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WHAT'S NEW
April 28 , 2016
Bishop Peggy Johnson announces new appointments:

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

Southwest
  • Rev. Carlene Wolf (Part-time Local Pastor) to Washington Boro UMC, 1/2-time (first appointment). 
  • Rev. Paul Miller (Part-time Local Pastor) from Schaefferstown: Zion (Northwest District) as Senior Pastor (1/4 time) to Elizabethtown: St. Paul's as Associate Pastor (3/4 time).
Southeast
  • Correction: Rev. Neil Gutmaker (Elder) from Kennet: United Methodist Church of the Open Door to Trinity UMC, Chesapeake City, Maryland, Peninsula Delaware Conference
Central
  • Correction: Mandy Miller (FE) to Wyomissing: Calvary, 1/4 time. This appointment is in addition to Rev. Miller's current appointment to Reading: Holy Cross, 1/4 time.
A statement from Bishop Peggy Johnson
Re: the recent same-gender wedding in a Charlotte, NC, UM church

According to the United Methodist News Service ( www.umc.org/news ) on Saturday, April 23, there was a same-gender wedding at the First UMC in Charlotte, NC.  The officiants were the Rev. Val Rosenquist (an Elder in the Western North Carolina Conference) and retired Bishop Melvin Talbert.  Both Talbert and Rosenquist informed the Charlotte Area episcopal leader, Bishop Larry M. Goodpaster, that they would be performing this wedding before the service occurred. 

Our United Methodist Book of Discipline does not allow our pastors to perform same-gender weddings; nor are they to be performed in our churches (Paragraph 341.6).  Bishop Goodpaster has received a formal complaint and he will handle this according to our Disciplinary process, which includes confidentiality. 

We call upon all United Methodists to pray for the people involved in this situation in our sister conference and for a Just Resolution to be achieved.  We also pray for the deliberations that will come as the Council of Bishops discusses accountability practices during their pre-General Conference meeting and for the General Conference legislative process as well.  May God grant us wisdom and a way forward in the days to come.

Final district prayer service to lift General Conference in prayer
The last of six district "Prayer Posts," leading up to the United Methodist Church's 2016 General Conference, will be hosted by Washington Crossing UMC in the East District on Sunday May 1, from 6 to 7:30 PM. Members and guests will gather in the Worship Center to pray for the May 10-20 global legislative assembly. The church, also known as "The Crossing," is at 1895 Wrightstown Road,  Washington Crossing PA. (Phone: 215 493-5080.) Learn more   about plans for this service and what happened at the two most recent prayer services.
Denman Evangelism Award nominations due April 30
Saturday, April 30, is the deadline to receive nominations for the Harry Denman Evangelism Awards, which honor United Methodists "whose exceptional evangelism brings people into 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. 

Two districts to host time management workshops

Both the Southwest and Northeast districts will host time management workshops next week, each led by church consultant and Christian leadership coach Ken Willard, author of the new Abingdon Press book  Time Management for the Christian Leader.  The Southwest District's workshop for clergy on Tuesday, May 3, at 9 AM, will precede its annual clergy luncheon at the DoubleTree Resort in Lancaster. Registration or this event closed on April 12.

The Northeast District's free workshop will happen on Wednesday, May 4 from 9 AM to 12 noon, at Faith Alive UMC, 678 Pine Street, Palmerton, PA.  You can still register for that one and look forward to hearing this management expert share wisdom on goal-setting to plan and use time more effectively, applying strategic biblical principles and an understanding of one's mission from God, prioritizing for productivity, and establishing new, healthy habits. This free workshop is geared toward clergy and offers .3 credits in free CEUs.  Register now. Don't delay, and don't miss this important learning opportunity.   Learn more...

Other happenings coming up:

Saturday, April 30: Northwest District Tools for Ministry: 9 AM to 12:45 PM, at Ono UMC,  9 Main Street, Ono, PA

Tuesday, May 3: Southeast District Book Discussion (One Book: One District initiative):  Kingdom Come: Why We Must Give Up Our Obsession with Fixing the Church and What We Should Do Instead, by Reggie McNeal. From 10 AM to 12 noon at Mount Hope UMC, 4020 Concord Road Aston, PA; and from 6:30 to 8:30 PM at Thorndale UMC, 3503 Lincoln Highway Thorndale, PA. Even if you have not read the book, you can still sign up to join in this dynamic discussion about the mainline Christian church's emerging realities and future outlook. There is NO fee, but  please register online. Questions? Contact Lin George at 610.436.4277 or  lgeorge@epaumc.org. (After 2 p.m. on Monday May 2 or day of event please call at 610.350.9372) 

Saturday, May 7: Gretna Glen Camp & Retreat Center's 4th Annual Gretna Gritty, a 5k mud run for runners aged 12 and up, with 19+ obstacles set in the beautiful, rugged terrain of the Mt. Gretna area. Participants in competitive and non-competitive races can expect to encounter mud, water, fire, rocks, earth, and climbs that excite the mud runner in us all!  All participants can expect lunch, medals, special promotions, a sweet Gretna Gritty t-shirt, and memories to last a lifetime!  Register now!
Bishops sign GBCS Mother's Day campaign letter to Congress
Bishop Peggy Johnson has joined other bishops in signing a letter to Congress prepared by the General Board of Church and Society (GBCS) as part of its new Mother's Day campaign to help end the unnecessary deaths of mothers and infants globally.  The goal of the campaign is to encourage more members of Congress to support and pass the Reach Every Mother and Child Act. GBCS plans to send the letter to members of Congress on Wednesday, May 4. Learn more... 
Mid-Town Parish to dedicate new church home 
June 19
After months of preparation, Mid-Town Parish UMC in Philadelphia will dedicate its long-awaited new church home with a worship celebration on Sunday, June 19, at 3 PM . The pre-fab building, containing a sanctuary and two offices, occupies the church's original address at 718 W Norris St, Philadelphia.  Bishop Peggy Johnson will preach and consecrate the new facility.  Learn more... 
Pre-surgery hospital wedding requires all hearts on deck
LancasterOnline keeps publishing heartwarming feature stories about United Methodists in our conference (probably because we're such heartwarming folks); and we keep posting links to them in our Website's new Methodists Make News section (which now has its own page!). The latest story is about Ira and Shirley Bostic, a loving couple of seniors who've been together for 22 years but recently found a good reason to finally get married.

They were married in the intensive care unit at Lancaster General Hospital the day before Ira underwent open heart surgery, following a recent heart attack. Clearly, the two wanted to be closer than just close to face this ordeal together. That's where the Rev. Tim Patterson, a United Methodist resident chaplain at the hospital, came to the rescue. Once they told him why, he said a liturgical "Prayer of Blessing" over them and then focused on how, when and where a hospital wedding could happen for these two. It was a challenge to pull off, requiring lots of help from some open-hearted people. Learn more...   

Simulation opens district members' eyes, hearts to poverty

Of the more than 100 people who filled the bustling fellowship hall of Grace UMC in Pen Argyl on Saturday, March 12, many were rushing about with nervous tension, getting into long lines, becoming frustrated, trying to be served, trying to get what they needed to survive before time ran out. It was a bureaucratic quagmire. It was a hard day's work that lasted just over an hour. It was...a poverty simulation exercise.

The Eastern PA Conference's Northeast District put a new spin on its annual Tools for Ministry training for church leaders. Yes, they taught the usual classes for trustees, worship and finance leaders. But those were the afternoon classes. The morning session offered something completely different. 

Participants--all middle-class Christians--were placed into fictional families and given various roles portraying unfortunate persons who struggle to navigate the vicissitudes of oppressive poverty. After a brief introduction each had to spend one hour simulating one month in the life of an impoverished family.  Learn more...

Take me out to the ballgame...

Want a great place to spend a warm, cozy mid-July night, with just the right mix of laid-back calm and moments of competitive drama and excitement? A fun place to hang with family, friends and fellow church members, where you can all get your cheer on? How about a Phillies ballgame at Citizens Bank Park on Methodist Night?

 

Join hundreds of Eastern PA folks from across our conference at the ballpark to root for the home team on Saturday, July 16, at 7:05 p.m.  Come see the Philadelphia Phillies play (and yes, beat) the New York Mets.The conference United Methodist Men have once again arranged for us to buy discounted tickets, with $10 of each ticket we buy supporting their men's ministries.


Ticket prices range from $20 to $38. Check out our "Methodist Night" Webpage at
www.phillies.com/methodist. To order your tickets, click on the green "T" icon and enter the promotion code METHODIST.  Place your order now! Tickets are subject to availability. j


For groups of 25 or more, please contact Jen Leone in the Phillies Group Sales Office at 215-463-5000, extension 5267. All groups of 25 or more will be welcomed on the Phillies side auxiliary message boards at the top of the 5th inning.

Please share this information with families, churches and communities, and bring a group. We hope to see you at Citizens Bank Park on July 16. 

Harriet Tubman's Methodist & Philly connections

The U.S. Treasury Department announced April 20 that Harriet Tubman-known as the Moses of her people-will replace President Andrew Jackson on the face of the $20 bill. Many American schoolchildren know of Tubman as the African-American abolitionist who led thousands of slaves to freedom. But did you know she had deep ties to the African Methodist Episcopal Church Zion? To this day, the AME Zion Church-a Pan-Methodist communion partner of The United Methodist Church-owns and maintains her home in Auburn, NY.

And closer to home, we can celebrate that the courageous Tubman, when she first escaped from slavery in 1849, landed in Philadelphia, grateful to be on free soil after a 90-mile, treacherous journey. "When I found I had crossed that (Pennsylvania) line," she later recalled, "I looked at my hands to see if I was the same person. There was such a glory over everything; the sun came like gold through the trees, and over the fields, and I felt like I was in Heaven." Learn more...  

A megabyte for your thoughts

From the Rev. Max Jaouen's Let us be open to new things , to the Rev. David W. Brown's Crossing Bridges for Peace , to the Rev. Jonathan Wesley Hall's Absence makes the heart grow fonder , we're sure glad to find some thoughtful, gifted scribes out there among our churches. But we figure there are a lot more, just waiting to be discovered.

We're fortunate to find some of the writings featured in our From Pulpit & Pew blog and our INSPIRE  section while perusing church newsletters and devotional guides. Others are offered to us. But we want and need plenty more, so we can keep offering fresh, well-written guest commentaries to our readers. And we're looking for laity voices, too.

So if you've written a pretty good essay or column, a homily or meditation, about a topic many of our readers might enjoy or care about--maybe for your church newsletter or another publication--please share it with us and give us permission to reprint it on our Website. If it's informational, we might put it in INFORM. If it's inspirational, it might go into INSPIRE. And if it's a call to action, urging people to engage in some cause, then into the INVOLVE bucket it may go.   

Just keep us in mind as you share what's on your mind; and give us a chance to share it with the world. (PS: We reserve the right to decline or slightly edit submitted writings as needed.)  
Peace with Justice  Sunday is coming  May 22
Peace with Justice Sunday
  is coming  May 22 . The offering UM churches receive on this Special  Sunday  makes possible ongoing church and community ministries to promote peace, justice and reconciliation.    A special toolkit is available with resources to help your congregation promote these values and this important giving opportunity.   Access your Pastor and Leader's Kit now!  

The Peace with Justice  Sunday offering supports deserving ministries across the U.S. and around the world. But each annual conference may retain one-half of its offering to provide grants to local applicants who strive to achieve at least one of the following objectives:
  • Assist United Methodists in understanding and responding to violence and militarism;
  • Involve United Methodists in efforts to end global conflicts and violent aggression;
  • Promote just national and international policies and actions seeking to restore communities and respond to the disproportionate effect of injustices on racial and ethnic people; and
  • Support policies that promote systematic economic justice and the self-development of peoples.
"We cannot talk of Christ our peace as an alternative," says the Rev. Levi Bautista of the General Board of Church and Society. "We have become accustomed to phrases like 'seeking an alternative to war' as if peace is an alternative. We see Christ as fundamental to our being. Therefore, peace must be fundamental, the antidote to war, violence and extremism."

On  Peace with Justice Sunday and everyday may we search for peace. May we hear and respond to cries for justice. And may we actively pursue Christ's ministry of reconciliation.

Webinar "Church Marketing 101"  
Richard L. Reising, a Dallas-based expert in church marketing and branding, will teach a Webinar titled   "Church Marketing 101" Tuesday, May 10, from 7 to 8 PM. Reising, founder and president of Artistry Marketing, talks about how church marketing can be powerful, strategic and biblical in this Webinar offered by Practical Resources for Churches, an ecumenical group. He combines marketing and branding expertise and ministry sensitivity to create a unique perspective on what church marketing really is all about and how it can help church leaders fulfill their visions, rally their members and discover from an outsider's perspective who you are and where you are going. He offers fresh insights into the dynamics of what creates and what hinders church growth, revealing how small changes can have a big impact.   Details
REMINDERS
Annual Conference hotel sold out
The Lancaster Marriot Hotel
is now sold out for the duration of Annual Conference, June 16-18. 
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  lancasterseminary.edu/academics/continuing-education/boundary-training . 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 
andrea@grandviewumc.org   to submit curricula for advance approval. 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.

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 liljcp@yahoo.com 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. 
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! 
 
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
(800) 828-9093 |  communications@epaumc.org  |  www.epaumc.org
980 Madison Avenue, Norristown, PA 19403
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