September 3, 2015
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  • The Eastern PA Conference Center will reopen on Fridays beginning next week on Sept. 11.
  • Conference Lay Leader David Koch announces cancellation of the annual Laity Retreats scheduled for next week because of a busy fall schedule, including expected lay attendance at the Northeastern Jurisdiction Transformational Leadership Conference, Oct. 2-4.
  • The Eastern PA Conference, led by Bishop Peggy Johnson and her Cabinet, will launch its new Imagine No Malaria campaign next week with a presentation at the annual Cabinet retreat and resource information posted on the conference Website. More information is to come.
  • The Eastern PA Conference Retirees Association will have its 46th Annual Fall Meeting and Banquet Thursday, Sept. 10 at Cornwall Manor. The agenda will include a memorial service, with the annual offering received to support both the conference's capital campaign to retire its pre-1982 clergy pensions liability and also the denomination's Central Conferences Pensions Initiative. Certificates will be awarded to clergy celebrating 50 years since ordination, and the program will feature the story and a tour of the Cornwall Furnace.
Bishops call on churches to pray, preach against racism
Bishop Peggy Johnson asks all Eastern PA Conference churches to offer special prayers this Sunday, Sept. 6, (and on subsequent Sundays) for an end to racism. Her request is in response to a call issued Wednesday by the African Methodist Episcopal (A.M.E.) Church's Council of Bishops asking all churches to engage this Sunday in "A Day of Confession, Repentance, and Commitment to End Racism."  EPA Conference Communications shares resources to help your church respond. Learn more...
Young People's Ministry gets seminary intern

Diana Esposito is a new intern working part-time with Young People's Ministries Coordinator David Piltz until April 2016. She is completing her field education requirements as a student at Lutheran Theological Seminary in Philadelphia, pursuing a Master of Arts in Religion, specializing in Youth and Families. She is also a certified candidate pursuing ordination as a Deacon. Diana directs Christian Education at Ardmore UMC. She will assist David in Young People's Ministries and also in his work as part-time campus minister at Drexel University, her alma mater. 

All are welcome to Northwest District Laity Academy
The Northwest District will have its own Laity Academy classes on four Mondays, Sept. 14 to Oct. 5, from  6 to 8:30 PM ,  at Shamokin: St. John’s UMC, 1211 West Arch Street, Coal Township, PA.  The academy will serve the training needs of church leaders in the far Northwest District, but it's open to anyone in the conference who wants to attend. The “Basic” Christ Servant Ministry course will be offered, along with two advance courses: “Getting to Know God’s Love Letter” and “Our Wesleyan Heritage.”  Register by Sept. 11  for $20, or pay $25 onsite. Check the  district Website  for more information or contact Patty Korbich  (570 672-1031 ) NW District Laity Academy Dean.
Are you planning Back to Church, Back to School activities?
What is your congregation planning this month to welcome members and visitors back to church after their summer break? Will you participate in National Back to Church Sunday on Sept. 20? What about activities celebrating young people returning Back to School in your community? Are you using UM Communications' Rethink Church Back to School campaign materials, including door hangers and ads? Please let us know what you're planning or doing, and please send us photos of your activities to Thanks!
Young Adult Forum in Phila. Sept. 11
The Eastern PA Conference Council on Young Adult Ministries will sponsor a Young Adult Forum Sept. 11 at Super China Buffet, Imperial Plaza, 3400 Aramingo Avenue in Philadelphia, from 7 to 9 PM. Young adults are invited to come dine together and discuss relevant topics, issues and challenges. Everything from relationships, religion, media, and spirituality will be on the dialogue menu. Dinner is free for young adults (ages 18 to 35). Have a question or want to RSVP? Email: Download the flyer.
College displays classic Native American photos

Lebanon Valley College, a UM-related institution, hosts a special photographic art exhibition, titled “Mingled Visions: Images from ‘The North American Indian’ Collection,” in its Suzanne H. Arnold Art Gallery until Oct. 18. President Lewis E. Thayne will welcome guests to an opening reception Friday, Sept. 4, from 5 to 7 PM. The stunning images, depicting diverse images and cultures of Native Americans from numerous tribes, were taken by Edward Curtis beginning in 1907 in a photo documentary project that became his life’s work. Also featured are 30 loaned Native American artifacts including baskets, pottery, and apparel from various tribes. The gallery is open Wednesday through Sunday during limited hours. Several special related events are planned, including a Native Nations Dance Theater performance Sunday, Oct. 4. Check the Website for more information.

Also, Prospectville: First Korean UMC (1049 Davis Grove Rd., Ambler) is hosting an exhibition of traditional Korean art by Jae-Lea Kim through Sept. 12It is open Tuesdays to Sundays, from 5 to 7 PM.  All donations go to suppprt the church's Haiti Mission Trip fundraising campaign.

Learning to write church histories 
Church historians have two opportunities this month to attend a valuable, full-day workshop on Writing a Church History, facilitated by leaders of the General Commission and Greater New Jersey Conference Commission on Archives and History. The first workshop will happen Friday, Sept. 18 , at the UMC's Archives and History Center on the Drew University campus in Madison, N.J. The second will be at Chews UMC, Glendora, N.J. Both workshops will be from 9:30 AM to 4 PM. Marie Amerson, a retired professor, author and instructor for the visually impaired, will lead both sessions, teaching attendees to tell dramatic church histories through the lives of members while managing the full process from research and compilation to writing, editing and printing. It's all about "the ministry of memory." The cost is $25, payable to the Greater New Jersey Annual Conference (GNJAC) and mailed to D. DeGroat, Registrar, P.O. Box 25, Long Pond, PA 18334.  E-mail .
Church librarians to learn about prison ministry

Church librarians in Southeastern PA will learn about opportunities for prison and after-prison ministry at their fall meeting Sept. 26, 8:30 AM to 2 PM, at Lansdale UMC, 300 North Broad Street, Lansdale PA. Orian Greene, who facilitates the Changing Lives through Literature program with probationers in Massachusetts will speak during their luncheon. Patricia Fleming, a former inmate, and Ron Muse, a prison chaplain working on re-entry ministry in Philadelphia, will speak during morning sessions. The Delaware Valley Chapter of the Church & Synagogue Library Association is the program sponsor. The meeting is open to the public with a non-member registration fee of $20. Advance registration is required. 

History of Hymns: ‘Leave it There’

DALLAS (UMNS) - The Rev. Charles Albert Tindley (1851-1933) was one of the eminent preachers of Methodism at the turn of the 20th century. C. Michael Hawn of Southern Methodist University’s Perkins School of Theology shares a bit about the man called the “father of African-American Hymnody” and “the prince of preachers.” Read story.   Watch video on TindleyTemple United Methodist Church

Register now for 4 UMC online courses

Tuesday, Sept. 8, is the deadline to register for four online courses UM Communications will offer Sept. 9-21. They are: “Communicating Faith in the 21st Century,” “Connectional Giving," "Moodle 100: Basic Training" and “Welcoming Ministry 100.” Costs vary. Connectional Giving is free. Learn more...

Also, check out more educational opportunities and upcoming events in the life of the church here.

World Communion Sunday is Oct. 4 

World Communion Sunday calls the church to reach out to all people and model diversity among God's children. United Methodists relate to World Communion Sunday by celebrating communion with other Christians around the world on this special Sunday. Churches are also encouraged to receive an offering to support scholarships for ethnic undergraduate and graduate students. Our gifts often enable first-generation students to attend college. Download a free eBook

Healing Communities Prison Ministry & Restorative Justice event Oct. 10
Three Eastern PA Conference work teams--Prison Ministry & Restorative Justice, Church and Society, and Healing and Wholeness-- together will sponsor a Healing Communities training Saturday, Oct. 10, from 9 AM to 4 PM (with a working lunch) 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. Created by faith leaders along with the Annie Casey Foundation, it offers a framework for developing ministry among persons returning from or at risk of incarceration in cooperation with their families and communities. It challenges congregations to become “Stations of Hope” by using their resources in accessible ways to assist persons affected by the criminal justice system. 

Register online or by mail now . The cost is $25, including training materials, continental breakfast and a light lunch. Bring your pastor and three or more team members. Trainers will be Doug Walker, National Coordinator of Criminal Justice Reform for the UM Board of Church & Society, and Linda Van Til, CLM, of the Conference Prison Ministry & Restorative Justice Work Team. The training is sponsored by the following work teams of the UMC EPA Conference:  Prison Ministry & Restorative Justice Team.   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. The international lecturer, author, consultant and coach, has created planning tools to help churches benefit from MissionInsite's targeted research that has proven helpful to many congregations in their outreach and adaptive ministry endeavors. Of his 25 published books Bandy's two latest--See, Know and Serve the People within Your Reach and Worship Ways for the People within Your Reach--suggest ways to understand and engage demographic trends and population lifestyles in planning for strategic ministry, including worship design and discipleship nurture. 

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.
Phila., NEJ BMCR to meet in October
The Eastern PA Conference and Northeastern Jurisdictional components of Black Methodists for Church Renewal, a caucus representing the concerns of black United Methodists, both have annual membership meetings scheduled for October. The NEJ BMCR will meet Oct. 9-10 at  Grace UMC  in Wilmington, Del. (900 N. Washington Street), with lodging at Sheraton Suites Downtown Wilmington. The theme is "Take Action Now!" The agenda includes a Unity Dinner Friday at 6 PM. For registration and information contact Larry McCrae treasurer, or  Darlynn McCrae , registrar. The Philadelphia Area BMCR caucus will meet Oct. 25 at Emmanuel UMC (2346 N 17th St #50) from 3 to 5 PM.  Lawrence Lee is Coordinator of Philadelphia BMCR.
Lewis Center offers  Church Leadership resources
The Lewis Center for Church Leadership, part of UM-related Wesley Theological Seminary, is offering new resources--all free or low-cost--to help church leaders. The center is a research and teaching resource for clergy, laity and denominational leaders. It seeks to help visionary spiritual leaders "address issues crucial to the church’s faithful and fruitful witness." 
  • Developing Your Operating Budget
    A new video series offers church budgeting advice. It is designed for self- and group-study by finance committees, pastors and staff. Presented by Lewis Center Director Lovett H. Weems, Jr., it explains what an operating budget is and how to create one--using one of five common models--that advances your mission and accomplishes God’s vision for the congregation. The cost is $39.  Learn more
Training offered for Sunday school teachers
Asbury UMC in Allentown  (1533 Springhouse Road) will hold another Train the Teacher workshop Saturday, Oct. 17, 8:30 AM to 12:30 PM. The workshop is designed for Sunday school teachers with five years or less of teaching experience, but all teachers are welcome. Topics include teaching materials, lesson planning and execution, and impacting disinterested students. Cost is $15 for materials, plus $10 for an optional lunch. Contact the church at 610-398-2577 to register.
Children’s Ministry Forum to offer renewal, education
   Children’s ministry leaders will find opportunities for worship, spiritual renewal, continuing education and more at the Children’s Ministry Forum Nov. 17-19, at First UMC Little Rock, Ark. Co-sponsored by UM Discipleship Ministries, the forum is designed to resource leaders in congregations with at least 300 in worship, although leaders from all congregation sizes are welcome.  Read press release
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. Event planners want to "embolden local churches for active conformity to the will of God. No more hiding within the fortress of the church building.  No more failure to bring creative excellence into worship. No more satisfaction with shallow and lazy Biblical interpretation. Come alive, Church, and be excellent!" 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.  
Annual Conference Minutes now on website
  Minutes from the proceedings of the 229th Annual Conference, May 14-16, 2015, are now available as a PDF document on the conference Website, accessible from the Resources section's Conference Journal page. The minutes cover everything from the opening worship service to the session's adjournment, including numerous reports, presentations, legislative debate and votes, and election of General and Jurisdictional conference delegates (which will be repeated at the November adjourned session).
Will you engage Catholics during Pope's visit and world families event?
Philadelphia will be on the global stage Sept. 22-25, when it proudly welcomes Pope Francis and 1.5 million members of the Roman Catholic Church to the region's largest gathering ever for the church's World Meeting of Families. Their theme is Love is Our Mission: The Family Fully Alive. There will be renowned speakers leading discussions on what can help strengthen the sacred bonds of families across the globe. We're wondering if any Eastern PA Conference churches plan to engage or offer hospitality to these international guests (among the many Catholics who live in our area), or if any of our churches plan to focus on the same topic of families during September in recognition of this momentous event? Please let us know at or post a message about your plans to our Facebook or Twitter pages. 
Clergy invited to Interim Ministry Seminar in Upper NY
Bishop Mark Webb, of the Upper New York Conference, invites Eastern PA Conference clergy to join in a three-phase, six-month specialized training for clergy interested in serving in short-term transitional or interim ministry. The Transitional/Intentional Interim Ministry Seminar (TIIMS), led by the Intentional Growth Center (IGC), an affiliate of the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry, addresses a growing need for specially trained clergy able to serve in various transitional ministry situations  The first session will be held Nov. 11-13 at Upper New York’s beautiful Casowasco Camp and Retreat Center. The registration deadline is Oct. 1. For more information contact the Rev. William Gottschalk-Fielding (
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 to start making room reservations now for the June 16-18 session. As more early reservations are made, we can get more leverage with the hotel staff for our meeting and hospitality needs.

So if you can, please reserve your rooms now at the Lancaster Marriott, Penn Square, 25 South Queen Street, Lancaster, PA 17603 ( 717-239-1600 ). The online  room registrations  rate is $129/day. Discounted parking in the garage is $7/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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