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March 4, 2016
Bishop Peggy Johnson Announces New Appointments:

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

Central District
  • Rev. David Eckert (Elder) from Drexel Hill to Lafayette Hill: Messiah
Northwest District
  • The Rev. Christina Keller (Elder) from Moore Township: Covenant UMC to Cleona: Immanuel UMC.
  • Pastor Bill McNeil (Part-time Local Pastor) from Waterworks UMC ¼ time to Campbelltown UMC ½ time. Also from ½ time to ¼ time at Annville: Kauffman's UMC.
Register for Faith-Sharing Seminar by March 12
The deadline to register for the March 19 Faith-Sharing Seminar has been extended to March 12. Looking for new ideas and inspiration to boost your evangelism efforts? Come hear the Rev. Romal Tune, a compelling, sought-after speaker who 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.   For complete info and to register, click here . Please print and share the new flyer .
Sunday, March 6, is One Great Hour of Sharing
Celebrate and support the UMC's outreach in life-saving mission at home and around the world through UMCOR. The One Great Hour of Sharing offering received on this Sunday (or whenever your church chooses) helps pay the administrative costs of the United Methodist Committee on Relief, the denomination's disaster-response organization that helps churches and communities recover, rebound and rebuild from disasters and destruction. UMCom provides new resources for pastors and lay leaders to use in promoting One Great Hour of Sharing. Get resources .  Learn more at . You can also donate directly online .
Northwest District offers 'Soul Care' this weekend
"How is it with your soul?" early Methodist class leaders would ask one another each week. The Northwest District will not just ask but also help its clergy find answers to that vital question. And they'll even involve church personnel committees who work with pastors in that quest. The district will sponsor two "Soul Care" workshops this weekend, March 4-5: a Friday evening session for Staff-Parish Relations Committees (SPRC) and lay members (7-8:30 PM); and a Saturday session for clergy (9 AM-4 PM). Both will take place at Jonestown UMC.

"How can the SPRC support the spiritual health of the congregation by supporting the spiritual health of its pastor?" they'll ask. "How can pastors avoid getting caught between the conflicting expectations of church factions, their families, the conference, and their personal sense of God's call?" Clergy will get help in recognizing the toll that their work and their wounds take on them and seek ways to experience healing and new habits for spiritual health?

The Rev. David Oliver, a UM elder, professor, spiritual director and certified Christian Leadership Coach from Ohio, will lead the two sessions. The agenda will include presentations, spiritual exercises, small-group reflection, testimonies by "wounded healers," a Service of Healing and Thanksgiving, and support from area agencies that offer spiritual, marital, family, mental health and addiction counseling from a Christian perspective. The district will subsidize most of the cost for this event, as participants contribute only $20 for priceless pearls of wisdom.
Districts begin Tools for Ministry events Saturday
"Join we learn together to build up the body of Christ for the transformation of the world!" That Central District invitation is one that the five other Eastern PA Conference districts will no doubt echo in welcoming hundreds of expected local church leaders to their 2016 Tools for Ministry academies.  The six district training events will be spread over three Saturdays. Four districts--Central, East, Southeast and Southwest--will hold theirs on Saturday, March 5. The Northeast District will hold its leadership training on March 12 with a focus on poverty. And the Northwest District Tools gathering is delayed until April 30. Most of the myriad workshops will be led by home teams of knowledgeable clergy and lay professionals and volunteers from across our conference. But there will be a few out-of-town guest-lecturers among the diverse faculties.  Learn more ...
Upper NY to Webcast forum on s exuality and scripture
The Upper New York Conference's Human Sexuality Task Force will offer live-stream video of a forum on "Human Sexuality and Biblical Interpretation" Saturday March 5, 1-4 PM. The forum will be Webcast from Liverpool First UMC to allow viewers anywhere to benefit from hearing two  seminary theologians-- the Rev. Althea Spencer-Miller, professor at Drew Theology School in New Jersey, and the Rev. Bill T. Arnold, professor at Asbury Theological Seminary in Kentucky--as they offer "in-depth interpretations of scripture relating to human sexuality." The 2016 General Conference will no doubt consider such interpretations when it deliberates on resolutions regarding human sexuality and ministry during its May 10-20 assembly in Portland, Ore. During the forum, each speaker will present thoughts on scripture and respond to each other, followed by a question-and-answer period. To watch the live stream, click here. The live-stream will be "on air" just prior to the event. 
Donations sought for storm-damaged Congo mission
Central Congo Area Bishop David K. Yemba recently reported destruction caused by heavy rains and strong winds to Diengenga, where United Methodists have created a clinic, a trade school and a farm, all lifesaving, cooperative mission enterprises. "The disaster is not only to the church property, but it also to the community," wrote Yemba. The Diengenga farm, which produces crops, milk, eggs and other animal by-products, is a key project of the Congo Partnership that links the Central Congo Area in mission with the Eastern PA, Peninsula-Delaware and Western North Carolina conferences. Eastern PA Conference churches and members are asked to direct donations to the Conference Treasurer's office (indicate "Congo Partnership" on check memo lines). Donations will be credited and forwarded to the Congo Partnership office in Pen-Del. Learn more...
'Girls on the Go' to show path to happiness March 5-6

The Eastern PA Conference United Methodist Women will gather their girls again for the 14th annual "Girls on the Go" this weekend, March 5-6, at Gretna Glen Camp & Retreat Center. The yearly teen summit begins Saturday at 11 AM and ends Sunday at 3 PM. Their theme is  "Created For Happiness: Understanding Your Life in God," the title of the UMW's Spiritual Growth Study at mission U. Praveena Balasundaram from the UMW staff will help participants discover themselves in their search for happiness and learn to be prayerful, patient and persistent in exploring the gifts of God's grace and love. Included will be Bible study, arts and crafts, worship and activities to equip the young ladies for leadership. Cost is $60.  For information, contact Mary Ann Repsher, Download: "Girls on the Go" mail-in registration form

From Kenya to Tanzania:   A mission to train pastors
Training Kenyan pastors-mostly poor, non-denominational pastors who can't attend seminary-has been a passion project for the Rev. Gordon Hendrickson, Conference Congregational Development Coordinator, for a decade. But now that educational opportunity may be extended to United Methodist pastors in Tanzania as well. Hendrickson returned in February to the pastors school he helped start 10 years ago near Meru, Kenya. He took with him the Rev. Truman Brooks of West Chester UMC and the Rev. Christopher Kurien, Conference Director of Connectional Ministries. But the trio also had another mission in mind: to help bring the same, much-needed pastoral training opportunity to UM clergy in Tanzania. Learn more...
Speak out for a fair minimum wage March 13-19
Across Pennsylvania the week of March 13 is a  Week of Action for a Fair Minimum Wage. The PA Council of Churches urges religious leaders to speak on this anti-poverty issue in meetings and worship services and to engage members in efforts to aid the working poor of our state. Use information provided on the Raise the Wage Campaign to help you address this issue. A worship bulletin insert should also be made available next week.

Increasing the state's minimum wage (now only $7.25 and not raised since 2009, nor voted on for a decade) would benefit the entire economy, affirm the value of work, and enable workers to care for their families. Nearly 1.3 million workers would get a raise if Pennsylvania would increase the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour, which several bills have proposed. About a quarter of them are parents and often their children's sole support.
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. As we recognize their efforts, we reflect on the multiplying impact evangelism can have on the lives of others in many places including churches, communities and campuses.

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, at . Use "Denman Award Nomination" in the subject line. You may also mail the form 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 a savory dinner, a lively 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. Donations will help supply mandatory school uniforms, healthy food for low-income families, and summer camp scholarships to Gretna Glen. RSVP to or (717) 394-8412  by March 31. Also, don't miss the annual Winter Clothing Clearance Sale open to the public March 12, from 8 to 10 PM,  at LUMINA's Professional Clothing Bank, located in Otterbein UMC, 20 East Clay Street. The sale includes clothing, shoes, accessories and jewelry for men and women.
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 .
New Children's Ministry forum, Webpage
Visit our new Children's Ministry Webpage and the first thing you'll find there is news of an exciting learning event coming soon. Save the date for " Connecting Children with Christ on Saturday, Sept. 10 , 8:45 AM to 3:15 PM (lunch Included), at West Lawn UMC (15 Woodside Avenue, Reading, PA). Invited are all Children's Ministry leaders, teachers, staff, volunteers and helpers. Come learn and share strategies, best practices and great ideas for connecting children with Christ and nurturing their faith. Come hear Melanie Gordon, Director of Ministry with Children at the UMC's Discipleship Ministries. Melanie wrote , What Every Child Should Experience: A Guide for Teachers and Leaders in United Methodist Congregations, and she blogs regularly at . Watch for further details, including workshops, etc. This is the first event planned by our Eastern PA Conference's new Children's Ministry Team, led by Lucy Heisey. Contact her at or 717-601-1690.
UM leadership twice featured in Lancaster press
Lancaster Online, the main online news publication serving the Lancaster area, reported twice on United Methodists leading in mission in its Feb. 26 issue. One article featured seminarian Jeremy Graeff, who discerned his call to creative ministry while leading worship at Grandview UMC. He now also leads Ember, a fledgling new faith community that worships in a downtown art gallery on Sunday evenings. Graeff, an artist and musician, left the church disillusioned years ago but returned when he discovered Grandview. He is a top student at Lancaster Theological Seminary. Learn more...

Lancaster Online also reported on how First UMC Lancaster may soon rescue a much-needed weekday breakfast ministry for poor neighbors who have been going to St. James Episcopal Church daily for 30 years. St. James will soon have to end the ministry, which last year served nearly 31,000 meals, an average of 119 per day, because of inadequate space and the need to renovate its century-old parish house. First UMC Lancaster is considering taking it over if other churches and organizations will help. It's a big, demanding decision that is expected in April. "There is definitely an openness to see if we can make it work," says the Rev. Joe DiPaolo, senior pastor. "It takes about 70 volunteers per week, and that's a lot." Learn more...
NOTE: If any UM church is featured in the local media, we definitely want to know about it and to share that good news with our readers. Please send us any online articles or links or newspaper clippings of stories that report on any of our churches or members, and we will be very, very grateful.
What's new on our Website?

The new 2016 Annual Conference page offers initial highlights, details and deadlines for the 230th annual session, to be held June 16-18 at the Lancaster Marriott and Convention Center. Registration begins March 7 and lasts till May 13. The cost is $225 for all members. Learn more... 

Also, check out the new Winter issue of NEWSpirit now online .  
March  is Women's History Month
March  is Women's History Month. The United Methodist Commission on the Status and Role of Women offers  worship resources.   And watch our Website next week for a story about the Rev. Mindy McKonley, as we celebrate clergywomen in our conference.who have faced and overcome barriers to respond to God's call to ministry and leadership. 
Youth Diversity Retreat at Gretna Glen, March 11-13
Gretna Glen Camp & Retreat Center welcomes United Methodist youth in grades 8-12 who want to develop relationships across racial and cultural lines to a memorable weekend Diversity Retreat March 11-13 (from Friday evening to Sunday afternoon). Young people will share and appreciate unique qualities during creative community-building activities that feature diversity in  games, fellowship, learning, worship experiences and special foods. The cost is $110. Scholarship aid is available.  Register directly on the Gretna Glen Website at .  For more information contact Gretna Glen at 717-273-5625 or Carlen Blackstone at .
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. Are your young people listening and tuned into God's voice? Youth at this all-day retreat will be exposed to many creative ministry options to serve God--whether as pastors, chaplains or youth ministers, or in a foreign mission field or college or seminary. Yes, even in business, nonprofit and agricultural 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, including  Bishop Johnson and members of the Cabinet and committees on Ordained Ministry. Individual youth or senior-high groups or classes are welcome. Cost is $10. Questions? Contact the Rev. Matt Heckman at or 717-679-8346 . Register online today.
Young adults answering God's call on the Hill
A promising cadre of Ethnic Young Adult interns will soon begin their 2016 summer of making a difference Washington D.C., and the time to apply is now. Each year General Board of Church and Society interns come to the nation's capitol to gain valuable advocacy experience, increase their leadership skills, and above all, develop and strengthen the connection between being servant of God and serving community. The Ethnic Young Adults application deadline is March 15. Applicants are young adult UM persons of color in their sophomore, junior or senior year of college. For details visit:
Advance Special Mission Project application for 2016-2017
The 2016 application for Annual Conference approval as an Advance Special mission project for 2016-2017 should be completed and submitted to the Rev. David Davis, Conference Secretary for Global Ministries, by no later than March 15. Pastors, project coordinators, agency directors and missions leaders may submit applications.
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.
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.
Prayers in abundance 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 .
Also,  UM Communications offers "Exploring General Conference," a free online course designed to help participants learn more about the official decision-making body of The United Methodist Church. The course is ongoing through June 30.  Learn more
New anti-violence resource needs church feedback 
The Rev. Sandra L. Strauss, Director of Advocacy and Ecumenical Outreach for the Pennsylvania Council of Churches , based in Harrisburg, would like a few churches to pilot-test and give feedback on a new anti-violence curriculum she has developed titled "Loving Our Brothers and Sisters: A Study for Youth on Bullying, Violence, and Prevention in a Christian Context." It is designed in three sessions to be used over three weeks and contains links to videos and other ideas for engaging youth. A Lancaster Seminary intern helped with research for the new resource several years ago, supported by Eastern PA Conference Advocacy funds. If your congregation wants to test and comment on the curriculum before it is widely released, contact Strauss at (717) 545-4761   or .
Online UMC courses to help grow your church
You're invited to participate in United Methodist-specific online courses, designed to better equip you and your ministry. Registration ends March 8, so get in while there's room.

Increase the Vitality of Your Church
Get ideas that work for engaging your local and global community, develop a realistic plan toward more vitality, and get consultations from a vitality coach. This is an online, six-week self-paced course designed specifically for United Methodist pastors. Upon successful completion, you will receive two continuing education credits. Upon successful completion, you will receive 2 ALLLM CEU.  Learn more

Engage your church and community digitally
Use current and emerging communication tools to communicate your faith relevantly and effectively. Learn to craft and share powerful and personal stories of faith and engage with social media platforms to reach out to your local community and beyond. Upon successful completion, you will receive 1 ALLLM CEU. Learn more
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
Location: To Be Determined  Do you serve in a Cross-Racial or Cross-Cultural appointment? Are you a congregational leader serving with a pastor in a Cross-Racial or Cross-Cultural appointment? Then this training is for you. The full-day training continues our fall event and will be facilitated again by our partners at the General Commission on Religion and Race. 
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. 
Preaching with Power:  UM Night worship to feature Bishop Fisher, new mass choir
Janes Memorial UMC in Philadelphia will host what promises to be a powerful worship experience in sermon and song on Tuesday, March 15,at 7 PM. "Preaching with Power" will feature Bishop Violet L. Fisher (retired) as one of seven guest pulpiteer s for the 2016 Forum on Black Preaching and Theology, sponsored by the Urban Theological Institute of the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia. The annual forum, March 13-17, will include four days of workshops and worship services with noted African American preachers at several locations. The traditional United Methodist Night worship service, March 15 at Janes Memorial, will feature not only Bishop Fisher but also the new Philadelphia United Methodist Mass Choir, comprising singers from several local, predominantly black UM churches.    Learn more...
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
  • A telephone conference call-in session on Saturday, April 23, from 9 to 10:30 AM.
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
The Eastern PA Conference is soliciting ads for a souvenir program booklet it will publish for the UMC Northeastern Jurisdictional Conference, July 11-15, which we will host at the Lancaster Marriott at Penn Square in Lancaster, Pa. A letter of invitation and ad submission form, offering various ad sizes and prices, was e-mailed widely today, with an April 30 deadline for submissions. Proceeds from advertising 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 individuals, families, and youth. Learn more...
2016  Changing Racism Training Events
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.
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! 
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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