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WHAT'S NEW - October 30, 2015
New Appointments

Bishop Peggy Johnson announces the appointment of  Patrick J. Welch  (Part-time Local Pastor) to Friendship UMC, effective January 1, 2016. (First appointment.)  
Celebrating Saints, Praying for the Persecuted Church
  Sunday, Nov. 1, is All Saints Day , “a sometimes-overlooked holy day in United Methodist congregations,” writes Joe Iovino in an article on . “It is not nearly as well known as the day before, All Hallows’ (Saints’) Eve, better known as Halloween; but is far more important in the life of the church.”  John Wesley, founder of Methodism, described All Saints Day in his journal (Nov. 1, 1767) as “a festival I truly love.” While honoring courageous, devoted leaders who have gone before us in the faith, it is also a time to celebrate our history, what United Methodists call the tradition of the church . Learn more from Iovino’s article.

Nov. 1 and 8 (and the days in-between) are also days to remember thousands of  Christians around the world who suffer persecution, simply because they confess Jesus Christ as Lord. International Day(s) of Prayer for the Persecuted Church (IDOP) is a time set apart worldwide for us to honor and pray for them.  Bill Mefford, Director of Civil & Human Rights at the UMC’s General Board of Church & Society, writes about this important observance , for which there are ample resources available. And Bishop Peggy Johnson offers a prayer for All Saints Day that also resonates with International Day(s) of Prayer for the Persecuted Church. She invites churches to use this prayer in their observances. Learn more...
Conference Office Job Opening 
The EPA Conference Office is currently seeking a part-time Data Entry Clerk to assist with Monthly Remittances and/or other computer system data entry work as required.  Learn more...
Voting for General, Jurisdictional conference delegates Nov. 14
Conference members will again use electronic devices to vote for eight General Conference and 12 Northeast Jurisdictional Conference delegates (and six alternates) at the Adjourned Session of Annual Conference, Saturday, Nov. 14. But these devices will be furnished by Padgett Communications, a specialized vendor of audience response systems, based in Clearwater, Fla.  Providing such systems for events, conferences and television programs since 1995, Padgett has worked with other United Methodist annual and jurisdictional conferences and will do so again for our Jurisdictional Conference in 2016.

To simplify the process, the annual conference, meeting at Bethany UMC's Macungie campus near Allentown, will use the devices only to vote for delegates. All other voting--on a 2016 budget and resolutions--will be done by show of hands. A PowerPoint slide presentation clearly explains who can and cannot vote for clergy and lay delegates and how lay members may make nominations from the floor. Learn more...
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.”
Hopewell UMC's Planting Seeds registration closed
Hopewell UMC's Planting Seeds for Ministry Growth conference Nov. 7 has been "joyfully overwhelmed by the number of registrants," announced the Rev. Amy Banka, and has had to close registration. "We are eagerly looking forward to Rev. Mike Slaughter’s keynote address and workshop—encouraging the Church to be a fortress outside the walls—as well as the expert teaching of Warren Cooper and Dr. Rhonda Burnette-Bletsch," Banka said. "We have reached maximum seating capacity (Praise the Lord).... We look forward to witnessing the way in which God will use this event (and future ones) to bless and  inspire our local churches, their leaders, and their surrounding communities." 
Historic home of Conference archives gets a makeover
John Wesley's handwritten hymn book was one of several treasures that fascinated about a dozen history-lovers gathered in the basement of Philadelphia's St. George's UMC Oct. 19 to dedicate the newly renovated and reopened home of the Eastern PA Conference Archives.  Costing the conference Board of Trustees about $158,000, the yearlong renovation was more like a transformation from a dreary, crowded, inconvenient space into a gleaming, well-organized, professional-looking research facility. Learn more...
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 Board of Pension and Health Benefits has released clergy and lay church employee health insurance rates for 2016, after its Oct. 29 meeting. The local church composite rate for pastors for next year will be $13,000 annually or $1,083.33 monthly. For lay staff it will be $3,350 annually or $279.17 monthly.  Three plan options--Bronze, Silver and Gold--are offered for selection with varying deductibles and coverages. Download the chart posted today on for more information. 
Advent Preaching Seminar open to all  ​ 

Mount Hope UMC, Aston, will host on Tuesday, ​Nov. 3, from 6:30 to 8:30 PM, a free, not-to-be-missed, 2-hour​ seminar on preaching during the expectant season of Advent. The Southeast District-sponsored seminar, designed to prepare preachers for Advent, is open to the entire Eastern PA Conference. That means welcoming pastors, candidates for ministry, Christ Servant Ministers, Certified Lay Ministers, church leaders and anyone else interested in the process of preaching. Four Southeast District pastors--the Revs. Evelyn Kent Clark, Amy Banka, Johnson Dodla and Truman Brooks-- will lead participants through four Advent texts and work with them to design sermon series based on the book Sent by the Rev. Jorge Acevedo. (Reading the book before the class is not necessary.) The leaders will also consider Advent altar design, worship liturgy, and print and video resources.  

"This seminar is fantastic," said the Rev. Dawn Taylor-Storm, Southeast District Superintendent, who attended a daytime session recently. "When you leave, you will have four sermon outlines for Advent.  Even if you are not preaching during advent, you will see how four pastors put together ideas and sermon series in unique ways and in different contexts.  Please join us for the evening session, if you are able.  It will be worth your time."   Register now.

A part-Native American author, lecturer and historian will speak about his book, A Clash of Cultures, at a fall worship and fellowship event Nov. 8, from 4 to 6 PM, at Camp Innabah, 712 Pughtown Road, Spring City/Pughtown. 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. The Eastern PA Conference’s Committee on Native American Ministries (CONAM) is the event sponsor. RSVP to Felicia Anderson at or 484-762-8248. Please see and share the event flyer

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 Lancaster Parish Resource Center will sponsor a concert and a conversation to focus on concerns of race and religion. Popular vocal group Sweet Honey in the Rock, a Grammy-Award winning, African-American women's ensemble, will perform Saturday, Nov. 7, at 7 PM at Lancaster Bible College.  Tickets are $50 for non-members. And a panel discussion of what local churches can do to address racial injustice will be held Tuesday, Nov. 10, at 7 PM, at Grandview UMC, 888 Pleasure Road, Lancaster. Two of the three panelists are ordained UM clergy. Organizer hope for a strong United Methodist presence at the event. There is no charge for this event.  

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. 

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.  

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
 Local Church News & Events
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.
Youth Choral festival set for Nov. 22
The critically acclaimed Susquehanna Chorale, ensemble-in-residence at Messiah College in Mechanicsburg, PA., and three of its educational choirs will present a concert at 4:00 pm on Sunday, Nov. 22, at the High Center, Messiah College. The Susquehanna Children’s, Youth, and Young Women’s Chorales will each perform several pieces, as will the adults of the Susquehanna Chorale. The annual concert will feature the traditional 200 voice mass choir finale, the inspiring Anthem of Peace, directed by Linda Tedford, Founder and Artistic Director of the Chorale. For tickets ($15 in advance) call the Messiah College box office at 717-691-6036, or purchase online by following the links at  Tickets will also be sold at the door ($20). All student tickets are $5.  For general information, call 717-533-7859 or email .
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.
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.

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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