July 27, 2017
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Advocate NOW for Affordable, Quality Health Care
Bishop Peggy Johnson e-mailed an urgent appeal to Conference members today, calling upon all to contact their U.S. Senators, especially Sen. Pat Toomey, as the Senate debates proposed changes to our nation's health care system. The changes "should alarm all of us and incite our urgent response," she wrote.

"The White House administration and Senate Republican leadership have been pushing legislation to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and, most importantly, to restructure Medicaid in ways that would result in devastating cuts to health care coverage for millions who need it most: low-income working families, disabled citizens, children and adults not eligible for Medicare."

Bishop Johnson joined the UMC's Board of Church and Society, on which she serves, in urging United Methodists to appeal for a commitment to justice and mercy in the Senate, to protect the affordable health care access of millions who rely on Medicaid and other provisions of the ACA for care and remedies to serious illnesses. "Urge them to stop unilateral efforts to adopt the drastic, proposed health care changes and instead to begin a bipartisan effort that can sensibly and humanely address actual concerns," read the letter.

"Pennsylvania is a key state in the debate, and our own Senators' views and votes are critical to the fate of any proposed legislation. We need our Senators to vote on legislation that will INCREASE access to affordable, quality health care. The current legislation does not, nor would any amendments.

"The United Methodist Church is clear," it continues. "Health care is a basic human right. We must ensure access to affordable, quality health care for all people." Learn more...
Conference seeks to hire new Treasurer
The Eastern PA Conference Office is searching for a fulltime Conference Treasurer, who would report to the Conference Council on Finance and Administration (CFA) and the Resident Bishop. The Treasurer is responsible for all aspects of the conference's financial management, providing excellence in business and financial management and administration. That includes responsibility for receiving and disbursing funds, in accordance with conference and denominational policies, and strategic goal-setting and planning, in collaboration with the Bishop and the CFA. Persons interested in this position should send resumes with cover letters to treasurersearch@epaumc.org by  August 11th. Initial interviews will take place during the week of August 21.  Download the job description.
Two new staff members hired, two more sought
The Conference has two new staff members, while two other hiring searches are underway.  Regina Railsford Babcock (right) joined our conference team July 24 as an Administrative Assistant. She is getting orientation and preparing to succeed Gloria Knoeller, who retires after 38 years as an administrative support staff member. Regina has been an Administrative Assistant at St. James, an Episcopal Church-related private school in Philadelphia, and at Siloam UMC in Booth Corner. She is married to the Rev. Kevin Babcock, a local pastor serving Clifton Heights UMC. 

Sheila Reavis is working here part-time for the summer, from July 17 to September 4, as a temporary staff member, scanning documents to the cloud for the Conference Benefits Office. She is a Lay Servant Minister at Grace Community UMC in Chester. 

The Conference is also seeking to hire a new  Conference Treasurer (see above) and a part-time  Coordinator for Urban Ministries.  Persons interested in the latter position should send resumes with cover letters to UMJobs@epaumc.org by August 4.
Academy will help laity ' Embrace the Journey'   Register by  July 29
At the Eastern PA Conference's 34th  Academy for Laity, August 4-6, some fortunate lay members will embark on a new journey, while others will find wise counsel and willing companions for a journey already begun. It is a revealing, life-changing journey that can draw one into the heart of ministry and ultimately, nearer to the heart and mind of Christ.

"Embrace the Journey: Step Up and Step Out" is the theme of this year's weekend academy that will take place at a new location, Cedarville UMC in Pottstown (1092 Laurelwood Road). That's where hundreds of conference members will gather to learn, to teach and to embrace the fundamentals of lay ministry, as they "step up and step out" to speak, care and lead others with the love of Christ.

But the time to register for this important annual event is running out. The new,  extended deadline is July 29. Please be sure to register by this date.  Learn more...

New photos to enjoy on our social media pages
We have added plenty more dramatic images from Annual Conference to the four AC 2017 photo albums on our  Flickr page (titled Day 1 Day, 2, Day 3 and Ordination). They include some familiar faces and memorable scenes. Enjoy the impressive contributions of our talented, dedicated Annual Conference Photography Crew: Sabrina Daluisio, the Rev. James Mundell, Paul Davis, the Rev. Steward Warner and John Coleman. We are very grateful for them all! Thanks also to Sabrina Daluisio and Desktop/Web Publisher Lindsey Cotman for assembling and posting the many wonderful images.  Enjoy!

While you're at it, check out also the collection of images on our colorful  Instagram page. Please join our growing list of followers there. Also, see the vivid photo (above) of newly ordained, smiling, robed clergy, with admiring peers applauding them in the background, taken at the Annual Conference ordination service and posted atop our  Facebook and  Twitter pages. An image so nice, we used it twice.
Send us your best Vacation Bible School photos
Speaking of photos,  we're looking for really good photos of 2017 Vacation Bible School programs. Whether you used "Hero Central," "Super God!" or any other theme, if you took photos we want to see some, share some on our Flickr page, and  choose the best ones to publish on our website and in the Summer issue of NEWSpirit newspaper (due out in mid-August). So, please, please, send us your best photos of kids (or adults) enjoying VBS. August 7 is our deadline for photos to be considered for publishing in NEWSpirit. But we'll accept and publish great photos online throughout August. Don't delay. Search through your smartphone, camera or memory cards now to choose and send us your very best. E-mail them as soon as possible to  communications@epaumc.org
Givers keep on giving as scholarship fund nears goal 
Eastern PA Conference members gave generously to offerings received at Annual Conference in June, and their gifts extended beyond merely the offering baskets, thanks to the kindness of one church and the blessing of online donations. Four offerings were receive during the three-day conference to support:
  • the Conference Scholarship Fund for college students;
  • Board of Ordained Ministry (BoOM) Scholarships for seminary students;
  • Conference-affiliated Methodist Services (formerly the Methodist Children's Home) which provides residential, educational and support services to children, families and women going through life transitions; and
  • the Conference Council on Youth Ministries.  
The expressed desire of many Annual Conference members to give online prompted the Rev. James Anderman (Chairman of the Conference Sessions Commission) to offer Springfield: Covenant UMC's online donation page to receive contributions during and after the conference session. But the offer from Anderman's church became especially important as Conference Scholarship Fund chairwoman Lenora Thompson appealed to members to help her committee surpass the $7,000 raised at the 2016 Annual Conference. Their ambitious goal this year was $10,000.

When th initial s cholarships offering, during the session's opening worship service, raised only about $5,500, Thompson (left) was allowed to make an appeal for more donations. As members came forward with additional gifts, Covenant UMC offered its online giving option, and funds started coming in there also. Thompson was allowed to make yet another appeal from the conference floor on Saturday, just before the session ended; and to her delight, people began approaching her while with checks and dollar bills in hand while she was speaking at the microphone. Learn more...
Tanzania missionaries to visit here in late August
Our partner UM missionaries in Tanzania, the Rev. Mutwale Ntambo wa Mushidi and his wife Kabaka Ndala Alphonsine (left with Barbara Drake), will visit the Eastern PA Conference from August 25 to September 6. They had planned to attend the Bishop's Days on the Districts later in September, but now they will need to come earlier.
So far, the Mushidis altered schedule includes visits to:
  • August 27: St. Matthew's UMC of Valley Forge for worship at its 9:30 AM service.
  • August 30 at Phoenixville UMC for a 6 PM dinner and program.\
  • September 3 at First UMC Lancaster for the 8:15 and 10:45 AM worship services and Sunday School at 9:30, and lunch following worship.
  • September 5 at Lima UMC for a 6:30 PM dinner and program.
  • September 6 at Union UMC Havertown for a 6 PM dinner and program.  
Other dates may be scheduled as churches respond to the new visitation schedule.
End is near for UMCom's Interpreter magazine 
United Methodist Communications announced today that Interpreter magazine, the denomination's official program journal, will cease publication after the November/ December 2017 issue. The decision is due to readers' changing needs, as the agency seeks to develop the most viable media options for various target audiences, including church members, leaders and external audiences.
"Readership has decreased over the years as people consume information in new ways. The expense of publishing a print magazine isn't the best use of denominational resources without a larger base of subscribers," said Dan Krause, UMCom's chief executive. Learn more...
Commission on a Way Forward issues status report 
The UMC's 32-member Commission on a Way Forward has released a status report to the denomination and the Council of Bishops after four meetings. The commission is mandated by General Conference to find a way forward for the UMC to remain united despite a deep divide on issues related to human sexuality and church law.

The status report, which invites feedback, is available in written and video forms and can be used in worship and other settings. The Commission has five more meetings to complete its work, including two prior to the Council of Bishops' November meeting. The Council will make actionable recommendations to the 2019 Special Session of General Conference, presumably based on the Commission's final report.  

For more information on the Commission on a Way Forward, visit umc.org/wayforward.
Summer hours at the Conference Office have begun. Our hours are 7:00 am to 4:15 pm, Monday - Thursday. The office will be closed on Fridays.
Conference seeks  Urban Ministries Coordinator
The Eastern PA Conference is still searching for a part-time Coordinator of Urban Ministries, who will report to the Director of Connectional Ministries. If you are interested or know of anyone interested in this position, resumes and cover letters should be e-mailed to  UMJobs@epaumc.org by the new extended deadline: August 4.   Download the job description
2017 Charge Conference forms now online
Charge Conference forms to be downloaded and completed by local church leaders are now available on the conference website, accessible at the top of the Resources tab menu and also on the Forms page. District offices will provide instructions on preferred methods of submitting forms. Included with the usual reports are forms for:
  • Safety and Accessibility Inspection;
  • Safe Sanctuary policies updating (based on revisions by the 2016 Annual Conference); and
  • The new Accountability Agreement with the Boy Scouts of America (if not signed in 2016).
The forms and annual reporting process are described as "an opportunity to celebrate your church's achievements, a useful tool to evaluate your church's ministry goals and objectives, and a helpful process to ask important accountability questions." Any questions or suggestions should be directed to the appropriate District Office (not to the Conference Communications Office).
North District to sponsor its own Laity Academy
The new North District will again sponsor its own Laity Academy over four weeks on Monday evenings, September 11, 18 and 25 and October 2. Classes will be in session at St. John's UMC, 1211 West Arch Street, Coal Township, PA. To better serve local churches in their region, the active Methodists United Mission ConneXion, in the Shamokin area, is partnering again with the Eastern PA Conference, as they did  a few years ago, to bring the Laity Academy closer to home.
This year, the "Basic" course will be offered as well as two Advance courses: "Leading through Failure" and "Visitation and Nurturing." The academy is open to anyone in the North District or in the entire Eastern PA Conference, for those who want to drive out there and see the sheer beauty of God's early autumn canvas in our northwestern region. Each session will run from 6 to 8:30 PM. For information, contact Patty Korbich at pbkorb@verizon.net or 570-672-1031. A small fee will help pay for class materials and light refreshments. Registration is required. Register at    https://www.epaumc.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/ND-Laity-Registration-Form-2017.pdf
New districts plan picnics in August, celebrations in September
The new North and South districts will both hold picnics in August for their clergy families, inviting all to come and get better acquainted. But clergy and laity of all four new districts will have a chance to get better acquainted in September when they each host Bishop Peggy Johnson, combining her annual Days on the Districts visits with their inaugural new-district celebrations, complete with worship, dinner, presentations and meetings.

The bishop will bring several conference staff--including Benefits Officer Jo Fielding, new Connectional Ministries the Rev. Anita Powell and our new Conference Treasurer if one is hired by then--to meet with clergy about important concerns first around 4 PM. Joint lay-clergy dinners will follow, and then meetings with laity in the evenings.  Learn more...
Read the new issue of
Wellspring online
49 Eastern PA churches sign up for Abundant Health Challenge 

The July-August issue of Wellspring , the Eastern PA Conference Health and Healing Council's bimonthly newsletter, is online with 12 pages of valuable information, insights and even inspiration about living abundant healthy lives. Included are articles on:
  • promoting children's nutrition and protecting them from food allergies;
  • suicide prevention;
  • avoiding stressful living through faith and self-acceptance;
  • the importance and miraculous effects of consuming water;
  • a "Letter to Our Youth" with truths about alcohol and other drugs;
  • self-care for the caregiver; and
  • a personal testimony about the life-changing benefits of volunteering to serve others.  
There are also healthy recipe ideas, tips on healthy eating from Methodism founder John Wesley, a glimpse of a hands-on, therapeutic arts ministry at one church, addressing health care issues in later life, and more good book suggestions for children.
Council members greeted members at their busy Annual Conference display table in June, handing out free healthy snacks, bottled water and chopsticks....yes, chopsticks. They also celebrated that 49 of our churches so far have answered our Bishop's challenge to join the General Board of Global Ministries' 10,000 Church Abundant Health Challenge. Those churches now have access to free GBGM resources for promoting health for their members and communities in whatever ways they see fit. You can sign up your church to take the challenge today. Just select one of the options for promoting good health by:
  • Providing opportunities for physical activity;
  • Promoting healthy diet and nutrition;
  • Helping people end the dependency or damaging effects caused by addictive substances; andor
  • Promoting mental wellbeing in your congregation and community.  
"Above all, we want members to be aware of the state of their health: physically, spiritually, emotionally, mentally, relationally, environmentally, etc.," says council co-chairwoman Sharon Hachtman, a Deaconess and Registered Nurse.
L ocal Pastor Licensin g School in session now 

Register now if you are interes
ted in pastoral ministry as: 

*    A certified and licensed Local Pastor  
*    A Growing Church Licensing School Pastor
Attend the Eastern PA Conference Board of Ordained Ministry's year-round Local Pastor Licensing School. Courses are taught on Saturdays, all day, at the teaching pastor's church or at the Conference Office in Norristown (Audubon). Our experienced instructors are clergy leaders and/or church growth experts from PATH 1, a church growth initiative of the denomination's Discipleship Ministries general agency.
The five major areas of study are:
  • Pastoral Care, taught by the Rev. Truman Brooks at West Chester UMC. (Course ends July 29 and will repeat in June 2018.)
  • Congregational Development: A one-day, three-part course taught at the Conference Center August 5, from 8 AM to 5 PM.
-         Growing Church Models (Spiritual Leadership, Inc., Lifetree CafĂ©, etc.) Taught by the Rev. Gordon Hendrickson.
-         Mission and Outreach Ideas from Tom Bandy. Taught by the Revs. Peter Wernett & Gordon Hendrickson.
-         Wesleyan Ministry, Then and Now. Taught by Charles Yrigoyen.
  • Preaching, Worship & Sacraments. Taught by the Rev. Tom Haugh: Sept. 9 & 23, and Oct. 7, at Mt. Hope UMC
  • Christian Education. Taught by the Rev. Michael Roberts: Dec. 2 and Jan. 6 & 20 (2018) at the Conference Office.
  • Church Administration-Leading a Congregation. Taught by the Rev. Larry Leister: April 7 & 21, and May 5 (2018) at Lititz, UMC.
The cost is $1,100 for all five segments toward licensing, or $250 per segment.
For more information contact Gordon Hendrickson at gordonacts6@gmail.com or 267-258-9507.   Learn more and download the registration form:
2017-18 Information and Application for Licensed Local Pastor School [Word doc]  
Charles Wesley event open to all   Pianist needed for hymn sing
The  Charles Wesley Society  will meet at Historic St. George's UMC, 235N 4th St., Philadelphia, September 29-30 and invites any interested persons who wish to attend. Please register online. The meeting will feature scholarly presentations that interpret and promote the life and work of Methodist hymnist and co-founder Charles Wesley, with a particular focus on the context of social justice. 

Topics include: "Charles Wesley's Response to the Cries of 
t he Oppressed," "Charles Wesley and the Beloved Community," and "Sanctif ication, Salvation, and Social Justice: How the Central Doctrine of Methodism Holds these in Tension." Event organizer Steven Hoskins will speak on "Improvising Poetic Justice: The 1801 Hymnal of Richard Allen, African Methodist Episcopal Minister."  The meeting will also include a tour of historic Methodist sites in Philadelphia, including: Historic St. George's museum; Mother Bethel A.M.E. Church, founded by Bishop Richard Allen; and the Dock Street site of the first Methodist Meeting in Philadelphia. 

Another feature will be a public hymn sing at St. George's Church on Friday evening, Sept. 29. But since the St. George's music director will be out of town, an accompanist is needed to play piano for the hymn sing. "This is a terrific opportunity for a dedicated Methodist musician to celebrate Wesley's music," writes Donna Miller of St. George's. There will also be a stipend paid. Contact her at office@historicstgeorges.org.   
Register now and come for the blessing... wonderful speakers...spirit-filled fellowship... renewal... relaxation... revival... of the annual Eastern PA Conference Laity Retreat, on Saturday, Sept. 9, from 9 to 1:30 PM, at Grove UMC, 490 West Boot Road, West Chester, PA. The registration fee is only $35, including meals and retreat materials. For inquiries contact Suzette James at  suezyq@earthlink.net.  
Want to view recorded video of Annual Conference?
Now you can!
Recorded video of our June 15-17 Annual Conference is now accessible from our  Annual Conference webpage. Or you can go right to our conference YouTube page to  see the full 2017 Annual Conference sessions playlist.

See, hear and feel it all, from the stirring opening worship and plenary session to our final session of holy conferencing and uplifting reports before adjournment. Be sure to watch Upper Room Chapel Dean Tom Albin lead an insightful, faith-affirming Teaching Session on Prayer. (Also, be sure to download and use his excellent handout materials available on our Annual Conference webpage.)

Enjoy  three inspiring, thought-provoking  sermons by Bishops Peggy Johnson, Latrelle Easterling ( right) and Peter Weaver. 

Marvel at the first-person historical narratives offered by Methodist forebears Captain Thomas Webb ( left) , Mary Thorne and Harry Hosier. And join in celebrating the ordination and commissioning of new clergy, while also commemorating the dedicated lives of newly retired clergy and recently deceased clergy and clergy spouses.

Take your time--take the rest of summer--to view the 30 dramatic video segments on our playlist, carefully prepared by our Communications staff member Lindsey Cotman. Or "binge-watch" them all at once. It's your choice.

But also, don't forget to download and read the many significant Annual Conference reports and resolutions (with their voting results) that are also accessible....where? You guessed it: our Annual Conference webpage.
Hopewell's 2017 Planting Seeds event: Pray for the City
Hopewell UMC's is planning its 14th Annual Planting Seeds for Ministry Growth event, be held on Saturday, Sept. 30.  Keynote speaker for Pray for the City will be the Rev. Scott Chrostek, Pastor of Resurrection Downtown, a Kansas City campus of Church of the Resurrection, where he serves on Adam Hamilton's executive leadership team.  The Rev. W. Wilson Goode Sr. will be this year's worship speaker.  Dr. Goode is the director of Amachi, a national program for children of incarcerated parents.  He served two terms as Mayor of Philadelphia.
Six workshops will be offered during the event, two in the late morning and four in the afternoon.  Workshop descriptions are posted at www.hopewellumc.org/planting-seeds. Registration for the 2017 Planting Seeds for Ministry Growthwill open in early August.  Hopewell UMC is located in Downingtown, PA.  For more information, call the church office at 610-269-1545, or e-mail Deb Boyd at boyd@hopewellumc.org.  
We need News & Views from our readers
Clergy and laity, RSVP.
That means you!
News: If your church, pastor or members are featured in the local news--print, online or television--please, please let us know, so we can report it in  Methodists Make News. Send us a link (URL) to the article or the photo or broadcast segment online. Or just tell us the publication or TV station, and we'll search for it. We are looking for news or feature stories or commentaries that feature any UM church members or ministries (but not mere listings of worship services or events). So, please keep us in mind when you see any stories worth sharing. Thanks!

Views: We're also looking for more informational and inspirational writings by clergy and laity that we can publish (or republish) on the conference website--especially in our " From Pulpit & Pew" blog section. Most of our contributions are republished, with permission, from insightful, well-written pastor's columns in church newsletters. We would like to receive more of those; but we also want other writings from diverse lay and clergy members who have something important, helpful or thoughtful to say that can benefit our readers. If you send us something, please try to e-mail a good photo of yourself as well; and definitely tell us how to contact you if we have any questions or concerns.

The doors of our media-church are open. Come on in!

Bishop to address global missions conference of the Deaf
Bishop Peggy Johnson will speak at the 4th Global Methodist Missions Conference of the Deaf, August 1-4, at Lakeview Camp and Retreat Center, Waxahachie, Texas. Other presenters will include Emmanuel Deaf Ministry of Brazil and the Rev. Caesar Rentie, a former NFL player reared by deaf parents.
The global gathering of UM and Wesleyan-related ministries will convene Deaf, late deafened, hard of hearing and Deaf-blind persons and will include information on Deaf ministries in many countries, including South Korea, Ghana, Zimbabwe, Sri Lanka, the U.S. and a Brazilian church that is one of the largest deaf Methodist churches in the world,  A 10-hour course on Deaf Lay Servant certification will be offered. Christians of all churches and denominations are welcome.  Learn more...  
New UMC Handbook now available 
The new United Methodist Church Handbook for this quadrennium is available, providing a detailed overview of the denomination's beliefs, mission, structure and history. The handbook is a free, go-to resource for anyone in search of information about The United Methodist Church and is helpful for leaders and new members.

"The United Methodist Church Handbook is one of the most appreciated resources generated in the church, and rightly so," said Ken Sloane of Discipleship Ministries. It offers a holistic overview of the church and the ways that all United Methodists are an essential part of the denomination's work around the world. It also explains the church's connectional nature, includes denominational maps and graphics, answers frequently asked questions, provides a glossary of key denominational terms, offers communication and connectional giving information and suggests resources to further mission and ministry. Learn more...  
United Methodist Night at the Phillies, July 29
United Methodist Night at the Phillies will be on Saturday, July 29.Come enjoy a thrilling game of baseball. Please join us with family and friends for fun and fellowship at Citizens Bank Park on Saturday, July 29, at 7:05 PM, when our Philadelphia Phillies host the Atlanta Braves.  For group tickets contact Jen Leone at jleone@phillies.com or 215-218-5267. " Please download and share the color flyer. Learn more...
HOPE! Talks: Inspiration for Small Congregations, Oct. 21
Save the date! HOPE! Talks: Inspiration for Small Congregations happens Oct. 21, from 9 AM to 3 PM, at Lighthouse Fellowship UMC, 137 North Easton Road, Glenside, PA. Be inspired as speakers from small congregations doing great ministries share how God is moving and imparting hope to and through them.
Gain a new perspective. Ask questions. Connect. Be refreshed. Get hope!  Join us for this live-streamed, TED talks-style event sponsored by Bishop Peggy Johnson and the Cabinet. ASL Interpretation and Handicapped Accessibility will be provided. Registration is $10 in advance and $15 at the door (includes breakfast and lunch). Online registration opens July 15. Want more information? Visit lfumcglenside.com/hope-talks .  
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-digestShare 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!
Eastern Pennsylvania Conference of The United Methodist Church
(800) 828-9093 |  communications@epaumc.org  |  www.epaumc.org
980 Madison Avenue, Norristown, PA 19403
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