February 15, 2019
Bishop Peggy A. Johnson announces the following 2019 appointments and assignments– effective July 1, 2019,  unless otherwise noted:
West District Appointment:
  • Rev. David Harris (elder in-full) to extension ministry at Cornwall Manor as lead chaplain.

South District Appointments:
  • Rev. Nelson Alleman (Elder) to Thornton: Bethlehem UMC
  • Rev. Jean Howe from West Lawn UMC 1/4 time and Reading: Grace UMC 1/4 time to Reading: Grace UMC 1/4 time and Geigertown: St. Paul's 1/2 time.

North District Re-retirement:
  • Rev. Nancy Gehres from Llewellyn UMC, effective February 28, 2019.

North District Appointment:
  • Karen Paquette (Lay Supply Pastor) serving Llewelyn UMC, 1/4-time, effective March 1, 2019.

Seminary receives OK to continue educating UM clergy

"The University Senate of the United Methodist Church has decided to continue to list us as a non-Methodist seminary approved for the training of Methodist candidates for ordination!” announced Dr. David Bronkema, Dean of Palmer Theological Seminary of Eastern University in St. Davids, Pa. Bronkema received and shared that welcome news this week. He expressed delight that the University Senate would help Palmer gain long-awaited approval of its memorandum of understanding with “a Methodist seminary. Learn more…

NOTE: Palmer Seminary will provide livestreamed viewing of the special Called Session of General Conference on Monday and Tuesday, Feb. 25 & 26 , for anyone interested in watching the sessions in community with other Methodists. The live-streaming will occur 8:30 to 1:30 and 12:30 to 6:30 each day. The Rev. Dr. Bronwyn Yocum will be present to assist with discussion. For more information, email Dr. Yocum at Bronwyn.yocum@eastern.edu . Members of local congregations are welcome.
Church offers Conference Office a lasting light of peace

The Rev. Donald Keller, pastor of Scottsville UMC, brought a lasting gift of light to the Eastern PA Conference Office Feb. 6; and it shines still, more than a week later, adorning the building’s lobby reception area.

Keller presented to Bishop Peggy Johnson the Bethlehem Peace Light, a long-burning candle that honors a long history as well. The flame comes from the famous grotto in Bethlehem, Palestine, where it is believed Jesus Christ was born. Visitors to the Conference Office are invited to read the story displayed with the candles and to offer a prayer in the spirit of Christ’s appeal for love and unity among his followers. Learn more…
Bishops agree to covenant for GC2019

United Methodist bishops are preparing to preside over the special General Conference set for Feb. 23-26 in St. Louis, Mo. In a letter released Feb. 12, Council of Bishops President Bishop Kenneth H. Carter Jr. noted that the bishops will be bound by a covenant of presiding. The letter was written in collaboration with the Commission on the General Conference.  Read press release.  Read letter.  Read covenant .
Bishops, churches “Praying our Way Forward”
With the United Methodist Church’s Special Session of General Conference just about a week away, Feb. 23-26, its leaders and many members are calling for intensive prayer. At least one Eastern PA Conference church—and perhaps others as well—is inviting whosoever will to come join them as they livestream the first day’s session, which will be devoted totally to prayer.
The Northeastern Jurisdiction College of Bishops invites “each congregation and every member to join us in even deeper and more fervent prayer. ... We seek your prayers as the delegates receive and act upon the report from The Commission on a Way Forward and corresponding petitions,” the bishops, including Philadelphia Area Bishop Peggy Johnson. “Please lift this session of holy conferencing in prayer in each of your churches … throughout the week.”

Grove UMC ( 490 Boot Rd, West Chester, PA) will welcome anyone who wants to pray in a gathering to come join members there as they view the livestreamed session and witness the many, international offerings of prayer.  
The International Year of Indigenous Languages

By Bishop Peggy Johnson

The United Nations has declared that 2019 is the “International Year of Indigenous Languages.” Studies have shown the following statistics: There are 7,000 languages spoken worldwide (among 5,000 indigenous cultures), 370 million indigenous people in the world, 90 countries with indigenous communities, and a whopping 2,680 languages that are in danger of extinction.

Why is this important? According to the U.N.,“Languages play a crucial role in the daily lives of people, not only as a tool for communication, education, social integration and development, but also as a repository for each person’s unique identity, cultural history, traditions and memory. But despite their immense value, languages around the world continue to disappear at an alarming rate.”

Furthermore, the UN suggests that “awareness and respect for indigenous languages builds sustainable development, peace, reconciliation, and it is a fundamental human right.” Christians surely need to take notice if we profess that we are called to “do justice, love kindness and walk humbly before God.” (Micah 6:8)  Learn more…  
Eastern PA’s Call to Action efforts moving from talk to action

In its 2018 Call to Action report to the Northeastern Jurisdiction Vision Table and Episcopacy Committee, the Eastern PA Conference reports recent strides and next steps that suggest real movement against racial ignorance and inequity that have too long seemed rooted in place.

Indeed, the conference’s renamed Racial Justice Transformation Process may make 2018 a turning point for the racial progress that the Call to Action (CTA) initiative seeks. But that will only happen if the candid dialogues and revealing analyses that have emerged can lead to deep learning and real change.

“The CTA is a long process of storytelling, relationship-mending and barrier-dismantling that must continue on and on,” said Bishop Peggy Johnson. “The Call to Action is a call to a lifetime of learning, growing and healing.’ Learn more...
Black History Month Reflection: Tale of Two Postal Workers

Many may have heard of the Negro Motorist Green Book  mentioned in the popular movie Green Book, which recounts the friendship formed between the supremely gifted black pianist and composer Don Shirley and his Italian-American driver and bodyguard Tony Vallelonga during their 1962 months-long tour through the Deep South for Dr. Shirley’s performances. African Americans during the time of Jim Crow laws had to depend on this guidebook to locate restaurants, hotels, stores, gas stations and other services willing to serve them during their travels on the road.

Bishop Peggy Johnson reflects in her latest essay on her own ignorance of such harsh racial realities while growing up and of differences between the worlds of black and white U.S. citizens during that period. She compares two U.S. postal workers and their families with very different lives: the Green Book’s publisher Victor Hugo Green and her own father. 

“In truth, there is much less racial segregation and discrimination in this country; but we still have a long way to go to eradicate this heinous sin,” the bishop writes in her Bishop’s Blog. “It starts with white people like me learning everything we can about our history and how an unjust legal system can create and perpetuate racism and classism.” She advises more white people to “seek more meaningful and honest, personal relationships with people of color.” Learn more…

NOTE: Check out our Black History Month events webpage for exciting events to attend. Join us in celebrating African American history, culture, spirituality and contributions to our church and society during this special month. Send us your events! (You may also email us at communications@epaumc.org .) Here are some upcoming events:

Cross-racial/Cross-cultural Ministry Information Session

February 23, 2019, 10 AM to 12 PM, at Cedarville UMC , 1092 Laurelwood Rd, Pottstown, PA

This Cross-racial/Cross-cultural Ministry Information Session will introduce participants to ministry in churches where persons of one race, ethnicity or culture interact with a majority membership of another race, ethnicity or culture. Typically, those persons are pastors or deacons appointed to serve a congregation of a different race, ethnicity or culture. Such “crossover” experiences can produce challenging but potentially enlightening and rewarding ministry encounters for both pastors and laity.

This session will offer information, insights and testimonies of persons who are or have engaged in cross-racial and/or cross-cultural ministry. It is part of a conference-wide effort to cultivate opportunities and growth experiences in this bridge-building form of ministry, as we fulfill the church’s mission to “Make Disciples of Jesus Christ for the Transformation of the World.”

Leaders of congregations that may have never considered a cross-racial/cross-cultural appointment may learn something to pique their interest and consideration. So, all churches are encouraged to send representatives. Registration is free but mandatory.

NOTE: Future Cross-Racial/Cross-Cultural Ministry (CRCC) dialogue and training events are being planned for clergy and laity, as the conference works strategically to grow such ministries and make them more successful. The Bishop’s Cabinet and the Commission on Religion and Race are leading this effort, aided by the Rev. Grace Pak of the UMC’s General Commission on Religion and Race.

Dr. Pak will facilitate a consultation on Saturday, March 30 , with Lay Members to Annual Conference from the 51 churches that have pastors and deacons in CRCC appointments. The event will be at St. Matthews UMC in Valley Forge, from 9 AM to 12 PM. Its purpose is to engage congregation members in dialogue about the joys and challenges of CRCC Ministry and hear their thoughts on needed conference support before and after such a clergy appointment is made. More information will follow.
AC2019 resolutions and GC2020 delegate nominations due in March

March deadlines are coming fast to submit to the 2019 Annual Conference nominations (March 1) for delegates to General Conference 2020 and legislative resolutions (March 15) . The 2019 Session of Annual Conference will be June 13-15. District Conferences will be held May 5.

March 1 is the deadline to nominate clergy and lay members for the Annual Conference to consider electing as its delegates to the UMC’s 2020 General Conference (May 5-15,). And March 15 is the deadline to submit legislative resolutions to be debated and voted on at Annual Conference. All resolutions and nominations must be submitted to the Rev. Lloyd Speer, Conference Secretary ( conferencesecretary@epaumc.org ). Learn more…
March 2: Tools For Ministry, All Districts

Also, the Philadelphia Area Korean UM Caucus will hold its first-ever Tools for Ministry academy taught in the Korean language on Sunday, March 3, from 3 to 7 PM. The event, for Eastern PA and Peninsula-Delaware conference Korean members, will be at Delaware Korean UMC, 717 Loveville Rd, Hockessin, Del.
Bishop to report on special General Conference in March

Bishop Peggy Johnson will provide an initial post-General Conference 2019 report on legislation adopted and outcomes of the Way Forward proposals on Saturday, March 16 from 10 AM to noon at West Lawn UMC , 15 Woodside Ave, Reading, PA.

In the interest of immediacy, this report, offered “for whoever wants to come,” will precede the bishop’s later town hall meetings scheduled for March 25-28. The town hall meetings on the four districts are scheduled for:

  • East District: Monday, March 25, 6:30 pm, at Doylestown UMC
  • North District: Tuesday, March 26, 5 pm, at Tamaqua: First UMC.
  • South District: Wednesday, March 27, 6:30 pm, Location TBA
  • West District: Thursday, March 28, 6:30 pm, Location TBA

The deadline for completing and submitting your church’s Statistical Report is March 15, 2019 . Please call your District Office if you have questions. Both your District Resource Assistant (DRA) and I stand ready to assist you and your church in making this annual process as smooth and as accurate as possible.

Lawrence A. Lee, Comptroller, Conference STAT Report Coordinator
(484) 762-8209 or (610) 666-9090 Ext. 1007 llee@epaumc.org
Great Things He Has Done: Lenten study available Feb. 26

“Great Things He Has Done” is the theme of a new Bible Study for Lent 2019 created by North District Superintendent Rev. Steve Morton. It will be released for electronic access and use by Feb. 26. Look for it on or after that date on the North District Website.  

The study will be available to the entire conference and others as a gift from Morton and the North District. Churches that want a DVD and hard-copy version should contact the North District to request one. “We will be happy to get one (or two) in the mail to you!” said Morton.
Contact them at north.epaumc@gmail.com .   

“This study features seven elders of our Great North District,” announced Morton, “and it will be a gift to each church that desires good, solid biblical teaching during Lent.” As usual, this Lenten Bible studies is available to any church for free .

“Great Things He Has Done” tells the story of Elisha, in II Kings 8:4b, who reportedly "...performed a greater number of miracles than any other prophet except Moses." (Thompson Chain Reference Bible , p. 238) “Healings, meal provision, peace-making, restoring life to the dead: the incredible cycle of wonder stories in the early chapters of II Kings invite astonishment, faith, hope, obedience, worship, and service,” reads the introduction, “and in a curious way, they foreshadow the remarkable ministry of Jesus of Nazareth....and the Church which follows Him.

“In this new Season of Lent 2019, journey with Elisha through northern Palestine in his conflicted, compromised world... and discuss how followers of Jesus Christ can restore hope and wonder today.” 

Each Session features Bishop Peggy Johnson reading Scripture, plus an overview of the the passage by Morton, insights shared by an elder in the North District and thought-provoking discussion questions (designed to lead to Biblical insight and real life application). Sessions end with a hymn to inspire reflection. View the Rev. Jennifer Freymoyer’s video introduction to this study to learn more.
Clergy financial wellness, retirement seminar March 26

The Conference Board of Board of Pension and Health Benefits will offer a free Clergy Financial Wellness and 2019 Retirement Seminar on Tuesday, March 26, from 8:30 AM to 4:30 PM at Gretna Glen Camp & Retreat Center, 87 Old Mine Road, Lebanon. Lunch will be provided!

“Now is the time to begin planning for your financial future!” the Board says. “We recognize the unique challenges of clergy, and are excited to offer a new workshop, specifically tailored to your needs! We will offer two tracks at this event - one for clergy financial planning and one for this year's class of retirees.” Learn more and register...
Visit our Local Church Events page...
to see what some of our churches are planning for this weekend, for Black History Month and for Lent. Please send us your event news also!
Bishop's Lenten Day Apart for Clergy, March 4

Bishop Johnson would like to invite all clergy to attend the Bishop's Lenten Day Apart for Clergy on Monday, March 4, 2019 at Aldersgate UMC in Wilmington, DE. The keynote speaker will be Bishop Hector Ortiz from the Methodist Church of Puerto Rico. Any clergy interested in having lunch with Bishop Ortiz must register and prepay on the provided link in the flyer. If you have questions and/or need further information, please contact Amy Botti,  abotti@epaumc.org  or 610-666-1442.

All clergy are encouraged to bring a love offering from their churches for the Puerto Rico relief effort. The Mid-Atlantic UM Foundation will be matching all contributions up to $10,000 total across both the Peninsula-Delaware and Eastern PA Conferences.

United Methodist Night with the 76ers!

The Philadelphia 76ers will offer another spectacular night of pro basketball fun and fellowship for United Methodist church members and their guests on Tuesday, March 5, at 7 PM , when the 76ers play the Orlando Magic at the Wells Fargo Center Arena.

Church groups who attend can be seated together if they purchase tickets in bulk and in time. Contact our 76ers rep Angelina Gasparo by email at angelinagasparo@76ers.com or by phone at 215-558-2780 now to purchase your group tickets, for as long as tickets are available.

We have these following seats available:
  • Mezzanine corner for $34
  • Balcony suites for $45

$5 from each ticket sale will be donated to support ministries of the Eastern PA Conference UM Men (including its annual potatoes giveaway at Annual Conference). They appreciate all the support for this important mission fundraiser.

As part of this United Methodist Night with the 76ers , we can get early access to the arena to come watch pre-game warmups. Also, everyone will receive a 76ers drawstring bag. And look for the special welcome to our gathering on the Jumbotron.

So order your tickets today, don't delay. Join fellow United Methodists, their families and friends at the big game to cheer on our team together. 

Sponsored by the Eastern PA Conference United Methodist Men. Clifton Hubbard, President. Download and share the flyer!
UMW's “Girls on the Go” gathers March 9-10 

UM Women will sponsor their annual Girls on the Go meetup of teen girls at Gretna Glen Camp and Retreat Center, from Saturday, March 9, 11 AM, to Sunday March 10, 4 PM. High school teens, ages 13 to 18, will share together in Bible study and "God-centered talk," fun activities, crafts, worship, learning about mission and more. They will also make new friends and learn ways to keep their lives "Christ-centered" despite all the distractions and stress of daily life.

Margaret Keefer, a youth pastor, teacher and retreat and worship director for all ages, will return with music and activities to inspire and challenge the youth to "live the life God intended for them." Download and use the brochure to register for $60 by Feb. 1 or $70 by Feb.15, and $75 after then. Questions? Contact Mary Ann Repsher at 610-588-1084 or by email at rep164@frontier.net; or contact Susan Dzuik at 215-637-7898 or dzuiks1@verizon.net .
Wespath Clergy Benefits Academy, March 11-13

All active clergy members of the UMC are invited to attend a Clergy Benefits Academy, hosted by Wespath Benefits and Investments, March 11-13 at the Marriott Hotel at Forrestal in Princeton, N.J.

The academy is for all ages and stages of ministry: new ordinands, early-career clergy, mid-career clergy, ready-to-retire clergy, district superintendents, clergy in extension ministries. Clergy spouses are also invited.

This event, held in a retreat-like setting, will allow clergy to network with one another, get answers to their benefits questions and learn about the many benefits issues that affect their lives and ministries. Attendees can also earn continuing education unit credits (CEUs). Learn more ...
2 Disaster Response volunteer training events, March 16
Volunteers in Mission and Early Response Teams
(2 simultaneous training events)

Explore the world, near and far, through the ministries of Volunteers in Mission and Early Response Teams. Ponder anew what the Almighty can do . . . through you! You could travel a few miles from home or halfway around the world to share God’s love.

Work alongside close friends or new friends from far-off lands. The Eastern PA Conference’s Disaster Response Ministry Team will sponsor two simultaneous training events for UM Volunteers in Ministry (UMVIM) on Saturday, March 16, 8:30 AM to 4:30 PM, at St. Paul’s UMC, Elizabethtown (398 N. Locust Street, Elizabethtown, PA. (717) 367-1889).

One training will be for people wanting to explore participation in general UMVIM teams. The other will be for people wanting to serve on Early Response Teams (ERT), whose mission is to provide skilled support to disaster survivors as soon as communities allow response teams into disaster-impacted areas. 

Each training costs $45 per person, which provides the book Mission Journey, a light breakfast, and lunch. UMVIM participants will also get the updated VIM Team Leader Resource Toolkit.

Four Stations of Holy Spirit training, March 30

Elam UMC (1073 Smithbridge Road. Glen Mills, PA) will host the next Four Stations of Holy Spirit training event March 30, 8:30 AM to 12:30 PM. This Conference Congregational Development Team (CDT) training helps lay people learn to pray one-on one with others and to anoint others with oil and help them remember and affirm their baptism. They also learn to serve Communion wherever and whenever people need it. 

The goal is to serve persons who need to embrace Christ’s promised “newness of life” through spiritual blessing and sacramental encounters.

The $15 fee pays for refreshments, a book and sacramental elements included in the training. To attend, email the Rev. Gordon Hendrickson, CDT coordinator, at gordanacts6@gmail.com or call him at 267-258-9507. Register by March 27. Learn more about Four Stations of the Holy Spirit training .
Changing Racism Workshop, April 5

The next weekend Changing Racism Workshop will be help on April 5–7, at The Desmond Hotel, 1 Liberty Blvd in Malvern. The session begins with dinner on Friday at 5:30 and ends on Sunday by 3 PM. The registration fee is $300, including a single room and meals. This is not a commuter event. This workshop, which satisfies the clergy requirement for Healing the Wounds of Racism training, will be led by a cross-racial, cross gender team of two facilitators from Visions, Inc. Learn more…
Seminar profs to teach Art of Preaching, April 9
The Eastern PA Conference Cabinet will offer a half-day seminar titled The Art of Preaching on Tuesday, April 9, 8:30 AM to 1 PM, at West Lawn UMC , 5 Woodside Avenue, Reading.
The Rev. Thomas Long , Bandy Professor Emeritus of Preaching at the Candler School of Theology at Emory University in Atlanta, will keynote the seminar’s opening plenary. The celebrated Presbyterian clergyman has studied, taught and written extensively about contemporary-style preaching and homiletics for many years. His book, The Witness of Preaching , was named “one of the 25 most influential books on preaching for the last 25 years” by Preaching Magazine in 2010. It is widely used in theological schools around the globe in multiple languages.
Other noteworthy preachers will teach morning workshops on the art and craft of proclaiming God’s word and Christ’s gospel in a new age and in diverse communities. They include:

  • the Rev. Catherine Williams, Professor of Preaching and Worship at Lancaster Seminary, and
  • Bishop (retired) Alfred Johnson, formerly of the Eastern PA Conference and now a research professor and Director of the Urban Research Center at New York Theological Seminary.
Registration is $20 per person will open in February. All pastors are encouraged to attend. Look for more details in February. Contact: East District Office: tbass@epaumc.org or 215-878-4607.

8:30– Gathering and breakfast
9:15– Plenary presentation
10:45– Breakout workshops
12:00– lunch
Advocacy Weekend: May 18-20, 2019
United Methodist Advocacy in Pennsylvania will sponsor “Change the World,” a conference on Faith and Politics, May 18-20, in the capital city of Harrisburg, Pa. Organizers hope to draw hundreds of not only United Methodists but others who believe in the key role that an active faith must play in civic life, from local communities to the halls of government.
Dai Morgan and Anita Powell
Upcoming Basic & Advanced Sexual Ethics Courses

Basic Sexual Ethics workshop is scheduled for Saturday March 23, 2019 from 9 30 to 3 at Conshohocken UMC, 20 W 6th Ave, Conshohocken, PA 19428, led by Rev. Wanda Sevey of the Council for Relationships. Cost is $35 lunch is provided.
Advanced Sexual Ethics April 30th 2019 at Asbury UMC in Allentown led by Rev. Beverly Andrews and Mrs. Elaine Spanger. Cost is $35. Lunch is provided.
Contact Jacqueline Hines for more info at pastorjacquelineumc@gmail.com or 410-963-1721. BSE registration ASE registration
Discontinue use of “Mission ConneXion” name

By order of Bishop Peggy Johnson, we are no longer to use the term "Mission ConneXion" or any derivation thereof, in our published media, due to recently revealed copyright infringement. Rights to the term are owned (since 2004 allegedly) by another Christian missions and education organization in Oregon, and their attorney has issued a cease and desist letter to one of our churches.

At this point, it may not be necessary to remove the term from already published online content. But please STOP using "Mission ConneXion" anywhere on church websites, newsletters, Facebook posts, etc.
“Change the World through Knowledge” will be the focus of events on Saturday, May 18, at Paxton UMC. Those gathered will have opportunities to learn about current issues, including: How Laws Are Made, Climate Change, Human Trafficking, the Meaning of Justice, Legislative Redistricting Reform, Criminal Justice in PA, and more.
“Change the World through Service” events on Sunday, May 19, will be centered in downtown Harrisburg. There will be opportunities to tour the State Capitol building, join in environmental service projects, participate in an ecumenical environmental-based worship experience, and learn how to communicate with lawmakers.
“Change the World through Your Voice” on Monday, May 20, will offer opportunities to make legislative visits in the morning. Participants interested in special topics will be guided to appropriate contacts. The event will conclude with a 1 PM news conference inside the Capitol.
More details and registration materials are coming soon. Registration for the conference does not require participation on all three days. The Rev. Dai Morgan, who lives in the Pittsburgh area, is coordinator of UM Advocacy in Pennsylvania for all three PA conferences and bishops.
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  • March 2: Tools for Ministry, All districts
  • March 16: VIM & (Volunteers in Ministry) ERT (Early Response Team) training event
  • March 16: Eastern PA Conf. Youth Rally: Wesley UMC Bethlehem
  • April 5-7: Changing Racism Workshop
  • April 9: The Art of Preaching, West Lawn UMC, $20 registration.
  • May 5: District Conferences
  • June 1: Cross-Racial/Cross-Cultural Ministry Workshop
  • June 13-15: 2019 Annual Conference
Eastern Pennsylvania Conference of The United Methodist Church
(800) 828-9093 |  communications@epaumc.org  |  www.epaumc.org
980 Madison Avenue, Norristown, PA 19403