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WHAT'S NEW--Sept. 25, 2015
Bishop Peggy Johnson announces new clergy appointment changes

  • Rev. C. Douglas McCormick from Voluntary Leave of Absence to Extension Ministry: Navy Europe Southwest Asia Region Credo Office.

See complete list of 2015 Appointments & Retirements

Register by Sept. 30 for Annual Conference Adjourned Session
September 30 is the deadline to register in advance  for the Nov. 14 Adjourned Session of the 2015 Annual Conference. The session will be held at Bethany UMC’s Macungie campus, 3801 Brookside Road, Macungie, Pa., near Allentown. Only several hundred members have registered so far, and time is running out. Planners urge lay and clergy members to register by Sept. 30 to avoid a crowded onsite registration process and so that electronic voting devices can be prepared for them in advance . Learn more...
Bethany UMC welcomes all to UNITE Festival in Macungie Park
Bethany UMC, ministering in Allentown, Catasauqua, Macungie and Wescosville invites all to attend its annual Unite Festival Sunday, Sept. 27, from 10 AM to 3 PM, at Macungie Memorial Park.  Bethany will gather its flock from four campuses to worship and enjoy fun, festivities and fellowship together as one congregation. The free event will begin with a joint worship service at 10 AM, followed by lunch and then games, fun with inflatables, a health rally, a dunk tank for the pastors and much more. With the largest membership in the UMC's Northeast Jurisdiction, Bethany, which will host our Annual Conference Adjourned Session on Nov. 14, is "committed to making this an awesome event and...a great opportunity to come and experience everything that Bethany has to offer." 
NEJ, NCJ could each lose a Bishop in 2016 

The UMC's General Council on Finance and Administration (GCFA) notified leaders of the Northeastern and North Central jurisdictions that the number of bishops leading their episcopal areas and annual conferences could be reduced based on their reported membership numbers.  GCFA cited responsibilities and membership formulas outlined in ¶ 404.2 of the UMC's Book of Discipline and its own responsibility for administering the Episcopal Fund that pays bishops' salaries. It notified each jurisdiction's College of Bishops that the membership formula indicates their number of active bishops could be reduced. Learn more...  (Editor's Note: This is a General Council on Finance and Administration news release. When contacted for a response, Bishop Peggy Johnson said there are several sides and several Book of Discipline paragraphs to be considered in deciding this issue. The NEJ College of Bishops and Episcopacy Committee will meet in early October to discuss it further.)

World Communion Sunday offering promotes unity, aids ministry
World Communion Sunday is just a week away on Oct. 4. Will your congregation celebrate the Lord's Supper with other Christians around the world? Will you support the World Communion Sunday special offering that supports educational opportunities for deserving racial-ethnic and international students pursuing careers of service and ministry? Get free resources for your church's celebration, including posters, sermons and bulletin inserts from UM Communications. Download everything to your computer and empower your congregation to give generously. Learn more...

Read An open table: How United Methodists understand communion , about the sacrament of Holy Communion, "a common occurrence in the landscape of our worship... with uncommon richness," which our denomination calls " This Holy Mystery ."  Also read about one dedicated young chaplain, the Rev. Catrena Talbert , who benefited from the special offering through the Ethnic Minority Scholarship program to pursue her dreams of ministry to others. 
Shine a light on domestic violence in October
October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Is your church planning any activities or ministries to shine a light on this widespread, devastating problem that lurks in silent shadows of fear and denial as it inflicts pain and crises in so many lives? Please let us know by writing to us at Read about the Safe and Healthy Churches Training and other events happening in October to spur action against domestic violence. Learn more...
Refurbished Conference Archives to reopen Oct. 19
Historic St. George's UMC in Philadelphia will celebrate the long-awaited opening of the refurbished Archives of the Eastern PA Conference with an Open House on Oct. 19, from 2 to 4 PM.  Bishop Peggy Johnson and the Rev. Maridel Whitmore, the venerable church's first female pastor, will jointly dedicate this vital treasury of our conference's rich heritage. Come tour the restored facilities, and enjoy fellowship over tea at 3 PM with Archivist Donna Miller and other supporters whose endeavors made it all possible.  Historic St. George's UMC is at 235 N 4th St., Philadelphia, PA 19106. Register now . Contact Donna at or  215-925-7788 with any questions.
Familiar faces appear in new black church journal
Faces of the Eastern PA Conference appear in a colorful new magazine celebrating black churches. In its September-October 2015 inaugural issue, By Faith Magazine, "Celebrating the Gifts and Ministry of Black United Methodist Churches" features a three-page color photographic collage. Sharing space on page 9 are a photo of Krystl Johnson delivering the Young Adult Ministries report at our Annual Conference in May and a historic photo of the key celebrants of the May 30 Delaware Conference Anniversary Celebration, including Bishops Peggy Johnson, Ernest Lyght and Gregory Palmer, and the Rev. Herbert Palmer, the Rev. David Briddell, Rev. Fred Day and the Rev. Robert Johnson, whose church, Tindley Temple, hosted the celebration. By Faith Magazine is published by the Rev. Henry Masters with participation by black leaders around the United Methodist Connection.  For an annual subscription mail $15 to Closer Walk Ministries, P.O. Box 830755, Richardson, TX 75083.
  Preaching, worship event for black clergy
The Peninsula-Delaware Conference's Strengthening the Black Church and Congregational Development Office will sponsor a Preaching and Worship Training Event for black clergy, Oct. 30 to Nov. 1, at Whatcoat UMC, 341 Saulsbury Road Dover, Del. Presenters include Bishop Violet Fisher, the Rev. Cynthia Wilson, the Rev. William McClain, the Rev. Emanuel Cleaver III and the Rev. Fred Allen. Registration is $25, which may be sent to the Peninsula-Delaware Conference, 139 N. State Street Dover, DE 19901 Attention: Judy Bratton. The deadline is Oct. 22. See the brochure for information or contact Judy Bratton at or (302) 674-2626 ext. 21. 
Eastern PA Deacon to provide media support during Pope's visit
The Rev. David W. Brown will get to meet Pope Francis during his visit to Philadelphia this weekend while working with international media representatives at the pontiff’s temporary residence.  “I will be one of a small contingency of credentialed media volunteers who will receive Pope Francis at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary on Saturday,” said Brown. “I have confirmed that I am the only United Methodist clergy selected for this special role.”

Brown is a deacon serving at Wharton-Wesley UMC and on the Conference Communications Ministry Team.  He manages a non-profit advertising/public relations organization and has been asked to write about his experiences on this historic occasion. Speaking of history, Brown, author of Freedom Drawn From Within: A History of the Delaware Annual Conference, also just received another honor: he was elected to the Board of Trustees for the denomination's African American Methodist Heritage Center, representing the Northeastern Jurisdiction as of January 2016.
Local Church News Highlights
Be sure to check out our Local Church Events page.
Find just the fun, food, fellowship or faith experience you've been looking for.
  • 5th Annual Honey Festival, Cedarville UM
    Saturday, September 26th @ 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM
  • First Friday Café, Lima UMC
    Friday, October 2nd @ 7 PM – 9 PM.  Featured artist: Ray Seemans
  • Train the Teacher Workshop, Asbury UMC
    Saturday, October 17th @ 8:30 AM – 12:30 PM
  • Also, join Harriman UMC in Bristol, PA (1700 Wilson Avenue) this Sunday, Sept. 27, at 3 PM, as the congregation and friends honor church musician Pius Kaltreider for 50 faithful years of music ministry there (1965-2015). A special luncheon at 12:30 PM will precede the celebration.
Funding for justice ministry
United Methodist Voluntary Services, a Global Ministries program funded by the churchwide Human Relations Day offering, has funds available for community projects that challenge unjust political, social and economic systems and work to empower the poor. For more information contact Lekisha Reed at Projects should be in supportive relationship with UM churches. Funds are also available for projects focused on rural and urban ministries. For more information, contact Lekisha Reed at
Pastor offers DivorceCare group counseling

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

Christmas Cards for Inmates 

You can share God’s love with prison inmates who are incarcerated at a difficult time by writing a brief caring, encouraging note inside a Christmas greeting card. The Eastern PA Conference Prison Ministry & Restorative Justice Team hopes to receive hundreds of signed cards, sent or dropped off at district offices, to deliver to inmates at several correctional facilities in Eastern PA. Nov. 9 is the deadline to have all cards at district offices, so they can be collected, delivered and screened by prison officials before Christmas. Many inmates find it difficult to maintain connections with important people in their lives, and the absence of loved ones can be felt most deeply during Christmastide. Please see the guidelines and use the sample cards and expressions offered on our Website. 

Conference launches Imagine No Malaria campaign

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

Teaching financial leadership to laity

 Building on the success of its Financial Leadership Academy for pastors, the Mid-Atlantic UM Foundation will launch in November a Financial Leadership Series for Laity, offering lay members valuable stewardship wisdom in four sessions over the next year. The first class, titled "Theology of Stewardship and Creating a Culture of Giving," will occur in three locations on Nov. 7 and 21 Learn more...

PA Council of Churches event to explore flawed criminal justice system

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

NEJ Transformational Leadership event coming to Hershey PA
  On Oct. 2-4 the UMC's Northeastern Jurisdiction Vision Table will sponsor the Conference on Transformational Leadership, a ground-breaking learning adventure for emerging leaders, at the Hershey Lodge, in Hershey, Pa.  Learn more... 

Boehm's Chapel 30th  Annual Apple Festival promises historic favorites

Boehm’s Chapel will hold its 30th annual Apple Festival Oct. 10, from 9 AM to 3 PM., rain or shine, at Boehm’s UMC, 13 West Boehm's Church Road, Willow Street, PA. An array of tents will harbor old-fashioned treats, including homemade apple butter, apple dumplings and baked goods, plus kids' games like the ever popular 'apple sling-shot.' Lunch fare will be scattered around the campus, and vendors will display homemade crafts en route to the old chapel and inside the church fellowship hall. The historical video “More than Just a Chapel on a Hill,” about the Boehm family and the chapel, will be shown in the  historic 1791 chapel. Admission and parking are free. For additional information contact Dolores Myers, Executive Director of the Boehm’s Chapel Society by e-mail or call 717-872-4133.

Register your youth now for 2016 Pen-Del Youth Rally 
  The WORD is out! It's time to register early for the 29th annual Peninsula-Delaware Conference weekend Youth Rally in Ocean City, Md., Jan. 8-10, 2016. More than 4,000 young people and adult leaders will again converge on the Roland E. Powell Convention Center (4001 Coastal Hwy, Ocean City, MD 21842) for three high-spirited days of worship, witnessing, fellowship and celebration "as we rejoice in the freedom we have in Christ!" "WORD" is the theme, based on John 1:1, and the stage will burst forth with lights, music, praise, testimonies, humor and more highlights.  Guest presenters, offering inspiration and challenge, include the incomparable Reggie Dabbs, plus Propaganda, Fellowship Creative and two nights of special concerts by Disciple and Moriah Peters. 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, informative  online brochure
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.

Healing Communities  Prison Ministry & Restorative Justice event Oct. 10
The Eastern PA Conference will sponsor a Healing Communities training Saturday, Oct. 10, 9 AM to 4 PM, at St. Matthews UMC of Valley Forge, 600 Walker Rd, Wayne, PA. Healing Communities is a proven, national model of engaging congregations and communities in restoring relationships among those who have been impacted by crime and the criminal justice system.  Register online or by mail now . The cost is $25, including training materials, continental breakfast and a light lunch.  Learn more
Church growth expert to teach use of MissionInsite Oct. 5-6
The Rev. Thomas Bandy, a renowned expert in strategic church and leadership development, will teach four workshops here, Oct. 5-6, on using MissionInsite's demographic and lifestyle research to learn community needs and spur congregational growth. Bandy will teach on Monday, Oct. 5, at the conference center from 10 AM to 2 PM, and at New Hanover UMC from 6 to 9 PM. The evening session at New Hanover will be video broadcast via live-stream. He will also teach on Tuesday, Oct. 6, at the conference center from 10 AM to 2 PM and at Church of the Good Shepherd UMC from 6 to 9 PM.  Attendance at the Oct. 6 session at the conference center is by district superintendents' invitation only; but it will also be broadcast via live-stream video. Live-stream details to come.
Register now for Planting Seeds for Ministry Growth
 Hopewell UMC will host the annual Planting Seeds for Ministry Growth full-day event Saturday, Nov. 7.  An advanced Christ Servant Ministry course will again be offered in conjunction with Planting Seeds, Nov. 6-7, beginning Friday evening. The theme is "A Force Outside the Fortress," and the keynote speaker will be the Rev. Mike Slaughter, lead pastor at Ginghamsburg Church in Ohio and keynoter at our 2014 Annual Conference. Workshops will include Growing a Mission Movement, led by Slaughter; Teaching the Bible through Film, led by Bible Professor Rhonda Burnette-Bletsch; and Exploring Our Worship Dimension, led by sacred jazz musician Warren Cooper. Register today.
2016 Midwinter Retreat set for Jan. 12 in Lancaster 
The 2016 Midwinter Retreat for all clergy (elders, deacons and local pastors) and their spouses is set for Jan. 12, 2016, at the DoubleTree by Hilton, 2400 Willow Street Pike, Lancaster, PA.  Our guest speaker is retired Chaplain, Brigadier General Charles R. “Ray” Bailey. Sharing his experiences, he will discuss reaching outside our walls to share the Good News. Chaplain Bailey, a UM elder, served churches in Texas before becoming a U.S. Army chaplain in 1982. In 2011 he became the Army's 24th Deputy Chief of Chaplains and has a powerful, personal testimony of the faith and courage of our military heroes.  Please register by Dec. 7  (due to hotel requirements). For questions contact  Amy Botti . Please note that there are only 20 openings for commuters at this event.  
Please reserve your hotel room for AC 2016 now!
We're trying to gain favor at the Lancaster Marriott for our 2016 Annual Conference, and you may be able to help. We really need members who plan to attend Annual Conference in 2916 to make room reservations at the Lancaster Marriott now for the June 16-18 session. Online room reservations are $129/day . Book your hotel room now
Missed any past issues of NEWSpirit Digest?
You can still read or share informative, colorful back issues of our weekly e-newsletter on the Eastern PA Conference Website at Share this link with others who might want to stay informed about our news, events, resources and concerns. And please encourage them to subscribe by e-mailing Thanks!
Adjourned Session of Annual Conference
Save the Date! Nov. 14, 2015:  The Adjourned Session will be held at the Macungie campus of Bethany UMC, 3801 Brookside Road, Macungie, PA 18062. Register online
Please Save These Dates! 
Oct. 2-4: Northeastern Jurisdiction Lay Leadership Event, Hershey, PA

Oct. 8-28: Bishop's Days on the Districts
  • Oct. 8: Southeast District
  • Oct. 13: Central District
  • Oct. 14: East District
  • Oct. 20: Northeast District
  • Oct. 22: Northwest District
  • Oct. 28: Southwest District
Nov. 14, 2015: Adjourned Session of Annual Conference, Bethany UMC, Macungie, PA

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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