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January 20, 2017
'With All Our Heart and With All Our Mind'
As United Methodists around the nation and the world wait, watch, wonder and witness on this historic day, the Rev. Susan Henry-Crowe, General Secretary of the General Board of Church & Society, offers us an Inauguration Day Prayer, titled "With All Our Heart and With All Our Mind."

"As we welcome President Trump and say goodbye to President Obama, we pray for the world, the Church, and all of God's creation," she writes. "With all our heart and with all our mind, let us pray, 'Lord, have mercy.'"   Learn more ...

Values stressed as part of confirmation hearings
Also, Henry-Crowe asked U.S. Senators, in a Jan. 9 letter during confirmation hearings, to evaluate each Cabinet nominee for the new Trump Administration using the values of dignity, justice, peace and the common good. Read Letter

New stories on our website
Prayer warriors gathered in churches across the Eastern PA Conference last week seeking wisdom, compassion and divine direction for a special commission of UMC leaders whose forthcoming deliberations on church law and homosexuality, beginning next week, may help determine the future of The United Methodist Church. There were two Concerts of Prayer held Jan. 11 for the conference at Lima UMC and for the Northwest District at First UMC Schuylkill Haven. Meanwhile, other churches around the conference reported lifting the denomination in prayer during Sunday and midweek services.  Learn more...
Ten Eastern PA Conference clergy spouses gathered in November 2016 to enjoy a full-day Sabbath retreat designed just for them. Those who missed it will get another chance at the next retreat on Saturday,  May 13, at Daylesford Abbey in Paoli. The 10 participants in "Claiming Sabbath for Clergy Spouses," offered by  Artos Retreats, were diverse in age and tenure as clergy spouses, but all extolled the value of the experience. "We all wanted to be able to express ourselves authentically and safely, but with the positive intent to create connection and support," said one.  Learn more...
Bishop Peggy Johnson's latest essay continues her effort to focus much of her work, prayerful reflection and commentary on concerns of race and reconciliation in our church and nation, especially in light of the Call to Action resolution and commitments endorsed at the Northeastern Jurisdictional Conference last July. She invites conference members to do likewise.

Bishop Johnson reflects on her recent visit to the tragically historic 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Ala., where horrific racist violence snuffed out the lives of four little girls in 1963. She also visited the nearby Civil Rights Museum where painstaking but unfinished progress against such racism can be witnessed and appreciated. She remembers words of hope and solace in the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s eulogy at the girls' funeral. "This tragic day may cause the white side to come to terms with its conscience," King said. "In spite of the darkness of this hour, we must not become bitter. We must not lose faith in our white brothers. Life is hard-at times, as hard as crucible steel-but today, you do not walk alone."

Remembering also Dylann Roof, the young white supremacist who, just 18 months ago, viciously killed nine people gathered for a Bible Study at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, S.C., the bishop writes, "It is clear to me that we still have a long, long way to go. Despite years of progress, the evil root of bigotry is alive...and it sprouts acts of disrespect, blatant hatred and racially motivated violence every day. We-all of us-must challenge it and try to dig up that diseased root. It must become a daily effort and our daily witness."  Learn more... 
Pray for Race Relations, Racial Justice Dialogues 
Please pray for all the race relations and racial reconciliation learning opportunities currently happening across our conference. Pray that the lectures, exercises and dialogues bring mind-opening, heart-touching discoveries, hopefulness and a determination to respond and share what is learned. The gatherings of concerned, faithful leaders have been small in size but great in purpose.
The  East District holds its extended Conversations on Race Relations this weekend,  Jan. 20-21, as clergy and laity gather, hopefully with other conference members, at Washington Crossing UMC (1895 Wrightstown Road, Washington Crossing). The conversation theme is "Walk With: The African American Experience." 
The  Southeast District convened nearly 40 members for a multi-dimensional teach and talk session titled "Becoming the Beloved Community" on Monday, Jan. 16-yes, on the MLK Jr. holiday-at Church of the Open Door in Kennett Square. Devotions, a brief, enlightening lecture with Powerpoint visuals, intimate testimonies, creative activities and in-depth small-group "vital conversations" filled the two hours, setting the stage for a follow-up session, set for the district's Tools for Ministry event on  April 29.
The  Central District will follow up last month's first Real Talk about Racism learning and dialogue session with another on  Saturday, Feb. 4, hosted by Tindley Temple UMC (50 S Broad St, Philadelphia). Many attendees promised to apply their new knowledge back in their churches and communities, and some will be prepared to give initial progress reports.
Meanwhile, the  Southwest District, which holds periodic discussions to broaden racial understanding, will convene its next Racial Justice Dialogue on  Monday, Feb. 206-8 PM, at Faith UMC Manheim (1290 Fruitville Pike, Lititz). This one will focus on some practical steps people can take to seek justice and improve race relations. Visit and "like" the  SW District Racial Justice Dialogue page on Facebook. All of these learning events are open to anyone to attend.
Moreover, the conference  Commission on Religion and Race (CORR), in collaboration with  Healing the Wounds of Racism, will sponsor  Changing Racism: Continuing the Conversations on  Saturday, Jan. 28, from  9:30 AM to 3 PM, at the Conference Office. The dialogue is an experimental follow-up session to the biennial Changing Racism workshop experience that all persons in official ministry roles must take. Only participants in the October 2016 Changing Racism workshop and CORR members are invited-in fact, encouraged-to attend to share new learnings, reactions and next steps with one another since their fall workshop experience.
Bishop Peggy Johnson convened an ad hoc group of people from various groups working on race and racism concerns around the conference for a lively discussion on Thursday, Jan. 19. They shared reports on ongoing efforts and upcoming events, and heard insightful remarks from the Rev. Giovanni Arroyo, visiting from the General Commission on Religion and Race. Bishop Johnson will report on our conference's progress at the next NEJ College of Bishops meeting  Jan. 29 to Feb. 2, to be held in Lancaster. Look for highlights of these and other reports in the winter issue of NEWSpirit in early February.
NEJ VIM/UMCOR Training Academy, March 26-29
UMCOR (UM Committee on Relief) and the Northeastern Jurisdiction Volunteers in Mission will provide training  March 26-29 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  Feb. 26. 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
Sign up for a free church branding webinar
Branding matters because a logo can influence behavior. Just ask Apple, Nike and Starbucks. On  Feb. 8, at  2 PM, UM Communications will host a free webinar: "3 Reasons Your Church's Brand Matters." During this 45-minute event, you can ask real-time questions of our specialists and learn about:
  • Why churches should care about branding
  • How branding has helped our denomination - and the numbers that prove it
  • Ways United Methodist Communications can serve your church
Sign up today! Attendees will receive a quick-reference branding guide as our thanks.
Premarital/Marital Counseling Training  
Rev. Lloyd Speer will conduct several training workshops in 2017. The next will be  Feb. 23 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
March 28, 9 AM - 3:30 PM, at  Grandview UMC (888 Pleasure Road, Lancaster, PA). Participants pay $35 to participate, which includes light breakfast, lunch, and materials. Presenters are the Revs. Andrea Brown and Jose "Ricky" Ayala.  Find out more » 

Fresh Expressions Vision Day Training 
April 19 AM - 3:15 PM, at Mount Carmel UMC (2203 Harmonyville Road, Elverson, PA). Changing Church for a Changing World. Fresh Expressions is a movement that is cultivating new forms of church alongside existing congregations in order to reach a changing world. It offers to empower and equip God's people to develop creative expressions of church that can reach the increasing diversity of our society. Eastern PA Conference is a co-sponsor of this event. Cost: $30.  Learn more...

Basic Sexual Ethics 
July 15, 9 AM - 3:30 PM, at  Conshohocken UMC (20 W. Sixth Ave., Conshohocken, PA).Participants pay $35 to participate in this class. The fee includes light breakfast, lunch, and materials. Presenters are Rev. Jose "Ricky" Ayala and a female presenter to be named.  Find out more

Dorothy Height stamp debuts  Feb. 1
Dorothy Height, a United Methodist and civic leader who championed civil rights and women's rights over a long career, is featured on a new, commemorative U.S. Postal Service stamp that goes on sale  Feb. 1. She follows Bishop Richard Allen, founder of the African Methodist Episcopal Church., whose  stamp came out last year. That makes two African American Methodists in a row to receive this rare national honor, and Height is now the 40th subject in the USPS Black Heritage series. A Washington DC post office is also named for this Presidential Medal of Freedom awardee who died in 2010 at age 98. Her work included fighting segregation in the 1950s and helping black citizens register to vote in the South in the 1960s. Through the years, she focused on addressing poverty, and on expanding opportunity for women and strengthening families.  Read story
Other noteworthy Americans to be honored with stamps this year are:
  • Andrew Wyeth, the legendary artist from Chadds Ford, Pa., who mastered of realism and would have turned 100 this year;
  • Henry David Thoreau, the revered critic of materialism and author of Walden Pond; and
  • Robert Panara, an influential pioneer and teacher in the field of Deaf Studies, who inspired generations of students with his powerful use of American Sign Language.
5 types of church visitors
Identifying different types of visitors can help churches understand what each seeks. Darby Jones of United Methodist Communications offers an overview and tips to make people feel welcome even before worship begins.  Read story

6 tips on crowdfunding for churches
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) - The United Methodist Church's finance agency has published a guide for U.S. churches considering fundraising on crowdfunding sites. The General Council on Finance and Administration's overall message: User beware. Heather Hahn reports.    Read story

Wesley studies lay certification available
The new Wesley Theological Seminary Lay Academy offers 11 online courses. The program, open for enrollment to United Methodists around the country, is in partnership with The Richard and Julia Wilke Institute for Discipleship, based at United Methodist-related Southwestern College.  Read press release    To learn more and register

What are your prayers as 2017 begins?
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) - United Methodists said they are praying for elected officials, peace, an end to bigotry and much more as 2017 begins. Interpreter magazine asked readers about their prayers at the start of a new year. Here are some of their answers.  Read story

Contest recognizes men's ministries
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) - United Methodist Men welcomes submissions to its third annual contest to recognize the most outstanding local church, district and conference ministries to men. The deadline for entries is Feb. 1.  Learn more

Wespath surveys clergy health
Wespath Benefits and Investments' Center for Health will conduct its biennial online clergy well-being survey in February. A sample of 4,000 active U.S. clergy will receive a brief online survey, which is designed to help identify clergy well-being needs and monitor any changes over time.   Read press release

Webinar,  Monday, Jan. 23
"Why churches should discuss politics"  3  PM. In this webinar, the Rev. Rebekah Simon-Peter, developer of " Creating a Culture of Renewal," and the Rev. Scott Hughes, director of adult discipleship for Discipleship Ministries, discuss why churches should talk about politics. They will explore the relationship between theology and politics as well as several tools churches can use when discussing social and theological issues.  Details

Advocating for persecuted Christians
The commitment of The United Methodist Church to religious freedom as a civic and theological right and to advocacy and action on behalf of persecuted Christians worldwide has increased in recent years, reports the denomination's Board of Global Ministries. The board said that is particularly true in Pakistan, Nigeria and the Middle East.  Read statement

New Course of Study options for part-time pastors
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) - Three new Course of Study options for part-time licensed local pastors are available, reports the United Methodist Board of Higher Education and Ministry. One is at United Theological School in Dayton, Ohio, and another is a satellite program, offered in Hays, Kansas, with Saint Paul School of Theology. The third is a pilot Spanish language program in Denver.  Read press release

Charter Offers Tools for Racial Justice
United Methodist Women's Charter for Racial Justice has been adopted by the United Methodist Church as a call to eliminate racism in the church and in our society. It is now more relevant than ever.   Learn More
FOHS to celebrate Holy Spirit again Jan. 21 (Corrected date)
Date corrected: FOHS (Full of the Holy Spirit), a mostly Latino youth worship and praise ministry, invites all youth to attend the next   FOHS gathering Saturday, Jan. 21, at 7 PM, at New Birth UMC Lebanon.  Come for a fun-filled, high-energy night of young talent with uplifting, celebrative music in English and Spanish, plus dance and spoken words of wisdom! Also, enjoy dinner after the program. This is a Christian youth event, but you do not have to belong to a church to attend. Come one and all to share your talents with the Lord, or just come and enjoy this spirit-filled celebration of life and faith. Spread the word! 
Celebrate Disability Awareness 
Sunday, Jan. 22
The Eastern PA Conference's Disability Ministries Committee urges churches to celebrate    Disability Awareness Sunday Jan. 22  or on a more convenient date. The UMC's Book of Discipline calls for every conference and church to celebrate this special occasion annually to increase response to the need for including more disabled persons in the life of our churches. The committee invites churches to receive a special offering for UMCOR's "Disability Ministries" Advance Special (# 3021054). You can find information and     resources online at   Learn more...

Also visit the     committee's webpage for more information and be sure to read Bishop Peggy Johnson's new Bishop's Blog essay, titled "   Privilege." "Sadly, however, many of our churches are ill-prepared to receive people with disabilities," she writes. "Not only are they unable to receive them physically, with accessible buildings and services; but often church members have inaccessible "hearts" that fail to welcome disabled visitors. It is even harder to find churches that engage in the greatest form of accessibility of all: empowerment." Be sure to read Bishop Johnson's   entire essay  that addresses similar barriers and burdens of race and disability in our society and in many of our churches. 
Affirming Wesleyan values as Donald Trump becomes U.S. President
United Methodists from across the country plan to have some parties on the evening of Jan. 20 to pray and talk about ways to affirm Wesleyan values and explore challenges ahead as the 45th president takes office. "There is a growing movement across the church to provide sanctuary for people who could be negatively impacted by polices of the incoming administration and Congress," said Susan Burton, of the denomination's social justice agency, based in Washington.

Those concerns grew into an idea for house/church parties to explore and engage in ways to "Reclaim the Common Good." The Board of Church and Society and other UM agencies are hearing from members coming to the nation's capital both for the inauguration and to participate in the Women's March on Washington, Jan. 21, with a mission to uphold women's rights.

United Methodists around the nation are being encouraged to host or join house or church parties for fellowship and engagement on Presidential Inauguration Day, Jan. 20, from 6:30-8:30 PM, or after that date. Conversations should "be biblically and theologically grounded, affirm our core Wesleyan values, explore challenges that impact our communities and nation, and offer opportunities to name ongoing faithful conversations as United Methodists," reads an invitation on behalf of several UMC general agencies. The various agencies are preparing materials for the small gatherings. And they ask participants to connect with others via social media to share visions for the common good by using the hashtag  #UM4CommonGood.   Learn more...
Changing Racism Workshop 2017 dates
This year's dates  for  Changing Racism Workshops, led by  Visions, Inc., are   March 31-April 2  and   October 27-29.  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.
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. You can  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
BMCR caucus to meet Jan. 22
Philadelphia/Chester Black Methodists for Church Renewal (BMCR) will meet on Sunday, Jan. 22, at 3-5 PM, at St. James UMC (199 E Tabor Rd, Philadelphia).  This will be the first meeting led by new caucus officers, including the Rev. Shayla Johnson, coordinator, and co-coordinator Krystl Johnson. The caucus has a new team-based structure and will address a number of important concerns, including conference redistricting and the NEJ Call to Action.
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
Restoration 2017: "Prayer, Praise and Presence"
The Restoration 2017 Retreat is Bishop Peggy Johnson's invitation to clergy and lay members of the Eastern PA and Peninsula-Delaware conferences, to gather in retreat January 26-28, at the Sands Hotel in Rehoboth Beach, Del. The theme is "Prayer, Praise and Presence." The purpose: "Finding new life in the spiritual disciplines to bring strength to our Christian journey." This event replaces the former Mid-Winter Retreat for Clergy and Spouses that had drawn fewer participants over the past several years.
The focus of this Restoration retreat is to bring to light aspects of ministry, life, and community that need to be restored within us on our journey of making disciples. Our guest speaker will be the Rev. Junius Dotson, the new General Secretary of UM Discipleship Ministries.
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 Renewal Ministries and 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. 

Learn more 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, 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 this link with others who might want to stay informed about our news, events, resources and concerns. And please encourage them to subscribe by e-mailing Thanks!
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