June 15, 2017
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Bishop Peggy Johnson announces new appointments  effective July 1 unless otherwise stated:
East District


  • Rev. Lorraine Foster (Local Pastor) from Montgomery Square UMC to New England Conference: Epworth UMC, Pawtuckett, Rhode Island (1/2-time). 



Northwest District to New North District
  • Rev. David G. Heberling (Retired Elder) to Ashland: First UMC/Presby. (1/4 Time) effective 5/1/2017.


What’s new on our Website this Week? 


Laity to learn about laundromat library ministry


Lay members attending the 2017 Annual Conference will learn about a lay-led ministry that is no doubt helping to open young minds through the adventure of reading books. And like many other treasures, those books are being found in rather unlikely places.


Keynote speaker Arlene Rengert, a member of Grove UMC in West Chester, will introduce the Laundromat Library League (LLL) during the annual Laity Session on Thursday, June 15 (9:30 AM). The ministry places free, donated children’s books inside of neighborhood laundromats, inviting patrons to take and share them with young readers. Learn more…
At the opening session of Annual Conference Bishop Peggy Johnson will report on the Commission on a Way Forward, appointed to help the Council of Bishops in their charge from the 2016 General Conference to lead the church forward amid the present impasse related to human sexuality and resulting questions about the unity of the church. She will share and encourage all to benefit from a recommended reading list and a short video about the commission’s work. And she will invite informed, constructive feedback from anyone, sent to a special e-mail address. Learn more…  
AC2017 will feature musical variety
The Annual Conference Worship Planning Team will offer a creative, intergenerational mix of musical styles-from traditional hymns played on the organ to praise songs by adult and youth bands-during conference session gathering times this week. Talented, generous musicians will play for us as members gather, fellowship, take their seats and prepare to resume the session agenda.  Learn more


Members to help monitor for inclusiveness


Each year we count on key conference committees to monitor Annual Conference for signs of racial, gender and disability inclusiveness, or the lack thereof, and to report their findings to the plenary session daily. This year they will do it differently, inviting all to join in “Building the Beloved Community,” as they call it, using not bricks but comment cards to document and share what they see, hear and feel. Learn more


Disabled members can find helpful hospitality


Learn what the Disability Committee will be doing this year to make Annual Conference more accessible to people who experience disability.  Learn more
Want to see the forest and the trees when it comes to Annual Conference-the big picture and the small details? You can find it all on our conference website, both basic information and in-depth feature articles. Start with Getting ready for AC 2017andthen visitourAC 2017 News Articles Page and our  AC 2017 Information Page.
The Rev. Maryanne B. Ditter invites us to “Rise Up and Pray” and thus live out the Annual Conference 2017 through morning Prayer Walks in and around the meeting area to cover the people and the proceedings in prayer. She also promotes the Prayer Stations you may find around the meeting hall and a Prayer Room, in Room 7, where you can spend time communicating with God. Learn more…  
Bishop Peggy Johnson laments the crippling, catastrophic opioid addiction epidemic overtaking our state and much of the nation, causing deaths and “misery and sorrow to millions of family members and friends of victims.”


In 2016 there were 4,642 drug overdose deaths in PA, up by 37%, and frightening increases in neighboring states. Nationally, overdose deaths in 2016 exceeded 59,000 (up by 19%), with many of those deaths happening in suburbia, as the epidemic crosses lines of class and culture. The Cabinet saw some of the toll in lives lost and squandered at the Lebanon Women’s Detention Center when it visited Chaplain Marilyn Nolte there recently.
But rather than surrender, the bishop lauds people of faith like those at Quakertown UMC who spearheaded the “UNITE Quakertown” interfaith community anti-drug abuse rally she attended at a new park there last Saturday, June 10. “Every one of us can do something to light a candle of hope,” she writes, urging followers of Christ to help remedy the insufferable pain that too often leads to deadly drug abuse and to “offer people Christ and make your church a place of welcome and support.”Learn more…  
Commentary: Christian ethics in volatile times
What should a United Methodist do when there is a conflict between church law and moral conscience? The Rev. Darryl W. Stephens, Director of United Methodist studies at Lancaster Theological Seminary, looks at how that question has been answered in the denomination’s history. Past and present Methodists have used legislative power to impose moral certainty on others. In some cases, their mistakes are grievous enough to warrant acts of repentance by later generations. In other cases, Methodists cede their moral principles, conforming to the world around them. How will future generations judge the present-day actions of United Methodists? Learn more…


Mission u 2017, July 21-22


Enroll in Mission u by the June 20 advance registration deadline. After that date, a $25 late fee applies. School will be in session July 21-22 for this annual academy of mission education at The Inn at Reading, 1040 North Park Road, Wyomissing, PA. (Hotel phone: 610-372-7811 or 800-383-9713). Fees are: $200 for full adult attendance (including housing and meals); $140 for commuters; $75 for youth; and $50 for children. 
The purpose of Mission u is to help church members (lay and clergy, men, women and youth) understand, interpret and engage in the global mission of the church as responsible Christians. This year’s topics are:
  • Living as a Covenant Community;
  • Climate Justice: Call to Hope and Action; and
  • Missionary Conferences of the UMC.
Clergy are urged to join laity as Mission u learners especially this year. CEUs are available.
For more information:
Academy for Laity, Aug. 4-6: Embrace the Journey


Registration is open now for the 34th Academy for Laity, Aug. 4-6. They have new dates, a new location and new courses. The new location is
Cedarville UMC, 1092 Laurelwood Road, Pottstown, PA. The theme:
Embrace the Journey: Step Up, Step Out.
This is an ideal opportunity for everyone who wants to serve the Lord to start or refresh the Christ Servant Ministry journey.  “Whether you are just beginning your journey to learn more about our amazing God and His Son Jesus or you are a seasoned Bible scholar, a Christ Servant Minister, a Certified Lay Minister or a clergy member, this is the year for you to step up and step out to enhance your knowledge. Join with hundreds of fellow Christians who thirst for information as well as fellowship.”
Each course was designed to be a unique learning experience with information that you can immediately take and start applying in your ministry. The Academy offers 10 course subjects-from the Basic Course for those who are starting out, to advanced classes in three disciplines: leading ministries and groups; caring for others in your church or community; and speaking to diverse groups or preaching to congregations.



The registration deadline is July 15. See course descriptions:

2017 Laity Academy Course Description Handout [PDF]. Register Online: www.etouches.com/2017laityOr register by mail:  2017 Laity Academy Registration Form [PDF].  2017 Laity Academy Scholarship Application  [PDF]



HOPE! Talks: Inspiration for Small Congregations, Oct. 21


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


Discipleship Ministries’ church leadership webinars
Discipleship Ministries has published a new June-to-December schedule of upcoming webinars for church leaders, offered by its Leadership Ministries unit.  The day and night webinars cover topics important to preachers, lay leaders, finance and stewardship committee chairs, leaders of children’s ministries, older adults and other areas. Topics cover: preparing for charge conference, starting ministries with Baby Boomers and Advanced Boomers, transforming your community during neighborhood gentrification, and practicing spiritual leadership. Register at http://www.umcdiscipleship.org/webinars.
Conference Room furniture available
Church of the Open Door was blessed with the donation of Conference Room furniture when we moved into our fixed site. We are in the process of transforming our spaces and would like to pass on our furniture blessing. Available for pick up:
  • Oval dark wood conference room table
  • 8 tall back black vinyl chairs
  • 2-drawer dark  wooden file cabinet
If interested, contact the Rev. (Deacon) Deborah Tanksley-Brown at 484-995-2407 or dtanksleybrown@comcast.net.
Summer hours at the Conference Office have begun. Our hours are 7:00 am to 4:15 pm, Monday – Thursday. The office will be closed on Fridays.
Registration open for Leadership Institute
Registration is open for Leadership Institute 2017 on Sept. 27-29 at The UM Church of the Resurrection in Leawood, Kansas. Speakers include the Revs. Olu Brown and Adam Weber, founding pastors of two of the fastest-growing United Methodist churches  in the United States. Through July 13the super early bird rate is $35 for the pre-institute and $149 for the Leadership Institute.  Learn more 
School of Congregational Development offers scholarships
The annual School of Congregational Development (SCD) is “a premier event for equipping United Methodist church leaders, clergy and laity, to lead vital, dynamic, life-changing congregations.” Sponsored by Discipleship Ministries, Global Ministries, and Path 1, this year’s event, August 17-20, will happen at Peachtree UMC in Atlanta, Ga., and be hosted by the North Georgia Conference, Candler School of Theology and Gammon Seminary. The 2017 theme is “At the Lord’s Table.”  DOWNLOAD the SCD “Quick Look” brochure [PDF]


Of the three types of scholarships available to participants of SCD 2017, two are relevant to Eastern PA Conference church leaders.  Applicants can only apply for one of these two choices.
  • Racial Ethic Scholarships from Global Ministries
  • Small-Church Scholarships from Global Ministries for churches with under 150 in average worship attendance.
Click Here for Scholarship Application.  To Register for the Full School go to REGISTER.
Review your pension projection at Annual Conference
“Knowledge is power.” Take control of your financial future. Sign up now for your chance to meet with Robert Christophel of Wespath for a half-hour at Annual Conference to review your pension projection and begin to make informed decisions about your retirement. Time slots are limited and fill up quickly!  Be sure to choose a time slot between June 15 and June 17. Register Now
Bob Christophel is a benefits educator who provides financial, retirement and other benefits education for clergy and lay employees. He previously worked in benefits communications and participant education in New York and was a licensed investment representative in a corporate retirement services division, where he focused primarily on participant education for national corporate 401(k) plans.
United Methodist Days at Dorney Park, June 23-25
Eastern Pa members can join members of other, neighboring conferences for fun and fellowship at United Methodist Days at Dorney Park, June 23-25. Pick any day you want and come enjoy a full day of rides and shows, sunshine and snacks, laughter and glorious fun. Purchase your tickets now for only $31.50 on any of three days in June: Friday, Saturday or Sunday, June 23, 24 or 25. $3.00 from each purchased ticket will go to support United Methodist Men’s and Young People’s ministries.

Get your tickets today at dorneypark.com/methodist  Click on the ticket that reads: “United Methodist Day Members of Eastern PA, Greater New Jersey, and Peninsula-Delaware and Susquehanna Conferences.” Please download and share the colorful flyer to help promote UM Day at Dorney Park. Learn more…

United Methodist Night at the Phillies, July 29
United Methodist Night at the Phillies will be on Saturday, July 29.Come enjoy a thrilling game of baseball. Please join us with family and friends for fun and fellowship at Citizens Bank Park on Saturday, July 29, at 7:05 PM, when our Philadelphia Phillies host the Atlanta Braves.  For group tickets contact Jen Leone at jleone@phillies.com or 215-218-5267.” Please download and share the color flyer. Learn more…



Register now for upcoming Sexual Ethics Workshops:



  • Basic (Level 1) Sexual Ethics Workshop: July 15, 9 AM to 3:30 PM, at Conshohocken UMC. Level 1 training is mandatory for all persons seeking certification as candidates in ministry, candidates for ministerial roles and for all other individuals beginning ministerial roles within the Eastern PA Conference.  Training is available through the Peninsula-Delaware Conference, Lancaster Theological Seminary and Evangelical Seminary. Learn more.
  • Advanced Sexual Ethics-“Click, Connect, and Love: The Impact of Social Media on Clergy, Congregations and Families”: July 29, 9:30 AM to 3 PM, at New Life UMC, Drexel Hill.
  • Advanced Sexual Ethics-“Sexual Boundaries” Oct 3, 9.30 AM to 3 PM, at St. Luke’s UMC Bryn Mawr. 

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!
2017 Academy for Laity
Aug. 4-6 (Fri.-Sun.) at Cedarville UMC Pottstown. New dates, new location, new courses. Theme: Embrace the Journey: Step Up, Step Out.” More details to come.
Eastern Pennsylvania Conference of The United Methodist Church
980 Madison Avenue, Norristown, PA 19403
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