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January 6, 2017
Bishop Peggy Johnson announces new pastoral appointments and assignments:

Southeast District

  • Rev. Vicki Pry (Part Time Local Pastor) from Hopewell UMC Pastor of Caring Ministries (3/4 time) to Hopewell UMC Pastor of Spiritual Formation (1/2 time) effective January 1, 2017.
See the full list of appointments and retirements on our website.
Youth Rally to draw thousands for lessons on love
Nearly 500 Eastern PA Conference youth and adults will help thousands more fill the Ocean City, Md., Convention Center arena this weekend, Jan. 6-8, for the annual Peninsula-Delaware Conference Youth Rally. Safe from frigid temperatures outside, they'll turn up the heat inside with energetic praise and worship, creative fun and fellowship, and lively learning experiences.
So far, 336 youth and 118 adults, totaling 454, from 28 churches have pre-registered. But more may show up to add to the over 3,600 total attendees expected. As usual, they'll enjoy powerful praise and worship, along with generous helpings of wisdom and wit, all around the theme, "This Is Love," taken from 1 John 4:10.  Learn more...
Arch Street UMC hosts Day of Kings celebration
The Eastern PA Conference's Urban Commission invites all to attend a celebration of El Dia de los Reyes (Day of the Kings) today, Friday, Jan 6, from 7 to 9 PM, at Arch Street UMC in Philadelphia (55 N Broad St.).

This Epiphany celebration of the Magi's arrival with gifts for the newborn Christ child is an important Latino tradition. It will feature traditional Latin American foods, but church guests are invited to bring side dishes or desserts to share. They also need help with Three Kings gifts for boys and girls ($5 limit). Arch Street is a fitting location for this event. The church is providing sanctuary to Javier Flores , an undocumented Mexican immigrant seeking a special U.S. asylum visa, and his family. "What better way (is there) to practice incarnational worship than celebrating the story of Jesus and his family seeking refuge in Egypt just like Javier and standing in solidarity with them," reads the invitation sent by the Revs. Lydia Muñoz and Robin Hynicka, Arch Street pastor. "We hope you can all join us and start the new year with the three gifts we have already received....hope, faith and the greatest of these--love."
Bishops commission leaders offer Epiphany Message
The three moderators of the UMC Council of Bishops' new Commission on a Way Forward have published an  Epiphany Message  to celebrate this season and ask for prayers of the denomination. The moderators are Bishops David Yemba, Sandra Steiner Ball and Ken Carter.
Epiphany, which in Greek means divine manifestation, is when Christians celebrate Jesus Christ's revelation to the world as the prophesied Son of God. The commission begins this month to explore and dialogue about all that the UMC's Book of Discipline says about homosexuality and ordained ministry. It will make recommendations to a special session of General Conference that will gather in early 2019 to consider making any changes to church law.
"To celebrate Epiphany should lead us to celebrate the lordship of Emmanuel, Jesus Christ, the Son of God," reads the moderators' message, "because God has manifested himself to humankind in his Son so that through and in his Son we can know God and grow in relationship with God and with one another. Here is our prayer for the people called United Methodists wherever they may be serving in ministry and mission, and particularly for the members of the Commission on A Way Forward: In this year of particular challenges, let us celebrate Epiphany in the spirit of making Jesus Christ not only our Lord but also the Lord of lords."
For more information about Epiphany, a day that encompasses multiple religious observances, see " Lessons of Epiphany " by Yvette Moore, Director of Communications for United Methodist Women.
Join us in Praying Our Way Forward Jan. 8-14
Churches and leaders received this week a special letter from Bishop Peggy Johnson and a special flyer to share and display to encourage broad support for the conference-wide Week of Prayer, Jan. 8-14. Everyone is asked to pray together for a full week, part of a denomination-wide effort to prayer for "the church's effectiveness in fulfilling our mission of making disciples and for the outcome of the work of the Council of Bishops' Commission on a Way Forward."
A daily Prayer Guide , prepared by spiritual director Maryanne Ditter, can be downloaded from our website to help facilitate daily prayers during the week.
The 32-member global commission of lay and clergy church members will convene this month to begin examining fully the church's laws and teachings on homosexuality and determine whether to recommend requested changes to a special session of General Conference in 2019. The denomination's unity and effectiveness hangs in the balance due to strong division along ideological lines. Learn more ...
  Also, Bishop Johnson invites everyone to attend a  conference prayer service on Wednesday, Jan. 11 at 7 PM at Lima UMC , 209 N. Middletown Road, Lima, PA. The evening will feature a "concert of prayer," including readings, responses, songs and prayers.  Meanwhile, the  Northwest District  will also sponsor a special prayer service and vigil at  First UMC Schuylkill Haven  at 420 Saylor Street, Jan. 11, beginning at 6 PM. The service will include congregational, individual and small-group prayers. A concert of prayer will follow from 7 to 9 PM, after which attendees will be invited "to linger and abide in prayer" throughout the night until dawn. 
Healthy Families Series webinar on clergy family health
Discipleship Ministries will sponsor its next Healthy Families Series webinar Jan. 10, at 3 PM, this one focusing on "Tackling Challenges of Clergy Families." This webinar looks at the unique stresses for clergy families including sexism and racism and how the church can be supportive and demonstrate God's love for families across many experiences. This webinar will be recorded and will be available in their webinar archive for those who cannot attend the live event. Earn .7 CEU's by listening to all of the Healthy Family webinars through Feb. 7.  Details

Also, the Tuesday, Feb. 7 webinar in the Healthy Families Series will focus on "Financial Health: Setting Healthy Goals," a discussion on how to nurture healthy giving, saving, and spending habits in your family and include ideas for teaching children about  money.  Details
Celebrate Human Relations Day Sunday Jan. 15
On Human Relations Day, Jan.15, United Methodists will answer God's call to empower people who struggle by equipping change agents seeking to transform the world. The churchwide special offering received on this Sunday aids ministries that help people reach their potential. Casa del Pueblo at Lehman UMC in Hatboro, a Community Developer project supported by the offering, works to improve the lives of Latino neighbors through an affordable music education program for childrenand youth, among other ministries. Grace UMC in Chester has also received funds for its community development efforts. See resources...

Also, please remember that Bishop Peggy Johnson invites all of us to focus on social justice in 2017, and she urges preachers to preach on this growing concern on Sunday, Jan. 15, to honor civil rights icon the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. on his birthday. "The coming of Christ is forever connected to fostering right relationships between people," Johnson writes in her new Bishop's Blog essay, "and it is a key part of the gospel that we need to preach in our pulpits and model in our ministries. John Wesley, our Methodist founder, said, 'There is no holiness but social holiness.'"   Learn more...
Celebrating King's birthday in worship and ministry
For more than 47 years, First UMC of Germantown (6001 Germantown Ave, Philadelphia) has held special events to celebrate the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s birthday. Swarthmore College president Valerie Smith, a distinguished African-American literature scholar, will speak at the church on Sunday, Jan. 15 at 11 AM. The worship service will include a selection of Spirituals and Freedom songs to honor Dr. King, and the church will present its annual Racial and Social Justice Award.
Other churches will celebrate King's actual birthday on Sunday, the 15th, or the national observance date on Monday, Jan. 16. For example, Berwyn UMC will be one of thousands of national " MLK Day of Service" sites on the 16 th, as they welcome volunteers to help load a Mission Central truck with computer equipment and medical supplies that they will collect on the 14th and to help build relief kits for UMCOR.
Please write and tell us what your church will do to celebrate MLK's birthday, whether on its own or in collaboration with other churches or community groups. The conference Communications Office and Commission on Religion and Race together are seeking information on MLK Day observance plans. We will list your events on our website next week. We also want to know about churches that are involved in any kind of dialogue or other activity that focuses on improving racial understanding and race relations. Please write to or call 484-762-8227 and let us know. Thanks!
Associate members, local pastors register for April retreat by Jan. 15
All local pastors and associate clergy members of the Philadelphia Area (Eastern PA and Peninsula-Delaware conferences) are invited to attend the  Fellowship of Associate Ministers and Local Pastors (FAMLP) annual retreat April 23-25, at the Black Rock Retreat Center , 1345 Kirkwood Pike, Quarryville, PA.  Student pastors and Certified Lay Ministers are also welcome. The retreat offers a prime opportunity for pastors to enjoy and benefit from important learning, reflection and fellowship together in a beautiful, natural setting, set apart from their busy lives and ministries.

The Rev. Rodney H. Shearer, Ph.D., former Director of Mentored Ministry and Assistant Professor of Christian Ministry, will teach and lead a discussion on "The Authority of Scripture." CEUs will be given. The cost is $275 for single occupancy or $225 per person for double occupancy. The price includes 2 nights and 5 meals. Full payment is due by Jan. 15 and is non-refundable after Jan. 20. Learn more and register online...
Districts dig deeper into real talk about race
Four districts will dive deeper into their exploration of racial understanding and race relations in January and February with upcoming dialogues that may lead to more. Clergy and laity from all districts are invited to attend.  Learn more...
FOHS to celebrate Holy Spirit again Jan. 20
FOHS (Full of the Holy Spirit), a mostly Latino youth worship and praise ministry, invites all youth to attend the next  FOHS gathering Friday, Jan. 20, 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. 
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 prayer, praise and study events coming in the Spring:
  • April 23-25 - Local Pastors and Associate Members Retreat. At Black Rock Retreat Center, Quarryville, PA. Theme: "The Authority of Scripture."
  • April 29: Tools for Ministry (possibly including classes on prayer, worship and other spiritual disciplines). Times and locations determined by districts.
More Local Church Events
Jan. 14: Berwyn UMC's Used Computer & Medical Supply Collection, 9 AM to 12 noon. They will collect anything computer-related to be refurbished and donated to non-profit organizations, as well as new or gently used medical equipment and unopened medical supplies to support Project CURE. Learn more ...
Jan. 15: Janes Memorial UMC Men's Day Celebration , featuring special prayer breakfast and worship speakers, respectively, Marcus Allen, Executive Director of Big Brothers Big Sisters, and Ukee Washington, Co-anchor of CBS 3's Eyewitness News. Learn more...
Please send us your special church event announcements to add to our Local Church Events page .
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!
Eastern Pennsylvania Conference of The United Methodist Church
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