The Eastern Conference PA Conference has appeared in both the United Methodist and Philadelphia media lately. The Philadelphia Inquirer and www.philly.com published a story about our Annual Conference’s historic passage of Resolution 2018-25, which canceled most of the unpaid “prior-years’ balances” of apportionments and certain other billings, as of the end of 2017, for the conference’s 29 African American churches. The action was taken as “an act of justice,” and followed the passage of Resolution 2018-24, which canceled a smaller portion of all church unpaid prior-years’ balances for all churches.
The story was published online at www.philly.com—“United Methodist Church forgives black congregations’ debts, and apologizes”—last Thursday, July 19. It also appears in print on page 1 of today’s Inquirer.
Reporter Kristin Holmes saw our website story, Annual Conference approves justice-related resolutions, and contacted Communications Director John Coleman. Coleman provided her with background information and arranged interviews for her with Bishop Peggy Johnson, the Rev. Bill Lentz, of the Conference Council of Finance and Administration, and the Rev. David W. Brown, who helped Lentz present Resolution 25 to the Annual Conference (above photo). Holmes interviewed Deacon Brown July 13 at Wharton-Wesley UMC in Philadelphia, along with Lenora Thompson, a leader of the congregation. Brown appears in a photograph taken in the church’s sanctuary with the story.
The United Methodist News Service saw the online story and published a link to it in its weekly connectional newsletter UMNS Daily Digest.
The Inquirer has published several stories recently about large, struggling center city churches. One is Calvary UMC, located just blocks from Wharton-Wesley UMC in West Philadelphia. The July 12 story, “To save the world, first they must save a building in West Philly,” by Anya van Wagtendonk, reports on Calvary’s struggles with its building while providing a collaborative, interfaith gathering space for various worshiping groups and community programs and events. Learn more…
An earlier article (July 5), also written by Kristin Holmes, examines the many legacy black churches that are leaving or have moved from Philadelphia’s center city due in part to dwindling memberships, antiquated buildings and local property development and gentrification. The in-depth story, “As Philly neighborhoods gentrify, black churches lose their base and leave,” mentions no UM churches, but it is still a worthwhile read.
Finally, the Eastern PA Conference is featured in two stories just published in the summer issue of UM Global Ministries magazine New World Outlook. The two stories, both written by Communications Director John Coleman, feature our Congo Partnership and Casa del Pueblo, the Latino ministry and congregational sponsored by Lehman Memorial UMC in Hatboro.
“Congo Partnership: ‘A Connection in the Heart’” reports on the mission education visit in February by a team of leaders from our conference and the Peninsula-Delaware Conference to the Central Congo Episcopal Area (in the Democratic Republic of the Congo or DRC). They visited various Congo Partnership mission sites and met with pastors and other leaders in the area.
“Casa del Pueblo: Latino Ministry Builds a ‘House of the People’” features the work that the Rev. Lilian “Luky” Cotto and her lay ministry team are doing to develop their multifaceted Latino ministry not only at Lehman Memorial but in nearby residential areas and at St. Paul UMC in Warrington, where they have planted a new, growing faith community that worships on Sunday afternoons. Much of their work involves helping immigrant families and operating Anawim, a popular music school where Latino children are learning not only musical instruments and dance, but also attributes that can improve their academic performance as well.
New World Outlook has been published under several titles by mission agencies of our denomination since 1911. This summer issue will be its next to last issue, before it ceases publication. The final issue, in the fall, will celebrate 200 years of our history in global missions as United Methodists and members of our predecessor denominations.