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May 20 , 2016
Bishop Peggy Johnson 
announces  new appointments:

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

Southeast District
  • Rev. Tracy Ann Duncan (Elder) from Cornwells Heights: Cornwells UMC and Trevose: St. Matthew's UMC to Philadelphia: Eastwick UMC.
See full list of appointments and retirements on our website.
The daily drama of General 

Conference draws to a close
For nearly two weeks The United Methodist Church's General Conference has been a diverse, dynamic daily drama of encounters and events--both human and holy--as representative leaders wrestle with legislation that will impact the denomination for the next four years and probably longer.

The curtain closes tonight, as delegates hurry through the remaining petitions, motions, debates and votes. And it will end appropriately in worship, offering praise and thanks to God for all that has been accomplished in this global gathering, and offering prayers that God will bless (or maybe fix, in some cases) the legislative decisions made and not made.  

On our Website, we have tried to focus on our Eastern PA Conference delegation, as they participate in this historic meeting and share some of their thoughts and emotions. Take a look at today's offering of reflections in writing   by lay delegates Clarita Krall and Krystl Johnson, and reflections on video by delegation leader the Rev. Dawn Taylor-Storm and Bishop Peggy Johnson.

And for a broader look at what's happened lately, read some of   UM News Service's coverage , starting with its daily " wrap-up" review. One caution: a wrap-up leaves out a lot of important details and comments. So to know more, try to skim some of the other articles as well.

May 19 wrap-up: New missionaries commissioned, special GC costs discussed

PORTLAND, Ore. (UMNS) - A day after tabling potentially contentious legislation on human sexuality, General Conference 2016 moved through its calendar at a steady clip, possibly noticing that time to finish its task is running short. They passed legislation to oppose Native American mascots, voted to stop supporting the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice and created a new provisional central conference in Asia. And the Judicial Council declared a $20 million plan for church growth unconstitutional. Joey Butler reports.
Read full story and post comment

Bishop, pastors react to 
efforts to avoid
 church split
Lancaster Online reporter Earle Cornelius, who occasionally covers United Methodist Church news, has expanded an article on General Conference that he wrote earlier this week. He reported on the global conference's move, by a narrow 425-408 vote, to avert debate and decisions on homosexuality and the church's Book of Discipline in favor of a full examination of the issue by the Council of Bishops through a special commission.
Cornelius quoted Bishop Peggy Johnson, who described the Discipline as "a patchwork quilt of rules that (has been) word-smithed over the past 40 years." She told Cornelius it was time for General Conference to "hit the pause button" in trying to legislate LGBT issues within the church.
The latest article, published today and titled "New panel may soften the blow, but a Methodist schism is still likely," adds reactions from several Lancaster area UMC pastors to the possibility that the church may split in the near future over efforts to change church law that prohibits ordination of gay pastors and same-sex weddings.
Cornelius reports optimistic comments about the new commission from the Rev. Jerry McGrath, pastor of Lititiz UMC, the Rev. Andrea Brown, pastor of Grandview UMC in Manheim Township, and the Rev. Joseph DiPaolo, pastor of First UMC Lancaster, who is a General Conference delegate. DiPaolo said "failure to approve the motion to create a commission could have led to an immediate split in the church."

But the Rev. John Longmire, pastor of Hempfield UMC, said it is unlikely the church can stay united, given "increasing tension between the rapid growth of a global conservative movement and the steady numeric decline of the predominantly American progressive movement." Like Brown and others, he sees the new commission only as a way to delay an inevitable schism and a chance "to consider various models of amiable separation."

Bishop Johnson still believes church members can be of "different hearts on different issues," but can remain united as Methodists, Cornelius wrote. 

"It would have been easy to say we're divided," she said. "But we want to let God work in new ways."

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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