July 24, 2015
NEW INFO              NEW INFO               NEW INFO

EPA Conference launches new Website

The Eastern PA Conference's long-awaited new Website is here and available for use at http://www.epaumc.org//. Offering more content, more colorful imagery and more convenience for users, the new site includes:

  • conference, district and denominational news, views and events;
  • resources for church leaders; and
  • multiple, informative pages for ministry program areas, communications media and administrative services.

New features include: an Archives and History page; a Giving opportunities page; a staff directory; a church search module and one for appointed pastors still being developed. Other new features include two blogs--titled "NEWSpirit Blog" and "From Pulpit & Pew"--and three strategic content sections, titled "Inform," "Inspire" and "Involve."


Please visit our new site today and often. There's much to read, quality photography to appreciate, and new content added weekly. Also, please respond to our short, nine-question feedback survey . Your answers may help us further develop and refine this new communication and engagement tool to better serve you and the needs of our conference. Thanks!

UMM Softball Tournament begins 9 AM Saturday

Come out and get your cheer on Saturday, July 25, at the Eastern PA Conference UM Men's Annual Softball Tournament beginning at 9 AM, at Mondauk Commons Park,1451 Dillon Rd, Ambler, PA. 
Four top teams will compete for the annual tournament prize: Jarrettown UMC, Hopewell UMC, Grove UMC and New Hanover UMC. They'll gather to begin with devotions at 9 AM, before taking the field to pitch, hit, run, leap and slide to victory. Organizer Ross Brightwell invites everyone to come watch and cheer the teams on. Team sports is a proven tool for evangelism in today's world, especially in reaching young people who are and are not involved in church. He urges church members, families and friends to come, bring their lawn chairs, pup tents snacks and beverages. And most of all, bring your team spirit. 


Mission u happens this weekend  
Mission u 2015, July 24-26, begins tonight and extends till Sunday at The Inn at Reading (1040 North Park Road, Wyomissing, PA). The purpose of Mission u is to help church members (lay and clergy, men, women and youth) understand and interpret the local, national and global mission of the church and the responsibility of all Christians to help fulfill that mission. It also interprets and supports the Mission Education, Christian Social Action and program planning efforts of United Methodist Women. But again, Mission u is for everyone.

Laity Academy registration ends July 31 Register now, before next Friday, for the 32nd Laity Academy, set for August 14-16, at The Inn at Reading, 1040 North Park Road, Wyomissing, PA. The theme is "Planting Seeds: Rooted in God's Word." The online registration is now live, and you can get plenty of information about this annual education and fellowship event--the largest gathering for laity each year--on our Website. The Basic Christ Servant Ministries class is full. 

You can find access to the: Paper Registration Form and Course Selection Brochure; 2015 Academy for Laity Course Descriptions; and the 2015 Academy for Laity FAQs all on the event information page. For more information contact Aubrey Bates or Anne Taylor. For hotel reservations visit Reservations@InnAtReading.com. Mention "Lay Academy."

Pressing on to the goal in our race to end malaria 
Be sure to read Bishop Peggy Johnson's recent Bishop's Blog appeal for Eastern PA Conference churches to help the UMC reach its goal to raise $75 million in the Imagine No Malaria campaign by 2016. That achievement may effectively wipe out the deadly disease that has taken so many lives, mostly in Africa.  

"The Eastern PA Conference has given much toward this effort in the last 8 years," she writes, recalling that the original Nothing But Nets campaign launched in early 2007 was inspired by the efforts of a 6-year-old member of Hopewell UMC. So far we have raised $66 million. "We are getting close," writes the bishop, citing many life-saving benefits so far, including distributing 2 million insecticide-treated mosquito nets, training 11,600 volunteers and reducing the infection rate by half. "And it seems only right that we here in the Eastern PA Conference should finish what we started.


"We will launch our new campaign this summer, and we ask that you and your church join us in fervent prayer," she urges. "We want full participation from all our districts, churches and mission connexions. Our conference can play a big role in helping our entire church push this effort across the finish line. Please give generously and think creatively about how you can raise the needed funds." Learn more...


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 (717-239-1500). The online room registrations rate is $129/day. Discounted parking in the garage is $7/day. Please, please book your hotel room now. 


Bishop urges churches to honor 25 year-old ADA law

July marks 25 years since the Americans with Disabilities Act became U.S. law in 1990. In her latest Bishop's Blog essay, Bishop Peggy Johnson recalls some major improvements the law brought to Deaf people during her pastorate at Christ UMC of the Deaf in Baltimore. "The ADA Law set Deaf people free," she writes. "One of the most important parts of the law was equal access to communication."


The bishop, whose passionate advocacy for people with disabilities is well known, celebrates the historic law's provision of accessibility for people with hearing, visual and mobility challenges, including more access to education, recreation, employment and transportation.


"I urge you to find new ways every year to improve your church's accessibility--be it physical or attitudinal," she writes. "Your church can sign onto the new Faith Community Proclamation  in honor of the 25th anniversary of the ADA law. The ADA website is a good place to make a commitment to continue the work of accessibility and advocacy; but there are additional resources available as well. The address is http://www.adaanniversary.org.  Read more of her Bishop's Blog essay...

Apply for Ethnic In-Service Training grants by July 31 
The General Board of Higher Education and Ministry (GBHEM) is accepting grant applications to fund programs that recruit, train and retain racial-ethnic United Methodists for leadership positions until July 31. Up to 10 Ethnic In-Service Training grants are approved each year for programs that develop racial-ethnic UMC leadership and its ministries. Funding for the grants comes from contributions to World Communion Sunday, observed churchwide this year Oct. 4. Typically $5,000 to $10,000, the grants, are funded with 15 percent of the Special Sunday offering allocated to GBHEM.

Collaborative efforts involving campus ministries, chaplaincies, higher education institutions, children's homes, retirement homes, camping and retreat centers, hospitals and general agencies are eligible to apply. Apply online now. Also learn more about World Communion Sunday, the special offering and the educational ministries it supports. 
Campus Ministry Sunday is   August 23   
Life-changing. Church-changing. World-changing.
That's what can happen when college students and churches encounter one another to learn, share and grow in Christ and in community. Make sure your church celebrates Campus Ministry Sunday on August 23 (or on a more convenient date). Invite and welcome college students to your church for faith-sharing and fellowship. Receive the special Campus Ministry Sunday Offering that will help us renew efforts to promote and support campus ministries conference-wide. Retain half of the offering to support your own local campus ministry efforts, and please let us know what you are doing. Remit the rest, or the entire offering, to the EPA Conference Treasurer (P.O. Box 820, Valley Forge, PA 19482-0820).

"I encourage you to give generously to our campus ministries," says Bishop Peggy Johnson, whose own life was changed as a student at Lebanon Valley College. "Be in touch with the campus ministers and find ways of networking together in mission projects and study groups. Campus ministry needs the local church. The local churches need campus ministry. Our future depends on it." Visit the Higher Education and Campus Ministry Webpage on our new Conference Website. We will post a Campus Ministry Sunday promotional flyer there next week.

Mt. Zion UMC Philadelphia celebrates 100 years  
"We are still basking in the glow of our celebration, and appreciate the thoughts, prayers and presence of so many," said Suzette James, recalling the recent centennial of Mt. Zion UMC in Philadelphia. The Philadelphia Tribune reported on the June 28 celebration, which included two worship services and a fellowship banquet, and also named the century-old congregation "Church of the Week" on July 12. 

"Our love for God, our love for people and our commitment to the community is what has allowed the church to remain here for 100 years," the Rev. Reginald Monte Jr., pastor, told the newspaper. Mt. Zion is celebrating with special events throughout the year. The next big event is its Back-to-School Bash, August 22, when it provides school supplies to community families. Donations for this annual ministry come from Berwyn UMC and other supporters. The church will collect many dropped off school supplies on August 8, from 11 AM to 2 PM. Read the Tribune's lengthy article with photos about Mt. Zion and its centennial celebration.
UMCMarket.org gets upgrade  The General Council on Finance and Administration, the denomination's finance agency, has relaunched the online shopping portal UMCMarket, using more advanced technology and faster delivery of donations. The site allows online shoppers to donate a percentage of what they spend back to their church or to the United Methodist ministry of their choice. Read press release   Visit UMCMarket.org
Use your UM Day at Dorney Park & Wildwater Kingdom coupons Aug. 1

Due to the rain that hindered many people from coming to celebrate UM Day at Dorney Park Saturday, June 27, you can still use the "United Methodist Day at Dorney Park" discount coupons at the Park Saturday Aug. 1. We regret to announce that the "UM Family and Youth Music Fest" could not be rescheduled for that date.  If you have any questions contact Ross Brightwell at rossbrightwell@verion.net or 215/643-1269.  

Try Disciple Fast Track: Bible study for busy lives 

If you've ever wanted to take the Disciple Bible Study course--or take it again--but in less time, the new Disciple Fast Track may be ideal for you. While the original course required 34 weeks of over 2-hour classes, this new option offers 75-minute classes for only 24 weeks. Using the same Disciple Study Manual, participants still receive a thorough introduction to the Bible, but less in-depth and in almost a third less time to accommodate busy lifestyles.


Designed by Bishop Richard Wilke, author of the Disciple Bible Study manuals, and Christian Educator Susan Fuquay, the study is endorsed by the UM Publishing House. It offers a new, user-friendly leader's guide, videos, online training and an online community. Churches around the country report a surge in classes, as more people are enjoying this new Bible study option. Visit the website http://www.disciplefasttrack.com to explore the materials and read what other pastors, educators, leaders and participants are saying. Also, please let us know if your church has or will participate in DiscipleFastTrack. E-mail us and tell us what you think about it at communications@epaumc.org. 


'Only Four Things Grow Your Church'
The rescheduled "Only Four Things Grow Your Church" workshop will happen Saturday, Sept. 19, from 9 AM to 4 PM, at St. Matthews UMC of Valley Forge, 600 Walker Rd, Wayne, PA. 

Bill Tenny-Brittian and Bill Easum will conduct the seminar designed for church leaders (clergy, staff and laity) who are committed to seeing their churches become effective, faithful, and sustainable. The four core processes they teach focus on Inviting, Connecting and Discipling people and then Sending them back into the world to reach others. The cost is $75. Register now.
  All attendees get a $50 gift card. Also, register a team of 3 or more and save $10 per registration.  


New Birth UMC to host Launchpad
for new church planters


The Eastern PA Conference will host Launchpad, a PATH 1 training for current or prospective church planters and their teams, Aug. 21-23, at New Birth UMC (Nuevo Nacimiento),1025 Lehman St., Lebanon, PA. Launchpad guides teams into the early stages of church planting with exercises to help them start new faith communities. Now in its 5th year, the training, offered in English and Spanish, is based on lessons learned from hundreds of church planting leaders across the USA. Paul Nixon, who has coached around 100 new church projects, will co-lead it with Sam Rodriguez, a UM expert on church planting within Hispanic communities.


The costs, for training, materials and lunch, are: $100 for the church planter (and free for spouses) and $50 for each additional team member. The registration deadline is Aug. 1. Attendees may also participate in a free follow-up Webinar in January to help them prepare to launch or relaunch a new worship experience.  Register here .

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. The theme is "See, Know, Love." With dynamic speakers, vibrant conversations and innovative workshops, this resource-rich training opportunity will alter the way you think about leadership and living out your faith in churches and communities. Learn more...

Revelation Festival, August 8. Tickets only $10

Kochenderfer Church in Lebanon, PA, will welcome the second Revelation Festival, offering music for millennials, on Saturday, August 8.  The church will host and partner with young organizers of the adventurous music gathering sophomore again this year.  


"We have been hard at work to make this the best Revelation Festival yet," said Alex Shepler. "We are so excited to have Rapture Ruckus (pictured here) headlining our Festival this year! They put on a stellar show, and they will even host a big dance party following the festival."  In addition to Rapture Ruckus, Revelation Festival will present even more nationally and locally known bands. "It's the perfect mix of music," added Shepler. "If you like, pop, rock, worship, electronic, rap, or metal music, we have something for you. And it's only $10 for tickets. We're also looking for volunteers. Interested parties can sign up to volunteer on our website." Contact info: Email: info@rev-fest.com, Phone: 717-273-0525, Web: www.rev-fest.com

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 communications@epaumc.org. Thanks!

Adjourned Session of Annual Conference

Save the Date! Nov. 14, at Hempfield UMC in Lancaster.An official announcement with more details will follow in April.

Please Save These Dates!   

July 24-26: Mission U  

Inn at Reading, 1040 North Park Road, Wyomissing, PA. This event is for women, men, youth and pastors.  Contact the registrar at rep164@frontiernet.net for further info. Sponsored by UMW of EPA Conference

Aug. 14-16, 2015: Laity Academy,

The Inn at Reading (PA)


Sept. 9-12, 2015: Laity Retreat

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, Hempfield UMC, Lancaster, PA

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