July 3, 2015
NEW INFO              NEW INFO               NEW INFO
Jarrettown UMC to 'Let Freedom Ring' on Independence Day
Jarrettown UMC will hold its annual "Let Freedom Ring" service on its front lawn on Independence Day, Saturday, July 4, from 1 to 1:45 PM. The church is celebrating its 150th anniversary this year. Members will read aloud the names of veterans buried in its cemetery, from as far back as the War of 1812, to the Civil War (both Union and Confederate sides), and since then. Revolutionary War re-enactors will fire a salute to veterans, followed by the playing of Taps and a drum roll for each buried veteran. They will read letters written to the former Methodist Episcopal Church by presidents George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, as well as portions of the Declaration of Independence. The Rev. Bob Strauss, pastor, will offer special words and prayer, and the service will end with the ringing of the church bell 13 times to honor the former 13 colonies that became states. All are invited!
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.  

2015 Eastern PA Annual Conference report is online at umc.org

The denominational Website, www.umc.org, has published 2015 Annual Conference Reports provided to UM News Service by conference communications staff. You can read the 2015 Eastern Pennsylvania Conference report at: http://www.umc.org/who-we-are/2015-eastern-pennsylvania-conference.


Bishops offer advice after SCOTUS marriage equality ruling

(UMNS) - How can a United Methodist pastor minister to same-gender couples and not run afoul of church law? A number of United Methodist bishops in the U.S. (including our own Bishop Peggy Johnson) are striving to answer that question in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex civil marriage in all 50 states. Heather Hahn reports. Read story and post a comment.

New Accountability Agreement
between churches, Boy Scouts  

If your church is involved in scouting, we have a new policy agreement between churches and leaders of their local Boy Scouts of America troops that must be signed by both parties. Boy Scout troops that conduct scouting activities in local UM churches must agree to comply with the national BSA Youth Protection Policy. They must also provide evidence of participation in BSA Youth Protection Training and required background and criminal clearance checks for their leaders. See the Agreement between the Eastern PA UMC and the Boy Scouts of America on our Website Safe Sanctuaries page under the Policies heading.

Laity Academy to feature Native American ministry course 

As we look forward to celebrating the Acts of Repentance with Native Americans and Other Indigenous Persons at our 2016 Annual Conference, we continue the journey toward healing and wholeness from a history of broken relationships and tragic events in the growth of our nation. So says the conference Committee on Native American Ministries (CONAM), which will offer a course at the Academy for Laity, August 14-16, titled "Walking in Love: The Acts of Repentance and Healing Relationships with Native American and Indigenous Persons." Consider registering for this course if you want to know more about Native Americans, their history, culture and concerns, and how our connectional faith community is called to be in ministry with them. If you have any interest in or responsibility for Native American Ministries, this course is designed for you. Registration deadline is July 17.


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. 


Youth needed for Appalachia Mission Trip

There is room available for youth to join an Appalachia Service Project mission trip July 19-25. Grandview UMC has four open spots for youth, from age 14 to new high school graduate, who are interested in going. Contact George Swank, of Grandview UMC's Youth Ministry, at


We know mission trips can be a potentially life-changing (and church-changing) highlight of any summer vacation. If you or your church participates in one this summer--for youth or adults--we in Eastern PA Conference Communications would love to know about it and possibly report on it. Please send us information and photos to communications@epaumc.org.

Biblical Storytellers festival Aug. 5-8 

The Network of Biblical Storytellers, with members from throughout the world, will sponsor the Festival Gathering of Biblical Storytelling in the Washington DC area Aug. 5-8. The event will be held at the National 4-H Center in Chevy Chase, Md. On Aug. 6, at 7 PM, 20 storytellers will perform The Epic Telling of the Acts of the Apostles at Chevy Chase UMC, 7001 Connecticut Ave., across the street from the 4-H Center. The Gathering will include several hands-on workshops on all aspects of storytelling. The keynote address this year will be given by the dynamic Rev. Marvin McMickle, president of the Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School. For more information, visit www.nbsint.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

UM chaplain to address Men's Prayer Breakfast July 18 
The Eastern PA Conference UM Men will sponsor a prayer breakfast Saturday, July 18, at Tindley Temple UMC, 750 S. Broad St, Philadelphia, from 9 to 11 AM. Guest Speaker will be Lt. Col., Chaplain, Sherrol James, U.S. Air Force. (Please see the attached Bio. for Chaplain James.) James will also throw out the "first pitch" at the United Methodist Night at the Phillies game later that evening.  And on Sunday she will preach at New Hanover UMC,  2211 Swamp Pike, Gilbertsville, PA.  "Here is a great opportunity for United Methodist Men to come together for fellowship," says Ross Brightwell, UMM president, "to show our support for our military and to be inspired by one of our great United Methodist military chaplains. Reserve seats for your men's group by e-mailing Delno Moyer at: drm3@zoominternet.net, or call him at (484) 886-0950 by 13 July. Learn more...  
Share and learn about local church happenings on our Local Church Events page 
Check out our Local Church Events Webpage for more events happening in churches around our conference in weeks to come. For example, Hopewell UMC in Downingtown will host its first-ever "Chapel Jam" in its historic Bower Chapel Sunday June 6, at 6 PM. It will feature Willis Hickerson, Jr., and the Musicians of Praise, in addition to the Hopewell Praise Team. See our Local Church Events page or visit www.hopewellumc.org for details.

Housing needed for undocumented immigrant families

Temporary housing and hospitality will be urgently needed for immigrant families who may be released soon from the Berks County Detention Center. The center in Bern Township is one of three in the U.S. housing undocumented immigrant families with children; the other two are in Texas. There is a push nationally to close these family detention centers as inhumane places to house families and calls to move those families into communities while their immigration cases are being processed. President Obama's administration defends them as a humane option and a deterrent to illegal immigration. Advocacy groups in Pennsylvania are trying to close the Berks center, including a recent protest there and meetings with the governor's office to voice concerns about the facility.

Tim O'Connell, former director of Hispanic Ministries in Delaware County for the Catholic Archdiocese and now a campus minister at Villanova University, has reached out to United Methodists in the Eastern PA Conference who are committed to helping congregations "become welcoming to immigrants." The Rev. Lillian "Luky" Cotto, pastor and director of a ministry serving Latino families at Lehman UMC in Hatboro, and the Rev. Lydia Muñoz, pastor of StartingPointPhilly UMC, are asking for help from churches, individuals and families who are willing and able to house and aid families as they are released. Please contact Muñoz at lydiaem0501@gmail.com or Timothy O'Connell at timothy.oconnell@villanova.edu if you can help with this urgent need.
holarship donations to the EPA Conference Treasurer or to individual camps.

Creative special observance ideas       sought by Interpreter magazine

A most popular section of Interpreter magazine, the official program journal for United Methodist local church leaders, has long been "It Worked for Us," in which churches share ministry success stories from which other congregations can learn. Barbara Dunlap-Berg, associate editor, is working on the last two issues of 2015 (September-October and November-December) and looking for "creative, unique ways" local churches observe or celebrate the following:
  • Advent (starts Nov. 29)
  • All Saints Day (Nov. 1)
  • Bible Sunday (Nov. 22) and National Bible Week (Nov. 22-29)
  • Children's Sabbath (Oct. 9-11)
  • Christ the King/Reign of Christ Sunday (Nov. 22)
  • Christmas Eve/Christmas Day (Dec.24-25)
  • Hispanic Heritage Month (Sept. 15-Oct. 15)
  • International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church (Nov. 8)
  • Laity Sunday (Oct. 18)
  • Native American Heritage Month (November)
  • Organ and Tissue Donor Sunday (Nov. 8)
  • Reformation Day (Oct. 31)
  • Thanksgiving Day (Nov. 26)
  • Watch Night (Dec. 31)
  • World AIDS Day (Dec. 1)
  • World Communion Sunday (Oct. 4)
  • World Community Day (Nov. 6)

If your church has experience or plans for observing any of these special occasions through some creative, effective activity please let us know so we can pass your good idea onto her (and maybe report on it ourselves in our conference media). All we need for now is a short description of the program, idea or ministry, and a contact person's name, e-mail address and phone number. If it works for you, it may work for another church, too. Thanks in advance.

32nd Laity Academy set for August 14-16

Register now for the 32nd Laity Academy, set for August 14-16, once again 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.

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. We will highlight some of the courses to help promote the academy over the next few months. For more information contact Aubrey Bates or Anne Taylor. Hotel reservations must be made directly with the hotel: Reservations@InnAtReading.com. Mention "Lay Academy."

Mission u happens July 24-26. Enroll now 

Mission u 2015 will return to The Inn at Reading (1040 North Park Road, Wyomissing, PA) July 24-26. 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. Download and print the  brochure and registration form .

Play ball at UMM Softball Tournament July 25

The United Methodist Men  will hold their 23rd annual Eastern PA Conference  Softball Tournament  Saturday, July 25 , at Mondauk Commons Park, 1451 Dillon Rd., Ambler, Pa.  This is a day for fun, fellowship and faith-sharing, along with healthy competition and even worship, all revolving around great team softball. We begin with worship on the field for all teams at 9 AM. Eight teams will play on this one-day, double-elimination tournament.  Registration is $135 plus $20 per team per game for the umpire.  Get all the details and come play ball at our annual tournament.  Women are welcome to play. This is sports ministry at its best, a strong attraction to young and middle-aged adults especially because softball is the number one participatory sport in the U.S., according to Sports Illustrated. Because this is a UM Men's tournament each participating church must have a chartered UMM Chapter. If you don't, we can fix that. Visit our UMM Web page to find out more or download and use this charter application      --  Ross Brightwell

  United Methodist Night at the Phillies, Saturday, July 18 

Come catch a great ballgame, but come early to hear the New Hanover UMC choir sing before the game and to cheer U.S. Air Force Chaplain Lt. Col. Sherrol James (a United Methodist) when she throws out the ceremonial first pitch. More info to come, but get your discounted tickets now. Questions? Contact Ross Brightwell at 215-643-1269, rossbrightwell@verizon.net. Sponsored by United Methodist Men.   Download the flyer!

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 11, 2015: Deaconess/Home Missioner Discernment Event at Lancaster Theological Seminary, 10:00 am to 3:00 pm. More details to come. Contact Deaconess Darlene DiDomineck, ddidomineck@epaumc.org, for more information.


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