October 9, 2020
NEWS & VIEWS
2-session seminar to help churches respond to domestic violence in families, Oct. 9-10
October is annually National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, a time when attention to the ongoing crisis in domestic and intimate-partner violence increases thanks to the media and planned educational events. The Eastern PA Conference’s Domestic Violence Committee will sponsor its third annual domestic violence (DV) seminar this weekend, Oct. 9-10, as a two-session video-conference on Zoom.
 
Experts say the same COVID- 19 pandemic that is forcing groups to hold events online rather than in person, is also causing an increase in DV, as many families have been homebound for months to avoid exposure to the virus. As one expert puts it, “Good marriages have gotten better; but bad marriages have gotten worse.”
 
After addressing the impact of DV on women and men the past two years, the three-year-old committee will focus on children and families in its first virtual seminar on Friday evening, 7 PM to 9 PM, and Saturday morning, 9 AM to 12 PM.  The theme is When Home Hurts: Domestic Violence and Families—The Church Responds. (Register Online Now!   Download the flyer!) Learn more

Conference 2021-24 leadership report updated
The Rev. James Todd (retired) will become the new chairman of the Conference Human Resources Committee. His name and role has been added to the Conference Committee on Leadership’s report to Annual Conference. The report, which proposes and announces conference leadership for the 2021-2024 quadrennium, was shared at District Conferences for vetting in September. But the updated version, which will be voted on during Annual Conference next week, is on our website.
Conference members hear of proposed sale of Innabah property
Eastern PA Conference members heard a resolution presented Oct. 5 that would authorize the conference to sell up to 50+/- acres of land at Innabah Camp & Retreat Center to pay off budget deficits and Innabah’s large payroll liability. The deficits have mounted in the wake of financial losses caused by closures of summer camps and scheduled retreats during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Rev. Don Keller, Camp & Retreat Ministries Board Chairman, presented the resolution to a preliminary conference session that took place in a Zoom webinar format. The session was held primarily so that members could practice use of the new e-Ballot secure online voting system. He also responded to questions about the proposal. The resolution will be voted on along with others at the Annual Conference Oct. 13, Learn more...
Conference awards record number of scholarships in 2020
This fall the Eastern PA Conference Scholarship Committee awarded 20 academic scholarships to deserving students, the committee’s highest number in one semester. Scholarships are awarded for the fall and spring semesters to undergraduate and graduate students who have been active members of an Conference church for at least two years. 

Usually the scholarships are funded by offerings received at Annual Conference sessions, along with other donations. However, this year’s virtual conference session, using Zoom video-conferencing, precludes us from receiving offerings onsite. 

The scholarship committee and conference leaders are appealing to all churches and members to support the ongoing needs of our scholarship fund and the students it helps by sending your gifts directly to the Conference Office. Learn more...
47th UMW Annual Celebration, Oct. 17
Following the trend necessitated by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Eastern PA Conference UM Women (UMW) will hold its 47th Annual Celebration on Saturday, Oct. 17, as a video-conference on Zoom for the first time. The event will begin at 9:30 AM and end by 1 PM. 

The featured guest speaker is Shannon Priddy, National President of United Methodist Women. Also featured will be: 
  • The Deaf Ministry Choir of Christ UMC, Fairless Hills, and
  • Grace-N-Motion, the Praise Dance Ministry of Grace UMC, Philadelphia.

Participation is open to all members of United Methodist Women. Contact Susan Dziuk to register at 215-637-7895 or dziuks1@verizon.net. (Since this is a webinar, you will not be seen on camera.) Download the flyer!  
Latino Commission continues lay ministry training classes on Zoom
The Eastern PA Conference Latino Commission has moved its lay theological education program online since the COVID-19 pandemic forced the end of ionsite classes. Its popular classes resume this Saturday, Oct. 10, with a half-day session on Preaching II, taught by the Rev. Irving Cotto, commission co-chairman.
 
The commission organizes the classes, which are in Spanish, as part of its Escuela Teológica Evangélica Latina (Latino/a School of Theological Evangelization—ETEL). A class on Stewardship will follow in November.
 
The commission had been using the UMC National Plan for Hispanic/Latino Ministry’s (NPHLM) Encuentro (Encounter) program for teaching laity. But it is not available on Zoom (although planners are working on an online video version). So the commission decided to continue offering training and enrichment to laity who wanted to continue learning and not wait for the pandemic to end, according to the Rev. Luky Cotto, Conference Coordinator of Latino Ministries. “The response has been great, and we have been having from 22 to 26 students each time.” Learn more…
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.
Black clergy launch voter activation initiative
With only weeks until Election Day, Nov. 3, a group of Philadelphia-area African American pastors and faith-based organizations have launched a voter activation initiative called “CASE The Vote.” The effort is designed to educate and engage congregations to vote in the upcoming Presidential election.
Philadelphia African American clergy launch a new voter activation campaign called www.CASETheVote.org. Will Careri photo
The Oct. 3 launch brought clergy from throughout the city to the statue of Octavius Catto at City Hall. Several UM clergy were included, including the Rev. David Brown (Deacon), who helped organize the initiative, and the Rev. Gregory Holston.

CASE, which stands for “Congregations Affiliated to Strengthen Elections,” offers resources to help faith communities mobilize their congregations and communities to participate in the election. The group’s website, www.casethevote.org, provides information for pastors and their congregations to get involved, along with Congregational Volunteer Coordinators (CVCs) who are being equipped to direct various activities.

The site features upcoming deadlines, such as the Oct. 19 voter registration deadline, and links to resources and how-to information, including how to become a poll worker, which is a primary need for Election Day.
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). 
Singing the Lord’s song in a foreign time 
By the Rev. Dawn Taylor-Storm   

How can Advent/Christmas be celebrated without carols? How do we deal with visitors if building capacity is limited? What do we do about blowing out candles on Christmas Eve? What does Christmas look like when nearly all of our rituals are stripped away? 

As we face this current pandemic, we must discern how to do ministry now. We cannot wait for a return to Jerusalem or a return to the church we knew before. God has called us in this time and in this space to plant roots, to build new communities, to settle here in this strange reality. And so, together, as pastors and laity, we began to envision new forms of outreach, new ways of celebrating Christmas that offer life to our communities. Read more...
Gretna Glen Fall Fun Day

Free Admission! October 18th, 12 PM - 3 PM. Fall crafts, archery, hot dogs, s’mores, & more! www.gretnaglen.org

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:
Install this version once downloaded.
Former Eastern PA Conference receptionist died
Jennie-Marie "Scottie" DeMartinis, a former Eastern PA Conference receptionist, died on October 4, 2020. She was a longtime member and leader of Valley Forge UMC. Her obituary can be read at https://www.legacy.com/obituaries/pottsmerc/obituary.aspx?n=jennie-marie-demartinis-scottie&pid=196907821&fhid=13027
 
Expressions of sympathy can be sent to her son, Mr. Thomas F. DeMartinis, at 603 Truman Ct., Norristown PA 19403.
LEARNING EVENTS
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.
Moving voting rights 'from ideal to reality'
Ensuring voting rights for all will be a difficult and uncomfortable process, says the Rev. Emmanuel Cleaver II, a United Methodist pastor and longtime representative of Missouri's 5th Congressional District. Cleaver spoke with Erin Hawkins during The United Methodist Church's latest online discussion about eradicating racial injustice. Read story. To watch.
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.
Webinar to examine lack of young clergy
The Lewis Center for Church Leadership of Wesley Theological Seminary will host a webinar panel discussion with younger clergy and candidates about the decline in young elders to near record lows. The webinar, "The Crisis of Younger Clergy in the UMC: Young Clergy and Candidates Speak Out," will be at noon on Oct. 21. To register. Read Clergy Age Trends report. Commentary: Young elder numbers near historic low.
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.
AROUND THE UM CONNECTION
Pandemic-proof ways to thank a pastor
Pastor Appreciation Sunday, celebrated on Oct. 11, is a good time for United Methodists to thank clergy for the work they do year-round. Read about how people can show gratitude in the age of COVID-19. Read ideas
Western Jurisdiction invites inclusion, Protocol
DENVER — The UMC's Western Jurisdiction is beginning preparations for the next General Conference by recommitting itself to be a faithful, inviting, open, safe and loving place for all people. "Where Love Lives" is a nearly yearlong campaign that also advocates General Conference's approval of the Protocol of Reconciliation and Grace through Separation. Read press releaseWatch bishops' videoRead UM News story on protocol
Evangelism award winner slept outside church
DALLAS, TX--Before getting her own place, Billie Jean Baker often slept outside Oak Lawn United Methodist as a homeless person. Baker also joined the church and helped expand its welcome to the unsheltered. The North Texas Conference has honored her with an evangelism award. Read story
Church members among 19 dead in Congo massacre
GOMA, Congo (UM News) — Six United Methodists were among 19 civilians killed in a massacre in Mamove that has been blamed on the Allied Democratic Forces, an armed rebel group that operates in Eastern Congo and Uganda. The dead were remembered at the Kivu Annual Conference. Read story.
MISSION OPPORTUNITIES
Healing Communities event: register by Oct. 11 
The West Chester Mission Link invites all to attend its free Healing Communities restorative justice virtual training on: Wednesday, Oct. 21 and 28, at 6:30 to 8:30 PM each; and Saturday, Oct. 24, at 9:30 to 11:30 AM. Only 10 of the 30 slots available for this training remain open. Sunday, Oct. 11, is the deadline to register, so that training materials can be delivered to all registrants in time.

Healing Communities helps churches become “stations of hope” to serve those who have been impacted by the criminal justice system in any way. The three, two hour Zoom video-conference sessions (6 hours total) will help attendees plan how their churches can provide hope and care for “those whose struggles are often ignored in our society today.” The mission link received a Dewees Grant to fund the training, allowing them to offer it at no cost.

Linda Van Til, a Certified Lay Minister and member of the Conference Prison Ministry & Restorative Justice Work Team, will conduct the training. CEU credit (6 hours, leadership) will be provided for CSMs and CLMs and clergy who attend all three sessions to complete the training. Register at https://forms.gle/5mKT7LYRFWpzq3w18. Questions? Contact prisonministries@epaumc.org.
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...
RESOURCES
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
How do we love our enemies?
Many Christians struggle with this question. As followers of Christ, we are called to love our enemies. How do we do that? Who are our enemies? Ask The UMC, a ministry of United Methodist Communications, looks to Scripture and the writings of John Wesley in the latest installment of Ask The UMC. Read story. Read more Ask the UMC.
REMINDERS
CONAM provides liturgy to celebrate Indigenous Peoples Day Oct. 11
The Conference Committee on Native American Ministries (CONAM) is appealing to churches to celebrate Indigenous Peoples Day on Sunday, Oct. 11, in lieu of Columbus Day on Oct. 12. The substitution is recommended to commemorate the lives, cultures and histories of indigenous people who were tragic victims of Christopher Columbus and other European explorers who brought massive deaths and destruction to the Americas that they claimed to “discover” and went on to conquer and colonize.

CONAM also offers a recommended worship liturgy for the Indigenous Peoples Day celebration. Learn more...
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
Celebrando Nuestra Hispanidad
Hispanic/Latino Heritage Month: Sept. 15-Oct. 15
By the Rev. Lilian “Luky” Cotto

As a Guatemalan native, I rejoice in sharing a little about the great annual celebration of our Hispanic heritage. It began on Sept. 15, the Independence Day of my beautiful Guatemala, “the land of the eternal spring.” Four more Hispanic nations celebrate their independence days on September 15: Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua and Costa Rica. Mexico’s Independence Day follows on the 16th, Chile on the 18th, and Belize on the 21st. 

Of course, this year, due to the coronavirus pandemic, we are not celebrating as much as we usually do. But as resilient people, we do continue to celebrate, even if it is virtually on Zoom or other social media…. You can find groups performing, celebrating and sharing the pride of their culture and heritage. You can also look online for ideas of things to do and examples of worship with a Latino flavor. Learn why, how we celebrate our Hispanic heritage...
Advocacy campaign supports driver licenses for undocumented immigrants
At least five Eastern PA Conference congregations are supporting a new advocacy campaign calling for valid Pennsylvania driver’s licenses to be made available to undocumented immigrants. That humanitarian campaign for some includes a 40-day vigil of prayer and fasting.

House Bill 2835 has been introduced in the state assembly to grant driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants, so they can drive without fear of being arrested and deported. The Rev. Evodia Villalva, longtime pastor of El Buen Samaritano UMC in West Chester, is leading her congregation in prayer and support for the effort, and she shares compelling biblical and social reasons for doing so.

The Rev. Luky Cotto, Coordinator of the conference’s Latino Commission, reports that five churches so far are supporting the campaign:

• El Buen Samaritano, West Chester
• Bethany UMC- Ministerio Latino, Lebanon
• Nuevo Nacimiento (New Birth) UMC, Lebanon
• Espiritu Santo (Holy Spirit) UMC, Philadelphia
• Historic St. Georges UMC, Philadelphia 

Cotto urges more churches and leaders to join in the effort. “It’s a just and fair law, and our roads will be safer.” Learn more…
Certified Lay Ministry program keeps on track via Zoom
New CLMs to be recognized Oct. 11

The Eastern PA Conference Certified Lay Ministry (CLM) training program is in full Zoom rotation. The Recognition Service for those CLMs certified this year will happen as a Zoom webinar on Sunday, Oct. 11, at 4 PM, delayed from the usual spring date for the ceremony because of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

As usual, Bishop Peggy Johnson will preach. Cabinet members will also participate. And for the first time, each “graduate” will offer brief remarks during the ceremony. 

The current CLM class, which began meeting in June, is now using Zoom video-conferencing for its sessions. On Saturday, Sept. 26, the class visited Historic St. George’s UMC in Philadelphia (est. 1769) and historic Bethel AME Church in Ardmore, (est. 1895). But those visits happened virtually. 

And a month of seven orientation sessions for entry into the program’s next class in 2021 will begin Oct. 3, also on Zoom. Learn more… And Download the Schedule of Orientation Sessions.
CDT adds new Wednesday morning book club, 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 
It's time to register for Annual Conference!  
Annual Conference members should have received information to register for the 2020 annual session, set for Oct. 13. It will be held as a Zoom video-conferencing webinar with electronic voting and a reduced agenda. (On Oct. 14 the Annual Conference will hold only its yearly Memorial Service and Service of Ordination and Commissioning.)

Members who lack adequate access to computers or Wi-Fi service will be able to view the Annual Conference at an equipped church location in each district, where they will be able vote by raising their hands. On-site locations will only be available by prior registration. No walk-ins can be accommodated.

There will be a $30 Annual Conference registration fee to help pay costs for the 2020 session, including electronic voting costs. If any members did not receive this information, contact Lindsey Cotman at lcotman@epaumc.org
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.
2021 Tools for Ministry, March 13, will be online, conference-wide  
The 2021 Tools for Ministry, on March 13, will be a morning, conference-wide online event on Zoom, rather than separate, district onsite gatherings. There may be about 30 workshops offered, according to plans, all in two morning sessions, each about 90-minutes long. Leadership will come from all four districts, from conference ministry groups and from community partners. Workshops will be open to all registrants conference-wide. Planners will be prepared for up to 1,000 participants. Look for more information to come.
Time to shine the light of Christmas! 
Christmas Cards to Inmates ministry resumes
Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, the Eastern PA Conference’s undaunted Prison Ministry and Restorative Justice Team is moving forward with a modified continuation of its successful Christmas Cards to Inmates program, which they began in 2014. The 2020 outreach effort launched on Monday, Sept. 14, and will end Nov. 2.

This year, the team hopes churches will prepare cards from the designs offered on their webpage. Or churches can pick up small bags of prepared cards with instructions from either the Conference Office or regional church pick-up and drop-off locations. See the list on their webpage, and check back as more locations are added.

All signed cards, with optional messages of encouragement and hope, must be returned to these locations by the deadline of Nov. 2.
Basic Sexual Ethics virtual training in October
The next Basic Sexual Ethics workshop--a requirement in preparation for licensed, ordained or certified ministry in the Eastern PA Conference--will be held online, using Zoom, over two Saturday afternoons: Oct. 17, 3 to 5 30 PM; and Oct. 24, 12- 2 30 PM. The cost is $35. Attendees must be present for both parts in order to receive credit. CEUs available.

This interactive, experiential workshop will explore the concepts of emotions, ethics, morals, power bases, attachment, sex and boundaries. Participants will learn about ethics and morality, emotions that can lead to attachment and interfere with ministry, setting healthy boundaries and other important topics. Use of a camera and microphone is required for audio-visual participation in this video-conference course. Breakout rooms will also be used.

Presenter: The Rev. David Piltz, a Local Pastor and Marriage and Family Therapist, and also a Campus Minister and Conference Coordinator of Youth and Young Adult Ministries. He is a member of the I-CARE Team and Safe Sanctuaries committee. For more information contact the Rev. Jacqueline Hines at pastorjacquelineumc@gmail.com or 410-963-1721. Register Online.
Online worship permissions extended to Dec. 31
The UM Publishing House is extending full permission to all churches for use of its copyrighted worship materials through December 2020. The Publishing House recognizes the need for easy access to key worship aids as the COVID-19 crisis persists and local churches strive to serve their communities. Read press release
Hispanic Heritage Month  
September 15 through October 15 is designated as Hispanic Heritage Month in the U.S. and The UMC. It gives congregations an opportunity to celebrate the importance and contributions of the Hispanic/Latino culture in worship.
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.

Racism, Post-Traumatic Stress, & Transformation event moves online to Zoom
The Eastern PA Conference’s twice-postponed Racism, Post-Traumatic Stress and Transformation workshop will happen online on Saturday, Oct. 17, from 9 AM to 2 PM, using Zoom video-conferencing. The unusual workshop will address a timely topic that concerns many people of color in today’s highly charged racial climate: race-based traumatic stress.

The Rev. Dr. R. Dandridge Collins, a pastoral psychologist, author, lecturer, minister and trauma expert, will teach and lead participants in frank discussions to explore solutions to emotional distress and trauma caused in part by racist mistreatment, conflict and reactions, past and present. People of color, clergy and lay, should register soon. Space may fill up quickly. 

The original $25 registration fee has been reduced to $15 and still includes a copy of Collins’ bestselling 2007 book The Trauma Zone: Trusting God for Emotional Healing. Also included is a copy of Romal Tune’s book, Love is an Inside Job. Scholarships are available. Please contact: dtaylorstorm@epaumc.org. Register OnlineDownload and share the flyer!
Conference offers churches online giving page

The conference has created a giving page on its website to allow congregations to easily receive online gifts from church members, visitors and donors, who can select from a menu of participating churches. The online giving portal is now operational.  It is available to all churches, but it should be especially helpful to churches that do not currently offer online giving but want to. The service is provided through the conference’s relationship with Vanco Payment Services.   

Simple electronic funds transfer process
To participate in the program, a local church must simply complete the electronic funds transfer form and return it to the conference accounting office. The conference Treasurer’s office will process and deposit gifts into the church’s designated bank account weekly. A contribution report will then be sent to the church. Learn more...
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 9 & 10: Domestic Violence Seminar on Zoom. Friday, Oct. 9, 7-9 PM and Saturday, Oct. 10, 9 AM-12 PM.
  • October 13 & 14: 2020 Annual Conference. Zoom webinar and livestreaming. Learn more at epaumc.org/annual-conference.
  • October 17: UMW Annual Celebration. Download the flyer!
  • October 17: “Racism, Post-Traumatic Stress, & Transformation.” Register online.
  • 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 24: Racial Justice Ministries Summit. 11 AM. Carson-Simpson Farm. Simultaneously Zoom-cast.
  • 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.

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