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January 29, 2016
West Va. Bishop's mother passes
Bishop Peggy Johnson asks that we please keep Bishop Sandra Steiner Ball, episcopal leader of the West Virginia Area, and her family in our prayers. Bishop Steiner's mother,   Marjorie Steiner, died from a chronic respiratory condition Jan. 23 in Milford, Del. . She is survived by her husband of more than 55 years, Edward J. Steiner, and other family members. A memorial service was held Thursday at her church, Avenue UMC in Milford. 
Delegates to General and NEJ conferences to meet jointly Saturday
The Eastern PA Conference's delegates to the 2016 General and NE Jurisdictional conferences will meet jointly with delegates from the Peninsula-Delaware and Greater New Jersey conferences on Saturday, Jan. 30, from 9 AM to 3 PM, at First UMC Lancaster. Together they will hear and discuss reports and perspectives on issues coming before both legislative gatherings. Please keep them and their deliberations in prayer. 
Listening, discernment sessions in April
The Eastern PA Conference delegation to General and Jurisdictional conferences will sponsor in April four Listening Sessions. titled A Time for Listening and Discernment. The sessions are offered every four years in preparation for General Conference to hear from members of the annual conference about their concerns and to clarify understanding about proposed legislation coming before the global legislative gathering. The dates of sessions to choose from are:
  • Monday, April 11, from 7 to 9 PM, at Wesley UMC in Bethlehem;
  • Saturday, April 16, from 10 AM to 12 noon, at Simpson House in Philadelphia;
  • Wednesday, April 20, from 7 to 8:30 PM, at Church of the Good Shepherd in Lebanon; and
  • A telephone conference call-in session on Saturday, April 23, from 9 to 10:30 AM.
Information regarding arrangements, resolutions and guidelines for the sessions will be published prior to the sessions in conference and district newsletters and on the conference Website .
Phila. BMCR to hear reports, discuss future this Sunday
The Philadelphia Caucus of Black Methodists for Church Renewal will meet Sunday, Jan. 31, from 3 to 5 PM, at St. Daniels UMC, 315 Edwards St, Chester, PA. The agenda includes updates on General Conference issues and cooperative efforts of the conference's Urban Commission and Metro Ministries, plus a discussion of the caucus' role, vitality and outlook for the future, and a report on National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day,  Feb. 7. The 49th Annual Meeting of National BMCR will be held March 10-12 in Baltimore, Md. Lawrence Lee is Philadelphia Caucus Coordinator. 
Learn more about Lifetree Cafe ministry Monday, Feb. 1
The Rev. Gordon Hendrickson, Congregational Development Coordinator, will hold the next Lifetree Cafe Orientation, Part 2, on Monday, Feb. 1, at 6:30 PM, at the Conference Office. This follow-up training is rescheduled from Jan. 25, due to the snow storm. 
AME Church's founder to be honored on U.S. stamp Feb. 2 
The U.S. Postal Service will formally unveil the Rev. Richard Allen Black Heritage Stamp Feb. 2 at the Philadelphia church he founded. Allen, born a slave, became an ordained Methodist preacher, civil rights leader and bishop. He established Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church in 1816, after he and other members were forced to leave their nearby mother church, St. George's Methodist Episcopal Church (now UMC) because of racist mistreatment. Bethel became the birthplace of the first independent black Methodist denomination, which will celebrate its bicentennial during its General Conference in Philadelphia in July. Learn more about Bishop Allen, whose birthday is Feb. 14, and about efforts to honor him.
Church leaders talk about race and racism
Church groups and leaders are continuing to talk about race and racism in the church and society, grappling with an existential problem that may never be fully solved but nonetheless demands our forthright attention. The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday in January and Black History Month in February both prompt yearly celebrations but also inevitable conversations about what Sojourner's Jim Wallis calls "America's original sin."
Are your church, district or mission connexion members talking about race matters? Are you planning or participating in conversations, celebrations or other special programs or activities? Please let us know. Send information, ideas and photos, if you have any, to .
Meanwhile, here are some recent and upcoming events where people are indeed talking about this critical concern and proving that, to them at least, race matters.   Learn more...
First UMC of Germantown (FUMCOG) in Philadelphia heightened its ongoing exploration of race and racism when it welcomed the Rev. F. Willis Johnson, a pastor and activist in Ferguson, Mo., to address church and community members during Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday weekend, Jan. 16-17. The church continues its Conversations on Race series with monthly events, including a discussion of the book Dear White America: Letter to a New Minority, by respected anti-racism analyst Tim Wise, on Sunday, Feb. 7, at 1 PM.
The UMC's  General Commission on Religion and Race continues its Vital Conversations video series Feb. 4, at 9 PM, with the Rev. Cynthia Moore Koikoi sharing insights on how churches can build bridges instead of walls within their communities. Koikoi challenges churches to do just that in her work as a District Superintendent in the Baltimore-Washington Conference. 
Register now  to participate in this event and visit GCORR's Website to view its previous Vital Conversations videos.
And Jennifer Pinckney, widow of the Rev. Clementa C. Pinckney, who was among nine killed last year in the shooting at Mother Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina, will take part in a roundtable conversation Tuesday, Feb. 9, at 7 PM, at United Methodist-related Duke University in Durham, N.C. The free event, "Reflections on Charleston: A Conversation on Faith and Race," will be Webcast by live-stream video .   Read press release To watch live stream .

Also, please be sure to read Bishop Peggy Johnson's newest, timely essay in her Bishop's Blog, titled  Black History Month: Honoring Seeds of Sacrifice .

Order Society of St. Andrew Lenten devotions 
Lent begins this year with Ash Wednesday on Feb. 10. The Society of St. Andrew in Big Island, Va., a United Methodist partner, offers Lenten daily devotions, written by pastors and lay people from all walks of life. The booklets are titled "While Still Far Off." The society asks for orders by Jan. 29 for timely delivery.  To order 
Southeast District UMW to examine U.S. immigration

The Southeast District United Methodist Women will host a leading immigration justice advocate to address this critical issue on Saturday, Feb. 20, at Marshallton UMC in West Chester. Janis Rosheuvel is Executive Secretary for Racial Justice for the global UMW, based in New York.  An expert in international development, migration and crime, conflict resolution and gender rights, she formerly directed and led organizing for a New York-based network of immigrants resisting mass incarceration and deportation. Born in Guyana, South America, she was a Fulbright Scholar and documented the work of social movements organized by migrants, shack dwellers and other working class activists in South Africa. The event will begin at 9 AM with a brunch, followed by a discussion at 10 AM. Contact: Barbara J. McIntosh at  610-524-1448 610-524-1448 or
Task force issues report on core values for Episcopal leadership
The Council of Bishops Task Force on Human Sexuality, Gender and Race has issued a report for members of the Council of Bishops outlining a list of seven core values formulated for council members and the denomination. Task force members encouraged fellow bishops to join them in living up to these values.

"From the beginning, we focused on the question how we as bishops live faithful to the call 'to guard the faith, to seek the unity, and to exercise the discipline of the whole church....'," states the report. "We committed ourselves to intensify our prayer lives and to ask colleagues to do the same, to learn from our colleagues how to offer pastoral care to all people, to provide room for intensive conversations and to share learning material within the Council."  Learn more...
Global Ministries groundbreaking offers hope to Atlanta
A groundbreaking for the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries' move to Atlanta occurred Tuesday, Jan. 19. The event attracted local media coverage as well as attendance by Atlanta city officials, who touted the 150 jobs that come with the move.   Read SaportaReport story.   Watch WSB-TV report.
Black church music, worship center established
EVANSTON, Ill. (UMNS) - Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary announced the founding of a new Center for Music and Worship in the Black Church Experience. The center's mission is to provide training in the sacred music of the black church and beyond to musicians and worship leaders for the enrichment of congregational worship in diverse contexts. Garrett-Evangelical is one of 13 United Methodist theological schools.   Read press release
Follow United Methodist news on Facebook and Twitter
Want to follow developments as the 2016 General Conference approaches? You can find the latest news on the UMNS Facebook page and Twitter feed.
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Episcopal nominations deadline Feb. 1
As the 2016 Northeastern Jurisdictional Conference delegation of the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference continues its work, one of the great responsibilities of the delegation is to identify the individual or individuals who will represent the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference as candidate(s) for the Episcopacy. The Eastern PA General and Jurisdictional delegates request interested clergy and lay members to submit up to two names of persons the Conference may consider as Episcopal nominees.
Learn more...
New Conference committee leaders needed. Nominations by Feb. 15 
The Eastern Pennsylvania Conference is seeking resourceful and committed persons who have vision, leadership skills and a passion to serve on Conference boards, committees and ministries for the 2016-2020 Quadrennium.  The EPC  Nominations Committee requests that you indicate your willingness to serve or nominate other possible leaders.  More information and forms at . The deadline for submissions is Feb. 15.

All persons who want to serve or recommend someone for service must submit an online Leadership and Service Interest Form or contact the Nominations Committee directly by Feb. 15. All potential nominees will be contacted before making any commitment to serve. Learn more and download the Brochure and mail-in form, "Ways to Serve. " Also see the Descriptions of Conference Committees & Agencies.
Virginia bishop to inspire clergy at joint retreat
Bishop Young Jin Cho, who once led the largest congregation in one of the UMC's largest conferences, is the first Korean-American bishop of the Southeastern Jurisdiction. The deeply spiritual episcopal leader believes in growing leaders and churches from the inside out. He will share that message with clergy leaders of the Eastern PA and Peninsula-Delaware conferences during their joint Lenten Day Apart on Monday, Feb. 8. Learn more...
Basic Training for Worship Planters
Are you interested or feel called to create a new worship service for new people? Do you want to know what goes into a successful new worship launch?  Come learn at the Basic Training for Worship PlantersFeb. 12, from 4:30 to 9 PM, and Feb. 13, from 8:30 AM to 5 PM, at Boehm's UMC, 13 W Boehm's Road, Willow Street. This two-day training led by church planting coaches Jim and Kim Griffith will teach about identifying people, gathering them together, and planning compelling worship services that move people from guest to committed disciple. Open to teams and individuals. Costs, schedule, and registration are online at This event is co-sponsored by the Eastern PA Conference, the Southwest District, and Boehm's UMC.
Hopewell offers new Lenten resource
Once again, Hopewell UMC is offering a new Bible study for Lent to all Eastern PA churches free of charge.  Ponderings of the Heart: A Mother's Reflections  features seven Elders from the Southeast District who help us to consider what the discipleship of Jesus' mother, Mary, means for our lives today.  The study is designed to begin after Ash Wednesday and conclude in the week following Easter.  To receive a  free  study kit which includes a DVD, leader guide, and worksheets for small group study, order at ; or contact Hopewell UMC at  610.269.1545 610.269.1545 ; or e-mail Deb Boyd at
Annual Sistas' Tea About HIV 
March is National Women's History Month and March 10 is National Women & Girl's HIV/AIDS Awareness Day. The H.U.B. of Hope, a multi-faith HIV/AIDS Ministry affiliated with the Eastern PA Conference, will convene its 5th Annual Sistas Tea about HIV for women and girls over age 14 on Saturday, March 12, from 2 to 4 PM, at Milestone Events, 600 E. Market Street in West Chester. The program will feature guest speakers, table decorations and prizes, music and dance. Free rapid HIV Testing will be offered from 1 to 3:30 PM by the Chester County Health Department. Tickets ($8.75 per person or $70 for a table of 8) are available from the UM Church of the Open Door, 210 S. Broad Street, Kennett Square, PA 19348; Attn: Rev. Dr. Deborah Tanksley-Brown. See and share the event flyer. 
Register now for Faith-Sharing Seminar, March 19
Register now to attend the Eastern PA Conference's 4th Annual Faith Sharing Seminar March 19, from 9 AM to 3 PM, at New Hanover UMC, 2211 Swamp Pike, Gilbertsville, PA 19525. Bring a team of your church and community leaders to hear the Rev. Romal Tune, a dynamic, daring, faith-inspired speaker, movement leader and author. The pre-registration deadline is March 3, and the cost is only $10 per personLearn more...
Ads sought for NEJ Conference Program Book
The Eastern PA Conference is soliciting ads for a souvenir program booklet it will publish for the UMC Northeastern Jurisdictional Conference, July 11-15, which we will host at the Lancaster Marriott at Penn Square in Lancaster, Pa. A letter of invitation and ad submission form, offering various ad sizes and prices, was e-mailed widely today, with an April 30 deadline for submissions. Proceeds from advertising space purchases will help fund two United Methodist mission causes and help cover conference costs. The mission causes are: the Imagine No Malaria campaign, the denomination's effort to eradicate a disease that has taken countless lives especially among children in Africa; and LUMINA, Lancaster United Methodist Inner-City Alliance, which serves individuals, families, and youth. Learn more...
2016  Changing Racism Training Events
Two Changing Racism Training Events will be held in 2016,  April 1 - 3 and  Oct. 28-30,  both at the  new location,  the Daylesford Abbey in Paoli.  Register online . The cost is $300.
YES Youth Retreat and Vocational Intern Program
Two great opportunities for introducing young people to ministry careers are available through the Eastern PA Conference Cabinet and Board of Ordained Ministry. The next retreat will be held April 16, 2016, 10 AM to 4:30 PM, at Cedarville UMC, 1092 Laurelwood Road, Pottstown. Registration begins in January. The event is for youth in grades 9-12. 

Congregations and college students can mutually benefit from this program next summer. Interns who sense a call to serve God through ministry and want some experience can partner with pastors in serving churches and communities. The church provides half the salary and housing if needed, and the Board of Ordained Ministry provides the other half for a total intern salary of $3000. Applications are due by May 1, 2016. For more information call Pastor Matt Heckman at 717-273-0525 or Pastor Rob Timlin at 717-665-3400. Tell your college students while they are home for Christmas about being a VIP in the Vocational Intern Program. 
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
Associate Members and Local Pastors plan 2016 retreat 
The Fellowship of Associate Members and Local Pastors of the Eastern PA and Peninsula-Delaware conferences will retreat together April 24-26, 2016, at Black Rock Retreat Center, 1345 Kirkwood Pike, Quarryville, PA. Associate Members, Local Pastors, Student Pastors and Certified Lay Ministers are all invited to attend and may earn 2.0 CEUs.  Online Registration is open now. For more information contact Mark Beiderman at 610-585-0575.  Download the brochure, which contains a registration form.
Missed any past issues of NEWSpirit Digest?
You can still read or share informative, colorful back issues of our weekly e-newsletter on the Eastern PA Conference Website at 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!
Please Save These Dates! 
May 10-20, 2016: UMC General Conference, Portland, OR
June 16-18, 2016: Eastern PA Annual Conference, Lancaster Marriott at Penn Square, Lancaster, PA
July 10-16, 2016: EPA Conference to host the 2016 UMC Northeastern  
Jurisdictional Conference Lancaster County Convention Center and the Penn Square Marriott Hotel. Each district will serve as the Hospitality Team for one day.
Eastern Pennsylvania Conference of The United Methodist Church
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