Loving God, Creator of all that has been, all that is, and all that is to come;
You made us human and gave us hearts to love you and follow you.
We thank you for the many blessings you have given us over this past year.

So begins a lovely Thanksgiving morning prayer composed by the Rev. Dr. LaGretta Bjorn, a United Methodist pastor in Spring Valley, NY. It is one of several timely resources provided on the General Board of Discipleship Website's 2014 Thanksgiving page. Others include celebration ideas, Holy communion liturgy, recommended music, reflections and even a child's prayer. 

Demonstrations--some violent, some peaceful--are occurring around the nation in the wake of the decision Monday night, Nov. 24, by a grand jury to not indict Ferguson, Mo., Police Officer Darren Wilson in the Aug. 9  shooting death of unarmed teenager Michael Brown.

Meanwhile, Philadelphia Area Bishop Peggy Johnson urged members of the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference to "pray with yearning in your hearts that justice, compassion, restraint and a vigilant commitment to non-violence and peace-making will prevail in our cities during this troubled time."

United Methodist Student Day is November 30, 2014

Across the country, the people of The United Methodist Church are serving the people God loves in Jesus’ name. We’re doing it at home, but so often we’d like to do more.

  • We want to serve those in other places who are suffering.
  • We want to offer spiritual words of hope and life.
  • And we want to be well-equipped to do both!

But the reality for most of us is that our responsibilities—home, family, work—don’t allow us to engage with every need we’d like to meet.

The Ebola crisis continues to take a toll on lives in West Africa but also among many Africans living in America, including some who belong to EPA Conference churches. Bishop Peggy Johnson visited First UMC Bristol Sunday, Nov. 23, specifically to pray with and for the group of Liberians who worship there.

"May God lead the people of Liberia and all those suffering from the disease of Ebola into a new day of healing and peace," she said in her prayer among 20 Liberian members, including a group of singers and musicians.

 

On Dec. 2, you can extend the spirit of Thanksgiving during the Advent season by participating in UMC #GivingTuesday. Every gift made online through The Advance at www.umcmission.org/give on Dec. 2 will be matched up to $1 million by the United Methodist Global Ministries.

The Global Ministries board will allocate the matching funds dollar for dollar up to the first $1 million in gifts to Advance projects received online Dec. 2 between 12 a.m. and 11:59 p.m. EST. A maximum of $2,500 per individual gift to a project will be dispersed as matching funds. A project may receive a total maximum of $25,000 in matching funds.

Many churches and organizations across the nation will gather this week to celebrate Thanksgiving by feeding hungry neighbors in their communities. But one of the Southeast District’s mission connexions started early and stretched farther with their anti-hunger efforts.

About 70 volunteers from churches and communities in southern Chester County gathered in New London UMC’s fellowship hall Saturday, Nov. 1, to prepare 10,000 highly nutritious, packaged meals for Stop Hunger Now’s worldwide feeding ministry. Sponsored by the tiny church, the huge effort benefited from funding plus hands-on support from at least eight partner churches in its regional mission connexion.


The season of Advent this year is from Nov. 30 to Dec. 24, beginning four Sundays before Christmas and ending on Christmas Eve.  The word Advent comes from the Latin adventus, meaning  “coming” or “visit." It is the beginning of the liturgical year for Christians. (Liturgical or liturgy means the forms and functions of public worship.]

During Advent, we prepare for and anticipate the coming of Christ. We remember the longing of Jews for a Messiah and our own longing and need for forgiveness, salvation and a new beginning.  Even as we look back and celebrate the birth of Jesus in a humble stable in Bethlehem, we also look forward anticipating the second coming of Christ as the fulfillment of all that was promised by his first coming.

Advent devotional and Bible study materials are emerging from several helpful sources to celebrate this sacred season from various perspectives.

Living in poverty is--well, take your pick: "stressful," "frustrating," "extremely difficult," "powerless," "overwhelming," "hopeless." Yet, mere words can't begin to describe the real experience of struggling daily to survive in a life without.

That's what about 50 people--mostly youth and young adults--discovered during a recent Poverty Simulation event hosted by Hopewell UM Church in Downingtown, Pa. During the four-hour program participants experienced some of the frustrations, obstacles and constraints of living with limited resources while trying to access social services to acquire basic necessities. Each was assigned an identity or role to play, saddled with a set of challenging circumstances; and they had to survive for a month, represented by four 15-minute weeks.

monthly finance report

Conference Budget – Schedules A & B

Please reference Schedule A and Schedule B for a summary of the conference budget through October 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 ten months of 2014 giving from local churches to CMF was $2,524,034. This was $309,299 less than budget and $74,452 less than the amount received from October 2013. An analysis after ten months (Schedule E) shows that 223 churches, 53% are “on budget”.

Early registration ends Nov. 29 for the 2015 Midwinter Retreat for Clergy (elders, deacons, local pastors) and their Spouses, who will gather Jan. 13-15, 2015 in Ocean City, Md. 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.

The conference's Open Enrollment period for 2015 health insurance coverage for active clergy and staff runs from Nov. 10 to Nov. 30. This will be the annual opportunity for persons to carefully review approved medical and dental benefit plans and select options that will go into effect Jan. 1, 2015.

The conference will have new insurance carriers next year, after its current insurers, Aetna medical and MetLife dental, projected 2015 rate increases higher than 10 percent. The new carriers are Independence Blue Cross for medical and United Concordia for dental.

Information about the process has been mailed to enrollees. Benefits Officer Jo Fielding will explain plan options and answer questions at Open Enrollment meetings on each district this week and next. Changes in benefits can be made online beginning Nov. 10.

UMNS--Oklahoma City, Okla.: Representatives of the Council of Bishops and the General Board of Global Ministries issued a letter to the people of The United Methodist Church on behalf of the Council of Bishops in response to the Ebola crisis affecting West Africa. The epidemic has been responsible for nearly 5,000 deaths with more than 13,000 cases of disease reported. (Read the letter in its entirety.)

“Our hearts go out to families, communities and all those suffering as a result of the epidemic. We assure them of our prayers for divine assistance as they go through this period of pain, trauma and grief,” states the letter.

United Methodists are urged to “offer compassion to our sisters and brothers who are suffering, and support to those who walk with them.”

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.