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2012 Eastern Pennsylvania Annual Conference

Eastern Pennsylvania Annual Conference
May 17-19, 2012, Oaks, Penn.

Nearly 1,000 members of The Eastern Pennsylvania Annual Conference met May 17-19 at the Philadelphia Expo Center, Oaks, Pa., with the theme, "Leadership: Making a Way for All."

Opening worship on the afternoon of May 17 celebrated our Native American connection. Ray Buckley, noted Native American storyteller/author, preached, saying, "I stand before God as he knows me - inside and out. Because I have been a child of God, I become a hollow bone so you can let the winds of God blow through my life." After the service, Buckley presented that bone as a gift to Bishop Peggy Johnson.

The conference welcomed Gary Harke, executive director of the Pennsylvania Council of Churches, and Steve Drachler, United Methodist Advocacy in Pennsylvania. UM Advocacy is leading an effort to defeat allowing "Pay Day Loans" in Pennsylvania. Ruth Daugherty, member of UM Publishing House Board, introduced the new Local Cokesbury Sales Representative, Steven Toombs. Chris Franklin, Stop Hunger Now, spoke about their vision of "a world without hunger," and a goal to package more than 35,000 meals during Annual Conference.

The Rev. Jim Todd and Dr. Mary White presented a report on General Conference, and presented the delegation's episcopal nominee, the Rev. Dr. Christopher Jacob Kurien. Rev. Todd reported that the last act of General Conference was to recognize Ruth Daugherty on her 11th General Conference as an elected delegate. Mr. Lester Calhoun was recognized for his service of 44 years as an equalizing Lay Delegate. Rev. David Davis introduced Revs. Mutwale Ntambo Wa Mushidi and Kabaka Ndala Alphonsine, missionaries to Tanzania. Bishop Peggy Johnson introduced three persons who were commissioned as missionaries: Lilian Cotto, Sharon Hatchman and Barbara Skarbowski. "We had our buttons popping with pride to have three commissioned at the GBGM service," she said.

In a vote, Dr. Kurien was approved as the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference's episcopal candidate.

Rev. Eric Law, of the Kaleidoscope Institute, led two teaching sessions on competent leadership in a diverse changing world. He spoke of "Holy Currencies": Gracious leadership, relationship, truth, wellness, money, and time and place. All continuously move to create sustainable ministry in the "Cycle of Blessings."
Twenty-three retiring clergy were honored. The retirees placed a handmade prayer shawl over the shoulders of each ordinand, and then prayed with them.

Dr. Kurien, Director of Connectional Ministries, led the Celebration of Ministries. Suzy Keenan, director of Communications, announced the new mobile app for smartphones created by Irving Cotto introduced church planters. The Harry Denman Evangelism Award went to Rev. Mercedes Case, pastor of New London UMC, and to Kenneth Ivory, layperson from Montgomery Square UMC. Grace Community Resource and Empowerment Center, Inc., received the Kim Jefferson Award for Effective Urban Ministry.

A 40th Anniversary of the Commission on the Status and Role of Women is planned for September 29 at Berwyn UMC, with Bishops Violet Fischer and Susan Hassinger.

On the evening of Friday, May 18, the Service of Ordination included the preaching of Bishop Peggy Johnson, who said, "How to handle word of God: read it every day and every night as if your life and ministry depend on it. You are blessed to have so many Bibles you can iPod it, iPad it, and CD it." She added, May your Bibles be worn and tattered with notes in the margin!"

Five persons were commissioned for work of an Elder: Susan E. Daniels, Monica B. Guepet, Barbara S. Lee, Hun Ju Lee, Lydia E. Muñoz. Two persons were ordained Deacon: Benjamin D. Caldwell and Maryanne B. Ditter. Six persons were ordained Elders: Victoria L. Allen, Amy E. Banka, Hannah Adair Bonner, Johnson E. Dodla, Candy Labar, Michael S. Remel. The Elders Orders of one were recognized: Misty L. Fuller.

Bishop Alfred Johnson, a son of the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference, preached for the Memorial Service, "They taught us contentment is not about whether we live or die, but that we will live again. They are now cheering us on, helping us to get it right."

The Rev. Jim Todd presented the Superintendents' Report.

Dr. Mary White, Conference Lay Leader, presented the Laity Report introducing a new Wellness and Healing Ministry, the School of Christian Missions, July, and the Annual Laity Academy. The conference now has almost 1,500 Christ Servant Ministers.

Rev. David Ryan, Congo Partnership team, introduced from Adolphe Yamba Yamba from DR Congo, who related the economic, medical, and educational needs.

The United Methodist Men distributed 50,000 pounds of potatoes in 50 lb. bags to delegates to take back to their churches or community food banks. Delegates packaged 35,600 dehydrated, high protein, and highly nutritious meals to be distributed to schools and orphanages in Haiti by Stop Hunger Now.

Youth created a "Penny War" between the districts and raised more than $1,200 for the Youth Service Fund.

A live video stream of the entire annual conference was available on the Internet, watched by over 1,300 persons, seen from both the Conference website and its Facebook homepage. News and photos were posted throughout the conference on both Facebook and Twitter (@epaumc). Interpretation in American Sign Language, assistive listening devices, and on-screen transcription of the spoken word were offered for deaf and hard-of-hearing persons. A big-screen reader made written materials available to persons with visual disabilities. Prior to the opening of the conference, the Eastern Pennsylvania Renewal Fellowship led a prayer walk around the conference rooms. The Order of St. Luke held morning communion in the Prayer Room.


  • $10,673 for Imagine No Malaria and for scholarships for undergraduate students.
  • $3,365 toward scholarships for seminary students.

50 scouts and five scout leaders from Pack 397 from Lansdale: Christ and Troop 141 from Hatfield built the cross.

Fall Session will be held on Saturday, Nov. 10, 2012, to approve a budget for 2013.

In business, the conference increased the time a person can serve on the Board of Ordained Ministry from two to three quadrennium; approved the discontinuance of nine churches; approved 18 conference advance specials; underscored the importance of education in the success of our society; urged churches to advocate to restore civil and factual election campaigns; and approved a Capital Campaign to raise $3 million toward $14 million needed to fund pre-82 pension over the next eight years.

2011 Annual Conference Summary Membership/Attendance

Membership stands at 115,798, down 2,452 from 2010.

Worship Attendance stands at 42,727, down 1,453 from 2010.

Sunday School attendance stands at 14,433, down 4,771 from 2010.

*Suzy Keenan is director of communications for the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference of The United Methodist Church.