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WHAT'S NEW
March 24, 2016
Bishop Peggy Johnson Announces New Appointments:

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

Central
  • Carl Houston (PTLP) to be appointed to Phila: Simpson-Fletcher UMC (Half Time). 
East
  • Narie L, Grayson (Part-time Local Pastor) from Philadelphia: Simpson-Fletcher UMC at 1/2-time to Philadelphia: Bethesda UMC at 1/4-time and Philadelphia: Johnson Memorial UMC at 1/4-time.
  • The Rev. Mary Catherine Miller (Elder) from Extension Ministry to Philadelphia: Fox Chase UMC at 1/2-time and Extension Ministry at 1/2-time.
Northwest
  • The Rev. Bev. Petrovich (Part-time Local Pastor) from Kulpmont and Irish Valley UMCs at ¾- time to Trevorton and Irish Valley UMCs ¾ time. 
Seeing Son-light on Easter morn
During this Holy Week we remember how our Lord and Savior entered Jerusalem, at first celebrated but then castigated by the clueless crowds there. We recall how he went from sharing an intimate love feast with his closest friends to being arrested, unjustly tried and brutally punished by ignorant strangers who knew him not. We remember the darkness that enshrouded his mutilated, nail-pierced body, as it hung on a rugged cross, at first in prolonged agony, and then lifeless, and finally, buried in a borrowed tomb.

But then came Sunday, and we can imagine and indeed, celebrate the luminous Son-light of that first Easter morn. The light must have radiated from his risen form and filled the earth with the promise of deliverance and the hope of glory.

So much can happen in one fateful week. So many bewildering reversals of fortune can swing wantonly from the terrifying, to the tragic, to the triumphant.   Learn more...
UM activist for justice dies
Anne Ewing, 78, a longtime, active member of First UMC of Germantown and a recipient of its Racial and Social Justice Award, died of cancer March 17. She was a teacher and activist who labored to improve public education, health care, immigration justice and race relations. Through the Methodist Association for Social Action she pushed for the church to support progressive causes, such as LGBT equality and inclusion within the denomination. A memorial service will be held on Thursday, March 24, at 2 p.m. at FUMCOG. A  full feature article about Ewing appears online in the March 21 edition of  www.philly.com.
Advance Special applications deadline is Friday, March 25
The final deadline is Friday, March 25, for applications from ministries that want to receive Annual Conference approval as Advance Special mission projects for 2016-2017. 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.  Download the 2016 EPAC Advance Specials Application
Celebrate Holy Week all across our conference
Looking for places to celebrate Holy Week? We have some suggestions. Visit our special Holy Week Events page to learn what some churches are doing to share their witness with the world. There will be prayer vigils, worship services, Bible studies, breakfasts, community feasts and fellowship events. On Maundy Thursday: Tenebrae services and Last Supper reenactments. On Good Friday: church cantatas and a church-sponsored neighborhood walk against gun violence. On Holy Saturday: Easter egg hunts and a festive funeral gathering, New Orleans-style, that does the up-tempo second-line march from a cemetery into a church, led by a Dixieland Jazz band. Then comes a full array of Easter Sunday worship services and pageants across our conference, starting at sunrise.  Learn more... 
Good Friday walk against gun violence 
Heeding God's Call will co-sponsor a Good Friday neighborhood walk against gun violence with a network of congregations in Philadelphia's Germantown community on  Friday, March 25. The observance begins at First UMC of Germantown (FUMCOG), 6000 Germantown Avenue (at High Street) at 4 PM and will end at nearby Janes Memorial UMC. Transportation will be provided for those unable to walk the whole way.
Churches to launch first Lebanon area Lifetree Café
The West Lebanon/Annville/Cleona Mission ConneXion will inaugurate the first Lifetree Café in the Lebanon area on Tuesday, April 5, at 7 PM. Lifetree Café is a proven means of outreach to "churched" and "unchurched" persons in a community. The ministry welcomes local guests--primarily non-church members--to experience meaningful encounters through friendly, open-ended, non-judgmental conversations stimulated by well-produced topical videos on contemporary issues--some serious, some less so. Lifetree Café engages individuals wherever they are in their spiritual development and acknowledges to them that God loves them and wants them to draw closer to Him. The Lifetree Café motto is, "You're welcome just as you are. Your thoughts are welcome; your doubts are welcome. We're all in this together. God is here, ready to connect with you in a fresh way."   

Anyone is invited to visit this new Lifetree Café on any Tuesday night, at 7 PM, at Heisey's Diner, State Route 72, North Lebanon, PA. The Rev. Bill McNeal, pastor of Water Works UMC and Kauffman's UMC in Annville is Coordinator. Please share the  invitation letter with potential guests. 

New issue of Health & Healing's Wellspring
You can find the latest issue (March-April) of the Health & Healing Council's colorful, informative newsletter Wellspring on our Website. Read "The Many Faces of Healing" by Parish Nurse Barbara Drake to learn about the many types of people in our congregations who desire good health while often living in ways that are less than healthy. Recognize anyone? "What is a Healing Service?" describes the all-too-rare opportunity when worshippers call upon the promises found in James 5:13-16, "to pray for each other and to anoint the sick with oil. Healing is God's work of love within us offering hope, balance, harmony and wholeness of the body, mind, and spirit."

There's plenty more worth reading: a new book on mental illness, steps for dealing with vision loss, a church wellness ministry, and a focus on clergy health. Don't wait to learn about your wellness. Check out the new issue now. You may find out something you need to know.  Wellspring Issue 2, March-April 2016 

REMINDERS
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 here's an update on what exciting 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
Innabah
  • 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: https://vimeo.com/154241545   an  https://vimeo.com/151246371

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 gretnaglen.org/gritty. 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.
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 office@luminaoutreach.org  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 coastermatt@kochenderfer.org 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  https://epaumc.churchcenteronline.com/registrations/events/19946
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   LCrockett@scclanc.org  for more information. The retreat's general cost is $25, and space is limited. The registration deadline is April 14.            
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-digestShare 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
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
(800) 828-9093 |  communications@epaumc.org  |  www.epaumc.org
980 Madison Avenue, Norristown, PA 19403
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