DECEMBER 5, 2016

December 5, 2016

Treasurer’s Office

Jessica Vargo

Vargo to be named CFO of KSU Foundation
Jessica Vargo is leaving her position as EOC treasurer and director of administrative services effective January 3, 2017 to become chief financial officer of the Kent State University Foundation.

“The East Ohio Conference has been blessed by Jessica’s strong and dedicated leadership for almost 15 years. She has demonstrated her love for the church through her faithful service. We send her forth with blessings as she embraces this new work opportunity at Kent State University,” said Bishop Tracy S. Malone.

“This decision was a difficult one but after much prayer and discernment I feel the opportunity for a new challenge to help my alma mater at this time in my life seems right,” Vargo said.

Read the full release.

Words from Bishop Malone

Preparing A Way Forward …
The season of Advent teaches us the discipline and the gift of waiting on God. Advent is about inviting, waiting and expecting the Spirit of God to be radically at work in our lives and in the world – making all things new! It is not a passive waiting but an active waiting fully offering ourselves to be God’s agents of love, healing, transformation, peace, and justice in the world.

As I write, I am reminded of the words penned in Luke 3:4-6 (NIV):

“As it is written in the book of words of Isaiah the prophet: A voice of one calling in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him. Every valley shall be filled in, every mountain and hill made low. The crooked roads shall become straight, the rough ways smooth. And all people will see God’s salvation.’”

As John the Baptist preached these radical, transforming words about leveling the mountains, filling the valleys and making straight the highway, he was not speaking about divine landscaping but was speaking to the powers to be – that which threatens the common good and the welfare of all of God’s people.

We, too, are preparers of the way of God’s love and redemptive work in the world. As followers of Christ, and as a people called United Methodists, we are bearers of the good news of Jesus Christ. We are those who are called to tear down the walls of hate, division and fear, and to be builders of authentic, loving community. We are those who are called to do justice, and to offer and restore hope where there is brokenness and pain. As baptized believers, we are called to “renounce the spiritual forces of wickedness, reject the evil powers of this world, repent of our sin and accept the freedom and power God gives us to resist evil, injustice, and oppression in whatever forms they present themselves.” If not us, then who and if not now, when?

As a United Methodist Church, we are seeking to be preparers of the way of God’s love, grace, justice and unity even among ourselves as a denomination. The 2016 General Conference gave a specific mandate to the Council of Bishops to “lead The United Methodist Church in discerning and proposing a way forward through the present impasse related to human sexuality and to explore options that help to maintain and strengthen the unity of the church.” In response, the Council proposed – and the 2016 General Conference approved – the formation of a Commission that will assist in helping us find our way forward. The Commission on the Way Forward has been named by the Council of Bishops, and the 32 members have begun their work.

Friends, finding our way forward is the work of the whole church. As United Methodists we believe in the power of prayer and holy conferencing. Every annual conference is asked to be active preparers of the way forward by making a commitment to pray for the work of the commission, and by engaging in meaningful dialogue.

Every clergy and lay member of the East Ohio Conference will be asked to specifically pray for the work of the commission during a week in April, 2017. We pray that we are being faithful to being united in Christ and to fulfilling the mission of the church, which is to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.  Even now you are encouraged to send forth prayers for the Commission as it begins its work, and I ask that you plan to participate in the 2017 all-conference week of prayer.

Following the week of prayer, every local church will be invited to engage in holy conferencing. Together we will reflect:

  • on our shared mission of making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.
  • on ways to live together in our differences without presuming that we will resolve our differences.
  • on discerning a form of unity that would empower us living together, and claiming what is our witness and what can be our witness to the world in relation to our differences.

Detailed plans of the week of prayer and the invitation to holy conferencing will be communicated via E-News and the conference website to ensure an opportunity for conference-wide participation.

In these desperate and anxious times in which we live, I remain convinced that the Gospel of Jesus Christ and His Church is still the hope for the world. Let us fully embrace our role in helping to prepare the way of God’s love, grace, peace and justice, both in the church and in the world. Each of us has a part in the Kingdom-building work.

May the Spirit of God continue to take up residence in your life and lead you to places where you have not dared to go, to people you have not dared to meet, to love where you have shown no love before, and to do good where you’ve shown no mercy.

As we seek to remember who, and whose, we are as followers of Christ, I invite you to read “Division and Discord,” a letter to the people of The United Methodist Church from Bishop Bruce R. Ough, the president of the Council of Bishops.

Grace and Peace,
Bishop Tracy S. Malone

Connectional Ministries

Updates on Full-Time Positions
Delegates to Annual Conference 2016 approved the creation of two full-time positions in the office of Connectional Ministries. Kaye Wolfinger is now working full-time as director of Young People’s Ministries and Higher Education and Campus Ministry. In addition to her work with the youth, Kaye has been actively engaged in broadening and deepening our networks and conversations around Young People’s Ministries.

The other full-time position created by action of AC 2016 is the director of Multi-Cultural Vitality. The position was advertised broadly across the general church, amongst jurisdictional networks, and online and in E-News here in the East Ohio Conference.  In the coming week we will utilize ZOOM internet web meetings to conduct our first interview with each of the 13 people who submitted applications.  Based on the results of the ZOOM interviews we will determine who will be interviewed face-to-face in January. We will fill the position when a qualified candidate has been identified. We invite you to continue praying that God will guide us in this process.

Higher Education

The General Board of Higher Education and Ministries’ Office of Loans and Scholarships thanks you for your support of Student Day (held on Nov. 27), World Communion Sunday (Oct. 2), and Native American Sunday (Apr. 10).  The special offerings collected on those Sundays, paired with gifts, annuities and endowments that GBHEM has invested and administered for decades, is used to educate students so that they can make a difference in the world.

This year 25 students from the East Ohio Conference were awarded a total of $35,608 in scholarships, part of $5 million in financial assistance awarded across the denomination in 2016 to more than 2,300 students.

Click on the Scholarships and Financial Assistance button on the East Ohio Conference homepage to find information about scholarships and grants that are available to United Methodist Church students for the 2017-18 school year.


Turn Shopping Bags into Sleeping Mats for the Homeless
About a year ago Faith UMC in Ashland (Mid-Ohio District) began a project that transforms recycled shopping bags into sleeping mats for homeless people.  First, the bags are folded, cut, and looped to make plarn.  Then the plarn – an abbreviation for plastic yarn – is woven into a mat.  It takes 500 plastic bags to make a sleeping mat.  To date, Faith UMC has made 45 mats that have been given to Harmony House in Mansfield for distribution to those in need.

Click on the video link above to see how you can turn your plastic shopping bags into plarn. Then bring, or ship, your plarn to:  Faith UMC, 1574 State Route 96 East in Ashland, OH  44805.

Russia 3C’s VIM Trip 2017
July 20-August 1
The team will be working with the Voronezh UMC and the United Methodist Camp, Camp Crystal.  Will be traveling to Moscow on July 20, arrive on July 21 and spend July 21-July 23 in Moscow sightseeing. We will travel via train to Voronezh on the evening on July 23 and spend July 24-July 31 at the camp. We will help with some repairs to the camp infrastructure as well as interacting and hanging out with their Trinity camp participants (young adults with special needs).  Your cost of $2800 a person cover flights, travel, food, and lodging.  Age 15 or older. $1400 deposit due March 15.

An informational meeting will be held at Chagrin Falls UMC, 20 S Franklin St, Chagrin Falls, OH 44022 on January 18 at 7:00 pm. For more information contact

Church & Society

Gun Violence Prevention Sabbath Weekend, December 14-18
Join places of worship across the nation, the Newtown Foundation and Faiths United to Prevent Gun Violence, a coalition of more than 50 national denominations (including the UMC) and faith-based organizations, to remember those who have lost their lives to gunfire, pray for those whose lives have been forever changed because of the loss of a loved one, and to educate one another on proven strategies to reduce gun violence. Congregations across the nation will participate via prayer, song, vigils and education. December 14th is the actual anniversary of the tragic Newtown shooting.

As part of Faiths United to Prevent Gun Violence coalition, please help us reach our goal of 700 participating congregations! To take part in the national Sabbath please find resources and register here.

We need congregations to SIGN UP so we know which United Methodist churches are participating.

Pastoral Care and Counseling

December 5, 2016 Resources
In this edition we feature:

    • The Last Promise: A Tender Story of Love and Caregiving
    • Entering the Stream of the Faithful
    • Imaginative Prayer: Meditation on the Birth of Jesus, Bruce Batchlor Glader
    • The Birth of Jesus: Part of the Family Now
    • Christmas Gift to Yourself and Your Partner—Eye Gazing: See Your Soul Shine
    • What to do When Everything is Broken
    • Listings of Spiritual Formation Groups and our Spiritual Directors

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

UM Financial Credit Union

Holiday Closings
North Canton:

Tuesday, December 13, 2016 – closing at noon
Friday, December 23
Monday, December 26

Tuesday, December 20, 2016 – closing at noon
Monday, December 26

Shared Branching
What if you need to make a deposit, withdraw funds, make a loan payment, etc. and the   UMFCU branch you utilize has closed for the day?  The answer may be Shared Branching. Visit Shared Branching for more information and a list of participating credit unions nearest you. For your convenience, hours of operation will be provided for each location.

Account Info Review
This is the perfect time of year to make sure UMFCU has your current email address and cell phone number. If you have a UMFCU credit or debit card you will receive transaction alerts via text messaging and/or emails.  It has been found that these methods of communication are the quickest and most efficient ways to review suspicious transactions and update your account accordingly. You may send address, phone number, email, etc. changes to Credit card account information may also be updated online at EzCardInfo.

UMFCU has a variety of loans available to their members. If you are car shopping during the holidays, you may apply online at for pre-approval. Shop with confidence knowing financing is already in place.  For more information about UMFCU loans and rates, please contact one of our loan officers at 800-831-3972 Option 6 or 800-373-1059.

Media Center

The Media Center recently acquired the following resources:

  •  A Journey Through Lent – Lent is a time in which we anticipate the victory of the light and life of Christ over the darkness of sin and death. It corresponds to Jesus’ time in the wilderness. Selected Psalms help us in times of self-examination, difficulty, and dryness and invite us to make our hearts ready for remembering anew Jesus’ death and resurrection.
  • Named: Abraham – Abraham follows the father of faith through some of the more confusing events of his life, including his various conversations with God, his attempt to save himself and his family from famine, and his ultimate test from God regarding Abraham’s precious son, Isaac.
  • Named: Sarah – Sarah is a part of God’s promise to Abraham. She is chosen alongside Abraham and is used by God to bring about his purpose. Even though Sarah shows herself to be a shortsighted and strong-willed woman, God redeems her.
  • Present Over Perfect; Leaving Behind Frantic for a Simpler, More Soulful Way of Living helps you begin leaving behind busyness and frantic living and rediscovering the person you were made to be. Be free from the constant pressure to perform faster, push harder, and produce more, all while maintaining an exhausting image of perfection.

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

Movie review by Rev. Bruce Batchelor-Glader Photo by Big Beach Films
Movie review by Rev. Bruce Batchelor-Glader
Photo by Big Beach Films

Loving  Loving is a beautiful and simple film, a true story about the unlikeliest of heroes.  Both Richard and Mildred are shy and reserved; left to themselves they would probably have just eked out a quiet and compromised existence. Their desire to live as husband and wife is strong and genuine and serves as a catalyst to provoke the dreams of others. Most people of faith aspire to live out lives of love that would encourage the world to take notice and act, but so often our efforts to be inspirational fall flat, undone by our enthusiasm.”   For full review.

Classifieds/Items Available

  • Pre-school caregiver, Greensburg UMC
  • Bookkeeper, North Coast District

Details of the above classifieds/items wanted can be found here.

To submit job postings and items available please email

Events – Dec. 5-19

December 10
Free Breakfast, Smith Corners UMC
December 10
Christmas Concert Outreach, Wayne County Fairgrounds
December 11
Christmas Concert, Lockwood UMC
December 11
Search For The Christ Child, Hudson UMC
December 15
Supper at The Corner, Smith Corners UMC
December 16
Songs of The Season, Smithville UMC
December 16
Gospel Bluegrass Jam, Manchester UMC
December 18
Blue Christmas Service, Greensburg UMC

Follow this link to the events calendar.
To submit a calendar event.

Dates to Remember

February 24-26
Confirmation Retreat, Camp Wanake

To Subscribe

To subscribe please send your request to Lois Speelman.  Information from this E-News may be copied and used in your local church.

The next scheduled edition of the E-News will be December 19, 2016.  Deadline to submit an article is December 14.