August 4, 2017
(Corrected version. We apologize for several minor errors in the original.)
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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!
Bishop's Blog: 'All I need to know about life...' 
Robert Fulghum's book All I Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten  highlighted basic life lessons many of us learned as children, such as: share everything; play fair; don't hit people; put things back where you found them; be aware of wonder; hold hands and stick together; and so on. I would like to say that all I need to know I learned from United Methodist Camp and Retreat Ministries in the Philadelphia Area....

Bishop Peggy Johnson extols the value of our various camp centers, as she often does, during this busy, fun and faith-filled season of summer camp. "All of them teach essential lessons that lives of faith can offer," she writes in her latest Bishop's Blog essay after visiting several Eastern PA and Peninsula-Delaware conference camps. She describes them as " full of joy and activity, of people learning and sharing with one another, valuing diversity and appreciating who they were and whose they were..."  Learn more
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.
Eastern PA leaders to attend MARCHA event in Dallas 

A number of Eastern PA Latino church leaders will attend the UMC's national Hispanic/ Latino caucus's annual meeting August 10-13 at the  Perkins School of Theology in Dallas Texas. This will be  an historic gathering for MARCHA as it celebrates the 25th anniversary of the National Plan for Hispanic/Latino Ministry (NPHLM), which has resourced the strategic development of Latino UM leaders and faith communities for over two decades.   The celebration will highlight the historic partnership between MARCHA and the NPHLM by inviting other national caucuses, bishops, general agency and annual conference staff, together with clergy, laity and young leaders to "be part of a critical process to induce, develop and organize relevant strategies to help our church shift its presence to the heart of its communities, a place where we know it is not always fully engaged."

The Rev. Irving Cotto, North District Superintendent, will co-lead a workshop about how the charismatic movement shapes the understanding and practice of Christianity among Hispanic/Latinos in the U.S. The Rev. Lillian Cotto serves on the MARCHA board's executive committee. Also attending will be two Latino church youth, the Rev.  Bruny Martinez, our new Director of Latino Ministries, and other Latino Commission leaders. Learn more...
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.
Scholarships available now to attend world religions meeting in 2018

After its success in 2015, with over 200 religions sending representatives from around the world, the  Parliament of the World's Religions (PWR)  will meet again in Toronto, Canada, Nov. 1-7, 2018. 
The UMC's Council of Bishops (COB) will offer scholarships for this event to three seminary students and three other lay and clergy members who wish to attend it for the first time. But applicants must act fast. Applications for the early registration discount and scholarship are due next week, by August 7. C ontact the Rev. Jean Hawxhurst a the COB immediately for an application at 
Group urges clergy to come join Virginia resistance to White Supremacy
Congregate Charlottesville  is calling for 1,000 faith leaders, especially clergy, from across the nation to join them next Saturday, August 12, in "an important stand against white supremacy." We received a letter recently from the National Council of Churches extending that invitation to show up in a Charlottesville, Va., public park to confront a national white supremacist rally. 
"This is a call for partnership in direct, nonviolent action on a crucial day for our city, and in a critical moment for our country. We need your prayerful presence," reads the letter. It says Charlottesville has recently become a hotspot for national white supremacist organizations and demonstrations, since the city council voted to move Confederate monuments from public parks, "sparking increasingly explicit and violent expressions of white supremacy in our community." It cites a recent white nationalist rally, led by a North Carolina Klu Klux Klan chapter, where "non-violent community members standing against racial hatred were met with chemical weapons, military vehicles, and hundreds of militarized police, some carrying grenade launchers and automatic weapons."
The August 12 rally of faith leaders will counter another planned white supremacists rally. However, the group warns, based on online announcements, "we have concluded that there is an extremely high potential for physical violence and brutality directed at our community."
"This is a local event, but white supremacy is a national problem," they explain, "and the way we respond on August 12 will have national implications as we move through these trying times. It is our hope and prayer that your congregations will commission you to join us in this movement to confront white supremacy. Learn more
Send us your Local Church Events

Please send us news of your church's upcoming events, so we can post them on our  Local Church Events page. Use our  Submit News page or e-mail us at Here are some events recently posted:

Aug. 12: Children's Carnival, Covenant UMC, Lebanon

Sept. 21: Stephen Ministry training open to all churches 
Wesley UMC, 2540 Center St. Bethlehem, will open their 20-week Stephen Ministry training, beginning Sept. 21, to churches that want to train new ministers for their own Stephen Ministry programs. Stephen Ministry is a national one-to-one lay caring ministry. Congregations equip and empower lay caregivers-called Stephen Ministers to provide high-quality, confidential, Christ-centered care to people who are hurting. Weekly training on Thursdays, 3:30- 6 PM, runs for 20 weeks.  For more information contact Bob Keiderling at 610- 865- 5715, ext. 11, or
New book: 'Raising Hope' to help encourage black youth
In Raising Hope: Four Paths to Courageous Living for Black Youth, Anne E. Streaty Wimberly and Sarah Frances Farmer offer proven methods to motivate black youth to make healthier choices and create positive outcomes.  The book is published by the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry (GBHEM) and is available on  and
Raising Hope highlights methods to reach and help specifically Black youth, including a "narrative orientation" that prompts them ask "the right questions," an artistic method to encourage self-expression, and a conflict resolution curriculum
Wimberly is a professor emerita of Christian Education who directs the Youth Hope-Builders Academy. Farmer is a researcher and lecturer at Yale Divinity School.  Raising Hope is for parents, youth ministry leaders and pastors who want to "construct tangible hope-bearing experiences" for black youth. 
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.
Conference seeks to hire new Treasurer
The Eastern PA Conference Office is searching for a fulltime Conference Treasurer, who would report to the Conference Council on Finance and Administration (CFA) and the Resident Bishop. The Treasurer is responsible for all aspects of the conference's financial management, providing excellence in business and financial management and administration. That includes responsibility for receiving and disbursing funds, in accordance with conference and denominational policies, and strategic goal-setting and planning, in collaboration with the Bishop and the CFA. Persons interested in this position should send resumes with cover letters to by  August 11th. Initial interviews will take place during the week of August 21.  Download the job description.
New photos to enjoy on our social media pages
We have added plenty more dramatic images from Annual Conference to the four AC 2017 photo albums on our  Flickr page (titled Day 1 Day, 2, Day 3 and Ordination). They include some familiar faces and memorable scenes. Enjoy the impressive contributions of our talented, dedicated Annual Conference Photography Crew: Sabrina Daluisio, the Rev. James Mundell, Paul Davis, the Rev. Steward Warner and John Coleman. We are very grateful for them all! Thanks also to Sabrina Daluisio and Desktop/Web Publisher Lindsey Cotman for assembling and posting the many wonderful images.  Enjoy!

While you're at it, check out also the collection of images on our colorful  Instagram page. Please join our growing list of followers there. Also, see the vivid photo (above) of newly ordained, smiling, robed clergy, with admiring peers applauding them in the background, taken at the Annual Conference ordination service and posted atop our  Facebook and  Twitter pages. An image so nice, we used it twice.
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.
2017 Charge Conference forms now online
Charge Conference forms to be downloaded and completed by local church leaders are now available on the conference website, accessible at the top of the Resources tab menu and also on the Forms page. District offices will provide instructions on preferred methods of submitting forms. Included with the usual reports are forms for:
  • Safety and Accessibility Inspection;
  • Safe Sanctuary policies updating (based on revisions by the 2016 Annual Conference); and
  • The new Accountability Agreement with the Boy Scouts of America (if not signed in 2016).
The forms and annual reporting process are described as "an opportunity to celebrate your church's achievements, a useful tool to evaluate your church's ministry goals and objectives, and a helpful process to ask important accountability questions." Any questions or suggestions should be directed to the appropriate District Office (not to the Conference Communications Office).
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
New districts plan picnics in August, celebrations in September
The new North and South districts will both hold picnics in August for their clergy families, inviting all to come and get better acquainted. But clergy and laity of all four new districts will have a chance to get better acquainted in September when they each host Bishop Peggy Johnson, combining her annual Days on the Districts visits with their inaugural new-district celebrations, complete with worship, dinner, presentations and meetings.

The bishop will bring several conference staff--including Benefits Officer Jo Fielding, new Connectional Ministries the Rev. Anita Powell and our new Conference Treasurer if one is hired by then--to meet with clergy about important concerns first around 4 PM. Joint lay-clergy dinners will follow, and then meetings with laity in the evenings.  Learn more...
Read the new issue of
Wellspring online
49 Eastern PA churches sign up for Abundant Health Challenge 

The July-August issue of Wellspring , the Eastern PA Conference Health and Healing Council's bimonthly newsletter, is online with 12 pages of valuable information, insights and even inspiration about living abundant healthy lives. Included are articles on:
  • promoting children's nutrition and protecting them from food allergies;
  • suicide prevention;
  • avoiding stressful living through faith and self-acceptance;
  • the importance and miraculous effects of consuming water;
  • a "Letter to Our Youth" with truths about alcohol and other drugs;
  • self-care for the caregiver; and
  • a personal testimony about the life-changing benefits of volunteering to serve others.  
There are also healthy recipe ideas, tips on healthy eating from Methodism founder John Wesley, a glimpse of a hands-on, therapeutic arts ministry at one church, addressing health care issues in later life, and more good book suggestions for children.
Council members greeted members at their busy Annual Conference display table in June, handing out free healthy snacks, bottled water and chopsticks....yes, chopsticks. They also celebrated that 49 of our churches so far have answered our Bishop's challenge to join the General Board of Global Ministries' 10,000 Church Abundant Health Challenge. Those churches now have access to free GBGM resources for promoting health for their members and communities in whatever ways they see fit. You can sign up your church to take the challenge today. Just select one of the options for promoting good health by:
  • Providing opportunities for physical activity;
  • Promoting healthy diet and nutrition;
  • Helping people end the dependency or damaging effects caused by addictive substances; andor
  • Promoting mental wellbeing in your congregation and community.  
"Above all, we want members to be aware of the state of their health: physically, spiritually, emotionally, mentally, relationally, environmentally, etc.," says council co-chairwoman Sharon Hachtman, a Deaconess and Registered Nurse.
L ocal Pastor Licensin g School in session now 

Register now if you are interes
ted in pastoral ministry as: 

*    A certified and licensed Local Pastor  
*    A Growing Church Licensing School Pastor
Attend the Eastern PA Conference Board of Ordained Ministry's year-round Local Pastor Licensing School. Courses are taught on Saturdays, all day, at the teaching pastor's church or at the Conference Office in Norristown (Audubon). Our experienced instructors are clergy leaders and/or church growth experts from PATH 1, a church growth initiative of the denomination's Discipleship Ministries general agency.
The five major areas of study are:
  • Pastoral Care, taught by the Rev. Truman Brooks at West Chester UMC. (Course ends July 29 and will repeat in June 2018.)
  • Congregational Development: A one-day, three-part course taught at the Conference Center August 5, from 8 AM to 5 PM.
-         Growing Church Models (Spiritual Leadership, Inc., Lifetree CafĂ©, etc.) Taught by the Rev. Gordon Hendrickson.
-         Mission and Outreach Ideas from Tom Bandy. Taught by the Revs. Peter Wernett & Gordon Hendrickson.
-         Wesleyan Ministry, Then and Now. Taught by Charles Yrigoyen.
  • Preaching, Worship & Sacraments. Taught by the Rev. Tom Haugh: Sept. 9 & 23, and Oct. 7, at Mt. Hope UMC
  • Christian Education. Taught by the Rev. Michael Roberts: Dec. 2 and Jan. 6 & 20 (2018) at the Conference Office.
  • Church Administration-Leading a Congregation. Taught by the Rev. Larry Leister: April 7 & 21, and May 5 (2018) at Lititz, UMC.
The cost is $1,100 for all five segments toward licensing, or $250 per segment.
For more information contact Gordon Hendrickson at or 267-258-9507.   Learn more and download the registration form:
2017-18 Information and Application for Licensed Local Pastor School [Word doc]  
Charles Wesley event open to all   Pianist needed for hymn sing
The  Charles Wesley Society  will meet at Historic St. George's UMC, 235N 4th St., Philadelphia, September 29-30 and invites any interested persons who wish to attend. Please register online. The meeting will feature scholarly presentations that interpret and promote the life and work of Methodist hymnist and co-founder Charles Wesley, with a particular focus on the context of social justice. 

Topics include: "Charles Wesley's Response to the Cries of 
t he Oppressed," "Charles Wesley and the Beloved Community," and "Sanctif ication, Salvation, and Social Justice: How the Central Doctrine of Methodism Holds these in Tension." Event organizer Steven Hoskins will speak on "Improvising Poetic Justice: The 1801 Hymnal of Richard Allen, African Methodist Episcopal Minister."  The meeting will also include a tour of historic Methodist sites in Philadelphia, including: Historic St. George's museum; Mother Bethel A.M.E. Church, founded by Bishop Richard Allen; and the Dock Street site of the first Methodist Meeting in Philadelphia. 

Another feature will be a public hymn sing at St. George's Church on Friday evening, Sept. 29. But since the St. George's music director will be out of town, an accompanist is needed to play piano for the hymn sing. "This is a terrific opportunity for a dedicated Methodist musician to celebrate Wesley's music," writes Donna Miller of St. George's. There will also be a stipend paid. Contact her 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  
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.

See, hear and feel it all, from the stirring opening worship and plenary session to our final session of holy conferencing and uplifting reports before adjournment. Be sure to watch Upper Room Chapel Dean Tom Albin lead an insightful, faith-affirming Teaching Session on Prayer. (Also, be sure to download and use his excellent handout materials available on our Annual Conference webpage.)

Enjoy  three inspiring, thought-provoking  sermons by Bishops Peggy Johnson, Latrelle Easterling ( right) and Peter Weaver. 

Marvel at the first-person historical narratives offered by Methodist forebears Captain Thomas Webb ( left) , Mary Thorne and Harry Hosier. And join in celebrating the ordination and commissioning of new clergy, while also commemorating the dedicated lives of newly retired clergy and recently deceased clergy and clergy spouses.

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.
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  
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!
New UMC Handbook now available 
The new United Methodist Church Handbook for this quadrennium is available, providing a detailed overview of the denomination's beliefs, mission, structure and history. The handbook is a free, go-to resource for anyone in search of information about The United Methodist Church and is helpful for leaders and new members.

"The United Methodist Church Handbook is one of the most appreciated resources generated in the church, and rightly so," said Ken Sloane of Discipleship Ministries. It offers a holistic overview of the church and the ways that all United Methodists are an essential part of the denomination's work around the world. It also explains the church's connectional nature, includes denominational maps and graphics, answers frequently asked questions, provides a glossary of key denominational terms, offers communication and connectional giving information and suggests resources to further mission and ministry. Learn more...  
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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