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August 25, 2016
UMCOR needs donated clean-up kits for flood relief now

By the Rev. Greg Ellis

Recent flooding, fires and storms in numerous areas of the U.S. have nearly depleted the UM Committee on Relief's supply of clean-up kits (i.e., cleaning buckets or flood buckets). Help is desperately needed to replenish the supply.

While the fires in California, floods in Louisiana and problems nearby in West Virginia have captured the nation's attention, UMCOR is actively engaged in disaster response in more than 150 communities across 38 states.

How can we help?
1)   PRAY!  We are a faith community, and our response should always begin with prayer. Pray for the survivors and people in harm's way. Pray for the first responders who are risking their lives in ongoing search and rescue operations. Add prayers of thanksgiving for all those who are spared death and devastation.

2)   DO NOT SEND ITEMS TO AFFECTED AREAS! Completed kits should be taken to a local Mission Central HUB or to Mission Central and they will coordinate shipping throughout the country. Find a listing of all Mission Central HUBs online. Several are in Eastern PA or close to our borders in the Susquehanna and Peninsula-Delaware conferences.

3)   West Virginia is scheduling work teams now. Anyone wanting to help can contact me ( for West Virginia contact information.

4)   There are also several ongoing relief efforts still active from previous years. Check out the nationwide list maintained by the North Central Jurisdiction.

5)   So what can we do now? There is a critical shortage of Cleaning Buckets, and there is always a need for health kits. UMCOR offers instructions online for assembling Cleaning Buckets and for assembling Health Kits.

6)   Finally, review your own personal preparedness. Would you be ready if a disaster struck your home? Is your church ready to continue its ministry in the community in the event of a disaster? It's hard to help others when you also need help!
The Rev Greg Ellis is Eastern PA Conference Coordinator of Disaster Response Ministry & UM Volunteers in Mission. He can be reached at or 484 350 5965
UMCOR Responds to Louisiana Floods
Weeks of disastrous flooding from incessant rain across much of Louisiana has damaged or destroyed least 40,000 homes, led to thousands of people being rescued from high water in homes and cars, and taken at least 13 lives.  Thousands of survivors, many without flood insurance, are living in shelters-including UM church shelters-and  waiting to move into temporary FEMA trailers. The  United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) issued emergency funds to the Louisiana Conference and nearly 3,000 cleanup buckets to UM churches in severely affected areas, with another 2,000 on the way. They are asking people to not send work teams or unsolicited aid, such as clothing, at this early stage, but instead to assemble and send cleanup buckets and to donate funds through UMCOR (U.S. Disaster Response Advance, #901670). Donate now!   Learn more...
Baseball ticket sales to support breakfast m
Members and friends of First UMC Lancaster will be at the Lancaster Barnstormers baseball game Sunday, August 28 , buying tickets to support their Anchorage Program. The feeding ministry serves breakfast daily, Monday through Friday, to low income, unsheltered and "socially excluded" populations. First UMC is taking over the 30-year old program from another church to keep it going. For every ticket purchased through First UMC the Barnstormers will contribute $4 to the Anchorage Program.  Contact the church to purchase tickets at 717-394-7231.
SW District resumes racial justice dialogue  Aug. 29  
Grandview UMC, Lancaster, will host a second Southwest District dialogue on racial justice, following one convened last August. Several districts planning racial dialogues may gain new energy from the commitment made in July by the Northeastern Jurisdiction College of Bishops to confront racial bias and related concerns.

That commitment, voiced at the NE Jurisdictional Conference, comes in the wake of recent police killings of unarmed black citizens, followed by protests, violence and racial tensions. The bishops are asking churches to "begin intentional dialogue toward peace, to take up the cause of the oppressed and to be proactive in seeking justice and reconciliation." The Rev. Andrea Brown, Grandview UMC pastor, will co-convene the dialogue along with the Rev. Jason Perkowski, Derrick Gutierrez and others.

"Our goal is to host monthly opportunities here in Lancaster County," writes Perkowski, pastor of Faith UMC and Oregon Community UMC, "for dialogue and discernment about how we can work to solve the ongoing struggles for civil rights, social justice, and an end to discrimination, as well as stand against violence and privilege that oppresses." All are invited to attend, and organizers welcome any planning suggestions. Contact Perkowski to RSVP at  or 717-333-9238.  Directions: .  

By the way...
Drew University Theological School just announced that it will host a webinar on " Confronting White Privilege in Our Mission Toward Justice ," led by Katey Zeh and Bill Mefford, on Wednesdays,   Sept. 14 , 21, 28, and   Oct. 5, at 3:00-4:30 pm. Learn more...
Read more important stories on our Website
Connecting Children with Christ: A new training event for Children's Ministry leaders
Like Christ, the Eastern PA Conference will place children front and center at a major training event for adults involved in all forms of Children's Ministry on  Saturday, Sept. 10, from 8:30 AM to 3:15 PM, at West Lawn UMC, 15 Woodside Avenue, Reading, Pa.
"Connecting Children with Christ" will welcome anyone who teaches, supervises, advocates for, or works with children in any role-from classroom to choir loft, from nursery to playground, from children's church to kids' camp, and beyond. This event is ideal for anyone who seeks to introduce and connect children with Christ Jesus as their personal guide, friend and savior, and to remove every hindrance to their safety and personal growth. 

Melanie Gordon, Director of Ministry with Children at the UMC's Discipleship Ministries agency, will keynote the event with an address on "What Every Child Should Know," followed by a diverse slate of informative workshops. The registration deadline is Sept. 1 Learn more... 
Please download and share this flyer.   Please use this  registration form.
Sierra Leone school struggles after Ebola, but relies on Ephrata UMC's support
A recent UM News Service story reported on children at a Sierra Leone boarding school whose parents are missing or dead from the outbreak of Ebola, which killed about 11,000 people in West Africa from 2013 to 2015. Some students at the June Hartranft Memorial Primary School for Girls in Moyambe face an uncertain future as authorities struggle to locate their parents or learn of their demise. The Rev. Jane Lahai, the lead teacher and a one-time student there, is thankful to First UMC Ephrata for its life-saving support, both when the school was established in 1968 and today, in the wake of both the disease and a protracted, also deadly 1990s civil war.

"When I'm really pushed to the wall, I look up to First UMC in Pennsylvania, who have been of tremendous support to the school over the years," said Lahai, a heroic leader who has fought to keep the school going during that time. The church supplements student boarding costs and the school's feeding program, providing lunches for students and staff. Learn more...
'Sabbath: Break ... or Brick?'   A new retreat for clergy spouses
Eastern PA Conference clergy spouses are invited to attend a creative half-day retreat-either in the morning (8:30 AM till noon) or afternoon (1:30 to 5:00 PM)-on Saturday, Oct. 1, at the Mariawald Renewal Center, Reading, Pa. The new "Sabbath: Break ... or Brick?" retreat is designed by Artos Retreats, a nonprofit organization with a mission to improve the wellbeing of clergy spouses. "We design our retreats to allow clergy spouses to express common issues without revealing church-specific situations and to share experiences and learn coping strategies," says Julie Anderman, retreat designer and facilitator. Register online via the Conference Calendar. Learn more...
INSPIRE:  Water Works
"There are few things more important to life than water," says Bishop Peggy Johnson in her simple yet profoundly meaningful sermon preached at the Annual Conference Ordination Service. She emphasizes not only the importance of this life-sustaining, miraculous substance but also the lessons it teaches us in so many ways. It is "universal, as is God's spirit." It is cleansing and "transformational." And it "gives eternal life."
Jesus' encounter with the Samaritan woman at the well, among other scriptures, reveals the depth of those life-lessons. And in the spirit of such wisdom, Bishop Johnson tells all of us who are ordained, commissioned, certified or simply called to any level of ministry to go, therefore, reaching out to everyone, everywhere without discrimination, "and do the work of spreading around the living water."  Learn more...

Also be sure to read  Bishop Johnson's new Bishop's Blog short essay, 'If You See Something, Say Something.'

Interested in becoming a Certified Lay Minister?
Register now for Orientation/Admission Sessions for the Certified Lay Ministry Class of 2017, which begins in April 2017. All prospective candidates must attend one of eight Orientation/Admission sessions, which are held from September to December at Asbury UMC in Allentown, or at West Lawn UMC in Reading, or at the Eastern PA Conference Office in Norristown. To register see the  Orientation/Admission sessions scheduleand contact Judy Ehninger, CLM Program Coordinator at 610-442-3140  or by e-mail at Learn about Certified Lay Ministers on the Christ Servant Ministries website. 

Register now for Changing Racism class, Oct. 28-30
Register now for the next Changing Racism class, Oct. 28-30, to gain understanding of racism and ways to  change attitudes and behaviors that perpetuate racial bias, discrimination and conflict. Learn to recognize and challenge racial privilege, exclusion and disadvantage, as well as institutional racism, dysfunctional behaviors and internalized oppression. The weekend class, from Friday evening to Sunday afternoon, is led by a pair of expert, diverse facilitators-black and white, male and female-from Visions, Inc. Participants often foster cross-racial bonds of communication and compassion through candid conversation and shared experiences.

The Eastern PA Conference-only class, required for all persons engaged in key ministry roles, will convene at a new location:
Daylesford Abbey at 220 South Valley Road, Paoli, PA. Registration-limited to 20 participants -costs $300, and full payment is due at time of registration. (Refunds are issued only for cancellations over 30 days prior to the class.) This is not a commuter event; the registration cost includes a single room and all meals. The class awards two continuing education units (CEUs) and satisfies the requirement for Healing the Wounds of Racism training. RegisterOnline ordownload anduse the 2016 Registration Form .    To learn more about Changing Racism, see the article Race Matters: Seeking to bridge the divide .
Nominees sought for 2 evangelism awards by Sept. 15
Culture of the Call Church Award
The Foundation for Evangelism, based in Lake Junaluska, N.C., invites nominations for its 2016 Culture of the Call Church Award, which recognizes local United Methodist churches that excel in nurturing young people who are called to Christian service. The award includes a plaque and $1,000 grant. The deadline for nominations is Sept. 15. Self-nominations are welcome. Learn more...

Distinguished Evangelist Award

The Foundation for Evangelism also invites clergy and laity to apply to be named 2016 Distinguished Evangelist of The United Methodist Church. The award celebrate s , inspire s , encourage s and equip s  all who are called to be evangelists by inviting them to train and inspire others to share Christ. The deadline for applications is  Sept. 15. . Learn more...
Bishops launch initiative to 'Pray Our Way Forward'
As the UMC Council of Bishops works to establish a Commission on a Way Forward to address the denomination's conflict between church law and views about human sexuality, it has also launched a parallel prayer initiative called "Praying Our Way Forward."  Bishop Bruce Ough, Council president, asked the entire church to "fervently pray that the Holy Spirit will break through and lead us into a future with hope."
Two bishops are designing a churchwide prayer component, starting with 84 active and retired bishops pledging to pray 15 minutes a day through mid-November in support of the commission's initial work. The second phase, involving the entire church, will be announced in late September. The Twitter hashtag for this effort is #prayourwayforward. The study commission's membership is expected to be named by the end of August, and its initial meeting may occur in October. In November, the bishops will consider calling for special session of General Conference in 2018. Learn more...  
PA Council of Churches to host Shalom Conference
The Pennsylvania Council of Churches will sponsor its first ever Shalom Conference Sept. 24-25 at the Hartman Center, a United Church of Christ camp and retreat facility in Milroy, Pa. The council wants to launch a broad, diverse, statewide network of peacemakers that will promote communication and collaboration "to make peacemaking less lonely." 
The conference theme, "Creating a Culture of Peace," will focus on holistic sense of peace that seeks wholeness and wellness for all of creation. Organizations and peacemakers who focus on a wide range of issues-including domestic violence, systemic racism, drone warfare, environmental justice, torture, gun violence and interfaith understanding-are invited to participate.  
The conference will feature discussions, networking activities, and presentations by two engaging speakers, intentional community activist and author Shane Claiborne, speaking on "Another World is Possible," and Conflict Resolution specialist Saadia Ahmad, Learn more and register at . (Information provided by the Rev. Sandra L. Strauss
Director of Advocacy and Ecumenical Outreach, PA Council of Churches.)
The Crossing to host Victory Conference for women 
The Crossing, a UM church at 1895 Wrightstown Road, Washington Crossing, PA, will sponsor a major weekend conference for women of faith, from Thursday evening, Sept. 15, to 12 noon on Saturday, Sept. 17. 
The Victory will feature several accomplished, inspirational speakers, including Patricia King, a popular speaker and successful media and ministry entrepreneur. Musician Angel Lite Garrett will lead worship. And Ruth Hendrickson, a trainer, counselor and leader of The Crossing's Women's Ministry, Healing and Recovery Ministries, and Prayer Ministries, will also speak. Organizers promise a p owerful sharing of the Word combined with "engaging worship, dynamic workshops, prophetic ministry, great food, fun, and fellowship." Learn more and register...
Hopewell's Planting Seeds event set for Oct. 22
Planting Seeds for Ministry Growth , presented by Hopewell UMC, Downingtown, PA, is scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 22, from 1:30 to 6:30 PM. Onsite registration begins at 12:30 PM. The annual leadership event will close with a worship rally, following refreshments and fellowship.

This year's focus is Kingdom Building, with keynote speaker and workshop presenter Reggie McNeal,  a widely respected author and speaker on the church and its missional future. He will address "Why We Must Give Up Our Obsession with Fixing the Church-and What We Should Do Instead."  McNeal will also teach on "Leading Church-as-Movement." Additional workshops will be taught by: 
  • The Rev. David Woolverton, pastor of St. Paul's UMC Elizabethtown: "Forgive and Remember: Discovering Forgiveness with Conflict", and
  • Dr. Peter Loedel, West Chester University faculty: "Divided Nation." 
Hopewell just announced they will  offer something new this year: two extra workshops at 12 noon: "Spirituality and Labyrinth Walking" and "Financial Peace and Stewardship." Find out more by downloading the new, revised flyer and share it with others.
Register on Hopewell's website at For more information, contact Deb Boyd.  
Faith UMC Manheim breaks ground for expansion
Faith UMC in Manheim Township (Lititz) recently broke ground on its new Fellowship Hall and Education Wing. And they did some great PR that gained local media attention for this historic occasion, including a photo and announcement in LancasterOnline. The new addition, which the congregation has envisioned for three decades, will offer a lobby/ welcome area , fellowship hall, six classrooms, serving kitchen and storage areas. Completion of the facility is expected by Christmas.
"I am most excited about being able to invite more community groups to come in and use our facilities," said the Rev. Jason Perkowski, pastor. "One of our goals is to be a community hub for our corner of Lancaster...(and) open our doors to meet the needs of our neighbors." To finance the expansion the church reinvested raised funds with the Mid-Atlantic UM Foundation and partnered with the Eastern PA Conference in its Fulfilling Our Covenant Capital Campaign. View more of District Resource Assistant Kristin Reifsnyder's colorful photos of the historic, family-oriented groundbreaking ceremony on the Southwest District's Flickr photo page
The NEWSpirit Summer issue is now online. Read on!
See a full array of interesting articles and colorful photos on recent and upcoming events:
  • Full coverage of the Annual Conference and Northeastern Jurisdictional Conference with in-depth, insightful articles and evocative photos.
  • Bishop Peggy Johnson's response on her return to the Philadelphia Area.
  • 'Sabbath: Break ... or Brick?' A new retreat for clergy spouses by Julie Anderman.
  • Mission u academy opens minds, hearts to serving Christ
  • 'Re-envisioning' Congregational Development, Part 2, by Gordon Hendrickson
  • Summer camps offer 'God's Love without Boundaries'
Also, see our great photo of ordained clergywomen of the Eastern PA Conference, in celebration of the 60th anniversary of ordination and full-membership rights for clergywomen.   Learn more...
Register now for Adjourned Session, October 1
Register online by September 23 for the 2016 Adjourned Session of Annual Conference at Bethany UMC Macungie, Pa. Members will ratify the 2017 Conference Budget, hear more about a proposed New Apportionment Formula for funding ministry, and vote on these resolutions:
  • A redistricting proposal (previewed in April) to reduce districts from six to four and save about $400,000 a year in conference spending
  • Revised Safe Sanctuaries policies 
  • A new Computer Network and Internet Access Policy
  • A proposed Ad-Hoc Study Committee to Evaluate Alternative Fair Voting Methods for Electing Members to Committees and Delegations.
  • The annual Comprehensive Funding Plan for clergy and staff benefit obligations
Onsite registration is at  8:30 AM. Worship and Holy Conferencing begins at  9 AM. Session ends by  3:30 PM. There will be no formal lunch break; so bring snacks. (Bethany UMC will sell hot dogs again.) A special offering will be received to fund scholarships for clergy and laity to attend Changing Racism Workshops.   Learn more...
Pocono Plateau to sponsor race benefit
The 3rd Annual Hero Dash & Fun Run will begin Saturday, Sept. 17, at 10 AM.

Join the Hero Dash 5K road/trail hybrid race on grassy paths, rocky trails, open fields and stone roads, as you enjoy the beautiful lakes, creeks and wooded hills of Pocono Plateau. The 1-mile Fun Run is also open to any runner or walker. Registration begins at 9 AM. This is a fundraising event for their "Pathway to Our Future" funding initiative.  Racers should solicit sponsors to raise at least $50 in donations. Youth groups can stay overnight in their cabins the night before for $10 more. All participants who register by Sept. 1 receive a race shirt.  Learn more... 
Lupus Education event to raise awareness, funds
Arch Street UMC (55 North Broad St., Philadelphia) will host a Lupus Education Conference and Luncheon on Saturday, Sept. 17, from 10 AM to 2 PM in memory of Weslia Hynicka and Robin Whaley. Weslia, the late wife of Arch Street's pastor, the Rev. Robin Hynicka, struggled with Lupus for over 20 years before complications from the disease ended her gracious, courageous life this year. This event, which will involve health professionals and invited elected officials, is designed to provide information on Lupus and to raise funds for the Lupus Foundation as well as the educational outreach ministry of Arch Street Church.  See the event flyer for more information. Cost for the luncheon is $20. To register for the event, contact Virginia Brown at  215-240 1148 or . Or contact  the church office at 215-568 6250 or
Register online now for fall Laity Retreat
You can now register online for the fall Laity Retreat to be held on Saturday, Sept. 17, from 9 AM to 1:30 PM, in the fellowship hall of Jarrettown UMC in Dresher, Pa. The $25 cost includes retreat materials and meals. The theme is "Perceiving,  Believing and Receiving Our Blessedness." This event is sponsored by the Board of Laity. "Come for the blessing ... wonderful speakers ... spirit-filled fellowship... renewal ... relaxation ... revival." For more information contact Suzette James, Assistant Conference Lay Leader at
Come learn about Radical Disciple-Making Oct.  8
Don't miss a dynamic learning event that could become pivotal in transforming your church's discipleship efforts from routine to radical.  Thorndale UMC  (3503 Lincoln Highway, Thorndale, PA. Phone: 610-384-2433) will host a Radical Disciple-Making Seminar  on  Saturday, Oct.  8 , from 8:30 AM to 3:45 PM.
The seminar will be led by the  Effective Church Group, directed by renowned church growth author, coach and discipleship development expert Bill Easum.  It will offer practical strategies and profound insights to teach participants how every church can grow to become a radical disciple-making force for Jesus Christ. Read  Bishop Johnson's letter  and visit the  seminar website  to find out more.You can register online at  Contact the Rev. Mark Moore of Thorndale UMC with questions at
Bishop's Days on the Districts
NW District--Sept. 27; SE District--Oct. 3; SW District--Oct. 4; Central District--Oct. 17; NE District--Oct. 19; and East District--Oct. 20.  
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! 
August 29-31: Global United Methodist Clergywomen Gathering,   Houston, Texas, Theme: "ONE: Birthing a Worldwide Church."  Learn more...
Sept. 10: Children's Ministry Training Event, West Lawn UMC
Sept. 17 Laity Retreat 

Oct. 1: Adjourned Session of Annual Conference, Bethany UMC Wescosville

Oct. 8: Radical Discipleship Workshop, led by Bill Easum, at Thorndale UMC. Save the date and don't miss it! More info coming.

Oct. 28-30 2016: Changing Racism Training,  at the Daylesford Abbey in Paoli.  Register online . The cost is $300.
Eastern Pennsylvania Conference of The United Methodist Church
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