June 25, 2020
NEWS & VIEWS
Bishop Peggy A. Johnson announces the following appointments and assignments– effective July 1, 2020,   unless otherwise noted:
North District

  • Ms. Elizabeth Moore (CSM) assigned to serve Hamburg:Bethany UMC, quarter-time.  

Re-opening Best Practices for Churches Updated 6/24/2020
Our Conference Guidelines are updated for churches to use as they plan their reopenings. Learn more... 
Bishop's Annual Conference 2020 Update
Greetings in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ,

I am writing to let the Eastern Pennsylvania Annual Conference know that I have prayerfully decided that the bulk of our Annual Conference session this fall will be virtual and not in-person (face to face). The continual rise in COVID 19 cases, the threat of a second wave in the fall, the age of most of our constituents, and the budgetary challenges we are facing has led me to this decision. 

I will be meeting with the annual conference session committees to determine the details and we will be in touch as plans are worked out with more specific information. We plan to keep the same dates that have been previously announced, but with a few changes. We will not be gathering at the Oaks Expo Center. Understanding that all social distancing and other health precautions will be observed, the dates are:

The schedule is as follows:

  • Tuesday, Oct. 13, 9:00 am – 11:00 am: Clergy Session (virtual/live streaming). There will be no laity session.
  • Tuesday, Oct. 13, 1:00 pm – 5:00 pm: Annual Conference (virtual/live streaming). 
  • Wednesday, Oct. 14, 10:00 am: Memorial Service (at a local church yet to be confirmed). This will be in person but by ticket only with limited seating and live streaming available.
  • Wednesday, Oct. 14, 2:00 pm: Ordination Service (at a local church yet to be confirmed). This will also be in person but by ticket only with limited seating and live streaming available.

Many annual conferences across the country have opted for virtual sessions with great success so we will be able to learn from their experiences. Ensuring electronic accessibility for our voting delegates is a priority for us. We are committed to providing accessibility for individuals with disabilities and those who speak Spanish. We will also continue to receive our special Annual Conference offerings online and/or by mail.
 
I realize this is a huge change from what we are used to doing. The fellowship and resourcing that is typical of an in-person event will be limited and the agenda will be smaller. However, this will help us to do things in a new way that may facilitate even greater options for ministry in the future. 

As Isaiah 43:19 reminds us “See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” Our God is a way-maker, doing new things for a new generation. Please be in prayer as we embark on this venture of Annual Conference 2020. 

Bishop Peggy A. Johnson
Philadelphia Episcopal Area
Volunteers help Gilberton recover from flooding, but more aid is needed
Responding to major flood damage in the Schuylkill County borough of Gilberton, Eastern PA Conference Bishop Peggy Johnson and more than 30 other volunteers came to help Saturday morning, June 20. They met at Gilberton UMC and then moved among flood-stricken homes to help coordinate recovery efforts and provide pastoral care to neighbors.

Conference Disaster Recovery Coordinator Bob Simcox led an Early Response Team (ERT) of nine persons, joined by other volunteers, to help residents recover from the catastrophic rain flooding that had reached 8 to 10 feet a week earlier . Volunteers found damaged homes needing removal of soaked drywall, furnishings and debris. They talked with residents, offering encouragement and prayer, and visited vacated homes to assess damage and losses. 

The North District is also seeking donations to be processed through Gilberton UMC and monitored by the district. Morton said initial gifts toward this recovery effort will be matched by District funds up to the first $5,000. Churches and individuals from around the conference and beyond may send donations to the Eastern PA Conference Office, PO Box 820, Valley Forge PA 19482. Please note “North District Flood Relief” in the memo line. Individuals and groups who want to provide future disaster response in Gilberton can contact Simcox at drc@epaumc.org
Join POWER Main Line’s 1619 Symposium Sunday, June 28
POWER Main Line will sponsor “1619 Symposium: Criminal Justice and Cash Bail” online on Sunday, June 28 at 3 PM. Join them for a discussion of the Pulitzer Award-winning New York Times 1619 Project and renowned civil rights attorney Bryan Stevenson’s recent article on the U.S. criminal justice system. Keynote speakers will be public defense attorneys Dean Beer and Keisha Hudson. 

Register at  https://powerinterfaith.salsalabs.org/1619/index.html . Registrants will receive an email with the Zoom login information.

Dean Beer was the Chief Public Defender in Montgomery County from 2013 until 2020. He also co-founded the immigration project while at the Defender Association of Philadelphia. Keisha Hudson has spent the past 17 1/2 years as a Public Defender. Currently, she is a Senior Legal Counsel at The Justice Collaborative. 

Until February Beer and Hudson headed the Montgomery County Public Defender’s Office and built an indigent defense system that became a nationwide model of holistic and client-centered representation. Both were dismissed for their outspoken justice advocacy in the media. 
 
POWER Main Line Is a suburban Philadelphia affiliate of POWER, the grassroots, interfaith organization “committed to building communities of opportunity that work for all.” POWER represents “over 50 congregations throughout Southeastern and Central Pennsylvania.”
Communicating cross-culturally to help create real change
For church leaders to effectively communicate beyond their congregation and culture — that is, to reach a broader, dissimilar audience — they should try to forge a true, interpersonal connection with those persons they want to reach. But it would help to also do some homework.

How do you connect? You “go ye therefore” into the new milieu — preferably with an arranged invitation and host — not to teach but to learn, “not to be understood but to understand,” as St. Francis of Assisi would counsel. Then you meet and greet various people, talk a little, listen a lot and learn as much as you can. Then learn some more.

Our United Methodist mission is “To make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.” But we are learning today that our church needs transformation as well, especially in how we understand the world in all its diversity, where Christ calls us to go and to be. Learn more...
AROUND THE UM CONNECTION
Local churches show resilience in crisis
Three months into pandemic-related restrictions, many U.S. United Methodist churches are more optimistic about their finances and see hope for the "new normal." . Read story
Top agency executives commit to racial justice
The top executives of the 13 United Methodist general agencies and the Connectional Table have committed to work toward ending systemic racism. As part of this pledge, they "commit to look with new eyes" at matters relating to staffing, leadership and allocation of resources. Read statement
LEARNING EVENTS
Virtual Urban Summit, Part 2:  Going to Green  
Urban church leaders--clergy and laity--be sure to attend the Virtual Urban Summit, Part 2:  Going to Green on Tuesday, June 30, at 6:30 PM on ZOOM.
 
Topics of Conversation:
When and how will we safely return to gathered worship?
What have we learned from the past few months?
Caring for mental / emotional health
Connecting with our virtual audiences
How to respond if fall brings a “second wave”
 
Register in advance for this meeting:
https://epaumc.zoom.us/meeting/register/tJYvceCprDIqGNa1JjF5nzTk4n4WFqFRYInI. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting. For more information contact Rev. Will Brawner at wbrawner@epaumc.org Download the flyer.

RESOURCES
What does the church say about racism?
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The 2020 killings of black Americans sparked a national outcry, and United Methodists have joined together to "take a stand against the oppression and injustice that is killing persons of color." Ask The UMC, a ministry of United Methodist Communications, has more on the church's history and ongoing commitment to end racism.
Abingdon book debuts as top-10 bestseller
The killing of George Floyd and the protests it ignited worldwide have awakened many people's desire to end racism. That increased interest means the paperback of Raising White Kids: Bringing Up Children in a Racially Unjust America will debut at No. 9 on the New York Times bestseller list. Jennifer Harvey wrote the book published by Abingdon Press. Read press release
12 rules of church during COVID-19
COVINGTON, Tenn. — As United Methodist congregations return to in-person worship, they can expect some changes because of COVID-19. To help churchgoers know what to expect, First United Methodist Church has posted a video of its Pandemic Praise Team singing new lyrics to a familiar Christmas tune. The Rev. Kathy Noble has the story.
A video primer for church reopening
GLASSBORO, N.J. — Reopening a church under COVID-19 guidelines can be, well, complicated. So, the Rev. John Inverso used a bit of humor to create a matter-of-fact tutorial for members of First United Methodist Church. Ready to reserve a pew? Watch video
How to resume 'care-filled' worship
ATLANTA — "Resuming Care-filled Worship and Sacramental Life During a Pandemic" is a 35-page guide for churches as they prepare to return to in-person worship halted because of COVID-19. An ecumenical team convened by three United Methodists, two of them from Candler School of Theology, produced the guide. It draws on a range of experts, including the Centers for Disease Control. Read guide
REMINDERS
Conference Job Opening: District Resource Assistant
The Eastern PA Conference is searching for a District Resource Assistant, a full-time position located at the Conference Office in Valley Forge. The position reports directly to the District Superintendents. Anyone interested in this position, please send a resume and cover letter to UMJobs@epaumc.org by July 1, 2020. The job description is attached. Coordinated District Resource Assistant – Job Description  
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 .
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