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March 4, 2017
 Peggy  Johnson   announces  new pastoral appointments and assignments:

Southwest/West District
  • Rev. Dr. John Smith (full-time local pastor) from Pocono Lake UMC (NE District) to Lampeter UMC (SW District).

Northeast/North District

  • Rev. John T. Pfeil (Elder) from Pen Argyl: Grace UMC to retirement as of July 1, 2017.
  • Rev. J. Timothy Fisher (Elder) from Chapman Quarries/Bushkill Charge to Pen Argyl: Grace UMC.
East District
  • Rev. Thomas A. Jackmon, Sr. (Retired Part-time Local Pastor) from Jenkintown UMC to retirement without an appointment, effective June 30, 2017
Bishop May memorial service  April 1  in Washington DC
The Memorial Service for Bishop Felton Edwin May will be at on  Saturday, April 1, at  11AM, at Asbury United Methodist Church, 926 11th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20001. The family hour before the service, with members of the Council of Bishops, will be at  9:30 AM. The Washington Area Episcopal Office is working to secure a block of rooms of a hotel in the immediate area of the church. Contact Ms. Joyce King at

Bishop May, 81, died peacefully  Monday, Feb., 27. He is survived by his wife of 53 years, Phyllis May; two children, Daphne May Brown and Felton May II; and eight grandchildren. The May family asks for prayers to uplift them during this time. Condolences can be sent to them at 3315 Oak West Drive, Apt 123, Ellicott City, Maryland 21043.

"Bishop May was both holy and bold in his words and actions," said Philadelphia Area Bishop Peggy Johnson, about her former bishop. "He challenged me to be a pastor (of Christ UMC of the Deaf in Baltimore); and he took Deaf ministry to a new place internationally and state-side. The church will long benefit from the Spirit-driven ministry and passion of this fearless man of God."  Learn more...

Bishop to lead prayer vigil for detained 'Berks Madres' March 12  

Bishop Peggy Johnson will speak at a prayer vigil outside the Berks County Residential Center (1040 Berks Road, Leesport PA) on Sunday, March 12, at 3:30 PM, and some members of the Eastern PA Conference are expected to join her there. Prayer vigils, led by interfaith religious leaders, occur  there monthly to protest the federal government's family detention policy and the yearlong detention of more than immigrant 40 mothers and children, mostly from Central America, who are awaiting hearings on their requests for asylum.
Activists have held numerous vigils outside the center, drawing dozens, even up to a hundred participants at times, to stand in solidarity with the women and children while exposing their captivity to the outside public and media. The detained residents came to the U.S. to escape violence in their home countries, but many suffer from emotional stress and despair from their isolation and inadequate living conditions in detention. Some express appreciation for the vigils and often join in the encouraging prayers and lively gospel songs from inside the center's fence. Learn more...

Advocacy groups urge justice, mercy for immigrants at risk

Nine social justice advocacy groups in the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference together have issued a formal statement expressing urgent concern over recent law enforcement actions that threaten the peace and security of immigrant residents in our region.

The Call to Justice and Mercy in Response to Anti-Immigrant Federal Policies calls on United Methodists to "honor our historic Methodist legacy of commitment to justice and mercy for those who are poor and displaced."
The statement cites recent mass arrests, detention and deportation threats against undocumented immigrants, especially those belonging to or in the care of United Methodist churches in Warminster and Warrington, Pa., and other U.S. towns and cities.   Learn more...  

'Hearts on Fire' gathering to promote justice, social holiness

Faithful Christians from around the Eastern PA Conference, whether committed to or just concerned about biblical and Wesleyan values of peace with justice, are invited to gather on Saturday, May 13, at Holy Cross UMC in Reading, Pa. There they will explore and engage hearts and minds in their shared struggles against racism and other forms of oppression.

"Hearts on Fire: Stories of Shalom and Social Holiness" is planned as a major learning, networking and mobilizing event, unlike any before it, to create "a diverse network of people connected by story, committed to justice and collaborating for peace." The theme is inspired by the Apostle Paul's encouraging admonition in Romans 12:11-13: "Never let the fire in your heart go out. Keep it alive. Serve the Lord. When you hope, be joyful. When you suffer, be patient. When you pray, be faithful. Share with God's people who are in need. Welcome others into your homes." 

Scheduled for 9 AM to 2 PM, the gathering will hear topical "TED talks"* by justice ministry practitioners and engage in small-group discussions, networking activities, biblical reflection and worship. Inspired by Christ's gospel, they will "learn and work together as leaders to help create  social change and build thriving communities of shalom." Speakers will share creative ideas and practical applications that work "on the ground." A story on this event will be posted on our website on Monday, March 6.

Native leaders ask UMs to support Standing Rock march in D.C.

President Trump's administration may have given the green light to the Dakota Access Pipeline, but the fight to preserve the water for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe continues.  Native leaders in The United Methodist Church are urging members and advocates of the denomination to join them and others in a peaceful protest march in Washington Friday, March 10.
"Even though the camps near the pipeline construction have been cleared away, the issue of protecting the water remains," said the Rev. David Wilson, Oklahoma Indian Missionary Conference (OIMC) Superintendent. The main Standing Rock protest camp near the pipeline was cleared Feb. 21. "The church has been engaged in Acts of Repentance towards Native people. Now is the time to show the world our desire to be in solidarity with Native peoples in this country."
For three days prior to the march, Native leaders and allies will be lobbying lawmakers for their right to protect their homelands, environment, and future generations.  On March 10, United Methodists are invited to gather at 9:00 A.M. EST at the denomination's General Board of Church and Society building at 100 Maryland Ave. N.E., directly across from the U.S. Capitol Building.  From there, United Methodists will join the march that is to begin at The Army Corps of Engineers, 443 G St., NW, and end with a rally at Lafayette Square.  The marchers will then gather at the Ellipse where demands will be made of the new administration.
"The General Board of Church and Society is working with OIMC to help with logistics for Standing Rock organizers to use their building and also helping to make connections with their constituents and area United Methodists," said Wilson. In addition, the Commission is providing funds to help with a Thursday evening meal for 500 persons from the Standing Rock Reservation at the National Cathedral. The Baltimore Washington Conference is also helping with the meal and other logistics.   
Wilson said many United Methodists have supported the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe since early 2016 through prayer, visits to the camp sites near Cannonball, N.D., and contributions of money, food and clothing.  
"We appreciate how United Methodists have been a part of this movement so far," said Wilson. "We need their continued help to build awareness and support for this issue and others that will ultimately impact Native communities."

Bishop to convene talk on Religious Freedom Resolution  

Bishop Peggy Johnson will convene in May a one-time dialogue on the Religious Freedom Resolution (#2016-18; see the full resolution below), which was debated but not voted on at the 2016 Eastern PA Annual Conference. The resolution was committed to the bishop with a request for representative dialogue and a report in lieu of legislative action. The dialogue will take place at Asbury UMC in Allentown (1533 Springhouse Road), on Saturday, May 20, from 9 AM to 12 noon.

The resolution, offered jointly by a dozen churches, asks for the Eastern PA Annual Conference to formally denounce any attempts, in any state or jurisdiction, to pass laws that would "limit LGBT citizens' freedom from discrimination in employment, housing or public accommodation based on any individual's, company's or organization's supposed right to 'religious freedom...'"

Bishop Johnson intends to present a requested report on the dialogue at the 2017 Annual Conference, June 15-17. She offers reading resources to the conference in preparation for the dialogue and encourages those who plan to attend to read and use these publications, available on our website, as guidelines for their participation. Learn more... 
EPA Annual Conference 2017 to 'Rise Up' in prayer 
Rise Up and Pray! is the elevating main theme of the 2017 Eastern PA Annual Conference, which will return to the spacious Expo Center in Oaks, Pa., from Thursday to Saturday , June 15-17

Preachers, prayers, musicians, liturgists and others will center the gathering in the practice and power of prayer, no doubt invoking the God of eternal grace to "Grant us wisdom, grant us courage, for the facing of this hour." That focus will also receive special attention when special guest the Rev. Tom Albin, Dean of the Upper Room Chapel in Nashville, offers a Friday teaching session on prayer.

Three bishops will preach during this annual conference session including two familiar voices and a new voice on the NEJ College of Bishops. Resident Bishop Peggy Johnson will preach for the Opening Worship and Eucharist Service on Thursday afternoon. New Bishop LaTrelle Easterling, who leads the neighboring Baltimore-Washington Conference, will preach for the Ordination Service ("Rise Up and Lead!") on Friday night.  Bishop Peter Weaver , a retired former leader of our own conference and the Philadelphia Episcopal Area, will preach during the Memorial Service ("Rise Up in Glory!") on Saturday morning. Learn more...  
UMVIM Team Leader Training April 1
If you want to learn how to lead or host Volunteers in Mission (VIM) teams, then be sure to attend the UMVIM Team Leader Training on Saturday, April 1, from 9 AM to 3:30 PM at Ardmore UMC (200 Argyle Road, Ardmore), These teams bring needed repairs and recovery to damaged homes and disaster-stricken areas, as well as compassion for victims, while bearing the love of Christ in their hands and hearts. The $35 cost includes training materials and lunch. Learn more and register online by March 27.
The Rev. Tom Lank, an ordained deacon in the Greater New Jersey Conference, is VIM Coordinator for the Northeastern Jurisdiction. He has organized international mission journeys in Africa, the Caribbean, Central America and South America, and domestic mission journeys in nine U.S. states. Team Leader Training is recommended for all first- time VIM team leaders, but all interested persons are welcome to attend. For more information contact the Rev. Greg Ellis, Conference Coordinator of Disaster Ministry & UMVIM, at or 484 350 5965. 
Changing Church for a Changing World event, April 1
There's more information about the April 1 Fresh   Expressions t raining event that could change your church. " Changing Church for a Changing World: Fresh Expression Vision Day" will happen on Saturday, April 1, at Mount Carmel UMC, 2203 Harmonyville Road, Elverson PA. J.R. Briggs and Kristin Beckert, both skilled church planters and trainers, will bring their creative, strategic ideas as gifted facilitators. The Eastern PA Conference is a co-sponsor; so members can attend for a discounted $20 each. 

Fresh Expressions   is a movement that is cultivating new forms of church alongside existing congregations in order reach a changing world. Visit and scroll down to "Pottstown Vision Day." Learn more ... 
Denman Evangelism Award nominations sought
When you experience God's love, you want to share it with everyone!

The United Methodist  Foundation for Evangelism  helps annual conferences annually honor extraordinary clergy, youth and adult laypersons with the  Harry Denman Evangelism Award  for sharing with everyone God's message of love through Jesus Christ. As Christians, we work in a variety of ministries and contexts with a common goal to build up of God's Kingdom.

This year, until May 5, the Eastern PA Conference's  Congregational Development Team (CDT)  is pleased to accept your nominations of persons to receive the 2017 Harry Denman Evangelism Award. That noteworthy award signifies a remarkable commitment to introducing others to the living gospel in ways and places where "new believers can encounter Christ."

All completed nominations with comments should be submitted to the CDT by May 5. Please send e-mail nominations to
addressed to the EPAUMC/Congregational Development Team, c/o of Suzette James/. Attn: Denman Award Nomination. Or mail them to the Eastern PA Conference Office, ATTN:  Dr C. Kurien (identified as "2017 Denman Nominee"), P.O. Box 820, Valley Forge, PA  19482-0820.

Applications can be downloaded by visiting:
Youth invited to confirmation camp
Gretna Glen invites churches to have confirmation classes in their neck of the woods, learning all about faith in the midst of God's creation.

Gretna Glen's three Confirmation Camp weekends- March 31-April 2, April 7-9 and October 13-15-will focus on the five vows of affirmation: prayer, witness, gifts, service, and presence, say planners. "Each vow comes alive as confirmands participate in hands on activities, discussions, and reflections that help draw connections from the act of confirmation as the start of a full-time life of faith." Cost is $90. Register using their Brochure.

Be sure to read Bishop Peggy Johnson's article about summer camp, " Our camps-changing seasons and young lives." 
Vital Church Mergers and More
Churches that feel the Holy Spirit moving them to take a serious, open-minded look at their mission and future in ministry, in addition to churches identified by their district superintendent, are urged to send teams to attend "Vital Church Mergers and More" March 25, from 8:30 AM to 12 PM, at Christ UMC Lansdale (1020 S. Valley Forge Road). Cost: $10 per church (payable to Eastern Pa. Conference of the UMC). Pay onsite. Each church attending should first read Dirk Elliot's book Vital Church Mergers.  District Superintendents have copies available. The Congregational Development Office has 30 copies. Please pray daily for vision from the Holy Spirit to help you see where God is leading your church. Contact the Rev. Gordon Hendrickson at 267-258-9507 or
Sign up your church for
the Abundant Health
10,000 Church Challenge
The Conference Health & Healing Council urges all churches to join the 10,000 Church Challenge, initiated by the UMC's Global Ministries as part of its new Abundant Health initiative. 

Bishop Peggy Johnson is promoting this effort in both of her Philadelphia Area conferences, Eastern PA and Peninsula-Delaware. Your church is invited to help increase opportunities for healthy lifestyle choices by promoting: Physical Activity; Healthy Diet and Nutrition; Tobacco-free and Drug-free Living; and Mental Health Education and Promotion. 

One of our four denominational goals is to improve Global Health. After raising over $68 million to fight malaria in the "Imagine No Malaria" campaign, it is time to broaden the focus of "Abundant Health." Global Ministries' goal is to sign up 10,000 churches across the connection, asking each to choose a health focus for its congregation and community. Every church that signs up will receive ideas about education, treatment and prevention; and when it implements ideas and activities it will be designated a Health Promoting Church .  Sign-Up Today  . Get more information. Deaconess Sharon Hachtman,RN, FCN, is Health & Healing Council, Co-Chair and campaign contact. Visit the council webpage to learn more. 
Free Lenten Study Resource from Hopewell UMC
A New Lenten Study Curriculum is being produced by Hopewell UMC for use in 2017 free of charge by any and all UM churches. Contend for the Faith: Lessons from Jude. Within the brief but rich Epistle of Jude, we find marvelous encouragement for a 21st-century church in America, which is itself in need of defense, purification, and hope. This seven-week study designed for group participation will feature Elders from the Eastern PA Conference who have written the curriculum and are featured in the DVD presentations. For more information contact: Deb Boyd, Director of Lay Ministries, Hopewell UMC at or check out Hopewell UMC's website.
NEJ VIM/UMCOR Training Academy, March 26-29
UMCOR (UM Committee on Relief) and the Northeastern Jurisdiction Volunteers in Mission will provide training  March 26-29 for persons wanting to lead the church in disaster response and in its wider mission in God's world. Our own Pocono Plateau Camp & Retreat Center will host the classes, ranging from beginner to advanced, including: UMCOR's Foundations; Early Response Team Advanced (201-level) Training; using the Connecting Neighbors curriculum; Spiritual and Emotional Caregiving; and more. There will also be workshops on Global Health, Communication Technology, Race and Privilege, Asset-Based Community Development, Caring for Creation, and other mission topics. No prior qualifications are necessary. CEUs are available. Register now. Early-bird rates apply until  Feb. 26. For more information contact the Rev. Tom Lank, UMVIM-NEJ Coordinator, at 919-428-0461,, or visit

Eastern PA is the host conference. So we will be looking for hospitality volunteers to assist with welcoming participants to Pocono Plateau and to help with shuttle service to/from the Avoca airport and the Allentown airport. Contact: Rev Greg Ellis
Order your 2016 Conference Journal before they're gone!
A limited number of printed 2016 Eastern PA Conference Journals are available.  Order yours today for only $30 each. You can  order and pay online or send a check, by USPS, to: EPA UMC, Attention Gloria Knoeller, PO Box 820, Valley Forge, PA 19482-0820.

What's in the Journal?  A lot! Contact information for Conference staff, clergy, Camp and Retreat Centers, Districts, and United Methodist Boards and Agencies.  Also, clergy appointments, pastoral salaries and service records.  Plus, all about the 2016 Annual Conference; Conference statistics for 2015; historical highlights; and conference policies and procedures for clergy, staff, and others. Questions?  Please contact Gloria Knoeller at
March 28, 9 AM - 3:30 PM, at  Grandview UMC (888 Pleasure Road, Lancaster, PA). Participants pay $35 to participate, which includes light breakfast, lunch, and materials. Presenters are the Revs. Andrea Brown and Jose "Ricky" Ayala.  Find out more ยป 

July 15, 9 AM - 3:30 PM, at  Conshohocken UMC (20 W. Sixth Ave., Conshohocken, PA).Participants pay $35 to participate in this class. The fee includes light breakfast, lunch, and materials. Presenters are Rev. Jose "Ricky" Ayala and a female presenter to be named.  Find out more
Changing Racism Workshop 2017 dates
This year's dates  for  Changing Racism Workshops, led by  Visions, Inc., are   March 31-April 2  and   October 27-29.  The March location will again be the Daylesford Abbey, 220 South Valley Road, Paoli, PA. Visit our  Changing Racism Workshops webpage to learn more and to register.
Faith-Sharing Training Event  
Our 2017 annual Faith-Sharing Training Event will happen March 18, from 8:30 AM to 2 PM, at New Hanover UMC. Our guest presenter is the Rev. Terry Teykel, a leading "prayer evangelist" and popular speaker and author. He travels the world encouraging churches to develop and strengthen prayer ministries as a means of revival and transformation.
Teykel, the founder of Renewal Ministries and Prayer Point Press, has authored several books, including The Presence-Based Church, My Most Wanted: 40 Days to Pray for the Lost, and Pray the Price: United Methodists United in Prayer. He has spent his life teaching churches how to develop a heartfelt, meaningful relationship with the Lord. His warm, humorous style makes him a much-sought after speaker and seminar leader.
"We believe that when prayer and evangelism are reunited the Church will emerge as a powerful force for reclaiming the land and setting the captives free."      -Terry Teykl. 

Learn more about this passionate, powerful speaker and man of God.
Wake up, God's People!... 
All-day Eastern PA Youth Rally, April 22, 2017
Plan to attend the 3rd Annual Eastern PA Conference Youth Rally on Saturday, April 22, 2017. For the first time, this youth rally will last all day, from 9 AM to 4 PM. We're planning fantastic features, with dynamic speakers, soul-stirring music, fun games, powerful prayers, laugh-out-loud humor, great food and hospitality, and enough friendship and fellowship moments to give you a lifetime of memories. Don't dare miss it! See and share the flyer, and look for more details, coming soon.
More events coming in Spring:
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!
Eastern Pennsylvania Conference of The United Methodist Church
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