“We Will All Be Changed” will be the theme of the next Eastern PA Annual Conference June 14-16, 2018. The prophetic theme—perhaps a timely, symbolic one for our denomination—comes from 1 Corinthians 15:51. (“Listen, I will tell you a mystery! We will not all die, but we will all be changed…”)
Returning to the familiar, if not fancy, Oaks Expo Center, the conference will feature a morning teaching session led by the Rev. Eric H. F. Law, an Episcopalian priest, who founded and directs the Kaleidoscope Institute. The institute, which provided anti-racism training for the Conference Cabinet in 2016, promotes “inclusive, sustainable churches and communities.”
Law spoke at the 2012 Eastern PA Annual Conference. For over two decades, he has authored books, led trainings and produced resources to help denominations in the U.S. and Canada, including several UMC annual conferences, create transformative experiences to foster and embrace greater cultural diversity and inclusiveness. That goal remains an ongoing one for our conference and others.
Worship services and celebrations will highlight variations on the theme. Two bishops and an ordained deacon will preach the traditional three services during the annual session.
The Rev. Justin Hancock, a clergy member of the North Texas Conference, will preach the opening worship service (“We Will All Be Present”) on Thursday, June 14, before the session is called to order and Holy Conferencing begins. Working with college students on campus and in the local church has given him “a passion for helping people discover who God designed them to be.”
Hancock, who has Cerebral Palsy (CP), and his wife Lisa volunteer at New Day Amani, a micro-church that serves primarily African refugees in Dallas. Currently part of an intentional community ministering to residents in central Dallas, they hope to start a new faith-based community that welcomes people with disabilities.
With a Master’s Degree in Christian Ministries, Hancock may be the first ordained deacon and the first person with a significant disability to preach at Annual Conference, in recent memory.
Bishop Cynthia Moore-KoiKoi, who leads the Pittsburgh Episcopal Area (Western PA Conference), will preach the Service of Ordination (“We Will All Be Sent”) on Friday evening. A former superintendent in the Baltimore-Washington Conference, she was one of two African American clergywomen elected to the episcopacy at the Northeastern Jurisdictional Conference in 2016, a historic achievement.
And Presiding Bishop Peggy Johnson will preach the Memorial Service (“We Will All Be Changed”) on Saturday morning before the session resumes.
The remainder of the agenda will include necessary conference business as usual, with resolutions and reports, award presentations, visitors’ greetings, celebration of ministries and monitoring for inclusiveness. We will report more information in future issues and report on an evaluation of the 2016 session, including inclusiveness monitoring feedback, on our website.