Paid for by your OCWM Contributions| January 6, 2021
Message to the Conference
Members and friends of Penn Central Conference-

Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and God will dwell with them. They will be God’s people, and God will be with them and be their God. ‘God will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” The One who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” Revelation 21:1-5

The new and the old; the refreshing and the stale; new habits and old habits; revival and stagnation. When I think of venturing into any new year, these thoughts typically come to my mind. Will a “new year” in fact be new, or will it be part of the “same old” of last year? Will I be able to exchange non-helpful habits for new and helpful ones? Will I rise up from the stagnation of the “same old, same old”, and seek revival for my heart and spirit?
For 2021, I ponder about all of us in our churches, in our families, in our communities: will we continue to discover refreshing ways to be church, turning the pain of not meeting in person into the joy of discovering new ways to be together with more and new people? Will we be open to discover new ways, surprising ways, of loving and learning and growing together? Will we look for how God can transform crises into opportunities? Old habits into new habits, old perspectives into new ways of discovery? If we allow ourselves to stay focused on the pain and mire of our world and our country, especially as it played out in 2020, do we risk missing the hope that is nearby, the joy that is right in front of us?

The 21st chapter of the book of Revelation is a statement that even fearsome and exhausting illness and pain and conflict can be made new. Separation and dread can be no more. Everything that is not eternal, not a pure expression of spiritual truth, has been relegated to the lake of fire to be purified and reborn in more positive ways. And so John of Patmos proclaims: "Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God ..." (Rev. 21:1-3). A loud voice announces that "the home of God is among mortals. God will dwell with them; they will be God’s peoples, and God will be with them; wiping every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more; mourning and crying and pain will be no more, for the first things have passed away." All earthly illusions of duality and separation from our Source are gone. And "the [Source] who was seated on the throne" proclaims resolutely. "Behold, I make all things new. Write this, for these words are trustworthy and true.”

My friends, these words in the 21st chapter remind me that there is no separation for us, God’s people, between heaven and earth. Perhaps we need reminding that we are a resurrection people, with the bedrock faith that God indeed brings life from death, continually making old things new. God’s realm of heaven comes to earth all the time: through the birth of a mortal baby in a stable, the manifestation of Christ’s love in one another, the words of a loved one who lifts us from despair into hope; the deep and ineffable heart knowledge that nothing can separate us from the love of God.
And we know, indeed we know, as we look and seek, we will find newness, revival, and refreshment, that only God can give and only we can receive and accept. Yes, my friends, God’s words, God’s Word, is “trustworthy and true" promised and fulfilled no matter who we are or where our life journey has brought us thus far.
With deep and abiding prayers for each and every one as we venture into this new year,
Rev. Dr. Marisa Laviola
Associate Conference Minister
Penn Central Conference
Scheduling Notes:

January 10 - Emmanuel UCC, Hanover - Rev. Dr. Carrie Call preaching
January 17 - St. John's UCC, Boalsburg - Rev. Carrie Call preaching
January 17 - Trinity UCC, Hanover - Rev. Nora Foust preaching
2020 Remittance Deadline

Attention treasurers! The deadline for remittance to be counted for 2020 is 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.
Coffee with Your Conference Staff

First Thursday of the Month, 10:00 AM
Join us to hear some updates from the Conference and hear reflections on a particular topic for the day from your clergy colleagues in the PCC. (If you are not able to attend, please see the question that follows the description below.)
January 7: What Christmas taught us about Church
We have emerged from the end of 2020 including our recent celebrations of Christmas. How did you “do” Christmas in your community and what did the experience reveal? How has our worship and approach to major holy days changed? What good insights and practices will we take forward into 2021? Five of your PCC colleagues will share their answers to these questions and invite your responses and reflections. Zoom link here.
Question for all our clergy serving churches: The staff would like to record some sermons that could be used by our clergy on an as-needed basis during the months to come. We could also provide liturgy materials that would complement the sermon. Is this a resource that might be helpful to you? If so, would you prefer lectionary-based messages or themed messages? (Suggestions for themes are also welcome.)
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
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.

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:
Weekly Book Reviews
January's reviews by Rev. Dave Downer
The Warmth of Other Suns by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Isabel Wilkerson is a wonderfully readable chronicle of the great migration of Black citizens that occurred in America from 1915-1970. It follows the lives of three individuals who fled the Jim Crow South in search of a better life.

Despite having read several books on the Black American experience, I discovered the experiences of these three individuals, Ida Mae Brandon Gladney, George Swanson Starling, and Robert Joseph Pershing Foster, personalized the systemic oppression so many in this country experienced, and sadly, still experience today. Despite their efforts to find freedom from restrictive Jim Crow laws in the South, the migrants discovered prejudice to exist in many forms. From education, job opportunities, housing, and simple decency, the struggle for survival and fair treatment is never-ending.

It’s not an exaggeration to say this book has changed the way I read and interpret American history as well as current events. In some cases, the described events disgusted and sickened me. Other times, the determination and perseverance shown in the face of cruel and inhumane conditions inspired me. Either way, the book provides a starting place for a better understanding how future reparations might serve to help a group of our fellow-citizens that have suffered immeasurably.
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

Save the dates, registration links to come:
March 16: Stephanie Rader-Titzel – Mission Central and Connecting to Local Mission Possibilities
April 20: Rev. Dr. Bob Fogal – Personalities and Communication
May 18
January 13: Rev. Nora Foust - Committee on Ministry Training (mostly for newbies, but seasoned folks are welcome)
10:00AM registration
6:00PM registration
Lectionary Discussion Group continues in the new year! Join other clergy on Tuesdays at 1:00PM to discuss the lectionary passages and enjoy. NEW Zoom link here.
Association Events:

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