September 8, 2017
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Brown chosen as new Conference Treasurer

James P. BrownController for the Eastern PA Conference since November 2010, is the new  Conference Treasurer, effective immediately. Bishop Peggy Johnson announced Brown's promotion on behalf of the Conference Council on Finance and Administration Sept. 7. His previous work involved helping to manage the conference's operating budget, financial reporting, payroll and other essential duties and financial services.
Brown was previously employed as Finance Director for the Latin American Community Center in Wilmington, DE, as a Financial Systems Consultant for Gunnip & Co. in Wilmington, and as Comptroller for the Garnet Valley School District. A graduate of Widener University in Chester, PA, he holds both Master and Bachelor of Science degrees in Accounting.  He has over 25 years of nonprofit experience and is familiar with clergy tax law and with local churches in our conference. 

Brown will be introduced in his new role and make remarks at the four district celebrations with Bishop Johnson happening Sept. 12-18.
Two other new staff hired in Connectional Ministries

The Rev. Brunilda ("Bruny") Martínez is the conference's new  Coordinator of Latino Ministries, serving part-time while she also serves St. Luke's UMC in Lebanon. Born in Puerto Rico, she became a part-time local pastor in 2007 and has served seven churches in the Eastern PA Conference, both Latino and Anglo, including the merger of two Lancaster congregations, Latino and Anglo, to become Nuevo Creacion UMC in 2011.
The Rev. William A. Brawner is the new  Coordinator of Urban Ministries, as of Sept. 11, also serving part-time. He will work closely with the Urban Commission and Metro Ministries. An ordained ministry candidate, he serves half-time as the pastor of Haven Peniel UMC in Philadelphia and is the founder of Haven Youth Center, Inc., a nonprofit organization in Philadelphia that provides educational, career and other support services to youth infected with HIV and AIDS.
Both new staff report to the conference's new  Director of Connectional Ministries, the Rev. Anita A. Powell. 

"Harvey was a powerful storm," said one Rio Texas Conference official, "but we have witnessed the great power of God in the response of God's people." The response of donors, volunteers and many prayers bear witness to that power, especially among members of the United Methodist Connection.

Early response teams trained by UMCOR are assessing and addressing urgent needs following the epic storm that brought unprecedented flooding and destruction to Houston and other communities in South Texas and southwestern Louisiana. They will lead the relief phase of the disaster recovery process, which includes removing debris and stabilizing homes and other structures damaged in the storm.

But many more volunteers from the area and from neighboring states and communities are also involved in staffing emergency shelters, delivering supplies, sheltering people in need and helping relocate evacuees. Meanwhile, donors' dollars pour into UMCOR's Disaster Relief fund, and flood buckets and hygiene kits fill up trucks headed to mission depots to be shipped to the area.

Recovery and rehabilitation from Harvey will take years and many more donations and volunteer work teams. Yet, a more powerful hurricane has battered tiny Caribbean islands with incredible winds, wreaking great havoc. Irma, downgraded to a category 4 storm  on Friday, is heading toward Florida and other Southeastern states, prompting urgent preparations and mass evacuations.

"We are requesting the United Methodist Church for your 
prayer a nd your solidarity during this difficult time," Methodist Bishop Héctor Ortiz Vidal (right) of Puerto Rico wrote in a letter to our Global Ministries agency. "Knowing that people outside of our area are praying for us gives us faith and courage," wrote Vidal.

Meanwhile, the Rev. Greg Ellis, Eastern PA Conference's Disaster Response & Volunteers in Ministry Coordinator, reminds us that there are grave needs from past disasters in the Northeastern Jurisdiction that still need attention from local work teams. He offers a list of disaster recovery locations around the NEJ that need the help of work teams now.

"Harvey's damage will take years to recover from, and Texas will not be ready to receive teams for a while; but we do not need to travel to Texas to help," said Ellis. "We have opportunities to serve close to home. We cannot forget about the people affected one month ago, one year ago, and even longer."  Learn more...  

Lattimer UMC, in Lattimer Mines, PA, will commemorate  on Sunday afternoon,  Sept. 10, the 120th anniversary of the Lattimer Massacre, a dark, tragic moment in our nation's history, when striking immigrant mineworkers were slaughtered on the street by a local sheriff and his deputies.

The historic church, located near our conference's north central border, will host the public memorial program, fittingly within a week of Labor Day. Attendees will remember the day when 19 miners--mostly from Eastern Europe--lost their lives and nearly 40 were wounded in one of the most violent, racist attacks in American labor history. Lattimer's pastor, the Rev. Earl Roberts III, is a member of the Hazleton Interfaith Ministerium, which sponsors the annual event.

"This is a story of justice, economic and political, as well as one of simple human decency," explained Roberts. Several of his church members have ancestors who were present among the strikers and the posse in the massacre. "It is a story about immigrants and how they have been received in this country historically. It is the story of peaceful protest being met with violence."  Learn more...

By the way, Bishop Peggy Johnson, who will attend and offer a closing prayer at the memorial, remembered the Lattimer Massacre in her  Bishop's Blog last week:  Labor Day: To praise and protect workers. If you have not read it yet, please do so. It's both informative and an uplifting challenge to us to support the workers among us as we celebrate their contributions to "the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country."
Laity Retreat 2017  offers a laity treat  on Saturday

Register now and come enjoy this year's Laity Retreat, a spiritual renewal encounter that looks to the Prophet Isaiah, whose prophetic voice brings to a hurting world a message of promise, faith, hope, mercy and salvation through Jesus Christ.

His words offer Revival, Restoration, Prayer, Deliverance, Anointing and Praise to the people of God. As people who are called by God, people who answer, "Here am I. Send me!" we learn that the God who holds our hand and guides us is always near. Always.

The program will feature inspiring music, fellowship, worship and insightful reflections by various speakers on Isaiah's relevance to us. Make your  Saturday morning truly special. Don't miss this special treat!

Saturday, September 99:00 AM - 1:30 PM, at Grove UMC, 490 West Boot Road, West Chester, PA.   Registration Fee: $35.00 (Includes Meals and Retreat Materials)  
President Donald Trump's decision to end DACA, the federal program that shields from deportation nearly a million young immigrants brought to the U.S. illegally by their parents, will affect few members but many neighbors and constituents of Casa del Pueblo, a Latino/a ministry of Lehman UMC in Hatboro. 

"In our community there are more DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) families that we will try to help," said the Rev. Lillian "Luki" Cotto. Her ministry extends beyond Hatboro to serve growing immigrant populations in Warminster and Warrington, many of them from Central America and Mexico, but other countries as well. Other Latino churches and ministries across the conference--in Philadelphia, Lancaster, Allentown, Lebanon and West Chester, for example--also have DACA recipients and applicants in their communities who may come seeking their help. 

"This is so cruel and unfair that Trump is taking away their (Dreamers') lives, their possibilities," Cotto lamented. "We are praying and figuring out how to help them if the worse comes, which will be deportation."  She co-chairs the Eastern PA Conference's Rapid Response Team. Members will meet on an urgent conference call with Bishop Peggy Johnson on Monday evening, Sept. 11, to explore strategies to respond to the White House's action. Learn more...  
In Freetown, Sierra Leone, a world away from Houston, Texas, and the Caribbean, another tragic toll continues to rise, where thousands of victims are either dead, missing or left homeless by flooding rains and a horrific mudslide that wreaked havoc three weeks ago. United Methodist Bishop John Yambasu last week led ecumenical funerals to bury some 300 decomposing bodies close to the site of that disaster.

Yet, not far away, a dedicated Eastern PA Conference clergywoman is protecting and nurturing young lives that survived the beleaguered nation's other recent tragedy, Ebola. The Rev. Dorcas Kamanda knew some of the victims of the catastrophe that struck the capital city August 14. She had left her pastorate at Newtown UMC in Columbia, Pa., last December and moved back to a small, rural community in her native country to create a children's village. There she is caring for young orphans who lost families in the Ebola crisis of 2014-2015.

"God continues to really be present with us," she reported in a letter to Bishop Peggy Johnson. "We now have two mothers, a mom's helper and five orphans. We have started construction of the first house for the orphans."

The courageous longtime nurse-turned-local pastor, now in her 70s, credits the Holy Spirit for "the energy that I receive to do all that I have going on." She plans to train workers to operate the orphanage and hopes to return to the Eastern PA Conference, her family and her ministry and education here as soon as she can. Learn more...  
The Rev. Maryanne Ditter, a Deacon and Minister of Spiritual Formation, marvels at the marketing approach of Planet Fitness, the fastest growing gym in the U.S. She especially likes the gym's welcoming claim to be a "judgment-free zone...where everyone feels accepted and respected." After paying them a visit, she now wishes more churches could honestly make the same claim to be a "Judgment-Free Zone," an environment "in which anyone--and we mean anyone--can be comfortable."

"If you have felt a sense of belonging and have felt loved, accepted and respected, don't you want others to feel that way, too?" Maryanne asks. She makes some common-sense suggestions on how more church members just might bless others with that same feeling. Learn more...
Local Church Communicators Survey, RSVP 
The search is on! The Communications Office wants to identify, resource and network with Local Church Communicators-i.e., pastors, communications ministry coordinators and committees, webmasters, church newsletter editors, etc. We want to know who you are, what you're doing in church communications, what help you may need and what help you can offer others.

We also want to share with you resources we come across that may aid in your ministry. For example, we just watched a free, helpful UM Communications (UMCom) webinar last week titled "7 Ways to Promote Your Church Event On Facebook," something many churches would love to do.  Fortunately, you can still view a recording of that easy-to-understand, 45-minute webinar (starts at 6:04 minutes). 

We want to share more resources--including webinars, online articles, training and networking events--with anyone doing communications in and for our local churches. That includes helpful resources that you share with us.

So please tell us your name, church name and location, your communications role and other information about the types of communications your church does and/or wants to do. E-mail us at or use our Submit News page to send us your information.

Or, better yet, just take a few moments to download, complete and return our short   Local Church Communicators Survey   questionnaire, so that we can better communicate, serve and share resources with you and your church. Thanks! 
Find your path...
at Exploration 2017
Friday, October 13, 
from 10 AM to 2 PM 
Lancaster Theological Seminary, 
555  W. James St, Lancaster, PA.

Come   enjoy worship, prayer, fellowship and conversation  to help you discern, explore and respond to  G od's Call to Ordained & Licensed Ministry  in all its forms. 

Visit  a seminary class at Lancaster Theological Seminary  and witness the sharing of knowledge, insights, experience and community among teachers and students.

Learn   about the seminary experience , your options for theological education and various ministry fields available to help you answer God's call to sacred service.

Explore   your gifts and passion  for service as a Deacon or Elder or Local Pastor in The United Methodist Church.

Our Districts  will have representatives there to discuss your interests and potential avenues for entering, preparing for and living out your call to ordained & licensed ministry.   The $20 registration fee  includes lunch.  
For more information contact: 
the  Rev. Dr. Michael Roberts  at , or
Rev. Johnson Dodla  at .

Who Should Attend?   Adults, especially young adults, who sense God's call to ordained & licensed ministry, or who want to know about preparation for ministry in The United Methodist Church.
Don't wait or available space may fill up!   Register Online Now! 
Download and Share!  
Event full-page Flyer     Half-page bulletin     2 Half-page bulletins  
Summer hours at the Conference Office are 7:00 am to 4:15 pm, Monday - Thursday. The office will be closed on Fridays until Labor Day.
Faith leaders invited to community health strategies event
Church leaders who want to know how to improve the health of their communities are invited to attend a major conference in Philadelphia, September 14-15, titled Equipping and Empowering Faith-Based Institutions to Address HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis C, and Health Equity through Private-Public Partnerships. The location is the International House at 3701 Chestnut Street. Churches can benefit from private-public partnerships to help them create or improve ministries that address HIV/AIDS and other key community health concerns like the opioid epidemic, substance abuse and mental health disorders. Included will be grant writing and management assistance, addressing trauma and leveraging leadership to increase clergy and lay participation in health ministries. Presenters are public, private-sector and university health officials, as well as faith-based health ministry leaders.  Learn more and  download the flyer.
Academy for Church Finance to train church teams
Leveraging the strengths and success of its Financial Leadership Academy (FLA) for clergy from three neighboring conferences, the Mid-Atlantic UM Foundation (MAUMF) will begin a similar training program this fall for joint teams of clergy and laity. Registration began August 1 and ends when the 20-church maximum is reached in two locations.

The four-session Academy for Church Finance  (ACF) for laity and clergy will begin with Part 1 on Saturday, Oct. 7, at the Baltimore-Washington Mission Resource Center in Fulton, Md., and be repeated on Saturday, Oct. 14, at Aldersgate UMC in Wilmington, Del.  Future sessions will be held in March and October 2018 and March 2019. Learn more... and register your church now.
North District to sponsor its own Laity Academy
The new North District will again sponsor its own Laity Academy over four weeks on Monday evenings, September 11, 18 and 25 and October 2. Classes will be in session at St. John's UMC, 1211 West Arch Street, Coal Township, PA. To better serve local churches in their region, the active Methodists United Mission ConneXion, in the Shamokin area, is partnering again with the Eastern PA Conference, as they did  a few years ago, to bring the Laity Academy closer to home.
This year, the "Basic" course will be offered as well as two Advance courses: "Leading through Failure" and "Visitation and Nurturing." The academy is open to anyone in the North District or in the entire Eastern PA Conference, for those who want to drive out there and see the sheer beauty of God's early autumn canvas in our northwestern region. Each session will run from 6 to 8:30 PM. For information, contact Patty Korbich at or 570-672-1031. A small fee will help pay for class materials and light refreshments. Registration is required. Register at
Hopewell's 2017 Planting Seeds event:
Pray for the City
Hopewell UMC's is planning its 14th Annual Planting Seeds for Ministry Growth event, be held on Saturday, Sept. 30.  Keynote speaker for Pray for the City will be the Rev. Scott Chrostek, Pastor of Resurrection Downtown, a Kansas City campus of Church of the Resurrection, where he serves on Adam Hamilton's executive leadership team.  The Rev. W. Wilson Goode Sr. will be this year's worship speaker.  Dr. Goode is the director of Amachi, a national program for children of incarcerated parents.  He served two terms as Mayor of Philadelphia.
Six workshops will be offered during the event, two in the late morning and four in the afternoon.  Workshop descriptions are posted at Registration for the 2017 Planting Seeds for Ministry Growthwill open in early August.  Hopewell UMC is located in Downingtown, PA.  For more information, call the church office at 610-269-1545, or e-mail Deb Boyd at  
Orientation begins for Certified Lay Ministers program

The Certified Lay Minister Program will begin  Orientation Sessions in September for admission to the 2018 CLM Class that opens  April 1, 2018. An orientation session is required for application to the program. Sessions will be offered on numerous dates at eight convenient locations around the conference, beginning with:
  • September 9, 1:45 PM-3 PM, (following the Laity Retreat) at Grove UMC in West Chester;
  • September 18, 6:30 PM-8:30 PM, at Asbury UMC Allentown;
  • September 267-9 PM, at Christ UMC in Fairless Hills.
There are more dates in ensuing months through December. The Class of 2018 will be certified, upon completion of course, in the Spring of 2019. Please contact Judy Ehninger to register for an orientation session: OR, (C) 610-442-3140, (H) 610-965-2290.

HOPE! Talks: Inspiration for Small Congregations, Oct. 21
Save the date! HOPE! Talks: Inspiration for Small Congregations happens Oct. 21, from 9 AM to 3 PM, at Lighthouse Fellowship UMC, 137 North Easton Road, Glenside, PA. Be inspired as speakers from small congregations doing great ministries share how God is moving and imparting hope to and through them.
Gain a new perspective. Ask questions. Connect. Be refreshed. Get hope!  Join us for this live-streamed, TED talks-style event sponsored by Bishop Peggy Johnson and the Cabinet. ASL Interpretation and Handicapped Accessibility will be provided. Registration is $10 in advance and $15 at the door (includes breakfast and lunch). Online registration opens July 15. Want more information? Visit .  
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, 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 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!
Eastern Pennsylvania Conference of The United Methodist Church
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