December 11, 2020
Final 2020 NEWSpirit Digest coming Dec. 18
Seeking more stories of special local church ministries 

On Friday, Dec. 18, we will publish the final 2020 issue of NEWSpirit Digest. Please send us any news to be included by Wednesday, Dec. 16--the sooner the better. We will also publish several stories about remarkable local church ministries on our website next week and in our Winter 2021 issue of NEWSpirit newspaper in February 2021. Please send us information about any special activities and ministries at your church that we can share with the conference during this season. Thank you to all of our readers and contributors!
Join Celebrating our Cultures at Christmas
on Zoom, Sunday, Dec. 13, 3-5 PM
It’s been a tough year. But the Eastern PA Conference’s Celebrating our Cultures at Christmas, on Sunday, Dec. 13, from 3 to 5 PM, will bring music to our ears and smiles to our hearts. It’s our virtual celebration on Zoom and Facebook Live that shares glimpses of how families, churches and cultures throughout our global village signify and enjoy Advent and Christmastide. 

We’ll learn about traditions from Central America, Mexico, Korea, United Kingdom, Puerto Rico, Caribbean and Native American communities, and also about the African American tradition of Kwanzaa (celebrated the week after Christmas), and the Latino celebration of Dia de los Tres Reyes (Epiphany on Three Kings Day). We’ll enjoy diverse rhythms and rhymes, spoken-word poetry, and fond holiday reminiscences of families and churches, like Mother African Zoar UMC in Philadelphia.

Special highlights include: 
  • a colorful slideshow depicting Christmas Nativities from around the world; 
  • a tour and musical performance on the Carillon housed in the belltower of First UMC of Germantown; and
  • a soulful, grand finale singing of “Silent Night” by members of the Philadelphia United Methodist Mass Choir, as we all light our candles to celebrate the most sacred, hope-filled night of the year.

Don’t miss a single minute of this awesome, captivating celebration of faith, culture and tradition. You will witness an abundance of talent and passion that will delight your eyes and ears, and stir your heart with gratitude for the rich diversity of gifts we share as the beloved family of our Creator God and our Blessed Savior. Come join us! Register today!  Download the program flyer!   
Bishop urges prayerful caution in ‘A Season of Darkness and Light’
Calling on all Eastern Pa Conference members and churches to be “be bearers of light and hope,” Bishop Peggy A. Johnson has urged more caution and even cancellation of plans for indoor gatherings in the coming weeks, as the COVID-19 pandemic worsens with rising infections, hospitalization and deaths. Relating winter’s seasonal darkness to the darkness of our deadly pandemic, she lamented in a letter the sadness felt by so many at the loss of onsite worship, fellowship and celebrations during Advent and Christmastide. 

But “our faith teaches us that light is more powerful than darkness,” the bishop writes, urging “people of the light” to “prayerfully consider heeding with urgency, the recent mandates ordered by the governor of the state of Pennsylvania.” Governor Tom Wolf has called for at least three weeks of exercising extreme caution and avoidance of public gatherings from Dec. 12 to Jan. 4, 2021. 
“These new restrictions are a crucial attempt to stem the turbulent, rising tide of COVID-19 infections and the heavy toll it is taking on so many lives and families,” the bishop explains in her episcopal letter, sent to conference members following the governor’s Thursday announcement. The new state guidelines call for gatherings of no more than 10 people indoors and no more than 50 people outdoors. Philadelphia’s “Safer at Home” restrictions are even more stringent.

“These restrictions will surely curtail Christmas worship services and gatherings a great deal; but I firmly believe it is a wise, potentially lifesaving decision to do so.” writes the bishop. “I am well aware that religious entities are exempt from these kinds of government mandates; but I still believe that pastors and churches need to lean toward extreme caution in these extreme circumstances.

“Please follow these new mandates,” she urges. “Doing so will save lives, reduce overcrowding of hospitals, and protect our churches from blame if someone contracts the virus from a church attender.”

Bishop Johnson recommends “other important ways to be light-bearers during this still-special time of year:
  • Continue to give generously to your churches and to mission.
  • Support restaurants that have had to close indoor dining by purchasing from them online or through delivery and carry-out service.
  • Support local businesses that now must operate at reduced capacity.
  • Give to the poor and to places that serve the poor, since these new restrictions will drastically affect many livelihoods.
  • Give a “shout out” of encouragement and thanks to frontline health care professionals and service providers.
  • Get tested and do quarantine if you are feeling sick or have been exposed to someone who has tested positive.
  • Wear protective masks at all times, except when at home with immediate family members.
  • Hold all holiday gatherings virtually.
  • Keep washing your hands and using hand sanitizer.

“The dawn of hope for the conquest of this disease will come faster if we all work together and follow these mandates,” she assures conference members. “The vaccines are going to help eventually. But for now, we are responsible for taking care of ourselves and each other by doing our part. Let us all choose to be bearers of light and hope."
How will your church celebrate Advent, Christmas in COVID-tide?
So, what are your church’s Advent and Christmas celebration plans, in light of—or in spite of—the relentless and deadly COVID-19 pandemic. Infections are increasing and taking a terrible toll everywhere. More government restrictions have been announced. And while churches can have gatherings legally, everyone is strongly advised to stay home, or to at least keep a safe distance from others, in addition to other precautions. 

Some churches that have reopened for worship are considering closing again. And some are finding creative ways to celebrate this sacred season safely either onsite or online. Please let us know by Wednesday, Dec. 16, what your church has planned, so we can include it on our website next week.
Berwyn UMC will pre-record its sparsely attended annual Lessons and Carols Advent service and its Christmas Eve service, complete with instrumental music and featuring its reconstituted bell choir. Tindley Temple UMC in Philadelphia won’t have its traditional Handel’s Messiah Festival, with the usual 200+ voice mass choir; but the church will show its pre-recorded “A Very Tindley Christmas” online on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. .

St. John’s UMC Ivyland will sponsor its Drive-through Living Nativity Dec. 13, featuring carefully arranged animals—sheep, goats, a donkey and a camel—and a modified Nativity cast from shepherds to Wise Men to a choir of angels. “This is a Christmas gift to our community,” said outreach coordinator Ruth Portzline, “a safe way to celebrate the season. You don’t have to get out of your car.” The church also published a 45-page Advent Devotional, offered in hard copy and online, with writings by members.

Rural Bushkill UMC plans to have an outdoor Vacation Bible School Dec. 20, with a Christmas tree attached to its flagpole for decorating, along with caroling and craft-making. Several North District pastors shared ideas and plans, but also safety concerns, during a recent video-chat on Zoom with their district superintendent, the Rev. Steve Morton. Learn more…
Bishop to attend Latino Commission’s Christmas celebration Saturday, Dec 12
The Eastern PA Conference Latino Commission will welcome Bishop Peggy Johnson and the Rev. Dawn Taylor-Storm, Director of Connectional Ministries, to its annual Christmas celebration, Celebrando Nuestros Ministerios En La Navidad, on this Saturday, Dec. 12, at 3 PM. The event, on Zoom, will feature conversation about the dozen, diverse Latino churches and ministries represented on the commission, plus singing of favorite songs and liturgical dance performances to celebrate this special, sacred season.

The Rev. Luky Cotto, Conference Latino Ministries Coorodinator, will emcee the event, with a welcome extended by commission co-chairs. Miguel Pichardo and the Rev, Irving Cotto. Bishop Johnson and Rev. Taylor-Storm have been meeting via Zoom with various groups in the conference over the past several months for conversations about their ministries and concerns.
Does Christmas have roots in pagan beliefs?
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The assertion that Christmas is merely a "Christianized" pagan holiday simply isn't true, writes Ask The UMC, a ministry of United Methodist Communications. In his book "The Origins of the Liturgical Year," Thomas Talley shows that Dec. 25 was celebrated in the early church by the third century and suggests a North African rather than Roman origin for the feast and its dating. Read story
Donations growing in response to Bishop’s Appeal for Camp & Retreat Centers 
In our NEWSpirit Alert article to promote Giving Tuesday, Dec. 1, we reported that nearly $14,000 donations was received by early November in response to Bishop Peggy Johnson’s Fundraising Appeal for Camps to support of the Conference’s four Camp and Retreat Centers.

We have since received giving totals as of Dec. 1. Total donations: $57,208. Of that total, $35,708 came from individual and church donations. Matching funds were donated by the North District ($1,500) and the Conference Board of Trustees ($20,000). The camps continue to seek generous year-end donations to help them recover from the pandemic-related financial losses. 
21 Conference students awarded UMC scholarships 
Twenty-one scholarships were awarded to Eastern PA Conference students in 2020 by the UMC General Board of Higher Education and Ministry (GBHEM). The board’s Office of Loans and Scholarships reports that over 2,100 students received $5.6 million in total financial assistance for 2020.

Many of those scholarships are funded in part by churchwide Special Sunday offerings, including those received on Native American Sunday, World Communion Sunday and UM Student Day. Other sources include gifts, annuities and endowments GBHEM has invested and administered for decades.

Students who are members of The United Methodist Church may apply for Fall 2021 GBHEM scholarships online from Dec. 15 to March 24, 2021. The application is online.

Student loans are also available at interest rates as low as 3.75% (lower than federal educational loan rates) with a creditworthy cosigner. UM student loan helps can help fill the gap in funding for a student and their parents. The UM Student Spring Loan application is open Dec.10 through May at
‘Persevere’: All youth invited to Virtual Youth Rally, Jan. 8-9 
All youth and youth ministry leaders should plan now to attend our exciting 2021 Eastern PA Conference Virtual Youth Rally, which will span two sessions during youth-friendly hours: on Friday, Jan 8, from 8 to 10 PM, and continuing on Saturday, Jan. 9, from 3 to 5 PM. As we cross the 2020 finish line and take on new challenges in 2021, the rally’s timely theme says it all: “Persevere!” 

To persevere is to continue to do or try to achieve some goal despite difficulty or discouragement, much like the biblical heroes Joseph and Esther, and like many of us who have persevered throughout the challenging year 2020.

2020 has brought a pandemic, political unrest and racial injustice. Our lives are now lived mostly online, with little we can do about the social distance and isolation. Yet, the way of the Christian is to persevere! So, “let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.” (Galatians 6:9)

Join the Eastern PA Conference Council on Youth Ministries (CCYM), led by the Rev. David Piltz, Conference Coordinator of Youth Ministries, as they explore together how to persevere. Leading and inspiring us will be several gifted, young performers: Tasha Layton, Keith Everette Smith and back by popular demand: Egypt Speaks.

Since the Peninsula-Delaware Conference will not sponsor its annual Youth Rally in 2021, the CCYM invites all youth—from Eastern PA and other conferences—to attend its free, online winter rally on Zoom in January. 

“We will enjoy insightful conversation, great music, fun games, heartfelt stories, and interesting questions and answers,” said Piltz, “and we’ll share Scriptures, prayer and much more.” Learn more and register today...
Local Pastor Licensing School begins in January
Interested in becoming a Licensed Local Pastor? The Eastern PA Conference will begin its new Local Pastor Licensing School in January 2021. Registration is open now for online classes that will gather for just six weeks, from Jan. 15 to Feb. 28. 
The school’s new design allows for faster completion of classes that meet on Friday evenings and Saturdays. Persons from other conferences are welcome to attend. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, all 2021 classes will meet via Zoom video-conferencing.
The classes will cover UMC Tradition, Leadership and Administration; Spiritual Direction; Preaching; Public Worship and Liturgy; Educational Ministries; Mission and Evangelism; Pastoral Care; and another class related to a Conference emphasis to be determined.
The cost is $1,100, with a $300 non-refundable deposit. The remaining balance is due by March 31. The Rev. Dan Lebo is the school’s new Dean. The Rev. Kevin Babcock, who chairs the Board of Ordained Ministry Committee on Local Pastor Licensing, is the Registrar. Download the brochure and registration form for more details, including requirements.   
Discovering Our 'Theologies of Conflict,' Jan. 12
The Eastern PA Conference will welcome the Rev. Leah Schade, author of Preaching in the Purple Zone: Ministry in the Red-Blue Divide, for an interactive conversation on Zoom, on Tuesday, Jan. 12, from 7 to 8:30 PM. In the U.S. and in the UMC, we continue to seek ways to be in relationship with one another, especially across lines of difference. As we prepare to inaugurate a new president Jan. 20, we seek ways to bridge divides in our churches and communities. Join Dr. Schade as she discusses “Discovering Our ‘Theologies of Conflict’” This free event is open to all churches. 
Tensions and conflict are normal within churches and among people of faith, but they are also sources of anxiety and dread for many. However, if we look at conflict from a theological perspective, we may discover God’s presence in unexpected ways. This session will explore the unspoken assumptions that people of faith have about the relationship between God and our human disagreements and skirmishes.  

The Rev. Dr. Leah D. Schade is the Assistant Professor of Preaching and Worship at Lexington Theological Seminary in Lexington, Kentucky. An ordained minister in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America for 20 years, she earned both her MDiv and PhD degrees from the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia (now United Lutheran Seminary). Learn more… Register online.
Group pursues liberation within denomination   
BOSTON (UM News.) — As one progressive group is starting a new denomination, another new group is planning to work for justice while also staying United Methodist. Read a report on the new Liberation Project. Read story
Feeding people is complicated, joyful 
INDIAN TRAIL, N.C. (UM News) — The journey of donated potatoes from the farm of former NFL player Jason Brown to the potato soup that ended up on Lindsey Whitley's dinner table required the cooperation of an oceanographer, United Methodist churches and volunteers, with the Society of St. Andrew coordinating. Read story 
Churches launch 10-year 'truth and reparation' plan
MINNEAPOLIS — The Minnesota Council of Churches has launched a statewide "truth and reparation" initiative. The council's 25 member denominations, including The United Methodist Church, want to educate Minnesotans about the state's — and the churches' — difficult histories with African Americans and Native Americans. They hope to heal the deep, lingering wounds and develop forms of reparation. Read story
Filipinos debate, approve extension of bishops' terms
MANILA, Philippines (UM News) — After heated debate, the Philippines Central Conference's coordinating council voted to extend the episcopal leadership of the country's three incumbent bishops through the end of 2021. Extending the bishops' terms sparked controversy over the authority of the Philippines Central Conference as an independent body and on whether the action violates church law. 
Dakotas Conference feels pain of COVID-19
SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (UM News) — Clergy of the Dakotas Conference of The United Methodist Church are expert witnesses to just how much illness and death COVID-19 has brought to their states — and to how congregations have stepped up their ministry in response. Read story
Don't be a phishing victim   
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UM News) — Scam artists are targeting United Methodists with emails that try to extract personal information or infect computers and networks with viruses. One email making the rounds is a classic pyramid scheme, asking for a contribution and promising that much more money will be returned to them. Read story
Evangelism in a digital world
LONDON—The Methodist Church in Britain has developed downloadable guides and other resources to help churches use the internet and social media as digital tools for evangelism. See resources
Improving your church's web presence
Up to 70% of people looking for a new church home begin their search online. In three, easy-to-follow sessions, using screencast, Eric Seiberling breaks down the steps in building, upgrading and getting your website discovered online. In part one of the series, he guides you through identifying the needs and the multiple audiences served by your church's website.

Following Eric's steps will help you connect more effectively in digital ministry by answering the questions people have when they find you online. Learn more… Also, watch the other sessions of this screencast: Part 2: BuildPart 3: Get Found.
Stewardship & Finance: Get it Right at the Starting Line
UM Discipleship Ministries will offer a Stewardship basics Zoom webinar on Tuesday, Jan. 5, 2021, at 7:30 PM. Event description: We start each new year with this updated webinar that is focused on the new member of the stewardship team, finance committee, or church council – those who are looking to get started right from the first week! We will update this based on situations rising from the pandemic restrictions. Bathe your work in prayer. Remember, you are not alone; there are places to find help! A live Zoom session will follow. Click here to register for this webinar.
Agency provides insurance-buying guide    
The United Methodist Insurance Program has put together a buying guide to help congregations choose adequate insurance coverage for the risks they face. The program is part of the General Council on Finance and Administration, the denomination's finance agency. To download Insurance Buying Guide. PDF of Insurance Buying Guide.
Fall 2020 NEWSpirit newspaper is online now and ready to read.
Pass it on!
Our Fall 2020 issue of NEWSpirit newspaper is online and ready to read and share! Enjoy articles on our many exciting, enlightening Conference events and ministries. Read on…
What is the history of Advent?
Advent, which means "coming" or "arrival," was widely practiced across Christian churches worldwide by the sixth century. It was developed primarily to provide an alternative time for the final preparation of candidates for baptism. With the start of Advent on Nov. 29, Ask The UMC takes a look back at the history of the season. Read story. Read more Ask The UMC.
This Advent season, which begins Nov. 29, may be burdened by the threat of more COVID infections, political unrest in our country and theological division in our church, as well as social distancing restrictions that may hinder our gatherings. But on “Gaudete” Sunday, the third Sunday of Advent, when we light the pink candle for Joy, we should rejoice even in the midst of sorrow, difficulty and uncertainty, for it affirms our faith that God is still God.  “Emmanuel” means God is with us. Learn more...
Invitation to Justice: Fight for Floyd & Beyond advocacy letter for policy-makers, police
Would you, your church, family, or community group like to put your policing equity concerns into action and make a statement for justice? You can adapt a compelling new lettter prepared by the Fight for Floyd and Beyond Policy Committee, gather signatures and send it to various legislators, policy-makers and police officials to advocate for much-needed change. The letter should encourage individuals, congregations, and community groups to discuss their police reform concerns with politicians and police unions in the cause of racial justice and community peace and wellness for all. See letter...
Slaughter to teach Multi-Site/Satellite Model for churches
‘We’re stronger together’ 

The Eastern PA Conference Congregational Development Team will welcome the Rev. Mike Slaughter, pastor emeritus and global church ambassador for Ginghamsburg Church in Tipp City, Ohio, to discuss “The Multi-Site/Satellite Model for Churches” on Thursday, Jan. 21, 2021, at 10 AM. This event will be viewable on Zoom and requires registration in advance. Register for FREE!

Join Slaughter, renowned church innovator and strategist, for a conversation about church growth, sustainability, and connectionalism. Returning us to our Wesleyan connectional roots, he will explore how churches working together strengthens us all. Whether it’s “larger” and “smaller” churches working together, several churches creating a shared cooperative circuit, or developing hub-and-spoke networked ministries, our future lies in the reclaiming and re-envisioning our missional heritage. 

To prepare for this event Pastor Slaughter asks participants to read The Passionate Church: Ignite Your Church and Change the World (Abingdon Press, 2016). Written by Mike Slaughter and Karen Perry Smith, this valuable resource will assist in discerning and defining your church’s ministries and prime them for organic growth using a multi-stite/satellite model. 
Mike Slaughter was the lead pastor and “chief dreamer” of Ginghamsburg for nearly four decades, inspiring many as a “spiritual entrepreneur of ministry marketplace innovations.” He is the founder and chief strategist of Passionate Churches, LLC, which specializes in developing pastors, church staff and church lay leaders through coaching, training, consulting and facilitation services.
His life-long passion to reach the lost and set the oppressed free has now made him a tireless and leading advocate for the people of Darfur in Sudan, once named by the U.N. as the worst humanitarian crisis by in the world. His call to “afflict the comfortable and comfort the afflicted challenges Jesus followers to wrestle with God and their God-destinies.”
Plan to attend Transfiguration Day Apart Feb. 10 
Save the date for the Eastern PA Conference’s Transfiguration Day Apart scheduled for Wednesday, Feb. 10, 2021, 9:30 to 11:30 AM, on Zoom. All clergy and Certified Lay Ministers (CLMs) serving congregations are invited to attend. The Rev. Deborah Appler, who teaches at Moravian Theological Seminary in Bethlehem, will be the keynoter. Her topic: “The Transfiguration from an Old Testament Perspective." Download and share the flyer
A growing library of free, on-demand Local Church Learning Sessions now includes a session exploring new features of social media platforms and ideas for using them. All of the sessions support your church’s ongoing digital ministry, covering not only social media, but e-giving, text messaging, livestreaming and more. Begin learning.
How to cultivate relationships in online groups   
2020 is the year of virtual…well, everything. Church is no exception. More than ever, members need their pastors and one another, but most are still practicing social distancing to some degree. Online meetings will likely continue as part of church ministry. While the internet, social media and online services such as Zoom, Facebook, WebEx and Google have made virtual meetings possible, church leaders face the challenge of building meaningful relationships in a virtual world. If you’re facing that struggle, here are a few ideas to consider.
How to host small groups and classes during displacement
Small groups and Sunday school classes form one of the most powerful connections and means of support for members. Many people are asking: What happens to these connections during times of social distancing? How can leaders maintain these essential care mechanisms in the lives of members? Here are some tips to help you select the needed tools and assist your transition from in-person to virtual meetings. Learn more...
The People of God campaign is celebrating our ongoing commitment to providing abundant health around the world, from Imagine No Malaria to lifesaving interventions for one million children. Bring the campaign to your church’s communications by downloading digital resources. Download now.
How do you serve?
United Methodist Communications tailors its services to support people in a variety of roles in their congregations. These resources include training, grants and free materials. In order to better serve congregations, the agency is asking that church leaders and volunteers update their job roles online. The information will not be shared or sold to any third party. In return, the agency will provide a complimentary registration for the Digital Media for Ministry online training course.  Update your role
CDT Book Club to explore Rendle’s new book in January 2021
Quietly Courageous, by the Rev. Gil Rendle, is the Congregational Development Team’s (CDT) third book to recommend and discuss in its new weekly Book Club, beginning Jan. 13, 2021. The new clergy and laity study group will gather each Wednesday morning on Zoom, from 11 AM to 12 PM, for six weeks. Learn more...
PA tax exemption extended further until Dec. 31
The Eastern PA Conference’s Pennsylvania sales tax exemption certificate used by its member churches was due to expire initially March 31 but was extended to Sept. 30. But now it has been extended further until Dec. 31, due continued delays caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The extension enables churches to continue making tax-exempt purchases while the state processes renewals. A new letter confirming this latest extension may be used by churches to authorize tax-fre purchases, along with their copy of the expired Exemption Certificate (REV-1220). 
Zoom users should update their software
All users of Zoom video-conferencing should ensure their Zoom Client program is the latest version available, The Conference Administration Office advises. Check to make sure you are using Version 3.2.1 If not:

  • Close your programs
  • Download and run CleanZoom.exe   
  • Reboot your computer
  • Visit this link
  • This will automatically download the newest version for you.
  • Install this version once downloaded.
New online course aims at growth in generosity
A new online curriculum designed to help clergy and lay people lead congregations toward growth in generosity is now available from Discipleship Ministries. This six-module leadership series will help clergy and leaders become better equipped to lead their local churches in the area of generosity as a key part of being a disciple of Jesus Christ. Read press release
Building relationships with virtual visitors
Many churches are reporting much higher online worship attendance than they typically see in person. Eric Seiberling offers tips for how email can help sustain these new connections in a time of social distancing. Read tips
Conference offers new booklet of scholarships, ministry funds
Announces new Narberth Legacy Ministry Action Grants
The Eastern PA Conference Connectional Ministries Office has published online a new booklet, titled Conference Funding for Ministry and Leadership Development, to inform churches and members about resources for funding ministry, church needs and educational scholarships. The booklet conveniently gathers in one place information already present on the conference website’s individual Funding For Ministry, Higher Education Scholarships & Grants and Conference Loan Fund pages. (All pages are updated regularly and are accessible from our Conference Finance webpage.)

But other funding sources also appear in the booklet, including the William “Bill” Drendall Endowment Fund of Mount Gretna UMC, available to all churches; BMCR/BUMP College Scholarships for active members of BMCR-member churches; and scholarships and ministry funding from general agencies of the UMC. 

One major funding source featured in the new booklet is the conference’s new Narberth Legacy Ministry Action Grants (2021-2023 Action Grants). The Narberth Legacy Ministry Action Fund is a Permanent Endowment Fund administered by the Mid-Atlantic United Methodist Foundation on behalf of the Eastern PA Conference. It was established from the 2014 discontinuation of Narberth UMC, as a living memorial to past church members, to provide substantial support to new, innovative, justice-seeking ministries that impact the life of communities. 

Beginning July 1, 2021 one grant for up to $45,000, distributed over a three-year period, will be awarded annually to a church. Eligible ministries are those that seek to serve populations that may be multicultural, young or intergenerational, unchurched or de-churched, and challenged by racism, discrimination, poverty and other disadvantages. Such ministries should demonstrate viability and a commitment to foster productive cooperation with church and community partners and stakeholders. 

Funds will be granted only for endeavors that produce action and offer the potential for real change. Learn more on the conference website’s Funding for Ministry page or contact the Office of Connectional Ministries. Deadline: Jan. 31, 2021. Learn more...
Sign-language Bible now available
A 38-year project that included 53 Deaf translators has produced the American Sign Language Bible, available free from Deaf Missions, a nonprofit Christian organization. This new Bible not only better encourages Deaf and hard-of-hearing people to engage in studying Scripture, it reduces misunderstandings and misinterpretations, writes the Rev. Leo Yates Jr. Read commentary 
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, 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 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 Thanks!

  • December 13: "Celebrating our Cultures at Christmas." 3 PM. Zoom online meeting. Register.


  • January 8-9: EPA Virtual Youth Rally. January 8th from 8 PM – 10 PM, and January 9th from 3 PM – 5 PM. Register.
  • January 12: Discovering our “Theologies of Conflict”: Finding Our Way in the Post-Election Season and Beyond. 7 PM - 8:30 PM. Led by Leah Shade, Author of The Purple Zone: Ministry in the Red-Blue Divide. Zoom Meeting. Register.
  • January 21:  The Multi-Site/Satellite Model for Churches w/ Mike Slaughter. 10 AM - 11:30 AM. Zoom Meeting. Register.
  • January 13: Start of Book Study “Quietly Courageous” with Gil Rendle (Weekly, for 4 weeks)
  • January 30:  Basic Sexual Ethics. 9:30 AM - 3 PM. Zoom online meeting. Register.
  • February 10: Transfiguration Day Apart. 9:30 AM - 11:30 AM. Zoom Webinar. Download the flyer.
  • February 27: Dismantling Racism Level II. Further details TBA.
  • March 5-6: Advanced Sexual Ethics: Ministry with Sex Offenders. Friday from 6:30 - 8 PM, and Saturday from 9 AM to 12 Noon. Aldersgate UMC in Wilmington, DE. Register.
  • March 13: Tools for Ministry. 
  • April 16-18: Dismantling Racism, Level 1, Virtual. Register.
  • May 15: Latino Holy Convocation and Assembly
  • May 15: Clergy Transition Workshop led by Dave Woolverton.9 AM - 11 AM via Zoom meeting. Register.
  • May 20 - 22: 2021 Annual Conference 
  • June 5:  CR/CC Transition Workshop –for CR/CC appointments
  • August 6 - 8: Laity Academy
  • Oct. 15 & 16: Domestic Violence Workshop. Friday October 15 from 7 PM – 9 PM & Saturday October 16th from 9 AM – 12 PM. Further details TBA.
  • Oct. 23: Faith Sharing Evangelism Training w/ Olu Brown
  • Oct. 29 - Nov 1: Dismantling Racism, Level 1, Virtual. Register.

Eastern Pennsylvania Conference of The United Methodist Church
980 Madison Avenue, Norristown, PA 19403