An urgent appeal from Bishop Peggy A. Johnson, Philadelphia Episcopal Area

On August 9 18-year-old Michael Brown, an unarmed African American youth in Ferguson, Mo., was fatally shot multiple times by police officer Darren Wilson. Bishop Minerva Carcaño, president of our General Commission on Race and Religion, responded in a public statement that, “We are all accountable for his death and accountable to the African American young people in our communities everywhere.”

That is so true. Michael was our child. So were Trayvon Martin and Jordan Davis, two other teenagers killed by gun shots in 2012, their assailants acquitted of their deaths by Florida’s notorious Stand Your Ground law.

Nine-year-old Antonio Davis of Chicago was slain just last Wednesday, August 21, by gun shots that tore through his young, innocent body as he likely sought to escape gang violence. He too was our child. And so were too many others taken from us in recent years in Chicago, Philadelphia, Baltimore and other cities and towns across our nation.

Registration is now open for the 2015 Midwinter Retreat for Clergy (elders, deacons, local pastors) and their Spouses, to gather Jan. 13-15, 2015. 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.

United Methodist Day at the Philadelphia Zoo, Aug. 16, was a great success as hundreds of conference members and guests flocked to the nation's oldest zoo amid thousands of other visitors on a temperate, sunny day. There they marveled at, learned about and maybe even conversed with captive members of the animal kingdom, including perhaps descendants of Noah's ark.

"I think this was pretty good for the first time," said United Methodist Men's president Ross, who organized this event and others like it. The 289 people who printed and brought the online "UM Coupon" saw their admission price reduced from $20 to $12, although the zoo offered no rebate to the UM Men as other local destinations have done. 

monthly finance report

Conference Budget – Schedules A&B

Please reference Schedule A and Schedule B for a summary of the conference budget through July 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.

St. John’s UMC in Ivyland embarked on a new ministry three weeks ago: Drive-thru Prayer. Every Wednesday from 4:30 to 6 pm we set up a canopy in front of our church, and prayer volunteers gather to offer prayer to folks who drive by typically on their way home from work.

The first week, six cars stopped; the second week, there were five. Last week 12 cars stopped for prayer.

We believe there are many who are struggling but don’t feel they can come to church. St. John’s wanted to find a way to reach out to them with the love of Christ. Even though they may not be affiliated with a church, they still need to know that Jesus loves them and cares about everything that concerns them.

In many cities near the U.S. border nowadays protestors have been holding signs: "Not Our Children; Not Our Problem." They have been stopping buses that bring unaccompanied migrant children into their communities."

On July 31 hundreds of people of faith from more than 10 states gathered in Washington, D.C. to hold a different protest in front of the White House. Our signs read: "Standing on the Side of Love for Our Immigrant Families.

As people of faith we know that these are our children too. "Let these little ones come to me, and do not stop them," said Jesus Christ, "because to such belongs the kingdom of heaven." (Matthew 19:4)

Out of crisis can come great opportunities for growth.

Participants at a recent meeting discussed closing the Asbury Campus Ministry at Drexel University due to financial challenges. The Wesley Foundation endowment that had supported this campus ministry for many years could no longer sustain it because of depleted funds.

When this dire situation came to the attention of our Bishop and the Connectional Ministries Office, we felt the need to look at our campus ministry opportunities with a different perspective. At a subsequent Cabinet meeting, we decided to not close the Drexel campus ministry but rather staff it with a part-time position. We also considered expanding our outreach to other campuses in our conference area.

The Rev. Mutwale Ntambo Wa Mushidi and Kabaka Ndala Alphonsine, United Methodist missionaries in Tanzania, East Africa. will itinerate in the EPA Conference for nearly three weeks in October, visiting churches, sharing their stories and meeting new friends and supporters.

In Dar es Salaam, Tanzania's largest city, they are involved in evangelization and church growth, Christian education, women's activities and training, community development, health education and refugee ministries. They are supported by our  conference and will visit congregations and attend events here Oct. 1-19. If you want to invite them to your church, contact the Rev. David J. Davis. Conference Secretary for Global Ministries.

New Coordinator of Youth and Young Adult Ministries David Piltz (rear, second from right) poses with members of the Conference Council on Youth Ministries after a recent meeting.

Longtime youth and adult ministry leader David Piltz, of Bristol Pa., is the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference's new Coordinator of Youth and Young Adult Ministries, as of Aug. 4. The Certified Lay Minister and Conference Youth Ministry Advisory Council member is a specialist and trainer in instructional design and organizational development in both church and corporate arenas.

Over two decades as a youth ministry leader, Piltz has planned, participated in and led Sunday school classes, meetings, retreats, mission trips and other events across three conferences: Wisconsin, Susquehanna (formerly Central PA) and Eastern PA. His decade of mission trip experience extends from Appalachia to Nicaragua.

The Rev. Greg Ellis awaits an answer during legislative debate at Annual Conference in May. Of 25 resolutions before the body six were referred to the Cabinet and will be discussed during clergy dialogues on covenant and sexuality with Bishop Peggy Johnson in October. To aid in the dialogues, to occur on all six districts, clergy at annual conference received and were asked to read the new book Finding Our Way: Love and Law in the United Methodist Church. The referred resolutions may also be addressed in laity meetings with the bishop during her October Days on the Districts.    --Sabrina Daluisio photo

'May we not be of one heart, though we are not of one opinion?'   --John Wesley

The EPA Conference's new Safe Sanctuaries Committee wants to be sure every church knows that new changes in state law will require them to modify their church policies and practices. Churches need to be sure they have leaders or teams present at the Safe Sanctuaries district trainings, on Oct. 25, to ensure they comply with new laws.

There has been a great deal of child abuse prevention legislation working its way through the state legislature and the governor’s office this year, reports the Rev. James H. Wilkin, Safe Sanctuaries Committee chair and pastor of Holmesburg and St. Philip's UM churches in Philadelphia. Some bills have already been passed and signed into law, while others are at various stages in the process.

Most of the changes go into effect at the end of 2014.

Bishop Peggy A. Johnson announces the following 2014 appointments and retirements, effective July 1, 2014, unless otherwise noted:

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:

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.