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Sabrina Daluisio photo, taken at Lima UMC's Advent Worship service.  Please be sure to visit our  Local Church Events  page to see Christmas and New Year's events happening at our local churches.
December 23, 2015
WHAT'S NEW
Bishop Peggy Johnson announces new appointments

East District
The Rev. Herbert W. Phillips Sr.  (Part-time Local Pastor) is appointed ¼-time as Associate Pastor of Christ UMC in Fairless Hills, effective November 10.

Check out new articles on our Website
'I was in prison and you visited me.' 
Cabinet emulates Matthew 25:36
The Conference Cabinet visited the Chester County Prison's Correctional Center and the nearby Chester County Youth Center in West Chester, Pa., Dec. 15, for its annual in-service mission project. Cabinet members and guests spent time conversing with female inmates while working together to create decorative, handmade pillows for donation to residents of the nearby Pocopson Home. They also toured the county Youth Center to learn all about services offered there.   Learn more...  

Celebrating Advent, Christmas in so many ways
Hundreds of churches across the Eastern PA Conference have been celebrating Advent and Christmas this month in numerous, diverse worship services, along with pageants and performances, concerts and cantatas, luncheons and live nativities. So much happening in so many places, involving so many people, that the broad sweep of these many faith-inspired festivities is reminiscent of the many events that anticipated, and indeed heralded, the birth of Christ over two centuries ago.  Learn more... 

Clergywomen retreat for soul-care
Hosting the Eastern PA Conference's Women in Professional Ministry for its annual "Advent Morning Apart" Dec. 9, Bishop Peggy Johnson closed with a devotion about Christmas and culture, and gave everyone a Polish Christmas Oplatki wafer. The gift, a sign of love and unity, was a perfect, tactile benediction to a morning of soul-tending fellowship. About 40 members shared in that fellowship, enhanced by conversation, food, prayers and expressions of support for one another. The entire occasion was a gift to "help female clergy set aside time to tend to their own souls," recalled the Rev. Jenny Sauerbrun.  Learn more...

2016: The Year of Epaphroditis
Looking back on this passing year but also forward to 2016, with its "mysteries yet to be revealed,"  Bishop Peggy Johnson asks us to follow in the footsteps of Epaphroditis, whom the Apostle Paul described as his "brother, co-worker and fellow soldier" in the ministry. This faithful friend visited and comforted Paul in prison, becoming gravely ill himself. But his steadfast service inspires our bishop, who calls on us to be risk-takers for the Gospel and even suffer for the cause of Christ, while offering people living in the margins of life "a vital, visual ministry of presence that shows God's love and care for them."   Learn more... 

Hopewell UMC honors heroes with wreaths
Hopewell UMC participated in National Wreaths Across America Day on Saturday, Dec. 12, welcoming members and visitors to lay Christmas wreaths at the graves of U.S. military veterans buried in their cemetery. The national program ensures that no veteran is forgotten during the holiday season. Live balsam remembrance wreaths were placed at veterans' headstones in over a thousand locations across the U.S. and overseas, including more than 300 at the Hopewell. The program's mission, "Remember, Honor, Teach," provides tributes to veterans, ceremonies at State Houses and a weeklong Veterans Parade between Maine and Virginia that includes stops to promote the importance of remembering our fallen heroes, honoring those who serve and teaching children about the sacrifices made by veterans and their families to preserve our freedoms. See  photos from Hopewell's ceremony and learn more about Wreaths Across America

Camp & Retreat Ministries appeals for 2015 gifts
Eastern PA Conference's Camp & Retreat Ministries (CRM) is appealing to conference members to help our four camp sites in their mission to "make disciples of Jesus Christ and transform lives through Camp & Retreat Ministries!" Through e-mailed letters this week and next, CRM Development Coordinator Sally Ott asks current and potential donors to "join us in...celebrating this ministry by helping us finish this fiscal year even stronger with your tax exempt contributions." 

This week's letter refers to "glowing reports of how lives have been touched and transformed at our summer camps and various retreats." Ott recalls her appeal  at Annual Conference in May for mass donations of $307 each to "honor the number of years all four sites combined have provided camp and retreat ministries to our conference." 
 
Next week's conference-wide letter on Dec. 28 will feature a personal testimony by Sarah Voran, a local church director of Children & Youth Ministries. She recalls the life-changing impact Gretna Glen's Summer Camp had on her as a child and why she has volunteered there for the last 10 years. "I grew in my relationship with God through the loving instruction of volunteer and staff counselors," she writes, while also extolling "the community of friends I gained."
 
Ott urges conference members to "send in your generous gift of $307 before Dec. 31 to receive tax credit for 2015." Checks can be made payable to Eastern PA Conference, or EPAUMC, with"Camp & Retreat Ministries"indicatedon the memo line.  Learn more about CRM.


LUMINA receives aid for its community ministries
LUMINA, Lancaster United Methodist Inner-City Alliance, a cooperative mission project of the Eastern PA Conference serving the Southwest District, received $7,325 (so far) in donations through Lancaster's 2015  "Extraordinary Give," a 24-hour online fundraising appeal Nov. 20. The general appeal raised over $6 million in one day for area charities, a new record that surpassed its goal.

LUMINA, which will confirm the full amount in January, marked the occasion with its annual membership celebration, hosted by Lititz UMC on Nov. 20. About 75 supporters, welcomed by Director Correen Russo, gathered to hear reports and enjoy music, fellowship, festivities and a feast of donated baked potatoes with toppings and desserts.

LUMINA provides a variety of critical services at no cost to individuals and families, including basic and emergency necessities, after-school instruction and activities, business clothing for job-seekers, mandatory school uniforms for students, and support for youth participation in Gretna Glen's Summer Camp.  The winter issue of NEWSpirit newspaper will feature an article about LUMINA's ministry and importance to its community.

St. Daniel's UMC to host
Worship Café New Year's Eve
St. Daniels UMC in Chester will pump up the volume and vitality at its Watch Night Service on New Year's Eve, Dec. 31, with an encore of its Worship Café experience. "We will worship our Savior through song, dance, poetry, and instruments," said event planners. "Come share your unique talent during our open mic, or come and be blessed by those who will share." Dinner will be served at 9 PM, and the Open Mic praise performance begins at 10 PM in the church's fellowship hall (315 Edwards St, Chester, PA). Download the flyer for more information.

REMINDERS
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.
Conference Imagine No Malaria campaign ends Dec. 31
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!
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.
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 gknoeller@epaumc.org.

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 gknoeller@epaumc.org.

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 gordonacts6@gmail.com.

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 UMC.org, 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 www.epaumc.org/news-events/newspirit-digestShare 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 communications@epaumc.org. Thanks!
SAVE THE DATES
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
(800) 828-9093 |  communications@epaumc.org  |  www.epaumc.org
980 Madison Avenue, Norristown, PA 19403
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