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WHAT'S NEW - November 25, 2015
Bishop Peggy Johnson announces new clergy appointments

Northwest District
  • The Rev. John C. Wheatley (Elder) from Ono UMC to Leave of Absence (Military) from June 1 to Sept.  30, 2015.  Appointed to Extension Ministries as Family Support and Liaison Chaplain for Casualty and Mortuary Affairs, Dover Air Force Base, starting October 1, 2015.
  • The Rev. Eric S. Ritz (Retired Full Elder) from retirement to Ono UMC as retired, full-time interim supply pastor starting Nov. 1, 2015.
Central District
  • The Rev. Gregory Holston (Full Elder) from Philadelphia: New Vision UMC to 3/4-time at Philadelphia: New Vision UMC and 1/4 time in extension ministry as President/CEO of the Opportunities Industrialization Center, or OIC of America, Inc. Effective Nov. 15th.

See full list of 2015 appointment on our website.

NEWSpirit Fall issue now online
The fall issue of NEWSpirit newspaper is now online and will be printed and mailed next week. Articles cover the Adjourned Session of Annual Conference and the Bishop's recent Days on the Districts. Bishop Peggy Johnson advises us to "Push Back" against the consumerism of the Christmas season, while the Rev. Christopher Kurien reports on his recent visit to our mission partners in Tanzania. Also an in-depth look at Lifetree Cafe, a new Ministry with Millenials, a full-page feature on creative Imagine No Malaria fundraising efforts, recent dialogues around the conference on race and racism, the Prison Ministry & Restorative Justice Team's Healing Communities training and Christmas Cards to Inmates project, and an intimate look at one pastor's journey from surviving child sexual abuse to forgiveness, ministry and a meeting with the Pope. Find it all online at, or download the Fall 2015 issue now.
UM Student Day is Nov. 29. Please give to fund our scholarships
Eastern PA Conference students received about 30 scholarships from the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry Office of Loans and Scholarships for 2015-16, part of the overall UM 2,200 students who received $4.5 million in total financial aid from churchwide offerings and other sources. Executive Director Allyson Collinsworth thanks our conference for supporting the United Methodist Student Day, World Communion Sunday, and Native American Sunday offerings. UM students may apply for a fall 2016 GBHEM scholarship online from Jan. 4 to March 1, 2016, 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. 
November is National Hospice Month
Bishop Peggy Johnson and the Rev. Dawn Taylor-Storm visited and toured the Taylor Hospice in Ridley Park where the Rev. Bonny Smith, a UM Chaplain, serves the community. Smith thanked the bishop later for that visit, saying that hospice residents were "filled with excitement and joyful spirits the rest of the day." Bishop Johnson encourages United Methodists to visit and offer glad tidings to local hospices during the Advent and Christmas seasons. Pictured here in front are (from left) Kurt Slenn, President and CEO of Taylor Hospice Foundation, Marilee Ciarmella, RN, Clinical Director of Inpatient Services, Rev. Taylor-Sorm and Rev. Bonny Smith, RN, Chaplain. In back are Janet, Le, RN, Clinical Director and Field Coordinator, and Ridley Park Mayor Hank Eberly.
UMC #givingtuesday  is Dec. 1
After Black Friday and Cyber Monday, please remember to share with the world on UMC #givingtuesday, Dec 1. The UMC's Board of Global Ministries will allocate matching funds up to the first $1 million in gifts to Advance projects received online from midnight to 11:59 p.m. CST.  And why not direct one of your gifts to Imagine No Malaria and support our pursuit of the UMC's $75 million giving goal?

Learn more and also view and share the “Activate Love. Transform Lives. Change the World.” video produced by UM Communications to encourage your family and friends to go above and beyond their usual giving on Dec. 1. Be inspired as you watch the images of lives touched around the world because of your ongoing generosity
#BlackChurchesMatter funding appeal launched
Leaders and friends of African American United Methodist churches in the Eastern PA Conference, including Bishop Peggy Johnson and members of her Cabinet, met at the Conference Office Thursday, Nov. 19, to endorse the recent launch of an online fundraising appeal named  #BlackChurchesMatter.  The appeal is in support of those congregations’ ministries serving the needs of their communities.  #BlackChurchesMatter  is cosponsored by the conference’s Urban Commission and United Methodist Metro Ministries, Inc. through , an online crowd-funding giving channel. The name is drawn from the national  #BlackLivesMatter  popular, grassroots movement that has galvanized over the last several years around a pattern of unarmed black people in the U.S. being killed by police and others with few if any legal consequences for their assailants.   The fund has surpassed $2,000 so far.  Learn more ...
Holston leads historic economic empowerment organization

The Rev. Gregory Holston, pastor of New Vision UMC, Philadelphia, became the new president of Philadelphia's Opportunities Industrialization Center of America (OIC) on Sunday, Nov. 15. At his installation he unveiled a new plan to return OIC America to its roots of activism and advocacy established by its founder, the Rev. Dr. Leon H. Sullivan 50 years ago, and to address  the state budget impasse, mass incarceration, support for the Black Lives Matter Movement, and other issues. OIC assists unemployed and underemployed individuals through education, job training and placement, and supportive human services. Holston, a community activist pastor, has advocated for racial and economic justice and fairer labor policies for airport  workers and others.

Connectional Ministries to host video talk about race
The Eastern PA Conference Connectional Ministries Office will join churches and districts in a recent trend by hosting a discussion about race and racism at the Conference Office on Tuesday, Dec. 8, starting with dinner at 5:30 PM. Participants will view a 1-hour YouTube video about white privilege, titled "White People," produced by Jose Antonio Vargas, and then discuss its implications along with other related concerns. 
Members called to pray together for General Conference
The Southeast District will become the first of six District Prayer Posts on Sunday, Dec. 6, at 6 PM, welcoming all to engage in collective prayer at Bethlehem UMC in Thornton. The Rev. Tim Kriebel  has asked clergy colleagues at five other churches in five other districts to likewise make their churches available as prayer posts. They have said yes. The posts will be at different churches, on different days, at different times (some yet to be announced); and both settings and styles may vary, based on the preferences of their hosts. But anyone can attend any prayer meetings at any locations. Learn more...

Also Our UM bishops are all supposed to have a prayer day (24-hour vigil) for their annual conferences in preparation for General Conference. Jan. 6 (Epiphany Day) is the date for the Eastern PA Conference . Churches are encouraged to send around 24-hour prayer vigil sign-up lists. There will also be a prayer meeting being held that night at Faith Alive UMC.    
Children of the World Choir at Lititz UMC
The Children of the World Choir will sing at Lititz UMC Sunday, Nov. 29 at 7 PM. These elementary-aged children are from different countries of the world and share a high energy performance! This exciting program is cosponsored by the music ministries of Lititz UMC & Brunnerville UMC. The choir is touring America in support of the World Help children's ministry ( and features children from Nepal, Uganda, Brazil, India, and the Philippines. Through powerful song, dance, spoken word, and creative media, Children of the World presents the desperate reality of millions of children who cannot speak for themselves.
Church bus available for a donation 
Wesley UMC in Strasburg has a full-sized bus and is looking for a church that would benefit from having a bus to use for ministry. "The bus was given to us several years ago, and our bus driver transported the donating church’s kids and our children here at Wesley. We no longer have a driver, and the bus has been sitting idle since July. The inspection has run out (August), but the registration and insurance are current." Wesley would like the recipient of the bus to either transport its children from the Lampeter/Strasburg School District to the church on Wednesday evenings or to donate to its children’s ministry programs, "as we seek to promote God’s love in the Strasburg community." Contact Dave Alderson to discuss possibilities for this great opportunity:, (717) 687-6392 (office);  (717) 926-2997 (mobile).

The Eastern PA Conference Communications Team will hold an introductory networking event for local church communicators on Saturday, Dec. 5, from 9 to 11:30 AM at the Conference Office. This will not be a training event, but simply a conversation to share helpful information, insights and strategies. You can drop by or call in on our teleconference line or join us via Skype. We will post more info about this opportunity in next week's issue of Digest.  If you produce communications for your church (newsletter, Website, social media, video, etc.) please contact our office at, let us know who you are and how to reach you, and try to attend this event. We will plan future events for 2016. More information and registration to come. 

Some recent UM News Service stories

Amid declines, diversity grows in U.S. church membership
The General Council on Finance and Administration has newly released 2014 membership figures that show The United Methodist Church continuing its decades-long slide in the United States. However, the numbers also show slight growth in ethnic diversity. Heather Hahn takes a closer look at the numbers. Read story and post a comment.   GCFA announces online data and more
 How to reclaim ethical evangelism
What constitutes ethical evangelism? That was a question woven throughout many of the conversations at the first North American ecumenical evangelism conference. The gathering, hosted by United Methodist Discipleship Ministries, brought together Christians of varied traditions. Heather Hahn reports on the discussion. Read story and post a comment
Steps to small-group facilitator success
Stepping up as a small-group facilitator is a great way to serve Christ, but it can also be intimidating. In an article for United Methodist Communications, Clay Morgan offers five steps for making the work easier and more effective. Read story
Commentary: The inconvenience of apportionments
The Rev. B. Kevin Smalls admits that he cringes each year when he sees what his churches are asked to pay in apportionments that support his conference and the general church. But as much as local churches could do if they kept the money, he says the money also does a lot of good through church's connection, including helping to pay for the education of pastors like him. Smalls is the pastor of Queen's Chapel and Ebenezer United Methodist churches.  Read commentary.    Overview of general church apportionments
Commentary: How to address hot topics
"If you hope to influence an audience ... you should treat those on either side with respect," writes the Rev. Adam Hamilton, senior pastor of United Methodist Church of the Resurrection. He shares what he has learned about speaking on controversial subjects. Ministry Matters shares this excerpt from his new book, "Speaking Well."  Read commentary
Find UMC news in Spanish
Looking for the latest United Methodist Church news for the Hispanic/Latino community? You can find the latest news in Spanish on our website. Or sign up for the monthly e-newsletter by emailing  View the website.
Register by Nov. 30 for
2016 Pen-Del Youth Rally  

Nov. 30 is the deadline to register for the 2016 Peninsula-Delaware Conference Youth Rally in Ocean City, Md., Jan. 8-10, 2016. Once again, that's Nov. 30. Eastern PA Conference has 440 persons registered so far (326 youth; 113 adults; 1 clergy member). We're on a pace to match last year's total of over 500.

"Please register today. You don’t want to miss this!" says David Piltz, Eastern PA Conference Coordinator of Young People's Ministry. The rally will feature three high-spirited days of worship, witnessing, fellowship and celebration. "WORD" is the theme, based on John 1:1, and the stage will burst forth with lights, music, praise, testimonies, humor and more highlights. Registration is $75.  REGISTER ONLINE NOW!!  Check out the colorful online brochure. Contact David if you have any questions or concerns.
Learn about Global Mission Fellow US2s 

The Central District has a Global Mission Fellow US2, Rachel Ternes, who came on-board this past summer.  She is engaged in various outreach ministries, offering her talents while exploring her passion  and call to ministry. This vital young adult missionary program has been hosting a series of informational webinars for other young adults who might be interested in joining their peers. Global Mission Fellows work with global organizations that address human trafficking, worker’s rights, collegiate ministry, youth and children, women’s rights, and many other issues. Click here to see what other social justice issues are being addressed.  If you have young adults in your church or community (ages 20-30) who might be interested in serving in mission for the next two years please pass along this information in worship bulletins, announcements, social media, etc.  If you want Rachel to come speak to your congregation contact Darlene DiDomineck, Central District Resource Assistant, and she will be happy to make the arrangements. Upcoming Webinar datesNov. 19 and Dec. 10.

For Thanksgiving help your church show the glow of gratitude
It is a spiritual practice of many religions and a hallmark of Christianity: gratitude, giving thanks, showing appreciation for all that we have and the wonderful world God gave us. Gratitude journals and lists are all the rage in popular culture, but how often do we plan thankfulness as an activity of the church? UMCom offers some ideas for bringing people together to creatively express joyful gratitude in various ways. And you can probably think of others using a host of available media. Try Facebook posts, Twitter tweets, post-it notes, thank-you cards, bulletin-board displays, Sunday school art projects, church Websites and newsletters, even fun or inspirational videos. Being grateful is really about being more mindful of the abundance in our lives and how we can share it with others. So all this month, and maybe next month too, why not engage your congregation in showing the glow of gratitude? Who knows? After 30 days, it just might become habit-forming. Thanks be to God! Learn more...
Boehm's Chapel to feature chalk talk artist in Advent program
Historic Boehm's Chapel (13 West Boehm's Road, Willow Street) will combine a holiday "chalk talk" presentation by Lancaster County artist Josiah Hurst with its traditional Lessons and Carols Advent candlelight program, Dec. 6, at 3 PM. Hurst, will present a “History of the Carols,” using  prerecorded narration to explain the origins and events surrounding the writing  of  some of the most well-known Christmas carols.  Hurst's presentation will combine, lights, music and chalk to produce an inspired piece of art. Black light and colored lights are used to illuminate the artwork and create a surprising, added dimension.   The multiple elements of the chalk talk interpretation will help these beloved carols become even  more meaningful. The congregation will participate in a capella singing of traditional carols, as the story of Christ's birth is related through Scripture.  The program is open to the public and is suitable for all ages.  A love offering will be received. 
Faith Sharing Event speaker to meet with Phila. Area churches March 18
The Rev. Romal Tune, our guest speaker at the 2016 Faith Sharing Event on Saturday, March 19, (9 AM to 3 PM at New Hanover UMC), will also speak the evening before in Philadelphia, targeting his message particularly to racial-ethnic congregations. Bickley's New Beginning UMC, at 6239 N. 6th St., will host the event, beginning with a meal at 6:30 PM.  Young people especially are encouraged to attend to hear this dynamic, sought-after young speaker who voices his passion, intellect and faith in fresh, challenging ways. Tune authored the book God's Graffiti: Inspiring Stories for Teens  in 2013 and recently completed a companion devotional guide.
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

The 2016 Midwinter Retreat for all clergy (elders, deacons and local pastors) and their spouses is set for Jan. 12, 2016, at the Double Tree Hotel by Hilton, 2400 Willow Street Pike, Lancaster, PA.  Please register by Dec. 7 (due to hotel requirements). Our guest speaker will be Chaplain and Brigadier General Charles R. “Ray” Bailey (retired). Sharing from his many experiences, he will discuss reaching outside our walls to share the Good News. Chaplain Bailey, a UM elder, served churches in Texas before becoming a U.S. Army chaplain in 1982. In 2011 he became the Army's 24th Deputy Chief of Chaplains and has a powerful, personal testimony of the faith and courage of our military heroes.  For questions contact Amy Botti. Please note that there are only 20 openings for commuters at this event.  

Apply for Rethink Church 2016 Easter Digital Advertising Grants
RETHINK CHURCH helps local churches reach "seekers," the 42 percent of adults who aren't currently active in or committed to a church but are searching to give their live deeper meaning. UM Communications is accepting applications for its Rethink Church Digital Advertising Grants for displaying on Websites during the 2016 Easter season (February to March). The grants can help a church raise awareness of its community presence by displaying on various high-traffic Websites UMC-branded ads that are linked to the local church’s Website and geo-targeted to its community. This is not a monetary grant; ads will be purchased and placed for the churches by UMCom.  UMCom will also provide a follow-up report on click-through rates and site visits to each church during the advertising period. Attached is our FAQ that should help answer questions about the digital grant process. Deadline to apply is Jan. 7, 2016. Learn more…

Also, Rethink Church has many UMC-branded resources available to help churches with customizable Advent season  TV spots, worship resources (bulletin covers, graphics, etc.) and outreach resources (low-cost direct-mail postcards and free door hangers and invitation cards). The ordering deadline is December 1.
Time to order your 2015 Annual Conference Journal

A limited number of 2015 Eastern PA Annual Conference Journals will be available in early to mid-November. Order yours today for $25 each. You can pay online or send a check by postal mail to EPA UMC, Attention Ms. Gloria Knoeller, PO Box 820, Valley Forge, PA 19482-0820.

What's in the Journal? Contact information for Conference staff, clergy, Camp and Retreat Centers, Districts, and United Methodist Church boards and agencies. Also clergy appointments, pastoral salaries and service records; and conference board and committee assignments. Plus, all about the 2015 Annual Conference; conference statistics for 2014; historical highlights; and conference policies and procedures for clergy, staff, and others. Questions? Please contact Gloria Knoeller at

Order your copy now:

Associate Members and Local Pastors plan 2016 retreat

The Fellowship of Associate Members and Local Pastors of the Eastern PA and Peninsula-Delaware conferences will retreat together April 24-26, 2016, at Black Rock Retreat Center, 1345 Kirkwood Pike, Quarryville, PA. Associate Members, Local Pastors, Student Pastors and Certified Lay Ministers are all invited to attend and may earn 2.0 CEUs. Online Registration is open now. For more information contact Mark Beiderman at 610-585-0575. Download the brochure, which contains a registration form.

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 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 Thanks!
Please Save These Dates! 
January 12-14, 2016: Midwinter Retreat, DoubleTree Resort, Lancaster, PA. Online registration now open

May 10-20, 2016: UMC General Conference, Portland, OR

June 16-18, 2016: Eastern PA Annual Conference, Lancaster Marriott at Penn Square, Lancaster, PA

July 10-16, 2016: 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.
Eastern Pennsylvania Conference of The United Methodist Church
980 Madison Avenue, Norristown, PA 19403
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