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November 18, 2016
Bishop Peggy Johnson announces new pastoral appointments:

Southwest District
  • The Rev. Sally W. Ott (retired supply pastor) to Newtown UMC (½ time), effective Jan. 1, 2017.
LUMINA to hold Celebration Dinner Nov. 18
LUMINA will hold its annual Celebration Dinner on Friday, Nov. 18, at First UMC Lancaster, 6-8 PM. Once again, they will offer a baked potato bar with a variety of meats and veggies as toppings, along with a bounty of desserts, all for free, thanks to the generous LUMINA Board of Directors. However, donations will be appreciated.

"This is a great opportunity to visit with men, women, and children who have been blessed by our ministries, or to discuss ideas for new ways of helping struggling families in Lancaster," said Correen Russo, Executive Director. She also invites people interested in serving on the board or learning more about LUMINA's ministry in the Lancaster area to "please come!" E-mail her by Nov. 16 at LUMINA is a collaborative mission project of the Eastern PA Conference and the churches of its Southwest District. See their most recent newsletter and download the event flyer.

You can also support LUMINA today by donating on its behalf to Lancaster's ExtraOrdinaryGive campaign at until  11:59 tonight. Part of your donation will be matched by local sponsors. Learn more at
Free Concert, Dinner at St. Matthew's UMC Reading
Join St. Matthew's UMC in Reading (501 S 18th St.) for a free concert and Thanksgiving dinner for the community on Saturday, Nov. 19, 5 to 8 PM. Hear dynamic Christian music with Latin rhythms (including congas, piano and guitar) by Surrendered from Lebanon. For more information contact Pastor Rick Wrisley at 610-374-6565 (O) or 267-992-1427 (cell), or call José Albarrán at 717-304-5273. Please download and share the flyer.
What's your church or mission connexion planning for Thanksgiving and/or Advent?
Please let us know your plans for celebrating Thanksgiving and Advent, so we can list and promote them on a special page we created on our website. Send your details asap to Thanks! 
Lifetree Cafe Orientation & Training, 
Nov. 21, Dec. 12
The Congregational Development Office will hold another Lifetree Cafe Orientation & Training on Mondays,  Nov. 21 (part 1) and  Dec. 12 (part 2), from  6:30 to 8:00 PM, at the Conference Office. Contact the Rev. Gordon Henderson, Coordinator, at or call him at 267-258-9509 if you wish to attend. Learn more...
Phila. church offers sanctuary to shield father from deportation
Arch Street UMC in Philadelphia is providing sanctuary for Javier Flores García, 40, an undocumented Mexican immigrant and a husband and father of three. The church, which is part of the national New Sanctuary Movement, welcomed him into asylum the day before he was to be deported and hosted a press conference last Sunday, Nov. 13, following morning worship.

As President-elect Donald Trump threatens to vastly increase deportations, "Arch Street opened its doors," said the Rev. Robin Hynicka, "to provide Sanctuary for a neighbor, husband and father who is undocumented but more accurately described as courageously dedicated to preserving the unity, health and safety of his family."  Learn more...
Conference Office to close for Thanksgiving
The Eastern PA Conference Office will close at   noon  on   Wednesday, Nov. 23,  for the Thanksgiving holiday weekend and will reopen on  Monday, Nov. 28. Wishing you and yours a blessed Thanksgiving that inspires both gratitude and generosity.
An Inconvenient Christmas
Should we have church on Christmas Sunday, especially if we just had church on Christmas Eve? (And what about church on New Year's Day, which also falls--or rather, rises--on a Sunday?) What if hardly anyone will come to church, while their households are so busy preparing meals, opening presents, hosting guests and...well, celebrating Christmas, the birth of Christ. 

Bishop Peggy Johnson has an answer that some will welcome, and others maybe not so much, in her new Advent essay, "An Inconvenient Christmas." 

You may recognize it from her Faithfully Yours column in the fall issue of NEWSpirit newspaper. By the way, UM Communications likes her reflection so much it plans to feature it soon on so more folks around the UMC connection can read it. But you have a choice. You can read it on our website or in her Bishop's Blog . But please do read it, as you decide what you will do about having church on Christmas.

Also, be sure to read Bishop Johnson's insightful, reassuring but challenging blog essay "I Voted, I Vote," where she writes, "Election Day is over, but we still get to vote every day of our lives by the stands we take, the letters we write, the money we donate, the evils we decry, the good we promote." Whether we are sad or elated with the Presidential election outcome, she challenges each of us, in the words of an old hymn, to "'Rise! See the world through faith-filled eyes!' And vote for peace and justice every day with your life, never forgetting that God is the ruler yet!"
Sally Ott to leave conference staff
The Rev. Sally W. Ott will leave her conference staff position as Development Coordinator for Camp & Retreat Ministries at the end of November. She has been appointed to serve as pastor of Newtown UMC in Columbia, as of  Jan. 1, 2017. The Rev. Dorcas Kumba Kamanda, the current pastor, will leave to establish an orphanage in her native Sierra Leone, where she will serve children whose parents have succumbed to the Ebola disease. 
Foundation seeks Admin Assistant
The  Mid-Atlantic UM Foundation is seeking an  Administrative Assistant of Technology with two years of computer-related experience and strong organizational skills to provide office assistance and virtual, technological and event support for the foundation's growing operations. The administrative assistant will report to the foundation's Executive Director.  Learn more ...
Open Enrollment for 2017 health coverage
Clergy and lay staff MUST participate in Open Enrollment online, from  Nov. 28 to Dec. 9, if they wish to receive 2017 health benefits. Attend one of our 4 Open Enrollment meetings.  Learn more ...  

Also, read important EPA Health Care News for churches, clergy and lay staff with conference health coverage, including information on premiums, policy changes and church remittances. Learn more ...
Support education, nurture dreams on
UM Student Day
Offerings on United Methodist Student Day support scholarships for United Methodist students in college and seminary. Student Day, historically our denomination's first churchwide Special  Sunday with offering, is usually observed on the   Sunday  after Thanksgiving ( Nov. 27  this year). Churches can choose another   Sunday  to celebrate, too.
This is one of our yearly opportunities as a church to nurture the dreams God has planted in the hearts of the now and next generations of leaders. The gifts we give on this Special   Sunday  support students in your community and around the world.  
The UMC's Office of Loans and Scholarships is awarding over 2,300 students a total of $5 million in financial aid this year. Much of that comes from special offerings on UM Student Day, World Communion Sunday and Native American Ministries Sunday. The rest comes from gifts, annuities and endowments.

The office awarded scholarships totaling nearly $25,000 to 19 students in the Eastern PA Conference this year. They attend churches that span our conference from Mount Pocono to Chester to Lancaster and Lebanon. Their awards range from $500 to $5,000. They are attending Lebanon Valley and Elizabethtown colleges, Lancaster and Evangelical Theological seminaries, Drew University School of Theology, Eastern University, Hampton University in Virginia, and other schools and seminaries near and far.
Yet, many applicants did not receive United Methodist scholarships due to a lack of funds. Despite all we give, the need and the lives we can potentially change are so much greater.
A new animated video explains how this special offering shapes the future. It is ideal to share on social media or with your congregation during worship. Watch the new animated video now!   Also  Get resources and  Check out this infographic to see the story behind Student Day!  

Also, UM students may apply for a 2017-2018 scholarship from the General Board of Higher Education & Ministry (GBHEM) online between  Jan. 3-March 1, 2017, at Student loans are also available at interest rates as low as 3.75% (lower than federal educational loan rates) with a credit worthy cosigner. 
Christmas gifts for Native American children in Montana
Our conference Committee on Native American Ministries asks that you read and respond to  Verna Colliver's story about the annual  Christmas Shoe Box Mission of the   Blackfeet United Methodist Parish. You can help and delight a child of the Blackfeet Indian Reservation in Montana with a shoebox full of Christmas toys, books, warm mittens or hats.  CoNAM invites you to support this important, worthy cause. Visit the   parish's website  to learn how to donate shoe box gifts. All gift boxes must arrive in Browning, Montana, by  December 10.  Download an informational flyer here. Contact Sheri Hill at or by phone at  406-338-2823 with any questions.
  Tuesday   is coming,  Nov. 29
GivingTuesday, a charitable response to "Black   Friday" and "Cyber- Monday" post-Thanksgiving sales days, will happen this year on Tuesday  Nov. 29. Once again, United Methodist Global Ministries welcomes contributions through The Advance, the denomination's designated giving program that allows donors to support various kinds of ministries around the globe.  Browse Advance projects. Consider supporting a mission project locally or in an area or category you care about, such as hunger and poverty, education, or social justice in the U.S. or in Africa or Central or South America. You can donate online at
Also, the Advance would love to hear how you are creatively raising awareness and funds for mission, especially for UMC #GivingTuesday. Should you have any questions about UMC #GivingTuesday, contact
Women in ministry to celebrate Advent with Bishop
Women in Professional Ministry will have an Advent Morning Apart with Bishop Peggy Johnson on   Dec. 6, at   10 AM, at the Bishop's Residence in Phoenixville. They will enjoy brunch, inspirational remarks and fellowship together as women serving in professional ministry. Respond to The Revs. Monica Guepet and Jennifer Sauerbrun are co-conveners of  the group.

Read about the group's 2015 Advent  Morning Apart with Bishop Peggy Johnson, "Clergywomen retreat for soul-care."  
Just Save One on World AIDS Day Dec. 1
The UMC's Global AIDS Fund invites people to observe World AIDS Day,  Dec. 1. by participating in the  Just Save One initiative, which aims to prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV through an international grant-making process.   A special offering is designated for  Sunday, Dec. 6. Funds may be given through Advance Special Project #982345.  To learn more and donate...
All invited to Real Talk about Racism session, Dec. 3
The  Central District invites everyone to a  Real Talk about Racism dialogue on Saturday,  Dec. 3, 9 AM to 3:30 PM, at First UMC Phoenixville. The teach and talk session will be facilitated by Helen Stafford Fleming, leadership development trainer and consultant, and author of  Developing Community Partnership and  The Mind of a Preaching Woman. Fleming was the pastor of Eastwick UMC in Philadelphia for eight years and now works with churches and groups to plan for racial transition and reconciliation in urban areas. The $10 fee covers lunch and materials. 
Christmas Cards to Inmates idea getting popular
"Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery," a New York Annual Conference staff member  reminded Marilyn Schneider, head of our conference's Prison Ministry & Restorative Justice (PM&RJ) Team, when asking to copy the popular Christmas Cards to Inmates project. In fact, not just the project, but the cards, too.  

"We saw a description of your Christmas Cards for Prisoners project in the UMNS (UM News Service) newsletter, and were so impressed!" wrote Sheila Peiffer, Coordinator of Social Justice Organizing, Engagement and Advocacy for the conference. "I hope you are a believer in the expression that imitation is the best form of flattery, because we would like to use this idea in our conference.... Many thanks, in advance, for your stellar idea and your willingness to allow others to follow your lead." Learn more... 
Disability Awareness 
Sunday , awards for Disability Ministry
Plan now to celebrate Disability Awareness  Sunday in our conference  Jan. 22, 2017. The UMC's Book of Discipline calls for every conference and church to celebrate a Disability Awareness  Sunday annually. So our conference's Disability Ministry Committee wants to have as many churches as possible observe this special  Sunday, preferably with a special offering for UMCOR's "Disability Ministries" Advance Special (# 3021054), on  Jan. 22 (or on any other  Sunday). You can find information and  resources online at Also visit the  committee's webpage for more information. 

Pastors and lay leaders may contact Disability Ministries Committee members in their districts to get disability awareness promotion ideas. (See the list on the Disability Ministry webpage.) Or contact committee chairwoman Barbara Skarbowski at  bskarbowski@gmail.comor 717-584-6170.

Also, see if your church can qualify for a Certificate of Recognition for Excellence in Disability Ministry or even the new "Bishop Peggy Johnson 4A's Award for Disability Ministry." The conference Disability Ministry Committee established that award to give recognition to one "Congregation of the Year"  and one  "District of the Year"  that have made great strides toward being in inclusive ministry with persons and families who experience disability. Additionally, all conference churches are eligible to receive a  Certificate of Excellence  in outstanding disability ministry after meeting certain criteria.  Learn more...
Check out our Local Church Events. Send us yours!
Many churches have informed us of special events they are planning (Thank you!), so we can inform visitors to our conference website. You never know who might show up after seeing your announcement on our Local Church Events page or our Thanksgiving & Advent Events page. Check out our listings of upcoming church events. And please send us news of yours, so we can share that good news of what God is doing through your church. You can simply use our Submit News page (preferably) or e-mail information to us at Thanks in advance.
Find a wealth of health wisdom in Wellspring
The Eastern PA Conference Health & Healing Council offers its new issue of Wellspring, a bright, easy-to-read but hard-to-put-down newsletter to help you become smarter and more spiritual about your health. Read about Global Ministries' 10,000 Church Challenge to spread health awareness and also cardiac emergency training for church members. Get Children's Book Corner tips on promoting kids' health and more tips on getting pregnancy and motherhood advice from texting services. Find creative ways to fit walking into your daily routines, or to use a scooter when walking is too challenging. Also, enjoy a recipe and health tips for using slow cookers. 
Download and read Wellspring Issue 4, November-December 2016  today and then share the wealth of its health wisdom with others. And if you have any ideas for future articles, please let the Health & Healing Council know. They would love to get your suggestions. 
Seeking young adults for
2017 mission journey to Cuba 
The United Methodist Volunteers in Mission Northeastern Jurisdiction (UMVIM-NEJ) is looking for young adults to join in a Journey to Cuba next spring, March 3-12, 2017. Adults ages 18 to 30ish are urged to apply. You'll be trained to become UMVIM Team Leaders during the trip and be equipped to lead mission work teams in the future. Only 10 applicants will be selected, but act now. The deadline for applications is Nov. 25.

The Methodist Church in Cuba has more than 42,000 members and a worshiping community of 65,000. It is vibrant and growing, especially among young people. We will travel on religious visas by invitation of the Methodist Bishop of Cuba and spend most of our time in Havana at the Seminario Evangelico Methodista (Methodist Evangelical Seminary). We'll witness the revival taking place in the church there and worship with our Cuban friends. We'll also bring supplies and work alongside them to help build housing for the seminary. All levels of skill and experience are welcome.

Please share this information with pastors and young adults whom you think could make good mission team leaders. Read and share the flyers for more information including costs for the trip. Leading the trip will be UMVIM-NEJ Coordinator Tom Lank and Nechi Fullerton, leader of 8 VIM teams to Cuba. Deadline for applications is Nov. 25. Questions? Visit the UMVIM-NEJ website  or contact the Rev. Tom Lank , UMVIM-NEJ Coordinator, at 919-428-0461.
Seasons of Prayer & Praise: Winter 2017
As challenging as 2016 has been, 2017 may prove to be even more so, as we embark on new, unpredictable four-year journeys for both our church and our nation. In both arenas, we are a people in conflict, encountering doubt, discord, disruption and division. But we are also a people of faith, who lean heavily on the steadfast promises of God.

So it is in our constant prayers and our confident praise that together we can seek and find unity, loving harmony and the blessed assurance of all things hoped for in God. The United Methodist Council of Bishops' Commission on the Way Forward has asked each annual conference to take turns praying vigilantly for one week. The Eastern Pennsylvania Conference will pray together during the week of January 8-14, 2017.

In fact, throughout 2017 our conference will present opportunities for God's people to gather in inspirational prayer and praise. We will teach, learn and celebrate these and other grace disciplines that are the mighty works of our faith. At least five of those opportunities-two for youth and three for adults-will happen during the 2017 winter months. Learn more...
Pen-Del Youth Rally 2017: "This Is Love"
The annual Peninsula-Delaware Conference Youth Rally will return to the Ocean City (Md.) Convention Center January 6-8 (from Friday evening to Sunday morning).  Thewinter weekendrally and retreat will offer praise and worship, learning and laughter through games, fellowship and plenty of fun.  Register early online by Nov.15 for $67 or by Dec. 15 for $77 at
The theme is  "This Is Love" from 1 John 4:10. Featured guests will be motivational speaker and "champion for youth" Steve Fitzhugh, along with Rend Collective, Zealand Worship Band, Dave & Brian, and a full concert by gospel singer Tasha Cobbs.
Restoration 2017: "Prayer, Praise and Presence"
The Restoration 2017 Retreat is Bishop Peggy Johnson's invitation to clergy and lay members of the Eastern PA and Peninsula-Delaware conferences, to gather in retreat January 26-28, at the Sands Hotel in Rehoboth Beach, Del. The theme is "Prayer, Praise and Presence." The purpose: "Finding new life in the spiritual disciplines to bring strength to our Christian journey." This event replaces the former Mid-Winter Retreat for Clergy and Spouses that had drawn fewer participants over the past several years.
The focus of this Restoration retreat is to bring to light aspects of ministry, life, and community that need to be restored within us on our journey of making disciples. Our guest speaker will be the Rev. Junius Dotson, the new General Secretary of UM Discipleship Ministries.
All are invited to join in this gathering to pray, praise and worship God in the presence of our Lord, Jesus Christ. Worship will begin the retreat Thursday evening and end it Saturday morning. In-between there will be ample time for prayer and personal reflection, workshops, fellowship and meals together, and even laughter inspired by a guest comedian. Two (2) CEUs will be granted for attendance.
Online registration will be available once all the program details are finalized. With October being Clergy Appreciation Month, Bishop Johnson is asking churches to consider showing appreciation and care for pastors and their families by gifting the cost of their registration for Restoration. 
Faith-Sharing Training Event  
Our 2017 annual Faith-Sharing Training Event will happen March 18, from 8:30 AM to 2 PM, at New Hanover UMC. Our guest presenter is the Rev. Terry Teykel, a leading "prayer evangelist" and popular speaker and author. He travels the world encouraging churches to develop and strengthen prayer ministries as a means of revival and transformation.
Teykel, the founder of Renewal Ministries and Prayer Point Press, has authored several books, including The Presence-Based Church, My Most Wanted: 40 Days to Pray for the Lost, and Pray the Price: United Methodists United in Prayer. He has spent his life teaching churches how to develop a heartfelt, meaningful relationship with the Lord. His warm, humorous style makes him a much-sought after speaker and seminar leader.
"We believe that when prayer and evangelism are reunited the Church will emerge as a powerful force for reclaiming the land and setting the captives free."      -Terry Teykl. 

Learn more about this passionate, powerful speaker and man of God.
Clergy Lenten Day Apart
And on Tuesday, Feb. 28, the day before Ash Wednesday, clergy across the conference will gather at locations in their respective districts for a Clergy Lenten Day Apart. They will pray, worship and fellowship together in preparation for the beginning of the Holy season of Lent.  
Wake up, God's People!... 
All-day Eastern PA Youth Rally, April 22, 2017
And for the trifecta of upcoming youth events, plan to attend the 3rd Annual Eastern PA Conference Youth Rally on Saturday, April 22, 2017. For the first time, this youth rally will last all day, from 9 AM to 4 PM. We're planning fantastic features, with dynamic speakers, soul-stirring music, fun games, powerful prayers, laugh-out-loud humor, great food and hospitality, and enough friendship and fellowship moments to give you a lifetime of memories. Don't dare miss it! See and share the flyer, and look for more details, coming soon.
More prayer, praise and study events coming in the Spring:
  • April 22: Eastern PA Conference Youth Rally. 9 AM to 4 PM at Hopewell UMC, Downington, PA. Theme: "Wake Up, God's People! God's People, Wake Up!"
  • April 23-25 - Local Pastors and Associate Members Retreat. At Black Rock Retreat Center, Quarryville, PA. Theme: "The Authority of Scripture."
  • April 29: Tools for Ministry (possibly including classes on prayer, worship and other spiritual disciplines). Times and locations determined by districts.
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!
Eastern Pennsylvania Conference of The United Methodist Church
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