August 16, 2017
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NEWSpirit Digest will be on a two-week hiatus. The next issue will be published August 29
Check out NEWSpirit's summer issue online
Our  Summer 2017 issue of NEWSpirit newspaper is online and at the printer. See our comprehensive coverage of the 2017 Eastern PA Annual Conference in text and images. Read "Equipping leaders 'for the work of ministry'" about several recent and upcoming events. Enjoy Bishop Johnson's inspiring mission-journey reflection, "Teach us to walk the good road." Rejoice in the vital learning and activity ministries that excited and educated children and youth at our camps and churches this summer. And learn about the "Four Stations of the Holy Spirit," a bold, prayer-based, sacramental outreach idea to offer people, in churches and in communities, anointing for healing, Communion for reconciliation and baptism to celebrate their new beginnings.  Learn more...
Bishop, pastors respond to recent racial turmoil
Several Eastern PA leaders are participating this week in peaceful local rallies to respond to the racial turmoil and violence that erupted in Charlottesville, Va., last weekend when white nationalists, neo-Nazis and Ku Klux Klan members staged a "Take America Back" protest and clashed with counter-protesters in the streets. One man, a neo-Nazi, drove his car into a crowd, killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer and injuring 19 others.

Political and religious leaders, including many United Methodist pastors, have decried the racist views and increasingly open activities of white supremacists, while calling for racial tolerance, fervent prayers and peaceful public witness.  

Bishop Peggy Johnson e-mailed a statement to members  Sunday evening, titled "Our terrorism: fears within, fightings without," that called upon the church to engage in "prayer and witness" while celebrating and committing to its values of diversity, acceptance and love for all. She said racism is "born of a demented, demonic belief in white supremacy," a world view" doomed to extinction." 

The Rev. Cynthia Skripak, pastor of Yardley UMC, was scheduled to speak at a candlelight solidarity vigil and rally at the Garden of Reflection in Lower Makefield, Bucks County, Tuesday night. Its sponsor, One Bucks, a coalition agency formed this year to address racism, hate and intolerance, coordinates efforts among local faith communities, agencies and county officials.  Learn more...
The Rev. Andrea Brown, pastor of Grandview UMC in Lancaster, reportedly spoke at a rally in the downtown pubic square. Some church members may also attend a local YWCA community discussion on " White Supremacy, Rioting and Hatetonight at  6 PM.

Meanwhile, the faith-based social action group  POWER will gather clergy and laity in downtown Philadelphia  Wednesday, August 16, at  7 PM, to "mourn for the freedom fighters injured and killed as they stood against white supremacy this weekend in Charlottesville." Their march and rally will focus on "Unmasking White Supremacy in Philadelphia." 

Arch Street's lead pastor, the Rev. Robin Hynicka, invites all conference members to attend and show their support.  Read POWER's  full statement. The Rev. Gregory Holston, pastor of Janes Memorial UMC, is POWER's executive director.  Learn more about these and other responses to the racial turmoil by UM clergy leaders.
What else is new on our Website?
And see more great photos in new albums on our Flickr page:  
Orientation begins for Certified Lay Ministers program

The Certified Lay Minister Program will begin  Orientation Sessions in September for admission to the 2018 CLM Class that opens  April 1, 2018. An orientation session is required for application to the program. Sessions will be offered on numerous dates at eight convenient locations around the conference, beginning with:
  • September 9, 1:45 PM-3 PM, (following the Laity Retreat) at Grove UMC in West Chester;
  • September 18, 6:30 PM-8:30 PM, at Asbury UMC Allentown;
  • September 267-9 PM, at Christ UMC in Fairless Hills.
There are more dates in ensuing months through December. The Class of 2018 will be certified, upon completion of course, in the Spring of 2019. Please contact Judy Ehninger to register for an orientation session: OR, (C) 610-442-3140, (H) 610-965-2290.

The Eastern PA Conference has six new Certified Lay Ministers (CLMs), who graduated May 7 in a service of recognition at Montgomery Square UMC. With this seventh class to complete the CLM process, the Conference now has 51 active Certified Lay Ministers. The 2017 graduates ( front, from left ) are: Ann Tinner of Pocono Lake UMC, Angela J. Anderson of St. Daniel's UMC Chester, Carrie Argro, also of St. Daniel's UMC Chester, Debra Stevens of Salem UMC Pottstown, Joanne Hennessy Slawter of Mount Hope UMC Aston, and Israel Olivieri, Jr. of Asbury UMC Allentown. Behind them are Bishop Peggy Johnson ( left ) and CLM program director Judy Ehninger.  John Coleman photo.
PA legislators invited to annual UM prayer breakfast

Dai Morgan, our UM legislative advocate, who coordinates state advocacy in PA, announces the annual prayer breakfast for state legislators, on  Tuesday, October 24, at  9 AM. The third-year event will take place at Grace UMC in Harrisburg, near the state State Capitol. To make the event more convenient for lawmakers, the prayer breakfast will be shortened from 50 to 30 minutes this year.  Be sure to read Dai's monthly legislative advocacy reports on our  Advocacy Ministries webpage.
Becoming a sanctuary church 
"Becoming a sanctuary church: A interview with the Rev. Robin Hynicka." The lead pastor of Arch Street UMC talks with the General Board of Church & Society's Faith in Action  newsletter about the experience of providing sanctuary to an undocumented father who has received a deportation order.  Read more
Efforts begin to return Carlisle children's remains  
At the U.S. Army War College in Carlisle, Pa., hidden behind the tall chain-link fences draped with black cloth and the signs that read, "Cemetery closed, please respect Native American privacy," history was being made over the past week, and long-deferred dreams were coming true.
Two leaders ¬≠of the Eastern PA Conference Committee on Native American Ministries (CoNAM) were involved in unprecedented Army efforts to dig up and repatriate buried remains of renamed Native children who died there over 130 years ago as students of the infamous, former Carlisle Indian Industrial School.
The burial there of Little Plume (aka Hayes Vanderbilt  Friday), Little Chief (aka Dickens Nor), and Horse (aka Horace Washington), among nearly 200 others, is part of a dark, painful ongoing legacy of abduction, forced assimilation and reported abuse of more than 10,000 Native children and youth from nearly 50 tribes. Many of them were taken from their homes and brought to the former school from its opening in 1879 until its closing in 1918.
With their hair, clothing, language and other attributes taken from them, they were indoctrinated into an Anglo-American culture that robbed them of their own, causing generations of family and community dysfunction and trauma.

Faith leaders invited to community health strategies event

Church leaders who want to know how to improve the health of their communities are invited to attend a major conference in Philadelphia, September 14-15, titled Equipping and Empowering Faith-Based Institutions to Address HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis C, and Health Equity through Private-Public Partnerships. The location is the International House at 3701 Chestnut Street. Churches can benefit from private-public partnerships to help them create or improve ministries that address HIV/AIDS and other key community health concerns like the opioid epidemic, substance abuse and mental health disorders. Included will be grant writing and management assistance, addressing trauma and leveraging leadership to increase clergy and lay participation in health ministries. Presenters are public, private-sector and university health officials, as well as faith-based health ministry leaders.  Learn more and  download the flyer.
Summer hours at the Conference Office are 7:00 am to 4:15 pm, Monday - Thursday. The office will be closed on Fridays until Labor Day.
Send us your best Vacation Bible School photos asap
We're receiving some great photos, showing special   2017 Vacation Bible School moments and ministries. But we want plenty more! Several photos will appear in the summer issue of NEWSpirit newspaper, while others will appear on our website and social media pages.  

No matter the activities or themes of your VBS, if you took photos we want to see some and share some in our media. So, please, please, send us your best photos of kids (or adults) enjoying VBS. We'll accept and publish great photos online throughout August. Don't delay. Search through your smartphone, camera or memory cards now to choose and send us your very best. E-mail them as soon as possible to Thanks!
Academy for Church Finance to train church teams
Leveraging the strengths and success of its Financial Leadership Academy (FLA) for clergy from three neighboring conferences, the Mid-Atlantic UM Foundation (MAUMF) will begin a similar training program this fall for joint teams of clergy and laity. Registration began August 1 and ends when the 20-church maximum is reached in two locations.

The four-session Academy for Church Finance  (ACF) for laity and clergy will begin with Part 1 on Saturday, Oct. 7, at the Baltimore-Washington Mission Resource Center in Fulton, Md., and be repeated on Saturday, Oct. 14, at Aldersgate UMC in Wilmington, Del.  Future sessions will be held in March and October 2018 and March 2019. Learn more... and register your church now.
Financial aid for clergy seeking spiritual direction
The Eastern PA Conference Board of Ordained Ministry, through its pastoral care program, offers subsidies to ordained and licensed clergy wanting to receive spiritual direction. A list of clergy spiritual directors in our conference who are registered with the Spiritual Directors International association appears on the Ordained Ministry webpage.  Clergy do not have to select a name from this list to receive financial aid. However, the individual selected must be registered with Spiritual Directors International. Contact the Rev. Andrea Brown if you want financial help to receive qualified spiritual direction.
Tanzania missionaries to visit here in late August
Our partner UM missionaries in Tanzania, the Rev. Mutwale Ntambo wa Mushidi and his wife Kabaka Ndala Alphonsine (left with Barbara Drake), will visit the Eastern PA Conference from August 25 to September 6. They had planned to attend the Bishop's Days on the Districts later in September, but now they will need to come earlier.

So far, the Mushidis altered schedule includes visits to:
  • August 27: St. Matthew's UMC of Valley Forge for worship at its 9:30 AM service.
  • August 30 at Phoenixville UMC for a 6 PM dinner and program.\
  • September 3 at First UMC Lancaster for the 8:15 and 10:45 AM worship services and Sunday School at 9:30, and lunch following worship.
  • September 5 at Lima UMC for a 6:30 PM dinner and program.
  • September 6 at Union UMC Havertown for a 6 PM dinner and program.  
Other dates may be scheduled as churches respond to the new visitation schedule.
North District to sponsor its own Laity Academy
The new North District will again sponsor its own Laity Academy over four weeks on Monday evenings, September 11, 18 and 25 and October 2. Classes will be in session at St. John's UMC, 1211 West Arch Street, Coal Township, PA. To better serve local churches in their region, the active Methodists United Mission ConneXion, in the Shamokin area, is partnering again with the Eastern PA Conference, as they did  a few years ago, to bring the Laity Academy closer to home.
This year, the "Basic" course will be offered as well as two Advance courses: "Leading through Failure" and "Visitation and Nurturing." The academy is open to anyone in the North District or in the entire Eastern PA Conference, for those who want to drive out there and see the sheer beauty of God's early autumn canvas in our northwestern region. Each session will run from 6 to 8:30 PM. For information, contact Patty Korbich at or 570-672-1031. A small fee will help pay for class materials and light refreshments. Registration is required. Register at
Register now and come for the blessing... wonderful speakers...spirit-filled fellowship... renewal... relaxation... revival... of the annual Eastern PA Conference Laity Retreat, on Saturday, Sept. 9, from 9 to 1:30 PM, at Grove UMC, 490 West Boot Road, West Chester, PA. The registration fee is only $35, including meals and retreat materials. For inquiries contact Suzette James at  
Hopewell's 2017 Planting Seeds event: Pray for the City
Hopewell UMC's is planning its 14th Annual Planting Seeds for Ministry Growth event, be held on Saturday, Sept. 30.  Keynote speaker for Pray for the City will be the Rev. Scott Chrostek, Pastor of Resurrection Downtown, a Kansas City campus of Church of the Resurrection, where he serves on Adam Hamilton's executive leadership team.  The Rev. W. Wilson Goode Sr. will be this year's worship speaker.  Dr. Goode is the director of Amachi, a national program for children of incarcerated parents.  He served two terms as Mayor of Philadelphia.
Six workshops will be offered during the event, two in the late morning and four in the afternoon.  Workshop descriptions are posted at Registration for the 2017 Planting Seeds for Ministry Growthwill open in early August.  Hopewell UMC is located in Downingtown, PA.  For more information, call the church office at 610-269-1545, or e-mail Deb Boyd at  
Want to view recorded video of Annual Conference?
Now you can!
Recorded video of our June 15-17 Annual Conference is now accessible from our  Annual Conference webpage. Or you can go right to our conference YouTube page to  see the full 2017 Annual Conference sessions playlist.

Take your time--take the rest of summer--to view the 30 dramatic video segments on our playlist, carefully prepared by our Communications staff member Lindsey Cotman. Or "binge-watch" them all at once. It's your choice.

But also, don't forget to download and read the many significant Annual Conference reports and resolutions (with their voting results) that are also accessible....where? You guessed it: our Annual Conference webpage.
We need News & Views from our readers
Clergy and laity, RSVP.
That means you!
News: If your church, pastor or members are featured in the local news--print, online or television--please, please let us know, so we can report it in  Methodists Make News. Send us a link (URL) to the article or the photo or broadcast segment online. Or just tell us the publication or TV station, and we'll search for it. We are looking for news or feature stories or commentaries that feature any UM church members or ministries (but not mere listings of worship services or events). So, please keep us in mind when you see any stories worth sharing. Thanks!

Views: We're also looking for more informational and inspirational writings by clergy and laity that we can publish (or republish) on the conference website--especially in our " From Pulpit & Pew" blog section. Most of our contributions are republished, with permission, from insightful, well-written pastor's columns in church newsletters. We would like to receive more of those; but we also want other writings from diverse lay and clergy members who have something important, helpful or thoughtful to say that can benefit our readers. If you send us something, please try to e-mail a good photo of yourself as well; and definitely tell us how to contact you if we have any questions or concerns.

The doors of our media-church are open. Come on in!
HOPE! Talks: Inspiration for Small Congregations, Oct. 21
Save the date! HOPE! Talks: Inspiration for Small Congregations happens Oct. 21, from 9 AM to 3 PM, at Lighthouse Fellowship UMC, 137 North Easton Road, Glenside, PA. Be inspired as speakers from small congregations doing great ministries share how God is moving and imparting hope to and through them.
Gain a new perspective. Ask questions. Connect. Be refreshed. Get hope!  Join us for this live-streamed, TED talks-style event sponsored by Bishop Peggy Johnson and the Cabinet. ASL Interpretation and Handicapped Accessibility will be provided. Registration is $10 in advance and $15 at the door (includes breakfast and lunch). Online registration opens July 15. Want more information? Visit .  
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!
Eastern Pennsylvania Conference of The United Methodist Church
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980 Madison Avenue, Norristown, PA 19403
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