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March 18, 2016
Bishop Peggy Johnson Announces New Appointments:

Bishop Peggy A. Johnson announces the following 2016 appointments, effective  July 1, 2016 unless otherwise noted.

  • Coleen Painter (Elder) from Elverson full time, to Elverson 3/4 time and Goodwill 1/4 time.
  • The Rev. Andrew Krpata (Elder) from Levittown: Emilie UMC (East District) to Bethlehem: Wesley UMC.
  • The Rev. Thomas Robinson (Elder) from Easton: Green UMC to Quakertown UMC.
  • The Rev. John Lynch (Retired Elder) from serving Palmyra: Bethany UMC ¼ time to serving there ½ time.
  • The Rev. Zachary Hopple (Part-time Local Pastor) from serving Shamokin: First UMC ½ time to serving there ¾ time.
  • Rev. M. Thomas Grubbs, (local pastor) from Associate Pastor at Elizabethtown: St. Paul's to Senior Pastor at Columbia
Clergy family's son passes

Rahul V. Bhajjan, son of the Rev. John and Mrs. Sareta Bhajjan, died on Saturday, March 12,  2016. A viewing will be held Friday night at the RL Williams Funeral Home, in Skippack from 7  to 9 PM. The funeral will take place Saturday, March 19, at Christ UMC in Lansdale, following a  second viewing from 9 to 10 AM. Guests are invited back to Christ UMC for a luncheon following  the interment at Goodlawn Cemetery in Allentown.
Two Chances to hear Faith-Sharing Seminar speaker
weekend encounter many have been waiting for is finally here. The  Rev. Romal Tune will share ideas and inspiration at two events, tonight and tomorrow, to help church leaders boost their evangelism outreach efforts.This compelling, sought-after speaker voices his passion, intellect and faith in fresh ways, challenging listeners to see a new intersection of faith and public life. With unapologetic candor, Tune addresses the redemptive power of authentic engagement that is too often lacking in church outreach and evangelism efforts.

He'll talk first to primarily African American church members tonight, March 18, at Bickley's New Beginning UMC , 6239 N. 6 th St., Philadelphia, starting with dinner at 6 PM . Then, with the title "Leadership in a New Light," he will keynote the Conference's 4th Annual Faith-Sharing Seminar tomorrow, Saturday, March 19, from 9 AM to 3 PM, at New Hanover UMC, 2211 Swamp Pike, Gilbertsville, PA. Don't miss this chance to hear a wake-up call from a visionary leader whose prophetic, passionate voice will challenge your thinking on "making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world." Please print and share the new flyer .
Deadline for Advance Special applications extended to March 25
Applications are coming in from ministries that want to receive Annual Conference approval as Advance Special mission projects for 2016-2017; but there's room for more, said the Rev. David Davis, Conference Secretary for Global Ministries. Thus, the deadline has been extended to next Friday, March 25. Pastors, project coordinators, affiliated agency directors and mission leaders may submit applications, which if approved, will allow them to raise funds from local churches and benefit from conference promotion.

Ministries, agencies or programs should represent our conference's overall goals of calling people to Christ, nurturing discipleship, developing leadership, dismantling racism and poverty, and seeking justice. Also, they must have policies in place to prevent and address sexual harassment, as well as clearances for staff and volunteers according to the Safe Sanctuaries policies of the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference.

Download the 2016 EPAC Advance Specials Application. See the list of 2015-16 projects and other conference Mission Outreach news.
Lent Quiz: Test your knowledge of the season
Have you been learning about Lent? In this "season of preparation, self-reflection and repentance we seek to literally 'turn around' and realign our lives and focus toward God. It is a time to give up things as well as take on new life-giving practices, helping us rid ourselves of distractions and our own selfish desires. By doing so, we seek to live and love as more faithful disciples of Jesus Christ."

Test your knowledge of the season. See how much you know about the traditions and symbols of Lent, Holy Week and Easter. What does the term 'Lent' mean? What is another name for Palm Sunday, and what do the palm branches symbolize? Why is Maundy Thursday the name for the night of Jesus' Last Supper and eventual arrest? What group was not typically crucified in Rome? Try to answer these and other questions; then check your answers to see how you did. Why not make it a group exercise this coming week for youth and/or adults?

Also, you can learn a lot about Holy Week from the humorous but informative Chuck Knows Church online video series. Download, watch and share each episode. And if you haven't yet read Bishop Peggy Johnson's deeply insightful meditation, House Cleaning, Heart Cleansing, you should. In fact, it's worth rereading in the coming week.

Send us your Holy Week and Easter church events
We have created a new, temporary Webpage with special Holy Week events sent to us by local churches who want to share their week's witness with the world. But there's plenty good room for more. Berwyn UMC invites guests to visit various prayer stations bearing sacred elements during its Good Friday Prayer Vigil lasting from noon till nine PM. Bensalem UMC will offer the community a welcome table at its Palm Sunday Breakfast. And Grove UMC will gather first in the cemetery outside the church for its traditional Holy Saturday celebration on Easter Eve, led by a Dixieland Jazz band that will play a slow dirge at first and then shift up-tempo as they all joyously enter the church emulating a New Orleans-style funeral and second line march.

What special activities are your church or cluster or mission connexion planning to celebrate during this holiest week of the Christian year? Please tell us what you are planning, so we can add it to the growing list on our Website. Send us your information ASAP, or by Tuesday, March 22. Let us help lead potential visitors to your church's celebration through our Website and social media. Learn more...

Worship resources for Holy Week
On Holy Thursday, March 24, Christians commemorate the supper Jesus shared with his disciples before his crucifixion. Jesus washed the disciples' feet and instituted the sacrament of the Holy Communion. Get worship resources from Discipleship Ministries.

On Good Friday, March 25, Christians commemorate Christ's sacrifice on the cross, often with a Tenebrae Service, which means "service of darkness or shadows," or a Seven Last Words service that meditates on Jesus' last words spoken from the cross. Get worship resources in Korean, Spanish and English from  Discipleship Ministries .
Cultural traditions enhance Easter
United Methodists around the world celebrate Christ's Resurrection in many ways. Tafadzwa Mudambanuki of Zimbabwe, who coordinates Central Conference content for UM Communications, asked people in various countries to share their traditions. Read some of their
fascinating, heart-warming stories from the Philippines, Germany and other countries in Southern Africa and Eastern Europe. (2014) Learn more...
Bring your cares to the Eastern Pa Conference Youth Rally April 24
"Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares for you." (1 Peter 5:7) That's the central message of the next
Eastern PA Conference Youth Rally, set for Sunday, April 24, from 3 to 7 PM, at Hopewell UMC in Downingtown. This second annual rally will feature Todd Waites, an extraordinary one-armed keyboardist for the Christian music group ApologetiX. He often shares with concert audiences his story of how Christ enabled him to overcome adversity. Also appearing will be Hopewell's own #JesusTrending Christian youth band, and spoken-word performances from several remarkable youth and young adults. There will be an optional pre-rally Nerf War at 3 PM just to get the competitive energy juices flowing. Then the rally will kick off at 4, with music and messages focusing on God's infinite, healing love. More information to come from David Piltz, Conference Coordinator of Young People's Ministries. Download and display the flyer
Church to host Beat the Bug race against malaria April 17
West Chester UMC will host its 5th Annual Beat the Bug 5K Run/2K Walk on Sunday, April 17. The run and walk start at 2 PM. Early-bird registration--until April 3--costs $20 for adults, $10 for children up to age 14, and $15 for youth age 15 through college. Prices increase after April 3. Sign up as a sponsor (from $100 to $500) until March 25. Learn more...  and download the event poster.

See more important church events on our Local Church Events page.
Native American Ministries Sunday April 10
In just a few weeks, we will join thousands of other United Methodists to celebrate Native American Ministries Sunday. The offering received on this special Sunday is the United Methodist family's way to support our Native American congregations and ministries so they can serve and worship with their communities as only they can. The offering allows us to support Native American pastors and communities through scholarships and funds. God's church is amazing! Our ministry here can tangibly be a part of bringing the gospel to diverse communities across the United States. See the  impact of our giving on Native American Ministries Sunday .   Be sure to  download the free resources   for Native American Ministries Sunday celebration on April 10.
Earth Day: Care for God's Creatures 
Will you celebrate Earth Day 2016 on April 22, or on a nearby Sunday, either April 17 or 24?  Every spring, Creation Justice Ministries (CJM) equips faith communities with Christian education resources on a timely theme. Scientists have released evidence that Earth is in the midst of its sixth mass extinction crisis, with one of five species facing threat of extinction. Therefore, CJM's 2016 theme is Care for God's Creatures; and they offer materials to help your church celebrate Earth Day Sunday. In  Care for God's Creatures , you will find  Christian education resources, liturgical resources to plan a Blessing of the Animals or a creature-themed worship service, and action resources to engage in citizen science and advocate to protect the Endangered Species Act. Find prayer, Bible study, and Christian education materials for creature-care.  Download it now.
Camp & Retreat Centers: Ministry In Motion
Remember: Our four conference-owned Camp & Retreat Centers are accepting registrations for Summer Camp 2016, as well as applications for staff and volunteers. The 2016 Summer Camp theme is God's Love without Boundaries. Children, youth and families who sign up can look forward to thrilling, creative adventures and possibly life-changing encounters for campers of all ages and abilities. But if you didn't see our recent story about the many winter and spring activities happening at our Camp & Retreat Centers, here's an update on what exciting, can't miss events are planned before the summer fun arrives:

Pocono Plateau
  • Final Free Youth Night: April 17 (4-6:30 PM)
  • Confirmation Camp: April 1-3 & April 8-10.
  • Gretna Gritty Mud Run: May 7
  • Spring Fling Senior Adult Day: May 10
  • Open House: May 21
  • Community Easter Egg Hunt; March 19
  • Spring 5K Trail Run & 1.5 Mile Run/Walk for Kid's & Families: April 16
  • Spring Open House: May 14
Carson Simpson Farm Christian Camp
  • Open House & Flower Sale: May 7
  • Disciple Training: May 13-14
  • Little Critters Camp: May 14
Also, want to see a few cool videos? Check out the two on Gretna Glen's Gretna Gritty 2016:   an

The Gritty, May 7, is a 5k Mud Run and Walk-A-Thon fundraiser set in the beautiful rolling hills of Mt. Gretna. In its 4th year, they aim to impress and continue a strong tradition of fun, safety, and plenty of MUD in exhilarating, competitive and non-competitive events that are both accessible and challenging. T he Gritty has raised over $116,000 so far, and they have over 360 participants signed up so far for this year's event. Sign up today, and find out more at They're also looking for plenty of volunteers. Please contact them today if you can help them keep the Gritty great. You can also call Dan Kirby, Gretna Gritty Coordinator, at 717-639-1813.
More recent UM News you can use

Top agency executives urge sizable budget cuts

The top executives of The United Methodist Church's 13 general agencies unanimously have recommended cutting the denomination's general church budget to its lowest level in 16 years. Heather Hahn reports.  Read story and post a comment 

Connectional Table begins series on human sexuality

An online forum and a series of videos and social media conversations on work done by the Connectional Table and The UMC Council of Bishops on human sexuality began March 10 and will be held weekly through the end of the month. This continues conversations around key issues related to the 2016 General Conference.  Read press release    Watch videos

Methodist woman was voice for women's rights

Frances Willard might be best known for her leadership of the fight for temperance in the 19th century. But the Methodist reformer was also a force for seeking voting rights, better conditions for women and even full representation in the Methodist Church.  Watch video

Global AIDS Fund event will educate, inspire the church

Church leaders will gather at Rose City Park UMC in Portland, Ore., on the eve of General Conference to discuss current and prevailing realities about HIV and AIDS in the U.S. and the world. "AIDS is not over! Global Issues and the Church," a free,  United Methodist Global AIDS Fund -sponsored event, will draw invited delegates and non-delegates to be a part of the conference. At least 37 million people are living with AIDS, half of them women. There are 13.3 million children living as orphans due to AIDS, and each day, 700 babies are born with HIV. Millions of people still lack access to testing and anti-retro viral medicines. "This conference will be a rich and rare opportunity for the church to get a perspective on HIV and AIDS, hearing from the scientific community and Christians from around the world," said Dr. Donald Messer, co-chair of the Global AIDS Fund. The event will highlight new AIDS research and trends and examine how churches are responding. Online   event registration   is open now through   May 2 . See the informational flyer Read the press release   Register for the event   

Cleaning buckets needed

The United Methodist Committee On Relief depots in Louisiana and Alabama are running low on cleaning buckets, the Mississippi Conference reports. Cleaning buckets enable people to begin the overwhelming job of cleaning up after a flood or hurricane.  To assemble and ship a cleaning bucket

Lake Junaluska plans summer youth retreats

This summer, the Lake Junaluska Conference and Retreat Center has planned four youth group retreats for middle and high school students. The retreats feature high-energy worship, guest preachers, mission components and special meals. Registration is now open. Learn more
Please register for Annual Conference asap
Online registration is underway for the 2016 Eastern PA Annual Conference June 16-18, at the Lancaster Marriott Hotel and Convention Center. Hard-copy materials will be mailed out by next week. All clergy and selected lay members to annual conference are urged to please register online now or well before the May 13 deadline. The r egistration cost is $225 for all members. Registering after May 13 will incur a $50 late fee, with no exceptions. Also, please book your hotel room reservations now . Rooms are $129 a night and must be reserved by April 29.

The deadline to receive Annual Conference Resolutions and Reports is May 13, with no extensions. Instructions for preparing and submitting resolutions will be posted by next week. And you may register for display space online or e-mail Lori Henning or call her at 610-544-1400.

All districts will hold Pre-Annual Conference Meetings June 5, from 3 to 5:30 PM. To learn more visit our Annual Conference 2016 Webpage and read the news story about plans for this historic 230th annual conference session. 
Prayers for General Conference
We have two more District Prayer Posts scheduled to gather conference members in collective prayer vigils for the 2016 General Conference. The Southwest District Prayer Post happens Wednesday, March 30, from 6:30 to 7:30 PM, at Ruhl's UMC in Manheim  (4810 Elizabethtown Road). The Central District Prayer Post happens April 2 at 6 PM, in  West Lawn UMC 's Community Center Main Hall (101 Woodside Ave. Reading).
But there is also a broader General Conference Prayer Ministry that designed  a "60 Days of Prayer"  daily prayer book that runs March 31-May 29  so church members can connect through the same Scripture, meditation and prayer for each day. The Rev. Tom Albin, Director of Upper Room Ministries, invites all United Methodists to blanket the entire proceeding and all 864 delegates with intentional prayer. Read story and post a comment. Visit the   60 Days of Prayer Website .
Listening, discernment sessions in April 
The Eastern PA Conference delegation to General and Jurisdictional conferences will sponsor in April four Listening Sessions. titled A Time for Listening and Discernment. The sessions are offered every four years in preparation for General Conference to hear from members of the annual conference about their concerns and to clarify understanding about proposed legislation coming before the global legislative gathering. The dates of sessions to choose from are:
  • Monday, April 11, from 7 to 9 PM, at Wesley UMC in Bethlehem;
  • Saturday, April 16, from 10 AM to 12 noon, at Simpson House in Philadelphia;
  • Wednesday, April 20, from 7 to 8:30 PM, at Church of the Good Shepherd in Lebanon; and
  • Saturday, April 23, from 9 to 10:30 AM, at telephone outreach session, in which the delegation will call participants who sign up online in advance to request phone calls so they may offer comments.
Information regarding arrangements, resolutions and guidelines for the sessions will be published prior to the sessions in conference and district newsletters and on the conference Website .
Ads sought for NEJ Conference Program Book
It's time to shine to the farthest reaches of our northeast region. Advertise your church or ministry or agency to UMs across the church's Northeastern Jurisdiction by buying an ad in the NE Jurisdictional Conference souvenir program book. Don't wait any longer; pages are filling up, and the  April 30 deadline is fast-approaching. The Eastern PA Conference is soliciting ads for the book it will publish for the conference, which will meet July 11-15 at the Lancaster Marriott in Lancaster, Pa. 

A letter of invitation and ad submission form, offering various ad sizes and prices, went out in February with an April 30 deadline for submissions. Proceeds from ad space purchases will help fund two United Methodist mission causes and help cover conference costs. The mission causes are: the Imagine No Malaria campaign, the denomination's effort to eradicate a disease that has taken countless lives especially among children in Africa; and LUMINA, Lancaster United Methodist Inner-City Alliance, which serves low-income individuals and families. Learn more...
Denman Evangelism Award nominations sought
Nominations are open for the Harry Denman Evangelism Awards, which honor United Methodists in each conference "whose exceptional evangelism brings people into a life-transforming relationships with Jesus Christ." Once again we want to recognize three deserving evangelists--a youth, a clergy member and a layperson--at our annual conference in June. The awards are intended to celebrate, inspire and encourage all who feel called to be evangelists. Please prayerfully nominate disciples you know who share their faith in bold, innovative, nurturing, uplifting ways. Learn more . Download the nomination form , complete it and send it by April 30 to Suzette James, of the Eastern PA Conference Congregational Development Team, or to the Eastern PA Conference Office, P.O. Box 820, Valley Forge, PA  19482-0820, to the attention of Dr Christopher Kurien. 
Celebrate, support LUMINA's Night of Light, April 10
Come celebrateLUMINA's Night of Light April 10, from 4 to 7:30 PM, at Columbia UMC, 510 Walnut Street, Columbia, PA. LUMINA , the Lancaster United Methodist Inner-City Alliance, is a cooperative mission project of the Eastern PA Conference and the Southwest District. The Night of Light will feature dinner, a concert by local jazz/gospel diva Robin Work and a silent auction. All money raised will fund LUMINA's work with struggling families in Lancaster. RSVP to  or (717) 394-8412 by March 31
Justo Gonzalez to lecture for Evangelical Seminary's Wesley Forum
For its 2016 Wesley Forum on April 12 (8:30 AM to 2:30 PM), the Evangelical Theological Seminary in Myerstown, Pa., will welcome Dr. Justo Gonzalez, professor, author and one of the world's foremost Hispanic theologians in the Wesleyan Tradition. He will lecture on the theme, "Can Christianity's past be a roadmap for a hopeful future?"   Visit the seminary's Website for more information and to register for this forum. The cost is $50 and includes lunch. Please print and share the flyer .
Register now for YES Youth Retreat April 16
The next YES Youth Retreat to help youth (in grades 9 to 12) seek and embrace God's purpose for their lives will be Saturday, April 16, from 10 AM to 5 PM, at Cedarville UMC, 1092 Laurelwood Road, Pottstown, PA. God is calling youth into various, important fields of ministry--lay, licensed and ordained. Participants will be exposed to creative ministry options to serve God--whether as pastors, chaplains, educators, youth ministers, missionaries or professionals in human services or other careers. 
The day will feature worship, dramatic portrayal of biblical call stories, self-expression and lively interaction with other young people, fun indoor and outdoor games and activities, lunch and snacks, and encounters with people involved in various fields of ministry. Cost is $10. Questions? Contact the Rev. Matt Heckman at or 717-679-8346 . Register online  today
Certified Lay Minister Graduation April 17
All clergy and laity are cordially invited to a service of recognition honoring the Eastern PA Conference Certified Lay Minister Graduates, Spring Class of 2016, on Sunday, April 17, at 3 PM at West Lawn UMC, 15 Woodside Avenue, Reading, PA. Bishop Peggy Johnson will preach.  
Cross-Racial Cross-Cultural Appointments Part II Training: April 23
This training follow-up to Part 1 last fall will take place on Saturday, April 23, at Royersford UMC (380 Church St.). If you are a pastor serving in a cross-racial or cross-cultural appointment or belong to a congregation with a cross-racial or cross-cultural pastor then this full-day training is for you. It will be facilitated again by our partners at the General Commission on Religion and Race. Cost: The Annual Conference will cover the cost of clergy, missionaries and up to 3 members of your congregation to join you.  Additional participants are $10 per person. Register at
Associate Members & Local Pastors Retreat: April 24-26
The Fellowship Of Associate Members And Local Pastors will hold their annual retreat April 24-26, at Black Rock Retreat Center, 1345 Kirkwood Pike, Quarryville, PA. Associate Members, Local Pastors, Student Pastors and Certified Lay Ministers of both the Eastern PA and Peninsula-Delaware conferences are encouraged to attend and to register online now . The  $275 price includes 2 nights, 5 meals and 2.0 CEUs. For more information contact Mark Beiderman at 610-585-0575.  Download the brochure for a registration form.  The keynote speaker is the Rev. Dr. Charles Yrigoyen Jr., of Lancaster County, the author or editor of 16 books, mostly on Methodism and its founders, the Wesleys. 
"Tamar Speaks!" April 23 for 
survivors of childhood sexual abuse
Samaritan Counseling Center's SafeChurch Movement retreat for male and female adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse, at Gretna Glen Camp & Retreat Center in Lebanon, Pa. Adult survivors and members of faith communities invited for  reflection on "how our journeys of healing give voice" to victims and help faith communities better understand the long-term impact of childhood sexual abuse. Visit the   Samaritan Counseling Center's Website to register and get information.  Linda Crockett, Director of Samaritan SafeChurch, will co-lead the retreat with Lisa Hanna Witmer, MSW, LSW, a trauma-trained therapist. Contact Crockett at 717-560-9991 or  for more information. The retreat's general cost is $25, and space is limited. The registration deadline is April 14.            
Basic Sexual Ethics Workshop  March 19, 9 AM to 3:30 PM at Ridley Park UMC, 501 N. Swarthmore Ave., Ridley Park, PA.  This mandatory workshop provides essential, ethical and legal dimensions of appropriate boundaries for persons serving in ministerial roles. Its main purpose is to teach participants how to incorporate such boundaries into their professional and personal behavior. Register today.

The next Advanced Sexual Ethics Workshop: "Leading Between The Lines"  will  be on  Tuesday, April 26,  9 AM - 3:30 PM at West Lawn UMC.
2016  Changing Racism Training Events

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! 
Two Changing Racism Training Events will be held in 2016,  April 1- 3 and  Oct. 28-30 both at the  new location,  the Daylesford Abbey in Paoli.  Register online . The cost is $300.

May 10-20: UMC General Conference, Portland, OR

June 5: District Conferences
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.
Eastern Pennsylvania Conference of The United Methodist Church
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