November 25, 2020
Have a COVID-safe Thanksgiving
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Like many things in 2020, keeping up Thanksgiving traditions will be a challenge to do without spreading the coronavirus. Consider smaller gatherings, videoconferencing and online shopping for a safer holiday. Read story
Fall 2020 NEWSpirit newspaper is online now and ready to read.
Pass it on!
Our Fall 2020 issue of NEWSpirit newspaper is online and ready to read and share! Enjoy articles on our many exciting, enlightening Conference events and ministries. Read on…
The making of Thanksgiving in the U.S.
PLYMOUTH, Mass. (UM News) — The origin story of the U.S. Thanksgiving is more myth than reality. With this year marking the 400th anniversary of the Pilgrims' arrival in North America, historians see an opportunity to revisit the good — and the bad — of how the holiday developed. Read story
What is the history of Advent?
Advent, which means "coming" or "arrival," was widely practiced across Christian churches worldwide by the sixth century. It was developed primarily to provide an alternative time for the final preparation of candidates for baptism. With the start of Advent on Nov. 29, Ask The UMC takes a look back at the history of the season. Read story. Read more Ask The UMC.
This Advent season, which begins Nov. 29, may be burdened by the threat of more COVID infections, political unrest in our country and theological division in our church, as well as social distancing restrictions that may hinder our gatherings. But on “Gaudete” Sunday, the third Sunday of Advent, when we light the pink candle for Joy, we should rejoice even in the midst of sorrow, difficulty and uncertainty, for it affirms our faith that God is still God.  “Emmanuel” means God is with us. Learn more...
United Methodist Student Day is Nov. 29
United Methodists have been investing in our students for more than 100 years. The purpose of this special Sunday is to urge the church to support our students as they prepare for life by adding knowledge and service to their faith. The funds received go into the UM Student Loan Fund to underwrite over 70 scholarships for our students. Your gifts offer young people crucial financial support for their studies. Learn more about this Special Sunday.
Faith-Sharing Seminar: Navigating evangelism across a shifting cultural landscape
The Eastern PA Conference’s annual Faith-Sharing Seminar, Nov. 14, was presented like a well-designed, well-packed suitcase, ready for travel to unknown but potentially exciting locales. Perhaps rarely has so much knowledge-sharing insight from an acknowledged thought-leader been so neatly packed into a three-hour workshop.

"Our world has changed, and we have an incredible opportunity to step into it,” said the Rev. Lisa Greenwood, challenging about 160 church leaders to navigate faithfully across the liminal cultural landscape where many now find themselves. Learn more...
Estimating financial impact of church exits
(UM News) — Over the past year, United Methodist financial leaders have faced the conundrum of trying to figure out what a potential church split means for the denomination's bottom line. Based on a survey of U.S. conferences, those leaders now have a place to begin their calculations. Read storyRead GCFA press release
Taking concrete steps to move against racism
PHILADELPHIA (UM News) — In the aftermath of the shooting of Walter Wallace Jr., Philadelphia Area Bishop Peggy A. Johnson called for prayer but also took action, organizing a Zoom call with pastors and laity to come up with concrete steps on dismantling racism. Other United Methodist conferences are responding in similar ways. Read story

Keeping resolve to end gender-based violence
GENEVA — Nov. 25 marks the start of the "16 Days" campaign that focuses on the elimination of violence against women and on human rights. This year, the World Council of Churches is highlighting the links between the household of God and the fundamental need to make our homes safe and loving spaces. In a unified statement, the WCC's 17 "Thursdays in Black" ambassadors reflect on why it is so important to protect those who are vulnerable and abused. Read story
Webinars look at casting denominational vision
A group of current and former General Conference delegates from four continents has scheduled a second set of webinars on casting a vision of renewed United Methodism. The group, which released the statement "Out of Chaos, Creation," will have a webinar at 8 a.m. U.S. Eastern time and again at 1 p.m. Eastern time Dec. 1. Register for webinar. Learn more.
Church must hear Hispanic/Latino voices
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (UM News) — The lack of voices from Latin America represents a major gap in the global conversations occurring in The United Methodist Church, writes the Rev. David Maldonado. United Methodists also must help ensure that Hispanic/Latino voices are heard in the public forum, he says. Read commentary
Former missionary to South Korea dies at 91
During his years in South Korea, the Rev. George Ogle was referred to by many titles: missionary, evangelist, organizer, educator, father of Korean workers and poor people, and a strong advocate of the Korean democracy movement.

Ogle, whose Korean name was Myung-geol Oh, died Nov. 15 at the age of 91. Earlier this year, on June 20, the government of the Republic of Korea recognized him with the People’s Medal for his contribution toward Korean human rights and democracy. Learn more…
Africa University office hires finance director
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Lauranette S. Ford is the new director of finance, a recently established position in the Africa University Development Office. Ford's past experience includes serving as an internal audit manager for the United Methodist General Council on Finance and Administration. Read press release
Invitation to Justice: Fight for Floyd & Beyond advocacy letter for policy-makers, police
Would you, your church, family, or community group like to put your policing equity concerns into action and make a statement for justice? You can adapt a compelling new lettter prepared by the Fight for Floyd and Beyond Policy Committee, gather signatures and send it to various legislators, policy-makers and police officials to advocate for much-needed change. The letter should encourage individuals, congregations, and community groups to discuss their police reform concerns with politicians and police unions in the cause of racial justice and community peace and wellness for all. See letter...
Webinar series aims to help mental health
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — Because of COVID-19 and the inequalities it has exacerbated, adults are reporting considerably higher mental stress. The Rev. Justin Coleman and panels of therapeutic and pastoral experts will lead four webinars to discuss the practical and spiritual disciplines needed for surviving this season. The webinars are scheduled for 2-3 p.m. U.S. Central time Dec. 1, 3, 8 and 10. Learn more and register
UMC group plans global World AIDS Day service, Dec. 1
The Rev. William Brawner, Eastern PA Conference Urban Ministries Coordinator, will share his testimony as a person living with HIV during a virtual United Methodist worship service on World AIDS Day, Dec. 1, at 2 PM. The United Methodist Global AIDS Committee, on which Brawner serves, will sponsor the service to commemorate the annual World AIDS Day observance. It is available free to all online at and

The theme of the service will highlight the this year’s World AIDS Day theme,­ “Global Solidarity, Shared Responsibility.” Bishop Julius Trimble of the Indiana Episcopal Area and chair of the Global AIDS Committee, will preach a special message. Jorge Lockward, musician for the UM Church of the Village, in New York City, will perform music.

William Brawner will offer his personal testimony. The pastor of Mother African Zoar UMC in Philadelphia, he also founded the Haven Youth Center in Philadelphia, which offers HIV Testing, counseling, education and prevention services to youth.

World AIDS Day takes place on Dec. 1 each year. The day engages people worldwide to unite in the fight against HIV and AIDS, to show support for people living with HIV or AIDS, and to commemorate those who have died from an AIDS-related illness. Founded in 1988, World AIDS Day was the first-ever global health day. Learn more…
Let's Chat: What About The 2020 Election?
The Pennsylvania Council of Churches has created “Let’s Chat: A Time to Share and Discuss Events from a Difficult Year,” an event aimed at engaging in dynamic discussions with youth and young adults about 2020 events that have affected their lives. “Let’s Chat” is a 3-part series, focusing on one specific issue per meeting. The topics are the 2020 election, COVID-19, and police brutality/racial injustice. By focusing on one topic per meeting, the Council hopes these sessions create a safe environment to prompt deep, thoughtful sharing and discussions about experiences and ideas on how to move forward.

The first event is scheduled for Monday, November 23, 7:00-8:30 pm via Zoom. Registration is at, and registration is required to attend; a Zoom link will be sent to registrants on Monday prior to the event.

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Grove UMC to host cancer prevention talk Dec. 1
Grove UMC in in West Chester will again host a free Journey of Hope® Cancer Care Ministry program Dec. 1 to share insights about cancer prevention. Dr. Pallav Mehta, of MD Anderson Cancer Center at Cooper University Hospital, will present information interested in healthy living and reducing their risk for cancer. He is the co-author of the book After Cancer Care. For more information contact the Rev. Linda (Lin) George at Grove UMC, 610.696.2663. Or direct line: 610.350.9372. Or
Slaughter to teach Multi-Site/Satellite Model for churches
‘We’re stronger together’ 

The Eastern PA Conference Congregational Development Team will welcome the Rev. Mike Slaughter, pastor emeritus and global church ambassador for Ginghamsburg Church in Tipp City, Ohio, to discuss “The Multi-Site/Satellite Model for Churches” on Thursday, Jan. 21, 2021, at 10 AM. This event will be viewable on Zoom and requires registration in advance. Register for FREE!

Join Slaughter, renowned church innovator and strategist, for a conversation about church growth, sustainability, and connectionalism. Returning us to our Wesleyan connectional roots, he will explore how churches working together strengthens us all. Whether it’s “larger” and “smaller” churches working together, several churches creating a shared cooperative circuit, or developing hub-and-spoke networked ministries, our future lies in the reclaiming and re-envisioning our missional heritage. 

To prepare for this event Pastor Slaughter asks participants to read The Passionate Church: Ignite Your Church and Change the World (Abingdon Press, 2016). Written by Mike Slaughter and Karen Perry Smith, this valuable resource will assist in discerning and defining your church’s ministries and prime them for organic growth using a multi-stite/satellite model. 
Mike Slaughter was the lead pastor and “chief dreamer” of Ginghamsburg for nearly four decades, inspiring many as a “spiritual entrepreneur of ministry marketplace innovations.” He is the founder and chief strategist of Passionate Churches, LLC, which specializes in developing pastors, church staff and church lay leaders through coaching, training, consulting and facilitation services.
His life-long passion to reach the lost and set the oppressed free has now made him a tireless and leading advocate for the people of Darfur in Sudan, once named by the U.N. as the worst humanitarian crisis by in the world. His call to “afflict the comfortable and comfort the afflicted challenges Jesus followers to wrestle with God and their God-destinies.”
Plan to attend Transfiguration Day Apart Feb. 10 
Save the date for the Eastern PA Conference’s Transfiguration Day Apart scheduled for Wednesday, Feb. 10, 2021, 9:30 to 11:30 AM, on Zoom. All clergy and Certified Lay Ministers (CLMs) serving congregations are invited to attend. The Rev. Deborah Appler, who teaches at Moravian Theological Seminary in Bethlehem, will be the keynoter. Her topic: “The Transfiguration from an Old Testament Perspective." Download and share the flyer
Church pews need a new home
West Willow UMC is replacing 10-12 pews with individual seating and are looking for a home for them. Most are 14' long.The pews are to be donated and need to be picked up. "We will detach them from floor," said Joyce Mayne. "We would like to get them removed ASAP to allow us to move forward. We don't have space for long term storage." Contact Joyce Mayne at 410-430-8673 or 717-687-6392.
Advent resources available
Local churches can order customizable banners, signs, invitation cards and postcards for Advent from United Methodist Communications. The resources are available in a variety of designs and languages. Get resources  
A growing library of free, on-demand Local Church Learning Sessions now includes a session exploring new features of social media platforms and ideas for using them. All of the sessions support your church’s ongoing digital ministry, covering not only social media, but e-giving, text messaging, livestreaming and more. Begin learning.
How to cultivate relationships in online groups   
2020 is the year of virtual…well, everything. Church is no exception. More than ever, members need their pastors and one another, but most are still practicing social distancing to some degree. Online meetings will likely continue as part of church ministry. While the internet, social media and online services such as Zoom, Facebook, WebEx and Google have made virtual meetings possible, church leaders face the challenge of building meaningful relationships in a virtual world. If you’re facing that struggle, here are a few ideas to consider.
How to host small groups and classes during displacement
Small groups and Sunday school classes form one of the most powerful connections and means of support for members. Many people are asking: What happens to these connections during times of social distancing? How can leaders maintain these essential care mechanisms in the lives of members? Here are some tips to help you select the needed tools and assist your transition from in-person to virtual meetings. Learn more...
The People of God campaign is celebrating our ongoing commitment to providing abundant health around the world, from Imagine No Malaria to lifesaving interventions for one million children. Bring the campaign to your church’s communications by downloading digital resources. Download now.
How do you serve?
United Methodist Communications tailors its services to support people in a variety of roles in their congregations. These resources include training, grants and free materials. In order to better serve congregations, the agency is asking that church leaders and volunteers update their job roles online. The information will not be shared or sold to any third party. In return, the agency will provide a complimentary registration for the Digital Media for Ministry online training course.  Update your role
New Local Pastor Licensing School in 2021
The Eastern PA Conference has launched its new Local Pastor Licensing School, to begin in January 2021. Registration is open now for classes that will gather online for just six weeks, from Jan. 15 to Feb. 28. The school’s new design allows for faster completion in classes that meet on Friday evenings and Saturdays. Persons from other conferences are welcome to attend. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, all 2021 classes will meet via Zoom video-conferencing.
The classes will cover UMC Tradition, Leadership and Administration; Spiritual Direction; Preaching; Public Worship and Liturgy; Educational Ministries; Mission and Evangelism; Pastoral Care; and another class related to a Conference emphasis to be determined.
The cost is $1,100, with a $300 non-refundable deposit and the remaining balance due by March 31. The Rev. Dan Lebo is the school’s new Dean. The Rev. Kevin Babcock, who chairs the Board of Ordained Ministry Committee on Local Pastor Licensing, is the registrar. See the brochure for more details, including requirements.
CDT Book Club to explore Rendle’s new book in January 2021
Quietly Courageous, by the Rev. Gil Rendle, is the Congregational Development Team’s (CDT) third book to recommend and discuss in its new weekly Book Club, beginning Jan. 13, 2021. The new clergy and laity study group will gather each Wednesday morning on Zoom, from 11 AM to 12 PM, for six weeks. Learn more...
Women in Professional Ministry/COSROW Event
TextThe Women in Professional Ministry in partnership with our Conference COSROW team will welcome Susan Beaumont on December 8th from 10:00am - 12:00pm via Zoom. We will gather on this Tuesday in Advent with Bishop Peggy Johnson as we traditionally do. This year we've invited Susan Beaumont to join us and share her wisdom around leading through uncertainty.  
How do you lead an organization stuck between an ending and a new beginning— when the old way of doing things no longer works but a way forward is not yet clear? Such in-between times are called liminal seasons—threshold times when the continuity of tradition disintegrates and uncertainty about the future fuels doubt and chaos. In a liminal season it simply is not helpful to pretend we understand what needs to happen next. But leaders can still lead.

Digital Ministry for the Rest of Us, Dec. 5
An interactive presentation on Zoom, provided by the Eastern PA Conference Congregational Development Team. Dec. 5, Saturday, 10-11 AM
  • Foundations of Church Technology: Rev. Kevin Rutledge, Covenant UMC
  • Livestream or Recorded? Pros and Cons: Rev. Amy Banka, Senior Pastor, Hopewell UMC
  • DYI Livestreaming & Recording: John Mattox, Technology Volunteer, Linwood UMC

Registration Link:
Apply for Global Mission Fellows, US-2 track

Applications for UM Global Ministries 2021-23 Global Mission Fellows on the US-2 track opened Oct. 12. The fall application deadline is Nov. 30, 2020, and the spring application deadline is Feb. 24, 2021. Placement matches will be assigned throughout the selection process, so early application is encouraged. Read press release. See application information
Celebrating Our Cultures at Christmas, Dec. 13
Plan now to attend the Commission on Religion & Race’s second annual multicultural celebration and the first to happen online. In September 2019 the group hosted a lively, well-attended outdoor picnic at Innabah. This year they will host a virtual but no less festive gathering, Celebrating Our Cultures at Christmas, on Sunday, Dec. 13, at 3 PM, via Zoom. 

It’s a Conference-wide Advent celebration that will share cultural and family traditions of the season from around the world--including Latin American Three Kings Day celebrations, a Native American family’s Christmas story, and traditions from South Korea, India, Germany, Great Britain, Sierra Leone, and even a taste of Kwanzaa. 

Come join the party! Bring a candle and place your computer or mobile device in front of your tree or nativity scene! Send a photo of your nativity or live nativity scene to to be included in the celebration. Register now to participate. Download and share the event flyer. 
PA tax exemption extended further until Dec. 31
The Eastern PA Conference’s Pennsylvania sales tax exemption certificate used by its member churches was due to expire initially March 31 but was extended to Sept. 30. But now it has been extended further until Dec. 31, due continued delays caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The extension enables churches to continue making tax-exempt purchases while the state processes renewals. A new letter confirming this latest extension may be used by churches to authorize tax-fre purchases, along with their copy of the expired Exemption Certificate (REV-1220). 
Zoom users should update their software
All users of Zoom video-conferencing should ensure their Zoom Client program is the latest version available, The Conference Administration Office advises. Check to make sure you are using Version 3.2.1 If not:

  • Close your programs
  • Download and run CleanZoom.exe   
  • Reboot your computer
  • Visit this link
  • This will automatically download the newest version for you.
  • Install this version once downloaded.
New online course aims at growth in generosity
A new online curriculum designed to help clergy and lay people lead congregations toward growth in generosity is now available from Discipleship Ministries. This six-module leadership series will help clergy and leaders become better equipped to lead their local churches in the area of generosity as a key part of being a disciple of Jesus Christ. Read press release
Building relationships with virtual visitors
Many churches are reporting much higher online worship attendance than they typically see in person. Eric Seiberling offers tips for how email can help sustain these new connections in a time of social distancing. Read tips
Conference offers new booklet of scholarships, ministry funds
Announces new Narberth Legacy Ministry Action Grants
The Eastern PA Conference Connectional Ministries Office has published online a new booklet, titled Conference Funding for Ministry and Leadership Development, to inform churches and members about resources for funding ministry, church needs and educational scholarships. The booklet conveniently gathers in one place information already present on the conference website’s individual Funding For Ministry, Higher Education Scholarships & Grants and Conference Loan Fund pages. (All pages are updated regularly and are accessible from our Conference Finance webpage.)

But other funding sources also appear in the booklet, including the William “Bill” Drendall Endowment Fund of Mount Gretna UMC, available to all churches; BMCR/BUMP College Scholarships for active members of BMCR-member churches; and scholarships and ministry funding from general agencies of the UMC. 

One major funding source featured in the new booklet is the conference’s new Narberth Legacy Ministry Action Grants (2021-2023 Action Grants). The Narberth Legacy Ministry Action Fund is a Permanent Endowment Fund administered by the Mid-Atlantic United Methodist Foundation on behalf of the Eastern PA Conference. It was established from the 2014 discontinuation of Narberth UMC, as a living memorial to past church members, to provide substantial support to new, innovative, justice-seeking ministries that impact the life of communities. 

Beginning July 1, 2021 one grant for up to $45,000, distributed over a three-year period, will be awarded annually to a church. Eligible ministries are those that seek to serve populations that may be multicultural, young or intergenerational, unchurched or de-churched, and challenged by racism, discrimination, poverty and other disadvantages. Such ministries should demonstrate viability and a commitment to foster productive cooperation with church and community partners and stakeholders. 

Funds will be granted only for endeavors that produce action and offer the potential for real change. Learn more on the conference website’s Funding for Ministry page or contact the Office of Connectional Ministries. Deadline: Jan. 31, 2021. Learn more...
Sign-language Bible now available
A 38-year project that included 53 Deaf translators has produced the American Sign Language Bible, available free from Deaf Missions, a nonprofit Christian organization. This new Bible not only better encourages Deaf and hard-of-hearing people to engage in studying Scripture, it reduces misunderstandings and misinterpretations, writes the Rev. Leo Yates Jr. Read commentary 
Visit our Local Church Resources webpage
Do you find yourself wondering where you can obtain a 501(c)3 letter? Clergy W-2s? Various other bits of information that is crucial for churches? Look no further than the Local Church Resources page under the Administration tab on the EPA website and you can answer these questions.
Let's stay connected. Send us your newsletters
Please add our Communications Office to your church newsletter's digital and/or print mailing lists. We find much of our news in church newsletters (when we find time to read them), and we try to report local church news and events as much as possible. (We also love seeing Conference news reported in your newsletters. Thanks!) However, we want to receive only your church newsletters please, not other e-mailed church announcements. Thanks!
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 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!

  • December 2: UMM Annual Meeting. Conference-wide. Zoom online meeting. Contact David Marks at
  • December 5: Digital Ministry for the Rest of Us. 10 AM - 11:30 AM. Zoom online meeting. Register.
  • December 8: Women in Professional Ministry. 10 AM - 12 PM, Zoom online meeting. Register.
  • December 13: "Celebrating our Cultures at Christmas." 3 PM. Zoom online meeting. Register.


  • January 8-9:  Virtual Youth Rally
  • January 13: Start of Book Study “Quietly Courageous” with Gil Rendle (Weekly, for 4 weeks)
  • January 30:  Basic Sexual Ethics. 9:30 AM - 3 PM. Zoom online meeting. Register.
  • February 10: Transfiguration Day Apart. 9:30 AM - 11:30 AM. Zoom Webinar. Download the flyer.
  • March 6: Advanced Sexual Ethic: Ministry with Sex Offenders. 9:30 AM - 3 PM. Aldersgate UMC in Wilmington, DE. Register.
  • March 13: Tools for Ministry. 
  • April 16-18: Dismantling Racism, Level 1, Virtual. Register.
  • May 15: Latino Holy Convocation and Assembly
  • May 15: Clergy Transition Workshop led by Dave Woolverton. 
  • May 20 - 22: 2021 Annual Conference
  • June 5:  CR/CC Transition Workshop –for CR/CC appointments
  • August 6 - 8, 2021: Laity Academy
  • Oct. 23:  Faith Sharing Evangelism Training w/ Olu Brown
  • Oct. 29 - Nov 1: Dismantling Racism, Level 1, Virtual. Register.

Eastern Pennsylvania Conference of The United Methodist Church
980 Madison Avenue, Norristown, PA 19403