monthly finance report

Conference Budget – Schedules A & B

Please reference Schedule A and Schedule B for a summary of the conference budget through October 2014. As a result of the faithful giving of EPA local churches to the connectional ministries fund or CMF we ended 2013 with a very strong result of $3,279,179.  While this was short of the budget goal of $3.4 million by $120,821 or 3%, it was a reasonable variance.  Given the ongoing struggles of many churches we are pleased and grateful for the commitment made by many to support this vital ministry. 

Through ten months of 2014 giving from local churches to CMF was $2,524,034. This was $309,299 less than budget and $74,452 less than the amount received from October 2013. An analysis after ten months (Schedule E) shows that 223 churches, 53% are “on budget”. However, there are 114 churches or 27% that have paid less than 50%.   Thirty-Nine (39) churches have paid zero through ten months toward CMF.  The district offices and CCFA are kept abreast of this and are taking steps to follow up.

The conference's Open Enrollment period for 2015 health insurance coverage for active clergy and staff runs from Nov. 10 to Nov. 30. This will be the annual opportunity for persons to carefully review approved medical and dental benefit plans and select options that will go into effect Jan. 1, 2015.

The conference will have new insurance carriers next year, after its current insurers, Aetna medical and MetLife dental, projected 2015 rate increases higher than 10 percent. The new carriers are Independence Blue Cross for medical and United Concordia for dental.

Information about the process has been mailed to enrollees. Benefits Officer Jo Fielding will explain plan options and answer questions at Open Enrollment meetings on each district this week and next. Changes in benefits can be made online beginning Nov. 10.

UMNS--Oklahoma City, Okla.: Representatives of the Council of Bishops and the General Board of Global Ministries issued a letter to the people of The United Methodist Church on behalf of the Council of Bishops in response to the Ebola crisis affecting West Africa. The epidemic has been responsible for nearly 5,000 deaths with more than 13,000 cases of disease reported. (Read the letter in its entirety.)

“Our hearts go out to families, communities and all those suffering as a result of the epidemic. We assure them of our prayers for divine assistance as they go through this period of pain, trauma and grief,” states the letter.

United Methodists are urged to “offer compassion to our sisters and brothers who are suffering, and support to those who walk with them.”

Oklahoma City, Okla.: The Council of Bishops issued a statement concerning human sexuality, addressing their diverse perspectives and calling the people of The United Methodist Church to be in prayer, both for their leaders and for one another. The statement reads:

As bishops of The United Methodist Church, our hearts break because of the divisions that exist within the church.  We have been in constant prayer and conversation and affirm our consecration vow “to guard the faith, to seek the unity and to exercise the discipline of the whole church.” We recognize that we are one church in a variety of contexts around the world and that bishops and the church are not of one mind about human sexuality. Despite our differences, we are united in our commitment to be in ministry for and with all people.

Hundreds of church leaders came out to district meetings across the EPA Conference Saturday morning, Oct. 25, to learn about new laws and policies intended to make their places of worship and ministry safer for children and vulnerable adults. Several districts reported more than 100 in attendance from nearly two-thirds of their churches.

Every congregation was urged to send representatives to learn about new state laws and procedures as part of the conference's ongoing Safe Sanctuaries initiative. Each gathering received about 3 hours of in-depth orientation, including PowerPoint slides and answers to questions. Their trainers had spent months preparing, studying new legislation and meeting together as a team with the conference's newly reconstituted Safe Sanctuaries Committee.

Isaiah 2:4 contains the well-known passage, “They shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore.”

What a world that would be! But we do not live in that world today, and we are not likely to live in that world any time soon. In fact, so long as we insist on trying to make it there under our own power, it’s never going to happen. We can only get to that world by the grace of God.

In the meantime, we will have war, and rumors of war. And we will have veterans who carry the scars of war—some clearly visible, some hidden in dark places.

The EPA Conference was able to secure lower rates for participants in its retiree dental insurance program for next year, according to its Pension and Health Benefits Director, by changing carriers from MetLife to United Concordia Dental (UCCI).

Retirees enrolled with MetLife who wish to maintain their dental coverage do not need to take any action, Jo Fielding announced. The conference will continue their current status with the new carrier.

Retirees who are not enrolled but want to add dental insurance for 2015, and those who have but no longer want dental coverage, must call Madeline González-López at 484-762-8220 by no later than 4 p.m., Friday, Nov. 21.

 

The EcoEternity Forest at Pocono Plateau, the first of its kind in Pennsylvania, is a burial option for cremated ashes and an alternative to the traditional cemetery. Since it opened in 2008, our designated EcoEternity Forest has garnered 150 reservations and 37 interments.

The cremated ashes of the deceased are buried at the roots of a tree, allowing remaining minerals to be absorbed by the tree. It creates in essence a living memorial in a natural, peaceful woodland setting. 

The interment process causes no lasting disturbance to the forest floor. In a plot of mature growth forest, suitable trees are selected and registered in a log.

Statement by Bishop Peggy A. Johnson in response to the United Methodist Judicial Council’s ruling in Decision 1270 affirming the Rev. Frank Schaefer’s reinstatement as an Elder in full connection:

I have received and reviewed the ruling by the United Methodist Church’s Judicial Council on the appeal of the Rev. Christopher Fisher, Counsel for the Church, who challenged the Northeastern Jurisdiction Committee on Appeals’ reinstatement of the Rev. Frank Schaefer’s ministerial credentials. That reinstatement effectively modified the penalty enacted by a jury of the Eastern PA Conference that led to the termination of the Rev. Schaefer’s credentials.

Early registration ends Nov. 29 for the 2015 Midwinter Retreat for Clergy (elders, deacons, 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.

Retreat planners have received requests over the years to address the needs of not only clergy but also their spouses and families. The 2015 retreat promises to do just that. "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.

The Rev. Dr. Christopher J. Kurien
The fall season is busy with events happening in our lives and the lives of our churches. Many congregations have celebrated Homecoming Sunday, Back-to-Church Sunday or Rally Day to invite past and present members to come back to church for worship, fellowship and Christian education classes....and not to come alone.

Hopefully, many members are using this season as an opportunity to invite non-members--whether family, friends, colleagues or even strangers--home to their churches for worship, Bible study or special events. Fall is, after all, a season of harvest; and there is a plentiful harvest of souls we encounter daily who yearn for more meaningful, righteous and uplifting lives. All most of them need is an invitation.

Update from The Rev. Davis, Missions Secretary:

Our Missionaries Rev. Mutwale and his wife Kabaka arrived on the September 29, 2014 and visited with us till October 20.

They were in 16 meetings at various churches and with several pastors and our Bishop as well.  We were able to generate over $2,500 and also enter into a covenant relationship with at least five new churches. They travelled to many places to meet with people and share their ministry.

They said that this has been a great time of fellowship and learning and sharing their vision for the United Methodist Church in Tanzania, In 2015 they will be a full fledged conference,  and will have over 65 churches established with elders, deacons and local pastors leading these churches.

The Eastern Pennsylvania Conference of The United Methodist Church

Welcome!  The Eastern Pennsylvania Conference of the United Methodist Church is made up of about 465 churches, which serve nearly 125,000 members in 16 counties.   Led by Bishop Peggy A. Johnson, the Conference's mission is to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. Today, this mission is the focus of the conference’s 465 churches, congregations which speak to diverse and multi-generational populations in the many cities, towns, and rural areas throughout our area.  The Eastern Pennsylvania Conference and its sister Peninsula/Delaware Conference together compose the Philadelphia Area, with nearly 1,000 churches served by Bishop Peggy Johnson.

If you are a clergy person or member of one of our 465 churches, we invite you to explore this website for resources and information to support you in your effort to make disciples of Jesus Christ.

If you are looking for a welcoming faith family, we invite you to visit a United Methodist Church in your community: www.find-a-church.org.

Eastern Pennsylvania Conference Office: 980 Madison Ave., Norristown, PA 19403; telephone 610-666-9090; fax 610-666-9093.

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