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November 29, 2014
NEW INFO                 NEW INFO                  NEW INFO

Greetings for this season

With Thanksgiving behind us and Advent and Christmas ahead of us, we have begun a yearly season when many Christians view their lives intently in both directions: backward to recall blessings and burdens of a year drawing to a close; and forward in anticipation of a new year and the coming again of Jesus Christ, our past, present and future Savior. We wish all members, leaders and friends of the EPA Conference blessings of joy and peace, to be shared with grateful generosity, throughout this special season. 
Bishop urges prayer after by Ferguson, Mo., decision 
Demonstrations--some violent, some peaceful--are still occurring around the nation in the wake of the decision Monday night, Nov. 24, by a grand jury to not indict Ferguson, Mo., Police Officer Darren Wilson in the Aug. 9  shooting death of unarmed teenager Michael Brown. Bishop Peggy Johnson urged EPA Conference members to "pray with yearning in your hearts that justice, compassion, restraint and a vigilant commitment to non-violence and peace-making will prevail in our cities during this troubled time."

As she reported in her Monday night statement, church and community leaders gathered at Arch Street UMC in downtown Philadelphia to watch, pray and dialogue about the grand jury's announcement. They then joined peaceful protesters filling the streets around nearby City Hall, hoping to influence the search for clarity amid confusion and anxiety.  Learn more...

Insurance Open Enrollment for 2015 ends Nov. 30

The conference's Open Enrollment period for 2015 health insurance coverage for active clergy and staff runs ends Sunday, Nov. 30. This will be the last day for persons to carefully review approved medical and dental benefit plans and select insurance options that will go into effect Jan. 1, 2015. The conference will have new insurance carriers next year: Independence Blue Cross for medical and United Concordia for dental. Learn more...

Uniting in our fight against AIDS

World AIDS Day, held annually on Dec. 1

since 1988, encourages people worldwide to unite in the fight against HIV, to show their support for people living with HIV and to remember those who have died. Many scientific advances have been made in HIV treatment, giving us hope for an eventual cure for the disease someday. But there are still too many people who do not know the important facts about HIV and AIDS, and how to protect themselves and others. Because of ignorance and apathy, too many persons living with HIV still face painful stigma, rejection and discrimination.  

 

World AIDS Day reminds us all that the still-deadly disease has not gone away. There is still a vital need to raise money, increase awareness, fight prejudice and improve education. For more information about what you and your church can do, and about related events happening in our area, see our story.

More new stories on our Website

There are more new stories on our Website, at http://epaumc.org. Learn about:
  • UM Student Day
    , which many churches will observe Sunday, Nov. 30 (but your church can observe at any time).
     
  • UMC #GivingTuesday
    on Dec. 2, when we can all extend the spirit of Thanksgiving by supporting mission and ministries locally and around the world. Every gift made online through The Advance at www.umcmission.org/give on Dec. 2 will be matched up to $1 million total by the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries. Last year 11,000 individuals and churches in 34 countries collectively raised a record $6.5 million online on UMC #GivingTuesday, all of which went to aid ministries they believe in through The Advance. Please help us achieve another record-breaking day of generous giving.
     
  • The
    season of Advent, from Nov. 30 to Dec. 24, is a time when Christians prepare their hearts and minds for the birth and coming again of Christ. If you need help finding Advent devotional and Bible study aids, we offer links to some being offered to celebrate this sacred season from various perspectives.
     
  • We also offer stories about: the distress Ebola is causing families living in West Africa and here in EPA; and about churches that are fighting hunger by learning through a poverty simulation exercise and by raising funds and packaging meals to help "Stop Hunger Now."

Dynamic duo honored

for 20 years at the Farm 

The Camp & Retreat Ministry Board, which oversees the four EPA Conference camp and retreat centers, recently recognized Ray & Meg Neitz for 20 years of service and stewardship at Carson-Simpson Farm Christian Center. At their Nov 17 meeting board members celebrated the long-serving couple for their faithful dedication to creating and sustaining a place where all people, but especially children from urban, low-income families, can enjoy, learn and benefit from camping and retreat experiences amid the serenity and beauty of God's creation. We will feature the Neitz's in an upcoming article in NEWSpirit.

EPAC applies for domestic violence training for churches  

Sharon Hachtman, RN, a deaconess and member of East Stroudsburg UMC, has applied to United Methodist Women (UMW) to select the EPA Conference for specialized training for church teams to respond to the critical, widespread problem of domestic violence. The 2015 training, being offered to two conferences, would establish partnerships between the national and regional UMW and United Methodist Men (UMM) organizations and the FaithTrust Institute, which resources and helps various faith groups to address domestic violence and sexual assault.

As a nurse, Hachtman developed a wellness program for abused women in a non-profit domestic violence agency in the Lehigh Valley. She networked with conference UMW and UMM leaders and others to facilitate the application, which was due Nov. 30. The training project would require the conference to recruit and help diverse congregations address domestic violence together in collaboration with local resource organizations and agencies. Two church teams from each district would attend the training and implement what they learn, receiving support and evaluation. Eventually, they would organize training for other churches in their areas. The training would focus on understanding justice ministry and theology, and developing strategies and tactics to empower victims, hold abusers accountable and promote healing.


Human Relations Day aids ministries

Human Relations Day, the first churchwide Special Sunday of 2015 is scheduled for Jan. 18, the day before the national holiday to celebrate the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday (Jan. 19). The United Methodist Book of Discipline describes Human Relations Day as a call "to recognize the right of all God's children in realizing their potential as human beings in relationship with each other."

 

The Special Sunday offering supports local church and community-based ministries that are all about helping people realize their potential "in relationship with each other." One General Board of Church & Society program funded by the offering helps churches support non-violent juvenile offenders as they seek to turn their lives around. Human Relations Day-funded grants from the Youth Offender Rehabilitation Program are available for churches engaged in such ministries. Jan. 10 is the deadline to apply.

 

Contact Marvlyn Scott at mscott@umc-gbcs.org or 202-488-5643. Order your Human Relations Day observance resources from www.umcgiving.org

Women in ministry to gather with bishop

Women in Professional Ministry will have A Day Apart with Bishop Peggy Johnson Dec. 10, at 10 AM, at the Bishop's Residence, 243 Rivercrest Drive, Phoenixville, PA. Together, those gathered will reflect on what they find "life-giving" during the coming Advent season. Please RSVP to Rev. Monica Guepet at revmonicaguepet@gmail.com if you wish to attend.

Deacons to have a day apart

All deacons, deacon candidates, and those interested in learning more about the role of the deacon in the local church are invited to a Deacons' Day Apart Saturday, Jan. 10, 9 AM to 3 PM, at Simpson House, 2101 Belmont Avenue, Philadelphia. This will be a time of worship, fellowship, sharing about local church ministries, and workshops led by deacons and candidates on various topics.  There will be a small registration fee to cover the cost of lunch.  To register contact the Rev. Tiffany Manning, Chair of the Order of Deacons, at

Clergywomen set 2015 Retreat  

Clergywomen have booked Gretna Glen Camp & Retreat Center for their 2015 retreat on Tuesday, March 10, with an optional overnight stay on Monday, March 9. The theme will about prayer and will include the use of prayer stations. The Rev. Cyndi Skripak and the Rev. Dorry Newcomer will once again act as registrars and hosts for the retreat, but they invite others to share in the facilitation. To volunteer contact Newcomer at dorry.newcomer@yahoo.com or 215-968-2662. 

Associate Members, Local Pastors to retreat
in April 2015

The Fellowship of Associate Members and Local Pastors (FAMLP) of the Eastern Pennsylvania and Peninsula-Delaware conferences will gather April 26-28, 2015, for their annual retreat at the Black Rock Retreat Center. Associate Members, Local Pastors, Student Pastors, and Certified Lay Ministers of both conferences are welcome to attend. They will explore the theme "Church Growth and the Local Pastor," led by the Rev. Thomas Haugh, pastor of Mount Hope UMC.Participants will receive 2.5 CEUs. The registration fee, $50/person, is nonrefundable.  A deposit is due Dec. 15; the balance is due Jan. 19, 2015. Contact Cheryl Snyder, Treasurer and Registrar, at 443-553-2263 for questions. "We hope to meet you at Black Rock Retreat Center for a restful break," said the Rev. Mark Beideman, Retreat Chairperson, "so we can grow and be renewed together in Christ."

 

See the brochure and registration form at www.wilmingtondistrict.org/famlp2015retreat.pdfQuestions? Call Beideman at 610-585-0575.

Update Vital Congregations data by Dec. 30

Remember to update your church's Vital Congregations data for 2015-2018 by Dec. 30 at http://www.umc.org/how-we-serve/vitalsign-dashboard. Here's how to do it:

  1. Log onto the website
  2. Go to "Select by Conference"
  3. Choose your "District" and then your "Church"
  4. Update your data. You can't go back to modify past data, but you can provide current data through 2018.
  5. Be sure to type in your name, email address and then hit "Submit."  

The deadline is 12/30/2014.

Copyright Infringement alert: read and heed

Recently there have been a number of claims of copyright infringement involving EPA Conference churches and organizations. The explosive use of the Internet makes it easier to create works of copyright infringement and also easier to find them. Some companies make it a business to search the Internet for possible violations. Please read this announcement about copyright rules, share it with church staff and volunteers, and encourage their compliance. Learn more...

REMINDERS     REMINDERS    REMINDERS

Register now for Mid-Winter Clergy & Spouse Retreat

Early registration ends Nov. 29 for the 2015 Midwinter Retreat for Clergy (including elders, deacons and local pastors) and their Spouses, who will gather Jan. 13-15, 2015 in Ocean City, Md. Once again the retreat will convene at the Holiday Inn Oceanfront, 6600 Coastal Highway, Ocean City, Md. This retreat will address the needs of not only clergy but also their spouses and families. "We are excited to host M. Garlinda Burton, a popular and dynamic speaker, a former journalist and denominational leader, who will inform, inspire and challenge us with insightful keynote presentations on the topic Ministering to our Id-entity as a Clergyperson and/or Clergy Spouse," said Bishop Peggy Johnson. Learn more...

 

Advent resources abound

Advent this year lasts from Nov. 29 to Dec. 24, and devotional and Bible study materials are emerging from several helpful sources to celebrate this sacred season from various perspectives. Hopewell UMC is offering at no cost its four-week Bible Study, Advent Dreams, based on Mathew 1:18-2:23. Those who believe or wonder if God speaks through dreams can explore such revelations through the Infancy narratives found in the gospel of Matthew.  

 

This story of Advent and Christmas is told in four progressive scenes, each featuring a nighttime dream given to human beings. They offer divine guidance, or warning from danger, or a challenge to try something new. If Advent is God's dream coming true, we might ask how do we ourselves and our church live into God's dream, and does God today offer guidance or protection or challenge to us in dreams? To receive this free curriculum, contact Hopewell United Methodist Church boyd@hopewellumc.org 610-269-1545. Find out more at http://hopewellumc.org/advent-dreams.

 

Two UMC general agencies also offer Advent resources. The General Board of Discipleship (GBOD) has Advent and Christmas devotions for home and church, worship liturgy, including for Advent wreath candlelighting, planning ideas, activities for children, multimedia downloads, etc. The General Board of Church and Society  (GBCS) has a new four-week Advent Bible study that highlights World AIDS Day (Dec. 1) and addresses the HIV pandemic and its relationship to other social concerns. The study, "The Season for Change - An Advent Study on HIV/AIDS and Social Justice Advocacy," is free and downloadable. Details and downloads.

 

Society of St. Andrew, an anti-hunger ministry partner that resources many United Methodist churches, also offers an Advent devotional booklet of prayers, Scripture and meditations, titled "Prince of Peace." In addition to the booklet, the Starter Kit includes a detailed program introduction, a bulletin insert, weekly announcements, an order form and a litany for dedication of Advent gifts in worship. Quantities may be ordered free of charge.

 

Boehm's Chapel to host traditional Advent Vespers, Dec. 7 

It's that special time of year again, when historic Boehm's Chapel will host its annual candlelight Advent Vespers program Dec. 7, at 3 PM. Boehm's Chapel, located at 13 West Boehm's Church Road in Willow Street, Pa., will present an hour-long, traditional program of seasonal lessons and carols. They will relay the story of Christ's birth through familiar Bible readings from the prophets and Gospels, combined with special music and a cappella singing of traditional carols by the congregation. For more information visit www.boehmschapel.org
or e-mail boehmschapel@gmail.com or call Dolores Myers, Executive Director at 717-872-4133.

Musicians, dancers sought for General Conference.

United Methodist choirs, musicians, liturgical dancers and worship ensemble groups from around the world are auditioning online for an invitation to perform at the United Methodist Church's 2016 General Conference/ The top legislative assembly will meet in Portland, Ore., May 10-20, 2016. To be invited, groups should submit a link to a private YouTube video of the group performing, in addition to an application letter that includes the following: name of group; a primary contact person's email address and phone number; and a brief group bio, including location, membership, general age range, and any remarkable characteristics. The application should be emailed to gc2016worshipdirector@gmail.com by 
Jan, 12, 2015. Performance opportunities for invited choirs and ensembles include morning worship and/or a lunchtime showcase venue. Groups are responsible for their own expenses.

 

Final church remittances due Jan. 15

   

Attention Church Finance Leaders:
Please send in your final 2014 remittance payments before January 15, 2015. Also, please take the time to review your remittance statements and make sure that all payment information is correct. If you have any questions or concerns about your payments, contact Tamara Wims at 

(610) 666-9090 Ext 7015 or by e-mail at twims@epaumc.org.

UMC #GIVINGTUESDAY returns Dec. 2

For the second year we can extend the spirit of Thanks-Giving into the Advent season by participating in UMC #GivingTuesday, Dec. 2. Every second-mile gift made online through The Advance on Dec. 2
will be matched up to $1 million.* 

Your support on UMC #GivingTuesday will start off the holiday season by aiding missionaries and their projects, service organizations and communities in need. They have all been researched and approved by Global Ministries. And 100 percent of all gifts made through The Advance are given directly to the designated project.

 

Need help spreading the word about this year's UMC #GivingTuesday event? Use the UMC #GivingTuesday 2014 Toolkit for Annual Conferences. Other promotional toolkits are available for Advance projects and missionaries. Encourage supporters to get involved in UMC #GivingTuesday by using the provided alternative-giving models, social media and email language templates, and tips that will help you raise funds online. You can also help build excitement by using available banners, worship resources, graphics and other ideas--all accessible for download from the UMC #GivingTuesday resource page. This mission support effort was a big success last year, and it's certainly worth doing again.

2015 GBCS Grants Available

Jan. 10, 2015, is the deadline to apply for grants from two UMC General Board of Church & Society programs. Peace with Justice grants are funded by the annual Peace with Justice Sunday churchwide offering, which "witnesses to God's demands for a faithful, just, disarmed and secure world."  Ethnic Local Church grants are intended to strengthen racial-ethnic local churches through education, advocacy or leadership development as they engage in social justice.  Visit our Web site for more information about Funding for Ministry .
Aid available to attend GBCS Young Clergy Forum
Once again the General Board of Church and Society is inviting conferences to send up to two first-time participants, age 35 or younger, to its Young Clergy Forum Jan 25-28, 2015, at GBCS offices in Washington DC.  Only 75 participants in total can be accepted, and the board will pay all expenses except travel and registration costs. Our conference hopes to send two young clergy members to the forum and will reimburse them after the event for the $130 early registration fee (if paid by Dec 24). The training, which offers 1.5 CEU credits, promises to offer a deeper understanding of United Methodist Social Principles and valuable opportunities for networking. Housing will be at Gallaudet University. All interested, eligible persons are asked to contact their district office and the Rev. Christopher Kurien, Connectional Ministries Director, and to register online.

Only Four Things Grow Churches

Plan now to attend "Only Four Things Grow Churches," a workshop facilitated by Bill Tenny-Brittain and Bill Easum , Feb. 28, 2015, at St. Matthew's UMC of Valley Forge. 

 

The time: 9 AM to 4 PM. The cost: $75.

Register today (Select the Valley Forge, PA workshop location). "We've found that only four processes grow a church, and anything else has little to no impact," claim the candid leaders of this workshop: They will explore four core processes, adaptable to churches of all sizes: 

  • Inviting people to know Christ and the Church.
  • Connecting with people who show up so that they return.
  • Discipling those who stay.
  • Sending them back into the world to be neighborhood missionaries. 
Clergy, we need your 'selfies'

We are asking all clergy to please send us a recent facial headshot photo for use in a new online photo directory. Your photos will be uploaded to your record in our conference database; so we ask that your face be clearly visible and that there are no other people in the shot. If you do not have an appropriate facial photo handy, you can take and e-mail us a "selfie" with your smart phone. Please e-mail .jpg files to lcotman@epaumc.org.

Keep your Find-a-Church info updated, informative
Please update your congregation's Find-a-Church info now or as soon as possible and add important information about your church's life and ministries. On our Web site when you roll your mouse over the "About Us" tab and you see a drop-down menu, select "Find a Church." It will take you to the Church Locator page. Click on "Find a United Methodist Church in your community.

 

Look at the bottom right side of the page and you will see: "UPDATE YOUR CHURCH INFORMATION. Welcome new visitors to your church by updating your Find-A-Church Information. Update Your Page Now." Follow instructions from there, or use the provided Help feature. Find-a-Church is a great search feature provided by our ministry partner, UM Communications to help potential visitors find and learn about your church.

Mid-Atlantic Foundation to launch academy in 2015

The Mid Atlantic United Methodist Foundation's new Financial Leadership Academy (FLA)isscheduled to begin Jan. 13-15, 2015. The academy will offer seminars, facilitated peer groups and coaching to participants, who will meet together six times over two years to learn about managing the financial health and wellbeing of churches and pastors.

 

By special request, the Academy will be opened to participants from other annual conferences by mid-October to fill any available seats. Get more information from the  Academy Brochure or from the Mid-Atlantic Foundation website (http://www.midatlanticfoundation.org/content/announcing-financial-leadership-academy-1). The application is available online, or by emailing maumfleadership@gmail.com. You may also contact the Rev. Karin Walker at 410-557-9726.

Check out our Local church Events page 

We have lots of great local church events listed for you on our Web site at www.epaumc.org/events/localchurchevents. Please take time to peruse them and try to attend events of interest to you. It's part of being a connectional church. So check out our listings, and send us your special church events too, so we can add them to the page.

Local Pastor Licensing School

Interested in Pastoral Ministry as a certified and licensed Local Pastor? Come to a Licensing School sponsored by the EPA Conference Board of Ordained Ministry and held at each teaching pastor's church or the EPA Conference Center in Valley Forge, PA. Course instructors are clergy in the EPA Conference and from the Path1 UMC Initiative. The cost is $1000 for all five segments or $250 per segment.

 

Five Major Areas of Study:

  • Christian Education, taught by the Rev. Michael Roberts on Dec. 6 and Jan.10 and Feb.7, 2015, at Eastwick UMC in Phila.
  • Church Administration: Leading a Congregation,
  • taught by the Rev. Larry Leister on March 14, 28 and April 18, 2015, at Lititz UMC.
  • Pastoral Care, taught by the Rev. Truman Brooks on June 13, 27 and July 11, 2015 at West Chester UMC.
  • Growing Church/Multiplication July/August/Sept. 2015 taught at the EPA Conference Center. 
Please Save These Dates!   

March 7, 2015: Tools for Ministry-All 6 Districts

May 30, 2015: Celebration of Former Delaware Conference and 1965 Merger 

 

April 26-28, 2015: Annual Retreat Fellowship of Associate Members and Local Pastors

(2.5 CEUs) Location: Black Rock Retreat Center. More details to be announced later. Retreat Chairperson is Rev. Mark Beideman 610-585-0575

May 14-16, 2015: EPA Annual Conference,  
Philadelphia Expo Center, Oaks PA.

 

Aug. 14-16, 2015: Laity Academy

 

Sept. 9-12, 2015: Laity Retreat

 

July 10-15, 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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