January 29, 2021
NEWS & VIEWS
Bishop Peggy A. Johnson announces the following appointments & assignments effective July 1, 2021, unless otherwise stated:
East District
  • Rev. Lorraine Foster (Licensed Local Pastor) to serve North Wales, Sanctuary UMC (effective 1/1/21)
  • Rev. Towanda N.T. Connelly (Provisional Elder) to serve Morrisville UMC, full-time
  • Janet Gratz (Christ Servant Minister, Lay Supply) to serve Norristown: Asbury UMC (effective 4/1/21)
  • William Gary George (Retired Elder) from Philadelphia: Emmanuel UMC to serve Philadelphia: Green Lane UMC
  • James Duckett (Retired Local Pastor) from Croydon: Wilkinson Memorial to serve Philadelphia: Emmanuel UMC
  • Daniel Bobrowicz (Christ Servant Minister, Lay Supply) to serve Croydon: Wilkinson Memorial UMC
Annual Conference resolutions due by March 5
It has been a long tradition of the Eastern PA Annual Conference to have spirited debate during sessions using resolutions. We will meet May 20-22 using Zoom, a platform in which debate can be challenging. Bishop Peggy Johnson urges Conference members to keep resolutions to a minimum or to not submit any at all and wait until we are in person again. 

Conference committees are encouraged to simply send in written reports about what is important for people to know and to do. A short video could also be submitted and viewed if time allows. In this way we are sharing information and urging action but not engaging in tedious Parliamentary procedures in Zoom’s chat function.

This year’s session will include resolutions with legislative debate and amendments allowed. But the plan is to reduce the amount of session time given to debate and amendments by urging all members to read resolutions once they are published and respond promptly with any questions and suggested revisions to resolution authors.  

All resolutions are due to the Conference Secretary, the Rev. Jacqueline Hines, by March 5. Any revisions the authors make to their initial resolutions, in response to questions and suggestions, will be due to the Conference Secretary by April 2. Perfected resolutions will be published by April 13. The Conference Commission on Sessions made these and other decisions to ensure efficiency and fairness at its Jan. 12 meeting. Please read the statement and instructions for submitting Resolutions to AC2021 on our website and follow the instructions carefully. And please observe the two deadlines: March 5 for initial submissions and April 2 for revised submissions. Learn more...
‘Come to the Water’ 
Baptism photos, videos sought for Annual Conference
With the theme “Come to the Water,” the Eastern PA Conference’s Connectional Ministries will celebrate the ministry of baptism and confirmation in our Annual Conference in 2021. We would love to share photos, videos and stories of church baptisms and confirmations, if permitted by the families involved, as part of our celebration at Annual Conference and throughout the year.  

If you have or can obtain photos or videos of baptisms or confirmations performed by your church, please share them with us. Send them to our NEWSpirit Communications office at communications@epaumc.org. Photos of confirmation classes on Zoom are welcome, too.  

A selection of submitted baptism and confirmation photos and video scenes received by April 5 may be used in our Connectional Ministries video report to Annual Conference on May 21. Others may be used throughout 2021 in ongoing promotion of our theme “Come to the Water.” Learn more…
EPA Conf. scholarships seek support, applicants
Eastern PA Conference Scholarships are awarded for the fall and spring semesters to undergraduate and graduate students who have been active members of a church in our conference for at least two years. For many, these vital scholarships are one of Eastern PA’s best-kept secrets but are deserving of much more awareness and support.
 
March 1 is the application deadline for our scholarships for the fall semester. More information is available online
 
You can help fund our scholarships by mailing donations to the Eastern PA UMC Conference Treasurer’s Office at P.O. Box 820, Valley Forge, PA 19482. Please indicate “Conference Scholarships” or “Conference Ordained Ministry Scholarships” in the memo line of your checks. Or you can give electronically by using our convenient online giving page

Also, read “21 Conference students awarded UMC scholarships,” which reports that 21 Eastern PA Conference students received scholarships in 2020 awarded by the UMC General Board of Higher Education and Ministry. Learn more...
UPDATE/CORRECTION:

A joint meeting for African American members of the Eastern PA and Peninsula-Delaware conferences will happen on Zoom March 18. The correct time is 6:30 to 8:30 PM.
Asbury provides wheelchairs for 50 Liberians
KAKATA, Liberia (UM News) — Alice M. Nyankolor said her new wheelchair is a blessing that offers her a sense of independence. She is among 50 recipients of new wheelchairs shipped by Asbury United Methodist Church in Allentown, Pennsylvania, through its Barrels of Love ministry and United Methodist partnerships. E Julu Swen has the story. Read story
Virtual Urban Summit 2021, April 24 & May 1  
The Eastern PA Conference Urban Commission will sponsor its next Virtual Urban Summit with “Kick-off Events” on two Saturdays, April 24 and May 1, 10 AM to 12:15 PM on Zoom. With the theme “God Has Not Left Our Cities,” the two-day event will include a Virtual Urban Youth Summit and precede a series of three mini-Urban Summits being planned for later in the year. 

The main summit will feature “dynamic presenters who will share their abundant wisdom, energy and experiences to help stir up our gifts and passion for radical, innovative urban ministry,” say event planners. The Youth Summit will “tackle hard facts with faith and strategies in a town hall summit addressing issues of violence, trauma, substance abuse, and other concerns. They will create new ways to become peer advocates and birth innovative youth ministries.” A healing service will involve adults and youth serving in healing ministries in urban communities. 

Presenters confirmed include the Revs. Rudy Rasmus, Joseph Daniels, Myra Maxwell and Rashawn Clark. Breakout groups will explore an array of urban concerns and ministry opportunities.

The Summit is being planned for pastors, laity, deacons, youth, district superintendents, missioners, and other persons interested in Urban Ministry and being in ministry with the poor. A series of mini-Urban Summits on Zoom will follow in July, September and November 2021. A flyer and registration page will be published online next week.
Virtual worship is here for good 
EL PASO, Texas (UM News) — If there's a positive side to the coronavirus for churches, it's that many of them have dramatically upped their game online. Internet responsibilities have increased the workload of pastors, who will get even busier as churches return to normal after the pandemic eases. Read story   
Holistic health around the world
In the first "Get Your Spirit in Shape" episode of 2021, Kathleen Griffith of the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries reminds people to care for their whole selves — mind, body and spirit. Griffith also shares how the agency's Abundant Health Initiative met its ambitious goal of reaching 1 million children with lifesaving intervention. Listen to podcast.
LEARNING EVENTS
Webinar focuses on race and AIDS, Feb. 1
The United Methodist Global AIDS Committee plans to focus on racial disparities in addressing HIV and AIDS during its webinar Feb. 1, at 2 PM. That focus will include a panel that supports the UMC’s Dismantling Racism initiative, multi-level effort to initiate a sustained and coordinated effort to dismantle racism and promote collective action to work toward racial justice. 

Racial disparities are evident when assessing HIV and AIDS statistics regarding health care, education, and housing in the United States. We have also witnessed those disparities in the COVID pandemic. Panelists will discuss how we can better understand these disparities and work to ameliorate them, as well as how the church can respond to these realities. 

This is the second in a series of webinars planned for the coming months to educate, support, and advocate for those affected by HIV/AIDS. The complimentary session will be made available online through Facebook.com/UMCglobalaidsfund and archived on their website.

The UM Global AIDS Committee – established by the UMC’s 2004 General Conference – has sought to strengthen the church’s compassionate response to those affected with HIV/AIDS by helping to stem the tide of the pandemic through education and advocacy. Subsequent free webinars will be held April 1 and June 1 of 2021. Learn moreTo watch on Facebook
This Holy Mystery: UM Study of Holy Communion   
The Eastern PA Conference Board of Ordained Ministry offers a new study of Holy Communion led by the Revs. Candy LaBar and Gary Knerr, in two sessions on Zoom: Saturday, April 24, 9:00-11:30 AM and Saturday, May 8, 9:00-11:30 AM
 
This Holy Mystery: A UM Study of Holy Communion, via Zoom, is designed to help all church leaders -- and in particular, licensed local pastors and lay-supply pastors -- to wrestle with this theological foundation of Holy Communion. 
 
To participate, individuals should read Gayle Carlton Felton's book This Holy Mystery (available at cokesbury.com), including Wesley's sermon, “On the Duty of Constant Communion” (in the workbook). The registration deadline is Tuesday April 6. 0.5 CEUs will be offered to those who complete this course. You must participate in BOTH classes as they will not be recorded. Register today. Learn more…
AROUND THE UM CONNECTION
Hanging tough, moving forward
Disaster victims and relief workers showed resilience in 2020 as church buildings and members were knocked around by wildfires, derechos, hurricanes and tornadoes. Roland Fernandes, top executive of UM Global Ministries and the United Methodist Committee on Relief, said the struggles helped bring people together. Jim Patterson reports. Read story  
UM Publishing House cuts more jobs
The United Methodist Publishing House, in Nashville, continues to see sharply reducing sales during the COVID-19 pandemic, prompting another 32 layoffs. After the current reduction, the agency will have 161 staff, down from about 300 at the beginning of 2020. The self-supporting agency has taken other cost-cutting measures while also responding to churches' online curriculum needs, including offering new Lenten and vacation Bible school products. The Publishing House's Nashville, Tenn., headquarters remains up for sale. Read press release. Publishing House among pandemic victims.
UMC Bishops to meet in one-day session on February 18
The UMC’s more than 150 active and retired bishops will have a one-day virtual meeting Feb. 18, at 9 AM. Technology and travel restrictions have given the Council of Bishops opportunities to meet more often than the usual twice-a-year-in-person meetings.
 
They will discuss the current situation of the global denomination and reflect on the mission and ministry of the church in the wake of the global pandemic that has affected many aspects of the church and community life. The bishops plan to also have their regular spring meeting April 26-30.
Pastoring while COVID-19 positive
COLUMBIA, Mo. — More than a dozen Missouri Conference clergy serving local churches have contracted COVID-19. A few of those shared their experiences with Fred Koenig, conference publications editor. Read story
Africa University choir founder dies at 83
MUTARE, Zimbabwe — Patrick Matsikenyiri, song leader, hymn writer and world-renowned teacher of African music, died suddenly Jan. 15 of complications related to COVID-19. He was 83. Among other contributions, Matsikenyiri established Africa University's music education program and choir. Read story Read Discipleship Ministries tribute
Duke adds hybrid M.Div. program
DURHAM, N.C. — Duke Divinity School has announced a new hybrid program that will let students earn a Master of Divinity degree without relocating to the Durham campus. Duke Divinity, a United Methodist seminary, also has added 12 scholarships — covering up to 100% of tuition — for students committed to ministry. Read press release
RESOURCES
Marking Ash Wednesday safely  
With COVID-19 still a threat, worship leaders are urging increased caution in observing Ash Wednesday on Feb. 17. An ecumenical team convened by three United Methodists, two of them from Candler School of Theology, produced a six-page guide to reduce health risks as Christians mark the start of Lent. The guide draws on a range of experts, including the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. Read guide
Free GCORR small-group resource for Lent
The General Commission on Religion and Race (GCORR) has a free Lenten resource to help small groups grow closer to God. Roll Down, Justice!, a Lenten Biblical reflection written by Faye Wilson, features music and reflections by Mark Miller and poses the following questions to believers: 
  • What are you prepared to give in order to have a closer walk with God?
  • What can you give in order to embrace anew the work of justice?

Miller has written a collection of songs, lyrics, and music, which remind us of the work we each have to do to “seek justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with our God.” Roll Down, Justice! is based on six songs in a book/CD set. The songs are offered as six videos, each with a study guide. Learn more…
Creating change when stuck in sameness
In the latest episode of the "Compass Podcast," Tony Caldwell, a psychoanalytic psychotherapist, discusses resilience and how to identify ways we can move forward in hope when so many of our circumstances feel stuck in sameness. Listen to podcast
Using hashtags effectively for engagement
Hashtags, those words or phrases with a tic-tac-toe symbol at the front, are where social engagement happens. The goal is to capture the theme or idea behind an event or topic in one or two words. The Rev. Jeremy Steele, associate pastor at Los Altos United Methodist Church, offers some best practices. Read tips
Saving Grace offers guide on personal finances
Wespath Benefits and Investments and the United Methodist Publishing House have released "Saving Grace: A Guide to Financial Well-Being," a new personal money-management curriculum guided by Wesleyan values that seeks to promote financial wellness with clergy and laity. Resources are available through the Publishing House's online platform, AmplifyMedia.com. They also can be purchased on Cokesbury.com and Amazon.com. Read press release To see videos To order Saving Grace curriculum
Missionary visits on Zoom to continue monthly
Despite the pandemic UM missionaries remain deeply engaged in work around the world. Normally, a number of them “itinerate” each year to visit the churches and individuals that support them in ministry. COVID-19 has put a stop to most travel but that doesn’t mean the missionaries aren’t available to meet virtually! 

Each month, through the #StillinMission series we invite four missionaries to be in conversation with laity and clergy throughout the church to share the joys and challenges they’ve experienced. You can join them on Zoom on the day and time noted below. Registration is required.

Download and share the #StillinMission flyers for Feb. 4, at 7 PM and March 4, at 1 PM. The four missionaries to be featured in February are: 
  • Ho Yan Lee, Advance #3022576: Peacebuilder-Facilitator, Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies, Cambodia.
  • Juarez Goncalves, Advance #315340: Conference Coordinator for Latino Ministries and Church Developer for Brazilian Ministries, U.S.
  • Clara Biswas, Advance #13952Z: Director of Street Children Ministry, Cambodia
  • Brenda Nguwa, Advance #3022121: Coordinator for Youth Ministry and Social Outreach Programs, Indonesia
UMCom scholarship, fellowship, apply by March 15
Persons interested in pursuing a career in religious communications can receive higher education support from United Methodist Communications. March 15 is the application deadline for a UMCom scholarship and fellowship. 

“We believe it is vital to have professional communicators who reflect the diversity of the global United Methodist Church,” shares Gary Henderson, UMCom’s Chief Relationship Officer. “Our fellowship and scholarship...provide critical training and experience for people interested in serving the church in this way.” The agency’s annual financial assistance options include:
  • The $6,000 Stoody-West Fellowship assists one United Methodist student in their post-graduate study at an accredited U.S. college or university who intends on pursuing a career in religious journalism. 
  • The $2,500 Leonard M. Perryman Communications Scholarship for Racial Ethnic Minority Students is awarded to an ethnic minority UM undergraduate pursuing religion journalism or mass communications at an accredited U.S. college or university. 

Details and application information are available at www.ResourceUMC.org in the Communications section.  
REMINDERS
Eastern PA Annual Conference set for May 20-22
The 236th session of the Eastern PA Annual Conference, May 20-22, will take place mostly online for a second consecutive year, after making history with that first-time format in 2020. The conference business session will again be held via a Zoom webinar, with pre-recorded reports and eBallot voting on Friday, May 21. Non-members will again be able to view the session livestreamed on the Conference’s Facebook page.

This year’s session will include resolutions with legislative debate and amendments allowed. But the plan is for recommended amendments and revisions to occur mostly online once resolutions are made public and before the conference meets. The deadline to receive resolutions is March 5. Recommended revisions and amendments will be accepted until April 2. Learn more...
Jan. 31 Cabinet sermon illuminates Jesus’ ‘New teaching’
The Bumkoo Chung, West District Superintendent, offers a new sermon for churches to use in worship on Sunday, Jan. 31, or another appropriate Sunday. His sermon, “New Teaching,” is taken from Mark 1:21-28. It can be viewed on the Conference YouTube channel and downloaded from the Conference’s Dropbox account.
The federal government’s new PPP2 loans are available first to applicants, including churches, who did not receive a PPP1 loan last year. But eligibility for the aid will expand soon for churches that have already received PPP1 grants and can demonstrate a 25 percent decline in their “gross receipts” in at least one 2020 quarter, compared to the same quarter in 2019. Learn more...
Time for Souper Bowl of Caring Challenge 
Will your church participate in the annual, nationwide Souper Bowl of Caring mission outreach event to tackle hunger while coinciding with Pro Football’s Super Bowl on Sunday, Feb. 7? Please let us know before or after, and please send us information and photos of your activities to communications@epaumc.org
Wesley UMC in Bethlehem is gearing up for its Souper Bowl of Caring Challenge to support New Bethany Ministries, which operates a food pantry and serves meals to about 150 people. Wesley already collects food pantry donations on first Sundays, as members drop requested items inside a shopping cart in the church’s atrium.
But to coincide with America’s biggest sports championship, the church will collect cans of soup--providing a healthier meal than many fans will consume on that special occasion. And since this will be Super Bowl LV, their goal is 555 cans. Please let us know what your church will do.
Missionaries Mark, Deirdre Zimmerman: The gift of being present
Dr. Mark and Deirdre Zimmerman are UM Global Ministries missionaries serving in Kathmandu, Nepal, and supported by Eastern PA Conference churches. Mark, a physician, and Deirdre, a nutritionist, care for patients at Patan Hospital and others through community outreach programs. 

In this podcast conversation, they talk about their life as a missionary couple and as parents, and how being fully present to patients, students, colleagues, and to God, helps them in their work of sharing the love of Jesus by caring for the physical needs of others. Learn more...
2020 Statistical Reports due April 30
The Conference Treasurer’s Office e-mailed its Statistical Reports letter to churches this week, Completed reports are due by April 30, using the EZRA Data Management System of the UMC’s General Board of Finance and Administration at http://ezra.gcfa.org. Each church’s online username is its six-digit GCFA ID Number, which can be found on its monthly remittance statement or its 2019 Statistical Report. 
 
There is one username per church; but more than one person can enter data by using the same password. For a password, type in “stat2020” (without quotation marks), using all lowercase and no spaces. Churches should contact their District Office if they need assistance . Learn More
Online prayer scheduled for Christian unity
GENEVA — The World Council of Churches invites the global ecumenical family and friends to join a livestreamed public prayer service at 8 a.m. U.S. Eastern time Jan. 25, the final day of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. This year's theme, from the Gospel of John: "Abide in my love and you shall bear much fruit." Read invitation
Jason Moore will teach us creative, transformative strategies for worshiping both online and in-person when churches return to their sanctuaries. Tuesday, Feb. 9, 10 AM-12:30 PM. (The time was recently extended a half-hour.) 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 “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.”  . Learn more
Dismantling Racism II to explore Latinx experience with racism
The Conference’s next Dismantling Racism—Level 2 training event will explore “The Hispanic/Latino (Latinx) Experience—Racism: the Struggle is Real!” All are invited to participate in what should be a fascinating, three-hour webinar on Zoom, on Saturday, Feb. 27, from 9 AM to noon. Register online now!
 
Sponsored by the Conference’s Healing the Wounds of Racism Core Team, this timely seminar will feature several experts who will offer diverse cultural, social, historical and personal perspectives on the racial experiences of Latinx people and the intersection with their faith and religion. The last Dismantling Racism—Level 2 webinar, held last September, focused on the Asian American experience with racism.
 
The Rev. Irving Cotto, a pastor and co-chairman of the Conference’s Latino Commission, and the Rev. Alicia Julia-Stanley, a pastor who co-chairs the Conference Commission on Religion and Race, will co-host the webinar. Register online now!
 
Invited speakers are:
New Bible studies for a new year
The beginning of a new year is a popular time to dive into a new Bible study, as is Lent, which is coming soon. During the pandemic when we may not be meeting in person, many UM churches are offering online group studies. Others are going the independent study route, finding a book and moving through it at their own pace.

Whether you’re with a small group or going it alone, consider these recommendations that UMCom writer Crystal Caviness compiled based on recommendations by staff at The United Methodist Publishing House. You may reach her by email or at 615-742-5138. Learn more...
New Houses of Worship Security Self-Assessment Tool
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) provides this Houses of Worship Security Self-Assessment Tool. Prepared by the DHS Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), it is a security planning resource useful for church facilities. This tool along with other faith-based resources are located on the Faith Based Organization-Houses of Worship (FBO-HOW) resource page,  Learn more…
Conversations about Racism and The UMC
Watch the recording of this important conversation about racism in our churches and religious institutions with the editor (the Rev. Rudy Rasmus) and writers of the new Abingdon Press book I'm Black. I'm Christian. I'm Methodist. In the book, 10 Black women and men explore their lives through the lenses of their 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. The moderator is GCORR’s M. Garlinda Burton.  WATCH NOW. Buy and learn more about I'm Black. I'm Christian. I'm Methodist.
New Lenten Bible Study: Character Matters
Two new videos available on YouTube promote the new Lenten Bible study being prepared by the Rev. Steve Morton and North District clergy. View the two promo videos, featuring: Bishop Peggy Johnson and Rev. Jennifer Frey, North District Assisting Elder. Learn more about the series: "New Lenten study to feature North District clergy."

The complete study will be available in early February. To access both the videos and Leader's Guide online, please go to https://www.epaumc.org/districts/north/ and click on "Bible Studies." If you would like a flash drive with the study mailed to you, please email Deb Boyd at dboyd@epaumc.org. (If needed, a DVD and paper copies can be mailed if you let Deb Boyd know by 2/1 that you will need that format instead).
Living with faith and doubt
Does being faithful mean being doubtless? The Rev. Brian McLaren talks on the Compass Podcast about his new book "Faith After Doubt." The podcast is a ministry of United Methodist Communications aimed at reaching spiritual seekers. Listen to podcast
Easter outreach resources available for churches
Many people in your community will be searching for a place to find renewal and hope this Easter. United Methodist Communications sells a wide variety of customizable outreach resources to invite people to church, including postcards, banners and digital tools. Use code “UMCEA21” to receive $150 off an order.  To order
Vanco now offers software for child care
Vanco, a digital-giving platform for churches, has acquired Smartcare, a provider of software specifically for child care centers. Vanco is part of the General Council on Finance and Administration's ministry partner program for churches. Read press release
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...
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...
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..
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...
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.
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.
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
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. 
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

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 13: Connectional Table Meeting (on Zoom)
  • Feb. 16, 23 & March 2, 9, 16, 23: CDT Book Club Discussions on Caste, Tuesdays 11 AM to noon,
  • February 27: Dismantling Racism Level II. Further details TBA.

March
  • March 5: Deadline for AC2021 Resolutions
  • 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 9: Bivocational & Small Church Network 2nd Meeting
  • March 13: Tools for Ministry. Download the flyer. Register.
  • March 18: State of the Black Church Meeting (with Pen-Del Conference)

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 2: CONAM Spring Learning & Fellowship Event (Zoom)
  • 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