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May 13 , 2016

General Conference 2016 Update

The United Methodist worldwide legislative assembly is in full motion. During its first week. General Conference delegates, denominational  leaders, and visitors have been hearing agency reports and bishop's sermons, both delivered with Wesleyan enthusiasm, and then while celebrating and deliberating in plenary sessions. Then they scatter into legislative committees and subcommittees to hash out petitions and determine which ones to recommend to the full body for consideration and a vote.


Eastern PA delegates lead committees 

Our Eastern PA Conference delegation is in the thick of all these events; and several have been elected to help lead committees and subcommittees. The Rev. Joe DiPaolo is secretary of the Higher Education and Ministry Legislative Committee, and Krystl Johnson chairs a subcommittee of the Global Ministries Legislative Committee.


Bishop Peggy Johnson gained virtual social media stardom from a much-retweeted photo of her signing for the Deaf during the powerful, prophetic Episcopal Address delivered by Philadelphia native Bishop Gregory Palmer.


Plus, our delegation co-leaders, the Rev. Dawn Taylor-Storm and Judy Ehninger, were both chosen to serve on the Inter-Jurisdictional Episcopacy Committee, and Taylor-Storm was elected to serve on its executive committee. 

Inter-jurisdictional body OKs NEJ appeal to keep 9 bishops

The body voted to support the appeal to maintain nine episcopal areas in the Northeastern Jurisdiction for four more years for missional reasons, despite its membership decline beneath the minimum number required to sustain nine bishops.


The inter-jurisdictional committee, composed of two representatives from each U.S. annual conference, will recommend its decision to the General Conference for a vote. If it is approved, it will be a part of the General Council on Finance and Administration's budget presented to delegates near the end of the conference session.


Annual conference delegates to the Northeastern Jurisdictional Conference would also have to approve the decision in July. But the tight, two-month timeline between now and then---and then only two months more for an episcopal area realignment to take place---may have contributed to the committee's vot e to accept the appeal, said Taylor-Storm.


The UM Judicial Council had ruled on Monday that the number of episcopal areas is up to each jurisdiction to decide.

Follow the action of General Conference plenary sessions on  live-streamed video, and read daily news updates and feature stories about the conference and its many activities, causes and participants. Here are links to some recent stories:

Christian Conferencing on Being a Worldwide Church 
General Conference delegates participated in small group sessions to discuss how the denomination can live out its worldwide connection. Read More

Rule 44 voted down   Three days of speculation ended when delegates elected not to adopt a Group Discernment Process in place of Parliamentary Procedure to dialogue on critical legislative petitions.  Read More

Laity urged to share Jesus with the world  A diverse team of conference lay leaders shared testimony and teachings on the shared responsibility for making disciples. Read More

Prayers, paper lanterns at climate vigil  Across the connection, United Methodists are experiencing the effects of climate change and some are calling General Conference 2016 to act. Read More


Saturday May 14th  Substance Abuse Awareness Session
Siloam UMC (3720 Foulk Road  Garnet Valley, PA) invites all--but especially pastors and lay ministers--to attend a symposium on finding faithful solutions to widespread substance abuse on Saturday, May 14, from 8:30 AM to 12 noon. "How should he church be involved in this epidemic?" event organizers ask, promising "a morning of fellowship and education, as we take a backwards journey from loss to hope."   

Saturday May 14  Camp Innabah Spring Open House 
Food, fund, fellowship, information about camp and retreat opportunities. From 10 AM to 3 PM. 

Saturday, May 14  Pocono Plateau SpringFest Open House  
FREE! Hot Dog roast, hiking, crafts, and more. From 11 AM to 4 PM.  Download the flyer!

Saturday, May 21 Gretna Glen Open House,
Food, fund, fellowship, information about camp and retreat opportunities. From 10 AM to 4 PM

Sunday, May 22   Peace with Justice Sunday 
The churchwide offering on this Special Sunday supports United Methodist peace with justice ministries through our conference and the United Methodist Board of Church and Society. has resources for pastors and lay church leaders.


Sunday, May 22  Heritage Sunday 
The United Methodist Church celebrates Heritage
 Sunday on theSunday before Aldersgate Day, May 24, when John Wesley had his spiritual rebirth. This year, United Methodists mark the 200th anniversaries of the death of Francis Asbury and the birth of sister denomination, the African Methodist Episcopal Church. The United Methodist Commission on Archives and History offers resources.

Tuesday, May 24   Black Church Concerns Summit
6:30 pm - 9:30 pm, Discussion on Issues Affecting Eastern PA 6:30 pm - 9:30 pm, Discussion on Issues Affecting Eastern PA Conference Black Churches, at Simpson House in Society Hall, 2101 Belmont Ave. Philadelphia, PA. Sponsored by Black Methodists for Church Renewal (BMCR), Philadelphia Area Caucus, Lawrence Lee, Coordinator.
A re-cap from the April 29-30th Urban Commission/Metro Ministries Retreat
A re-cap from General Conference (which concludes on May 20th)
An update on the Conference plans for re-districting
A preview of Annual and Jurisdictional Conferences
A view from Bishop Peggy Johnson
An Introduction of BMCR's New Slate of Officers

No annual conference used book sale this year
The annual conference used book sale will NOT be held this year at the Lancaster Convention Center, so please DO NOT BRING YOUR BOOKS! A number of factors have contributed to this decision.  If you have books on regional, national or global United Methodism that might be of value to our archive, please contact Joe DiPaolo at , and he can arrange a pick up over the summer.  The book sale may reappear in a new format in future years, but for now it is suspended.
How will you celebrate Pentecost on Sunday, May 15?
UM Discipleship Ministries offers worship resources to help your church celebrate the birth of Christ's church through the power and guidance of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost Sunday, May 15. If you plan a special celebration please let us know about it, before or after, a

Education Society grants deadline extended to May 23
The Eastern PA Conference Education Society offers college aid grants for the 2016-17 school year. The "Grants to Defray Higher Education Costs" application is available  on our Website or from local churches. The deadline to receive all applications for consideration has been extended to May 23.Contact Al Adey, Education Society Chairperson, at for more information.
Join Deacons in preparing UMCOR Health Kits

The United Methodist Church's General Conference will celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Order of Deacons next week; and the Eastern PA Annual Conference will do likewise in June. But fittingly, deacons in our conference will focus their celebration on serving others when they coordinate the collection and assembly of basic supplies for UMCOR Health Kits to help survivors of disasters.

"Through this service project at Annual Conference we want to help our churches connect with the world in a very tangible and practical way," said Tiffany Manning, who chairs the conference's Order of Deacons. Learn how you can participate.

Drop-off bottled water donations for Flint
Servants of Christ UMC, 5213 Germantown Avenue, Philadelphia, PA is serving as a drop-off point for water to be donated for the Flint Michigan Water Crisis. The Rev. Margaret Trice, pastor, will be at the church to receive donations every Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, from 1 to 3 PM.

For additional information call 888-398-3411or  e-mail her  at

Parking at  Annual Conference
Eastern PA Annual Conference attendees can park at a discounted rate of $7 per car, per day for both daily and overnight attendees. Your ticket must be validated at the front desk to receive the discounted rate. If you are an overnight guest staying at the Lancaster Marriott Hotel, the charge will be added to your room bill, once your ticket is validated.

For those who need to park elsewhere, "Chaser tickets" can be obtained from the Annual Conference Registration Table. A Chaser ticket will provide the discounted rate of $7 per day for  Lancaster Parking Authority garages  1 through 6. You will need to have both your original parking garage ticket and the chaser ticket in order to get the $7 discount.   Download a PDF map to see the garages by number:  Parking Garage Map.

Take me out to the ballgame...

Want a great place to spend a warm, cozy mid-July night, with just the right mix of laid-back calm and moments of competitive drama and excitement? A fun place to hang with family, friends and fellow church members, where you can all get your cheer on? How about a Phillies ballgame at Citizens Bank Park on Methodist Night?


Join hundreds of Eastern PA folks from across our conference at the ballpark to root for the home team on Saturday, July 16, at 7:05 p.m.  Come see the Philadelphia Phillies play (and yes, beat) the New York Mets.The conference United Methodist Men have once again arranged for us to buy discounted tickets, with $10 of each ticket we buy supporting their men's ministries.

Ticket prices range from $20 to $38. Check out our "Methodist Night" Webpage at To order your tickets, click on the green "T" icon and enter the promotion code METHODIST.  Place your order now! Tickets are subject to availability. j

For groups of 25 or more, please contact Jen Leone in the Phillies Group Sales Office at 215-463-5000, extension 5267. All groups of 25 or more will be welcomed on the Phillies side auxiliary message boards at the top of the 5th inning.

Please share this information with families, churches and communities, and bring a group. We hope to see you at Citizens Bank Park on July 16. 
Peace with Justice  Sunday is coming  May 22
Peace with Justice Sunday   is coming  May 22 . The offering UM churches receive on this Special  Sunday  makes possible ongoing church and community ministries to promote peace, justice and reconciliation.    A special toolkit is available with resources to help your congregation promote these values and this important giving opportunity.   Access your Pastor and Leader's Kit now!  

The Peace with Justice  Sunday offering supports deserving ministries across the U.S. and around the world. But each annual conference may retain one-half of its offering to provide grants to local applicants who strive to achieve at least one of the objectives.

Church Refugees: People done with church but not their faith

Tuesday, May 24, 9:30 AM to 3:30 PM, at First UMC, 420 Saylor Street, Schuylkill Haven. 
Why are a growing number of people done with church but not their faith? It's a question for which many mainline churches are seeking answers. The Northwest District will sponsor a workshop led by sociologist and author Josh Packard of the University of Northern Colorado, who will share findings from his major study about the growing exodus from the American Church.

Learn why folks who have devoted a lifetime to the church are leaving, what we are losing by their departure, and where they are going. Dr. Packard will also share how we might re-engage those who have left and steps we can take to prevent others from leaving. He will lead three sessions, with responses from a panel of church leaders who are already applying some of the principles he will be teaching. Packard is co-author of Church Refugees: Sociologists reveal why people are DONE with church but not their faith (Paperback, 2015) and The Emerging Church: Religion at the Margins.  This event is open to clergy and laity from all districts. The $20 registration fee helps pay for lunch and this event. Continuing Education credits for pastors are being applied for . Register   by the May 17 deadline.

Pastoral Transition Workshop May 21     
The conference will offer a Pastoral Transition Workshop  on Saturday, May 21, from 9:30 AM to  12:30 PM at West Lawn UMC. The Rev. David Woolverton will facilitate this important learning event for pastors and churches undergoing a church  and pastoral change.
Local Church Communicators Workshop coming June 4
Calling all Local Church Communicators in the Eastern PA Conference: We plan to have a  training event for you, to enhance your vital communications ministries  on Saturday  morning,  June 4, 8:30 AM to 12 noon . More info to come soon.
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

May 21:  Pastoral Transition Workshop  9:30 AM - 12:30 PM. at West Lawn UMC. The Rev. David Woolverton leading.

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.

July 22-23: UMW's Mission u at the Inn at Reading

The next Changing Racism Training Event will be held   Oct. 28-30 2016 at the  new location,  the Daylesford Abbey in Paoli.  Register online . The cost is $300.

Eastern Pennsylvania Conference of The United Methodist Church
(800) 828-9093 |  |
980 Madison Avenue, Norristown, PA 19403
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