Paid for by your OCWM Contributions| January 13, 2021
Message to the Conference
Members and friends of Penn Central Conference-

“You Lord keep my lamp burning, my God turns my darkness into light.” Psalm 18:28
Barbara Brown Taylor writes in Time magazine “darkness is shorthand for anything that scares me—that I want no part of—either because I am sure that I do not have the resources to survive it or because I do not want to find out." As a little girl I remember being very afraid of the dark. I would dread going to bed because I knew that until I finally fell asleep, I was in a state of pure terror. Many nights I would barricade myself in my bed by placing all of my stuffed animals around the perimeter of my bed to protect me from whatever I feared would get me as I slept. Looking back, I wonder what Winnie the Pooh or Snoopy would have done to the dreadful Boogieman.

2020 has been our modern day Boogieman. It has been a year filled with unrest and burdens. Not regular burdens that we have experienced before. The burdens of 2020 are monumental. The weariness that has entered many of our hearts has become almost unbearable, leaving us hopeless and in the dark.

Although many of us prayed for better things to happen in 2021, the hope of that has not started off well with the atrocity that happened last week at our Capitol. Where is the hope? Where is the light in the darkness? David experienced the darkness when he was being hunted by Saul. I can only imagine that he was fearful. But David placed his confidence in God, that God would preserve his life. God turned David’s darkness into one of light.

Light symbolizes life and goodness. God can change our fears, our uncertainties, our darkest times into joy, hope and light. When life seems so out of control, when I am at my darkest point, I remember these words of Psalmist and I can finally take a deep breath because I know that God can turn my situation that has taken my into the darkness of the pit and shine His light so that I can see the hope again.

On Sunday as my church’s prelude, I played a song by country singer John Rich called Earth to God. The chorus words are:

           “We need your light; we need your love,
           To heal the world you made,
           And save us now in our darkest hour, with your amazing grace.
           Earth to God.”

When the prelude ended, I looked at the little squares on the screen and I saw that almost all of the congregants were glued to their screens. I believe that the reason for their intense attentiveness was because these lyrics were exactly what every single person on the Zoom feed had been thinking, praying or hoping for in the midst of what has happened to our world in the last year.

This verse has been my saving grace lately. I have placed it on a post-it-note to my bathroom mirror to remind me that God is the light that can see me through the darkest times of my life. God keeps my lamp burning when I don’t have any flame left in me. My prayer is that this Psalm can give you the peace that it has given me. Place a post-it-note somewhere to remind you that God will keep your flame aglow too. May it be so.
Many blessings,

Rev. Dr. Ronnette Comfort-Butler
Coordinator of Care to Clergy and Clergy Families
Penn Central Conference
Clergy Colleagues – The clergy of PCC have been invited to join with clergy from PSEC and PNE for a Clergy Convocation in 2022. The currently scheduled speaker is the Rev. Dr. Emily Heath, author of Glorify: Reclaiming the Heart of Progressive Christianity (2016) and Courageous Faith: How to Rise and Resist in a Time of Fear (2017). To assist with our preparation and planning, please answer two quick questions at this link regarding first and second choices for a date ASAP. A third question refers to future speakers. That’s it! Your feedback will be of great assistance and we thank you in advance.
Scheduling Notes:

January 17 - St. John's UCC, Boalsburg - Rev. Carrie Call preaching
January 17 - Trinity UCC, Hanover - Rev. Nora Foust preaching
January 24 - Trinity UCC, Mountville - Rev. Nora Foust preaching
January 24 - Trinity UCC, Hanover - Rev. Dr. Carrie Call preaching
January 31 - Shiloh UCC, Danville - Rev. Dr. Marisa Laviola preaching
Prayers for Penn Central Conference
Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere. Ephesians 6:18 (NLT)

This week, we pray for each other as we continue to live into God's calling...

Salem UCC, Columbia
St. John's UCC, Dallastown
St. John's UCC, Dallastown
Zion (Stone Valley) UCC, Dalmatia
Last fall, Indiana-Kentucky Conference created a series of videos that churches can use as a virtual Children's Sunday School option. The curriculum was written by a gifted group in the Conference, and they graciously allowed us to use it. The curriculum theme is, "God Loves Our Feelings." There are 12 weeks of videos, and each video focuses on a different feeling that our children of all ages have probably felt during these pandemics.
Here is the link to the videos:
2020 Remittance Deadline

Attention treasurers! The deadline for remittance to be counted for 2020 is TODAY January 13, 2021. As long as your remittance is postmarked by January 13 AND is marked as 2020 remittance, it will be included on your 2020 giving statement, OCWM and 5 for 5 certificates.

If you have any questions, please reach out to Paul.
COVID-19 Resources

Penn Central Conference has added a special section on our website for COVID-19 resources, including the times and links for Zoom meetings. Keep checking regularly for updates.

Weekly Book Reviews
January's reviews by Rev. Dave Downer
If you’re interested in some good escapist fiction and perhaps learning and reflecting at the same time, I’d recommend Celeste Ng’s two novels, Little Fires Everywhere, and Everything I Never Told YouBoth are award-winning novels and provide insight and awareness of another prejudiced group within our society. Ms. Ng is a native Pennsylvanian having grown up in Pittsburgh and the community of Shaker Heights, a neighborhood she loosely uses in her novel Little Fires Everywhere. She is a graduate of Harvard University and earned a Master of Fine Arts from the University of Michigan. Amazon named Little Fires Everywhere winner of the 2017 Best Work of Fiction award. Her work has also been published in over 30 languages.

For those interested in historical fiction, try Paul Yoon’s fairly quick read Run Me to Earth. Published in 2020, this book follows the lives of three Laotian children during the Vietnam War. The book is both disturbing and inspiring as it follows the experiences and subsequent lives of these children as they experience the horrors and displacement caused by war, quite often at the hands of those they consider “Allies”. 
As an aside, I don’t purchase all these books but try to reserve them through our excellent local library. Those I can’t find, I try first the website, a site where you can purchase used books in decent condition for a fraction of the cost you’d spend on new.
New Communities of Practice Forming Now

"The gift of a Community of Practice lies in the safe space and deep engagement it provides. I know that I have a group of people with whom to be my authentic self, where I can receive wisdom and compassion and do the same for the other group members. We laugh and we cry, we celebrate and console. Communities of Practice can draw us out of the isolation in which ministers often place ourselves." –PCC Clergy Participant

“I was unsure of what to expect when I joined the group, but something told me this was a commitment I felt called to make. Over a year in now and oh, how thankful I am. Nora prayed over the groups as she was putting people together and I believe those prayers were heard. Our group, we are here for one another, we trust in each other, we pray for one another, we genuinely enjoy one another. We may be physically in different spaces, however spiritually and emotionally we are connected. It’s like having pastor’s recess when we get together. I give thanks to God for this group on a regular basis.” –Another PCC Clergy Participant 

As you can see, Clergy Communities of Practice have been invaluable for participants over this past year. These are covenanted groups that meet monthly for worship, check-in and learning topics. More information available on the attached flyer or contact Nora if interested in participation.
Spring 2021 Ministerial Education Forums – Third Tuesdays
Due to the constraints of Zoom interactions, MEFs will have registration limits. If a registration is full, email Paul to be added to a waiting list. Please let us know if you need to cancel so your spot can be given to someone on the waiting list.
January 19: Rev. Dr. Carrie Call – Psychology for Ministry: Moral Development
How do we come to know what’s right and wrong? How do ideas about morality form and what affects them? This gathering will be the first entry into considering how psychological reality connects to and undergirds our work in ministry. Moral development covers how we come to make moral decisions and what affects our motivations. This will be a time for learning new concepts as well as engaging in self-reflection and discussion. The material will clarify aspects of ministry and help us to understand ourselves and each other better.
10:00AM registration
6:00PM registration

February 16: Rev. Dr. Marisa Laviola – Pastoring Parishioners: A Mental and Relational Health Perspective
Pastors know the dear ones in our congregations who are beloved yet bristly; loveable and frustrating at the same; and sometimes just a perennial thorn in our sides. We may struggle how to be in relationship with these dear ones, while not allowing their bristle to push us or others away. This two-hour workshop will present a compassionate framing for how to understand these folks and how to relate most effectively with them in effective pastoral ways.
10:00AM registration
6:00PM registration

March 16: Stephanie Rader-Titzel - Mission Central and Connecting to Local Mission Possibilities
“Mission Central is about ‘Connecting God’s Resources with Human Need.’ This is accomplished by following three areas of focus…Mission Outreach, Mission Education and Disaster Response.” Mission Central – located in Harrisburg - partners with over 180 different organizations and they provide resources to groups who are doing humanitarian work locally, across the country and around the world. Stephanie will talk with us about connecting with Mission Central as well as how to tap into mission opportunities and organizations in our various counties.
April 20: Dr. Bob Fogel - Personalities and Communication
How often have these words occurred to you after a meeting or a difficult conversation? What I could have said. . . . What I should not have said was. . . . What we say to others and how we say it is a complex process. Psychological personality type seen through the lens of Meyers-Briggs (commonly known as the MBTI©) provides a useful roadmap to engaging others with authenticity and integrity—and care. Come to learn about others and yourself! (Qualifies for Boundary Training.)

More event registration links here.
Specialty Retreats for Clergy
January 27, 7:00 – 9:00 PM: Connect and Create: Spiritual Painting with Kara Young
A time to create and connect. Learn to use a canvas as a physical space to process stress, sadness, joy, and prayers. No painting experience needed. Shopping list will be provided to you upon registration. (All items are available at Michael’s, Dollar Tree and on-line). Kara Young is a member of Penn Central, resides in Gettysburg and is a published liturgical artist. Registration here.
February 2, 10:00 – 11:15 AM: Nourishing Your Inner Sanctuary with Allie Kochert
Are you feeling overwhelmed and stressed? Sensing your burnout and weary for all that encompasses ministering to others in Covid times? Know you need spiritual self-care, but have trouble fitting it in? Join us as we center in on our spiritual self-care together. Practice mindful listening and learn ways to keep your resiliency up during these trying times. Allie Kochert, MA, LPC, CSD is a spiritual director and therapist who specializes in serving clergy, women in ministry, and helpers and healers. Learn more at
Lectionary Discussion Group continues in the new year! Join other clergy on Tuesdays at 1:00PM to discuss the lectionary passages. NEW Zoom link here.
Association Events:

Sunday, January 24, 3:00 PM - Ecclesiastical Council for Sue Schmidt held via Zoom - Dover UCC, Dover

Sunday, January 31, 3:00 PM - Kelsey O'brian Ordination via Zoom
UCC Webinars

These webinars are designed to help you enhance your local church ministries. Most are free to attend. Check out the calendar here.

What’s Possible?: Faith and Climate Policy in 2021 January 13, 2021 @ 1:00 pm - 2:00 pm
Looking Ahead:

General Synod "Rooted in Love: Special Edition"
General Synod 33 will take place Sunday July 11, 2021 – Sunday July 18, 2021. Pre-Synod events will occur on July 7-10, 2021. Learn more here
Do you - or someone you know - need to complete the UCC History & Polity requirement for authorization? Are you interested in learning more about the UCC?
Now's the time to sign up for the seven-week 2021 online course UCC History & Polity.
The Zoom classes will meet live from 2-5pm on Fridays from Feb. 12 through March 26. Just $100! Questions? Contact Dr. Carrie Call, at

Class is filling fast - so register soon!
From our Partners & Friends:
Waynesboro Area Fellowship of Churches presents
Reconciliation: Bringing Us Together
First Zoom Webinar on January 21st, 6:30PM
"Reconciliation: Desiring and Achieving Unity and Oneness" with Rev. John Dorhaur
Parish Resource Center is partnering with CHI St. Joseph Children’s Health for a FREE Parenting Webinar Series: Mindfulness, Brain Development, and Behavior - January 14, 7- 8:30pm; Simplicity Parenting - February 11, 7-8:30pm; Unplugged - March 11, 7-8:30pm; Family Communication - April 15, 7-8:30pm. For more information and to register for these workshops,
Parish Resource Center offers basic, stand-alone Technology Webinars: Intro to PowerPoint – January 14, 7-8:30pm; Zoom for Presenters – February 8, 7-8:30pm; Intro to Word – March 1, 7-8:30pm; Intro to Excel – April 28, 7-8:30pm; Intro to Publisher – May 13, 7-8pm. For more information and to register for these workshops,
A Gift Acceptance Policy is an essential but often overlooked section of endowment governance. Matthew Wagner, Vice President of Institutional Relationships, has prepared this article that lays out practices and strategies in creating a Gift Acceptance Policy. Click here to read and download the article.

The Alumni Council of Lancaster Theological Seminary awards these special honors annually to graduates of any denomination.The Meck Award honors the memory of Allan S. Meck, Class of 1911, president of the Seminary from 1947-57. It is presented for distinguished service in the practice of pastoral ministry.TheMoss Awardis named for Robert V. Moss, Jr., Class of 1945, president of the Seminary from 1957-69. Itis presented for distinguished service in the practice of specialized ministry (e.g., chaplain, administrator, educator, judicatory staff, etc.). Learn how to nominate someone here!
Employment Opportunities

The Center for Spiritual Formation is seeking applicants for the position of Center Director beginning July 1, 2021. For more information or for an application, contact the center office at
Staff Directory
Rev. Dr. Carrie Call, Ph.D.
Conference Minister
Phone: 717-652-1560 ex. 12

Rev. Nora Driver Foust
Associate Conference Minister 
Phone: 717-652-1560 ex.13

Rev. Dr. Marisa Laviola, Ph.D.
Associate Conference Minister
Phone: 717-652-1560 ex. 15

Rev. Dr. Ronnette Comfort-Butler
Facilitator of Care to Clergy & Clergy Families
phone: 717-719-1895
Zoë D'heedene
Coordinator of Camps/Retreats
Phone: 717-652-1560 ex. 16
C. Paul Keller
Office Manager
Phone: 717-652-1560 ex. 14
If you have future eNews stories, please send them to C. Paul Keller
Contact information: C. Paul Keller | email: | phone: 717-652-1560