March 27, 2020
NEWS & VIEWS
Bishop Peggy A. Johnson announces the following appointments and assignments– effective July 1, 2020,   unless otherwise noted:
North District

  • Mr. James Coleman (CLM) to serve Barnesville: Bethany UMC and Quakake: Ebenezer UMC, quarter-time each, effective March 1, 2020.
  • Rev. Elisandra Garcia (Licensed Local Pastor) to serve Bangor: First UMC half-time.
  • Rev. Jennifer Miller (Licensed Local Pastor) to continue to serve Wooddale UMC, three quarter-time (up from half-time) and Anolomink UMC quarter-time.
  • Timothy Cramer (former LLP moved to PA) to serve Jim Thorpe: Grace St. Paul's UMC, three quarter-time.
  • Stephanie Cramer (former LLP moved to PA) to serve Jim Thorpe: Grace St. Paul's UMC, quarter time.
  • Rev. Michelle Beissel (Elder) to serve Elysburg UMC, full-time (up from half-time).
  • Rev. Kathryn Swan (Licensed Local Pastor) to serve Allentown: Emmanuel UMC, half-time (up from quarter-time), effective May 1, 2020.  

Disaster Distress Helpline can offer mental health assistance during pandemic
The Rev. Rick Rimert ( right) , the Eastern PA Conference Disaster Response Committee’s Spiritual and Emotional Care specialist, shares this information on mental health assistance available during times of disaster, including the current pandemic. “It is vitally important for churches to clearly proclaim that fear is not the only force that is at work in the world today,” said Rimert, a pastor. “We need to make use of every possible resource to make certain that message is being put out there.”
The Disaster Distress Helpline, 1-800-985-5990, is a 24/7, 365-day-a-year, national hotline dedicated to providing immediate crisis counseling for people who are experiencing emotional distress related to any natural or human-caused disaster. This toll-free, multilingual, and confidential crisis support service is available to all residents in the United States and its territories. Stress, anxiety, and other depression-like symptoms are common reactions after a disaster. Call 1-800-985-5990 or text TalkWithUs to 66746 to connect with a trained crisis counselor.

For Pastors or other leaders there is also a SAMHSA (Substance Abuse And Mental Health Services Administration) App that can be downloaded that provides helpful advice when interacting with persons who have experienced a disaster.
Join Conference in Holy Week Worship, April 8
Bishop Peggy Johnson and the Eastern PA Conference Cabinet will lead churches and members in a mid-Holy Week online worship service on Wednesday, April 8, at 11:30 AM. The service should last about 45 minutes. Cabinet members offer this invitation to everyone:

We hope you will join us for this unique, virtual experience. Friends and families are welcome. Together, we will pause in the midst of Holy Week to remember Jesus’ walk to the cross amid those who likely understood what God was doing and those who did not.

We will pray together and remember our connection as sisters and brothers in Christ. You can join us via computer, tablet, smartphone or landline with the Zoom video-conferencing link below. We can host up to 1,000 people for this mid-week service.

We hope you will join us in celebrating the Christ, who is the balm in Gilead and will not leave or forsake us.

Join Zoom Meeting: https://epaumc.zoom.us/j/766144817 (Click on link)
Meeting ID: 766 144 817
Telephone participants in the Eastern PA region should use: +1 646 558 8656

GC2020 delegates listening sessions postponed
The Eastern PA Conference delegation to the 2020 General & Jurisdiction conferences has postponed its remaining listening sessions, scheduled for April 2, 4, and 20, until further notice. The sessions will be rescheduled when the UMC’s postponed global legislative assembly is rescheduled. They will occur at least two months prior to the new General Conference starting date.  

The Eastern PA delegates agree with the General Conference leadership’s feeling that “a pause is needed at this unique time,” said delegation co-chair Judy Ehninger. “All are encouraged to continue in ministry, sharing God’s love and actualizing the church we are called to be.”  

Ehninger recommends several ways to prepare for General Conference while awaiting the rescheduled dates:

  1. Visit the Resourceumc.org website and read General Conference news and related articles. All proposed legislation should be posted there.   
  2. Visit the www.epaumc.org website and find the General Conference 2020 page in the News and Events pull-down menu.
  3. Subscribe to UM News Daily Digest and to our conference’s NEWSpirit Digestonline newsletter, at communications@epaumc.org  
  4. Pray for The United Methodist Church and our Eastern PA Conference delegation. A roster of delegates with email addresses is posted on our conference website . If you would like to send an individual note of encouragement or ask a question, please do so. We are available to answer your questions as best we can.
Domestic Violence Committee wants to help churches
Please respond to the Domestic Violence Committee Information Survey
The Eastern PA Conference Domestic Violence Committee wants to determine how it can best help leaders and churches address the serious problem of domestic and intimate-partner violence in their communities. "If you or members of your church are involved or want to be involved, please tell us and let us help. Thank you for completing and submitting this survey questionnaire online (preferably) or by mail by April 6, 2020 ." Send the survey or any questions to: Rev. Jacqueline Hines, Committee Chairperson, at pastorjacquelineumc@gmail.com . Click here to complete the survey online.
PA tax exemption extended until September 30
Due to delays in processing of sales tax exemptions as a result of COVID-19, the IRS 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. 

Ministry in the Midst of Coronavirus
Be sure to visit our Coronavirsu 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.

Clergy discuss best practices for funerals, weddings, other ceremonies during pandemic
Listen to a recording of a Zoom online video-chat among South District clergy about how best to offer funerals, weddings, communion and other public services notwithstanding the requirement of social (physical) distancing during our current COVID-19 pandemic. It's “A 2nd Cup of Coffee with DS & Colleagues,” hosted on Thursday, March 26, by the Rev. Dawn Taylor-Storm, South District Superintendent. Go to

Our other district superintendents are also connecting with their pastors to be a listening heart and source of advice and comfort. The Rev. Tracy Bass will converse via Zoom with East District pastors March 31 at 10 AM, as they share best practices and ways they are meeting needs of their members and vulnerable communities.

The Revs. Steve Morton and Jenny Fremoyer, Superintendent and Assisting Elder, respectively, had a second, voluntary Zoom chat today with North District pastors to offer "mutual support and encouragement." And the Rev. BK Chung, West District Superintendent, has reached out to pastors and churches there, especially to find out how they are extending their ministries in spite of the pandemic and social distancing orders.

Weddings, funerals altered by virus restrictions
The coronavirus spread has prompted many United Methodist churches to shift to online worship. But other big events — weddings, baptisms, funerals, memorial services — are on hold or getting downsized. Governments around the world are restricting gatherings...which has led churches, conferences and individuals to make their own major changes. Learn more…
Protect life during coronavirus crisis
WASHINGTON — Ecumenical leaders are urging people everywhere to give the highest priority to protecting life during the coronavirus crisis. "Ours is a global church, and this is an international crisis impacting oikumene, the whole inhabited world," said Jim Winkler, a United Methodist and top executive of the U.S. National Council of Churches. "The God of love is calling us together, and it is God's love that will see us through." Read press release .   Read full statement.
By Bishop Peggy Johnson

The most shining example of one who spoke loudly for justice in our time was Bishop Oscar Arnulfo Romero. We remember the 40th anniversary of his March 24, 1980, assassination this month. He was the Roman Catholic Archbishop of San Salvador, in El Salvador, during a time of widespread violence and oppression of the poor there because of an evil dictatorship. 

Bishop Romero publicly denounced violence and injustice and urged people to live out Christ’s Gospel message of love for one’s neighbor. His voice was not silenced on the day of his death. Indeed, his words are still an inspiration to many. Learn more...
AROUND THE UMC CONNECTION
Group looking at 2021 for General Conference
General Conference organizers met in a teleconference to explore rescheduling the lawmaking assembly in 2021 after the coronavirus-compelled delay. Read story .   Read press release .   Church leaders postpone GC2020 .
In GC2020 delay, leaders see needed pause
General Conference delegates and other United Methodist leaders agreed that postponing General Conference was necessary, given the global health emergency that COVID-19 represents. They also spoke of the need to use this slowdown to pray and prioritize caring for the vulnerable. Read story
Zimbabwe church keeps diaspora connected
HARARE, Zimbabwe — The Zimbabwean United Methodist Church is flourishing in countries far from home. The Zimbabwe Episcopal Area has planted churches in Australia, Scotland, Canada, New Zealand, United Kingdom, the Republic of Ireland and the United Arab Emirates in support of church members displaced over the past two decades by political instability and economic turmoil. Kudzai Chingwe has the story. Read story .
BMCR views separation plans, leadership views
KANSAS CITY, Mo.— Much of the annual meeting of the African American caucus of The United Methodist Church focused on major changes being proposed to the now-delayed General Conference, as well as the views of black church leaders. During its 53rd annual meeting, Black Methodists for Church Renewal endorsed the protocol plan for amicable separation of the church. John W. Coleman reports. Read story . Read BMCR press release .
Group postpones budget allocation work
With the postponement of General Conference and the need to address a global pandemic, the Connectional Table — a United Methodist leadership body — has postponed doing new budget allocations for now. The Connectional Table is responsible for proposing allocations of the funds that support Africa University, United Methodist seminaries, the Black College Fund, ecumenical work and the work of most general agencies. Read statement . Potential split leads to deep budget cuts .
RESOURCES
Available and Needed Items
Available: Hymnals
About 140 copies of the “Songs for Praise and Worship” hymnal (this is the newer of the 2 with a copyright of 1992), and about 150 copies of “The Hymnal” (the more traditional one with a copyright of 1986.) If interested, please contact Roger Greenawalt at rogerg1313@verizon.net .

Available: 7-Light Floor Candelabras (2)
Free “Floor Candelabras” to a good home. In need of some repair & cleaning. Must be picked up at Fox Chase U.M.C., 201 Loney Street, Philadelphia, PA 19111. Please contact foxchaseumc@yahoo.com or 215-745-7416

Grace UMC (Pen Argyl, PA) has about 550 Mortgage Fund Offering envelopes leftover a special collection they were taking to pay off a mortgage on a 2nd parsonage. there is a church out there that could use them, please contact Lori L. Heckman, Office Manager, at 610-863-4811 .

Camphor Memorial UMC in West Philadelphia is seeking a donated cargo van to be used to pick up and bring food to our Tuesday Food Cupboard that feeds the hungry in the community. Please call Trustee Bernard Waties,  215-485-6402 , for further information.
REMINDERS
Take your church to the world
Connect through technology
Learn about live streaming, video calls, online giving, etc.

In a Zoom video-conference training Thursday, March 19, the Eastern PA Conference offered church leaders plenty of how-to’s for transporting worship from one sanctuary into many homes… electronically.

The two-hour, experimental, highly interactive session engaged 300 lay and clergy participants, the maximum allowed for the conference’s Zoom business account. In fact, more would-be participants sent email messages reporting their inability to log in. Several Baltimore-Washington Conference pastors even logged in , as word of the training event spread south of our borders.

Titled “ Taking Church to the World, ” the upbeat video-chat session shared great advice, instruction and creative ideas. It was also timely, as churches are urged to refrain from face-to-face interactions in groups of more than 10, due to the coronavirus pandemic sweeping across our nation. That stern advice includes worship, classes, meetings and other church gatherings.

Six presentations lasted about 20 minutes each and included on-screen demonstrations and plenty of questions and answers offered both vocally and in visible chat-space text. Learn more.. .
Camps suspend spring events due to COVID-19
Camp and Retreat Ministry is a vital ministry of the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference of the United Methodist Church and will continue to serve our churches during this challenging time. Our shared mission, Making Disciples of Jesus Christ for the Transformation of the World, continues to drive our work.

Our response to the recent outbreak of COVID-19 has necessitated a few changes in the way our work is done for the current moment. Learn more...
"Where Do We Go From Here?"
The Eastern Pennsylvania Evangelical Connection invites you to breakfast, with special speaker Reverend Walter Fenton. Friday, June 19, 7 AM - 9 AM. Cost: $20. Registration required by May 31. New location: Hilton Garden Inn, Arboretum Room, 500 Cresson Blvd., Phoenixville, PA.  Download the flyer and registration form.

It is VERY IMPORTANT TO REGISTER AS EARLY AS POSSIBLE – DEFINITELY BEFORE THE DEADLINE. We have to have a head count to them – and CANNOT accommodate walk-ins as in past years.
How can we livestream worship services legally?
Livestreaming can be an effective way for church and community members to remain connected with worship. United Methodist Communications’ Ask The UMC has more on copyright considerations for livestreaming legally. Read story. Read more Ask The UMC
Spotlighting black heroes in children’s books
A new children's book tells the story of Methodist minister Charles A. Tindley, who worked his way up from childhood poverty to become a respected clergyman and hymn writer. The book is authored by Carole Boston Weatherford, who writes books for children that feature notable African Americans.
By and By: Charles Albert Tindley, The Father of Gospel Music is illustrated by Bryan Collier. Read story
A celebration of ‘Outstanding Native Women’

The conference Committee on Native American Ministries (CONAM) will hold its spring gathering for worship, learning and fellowship on Sunday, April 19, from 4 to 7 PM, at Camp Innabah. Their program title:  Indian Country's Hidden Figures: Outstanding Native Women.  All are invited, especially all local church CONAM representatives.
Cross-Racial/Cross-Cultural ministry training, June 6  
Ministry in a Cross-Racial/Cross-Cultural Context Annual Workshop

CR/CC Ministries Training & Resourcing Team will conduct the annual workshop.

June 6, 2019 from 8:30 AM - 3 PM. Registration . Location: Covenant UMC, 110 N. Mulberry St., Lancaster, PA 17603. Cost: $10.

Audience:
  • Newly-appointed clergy and leadership team serving in CRCC Ministry
  • Clergy and leadership teams currently in CRCC ministry
  • Other persons interested in CRCC ministry

This training is intentionally designed for clergy and congregations serving in a cross-racial/cross-cultural ministry context. By increasing the level of intercultural competency, deepening the understanding of relationship dynamics, and being equipped with practical communication tools, clergy and congregations will become more intentional and effective in their ministry.
2019 Church Statistical Reports due April 10
The deadline for completing and submitting your church’s Statistical Report is  April 10. Please  call your District Office if you have questions. Both your District Resource Assistant (DRA) and I stand ready to assist you and your church in making this annual process as smooth and as accurate as possible.


Lawrence A. Lee, Comptroller, Conference STAT Report Coordinator
(484) 762-8209 or (610) 666-9090 Ext. 1007  llee@epaumc.org
Education Society Grants provide college aid
The Eastern PA Conference Education Society will offer grants to assist worthy individuals with defraying the cost of higher education for the 2020-2021 school year. Church members who plan to attend school in fall 2020 should be informed now about these grants and their deadline: May 11 . See and complete the application.


If you have questions, contact Education Society Chairperson, Al Adey, at ahadey@verizon.net .
2020 Eastern PA Conference Laity Academy
July 31 – August 2, at Eastern University

After the earthquake there was a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire came a still, small voice.” 1 Kings 19:12
 
Life is NOISY. Life is MESSY. Life is OVERWHELMING.
 
Can you find God in all of this confusion? Are you even looking for God?
 
Elijah was looking. He was even told to stand on the mountain and the Lord would pass by… and he waited. He expected him in the torrential wind, he expected him in the earthquake, and then in the fire. But the Lord spoke after all of the confusion,  in a still small voice, a whisper.
 
We need to declutter our lives, our emotions, and our thoughts. We need to stop talking and start listening. Listen to our partners, our children, our friends, and listen for God.
 
Come join us at the 2020 EPA Laity Academy to learn about our Lord while exploring your personal ministry path. This weekend will be focused on serenity, prayer, and introspection. Come and enjoy the classes, fellowship, worship and entertainment.
 
Watch our website for further details: https://www.epaumc.org/ministry/lay
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
  • April 8: Conference-Wide Holy Week Worship Service via Zoom online video-conferencing
  • April 21: Connectional Table Meeting, 7 PM, via Zoom video-conference
  • April 19: CONAM's Spring Program, Camp Innabah
  • April 26 – 28: FAMLP Retreat, Camp Pecometh
  • May 16: UMW’s Spiritual Life Retreat
  • May 16: Urban Summit
  • May 16: Basic Sexual Ethics Workshop, 9:30 AM – 3 PM, Faith UMC
  • May 17: District Conferences
  • May 30: Clergy Transition Workshop, 9:30 AM – 2 PM, West Lawn UMC
  • May 30: Latino Commission Holy Convocation and Annual Assembly
  • June 6: CRCC Training, 8:30 AM – 3 PM, at Covenant UMC in Lancaster, PA. Cost: $10. Download the flyer. Register online.
  • June 18 – June 20: 2020 Annual Conference, Oaks Expo Center
  • July 24 - 25: Mission U
  • July 28: Connectional Table Meeting, ZOOM
  • July 31 - August 2: Laity Academy
  • August 20: Advanced Sexual Ethics Workshop
  • August 21 - 22: "Camping at the Crossroads" Summer Youth Rally
  • September 12: Annual "Celebrating our Cultures" Picnic
  • September 26: Basic Sexual Ethics Workshop
  • October 3: Connectional Ministries Leadership Training Event
  • October 10: Domestic Violence Seminar, Time TBA
  • October 17: ERT/VIM Training, 8 AM – 4 PM, Eastwick UMC
  • October 17: UMW Annual Celebration
  • October 17: "Racism, Post-Traumatic Stress, & Transformation"
  • October 23-25: Dismantling Racism Trainging, Friday 5 PM – Sunday 3 PM, Desmond Hotel
  • October 24: UMW Annual Celebration
  • October 24: Adjourned Session of Annual Conference
  • November 11: Annual Faith-Sharing Event--Evangelism in a Changing Landscape

Eastern Pennsylvania Conference of The United Methodist Church
(800) 828-9093 |  communications@epaumc.org  |  www.epaumc.org
980 Madison Avenue, Norristown, PA 19403