AUGUST 27, 2018

Special Session of the General Conference

way forward icon

The East Ohio Conference Delegation Offers Listening Posts
The 2019 Special Session of the General Conference has been called to address a way forward for The United Methodist Church on the matter of human sexuality.

As East Ohio delegates to this Special Session, we recognize the importance of the decisions that will be before us and the impact these decisions will have on each United Methodist church and member. We invite you to attend and share your thoughts and concerns at one of the five scheduled listening posts that will be held throughout the East Ohio Conference.

We would appreciate participants registering in advance to help with our planning but registration is not required to attend the posts.  You may register here.

Health Benefits

REMINDER! HealthFlex Participants
HealthFlex participants and covered spouses must complete the Health Quotient between August 1 and September 30, 2018 to avoid paying a higher medical plan deductible in 2019—$250 extra (individual deductible) or $500 extra (family deductible). Primary participant and covered spouse must both take the HQ by September 30 to avoid higher deductible. Instructions to complete the Health Quotient.


Liberia presentation, Mary and Patrick EOC Welcomes GBGM Mary Zigbuo Randall Mantor from Ganta Mission Station – Sept. 13 – 23
Many from the EOC have been greeted at Ganta Mission Station in Liberia by Mary Zigbuo. GBGM Missionary Mary works with the health board and the Liberian Conference’s Department of Connectional Ministries.  With her background in counseling and as past administrator for both the Department of Education for the Liberia Conference and Ganta United Methodist Hospital, Mary has a variety of experiences to share.  Together with husband Patrick, past director of Nursing and Administrator at Ganta Hospital, we have the opportunity to learn firsthand about Liberia following the Ebola crisis and how we can continue our partnership with Ganta Mission Station.

Now it is our turn to offer radical hospitality to Mary and Patrick.  You are encouraged to meet and greet them at the following locations:

  • Sun., Sept. 16 @Aldersgate UMC – 10:45
  • Sun., Sept. 16 @Brecksville UMC 6:30 – 8:30 p.m.
  • Tues., Sept. 18 @ ”Bread on the Bridge” Nehemiah Mission – 5:30 p.m.
  • Weds., Sept. 19 @ Kennonsburg UMC – 6:30 – 8:30 p.m.
  • Thur,. Sept. 20 @ Macedonia UMC‘s Community Meal at 4:30 p.m., speaking at 6:30 p.m.
  • Sat., Sept, 22 @ Green Valley UMC (Canal District UMW) – 9:30 a.m
  • Sun., Sept. 23 @ University UMC – 9:00 am.

Multicultural Vitality

Black Clergy gathering2018 Bishops’ Retreat with Black Clergy
Bishop Tracy S. Malone and Bishop Gregory V. Palmer invite clergy from their respective East Ohio and West Ohio Conferences to be part of the 2018 Bishops’ Retreat with Black Clergy.

Live Well – Be Well is the theme of this year’s retreat, which will be held at Mohican State Park in Loudonville from 3:00 p.m. Sun., Sept, 23 through 1:00 p.m. Tues., Sept. 25.

The theme continues the bishops’ focus on living one’s best life while emphasizing financial health, professional clergy health, and maximizing the potential of one’s congregational health.

Participants should anticipate a time of physical, spiritual, and emotional renewal, as well as connecting with old and new friends.

Read article | Register

Congregational Vitality

The creative Worship Conference Logo

Creative Worship Conference
Sept. 29,  at JOHNSON UMC

Cost: $20 per person (includes lunch) two people or more it is $15.

We live in a culture obsessed with screens. From the smartphones and tablet devices, we carry everywhere we go, to the large screens in our living rooms; the world around us has shifted to a communication form that the church is still struggling to fully understand. Regardless of worship style, it’s imperative that the church learn to embrace and master the use of image and creativity in the way we communicate the gospel in worship.

Spend the day with creative worship specialist, author, and worship coach Jason Moore in an event designed for churches of all sizes, budgets, and means.

Whether your church has screens in worship, you are thinking about it, or have decided against them, this seminar has something for you. Best experienced as a team, The Creative Worship Conference is filled with ideas that any church can implement. Learn time-tested methodologies that transcend the traditional vs. contemporary wars and that will result in a more connected worship experience. Laugh, be inspired and walk away with clearly defined next steps. Deep, meaningful, transformative worship is within your grasp.

Register here. Contact


Online Course: Faith Communities’ Response to Domestic Violence
Dr. Martha Banks, a member of Christ Woodland UMC in Akron, is offering a course to assist churches in responding to domestic violence.  The course is offered online across 2 weeks, Sept. 24 – Oct. 5, 2018.

This workshop will focus on a Christian response to domestic violence. We will look at the history of domestic violence and learn who is involved, who is affected, and who is vulnerable. We’ll also explore the purposes, types, and consequences of such violence, and the urgency of responding whenever such violence is suspected. Biblical references will shape the discussion of ways for the church to educate members, support victims, and hold abusers accountable.

By the end of the course, students will have access to resources for responding to domestic violence as individuals, pastors, and churches, and will be equipped to support programs that provide education about domestic violence and support victims.  The focus is on saving lives.

This course has been endorsed by the Commission on the Status and Role of Women (COSROW) in the East Ohio conference. This course is eligible for 1.0 CEU.  No book is required for the course; all materials will be provided and are included in the course fee. Price: $70

Registration and additional information

Young Peoples Ministries

Preactically Honest LogoPractically Honest
Young People’s Ministries is gearing up to launch a Podcast called, Practically Honest: a podcast that addresses practical and relevant topics in an honest way for those that live and work with young people.  Publish date is September 10 and all information will be in the next E-news as well on all social media platforms.  The topic for the first one is, “You are not alone! Let’s talk networking”.  Get ready for this great training tool.

YOUTH 2019
YOUTH 2019 is a national gathering of over 4000 United Methodist teens and their adult leaders.  Join thousands for 4 days of discipleship, worship, Bible study, service opportunities, and life-changing fun! Expect inspiration, support, and challenges to grow authentically as a world-changing disciple of Jesus Christ.  July 10-14, 2019 in Kansas City Missouri.  Find out more info here.  If your group would be interested in journeying on a charter bus, email

Pastoral Care and Counseling

Bi-weekly Resources
In the August 27 issue:  Introducing 2018-2019 Spiritual Enrichment (Formation) Groups: “Be Peace”

  • A Way Forward: Fully Awakening to Appreciative Relationships
  • Book: Everyday Spirituality: Cultivating an Awakening
  • Awakening: What Happens after the “Ah-ha!”
  • Video: Waking Up All the Way
  • Video: Enlightened Beings Share Their Awakening, Mystical Experiences
  • Preventing Sleep Problems
  • Schisandra and Ashwagandha: The Keey to ZZ’s
  • 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:

  • Affirm; God’s Call/The World’s Need/Your Purpose is a discipleship refresh from confirmation. With an emphasis on following Jesus and spiritual practices Affirm is great to help students grow stronger and go deeper with their relationship with Christ.
  • Elijah; Spiritual Stamina in Every Season examines the life of the prophet Elijah, an ordinary man who did extraordinary things for God in the midst of the highs and lows of life. Learn his spiritual stamina secrets, including habits related to making decisions, caring for the soul, accepting his circumstances.
  • Know How We Got Our Bible traces the history of the Bible from its beginnings to the present day, highlighting key figures and demonstrating the reliability of Scripture.
  • God’s Messy Family; Finding Your Place When Life Isn’t Perfect looks at the lives of Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Rebekah, Jacob, and Esau. You’ll recognize a pattern to their lives: they are called, they mess up, and God continues to redeem them. Find out how your “messy” family fits into God’s family and how you are part of God’s plan for the world.

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

Something New
Message in the Movies is now posting official movie trailers (when available) alongside Rev. Bruce Bathcelor-Glader’s movie review. You now have the opportunity read his review and view the trailer all in a One-Stop-Shop! To remind you of this great resource, each weekly review is also posted through Facebook and Twitter.

Message in the Movies banner (colorful film strip

The Rider
On DVD, Redbox, Video on Demand, Streaming Services.
The Rider is a spiritual film that never speaks about God or religion, but reminds us of the beauty and wonder all around us. The film is honest about the wounds that we all carry with us and the healing that takes place when we reach out to others struggling alongside of us.

This is one of the best films of the year. Read full review and view trailer


Ohio PAUMCS Annual Conference
The Ohio PAUMCS (Professional Administrators of the United Methodist Connectional System) invites all Church Secretaries, Administrators, Office managers to our Annual Fall Conference at Ginghamsburg Church in Tipp City, Ohio on Tues., Sept. 25. The conference theme is “Taking Care of Yourself and Others” offers topics on “Finding Balance in Service”, Addiction Challenges for the Church & Community” with great speakers. Registration is now open and includes a continental breakfast and lunch!

View flyer for more information.

Credit Union

Labor Day Closing
On Monday, September 3 all offices of The United Methodist Financial Credit Union will be closed in observance of Labor Day. Members may check share account balances, pay bills, and transfer funds anytime through our website or our mobile app.

Recreational Vehicles
With the sun setting on summer, let us help you fuel your fall fun! We offer loans on campers, boats, motorcycles, and more! Contact one of our loan officers for more information.

  • North Canton: Christine Fairhurst (800) 831-3972 ext. 104
  • Cincinnati: Christine Smith (800) 373-1059 ext. 12
  • Indiana: Jason Fishburn (317) 296-7177

News Around the Districts

North Coast District: The United Methodist Church of Berea is Celebrating Its’ 175th Anniversary
All are invited to hear bishop Gregory V. Palmer, Bishop of the West Ohio Conference and former pastor of the United Methodist Church of Berea from 1993 – 2000, who will preach on Sunday, Sept. 30 at 10:30 am during the 175th Anniversary Celebration Worship Service.

Two churches, the Methodist Episcopal Church and the German Methodist Church merged to become what became the Methodist Church of Berea.  The Methodist Episcopal Church was the first church in Middleburgh Township located near the south side of Rocky River Drive.  It burned to the ground in 1899.  It relocated to the corner of Seminary and Spring Streets in 1900.  The German Methodist Church (now the location of the B-W University Chapel) and the Methodist Episcopal Church merged their congregations in 1948 to form the Methodist Church which remains at the corner of Seminary and Spring Streets.

Events: August 13 – August 26

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

  • Recreational Ministries Coordinator, Church of the Lakes
  • Organist/Pianist/Accompanist, Wooster UMC
  • Choir Director and Pianist, Newtown Falls UMC
  • Accompanist or Organist, Firestone Park UMC
  • Executive Secretary to the Bishop, East Ohio Conference Area Center

To submit a classified ad please email

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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 10, 2018.  Deadline for submission is Wednesday, September 5. Send articles to

Fitchville UMC – A Holy Spirit Summer

The Heart of a Small Church – Part 2

By Rev. Timothy McCollum

Fitchville UMC (Firelands District) is a small church on Rt. 250 about halfway between Ashland and Norwalk. Many folks have driven by it, few have stopped. This is farm county, so it can feel spread out and sparse, besides one other church and a gas station. Our entire township has a population of just over 500. Our church has just about 50 attendees on most Sundays and I’m blessed to serve this church that is often trusting and often willing to see where God is leading. It didn’t start out this way, but God has been working on us together. And after a few years down the road, the church has been experiencing God in some interesting ways. But, that doesn’t really tell the story of our summer…

By early spring this year, I was looking forward with both anticipation and anxiety about where our little church would be heading.

It has been a really different year for us.

In the spring, we rolled out our spiritual formation pathway with a preaching series that took us through the entire Easter season. It took us almost 18 months to put that together, and now it’s real.

Then, summer hit.

And, that’s where things became interesting.

We spent the entire first part of the year working through Richard Foster’s book “Prayer” in our Sunday small group. It has been changing the way we pray. Moving from prayer to the Holy Spirit using “Forgotten God” by Francis Chan is further opening our hearts to chase where God is leading.

This summer, we preached through a sermon series based around the 12 Steps that are used in programs like AA. We had three couples that started attending during that series, each with their own stories, and each have been moved by what’s been taking place. I can actually remember one Sunday seeing a young man looking uncomfortable in the pews, only to find out later that God was speaking to him directly that day.

This year our church became the primary sponsor for the New London High School Cross Country camp.

One day, while talking with Keith Landis, the coach of the high school cross country team, we found out that there used to be a yearly cross country camp. Coach Landis mentioned how he missed the camp, that it was a real blessing to the team. He said that school insurances and coverage issues simply made it too difficult to continue the camp. The church jumped in and said, “What if the church was the sponsor? We have insurance, and we could use it as an outreach to interact with the team. We could even help provide meals!”

Next thing you know, we were sponsoring a local Cross Country camp with 30 kids and eight adults. Eight church members helped open the camp with the first meal of the week along with leading devotions. They made a point of sitting with teens they didn’t know during the meal – all of a sudden, one of the teens who was not regularly part of our youth was heading to Alive with our youth group.

Did I mention it was our first year going to Alive?

Youth involved in a card challenge.
Youth participate in a fun card challenge.

It’s been a year in which one of our youth gave their life to Christ and another, who had avoided youth activities, committed to participate in our youth group more often.

Pastor and adult get wet and dirty
It just isn’t VBS, unless the pastor (left) gets dirty!

And then, just like every other summer, Vacation Bible School happened. We were concerned about low attendance, as many churches have been struggling. But, we were praying. The Sunday before our week started, we became aware that three other local community churches would be hosting their VBS the same week. By the end of the week, we realized that were actually five VBS programs in the area that week. But we had been praying. We had committed to trust God on the matter. And we were overwhelmed. By the second day, we were trying to find extra adults to help. Our VBS that had averaged 35 in 2017 had grown to 50 in 2018.

What’s next?

Before the summer is over, we are hosting a Prayer Walk through our local school building on Sunday, August 26, two days before classes officially begin. We have posted it as an event on Facebook. The stats came in, and our Facebook reach had grown by 46,000% by Facebook’s calculation. It just makes me chuckle to read that. We went from one person reached to 460.

Yet, none of this has been us. We’ve had a part, but God has been the greater part. The Holy Spirit is running amok at Fitchville UMC and we have had so many people be a part of it. We are amazed at what God is doing. We will soon be headed into our fall season, which we know will slow down to more comfortable routines. But we continue to pray that the Spirit of God will continue his transforming work in us and in our community.

We didn’t start out this way together, but this is where we are now. And we are eager to see what’s next.

*Rev. Timothy McCollum is pastor of 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. What is yours? Contact us @

Stay tuned for The Heart of a Small Church Part 3: A Three Point Ministry Team, An Interesting Relationship 

Mission Focused Smithville UMC – they just never stop doing for others.

The Heart of a Small Church – Part 1

By Sue Zakovec*

During the summer months, whether large, small, rural or urban … churches seem to take on a new life, full of enthusiasm and energy. As members throw open their doors with a renewed commitment to community and mission, ice cream socials, carnivals, fairs, Vacation Bible Schools and music concerts come alive!

Car shows, and car enthusiasts can be found everywhere in rural small towns, such as in Waynesburg (Centenary UMC), in Polk (Red Haw UMC), just to name a few.

In the village of Smithville which is in the heart of Wayne County, Smithville UMC (Canal District) has named and hosted their car show, “Cruisin’ in the ‘Ville”.

Guys discussing cars among the cars

Its founders, Linda Ferber, a former missions committee chairperson and her husband, Bill, a car enthusiast combined their passions of restored vehicles and raising mission funding into a popular community event.

“What I really like about the car show is that not only is it a fund raiser to support our other mission work,  but it is outreach in and of itself. The car show provides an opportunity to introduce Jesus and our church to a whole range of people that we may otherwise never encounter. Best of all, we get to meet them on their own turf, where they are comfortable.”

“I have heard a number of friends echoing my feelings on being a Mission focused Church. I feel that spreading the Word of God is one of the most important parts of being a Christian. Whether we actively seek opportunities like the car show or just let it shine through our daily lives, we are called to share God’s love,” current missions chairperson, Michael Thompson said.

(Click on any photo to enlarge and view full gallery)

This year’s “Cruisin’ in the ‘Ville” missions recipients were OhioGuidestone, Akron’s Open M, Wooster’s People-to-People Ministry and Green Local Breakaway Program.

Grounded with Historic Roots

Smithville UMC’s commitment to community and mission was founded in its heritage. The church had its beginnings long before the village was laid out in 1836.  In October of 1812 when sixteen people met in the cabin of Michael Thomas, Reverend Gray, a circuit rider was passing through the area and saw the group and exclaimed, “I believe I have found my flock in the desert!”

Two years later, the first religious group in Green Township was organized as a congregation of the Methodist Episcopal Church.

Today, the village of Smithville, with a steady population of approximately 1250 and its nine different denominational churches within its 1.25 square mile area, is a very close-knit community that places high importance on Christian faith and historical roots. There is a lot of trust in this small community. With generations of people growing up together, forming close relationship, it is like the old television show, Cheers – a town where everyone knows your name.

Seems idyllic, but there are challenges for Smithville UMC and other small community churches with deep roots. New and inventive ministries are hard to sell since people like familiar and comfortable ways. Limited financial resources are always a challenge when doing big projects. Attracting new people to the church is even harder. Being a small community … not many people move out, thus not many move in. In turn, the average age of membership is older with few young people.

With these challenges, members of Smithville UMC focus on their strength – their mission, rather than the numbers.

“If we aren’t mission-focused, we’re just in it for ourselves, creating a ‘feel good’ atmosphere on Sunday mornings.  But mission-focused means having a goal beyond ourselves and the operation of our own facility to help people in our community and around the world.  It means following the example of Jesus and offering a helping hand,” said member and organist, Jerri Lynn Baxstrom.

1 Peter 4:8-11 says (Message Bible), “Most of all, love each other as if your life depended on it. Love makes up for practically anything.  Be quick to give a meal to the hungry, a bed to the homeless – cheerfully. Be generous with the different things God gave you, passing them around so all get in on it:  if words, let it be God’s words; if help, let it be God’s hearty help. That way, God’s bright presence will be evident in everything through Jesus, and he’ll get all the credit as the One mighty in everything.”

“We’ve been loving and serving each other in this facility since the 1950’s and much longer in a couple other facilities before that.  Many of our members are older but are active senior adults who minister to each other in a variety of different ways.  Our younger members are a smaller percentage of our Church Family but wear many hats when serving within the body,” said Cheryl Hadsell, administrative assistant for Smithville UMC.

Smithville’s dedication to serving the community is well known and members are not afraid to get in and get their hands dirty while loving and caring for others. Their enthusiasm and energy does not just crest in summer, it is an ongoing commitment to their mission year-round.

Lay Leader, Bernie Caldwell explained it this way, “I feel that our mission is to reach out into the community and find some commonality within ourselves. Today the country and world are so divided that any way we can come together and find a common ground is a great way to provide in a mission church.”

Serving Others

To Smithville UMC members, serving others means baking monthly birthday cakes for the residents (kids under 18 years) of Boys Village and baking cookies for Breakaway, a religious education program in the Green Local Schools.

It means serving the community’s young people and their families, by offering summer outdoor movie nights, Trunk or Treat, 5th Quarters and tailgate parties (after Smithville’s football games), community Red Cross blood drives, monthly Messy Church events and a combined Vacation Bible School with the Brethren Church.

By serving others, it means giving gifts of appreciation and encouragement to those in the community that serve as firemen, police officers, school teachers and staff.

And by serving others, Smithville UMC is raising community awareness of a growing drug, alcohol and dangerous behavior epidemic by hosting a program, this past spring, called “Hidden in Plain Sight”. 

Sharing their Facilities

During the week, Smithville UMC partners to house a community school (Liberty Prep Academy). This school gives a second chance for both junior high and senior high students, who struggle in a traditional school setting, to get their High School diploma. Each year the community school serves 60-90 students from all over Wayne County.

Smithville UMC also provides a home for a Saturday School called Wayne County Juvenile Justice Center for students who have found themselves in trouble with the law.

It makes available to the community its Family Life Center for elementary, junior high and high school basketball and volleyball practices, as well as, a men’s basketball group and a 4-H Club.


Mission becomes more visible to the community and the community is more visible to the church during the summer months, but community out-reach and support are ongoing for Smithville UMC. Members know who they are and what they are.

“We are a mission focused church because God calls us to be outside focused when sharing what we have in Jesus and our relationship with God, our father and Christ, our brother. Who is our brother? Our community is our brother and God commands us to go forth and love,” Caldwell said.

*Sue Zakovec, East Ohio Conference Communications Office
Many thanks to Cheryl Hadsell, administrative assistant for Smithville UMC for her detailed contributions to this article.


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. What is your story? Contact us @

Stay tuned for The Heart of a Small Church Part 2 – Fitchville UMC  A Holy Spirit Summer, coming the week of August 20.