new pastoral appointments and assignments:
- Rev. Maridel Whitmore (Full Elder) from Phila.: St. George's to Havertown: Hope.
Southwest (West) District
- Rev. Blaine Wenger (full elder) from Lampeter to Manheim: Ruhl's, full-time.
- Rev. Sean Dougherty (Part Time Local Pastor) from Schaefferstown: Zion (1/4 time) to Lebanon: Bethany (3/4 time)
EPA Conference offices will be closed on Monday, Feb. 20, for President's Day.
- We just learned that the Music in the Black Church Experience choir fest happened on Sunday, Feb. 12, at Tindley Temple UMC, and seven Philadelphia-area choirs performed in a well-attended event. The Feb. 19 date on the flyer was an error and the result of a miscommunication.
- Pocono Plateau's UM Confirmation Retreat will happen from Feb. 24 (7 PM) to Feb. 26 (1 PM), not Feb. 24 to March 11, as reported. Their theme is "Discover: Light for the Journey."
EPA Annual Conference 2017 to 'Rise Up' in prayer
Rise Up and Pray! is the elevating main theme of the 2017 Eastern PA Annual Conference, which will return to the spacious
Expo Center in Oaks, Pa., from Thursday to Saturday
, June 15-17.
Preachers, prayers, musicians, liturgists and others will center the gathering in the practice and power of prayer, no doubt invoking the God of eternal grace to "Grant us wisdom, grant us courage, for the facing of this hour." That focus will also receive special attention when special guest the
Rev. Tom Albin, Dean of the Upper Room Chapel in Nashville, offers a Friday teaching session on prayer.
Three bishops will preach during this annual conference session including two familiar voices and a new voice on the NEJ College of Bishops. Resident
Peggy Johnson will preach for the Opening Worship and Eucharist Service on Thursday afternoon. New
Bishop LaTrelle Easterling, who leads the neighboring Baltimore-Washington Conference, will preach for the Ordination Service ("Rise Up and Lead!") on Friday night.
Bishop Peter Weaver
, a retired former leader of our own conference and the Philadelphia Episcopal Area, will preach during the Memorial Service ("Rise Up in Glory!") on Saturday morning.
A fourth sub-theme, "Rise Up for Generations" will herald the annual celebration of ministry that recognizes new clergy retirees and new elders and deacons preparing to follow in their footsteps.
The other usual agenda highlights-clergy and laity sessions, ministry reports, the budget, nominations, resolutions, holy conferencing, other guests and special offerings-will all occur during the two-plus days of annual conference. And all of it will be surrounded by prayer.
Annual Conference registration will be open from March 19 to May 19; and resolutions and reports are all due by April 21. We will report more details and present the new conference theme logo on the conference website and in NEWSpirit Digest next week. Stay tuned.
Gretna Glen to host multicultural youth retreat
"Actively Discovering Human Diversity." With that intriguing title, Gretna Glen Camp & Retreat Center in Lebanon will host two dozen teenagers of different racial-ethnic groups, all in grades 8 to 12, for a weekend retreat March 3-5.
Just as the title says, youth who attend will enjoy "actively discovering" new knowledge about the diversity of the human family. And some will likely form new friendships, as they engage in creative, interactive simulation exercises and debriefings, along with games and recreation, planning and leading worship, "hanging out," eating together and singing while sharing S'mores around a campfire. Of course, they also will listen and learn valuable wisdom about their world and their faith from caring adult retreat leaders. Learn more...
Bishop Johnson: Celebrate today's 'Hidden Figures'
VALLEY FORGE, Pa. (UMNS) - After seeing the film "Hidden Figures," Philadelphia Area Bishop Peggy Johnson notes that "people who are hidden figures continue to abound in this world of ours." In a blog, she calls on United Methodists to recognize the individuals who promote good in the world no matter their race, gender or walk of life. Read blog
UM News Service yesterday shared with the denomination in its Daily News Digest a link to Bishop Peggy Johnson's latest blog essay about "Hidden Figures." (Actually, they often share her many thoughtful, eloquent Bishop's Blog writings with the entire UMC through their News Digest and the
website.). You can find it either on
her blog page
Sometimes people become "hidden" because of their gender, class, ability, orientation or religion. Whatever the reason, the effect is the same: devaluation, invisibility and a huge loss for all of us. That is because when one of us shines, we all shine. But when any of us and our abilities are cast into shadows or marginalized, we all suffer more than we can know.
If you haven't read this full essay yet, we recommend you do. Recalling the bias and discrimination faced by three African American women who worked for NASA during the beginning of the U.S. space program, her timely reflection challenges us to "do a better job of bringing our gifted leaders out of hiding, while empowering everyone to achieve for the good of all." She also lifts up as "important for everyone" our celebration of black history in February and throughout the year.
Listen to historic voices of change for Black History Month
You can listen in on historic discussions about American Civil Rights and Black History through recovered audio recordings from
. The programs are provided by Audio-Rescue.com and the United Methodist General Commission on Archives and History. Some feature interviews on "Night Call," the 1965-1969 nightly radio show created and co-produced by the then-Methodist Church.
UM legislative advocate reports on 2017 state issues
More state budget cuts that will hurt the poor, climate change and hydraulic fracking that undeniably hurt the environment, expansion of gambling, sanctuary versus detention for undocumented immigrants, nonpartisan fairness versus gerrymandering in state redistricting...the list of crucial issues for the new, 2017-2018 Pennsylvania legislative assembly is long. And the need for keen legislative monitoring and advocacy on behalf of United Methodists perhaps has never been greater.
The Rev. Dai Morgan
, of the Pittsburgh area, has been reappointed and funded to continue leading that work in 2017 as
Coordinator of UM Advocacy in Pennsylvania
. He represents the three UM conferences, Eastern and Western PA and Susquehanna, and reports monthly to their three bishops. "Perhaps the greatest amount of my time is occupied monitoring actions and activity of the state government," said Morgan. "I ... communicate with legislators and other officials...(and) make connections with special interest organizations."
Pastor, ex-atheist finds true happiness serving God
Want to see and hear a truly inspiring testimony? Check out a brief video story about the Rev. Joe Martin, pastor of Fallsington UMC. A METV reporter visited friendly the church on Sunday, Feb. 5, to feature their "Pastor Joe." The former New Jersey television engineer for 40 years, a former atheist who saw most Christians as hypocrites, shares his story about first fleeing but then finding God in his late 50s and soon becoming a pastor-something he describes as "pretty amazing."
He and his wife Penny both candidly testify to the dramatic turnaround in his life and character, which Joe attributes to God grace. "Just give God a chance," he says. "With all the stuff I had before God, I thought I was the happiest guy in the world, until I found God. And now, serving God, I'm happier now than I've ever been in my entire life."
By the way, we received this story and video link from the friendly folks at Fallsington UMC, which is how we're able to share it with you. If your church or pastor or members are featured in a newspaper, TV program or online media, please let us know, and send us the website link so we can share your good news with the conference (and maybe with the entire UMC connection) through our Methodists Make News page.
UM Night and 'Grace Night' at the 76ers game March 17
United Methodists will celebrate their annual
UM Night with the 76ers on Friday, March 17, at 7 PM, at Philly's
Wells Fargo Center (3601 South Broad St.). The Eastern PA Conference
United Methodist Men invite you to come watch the winning Sixers battle the Dallas Mavericks. We have 100 guaranteed tickets available at special prices to all UM churches through their men's ministry groups (and not just chartered UM Men's units). A portion of ticket sale proceeds will be donated to support Conference UM Men's ministries. Additional tickets are available, but
our guarantee expires Feb. 24. Each church's men's group leader should contact the 76ers to buy group tickets right by Feb. 24. Individual tickets sales are not included in this offer.
Ticket option #1 is in the
Mezzanine Center section for $46.00
per seat. Ticket option #2 is in the
Mezzanine Corners section for $34.00
per seat. And, for a bonus, get a
free 76ers bag
with each ticket purchased! Purchase your church group's tickets by calling Zach Mekler, 76ers Sales Associate, at 267-479-1112. Or e-mail him with your ticket requests (or any questions) at
another Special Bonus
, you can attend a free,
full-length gospel music concert
after the game
. The 76ers will celebrate "
Night of Grace
" on Friday, March 17, to inspire community spirit and solidarity. After the game, every church member or guest with a ticket gets to see and hear soul-stirring gospel vocalist
District continues Racial Justice Dialogues,
The Southwest District's Racial Justice Dialogue series will resume on Monday, Feb. 20, at 6 PM, with a light supper and in-depth discussion, at Faith UMC Manheim Township, 1290 Fruitville Pike, Lititz. The Rev. Derrick Gutierrez will lead conversation about goals and practical steps people and churches can take to overcome bias and racism. Visit the SW District Racial Justice Dialogue
to learn more. Contact the
Rev. Jason Perkowski
(717-333-9238), host pastor and co-leader, if you wish to attend.
Lifetree Cafés to explore police actions from both sides, Feb. 27
A safe place to dine and discuss topics of life and faith
quartet of Lifetree Cafés
that meet in the Lancaster area compose an ecumenical "outreach ministry where people can discuss how faith and life intersect. Please join us!" writes the Rev. Jason Perkowski. He is the pastor of Faith Manheim and Oregon UMCs and a co-leader of the Lifetree Café that meets at the General Sutter Inn in Lititz on Monday nights, at 7 PM, for about an hour. Visit their
for more info and video clips about the fascinating, topical discussions enjoyed by guests who come to fellowship, to share a meal, maybe a beverage and some food for thought. Especially invited are persons not involved in a church but who still want to explore in comfortable, non-judgmental conversation ideas of life and faith and other interesting, timely topics.
The Feb. 27 topic should spark plenty of interest and conversation. "Police Brutality or Necessary Force: Stories from Both Sides," will be discussed that Monday at 7 PM and at other Lifetree Cafés that week. "This is obviously a difficult topic with which our nation is wrestling," writes Perkowski, who will lead the discussion. "So, we invite individuals to come and be a part of the conversation in a safe and open format--all thoughts are valued and welcomed."
Local law enforcement officers have been invited to be a part of the discussion. There will be video clips and opportunities for small group discussions around the dinner table. Attendees can purchase dinner and drinks during the discussion--and all are invited to continue the conversation after the formal program concludes at 8 PM.
UMVIM Team Leader Training April 1
If you want to learn how to lead or host Volunteers in Mission (VIM) teams, then be sure to attend the
UMVIM Team Leader Training
Saturday, April 1
, from 9 AM to 3:30 PM at Ardmore UMC (200 Argyle Road, Ardmore), These teams bring needed repairs and recovery to damaged homes and disaster-stricken areas, as well as compassion for victims, while bearing the love of Christ in their hands and hearts. The
$35 cost includes training materials and lunch.
Learn more and register online
by March 27.
The Rev. Tom Lank, an ordained deacon in the Greater New Jersey Conference, is VIM Coordinator for the Northeastern Jurisdiction. He has organized international mission journeys in Africa, the Caribbean, Central America and South America, and domestic mission journeys in nine U.S. states. Team Leader Training is recommended for all first- time VIM team leaders, but all interested persons are welcome to attend. For more information contact the
Rev. Greg Ellis
, Conference Coordinator of Disaster Ministry & UMVIM, at email@example.com or 484 350 5965.
Changing Church for a Changing World event, April 1
about the April 1 Fresh
raining event that could change your church. "
Changing Church for a Changing World: Fresh Expression Vision Day" will happen on Saturday, April 1, at Mount Carmel UMC, 2203 Harmonyville Road, Elverson PA. J.R. Briggs and Kristin Beckert, both skilled church planters and trainers, will bring their creative, strategic ideas as gifted facilitators. The Eastern PA Conference is a co-sponsor; so members can attend for a discounted $20 each.
is a movement that is cultivating new forms of church alongside existing congregations in order reach a changing world. Visit
and scroll down to "Pottstown Vision Day."
Reclaiming the Common Good
"What makes you hopeful?" Two dozen Eastern PA United Methodists gathered for dinner and dialogue Feb. 4 to wrestle with that timely question two weeks after the Jan. 20 inauguration of President Donald Trump. They were participating in a momentary movement that has called upon people of conscience and concern to connect with one another in a spirit of Shalom and "
Reclaim the Common Good
The group of friends came together to "share food and have a conversation about their hopes and fears for their future in a deeply divided country," writes Verna Colliver, a member and church librarian of Lansdale UMC, who attended the small gathering. "I think this kind of thing is the way we begin to overcome racism in this world," said Bishop Peggy Johnson, "by relationships and talking."
Denman Evangelism Award nominations sought
When you experience God's love, you want to share it with everyone!
The United Methodist
Foundation for Evangelism
helps annual conferences annually honor extraordinary clergy, youth and adult laypersons with the
Harry Denman Evangelism Award
for sharing with everyone God's message of love through Jesus Christ. As Christians, we work in a variety of ministries and contexts with a common goal to build up of God's Kingdom.
This year, until May 5, the Eastern PA Conference's
Congregational Development Team (CDT)
is pleased to accept your nominations of persons to receive the 2017 Harry Denman Evangelism Award. That noteworthy award signifies a remarkable commitment to introducing others to the living gospel in ways and places where "new believers can encounter Christ."
All completed nominations with comments should be submitted to the CDT by May 5.
Please send e-mail nominations to
addressed to the EPAUMC/Congregational Development Team, c/o of Suzette James/. Attn: Denman Award Nomination. Or mail them to the Eastern PA Conference Office, ATTN: Dr C. Kurien (identified as "2017 Denman Nominee"), P.O. Box 820, Valley Forge, PA 19482-0820.
Applications can be downloaded by visiting:
NEWSpirit Winter 2017 issue is online and in the mail.
Read the new issue of NEWSpirit newspaper
on our website
. It's full of dramatic news, commentary and colorful photos on diverse topics-from revealing district dialogues about race and racism; to the exciting, mind-and heart-opening Pen-Del Youth Rally; to more stories of churches supporting missions in Africa. Bishop Johnson inspires us to "Celebrate Women in Ministry," the Rev. Chris Kurien teaches us about "Transformation through Prayer" and Congregational Development Coordinator Gordon Hendrickson urges us to "Network! Network! Network!" to generate new vision and vitality in our outreach ministries. Read NEWSpirit online at your leisure; but to enjoy the full, vivid effect of our newspaper get it in hardcopy. If you don't have a subscription,
just send us
$12 and we'll send you four issues this year, each packed with news and views you don't want to miss.
New online church website, marketing courses offered
United Methodist Communications
is offering leaders new online training courses to help their churches really shine.
Your Church Website
($39.99) introduces tools to plan, build and launch a successful online strategy, meaning a website and more, that helps people connect with local churches in a new, more immediate way.
Effective Church Marketing
($29.99)course leads participants through a process of examining, dreaming, planning and promoting ministries that make an impact. When they finish, church teams will have a complete marketing plan ready to put into action. Both new courses will be offered year-round. And both are open-enrollment, meaning students can register for them at any time.
UMCom also offers three more courses that can help leaders boost church vitality, improve communication and enhance evangelism:
- Welcoming Ministry is all about hospitality and how churches can best fit into the landscape of their community in order to serve it better. ($29.99)
The first session of these courses begins Feb. 22 and ends April 22. Register until Feb. 19. But there will other sessions throughout the year. Course fees vary.
Seeking persons to serve in conference leadership
Do you feel called to serve in ministry beyond your church? Or can you recommend someone who has a desire for servant leadership that can affect many persons, churches and communities? The
Committee on Nominations
will receive nominations until March 1 for gifted, dedicated persons to serve on Conference boards, committees and other leadership bodies. All persons who want to serve must complete and submit the online Leadership Service and Interest Form by March 1. You can nominate yourself to put your unique spiritual gifts into action for others. Or you can invite, recommend and encourage the nomination of others. The committee is committed to diversity among members who serve, welcoming young people, people of color and people with handicapping conditions especially.
See a list of service opportunities, and use
on the Conference website. (The new due date is March 1, 2017.) Or you may call (215-844-9564) or write to the
Nominations Committee chairperson
to recommend someone else. All potential nominees will be contacted by the committee prior to any commitment to serve.
Dewees Grant spring applications due March 1
Grants of up to $5,000 are available twice a year from the Conference Board of Trustees to fund start-up mission projects, new ministry initiatives, camp or retreat scholarships, racial-ethnic ministries, etc., but not for building expenses or salaries). Deadline for Spring grants is March 1. See the grant
Dewees Grant Requirements
Dewees Application Form
to learn more.
Youth invited to confirmation camp at 2 sites
Gretna Glen and Pocono Plateau Camp & Retreat Centers both invite churches to have confirmation classes in their neck of the woods, learning all about faith in the midst of God's creation.
Gretna Glen's three Confirmation Camp weekends-
March 31-April 2, April 7-9 and October 13-15-will
focus on the five vows of affirmation: prayer, witness, gifts, service, and presence, say planners. "Each vow comes alive as confirmands participate in hands on activities, discussions, and reflections that help draw connections from the act of confirmation as the start of a full-time life of faith." Cost is $90. Register using their
Pocono Plateau will have its UM Confirmation Retreat Feb. 24 to Feb. 26 (Friday at 7 PM to Sunday at 1 PM. Their theme: "Discover: Light for the Journey." Be sure to read Bishop Peggy Johnson's article about summer camp, "
Our camps-changing seasons and young lives
Vital Church Mergers and More
Churches that feel the Holy Spirit moving them to take a serious, open-minded look at their mission and future in ministry, in addition to churches identified by their district superintendent, are urged to send teams to attend "Vital Church Mergers and More" March 25, from 8:30 AM to 12 PM, at
Christ UMC Lansdale
(1020 S. Valley Forge Road). Cost: $10 per church (payable to Eastern Pa. Conference of the UMC). Pay onsite. Each church attending should first read Dirk Elliot's book Vital Church Mergers. District Superintendents have copies available. The
Congregational Development Office
has 30 copies. Please pray daily for vision from the Holy Spirit to help you see where God is leading your church. Contact the Rev. Gordon Hendrickson at 267-258-9507 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sign up your church for
the Abundant Health
10,000 Church Challenge
The Conference Health & Healing Council urges all churches to join the 10,000 Church Challenge, initiated by the UMC's Global Ministries as part of its new Abundant Health initiative.
Bishop Peggy Johnson is promoting this effort in both of her Philadelphia Area conferences, Eastern PA and Peninsula-Delaware.
Your church is invited to help increase opportunities for healthy lifestyle choices by promoting: Physical Activity; Healthy Diet and Nutrition; Tobacco-free and Drug-free Living; and Mental Health Education and Promotion.
One of our four denominational goals is to improve Global Health. After raising over $68 million to fight malaria in the "Imagine No Malaria" campaign, it is time to broaden the focus of "Abundant Health." Global Ministries' goal is to sign up 10,000 churches across the connection, asking each to choose a health focus for its congregation and community. Every church that signs up will receive ideas about education, treatment and prevention; and when it implements ideas and activities it will be designated a Health Promoting Church
Get more information
Deaconess Sharon Hachtman,RN, FCN, is Health & Healing Council, Co-Chair and campaign contact. Visit the council webpage to learn more.
Free Lenten Study Resource from Hopewell UMC
A New Lenten Study Curriculum is being produced by Hopewell UMC for use in 2017 free of charge by any and all UM churches.
Contend for the Faith: Lessons from Jude.
Within the brief but rich Epistle of Jude, we find marvelous encouragement for a 21st-century church in America, which is itself in need of defense, purification, and hope. This seven-week study designed for group participation will feature Elders from the Eastern PA Conference who have written the curriculum and are featured in the DVD presentations. For more information contact: Deb Boyd, Director of Lay Ministries, Hopewell UMC at email@example.com or check out Hopewell UMC's website.
NEJ VIM/UMCOR Training Academy, March 26-29
UMCOR (UM Committee on Relief) and the Northeastern Jurisdiction Volunteers in Mission will provide training
for persons wanting to lead the church in disaster response and in its wider mission in God's world. Our own Pocono Plateau Camp & Retreat Center will host the classes, ranging from beginner to advanced, including: UMCOR's Foundations; Early Response Team Advanced (201-level) Training; using the Connecting Neighbors curriculum; Spiritual and Emotional Caregiving; and more. There will also be workshops on Global Health, Communication Technology, Race and Privilege, Asset-Based Community Development, Caring for Creation, and other mission topics. No prior qualifications are necessary. CEUs are available. Register now. Early-bird rates apply until
. For more information contact the Rev. Tom Lank, UMVIM-NEJ Coordinator, at 919-428-0461,
, or visit
Eastern PA is the host conference. So we will be looking for hospitality volunteers to assist with welcoming participants to Pocono Plateau and to help with shuttle service to/from the Avoca airport and the Allentown airport. Contact: Rev Greg Ellis
Order your 2016 Conference Journal before they're gone!
A limited number of printed 2016 Eastern PA Conference Journals are available.
Order yours today for only $30 each.
order and pay online
or send a check, by USPS, to: EPA UMC, Attention Gloria Knoeller, PO Box 820, Valley Forge, PA 19482-0820.
What's in the Journal?
A lot! Contact information for Conference staff, clergy, Camp and Retreat Centers, Districts, and United Methodist Boards and Agencies. Also, clergy appointments, pastoral salaries and service records. Plus, all about the 2016 Annual Conference; Conference statistics for 2015; historical highlights; and conference policies and procedures for clergy, staff, and others. Questions? Please contact Gloria Knoeller at
Premarital/Marital Counseling Training
Rev. Lloyd Speer will conduct several training workshops in 2017. The next will be
at Christ UMC Fairless Hills. To register, go to
to fill out and mail a printable registration form. The cost is $220, and includes certification, lunch and materials. For more information, contact Lloyd Speer at 215-943-2343, or
Changing Racism Workshop 2017 dates
This year's dates
Changing Racism Workshops, led by
March 31-April 2
The March location will again be the Daylesford Abbey, 220 South Valley Road, Paoli, PA. Visit our
Changing Racism Workshops webpage
to learn more and to register.
Palmer Seminary to host fall alumni reunion
Palmer Seminary at Eastern University will host a UM alumni reunion on Friday, Oct. 20, with a morning program followed by a luncheon. Bishop Peggy Johnson will keynote the gathering, and Bishop Violet Fisher has been invited also. Plans are still developing. For more information contact the Rev. Bron Yocum at
or the Rev. Andrew Foster at
Faith-Sharing Training Event
Our 2017 annual Faith-Sharing Training Event will happen
March 18, from 8:30 AM to 2 PM, at New Hanover UMC. Our guest presenter is the
Rev. Terry Teykel, a leading "prayer evangelist" and popular speaker and author. He travels the world encouraging churches to develop and strengthen prayer ministries as a means of revival and transformation.
Teykel, the founder of
Prayer Point Press
, has authored several books, including The Presence-Based Church, My Most Wanted: 40 Days to Pray for the Lost, and Pray the Price: United Methodists United in Prayer. He has spent his life teaching churches how to develop a heartfelt, meaningful relationship with the Lord. His warm, humorous style makes him a much-sought after speaker and seminar leader.
"We believe that when prayer and evangelism are reunited the Church will emerge as a powerful force for reclaiming the land and setting the captives free." -Terry Teykl.
about this passionate, powerful speaker and man of God.
Wake up, God's People!...
All-day Eastern PA Youth Rally, April 22, 2017
Plan to attend the 3rd Annual Eastern PA Conference Youth Rally on Saturday, April 22, 2017. For the first time, this youth rally will last all day, from 9 AM to 4 PM. We're planning fantastic features, with dynamic speakers, soul-stirring music, fun games, powerful prayers, laugh-out-loud humor, great food and hospitality, and enough friendship and fellowship moments to give you a lifetime of memories. Don't dare miss it!
See and share the flyer,
and look for more details, coming soon.
More events coming in Spring:
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.
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-digest. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks!
Eastern Pennsylvania Conference of The United Methodist Church
980 Madison Avenue, Norristown, PA 19403