Monday, December 28, 2009


Recently we have seen a couple of trillion snowflakes in the Philadelphia Area. For some snow is a welcome event, for others a hardship but whatever you think about snow there is not much one can do about it. One might wonder about God sending snow on a Sunday closest to Christmas when those critical offerings will make or break a church budget. We know that in all things God works for good those who love God and are called according to God’s purpose (Romans 8: 28). So we need not fear the future or the bills or the budget as ultimately God is in control, making a way out of no way.

I would want to take note about snowflakes as they teach us profound truths about God. A snowflake is a tiny molecule of frozen water vapor. Every snowflake has 6 sides as that is the shape of the molecule but although they are all 6 sided, that is where the similarity ends. There has never been, nor will there be, two snowflakes that are totally identical in pattern. That gives us a tiny glimpse at the awesome creativity of God, who does not settle for sameness but is constantly creating and recreating. As we serve this God, that creative Spirit can work through us to create new things and new plans for service and ministry. When it is the “same-old-thing” the Spirit of God has not been called in to help. Seek God’s creativity to pattern your life in this New Year.

Another lesson of the snowflake that we never seem to learn is the power of community. One snowflake is about as fragile and insignificant as can be. I remember as a student in school looking at real snowflakes under a microscope but struggling to keep the glass slide at ice-cold temperatures because the slightest warmth would melt them in an instant. Yet if a couple trillion snowflakes come together they have tremendous power. They close schools, block traffic, and stop every manner of business that you may have planned.

Thus it is true the likes of you and me. Individually we are weak but when we work together with others we can do great things. Getting people to cooperate is sometimes not easy but the results can change the world when we do. All the great movements of social justice that ever happened on this planet came about because a group of people got behind it and worked together. There is no good on this earth that cannot be accomplished if the humans would work together and make a snowstorm happen…a snowstorm of goodness, justice, kindness, peace, and love.

Whatever you have planned in this New Year, partner with others and stand back and be amazed at what God can do. All the tools we need in life we already have in the Body of Christ. Let’s use them and find ways to put aside our differences and wage some peace in this world.

Bishop Peggy A. Johnson

Monday, December 21, 2009

What to Do When Church Gets Cancelled

It does appear that we will be having a “white” Christmas this year. It would be hard to imagine all of this snow melting before Christmas and there is always a possibility that more might be falling next week. It appears that just about every church had to cancel its services on December 20th and some had low attendance on Dec. 6th and Dec. 13thdue to less-than-perfect weather. One might wonder why the Lord sends snow on Sunday in the first place. Doesn’t the Lord know we need the offerings to make the end-of-the-year budget? Doesn’t the Lord care that people tend NOT to make up their offerings as much the following week when weather is more favorable? Didn’t the Lord see all of these cantatas and pageants we had been practicing? What do we do when church gets cancelled?

We thank God! Ephesians 5:20 says to “Give thanks to God the Father at all times and for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Thanking God in all things is a prayer of faith, faith that trusts where you cannot see, for the provisions that will come from a faithful God.

We still have worship! You don’t have to physically go to church for worship. Worship can happen in your homes. One family is gathering their neighbors into their homes this morning for worship because their church is closed. Another church is holding services at 4 pm because it is likely that the snow will be cleared by then. Some churches offer internet worship where the pastor’s sermon can be viewed live using Skype technology. If you can’t do any of that then you can hold worship by yourself or with whoever is in your house. Sing familiar hymns, pray, read the scripture and give testimony of what God has done for you! Christians are not the same as children who get out of school work when snow cancels school. Worship is a relationship with a living God, a joyful, important, life-giving, soul-feeding experience. We don’t skip it because the doors of the church are closed. We continue the worship where we are. The Spirit of the Lord is not only present in our stone structures. God lives in your heart.

Give your tithes and offerings! Giving offering is not dependent on being in a pew when an offering plate is passed. Giving money is the barometer of your heart! It is a gift of devotion that we give out of love for Christ. If we only give when we are in the pew, then that makes worship comparable to a spectator sport or going to the movies. A relationship with a living God requires a response and giving of our wealth is a vital part of that response. Holding back our money is a sign of spiritual immaturity and it means that you are in the driver’s seat of your life and not God.

Enjoy the snow! Thank God for next year’s harvest that snow is preparing us for! Worship God! Give from your heart! Be blessed!

Bishop Peggy A. Johnson

Monday, December 14, 2009

Baby Names

When a family is expecting a new baby they often spend much time and even money buying books to find out the meaning of names. They select the new child’s name with great care because names denote character and even a sense of prophecy about the person’s life and destiny. Such was the case with the Bethlehem baby, whose birth we celebrate on December 25th. The Christ Child, according to the Angel Gabriel, was to be named “Jesus” because he will “save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21). Jesus was indeed sent to be our Savior and that is the tidings of great joy that the angels sang about on Christmas night. Jesus also was called “Wonderful Counselor,” “Ever-lasting Father,” “Prince of Peace,” “Emmanuel” and many other insightful names. Indeed Jesus is all of this and more. His name is above all names. He desires his name and his character to live and reign in your heart and life….at Christmas and always. Tell people about the name of Jesus and live the name as his agents here on earth today.

Bishop Peggy A. Johnson

Monday, December 7, 2009

Molasses, Garlic Salt and Rum

During the snow last weekend I heard a newscast on TV that explained that some states are using new compounds on the icy roads instead of salt. They are experimenting with molasses, garlic salt and rum with great success. They are more bio-degradable, less expensive and doing a better job. The financial crisis has encouraged these experimentations and the new compounds are helping states to stay within their smaller budgets.

In our churches and ministries we have been experiencing a financial crunch in recent years and it is an opportunity as well as a crisis. Sometimes indeed “less is more.” A better way can sometimes be the more affordable option. The gift of having less is the creativity it produces and in that creativity can come a surprising blessing. In Romans 8:28 reminds us “We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to God’s purpose.” The “all things” here can include having less funds to work with or less people to do the work.

Molasses instead of salt is a sweeter deal. What lack has God placed in your life that is really a blessing in disguise?

Bishop Peggy A. Johnson

Thursday, December 3, 2009

“We Gather Together to Ask the Lord’s Blessing”

This beloved hymn is sung throughout the church year but especially during Thanksgiving. The original text was written in 1626 after the Dutch people became free from Spanish domination. It was later translated into English by Theodore Baker (1894). The translation is clever in that the rhymes come in word pairs. Each describes the salvation of God.

Chastens and hastens (his will to make known)

Wicked oppressing cease from distressing

Beside us to guide us

Ordaining, maintaining (his kingdom divine)

From the beginning the fight we were winning

Let thy congregation escape tribulation

May you celebrate the hastening, guiding, and triumphant God described so well in this hymn as you celebrate Thanksgiving this year.

Bishop Peggy A. Johnson

High Hopes

If you know anything about the Phillies, (which I didn’t but I am learning), there was a broadcaster by the name of Harry Kalas who used to sing about “High Hopes.” It is a song about an ant that was able to knock down a rubber tree because of his “high hopes.” Indeed many a baseball game has been won because of “high hopes.” But here we are in football season but more importantly we have just begun Advent Season. It is the ultimate time of “high hopes” because we are hoping for the coming of Christ. With Christ all things are possible. As Paul says: “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13). Where are you having doubts and fears? What are you hoping for? Put your trust in God in all things. Expect the impossible! Even at Christmas time we are Easter people, finding life in the midst of death and hope where there is no hope. Bring some hope to a hopeless situation this week. Even the smallest ant with hope can knock over life’s rubber tree obstacles.

Bishop Peggy A. Johnson

Monday, November 16, 2009


Last week the coastlines of the Mid-Atlantic states experienced heavy rains and flooding as a nor’easter compounded by the affects of Hurricane Ida came to visit. There has been considerable damage to beaches, roads and homes. Some of our churches have experienced some water damage and our Disaster Response teams have done an excellent job in responding to the crisis. I send my personal thanks to all who took part in this effort, and for those who will yet be lending aid to the clean-up. I encourage folks to also contribute monetarily to help as well.

Two weeks ago at the Council of Bishops there were bishops from all over the world, including those from the Philippines. They have experienced a typhoon this summer and there was a huge amount of property and human loss. The photographs that were shown to us of the devastation were sobering. Then one of the bishops from the Philippines said “A typhoon is an opportunity to re-order our life.” This statement hit me like a bomb. He said it was passion and faith. His faith was such that he believed that God was going to work some good from this unquestionably terrible disaster.

We may experience nor’easters and typhoons of sadness and heartache in life. It may be the death of a loved one, an illness, a financial struggle, an interpersonal difficulty. May we have the faith to trust God in the midst of it all and believe that God is re-ordering our lives for good. God’s ways are higher than our ways and God’s thoughts are higher than our thoughts. Though we cannot always understand the suffering we experience in life, we can trust our creator to work all things together for good. May we see how God’s amazing hand can re-order our lives and use it for God’s will and purpose.

Bishop Peggy A. Johnson

Monday, November 9, 2009

National Native American Heritage Month

On October 30, 2009, President Obama signed into the law a proclamation designating November as National Native American Heritage Month and he called on all Americans to celebrate November 27, 2009 as Native American Heritage Day. The following paragraphs come out of that proclamation:

“The indigenous peoples of North America -- the First Americans -- have woven rich and diverse threads into the tapestry of our Nation's heritage. Throughout their long history on this great land, they have faced moments of profound triumph and tragedy alike. During National Native American Heritage Month, we recognize their many accomplishments, contributions, and sacrifices, and we pay tribute to their participation in all aspects of American society.

This month, we celebrate the ancestry and time-honored traditions of American Indians and Alaska Natives in North America. They have guided our land stewardship policies, added immeasurably to our cultural heritage, and demonstrated courage in the face of adversity. From the American Revolution to combat missions in Iraq and Afghanistan, they have fought valiantly in defense of our Nation as dedicated servicemen and women. Their native languages have also played a pivotal role on the battlefield. During World Wars I and II, Native American code talkers developed unbreakable codes to communicate military messages that saved countless lives. Native Americans have distinguished themselves as inventors, entrepreneurs, spiritual leaders, and scholars. Our debt to our First Americans is immense, as is our responsibility to ensure their fair, equal treatment and honor the commitments we made to their forebears.”

President Barack Obama

Did you know: (from the Native American Communications office)

  • There are over 18,000 known Native people in The United Methodist Church. The largest group are members within the Oklahoma Indian Missionary Conference, but Native United Methodists and ministries may be found from the tip of Florida to Alaska. Native people serve the church in every capacity: laypersons, seminary professors, district superintendents, conference directors, employees of general boards and agencies, Christian educators, lay missioners and pastors. Native churches have the highest percentage of female pastors in the denomination.
  • There are over 554 federally recognized (those with nation-to-nation status with the U.S. federal government) Native tribes, nations and villages in the United States. This does not include state recognized tribes, or those in the process of recognition with states or the federal government. In addition to these, there are over 500,000 people of primarily Native blood who are ineligible for tribal membership for one reason or another. Add these to the numbers of indigenous people from Central and South America and Canada, and one gains a picture of the complexity of cultures and backgrounds that represent Native people in the United States and The United Methodist Church.
  • Most tribes still retain unique language, culture, religions, government and a physical tribal home. Some have lost original languages and many customs, but have retained a sense of identity as a people. There is simply no one "Indian" way of thinking, feeling, or worshipping. In order to become aware of Native people, one must be intentional in the process of ministering to them.

There is such a need to share the “truth” about issues surrounding Native peoples and Dancing with a Brave Spirit: Telling the Truth about Native America, 2005-2008 ( is a good place to start. Other resources can be found at

As United Methodists we must recognize the need to walk softly, hand in hand, soul to soul, with our Native American brothers and sisters, to respect the roads they travel and the lessons they have to teach, not only during National Native American Heritage Month but all the time. Please enjoy this poem by Nakakakena:

Walk Softly

by Nakakakena*

When joy fills us
We will walk softly

When our hearts are rejoicing
We will walk softly

When we recognize Jesus sits, walks and stands beside us
We will walk softly

When we hear of pain and suffering of others
We will walk softly

When hearts are stricken by grief
We will walk softly

When all around us is attacking our faith
We will walk softly

When doubt fills our days
We will walk softly

When others are watching
We will walk softly

As we lead others into the path of righteousness for His name's sake
We will walk softly


Bishop Peggy A. Johnson

*Boe Harris-Nakakakena (which means 'rattles with feet') is a member of the Turtle Mountain Chippewa and Spirit Lake Dakota tribal groups. Boe travels and does presentations extensively and is known also for her gifts in traditional dance, jingle dance and Native American flute. Boe Harris-Nakakakena is a member of the St. John's UMC in Seaford, Delaware.

Copyright 2009 © Boe Harris (Nakakakena). Used by Permission. Reproduction granted for use in church worship services. Any further use beyond worship services must be with permission from the author.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Wellness Ministry/Parish Nurses

The Philadelphia Area is blessed with many churches that have “Wellness Ministries” or “Parish Nurse Ministries.” They provide many helpful and holistic services to our local churches and communities. Here are some of their ministries: blood pressure screenings, shut-in visitation, post-hospital visitation, get-well cards, wellness training, safe sanctuary training, spiritual formation, blood drives, women’s health conferences, cancer awareness programs, HIV/AIDS education, nutrition education, support groups, grief counseling, walking programs. They also have been known to install AED equipment and first aid kits at church, post health education notices inside the bathroom stalls about flu prevention, write grants for training classes and conferences and sponsor health-related Bible Studies.

One Parish nurse offered a “Blue Christmas” service on December 21st for people who have lost loved ones during the year and who are feeling especially sad at Christmas time. December 21st is the longest day of the year and during this service candles are lit as a symbol of Christ’s light even in dark times. Another parish nurse sponsored a “Walk to Bethlehem” and challenged parishioners to don their pedometers and track how many miles they walked during Advent with the goal of walking as many miles as Mary and Joseph walked on their way to Bethlehem. Some parish nurses have taken their health concerns out to the global scene and educated people about the health needs of women in developing countries and raised money to pay for medical services overseas. It seems that the possibilities are endless.

My personal experience with parish nursing comes from my years serving in a low income Deaf congregation. On several occasions the visiting parish nurse who came each week for the blood pressure screening ended up taking church members to the emergency room for extremely high blood pressure readings. They literally saved the lives of many.

The purpose of our church is to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. Wellness Ministry/Parish Nurse ministry transforms the world!
Bishop Peggy A. Johnson

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Our Hiding Place

The following meditation was shared with a group of people at First UMC of Pottsville, PA at the prayer service on October 24, 2009 following the murder/suicide of October 23rd. Our prayers continue to be with the people of Pottsville and our thanks to the pastors who supported Rev. Storm Hutchinson and Rev. Kris Perry. Thanks to Rev. Robert Wilt, District Superintendent of the NW District for his ministry as well.

“You are a hiding place for me, you preserve me from trouble, you surround me with songs of deliverance. Be glad in the Lord and rejoice O righteous! And shout for joy, all you upright in heart.”

Psalm 32: 7, 11

I used to love the game “hide and go seek.” There were many interesting places to hide in my house growing up as a child. I was very good as finding the best places. One of them was in the attic in the closet where the winter clothes were stored. Another good place was the wooden bath tub in the basement. The room where coal used to be stored was also a good place. The point of this game was to not be found. When you had a very good hiding place you could always win the game.

With God as your hiding place you have the best place of all. David wrote this psalm when he was going through a time of sadness. Through it all he felt the overwhelming protection of God. The hymn “Rock of Ages” was written by a pastor who was caught in a thunderstorm while traveling on horseback through an open field. He hid in the cleft of a rock while the storm passed and he likened this rock to God, who protected him from all sin and trouble.

On October 23, the town of Pottsville experienced a sadness that was terrible and devastating. It was an irony that the troubled one was seeking refuge in a church in his last moments before he took his life. I wish that he had reached out to God for help. Today there is shock and sadness over all that has happened and yet there is hope.

God is our hiding place still! God is the one who saves us from trouble. God is the one who surrounds us with songs of deliverance. We don’t need to fear, we don’t need to worry. Just trust in the hiding place of God to keep you safe.

The Psalmist goes on to say that we should be glad in the Lord and rejoice. Perhaps that is the last thing you may be feeling right now. Being glad in the Lord during sad times is a sign of faith that we know we will ultimately be alright. We can praise God in spite of the circumstances.

We can be like a bird perched on a branch in a wind storm that is still singing. The bird can sing because it knows it can fly. If a gust of wind may knock him off his branch he can just lift his wings and fly and not fall to the ground. We can sing for joy in the midst of the storm because we know that in Christ was have another life waiting for us. Christ brings us a hope for the future and a peace that passes understanding now.

Bishop Peggy A. Johnson

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

A New Thing!

Isaiah 43:19 says “I am about to do a new thing: now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?” God is a God of new beginnings and new life. Over 200 years ago at Old St. Georges Church a sad act of racism caused a group of African American Methodists to leave the service and begin a new denomination. Mother Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church was started by Bishop Richard Allen because at the Methodist Episcopal Church there was racism and rejection. On Oct. 25th there will be a reunion of the two churches in a joint morning worship service at OId St. Georges. This will be the first time they have come together in over 200 years for a Sunday worship. Rev. Alfred Day (pastor of St. Georges) and Rev. Mark Kelly Tyler (pastor of Mother Bethel AME church) deserve much credit for their work to bring about this day. This reunion is a part of St. George’s 240th church anniversary and the 250th birthday celebration of Bishop Richard Allen. What seemed like an impossible thing years ago is now coming to life before our eyes. God is doing a new thing. May this day of unity and worship be just the beginning of better relations and understanding. May the racism and evil of the past be put totally behind us. May even newer and better things happen among us in the future.

Bishop Peggy A. Johnson

Monday, October 12, 2009


In the parable of Judgment Day (Matthew 25: 31-46) the righteous were commended for many things: feeding the hungry, giving drink to the thirsty, clothing the naked, giving welcome to strangers, and visiting prisoners and sick people. All of these are fundamentally important works that God asks of us as Christians. The one item on this list that is a glaring every-day-no-brainer for church life is “I was a stranger and you welcomed me.” This is incredibly important not only as a sign of the Kingdom of God but as a fundamental part of congregational evangelism. Robert Schnase, in his book entitled Five Practices of Fruitful Congregations puts “radical hospitality” at the top of the list.

Most churches, if asked, would say that they are friendly and welcoming to new people but I would ask you test that out with your visitors. Many times regular church attendees are too busy chatting with their friends or handling church activities to take the time to seek out and intentionally welcome visitors. I have been a visitor in many congregations in the past year and have observed churches that ignore new people and don’t have greeters at every door.

Successful restaurants diligently train their employees in the practice of hospitality. We as the church of Jesus Christ are serving something far more eternal than a restaurant meal. We are offering the spiritual food of the Gospel in our churches. Be friendly! Welcome the stranger! Give them a welcome gift! Follow up with a phone call or a welcome letter. Especially welcome people who come from the margins of life or look different than you. I spoke with a man recently who had a severely physically challenged son and he described the painful experience of visiting 5 churches before he found a church that offered them hospitality. He said that people acted as if he was not there. I received a letter from a woman who visited a church that was predominantly Anglo and she was a person of color. She said that no one would sit with her in the service and she left feeling rejected and unwelcome. Sometimes it is not intentional but our visitors get ignored. We are all going on to perfection in this area, myself included. Please make an extra effort to make sure people feel welcome at your church. Have a meeting to review your “welcome” strategy.

I just visited a church that made an extra effort. I received a mug that had in it a number of things inside: a tea bag (to let you know you’re “tea-riffic”, a Life Saver (to remind you that you are a life saver to us), two pennies (so you know we want your 2 cents worth), a mint (to remind you that we’re thankful for your commit-“mint”), a paper clip (for keeping things together), a rubber band (to remind you to be flexible), Snickers candy (because everyone needs to laugh), Starburst candy (to let you know you’re a “shining Star” to us), “Hugs and Kisses” candy (to let you know that we appreciate you), binder clip (so you know we have a binding commitment to you), eraser (so you consider mistakes an opportunity to learn). Another church I visited gave a new testament to all of their visitors and a list of all of their ministries and events. Another church gave their new comers a loaf of home-made bread. The possibilities are endless. The most important gift is YOU…you being warm, friendly and welcoming.

How can your church improve in this area?

Bishop Peggy A. Johnson

Monday, October 5, 2009

Children’s Sabbath: Create Change for Children Today: Bring Hope and a Better Tomorrow

October 9-11 is the observance of a Children’s Sabbath. The Children’s Sabbath is a weekend that aims to unite religious congregations of all faiths across the nation in shared concern for children and common commitment to improving their lives and working for justice on their behalf. I would like to share with you some important information from the Children’s Defense Fund.

The Children’s Sabbath is a time to celebrate existing efforts for children. Encourage the ministries your church are already involved in and those who have made an effort to make sure that ministry takes place every day of the year. We need to lift their work up in prayer and encourage them as they work for justice.

The Children’s Sabbath is a prophetic time when we seek the Spirit of the Lord to lead us into new opportunities to help children. The more than 13 million children living in poverty, without enough family income to provide the food, shelter, and other basic necessities for them to survive and thrive, need us to create change. The nine million children without health coverage who may not be able to see a doctor when they are sick or injured or for regular checkups need us to create change. The children who are being swept along in a pipeline to prison need us to create change. Every minute we wait, we lose another child.

In the words of Chilean poet Gabriela Mistral, “Many things can wait. The child cannot. Now is the time his bones are formed, his mind developed. To him we cannot say ‘tomorrow,’ his name is ‘Today.’”

When we create change today, it will bring hope and a better tomorrow for the children themselves and for all of us. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. observed, “In a real sense, all life is interrelated. The agony of the poor impoverishes the rich; the betterment of the poor enriches the rich. We are inevitably our brother’s keeper because we are our brother’s brother. Whatever affects us directly affects all indirectly.” When we create change for children, we as a society will all be better for it.

Many factors and programs can reduce a child’s chances of growing up poor or reduce poverty’s impact on them. We can make a difference. As United Methodists we can take a step to lift children out of poverty and improve their lives. We can pray for discernment to what kind of action God is calling us to for the sake of the children living around us. We can seek to learn more about child poverty. The Children’s Defense Fund’s web site, has resources and a bibliography. You can volunteer to be in ministry through organizations serving children and families who are poor or start a new outreach in the name of Christ through your own church. Keep your eyes and heart open to opportunities to help connect poor families with the help they need. Be a voice for change on the behalf of children, so the help they need is not cut from budgets.

- Bishop Peggy A. Johnson

Monday, September 28, 2009

First Fruits

I received a letter from one of our small membership churches. They are giving the offering received on the first Sunday of the month for conference apportionments and missions. The treasurer explains “it is our belief that this apportionment is part of the tithing that God requires of the local church. “ This church is also engaged in service to help the poor in the community. They have a food and clothing closet and the pastor offers a Bible study while people’s food orders are being boxed and bagged.

This church reports that at the end of the month they have enough money to pay all of their bills. They have never bounced a check. Malachi 3:7-12 explains how this works. “’Test me in this’” says the Lord Almighty, ‘and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it.’”

Take up the “First Fruits” challenge and test it for yourself. Jesus said “give and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” Luke 6:38

- Bishop Peggy A. Johnson

Monday, September 21, 2009


I attended the Native American “Pow Wow” in Millsboro, Delaware over the weekend. Native people from all over the country came to this event. There were many people there of all ages and walks of life. I was very proud to see that many of the people attending were United Methodists. Several of our churches have active Native American ministries. One of our pastors was asked to preach at the Pow Wow worship. United Methodists know the importance of being inclusive and respecting nature and the environment. The Native people at the Pow Wow were inclusive of all the many tribes and everyone worked together: parking cars, driving tractor rides, performing dances, music, and songs. There was an amazing spirit of respect and cooperation at this crowded event. If you ever get a chance, you should go to a Pow Wow! Support Native American ministries!

Resources are available online so your church can celebrate Native American Ministries Sunday, one of our six Special Sundays:

Bishop Peggy A. Johnson

Monday, September 14, 2009

Flu Virus

As fall approaches and the temperatures drop the risk of flu begins to increase. Officials are expecting more cases of the H1N1 virus and as the church we need to model precautions that keep people safe. The General Board of Discipleship has a list of precautions on its website that may be good to observe. Their website is The article is: “What to Do and Not to Do in Worship.” The president of the Council of Bishops reminds us to pray for healing for our brothers and sisters who battle the effect of the H1N1 virus and pray that God will extend his mighty hand to protect persons in its path. Let’s follow these precautions:

  1. If you are feeling sick (with flu-like symptoms) stay home from church.
  2. Cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze.
  3. Avoid shaking hands.
  4. Wash hands regularly and have hand cleaning pumps in every church and classroom.
  5. Those serving communion should wash their hands prior to serving the elements.
  6. Seek medical attention if you get the flu.
  7. Pray that the flu will not spread this year.
Bishop Peggy A. Johnson

Monday, September 7, 2009

Thank You for Remembering

I was listening to a news show on NPR and the interviewer was talking to a man who had lost everything in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina. The first thing the man said in the interview was “thank you for remembering.” We have now passed the 4th anniversary of this tragic storm (August 29, 2004). Coming up is the 8th anniversary of the tragedies at the World Trade Center and the Pentagon (September 11, 2001). For many these events are over and done with and life has moved on. For many there are still devastating effects that make life never again the same. Some people in New Orleans still are without homes and jobs due to the storm. Some people who suffered on 9/11 have suffered physical and mental anguish that is still as real as it was eight years ago.

Remembering is important. It means we “Re-Member”…putting a body, a person, a life in our mind as we ponder these events. Remember by continuing to send work teams to rebuild homes, remember by helping people who are still in pain and grief, remember with your prayers. Christ stands with those who suffer and Christ uses you to extend His hands of love and support.

Bishop Peggy A. Johnson

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Covenant Missions

The United Methodist Church has a wonderful mission board that sends missionaries literally all over the world. Every conference has covenant missionaries. In EPA they are: Mark and Diane Abbott (Spain), Marylyn Brock (Red Bird Mission), Craig and Karen Dial (Red Bird Mission), Ellen Hoover (Democratic Republic of Congo) , Mark and Rebecca Smallwood (Red Bird), Chirs and Martha Stockwell-Goering (Southeast Jurisdiction), Mutwale Ntambo Wa Mushidi (Tanzania), Victoria West (Community Ministries in Connellsville, PA), Sally Wisner-Ott (LUMINA – Lancaster, PA), Mark and Deidre Zimmerman.

In the Peninsula –Delaware Conference they are: Craig and Karen Dial (Red Bird Mission), Belinda Forbes (Nicaraguan Christian Medical Action), Rene Knight Peguero (Pen-Del Conference), Miguel Mairena (Nicaragua Community Development ), Nan McCurdy (Nicaragua Women and Community Association), David Pascua (Philippines – Union Theological Seminary), David and Lorene Persons (Democratic Republic of Congo - Faculte Methodiste de Theologie in Mulungwishi), Gail Zollinhofer Quigg and Stephen Paul Quigg (Aviation Ministries), Larry Stubbenfield (Red Bird Mission), Mark and Deidre Zimmerman (Napal – medical missions and nutrition services).

Churches can be in Covenant Relationship with our United Methodist Missionaries ($5 per member or $500). Less than 10 per cent of our churches in the Philadelphia Area support our missionaries. What a blessing it would be if we could build that up to 50% or 90% or 100%...Think of the possibilities. When you are in Covenant Relationship your funds support their salary and ministry, you receive their mission letters and they come to visit you when they come home on furlough. Your prayers for them and their prayers for you fuel our mutual ministry. The United Methodist Church is doing incredible work reaching souls for Jesus Christ, administering love and concern in the world and teaching a new generation of leaders how to do ministry. Why not support a United Methodist Mission? Are we united or untied?

To begin a Covenant relationship, go to and download the PDF Covenant Relationship form. You will find that if your church wants to form a covenant relationship it will cost a maximum of $2500 or just $5.00 a member per year. If you would like to personally enter into a relationship with one of our missionaries it only takes a yearly gift of $500. Youth groups, Sunday School classes, Campus ministries can also enter into a covenant relationship with a missionary for only $5.00 per member of the group. After filling out the form, you can mail it or fax it to your General Board of Global ministries.

If your church cannot afford $5.00 per member, at least covenant to pray for our missionaries as a church on a regular basis, lift up their families and the communities where they serve in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord. Your physical monetary support is important, but your spiritual support is essential.

Bishop Peggy A. Johnson