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May 6 , 2016
Bishop Peggy Johnson announces new appointments:

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


  • The Rev. Edward Bean (Retired Elder) from Lewistown Valley: Calvary Evangelical UMC to Saylorsburg: St. Peter's UMC.
  • The Rev. Amy Enders (new Local Pastor) to Palmerton Salem UMC and Slatedale: Salem.

Northwest District

  • The Rev. Clifford Flick (Elder) from transitional leave to retirement.
  • The Rev. Kathryn Painter (Elder) from Cleona: Immanuel, FE, to retired supply serving Mt Carmel: First, ½ time, effective September 1, 2016.
  • The Rev. Heidi Silliman (Elder) from Cherry Lane to Lebanon: Hebron.
  • The Rev. Philip Sabas (Retired Elder) from Hamburg: Bethany, ½ time, to Lewistown Valley: Calvary Evangelical, ½ time.
  • Pastor Jennifer Raudenbush (Part-time Local Pastor) from Orwigsburg: Salem, 1/4 time associate, to Hamburg: Bethany, ¼ time.
  • Pastor Lorraine Heckman (Part-time Local Pastor) serving Port Carbon: First, ¼ time, to also serve Port Carbon: Grace, ¼ time.
  • Mr. Julian Milewski (Lay Supply Pastor) to serve Kulpmont, ¼ time.
Central District
  • The Rev. Pearl Johnson (Elder on loan from the Peninsula-Delaware Conference) from 1/2 time at Philadelphia: Devereux UMC and 1/2 time at Philadelphia: Emmanuel UMC to Wilmington, DE: Simpson UMC in the Pen-Del Conference.
Deadline for Annual Conference registration, resolutions is May 13

May 13 is the firm deadline to register in advance for the  Annual Conference 2016

Clergy, Lay and Equalizing Delegates may register for Annual Conference on our Website at Registrations received after May 13 will be considered walk-ins with no guaranteed meals; and they will incur a $50 late fee. Mailed registrations (with payment) must be postmarked by May 13, 2016.

Contact Gloria Knoeller at or 800-828-9093 ext. 7002 with questions regarding registration.
The deadline for resolutions for Annual Conference is May 13. Resolutions are to be submitted to the Conference Secretary,  the Rev. Lloyd Speer.  Direct your questions to (O) (215) 943-2343 or by e-mail to

You can find this deadline and submission information also on our Website.

Cabinet proposes redistricting in 6 town hall meetings
Bishop Peggy Johnson, with her Cabinet and staff, completed scheduled town hall meetings in all six districts in April to present their proposal to reduce the conference's six districts to four. And while the proposal's primary objective is to reduce costs in the face of shrinking resources, it offers ideas for enhancing ministry as well.

Bishop Johnson prefaced her presentation with highlights of ministries across the conference worth celebrating and then offered her rationale for redistricting. She shared extensive information that, despite the vibrancy of our ministries, showed our decline in the number of churches, local church membership and connectional finances. While several solutions were considered, the best long-term solution offered was the reduction in districts. Learn more...

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

Apply May 1-16 for Education Society grants 
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. All applications received from May 1 to May 16 will be considered. Contact Al Adey, Education Society Chairperson, at for more information.

March 2016 Financial Update now online
You can find the Conference Treasurer's Office's 2016 Financial Update through March posted on our Website. An in-depth narrative and three schedules detail the Church Giving Report and updates on the Conference Ministry Budget and our efforts to retire the Pre-1982 Clergy Unfunded Pensions Liability (via Resolution 2012-21).

Helping clergy serve military and veteran members
"Clergy As First Responders to the Military and Veteran Population" is a workshop to be offered three times in Delaware and New Jersey by the Council for Relationships on May 10, 12 and 19. The three-hour, morning seminar may help pastors connect with members and families who are active-service military and become effective first responders who recognize distinctions of military culture and how to help veterans who experience "moral injury." The cost $15. The locations are churches in Camden (May 10) and Wilmington (May 12), Del., and in Bridgeton, N.J. (May 19). "This workshop about clergy and the military is rarely offered and very affordable," said Bishop Peggy Johnson. "We have worked with the Council for Relationships many times." Visit the Council's Website for more information.  

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

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.

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.

Sentencing Reform Bill a dvocacy is working.
The General Board of Church and Society reports that that last week, sponsors of the federal Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act unveiled a revised bill and a new list of bipartisan cosponsors calling for fairer sentencing policies and more humane and rehabilitative conditions in federal prisons. "Your advocacy made it possible," they write. "Thank you. The impact of this reform could be dramatic and help thousands of people." 

A recent NBC news story captures the problem of excessive mandatory minimum sentences.  Watch it to learn more about Leo Guthmiller, whose experience is all too common but doesn't have to be. With the latest progress on Capitol Hill, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has no reason to hold back this bispartisan solution to restore more proportional and just sentences. Our senators need to hear from you to make the difference. Check out  Senate Progress on Criminal Justice Reform!  Then call the U.S. Capitol switchboard twice (once for each PA senator) at 202-224-3121. And also  write to them  to urge a vote and passage of the Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act.

Bishops sign GBCS Mother's Day campaign letter to Congress
Bishop Peggy Johnson has joined other bishops in signing a letter to Congress prepared by the General Board of Church and Society (GBCS) as part of its new Mother's Day campaign to help end the unnecessary deaths of mothers and infants globally.  The goal of the campaign is to encourage more members of Congress to support and pass the Reach Every Mother and Child Act. GBCS plans to send the letter to members of Congress on Wednesday, May 4. Learn more... 
Mid-Town Parish to dedicate new church home 
June 19
After months of preparation, Mid-Town Parish UMC in Philadelphia will dedicate its long-awaited new church home with a worship celebration on Sunday, June 19, at 3 PM . The pre-fab building, containing a sanctuary and two offices, occupies the church's original address at 718 W Norris St, Philadelphia.  Bishop Peggy Johnson will preach and consecrate the new facility.  Learn more... 

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. 
A megabyte for your thoughts

From the Rev. Max Jaouen's Let us be open to new things , to the Rev. David W. Brown's Crossing Bridges for Peace , to the Rev. Jonathan Wesley Hall's Absence makes the heart grow fonder , we're sure glad to find some thoughtful, gifted scribes out there among our churches. But we figure there are a lot more, just waiting to be discovered.

We're fortunate to find some of the writings featured in our From Pulpit & Pew blog and our INSPIRE  section while perusing church newsletters and devotional guides. Others are offered to us. But we want and need plenty more, so we can keep offering fresh, well-written guest commentaries to our readers. And we're looking for laity voices, too. 

So if you've written a pretty good essay or column, a homily or meditation, about a topic many of our readers might enjoy or care about--maybe for your church newsletter or another publication--please share it with us and give us permission to reprint it on our Website. If it's informational, we might put it in INFORM. If it's inspirational, it might go into INSPIRE. And if it's a call to action, urging people to engage in some cause, then into the INVOLVE bucket it may go.   

Just keep us in mind as you share what's on your mind; and give us a chance to share it with the world. Please contact us at We reserve the right to decline or slightly edit submitted writings as needed.)  
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 following objectives:
  • Assist United Methodists in understanding and responding to violence and militarism;
  • Involve United Methodists in efforts to end global conflicts and violent aggression;
  • Promote just national and international policies and actions seeking to restore communities and respond to the disproportionate effect of injustices on racial and ethnic people; and
  • Support policies that promote systematic economic justice and the self-development of peoples.
"We cannot talk of Christ our peace as an alternative," says the Rev. Levi Bautista of the General Board of Church and Society. "We have become accustomed to phrases like 'seeking an alternative to war' as if peace is an alternative. We see Christ as fundamental to our being. Therefore, peace must be fundamental, the antidote to war, violence and extremism."

On  Peace with Justice Sunday and everyday may we search for peace. May we hear and respond to cries for justice. And may we actively pursue Christ's ministry of reconciliation.

Webinar "Church Marketing 101"  
Richard L. Reising, a Dallas-based expert in church marketing and branding, will teach a Webinar titled   "Church Marketing 101" Tuesday, May 10, from 7 to 8 PM. Reising, founder and president of Artistry Marketing, talks about how church marketing can be powerful, strategic and biblical in this Webinar offered by Practical Resources for Churches, an ecumenical group. He combines marketing and branding expertise and ministry sensitivity to create a unique perspective on what church marketing really is all about and how it can help church leaders fulfill their visions, rally their members and discover from an outsider's perspective who you are and where you are going. He offers fresh insights into the dynamics of what creates and what hinders church growth, revealing how small changes can have a big impact.   Details
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.

SW District team plans General Conference prayer vigil
The Southwest District Lay Resource Team, concerned about decisions to be made at the upcoming General Conference, May 10-20, invites clergy and laity to join in a continuous prayer vigil "for our delegates and the issues at hand." They published a two-part schedule of prayer times that members-as well as groups and congregations--can sign up for over the two weeks General Conference is in session. 

"Our delegates will be spending long days discussing and listening to ideas for how our denomination should proceed," reads the appeal. "Even when they are sleeping, they should be covered in prayer for restful sleep so that their minds are sharp, and hearts are ready for the tasks at hand." The schedules are at General Conference Prayer Vigil (Part 1 May 10 thru May 14)    and General Conference Prayer Vigil (Part 2 May 15 through May 20).   Contact Julie Perkowski at for more information. (Include in the subject line: "Questions for General Conference Prayer Vigil.") 

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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