Monday, April 20, 2009

Pensions for the Central Conferences

The United Methodist pastors in the Central Conferences work very hard in our international settings.  Very few of them have pension plans that will afford them a living wage after they retire.  For many years the Cokesbury Bookstore has presented a check at Annual Conference for the ministerial pension fund.  We have been giving that check to the Central Conference Pension Fund.  This year, due to a decline in sales the bookstore regretfully is unable to make a donation this year.  We certainly understand, and offer this opportunity for us to be a blessing to our sisters and brothers in the Central Conferences.  I am inviting folks to make a donation of any amount so our friends will still receive money this year for their pensions.  If everyone gave even a little bit that would make a huge donation.  Checks can be written and sent to either EPA Annual Conference* (PO Box 820, Valley Forge, PA 19482) or PD Annual Conference (139 N. State Street, Dover, DE  19901) Put “Central Conference Pension Fund” in the memo line.   In these difficult economic times there is always something we can do to remind the world that God is a God of abundance and we have faith in God’s providing.

*Note that Online Donations for Eastern Pennsylvania Conference are coming soon!  Check back on Thursday, April 23, 2009.

Bishop Peggy A. Johnson

Monday, April 13, 2009

Native American Sunday - April 26, 2009

One of my joys since coming to the Philadelphia Area has been to learn more about Native American Ministries in the United Methodist Church.  In the Peninsula Delaware Conference there are two Native American Churches and the Eastern PA Conference is starting up a Native American Committee.  The rich heritage and spirituality of the Native American community is a vital part of the United Methodist Connection.  I encourage you to observe Native American Sunday on April 26th and to take a special offering. The offering taken supports urban missions with Native Americans and funds scholarship of Native American seminarians.  The annual conference retains 50 percent of the offering to strengthen and develop local Native American ministries. 

 Why not include the following creed, written by Rev. Roger Scott, a member of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma in your worship service on April 26th:

I believe in God, Creator of our unique native languages,

Who gifted us this identity as a distinct people through our native tongues,

So that our native spiritual leaders could relay God’s love to our Native people

Who could not understand that foreign tongue called English.

  I believe in Jesus Christ, our relative,

Who talked of us when he said “I have other sheep out there, besides those I have here.”

I believe in Jesus Christ who knew the pain of our native people who were forced from their homeland and had no place to lay their head.

I believe in Jesus Christ as our Chief Cornerstone as we begin to build a new generation of native spiritual leaders.

I believe in Jesus Christ who does not say “goodbye” in any language, but says “I will come again.”

  I believe in the Holy Spirit as tongues of fire

Lighting upon our native people to witness to their people and to the world, through the native song and dance.

I believe in the Holy Spirit as our guide and the driving force for our native people to do a new thing

As we walk a new journey, toward perfection for all humankind.

 (Reproduction permission is granted for use in church worship services in United Methodist Churches. Rev. Scott’s creed is copyrighted so any further use of his work beyond a worship service must be done with permission from the author.  Reproduction requests can be emailed to Anita Phillips at who will forward the request to the author).

Bishop Peggy A. Johnson

Monday, April 6, 2009

The First Question

     When Jesus rose from the dead on Easter morning what was his first question?  “Woman, why are you weeping?”    This he asked because there was nothing to be crying about.  Jesus was not dead.  It was not a sad time.  It was a happy time.  Of course she did not know this at first but as soon as she recognized Jesus her tears turned to joy! 

     Still today Jesus asks,  “Why are you weeping?”  We already know that Jesus has risen from the dead and that in the end everything is going to be all right but still we weep, still we doubt, still we complain.   Surely in life we have sorrow and difficulty and God does not expect us to be smiling all of the time.  Deep inside we never need to weep because of Easter.  Life will ultimately triumph over death, good will always defeat evil, and love will overcome the power of hatred. 

     Whatever is breaking your heart, whatever makes you feel sad, remember to light a candle of hope in your heart and trust in a good God who will make Good Friday become Easter.

     Why are you weeping?

Bishop Peggy A. Johnson