April 1, 2021
Revision: The link for Feature webpage honors Women of the UMC has been corrected.
NEWS & VIEWS
Updated church reopening guidelines
Welcome, Bishop John Schol!
It is our joy to welcome Bishop John R. Schol as he prepares to join us and provide episcopal leadership coverage for the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference beginning September 1, 2021.

Bishop Schol has a heart for Eastern PA, having been raised in Philadelphia and having served here first in his ministry career, where his faith and leadership skills were nurtured. Here is where he developed strong values of hard work, a respect for diversity, a drive toward ingenuity and excellence, and a spirit of grace. Learn more…
Conference welcomes new support staff member
We welcome Debra Perez to our Conference staff as a part-time Support Associate in the Accounting Office.  

Debbie has worked for 14 years in church administrative settings, serving as an administrative assistant in youth ministry and congregational missions. She has coordinated arrangements for meetings and events, grants administration, travel, expense reporting, database upkeep and filing.

Debbie resides in Lansdale, where she and her husband Gill are members of Trinity Lutheran Church. They have two grown daughters.
Holy Week music, devotions, dialogue and more
We have a Holy Week feast of information and inspiration for you on our Conference website. Visit our Holy Week page. Included are: 

  • Wesley hymn devotions for Lent and Easter. Learn more…  
  • Daily Holy Week devotionals by our UMC bishops on the denominational theme of Dismantling Racism. Watch devotionals
  • Explanations of the word origins of Maundy Thursday and Good Friday.
  • See and share the 2021 Easter Sunday Virtual Choir, over 400 United Methodists from around the globe, singing on-screen together Thine Be The Glory.” Also, enjoy and share the 2020 Easter Sunday Virtual Choir singing Christ the Lord is Risen Today”!
  • Walking while Black: a dialogue on “The Journey of Simon of Cyrene and the Struggle of Black Males Today.” Register online to participate.
Grace UMC in Telford held a socially distanced Easter Drive-Through Parade on Saturday, March 27, from 1 to 3 PM in the church lot. The colorful celebration event was free for all who attended. Pastor Jacqueline D. Daniszewski reports:

We handed out “He Is Risen” plastic bags with church fliers inside at the first stop, where the pastor greeted all visitors in their cars. They were instructed to drive from table to table to acquire items for their bags, including a cross made of chocolate , colorful jelly beans, a craft, and coloring books. Also, a local Girl Scout troop that we host at our church attended and participated. We handed out 170 bags to the community. See Photos
Visit our Celebrating Lent 2021 webpage for more news
See how other churches have been celebrating Lent and preparing for Easter. Also, please send us news and photos from your Holy Week ministries and celebrations. We will publish them to celebrate Eastertide. And be sure to visit and contribute your news to our new Churches in Mission webpage.
Spreading the aroma of Christ
By Bishop Peggy A. Johnson

An aroma is a curious thing. It can bring back a precious memory. It can remind us of a person or an event. It can be familiar or unmistakable, and it can even create a mood or enhance our energy level.
 
One of the joys of the season of Easter are the fragrant lilies and other spring flowers blooming in great abundance and reminding us of the rebirth of nature after a long winter season. The Apostle Paul connected an experience of God’s presence with the sense of smell when he said to the church in Corinth that God “uses us to spread the aroma of the knowledge of him everywhere.” (II Corinthians 2:14).
 
As “Easter people,” we share the good news of the resurrection; but we also live it in subtle, grace-filled ways. Like a fragrance that lingers, an act of selfless compassion or kindness lives on like nothing else. Read more…
Cabinet offers churches pre-recorded April 11 worship 
The Eastern PA Conference Cabinet has provided another pre-recorded sermon to churches so they can give their pastors a preaching respite. However, this time the sermon, preached by Bishop Peggy Johnson, comes with an entire recorded worship service for use after Easter. While April 11, the Sunday after Easter, is an ideal time to use it–certainly following what will likely be a busy Holy Week for many–the service can be used on any Sunday during Eastertide.

All members of the Cabinet, clergy and laity, participate in the service. A playlist of four recordings is accessible for viewing and showing on the Conference YouTube page and for downloading from the Conference Dropbox account. The list includes a sermon-only version and a video of music performed by the West Lawn UMC Praise Band. (Use of music may require streaming licenses for churches that livestream their worship services.) Learn more…
Conference weekly prayer meetings mark 1 year
The Eastern PA Conference celebrates a special anniversary in April. The weekly, half-hour prayer meetings the conference offers every Tuesday at noon by video-chat on Zoom began in April 2020, just as the coronavirus pandemic was growing. 

The Rev. David Piltz, who coordinates Young People’s Ministries for the conference, started the popular online prayer sessions. Bishop Peggy Johnson, a frequent attendee, will lead the first session in April. (April 6) 

Attendees usually number from a dozen to two dozen. Heartfelt prayer concerns and moral support are shared, along with meditations that may include Scriptures, poetry and music. 

Meeting ID: 591 129 374. Or Call in: +1 646 558 8656

See the full April schedule of prayer meeting leaders and learn more.
Weekly Preaching Forum begins April 6
Join us for a conference-wide Preaching Forum on Zoom to help us plan Revised Common Lectionary-based sermons every Tuesday, beginning April 6. Enjoy a weekly, one-hour, profitable exchange of ideas, inspiration and information about preaching resources.

Gifted presenters will share their notes on each week’s chosen text and then lead the forum in conversation. We will explore each text’s historical circumstances and present-day perspectives, plus ideas for application and initial thoughts for sermon movements, etc.

For now, we will focus on texts for the upcoming Sunday. But we may adjust to add more lead time in the future. This initial, experimental preaching forum will run for 12 weeks until June 22.
FEMA offers COVID-19 funeral financial assistance
Churches should know that FEMA is offering to assist “economically insecure” families who have incurred a heavy cost in funerals as a result of COVID-10. FEMA uses a standard process to determine “eligible Funeral Assistance award amounts across all COVID-19 declarations.” The agency’s announcement states:

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought overwhelming grief to many families. At FEMA, our mission is to help people before, during and after disasters. We are dedicated to helping ease some of the financial stress and burden caused by the virus. We are working with stakeholder groups to get their input on ways we can best provide this assistance, and to enlist their help with outreach to families and communities.

FEMA says it will begin accepting applications in April. Additional guidance is being finalized and will be released to potential applicants and community partners as soon as possible. In the meantime, people who have COVID-19 funeral expenses are encouraged to keep and gather documentation. Learn more…
Feature webpage honors Women of the UMC
As clergy and laity leaders, teachers, missionaries, and organizers, women have shaped the past and present of Methodism. In their work with the poor and disenfranchised, women have initiated important social and political reform. Roughly 800,000 members belong to United Methodist Women, and approximately 25% of clergy in the UMC are female.

We invite you to explore the inspiring stories of women who have made important contributions to the life of the church. Here are some articles that celebrate women, lay and clergy, who have blessed the UM church with love and leadership—past and present. There are many such profile stories across our denomination. There should be many more. Learn more… 
Rev. Sukja Bang featured in Fordham News 
The Rev. Sukja Bang, pastor of Ackermanville UMC in Bangor, is featured in the Fordham News (March 29, 2021), an online publication of Fordham University, where she will receive a D.Min. from the Graduate School of Religion and Religious Education in May. Her pastoral passion and doctorate degree specialization is in pastoral counseling and pastoral care. 
 
Read this interesting account of her life story, from her challenging childhood and ministry aspirations in South Korea to her discovery of new challenges and opportunities for serving in cross-racial/cross cultural ministry in Eastern PA. Bang, whose doctoral dissertation is on “Clergy Self-Care for Cross-Racially/Cross-Culturally Appointed Pastors in the United Methodist Church," serves on the Eastern PA Conference Commission on Religion and Race. Learn more...
Lingering pandemic enlivens Easter creativity
LEWISVILLE, N.C. (UM News) — In this second year of the COVID-19 menace, United Methodist churches across the U.S. are embracing new ways to help people connect with Christ's crucifixion and resurrection. That includes one North Carolina church, which invited its community to an outdoor Stations of the Cross. Read story
Mission agency funds agriculture, refugee programs
The United Methodist Board of Global Ministries approved allocations including $2 million for an agricultural fund honoring the late Bishop John K. Yambasu. The Global Ministries staff had more money to work with than they anticipated, after nearly a year of COVID-19 restrictions. Virtual meetings were held March 24-26. Read story
UMCOR grant boosts aid for asylum seekers
With a new $1.1 million grant from the United Methodist Committee on Relief, the group Church World Service plans to help asylum seekers on their journey to safety in the United States. Church World Service, a longtime United Methodist partner that focuses on helping refugees, immigrants and other displaced individuals, explains that the grant means more staff, improved shelter operations and more case management. Read press release. UM News: Mission agency funds agriculture, refugee programs
U.S. church membership falls below majority for first time
Americans' membership in houses of worship continued to decline last year, dropping below 50% for the first time in Gallup's eight-decade trend. In 2020, 47% of Americans said they belonged to a church, synagogue or mosque, down from 50% in 2018 and 70% in 1999. 

U.S. church membership was 73% when Gallup first measured it in 1937 and remained near 70% for the next six decades, before beginning a steady decline around the turn of the 21st century. As many Americans celebrate Easter and Passover this week, Gallup updates a 2019 analysis that examined the decline in church membership over the past 20 years. Learn more...
Reminder re: email spoofing
Email spoofing is once again at work identifying Bishop Johnson as the sender. Remember, spoofing is when the sender of the email forges (spoofs) someone's email address, so that the message appears to come from a legitimate email address. Please do not respond to any email from Bishop Johnson requesting money, your time, an email response, etc. To learn more, see: What you need to know about fake e-mails from Conference Leaders
Virtual One-on-One Meetings with Wespath
In past years the Board of Benefits has offered one-on-one interviews with a Wespath representative during Annual Conference. While we hope to return to this model in the future, during this new season of continued distancing, we are able to provide you with virtual one-on-one meetings!  

Please CLICK HERE to schedule your virtual meeting anytime between now and May 31st, 2021 to meet with a Wespath Benefit Educator.
Celebration, messages for retiring clergy, April 20
Please join us in a service of Celebration for our Retiring Clergy on April 20, at 11:00 AM, through Zoom. REGISTER ONLINE. After registering, you will receive a link to attend with your confirmation. See the full list of new clergy retirees on our website’s Clergy News page.

Also, Conference members are invited to join in posting short messages to e-gratitude boards for each of the 2021 retirees. Postings can include photos, videos, etc., as well as words of gratitude. Messages on the e-gratitude boards will be emailed to the retirees on June 30 (or July 30 for those retiring in August). Click here to access the list of e-gratitude boards.
MISSION OPPORTUNITIES
How do United Methodists fund mission?
United Methodists clearly hear our call as disciples of Jesus Christ to love our neighbors as ourselves and bear one another's burdens. Together, by sharing our resources, United Methodists support remarkable ministry around the world.

The United Methodist Church's special giving structure ensures that together our gifts bless as many people as possible in sustainable, strategic ways. Every contribution makes a difference in this important work.  

There are five primary ways United Methodists fund mission beyond the local church:

1. Through the apportioned funds.
2. Through Special Sunday giving.
3. Giving through The Advance network.
4. Through relationships with missionaries.
5. Through individual donations or bequests to United Methodist agencies or related institutions. 
Agency urges advocacy to protect immigrant, refugee families
TAKE ACTION: Tell Congress to Protect Immigrant & Refugee Families, Uphold Family Unity

The UMC’s General Board of Church and Society calls on church members to speak to political leaders on behalf of immigrant and refugee families crossing U.S. borders in search of better, safer lives. The board’s new advocacy appeal begins:

During this Holy week we find ourselves reflecting on Jesus’ last days before facing the suffering of the cross. After his procession into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, Jesus spent the next days continuing to teach the disciples what it looked like to live faith, demonstrate compassion, and stand up against injustice–all amid anticipation of the unfathomable suffering that was to come. As we engage today in this sacred time, it is up to us to stand with our brothers and sisters who suffer injustice.

Members are urged to call their congressional representatives’ offices and speak up for immigrant and refugee family’s security and unity. A brief call script is provided. Learn more...
LEARNING EVENTS
Vaccines, variants and the road ahead
Experts to teach Eastern PA about COVID cure outlook

Two new vaccines—and a third one on the way—promise a virtual cure for COVID-19 and an eventual end to the pandemic. But the road ahead still has deep potholes to navigate in the form of threatening variants that are growing in our region alongside the number of persons being vaccinated. 
Experts worry that such mutations of the virus—especially the U.K. variant— can be 50 percent more contagious and also more resistant to current vaccines. And experts are just as worried that people are becoming too lax about congregating without wearing masks or socially distancing, even as infections, hospitalizations and deaths continue to increase across our state. 

That concern makes all the more crucial that people attend a special seminar that the Eastern PA Conference will present, titled Vaccines, Variants and the Road Ahead, on Monday, April 12, 6:30-8:00 PM, via Zoom. Two young doctors of pharmacy will share their knowledge and advice about the three new vaccines and how we can best protect ourselves from the virus and its growing variants.
Dr. Elsen Jacob (top) is an Assistant Professor at St. Johns University with a clinical residency at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York. Her sister Dr. Susan Jacob is a Clinical Pharmacist at Massachusetts General Hospital. Learn more...
BOOM clergy mentor training resumes in April 
The Board of Ordained Ministry’s next two training sessions for clergy mentoring will be offered on Zoom April 7 and 8, at 9:30 to 11:30 AM. Register for one session or find out more by contacting the Rev. Andrew Krpata at akrpata@lehmanumc.org. Include name, email address, district, cell phone number, and if you are registered in UMCARES (not a prerequisite). Rev. Krpata will reply immediately and send the Zoom link the Monday after Easter. 

All ordained clergy or licensed local pastors who have completed the Course of Study are eligible to be mentors and to receive training. Additionally, all current mentors who have not had retraining within the past four years should register. To become a mentor one must be assigned a mentee.
Clergy training on Veterans’ Moral Injury, Suicide Prevention
The Lebanon Veterans Administration Medical Center (VAMC) will offer a clergy virtual training event on “Veterans’ Moral Injury and Suicide Prevention” on April 13 and May 11, from 9:30 to 11 AM. To register call 717-272-6621, ext. 5085 or email VincentZvorsky@va.gov. See the event flyer.
AROUND THE UM CONNECTION
Black caucus: Racism still challenges church
One pandemic kept The United Methodist Church’s black caucus separated for its first-ever virtual membership meeting, March 19-20. But another “pandemic” brought that dispersed membership together around one topic: the relentless scourge of racism that still vexes this centuries-old denomination.

Black Methodists for Church Renewal convened for its historic 54th General Meeting in a nine-hour weekend webinar on Zoom. Almost all components of the program addressed the challenge to dismantle racism that many U.S. denominational leaders, conferences and local churches have focused on for the past year. While that campaign, launched in mid-2020, is still new, the intractable problem it addresses is as old as Methodism’s American roots. Learn more…
Va. Conference praises action on death penalty  
The Virginia Conference celebrates new legislation signed by the governor that abolishes the death penalty in its state, the conference's Board of Church and Society wrote in an open letter. Since 1956, the denomination's Social Principles have called for an end to capital punishment.  Read story
Tornado levels United Methodist church
OHATCHEE, Ala. — Palm Sunday was very different for Ragan Chapel United Methodist Church, whose building was destroyed by a tornado March 24. The same storm system claimed the lives of five people. The Rev. Danny Ross said the church plans to rebuild but will need help. Watch and read story
RESOURCES
Native American Ministries Sunday is April 18
Native American Ministries Sunday (third Sunday of Easter) nurtures mission with Native Americans and provides scholarships for United Methodist Native American seminarians. information for how the offering is shared is available here: http://www.nacp-umc.org/native-ministries-sunday-grant.html.  

When you give generously on Native American Ministries Sunday, you equip seminary students who honor and celebrate Native American culture in their ministries. You also empower congregations to find fresh and culturally appropriate ways to minister to their communities with Christ’s love. Read stories about the impact you are making with your gifts. Give Now! Click here to learn more and download additional resources.

Look for more information our Conference Committee on Native American Ministries coming in next week’s issue of Digest.  
Leading Meaningful Digital Worship
Free Webinar recording

Attendees of this popular Lewis Center for Church Leadership webinar learned how to take their leadership of digital worship to the next level. If you missed the webinar, you may watch a free recording and download the handouts

Also, register for “Designing Digital Worship.” Take a deep dive into the research-based principles that shape meaningful digital worship and tackle the specific design challenges their congregations are facing. Participants will also learn how design thinking can help them solve their digital worship challenges.

Two workshop dates are available — Attendance for each date is limited to 20 participants. Wednesday, April 14 and 21, at noon to 2 PM. Learn more and register now.
Higher Education grants available until May 10
Today, April 26, the Education Society of the Eastern PA Conference will begin accepting grant applications to assist eligible individuals with defraying the cost of higher education for the 2021-2022 school year, reports Al Adey, who chairs the Education Society A new 2021-22 Education Society Grant Application is available on the Conference website’s Higher Education Scholarships & Grants page. The application deadline is May 10.

Grant recipients will be randomly selected. This financial aid information should be shared with church members who plan, or know of United Methodists planning, to attend an institution of higher learning in the fall of 2021. Contact Al Adey with questions at ahadey@verizon.net.
New Urban Ministry grant applications due May 31
The Eastern PA Conference Urban Commission will award a new round of grants this spring to assist in funding Urban Alliances or Urban Church Initiatives. Churches located in listed urban centers are encouraged to apply. That list includes several newly designated urban areas. 

Urban Alliances comprise two or more congregations working together in collaborative ministry, preferably along with community and civic partners. The Urban Ministries Coordinator will assist in the formation of Alliances and the administration of funding. Urban Alliances, because they involve multiple partners, may apply for funding up to $6,000.

Urban Church Initiative grants support new or expanding ministries within individual urban congregations. Local Churches Initiatives may apply for funding up to $2,500.  The Commission tries to offer grants twice a year. Application deadlines are May 31 and Nov. 15. Learn more...
REMINDERS
UM legislative advocacy in PA coordinator job open
United Methodist Advocacy in Pennsylvania, a public advocacy mission created and shared by the three UM conferences in PA, seeks a new Coordinator to monitor state legislative and governmental actions. The coordinator also educates and empowers UMs to engage state legislators and other officials on policy issues, and serves as a resource for such engagement.

The work requires interaction with lawmakers and other officials, partnering with other advocates, maintaining communication with each of the three UM Conferences and providing information and education at a grass-roots level. 
The position is part-time, non-exempt. To apply, submit a letter of interest and resume to kathleen.lasky@wpaumc.org by April 19. Read the Job Description
Setting up your finances with your congregation
Learn about the unique aspects of finances for clergy households. Saturday, April 24, 9:00 to 10:30 AM, on Zoom

Are you ...
  • a newbie clergy spouse/partner?
  • about to transition to another church?
  • moving to/from a parsonage from/to your own home?

Learn about "Setting Up Your Finances With Your Congregation." Get one FREE session. You'll learn the basics of: 
  • How clergy income is taxed
  • The finances of parsonage living
  • How a housing allowance works.

FREE pre-reading, video, and facilitated session. We welcome clergy spouses/partners and clergy - from any denomination! Email Julie@ArtosRetreats.org to register. Deadline: April 22. Questions? Contact Julie Anderman at Julie@ArtosRetreats.org or call 717-492-4238. Download the flyer.
UMM Day of Worship
The United Methodist Men of the Northeastern Jurisdiction will sponsor a National Day Of Worship on Saturday, May 27, 1 to 3 PM, on Zoom. The theme is “Making Our Presence Known to Make God’s Presence Known.” Click here to download and print the flyer. Zoom access links are found there. Help spread the word. This event is open to men and women everywhere. 
Registration open for Christian unity workshop
Registration is open for the U.S. National Workshop on Christian Unity, to be held online April 12-15. The United Methodist Ecumenical and Interreligious Training will be held parallel with the workshop, so United Methodists can register for both events at the same time. California-Nevada Conference Bishop Minerva Carcaño plans to participate in a panel discussion about migrant ministry in the U.S. The registration fee is $75. To register
UMPIP Announcement
Exciting news for churches! Paying a pastor’s UMPIP contribution will be simplified with your April Remittance Statement.

The Eastern PA Conference is participating in a test group of conferences in preparation for pension changes following General Conference. As of April 1, 2021, salary reductions for UMPIP contributions will be billed on the conference remittance form rather than in a separate billing from Wespath. Payments will be made to the conference and transmitted to Wespath along with our monthly payments.

Payroll deductions will remain the same for you – only the entity to whom the payment is made will change. The churches using Paychex will continue to record the clergy deductions in payroll, but they will no longer be automatically transmitted to Wespath. The church should send the clergy personal contribution amounts to the Conference along with any other remittance responsibilities.

For questions or concerns, please contact jfielding@epaumc.org
We are God's Family: Personal encounters of racism
Our personal stories have the power to build awareness and understanding, to bridge divides and bring healing. UM News is inviting people to share their own personal stories about encounters with racism, as well as hopes and ideas for combating it. This forum is designed to foster dialogue and identify solutions to the problem.

Racism affects every person, regardless of background. It underlies issues such as poverty, hunger, discrimination, mass incarceration, and disparities in education, health care, income, job status and access to resources.

The United Methodist Church condemns racism as a sin and believes all people are of sacred worth. “[A]ll peoples and individuals constitute one human family, rich in diversity,” the church states in its Social Principles. 

Commentaries can be up to 900 words long and should be written from a first-person, personal point of view. Learn more and share your story
Ace Hardware named ministry partner
The General Council on Finance and Administration has announced Ace Hardware as The United Methodist Church's newest vetted ministry partner. The partnership will allow churches to shop online and in local Ace Hardware stores and receive 10% off purchases.  Read press release
African Americans, Policing webinar set for April 22
The Eastern PA Conference Urban Commission’s Fight for Floyd and Beyond Initiative will sponsor a webinar on “African Americans and Policing: Developing Healthy Police and Community Relationships” on Thursday, April 22, 6:30 to 8:30 PM on Zoom.

Participants leading the discussion will include:
  • The Rev. Eric Carr, a Police Chaplain in Southwest Philadelphia and pastor of St. Daniel’s UMC in Chester; 
  • Millicent Clark, a leader of Mid-Town Parish UMC and the 8th and Diamond Streets Neighborhood Advisory Committee in Philadelphia, and also managing director of UM Neighborhood Services.
  • Jamina Clay of the Colonial Area Anti-Racism and Social Equity Alliance, a community organization created in 2020 in Montgomery County.

The Rev. Gregory Holston, pastor of Janes Memorial UMC in Philadelphia, will give the “closing charge” call to action. He is a senior advisor on advocacy and policy in the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office.
Bishop Johnson to meet with confirmands on Zoom, April 11
Bishop Peggy Johnson will host on Sunday evening, April 11, a conference-wide, online gathering with confirmation students, their leaders and mentors. The encounter on Zoom, at 7 PM, will include a devotion by Bishop Johnson, conversation and prayer with the confirmands, and a game led by the Rev. David Piltz, Conference Youth Ministries Coordinator. Register online to receive the Zoom access information.
‘Come to the Water’ 
Baptism photos, videos sought for Annual Conference
With the theme “Come to the Water,” the Eastern PA Conference’s Connectional Ministries will celebrate the ministry of baptism and confirmation in our Annual Conference in 2021. We would love to share photos, videos and stories of church baptisms and confirmations, if permitted by the families involved, as part of our celebration at Annual Conference and throughout the year.  

If you have or can obtain photos or videos of baptisms or confirmations performed by your church, please share them with us. Send them to our NEWSpirit Communications office at communications@epaumc.org. Photos of confirmation classes on Zoom are welcome, too.  

A selection of submitted baptism and confirmation photos and video scenes received by April 5 may be used in our Connectional Ministries video report to Annual Conference on May 21. Others may be used throughout 2021 in ongoing promotion of our theme “Come to the Water.” Learn more…
Virtual Urban Summit 2021, April 24 & May 1  
The Eastern PA Conference Urban Commission will sponsor its next Virtual Urban Summit with “Kick-off Events” on two Saturdays, April 24 and May 1, 10 AM to 12:15 PM on Zoom. With the theme “God Has Not Left Our Cities,” the two-day event will include a Virtual Urban Youth Summit and precede a series of three mini-Urban Summits being planned for later in the year. 

The main summit will feature “dynamic presenters who will share their abundant wisdom, energy and experiences to help stir up our gifts and passion for radical, innovative urban ministry,” say event planners. The Youth Summit will “tackle hard facts with faith and strategies in a town hall summit addressing issues of violence, trauma, substance abuse, and other concerns. They will create new ways to become peer advocates and birth innovative youth ministries.” A healing service will involve adults and youth serving in healing ministries in urban communities. 

Presenters confirmed include the Revs. Rudy Rasmus, Joseph Daniels, Myra Maxwell and Rashawn Clark. Breakout groups will explore an array of urban concerns and ministry opportunities.

The Summit is being planned for pastors, laity, deacons, youth, district superintendents, missioners, and other persons interested in Urban Ministry and being in ministry with the poor. A series of mini-Urban Summits on Zoom will follow in July, September and November 2021. A flyer and registration page will be published online next week.
This Holy Mystery: UM Study of Holy Communion   
The Eastern PA Conference Board of Ordained Ministry offers a new study of Holy Communion led by the Revs. Candy LaBar and Gary Knerr, in two sessions on Zoom: Saturday, April 24, 9:00-11:30 AM and Saturday, May 8, 9:00-11:30 AM
 
This Holy Mystery: A UM Study of Holy Communion, via Zoom, is designed to help all church leaders -- and in particular, licensed local pastors and lay-supply pastors -- to wrestle with this theological foundation of Holy Communion. 
 
To participate, individuals should read Gayle Carlton Felton's book This Holy Mystery (available at cokesbury.com), including Wesley's sermon, “On the Duty of Constant Communion” (in the workbook). The registration deadline is Tuesday April 6. 0.5 CEUs will be offered to those who complete this course. You must participate in BOTH classes as they will not be recorded. Learn more…
2020 Statistical Reports due April 30
The Conference Treasurer’s Office e-mailed its Statistical Reports letter to churches this week, Completed reports are due by April 30, using the EZRA Data Management System of the UMC’s General Board of Finance and Administration at http://ezra.gcfa.org. Each church’s online username is its six-digit GCFA ID Number, which can be found on its monthly remittance statement or its 2019 Statistical Report. 
 
There is one username per church; but more than one person can enter data by using the same password. For a password, type in “stat2020” (without quotation marks), using all lowercase and no spaces. Churches should contact their District Office if they need assistance . Learn More
New Houses of Worship Security Self-Assessment Tool
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) provides this Houses of Worship Security Self-Assessment Tool. Prepared by the DHS Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), it is a security planning resource useful for church facilities. This tool along with other faith-based resources are located on the Faith Based Organization-Houses of Worship (FBO-HOW) resource page,  Learn more…
Easter outreach resources available for churches
Many people in your community will be searching for a place to find renewal and hope this Easter. United Methodist Communications sells a wide variety of customizable outreach resources to invite people to church, including postcards, banners and digital tools. Use code “UMCEA21” to receive $150 off an order.  To order
Vanco now offers software for child care
Vanco, a digital-giving platform for churches, has acquired Smartcare, a provider of software specifically for child care centers. Vanco is part of the General Council on Finance and Administration's ministry partner program for churches. Read press release
Conference Leadership Opportunities for all!
The Conference Leadership Committee asks all clergy and lay members to use this Leadership and Service Interest Form to indicate how and where they are willing to serve on. Learn more...
Visit our Local Church Resources webpage
Do you find yourself wondering where you can obtain a 501(c)3 letter? Clergy W-2s? Various other bits of information that is crucial for churches? Look no further than the Local Church Resources page under the Administration tab on the EPA website and you can answer these questions.
Let's stay connected. Send us your newsletters
Please add our Communications Office to your church newsletter's digital and/or print mailing lists. We find much of our news in church newsletters (when we find time to read them), and we try to report local church news and events as much as possible. (We also love seeing Conference news reported in your newsletters. Thanks!) However, we want to receive only your church newsletters please, not other e-mailed church announcements. Thanks!
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 UMC.org, 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 www.epaumc.org/news-events/newspirit-digest. 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!
SAVE THE DATES
April
  • April 11: Bishop Johnson Zoom Meeting with Confirmands. Learn More.
  • April 12: “Vaccines, Variants, and the Road Ahead” on Zoom. 6:30-8 PM. Register.
  • April 16-18: Dismantling Racism, Level 1, Virtual. Register.
  • April 22: Policing in African American Communities Seminar. 6:30 PM on Zoom. Register.
  • April 24 & May 1: Urban Summit. April 24th from 10 AM – 12 noon and May 1st from 10 AM - 12 Noon for Adults. May 1st from 12 Noon - 2 PM for the Urban Youth Summit. Register.

May
  • May 1: "Relating with Clergy Spouses" workshop by Artos. From 9:30 AM - 11:30 AM on Zoom. Download the flyer. Register.
  • May 2: CONAM Spring Learning & Fellowship Event (Zoom)
  • May 15: Latino Holy Convocation and Assembly
  • May 15: Clergy Transition Workshop led by Dave Woolverton.9 AM - 11 AM via Zoom meeting. Download the flyer.  Register.
  • May 20 - 22: 2021 Annual Conference. Register.

June
  • June 5: Cross Cultural Cross Racial Training for New CR/CC Appointments. 9 AM - 12:30 PM, via Zoom Meeting. Register.

August
  • August 6 - 8: Laity Academy

October
  • October 15 & 16: Domestic Violence Workshop. Friday October 15 from 7 PM – 9 PM & Saturday October 16th from 9 AM – 12 PM. Further details TBA.
  • Oct. 23:  Faith Sharing Evangelism Training w/ Olu Brown
  • Oct. 29 - Nov 1: Dismantling Racism, Level 1, Virtual. Register.
Eastern Pennsylvania Conference of The United Methodist Church
980 Madison Avenue, Norristown, PA 19403