Two congregations certified “welcoming churches”

Epworth UMC in Bethlehem (shown) and Valley Forge: St. Matthew’s UMC have both recently been awarded official certification as Welcoming Congregations by United Methodist Communications.

By Suzy Keenan

Congratulations to the two new certified Welcoming Congregations in the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference: Epworth United Methodist Church in Bethlehem and its pastor, Rev. Timothy Duchesne, as well as Valley Forge: St. Matthews United Methodist Church, and its pastor, Rev. Dawn Taylor-Storm.

Epworth and St. Matthews join five other Eastern Pennsylvania congregations which have been striving to be more welcoming and inviting congregations: Hopeland, Orwigsburg: Salem, Berwyn, Mohnton: Calvary, and West Lawn.

Pursuing Welcoming Congregation certification means reviewing a checklist. You can note welcoming activities in which your church already participates, and examine ways in which your church might become more welcoming and inviting.  To obtain a copy of the award checklist, go to:

About the Welcoming Certification, Epworth’s pastor, the Rev. Dr. Timothy Duchesne said, “Epworth’s Core Value is caring for others, which begins by welcoming everyone who walks though our doors.”

“The goal for our lay leader, Herb Ridyard , was to complete phase one of the certification,” said Pastor Dawn Taylor-Storm of St. Matthew’s UMC.  “His goal for 2011 is to infuse a spirit of welcoming and hospitality into the whole congregation, which will build upon the Welcoming Certification.”

Bishop Peggy Johnson encourages all of our congregations to obtain certification: “I am thrilled to know that Eastern PA has two new certified ‘welcoming churches.’  This is evidence of sound doctrine and a commitment to evangelism.  Many of the items on the check-list are simple to accomplish and yet many of our churches could be doing so much more.”

As a Welcoming Congregation you will receive an official letter, a plaque with seal and a few other items to help you celebrate and share the story of your church’s welcoming certification. Starting in January 2011, United Methodist Communications will be offering an online forum for all Welcoming Certified Congregations to share their successes, best practices and complete steps toward annual renewal of the welcoming certification status.

Rethink Church trainers are also available in every district to help train your church’s leadership in welcoming ministry.

For more information, contact Suzy Keenan, director of Communications,