Considering that GC and IJCOE have made changes to the number of bishops, we are asking three jurisdictions to send bishops to NEJ and WJ, we still have our NEJ meeting in July, and most importantly we will have a new episcopal leader in the fall: What items are truly urgent? What harm is there in waiting until 2025 with a new bishop and seeing what our episcopal area truly looks like? After all, it is possible for that configuration to change, indeed in unpredictable ways.

The work outlined in the MOU is already being done in collaboration and we are beginning to see great results and progress from these partnerships. The MOU is providing structure to what we’ve already been doing and creating clarity about how to explore what is next. We don’t know as a result of General Conference and Jurisdictional Conference, but we’re already doing good work and the MOU helps us be able to set standards for what any partnership or affiliation is going to look like moving forward.

No matter what the configuration, the MOU is helping us as another way of being able to think collaboratively about how we do ministry together. Anything that we start new is going to be hard and different and we’re going to make some good things and we’re going to have some mistakes. But putting some guidelines down is important and that’s really what MOU is seeking to do. It’s a living document so we will continue to reflect on our progress based on what happens in the future.

What happens if the MOU does not pass?

Without approving the MOU, GNJ would not receive payments from Eastern PA as outlined in the agreement. Collaboration is essential and already underway, driven by our shared mission and resulting in cost savings. The MOU formalizes this collaboration, outlining its structure.

It’s clear that there’s recognition across the jurisdiction of the successful partnership between EPA and GNJ. As for the MOU, it essentially formalizes the collaboration areas that are already in place. Last year’s Annual Conference Session emphasized the need to document these details regarding staffing, finances, and mission, which the MOU addresses. These are ongoing ministries that the MOU outlines.

How does Eastern PA feel about the collaboration

At the onset of collaboration, there was valid feedback about its rapid pace. As a collective body, we’ve taken that feedback seriously. Moving forward, our focus is on nurturing organic relationships across EPA and GNJ. We’re witnessing the positive outcomes of this approach in various initiatives like the breakthrough teams, where individuals from both conferences collaborate seamlessly. Whether it’s joint writing projects or leadership seminars, the emphasis is on shared goals rather than conference labels.

While there’s room for improvement in fostering deeper relationships and meaningful dialogue, progress is evident. Opportunities for joint ministry and dialogue, such as recent gatherings in Charlotte, highlight our commitment to collaborative efforts. It’s important to note that EPA has already approved the strategic direction and the collaboration between EPA and GNJ. While GNJ’s approval is pending, EPA’s endorsement underscores the shared vision for collaborative ministry.

If General Conference lowered their budget for the next quadrenium by about 40% why isn’t GNJ lowering its budget? Can you tell us how GNJAC membership and its number of churches has changed in the past 5 years?

Over time, GNJ has reduced our shared ministry rate from 17.4% to 15.2% despite a 13% decrease in the apportionment base for 2025. We’ve been proactive in budget management, passing a revised spending plan in last year’s annual conference to address changes in conference makeup.

Regarding the general church budget, it’s important to note that the 43% reduction largely stems from disaffiliations. This reduction won’t directly impact individual congregations’ budgets as it involves reallocating apportionments from disaffiliating churches. In GNJ, our budget was already adjusted to account for disaffiliations, mitigating the impact on our churches.

Additionally, there have been cuts in the general church apportionments due to pre-pandemic attrition and pandemic-related adjustments. GNJ has already implemented an 18% reduction in 2021, and there’s an anticipated 4% reduction for GNJ churches based on these adjustments. However, it’s crucial to clarify that GNJ churches won’t experience the full 43% cut reported for the general church budget, as we’ve already accounted for these changes in our budget management.

Year Membership Attendance Church Count
2018 85,244  40,213  540
2019 83,279  37,943  538
2021 78,183  21,604  534
2022 76,320  22,896  501
2023 70,166  22,149  499


How are we counting and tracking the Strategic Direction goal for new potential full-time appointees?

In EPA&GNJ there’s a need for at least 40 new clergy to address retirements and maintain staffing levels in pulpits. This aligns with the challenges we’re facing, particularly in part-time appointments. With an average clergy age of 59 and an anticipated wave of retirements in the next decade, the influx of new clergy is essential for continuity and vitality within our churches. While the current estimate is 40 new clergy, ideally, we’d aim for 60 to 100 to provide greater flexibility and options for filling vacancies and sustaining our ministries effectively.

100 churches didn’t complete statistics?

While the initial count suggested 100 churches hadn’t completed their statistics, ongoing follow-ups and deadline extensions brought the final number down to 22 GNJ churches. In such cases, we utilize the prior year’s statistics to calculate their shared ministry contributions. Additionally, CFA passed a proposal to impose a 10% penalty on churches that didn’t submit their statistics. While this penalty may impact shared ministry calculations, it won’t directly affect the budget, as provisions are already made for such cases.

Is the Coalition of Religious Leaders and Interfaith Coalition in the budget the same?

Previously, this budget line was designated for the Interfaith Coalition, which ceased operations several years ago. The funds were reallocated to support the Coalition of Religious Leaders, as reflected in the current budget proposals for both 2024 and 2025. GNJ has a number of leaders, including Bishop Schol, DCM Eric Drew and Chair of Church and Society Rev. Dr. Tanya Lynn Bennett who participate in the coalition.

Are we planning to have 2024 Bishop’s Convocation?

The 2024 budget included funds for a Bishop’s Convocation, but as of now, there are no plans for one. We aim to coordinate with our new episcopal leader upon their arrival to plan for a convocation in 2025. While there’s a desire to bring people together, planning for 2025 will be deferred until our new episcopal leader is in place to ensure alignment with their vision.

In 2026 where will money go from the sale of churches?

In 2026, as we reach a steady state, funds from church sales will be allocated to designated funds. These include the Harvest Mission Fund, Strategic Disciple Making Fund, Retiree Health Care, and Property Redevelopment Fund. The specifics of this allocation will be provided in the CFO’s Leadership Report at the Annual Conference. We’re currently ahead of schedule in funding retiree liabilities, with more details to be shared in the upcoming report.

The funds allocated from property sales are divided as follows: Harvest Mission Fund receives 50%, Strategic Disciple Making 20%, Retiree Healthcare 20%, and Property Redevelopment 10%. This allocation is based on legislation passed in 2021, as amended.

Will there be money to modify small existing churches?

Property redevelopment primarily focuses on large-scale projects such as senior housing or low-income housing. It’s not typically geared towards small, one-off projects. The trustees are exploring various scenarios, participating in webinars, and collaborating with partners to ensure informed decisions.

How does one join the Sexual Misconduct Response Team?

COSROW is currently working with the Nominations Commitee to bring forth two co-chairs. If you’re interested in co-chairing, please reach out to COSROW directly. After the co-chairs are affirmed, nominations will follow the traditional process if the team is established at the annual conference for next year. Self-nominations are welcomed, especially for such crucial roles. We value individuals who are passionate, skilled, and committed to this important work.The nomination process typically begins in the fall and concludes in January, so be on the lookout in October for more information.

When will we have the 2023 conference journal?

The 2023 conference journal was distributed on Wednesday, May 8 via the GNJ Digest, electronically.

How is the financial agreement of the MOU calculated? If GNJ saves $424,000 and EPA saves $365,000, what is the calculation for EPA to pay GNJ $250,000?

Each CFA has agreed to the added cost model which is presented in the Appendix of the MOU. We are also tracking the all-in, split costs so that we are aware of all staff doing collaborative work. The goal is to achieve our common mission; this added cost model allows us to do that without unduly burdening any conference.

If a family member comes and lives in your house, you’re not going to charge them for everything that was already being spent on the house. You’re going to charge them for the new cost that they created for the household.

The information on the cost savings ($424,000 and $365,000) is the cost avoidance. By doing the collaboration, GNJ and EPA don’t have to hire those respective positions. If we were not collaborating, we would need to hire those positions.

How does this collaboration affect staff workload? Can we hear more about the feasibility and sustainability of this collaboration?

GNJ has excellent staff who have been committed and seen the need for collaboration. One of the roles that’s been intentionally on the task force for both EPA and GNJ has been someone from the HR committee. These team members have been Iona Harding, Penny Zimmerman and Jay Kim. Early on in the process, we did a survey of all our collaborative staff and one of the things that came back was, at the beginning of collaboration, there was work added. However, now we are hearing that much of the alignment and early challenges have been resolved; we are finding additional efficiencies and seeing the benefits of collaboration.

The question was around what is defined as six months, how can you tell if somebody’s active in the church for six months, and what counts as sort of a screened volunteer?

Each congregation needs a Safe Sanctuaries Team to develop policies that are contextually based. GNJ has a series of standards for what minimally has to be in there. Local churches reflect on their ministry and their mission and approve a policy that works for their context.

We receive many similar questions about Vacation Bible School. Can you have adults from outside of your local church volunteer with your Vacation Bible School if they haven’t been active members of your local church for six months? And the answer is yes. However, you still want to make sure that they are screened, that they go through the background check process, that they have your Safe Sanctuaries policy, and they know it, and that they’ve done the sexual abuse awareness training. In addition, you do not want to leave them in charge by themselves. They do not become your sole point to people without being paired with somebody that you know because even though we know that there’s lots of things that happen that we don’t know about, and we can put all of the protections in place, and there’s still a possibility that someone could be harmed. If you know your folks, you have a better chance of being able to catch what’s inappropriate behavior and what’s appropriate behavior.

What does the MOU provide regarding evaluating what is being provided to churches?

You can find the evaluation section of the MOU on page 38 of the Digital Pre-Conference Workbook.

How will we continue to evaluate the MOU and collaboration with EPA&GNJ?

The MOU is a working document which commits us to regular evaluation and reports to ensure the collaboration is serving both EPA&GNJ well.

Are the goals and outcomes in the Strategic Direction combined for GNJ and EPA?

Yes. For example, the goal is 40 full time potential appointees between EPA&GNJ.

Will get updated for Annual Conference Reports?  2022 and 2023 are missing

The platform, specifically the ‘find a church’ feature, is managed by UMCOM (General Agency) and not by the annual conference. This system is designed to be able to be updated by individual local churches, though I know many have had issues with this function. Regrettably, updates to this platform are outside of our direct control. We share your frustration regarding the timeliness of the updates and continue to communicate with the general agency to ensure the pages are maintained accurately and promptly. is always 2 years behind.

Will 2024 Journal be available before Labor Day with episcopal changeover?

We are committed to ensuring that the 2024 Journals are available by the end of August, prior to the episcopal transition. The communications team appreciates the patience extended by EPA&GNJ as we have worked to streamline our processes and address delays with past journals. We are now current with our publications and have implemented robust systems for timely updates. For further inquiries, please contact James Lee at

When did Dividing Creek close?

Dividing Creek closed 12/31/23

What is the future for Next Gen Ministries?

Last year, an amendment was offered to recommend dissolving the Next Gen nonprofit after the sale of the camps. It was not adopted. At this time, the sales of the camps have not yet closed. When they do, Next Gen will report on the sale, including plans to invest proceeds. The Next Gen Board is discussing what is next for the nonprofit organization, Next Generation Ministries once the camps have been sold. At this time, GNJ, and in collaboration with EPA as well, we continue to be committed to IGNITE, collaborative youth groups, training events for youth leaders, and sending young people to camps and retreats in EPA.

For the Strategic Plan, if it is actually for both conferences then how are we tracking progress for GNJ?

It is a goal we’re working on together, but we’re also counting separately so that we know the numbers for each conference. We’ve made great progress in cross-conference appointments and recruiting, which is good for all of us.