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WHAT'S NEW - November 5, 2015
November is Native American Heritage Month

The Dakota tribe teaches, “We will be known forever by the tracks we leave behind.” Native American Heritage Month, a national celebration since 1990, honors the contributions and heritage of Native Americans. Also in 1990, the U.S. Congress passed the  Native American Languages Act , declaring it U.S. policy to "preserve, protect, and promote the rights and freedom of Native Americans to use, practice, and develop Native American languages," including in classrooms, to ensure the survival of these languages. The Act is up for renewal in Congress right now. Read more in a HuffPost blog article by linguistics professor Colleen M Fitzgerald: "7 Things to Know About Native American Languages."

If you have not read  A Call to Repentance and Reconciliation  on our Website yet, you should. The Rev. Gary Jacabella, pastor of Berwyn UMC and member of our conference's Committee on Native American Ministries (CONAM) writes about “The Act of Repentance toward Healing Relationships with Indigenous People” and asks us to “recognize the harm inflicted by the Church and celebrate the gifts indigenous people bring to the Church." Also View CONAM’s Acts of Repentance Powerpoint slides presented during Bishop Peggy Johnson’s Days on the Districts report.

Also, come join CONAM and guests for worship and fellowship this Sunday, Nov. 8, from 4 to 6 PM,  and enjoy the awesome autumn weather and foliage at Camp Innabah ( 712 Pughtown Road, Spring City/Pughtown) Darvin L. Martin, a part-Native American author, lecturer and historian will speak about his book, A Clash of Cultures , sharing findings about his Native and European family roots and the historic interaction between both cultures in the Susquehanna Valley. The gracious and gifted duo Spirit Wing (Barbara Christy and Barry Lee, now members of First UMC Phoenixville) will offer music, followed by a light meal. Please see and share the event flyer

Several enlightened churches in our conference--for example, Evansburg and Ridge Avenue UMCs--will celebrate Native American heritage and spirituality in worship this month, featuring guest preachers. What will your church do to join in that celebration and to educate members about the Native American presence in our nation's history and our Christian family? As one writer put it, "When the divine experience of Native Americans is interwoven into the divine experience of other Christians, we become whole -- not divided by culture, but united in faith." Learn more...
Nov. 8 is Organ and Tissue Donor Sunday
This day is an opportunity to center on a ministry that is truly an act of love. Today 21 people will die waiting for organ or tissue transplants that cannot take place because of shortages. Right now 124,000 men, women and children need lifesaving organ transplants. Every 10 minutes, another name is added to the national organ-transplant list. The United Methodist Church encourages everyone to become organ and tissue donors by signing and carrying cards, driver’s licenses or other forms of identification noting their commitment to do as Christ did: give so that others may have life in its fullness. Visit for more information, suggested prayers and a moment for mission story.
District prayer posts to fortify us for General Conference
Tim Kriebel sees trouble ahead in 2016, and he knows concentrated prayer is the answer. "For a few months now," he writes, "I've had the conviction that given all the tensions, divisions, and problems that not only our annual conference but the entire UMC is facing right now, none of us can truly expect any good outcomes from General Conference apart from prayer. So the Lord led me to the idea of having six months worth of prayer meetings spread out over our annual conference, one per district per month. These prayer meetings are not meant to be partisan but humbly surrendered to the movement of the Holy Spirit." Learn more...
Conference call for gun violence prevention advocates Nov. 9
Bill Mefford  Director of Civil & Human Rights at the General Board of Church & Society, invites anyone to join Bishop Robert Hoshibata and other United Methodists who support actions to prevent gun violence on a conference call Nov. 9 at 4 PM.  They will pray, share resources and discuss important news and updates on the work advocates are doing to foster change. They will also discuss the national Gun Violence Prevention Sabbath coming up in December and ways congregations can participate. The Rev. Sandie Richards, a leader on gun violence prevention issues, will also speak. The number to call is 800-920-7487 and the code is 76723736.
Show you care on Veterans Day, Nov. 11
What can your church do to celebrate and show you care about our military personnel--past and present--and their families on Veterans Day, Nov. 11? How about putting them on prayer lists, or sending care packages, personal letters of encouragement (virtual hug coupons included), or children's thank you notes with crayon drawings? Or offer fellowship and some support to veterans support groups, or sponsor V-Day parties with special invitations? Maybe research the current crisis in health care provided by the U.S. Veterans Administration, and see how you can help or at least advocate for their care. Check out some information and ideas offered by UMCom.

The United Methodist Church has many chaplains providing spiritual care for military service personnel and their families. Based upon their input, the United Methodist Endorsing Agency, Board of Higher Education and Ministry, has put together a list of ideas that empower congregational care for deployed and returning service members and their families.

Also be sure to read or re-read local pastor and veteran Dave Ryan's 2014 article "Veterans Day: Honoring, helping our heroes," as well as  Bishop Peggy Johnson’s 2014 Bishop’s Blog essay on honoring and serving those who served us on Veterans Day.
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...
Mass Incarceration and Women’s Health Webinar
Join the General Board of Church & Society's Healthy Families, Healthy Planet project for a webinar focused on the intersections of mass incarceration and women’s health Nov. 16, at 3 PM. Guest speakers will include Andrea James, Founder of Families for Justice as Healing, and staff from National Advocates for Pregnant Women. REGISTER HERE  Started in 2010, the Healthy Families, Healthy Planet project, a Church & Society initiative, works to mobilize U.S. United Methodists around the importance of maternal health and international family planning. Learn more at
Order resources for Student Day, Nov. 29
United Methodists will celebrate Student Day on Sunday, Nov. 29. The churchwide special offering to be received on that day provides scholarships for United Methodist students attending undergraduate and graduate colleges and universities. Get stories to share at church. Get resources for observing Student Day

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. 
Imagine No Malaria inspires walking, running to save lives
Through its “Beat the Bug” 5K Run / 2K Walk, in April the UMC of West Chester raised over $10,300 in 2015 to support the Imagine No Malaria campaign’s effort to eradicate malaria in Africa. Over 160 people joined in this year, the largest number since the event began in 2011. As the participation has grown, so has "the sense of connection between our church and brothers and sisters in Africa," writes Craig Thomas. "Our Imagine No Malaria ministry has been instrumental in increasing awareness and understanding of how we can contribute to a global effort to improve the lives of our brothers and sisters throughout the world. Now we are gearing up for the 5th annual run, to be held in April 2016."

Gerald (Jerry) Reifsnyder, part-time Local Pastor at tiny Washington Boro UMC on the Southwest District, is raising donations for this worthy cause through his own personal walk-a-thon. The Lititz native, who will soon turn 66, took up walking on a treadmill in 2013 for health reasons, and now he works out at the gym three days a week. He decided to ask church members if they would be willing to sponsor him with donations for Imagine No Malaria.  The church has donated about $2,500 to their pastor’s walk-a-thon during his three years there. They gave $800 this year, and the mission council added another $200 to total $1,000.

Raising needed funds and awareness for the Eastern PA Conference’s Imagine No Malaria campaign requires, or rather inspires, imagination. What is your church imagining or planning or already doing to play its vital role in this important conference-wide global health endeavor? Please, please let us know at  We’re about halfway to the Dec. 31 end of the campaign period; and we are getting some reports from participating churches. We want more stories to tell. Please help us.
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.  

Pray for Adjourned Session of Annual Conference
Bishop Peggy Johnson is asking that pastors and laity of the Eastern PA Conference lift up the Adjourned Session of the Conference in prayer between now through the Nov. 14 session at the Macungie campus of Bethany UMC, 3801 Brookside Road, Macungie, PA. “Pray for God's guidance as we consider our budget and elect 2016 General and Jurisdictional Delegates.”
Open enrollment meetings begin, 2016 insurance rates posted

Open Enrollment meetings to present and explain 2016 health insurance coverage plans to participating clergy, conference and church employees are scheduled for each district. All enrollments must be done online between Nov. 16 and Dec. 6. Please try to attend the meeting scheduled for your area, although you may attend a meeting at any location. Learn more and see the various dates, times and locations for the meetings.

The Conference Prison Ministry and Restorative Justice Team encourages you to help share God’s love this holiday season with those who are incarcerated by writing a brief caring, encouraging note inside a Christmas card. These cards will be collected and delivered to inmates at correctional facilities in Eastern PA. The cards may be dropped off by Nov. 9 at the Eastern PA Conference Office, in care of Felicia Anderson in Connectional Ministries, or at any District office. There are protocols to ensure that cards are signed correctly, or they will be undeliverable. Please be intentional about using only regular black or blue ink ballpoint pens and no markers, crayons, felt tip pens, stickers, glitter or glue. Sign only your first name and no last names. See full instructions on our website.

Grove UMC, at 490 W. Boot Rd, West Chester, will again sponsor "Surviving the Holidays," Sunday, Nov. 8, from 2 to 4 PM, a seminar about helping people face the upcoming holidays (Thanksgiving, Christmas, etc.) while coping with loss of close relationships, through death, divorce or other departures. Open to anyone in the church or community, this program can help people deal with emotional pain and stress,  providing comfort and relief in difficult times. The cost is only $5 for materials, and free child care will be provided for those who pre-register. For more information or to register contact Pastor Lin George at 610-350-9372 or by e-mail at #.

The United Methodist Church of West Chester, at 129 S. High Street, West Chester, PA, will host a Pancake Breakfast and Oatmeal Bar on Saturday, Nov. 14, from 8 to 10 AM, to benefit the conference's Imagine No Malaria campaign. Tickets are $6 for adults, $3 for children 12 and under, and $20 for a families (of two adults and up to 5 children). The breakfast is being prepared by West Chester University nutrition students and hosted by the UMC of West Chester's Beat the Bug Team. For tickets or more info call 610-692-5190.

 Orientation sessions for admission to the 2016 class for training Certified Lay Ministers, which begins April 1, 2016 will be held Nov. 7, 28 and 30, from 10 AM to 12 pm, at three locations. Sessions are two hours in length. Attendance at session is required as the first step in the admission process. Pre-registration is required. See the Conference calendar on each date for more information. Contact Judy Ehninger to register. Call 610-965-2290 (Home), 610-442-3140 (cell). Or e-mail her at

The Eastern PA Conference Communications Team will hold an introductory training and networking event for local church communicators on Saturday, Dec. 5, from 9 AM to about 1 PM at the Conference Office. 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. 

Order of Elders to gather at Camp Innabah
  Nov. 10, 9 AM to 1 PM. All elders from the Eastern PA Conference are invited to gather at Camp Innabah (712 Pughtown Rd, Spring City, PA) for a time to remember our faith as believers, our unity as elders and our effectiveness within the itinerant system. We will celebrate our connectedness and hear what the denomination is saying about the future of itinerancy. Lunch: $8. Theme: A Lived Faith: Commitment, Relationship and Effectiveness.  Register Online
LUMINA to hold annual celebration, fundraiser
LUMINA, the local mission partnership of Southwest District churches, will hold its Annual Celebration Nov. 20, from 6:30 to 8 PM, at Lititz UMC, 201 East Market Street, Lititz. LUMINA is asking supporters of its Drop-in-the-Bucket Fundraiser to collect change in their yellow LUMINA buckets and bring checks to the celebration. RSVP by Nov. 13. Call LUMINA at 717-394-8412. People who have benefited from LUMINA ministries and programs will enjoy supper as they learn how LUMINA’s governance and operations have changed this past year.  LUMINA will participate in the Extraordinary Give on Nov. 20, Lancaster County’s largest-participation 24 hours of giving. You can donate to aid LUMINA at on Nov. 20 between 12:01 AM and 11:59 PM.  For more info or to RSVP for the Annual Celebration, contact LUMINA at 717- 394-8412 or
UNVEILED: A Conference for Girls,
Ages 12-18

Fritz UMC of Bethlehem, PA, will sponsor “Unveiled,” a conference for girls ages 12-18 and the women in their lives, Saturday, Nov. 7, from 9 AM to 2 PM at Fritz UMC, 303 W. Packer Avenue Bethlehem, PA.  The program will be held in conjunction with Calvary Church of Souderton, PA. The event will feature live music, speakers, interactive breakout sessions, a Q & A dialogue, a photo booth, food, and more! “We will learn how to seek after God's heart and learn to trust Him.” The cost: $12 each without lunch or $15 per person with lunch (from Chick-fil-A)

Register Online or call 610-866-1515.  For more information, call Pastor Barbara S. Lee at 610-509-4846.
Congregational Care Training for Pastors and their People
Congregational care is the means by which we reach out to others and love our neighbor. This free, half-day training event for pastors and lay members will be offered on two Saturdays, Nov. 7 and 21, from 9 AM to 12 PM, at Bethany UMC, 1208 Brookside Road Wescosville, PA. Explore the ministry and skills involved in caring for individuals and families in your congregation. The training will help tweak your attention listening through Holy Listening. Learn the use and abuse of Scripture and prayer in a therapeutic relationship and how to recognize one’s own wounds and feelings that emerge when ministering to others. Also examine the dynamics of ministering during times of hospitalization, aging, and grieving. The Rev. Kathryn Wieder, an ordained deacon and former hospital chaplain, will lead the training. Onsite registration is at 8:30 AM. To pre-register e-mail Pastor Mike Netznik or call him at 610-395-3613.
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.
Clergy Sexual Ethics training on infidelity 
Clergy are invited to attend the workshop Sexual Ethics Among Clergy Members: Understanding Risk Factors and Prevention from an Attachment Framework on Nov. 17, from 9 AM to 3 PM, at West Lawn UMC, 15 Woodside Ave., West Lawn, PA. Fee: $35.  Advanced-Level Electives in Sexual Ethics are designed not only to complete the required quadrennial continuing education expectations, but also to engage persons in ministerial roles in ongoing accountable dialogue on appropriate healthy boundaries in ministerial practice. Workshop facilitator, Dr. Jesse Gill, Psy.D., has been a Christian psychologist working in Lancaster for the past 14 years. Author of Face to Face: Seven Keys to a Secure Marriage, he integrates Scripture with Attachment Theory and applies it to marital therapy. Register now
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:

Register your youth now for 2016 Pen-Del Youth Rally 
David Piltz, Eastern PA Conference Coordinator of Young People's Ministry, has important news for conference youth who want to attend the 2016 Peninsula-Delaware Conference Youth Rally in Ocean City, Md., Jan. 8-10, 2016, but have not yet registered. "If you did not receive a mailing  from Pen-Del and missed the early-bird special" you can call him to receive a discount code to use. Either way, "please register now. You don’t want to miss this!" said David.

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. Early-bird registration ($55) ends Oct. 12. Regular registration ($65) ends Nov. 2. After then, late registration is $75.  REGISTER ONLINE NOW!!  Check out the colorful online brochure

Also Eastern PA Conference youth and adult leaders will have another gathering of their own during the rally just to learn, laugh and get to meet each another. "It will be mind-blowing!" says David. And we are planning our own (second annual) Eastern PA Youth Rally. Watch for a date and details soon.

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!
Adjourned Session of Annual Conference
Save the Date! Nov. 14, 2015:  The Adjourned Session will be held at the Macungie campus of Bethany UMC, 3801 Brookside Road, Macungie, PA 18062. Register online
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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