May 7, 2017
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Bishop  Peggy  Johnson   announces  new appointments and retirements,
effective July 1 unless otherwise stated:

Southeast (South) District
  • Johnson Dodla (Elder) from Exton UMC to Coatesville: Olivet UMC, effective  July 1, 2017.
  • Gary Jacabella (Elder) from Berwyn UMC to Exton UMC, effective  July 1, 2017 .
All invited to Certified Lay Ministers graduation May 7 
All are invited to a Service of Recognition honoring graduates of the Spring
 2017 Class of Certified Lay Ministers on Sunday, May 7, at 3 P.M.  The ceremony, always an inspirational occasion, will occur at Montgomery Square UMC, 1900 County Line Road, North Wales, PA.  Bishop Peggy Johnson will preach and assist Program Director Judy Ehninger in awarding well-earned certificates to this new class of Certified Lay Ministers: 
  • Debra Stevens, Salem UMC Pottstown
  • Israel Olivieri, Jr., Asbury UMC Allentown
  • Ann Tinner, Pocono Lake UMC
  • Angela J. Anderson, St. Daniel's UMC Chester
  • Carrie Argro, St. Daniel's UMC Chester
  • Joanne Hennessy Slawter, Mount Hope UMC Aston

IMPORTANT NOTICE: the May 13  'Hearts on Fire'   social holiness EVENT HAS BEEN CANCELED 
This Eastern PA Conference training and networking event, scheduled for next Saturday, May 13, at Holy Cross UMC Reading is postponed and will be rescheduled for the fall. Please watch for future information on this upcoming event. For more information contact Bethany Amey at
Bringing Communion to Life

The Rev. Michael Johnson, a Certified Spiritual Director, will share his approach to using dynamic prayers to bring the experience of Holy Communion to life at a Communion Workshop on Thursday, May 11. Registration is at 9 AM. The program begins at 9:30 AM. First UMC of Phoenixville (856 S. Main Street, Phoenixville) will host this workshop, sponsored by the Order of St. Luke. RSVP to the Rev. Bron Yocum at

Johnson has a passion for making Communion more contextually relevant by preparing original prayers including the Great Thanksgiving. His prayers range from traditional to musical responses, including a rap-music version, to a wordless prayer offered entirely in video and photos. The event ends at noon with Communion.
Learning about Church Websites & Church Marketing
About 40 lay and clergy church leaders gathered this weekend, May 5-6, at Cedarville UMC to learn how to build effective church websites using WordPress. UM Communications training specialist Craig Catlett led the two days of hands-on training, where attendees learned how to create content and pages on their new church sites. They also learned some basics about strategic Web design and messaging--how to communicate who you are to the people you're trying to reach.
Craig will return in June to greet and get to know us at our Annual Conference, June 15-17. He'll address the plenary body and host a UMCom display in our exhibits area. (Be sure to drop by and meet him.) But even better, he will arrive early and teach a workshop on Church Marketing on the eve of our Annual Conference, on Wednesday, June 14, from 6 to 8:30 PM. It's open to all. So come join us and gain some useful wisdom on promoting your church's ministry and message to your community and to the world. We'll even feed you (pizza and salad probably). More info to come. 
Elim: A new Latino faith community birthed in Coatesville
As it celebrates its 200th anniversary this year, Olivet UMC in Coatesville is once again a cradle welcoming a new birth. A small group gathered there on Monday, May 1, to celebrate the advent of what they hope will be a new faith community to draw members from this area's growing Latino community.
Four trained and ready Latina church planters, all from the aptly named New Birth (Nuevo Nacimiento) UMC in Lebanon, were anointed during the celebration. They will travel between Lebanon and Coatesville weekly to do what New Birth UMC church planter Jose Albarron has been doing for months at St. Matthew's UMC in Reading: live out Jesus' Great Commission among their own people. Learn more...
Male clergy spouses share perspectives on their roles
Did you know that male clergy spouses experience gender bias? When meeting a new pastor and spouse for the first time, it's common for church members to assume that the male is the pastor. While gender bias happens to both male and female clergy spouses, some dynamics are specific to men in that role, as several revealed in a recent focus group sponsored by the Eastern PA Conference.
Six male clergy spouses gathered over dinner March 16 to explore various issues and perspectives related to their roles and others' expectations in pastoral transitions, boundary-setting and other situations. They also expressed desires for topics in future workshops. Learn more...
Claiming Sabbath for Clergy Spouses next retreat, May 13
Clergy spouses--male and female--are invited to the third Sabbath retreat offered by the conference and facilitated by Artos Retreats on Saturday, May 13, at Daylesford Abbey in Paoli, from 9 AM to 4 PM. Lunch is included. 
At these retreats, "created for clergy spouses by clergy spouses," participants learn how to celebrate Sabbath in ways that can help them cope with the burdens and boundaries of their roles. They are able to connect with other clergy spouses in small groups to safely, confidentially discuss common concerns. At Claiming Sabbath retreats, led by longtime clergy spouse Julie Anderman,  spouses get to enjoy music and activities like The Sabbath Game to help enhance their spiritual life. The cost is $50. Credit card payments are due May 7. Learn more and register now.
Enjoy 2 new photo albums on our coloful Flickr page
We've got new pictures that tell the stories of exciting recent events for you to enjoy on our Flickr page. Check out Sabrina Daluisio's photos from the third annual Eastern PA Conference Youth Rallly 2017 , hostedby Hopewell UMC on April 22 and the Latino Commission's annual Holy Convocation hosted by El Buen Samaritano UMC in West Chester on April 15.
BoOM meeting to focus on domestic violence 
The conference Board of Ordained Ministry (BoOM)at its May 9 meeting, from 12:30- 3 PM at West Lawn UMC in Reading, will focus on domestic violence, with presentations by three professionals working in this field. They will speak on a crucial concern that deserves more awareness and involvement among churches.

Sandra V. Lewis has been Director of Counseling at the Domestic Violence Center of Chester County , for the past 17 years . A member of Hopewell UMC, she created the Homeless Shelter for Women and Children and the Woman's Resource Center at the Coatesville YWCA. In 1987 she founded Bridge of Hope, now a national program that connects homeless women and their children with Christian congregations. 

Dolly Wideman-Scott h eads the Domestic Violence Center of Chester County
She has worked with communities of faith and other groups during her 35 years in the DV field and is the Diversity Chair for the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence.  Michael C. Ritter is coordinates Public Education and Volunteers at Domestic Violence Intervention (DVI) of Lebanon County, Inc. A Domestic Violence Victim Advocate and Bystander Intervention Training instructor, he has a background in mental health and community development
Read about a recent General Board of Church and Society training to help South Carolina clergy learn new ways the church can help victims through A Faithful Response to Domestic Violence.
Also, register now for upcoming Sexual Ethics Workshops:
Basic (Level 1) Sexual Ethics Workshop : July 15, 9 AM to 3:30 PM, at Conshohocken UMC. Level 1 training is mandatory for all persons seeking certification as candidates in ministry, candidates for ministerial roles and for all other individuals beginning ministerial roles within the Eastern PA Conference.  Training is available through the Peninsula-Delaware Conference, Lancaster Theological Seminary and Evangelical Seminary. Learn more.
Advanced Sexual Ethics- "Click, Connect, and Love: The Impact of Social Media on Clergy, Congregations and Families": July 29, 9:30 AM to 3 PM, at New Life UMC, Drexel Hill.
Advanced Sexual Ethics- "Sexual Boundaries" Oct 3, 9.30 AM to 3 PM, at St. Luke's UMC Bryn Mawr. 
Advocate for global maternal health on Mother's Day 
In "Compassion Turned into Action: A Mother's Day Reflection," published on the General Board of Church and Society website, the Rev. Gina Giles, an advocate for Global Maternal Health, which she calls "a faith issue," reminds us to remember mothers and would-be mothers suffering pain and distress, often from poor health, who have little reason to celebrate on Mother's Day. She urges us to advocate for funding for information and programs to ensure safe motherhood around the world. She also offers "A Prayer for Mother's Day." Learn more... 

Dialogue on Religious Freedom Resolution, May 20  

Bishop Peggy Johnson will convene on Saturday, May 20, a one-time dialogue on the Religious Freedom Resolution  ( #2016-18), 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.  Learn more ...   
Peace with Justice Sunday, June 11
Peace with Justice Sunday   is coming June 11. This Special Sunday of The United Methodist Church signifies and makes possible ongoing ministries of peace and reconciliation in our conference and beyond. UM Communications offers a helpful toolkit with all you need to lead your congregation to promote peace and justice. Access your Pastor and Leader's Kit now! . One-half of the special offering received churchwide supports exemplary ministries in the U.S. and around the world through grants administered by the General Board of Church and Society. The remainder is used to support ministries in our conference.

The Rev. Jessica Ross, our conference's new Peace with Justice Coordinator, welcomes applications for conference Peace with Justice Grants, administered by the conference Church and Society Work Team in accordance with the United Methodist Social Principles. Learn more about the grants and submit an application if your project is eligible to  
Church responds to drug addiction epidemic
What is your church or mission connexion doing to learn about and address the heroin and opioid addiction epidemic that is damaging many lives, families and communities? Please tell us so we can report on your efforts. Quakertown UMC will host Unite Quakertown on June 10, 11 AM to 8 PM, (rain date: July 8) an interfaith public event to foster awareness and action in response to the "growing heroin and opioid addiction epidemic plaguing our communities." The Quakertown gathering will happen at the city's new Park at 4th and will offer worship, music with Christian bands, storytelling, education and efforts to combat this deadly epidemic through an interfaith alliance. For more information contact Patrick McGovern, event coordinator, at or 267-373-8834. Download and share the flyer.
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...  

Register online now! All registrations after May 19th will incur a $50 late fee.
Now get e-mail notices to follow the Bishop's Blog
Do you enjoy reading Bishop Peggy Johnson's Bishop's Blog? Want to read her timely, thought-provoking, heart-touching essays as soon as they're published? Well, now you can. Right under her "About Me" brief profile in the right column, you'll find the words "Follow By Email." Just fill in your e-mail address, select "Submit," and you should receive an e-mailed notice whenever there's a new essay to read. Enjoy it right away and even respond to if you'd like. And beneath that field you'll find the Blog Archive, where you can find past essays to read again or for the first time. 
Wanted: 'Chaplains for a Day' at four summer camp sites
Calling all pastors who would love to spend a day at camp, but can't spend a full week.  The Camp & Retreat Ministries Board wants to try a new program this summer that invites you and your family to spend a full day,  on Monday through   Thursday, at one of our four camps between  June 25 and August 12.

Pastors could arrive any time after  8 AM and be treated to three great meals of camp food, complete with a sumptuous salad bar. You could lead a staff Bible study or devotions, meet with staff and volunteers or with campers who need spiritual counsel or support, participate in any camp activities going on that day at your discretion, and then return home to sleep in your own comfortable bed. Your children could choose to participate in one of the camp experiences and your spouse could accompany you for the day or just "do their own thing." 

If you're interested, visit our Camp & Retreat Ministry webpage  to contact the camp site you'd prefer, arrange for the best date and finalize the details. 

By the way, Summer Camp registrations are going on now, and staff are visiting local churches to promote and sign up children and youth for this life-changing experience. Check our our new YouTube video featuring two excited camp staff members telling how camp changed their lives and can change yours too:  "Two Testimonies: Summer Camp transforms lives!"
Young adult summer mission adventure returns to Reading
The   Rev. Nick Camacho at West Lawn UMC shares this news about a great-looking young adult outreach ministry returning to Reading, PA, this summer from June 7 to July 31. The QuadW Missional Internship is paid 8-week summer internship with all housing and living expenses taken care of, There are sites all over the country including in Reading. The program's goal is for college-level young people to relationally serve others, build bridges and be transformed, while serving communities in need. West Lawn's Alex Bryan participated in the program in 2015 described it as "an incredible, enriching, and fulfilling experience." Learn more about it in an August 2015 Reading Eagle article, Berks County welcomes QuadW Missional Program interns.

"I am looking for candidates who have solid convictions," writes Nick, "who love to work with children and homeless persons, want to learn and grow as Christian leaders, and want to have a wonderful urban missionary experience." Those who choose Reading will find it a "wonderful, multicultural, poor city that needs a lot of our love!" Interns will lodge in the city in a home provided by Freedom Gate Ministries, a Christian halfway house for men coming out of prison. They will work primarily with children and homeless adults, while forming relationships with each other and those they serve and learning "a lot about our Lord as we together work on our relationship with Him and watch Him at work here in Reading." 

Read the brochure, visit the website and consider applying for this personal growth opportunity.

See what's coming up at Camps & Retreat Centers

May 13: Disciple Training , 9 AM - 1 PM.
May 13: Little Critters Preschool Camp Visit, 9:30 - 11 AM. Free. Call to register.
May 20: Spring Open House 10 AM - 3 PM. Live music, games, silent auction, hayrides, canoeing, s'mores, site tours, meet the staff, and much more!!

May 20:   SpringFest/Open House , 10 AM - 3 PM. A day of free fun, food and community-building with family and friends amidst God's beautiful creation. Enjoy Camp Tours, a Hot Dog Roast, Boating & Canoeing, Children's Games, a Climbing Tower, Hayrides, Fishing (Bring your own equipment), Hiking and more. SpringFest Flyer 
May 9: Spring Fling Senior Adult Day, 9:30 AM - 3 PM.
May 13: Gretna Gritty 5K Mud Run, 7 AM. Join us for our annual Mud Run fundraiser! Climb, crawl, run and jump through our 3-mile course as we raise money to support the ministry of Gretna Glen. Competitive, recreational and kids run make for all levels of action where everyone can be involved. You can visit our   information page   or register today!

May 20: Open House, 10 AM - 4 PM. 

Bring your friends and family have fun, check out the site and learn about the great programs that Gretna Glen has to offer. Tours will be available upon request.

Changing Racism: Continuing the Conversation   

The Conference Commission on Religious & Race will offer a second opportunity for leaders who have taken the required Changing Racism course to share and extend their learning, as they continue the conversation on race and racism. The optional, informal gathering will happen on Saturday, Jun e 24, from 9 AM to 3 PM, at Grove UMC, 490 West Boot Road, West Chester PA.

Come, d elve more deeply into the history, dynamics and ramifications of racism in the USA. Learn and practice behaviors and strategies for dismantling the damaging effects of racism and seeking equity. Registration is online by June 12, with a fee of $15. Lunch is provided. NOTE: This workshop is open to all who have completed the Changing Racism Workshops or the Healing the Wounds of Racism Workshops at any time. For more information contact the Rev. Susan Worrell at or the Rev. Alicia Julia-Stanley at .     
Two Christ Servant Ministry classes offered in May
The Eastern PA Conference offers two Christ Servant Ministry classes in May. 

A Basic Course in English, taught by Judy Ehninger, is scheduled for May 12-13 at Asbury UMC in Allentown. This course needs at least 12 participants and is limited to the first 20 registrations. Cost: $35.   Click here   for the registration application.

A Speaking 1 Course, taught bythe Rev. Harold Burkett, is scheduled also for May 12-13 at Asbury UMC in Allentown. This course also needs at least 12 participants and is limited to the first 20 registrations. Cost $35.  Click here   for the registration application.

For more information contact Northeast District Director, Judy Ehninger  at  or 610-442-3140.
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!
2017 Academy for Laity
Aug. 4-6 (Fri.-Sun.) at Cedarville UMC Pottstown. New dates, new location, new courses. Theme: Embrace the Journey: Step Up, Step Out." More details to come.
Eastern Pennsylvania Conference of The United Methodist Church
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