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WHAT'S NEW - October 15, 2015
Many key events scheduled for Oct. 17-22
  There are plenty of important events and activities scheduled over the next week in our conference, districts and local churches. Here are some worth noting:
  • Train The Teacher Workshop Saturday, Oct. 17, 8:30 AM to  2:30 PM at Asbury UMC, AllentownA workshop created for those who are youth ministry leaders/teachers with 5 years or less experience but leaders/teachers with all levels of experience are welcome. Cost: $15 for course materials and sample lesson plans.  After the workshop ends anyone can stay for lunch and an informal discussion ($10). Download Train The Teacher Announcement
  • UMW Annual Celebration Saturday, Oct. 17, 9 AM to 3 PM, at Lehman Memorial UMC, Hatboro. Presentation on racial justice, election of officers for 2016. Read More
  • Changing Racism Level II Workshop, led by Visions, Inc., Saturday, Oct. 17. Breakfast: 8:30 AM. Check-in: 9 AM. Workshop 9:30 AM to 1 PM. Cost: $10 St. Matthews Valley Forge UMC, 600 Walker Road, Wayne, PA. Registration is closed. Participants must have taken either Changing Racism I, sponsored by Vision, Inc., or  Healing the Wounds of Racism, sponsored by the Healing the Wounds of Racism Core Team.    
  • Imagine No Malaria SundayCentral District churches are asked to receive special offerings on Sunday, Oct. 18, for the conference-wide Imagine No Malaria campaign.
  • The Refurbished Conference Archives reopening will be celebrated Monday Oct. 19 at Historic St. George's UMC with a special dedication service led by Bishop Peggy Johnson, an Open House and tour, and afternoon tea from 2 to 4 PM.
Appeal for prayers, donations to aid South Carolina
Bishop Peggy Johnson asks Eastern PA Conference churches to please offer generous prayers and donations to support our sisters and brothers in South Carolina who are trying to recover from the recent catastrophic floods that have caused death and destruction there. "When disaster strikes, The United Methodist Church is dedicated to helping people recover and get their lives back," Bishop Jonathan Holston told his members.  You can help by donating to UMCOR through your local church or make checks payable to "Eastern PA UMC" (write "Advance 901670 Disaster Response" on the check memo line), and mail them to: Eastern PA UMC, Remittance Processing, PO Box 820, Valley Forge, PA 19482. Individuals please indicate your church's name. Churches please use the eRemittance portal, and select the Advance Projects tab to give to Disaster Response, US #901670. Learn more...
Newly posted on our Website this week:
  • `The day I lost Momma’: October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and Bishop James E. Swanson Sr., who preached at our Annual Conference Service of Ordination and Commissioning in May, offers a poignant remembrance of his mother’s murder from domestic violence when he was 18.
  • A Call to Repentance and Reconciliation: "The Act of Repentance toward Healing Relationships with Indigenous People asks us to “recognize the harm inflicted by the Church and celebrate the gifts indigenous people bring to the Church,” writes the Rev. Gary Jacabella, a member of the Eastern PA Conference Committee on Native American Ministries. "We cannot build bridges of reconciliation without 'listening and learning the history between indigenous people and Christian colonizers.'” He shares remarks being made in CONAM's part of Bishop Peggy Johnson's report during her Days on the Districts visits this month. It's part of our preparation and anticipation of he Acts of Repentance with Native Americans to be held at next year's Annual Conference. The Powerpoint slides used in the Bishop’s Report to District Meetings 2015 and CONAM’sActs of Repentanceslides in particular are available on our Website.
  • Ways United Methodists can take a stand against gun violence: “Prayers of mercy and comfort for those in Roseburg, Oregon.” But is that all we can do? As United Methodist Christians, we mourn with the families of the teachers and students of Umpqua Community College who will never return home. We grieve with those who were wounded physically and emotionally. We pray for the family of the gunman who will wonder if there is anything they could have done to avert these heinous acts. But should we do more? Can we do more? While we may not agree on a solution, many of us agree there is a problem. What can we do? Learn more…
Downloadable 3-session Bible study on gun violence
The UMC's Board of Church & Society has a downloadable three-session Bible study about the use of guns in committing violence. The study, “Kingdom Dreams, Violent Realities,” uses Micah 4:1-4 as its scriptural foundation. It touches on such topics as weapons in domestic violence and war involving boys conscripted into rebel armies. “The desire to stop the impact of gun violence is felt among all people from many nations,” said GBCS Director of Civil & Human Rights Bill Mefford, who wrote  the study. He said it emerges from many conversations with United Methodists who wanted to find some space in the denomination to discuss this crucial and complex issue without "the superficial sound bites and sloganeering that happens all too often.”  Learn more...

GCORR to offer interactive online video series on race

The UMC's General Commission on Religion and Race (GCORR) will premiere Vital Conversations: An Interactive Video Series on Today's Realities of Race and Racism,  Wednesday, Oct.  28 at 9 PM on its Website, Vital Conversations invite people of all races and ethnic groups to engage in dialogue about "the things that divide and challenge us to live authentically in relationship with one another among our differences." The series begins with anti-racism educator Robin DiAngelo's "Misunderstanding of Racism." Dr. DiAngelo is author of What Does it Mean to Be White? Developing White Racial Literacy. In the coming months, GCORR will host more live videos with speakers like Miguel De La Torre, David Anderson Hooker and Pamela Lightsey. GCORR staff have visited our conference several times this year to lead interracial/intercultural dialogues.

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
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
Copies of Hopewell's Advent Bible Study available for the taking
Hopewell UMC is offering for free a limited number of copies of its 2014 Advent Dreams Bible Study to any church that wants to use it for this coming Advent season.  The packets, which include a DVD, can be picked up at the EPA Conference Center (from a wicker basket in our lobby) or at Hopewell Church while supplies last. One packet per church.

The four-week study is based on Mathew 1:18-2:23. Those who believe or wonder if God speaks through dreams can explore such revelations through the Infancy narratives found in the gospel of Matthew. The story of Advent and Christmas is told in four progressive scenes, each featuring a nighttime dream given to human beings. They offer divine guidance, or warning from danger, or a challenge to try something new. If Advent is God's dream coming true, we might ask how do we ourselves and our church live into God's dream, and does God today offer guidance or protection or challenge to us in dreams? Find out more about the curriculum at

Advent Morning Apart with Bishop Peggy Johnson

Women in Professional Ministry are invited to spend an Advent Morning Apart with Bishop Peggy Johnson Dec. 9, from 10 AM to 12 noon, at the Episcopal Residence, 243 Rivercrest Drive, Phoenixville, PA. Contact Monica Guepet for more information. The Oct. 15 Women in Professional Ministry luncheon at Sayres Memorial UMC has been postponed and will be rescheduled. 

Basic Christ Servant Ministry class

Spread the Word! The BASIC Christ Servant Ministry class will be offered Friday evening (from 7 PM) and Saturday (to 3 PM), Dec. 11-12, at Faith UMC in Stroudsburg. Twelve participants are needed to hold the course. Don’t delay; please register today. For questions and more information, e-mail Judy Ehninger or call 610-965-2290.

Sunday, Oct. 18, is Laity Sunday   
UM Discipleship Ministries suggests Scripture, prayers and hymns for this day of celebrating lay discipleship. This year's theme is “Disciples Called to Action: Creating Unity in Ministry,” although if you visit the agency site, you might also see the key phrase “Lift High the Cross!”  See the Worship Helps page for Resources.
Pastor offers DivorceCare group counseling

The Rev. John Bletsch will offer DivorceCare, a 13-week group program designed to help people who are going through, or have recently gone through, the painful experience of marital separation and divorce. The group will meet Sundays, beginning Oct. 11, from 5 to 6:30 PM, in the fellowship hall of Otterbein UMC (181 Walnut St, Mont Clare, PA). They will discuss material to help them cope with the practical, emotional and spiritual stresses that separation and divorce generate. The cost is $35 for a participant workbook. The group is open to anyone, says Bletsch, who chairs the Conference Communications Ministry Team, "so please consider inviting friends or family members who might be working through issues related to separation and divorce." Contact him by phone (610-933-8690) or email ( to register or ask any questions.  

Medical exam equipment available to donate 
Two machines for providing medical examinations, both in excellent condition, are available for donation to a Christian service organization. One is a mobile X-ray machine that is certified and 2015 PA inspected. It works off a 110 outlet and weighs around 100 lb or less. It comes will all the accessories. It would be perfect in the mission field or in any areas where you need to transport equipment with you. The other item is an ultrasound machine that was used very little. If you know where this equipment could be used in ministry, please contact Pastor Steve Rodgers, or 626-2710.
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:

Voting at Annual Conference Adjourned Session
Clergy and lay members will vote again, using proven electronic devices from Padgett Communications, to select delegates to the 2016 General and Jurisdictional conferences during the Annual Conference Adjourned Session Nov. 14. The session will be held at Bethany UMC’s Macungie campus, 3801 Brookside Road, Macungie, Pa., near Allentown. Bios and personal statements of the nominees can be found on the conference Website at Laity Delegate Bios and Clergy Delegate Bios.  Also, information about the voting process can be found in two documents on the Adjourned Session webpage:
Refurbished Conference Archives to reopen Oct. 19
Historic St. George's UMC in Philadelphia will celebrate the long-awaited opening of the refurbished Archives of the Eastern PA Conference with an Open House on Oct. 19, from 2 to 4 PM.  Bishop Peggy Johnson and the Rev. Maridel Whitmore, the venerable church's first female pastor, will jointly dedicate this vital treasury of our conference's rich heritage. Come tour the restored facilities, and enjoy fellowship over tea at 3 PM with Archivist Donna Miller and other supporters whose endeavors made it all possible.  Historic St. George's UMC is at 235 N 4th St., Philadelphia, PA 19106. Register now . Contact Donna at or  215-925-7788 with any questions.
Bishop Johnson to speak at Moravian Seminary

 Bishop Peggy Johnson will preach and serve Holy Communion at Moravian Theological Seminary Wednesday, Oct. 21, at 12 noon, in the Bahnson Center.  Her sermon will be titled, “What the Blind Man Saw,” based on Mark 10:46-52. Following the service, she will lead a discussion on “Sexuality and the United Methodist Church.”  All are invited to attend. Moravian Theological Seminary is located at 60 West Locust Street, Bethlehem, PA. Call 610-861-1516.

Camp Innabah needs a truck

Camp Innabah urgently needs a truck “as soon as possible, before the first snow,” reports Sally W. Ott, Camp & Retreat Ministries Development Coordinator. Their current pick-up truck has reached the end of its road. A plow is needed as well. This equipment is a vital need for a year-round camp and retreat center. If not for free, they are looking for a good deal on a pre-owned truck in good condition.  If you can help contact Sally at or 717-468-7017, or call Michael Hyde, Innabah’s director, at the camp office, 610-469-6111.

Latino young people to gather for worship 'Full of Holy Spirit'   

The Latino Commission will co-sponsor an exciting conference-wide Latino youth worship and praise event at New Creation UMC in Lancaster (formerly El Redentor & St. Paul’s UMC, at 10 W.Varnum St.) on Friday, Oct. 16, from 7 to 11 PM. The 11 Latino churches in our conference will send their youth of all ages, but organizers are also inviting youth from other Christian churches in the Lancaster area. With the theme "2020 Vision," the event will feature youth-led worship, dance, music, drama and other forms of praise. "Our youth will bring their many talents to God," said Jose Tirado, pastor of Cristo Rey UMC in West Grove, who will preach the evening message and deliver an altar call, during which youth (and adults) will pray for each other. Organizers hope to revive the FOHS (Full of Holy Spirit) youth worship events begun during Latino Camp at Gretna Glen several years ago and repeated annually. For more information contact the New Creation UMC at 717-393-3035 or

PA Council of Churches event to explore flawed criminal justice system

The Pennsylvania Council of Churches (PCC) urgently invites all to attend an important weekend gathering in the capital city, Oct. 23-26, to educate people of faith about mass incarceration in the nation's troubled criminal justice system and how churches can respond. "Let Our Eyes Be Opened: Breaking the Chains of Mass Incarceration" will happen at Harrisburg's Red Lion Hotel and Conference Center Friday evening through Sunday, October 23-25, and then move to a day of social action at the State Capitol Monday, Oct. 26. This gathering for clergy and laity replaces the council's former annual Pennsylvania Pastors Conference. Learn more and register online...

Open Enrollment meetings scheduled
Open Enrollment meetings to present and explain 2016 health insurance coverage plans to active, participating clergy and lay church employees are  scheduled for each district   . All enrollments must be done online. Please try to attend the meeting scheduled for your area, although you may attend a meeting at any location. There is no passive enrollment  this year.  Members must enroll in a specific plan or they will have no coverage in 2016. These meetings will provide information about the plans and enable attendees to confer with consultants and receive assistance in signing up for coverage. The meetings are free, but registration is required.
CONAM gathering to explore mixed cultures, Native American worship

A part-Native American author, lecturer and historian will speak about his book, A Clash of Cultures, at a fall worship and fellowship event on Nov. 8 (at 4 PM) at Camp Innabah (712 Pughtown Road, Spring City/Pughtown), sponsored by the Eastern PA Conference’s Committee on Native American Ministries (CONAM). Darvin L. Martin will share findings about his Native and European family roots and the historic interaction between both cultures in the Susquehanna Valley. The event will include Native American Christian worship with music by the duo Spirit Wing and friends, followed by a light meal. RSVP by Oct. 30 to Felicia Anderson at or 484-762-8248.

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.
  Preaching, worship event for black clergy
The Peninsula-Delaware Conference's Strengthening the Black Church and Congregational Development Office will sponsor a Preaching and Worship Training Event for black clergy, Oct. 30 to Nov. 1, at Whatcoat UMC, 341 Saulsbury Road Dover, Del. Presenters include Bishop Violet Fisher, the Rev. Cynthia Wilson, the Rev. William McClain, the Rev. Emanuel Cleaver III and the Rev. Fred Allen. Registration is $25, which may be sent to the Peninsula-Delaware Conference, 139 N. State Street Dover, DE 19901 Attention: Judy Bratton. The deadline is Oct. 22. See the brochure for information or contact Judy Bratton at or (302) 674-2626 ext. 21. 
Conference launches Imagine No Malaria campaign

The Eastern PA Conference has embarked on a new, short-term Imagine No Malaria campaign to build broad awareness and financial support for the life-saving mission to eradicate the deadly disease of malaria. Bishop Peggy Johnson encourages churches to contribute $10 per worshiping member by the end of 2015 to help the denomination raise $9 million and reach its $75 million goal by 2016. She is appealing to leaders, members and churches throughout the conference to learn about this preventable disease and our collective efforts to help remedy it, and to “Press on toward the goal.” Learn more...

2016 Faith Sharing Event set for March 19
The 2016 Faith Sharing Event is set for Saturday,  March 19 , 2016, from 9 AM to 3 PM, once again at the centrally located New Hanover UMC. Our featured guest will be the  Rev. Romal Tune , a compelling, sought-after young speaker who voices his passion, intellect and faith in fresh ways, challenging listeners to see a new intersection of faith and public life. With unapologetic candor, Tune addresses the redemptive power of authentic engagement that is too often lacking in church outreach and evangelism efforts. He authored the book  God's Graffiti: Inspiring Stories for Teens  in 2013 and recently completed a companion devotional guide.

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.

Register now for Planting Seeds for Ministry Growth
 Hopewell UMC will host the annual Planting Seeds for Ministry Growth full-day event Saturday, Nov. 7.  An advanced Christ Servant Ministry course will again be offered in conjunction with Planting Seeds, Nov. 6-7, beginning Friday evening. The theme is "A Force Outside the Fortress," and the keynote speaker will be the Rev. Mike Slaughter, lead pastor at Ginghamsburg Church in Ohio and keynoter at our 2014 Annual Conference. Workshops will include Growing a Mission Movement, led by Slaughter; Teaching the Bible through Film, led by Bible Professor Rhonda Burnette-Bletsch; and Exploring Our Worship Dimension, led by sacred jazz musician Warren Cooper. Register today.
2016 Midwinter Retreat set for Jan. 12 in Lancaster 
The 2016 Midwinter Retreat for all clergy (elders, deacons and local pastors) and their spouses is set for Jan. 12, 2016, at the DoubleTree by Hilton, 2400 Willow Street Pike, Lancaster, PA.  Our guest speaker is retired Chaplain, Brigadier General Charles R. “Ray” Bailey. Sharing his 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.  Please register by Dec. 7  (due to hotel requirements). For questions contact  Amy Botti . Please note that there are only 20 openings for commuters at this event.  
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! 
Oct. 8-28: Bishop's Days on the Districts
  • Oct. 20: Northeast District
  • Oct. 22: Northwest District
  • Oct. 28: Southwest District
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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