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June 15, 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
  • Rev. Richard Conner (Elder) to Bethesda UMC (½ time - interim pastor)  

After Orlando's tragedy leaders urge prayer and action
Leaders across The United Methodist Church-from bishops to pastors to laity-are calling for heartfelt prayers in their lamentations over the bloody massacre that killed an unprecedented 49 people and injured 53 in Orlando, Fla., early Sunday morning, June 12.  Once again we are immersed in public grief that has become all too frequent, as one brutal mass-murder leads to the next. The ISIS-inspired terrorism of this incident was familiar; but what was different was the type of location and the targeted victims: a nightclub popular with gay and lesbian patrons.
Clergy leaders are addressing the assailant's hateful, violent religious extremism directed at gay Americans. They are calling for concerted prayers that seek healing through changed hearts; but some are also urging their members and all Americans to perform works of justice and mercy in solidarity with those who are ostracized and oppressed in our society. Learn more...
Read Bishop Peggy Johnson's personal reaction that digs up the roots of the tragedy in her Bishop's Blog post, "No more targets of hate and rejection. Make love our aim!" Also, read the Rev. Dan Lebo's essay about the need for a dual response, "Pray and Work," written from the searching heart of a pastor. 

Laity Session to spotlight ministry

The Eastern PA Conference Laity Session, preceding Annual Conference on June 16 at 9 AM, will feature a remarkable servant-leader whose life may well exemplify the conference theme, "Open Wide Your Hearts!"  In 1988 Jim Ford, a retired physical education teacher, founded Good Works, a Christian home repair ministry serving low-income homeowners in Coatesville, PA. He directed it for over 25 years and retired again in 2014, having built Good Works into a vibrant source of help and hope for many Chester County neighbors. "Jim Ford is one of the most caring human beings I have ever met," said the local United Way CEO.
The Laity Session theme is "Responding to God's Call," and Ford, who now shares with others what he learned about being in ministry with the poor, will speak on "Availability." Led by Conference Lay Leader David Koch, the Laity Session will also recognize District Lay Leaders, Certified Lay Ministers and Christ Servant Ministers, hear reports on General Conference from lay delegates, and remember lay annual conference members who died in the past year. Learn more...
Annual Conference Updates

Open Wide Your Hearts with Health Kits!

The Eastern PA Conference Order of Deacons needs everyone's help to prepare UMCOR Health Kits for disaster relief.  All members are urged to collect and bring donated Health Kit items from their churches to Annual Conference on Thursday, June 16. Deacons and other volunteers will assemble the kits on Friday, June 17, at the Annual Conference site. Learn more...

Disability group to serve, educate conference 


At  the Eastern PA Annual Conference, June 16-18, the Disability Conc erns Committee will offer large-print materials, audio headsets walkers and reserved seats for members with mobility issues. They will also join Commission on Religion and Race members in monitoring racial-ethnic and disability inclusiveness and reporting to the body on Friday and Saturday. But their big contribution to the conference this year will be in the exhibition area: a 13-panel display about the former Pennhurst State School and Hospital . The fascinating display "promotes an understanding of the struggle for dignity and full civil rights for persons with disabilities, using the little known history of Pennhurst." Learn more...  

Seeking God's healing and hope for our future
The Rev. Christopher J. Kurien, Director of 
Connectional Minis
tri es, asserts that our Annual Conference "will be especially blessed to hear" the compelling wisdom and grace of the Rev. Thom White Wolf Fassett. The renowned scholar, justice advocate and church leader will help lead us in our opening worship celebration, our Act of Repentance and Healing for Indigenous Peoples, and our Thursday evening learning session. With all that we will experience at this three-day session and all that is happening in our church and our world around us, Kurien writes, "I pray for God's healing touch and wholeness to be experienced by all, as we open wide our hearts with candor and compassion for one another." Learn more ...

Get your new issue of NEWSpirit at Annual Conference 
Free copies of the new spring issue of NEWSpirit newspaper will be distributed at Annual Conference in the registration area.
Share your church's Open-Heart ministry story on camera!
During Annual Conference, we want to hear how churches, districts and Mission ConneXions are opening wide their hearts in enthusiastic, enterprising outreach from around the corner to around the world. During break times in the conference agenda a roving video reporter may be walking around inviting conference members to share brief(!) testimonies about creative, heart-opening ministries of their churches and Mission ConneXions.
How are you reaching, inviting, welcoming and serving others in disciple-making mission? Please tell us on camera. We'll edit and post some brief video comments on the conference website and social media pages for all to see in the weeks following Annual Conference. 

Are you ready to let your light so shine? Then look for the roving reporter, or e-mail us in advance at, and let's look for each other.

Come join the Pre-Conference Prayer Walk
The Eastern PA Renewal Fellowship (EPRF) invites all to join in its traditional  prayer walk just prior to Annual Conference,  starting near the registration desk on  Thursday, June 16, at 8:30 AM.  Learn more...

Visit our Annual Conference 2016 webpage for all updates

Stay informed and in touch during AC2016
Once again, you can see and hear our three-day Annual Conference session, June 16-18, in real-time through  live-video streaming. We'll embed the video link on our Annual Conference 2016 Webpage, accessible under News & Events. 

Stay informed about Annual Conference decisions and highlights through special daily editions of our e-mailed newsletter, NEWSpirit Digest, and on
  our Website  and Facebook page . Post your thoughts, suggestions and questions there.

And join us on Twitter, using the hashtag  #EPAUMC2016 ( beginning June 3)  to tweet your thoughts to conference leaders, members and friends. Share your ideas, insights and reactions, while reading what others are saying about the conference and the church. 
How will you celebrate Father's Day?  
Did you know that the roots of Father's Day have ties to sermons in two Methodist churches nearly 2,000 miles apart? In 1908, a Methodist church in West Virginia sponsored the nation's first event in honor of fathers. The next year in Spokane, Wash., Sonora Smart Dodd - who was raised with five siblings by her widower dad - heard a sermon honoring mothers and wanted to do something similar for fathers. Dodd worked tirelessly to inspire Spokane to observe its first citywide Father's Day in 1910. The observance spread nationwide.
The celebration continues this year on this Sunday, June 19 . Read and share the  full story of Father's Day with your church and friends. How will you honor fathers in your church and community this Sunday? Please share highlights and photos with us at Also, here is a FREE kit  of professionally designed, customizable graphics with timely Scripture verses, provided by UM Communications. You can download and use them in your church's social media and website to help promote Father's Day. And here are more Father's Day resources  from UM Discipleship Ministries.
A new pastor, a new church:  What can we do?
Summertime means moving time for many clergy families and changes for both them and their new congregations. Remember: "When one pastor leaves and another arrives, the transition process is the work of the entire congregation." If you will soon be moving to a new church or welcoming a new pastor, here are some great ways to ease the transition.  Read the article and listen to the podcast with the Rev. Bob Kaylor, who leads seminars on pastoral transitions. 
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 Café 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"
  • "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.

NEJ Launch Pad event Aug. 11-13  
LaunchPad is a three-day training event for church leaders and teams who are planting new faith communities. The training is based learning from partnerships with hundreds of church planting leaders across the USA. It is led by Paul Nixon  of UM Discipleship Ministries' Path 1 program, who has coached about 100 new-church projects in recent years. Nixon will help attendees build momentum and grow their network of leaders toward readiness for public worship or towards multiplication. This regional event, hosted by the Baltimore Washington Conference's Office of Vibrant Communities, will happen Aug. 11-13 at the conference's Mission Center in Fulton, Md. Registration cost is $125 for a Planter/Team Leader (free for planter's spouse), plus $50 for each team member Registration closes July 25. For more information contact the Office of Vibrant Communities at 800-492-2525.  More info .

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

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...       

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 
Parking at  Annual Conference
Eastern PA Annual Conference attendees can park at a discounted rate of $7 per car, per day for both daily and overnight attendees. Your ticket must be validated at the front desk to receive the discounted rate. If you are an overnight guest staying at the Lancaster Marriott Hotel, the charge will be added to your room bill, once your ticket is validated.

For those who need to park elsewhere, "Chaser tickets" can be obtained from the Annual Conference Registration Table. A Chaser ticket will provide the discounted rate of $7 per day for  Lancaster Parking Authority garages  1 through 6. You will need to have both your original parking garage ticket and the chaser ticket in order to get the $7 discount.   Download a PDF map to see the garages by number:  Parking Garage Map.
Other Upcoming Events of Note
·        June 22: SLI (Spiritual Leadership, Inc.) training for large-membership churches at New Hanover UMC (confirm)
·       June 24-26: Boehm's Chapel 225th Anniversary Celebration
·       July 7-10: NEJ Youth Rally, First UM Lancaster (or Lancaster-Marriott Convention Center--check on which site?)
·       July 11-15: NE Jurisdictional Conference, Lancaster-Marriott Convention Center
·       August 21: Campus Ministry Sunday
·       Sept. 10: Children's Ministry Training Event, West Lawn UMC
·       Sept. 17 Laity Retreat
·       Oct. 1: Adjourned Session of Annual Conference
·       Oct. 8: Radical Discipleship, by Bill Easum, at Thorndale UMC. 
·       Oct. 16 Laity Sunday
Summer Camp opens: June 12 at Gretna Glen; June 19 at Camp Innabah; June 20 at  Carson-Simpson Farm; June 26 at Pocono Plateau

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.  

Historic Boehm's Chapel to celebrate 225 years 
Boehm's UMC (13 West Boehms Road, Willow Street, PA) will host a 225th  anniversary celebration of its historic faith journey on the weekend of June 24-26. The fete begins with a Friday evening fellowship meal at 6 PM, followed by a bonfire and prayer gathering in nearby Boehm's Chapel at 7 PM.  
All events are open to the public, and food will be available for purchase. See the article on our Website  Archives and History page or visit the  Boehm's Church or  Boehm's Chapel Websites for more details about the celebration. Call Dolores Myers, Executive Director, at 717-872-4133 for more information.
LUMINA needs sponsors to send kids to Summer Camp
LUMINA, a cooperative mission project of the Eastern PA Conference serving the Southwest District, is searching for Camper Care Sponsors  to help 32 deserving children and youth attend Gretna Glen's Christian Camp in mid-July. The 32 earned what can be a life-changing opportunity by regularly attending one of LUMINA's two Kids' Nights after-school programs from September to May. LUMINA depends on donations to fund the camperships.  Sponsors names and donations are needed by  June 30 .

LUMINA matches campership recipients in relationship with Camper Care Sponsors, who can often make "a huge difference in a camper's experience at Gretna Glen," said LUMINA executive director Correen Russo. "Children are better prepared for their camping adventure, and they love getting mail and being able to spend their allowance at the camp store. We would like to find sponsors for our 32 campers this year."   You can contact her at LUMINA, 20 E. Clay St., Lancaster, PA 17602 or  or 717-394-8412.

Take me out to the ballgame...

How about a Philadelphia Phillies ballgame  at Citizens Bank Park on Methodist Night?

Join hundreds of Eastern PA folks from across our conference at the ballpark to root for the home team on Saturday, July 16, at 7:05 p.m.  Come see the Philadelphia Phillies play (and yes, beat) the New York Mets.The conference United Methodist Men have once again arranged for us to buy discounted tickets, with $10 of each ticket we buy supporting their men's ministries.

Ticket prices range from $20 to $38. Check out our "Methodist Night" Webpage at To order your tickets, click on the green "T" icon and enter the promotion code METHODIST.  Place your order now! Tickets are subject to availability. j 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 Phillies side auxiliary message boards at the top of the 5th inning.

Please share this information with families, churches and communities, and bring a group. We hope to see you at Citizens Bank Park on July 16. 
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! 
June 16-18: Eastern PA Annual Conference , Lancaster Marriott at Penn Square, Lancaster, PA
July 10-16: EPA Conference to host the 2016 UMC Northeastern  
Jurisdictional Conference Lancaster County Convention Center and the Penn Square Marriott Hotel. Each district will serve as the Hospitality Team for one day.

July 22-23: UMW's Mission u at the Inn at Reading

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


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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