SEPTEMBER 10, 2018

Special Session of General Conference 2019

Click on any photo to enlarge and scroll through the photo gallery.

EOC Delegation Offers Listening Posts
There are four remaining opportunities to ask questions of, and share your thoughts with, members of the East Ohio Conference delegation to the Special Session of General Conference 2019.

The delegation is offering the following listening posts:

Delegates will listen to attendees at each post after giving brief recaps of the three plans offered by the Commission on a Way Forward: the One Church plan recommended by the Council of Bishops; the Connectional Conference plan; and the Traditional plan.

Registration is not required but is helpful to the host churches in planning seating and hospitality for the listening sessions.  Learn more and register.

Young Peoples Ministries

Preactically Honest LogoAnnouncing the New Blog and Practically Honest Podcast 
Young People’s Ministries is publishing a new blog for those that live and work with teens and young adults.  This week’s topic is, “You are not alone! Let’s talk networking.”  It features Tim Beck, Char Messenger, and Kaye Wolfinger as they discuss how important it has been to them to connect with other youth leaders.  You can check out the blog and listen to podcast HERE.

Peace with Justice Trip Scheduled for July 2019
Peace with Justice Trip to Washington DC: July 20-23, 2019 for those ages 14 to 35 years old.  Those younger than 18 who are traveling must be accompanied by a parent or youth leader.  Youth groups are invited as well as individuals.  We will visit all of the memorials; get a tour of the African American History Museum and the Capitol building; have conversations around immigration with Barbara Ferris, founder of Int’l Women’s Democracy Center; discuss human trafficking at the General Board of Church and Society; and worship at the National Cathedral.  Cost is $280 per person, which includes, bus, lodging, meals, t-shirt and all entry fees.  Learn more HERE. Register HERE.

Multicultural Ministries

PerspectivesPerspectives Events
Too often we let fear get in the way of us starting new, bold, and courageous ministry.  Those fears can prevent us from being in ministry with God and with others, especially those who are different from us.

Understanding the individual perspectives of those with whom we are in ministry is the first step in easing our fears.  To help in that process, the East Ohio Conference office of Multicultural Vitality is scheduling Perspectives events to assist participants in learning from another perspective.

Our first event is Perspectives: Black Theologian Day on October 6 at Church of the Saviour UMC in Cleveland Heights.  This year’s theme is Faith in Action: Beginning a Good Work, based on Nehemiah 2:17-18.

Keynote speaker the Rev. Dr. Joseph Daniels returns to East Ohio to inspire us on how to begin a good work.  He challenged us during Annual Conference 2018 to be involved and make differences in the lives of people in our communities, if we truly want to bear real fruit.

You are invited to join us from 9:00 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. on Saturday, October 6 for Perspectives: Black Theologian Day to learn how you can begin a good work in your community and participate in building God’s Kingdom.  View Flyer | Register Now!

Spiritual Formation

September 20 – “How To” Discussion of Small Membership Churches
If you have an average worship attendance of 120 or less, and a desire to minister with the young people in your community, come join the conversation – Being Disciples, Making Disciples, and Maturing Disciples for the Next Generation: A “How To” Discussion for the Small Membership Church.

Presenter, Stephanie Caro, of Ministry Architects, and keynote speaker for Vision Discipleship at Annual Conference 2018, will continue the conversation about reaching young people in our communities at Camp Wanake and Retreat Center.Caro has more than 30 years of experience working with children, youth, and adults in all aspects of church ministry. View her hilarious AC presentation. (start video at 1 hr. 10 min. mark)

Don’t miss this important presentation and discussion! Information and registration here.

NEW! Resources for the Journey
The Conference Spiritual Formation and Christian Education Committee has launched  “Resources for the Journey” blog for those who are guiding others along the pathway to discipleship. This is a resource of ideas, topics, methods, and encouragement. The blog is focused on connecting people in United Methodist churches with Wesleyan education and spiritual formation resources. Posts will alternate between a focus on “tools for the journey” – pointing people towards resources available around the web, and guest bloggers from East Ohio focused on “it worked for us.” Bloggers will share their church experiences, ideas that have worked for them, and what resources have been invaluable, and more.

Would you be willing to write a post for the blog?  If you have a “tool” or resource that has worked for you, or something that has worked well in your setting, why not share it!  All you need to do is write two or three paragraphs and send them to

Financial and Administrative Services

Enroll Your Church in the EOC Payroll Service
The office of Finance and Administrative Services is currently accepting new churches for enrollment in the East Ohio Conference payroll service program.  If you enroll your church before the deadline, there is no additional set-up fee.  This is a wonderful program to ensure your church is compliant with applicable federal, state and local payroll requirements at a relatively low cost.

Learn more about the program, its benefits, and requirements.  Don’t delay, take advantage of this opportunity today! Enrollment Deadline for a January 2019 start date is Monday, October 1.

Don’t forget! Sept. 20 “Achieving Financial Wellness” Workshop
This one-day workshop, offered from 9:00 am – 3:30 pm at Westbrook Park UMC,  will help you review and evaluate your current financial status. Wespath Benefits & Investments partners with EY Financial Services to a present the“Achieving Financial Wellness” workshop  The balance of the day will include an overview of Conference-sponsored benefits, inclusive of pension, death & disability benefits, as well as healthcare. Reservations are a must for everyone attending, including spouses. Seating is limited. No walk-ins can be accommodated as personalized information is provided for each pastor attending.

Questions? Contact Betsy Stewart at (800) 831-3972, Ext. 103 or Robin Whitacre, Ext. 151. Click to register.


United Methodist Community Center
The board of directors regrets to announce that the United Methodist Community Center will suspend services indefinitely effective September 15, 2018, due to a lack of sustainable funding.  Every effort will be made to connect our clientele with other area agencies.

We are proud to have followed in the footsteps of the Pearl Street Mission of Youngstown and the Rebecca Williams Community Center of Warren, and are hopeful that we will serve the communities of the Mahoning Valley again in the future.

UMVIM Team Leader Training
Share best practices for leading a mission team locally, nationally, and internationally on Saturday, October 27, at Church of the Savior Cleveland Heights. View details and register here.

Invitations to the Mission Journey
The North Coast of Haiti Mission March 4-11
Plan now for this introductory tour of schools in the North Haiti Methodist District. The UMVIM Team is limited to nine volunteers and may have only one representative from any individual church. The vision is to introduce many churches to the work of the North Coast Haiti Mission and specifically the work of Church of the Saviour UM that enhances the education of one (Dondon, Haiti) of the five primary schools. The outcome would be that churches in East Ohio would become a part of this transformational partnership.

Deadline to sign up is Oct. 1, 2018.  Please join us for a meeting at 7:00 on October 1 at Church of the Savior in Cleveland Heights. Contact: Tom Sperl

View all additional scheduled mission journey options here.

Puerto Rico!
Anyone intersted in joining an UMVIM Journey to Puerto Rico in late January or early February please contact Kathy Dickriede.  Plans are being made now.  An informational meeting is set for Sunday October 7th for 3:00 at Brecksville UMC.  Contact for more details.

UMCOR Makes Changes to Relief Supply Kit Ministry
UMCOR is consolidating the number of kits it provides. Moving forward, UMCOR will supply cleaning kits, hygiene kits and school kits. Layette, birthing, bedding and sewing kits are being phased out, but supplies will be distributed until the inventory is depleted.

  • Why is UMCOR changing the relief supply kits?
    The new kit content lists were designed to offer our donors greater ease and flexibility in purchasing their donations.
  • Why is UMCOR changing the types of kits it distributes?
    Production of kits is based on demand. Based on the shipping and distribution data we have collected in recent years, demand for kits has changed.
  • Frequently-asked questions about UMCOR’s relief supply kit changes

Special Sundays

World Communion Sunday is October 7
The first Sunday in October is World Communion Sunday, a day to honor the global diversity of The United Methodist Church.

The special offering collected on World Communion Sunday supports the World Communion Scholarships of the General Board of Global Ministries (GBGM); and the Ethnic Scholarships, Journey Toward Ordained Ministry Scholarships, and Ethnic In-Service Training Programs of the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry (GBHEM).

The downloadable World Communion Sunday Pastor and Leader’s Kit has everything you need to promote this Special Sunday in your local church.  You will find sermon starters, social media images, infographics, PowerPoint presentations, and testimonials from past scholarship recipients.

Conference Council on Ministries

CCOM Welcomes Two Administrative Assistants
We are excited to announce the hiring of two new administrative assistants in the office of the Conference Council On Ministries.

Melanie Thomas will serve as the administrative assistant supporting both Director of Connectional Ministries the Rev. Steve Court and the Rev. Kathy Dickriede, coordinator for Missions and Community Engagement.  Letty Damian will serve as the administrative assistant supporting Director of Young People’s Ministries Kaye Wolfinger.

Thomas brings five years of experience as an administrative assistant at Canton Crossroads UMC, where she’s been a part of the congregation since she was 12 years old. Her experience in supporting the local church brings knowledge and awareness of our United Methodist processes. She lives in Canton with her daughter Sophia. They enjoy traveling (especially to comic cons and zoos), going to parks and reading together.  She’s excited to begin serving the East Ohio Conference.

Damian is a part-time licensed local pastor at Chippewa Church at the Lake UMC and a student at Methodist Theological School in Ohio.  She has served in several local church communities, as well as with Starting Point Outreach Center in Willard, and with the General Board of Global Ministries.  She enjoys family time with her husband, Cruz, and children Armando, America, and Cruz III.

Melanie Thomas can be reach at (330) 499-3972 ext. 102 and

Letty Damian can be reached at (330) 499-3972 ext. 132 and


Communications Specialist
The Communications office of the East Ohio Conference of The United Methodist Church seeks a self-starting individual with excellent written and verbal skills to join the team as Communications Specialist.

Interested applicants should submit a current resume along with a cover letter that explains what makes you the best candidate to be a Communications Specialist for the East Ohio Conference of The United Methodist Church.

A full job description may be found here. Requested documents accepted via e-mail only to Director of Communications Rick Wolcott at


Study Group for Theological Reflection – 2018-2010 Season

Join the conversation at this year’s “Study Group for Theological Reflection” as it begins the 2018-2019 season on Weds., Sept. 19. The theme: “A Christian Response Fear, Loathing and Anger”

The plan: To use lectionary epistle lessons for theological reflection and discussion in confronting the idolatries of racism. The study group is open to elders, deacons, diaconal ministers and local pastors, seeking and welcoming theologically diverse participants for theological reflection on key worship texts lifted from the lectionary’s epistle readings.

The premise, ancient though it may be: that “all scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction and for training in righteousness, so that everyone who belongs to God may be proficient, equipped for every good work” (II Tim. 3:16-17).

Each of this year’s five roundtable discussions will be held on a Wednesday from 10:00 am to 12:30 pm at Christ Woodland UMC in Akron at 444 N. Hawkins Ave., Akron, OH, 44313, followed by optional lunch at a local eatery.

Building on the models of previous years, some key worship texts have been suggested as the starting point for discussion, study and theological reflection. They are:

  • Wed., Sep.  19
    James 3:13-4:8 (the epistle lectionary for Sunday, Sept. 30).
  • Wed., Nov. 21
    Philippians 1:3-11 (the epistle lectionary for Sunday, Dec. 9).
  • Wed., Jan. 16
    I Corinthians 12:12-31 (the epistle lectionary for Sunday, January 27).
  • Wed., Mar. 20
    II Corinthians 5:16-21 (the epistle lectionary for Sunday, March 31).
  • Wed., May 15
    Galatians 5:13-25 (the epistle lectionary for Sunday, June 30).

The study group is open to elders, deacons, diaconal ministers and local pastors, seeking and welcoming theologically diverse participants for theological reflection.

For more detailed article and information click here or to simply sign up, please contact Rev. Thomas Shaw at

Michael Card Biblical Imagination Conference
Michael Card will present his Biblical Imagination Conference on LUKE-the Gospel of Amazement at Mentor UMC on October 26-27. Michael Card is a nationally known Bible teacher. He’s authored several books including A Sacred Sorrow, A Fragile Stone-the Emotional Life of Simon Peter, The Biblical Imagination Series and his newest book to be released in December Inexpressible: Hesed and the Mystery of God’s Lovingkindness. He’s written numerous songs including “El Shaddai” Hymn #123 in our UMC Hymnal.

Michael engages the head and the heart in his teaching and incorporates music with lyrics that enhance each lesson. The Conference (approved for 2 clergy CEU’s) will be held on Friday night, Oct 26 from 7-9:00 and Saturday, Oct 27 from 8:00-4:30 and includes the Concert on Sunday night, Oct 28 at 7:00. Discounted tickets $73 (before 9/26) include the Conference and Concert. Purchase tickets on-line at Concert only tickets are also available. For more information contact Rev. Bev Wrobel at 440-255-3496 or View flyer.

The fall edition of TOAT is now on the conference website and is in the process of being mailed.  The East Ohio Conference Retirees Association is in need of reorganizing our Association Officers and Executive Committee.  There will be a meeting on Tuesday, October 2, at 1:30 p.m. to begin this reorganization.  The meeting will be held at the East Ohio Area Center, 8800 Cleveland Ave. NW, North Canton.  Any retiree willing to help with this reorganization is invited to attend.  If you cannot attend this meeting but wish to assist in the future please notify John Wolfe at

Pastoral Care and Counseling

Bi-weekly Resources
In the September 10 issue:  “What needs to happen today, not only in this nation but throughout the world, is that we need to make love great again.” – Meghan McCain

  • Introducing 2018-2019 Spiritual Enrichment (Formation) Groups: “Be Peace”
  • A Way Forward: Prophets Challenge Absolutes
  • YouTube: A Way Forward Self Care and Spiritual Care
  • 5 Lies We Like to Tell about Church Growth
  • YouTube: Parker Palmer, Living from the Inside Out
  • YouTube: Wayne Dyer, How God Tell You It’s Time for a Change
  • Guided Meditation: An Inquiring Practice to Notice the Body
  • 5 Reasons to Take a Fall Vacation
  • Listings of our Spiritual Directors

Contact Us
If you have any questions or issues you would like for us to address or if you would like to receive e-mail alerts when new resources have been posted, please contact Howard Humphress at or use our quick contact form.

Media Center

The Media Center recently acquired the following resources:

To reserve these or other resources, call the Media Center at (800) 831-3972 x 139 or send an e-mail to Browse the resource catalog at

Message in the Movies

Message in the Movies banner (colorful film strip

Operation Finale
Operation Finale tells the true story about Israel’s search for Adolph Eichmann, a Nazi lieutenant colonel who escaped Germany at the end of the war, arriving in Argentina to live out his days under an assumed name. The film focuses primarily on the Mossad agent responsible for capturing Eichmann and eventually bringing him to Israel where his trial for war crimes would be televised internationally. Read full review and view trailer.

Credit Union

Mortgage Loans
If you are looking for that new house you can make a home, we can help! The United Methodist Financial Credit Union offers home loans! Contact: Christine Smith, (800) 373-1059 ext. 12,

Certificate of Deposit Rates
Summer may be coming to an end, but not our CD Rates! Right now, members may get a rate as high as 2.12% APY for a 12-month certificate of deposit!  There are a variety of rates and terms available. Contact one of our offices today to lock in your rate.

Events: September 10-16

Click to view East Ohio Conference Calendar.

To submit your event to the East Ohio calendar use this form.
(The East Ohio Conference only accepts East Ohio United Methodist local church, conference and general UM events for listing on the conference calendar.)


Details of listings may be found here. 

Positions Available

  • Communications Specialist, East Ohio Conference Office of Communications
  • Christian Education Director, Thorburn UMC
  • Board of Ministry Administrative Coordinator, Ohio East Episcopal Area
  • Discipleship Pathway Coordinator, Medina UMC
  • Executive Director, Blue Rose Mission
  • Director of Children’s and Family Ministries, Tallmadge UMC
  • Choir Director, Garrettsville UMC
  • Pianist, Andover UMC
  • Recreational Ministries Coordinator, Church of the Lakes

To submit a classified ad please email


Please pray for the family of Ned Bixler, retired elder, who died September 2.

To Subscribe

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Information from this E-News may be copied and used in your local church.

The next scheduled edition of the E-News is Monday, September 24, 2018.  Deadline for submission is Wednesday, September 19. Send articles to

Finding Faith and Friends in the Mess of Life

By Rev. Carrie Antczak*

Life is messy. Often times, those who are yet to experience faith community, or who have not experienced it in a long time, fear that their mess is not welcome at church – but nothing could be further from the truth. Messy Church embraces the idea of mess through creative play, worship experienced as a celebration and a community meal.  It’s a way of doing church that tells our communities, “your mess is indeed welcome at church.”

At the United Methodist Church of Berea (North Coast District), we launched Messy Church with a desire to reach people in our community in a creative, welcoming way. At first the idea of getting messy to form new connections sounded odd – what could glitter, glue, and God have in common? How could making a mess, make community? As it turned out, it was just what we needed, and what new friends were looking for.

Young girl paints with her feet within the lines of a cross painted on paper

So we gathered a team, encouraged the congregation to come as hosts, and to bring friends. Messy Church was advertised various places, but got the most response from posting it on Facebook. Who showed up? Friends of congregants, kids with their dads who they only saw on the weekend, grandparents with custody of their grandchildren, the OhioGuidestone community, some families needing a free meal, some families with children whose parents had never been to church.

The success of our first Messy Church in November of 2017 encouraged us to host others, once-a-month, throughout the school year.  Average attendance was 65 people, most of whom were not members of our church. By the end of the year: two young people had requested information on baptism; a few new families were regularly attending church; and we developed a passion for using slime, sand, and sloppy joes for the glory of God!

(Click on photos to get full view)

If you were to peak through the window during Messy Church, you’d see round tables surrounded by people of all ages getting sticky.  You would see that no child is sitting still, and all of them are joyfully interrupting me and Senior Pastor Nathan Howe. You would hear loud laughter, be surprised by little feet running fast with no one scolding them, and you’d see instruments and praise ribbons strewn about for all to participate in worship as they feel led.

During worship you’d hear “secular” music turned into worship music, and you’d witness kids sliding under pews in races, and some child begging their grandma to take a picture of them in the pulpit. This is their space, where they come, listen, and meet Jesus.

Learn more about Ohio Messy Church on Facebook, or come and visit UMC Berea from 4-6 p.m. on the third Sunday of every month to participate in Messy Church.

Finding faith and friends in the mess of life. Messy Play. Messy Worship. Messy Dinner. All welcome. Always our gift to you.

*Rev. Carrie Antczak is a Deacon in full connection serving as the pastor of Faith Formation and Outreach at the United Methodist Church of Berea.

A Three Point Ministry Team, an Interesting Relationship

The Heart of a Small Church: Part 3

The Three Point Team vision stemmed from Judy Claycomb, former Firelands District Superintendent, during her last full year on the district. Claycomb had noted the need to provide gifted pastoral leadership for several of her smaller congregations throughout her district. She envisioned a partnership of churches (in this case three churches including Fitchville) who could benefit from the experience and gifts of an ordained Elder who had a passion to be in ministry with small congregations and their communities, one who could support the ministry of part-time local pastors or lay servant ministries. Each congregation could have someone to lead worship and provide other ministry with the churches to their respective communities. Rev. Doug Lewis, current Firelands District Superintendent, has continued to support this vision. The result – Rev. Tim McCollum (ordained Elder) was appointed as lead pastor of a Three Point Ministry Team -three churches, one team.

An Interesting Relationship

By Rev. Timothy McCollum*

Fitchville UMC
Fitchville UMC

Fitchville UMC is located out in the midst of farm country. While there are a few dozen houses close to the church itself, it is only a short distance in any direction to the rolling fields with both crops and livestock in abundance. The farmer mentality shapes our community and our church. In many ways, people are self-sufficient. And, at the same time, people know how important it is to watch over others. Some aspects of the community have changed, like the local school closing. But we are working to use technology and community connections to better reach out with wider arms into our community. Doing what we can to provide for the needs of others is still part of who we are. Learning to do so in ways that bring people into Christ’s loving arms is part of who we are becoming.

I lead a three point ministry team, with each church having its own pastor.

Fitchville UMC is also connected to the New Haven and North Fairfield UMCs. This has been an interesting relationship. It encourages us to find new ways to do church together. At the same time, our three churches are in three different and distinct communities. The normal commonalities that connect us in mission settings aren’t there. But, the connection in shared ministry keeps us bouncing ideas around in hopes of encouraging our churches to Kingdom ministry beyond our local congregations. We have done shared worship services as well as sharing a website at It has taken us a few years to understand what this different type of ministry together looks like, but it is about to start putting some ideas into action and that is exciting.

The 18:20 Collaborative

We believe that the work of God’s Kingdom is bigger than any single church. We also believe that working together we can accomplish far more than working alone. Matthew 18:20 reminds us that where two or three are gather, Christ is there.

New Haven UMC
New Haven UMC (Photo by Kevin Casto)

New Haven UMC

The New Haven UMC has had a challenging summer walking through some of Wesley’s historic sermons in their Sunday school class with Pastor Bob James. They have pushed people out of the comfort zones and it will be interesting to see where it leads next. As the church works to reshape itself in the image of Christ, things like the prayer garden which was built last year are a very public expression of the church’s commitment to God and the community.

Pastor Bob James comments:

“We celebrated 200 years as a church last year with the opening of the prayer garden that Tim mentioned.  The parsonage is used as an art gallery open to the community.  The Art Junction is a community-based art education program designed to bring gallery space, local art exhibitions, lessons and creative opportunities to the area for adults, teens, seniors, and children to learn to create together a better community. Kevin Casto, the church lay leader, director of The Art Junction, is also the elementary art teacher and has many community programs.  The church is very dedicated to our community and is active in many of our local community outreach programs.

Tim also mentioned the Wesley Sunday school study.  I think it is important to understand our “roots” as Methodists in order to make decisions about our future.  The study was well attended and was a huge success and the attendees have a better understanding of what it means to be a Methodist beyond coming here to church because my parents did.  Overall this is a caring congregation that is very active in the life of the people around us.”

North Fairfield UMC
North Fairfield UMC

North Fairfield UMC

At North Fairfield UMC, Pastor Sara Englet has been working with the church as they develop key relationships with their community and especially their local school. Within the past year, they have focused on providing “Fifth Quarter” events that give young people someplace to hang out and something to do after football games. In addition, even as the church “ages” they are hearing the sounds of young people in worship and it is uplifting the shared heart of the church.

Pastor Sara Englet comments:

“One of the biggest challenges of being a bi-vocational pastor with a family and a full-time job is getting connected with the congregation and the community in meaningful ways, even when time is limited. This is one of the reasons that our Fifth Quarter events are so meaningful. These events provide a dedicated time when members of our church family can connect with one another and with the young people in our community.  I think that it is important to make the most of our ministry time and not just “do church” for the sake of doing church. Each opportunity that the congregation has to be in touch with our community makes a difference in someone’s life. We are learning through this ministry that our presence makes a difference!”

The Laity Shine

One of the things we are thankful for as a church is the lay persons who are stepping in to serve. While our church is like many churches, sometimes it seems like a handful of people do most of the work, helping other people find a place to join in has been a focus and a challenge for us this year. None of the things we do can be done without the lay people in our churches, even in simple ways. Allow me to share an example.

A few years ago, we started doing quarterly meals as community outreach. Well, we didn’t define outreach well or what it means to do outreach together. And at the first meal, only a handful of outsiders showed up who needed something to eat. Since then, we regularly remind folks that doing outreach well isn’t about providing for needs, providing for needs is about building relationships. Now, when we do outreach events, many of our church members show up just to share tables with others in our community. And when people from the community come, they often sit down with people from our church they already know. Building these relationships takes time, but it’s something everyone can do.

Our ministry collaborative shares in different communities and leadership but with the same goal – to change hearts, minds, and communities for Christ.

*Rev. Timothy McCollum is pastor of Fitchville UMC.

Read previous article, Part 2, to learn more about Fitchville UMC.


Whether in a quaint, rural setting or in a bustling, ever-changing urban area, every church has a unique story to tell. Each works with its own story-line and parameters with its blessings and challenges.

East Ohio Conference is seeking to find more defining stories among our churches. We’re looking to continue this popular series on small churches. What is your defining story? Contact us @

Stay tuned for The Heart of a Small Church Part 4: Two Denomination Churches Become One – Chatham Community, a Federated Church