REVISED: Event registration link added. May 29, 2020
NEWS & VIEWS
Bishop Peggy Johnson preaches a sermon for Pentecost Sunday, May 31, that honors the birthday of Christ’s church and urges us to engage in prayer and witnessing to deepen and share our faith. Learn more...
Invisible Things
By Bishop Peggy A. Johnson …During this week when we consider the wind and flame that came on the day of Pentecost, it is clear that a mighty wind can do great things, even though it is invisible. The Spirit of God is indeed the most powerful force in all of the universe and beyond, making a strong case that such invisible things are everlasting and are the source of creation.

Yet we cannot ignore the other invisible spirits at work in this world. Ephesians 6:12 reminds us “we do not wrestle against flesh and blood but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” Just as there is the Holy Spirit, there are invisible powers of evil that cause great sadness and destruction. There’s that kind of wind as well.

As I ponder the recent revelation of the murder of Ahmaud Arbery ( above), a young, black jogger in Atlanta, and the even more recent murder of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police officers, the evil spirit of racism is clearly alive and prevalent in this country. In recent years it seems to be increasing at an alarming rate, as we hear about these crimes. There is invisible evil in the hearts and souls of people that gets acted out in violent ways. Learn more...
Fight for Floyd : Where do we go from here?
An urgent response to current racial violence and injustice in law enforcement. Join in this live meeting and panel discussion on Zoom Monday, June 1, at 6:30 PM. Register online. HEAR from experts on race, justice and police relations. TALK about racism and policing that we have seen in our communities. HELP develop action items and next steps!  Learn more and register to attend.
Conference offers churches online giving page

The conference has created a giving page on its website to allow congregations to easily receive online gifts from church members, visitors and donors, who can select from a menu of participating churches. The online giving portal is now operational.  It is available to all churches, but it should be especially helpful to churches that do not currently offer online giving but want to. The service is provided through the conference’s relationship with Vanco Payment Services.   

Simple electronic funds transfer process
To participate in the program, a local church must simply complete the electronic funds transfer form and return it to the conference accounting office. The conference Treasurer’s office will process and deposit gifts into the church’s designated bank account weekly. A contribution report will then be sent to the church. Learn more...
Church help feed their communities during coronavirus shutdown

Many churches around the Eastern PA Conference committed to feeding their communities are meeting the challenges of the coronavirus pandemic with extra food donations, volunteers and creative solutions, including moving their operations outdoors. But the need is still great in the face of widespread unemployment and financial distress caused by the closing of businesses and churches to ensure “social distancing.”

As part of its Coronavirus Assistance Project (CAP), the conference Connectional Ministries office recently published a directory of 26 UM church-run or church-affiliated food distribution ministry sites serving communities across our region. (The directory is available on the conference website with a link under the Resources tab. If your church is involved in the regular distribution of food to its community—even in a partnership—and is not in the directory please contact us at communications@epaumc.org .) Included are individual churches and those with community and ecumenical partners, stretching across all four districts. Learn more...
Commission sets dates for postponed General Conference; will explore new uses of technology
Organizers have confirmed that the next General Conference will be A ugust 29 - September 7, 2021, at the Minneapolis Convention Center in Minneapolis, Minn. The decision comes despite pleas by young people that the decision-making body not meet at the start of the academic year.
Postponed 2020 Jurisdictional Conference dates set for 2021
The Council of Bishops (COB) has announced new dates for the 2020 Jurisdictional Conferences in the United States which have been postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Jurisdictional Conferences in the United States will be held November 10-12, 2021. The days prior to and after can be used at the discretion of each Jurisdictional Conference. Read Council of Bishops press release
Celebrating Asian/Pacific American heritage
The Rev. Grace S. Pak is the director of cross-racial and cross-cultural (CR/CC) leadership at the UMC’s General Commission on Religion & Race. She has worked closely with the Eastern PA Conference’s Commission on Religion & Race and Cabinet to train church leaders in planning, resourcing and implementing effective CR/CC ministry, especially in churches with CR/CC appointments. To observe Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month in May she writes about her experiences as a Korean American. 

Reflecting on Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month, Pak remembers her own story as an immigrant growing up in the U.S. but still not feeling welcome. “I came to the United States following my parents at the age of 12 — over 40 years ago,” she writes. “Growing up in New York City in the 1970s, there was always a nagging question: ‘Where do I fit in as a Korean? Do I belong here?’ In the wake of rising xenophobia in response to the coronavirus, Pak writes that this is a time to reflect on how "we are all in this together." Learn more...
Lancaster Seminary appoints Interim President 
The Rev. David Rowe will become Lancaster Theological Seminary's Interim President on July 1, 2020, following the retirement of the Rev. Carol E. Lytch, who served for nine years as the Seminary's president. The Selection Committee was impressed with the broad range of skills and experience in higher education that Dr. Rowe brings to Lancaster Seminary including leadership, finance, strategic partnerships, along with knowledge and understanding of graduate theological education. During a 25-year career in higher education, Dr. Rowe has been president of Centenary College of Louisiana, vice president at both LaGrange College and Wesleyan College in Georgia, and director of advancement and planning at Oxford College of Emory University. Learn more…
The Virginia Annual Conference has produced for its churches and leaders a fairly comprehensive resource to help congregations return to “in-person worship” as permitted under the reopening guidelines provided by its state government and conference leadership. Embrace the Now, Prepare for the Next is remarkable in its breadth and detail. 

Virginia Conference Bishop Sharma Lewis allowed us to share it with our churches and leaders in the spirit of the United Methodist Connection. We pray that all our congregations and leaders will continue to stay safe and healthy, as they strive to “Do good, Do no harm, and Stay in love with God.”  
Town Hall event to Shut Down Berks, June 3
Hosted by Shut Down Berks Coalition and 12 others  Join us on Wednesday, June 3rd at 6-8 PM for a Community Town Hall to Shut Down Berks County Detention Center in PA! We will share more about the families at Berks amid the high danger of the COVID19 public health crisis, hear community voices, and hold our public officials accountable. Governor Wolf, you're invited to join this event and sit down and listen to what we have to say. #ShutDownBerks #EndFamilyDetention #FreeThemAll
Register in advance for this meeting. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting
The Uncertain Devotion
By the Rev. David Piltz
Uncertainty is part of life. It can be the cause of our fears, worries and concerns. It is a principle in science that challenges us to explain how the universe and our bodies work. It is a principle of economics that can create great wealth or incredible poverty. Uncertainty is also part of what it means to have faith.

In Hebrews 11:1 (NRSV) we read, “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” Faith is based on the uncertainty of not seeing but also on the certainty of who is God. God is in control, even in these trying times in which we mere mortals are trying to be in control and messing with things. We tend to always want to control and tell God to move aside. We tend to forget that our purpose in this world is to follow God. Learn more...
AROUND THE UM CONNECTION
Plans vary to get annual conference business done
Even with COVID-19, United Methodist annual conferences around the world (like the Eastern PA Annual Conference scheduled for October 23-24) need to get business done by the end of the year. The regional bodies of the denomination will get that done in a wide variety of ways: in-person meetings--either as one full session or divided into a series of sessions--virtual get-togethers and combinations of the two. Learn more...
Clergywoman also nurse on COVID-19 front line
FLEMINGTON, N.J. (UM News) — The Rev. Diane Dyson is a United Methodist deacon and registered nurse. For two months, she's been caring for COVID-19 patients at a New Jersey hospital. It has been an intense, fearful stretch, but she's also felt great support, including from United Methodists. Sam Hodges reports. Read story
LEARNING EVENTS
Working with transitioning clergy & clergy spouses, May 30
If you are a pastor or spouse or Staff-Parish Relations Committee leader experiencing a pastoral appointment transition this year, then you should attend the Transitioning Clergy and Relating with Clergy Spouses workshops on Saturday, May 30 . Both events will happen online, at 9 AM – 12 PM, via Zoom video-conferencing. The new schedule is as follows: 
Session 1: Clergy & SPRC Transition Workshop — 9:00 – 10:30 AM
Session 2: Relating with Clergy Spouses – 10:30 – 12 noon

The Zoom access information will be included in your confirmation email when you register.  Register now. Download the flyer!  Also read:  “Tips to help pastors and families on the move.”
NEJ MISSION E-Academy
REMINDERS
UMs would've met last week to consider a split. What are they doing instead?
The quadrennial United Methodist General Conference has been postponed until next year — possibly until late August and early September 2021. Many U.S. United Methodist leaders see the delay as a blessing, allowing more time and cooler heads to consider a split. Others are concerned about ongoing damage after decades of debate over the role of LGBTQ Christians in the church. And still others are moving forward with preparations for their expected new denomination.     More from Religion News Service
Some church leaders of various denominations--and no denomination--around the U.S. aren’t yet sure what to do about congregational singing when they reopen. Others are designing multiphase plans, and still others are moving ahead with their traditional practices of praise, including singing of hymns together. “I would recommend that until we get a vaccine, we don’t do congregational singing,” said a public health officer in Washington state, who himself usually sings in a house church. 

A report published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that group singing can significantly contribute to transmission of the coronavirus "through emission of aerosols, which is affected by loudness of vocalization.”  

“It doesn’t sound like singing is safe, especially not congregational singing, which is from my perspective a really important feature of worship,” said the pastor of a historic Baptist Philadelphia church. “Singing together is a big deal. In fact, not having a handle on this may make me postpone when we start to worship together again.”  More from Religion News Service
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.

This annual event is going virtual! The Ministry in a Cross-Racial/Cross-Cultural Context Annual Workshop will be held online via Zoom video-conferencing on Saturday, June 6, but at a new time: 9 AM to 12:30 PM.
Also, the training is now only for persons in new or just beginning Cross-Racial/Cross-Cultural ministerial appointments. Participants will receive the Zoom invitation after they register. Register online now! Download the flyer!

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.
Launch an #IGiveUMC campaign in your congregation! United Methodists are donating to local churches in honor of someone who's made a difference to them, then posting on social media to inspire others to do the same. Get started by downloading new resources developed specifically for church leaders. Learn More
Celebrate Peace with Justice Sunday, June 7
Use the  Peace with Justice Sunday Pastor and Leader Kit . You can download this collection of resources to promote this Special Sunday in your church on Sunday, June 7, 2020. This kit has everything you need to empower your congregation to give generously. 

United Methodists gave $433,437 towards the ministries funded by the Peace with Justice Sunday offering . This offering supports Peace with Justice ministries in our annual conference through annual grants and is administered by our conference Peace with Justice coordinator via the General Board of Church and Society . And these gifts support Peace with Justice work in the United States and around the world. 

Remember you can celebrate this Sunday and any Special Sunday on a day of your choosing. Give ONLINE at UMC Support and select Peace with Justice Sunday.
Seminary to hold online grant-writing workshop
United Methodist Gammon Theological Seminary in Atlanta, Ga., will host a virtual grant-writing workshop on June 23-24. The workshop aims to help participants identify potential donors and create the right fit with the selected funding agency. The cost is $200. Register
Bishop Peggy Johnson and the Eastern PA Conference Cabinet took turns explaining their Pandemic Reopening Best Practices for Churches document in a Zoom webinar Tuesday evening, May 12. Participation reached the maximum allowed at 500 viewers. A recording of the webinar is now available on the conference’s website and YouTube page. And a supplemental Q&A document , with answers to questions asked during the program, is also available.

Cabinet members walked viewers through the best practices resource to help congregations seeking to rebound from extended church closures caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and to return to onsite worship and ministry. Joining them for a major part of that discourse was Conference Chancellor Matt Morley, who promised and later provided sample documents some churches may need. Read more…
REMINDER: PA tax exemption extended until September 30
Due to delays in processing of sales tax exemptions as a result of COVID-19, the PA state revenue department  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.
Insurance-Related Covid-19 and Cyber Security Resources
Leslie S. Korsunsky, Account Manager for our insurance company carriers, Church Mutual Insurance Company and Eastern Alliance Insurance Company, and our insurance broker, EHD, has helpful information for churches dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic. The websites in her letter provide answers to frequently asked insurance-related questions, as well as other information relating to church operations during this crisis:

  1. Church Mutual’s resource center
  2. Eastern Alliance’s safety resource site  
  3. EHD’s resource center  

“In addition, cybercrime activity has increased during this crisis,” Leslie writes, “and we know that the best defense is a good education regarding your online practices. I have attached Cyber Security and Social Engineering brochures which offer tips about preventing these sort of attacks. Additional cyber security resources can be found on Church Mutual’s website .  


Please pass this information on to your pastor, trustees, employees and others who may benefit from it. You can find it also on our Property & Liability Information webpage
UMCOR launches COVID-19 Response Fund
The United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) has launched a giving campaign, "Sheltering in Love," as it continues to support global denominational efforts to assist vulnerable communities during the coronavirus outbreak. Through the COVID-19 Response Fund, UMCOR planned to quickly release grants of up to $20,000 to its partners. Learn more at: Sheltering in Love: UMCOR COVID-19 Response
Clergy, pastors, deacons asked to submit photos for directory
The Eastern PA Conference is creating a Clergy Photo Directory to be used by the new appointive Cabinet and to help future transitions in Annual Conference leadership. For convenience, the Cabinet created an online EPAUMC Clergy Photo Portal to allow for easy photo submissions. 
 
Each appointed or assigned pastor (clergy or lay) and deacon is asked to submit one photo. You will be asked for your email address to access the portal. Once you access the portal, you will be asked for your name and a photo to upload.. The portal will only accept image files (.jpg, .png, etc.). The Clergy Photo Portal will guide you through completing these steps. Questions? Contact the Rev. Kevin Babcock, ( above), Coordinator of Church Support Services, at kbabcock@epaumc.org .
UMW Annual Celebration
47th Annual Celebration

When: Saturday, October 17, 2020, 9 AM – 3 PM

Where: St. Matthew UMC, 600 Walker Road, Wayne, PA 19087
Guest Speaker: Shannon Priddy, National President, United Methodist Women

Registration Contact: Susan Dziuk, 215-637-7895, dziuks1@verizon.net

Featuring:
Special Deaf Ministry Choir (Christ UMC, Fairless Hills, PA)
Grace-N-Motion (Praise Dance Ministry, Grace UMC, Phila., PA)

Safe Sanctuaries in virtual ministry during COVID-19
The Eastern PA Conference Safe Sanctuaries Committee affirms that our current policies and procedures are still relevant during the COVID-19 pandemic that requires physical distancing and solely online communication. But members realize that best practices must modified to apply to ministry in virtual environments. “During times of swift change that are unprecedented it can be easy to forget standing policies and procedures when working with children and youth,” says a new resource document. 

“During times like these, it is even more important to be diligent and follow all of the screening policies as they may be overlooked when someone offers help in this time. Unfortunately, those who seek to abuse use times of confusion and change to their advantage. Again, these guidelines are not meant to prevent ministry from happening but to ensure ministry occurs in safe ways. And now we need to ensure ministry occurs in safe ways in the virtual world. Towards this end, Eastern PA Conference of the United Methodist Conference’s Safe Sanctuaries committee is offering the follow resources and guidance in applying safe sanctuaries policies to the virtual world.” Learn more...
Racism, Post-Traumatic Stress, & Transformation workshop Oct. 17
A dynamic workshop, titled Racism, Post-Traumatic Stress, & Transformation: Calling All People of Color--Clergy & Laym will take place, as rescheduled, in October 17, 8:30 AM to 3:00 PM at Simpson House, 2102 Belmont Avenue, Philadelphia. Sponsored by the conference’s Commission on Religion & Race.

Our facilitator, The Rev. R. Dandridge Collins, Ph. D., a trauma expert, will teach and lead participants in frank discussions to explore emotional distress and trauma caused in part by racist mistreatment, conflict and reactions, past and present. Interested persons should register soon . The $25 registration fee includes: continental breakfast, lunch and a copy of Collins’ bestselling 2007 book The Trauma Zone: Trusting God for Emotional Healing. Register today.   Download and share the flyer.
Evangelism in a Changing Landscape, Nov. 14
Plan now to attend the Eastern PA Conference’s 2020 Faith-Sharing Event, “Evangelism in a Changing Landscape,” November 14, 8:30 AM to 3:00 PM, at Wesley UMC in Bethlehem, PA. Cost: $10. $50 for groups of 6 or more! Teams are encouraged to attend. 0.6 CEUs are available. Breakfast and lunch will be provided.

Our featured speaker: The Rev. Lisa Greenwood, Vice-President for Leadership Ministry of TMF (the Texas Methodist Foundation), Dallas, Texas. This one-day event will stimulate reflections on the changing landscape of our mission field—both its challenges and opportunities—and invite us into conversations about the implications for our church leaders and ministries. Congregations are encouraged to send teams to learn, strategize and prepare to grow together.

Lisa Greenwood works with church leaders across the UMC connection to help them understand and foster “deep change” by facilitating purposeful conversations of courage, learning, generosity and innovation. She brings wisdom and experience from serving suburban, urban and rural churches as a pastor in the North Texas Annual Conference for 20 years. She also has served on the Board of Ordained Ministry, four General Conference delegations (2004-2019), and as ministry strategist for the Horizons Stewardship Company. Download the flyer!    Register online!
Ministry in the Midst of Coronavirus
Be sure to visit our Coronavirus 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.
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
  • July 25: Connectional Table Meeting, Time and Place TBD.
  • 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. Cedarville UMC.
  • October 4: District Conferences (rescheduled)
  • October 9-10: Domestic Violence Seminar, on Zoom
  • October 13 - 14: Annual Conference (rescheduled)
  • October 17: ERT/VIM Training, 8 AM – 4 PM, Eastwick UMC
  • October 17: UMW Annual Celebration. Download the flyer!
  • October 17: "Racism, Post-Traumatic Stress, & Transformation"
  • October 23-25: Dismantling Racism Training, Friday 5 PM – Sunday 3 PM, Desmond Hotel
  • November 14: 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