the pandemic, the possibility of an UMVIM journey abroad is zero. And even movement around the nation is not prudent. But opportunities are opening up within our conference boarders. 

One such opportunity is El Mesias (The Messiah) UMC, at 3200 N. Front St (at Allegheny Avenue), Philadelphia, PA. The Rev. Efrain Cotto is the pastor.

The City requires that the floors in classrooms used by the BrightFutures Preschool program be covered to address an unsafe flooring concern. The parents of many of the enrolled children at the preschool are essential workers. Having affordable care available for their children is essential, too. 

Installing floating floor tiles is the best answer. They require few tools and only basic skills. So we need VIM teams ready and able now to come participate in this vital mission effort. This is an urgent need for this small church and the children and families it serves. Please help. Learn more…
UMCom to teach Leveraging Communication for Greater Connection 
Be a part of a new, ecumenical, virtual training conference on Tuesday and Wednesday, April 20-21, from 11 AM to 3:30 PM. Leveraging Communication for Greater Connection will include 20+ learning opportunities--social media, church newsletters, digital ministry and more--facilitated by experts in innovative church communications. Experience both days of this in-depth, high-impact event for only $50 – an extraordinary value! If you register by April 20, you’ll also receive access to the new Effective Church Marketing online training course at no cost. Check out the Workshop Schedule and Sessions.. Register today.
Weekly Preaching Forum continues April 20
Join us for a conference-wide Preaching Forum on Zoom to help us plan Revised Common Lectionary-based sermons every Tuesday. Enjoy a weekly, one-hour, profitable exchange of ideas, inspiration and information about preaching resources.

Gifted presenters will share their notes on each week’s chosen text and then lead the forum in conversation. We will explore each text’s historical circumstances and present-day perspectives, plus ideas for application and initial thoughts for sermon movements, etc. 

For now, we will focus on texts for the upcoming Sunday. But we may adjust to add more lead time in the future. This initial, experimental preaching forum will run for 12 weeks until June 22.
Virtual Urban Summit 2021, April 24 & May 1
Virtual Urban Summit Kick off! Featuring dynamic presenters who will share their abundant wisdom, energy and experiences to help stir up our gifts and passion for radical, innovative urban ministry.

Virtual Urban Ministry Youth Summit! Youth will tackle hard facts with faith and strategies in a town hall summit addressing issues of violence, trauma, substance abuse, and other concerns. They will create new ways to become peer advocates and birth innovative youth ministries

Summit Topics:
  • Engaging our Communities in Change
  • Doing Spiritually-Focused Urban Evangelism
  • Pursuing Partnerships, Development & Urban Renewal
  • Combating Violence through Faith-Based Healing

Ecumenical Advocacy Days, April 18-21
Ecumenical Advocacy Days is an annual gathering of Christian advocates and activists to “worship, delve deeply into the pressing issues of the day, and lift our voices by speaking truth to power on Capitol Hill.”   

EAD 2021 will be a virtual gathering, to be held April 18-21. The theme is "“Imagine! God’s Earth and People Restored.” This is an opportunity to “support a global movement centered on and led by the people and communities most vulnerable to climate impacts due to historic racial and colonial inequities. Together, we will passionately advocate and reimagine a world that lives out the values of justice, equity and the beloved community.” Learn more and Register now!  
Setting up your finances with your congregation
Learn about the unique aspects of finances for clergy households. Saturday, April 24, 9:00 to 10:30 AM, on Zoom

Are you ...
  • a newbie clergy spouse/partner?
  • about to transition to another church?
  • moving to/from a parsonage from/to your own home?

Learn about "Setting Up Your Finances With Your Congregation." Get one FREE session. You'll learn the basics of: 
  • How clergy income is taxed
  • The finances of parsonage living
  • How a housing allowance works.

FREE pre-reading, video, and facilitated session. We welcome clergy spouses/partners and clergy - from any denomination! Email Julie@ArtosRetreats.org to register. Deadline: April 22. Questions? Contact Julie Anderman at Julie@ArtosRetreats.org or call 717-492-4238. Download the flyer.
Next CDT Book Club study: From Franchise to Local Dive, May 5-26
The Eastern PA Conference’s Congregational Development Team will sponsor its next CDT Book Club study and discussion on Wednesdays, May 5-26, at 11 AM. The next selection is From Franchise to Local Dive, by Jason Moore and Rozario Picardo. They will introduce their book and lead all four dialogue sessions. 

Many local churches are stuck in a rut, have reached a plateau, or--worst of all--are declining. The temptation is to serve up the same exact ministry models that worked in another time and space and that feel safe to existing churches. Like ordering from a menu at the franchise chain restaurant and expecting the meal to be palatable in the local context, many churches start something new by serving up the same old thing, failing to discover what their local community is actually hungry for.

From Franchise to Local Dive explores what it means to multiply ministry by cooking with local flavor. Whether you want to start a new service or a brand-new campus, this workshop will help you discover how to make a ministry recipe that will keep people coming back for more

Jason Moore and Rosario Picardo have a respected track record of creating and leading groundbreaking ministries that unchurched people can relate to. And we get to hear them share their wisdom with us first-hand. Download the flyer. Be one of the first 25 to register and receive a free copy of the book.
‘We Are Still Here!’
CONAM to honor outstanding Native leaders, May 2
For its annual spring fellowship and educational gathering, the Eastern PA Conference Committee on Native American Ministries (CONAM) will present “We Are Still Here!” on Sunday, May 2, at 4 PM, on Zoom. Members will offer a compelling virtual presentation in words and images about “outstanding Native Americans today.”

“The First Peoples of this land are still here,” says CONAM, which sponsors educational events for the conference annually in the spring and fall, usually at Innabah Camp & Retreat Center.

“They live on reservations, in urban areas and in the countryside. You will find them in business, in the U.S. government, in cultural endeavors and all professions. We honor them and celebrate their rich heritage of understanding about the natural world and how we can live together in a community that honors each person and their gifts.”

This gathering will celebrate influential and resilient Native persons, including new U.S. Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland, a Pueblo of Laguna, from New Mexico. She made history when she became the first Native American to serve as a U.S. cabinet secretary.
Sponsored by the Eastern PA Conference Committee on Native American Ministries. Learn more...
FAMLP Retreat May 2-4 at Camp Pecometh
The Fellowship of Associate Members and Local Pastors of Eastern PA and Peninsula Delaware conferences will gather for their annual joint retreat May 2-4, at Camp Pecometh, 136 Bookers Wharf Road, Centerville, MD. “Seeing Your Community as Your Church” (from Nehemiah 2:11-18) is their theme.   
The Rev. Dawn Taylor-Storm, Eastern PA’s Director of Connectional Ministries, will keynote the weekend event. The retreat is open to all Associate Members, Local Pastors, Student Pastors and Certified Lay Ministers. CEUs are available for attending the full event. The total cost is $232, which includes room and board.  Register today
UMW Spiritual Life Retreat May 15
The Eastern PA Conference UM Women will hold their annual Spiritual Life Retreat May 15, 1:00– 3:30 PM on Zoom. The theme is Spiritually Aligned from the Inside Out. Toni Warner-McIntyre (PhD, MSW, Med), a licensed mental health professional based in Willow Grove, PA. is the featured speaker. "Dr. Toni," a mom of three, is a transformational life and wellness coach for the ambitious, and a psychotherapist for the high-achieving, stressed and anxious. She has been in the helping profession field for over a decade.
Pre-register here and receive the Zoom link for this program. Download the flyer. Learn more...
Latino Commission Holy Convocation and Assembly
The Eastern PA Conference Latino Commission’s annual Holy Convocation and Assembly will happen on Saturday, May 29, 9 AM – 3 PM, hopefully onsite at the newly merged Casa del Rey UMC in Allentown. For more information, contact the Rev. Lucky Cotto at llcotto@epaumc.org
Conversation with Rick Steves now online
The United Methodist Board of Higher Education and Ministry recently hosted a conversation with PBS travel host Rick Steves on "Travel as a Spiritual Act." The agency has posted a recording of that conversation. Watch recording
Film puts Korean Americans center stage
United Methodists Julian Kim and Peter Lee didn’t see their lives represented in Hollywood films, so they did it themselves. “Happy Cleaners,” an independent film set in the diverse Flushing neighborhood in Queens, New York, is about a Korean American family that owns a struggling dry-cleaning business. It is available to stream on Apple TV, Amazon, iTunes, Google Play and YouTube.

“I think when you see images of Korean Americans depicted on screen, they’re always the kind of side character … and definitely stereotyped,” Kim said. “Sometimes it’s a model minority, a very kind of silent (person) who works hard and achieves big dreams.”

In addition, Asian Americans have faced attacks recently because some mistakenly blame them for the spread of the coronavirus.

“We’re struggling working-class Americans like many of you out there,” Lee said. “So, let’s just connect on that level. I hope that we’re able to share that a little bit (in ‘Happy Cleaners’).” Learn more…
Exploring the meaning of resurrection
What do United Methodists believe about resurrection? It is important to begin with what resurrection is not, writes Ask The UMC, a ministry of United Methodist Communications. "Resurrection is not like zombies pushing their way out of graves and tombs and roaming the streets in hordes. Resurrection does not make people or bodies 'undead.' Resurrection makes people truly, fully and completely alive." Read story Read more Ask The UMC
Virtual One-on-One Meetings with Wespath
In past years the Board of Benefits has offered one-on-one interviews with a Wespath representative during Annual Conference. While we hope to return to this model in the future, during this new season of continued distancing, we are able to provide you with virtual one-on-one meetings!  

Please CLICK HERE to schedule your virtual meeting anytime between now and May 31st, 2021 to meet with a Wespath Benefit Educator.
New Urban Ministry grant applications due May 31
The Eastern PA Conference Urban Commission will award a new round of grants this spring to assist in funding Urban Alliances or Urban Church Initiatives. Churches located in listed urban centers are encouraged to apply. That list includes several newly designated urban areas. 

Urban Alliances comprise two or more congregations working together in collaborative ministry, preferably along with community and civic partners. The Urban Ministries Coordinator will assist in the formation of Alliances and the administration of funding. Urban Alliances, because they involve multiple partners, may apply for funding up to $6,000.

Urban Church Initiative grants support new or expanding ministries within individual urban congregations. Local Churches Initiatives may apply for funding up to $2,500.  The Commission tries to offer grants twice a year. Application deadlines are May 31 and Nov. 15. Learn more...
African bishops not united on church future
GBARNGA, Liberia (UM News) — Three African episcopal leaders have signaled they will go with a new traditionalist denomination if The United Methodist Church splits over how accepting to be of homosexuality. Other African bishops haven't joined in such statements. Read story
Bishop responds to Daunte Wright's death
MINNEAPOLIS — As eyes around the world are on the trial of Derek Chauvin in the death of George Floyd, Minnesota has again been rocked by the death of an unarmed Black man, Daunte Wright, at the hands of police. Bishop David Bard, the Minnesota Conference's interim bishop, urges the church not to grow cynical but continue the work of racial reckoning. Read pastoral letter
Delegates request transparency from episcopal leaders
LIVERPOOL, N.Y. — A letter, signed by 17 of the 23 Upper New York Conference delegates to General and Jurisdictional Conference, was submitted to the Northeastern Jurisdiction Committee on Episcopacy requesting transparency from the jurisdiction's episcopal leaders regarding their intentions to remain in a post-separation denomination. "We reaffirm … the need for leaders who continue to display a passion for the unity of the church," the letter reads Read letter
Sharing God's love and tax assistance
Preparing tax returns may not be at the top of anyone's list of spiritual gifts, but when Bruce Hiner studies the latest Internal Revenue Service tax laws, the United Methodist pastor believes he is learning new ways to preach the Gospel.

“I have discovered I can talk to someone about their taxes and be pastoral,” says Hiner, a volunteer with the IRS’ Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program. “I do this by showing grace and kindness, expressing the love of God even when I’m speaking the language of the IRS.” Learn more…
Celebration, messages for retiring clergy, April 20
Please join us in a service of Celebration for our Retiring Clergy on April 20, at 11:30 AM, through Zoom. REGISTER ONLINE. After registering, you will receive a link to attend with your confirmation. See the full list of new clergy retirees on our website’s Clergy News page.

Also, Conference members are invited to join in posting short messages to e-gratitude boards for each of the 2021 retirees. Postings can include photos, videos, etc., as well as words of gratitude. Messages on the e-gratitude boards will be emailed to the retirees on June 30 (or July 30 for those retiring in August). Click here to access the list of e-gratitude boards.
Help to celebrate Earth Day
ATLANTA — Churches looking to plan a service around Earth Day, which is April 22, can download free resources from the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries. Many churches pick a Sunday in April (April 25?) to mark the occasion and create awareness around environmental sustainability. The resources include an Earth Day sermon, litany and Scripture reading via video or text. Download Earth Day materials
Bivocational & Small Church Network to meet bimonthly. Next meeting: May 11 
The next gathering of the Bivocational & Small Church network is May 11 at 6:30 PM. The group plans to gather every other month on the second Tuesday at 6:30 PM. More people are showing interest in joining this sharing and support group that helps bivocational clergy and also pastors and members of small-membership churches. 

“Small churches are the backbone of The United Methodist Church,” said the Rev. Dawn Taylor-Storm, Connectional Ministries Director, “and we want to provide a bimonthly small group for conversation that relates to the unique opportunities found in our small, vital churches.” Learn more and register...
Justice Talks: Our Global Connection
Join Rev. Dr. Susan Henry-Crowe, General Secretary of the General Board of Church and Society, for a special conversation about our United Methodist witness at the United Nations and around the world. Church and Society leaders will discuss how we are advocating for peace and justice on a global scale. Apr 28, 2021 04:00 PM in Eastern Time. Register here.
UMCOR grants to help churches aid local refugees, migrants
UM churches across the U.S. can receive grants of up to $2000 to help refugees and migrants living in their communities, thanks to a new grant program from the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR). The “Mustard Seed Migration Grants” continue the agency’s 80-year tradition of helping refugees, immigrants and migrants seeking to build a new life. 

The Mustard Seed Migration Grants, inspired by the well-known parable about growth, will provide 50 congregations with up to $2,000 in funding to support one-time, community-based service projects. Churches will have the opportunity to assist refugees, asylum seekers, undocumented persons and migrants of all types in their own cities and towns. Learn more...
Maintaining Boundaries in a Digital Age  
Next Basic Sexual Ethics Workshop: June 19

The next Basic Sexual Ethics Workshop is set for Saturday, June 19, 10 AM–1 PM. The title is “Where do I Draw the Line? Maintaining Boundaries in a Digital Age.”
Setting boundaries is important, but with the COVID-19 pandemic, it has become crucial. While the virus has reminded us of our need for setting physical boundaries, it has left us no choice but to work from home and communicate virtually, ushering us into a world with no boundaries or borders. As a result, the lines have become blurred, and now more than ever, it is difficult to separate work life from home life.
The goal of this training is to increase awareness of the need for healthy boundaries in the clergy-congregant relationship especially in light of the new post-pandemic normal. The goal of this training is not only to prevent sexual misconduct, but to promote life-giving, invigorating ministries that don’t just survive but thrive
This workshop will combine synchronous and asynchronous learning. Synchronous workshop time will be Saturday, June 19, 2021 from 10 – 1pm EST, via Zoom. Asynchronous learning will occur via personal reflection guided by a set of questions. Participants will return their answers to the presenter by May 19. Learn more...
Agency urges support for voting rights
The United Methodist Board of Church and Society is urging U.S. United Methodists to call their senators to support federal voting-rights legislation. The call to action cites church teachings approved by General Conference. Read story   
Higher Education grants available until May 10
Today, April 26, the Education Society of the Eastern PA Conference will begin accepting grant applications to assist eligible individuals with defraying the cost of higher education for the 2021-2022 school year, reports Al Adey, who chairs the Education Society A new 2021-22 Education Society Grant Application is available on the Conference website’s Higher Education Scholarships & Grants page. The application deadline is May 10.

Grant recipients will be randomly selected. This financial aid information should be shared with church members who plan, or know of United Methodists planning, to attend an institution of higher learning in the fall of 2021. Contact Al Adey with questions at ahadey@verizon.net.
Scholarships available for interfaith gathering
WASHINGTON — The Parliament of the World's Religions has announced that its eighth global gathering is planned for Oct. 17-18 online. The United Methodist Council of Bishops will offer scholarships to cover the cost of registration for 15 United Methodists. Scholarship applications are due May 1. Learn more about event Scholarship application form (PDF)
Updated church reopening guidelines
Conference weekly prayer meetings mark 1 year
The Eastern PA Conference celebrates a special anniversary in April. The weekly, half-hour prayer meetings the conference offers every Tuesday at noon by video-chat on Zoom began in April 2020, just as the coronavirus pandemic was growing. 

The Rev. David Piltz, who coordinates Young People’s Ministries for the conference, started the popular online prayer sessions. Bishop Peggy Johnson, a frequent attendee, will lead the first session in April. (April 6) 

Attendees usually number from a dozen to two dozen. Heartfelt prayer concerns and moral support are shared, along with meditations that may include Scriptures, poetry and music. 

Meeting ID: 591 129 374. Or Call in: +1 646 558 8656

See the full April schedule of prayer meeting leaders and learn more.
FEMA offers COVID-19 funeral financial assistance
Churches should know that FEMA is offering to assist “economically insecure” families who have incurred a heavy cost in funerals as a result of COVID-10. FEMA uses a standard process to determine “eligible Funeral Assistance award amounts across all COVID-19 declarations.” The agency’s announcement states:

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought overwhelming grief to many families. At FEMA, our mission is to help people before, during and after disasters. We are dedicated to helping ease some of the financial stress and burden caused by the virus. We are working with stakeholder groups to get their input on ways we can best provide this assistance, and to enlist their help with outreach to families and communities.

FEMA says it will begin accepting applications in April. Additional guidance is being finalized and will be released to potential applicants and community partners as soon as possible. In the meantime, people who have COVID-19 funeral expenses are encouraged to keep and gather documentation. Learn more…
Reminder re: email spoofing
Email spoofing is once again at work identifying Bishop Johnson 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 from Bishop Johnson requesting money, your time, an email response, etc. To learn more, see: What you need to know about fake e-mails from Conference Leaders
UM legislative advocacy in PA coordinator job open
United Methodist Advocacy in Pennsylvania, a public advocacy mission created and shared by the three UM conferences in PA, seeks a new Coordinator to monitor state legislative and governmental actions. The coordinator also educates and empowers UMs to engage state legislators and other officials on policy issues, and serves as a resource for such engagement.

The work requires interaction with lawmakers and other officials, partnering with other advocates, maintaining communication with each of the three UM Conferences and providing information and education at a grass-roots level. 
The position is part-time, non-exempt. To apply, submit a letter of interest and resume to kathleen.lasky@wpaumc.org by April 19. Read the Job Description
UMM Day of Worship
The United Methodist Men of the Northeastern Jurisdiction will sponsor a National Day Of Worship on Saturday, May 27, 1 to 3 PM, on Zoom. The theme is “Making Our Presence Known to Make God’s Presence Known.” Click here to download and print the flyer. Zoom access links are found there. Help spread the word. This event is open to men and women everywhere. 
2020 Statistical Reports due April 30
The Conference Treasurer’s Office e-mailed its Statistical Reports letter to churches this week, Completed reports are due by April 30, using the EZRA Data Management System of the UMC’s General Board of Finance and Administration at http://ezra.gcfa.org. Each church’s online username is its six-digit GCFA ID Number, which can be found on its monthly remittance statement or its 2019 Statistical Report. 
There is one username per church; but more than one person can enter data by using the same password. For a password, type in “stat2020” (without quotation marks), using all lowercase and no spaces. Churches should contact their District Office if they need assistance . Learn More
New Houses of Worship Security Self-Assessment Tool
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) provides this Houses of Worship Security Self-Assessment Tool. Prepared by the DHS Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), it is a security planning resource useful for church facilities. This tool along with other faith-based resources are located on the Faith Based Organization-Houses of Worship (FBO-HOW) resource page,  Learn more…
Conference Leadership Opportunities for all!
The Conference Leadership Committee asks all clergy and lay members to use this Leadership and Service Interest Form to indicate how and where they are willing to serve on. Learn more...
Visit our Local Church Resources webpage
Do you find yourself wondering where you can obtain a 501(c)3 letter? Clergy W-2s? Various other bits of information that is crucial for churches? Look no further than the Local Church Resources page under the Administration tab on the EPA website and you can answer these questions.
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 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-digest. Share 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!
  • April 16-18: Dismantling Racism, Level 1, Virtual. Register.
  • April 20: Celebration for our Retiring Clergy on Zoom, 11:00 AM. Register
  • April 22: Policing in African American Communities Seminar. 6:30 PM on Zoom. Register.
  • April 24: This Holy Mystery: A UM Study of Holy Communion - Part 1. 9 AM - 11:30 AM via Zoom. Register.
  • April 24 & May 1: Virtual Urban Summit. April 24th from 10 AM – 12 noon and May 1st from 10 AM - 12 Noon for Adults. May 1st from 12 - 2 PM for the Urban Youth Summit. Register.

  • May 1: "Relating with Clergy Spouses" workshop by Artos. From 9:30 AM - 11:30 AM on Zoom. Download the flyer. Register.
  • May 2: CONAM Spring Learning & Fellowship Event (Zoom)
  • May 8: This Holy Mystery: A UM Study of Holy Communion - Part 2. 9 AM - 11:30 AM via Zoom. Register.
  • May 15: UMW Spiritual Life Retreat. 1 PM - 3 PM, via Zoom. Register. Download the flyer.
  • May 15: Latino Holy Convocation and Assembly
  • May 15: Clergy Transition Workshop led by Dave Woolverton.9 AM - 11 AM via Zoom meeting. Download the flyer.  Register.
  • May 20 - 22: 2021 Annual Conference. Register.

  • June 5: Cross Cultural Cross Racial Training for New CR/CC Appointments. 9 AM - 12:30 PM, via Zoom Meeting. Register.

  • August 6 - 8: Laity Academy

  • October 15 & 16: Domestic Violence Workshop. Friday October 15 from 7 PM – 9 PM & Saturday October 16th from 9 AM – 12 PM. Further details TBA.
  • Oct. 23:  Faith Sharing Evangelism Training w/ Olu Brown
  • Oct. 29 - Nov 1: Dismantling Racism, Level 1, Virtual. Register.
Eastern Pennsylvania Conference of The United Methodist Church
980 Madison Avenue, Norristown, PA 19403