That the Board of World Mission (BWM) has a watchword chosen for them every year?
“Ask and you shall receive so that your joy may be complete.” (John 16:24) is the 2020 watchword chosen for the BWM. Jesus is speaking with his disciples as his physical presence on earth is nearing fulfillment. He is encouraging them to persist boldly in prayer as they go forward in living the Way that he has taught and demonstrated while he accompanied them. We all are called to do the same…to be mindful to maintain contact with God as the source that guides our decision-making and actions as we partner with the people of the worldwide Unity of the Moravian Church. As with all human endeavors we experience challenges but also joy as we are assured of God’s presence in the midst of our relationships and activities. In the coming year, efforts of the BWM include the translation of theological and denominational resources, the training of Moravian leaders with those prepared materials, ongoing communication of the BWM and others’ domestic and international efforts and outreach, fundraising to benefit Mission Grants and the availability of undesignated funds, the creation of an invitation to join the BWM in new initiatives as well as maintaining the variety of ongoing ways we serve alongside each other in God’s mission in the world. As we begin this new year of opportunities please prayerfully consider how your gifts and talents can help us continue to serve the greater church together.
We look forward to hearing from and meeting you.
In faith, love and hope,
Director of Mission Service, BWM
Two Spring courses, which start in early April, will probably fill up fast. On Thursdays, the Rev. Joanne Marchetto will again teach our New Testament course. Jo puts special emphasis on biblical interpretation so that this course increases personal knowledge and prepares participants for teaching and preaching. Join us for this fascinating walk through the New Testament.
On Mondays we are offering our most popular course, Contextual Outreach. Dr. Jill Peters has taken over sixty congregations through this process of examining demographic data, exploring our context, and engaging local leaders for the purpose of developing a ministry plan focused on serving our neighbors. This course is open to individuals or discounted for church teams.
OneByOne Lily Grant Possibilities
It’s a new year, which means new opportunities! Active clergy under call or appointment by the PEC are eligible to apply for grants up to $1000/year to reimburse expenses toward coaching, spiritual direction, and/or (in the SP) continuing education. Contact your PEC office for guidelines and application. Note: Each Province has slightly different grant requirements.
Although I do not have personal experience with the following programs, they seem to be worth consideration. Please note the possibility that one or more of these may be restricted to US clergy only.
[For new clergy in their first five years] https://leadership.divinity.duke.edu/what-we-offer/programs/foundations-of-christian-leadership/
Audrey West, Project Administrator, [email protected]
Pilgrimage to the Holy Land
Hopeton and Shelia Clennon will lead a 10-day pilgrimage to the Holy Land June 30-July 9, 2020. The itinerary includes travel through Israel and Palestine visiting major Biblical sites in Nazareth, Capernaum, Caesarea, Jericho, Bethlehem and Jerusalem. The all-inclusive cost from New York Kennedy airport starts at $3,698 per person based on double occupancy.
Calendar of Events
February 22, 2020 – East Hills Moravian Church, Bethlehem, PA & Saturday, February 27, 2020 – Palmyra Moravian Church, Cinnaminson, NJ- Hope Conference Camp Season Kick of Dinners with silent auction, camp song sing-a-long (bring your guitar and play along), sale of camp gear and more!
March 27-29, 2020, Hope Conference and Retreat Center – Portals to Prayer Retreat. Take some time during the season of Lent to learn how icons, mandalas, adult coloring, prayer beads, and other techniques can be used to deepen your prayer life. Led by Rev. Dr. Tracy Pryor (Great Kills Moravian Church) and Rev. Michael Pool of Earth and Cup.
April 17 – 19, 2020 – Hope Conference Center Camp Work Weekend. Help open up lower camp and prepare it for the new camping season.
May 8 and 9, 2020 – Hope Conference Center, NEMDR: Intro to Mission. Offered by the North East Moravian Disaster Response.
May 15-17, 2020 – Eastern District Confirmation Retreat, Hope Conference Center.
May 22-24, 2020 – Hope Conference Center Memorial Day Family Camp. Join others from around the Eastern District for a weekend of relaxation. Swim, boat, fish or visit nearby attractions. Bring your own tent or trailer or reserve a cabin.
May 25, 2019 10 am – 6 pm – Hope Conference Center. This event is a celebration for EVERYONE in the Eastern District. Come explore the camp in this free open house. Bring your own picnic lunch; grill and pavilion are available.
June 24-27, 2020 – The 2020 Synod of the Eastern District of the Moravian Church, Northern Province. To be held on the North Campus of Moravian College in Bethlehem, PA. The theme of this synod is, “Into the World…This is the Challenge of Our Mission”.
Pick-Up & Play—Play guitar? Learning how to play another instrument? Enjoy singing along? Join other Moravians & friends from around the area for a praise and worship hangout on Friday, February 28th, 6:30-9:00pm on Moravian College campus (Chaplain’s Office, 1305 Main St., Bethlehem). Dinner provided. Bring your own instrument, which includes your voice, for a night of playing, learning, and singing praise songs
What’s the deal with IRA changes?
By Chris Spaugh
2019 closed out with a flurry of new laws being signed into existence. Many people were not paying attention as the excitement of Christmas approached and our elected officials largely led us to believe everything was being done to approve a spending bill and keep our government running. At 2,300 plus pages I doubt seriously that many of our elected officials looked at it, much less read the legislation in the 24 hours they had before voting. Part of the year end flurry included legislation called the Secure Act (Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement). This Act had several changes for IRAs (Individual Retirement Accounts) that should cause owners of these accounts to review estate plans and/or generally be aware of the changes.
Required Minimum Distribution
The Required Minimum Distribution (RMD) age moved up from 70 ½ to 72. In 2020 or later you will not be forced to withdraw money from your IRA until after your 72nd birthday. You can still make a Qualified Charitable Distribution (QCD) from your IRA at 70 ½ since the law did not change the age for a QCD (of course, doing the QCD before age 72 will not count toward a required minimum distribution since those don’t start until age 72 going forward).
IRA contributions are no longer prohibited for those over age 70 ½. This is a great value-added change since many people are working longer and the changes in the law allow contributions as long as you have earned income. You can continue to save for your future as you see fit. Roth IRAs have never had an age restriction, so the change applies to traditional IRAs.
One of the most meaningful changes to IRAs was the elimination of the “Stretch” IRA for some beneficiaries. Historically when you inherit an IRA, as a non-spouse beneficiary, you could stretch distributions over your life expectancy as the beneficiary. For most beneficiaries who inherit an IRA or define contribution plan in 2020 and beyond, the beneficiary will have to withdraw the IRA account fully within 10 years. This also means that the beneficiary will fully pay income taxes on the withdraws. The law gives flexibility to the beneficiary on when and how they make withdraws but they must fully take the account balance from the inherited IRA by the end of the 10th year following the original IRA owner’s death. The Secure Act did not abolish the “Stretch” IRA for Eligible Designated Beneficiaries or EDBs but that is a relatively small group of people. EDBs include the following:
- Surviving spouses
- Minor children, up to majority age (this does not apply to grandchildren)
- Disabled individuals (as defined under strict IRS rules)
- Chronically ill individuals
- Individuals not more than 10 years younger than the IRS owner (think siblings around the same age)
No one likes to pay more tax than they need. People typically do not want to cause tax for their heirs either. As you review your estate plans consider the assets you are leaving to your heirs and the assets you are leaving to your church or favorite Moravian entity. IRAs for example, left directly to charity, cause a tax by-pass because charities do not have to pay tax on those assets. Retirement assets left directly to individuals cause the individuals to pay taxes upon withdraw of funds. For IRAs and Defined Contribution Plans, that withdraw for most beneficiaries is now on a faster speed allowing more taxes paid within a 10-year period (see above paragraph). If you have life insurance, make sure your heirs are the beneficiaries there because life insurance usually passes with little to no tax impact to an individual taxpayer.
Another idea would be to leave your IRA assets to a charitable remainder trust. The trust would create an income stream to your heirs for their lifetimes, giving them the ability to spread any tax impact. The balance in the trust, when your heirs enter the more immediate presence of our Savior, would pass to your church or favorite Moravian entity.
If you have questions about these or any strategy, please call Chris Spaugh at 888-722-7923 or email Chris at [email protected]
Bring a little color into these gray winter months. Click here to order your Moravian Sun Catcher: https://store.moravian.org/product/moravian-star-suncatchers/
Looking for new curriculum for Sunday School? Living Branches is a 13-week program broken into age appropriate lessons. Click here to see the different editions:
Synod Registration Due February First
If your church has not yet sent your synod registration form and registration fee, to the Eastern District Office, please kindly forward this to the synod office. The registration forms were emailed with the “Call to Synod” in early August of 2019 and are due February 1st. Synod correspondences will be sent to your delegates shortly and registration is needed to receive this information. Help us to make sure your delegates do not miss any of these important emails. Thank you for your help. The mailing address of the synod office is: 1021 Center Street, Bethlehem, PA 18018.