January 15, 2021
NEWS & VIEWS
Bishop Peggy A. Johnson announces the following clergy retirements effective July 1, 2021, unless otherwise stated:
  • Rev. Wendy Bellis
  • Rev. Gene Boyer
  • Rev. Walter Carter
  • Rev. James Carver (eff Jan 1, 2021)
  • Rev. Lilian Cotto
  • Rev. Fred Day (eff Jan 1, 2021)
  • Rev. Tom Fries (eff Aug 1, 2021)
  • Rev. Deborah Gildart-Hanks
  • Rev. Gary Jacabella
  • Rev. John Lutz
  • Rev. Alan Smith
  • Rev. Susan Sliker
  • Rev. Jim Wilkin
A fresh wind of peace…
A Prayer for this weekend and the week ahead
By the Rev. Dr. David Woolverton

Holy Lord, in the shadow of last week’s violence, and in the potential and fear of more to come, we draw our hearts and minds to You. Forgive us—all of us. In our pain, in our brokenness, in our anger, in our isolation, in our fears, in our moral failures, in our grief, in our idolatry… we don’t fully realize what we have done, what we are really doing. Read more…
New Cabinet series sermon echoes God’s call  
The Rev. Andrew Foster III's recorded sermon for Jan. 17 (Human Relations Sunday) is available to watch and show on the Conference YouTube channel. And it is downloadable from the Conference’s Dropbox account. Churches are invited to use this latest Cabinet sermon for Sunday worship. 
 
Additional sermons by the Revs. Evelyn Kent-Clark and Bumloo “BK” Chung are expected and will be added to the Conference YouTube channel in the coming weeks. The Cabinet is providing the series of sermons through January to offer busy pastors a needed respite from preaching. (See “Cabinet gifts churches with recorded sermons through January.”)
 
Foster’s sermon, based on 1 Samuel 3:1-10, has received over 100 views on YouTube so far. In describing it he writes, “God calls for a reason, and when he calls, you are to take notice. You ought to listen. Sometimes it’s a warning about what is to come or what has happened. Sometimes it is direction, as in whether to go or stay. Whatever the call is, when God calls, you ought to stop and listen. Beloved, tune your ears to hear God’s voice. If you don’t take the time to hear his voice in the quiet moments of life, you will not be able to hear him in the chaotic moments of your life.”
Human Relations Day supports justice ministries
Not long ago the world watched as a police officer placed his knee for nearly 9 minutes on an unarmed African American man’s neck while he pleaded for his life. George Floyd died from that brutal attack by an officer sworn to protect the public.  

The United Methodist Church’s response was swift in support of advocacy campaigns to promote racial justice and reconciliation. The UMC’s Global Ministries agency provided grants through the UM Voluntary Services (UMVS) program, funded from the annual, churchwide Human Relations Day (HRD) offering. Those grants went to annual conferences to resource peaceful demonstrations, provide food and access to medication, and aid rebuilding efforts for communities impacted negatively. 

Your generous gifts to the Human Relations Day offering enables the church to respond to needs in poor and marginalized communities and supports those who seek justice and reconciliation in our fractured society. 

Human Relations Day is celebrated Jan. 17 this year (the day before the national Martin Luther King Jr. holiday). But your church can celebrate it on any Sunday and use that occasion to support deserving justice ministries. Get resources to enhance your celebration with the Human Relations Day Pastor and Leader KitRead more…  
Bishop Johnson to speak at MLK Jr. Day event 
Among the many events to celebrate the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Birthday on Monday, Jan. 18, Bishop Peggy Johnson will join other clergy in an annual symposium at 10 AM, sponsored by the Peninsula-Delaware Conference’s Methodist Action Program (MAP).  

The Rev. C. Anthony Hunt, keynote speaker, is a renowned scholar on King and Mahatma Gandhi. He teaches at Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington DC and is the pastor of Epworth Chapel UMC in Baltimore. The Rev. Jennifer Kerby, who heads MAP, will preach during worship, followed by a panel discussion on “Eliminating Poverty: An Intersectional Approach.” Panelists will include Bishop Johnson, who leads the Philadelphia Episcopal Area. Download [and share the flyer and program link at: https://360wise.com/thebridge. Learn more…
Clergy, church staffs, others wait for COVID vaccine, paycheck support
With COVID-19 infections, hospitalizations and deaths surging since Christmas, the rollout of vaccines, although sluggish, is encouraging to many, including pastors and church staff who can hope to receive their first shots in several weeks. Meanwhile, Congress’ long-delayed approval of an economic rescue package should soon start paying off for churches and other employers waiting for direly needed financial aid. 

Montgomery County Commissioners, in an online meeting with faith community leaders on Monday, January 11, told them their staffs can hope to start getting their first doses in several weeks. That includes pastors, administrative and custodial staff, musicians and others involved directly in worship and congregational care. There was no clear information pertaining to vaccine shots for church volunteers. 

“Clergy and other essential support for houses of worship” are included statewide in ​Phase 1B of Pennsylvania’s COVID Vaccination Phases, found on its official vaccination website. However, “Philadelphia is one of a few cities nationwide managing its vaccinations independently,” reports the Philadelphia Inquirer. While 400,000 people in Philadelphia are estimated to be in its 1B second phase vaccination group, that group does not include clergy. Learn more…
Church members to join in Inauguration-related prayer vigil
During the raging conflict in our nation’s politics, Grove UMC is inviting its members and others to join in a 6-day virtual prayer vigil Jan. 15–20 in preparation for the consequential inauguration of our new President. With the theme "Let Us Pray Together," the Inauguration Prayer Vigil begins today, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s actual birthday. It ends next Wednesday, Jan. 20 following the historic inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden and and Vice-President-elect Kamala Harris.

The Rev. Lin George, a Licensed Local Pastor and Associate Pastor at Grove, invites the “virtually gathered community” to commit to praying three times a day for six days, at morning, noon and night times. She also offers a resource of scriptures and reflections to stimulate prayers. For starters she suggests “The Lord’s Prayer,” “A Prayer in a Time of National Crisis” from the UM Book of Worship (#517), and the popular Prayer of St. Francis of Assisi (“Lord, make me an instrument of your peace….”). 

“May our dedication to prayer as the virtually gathered community of Grove Church be pleasing to God,” writes George, “and may we see His hand at work in the coming days as we pray for non-violence and peace surrounding the inauguration and within ourselves.” She invites persons who are interested to inform her at pastorlin@grovechurch.org or call the church office at 610.696.2663.
Conference prayer ministry inspires weekly communal sharing
The Eastern PA Conference’s weekly prayer meetings on Zoom continue on Tuesdays at noon, with participants sharing the honors of leading the half-hour sessions. The Rev. David Piltz, Coordinator of Youth & Young Adults Ministries, started the ministry last April as the COVID-19 pandemic became more daunting, taking a growing toll on many lives through infections, deaths and social distancing.

Each week's sharing of personal joys and concerns, followed by intercessory prayers, seems to offer a communal balm of spiritual healing and hopefulness for some participants. The online gatherings have drawn as many as several dozen attendees.  Learn more...
City program led by pastor refunded with $1.2M to help homicide victims' families
The Rev. Myra Maxwell, pastor of Trinity UMC in Philadelphia, is director of District Attorney Larry Krasner's CARES program that helps families of homicide victims. She joined Krasner this week to announce that funding for the program had been renewed. 
 
The Crisis Assistance Response and Engagement for Survivors program, known as CARES, provides direct support to families who have lost loved ones to homicide. With $1.2 million in renewed funding from the PA Commission on Crime and Delinquency, it will continue for the next three years.
 
Krasner, who launched CARES in 2018, said the program was “absolutely critical” at a time when the homicide rate has spiked to a three-decade high. “We are in a moment when the community and all of law enforcement, victims and survivors, need as much help as they can possibly get” he said at a news conference on Monday at the a West Philadelphia church. Learn more on our Methodists Make News webpage. 
 
If your church, pastor or members are featured in any news media, please let us know. Send us a link to the online story, and we’ll feature it on our  Methodists Make News webpage.
Young adults, college students invited to new Fireside Chat & Prayer
The Open Door Christian Community, our UM campus ministry at Drexel University in Philadelphia, will partner with the Eastern PA Conference’s Young Adults Ministry to offer a new, weekly Fireside Chat & Prayer ministry on Tuesdays, 7 to 8 PM, via Zoom. The pilot program will begin Jan. 26 and last till March 2.

This will be “one of the first times a conference-wide young adult ministry event is co-sponsored with a campus ministry in a very long time,” said the Rev. David Piltz, who directs the campus ministry and coordinates the Conference’s Youth and Young Adult Ministries. “Our Drexel Campus Ministry is excited. And since our Conference Young Adults ministry is reforming now, this new initiative will help with that effort.”

Two influential speakers who have spoken to the Conference’s Council on Youth Ministry before will conduct the Fireside Chat & Prayer sessions. They will discuss “Healthy Relationships,” especially in the throes of a pandemic, and “Creating Healing in Your Life.” No registration is required. Anyone at least age 18 and of any faith is invited regardless of faith background. Learn more...
Grappling with postponed General Conference
Organizers have yet to determine whether the pandemic-postponed General Conference can go forward as planned on Aug. 29-Sept. 7 in Minneapolis. In the meantime, the Commission on the General Conference has decided not to reopen the usual process for accepting petitions, limiting delegates’ access to some big legislative proposals — including one outlining a potential denominational split — ahead of the assembly. Learn more...
2020: The year in UM News photos
(UM News) — The year 2020 was an eventful and difficult one for The United Methodist Church. Photographers from UM News, the denomination's official news service, documented a year in the life of United Methodism worldwide. View photo presentation
LEARNING EVENTS
Black Methodist leaders to discuss new book on racism in the church
Listen to an important conversation with 20 Black leaders about racism in our churches and religious institutions. Rudy Rasmus, editor, and writers featured in the new book I’m Black. I’m Christian. I’m Methodist will gather online for a discussion moderated by M. Garlinda Burton, interim-head of the UMC's General Commission on Religions and Race. The discussion takes place on Abingdon Press’ YouTube and Facebook pages Jan. 19, at 3 PM (ET).

In the book, publisher Abingdon reports, "Ten Black women and men explore life through the lens of compelling, personal accounts. They are leaders whose lives are tangible demonstrations of the power of a divine purpose and evidence of what grace really means in face of hardship, disappointment, and determination.This conversation will include topics such as What Has Racism Cost the Church?; Intersections of Race, Gender, and LGBTQIA+ Identity; and Ministry and Racism.Conversations about Racism and The UMC." Register now.
Basic Sexual Ethics Jan. 30 workshop changes announced 
The format, schedule and facilitator for the next Basic Sexual Ethics Workshop has changed. Now it will be held online, via Zoom video-conference, on Saturday, Jan. 30, at 1-3 PM. The Rev. Darryl Stephens will replace the Rev. Wanda Sevey as presenter. 

The class will combine synchronous and asynchronous learning. Registrants may proceed with the new, hybrid format or take the Board of Ordained Ministry-sponsored course at another time. Or the required course may be taken in other approved online versions. 
 
For the Jan. 30 course, participants will engage in online discussions during the week leading up to the Zoom session, along with online viewing of required videos, posting of answers to questions, and responding to posts by other participants. Dr. Stephens, Director of the Pennsylvania Academy of Ministry and Director of UM Studies at Lancaster Theological Seminary, chairs the Eastern PA Conference Order of Deacons. 

The course costs $35 and offers 0.5 CEUs. For more information contact the Rev. Jacqueline Hines at pastorjacquelineumc@gmail.com or 410-963-1721. Learn more…
Race, Racism, Equity in Higher Education
The UMC’s General Board of Higher Education & Ministry (GBHEM) will host two Black female college presidents to explore how to engage oneself and others effectively in understanding and addressing race, racism and the quest for equity for all, especially in higher education. The Feb. 4 online discussion, from 12 to 1 PM, part of the board’s “Straight Talk” series, will feature Fayneese Miller and Colette Pierce Burnette.  

Dr. Miller is the first African-American and second woman president of Hamline University in St. Paul, Minn. Dr. Burnette is the president of Huston-Tillotson University, a historically Black university in Austin, Texas. Both schools are UM-related institutions. Interested participants may register here. This is a FREE event. Learn more…
Laity invited to take Pen-Del’s Conference's Gospel Discipleship course 
Bishop Peggy Johnson reports that Peninsula- Delaware Conference lay members “fell in love with the Gospel Discipleship book” and the Rev. Dr Michelle Morris, author, will do an online 10-hour training event there to fulfill the needs of many lay people who need their recertification for lay servant status. “They have told me that Eastern PA Conference laity are most welcome to join if they want,” says the bishop. “So spread the word.”

Attend the Gospel Discipleship Weekend Workshop on Zoom, Feb. 12-14, in five 2-hour sessions, sponsored by the Peninsula-Delaware Conference Lay Servant Academy.

The Rev Dr Michelle Morris is passionate about connecting people to Jesus in meaningful ways, and loves to help people gain a deeper understanding of their discipleship An ordained elder in the Arkansas Conference, she has served churches and worked on church revitalization and new church starts, which gave rise to Gospel Discipleship. She helps people understand their discipleship in terms of defining paths spelled out in each of the four Gospels. Register online. Download and share the flyer..
AROUND THE UM CONNECTION
Bishops call for action in changing times
The upcoming commemoration of the birth of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and the Inauguration Day that follows offer some much-needed opportunities for reflection and rededication, writes Bishop Cynthia Fierro Harvey. The Council of Bishops president and her fellow bishops invite United Methodists to take seriously the call to follow Jesus during these challenging times. Read statement
United Methodists killed in Congo massacre
BENI, Congo (UM News) — At least 25 civilians, including seven United Methodists from two families, were killed in the latest violence in this East Congo territory, according to the Rev. Dumas Balaganire. The church members were killed as they prepared for a baptism. Philippe Kituka Lolonga reports. Read story  
Africa University vice chancellor Furusa dies at 59
MUTARE, Zimbabwe (UM News) — Professor Munashe Furusa, Africa University's fourth vice chancellor, died suddenly Jan. 13 at a local hospital. He was 59. He is being remembered as an innovative educational leader. Read story
Former megachurch pastor sentenced
SHREVEPORT, La. (UM News) — Kirbyjon Caldwell, former pastor of Houston's Windsor Village United Methodist Church, was sentenced to six years in prison for conspiracy to commit wire fraud in a $3.5 million investment scheme. Caldwell, who has made restitution of more than $4 million to victims of the scheme, apologized for his conduct during a Jan. 13 sentencing hearing in federal court. Read story  
Undoing America's white supremacy
MESQUITE, Texas — Watching the storming of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, United Methodist Insight editor Cynthia B. Astle saw an unmasking of the nation’s problems with white supremacy and what Christians must do to confront it. “The only way for Christians to get beyond this inherent evil in America’s identity is to surrender fully to the good news embodied in Jesus Christ,” Astle writes. Read commentary.  
84-year-old body builder finds strength in joy
BALTIMORE — United Methodist Ernestine Shepherd is an 84-year-old body builder who has broken records and appeared in a Beyoncé video. She also has struggled with anxiety and depression but found restoration through joy and faith. Read story
MISSION OPPORTUNITIES
Conference Leadership Opportunities for all!
The Conference Leadership Committee asks all clergy and lay members to use this Leadership and Service Interest Form to indicate how and where they are willing to serve on. Learn more...
RESOURCES
Thoughts on life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.   
Celebrate MLK’s Birthday Weekend, Jan. 15-18

The Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., much like his German namesake long ago, also began a reformation—not of religion but of race, as he led a pivotal civil rights movement for racial equality in this country. It was truly a movement because it continues to ripple out in ever-expanding circles of justice-seeking social change.

The story behind his name comes from Dr. King’s father, the Rev. Martin Luther King, Sr. He too was a brave and tireless reformer working for racial equality. “Daddy King” passed on to his son not only his adopted name, but also an important legacy of working through the system to bring about social change, taking risks for the greater good and bravely speaking “truth to power.”

If we claim the name of Christ in our faith, then we should live up to that name, as MLK Jr. lived up to his. We should strive to be living examples of the one whom we claim to follow. Learn more...
Conference to network small-church leaders  
The Connectional Ministries Office will help launch in January a requested new networking group for small-church pastors and leaders to provide support and resourcing. The Eastern PA Conference Bivocational & Small Church Network will have its initial, one-hour meeting Jan. 19, at 6:30 PM, via Zoom video-conferencing.

“This is a group designed exclusively for leaders of smaller churches, welcoming part-time, bivocational, retired and all other small-church leaders, both clergy and lay,” said the Rev. Dawn Taylor-Storm, Connectional Ministries Director. “Small churches are the backbone of The United Methodist Church, and we want to provide a monthly small group for conversation that relates to the unique opportunities found in our small, vital churches.”  

The Rev. Denny Emrick (above), a pastor who has long served small churches, asked for such a group and will facilitate the initial conversation, which may produce a monthly gathering for “prayer, dialogue, connection and resourcing for part-time, bivocational and small church leaders.” 
   
“I grew up in a small church, and the ministry of that church impacts me to this day,” said Taylor-Storm. “I also had the joy of pastoring a small church for seven years; and I experienced the gift of community and missional engagement that is possible in the small church.” I hope others will join us for this first gathering and for what becomes of it in the future.” Register online now!
Apply for community ministry grant by Jan. 31 
The Eastern PA Conference’s new Narberth Legacy Ministry Action Grants (2021-2023) can provide up to $45,000 in support to new, innovative, justice-seeking ministries that impact the life of communities. The new endowment fund’s first three-year grant period will begin July 1; but the application deadline is Jan. 31. It will be awarded annually to a church.
 
The grants come from 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.
 
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. The fund is featured in the new Conference Funding for Ministry and Leadership Development Booklet. Narberth Legacy Action Ministry Grant Application
Advance Special application deadline March 5
Now is the time for eligible ministries to submit applications for approval as Eastern PA Conference Advance Specials for 2021-2022. Approved applications must be submitted as a special resolution to the May 2021 Annual Conference for a vote. Please complete the application and return it electronically to Deaconess Barbara Drake at bedrake15@aol.com. The deadline is March 5. Download: 2021 Advance Special Application.  
 
See the roster of 2019-2020 Conference Advance Specials approved by the 2019 Annual Conference. There were no projects approved in 2020. Conference Advance Specials is a missional stewardship program of second-mile giving by generous churches, groups and individuals to support primarily local ministries. Churches that want to give to support Conference Advance Specials should first fulfill their primary connectional stewardship commitments to the conference and general church by remitting apportioned funds and direct bill payments.
'Light of Peace' book available in Korean
GENEVA — The National Council of Churches in Korea has published a Korean translation of The Light of Peace: Churches in Solidarity With the Korean Peninsula, a book the World Council of Churches fellowship is using to recognize 70 years of unresolved conflict on the Korean Peninsula. The translation is available online. Read press release Download resource
REMINDERS
School is back in session!
Conference begins 2021 with busy events schedule
As 2021 begins and students everywhere return to school—if only from their home computers—so do Eastern PA Conference members ready to engage in learning for leadership. Our January and February calendars are full of workshops, book club discussions, a gathering of small-chuch leaders for fellowship, resourcing and dialogue, and, for starters this weekend, our Virtual Youth Rally. Please see our website calendar for information about all these events and be sure to register for desired events promptly.

Upcoming January-February events:

  • Jan. 13, 2021 (11am-12pm): Four-session Book Study begins Quietly Courageous with the Rev. Gil Rendle, author. Register.
  • Jan. 16 & 23: Emotional Intelligence and Diversity (Peninsula-Delaware Conf. event, open to Eastern PA Conference members)
  • Jan. 19 (6:30 PM): Bivocational & Small Church Network support group, led by the Rev. Denny Emrick. Register.
  • Jan. 21 (10 AM-11:30 AM): The Multi-Site/Satellite Model for Churches, with the Rev. Mike Slaughter. Register.
  • Jan. 30: Basic Sexual Ethics. Register.
  • Feb. 9 (10 AM-12 PM): “Both/And: Maximizing Hybrid Worship Experiences For Online and In-Person Audiences” webinar with Jason Moore. Register.
  • Feb. 10: Transfiguration Day Apart, with the Rev. Deborah Appler.
  • Feb. 27: Dismantling Racism Level II.
Online Tools for Ministry coming March 13
The Eastern PA Conference’s 2021 Tools for MinistryMarch 13from 8:30 AM to 12:30 PM, will make history by being totally online for the first time, rather than being held in onsite district locations. Offering virtual classrooms on Zoom for this annual, half-day academy of learning for church leaders is yet another way the Conference is adapting to the COVID-19 pandemic and overcoming required social-distancing restrictions against large gatherings. 

Ironically, that adaptation is bearing fruit in allowing the Conference to offer a cornucopia of 35 diverse, online courses taught by expert faculty, all for a nominal registration fee of only $5. And even more fruit may result from a record-breaking turnout, due to the convenience, affordability and growing acceptance of online, home-based adult learning.

Bishop Peggy Johnson will begin the morning plenary with devotions. An offering, using text-to-give on smartphones, or mailed or electronic funds transfer options, will be received to support the antiracism and justice work of POWER, an interfaith community organization to which some Eastern PA Conference churches belong.

The 35 workshops cover a wide array of interesting and helpful subjects. One is in Spanish and another will be offered bilingually in English and Spanish. The workshops will be offered in two 90-minute sessions—beginning at 9:00 and 10:45 AM, with a break in-between. Visit the online information page and register today. Also, download the flyer and the full brochure with workshop descriptions. Learn more…
ARTOS offers pandemic support to clergy spouses
Artos Retreats and Samaritan Counseling Center will gather clergy spouses and partners online beginning on Thursday, Jan. 28, at 7 PM, for supportive dialogues to help them deal with their role changes and challenges during the current pandemic. The confidential, facilitated, real-life discussions on Zoom are for those of any denomination seeking “shared wisdom and hope” during these difficult times.

Six small-group, monthly gatherings will happen on fourth Thursday evenings. The first two sessions are free, and subsequent sessions will be available for only $30 each. Julie Anderman, Executive Director of Artos Retreats, a clergy spouse for 20 years and a certified professional coach, will facilitate the discussions. Jan. 21 is the deadline for registration. Download and share this flyer.
CDT Book Club to explore Caste for Lent
On the heels of exploring Gil Rendle’s transformational tome Quietly Courageous (Jan. 13 to Feb 3), the Congregational Development Team (CDT) Book Club will next launch into the Lenten season with a study of a new, highly touted, instant classic. Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents (2020), by Isabel Wilkerson, examines the unspoken caste system of race that has shaped America and shows how our lives today are still defined by a hierarchy of human divisions.

For five weeks, Feb. 23 to March 23, on Tuesdays at 11 AM to noon, CDT Book Club members will read and discuss this “masterful portrait of an unseen phenomenon in America.” Described as “immersive, deeply researched" with stories about real people, it was recently named by a New York Times critic “an instant American classic and almost certainly the keynote nonfiction book of the American century thus far.”

The Conference’s Commission on Religion & Race (CORR) will co-sponsor the book study and help CDT purchase and give books free to the first 50 members to register. Book purchase scholarships are also available. Anyone can join by registering in advance. Learn more...
‘Could I be a racist Christian?’
NEJ Multi-Ethnic Center to host webinar discussion

The Northeastern Jurisdiction’s Multi-Ethnic Center for Ministry (MECM) will offer an online “courageous sacred conversation” on racism on Sunday, Jan. 17, at 4 PM. The hour-long talk, “Could I Be a Racist Christian ... Is That Possible?” will feature two guest panelists: the Rev. Phil Wingeier-Rayo, Dean and Professor of Missiology and Methodist Studies at Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, DC, and the Rev. Tori Butler, Pastor of Good Hope-Union UMC in Silver Spring,Md.

“It will be a provocative and insightful conversation not to be missed,” writes the Rev. Tony Love, MECM director and Assistant to Bishop Latrelle Easterling of the Baltimore-Washington Conference. Join the webinar on Zoom at https://bwcumc.zoom.us/j/98067837608. Or join by telephone in Eastern PA at +1 646 876 9923. (Or use iPhone one-tap at: +13017158592,,98067837608# or +13126266799,,98067837608#.) The webinar ID number is 980 6783 7608. See and share this flyer.
Resources available for Christian unity week
The Council of Bishops invites United Methodists to join with fellow Christians in the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity on Jan. 18-25. The theme this year is "Abide in My Love … You Shall Bear Much Fruit." Read press release. World Council of Churches resourcesMore resources
Higher education scholarships available
The United Methodist Higher Education Foundation is accepting scholarship applications for the 2021-2022 academic year. Through March 1, students are invited to apply for more than $2 million in funds available to help pay for attending colleges, universities or seminaries related to The United Methodist Church. See media resources  To apply 
The Rev. Steve Morton, Superintendent of the North District, continues his tradition of producing and offering churches thought-provoking, video-recorded Lenten devotions featuring fellow clergy presenters.

“For about a dozen years, first at Hopewell UMC and now on the North District,” says Morton in his district newsletter, “I’ve followed a vision of creating fresh, affordable, intelligent Bible Study curriculum for the local church, employing the teaching skills of Elder colleagues.” 

Character Matters is the title of the new, eight-week Lenten study that is offered for free to all churches. “It will flow from the language of Proverbs 6:16-19,” says Morton, focusing on “Seven Things the Lord Hates.” Presenters, all North District clergy, plus a bonus post-Easter message from Bishop Peggy Johnson, were to record their messages today in a studio at Moravian College. Materials will be produced and ready for the week of Ash Wednesday, February 17. Learn more...
Webinar series helps prepare for Lent
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The Revs. Magrey deVega, Adam Hamilton and Susan Robb will lead a webinar series to help church leaders prepare Bible studies for Lent, which starts Feb. 17 this year. "A Season of Reflection: Lenten Studies to Prepare for Easter's Celebrations" will be at 2 p.m. U.S. Central time Jan. 12-14.  To learn more and register
‘Both/And’ webinar to explore worshiping online and onsite, Feb. 9
Jason Moore, who has pioneered creative, collaborative worship design for two decades, will lead us in exploring new possibilities for worshiping both online and onsite at our churches, in a webinar offered for free on Zoom, on Tuesday, Feb. 9, 10 AM to 12 PM. “Both/And: Maximizing Hybrid Worship Experiences for Online and In-Person Audiences” will “delve into strategies for how to create powerful transformative worship where no one feels like they’re an afterthought.”  

Before the COVID-19 pandemic forced most churches to conduct worship solely online, worship was primarily for the gathered, onsite congregation. For the few churches that did livestream worship services then, their at-home audiences were largely secondary observers. But when now online churches resume onsite worship in 2021, what will become of their online audiences, and how can those watching at home continue to receive primary, interactive attention from worship leaders? 

The Conference Congregational Development Team has invited Moore to help pastors and worship leaders find creative answers to their questions. Since his early days at Ginghamsburg UMC in Tipp City, Ohio, the co-founder of Midnight Oil Productions has become a popular author, worship media producer, consultant and coach, helping to resource churches “of all sizes, styles and means.” Register online.
Youth lectionary curriculum available
WASHINGTON — "Connecting Faith and Justice Youth Curriculum, Lectionary Year B," for junior high and senior high students, is available now from the United Methodist Board of Church and Society. The free curriculum was written by a diverse group of people from around the globe who are passionate about youth faith development. Get resource  
Church and Society Ethnic Young Adult internship
Apply today for the summer Ethnic Young Adult Internship Program! Do you know a young person who wants to put their faith in action? Apply by March 1. Program runs from June 5-July 31. The Ethnic Young Adult Internship (EYA) program is for young justice seekers willing to unpack their faith and identity while working with an organization engaged in addressing social injustices. 

Interns are placed with advocacy, public policy, nonprofit and grassroots organizations where they work four days a week. They engage in weekly seminars designed to explore a wide variety of social issues, while also learning about the UMC’s history of pursuing social holiness. 
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.   
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.
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
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...
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 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 communications@epaumc.org. Thanks!
SAVE THE DATES
January
  • January 13: Start of Book Study “Quietly Courageous” with Gil Rendle (Weekly, for 4 weeks)
  • Jan. 16 & 23: Emotional Intelligence and Diversity (Peninsula-Delaware Conf. event, open to Eastern PA Conference members)
  • January 19: EPA Bivocational & Small Church Network. For EPA Clergy and Church Leaders, facilitated by Rev. Denny Emrick. 6:30 PM, via Zoom. Register.
  • January 21: The Multi-Site/Satellite Model for Churches w/ Mike Slaughter. 10 AM - 11:30 AM. Zoom Meeting. Register.
  • January 23: Deacons Gathering – Becoming An Anti-Racist Community: Intersectionality. 1 - 2:30 PM. Zoom. Register.
  • January 30: Basic Sexual Ethics. 9:30 AM - 3 PM. Zoom online meeting. Register.

February
  • February 9: Both/And: Maximizing Hybrid Worship Experiences For Online and In-Person Audiences. 10 AM - 12 Noon. Webinar. 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
  • March 5-6: Advanced Sexual Ethics: Ministry with Sex Offenders. Friday from 6:30 - 8 PM, and Saturday from 9 AM to 12 Noon. Via Zoom. Register.
  • March 13: Tools for Ministry. Download the flyer. Register.

April
  • April 16-18: Dismantling Racism, Level 1, Virtual. Register.
  • April 24 & May 1: Urban Summit. April 24th from 10 AM – 12 noon and May 1st from 10 AM - 12 Noon for Adults. May 1st from 12 Noon - 2 PM for the Urban Youth Summit.

May
  • May 1: "Relating with Clergy Spouses" workshop by Artos. From 9:30 AM - 11:30 AM on Zoom. Download the flyer. Register.
  • May 15: Latino Holy Convocation and Assembly
  • May 15: Clergy Transition Workshop led by Dave Woolverton.9 AM - 11 AM via Zoom meeting. Download the flyer.  Register.
  • May 20 - 22: 2021 Annual Conference 

June
  • June 5: Cross Cultural Cross Racial Training for New CR/CC Appointments. 9 AM - 12:30 PM, via Zoom Meeting. Register.

August
  • August 6 - 8: Laity Academy

October
  • October 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