November 22, 2022

See, I am doing a new thing, can’t you see it. -Isaiah prophesied

New Appointment Announcement and EPA/GNJ Affiliation Update

Dear United Methodists of EPA and GNJ,

We are living in a challenging season as we emerge from the pandemic, disaffiliation and the continuing movement of secular culture away from religion and the church. But every time, in the midst of challenge, God has been ready to do a new thing. For a tormented people enslaved in Egypt, or a wandering people on a dusty trail in the wilderness, or three young people in a fiery furnace standing up to a king, or a huddled group of disciples in an upper room, God was working a new thing.

Can’t you see it? God’s new thing is springing up all around us even today. (Isaiah 43:19 and 65:16-17).

At the most recent Northeastern Jurisdictional Conference (NEJ) where we elect new bishops, the conference could have elected four bishops but chose to elect only one, in part because of membership and financial realities. It is becoming clearer that alignments and affiliations between conferences will be the future model within the NEJ, and that EPA and GNJ will be working together into the future.

For months, leadership from both conferences have recognized this possibility and have asked what is the new thing God wants to do? What will we do so that the mission thrives during the challenges? After prayer and discernment, we believe that new thing is to collaborate to enhance and grow the mission of Jesus Christ through our congregations.

The question is, how will the mission thrive in EPA and GNJ? What can we do better, more effectively and more efficiently together to serve Christ, the church and the world? To prepare for this, there have been steps taken already to better align mission and ministry. These alignments have included a common purpose or mission, shared goals, shared commitments and collaborative ministries. Some things have already been approved by our Connectional Tables, Councils on Finance and Administration and the extended cabinets of both EPA and GNJ. Some things are in the planning stages.

To assist with these strategic alignments, Rev. Dawn Taylor-Storm, starting December 1, 2022, will be appointed as the Assistant to the Bishop for EPA and GNJ, and Director of Connectional Ministries for EPA. Dawn will lead the planning and implementation of the strategic alignments as we affiliate ministry and mission.

The following are areas that are in progress or we are moving toward:

  • Regionalization – staff collaboration to develop leaders and congregations through regions. There will be four regions, two in each conference.
    • EPA - North-West Region (sharing resourcing and staff between the North and West Districts).
    • EPA – South-East Region (sharing resourcing and staff between the South and East Districts).
    • GNJ – Metro Highlands Region (sharing resourcing and staff between the Skylands, Meadowlands and Raritan Shore Districts).
    • GNJ – Coastal Plains Region (sharing resourcing and staff between the Cape Atlantic, Central and Delaware Bay Districts).

The regions will have a district superintendent for each district, assisting/circuit elders, regional resource staff and a regional administrator. The regional administrators from both conferences will work as a team to support the administration of the districts. An entire regional team will work together to recruit and develop transformational leaders to make disciples of Jesus Christ and grow vital mission congregations for the transformation of the world.

  • Appointments – the two appointment cabinets will work together to make appointments.
  • Leadership Development – leadership development staff from both conferences will work together to develop lay and clergy leadership.
  • Connectional Ministries/Pathways – EPA and GNJ will share ministry to grow vital congregations, develop leadership and grow community partnerships. For instance, GNJ has a strong youth conference, IGNITE, that has attracted 1,500 young people. EPA has a strong camping and retreat ministry that attracts more than 11,000 guests a year. Both conferences will share resourcing and best practices in the following areas.
    • Youth
    • Camping and Retreats
    • Ending the Sin of Racism
    • Ethnic Ministry
    • Urban Ministry
    • Hope and Wholeness Centers
  • Communication – The communication teams of EPA and GNJ will be combined to form one communications team under the direction of Rev. James Lee, communications director. The staff from EPA and GNJ will focus on their assigned ministry area for both EPA and GNJ.
  • Database – Explore using one database so that staff from both EPA and GNJ are using similar platforms.
  • Conflict Resolution – This has already begun, with Nicola Mulligan, assistant to the bishop, for administration and conflict resolution will continue to engage with congregations from EPA and GNJ that are experiencing conflict.
  • Project Management – both EPA and GNJ will use a project management approach for different projects with one person overseeing all project teams.

EPA and GNJ will not be affiliating budgets, pension programs, property insurance programs, administrative agencies, chancellors, or legal work. But we will focus on ministry and mission together and provide administrative support for the ministry life of both conferences. The goal of our affiliation is to enhance our mission to recruit and develop transformational leaders to make disciples and grow vital mission congregations for the transformation of the world.

For further understanding, below is an FAQ, a timeline, and a schedule of three webinars to respond to your questions and elaborate on the affiliation of EPA and GNJ.

In the midst of challenges, God is doing a new thing. Now God is ready to grow our mission together.

Bishop John Schol
The United Methodists of
Eastern Pennsylvania & Greater New Jersey | 484-474-0939 | 732-359-1010

Equipping transformational leaders for
New Disciples | Vital Congregations | Transformed World

Contact Us

Bishop's Office
P.O. Box 820
Valley Forge, PA 19482-0820
Phone: 484-474-0939
Fax: 732-359-1019

Bishop John Schol
The United Methodists of Eastern Pennsylvania & Greater New Jersey


Nicola Mulligan
Assistant to the Bishop


Jay Kim
Immigration Support (EPAUMC)
Director of Human Resources (GNJUMC)
Superintending Support Team (GNJUMC)

Messages from Bishop John Schol (by date)