June 11, 2020
NEWS & VIEWS
Bishop Peggy A. Johnson announces the following appointments and assignments– effective July 1, 2020,   unless otherwise noted:
North District

  • Rev. Marleah Doyle (Licensed Local Pastor) to serve Wescosville: Bethany UMC as Pastor of Family Ministries quarter-time.
  • Rev. Lorraine Heckman (Licensed Local Pastor) to serve Port Carbon: Grace UMC 0ne-eighth time and to continue to serve Port Carbon: First quarter time. 
  • Rev. Ralph Saunders (Licensed Local Pastor) from Interim to Lewiston Valley: Calvary Evangelical UMC quarter-time.  

Deb Boyd joins conference staff as DRA
Debra Boyd is the newest member of the Eastern PA Conference team of District Resource Assistants (DRA) as of June 8. She and the others will all work together at the Conference Office, rather than separately in the four districts, beginning July 1. Boyd becomes the South District DRA, succeeding the Rev. Lin George, who retires June 30.
 
A member of Hopewell UMC in Downingtown, Boyd served on staff there as Director of Lay Ministries for seven years. A Christ Servant Minister, she participated in numerous mission trips for hurricane relief and trips to South Africa. She had a prior career in market research.
 
A self-described “history nerd” and dog-lover, Deb “rejoices when people encounter and experience God in a transformative way, having personally experienced the life-changing power of Jesus Christ herself.”
‘Signs of the Times’ : Bishop's Pastoral Letter
By Bishop Peggy A. Johnson

I don’t often take to the streets and participate in peaceful protest marches. However, recently I joined with faithful people in a number of communities to physically show support for the “Black Lives Matter” movement. In recent weeks this has captured the imagination of the entire world and is a powerful and Spirit-filled moment like none other. 

I confess to the sin of racism and White privilege in my life… I also wish to challenge more of the people called Methodist in the Eastern PA and Peninsula-Delaware annual conferences, the very cradle of Methodism, to take some action. Learn more…
NEJ, UMC bishops pledge to oppose racism
Bishops of both the UMC and its Northeastern Jurisdiction have issued statements pledging—and calling on United Methodists to pledge—solidarity with others protesting systemic racism and racial violence committed by police and others against Black people. 

The NEJ bishops say the jurisdiction’s “Call to Action” initiative to address institutional racism “has fallen short and needs to continue with even more urgency and passion.” Their letter states commitments made by “the White bishops of the NEJ, in consultation with the bishops of color.”

The UMC Council of Bishops call on UMs to “act now by using their voices, pens, feet and hearts to end racism,” and to pledge, for at least the next 30 days, to join in prayer daily at 8:46 AM and PM for 8 minutes and 46 seconds, the time it took for George Floyd to die with a police officer’s knee on his neck. “Pray for all persons of color who suffer at the hands of injustice and oppression,” urges the council. “Pray for our church as we take a stand against racism.” Learn more...
After the Dust Settles:  A BMCR conversation
Noting the pain, frustration, anger, and yet hope for the future that many feel “in the wake of the senseless murder of George Floyd by a former Minneapolis police officer,” the Rev. Eric Carr, Coordinator of Philadelphia BMCR (Black Methodists for Church Renewal), invites caucus members and guests to a Zoom video-conference meeting on Monday, June 15, at 6 PM. 

Participants will discuss “where we are and what we should be doing when the dust settles.” Additionally, Carr says, “we will discuss challenges that we as Black Methodists within our denomination should address, and how we can support the Mother Zoar/New Vision UMC project.”   Learn more...
Contact: bmcrphila@gmail.com .
Black caucus issues call to action on racism
National Black Methodists for Church Renewal ( BMCR) issued a call to action statement this week responding to the nation's racial violence and injustice crisis and the public response of widespread protests. The board of directors calls on church leaders to "hold clergy and laity to a gospel that centers the voices of people of color and all those who are truly at risk for simply being present in this world."

BMCR also asks the UMC Council of Bishops and General Conference Commission to determine whether it will still be safe to hold General Conference in Minneapolis in 2021.  Read statement  
Kneeling in silence ‘in the shadow of Love’
The Rev. David Brown, a Deacon at Wharton-Wesley UMC Philadelphia, organized and led a brief but meaningful silent protest against racial violence and injustice in Philly’s Love Park Sunday at 2 PM. It may have been the city’s quietest protest of the past week.

Brown was joined by other UM and interfaith clergy, laity, friends and onlookers, as they all knelt in silent prayer “in the shadow of love” for 8 minutes, 46 seconds clergy. That was the length of time that fired Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin knelt on George Floyd’s neck while Floyd was in police custody, which caused his May 25 death.

During the silent prayer people were encouraged to not only pray but listen to the sounds all around them and think of George Floyd and the sounds he may have heard around him as he was dying under Chauvin’s knee.

“We heard the sounds of choppers flying, a praise group in worship and a young man sharing his testimony of the gospel,” said the Rev. Shayla Johnson, who attended the event. “We felt the embrace of the spirit of God through the breeze and the smile of love upon the city through the rays of the sun.” 
New DSs get a preview of the work they will begin July 1
After meeting with the Cabinet for months and learning from their soon-to-be peers, the Rev. Evelyn Kent Clark and the Rev. Andrew Foster III,. both native Philadelphians, will step readily into their new roles as district superintendents, as their predecessors—the Rev. Dawn Taylor-Storm and the Rev. Tracy Bass, respectively, move on. Clark will succeed Taylor-Storm as Superintendent of the South District; and Foster will follow Bass as Superintendent of the East District.

Taylor-Storm becomes our conference’s new Director of Connectional Ministries, Bass moves to the Virginia Conference, where he will lead that conference in planting a new church in Chesapeake, Va. The Rev. Bumkoo “BK” Chung, West District Superintendent, is the new Dean of the Cabinet. 

“As we enter into this transition time, we thank God for those who have served so well and for the leaders who have offered themselves to God to fill these positions,” said Bishop Peggy Johnson. “The future is bright.”  Learn more...
Changes happen in conference office and staff
The Eastern PA Conference office and staff are both undergoing changes. All district offices will move into the Conference office in July—a move that was planned before the COVID-19 pandemic. Major renovations are being completed, including the addition and rearranging of offices. 

The four DRAs, including newly hired Deb Boyd, will work together in new ways to support the entire Cabinet and streamline their tasks to avoid duplication. Boyd succeeds the Rev. Lin George, who retires June 30. 

The Rev. Kevin Babcock will join the staff part-time as Coordinator of Church Support Services in July. He will partner with the Director of Connectional Ministries and the Congregational Development Team to offer opportunities for local churches to consider new forms of development and revitalization. Other staff jobs have been expanded in their titles and responsibilities. Learn more...
Church to close while celebrating its welcoming ministry 
Church of the Open Door UMC in Kennett Square, an intentionally inclusive, progressive and civically involved congregation, will mark the end of its journey as a faith community with a farewell service on Zoom on Saturday, June 13, at 5 PM. Members and friends will celebrate its “commitment to community ministry and connections…. We would like to celebrate what God has done through the many people who were a part of this journey,” reads an invitation. The Rev. Lydia Munoz is pastor. 
Northwest Philly Multifaith Vigils for Black Lives
Several faith institutions in Northwest Philadelphia are coming together to organize around racial justice as a response to the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis and killings of other unarmed Black citizens around the nation. The new interfaith group, Northwest Philly Multifaith Leaders, with up to 70 clergy and lay members, is organizing two Multifaith Vigils for Black Lives on Sunday , June 14, at 6 PM and Thursday, June 18 at 6 PM. 

The June 18 vigil will be at Janes Memorial UMC, 47 East Haines St., in Germantown, and led by the Rev Gregory Holston, pastor and co-organizer of the group. It will focus on “prayers of mourning, truth-telling about racism and criminal justice that can lead to reconciliation, and a call to action.” The June 14 vigil will be at Oxford Prebyterian Church, 8501 Stenton Ave. The group will plan additional events in the future. Learn more on the group’s Facebook page. 
Virtual Urban Summit Part 2 on June 30
The Urban Commission will reschedule its Virtual Urban Summit Part 2 for June 30, 6:30 PM. More information is coming. 
AROUND THE UM CONNECTION
Two Black pastors in St. Paul, Minnesota, helped lead a march in the Twin Cities June 2. Clergy attendees were invited to attend to bear witness for justice and stand in solidarity with African American colleagues. The march was led by Black clergy, including Moore, with White clergy following as a symbol of “having their backs.” Read the story and view photos.
RESOURCES
Tips to increase online giving
MOBILE, Ala. — Online giving is more important than ever in a time when congregations are unable to physically gather. The Rev. Jeremy Steele of Christ United Methodist Church offers some tips to ensure generosity thrives during and beyond the days of social distancing. Read story .   Understanding the safety of online giving.
Online video resource on iMovie available
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — A new training resource has been launched by United Methodist Communications to help local church leaders edit video for their ministries. The fast-track training focuses on iMovie, a tool that can be used on Apple devices, enabling the addition of video transitions and background music to more effectively engage people through social media and church websites.  Learn more.
Keeping connected while social distancing
From the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry:
Many clergy and lay leaders are facing uncertainty right now, even as their congregations are turning to them for guidance. A new e-panel series, " Leading in Crisis " is here to help. The first discussion features leadership experts Bishop Grant Hagiya of the California-Pacific Conference and Bishop Ken Carter of the Florida Conference.

Leading in Crisis: Feeling like you didn't sign up for this , and other pastoral realities of 2020: Wednesday, June 17, 12 PM.

The e-panel will be streamed live on GBHEM's Facebook page and YouTube channel , and viewers will have the opportunity to comment with their questions on either platform. The event is free and there is no need to preregister. More information is available here .

Find GBHEM devotions for leaders, college students and campus ministers, candidates and aspiring ministers on the E-Resources Devotions page. Learn more...

The e-panel will be streamed live on GBHEM's Facebook page and YouTube channel , and viewers will have the opportunity to comment with their questions on either platform. The event is free and there is no need to preregister. More information is available here .
REMINDERS
Spring 2020 NEWSpirit

The Spring issue of NEWSpirit newspaper on our website now and ready to read and share: Spring 2020 . It includes: 

  • A new, updated article on plans for Annual Conference 2020. 
  • Updates on churches overcoming pandemic-caused closures and preparing to reopen.
  • Bishop Peggy Johnson’s creative, inspiring comparison between our anticipation of reopening and Noah’s after months of waiting inside his crowded ark.
  • Responding to racial violence in search of solutions and solidarity, peace and justice. 
  • General Conference postponed but set for 2021. 
  • Cabinet and staff comings and goings 
  • Anita Powell shares ‘Reflections on My Journey’
  • Advancing cross-racial/cross-cultural ministries.
UM Men National Prayer Day, June 13 on Zoom
Wayne Custer, President of UM Men in the Northeastern Jurisdiction, invites all to an online National Prayer Day on Zoom on Saturday, June 13, from 1 to 4 PM. Men across the jurisdiction and beyond meet weekly online on Thursday evenings, Saturday mornings and Sunday afternoons. But the NEJ men will host this special prayer time for all.

“The men of the jurisdiction are reaching out to calm ourselves after being cooped up for months and after seeing and reading about the racial tension that has swept across our nation,” writes Custer. “These meetings were launched by true disciples who are hurting. They see each other as brothers and hear the call. These men are standing tall.”

Here is the link to join the Zoom gathering in our area, using computer or smartphone, video or audio.  https://us02web.zoom.us/j/86718159132
Meeting ID: 867 1815 9132
By Telephone: +1 646 558 8656
Meeting ID: 867 1815 9132
Find more information about the National Day of Prayer online at: www.NationalDayofPrayerUMM.org.
The four Camp & Retreat Centers spread across the Eastern PA Conference have made the painful decision to suspend onsite summer camp this year, which was to begin in June. That action was taken Friday, May 29, due to the COVID-19 pandemic and severely restrictive guidelines to ensure social distancing and other cautionary measures to protect campers and their families.

The camps' site directors arrived at the decision in meetings with their site committees, the conference's Camp & Retreat Ministry Board and conference officials.  “This is a tough decision because our summer camps are so beloved and offer such foundational experiences in the lives of children and youth,” said the Rev. Don Keller, camping board chair. “It’s a real loss to our families and churches, as well as our staff and volunteers who play such essential roles in this life-changing ministry. But we must make the health of everyone our primary concern and not take any chances with this devastating virus.” Learn more...
Conference offers churches online giving page

The conference has created a giving page on its website to allow congregations to easily receive online gifts from church members, visitors and donors, who can select from a menu of participating churches. The online giving portal is now operational.  It is available to all churches, but it should be especially helpful to churches that do not currently offer online giving but want to. The service is provided through the conference’s relationship with Vanco Payment Services.   

Simple electronic funds transfer process
To participate in the program, a local church must simply complete the electronic funds transfer form and return it to the conference accounting office. The conference Treasurer’s office will process and deposit gifts into the church’s designated bank account weekly. A contribution report will then be sent to the church. Learn more...
REMINDER: PA tax exemption extended until September 30
Due to delays in processing of sales tax exemptions as a result of COVID-19, the PA state revenue department  is extending the Eastern PA Conference’s tax-exempt status and that of its subsidiary churches until September 30, 2020. The extension is intended to assist conferences and subsidiary churches in continuing daily operations without interruption of exempt status.
Clergy, pastors, deacons asked to submit photos for directory
The Eastern PA Conference is creating a Clergy Photo Directory to be used by the new appointive Cabinet and to help future transitions in Annual Conference leadership. For convenience, the Cabinet created an online EPAUMC Clergy Photo Portal to allow for easy photo submissions. 
 
Each appointed or assigned pastor (clergy or lay) and deacon is asked to submit one photo. You will be asked for your email address to access the portal. Once you access the portal, you will be asked for your name and a photo to upload.. The portal will only accept image files (.jpg, .png, etc.). The Clergy Photo Portal will guide you through completing these steps. Questions? Contact the Rev. Kevin Babcock, ( above), Coordinator of Church Support Services, at kbabcock@epaumc.org .
UMW Annual Celebration
47th Annual Celebration

When: Saturday, October 17, 2020, 9 AM – 3 PM

Where: St. Matthew UMC, 600 Walker Road, Wayne, PA 19087
Guest Speaker: Shannon Priddy, National President, United Methodist Women

Registration Contact: Susan Dziuk, 215-637-7895, dziuks1@verizon.net

Featuring:
Special Deaf Ministry Choir (Christ UMC, Fairless Hills, PA)
Grace-N-Motion (Praise Dance Ministry, Grace UMC, Phila., PA)

Safe Sanctuaries in virtual ministry during COVID-19
The Eastern PA Conference Safe Sanctuaries Committee affirms that our current policies and procedures are still relevant during the COVID-19 pandemic that requires physical distancing and solely online communication. But members realize that best practices must modified to apply to ministry in virtual environments. “During times of swift change that are unprecedented it can be easy to forget standing policies and procedures when working with children and youth,” says a new resource document. 

“During times like these, it is even more important to be diligent and follow all of the screening policies as they may be overlooked when someone offers help in this time. Unfortunately, those who seek to abuse use times of confusion and change to their advantage. Again, these guidelines are not meant to prevent ministry from happening but to ensure ministry occurs in safe ways. And now we need to ensure ministry occurs in safe ways in the virtual world. Towards this end, Eastern PA Conference of the United Methodist Conference’s Safe Sanctuaries committee is offering the follow resources and guidance in applying safe sanctuaries policies to the virtual world.” Learn more...
Racism, Post-Traumatic Stress, & Transformation workshop Oct. 17
A dynamic workshop, titled Racism, Post-Traumatic Stress, & Transformation: Calling All People of Color--Clergy & Laym will take place, as rescheduled, in October 17, 8:30 AM to 3:00 PM at Simpson House, 2102 Belmont Avenue, Philadelphia. Sponsored by the conference’s Commission on Religion & Race.

Our facilitator, The Rev. R. Dandridge Collins, Ph. D., a trauma expert, will teach and lead participants in frank discussions to explore emotional distress and trauma caused in part by racist mistreatment, conflict and reactions, past and present. Interested persons should register soon . The $25 registration fee includes: continental breakfast, lunch and a copy of Collins’ bestselling 2007 book The Trauma Zone: Trusting God for Emotional Healing. Register today.   Download and share the flyer.
Evangelism in a Changing Landscape, Nov. 14
Plan now to attend the Eastern PA Conference’s 2020 Faith-Sharing Event, “Evangelism in a Changing Landscape,” November 14, 8:30 AM to 3:00 PM, at Wesley UMC in Bethlehem, PA. Cost: $10. $50 for groups of 6 or more! Teams are encouraged to attend. 0.6 CEUs are available. Breakfast and lunch will be provided.

Our featured speaker: The Rev. Lisa Greenwood, Vice-President for Leadership Ministry of TMF (the Texas Methodist Foundation), Dallas, Texas. This one-day event will stimulate reflections on the changing landscape of our mission field—both its challenges and opportunities—and invite us into conversations about the implications for our church leaders and ministries. Congregations are encouraged to send teams to learn, strategize and prepare to grow together.

Lisa Greenwood works with church leaders across the UMC connection to help them understand and foster “deep change” by facilitating purposeful conversations of courage, learning, generosity and innovation. She brings wisdom and experience from serving suburban, urban and rural churches as a pastor in the North Texas Annual Conference for 20 years. She also has served on the Board of Ordained Ministry, four General Conference delegations (2004-2019), and as ministry strategist for the Horizons Stewardship Company. Download the flyer!    Register online!
Ministry in the Midst of Coronavirus
Be sure to visit our Coronavirus Ministry Response page periodically (accessible from our home page just under the Resources tab). We add more content there throughout the week, including links to relevant writings by Bishop Peggy Johnson and others, news and views about the pandemic and related concerns, and accounts of churches and ministries that continue to reach, serve and inspire people, while making disciples and transforming lives. Also, feel free to use our new Ministry in the Midst of Coronavirus logo.
Conference Loan Fund open for CD investments
The EPA Conference Loan Fund is open for investment in certificates of deposit again, for the first time in about five years, according to Conference Treasurer James Brown. The effective interest rate is 2.25% per year.
Each investor receives a Certificate of Participation from the Loan Fund certifying that the named investor has made an investment of a specific amount in the Loan Fund. The minimum investment is $1,000.00. The Certificates of Participation are offered for cash, and there are no financing terms available. 
Interest rates are set by members of the Annual Conference, as recommended by the Loan Fund Board. The Loan Fund is a Pennsylvania non-profit corporation, whose purpose is to make loans to churches and affiliated agencies for building projects.   Learn more…   Also, visit our Conference Loan Fund page to learn more. Click here to download the investor form.  
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
  • July 25: Connectional Table Meeting, Zoom online meeting.
  • August 21 - 22: "Camping at the Crossroads" Summer Youth Rally
  • September 26: Basic Sexual Ethics Workshop
  • October 3: Connectional Ministries Leadership Training Event. Cedarville UMC.
  • October 4: District Conferences (rescheduled)
  • October 9-10: Domestic Violence Seminar, on Zoom
  • October 13 - 14: Annual Conference (rescheduled)
  • October 17: ERT/VIM Training, 8 AM – 4 PM, Eastwick UMC
  • October 17: UMW Annual Celebration. Download the flyer!
  • October 17: "Racism, Post-Traumatic Stress, & Transformation"
  • October 23-25: Dismantling Racism Training, Friday 5 PM – Sunday 3 PM, Desmond Hotel
  • November 14: Annual Faith-Sharing Event--Evangelism in a Changing Landscape
  • December 13: Annual "Celebrating our Cultures" Event, Zoom online event

Eastern Pennsylvania Conference of The United Methodist Church
(800) 828-9093 |  communications@epaumc.org  |  www.epaumc.org
980 Madison Avenue, Norristown, PA 19403