October 23, 2020
NEWS & VIEWS
New conference staff begin dual district assignments

Two new staff at the Eastern PA Conference, (right, from top) Lisa Romano and Joan Lawson, began serving the East and West districts Oct. 5. Romano is the new Resource Assistant for both districts. Lawson provides clerical staff support.

They join Deb Boyd, who became both the North and South District Resource Assistant (DRA) at that time. Sheri Kentner, former North District Resource Assistant, is working on general projects and assisting the new DRAs until her retirement in December.  Christine Collazo continues to provide part-time clerical support for the North District. The conference plans to hire another part-time clerical staff member for the South District.
 All associate staff spilt their workdays between the Conference Office and home during the COVID-19 pandemic, except for Collazo, who works remotely from the North District. See Conference Office Staff Schedules for Fall 2020.
 
Romano previously worked for SAP America, a business software development firm, for over eight years. Lawson, a lifelong member of Grace Community UMC in Chester, has worked in office administration for corporations for over 40 years. She is co-leader of the South District Committee on Superintendency and previously was Lay Leader of the former Southeast District.
West District bids fond farewell to former DRA
The West District said thank you to its former Resource Assistant Kristin Reifsnyder Sept. 22, with a special celebration that included a pandemic-appropriate, online “Zoom party," followed by a parking-lot parade of cars at Faith UMC in Manheim Township, where well-wishers dropped off cards and gifts. Reifsnyder left for another job after four years on the Conference staff because of the district office’s relocation to Valley Forge.

“She has done an outstanding job supporting the annual conference, district superintendents, local churches, clergy and laity…in a grace-filled way,” said the Rev. Jason Perkowski, Faith UMC’s pastor and chair of both the West District Resource Team and the Pikes Mission Link. “Many people shared that Kristin was passionate in her service to the church, meticulous in details, creative in communications materials that she designed, an excellent problem solver, and a wonderful team-oriented colleague.”  

“I truly appreciated her work as a DRA,” said the Rev. Bumkoo Chung, West District Superintendent. “All the time she mentioned to me and other people that for her, being a DRA is not a job but a ministry. I truly believe that it was, because she worked with such joy.” (Photos courtesy of Rev. Jason Perkowski)
Words of worship witness to unity, leadership, sacrifice
The 2020 Eastern PA Annual Conference, Oct. 13-14, began and ended in worship, so fitting for a conference that begins each year’s session by singing dutifully Charles Wesley’s venerable hymn, “And Are We Yet Alive?” Bishop Peggy Johnson picked an ideal scripture, Colossians 2:1-5, for her opening message, invoking the Apostle Paul’s appeal for the church to be “knit together in love.”  

With so many church gatherings cancelled or shifted from onsite to online, what pastor or church leader has not uttered Paul’s hopeful assurance to their congregation: “For though I am absent in body, yet I am with you in spirit, rejoicing to see your good order and the firmness of your faith in Christ.”

The Eastern PA Conference bishop opened the two-day session by emphasizing the primacy of redemptive love. And the next day Bishop Cynthia Moore-Koikoi of the Western PA Conference ended it by uplifting the urgent necessity of exemplary leadership. She preached at the annual Service of Ordination and Commissioning, held for a limited audience at Olivet UMC in Coatesville and livestreamed for hundreds more on the Conference’s website. Learn more…

In addition, be sure to read Bishop Peggy Johnson’s opening sermon adapted as an essay, “Knitted Together in Love,” and view the Connectional Ministries video at the end. Also, view video recordings of both her sermon and Bishop Cynthia Moore-Koikoi’s sermon on the recorded livestream videos. And enjoy a full album of colorful photos of the Service of Ordination and Commissioning on our Flickr page.
Don't forget to V.O.T.E.
By Bishop Peggy Johnson
Whatever your political affiliation, I urge you to be sure to V.O.T.E. “The strength of a political system depends upon the full and willing participation of its citizens,” according to the United Methodist Social Principles (para. 164 in the 2016 Book of Discipline). I encourage you to participate in the following important ways. We can:

  • Volunteer to help others vote.
  • Open our minds through reading and listening to learn candidates’ positions and platforms to help determine our choices.
  • Teach others about the sacred importance of voting and helping to ensure fairness in our elections.
  • Engage in prayer for a peaceful, safe, transparent and civil outcome to this election, asking God’s Spirit to move among us as a nation.

Read Bishop Johnson’s full essay but also the open letter--”A Crisis of Faith and Democracy”—signed by her and many other UM bishops, as well as other related articles.  
Is the UMC involved in politics?
The people called Methodists have been actively involved in social and political matters from their founding in 18th century England. Methodists were among the primary advocates for the abolition of slavery across the British Empire, the organization of labor unions to protect workers from dangerous working conditions, the ending of the debtors prison system, and the creation of new systems of care for poor children. 

Given this heritage, Methodists have continued to advocate for social or political issues since that time - women’s suffrage, temperance, civil rights, health care and care for the environment, to name a few. Today our United Methodist Social Creed and Social Principles express our commitment to fully participate in building a more peaceful and just world.  Read more…
New immigration legal aid ministry promotes theater event
The new Justice for Our Neighbors (JFON) of the Delaware Valley, based at Historic St. George's UMC in Philadelphia, will be part of “an important theater event in partnership with Motus Theater of Boulder Colorado, on Wednesday, Oct. 28, 8 to 9:30 PM
 
The 19 U.S. regional affiliates of this UMC immigration ministry provide low-cost and no-cost legal services to immigrants who need help but cannot afford costly attorneys. The Delaware Valley JFON, organized in 2019, serves immigrant communities in Southeast Pennsylvania and Southern New Jersey.
 
The event, titled "Welcoming the Stranger,” will tell the story of undocumented persons through their own words in monologues read by several JFON executive directors. It will be broadcast nationally through the Motus Theater network. Register to view the webinar program online.
 
“This important, dramatic presentation event will be a great opportunity to promote our own JFON of the Delaware Valley,” said the Rev. Mark I. Salvacion, the local JFON director and also pastor of Historic St. George's. He will begin the program by reading the story of a 12-year old Mexican immigrant who struggles for citizenship and acceptance in America. The young man is now one of the “Dreamers” of the DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) program. He was assisted by the JFON ministry of the Baltimore-Washington Conference.

Salvacion, who is also a lawyer, is one of several faith leaders and JFON executive directors who will read the verbatim stories of undocumented persons. Those stories recount their struggles with the U.S. immigration system, racial profiling and discrimination, and the hope provided by organizations such as JFON.  
 
The four participating JFON executive directors lead the churchwide program’s four newest affiliates in Tucson, Arizona; El Paso, Texas; North Carolina and the Delaware Valley. The program will be broadcast nationally through the Motus Theater network.  
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 communications@epaumc.org to be included in the celebration. Register now to participate. Download and share the event flyer. 
Holy Listening with the heart
"How is it with your soul?" It’s an ancient question the founder of Methodism, John Wesley, was known to ask when connecting with followers of the early Methodist movement. A query that got right to point - no fluff, no chit chat, no stalling - just a direct inspection of your current status as a follower of Christ; a spiritual checkup.  

But learning to humbly and openly listen and engage with those longing to be heard is an invitation to spiritual relationship that goes beyond just hearing and responding to questions in conversations.  Learn more…

LEARNING EVENTS
Webinar to explore dealing with “church bullies”
Connectional Ministries will offer a requested Zoom webinar titled “How to Recognize and Deal with Church Bullies” on Wednesday, Nov 11, at 6:30 PM. The Rev. David Woolverton (right) will lead the workshop, drawing from his 30 years as a pastor, educator, consultant and now author, with a new book on church conflict in the works.
“In the church, bullies can look spiritual. They also may be serving a very unique function in the life of the congregation,” writes Dr. Woolverton. He will explore how to recognize, assess and respond to church “bullies” and the closed power systems that they represent. “While some of those persons are simply reacting with anxiety to changes implemented by leaders, others may have a more defined plan to sabotage any idea that does not originate with them.” Registration for this event is now open.
Church & Society seminar to examine educational equity
Church and Society will host its fifth annual Called Seminar, “Towards Educational Equity: Investing in the Beloved Community” from Nov. 30 to Dec. 3, on Zoom.
 
Going back to school in the COVID-19 pandemic has created challenges for students, teachers, and parents. These challenges have been compounded by the disproportionate availability and access to resources, highlighting the inequities of our education system. Unfortunately, these inequities are not unique to COVID-19, and like other societal inequities magnified by COVID-19, existed prior to the pandemic.
 
This four-day series of seminars will feature discussions with experts on what an equitable education system for all can truly look like. The seminar will equip participants with tools and resources to continue the work of advocacy towards educational equity.
 
All sessions will be held on Zoom. Registration is free and open to all.  Register for each session here. Advance registration is required for all events. Closed captions and ASL interpretation will be available for Nov 30 and Dec 1 webinars. For December 2 and 3 events, it will be available upon request.
 
Participants will also have an option to hold virtual meetings with their Congressional offices on Dec. 3. Register by Nov. 11. Webinars on Nov. 30 and Dec. 1 will be recorded. Register by the date of the webinar to receive the links and additional resources. Contact Aimee Hong for more information. Register Today!
AROUND THE UM CONNECTION
Annual Conferences go virtual, with mixed results
Just as churches had to scramble to go online or enhance their online presence because of meeting restrictions caused by COVID-19, nearly all U.S. annual conferences have had to resort to virtual meetings for passing budgets and handling other essential business.

Approaches have varied, from fully online to hybrid online and onsite events. Experiences have varied too, with mixed feelings accompanying even successful sessions. The common downside for many in their evaluations is that folks clearly miss the physical connection and the community building that happens around the edges. Learn more...
MISSION OPPORTUNITIES
Camp Innabah - The Amazing Raise!
For the entire month of October Innabah Camp & Retreat Center is participating in the Amazing Raise public fundraising drive. Last year they raised more than $23,000 in one day. Now camp director Michael Hyde hopes to surpass that total. All donations given through the Amazing Raise this month, will be matched. 

“This year has been hard for everyone, but we are better together,” said Hyde. “We are doing our best here at Innabah to be able to continue with our ministry. We need everyone’s help. Whatever you can give will be appreciated!” Learn moreWatch a video for some more details and information by clicking HERE.
Is your church involved in the 2020 election?
We are looking for pastors and church members who are involved in the upcoming elections in any active but non-partisan ways. We would like to interview some and report on church efforts in our conference. Are you planning or involved in pre-election or Election Day prayer vigils? Doing voter registration and mobilization drives? Offering transportation or other aid to voters? Volunteering as polling place workers or watchers? Please let us know. Contact us at communications@epaumc.org.  

Some church leaders may be involved with ecumenical or interfaith groups. Pastors of three UM churches in the Germantown area of Philadelphia—Servants of Christ, Janes Memorial and First UMC of Germantown—have attended Zoom meetings of the Northwest Philly Multi-Faith Leaders coalition, which is planning a brief “Election Eve Multi-Faith Community Gathering for Solidarity and Hope" Nov. 2, at 6 PM at Oxford Presbyterian Church. That follows a Multi-Faith Vigil for Black Lives held June 18, hosted by Janes Memorial UMC and and keynoted by its pastor, the Rev. Gregory Holston.

Meanwhile POWER, the interfaith, justice advocacy organization of over 50 congregations in the region, is doing “voter engagement” work to involve “Black and Brown communities” in its “Get Out To Vote” campaign. That includes phone banks, social action events, even recruiting clergy to offer protection from possible intimidation at polling places.

POWER is also collecting clergy signatures for a public letter to PA Gov. Tom Wolf and State Assembly leaders, calling on them to “publicly commit to counting every vote, honoring the will of the people, and rising above partisanship to give counties more time before Election Day to pre-canvass and submit mail-in and absentee ballots.”

We want to report on more activities that may be happening among our Eastern PA UM churches and leaders to prepare for and stimulate participation in this historic national election. Please let us know what your church is doing at communications@epaumc.org. Also be sure to read and share Bishop Peggy Johnson’s new, motivational essay, Don’t forget to V.O.T.E.

(Photo: Philadelphia African American clergy launch a new voter activation campaign called www.CASETheVote.org. Will Careri photo)
RESOURCES
Pastor's book aims to help with anxiety
The Rev. Susan Eaton, a UM pastor in Hattiesburg, Miss., and her husband, Stewart, a licensed professional counselor, have published "You're Gonna Be Okay" — a book for people dealing with depression and anxiety. The book includes readings, prayers and journaling prompts as well as links to music and other online resources. Learn more
Hunger relief group offers Advent devotions
The Society of St. Andrew, a United Methodist-supported hunger relief ministry, is offering free Advent devotional booklets and daily email devotions for Nov. 29-Dec. 24. This year's theme is "Peace Be With You." To orderReclaiming more food to fill pandemic gaps
How can faith communities engage in the democratic process? What about the separation of church and state? This toolkit provides practical ways for churches to faithfully engage in the civic process.
REMINDERS
2020 Annual Conference uses little time to make big decisions
Numerous reports, awards presented, all pre-recorded

By John W. Coleman

To ensure members’ safety during the COVID-19 pandemic, the 234th Eastern PA Annual Conference conducted its business session solely online Oct. 13, with an agreed-upon, reduced agenda that it processed in under four hours via a Zoom video-conferencing webinar. 

The historic, perhaps shortest session on record, presided over by Bishop Peggy Johnson, featured worship and presentations of only essential resolutions and reports—all pre-recorded. The live portion included legislative questions and answers but no amendments or debate. Non-voting persons could view the livestreamed session on the Conference’s Facebook page.

(A recording of the business session is viewable now on the Conference’s Facebook page. It starts at 10:16. You don’t need a Facebook account to view it; but a better version will be viewable on the Conference website’s AC2020 page by Tuesday, Oct. 20.)   

Votes were cast using the secure, online eBallot system and a Zoom vote by telephone option. Nine key, time-sensitive 2020 resolutions were presented and passed, including two controversial resolutions that each drew members’ questions. Learn more...
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
DACA Dreamers to share their stories, Oct. 31
Meet and learn about DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) immigrants, known as Dreamers, through a virtual encounter with them on Saturday, Oct. 31, 10 to 11:30 AM, on Zoom. That’s when several of these young, lifelong U.S. residents who are striving to become citizens will open their lives to us. Their “story-sharing” visit will include prayer, biblical and theological perspectives, personal experiences as immigrants, social analysis and a vocal commitment to advocacy in action.

Their Storysharing Tour is being sponsored by the General Board of Church & Society and co-hosted by the Rev. Carlos Reyes Rodríguez, a missionary and Coordinator of Hispanic-Latino Ministries in the Peninsula-Delaware Conference. The Eastern PA and Peninsula-Delaware conferences will both participate in this event.

Register now to receive the Zoom link and information. Also view a
30-second YouTube video of Yulma Lopéz, Delaware State University graduate and Dreamer, explaining why sharing her story and listening to her story is important.
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 https://zoom.us/support/download.
  • This will automatically download the newest version for you.
  • Install this version once downloaded.
Order of Elders to learn about using digital media for ministry
The Eastern PA Conference Order of Elders will hear from an expert on how to use media creatively to reclaim the church’s social influence at a training event on Wednesday, Nov. 18, at 1 PM, via Zoom.

“Obviously our time together in the Order of Elders will be different this year,” says the Rev. Tom Ebersole, the group’s new chairman. Rather than the usual lunch gathering at Innabah Camp & Retreat Center, the 2-hour video-conference will include a talk and Q & A session featuring Phil Cooke, a writer, leading media producer and consultant who critiques American-influenced Christian culture. (Wikipedia)

With a Ph.D in theology, Cooke has “helped some of the largest Christian and nonprofit organizations in the world use the media to tell their story in a changing, disrupted culture.” Ebersole says Cooke’s book The Way Back: How Christians Blew Our Credibility & How We Get it Back “changed how I do ministry. He is dynamic and brings a message we definitely need to hear.”
 
The first 70 elders who sign up for the Nov. 18 training will receive a copy of Cooke’s new book, Maximize Your Influence: How to Make Digital Media Work for Your Church, Your Ministry and You. This event is free for conference elders. Register now.
Fight for Floyd's next online meeting, Oct. 29
There will be a second Fight for Floyd meeting online on Thursday, October 29, at 6:30 PM on Zoom. This meeting, titled “The Fight for Floyd and Beyond,” will again gather United Methodists and others across our region who are concerned about ongoing racial injustice and violence in America and who want to be actively involved in seeking solutions. The first organizing meeting was held June 1, one week after the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolic, Minn., police. 

Attendees can hear updates and plans from the three Fight for Floyd Action Committees: Education, Community Development and Policy. Informative discussions will be held on:

  • Police and Policing, led by Gail Looney
  • Lancaster, PA, and Police Brutality Concerns, led by Rev. Greg Impink
  • Violence in Philadelphia, led by Gabriel Palmer (Youth Representative)

Come learn and get engaged in what is happening. All are invited. Register for this free event and receive access to this Zoom video-conference. Sponsored by the Eastern PA Conference Urban Commission. Register online now! Download the flyer.
National Prison summit to be held virtually
Strengthening the Black Church for the 21st Century will virtually present the fifth National Prison Summit on Mass Incarceration, Oct. 29-31 via the Whova app. With "#BeTheHOPE" as its theme, the summit will promote advocacy, criminal justice reform and working within the church congregation to reimagine and build healthy communities. For more information. Register for event.
Christmas Cards to Inmates ministry update
The Conference Prison Ministry & Restorative Justice Team’s Christmas Cards to Inmates ministry needs more participation. Eight Pick-up & Drop-off locations are located at the Conference Office and churches in all four districts. But not enough churches, groups or individuals are coming to pick up the sandwich bags containing cards and instructions or to return them signed and ready for delivery to correctional facilities.

The team is trying to get more correctional facilities to commit to accepting the Christmas cards as a humanitarian gesture, despite tighter restrictions imposed this year, due to the COVID pandemic. So far, two institutions have committed to accept nearly 1,200 cards. Please contact the eight Pick-up & Drop-off locations and arrange to come get cards and to return them. The deadline to return signed cards is Nov. 2, but the sooner the better. Learn more...
Laity urged to join Conference’s newest Facebook page
More people each week are asking to participate in the new Eastern PA Conference Laity Facebook page. Why not join them and help grow our Facebook Community?

The new social media page is an informal communication resource for laity of our conference that is intended to inform, encourage and engage us all. It may include some occasional notices of relevant conference events, concerns and activities. But its primary purpose is to generate informal, widely-shared correspondence and connection among laity across our region. 
 
“This is not a place for debate, nor for preaching, devotionals, teaching videos, etc.,” said Conference Lay Leader David Koch, who manages the page. So far, over 200 people have joined, and more requests are coming each week. Laity need only go to the page (at facebook.com/groups/1449766521875603), ask to join, and acceptance will be granted. “We hope you will join us and tell others about us,” said Koch. If you have any difficulty finding the page or being admitted, notify him at conflayleader@epaumc.org. Learn more...
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
Bishop’s celebrates laity, pastors, Cabinet in October
This October especially is an ideal time for us all to celebrate ministry!

October 18 is “Laity Sunday.” I hope that every church will have lay persons giving witness as they preach the Word. And every church should give thanks to our faithful God for the faithful laity in our churches.

October is also “Clergy Appreciation Month,” and I hope that each church will honor its pastors at some time during this month. The COVID-19 pandemic has challenged us all in unimaginable ways. But our committed leaders and the faithful people of God have shown resilience and grace through it all.

I offer a special thanks to the Extended Cabinet of the Eastern PA Conference, who have worked tirelessly to keep the Connection connected for the benefit of us all. 

Faithfully Yours,
Bishop Peggy A. Johnson
CDT adds new Wednesday morning book club, starting Oct. 21
Wednesday is “CDT Book Club Day” for the Eastern PA Conference. The Congregational Development Team (CDT), which already sponsors a Wednesday evening Book Club weekly on Zoom, will add a morning version that begins on Wednesday, Oct. 21, 11 AM to 12 PM.

The evening group meets on Wednesdays, 7 to 8 PM, to discuss Transforming Community: The Wesleyan Way to Missional Congregations. ("How can we adopt John Wesley’s creative way of organizing churches for missional discipleship to transform their communities?" Learn more…) However, the group will not meet Oct. 13, because of Annual Conference. It will meet instead on the next night, Thursday, Oct. 14, 7 to 8 PM.

The Rev. Kevin Babcock, book club coordinator, heard from a number of people who are unavailable on Wednesday evenings but want to participate. So he proposed, and CDT agreed, to start a one-hour Wednesday morning edition, also on Zoom, beginning Oct. 21, from 11 AM to noon. The new group will start with studying The Post Quarantine Church by Thom Rainer. 

The Rev. Lloyd Speer, the new, incoming co-chair of CDT, will facilitate the six-session dialogue. Suzette James is also co-chair of CDT. The Post-Quarantine Church is described as “a trustworthy and respected guide for pastors and church leadership in the post-quarantine world, providing hope and vision for the future of your congregation.” Learn more…   REGISTER ONLINE.
CONAM race-based mascots workshop, Nov. 8
The Eastern PA Conference Committee on Native American Ministries (CONAM) will present a Zoom video-conference on Sunday, Nov. 8, at 4 PM, about the ongoing abuse of Native American identities and stereotypes as sports team names and mascots. That abuse continues in PA and other areas of the U.S. 

The Coalition of Natives and Allies, a CONAM community partner, will lead the workshop as part of its mission, “Cultivating Unity to End Racism.” The group’s strategy is stated as “Decolonizing, Ending Stereotypes, Engendering Respect.”

Learn the truth behind popular mascot myths, such as "Mascots honor the Indians.” Download and share the flyer. Learn more and register for this important learning event.
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 
Urban Commission offers fall ministry grants
The Eastern PA Conference’s Urban Commission will once again award grants this fall to assist in funding Urban Alliances or Urban Church Initiatives. The deadline is Nov. 23. Awards will be announced by Jan. 6, 2021. UM churches in the following urban centers, are invited to apply: 

Allentown Lebanon
Bethlehem Norristown
Chester Pottstown
Coatesville Reading
Lancaster Philadelphia and Philadelphia 

The Urban Commission typically offers grants twice a year, in the spring and fall. However, funds for this year’s spring round of grants were reallocated to the conference Cabinet to aid churches responding to community needs during the coronavirus pandemic. Read the grant information on the Urban Ministries webpage, and use the online application to apply.
Wespath Virtual Educational Workshop, Oct. 26-27
Wespath Benefits and Investments is offering a Virtual Educational Event to all active clergy. The “Delivered to You” event will be held Oct. 26 and 27 in the afternoon. The registration fee is just $49 and includes the event Care Package of materials to be provided in advance. The registration deadline is Oct. 16, ensuring receipt of the Care Package in time to participate.

Jo Fielding, Director of the Benefits Office, reports:
For those of you who have participated in the regional Benefits Education Workshops in the past, you can bear witness to the fact that these are arguably one of the best resource tools available to our clergy, and far too underutilized! Now you can participate without even leaving your home! Not only will there be informative and inspiring segments, but Wespath will also offer special opportunities to:

  • Schedule a consultation with a Wespath staff member. This private session is your opportunity to discuss your own account balance and pension projection. A knowledgeable Wespath representative will help you understand your specific benefit situation.
  • Meet with a Pastoral Counselor / Spiritual Director —If you are looking for an opportunity to explore your individual wellness issues in a safe, confidential manner, this session—facilitated by a professional counselor—is appropriate for you. Gain perspective from someone outside your conference who can listen, problem-solve and bless you with a fresh outlook on how to resolve your specific issue as well as offer new ideas for living a healthy and balanced life.
  • Acquire Continuing Education Units (CEU’s) awarded for attending this event. This certificate will be provided to you via email after the completion of the event.
  • Gain more Virgin Pulse Points! These will be awarded for attending this event. Pulse points will be made available to you – if you are interested in receiving these bonus points – after the completion of the event.

By Water & the Spirit: Theology & Practice of Baptism
Nov. 7 & 21, 9 to 11:30 AM. A study offered on Zoom by the Board of Ordained Ministry

Study leaders: Rev. Gary Knerr and Rev. Candy LaBar. 
Two Sessions:
Saturday November 7, 9:00-11:30 AM
Saturday November 21, 9:00-11:30 AM

Baptism is at the core of who we are as Christians — but how well do we truly understand this sacrament? Those of us who serve in church leadership often face practical questions with deep theological roots. By getting to the theological heart of baptism, we as church leaders can offer better and more meaningful answers to these questions that so often arise from the pews. 

This study on Zoom is designed to help all church leaders — and in particular, our licensed local pastors and lay-supply pastors — to wrestle with this theological foundation of baptism. To participate, individuals should read Gayle Carlton Felton’s By Water and the Spirit (available at Cokesbury.com); and share any questions with the study leaders via email. 0.5 CEUs will be offered to those who complete this course.   

This event is free and recommended to all persons with church leadership roles. Learn more and Register Online.
Emotional Intelligence (EI) and Diversity training
This recurring workshop can help any church leader improve their communication, teamwork and conflict management skills, while creating an inclusive, welcoming environment. It’s a must-learn for leaders who want to abide in and lead like Christ. 

The workshop provides insight into Jesus’ life and approach to managing conflict, creating believers, and teaching others about living life with God at the center. It provides answers to those who perceive and experience oppression, inequality and violence. The skilled trainers are the Revs. David Piltz and Anita Powell of the Eastern PA Conference Commission on Religion & Race (CORR).

Register now for this Zoom video-conferencing workshop, scheduled for two Saturday afternoons, October 31 and November 7, from 12:30 to 3:30 PM, just 3 hours each day. The registration fee is only $10. More information coming soon! 
Faith Sharing Event, Nov. 14, moved to Zoom
Evangelism in a Changing Landscape, the Eastern PA Conference’s 2020 Faith-Sharing Event Nov. 14, will now be a 3-hour Zoom video-conference from 9 AM to 12 noon, offered for free.
Our featured speaker is the Rev. Lisa Greenwood, Vice-President for Leadership Ministry of TMF (the Texas Methodist Foundation), Dallas, Texas. She will stimulate reflections on the changing landscape of our mission field—both its challenges and opportunities—and invite us into conversations about the implications for our church leaders and ministries. Congregations are encouraged to participate in teams to learn, strategize and prepare to grow together.

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 UMC.org, averaging more than 1,000 page views a day. You'll achieve the best results from your Find-A-Church profile when you update your church's information. For video instructions on how, visit Video Tutorial: Find-A-Church Overview
Missed any past issues of NEWSpirit Digest?
You can still read or share informative, colorful back issues of our weekly e-newsletter on the Eastern PA Conference Website at www.epaumc.org/news-events/newspirit-digest. 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 communications@epaumc.org. Thanks!
SAVE THE DATES
  • October 17 & and October 24: Basic Sexual Ethics, via Zoom, in two parts. Register online.
  • October 23 – 25: Dismantling Racism Training. Friday 5 PM – Sunday 3 PM. Zoom Meeting (online).
  • October 29: Fight for Floyd and Beyond
  • October 31st & November 7: Emotional Intelligence and Diversity Training. Part 1: 10/31 at 12:30 PM – 3:30 PM. Part 2: 11/7 at12:30 PM – 3:30 PM. Download the flyer. Register online.
  • November 14: Annual Faith-Sharing Event–Evangelism in a Changing Landscape. Zoom, 9 AM – 12 PM. Register online.
  • December 13: Annual “Celebrating our Cultures” Event, Zoom online meeting
  • January 30, 2021: Basic Sexual Ethics Workshop, via Zoom.
  • March 6, 2021: Advanced Sexual Ethics Workshop. 9:30 AM – 3 PM. Register Online.
  • March 13, 2021: Tools for Ministry. Times and Places TBD by Districts.
  • May 15, 2021: Latino Holy Convocation and Assembly
  • May 15, 2021: Clergy Transition Workshop led by Dave Woolverton. Location TBD.
  • August 6 - 8, 2021: Laity Academy

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