December 13, 2021

Bishop’s Office

Conversations with Bishop Tracy S. Malone
Bishop Tracy S. Malone invites you to join her for A Time of Conversations of the Heart with the Laity and Clergy of the EOC. You will have an opportunity to engage in conversation with the bishop on the mission and vision of ministry in the East Ohio Conference and on the future of The United Methodist Church.

You are invited to attend one of the following Bishop’s Time of Conversations of the Heart with the Laity and Clergy of the EOC:

  • 2:00 – 4:00 p.m.      Monday, January 10         Southern Region
  • 6:00 – 8:00 p.m.      Monday, January 10         Southern Region
  • 2:00 – 4:00 p.m.      Tuesday, January 18         Central Region
  • 6:00 – 8:00 p.m.      Tuesday, January 18         Central Region
  • 2:00 – 4:00 p.m.      Thursday, January 27      Northern Region
  • 6:00 – 8:00 p.m.      Thursday, January 27      Northern Region

Specific locations of the Bishop’s Time of Conversations of the Heart with the Laity and Clergy of the EOC will be announced in the coming weeks once details have been finalized.

Teach • Reach • Bless

86% of Needed Funds Collected; Still Time for You to Make a Difference
The East Ohio Conference Teach • Reach • Bless campaign needs to collect only $207,156 to reach our goal of collecting the needed $1.5 million to build and furnish a new residence hall for female students at Africa University. The new hall is needed because increasing enrollment at Africa University and a lack of on-campus housing means that some students commute from remote areas and find affordable off-campus housing, putting female students at risk of living in and being subjected to untenable situations.

Thanks to the strong support of the laity and clergy of the East Ohio Conference, even during the pandemic, the money from the three-year Teach • Reach • Bless campaign could be collected by the end of the second year, meaning ground could be broken in early 2022 for the new residence hall. To help make this happen, a challenge gift from Rev. Bill & Marty McFadden will add $1 to every $3 collected in 2021. This means that if the Conference collects $155,367 of the needed $207,156, the resulting challenge gift from that amount of $51,789 will put us at our goal of collecting $1.5 million to build and furnish a new residence hall for female students at Africa University.

Learn more about and support the Teach • Reach • Bless campaign.

AU Offers Weekly Videos of Students Lighting Advent Candles
To help us promote the Teach • Reach • Bless campaign, Africa University has produced videos of female AU students lighting Advent candles and a video of the students singing “We Wish You a Merry Christmas.” Each video ends with information showing how worshippers can support the Teach • Reach • Bless campaign.

View and download the AU Advent videos.

Annual Conference

Annual Conference 2021 Offering
The Annual Conference 2021 offering totaled $11,077. Per the vote of the Annual Conference Program Committee prior to this year’s conference, the offering will benefit Board of Ministry Young Clergy Initiative Scholarships, United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) General Advance for missionaries around the world, and the Bishop’s Discretionary Fund – which will each receive $3,692.33.

Annual Conference 2022 – June 9-11
Please mark your calendar. The worship services and business sessions of Annual Conference 2022 will be held in the Exhibit Halls of the John S. Knight Center in Akron, beginning the morning of Thursday, June 9 and concluding late afternoon on Saturday, June 11. Registration will open in April.

Financial & Administrative Services

Gas Aggregation Program
In 2022 the East Ohio Conference gas aggregation program, organized through Interstate Gas Supply (IGS), will continue – but the rates are scheduled to increase. The gas aggregation program is open to all local churches and parsonages in the East Ohio Conference.

2021 Rates

  • Dominion Energy Ohio Customers: $3.14 per MCF
  • Columbia Gas of Ohio Customers: $4.16 per MCF

2022 Rates, effective January 1

  • Dominion Energy Ohio Customers:  $4.14 per MCF
  • Columbia Gas of Ohio Customers:  $5.66 per MCF

These rates can also be found on the Conference website.

Change in IRS Group Exemption Rules Could Affect Your Church
General Council on Finance & Administration (GCFA) has automated the process of obtaining the Group Ruling 501(c)(3) documentation for your church or other United Methodist organization. The IRS will be changing the procedures for being included in a Group Ruling.  These would be the first meaningful changes to group exemption procedures since 1980. The information below is adapted from a presentation by the GCFA legal department.

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has not accepted new group exemption applications since June 2020 so speculation for the past few months is that it could release the final rules ASAP. The proposed new rules were released in May 2020 and the comment period for them ended in August 2020.

Current Rules (Rev. Proc 80-27):

  • Central organization (GCFA) must obtain recognition of its own exempt status
  • Subordinates (local United Methodist churches) must be:
    • Affiliated with the central organization and subject to its ‘general supervision or control’
    • Fall under the same subsection of 501(c)
    • Not be private foundations
  • Subordinates must approve/request inclusion in the group exemption
  • Subordinates must have their own EIN

Proposed Rules (Notice 2020-36):

  • Changes are proposed to all aspects of group exemptions.
    • “Uniform governing instrument” requirement
    • Specific definitions of “general supervision” and “control”
    • Requirement that all subordinates fall under the same subsection of §509(a)

The changes, if enacted, would not apply to existing subordinates. So, if your church has a current group letter ruling, your church would not be affected by this change. If your church does not have a copy of its original letter from the IRS – and/or if you don’t know if you are included in the GCFA Group Letter Ruling – you might want to take 10 minutes and apply. Click here to visit the group ruling website to complete your application for The UMC Group Ruling.

Global Migration Sunday

January 9 is EOC Global Migration Sunday
The East Ohio Conference Order of Deacons encourages pastors, congregations, and faith communities to participate in Global Migration Sunday on January 9, 2022, or on a future Sunday of your choosing during the year.

Paragraph 162.H in The Book of Discipline of The United Methodist Church 2016 advocates for the rights of immigrants as part of The Social Principles of our denomination: “We recognize, embrace, and affirm all persons, regardless of country of origin, as members of the family of God. We affirm the right of all persons to equal opportunities for employment, access to housing, health care, education, and freedom from social discrimination. We urge the Church and society to recognize the gifts, contributions, and struggles of those who are immigrants and to advocate for justice for all. We oppose immigration policies that separate family members from each other or that include detention of families with children, and we call on local churches to be in ministry with immigrant families.”

The Order of Deacons has developed a worship resource for your church to use, either in its entirety or as elements of your worship service. This resource meets the shared vision of Conference clergy and laity to reach new and diverse people in bold and courageous ways so that we together can be God’s agents of transformation in our communities and throughout the world.

Learn more and view the Global Migration Sunday resource.
Read about ways that EOC churches and missions are serving immigrant communities.


Virtual Early Response Team (ERT) Training – January 14-15
The West Ohio Conference of The United Methodist Church is offering the Basic United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) ERT training online. During ERT training you learn best practices for responding in disaster situations. Training includes how to: interact with survivors, help survivors recover belongings, tarp roofs, and safely remove debris.

Learn more and register.

Virtual Mission Journey to Cameroon – January 22 & 29
Join North Central Jurisdiction United Methodist Volunteers in Mission for a virtual mission to Cameroon on January 22 and 29, 2022. Share in discussions and learning with the leadership team of the Cameroon Mission and Ebenezer Community United Methodist Church. A mission journey to Cameroon is planned for October 15-31, 2022. This is a great opportunity to begin to build relationships.

View the flyer and then learn more and register.

United Methodist Volunteers in Mission (UMVIM) Team Leader Training – March 20
Enjoy a day of fellowship and conversation to learn best practices for leading a mission team locally, nationally, or internationally. The Rev. Kathy Dickriede will lead the class, which is free.

View the flyer and then learn more and register.

In-Person Mission Journey to Montana – July 5-15
Join the Rev. Tammy Kuntz on a mission journey with the Blackfeet UM Parish in Browning, Montana. This trip is open to young adults ages 18-30. Cost is $1,400 and scholarships are available.

View the flyer and then learn more and register.

Thank You for Supporting Missions & Advance Specials
East Ohio Missions thanks everyone who collected items for the Midwest Mission Distribution Center Christmas drive and/or everyone who donated to East Ohio Conference Advances on #Giving Tuesday. Once we have the totals of each collection, they will be announced in a future issue of E-News.

Strategic Ministries

Simplifying Local Church Leadership
For many, both clergy and lay, a surplus of meetings, no clear and simple processes for new ministries, and committees functioning poorly is a drain on energy and resources. The Simplified Accountable Structure (SAS) is an alternative leadership structure which streamlines ministry governance so that churches and people can better live into God’s call for them. It not only needs fewer leaders who show up at meetings (though that’s a bonus too!) but it helps empower ministry to grow and focuses us away from micromanaging and towards living into our mission and vision.

However, when done well, this process takes time and intentionality. To help leaders make this switch, we are offering cohorts and workshops that will guide the process while allowing each local church to put its personal touches on it. If you are interested in potentially switching to SAS for 2023, please e-mail the Rev. Beth Ortiz to receive information about upcoming workshops in early 2022. Following the workshop, a church’s leadership can decide if it wants to learn more and engage in healthy steps to transition to this structure through cohorts and East Ohio Conference-supported coaching.

Higher Education

Attention high school seniors attending college in fall 2022 and students currently enrolled at one of our historically United Methodist colleges and universities: East Ohio Merit Scholarships are awarded each year for students who show excellent leadership, church involvement, academic achievement, and community service. Applications are now being accepted for this scholarship program. Most recipients of past scholarships have received between $1,500 and $5,000 in scholarship funds.

Learn more and apply by March 24, 2022.

Learn about other scholarships and financial assistance on the EOC website. If you have questions about scholarships offered by the East Ohio Conference, e-mail the Rev. David MacDonald.

Methodist Foundation of Ohio

Saving Grace Personal Finance Course Offered
Is 2022 the year you get your personal finances on track? The Methodist Foundation of Ohio is offering a nine-week course, Saving Grace, to clergy and their spouses. Saving Grace is similar to Financial Peace University, but the curriculum has been revised by the General Board of Discipleship and the theology is more in line with United Methodist teachings.

The Saving Grace class will meet via Zoom on Monday evenings, January 24 – March 28 from 8:00-9:30 p.m., or Tuesday mornings, January 25 – March 29 from 10:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. Both groups will move at the same pace, so you can switch between sessions as your calendar necessitates. We will not meet February 28 or March 1. Please note that both classes are for clergy and their spouses only. Please do not invite members of your congregation to participate.

The class is free, but you will need to purchase two books: The Saving Grace Clergy Workbook ($22.99 from Amazon) and The Saving Grace Devotional ($14.99 from Amazon). For more information, please e-mail Brian Sheetz.

Learn more and register.

Credit Union

You, your values, your money, and your faith all come together when you bank with Christian Family Credit Union. We offer our members all the banking options you need including a variety of checking accounts, dividend-earning savings accounts, competitive loan rates, low-rate credit cards, and electronic services for convenient banking. This holiday season align your finances with your faith when you and your family bank with Christian Family Credit Union. Merry Christmas!

NOTE: By members choice, all accounts are insured to $250,000 by ASI (American Share Insurance), a private member owned insurer. This institution is not federally insured, and if the institution fails, the Federal Government does not guarantee the depositors will get back their money. Members’ accounts are not insured or guaranteed by any government or government-sponsored agency.

Learn more about Christian Family Credit Union.

Media Center

The Media Center offers these hidden gems:

  • The Sacred Search helps singles move on from the idea of finding a “soul mate” and adopt the more biblical idea of finding their “sole mate,” as they seek to dedicate their future marriages to God.
  • Dream Big; Know What You Want, Why You Want it, and What You’re Going to Do About It shares how God called certain individuals to follow him—regardless of their lack of “qualifications”—and how those people changed the world when they dared to follow God’s dreams for their lives. In the same way, God is calling us to step into the version of our lives that he intended for us before others told us it was impossible and once again dream big.
  • Seeing Gray in a World of Black & White America is polarized, with ever-hardening positions held by people less and less willing to listen to one another. No one agrees on what to do about it. One solution, says Adam Hamilton, is for thinking persons of faith to model for the rest of the country a richer, more thoughtful conversation on the political, moral, and religious issues that divide us.

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

Message in the MoviesMessage in the Movies banner (colorful film strip

West Side Story
The story still takes place in the Upper West Side of Manhattan in New York City in the mid-1950s, so this version is a reimagining rather than an updating. It is a humbling thing to realize that the divisions in America that exist around race, class, gun violence and country of origin are still very much alive and well.

There are no simple answers to these complex problems, but the intentional movement of grace in our lives may offer us the most hope that we could wish for, since God’s vision of the kingdom far exceeds our best intentions. While my love for the 1961 film is without qualification, I am very much impressed with this thoughtful iteration and I hope that you will take the time to seek it out for yourself.

Read entire review.


Details of listings may be found here.

Positions Available

  • Accounts Receivable Clerk – The Financial & Administrative Services Office of the East Ohio Conference of The UMC 
  • Secretary/Treasurer – Mt. Zion Community Church (a UMC Fellowship) in Canton
  • Director of Music Ministry – Christ UMC in Louisville
  • Instrumentalist – Baxter’s Ridge UMC in Carrollton
  • Pianist – Dueber UMC in Canton
  • Digital Communications Coordinator – Church of the Lakes UMC in Canton
  • Aldersgate Choir Director – New Concord UMC

Items Available/Wanted

  • 2 Artificial Christmas Trees available for free – Church of the Lakes UMC in Canton

To submit a classified ad please e-mail

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Deadline for submission is Thursday, January 6, 2022. Send articles to