June 25, 2021
NEWS & VIEWS
Bishop Peggy A. Johnson announces the following appointments & assignments:
Effective July 1, 2021, unless otherwise stated.

West District
  • Robert Howard (PTLP) from Lebanon: Mountville to Lebanon: Hebron (half-time as an appointment, quarter-time as a direct hire).

Conference seeks new Coordinator of Urban Ministries
The Eastern PA Conference is seeking to hire a new Conference Coordinator of Urban Ministries. This position has the primary responsibility for coordinating the work of the Annual Conference in empowering congregations to develop and sustain ministries directly related to urban and outreach ministries.

This is a 20-hour per week position that does not include benefits. Resumes and cover letters should be sent to UMJobs@epaumc.org by July 13. 

‘Ask Rev. Palmer’
By Bishop Peggy A. Johnson

When I arrived as bishop of the Eastern PA Conference in 2008, it was not long before I heard the phrase “Ask Rev. Palmer.” I was quick to seek out the wisdom of this retired Elder in the conference because of his experience, graciousness and keen insight. People encouraged me to “Ask Rev. Palmer” whenever there was a need for “big picture” thinking around challenging issues regarding the urban churches of the annual conference.  

His vast experience and longevity in ministry was part of it….But another important reason that he was universally held in high esteem was because he was a loving, humble, selfless, genuine Christian servant of God.... I say to Rev. Palmer: You have held us up, taught us, guided us and kept us going as a conference! At the age of 96 you have joined the church triumphant and your legacy of leadership and grace lives on in the churches and lives of all the people you have served. Great has been your faithfulness! Learn more...

NOTE: The funeral for Rev. Herbert E. Palmer will be held on Tuesday, June 29, at 11 AM, after a 10 AM public viewing, at Mother African Zoar UMC, 3259 N. Broad St. in Philadelphia. Parking will be available until 1 PM at the nearby Mary M. Bethune Elementary School. The funeral will be livestreamed on Zoar's Facebook page. Also, Bishop Gregory V. Palmer asks that condolences to his family be sent to his West Ohio Conference office at 32 Wesley Boulevard, Worthington, Ohio 43085. Thank you.
Latino Commission nurtures faith formation for all ages
The Eastern PA Conference Latino Commission emphasizes faith formation and leadership development for all ages—from children who attend Latino Week Camp at Gretna Glen Camp & Retreat Center, to adult learners, including the 21 who recently became Lay Missioners in the National Plan for Hispanic/Latino Ministry, a program of the UMC’s Global Ministries missions agency.

Latino Week (Semana Latina) resumes Sunday, June 27, to Friday, July 2, as just one of Gretna Glen’s many Summer Camp events. But Gretna Glen has hosted this popular camp for 40 years. About 60 children and youth will arrive there with adult counselors and volunteers Sunday evening to enjoy a week that will feature learning, laughter, love of nature, lessons of life, and loads of fun.

The Latino Commission’s Holy Convocation May 29, usually held close to Pentecost Sunday, was indeed full of the Holy Spirit, featuring ample prayers, music, poetry, testimonies, liturgical dance, fellowship and a sermon preached by Bishop Peggy Johnson (left). The bishop enjoyed her last time of sharing in worship and Communion with commission members. 

About 70 members came to the newly merged Casa del Rey UMC, located at Emmanuel UMC in Allentown, ready to worship and celebrate together, and eager to make up for last year’s cancellation due to the pandemic. Learn more...

UM Native American groups urge bishops to address boarding schools’ traumatic legacy
The Eastern PA Conference Committee on Native American Ministries has called on the UMC’s Council of Bishops “to lead our people in restorative justice (through)…a forum where (Native American) boarding school survivors and their descendants can tell their stories.”

CONAM wrote the June 16 letter in support of a June 11 letter from the denomination’s Native American International Caucus that asks the bishops to “listen to the Indian voices crying out from graves and from their communities and to take concrete action to fulfill their vows. Now.”

These statements were prompted by the discovery several weeks ago of the bodies of 215 Indian children buried at the Kamloops Indian Industrial School in British Columbia. But on Thursday the remains of as many as 751 more people, mainly Indigenous children, were reportedly unearthed at the site of another former boarding school in the province of Saskatchewan. 

That new discovery is further shaking a nation as it grapples with generations of widespread and systematic abuse of Indigenous people. And people concerned about justice for Native Americans and the lasting impact of boarding schools in the U.S. are grieving these gruesome discoveries as well. Learn more...

Fare-thee-well: Moving pastors say goodbye to churches amid waning pandemic
The Rev. Julia Singleton, who is moving to a new pastoral appointment sympathizes especially with clergy who moved last summer during the rise of the COVID-19 pandemic. No one knew they would face a new experience of church dislocation and disconnection unlike any they’ve ever known.  

“There was hope at the time that things would soon go back to normal,” she writes. But “we had no idea we would be living through yet another appointment season in 2021 with pastors and congregations still figuring out how to end well and begin well together." She continues:

“It’s hard to say what ministry will be like in the coming months when we make these new transitions….We’ll be trying to figure out how to do ministry together in a pandemic that is ending but is far from over. But I do know this: God goes before us. While these are strange times, and times of deep lament, it is also a time of great opportunity. We are called for such a time as this—all of us—lay and clergy.” Learn more... 
New Benefits Board members needed!
We are looking for a few talented and conscientious volunteer board members to lead and strengthen the programs of the Eastern PA Conference Board of Benefits.

The vital work of this board includes administering our health and pension plans, monitoring our investments according to policy, maintaining relationships with our clergy on medical leave, evaluating grant requests, and keeping our members educated and informed about their eligibility, benefit plans, and goals for retirement.

If you can contribute your time, thoughtfulness, and leadership, are willing to learn about the benefits we offer to our Clergy members, are a member of a United Methodist Church, and are interested in exploring this opportunity, Contact Jo Fielding at jfielding@epaumc.org or 484-762-8213 to discuss if this volunteer opportunity is right for you. Learn more...

Words of wisdom and warmth
View video of our 2021 clergy retirees 
Enjoy the heartwarming video of our Clergy Retiree Celebration Service, recorded in April and presented at the 2021 Annual Conference May 21. Each year our clergy retirees’ career remembrances and parting sentiments are an inspirational delight to conference members. So is their recitation of John Wesley Covenant Prayer. This year’s cadre is no different. View and enjoy the video. View also our full Annual Conference 2021 playlist for other videos.
Methodism Quiz: When is John Wesley’s birthday?
We will celebrate the birthday of John Wesley, Methodism’s founder on Monday, June 28. But is that his real birthday? Test your knowledge of Methodist History with this possibly trick question. Learn more…  Also, read Christianity Today’s version of John Wesley’s religious biography (revealing his "heartwarming" call to full faith in Christ).
Celebrating a Silver Anniversary 
The Order of Deacons (1996-2021)
By Bishop Peggy A. Johnson

At the 1996 General Conference of The United Methodist Church, the Order of Deacons was voted into existence as an ordained class of clergy ministers. With the creation of the Order of Deacon, the doors were flung wide for more outreach and mission, especially with people living in the margins of society. Ordained Deacons can be in ministry anywhere and everywhere. Their mandate is to “connect the church to the world.” Thus, they are called to ministries of “Word, Service, Compassion and Justice.” Learn more
Black churches’ post-quarantine, safe, reentry considerations researched
Strengthening the Black Church for the 21st Century is partnering with Gammon Theological Seminary, the Convocation for Black Pastors in the UMC, Black Clergywomen of the UMC, and Black Methodists for Church Renewal to understand factors that are informing decisions and timelines for Black churches to resume in-person worship at their church’s primary physical locations. Gammon’s collaboration also seeks to learn how Black churches are navigating digital, virtual, and online worship. 

The insights from this Black UM Church Post Quarantine and Safe Re-entry Research Project will be shared with African American pastors and laypersons as they navigate this changing ministry landscape. The survey, which opened June 7, will remain open until June 30. Responses will remain confidential; and participants may request a copy of the final report. Find the survey on Gammon's website.
$1 million given to honor Native Americans
The Greater New Jersey Conference is allocating $1 million to preserve a Native American church and burial ground and return land and buildings to a tribe. "This is a promise that has promise," said Cynthia Mosley, a member of the Lenape tribe who chairs the conference Committee on Native American Ministries. She and other United Methodists are working to call attention to the unsolved cases of missing and murdered indigenous women and girls. Read story
Sustainable Investment Report released
GLENVIEW, Ill. — The United Methodist agency that administers benefit plans for the denomination is reporting about its work in 2019-20, including the agency's commitment to net-zero and other climate change actions, responding to COVID-19 and growing its affordable housing program. The Sustainable Investment Report was issued June 21 by Wespath Benefits and Investments. Read press release. Read report.
MISSION & MINISTRY OPPORTUNITIES
Celebrating Social Media Day
UM Communications will celebrate Social Media Day on Wednesday, June 30, with free learning opportunities throughout the day. That includes a live Q&A learning session at 1 PM--all at Facebook.com/UMCom. "Social media is more than just being social; it's ministry," said Poonam Patodia, the agency's chief marketing officer. "Social Media Day is a good time to celebrate how it can help churches reach out beyond their surrounding communities." 

The immense power of social media is undeniable. As of 2021, the number of people using social media is over 3.96 billion worldwide – that’s more than 50 percent of the world. UMCom seeks to equip churches with tools to effectively minister daily via social media platforms. Some of the ways the agency helps local churches are through providing social graphics, how-to-articles, social media training, grants and marketing assistance. Read press release. Register and submit questions for the live Q&A . Read commentary Learn about Social Media Day and explore resources.  
LEARNING EVENTS
Social Media Day Live Q&A Learning Session
Live on Wednesday, June 30th at 1 PM at www.facebook.com/umcom

Telling your church’s story online provides an opportunity to connect with people who are searching for a new church home. In fact, recent research revealed that more than 90% of spiritual seekers use smartphones and the Internet daily, while 83% use social media every day.

Whether you are searching for in-depth information or just getting started with a Facebook page or Instagram account for your church, here is a chance to ask the experts at United Methodist Communications about social media and how your church can utilize it for meaningful ministry and effective outreach. Register.

This live learning session is an opportunity to answer your questions about Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Have questions about livestreaming your worship services and what platforms to use? Be sure to share those below, too!
Job-hunting guide for bivocational pastors    
Bivocational pastors seeking employment outside the church are invited to participate in Lancaster Theological Seminary’s "The Minister's Job-Hunting Field Guide: Bivocational and Beyond." It’s a hands-on series of six online workshops taught by a prominent career management consultant.

  • Create your own promotional package.
  • Develop and hone interview skills.
  • Find jobs before they are posted. 
  • Design your own job-search campaign.

Offered through the Pennsylvania Academy of Ministry at Lancaster Seminary, classes will be held July 6-August 10, Tuesday nights at 6:30-8 PM, via Zoom. This 2.5 CEU class is just $100 per participant. See registration and payment instructions and forward this offer to friends or colleagues who might be interested.  
The Bible With and Without Jesus taught by scholar/author Amy-Jill Levine, Wednesdays
Author and scholar author Amy-Jill Levine will finish leading the Eastern PA Conference Congregational Development Team's group study of her new book, The Bible With and Without Jesus: How Jews and Christians Read the Same Stories Differently, on Wednesday, June 30.

The hourlong biblical study, held at 11 AM on Zoom, offers a fascinating and fast-paced, genial teaching by this highly respected Jewish scholar. She is University Professor of New Testament and Jewish Studies, and Mary Jane Werthan Professor of Jewish Studies at Vanderbilt. In her final, June 30 lecture she will cover the “cry of dereliction,” found in Psalm 22 and spoken by Jesus Christ and by Esther. 
August Book Club to feature Woolverton's new book
The Congregational Development Team’s next CDT Book Club selection will be the Rev. David Woolverton's newest book, Mission Rift: Leading through Church Conflict. Woolverton, who frequently teaches courses on overcoming church conflict in Eastern PA, will lead the four-week study on Wednesdays, August 11 to Sept. 1, at 11 AM. Once again, the first 25 registrants will receive the book’s Kindle version for free.
Rev. David Woolverton has been an ordained Elder within the Eastern PA Conference for over thirty years, serving and consulting in congregations of various sizes. In addition to serving as Lead Pastor at St. Paul’s Church, Elizabethtown, he also is Affiliate Professor of Leadership and Program Director for the Masters of Arts in Leadership as well as the United Methodist Student Advisor at Evangelical Theological Seminary in Myerstown, PA. He also is a Faculty Mentor in the Kairos Project at Kairos University. David lives in Lancaster, PA with his wife, Kristine, and their rambunctious two year old Bernedoodle.
Calling all Youth: Get Ready to Rally August 28!
There’s a time for everything Ecclesiastes 3 tells us, and August 28, from 9 AM to 6 PM, will be the perfect time for the Eastern PA Conference’s next Youth Rally. It will be a youth rally like no other, promises the Rev. David Piltz, outgoing Coordinator of Young Peoples Ministries.

Covenant UMC in Bath, Pa., will again be the perfect place for a bit of northern exposure and a return to this late-summer youth outdoor rally for its second year. Its debut in 2019 was titled Camping at the Crossroads, but COVID-19 shut down the 2020 plans. Now, all current CDC guidelines and protocols on COVID-19 safety will be maintained.

The day will have games, speakers, music, prizes and much more. There will be youth speakers and musicians including CCYM’s very own Sarah Mott and Covenant UMC’s praise band S.O.U.L.7:17. A speaker from the National Alliance on Mental Health will share a personal testimony about overcoming and living with mental illness.

We will also hear from Egypt Speaks (https://www.egyptspeaksofficial.com/) a renowned poet, spoken word artist and musician. Ending music and a concert will be provided by Tribe Collective (wearetribeco.com). In the middle of the day professionals actors from Without a Cue (www.withoutacue.com) will lead the attendees in an innovative improv based competition!

Finally, throughout the day we will hear from and support two amazing ministries. One is New Bethany Ministries (www.newbethanyministries.org) who provides a variety of support services to those in need. The other is CareNet of Carbon County (www.carenetcarbon.org) who work with “at-risk” youth and young people and providing services that create positive choices.

This is a day youth won’t want to miss! Registration beings at 9 AM, and the program launches at 10 AM. Lunch is on your own, but there will be food trucks available on site.
Healing Communities Training on Zoom in Sept.
Co-sponsored by the Conference Prison Ministry and Restorative Justice Team and the West Chester Mission Link. 

3 ZOOM sessions in September:
  • Tuesday, Sept 21, 6:30 - 8:30 PM
  • Saturday, Sept 25, 8:30 AM - 12:30 PM
  • Tuesday, Sept 28, 6:30 - 8:30 PM
  • 2 additional hours of homework to be completed outside of the Zoom sessions

1.0 CEU to be provided for CSM, CLM, and clergy, upon completioin of all 3 Zoom sezzions and the 2 hrs of out-of-class work. Cost: $10
RESOURCES
Metro Ministries offers special grant for church technology improvements
Eastern PA Conference Metro Ministries offers a special grant of up to $4,000 to help churches in Chester, Norristown and Philadelphia make improvements in their technology and media ministry to support worship and other activities. Grants will be awarded to help churches move to hybrid worship services that provide in-person worship while retaining an on-line/virtual presence.  

Purchases can include display monitors, cameras, streaming software, worship presentation software, subscriptions for virtual presence, PA equipment, electronic signage, etc. Unlike the Metro Ministries building repair grant, this special grant does not require matching funds.

Submissions are due by July 15. Awardees will be notified by July 31.Funds are limited to support the most compelling projects that demonstrate high impact on the life of the congregation and/or the community it serves. This is a one-time special grant. 

Submit applications to: The Office of Director of Connectional Ministries, P.O. Box 820, Valley Forge, PA 19482-0820 or to the Rev. Dawn Taylor-Storm at dtaylorstorm@epaumc.org. Questions and comments. Contact the Rev. Eric W. Carr, Jr. at pastorewcarr@gmail.com.  Download the Technology Special Grant Application
People of God campaign invites members to #BeUMC
UM Communications, in collaboration with other UMC leaders, is building on the People of God campaign, launched in 2020. The addition of a new hashtag and call-to-action – #BeUMC – invites church members to embody the church’s values, embrace its aspirations, and remain with the denomination even in difficult times.

The People of God campaign celebrates key attributes that are important to United Methodists and serves as a reminder of how they are living out their faith as people of God. Each month has focused on a specific word: faithful, missional, committed, spirit-filled, deeply rooted, connected, resilient, justice-seeking and diverse. The words were chosen to reflect the denomination’s faith, heritage, values, history, diversity, connection and global footprint. Learn more...
Gun Violence Reduction Initiative grants available 
Rev. Lorelei Toombs, pastor of Willow Grove UMC shares news of a new Gun Violence Reduction Initiatives grant, with a June 30 deadline from the PA Commission on Crime and Delinquency (PCCD). The commission has extended the grant’s availability to faith-based organizations, including churches and other non-profits, working to reduce gun violence in their communities.

PCCD announced $5 million in state funding May 18, covering a 33-month period from Oct. 1 through June 2024, to support Gun Violence Reduction Initiatives, including efforts to reduce shootings and increase public safety in Philadelphia and other municipalities across the Commonwealth with the highest rates of gun violence.
Churches can submit an initial request for funding through an online survey form until June 30. Also, PCCD hosted two informational webinars for prospective applicants in early June, but recordings are available: 


Questions regarding this funding opportunity can be directed to PCCD staff at RA-PCCD_ExecutiveOfc@pa.gov with "2021 Gun Violence Reduction Grants" in the subject line. Learn more 
Mont. County to update faith leaders on COVID guidance again July 1
Montgomery County public health officials have scheduled their next, and likely final, virtual meeting to update faith-based organizations and houses of worship for Thursday, July 1, at 1 PM. Join by computer or phone:


For updates in your areas, visit your city or county’s public health website. 
Update your church’s Find‑A‑Church webpage
Update your church’s Find‑A‑Church webpage to offer potential visitors current, helpful information. As people begin to seek in‑person connections once more, they’ll be searching online for information about local churches. Be prepared to welcome them with an updated Find‑A‑Church profile! Include a note about who you are as a congregation, links to your website and social media channels, location details and more.
Bivocational & Small Church Network to meet July 13
The new Bivocational & Small Church Network will have its next meeting for conversation and resourcing on Tuesday, July 13, at 6:30 PM via Zoom. Members will explore “Finances and the Small Church,” led by the Rev. Steve Morton, North District Superintendent, and James Brown, Conference Treasurer. 

Brown will announce a 35 percent-off discount for churches participating in Paychex through Wespath. The support group will share information about grant opportunities for small churches in Eastern PA and how to find and possibly share a church treasurer when there is no one in the church who has financial knowledge. Members will also learn about potential partnerships with other small churches across the conference. Anyone with questions about small-church finances to be addressed should send them to the Rev. Denny Emrick at dennyemrick@gmail.com.  Register for the meeting on Zoom.
Urban Summit Mini-Series resumes July 24
The conference Urban Commission's Virtual Urban Summit Mini-Series will continue July 24 with a session at 10 AM to 12 PM via Zoom. Subsequent online sessions will be offered Sept. 25 and Nov. 20. More information coming soon.
Weekly conference prayer meetings
Join the dozen or more prayer warriors who show up each Tuesday at noon for a half-hour of personal sharing and compelling intercessory prayer. It’s a supportive community of believers in the power of prayer. Some sessions have featured meditative music, wisdom readings and poetry to stimulate creative reflection.

Upcoming Schedule of Prayer Leaders:
  • June 29: John W. Coleman, Conference Director of Communications
  • July 6: Rev. Dave Piltz
  • July 13: Rev. Dawn Taylor-Storm, Director of Connectional Ministries
  • July 20: Rev. Stacey Jones-Anderson
  • July 27: Bishop Peggy Johnson

Here is the Zoom access information: Join at: https://epaumc.zoom.us/j/591129374?pwd=dElpMUdVd09VTTBoRDZxTm9zejVqdz09 
Meeting ID: 591 129 374 Or Call in: +1 646 558 8656 
What is the purpose of a Christian funeral?
What are we doing when we gather at a Christian funeral? Why do we say and do certain things? Ask The UMC, a ministry of United Methodist Communications, explores these questions and others related to United Methodist beliefs about death and resurrection in a new series. Read story.
AROUND THE UM CONNECTION
Rural churches emerging from coronavirus
COVID-19 hit small, rural churches particularly hard, said the Rev. Randy Wall, a part-time pastor and president of United Methodist Rural Advocates. “There are a lot of communities where they don’t have internet or very reliable internet….how can you do a Zoom worship service?”

Some churches without internet service weren’t informed about U.S. Small Business Administration grants and loans that were available to help pay salaries and bills while churches couldn’t meet, Wall added. Applying for the help would also be difficult without the internet. Another rural ministry expert believes rural churches need to lean into missions, outreach and communicating with isolated seniors going forward. Learn more...
Church faced test with Floyd killing
MINNEAPOLIS — The Rev. Tyler Sit and New City Church, a United Methodist congregation, have been deeply engaged in protest, prayer vigils and emergency assistance since the killing of George Floyd about a year ago. Sit reflects on how that tragedy, which occurred a short walk from New City, galvanized a young congregation. Todd Nelson has the story for Faith & Leadership, an online publication of Duke Divinity School. Read story
Online gamer offers unique outreach ministry
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (UM News) — When a video game-playing pastor realized the strong communities that gamers were building online, he saw an untapped opportunity for ministry. Aaron Cross reports. Read story Commentary: How faith, gaming help us survive worst of times
Living as a UM pastor in Nomadland
SOUTH MILWAUKEE, Wis. (UM News) — Like the main character in the Oscar-winning film "Nomadland," itinerant pastors learn to form community and connection even though they are always on the move. "If we are desiring to settle down, we will ignore connectionalism as the spirit of United Methodism," writes the Rev. Dr. Sun-joong Kim. Read commentary
REMINDERS
Advanced Sexual Ethics course to examine pornography link to child sex trafficking 
The next Advance Sexual Ethics course will study The Impact of Pornography and the Intersection with Child Sex Trafficking and Abuse, Sept. 29, 10 AM to 1 PM, on Zoom. The cost is $35. 

The workshop will delve into the world of pornography and its impact on congregants, children, communities and ourselves. The workshop will focus on common types of pornography, trends in the use of porn and its impact on the human brain, and connections between pornography and the growing problems of domestic child sex trafficking and child sexual abuse.

Prior to the workshop, registrants will receive links to two videos to view and worksheets to complete. The facilitators are from Safe Communities Lancaster PA, including Linda Crockett, founder and director. Contact the Rev. Jacqueline Hines for more information at pastorjacquelineumc@gmail.com or 410-963-1721. Learn more…
Conference launches Dismantling Racism online Facebook group
The Eastern PA Conference Commission on Religion & Race (CORR) has launched a timely new Facebook Group with a page aptly titled Dismantling Racism. It’s timely because it launched just as the U.S. Congress and President Joe Biden approved Juneteenth on June 19, also long known as Freedom Day or Emancipation Day, as a national holiday.
 
June 19 was the day in 1865 when the last slaves in Galveston, Texas, learned they were free—two months after the Civil War officially ended and over two years after President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation to free slaves in Southern states.
 
CORR has been planning to launch the Facebook group for several months; and now members are busy posting information, events, comments and resources to the new page. They are also inviting friends and colleagues to join who resonate with the anti-racism values and interests it communicates. Learn more...
Retirement celebration for Bishop Peggy Johnson, July 26, on Zoom
Eastern PA Conference leaders are planning a retirement celebration to bid a fond farewell to Bishop Peggy Johnson, after her 13 years of providing service and leadership here. The virtual farewell fete on Zoom is scheduled for Monday, July 26, at 6:30 to 8 PM, and will include greetings from members of the conference and the NEJ College of Bishops, among others.  

To attend the farewell webinar click on the Zoom link. Webinar ID: 966 9511 7530. Passcode: 891085.  Or join by telephone: US: +1 646 558 8656. Also, we are requesting the submission to communications@epaumc.org
of photos of our bishop from across the conference

In addition, we have created a Kudoboard where members and friends can post messages of gratitude for Bishop Johnson. Please visit the online board at  Expressions of Gratitude from the Eastern PA Conference to read some messages and add your own. You can add a note of gratitude and/or a picture: https://www.kudoboard.com/boards/x2ms73OK

Also, save the Date!
A Welcome Celebration is being planned for Bishop John Schol as our new episcopal leader on Saturday, Sept. 18, at 10 AM, onsite and online at West Chester UMC.
Conference to offer two Laity Academies
in 2021: August 6-7 online; Oct. 1-2 onsite
It’s been over a year of shutdowns and lockdowns; learning to live differently in our homes; attending meetings, classes and worship services on Zoom; and ordering many more consumer goods online. We depended on essential workers to serve and take care of us, while some of us learned how to take better care of each other. “Handle With Care” became not only a cautionary box label but a way of being human together. 

In John 13:34, Jesus commanded us to not only care but also love one another. “As I have loved you,” he said, “so you must love one another.” The pandemic has reminded us that life is precious. How we live our lives is precious. And how we care for one another and Love one another is precious. 

Acknowledging that we are not fully back to normal, the annual conference Laity Academy will host two learning events in 2021. The theme is “Handle with Care Love.”

The first academy is August 6-7, Friday evening and all-day Saturday, using Zoom video-conferencing. The second will be on October 1-2, when in-person classes will be hosted at several churches across the conference. 

There will be one Basic course for lay ministry servants; three Caring courses (one in Spanish); four Leadership courses; and three Speaking courses (two in Spanish). These courses will teach about preaching, Bible study, pastoral care, church communications, emotional intelligence and other topics. Learn more...
Registration for the August Zoom courses is now open. Register now.

Registration for the October in-person courses will open by mid-August. Course descriptions for October will be posted soon.

Watch a heart-lifting Laity Academy 2021 video by Sabrina Daluisio.
Discipleship agency partners with Good Neighbor Experiment
Discipleship Ministries, as an extension of its #SeeAllThePeople movement to reach people with intentional discipleship, is partnering with the Good Neighbor Experiment to help congregations discover new ways to be in ministry with their communities.

The Good Neighbor Experiment is a nine-month training process for local churches that want to be better neighbors in their communities. Jeff Campbell, Acting General Secretary at Discipleship Ministries, said the Good Neighbor Experiment, a nonprofit established by a United Methodist pastor in Kansas, can transform communities. Learn more...
Scholarships available for chaplaincy students   
The United Methodist Higher Education Foundation invites students preparing for chaplaincy in any branch of the U.S. military to apply for the Samuel Grover Powell Scholarship. Applicants must be enrolled at an accredited theological seminary and meet other requirements. The deadline to apply is July 1. 
College scholarships up to $3,000 available   
A limited number of United Methodist Dollars for Scholars awards are still available for the 2021-22 academic year from the United Methodist Higher Education Foundation. The scholarships are for United Methodist students attending United Methodist higher education. To learn more and apply
View recordings of recent important events
Visit our Event Recordings web page to view and benefit from dozens of recordings of recent, worth-watching Zoom meetings, classes and webinars. That includes Tools for Ministries classes offered online in March and the dynamic Becoming the Beloved Community: Preaching for the Pentecost Season, a valuable resource for planning justice-oriented worship and preaching for the current season of Pentecost.  
Pastors and worship leaders convened in a webinar April 27 to share ideas and plans for creative, inspirational worship for the season of Pentecost (not “after Pentecost”), using the Revised Common Lectionary Year B. They explored concepts of celebrating Pentecost not as a day but as a season of six Sundays, including Trinity Sunday.

Listen and learn from three engaging seminar leaders—three Elders and one Deacon who are scholars and activists–as they help participants explore biblical studies, homiletics, worship, and incarnational social action for redemptive justice.  

View and share this Zoom recording of this interactive Seminar on Preaching, Worship and Mission for Pentecost Season. Download the flyer. 
North District clergy families to picnic at Knoebels July 10 
The Great North District's 2021 Clergy Family Picnic will again happen at Knoebel's, “America's Largest Free-Admission Amusement Park,” on Saturday, July 10, 11:30 AM. Members will enjoy fun, food and fellowship together. REGISTER online.
New puzzle helps clergy families navigate pastoral transitions
Jigsaw Journey is a puzzle with a discussion guide, online videos, and other tools, provided by Artos Retreats (“Bread for the Soul”), to help clergy families navigate the emotional journey of pastoral transitions. It’s a good conversation-starter to help families reveal and share thoughts and feelings about the experience.

“The game opened a doorway for my family to talk about some challenging issues related to our upcoming transition,” said one clergy spouse with two teenage boys. “We may have never talked unless we were working on the puzzle.” 

The full set costs $55 and would be a great church gift to clergy families. Discounts are available upon request for clergy families feeling a financial pinch during the pandemic. Discounts for EPA clergy families are made possible by the generous support of the EPA Conference Board of Pension and Health Benefits. Contact: Julie@ArtosRetreats.org. Learn more
Racial Ethnic Local Church grants available this fall
Grants up to $10,000 will be available this fall from Discipleship Ministries to strengthen leadership training, small groups, worship, stewardship and spiritual formation in racial-ethnic local United Methodist churches. The application deadline for Racial Ethnic Local Church Concerns (RELCC) grants is Sept. 1.

RELCC grants are available each year, with priority given to new programs. Funds are not provided for personnel, equipment or ongoing building costs.  

For more information, go to https://bit.ly/3vSgb5G or contact Naomi Hope Annandale, director of research and strategic evaluation, by phone at 615-340-1743 or by email at nannandale@umcdiscipleship.org.
 
Applicants must apply online at https://ypm-umc.smapply.io / and are encouraged to consult with Discipleship Ministries staff for guidance in preparing the application. Learn more about grant qualifications.
Conference Leadership Opportunities for all!
The Conference Leadership Committee asks all clergy and lay members to use this Leadership and Service Interest Form to indicate how and where they are willing to serve on. Learn more...
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.
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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
June
  • June 29: Conference-wide Weekly Prayer Meetings. 12 Noon. Join.
  • June 30: CDT Book Club: The Bible With and Without Jesus by Amy-Jill Levine. Register

July
  • July 13: Bivocational & Small Church Network. Every other Month, on the 2nd Tuesday of Month, at 6:30 PM, on Zoom. Register.
  • July 22 - 30: 2021 Mission u, virtual. Sponsored by Eastern PA Conference UMW. Learn More. RegisterRegistration has been extended until July 13!
  • July 24: Urban Summit Mini-Series
  • July 26: Farewell fete for Bishop Peggy Johnson. 6:30 PM - 8 PM. Zoom webinar. Join.

August

September
  • September 18: Welcome Celebration for Bishop John Schol, 10 AM, at West Chester UMC.
  • September 25: Urban Summit Mini-Series
  • September 22, 25, 28: Healing Communities Training on Zoom. Sept. 21 & 28 at 6:30-8:30 PM. Sept. 25 at 8:30 AM-12:30 PM. 
  • September 29: Advanced Sexual Ethics, on Zoom. 10 AM - 1 PM. “Impact of Pornagraphy and the Intersection with Child Sex Trafficking and Abuse.” Register.

October
  • October 1-2: 2021 Laity Academy - In-Person Sessions, at several church locations TBA. Learn more.
  • October 15 & 16: Domestic Violence Workshop. Friday October 15 from 7 PM – 9 PM & Saturday October 16th from 9 AM – 12 PM. Further details TBA.
  • October 23:  Faith Sharing Evangelism Training with Rev. Olu Brown
  • October 23:  UMW Annual Celebration
  • October 29 - Nov 1: Dismantling Racism, Level 1, Virtual. Register.
Eastern Pennsylvania Conference of The United Methodist Church
980 Madison Avenue, Norristown, PA 19403