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April 22, 2016
Bishop Peggy Johnson announces new appointments:

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


  • Rev. Coryn Peña (Elder) from Philadelphia: Frankfort Memorial, 1/2-time, and Holmesburg, 1/2-time, to Philadelphia: Holmesburg, 1/2-time, and to Philadelphia: St. Philip's, 1/2-time.
  • Rev. Mary Catherine Miller (Elder) is withdrawn from Philadelphia: Fox Chase, 1/2-time. Appointment will not change for 2016-2017.
  • Rev. David G. Ryan (Part-time Local Pastor) from Philadelphia: Bridesburg, 1/4-time, and Philadelphia: Kensington (Old Brick), 1/4-time, to Philadelphia: Fox Chase, 1/2-time, and Philadelphia: Kensington (Old Brick), 1/4-time.
  • Ms. Lorraine Foster (Certified Lay Minister) to Montgomery Square UMC, 1/2-time.
  • Mr. John Brice (Lay Supply) to Philadelphia: Solid Rock UMC
  • Rev. Steven J. Handzel (Provisional Elder) from Montgomery Square, 3/4  Time, to Marshalltown UMC, 3/4 Time, effective July 1, 2016.
  • Rev. Neil Gunmaker (Elder) from Kennett: United Methodist Church of the Open Door to Trinity UMC, Chesapeake City, Maryland, Peninsula Delaware Conference
  • Rev. Cynthia Hall from Romansville UMC to The Cecilton Charge (St. Paul's UMC and Zion UMC) in Cecilton, Maryland, Peninsula Delaware Conference
  • Mandy Miller (FE) to Wyomissing: Calvary, 1/2 time. This appointment is in addition to Rev. Miller's current appointment to Reading: Holy Cross, 1/4 time.
  • The Rev. Lillian Smith (Elder) from St. Matthew's UMC of Valley Forge to Cheverly UMC in Cheverly, MD (Baltimore-Washington Conference).

Celebrating God's Gift of the Earth

"All creation is the Lord's, and we are responsible for the ways in which we use and abuse it," reads our UMC Social Principles (2012). Today, April 22, the world marks  Earth Day   View " God's Gift of the Earth," a tender prayer illustrated by a stunning images of our planet. A lso, read what the UMC's Social Principles say about all our God-given natural resources. Learn more...
General Conference delegation to host final Listening Session by phone
There's something special about the final Listening & Discernment Session our General Conference delegation will host Saturday, April 23, at the Conference Office. It will all happen by telephone for the convenience of those who could not attend the previous three sessions in person. And even better, they will call you. The delegates will call anyone who has signed up to participate in this experimental telephone outreach effort from 9 AM to 10:30 AM.

There are still open slots available if you want to receive a phone call and express your views or concerns about General Conference legislative issues and proposals for up to 5 minutes. The delegates want to hear from you. Please  sign up online  by 7 PM today  to reserve a time for your phone call. No sign ups will be accepted after then. Click on General Conf. Delegation Listening Session 1, and then choose one of the available times. Be sure to leave your name and phone number.  If anyone needs help signing up, they may e-mail the  Conference Communications Office   or call  484-762-8227 by 7 PM today.  
Photo: April 16 Listening Session at Simpson House. (Sabrina Daluisio photo)
New keynote speaker for Sunday's Youth Rally 

Due to illness, Todd Waites had to cancel his appearance at the Eastern PA Conference Youth Rally on April 24. Instead, Adam Frano (right), co-founder and co-director (with his wife Danielle) of Erie Young Adults (EYA) in Erie, Pa., will be the featured guest speaker. EYA, established in 2012, supports nearly 150 young adult members in their 20s and 30s by connecting them with each other to address their diverse needs and interests, including many who struggle with addictions, suicidal tendencies, loneliness, unemployment and other issues. Members of this nondenominational ministry work together in many ways to better their lives and their community. Come hear Frano's powerful testimony of a life transformed through God's care, and enjoy other speakers, poets, musicians, food, fellowship and fun activities.
Learn more...
Annual Conference hotel sold out
The Lancaster Marriot Hotel
is now sold out for the duration of Annual Conference, June 16-18. 
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 event. This workshop is the last opportunity to fulfill the quadrennial requirement in sexual ethics.  "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:

New articles to read in our Website's feature sections
  • INFORM: Church Refugees: Why are a growing number of people DONE with church but not their faith? 
  • INSPIRE: Let us be open to new things. 
            • INVOLVE: Recent disasters cry out for our response.
Bishop seeks help, prayers for Ecuador
As Ecuador struggles to recover from the devastating earthquake that struck April 16 and killed over 500 victims, Bishop Silvio Cevallos of the Evangelical United Methodist Church there asks that people "continue to hold our country in prayer." At least 2,500 are injured and others are missing, as people fear continuing aftershocks that have caused widespread destruction, knocking out electricity, water and communications to scores of communities. 

Relief agencies are working in the disaster areas, but many roads are impassable, reported Cevallos. The two Global Ministries missionaries assigned to the country are unharmed and adjusting to the dire state of emergency, while thousands of army troops and police have been deployed in the affected areas.  Methodist congregations there are trying to help affected areas and checking on families and fellow churches. In addition to prayers, donations may be made through   Ecuador Undesignated (Advance #00433A)   or the   International Disaster Response fund (Advance #982450 ). 

Flooding continues in southeast Texas

(UMNS)-United Methodists in Houston and elsewhere in flooded southeast Texas are among thousands coping with continuing bouts of rain. At least eight deaths have resulted in the greater Houston area, along with destruction and damage to many homes and buildings, including churches. The Texas Conference has created a relief fund and is preparing for more long-haul relief work. Read story and post a comment
Two District Resource Assistants to depart
Two of the Eastern PA Conference's District Resource Assistants (DRAs)--key staff persons who serve information and coordination needs for their districts--will leave their posts over the next month.

S outhwest District Resource Assistant Christiane McLaughlin has resigned as of  April 29. On  May 2, she begins joins the Corporate Sales Administration of Select Security, a home and business security provider based in Lancaster with nine regional offices. "I will miss working with the good folks of the Southwest District," said McLaughlin, "but I am very excited about starting a new adventure."

The job opening for a successor has been posted internally among current staff with a deadline of  April 24. If no one on the current staff is selected, it will be advertised externally.

"Simply working with Chris has been a blessing for me," said the Rev. Bumkoo Chung, District Superintendent, "as she is not only a DRA but also a local pastor. And like a pastor, she has brought rich knowledge, resources and professionalism to her work in serving our local churches. I will truly miss her, but I am happy for her new journey and the opportunity that awaits for her."

Darlene DiDomineck, Deaconess, NewCentralDRA.png
Central District Resource Assistant Darlene DiDomineck has resigned and will leave her position on  May 26. She has been named the new Interim-Executive Director of the Methodist Federation for Social Action (MFSA), based in Washington DC, beginning in June. DiDomineck, a Deaconess and a MFSA board member, will be appointed there until a new executive director is hired.  The search for a new executive will begin this summer. 

MFSA's  mission is "to mobilize, lead and sustain a progressive United Methodist movement, energizing people to be agents of God's justice, peace, and reconciliation."

We ask for prayers of blessing for both of these remarkable servant-leaders, who have benefited their districts and the conference faithfully through their ministries. See a photo of all our current DRAs on our Website
Lancaster Seminary approved to teach Basic Sexual Ethics
Lancaster Theological Seminary has been approved to teach Basic Sexual Ethics (BSE) to fulfill the Board of Ordained Ministry's (BOOM) course requirement for clergy. The course will be offered May 4  at a cost of $40, payable to the seminary. Information and a registration form are available at . This course, which must be pre-approved for credit, and other Boundary Training courses at LTS and at Evangelical Seminary in Myerstown are approved to fulfill the BSE requirement.  Those required to take the training in Eastern PA may also substitute a Peninsula-Delaware Conference BSE course.

BOOM hopes to approve similar programs at other seminaries in the region by the end of 2016 to facilitate completion of this requirement.  Course presenters may contact the Rev. Andrea Brown, BOOM's Chair of Pastoral Care at   to submit curricula for advance approval. Learn more...   
'Encounter' ministers to young people

St. Matthew's UMC of Valley Forge hosted an encore of "The Encounter" on Saturday, April 2, a creative faith-sharing and fellowship event designed for young adults and also youth. The last Encounter, held in October 2015, drew 44 people. This one welcomed 65 people from various churches and denominations, who came to minister to one another through song, dance, conversation and spoken word.

And there was visual art, too, as attendees made T-shirts to give away and a banner to hang in the hallway. "People came together to worship, fellowship, network and witness to the presence of the Holy Spirit," said Brittany Abdullah (above), lead organizer of the event. "The Encounter will continue to be a blessing to people not just here but in different churches and locations to bless people everywhere."

On evaluation forms, some wrote that the Encounter "helped them spiritually and they wanted to hear more spoken word," reported Abdullah.  "I also received Facebook and text messages that we helped people who were having a rough day... to take their eyes off their problems, give them to God and praise Him through their pain... I am excited to see how (this ministry) will flourish and become something even greater."

To learn more, contact Brittany at See Event Photos  
GC2016: The debate about how to debate sexuality

Organizers of General Conference are proposing a new way to consider contentious issues, including the church's stance on homosexuality. The plan is getting significant pushback, including questions of whether it could withstand a challenge before the denomination's top court. Read story and post a comment

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...

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.

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 for more information.

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.

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 for more information. (Include in the subject line: "Questions for General Conference Prayer Vigil.") 

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.
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. 

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
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  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, 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!
Please Save These Dates! 
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

The next Changing Racism Training Event will be held   Oct. 28-30 2016 at the  new location,  the Daylesford Abbey in Paoli.  Register online . The cost is $300.

Eastern Pennsylvania Conference of The United Methodist Church
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