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July 10, 2016
Bishop Peggy Johnson announces new pastoral appointments:  

Bishop Peggy A. Johnson announces the following clergy appointments, effective  July 1, 2016  unless otherwise noted.

Southwest District
  • Kevin Kresge (Certified Lay Minister) to Bird-in-Hand ¼ time - effective July 1, 2016
Leaders call for prayer, action after week of bloodshed

In the aftermath of fatal shootings of and by police officers last week, people of faith are responding with calls for vigilant prayer, intensive dialogue and public advocacy, all in the hopeful quest for some measure of social transformation. Will it do any good? No one knows, but doing nothing and surrendering to hopelessness is not an option.

Bishop Peggy Johnson offered her thoughts and an appeal for prayer and action in an essay titled "Starving for Justice, Running into the Chaos," on her Bishop's Blog.  The cry for justice "should haunt the soul of all Americans and all people of God," she writes. "America's devotion to its founding principles of 'freedom and justice for all' is sorely in need of an overhaul. When justice is denied to anyone it is denied to all; and all suffer for it, whether they know it or not."

The bishop both lauds and laments the Dallas police officers who lost their lives and suffered injuries while trying to protect protest marchers from "an angry, misguided assailant (who) wreaked deadly vengeance." His murderous rampage was reportedly in retaliation for last week's police killing of two young, black men in Louisiana and Minnesota who appeared to pose no threat to the officers.  

Bishop Johnson says she will convene her Cabinet next week to explore how to involve district and church leaders across the conference in dialogue and actions to address the deepening divide and growing conflict between police and racial-minority communities.

Moreover, Bishop Bruce Ough, President of the Council of Bishops, issued
an episcopal response to the string of killings. On the council's behalf, he called on United Methodists to engage in active response and to "pray that God will work through us to bear witness to Christ's call to bring healing to a fractured community and a broken world."

Suggested plan for church response starts this week

Meanwhile, clergy in the Eastern PA Conference joined numerous others around the country, along with members of the Congressional Black Caucus, in an urgent conference call Friday morning, July 8, led by the Rev. Emanuel Cleaver III, Senior Pastor of St. James UMC in Kansas City, Mo. They discussed actions churches could take to address the violence that has gripped and despaired the nation over the past week. Local participants included the Rev. Anita Powell, Cabinet Dean and Central District Superintendent, along with clergy in and beyond her district.

Cleaver, son of UM clergyman and U.S. Congressman Emmanuel Cleaver II (D-Mo.), suggested pastors initiate a four-point plan of action with their churches beginning Sunday, July 10, in their quest to end the violence and growing rift between black communities and the police.

1. Intercede -- Pray to God for peace in the midst of violence, and seek God for solutions to cease violence in communities and end police brutality. Organize a full week of focused prayer, starting Sunday and occurring each day or night. One suggested time was at 9:06 PM, the time when Diamond Reynolds posted on Facebook live-streamed video of her partner, Philando Castile, as he lay dying in their car from a policeman's gunshots after a routine traffic stop. Castile was shot four times after he informed the officer he was legally armed but was reaching into his pocket for his wallet to show his driver's license and registration.

2. Invite -- Host town hall meetings with community leaders and residents to address the urgent problem of violence. Include young people, police and non-church members.

3. Address -- Host conversations about race in America and address realities.

4. Advocate -- Advocate for enhanced standards of training for uniformed police to encourage unbiased policing and help ensure that officers respond fairly and appropriately in crises.

Bishop Peggy Johnson encourages Eastern PA Conference churches and individuals to be lead voices in our communities in ending gun violence. "If we, as followers of Jesus who called us to peace, can lead the way, others will follow and solutions will succeed," she urged.

Several Cabinet members have e-mailed letters to their pastors urging them to enact the four-point plan to generate a response in their churches and communities

Bryan Miller, Executive Director of Heeding God's Call to End Gun Violence, a Philadelphia based interfaith movement involving many churches, agreed, "If faith communities and individuals organize, make their presence known, put action behind their prayers and beliefs, and are at the forefront of efforts at ending gun violence, change will happen."  (To find out more about Heeding God's Call visit or visit them on Facebook. Or contact the Rev. James McIntire, pastor of Hope UMC in Havertown, at

"I ask all congregations on the Southeast District to prayerfully consider how we can be peacemakers," wrote the Rev. Dawn Taylor-Storm, Superintendent, to her clergy leaders. "It is the vision of our Annual Conference and district that our churches can speak a Word of life and light into the darkness as Spiritual Centers of Prayer and Action." 

UM Men offer a summer of fun and fellowship
The Eastern PA Conference UM Men are offering two special outdoor events this summer to help many conference members come together for
fellowship, activity and tons of fun. First up is UM Day at the Phillies on Saturday, July 16, when UMs from across Eastern PA will converge at Citizens Bank Park at 7 PM and be recognized, as we gather to cheer the Phillies on to victory over the New York Mets.

And on Saturday, August 20, we'll all journey 
to Dorney Park & Wildwater Kingdom for our annual U nited Methodist D ay, to enjoy thrilling rides, musical performances and other exciting activities, or to just relax with families and friends. Tickets are only $34, which is a $23 discount, with the UM Day coupon.

Also, for the UM Day at the Phillies, UMM president Clifton Hubbard reports that UM churches have bought 250 tickets so far. But if our churches can turn that hit into a home run by purchasing 500 tickets, we get to throw out the ceremonial first pitch. So let's get online or on the phone to order more tickets, so we can bat at least 500. 

Discounted tickets prices range from $20 to $38. Check out our "Methodist Night" Webpage at  

For groups of 25 or more, please contact Jen Leone in the Phillies Group Sales Office at 215-463-5000, extension 5267. All groups of 25 or more will be welcomed on the stadium message board at the top of the 5th inning.   

Please share this information with families, churches and communities, and 
Learn more...
Methodists Make News
Our churches have been showing up in their local newspapers lately. Even better, they're letting us know about it.  We'll post some recent Methodists Make News sightings on our website soon. If your church or any of your members has been featured lately in your local media (print, television or online publications), please share that news with us right away, so we can share it with our readers. Send us information and links to the stories.
'For the transformation of the world'
Teaching civil rights protest as 'sacred work'
Arch Street UM in Philadelphia will host four training events in non-violent protest for social justice on Saturdays, July 9 and 16; Wednesday, July 20; and Saturday, July. 23. The focus on protest and civil disobedience, reminiscent of 1960s training for Civil Rights marchers, will address how to "Know Your Rights" and ensure self-care. Arch Street will collaborate with the "Up Against the Law" Legal Collective and other trainers.
In a news release announcing the initiative, the Rev. Robin Hynicka, Arch Street's pastor, described "seeking justice through peaceful, purposeful protest" as "sacred work." He further described various justice movements--for racial, economic, environmental, immigration, gender and LGBTQI justice, etc.--as intersecting and providing a "spiritual synergy and opportunity to inspire each soul...that illustrates the beloved community."
Also on July 23, from 9 AM to 9 PM, Arch Street UMC provide space for "the first in what may become a series of a gatherings we are calling the DNC Freedom School," according to the news release. "Those preparing to protest, along with protest supporters and trainers, will come together in the spirit and truth of the 1964 Mississippi Freedom Schools."  The event is scheduled just days before the Democratic National Convention comes to Philadelphia July 25-28. 
Helping men to prevent domestic violence
"If you see something, do something." Hopewell UMC will host a free training to help men stop domestic violence when they witness or know about it. This Where Do You Stand?   conversation, Saturday, August 6 , from 1 to 3 PM,focuses on "bystander intervention" and targets, but is not limited to, college-age young men. It positively portrays  young men as vital allies and invites all men to consider their own stance on men preventing sexism and sexual assault. Visit  to register. E-mail Pastor Amy Banka at for more details.  Download the Flyer  [PDF]
Disciple Bible study celebrates

30 years at NEJ Conference
The ground-breaking Disciple Bible Study was born in 1986, inspired by Bishop Richard Wilke's leadership. Now the Richard and Julia Wilke Institute for Discipleship is leading celebrations of its 30th Anniversary across the country, while encountering people "who love this study as much as we do!" They're meeting people involved in the study, then and now, to share memories and to explore its impact over three decades and where it's headed next. 

O n Thursday,   July 14 ,from  5:15 to 7:15 PM , they will be at the No rtheastern Jurisdictional Conference, at the Lancaster Marriott at Penn Square , to m eet folks in the Cokesbury store and even give out commemorative lapel pins. Want to be involved, but can't attend?  Take a picture of yourself with your Disciple manual, share it with them on  Facebook   or  Twitter , and follow them at at #DISCIPLE30.  Visit   for more information.
Campus Ministry Sunday, Aug. 21
The Eastern PA Conference Board of Higher Education and Campus Ministry invites congregations to celebrate Campus Ministry Sunday Aug. 21 by highlighting the importance of c hurch and campus ministries that involve and impact college and university students. The board works with campus ministers primarily at four schools in its bounds: Drexel, Millersville, Lebanon Valley Christian College and Albright College. But it is exploring relationships with other institutions also. Please plan to receive a Campus Ministry Sunday special offering on or near Aug. 21. and remit at least half of it to the Conference Treasurer's Office to help in our supportive outreach to college and university students. More information will be forthcoming. 
Coming attractions...   
Lifetree Cafe orientation, July 12
The Rev. Gordon Hendrickson, Congregational Development Coordinator, will offer two Lifetree Cafe orientations again in July at the Conference Office. It's for anyone who is "rethinking church" and wants to reach people who don't regularly attend church through this innovative faith-sharing, life-sharing opportunity. Come meet Gordon and learn about Lifetree Café on July 12, at 6:30 PM.  Contact him at 267-258-9507   or to let him know you're coming. A light dinner will be provided. It will be worth the trip!
UMW's Mission u 2016, July 22-23
Mission u 2016, sponsored by UM Women, will convene July 22-23 at The Inn at Reading (1040 North Park Toad, Wyomissing, PA) to help church members (lay, clergy, men, women and youth) understand and interpret our UMC global mission and our Christian responsibility to pursue that mission for Christ. The theme this year is "Learning Together for the Transformation of the World." The Spiritual Study topic is "The Bible and Human Sexuality: Claiming God's Good Gift." The Issue Study topic is "Climate Justice: Call to Hope and Action." The Geographic Study topic is "Latin American: People and Faith." And the Youth Study topics is "Joining Voices for Climate Justice." For more information contact Barbara Drake at or 610-446-1394. Contact Mary Ann Repsher for a registration form at or 610-588-1084. Regular registration fees (due by June 20) are: $200 for attendance with hotel lodging; $140 for commuters; and $75 for youth (grades 7 to 12). After June 20, add a $25 late fee for registration.
Drew Summer Music Institute, July 28-29
Drew University Theological School   presents its 2016 Summer Music Institute, "The Gospel Feast," July 28-29. "Come sing, dance, praise and eat at the table of worship that satisfies the soul and revives the spirit." This year's institute will offer a new format with experts in music, movement, liturgy, and ritual..  Register today  .
Academy for Laity, Aug. 13-14
The 2016 weekend Academy for Laity, which is open to all who wish to serve Christ in ministry, will gather Aug. 13-14, at The Inn at Reading (1040 North Park Toad, Wyomissing, PA). The theme is "Follow that Star: Make It Happen." Courses, including some back by popular demand, are:
  • "Preparing Local Church Servants" (Basic Class)
  • "Making Every Prayer Count:  Moving between ME and WE"
  • "Emotional Intelligence: A Blueprint for Your Spiritual Path"
  • "Walking in Love: The Act of Repentance and Healing Relationships with Native American and Indigenous Persons"
  • Two preaching courses: "Preaching to be Heard" and "Preaching by Number"
  • "What To Say To People Who Are Hurting"
  • "Theology and Doctrine" and
  • "Building a 'First Aid Kit' for Church Health."
Basic registration costs $90 and will go online after Annual Conference, with a July 22 deadline. The discounted hotel rate is $99 a night. The academy-lasting only two days this year-begins Saturday at 7 AM for breakfast and ends Sunday at 12:30 PM with Communion.  Credit will be awarded to persons in the Christ Servant Ministry program.  
Conference Laity Retreat, Sept. 17
Save the date and get ready for the 2016 Eastern PA Conference Laity Retreat on Saturday, Sept. 17, at Jarrettown UMC in Dresher, PA, from 9 AM to 1:30 PM, including lunch. The registration fee will be $25 and includes retreat materials and meals. Come for the blessing of great speakers, spirit-­filled worship and fellowship, relaxation, revival and renewal. The theme: "Perceiving,  Believing and Receiving Our Blessedness." Sponsored by the Board of Laity.

Radical Disciple-Making Seminar, Oct. 8

Bishop Peggy Johnson encourages churches to take advantage of a dynamic discipleship training opportunity, the Radical Disciple-Making Seminar, hosted by Thorndale UMC on  Saturday, Oct. 8, from 8:30 AM to 3:45 PM.  The seminar will be led by the Effective Church Group, directed by renowned church growth author, coach and discipleship development expert Bill Easum. It will offer practical strategies and profound insights to teach participants how every church can grow to become a radical disciple-making force for Jesus Christ. Read Bishop Johnson's letter and visit the seminar website to find out more. If you have any further questions contact the Rev. Mark Moore of Thorndale Church at
Volunteers still needed for Jurisdictional Conference
Willing volunteers are still urgently needed to help with specific tasks at the NEJ Conference in July, says volunteer coordinator Judy Ehninger.

She needs 6 to 8 strong individuals on Sunday, July 10, at 10 AM to 2 PM, to help load in the sound and light equipment for the event. And then she needs 6 to 8 strong individuals again on Friday, July 15, from 10 AM to 2 PM to load out the sound and light equipment. These are most critical needs we now have and they are very urgent. Plus, we can still use several hospitality volunteers during the week, especially on Friday morning, July 15. If you're interested, please contact Judy at Judy.ehninger or 610-442-3140 
Bishop's Days on the Districts
NW District--Sept. 27; SE District--Oct. 3; SW District--Oct. 4; Central District--Oct. 17; NE District--Oct. 19; and East District--Oct. 20.  
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!
Please Save These Dates! 
August 17-20: School of Congregational Development 2016  ("Into the Deep") in Evanston, Illinois. The premier event for equipping conference leaders, clergy, and laity to lead vital, dynamic, life-changing congregations. Sponsored by Discipleship Ministries, Global Ministries, and Path 1, this year's event is being hosted by the Northern Illinois Conference and Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary.  Register here

August 13-14: Academy for Laity, The Inn at Reading
August 21: Campus Ministry Sunday

August 29-31: Global United Methodist Clergywomen Gathering,   Houston, Texas, Theme: "ONE: Birthing a Worldwide Church."  Learn more...
Sept. 10: Children's Ministry Training Event, West Lawn UMC
Sept. 17 Laity Retreat 

Oct. 1: Adjourned Session of Annual Conference, Bethany UMC Wescosville

Oct. 8: Radical Discipleship Workshop, led by Bill Easum, at Thorndale UMC. Save the date and don't miss it! More info coming.

Oct. 28-30 2016: Changing Racism Training,  at the Daylesford Abbey in Paoli.  Register online . The cost is $300.
Eastern Pennsylvania Conference of The United Methodist Church
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980 Madison Avenue, Norristown, PA 19403
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