The annual Bishop’s Days on the Districts are intended to enable clergy and laity to dialogue with their episcopal leader. The clergy assembling across six districts throughout October are dialoguing with each other as well.

Their topic is the 2014 book Finding Our Way: Love and Law in The United Methodist Church. In it nine bishops address the dispute between clergy adherence and defiance to their Book of Discipline’s prohibition against same-gender weddings.

Asked to read the book in preparation, clergy participants are seeking to reconcile conservative views about biblical and church law with the growing acceptance of marital equality for same-gender couples. Meanwhile, their lay counterparts are engaged in the same quest during their evening district meetings with the bishop.

The EPA Conference Latino(a) Ministries Coalition offered back-to-back training events for two different groups in October, one focused on the relevant past, the other on the emerging future.

The first training, on Oct. 10-12, was for members of Latino churches wanting to learn more about their Wesleyan heritage. The second, on Oct. 18, was for non-Latino churches wanting to learn more about the Latino communities growing in their midst and how best to reach and engage them in ministry.

The first training event taught about 23 lay members about Methodist tradition and history. They came from Cristo Rey in West Grove, El Buen Samaritano in West Chester, El Mesías in Philadelphia, Casa del Pueblo in Hatboro, El Redentor/St Paul's in Lancaster, La Trinidad in Allentown and Vida y Familia, a new church start also in Allentown.

The Rev. Mutwale Ntambo Wa Mushidi and Kabaka Ndala Alphonsine, United Methodist missionaries in Tanzania, East Africa, have been itinerating in the EPA Conference for much of October. During his sixth visit and her third, they have visited churches and shared the strides, hopes and critical needs of their growing mission enterprises, while meeting old and new friends and supporters.

Fast-growing, multicultural, multi-faith Dar es Salaam is Tanzania's capital and largest city. There they are involved in evangelization and church growth, Christian education, women's education and activities, community development, health education and refugee ministries. This active, dedicated missionary couple, who have four daughters and two sons, receives support for their work from donors in our conference, among others whom they are visiting. They will return home in December.

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.

October may become a month of completion (like the corresponding number 10) for the Eastern PA Conference in regard to resolutions on the controversial issue of clergy performance of a same-gender wedding.

Bishop Peggy Johnson announced on Oct. 3 that a Just Resolution was completed to satisfy a complaint filed May 30 against 36 clergy who had co-officiated such a wedding for two men at Philadelphia's Arch Street UMC on Nov. 9, 2013.

She also is meeting with clergy and laity groups during October for dialogues on this very issue as it pertains to clergy adherence and opposition to church law. Those meetings were requested by the Annual Conference in May as part of its decision to refer to the bishop's Cabinet six related resolutions on this same matter.

And finally, the Judicial Council, the United Methodist Church's high court, will affirm or reject on Oct. 22 the Northeastern Jurisdiction Appeals Committee's June ruling to restore clergy credentials to the Rev. Frank Schaefer.

monthly finance report

Conference Budget – Schedules A&B

Please reference Schedule A and Schedule B for a summary of the conference budget through September 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 nine months of 2014 giving from local churches to CMF was $2,253,605. This was $296,395 less than budget and $88,103 less than the amount received from September 2013. An analysis after nine months (Schedule E) shows that 51% of churches are “on budget”. However, there are 127 churches or 30% that have paid less than 50%. Forty-Five (45) churches have paid zero through nine months toward CMF. The district offices and CCFA are kept abreast of this and are taking steps to follow up.

"New Vision." " New Strategies." "Keys." " Best Practices."

Those outcomes are what Clif Christopher's four top-selling church stewardship books offer. And for anyone smart enough to attend one of his next three workshops in our area, Oct. 21-23, the return on investment is a safe bet. In fact, that return on the nominal workshop fee is likely to be even greater for church leaders who attend in teams.

The Rev. Christopher will dispense his wealth of wisdom about church finances at three convenient locations: Oct. 21 at Bethany UMC in Wescosville; Oct. 22 at Mt. Hope UMC in Ashton; and Oct. 23 at Wyoming UMC in Dover, Del. So far, more than 125 people have registered for the full-day classes, but the sponsoring Mid-Atlantic United Methodist Foundation is trying to attract more leaders who want to teach and transform stewardship in their churches.

Registration is now open for the 2015 Midwinter Retreat for Clergy (elders, deacons, local pastors) and their Spouses, to gather Jan. 13-15, 2015. 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.

NEW!!  It has come to our attention that more retirees than we imagined would prefer to stay in the EPAUMC Dental Plan for 2015.  To accommodate this, The Board of Pension and Health Benefits will allow retired members to be automatically enrolled for 2015 if they are already enrolled in the current dental plan, unless they waive that coverage through AmWins.  If you are not currently enrolled in MetLife Dental, you will have the opportunity to enroll once the plan design and costs have been set.

Due to a hefty increase over last years rate, the MetLife Dental has been put out to bid.  We expect to have the cost for 2015 set by October 17th, 2014.  Retirees will receive a notification of carrier and cost after this date.

Thank you for your patience as we work to satisfy your requests for coverage.

The oldest Methodist church in the U.S. in continuous use, a Philadelphia landmark, gets a close-up in two new, compelling videos produced online by UM Communications (UMCom). Historic St. George’s, built before the Revolutionary War and today the site of a museum and annual conference archives, welcomed two video production crews in April and August this year.

The first crew, from the EPA Conference, came in April to video record scenes of a unique historical dramatization hosted periodically by St. George's, titled The Time Traveler. They also featured a youth tour group that came to view it and then gathered in a classroom to learn more about the racial oppression that led early black members of St. George's to leave and form their own churches.

The second crew came from UMCom in August to showcase the venerable church as one of many significant sites every United Methodist should try to visit. The unusual result of the two visits is two separate but related short videos, both viewable on the UMC's official Web site.

The EPA Conference's new Safe Sanctuaries Committee wants to be sure every church knows that new changes in state law will require them to modify their church policies and practices. Churches need to be sure they have leaders or teams present at the Safe Sanctuaries district trainings, on Oct. 25, to ensure they comply with new laws.

There has been a great deal of child abuse prevention legislation working its way through the state legislature and the governor’s office this year, reports the Rev. James H. Wilkin, Safe Sanctuaries Committee chair and pastor of Holmesburg and St. Philip's UM churches in Philadelphia. Some bills have already been passed and signed into law, while others are at various stages in the process.

Emilie UMC in Levittown, Pa., recently cashed in on a popular fundraising fad, using it to bolster the congregation 's finances and its fellowship.

The ice bucket challenge, an online viral sensation, has pumped millions of donated dollars this past summer into efforts to find a cure for ALS (Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis), also known as Lou Gehrig's Disease. But Emilie's leaders found another use for it.

"The church has struggled to pay its apportionments in full the past few years, and it's a problem we've been trying to address," said the Rev. Andrew Krpata, pastor. "We truly believe this is our responsibility, and we've always been pretty successful in meeting it."

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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Bishop's Blog

Bishop's Blog

Read thoughts on faith and life from Bishop Peggy Johnson.