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July 2, 2016
Bishop Peggy Johnson announces new pastoral appointments:  

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

  • Rev Deborah Gildart-Hanks (Elder) from Elam UMC and Gradyville UMC to Mont Clare: Otterbein;  effective Sept. 1, 2016
News for you on our website:

Help flood victims now through prayerful restraint

"We all want to help our beleaguered brothers and sisters in West Virginia...and Texas...and Oklahoma," writes the Rev. Greg Ellis, Eastern PA Conference Disaster Ministry Coordinator, about the terrible floods that have deluged West Virginians and others around the country. He offers good advice about how we can help now by praying for victims while collecting and assembling materials for flood buckets to replenish UMCOR's depleted supply. A good initial conference goal would be to send 400 flood buckets to Mission Central HUBs in our area. And sending money through UMCOR is always a best practice for disaster response.

"Do not send items to affected areas...during the disaster's busy search and rescue phase, while many roads are impassible," Ellis suggests.  And, "Do not self-deploy! You may feel an urge to go help; but first-responders need to do their work, including the ongoing search for survivors." When areas are ready for recovery materials and volunteer assistance, we will get their requests, he assures us. Meanwhile, he suggests, "Consider helping other areas that are no longer in the news."  We have links to more articles offering coverage of the disaster and a poignant poem by Bishop Sandra Steiner Ball. Learn more...

Mennonites reconnect with UMC founder

(UMNS) When Martin Boehm began preaching to a wider group of believers, he was ex-communicated. Now - more than 240 years later - Mennonites have renounced "the small-mindedness of religious thinking" used against the former Mennonite bishop who founded a predecessor communion of the present-day UMC. A ceremony restoring Boehm's Mennonite credentials and a formal confession of wrongdoing was held June 26 at Boehm's Chapel, a UM heritage landmark near Lancaster. The chapel also marked its 225th anniversary over last weekend with plenty of worship, a bonfire, special meals, people wearing colonial attire, fun for kids, tours, a time-capsule ceremony and a community hymn sing. Boehm's UMC also offered a preview of its future Saturday evening chapel worship service, set to launch in the fall.

Included with the story about Martin Boehm's restoration are links to an album of colorful event photos on our Flickr page and video streamed live and posted on Boehm's UMC's Facebook.
Learn more...

Open Wide Your Hearts!  

During Annual Conference some enthusiastic leaders told us how their churches are living out this year's Annual Conference theme by opening wide their hearts in ministries of outreach and welcome to their communities. We recorded short video interviews with them to learn how churches in our conference are embracing neighbors in body, mind and spirit, while sharing the love and liberating gospel of Jesus Christ. We'll feature a few on our website each week; but you can view all six by visiting our conference YouTube page. Learn more...

Annual Conference session videos coming online soon!

Want another look--or a first look--at our June 16-18 Annual Conference proceedings online? Well, please stand by. We just received the hard drive from RCTV with raw recordings of the full video live-stream. As soon as we can edit, process and post them on our conference YouTube channel , we'll announce that they're there for all to see. It might take a few weeks; so please be patient. 

In the meantime, some talented folks at Lima UMC produced their own video summary report on Annual Conference and showed it in church last Sunday, June 26. You can check it out on their church Facebook page . And when you do, please be sure to leave a comment.
UM Men offer a summer of fun and fellowship
The Eastern PA Conference UM Men are offering three special outdoor events this summer to help many conference members come together for
fellowship, activity and tons of fun. All three outings are recent traditions, thanks to former UMM president Ross Brightwell. 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.

One week later, the UM Men will sponsor their annual Softball Tournament on Saturday, July 23, at the usual site, Mondauk Commons Park in Upper Dublin Township. Eight teams will take the field at 9 AM for opening prayer together, before it's time to "Play Ball!" The tou
rnament has been renamed in honor of its greatest promoter. It's now the United Methodist Men's Ross Brightwell Memorial Softball Tournament. So come join them for a great day of fun, fellowship and friendly competition. Any questions? Contact Ron Myers, Tournament Chairman at or 215-866-8789.

And on another sure-to-be-sunny Saturday, August 20, we'll all journey back 
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 next week and tell you about them in next week's NEWSpirit Digest. 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 by Wednesday, July 6, so we can get it into next week's issue. C'mon. Let your light so shine...
'For the transformation of the world'
3 churches take on poverty, injustice, violence

Fighting poverty alongside the poor
Alan Rice , a national figure in the field of faith and relationship-based anti-poverty programs, will visit Lebanon County July 8-10 to speak at four events about NETworX, a faith-friendly anti-poverty initiative, that was overwhelmingly endorsed at the UMC's General Conference.   Rice is a consultant who directs the RFD Community Development Corporation. He will lead interactive talks July 8, at 8 AM and 4 PM,   at Lebanon Valley College and  also preach at Palmyra First UMC's 9 AM and 10:30 AM services (520 E Birch St, Palmyra).

Support Connections of Lebanon County and Palmyra First UMC will host Rice's visit, led by  Lee Smedley, Northwest District Lay Leader and a member of the design team that developed NETworX. "NETworX is based on some powerful concepts and is entirely consistent with a holistic approach to addressing issues of poverty, said Smedley.  By considering several dimensions of a person's life--things like spiritual, physical and emotional health in addition to finances--we've seen lasting results in our Team Leader's lives.  In addition, the concept of 'ministry with', rather than 'to' or 'for' creates an amazing sense of community, partnership and personal growth for our volunteers."  For more information or to register for any of these free events, contact Lee Smedley at   or 610-914-3846.

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
Sign up by July 5 for UMCom online courses
July 5 is the deadline to register for four United Methodist Communications online courses being offered  from July 6 to Aug. 17.   The courses, which can help your church reach out and connect with people more, are "Communicating Faith in the 21st Century;" "Moodle: Basic Training;" "Welcoming Ministry;" and "Your Church Website: Rethinking Your New Front Door." Costs vary. Try participating in these online courses to better equip you and your ministry. Registration closes July 5. So sign up while there's time.  Details 
AME Church begins General Conference, 
celebrates its bicentennial
The African Methodist Episcopal (A.M.E.) Church celebrates its 200th Anniversary as it opens its 2016 General Conference , July 5-13,  in the birthplace of African Methodism, Mother Bethel AME Church in Philadelphia. Most of its activities will be held at the downtown Pennsylvania Convention Center. This will be the 50th quadrennial session held since the church was incorporated in 1816 under its founding pastor and first bishop, the Rev. Richard Allen, who was recently honored by the U.S. Postal System with portrayal on a first-class postage stamp.

In 1794 Allen and his African American followers left their mother-church, nearby St. George's Methodist Episcopal (now UM) Church, due to racist mistreatment, and started Bethel M.E. Church. Over time their relationship with the intrusive St. George's grew more difficult. They broke away to form their own independent church and denomination, soon spawning more AME churches in the U.S. and other countries.
Bishop Mary Ann Swenson (retired), Ecumenical Officer of the UMC's Council of Bishops (Office of Christian Unity and Interreligious Relationships), issued a statement "in joyous recognition" of the bicentennial but confessing to the racism and separation that led to the AME Church's birth.
"We must recommit ourselves to uniting against racism," she proclaimed. "Our church and our nation must acknowledge and dismantle the systems of racism that continue to plague us. While it is easy to stand in solidarity against the obvious racist violence we witnessed at Mother Emanuel Church, it is much more difficult to accept our culpability in perpetuating racism and the part we play in allowing such violence to happen....We continue to grapple with ongoing racism in society and within our United Methodist Church."
Read her complete statement delivered to Pan-Methodist partners and leaders of the AME Church during the UMC's General Conference on Ecumenical Day.
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.
30-day Prayer Guide for 
NE Jurisdictional Conference
Many United Methodists were praying for General Conference in the months leading up to that important global gathering. But daily prayers are still much needed in our ongoing three-act church legislative drama, as we approach Annual Conference and then Jurisdictional Conferences across the U.S. in July.
We will host the Northeastern Jurisdictional (NEJ) Conference in Lancaster July 10-15. Spiritual director Maryanne Ditter (,  a member of the Eastern PA Renewal Fellowship (EPRF, affiliated with Aldersgate Renewal Ministries) has prepared and freely offers a 30-day Prayer Guide for Jurisdictional Conference, available for download from our conference website. Learn more...  
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 orientations, July 5 & 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 Caf√© on either of two Tuesday nights, July 5 or 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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