April 9, 2020
NEWS & VIEWS
Bishop Peggy Johnson's powerpoint slides during the Conference's live-streamed Holy Week Worship, April 8, 2020.
Bishop Peggy A. Johnson announces the following appointments and assignments–   effective July 1, 2020,     unless otherwise noted:
North District

  • Rev. Robert Amundsen (Elder) from Woxall: Tabor UMC to serve Mt. Pocono UMC full-time.
  • Rev. Julian Milewski (Licensed Local Pastor) to serve Ringtown: Aurand Memorial UMC quarter-time in addition to Kulpmont (quarter time)
  • Rev. Janice Puliti (Elder) from Ivyland: St. John's UMC to serve Pocono Lake UMC half-time in retirement.
  • Rev. Todd Glasmire (Licensed Local Pastor) to serve Drums: St. Paul's UMC half-time.
  • Dr. Jeffrey Weber (CLM) assigned to serve Reeder's UMC three quarter-time.

South District

  • Rev. David Piltz (PT Local Pastor) from Phila.: Holmesburg to Valley Forge, 50% time, effective July 1, 2020.
  • Rev. Jose Albarran (PT Local Pastor) to West Grove: Cristo Rey, 25% time.
  • Rev. Janice Bowers (PT Local Pastor) to New London UMC, 50% time.
  • Mr. Scott Johnson (Lay Assigned) to Charlestown UMC, 25% time.

See all appointments and retirements on our website.
New webpage offers online Holy Week worship, sermons
On our new Holy Week Worship Online page watch our recording of the inspiring Holy Week worship service led April 8 by Bishop Peggy Johnson and her Cabinet. Also view videos of two more sermons preached by the Bishop for Good Friday and Easter:  The Other Seven Last Words – A Good Friday Sermon ; and Advice from an Angel – An Easter Sermon .  

We also provide links for you to access both live-streamed and recorded video of worship, sermons and other activities at some of our local churches celebrating this Holy Week online. Visit several of their various websites and Facebook pages. Learn more...
Doing ministry in the midst of coronavirus
Behold, I am doing a new thing;
now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
I will make a way in the wilderness
and rivers in the desert.    Isaiah 43:19 (ESV)

Are you doing a new thing? Is your church making a way in the wilderness of our present pandemic? Do you have good news to share about how your church is creatively and flexibly doing “ministry in the midst of coronavirus?”

Then please share your good news with us! We’re receiving email messages from churches and hearing from pastors on district Zoom calls about how they are practicing social distancing while doing worship, prayer and ministry online and even on location. Some are still feeding hungry neighbors, educating children and connecting vitally with their members, young and old.
We plan to publish a new article next week featuring some of these “new things” we are learning about. Please add yours to our list by sending news of ministries that are springing forth in new ways and reaching thirsty people like rivers in the desert.

Write to us and send photos if you can to communications@epaumc.org. Or please use our Submit News webpage to report your news.

Please try to send us your information by Wednesday, April 15, so we can get it published next week on our website. But send it whenever you can. If we get more than enough good news, we may publish a follow-up story later this month. Thanks!
How a new law helps churches amid COVID-19
Under the new U.S. CARES Act, churches are eligible to apply for small business loans to keep staff on the payroll and to pay utilities. The new law has the potential to offer struggling churches a boost at a time when giving is down and ministry needs are on the rise.  Read story .
UM agencies resourcing pandemic-affected churches
In the spirit of connectionalism, United Methodist general agencies continue to try to help local churches connect with members and survive the disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Such connection is crucial for continuing worship, financial stewardship, church administration, Christian education and collective prayer.
 
Local churches of fewer than 100 members can now request free Zoom web conferencing January 28, 2021(a ~$142 value). The offer is provided by United Methodist Communications (UMCom) and the General Council on Finance and Administration. Meanwhile, UMCom offers a recorded series of Local Church Learning Sessions available on their website . Each training video supports the shift to digital ministry.

The United Methodist Publishing House UMPH) has granted temporary permission for churches to reproduce and livestream selected parts of the UM Book of Worship and UM Hymnal Ritual Resources for online worship experiences until August 30, 2020 And the Rev. Jacqui T. King, Director of US Connectional Relationships at the UMC’s Discipleship Ministries agency shares a bevy of links to helpful resources from various sources to benefit local churches especially during the pandemic   Learn more…  
Online prayer groups seek healing despite social distancing
Churches and church groups are busily using online videoconferencing services—especially Zoom—and also free conference call services during these social distancing days for worship, meetings, Bible study classes, and increasingly, for prayer. Now, even larger groups are engaging in Zoom prayer meetings to broaden their reach.
Clifton Hubbard, president of the Eastern PA Conference UM Men, invited other conference members to join him on a new, two-hour, online Power for Prayer meeting on Zoom, sponsored by UM Men of the Northeastern Jurisdiction. Men and women have participated, most of them to listen, some to talk, others to pray. It’s held on Sundays at 2 PM.
Meanwhile, the Rev. David Piltz, the conference’s Coordinator of Young People’s Ministries, will launch a new weekly, 30-minute prayer meeting on Zoom for all conference members on Tuesdays at 12 noon, starting April 14.“It will be a time for silent prayer, prayer requests and sharing spoken prayers and scriptures. It’s a time for our Eastern PA United Methodist community to gather and pray for healing during this unprecedented time of difficulty and distress for many.” Learn more...
2020 ‘Bridge Walk for Peace’ marches on virtually
Since 2008, the Rev. David W. Brown, a deacon in the Eastern PA Conference, has led a special, early dawn walk across Ben Franklin Bridge in Central Philadelphia to commemorate the tragic day the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in Memphis, Tenn. Walkers would reach the pinnacle at sunrise (about 7 AM) and pray together for peace and healing.

The Bridge Walk for Peace is the “longest running commemoration of its kind in the country,” said Brown. But this year it became a virtual walk to avoid a physical gathering that would violate the city’s social distancing prohibition caused by the coronavirus pandemic. Faithful participants came together individually April 4 to create a Bridge Walk video, each reciting a recorded line from Dr. King’s iconic “I Have a Dream” speech in their various locations. 
LEARNING EVENTS
Our conference CoNAM presents Indian Country’s Hidden Figures: Outstanding Native American Women on Sunday, April 19, at 4 PM. You probably know about Pocahontas and Sacajawea. But what about Elizabeth Peratrovich, Ada Deer, Mary Golda Ross, Maria Tallchief and Gertrude Simmons? 

These and many others lived meaningful lives and accomplished much, but their invisibility is a loss to our cultural awareness and our historical knowledge. Their invisibility will be no more. Join us to learn their stories and be inspired by their tenacity, determination, and spirit. Join our Zoom video-conference event f0r online worship and visual stories about these remarkable Native American heroines. View the flyer for access information.  
AROUND THE UMC CONNECTION
United Methodists fight COVID-19 around the globe
MONROVIA, Liberia-- United Methodists around the world are fighting COVID-19, continuing important ministries and staying in connection despite social distancing. Efforts in Africa and the Philippines include making personal protective gear, raising awareness in rural areas and busy cities, breaking down myths and using experiences with Ebola to stop the spread of the virus.  Read story
Mission continues despite pandemic
The COVID-19 pandemic challenges the ways United Methodists usually stay connected in global mission and ministry. To show how the work continues, the UMC’s Board of Global Ministries is connecting with faith leaders, health care workers, disaster response coordinators and missionaries for conversations on "Global Mission During a Pandemic." New videos are posted online every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. See videos
RESOURCES
New Easter hymn written for coronavirus era
Just in time for Easter, popular hymn writer Carolyn Winfrey Gillette has written a new hymn specifically for a season in which the church and its members are dealing with the coronavirus. The prayer, when put to music, can be sung to the tune of "The Church's One Foundation." Gillette has given permission for churches to use the hymn for free during this unprecedented time. Read story   
Coming soon: Worldwide virtual Easter choir
A virtual worldwide United Methodist Easter choir will perform "Christ the Lord Is Risen Today" by Charles Wesley. Produced by Discipleship Ministries and United Methodist Communications, the video of the choir will be available for viewing or download on Friday, April 10, at www.umcdiscipleship.org and www.resourceumc.org
How can I identify public domain hymns? 
Which hymns and other songs qualify as public domain is based on current copyright law in each country. Most hymns have three parts that can be copyrighted — the tune, text (lyrics) and arrangement — and each part may have different copyright dates, writes Ask The UMC, a ministry of United Methodist Communications. Read story
Church sanctuaries are empty. Christians are quarantined at home. Social distancing and isolation is taking a toll. How can church leaders help combat loneliness among their flocks, families and even themselves? Learn more…
Celebrate Native American Ministries Sunday April 26
Churches are urged to celebrate Native American Ministries Sunday on April 26 or a more convenient date, but also to consider celebrating and giving to the special offering online. Contributions should be sent to the conference treasurer. Use online resources and ideas to enhance your celebration: Download the Native American Ministries Sunday Pastor and Leader’s Kit (also available in Spanish and Korean ) to access worship, social media graphics, videos, offering talk, bulletin inserts and other resources. When we give to this important offering half of our gifts are returned to our conference to support the hard, bridge-building work of our own Committee on Native American Ministry (CoNAM). The remainder goes to support scholarships for Native American seminarians and develop ministries in Native American communities, Learn more...
REMINDERS
Annual Conference 2020 will be October 13-14
The 2020 Eastern PA Annual Conference will happen October 13-14 at the Greater Philadelphia Expo Center in Oaks. Originally scheduled for June 18-20, the session was postponed because of restrictions against public gatherings due to the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.

The now two-day schedule means a reduced agenda from the usual three-day schedule. Included will be worship, holy conferencing, conference reports and legislative resolutions, ordination and commissioning of clergy, a memorial service, celebration of clergy retirees and a retiree luncheon, and other standard activities. The 2020-2021 conference budget will also be presented and voted on. The Adjourned Session initially planned for that purpose on October 24 is cancelled. 

The annual Clergy and Laity sessions will meet in the morning, October 13, just prior to the Annual Conference opening worship. Staff will begin event preparations onsite October 12.

The Commission on Annual Conference Sessions met March 30 to plan a modified agenda, while the final dates were being negotiated with the Expo Center. Fall dates are hard to acquire now, with so many spring events being rescheduled.

Annual Conference registration fees already paid for June will be refunded, although with conference staff working mostly from home, that process may require weeks to complete. A new fee and registration period for the fall session will be announced soon.

District conferences are now scheduled to convene on Sunday, October 4, at 3 PM. The postponed 2020 General and Jurisdictional conferences are being rescheduled for 2021.
New Payroll Protection Program Application FAQ* and Federal CARES Act Guidelines for Churches

(*Frequently Asked Questions)
More resources for Ministry in the Midst of Coronavirus:
How congregations can prepare for the potential disruption and gospel opportunities, from Outreach.

From Lutheran Disaster Response, The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
2019 Church Statistical Reports due April 17
The deadline for completing and submitting your church’s Statistical Report is  April 17. Please  call your District Office if you have questions. Both your District Resource Assistant (DRA) and I stand ready to assist you and your church in making this annual process as smooth and as accurate as possible.


Lawrence A. Lee, Comptroller, Conference STAT Report Coordinator
(484) 762-8209 or (610) 666-9090 Ext. 1007   llee@epaumc.org
Disaster Distress Helpline can offer mental health assistance during pandemic
The Rev. Rick Rimert ( right) , the Eastern PA Conference Disaster Response Committee’s Spiritual and Emotional Care specialist, shares this information on mental health assistance available during times of disaster, including the current pandemic. “It is vitally important for churches to clearly proclaim that fear is not the only force that is at work in the world today,” said Rimert, a pastor. “We need to make use of every possible resource to make certain that message is being put out there.”
The Disaster Distress Helpline, 1-800-985-5990, is a 24/7, 365-day-a-year, national hotline dedicated to providing immediate crisis counseling for people who are experiencing emotional distress related to any natural or human-caused disaster. This toll-free, multilingual, and confidential crisis support service is available to all residents in the United States and its territories. Stress, anxiety, and other depression-like symptoms are common reactions after a disaster. Call 1-800-985-5990 or text TalkWithUs to 66746 to connect with a trained crisis counselor.

For Pastors or other leaders there is also a SAMHSA (Substance Abuse And Mental Health Services Administration) App that can be downloaded that provides helpful advice when interacting with persons who have experienced a disaster.
PA tax exemption extended until September 30
Due to delays in processing of sales tax exemptions as a result of COVID-19, the IRS is extending the Eastern PA Conference’s tax-exempt status and that of its subsidiary churches until September 30, 2020. The extension is intended to assist conferences and subsidiary churches in continuing daily operations without interruption of exempt status. 

Ministry in the Midst of Coronavirus
Be sure to visit our Coronavirsu Ministry Response page periodically (accessible from our home page just under the Resources tab). We add more content there throughout the week, including links to relevant writings by Bishop Peggy Johnson and others, news and views about the pandemic and related concerns, and accounts of churches and ministries that continue to reach, serve and inspire people, while making disciples and transforming lives. Also, feel free to use our new Ministry in the Midst of Coronavirus logo.
Cross-Racial/Cross-Cultural ministry training, June 6  
Ministry in a Cross-Racial/Cross-Cultural Context Annual Workshop

CR/CC Ministries Training & Resourcing Team will conduct the annual workshop.

June 6, 2019 from 8:30 AM - 3 PM. Registration . Location: Covenant UMC, 110 N. Mulberry St., Lancaster, PA 17603. Cost: $10.

Audience:
  • Newly-appointed clergy and leadership team serving in CRCC Ministry
  • Clergy and leadership teams currently in CRCC ministry
  • Other persons interested in CRCC ministry

This training is intentionally designed for clergy and congregations serving in a cross-racial/cross-cultural ministry context. By increasing the level of intercultural competency, deepening the understanding of relationship dynamics, and being equipped with practical communication tools, clergy and congregations will become more intentional and effective in their ministry.
How can we livestream worship services legally?
Livestreaming can be an effective way for church and community members to remain connected with worship. United Methodist Communications’ Ask The UMC has more on copyright considerations for livestreaming legally. Read story . Read more Ask The UMC
Education Society Grants provide college aid
The Eastern PA Conference Education Society will offer grants to assist worthy individuals with defraying the cost of higher education for the 2020-2021 school year. Church members who plan to attend school in fall 2020 should be informed now about these grants and their deadline: May 11 . See and complete the application.


If you have questions, contact Education Society Chairperson, Al Adey, at ahadey@verizon.net .
2020 Eastern PA Conference Laity Academy
July 31 – August 2, at Eastern University

After the earthquake there was a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire came a still, small voice.” 1 Kings 19:12

Life is NOISY. Life is MESSY. Life is OVERWHELMING.

Can you find God in all of this confusion? Are you even looking for God?

Elijah was looking. He was even told to stand on the mountain and the Lord would pass by… and he waited. He expected him in the torrential wind, he expected him in the earthquake, and then in the fire. But the Lord spoke after all of the confusion,  in a still small voice, a whisper.

We need to declutter our lives, our emotions, and our thoughts. We need to stop talking and start listening. Listen to our partners, our children, our friends, and listen for God.

Come join us at the 2020 EPA Laity Academy to learn about our Lord while exploring your personal ministry path. This weekend will be focused on serenity, prayer, and introspection. Come and enjoy the classes, fellowship, worship and entertainment.

Watch our website for further details: https://www.epaumc.org/ministry/lay
Conference Loan Fund open for CD investments
The EPA Conference Loan Fund is open for investment in certificates of deposit again, for the first time in about five years, according to Conference Treasurer James Brown. The effective interest rate is 2.25% per year.
Each investor receives a Certificate of Participation from the Loan Fund certifying that the named investor has made an investment of a specific amount in the Loan Fund. The minimum investment is $1,000.00. The Certificates of Participation are offered for cash, and there are no financing terms available. 
Interest rates are set by members of the Annual Conference, as recommended by the Loan Fund Board. The Loan Fund is a Pennsylvania non-profit corporation, whose purpose is to make loans to churches and affiliated agencies for building projects.   Learn more…   Also, visit our Conference Loan Fund page to learn more. Click here to download the investor form.  
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!
SAVE THE DATES
  • April 19: CONAM's Spring Program, Zoom video-conference. View the flyer for access information.
  • April 21: Connectional Table Meeting, 7 PM, via Zoom video-conference
  • April 26 – 28: FAMLP Retreat, Camp Pecometh
  • May 16: UMW’s Spiritual Life Retreat
  • May 16: Basic Sexual Ethics Workshop, 9:30 AM – 3 PM, Faith UMC
  • May 17: District Conferences
  • May 30: Clergy Transition Workshop, 9:30 AM – 2 PM, West Lawn UMC
  • June 6: CRCC Training, 8:30 AM – 3 PM, at Covenant UMC in Lancaster, PA. Cost: $10. Download the flyer. Register online.
  • June 18 – June 20: 2020 Annual Conference, Oaks Expo Center
  • July 24 - 25: Mission U
  • July 28: Connectional Table Meeting, ZOOM
  • July 31 - August 2: Laity Academy
  • August 20: Advanced Sexual Ethics Workshop
  • August 21 - 22: "Camping at the Crossroads" Summer Youth Rally
  • September 12: Annual "Celebrating our Cultures" Picnic
  • September 26: Basic Sexual Ethics Workshop
  • October 3: Connectional Ministries Leadership Training Event
  • October 10: Domestic Violence Seminar, Time TBA
  • October 17: ERT/VIM Training, 8 AM – 4 PM, Eastwick UMC
  • October 17: UMW Annual Celebration
  • October 17: "Racism, Post-Traumatic Stress, & Transformation"
  • October 23-25: Dismantling Racism Trainging, Friday 5 PM – Sunday 3 PM, Desmond Hotel
  • October 24: UMW Annual Celebration
  • October 24: Adjourned Session of Annual Conference
  • November 11: Annual Faith-Sharing Event--Evangelism in a Changing Landscape

Eastern Pennsylvania Conference of The United Methodist Church
(800) 828-9093 |  communications@epaumc.org  |  www.epaumc.org
980 Madison Avenue, Norristown, PA 19403