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WHAT'S NEW
November 23, 2016
Conference Office closed at noon today
The Eastern PA Conference Office closed at noon today, 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.
Thanksgiving blessings and praise
A Thanksgiving greeting from Bishop Peggy Johnson:

"May God bless you all at this Thanksgiving observance. Be sure to take time to share with those in need and give someone else a reason to give thanks!"

Read our "Thanksgiving Praise" article, and view the amazing images in Bishop Johnson's vivid, scriptural PowerPoint presentation (prepared by Shirley Secrest) on giving Thanksgiving praise to God. In fact, why not show her timeless presentation in your church? You can read the words aloud, or simply display them to musical accompaniment.

Also, view the list of special Thanksgiving events and November Advent events that churches were kind enough to send us. They are featured on our Thanksgiving/Advent webpagePlease send us your planned Advent and Christmas events to communications@epaumc.org. We will publicize more of these events as we receive them throughout the season.
Yardley UMC hosts i nterfaith Thanksgiving event
Also, please read our new story "Yardley UMC hosts interfaith Thanksgiving event." It reflects this holiday's values of diversity, peace and cooperation during a time when some communities are experiencing post-election incidents of hatred, conflict and fear.
REMINDERS
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  www.gbhem.org/scholarshipapplication. 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   bumpranch@gmail.com or by phone at  406-338-2823 with any questions.
Giving
  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  www.umcmission.org/give.
 
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   advance@umcmission.org
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  revmonicaguepet@gmail.com. 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. 
Lifetree Cafe Orientation & Training, 
January 4
The Congregational Development Office will hold a Lifetree Cafe Orientation & Training (Part 2) on January 4, from  6:30 to 8:00 PM, at the Conference Office. Contact the Rev. Gordon Henderson, Coordinator, at  gordonacts6@gmail.com or call him at 267-258-9509 if you wish to attend. 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  www.umdisabilityministries.org/dasunday. 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  epaumc.org 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 communications@epaumc.org. Thanks in advance.
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
http://umyoungpeople.org/youth-rally/
 
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 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-digestShare 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!
Eastern Pennsylvania Conference of The United Methodist Church
(800) 828-9093 |  communications@epaumc.org  |  www.epaumc.org
980 Madison Avenue, Norristown, PA 19403
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