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December 17, 2015
Eastern PA Conference Office closes Dec. 23
The Eastern PA Conference Office will close officially for the Christmas break and the remainder of 2015 on Wednesday morning, Dec. 23, following the staff's 9:30 AM Christmas celebration. We will reopen for business on Monday, Jan. 4, 2016. We will publish our last 2015 issue of NEWSpirit Digest on Wednesday, Dec. 23, unless urgent circumstances warrant publishing another issue the following week.
Let us share your glad tidings
We have been listing the celebrative Advent, Christmas and New Year's event announcements we receive by e-mail from local churches (and some we've found in church newsletters). But we know we can do better. Please check out our festive Local Church Events  page, colorfully decorated for the season. Then send us, by Monday, Dec. 21, announcements of your church's holiday events, happening between now and New Year's Day, so we can post them there for all the world to see. Use the Website Event Submission Form , or send us an e-mail to . But please do it by Monday, Dec. 21. Our office closes on Dec. 23 for the rest of the year.
Imagine No Malaria leads UMC #Giving  Tuesday  donations
On Dec. 1, UMC #GivingTuesday, "Nearly 6,000 donors from 27 countries donated $2.8 million through The Advance to support mission and ministries around the world," UM Global Ministries reports. The Imagine No Malaria program received the most dollars at $139,365. "United Methodists around the world demonstrated inspiring generosity through their contributions," the agency reported See more on UMC #GivingTuesday gifts here.

Our  Eastern PA Conference Imagine No Malaria fundraising and awareness campaign is scheduled to end  Dec. 31. Please consider receiving a special Imagine No Malaria offering on Christmas Eve or that  Sunday, and please send all your donations to the Eastern PA Conference office by  Jan. 15. The United Methodist Church will continue to raise awareness and funds toward its $75 million goal through General Conference next May. So if your church wants to plan special activities and continue raising funds in 2016 please do so, by all means, and please continue to send any new donations to the conference office. Thank you!
News poll: Racism voted top UMC 2015 story
The continuing struggle against racism in the United States - which occupied United Methodists in protests, prayer and peacebuilding - was the biggest story in the denomination's news in 2015, according to a United Methodist News Service poll of communicators. That struggle received 16 first-place votes out of 26 ballots cast by church communicators in the United States, Africa and Asia, along with UM News Service staff.  In second-place was the denomination's response as hundreds of thousands of migrants continued to flee to Europe from Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and various parts of Africa. Following in third place was the denominational debate over sexuality and church law. The lingering Ebola epidemic in Africa was fourth, and the rise of licensed local pastors in The United Methodist Church rounded out the top 5.  Learn more...
Rejoicing in an upside-down world
The Rev. Susan Henry-Crowe, head of the General Board of Church and Society, offers thought-provoking weekly meditations for the four weeks of Advent. For the third week's theme of "Rejoice" she urges us to rejoice in how God turns the world upside down and then restores the world in God's wisdom and mercy. "All are brought together," she writes. "The outcast, those living in poverty, those on the margins of wealth are promised a place and brought into the center of God's reign." Learn more...
Delegation invites NEJ episcopal nominations
One of the Eastern PA Conference's 2016 Northeastern Jurisdictional Conference delegation's responsibilities is to identify potential episcopal candidates from our conference. The delegates e-mailed a general letter this week inviting any clergy and lay members to submit up to two names of persons for consideration and also inviting those who feel called to the episcopacy and are eligible to submit their own names. Delegates will engage in a prayerful process, including review of writings, interviews and discussion to present selected nominees to the Annual Conference in June 2016. The letter, also found on our Website , includes the Criteria for Episcopal Candidates of The UMC and an Episcopal Candidate Nomination FormJudy Ehninger will receive nominations on behalf of the delegation at by Feb. 1, 2016.  
Members called to pray for General Conference  
On Jan. 6 the Eastern PA Conference will become one of the first annual conferences in The United Methodist Church to engage in a full day of round-the-clock prayer on behalf of the denomination's 2016 General Conference. The Council of Bishops has invited each of the 131 annual conferences worldwide to host a 24-hour prayer effort on a specific date, in order to create a groundswell of supportive prayer. "This is how we can best prepare our hearts and minds for the legislative deliberations and decision-making that help determine the policies and practices of our United Methodist Church every four years," wrote Bishop Peggy Johnson to Eastern PA Conference members, asking for each congregation to participate in the 24-hour vigil. Learn more...

The conference already began on Dec. 6 a once-a-month, six month prayer vigil at the first of six planned district prayer posts. The Southeast District led off the series, as the Rev. Tim Kriebel, who devised the idea, welcomed participants to engage in collective prayer at Bethlehem UMC in Thornton. The next prayer post event will be on Jan. 6, the same date as our conference's participation in the Council of Bishops' requested prayer vigil. Members from around the conference are invited to come pray at Faith Alive UMC in Bowmanstown (678 Pine Street, Palmerton, PA) at 7 PM, hosted by the Northeast District.
Called to welcome suffering sojourners
On Friday, Dec. 18, many people observe International Migrants Day. And on Thursday, Dec. 10, many recognized International Human Rights Day. These observances, although barely known to most, are significant and timely in light of the refugee and migrant crises happening right now in our world and impacting our nation. United Methodists in the U.S. and Europe especially are wrestling with the dilemma between their fears of terrorism and their faithful commitment to love their neighbors seeking to come ashore as refugees and migrants from afar. Read inspiring, insightful words of gospel-influenced compassion from Bishop Peggy Johnson in her latest Bishops' Blog essay, titled "From Horror to Hope," and from two Eastern PA Conference pastors. Also read about UM churches in New Jersey and Indiana who join others in bravely welcoming and caring for Muslim Syrian refugees despite their governors' intention to bar entry of any Muslims into their states.  Learn more...
Prevent emergencies during Advent and Christmas
During Advent and Christmastime many churches have more activities and more people moving about within their walls. Thus, it's worthwhile to remember a few cautions, so we can all celebrate the season safely. The Rev. Greg Ellis, Coordinator of Disaster Preparedness & Response (and also Volunteers in Mission), offers smart suggestions for safely managing candlelight services and using electricity, and deploying ushers and greeters to be more watchful but no less welcoming in their hospitality to strangers. Learn more...
YES Youth Retreat and Vocational Intern Program
Two great opportunities for introducing young people to ministry careers are available through the Eastern PA Conference Cabinet and Board of Ordained Ministry. The next retreat will be held April 16, 2016, 10 AM to 4:30 PM, at Cedarville UMC, 1092 Laurelwood Road, Pottstown. Registration begins in January. God is calling gifted youth into lay, licensed and ordained ministries of all kinds.  Attendees will be exposed to a variety of ministry options in different settings, while also enjoying lively worship, dramatic skits, games. lunch and fellowship. They'll meet the bishop, district superintendents and ordained ministry leaders. The event is for youth in grades 9-12. 

Congregations and college students can mutually benefit from this program next summer. Interns who sense a call to serve God through ministry and want some experience can partner with pastors in serving churches and communities. The church provides half the salary and housing if needed, and the Board of Ordained Ministry provides the other half for a total intern salary of $3000. Applications are due by May 1, 2016. For more information call Pastor Matt Heckman at 717-273-0525 or Pastor Rob Timlin at 717-665-3400. Tell your college students while they are home for Christmas about being a VIP in the Vocational Intern Program. 
'Are you the one or shall we seek another?'
Looking for new Eastern PA Conference leaders
The Eastern PA Conference Nominations Committee is seeking gifted disciples who have a desire to provide servant leadership for the 2016-2020 quadrennium. If you want to serve and are eligible, or if you have someone else to recommend, the committee, led by Carol Black, wants to hear from you. Nominations for service on conference boards, committees, commissions and teams will be received until Feb. 1 and voted on at the 2016 Annual Conference.  All persons who want to serve or recommend someone for service must submit an online  Leadership and Service Interest Form  by Feb. 1 or  contact the Nominations Committee directly. Please tell your fellow church and community members that there are many ideal leadership opportunities available for persons who can help fulfill the mission of the Eastern PA Conference. All potential nominees will be contacted before making any commitment to serve. Learn more and download the Brochure and mail-in form, "Ways to Serve."  Also see the Descriptions of Conference Committees & Agencies
2015 Conference Journals are here, but cost is now $30
A limited number of 2015 Eastern PA Annual Conference Journals are now available for sale. If you want a Journal and have not yet ordered it, please o rder yours now  at the $30 cost.

If you have already ordered and prepaid $25 for your Journal the new cost is now $30. Originally the 2015 Journal was priced at $25; but additional necessary content has increased the usual number of printed pages. Thus, we now need to charge an additional $5 per Journal. If you have already ordered and pre-paid for your Journal(s) at $25 each, there is now a "Price Change" section in the online orders page that will enable you to add an additional $5 per Journal to your payment. Or you can send a check for an additional $5 per ordered Journal to the Conference Office to be added to your payment.

You can pay the additional cost online or send a check by postal mail to EPA UMC, Attention Ms. Gloria Knoeller, PO Box 820, Valley Forge, PA 19482-0820. I f you already prepaid but do not wish to pay the additional $5, then we will refund the original $25 purchase price to you. For refunds please write to  Ms. Gloria Knoeller at PO Box 820, Valley Forge, PA 19482-0820 or by e-mail at

The Conference Journal offers contact information for Conference staff, Clergy, Camp and Retreat Centers, Districts, and United Methodist Church boards and agencies. Also clergy appointments, pastor's salaries and service records; and conference board and committee assignments. Plus, reports and information from the 2015 Annual Conference; conference statistics for 2014; historical highlights; and conference policies and procedures for clergy, staff, and others. Questions? Please contact Gloria Knoeller at

Portions of the Conference Journal are accessible electronically on our Website, with the exception of sections that are restricted from online access by the general public.
New Lifetree Café Orientations in January 
The Congregational Development Office has scheduled a new two-part orientation series on how to organize Lifetree Café outreach ministries (for a church or church cluster or Mission Connexion). Anyone may attend  Part 1 on Jan. 4 or 6 , and then attend  Part 2 on Jan. 25 or 26 .  Each training will take place from 6:30 to 8 PM at the Eastern PA Conference Office, 980 Madison Ave., Norristown. Just choose one date for each part, but please let Gordon know when you will attend at

Read Gordon's NEWSpirit article for more information and insights about Lifetree Café.
Faith Sharing Event speaker to meet with Phila. Area churches March 18
The Rev. Romal Tune, our guest speaker at the 2016 Faith Sharing Event on Saturday, March 19, (9 AM to 3 PM at New Hanover UMC), will also speak the evening before in Philadelphia, targeting his message particularly to racial-ethnic congregations. Bickley's New Beginning UMC, at 6239 N. 6th St., will host the event, beginning with a meal at 6:30 PM.  Young people especially are encouraged to attend to hear this dynamic, sought-after young speaker who voices his passion, intellect and faith in fresh, challenging ways. Tune authored the book God's Graffiti: Inspiring Stories for Teens  in 2013 and recently completed a companion devotional guide.
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
Associate Members and Local Pastors plan 2016 retreat 
The Fellowship of Associate Members and Local Pastors of the Eastern PA and Peninsula-Delaware conferences will retreat together April 24-26, 2016, at Black Rock Retreat Center, 1345 Kirkwood Pike, Quarryville, PA. Associate Members, Local Pastors, Student Pastors and Certified Lay Ministers are all invited to attend and may earn 2.0 CEUs.  Online Registration is open now. For more information contact Mark Beiderman at 610-585-0575.  Download the brochure, which contains a registration form.
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! 
January 12-14, 2016:  Midwinter Retreat,  DoubleTree Resort, Lancaster, PA. Online registration

February 8, 2016: Bishop's Lenten Day Apart for all clergy (elders, deacons, local pastors) Peninsula-Delaware and Eastern PA Conferences

May 10-20, 2016: UMC General Conference, Portland, OR

June 16-18, 2016: Eastern PA Annual Conference, Lancaster Marriott at Penn Square, Lancaster, PA

July 10-16, 2016: EPA Conference to host the 2016 UMC Northeastern  
Jurisdictional Conference Lancaster County Convention Center and the Penn Square Marriott Hotel. Each district will serve as the Hospitality Team for one day.
Eastern Pennsylvania Conference of The United Methodist Church
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980 Madison Avenue, Norristown, PA 19403
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