Paid for by your OCWM Contributions| December 30, 2020
Message to the Conference
Members and friends of Penn Central Conference-

I want to open with a word of appreciation to Rev. Julie Holm and her team for their work on the Penn Central Conference’s Christmas Cantata! The team worked to select hymns from the African American spiritual tradition as well as accompanying poems from African American poet Howard Thurman. The choir’s singing and the poetry moved me to read more of Thurman’s poems and I also wanted to share a note about Watch Night Services.

Tara Lake writes in the African American Lectionary about how slave owners would sometimes offer the week between Christmas and New Year’s as “vacation” and separated families could gather in churches to be together for a brief time. She writes of how this night was one for building spiritual fortitude and solace as they prepared again for separation the next morning. New Year’s Day was also called “Heartbreak Day” as families again headed back to their plantations.

Methodists and Moravians also celebrated Watch Night as a yearly vigil to reflect on the last year and think about the coming year. But the service would take on new significance on December 31, 1862 as African Americans and abolitionists gathered awaiting the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation the following day. In many churches that night, parts of the Proclamation were read aloud as attendees celebrated the deliverance God had brought about.

Watch Night services are still celebrated annually as a time of “praise, thanksgiving, prayer and confession” and it is in that spirit that I offer you Thurman’s poem “Blessings at Year’s End.” After each line, I encourage you to reflect prayerfully in moments of silence.

I remember with gratitude the fruits of the labors of others, which I have shared as a part of the normal experience of daily living.

I remember the beautiful things that I have seen, heard, and felt - some as a result of seeking on my part, and many that came unheralded into my path, warming my heart and rejoicing my spirit.

I remember the moments of distress that proved to be groundless and those that taught me profoundly about the evilness of evil and the goodness of good.

I remember the new people I have met, from whom I have caught glimpses of the meaning of my own life and true character of human dignity.

I remember the dreams that haunted me during the year, keeping me mindful of goals and hopes which I did not realize but from which I drew inspiration to sustain my life and keep steady my purposes.

I remember the awareness of the spirit of God that sought me out in my aloneness and gave to me a sense of assurance that undercut my despair and confirmed my life with new courage and abiding hope.

May the new year bring God’s blessing and peace into your life. Amen.



Rev. Nora Foust
Associate Conference Minister
Penn Central Conference
Scheduling Notes:

December 25 - January 1 - Office closed
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...

St. John's UCC, Chambersburg
Solomon's UCC, Chambersburg
Zion Reformed UCC, Chambersburg
Christ UCC, Codorus
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.

Lancaster Online: Lancaster County churches grapple with worship, safety in COVID pandemic (with quotes from our own Rev. Carrie Call and Rev. Chris Rankin)
Weekly Book Reviews
December's reviews by Rev. Amelia Price

In his prescient book Jones outlines, explains, and justifies the title. It is an eye opening and scathing rebuke of a church that will not change and will suffer the consequences of that rigidity. Yet it offers hope.
It was written in the shadow of the 2016 election and in the reconning of that event that Jones lays out his premise and outlines the rise and fall of what he calls, WCA, “White Christian America” an idealized image of a “christian america” that was neither fully Christian nor even aware of the bigotry and exclusion of the movement. He describes the history of the birth of the United States and goes into great detail to lay out the foundation layers of white supremacy built into it. He describes a shared cultural experience that smoothed over much of the racial conflict and gave a context to it, while not giving rise to a rejection of the inherent evil of systemic racial abuse.
Jones goes into great detail about the rise of Donald Trump as a product of the dying breath of WCA and uses that election and the beginnings of that presidency to describe the remaining power of it.
The End of White Christian America will be a challenging read for anyone unwilling to look at the way some segments of Conservative, Evangelical Christianity have been used as cover for prejudice, exclusion, systemic racism, and an unwillingness to even acknowledge those evils exist. It will shake some foundations for those who say that the Church is above all that. But this book will allow a clear eyed discussion of where we are as a country and where we need to be to live into the fullness of what Jesus came to do.
Jones deals with these issues within 5 categories: Vital signs, Politics, Family, and Race. Within each, he lays out detailed survey data and interpretation that support the premise that White Christian America was not the shining beacon she saw herself to be, simply because so many were excluded and are still excluded from the opportunities.

In describing his book, he uses the story of his family bible, “To my knowledge, it is the oldest existing object in our family, carefully passed down through six generations. There is undoubtedly some irony in dedicating a book about the decline of this world to the people who brought me into it. [Jones dedicated his book to his parents] Like many other white Protestant Americans who share similar family histories, they will not celebrate its loss. But I dedicate this book to them because of the unwavering faith, support, and love they have always provided me, gifts they inherited and passed down from this world.” {Jones, Robert P. “The End of White Christian America” (p. 251). Simon & Schuster. Kindle Edition. (Loc 3362 id 5676)}

It is just that juxtaposition that fills this book with salient insight, scathing rebuke, yet hope that when we are willing to learn from our past, our future can be much more.
And just for fun, despite the title, a fun, accessible and fascinating read on the ancient and cherished nectar we call, “wine.” In collaboration with University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology and the Robert Mondavi Winery, McGovern traces the beverage we enjoy today back through the mists of time, noting and explaining the origins and processes that lead circuitously to the bottle we may have in our fridge.
By using modern archeological techniques, current food and nutrition science, shards of pottery from China, Europe, the Middle East, and the expertise of the winemakers at Mondovi, McGovern studies, explains, and notates the study of and re-creation of ancient recipes by chemical analysis of the residue on shards of pottery from around the world, to re-create the beverages that are historical predecessors of the wine we enjoy today.
Tracing the journeys of archeologist, historian, and winemaker, McGovern tells a fascinating story. From the communal pots of fruit, nuts, twigs, resin, and air borne yeast to the clay jugs of ancient Rome and China, the manner and creation of wine is traced through actual recreation of these ancient brews. [Also a fun read: Ancient Brews: Rediscovered and Re-created by Patrick E McGovern Forward by: Sam Calagione of Dogfish Head Brewery}
McGovern delves into the sciences of nutrition, viticulture, botany, and winemaking. He tells the story of ancient peoples and their efforts to produce various and complex beverages, using components readily available, showing the creativity and wisdom of peoples to whom this kind of expertise was withheld y the assumptions of generations of scientists. Even hunter-gathers showed an amazing understanding of foraged and gathered plants and fruit to create beverages for enjoyment and medicinal purposes.
If you enjoy wine, this book will give you an insight and appreciation of how long humanity has been enjoying a similar beverage and how creative modern nutrition and archeological science are. This volume is a bit less accessible than “Ancient Brews,” but just as fascinating.
From the series: Food and Nutrition in History and Anthropology:
Volume 11 THE ORIGINS AND ANCIENT HISTORY OF WINE Edited by Patrick E. McGovern, Stuart J. Fleming and Solomon H. Katz
Penn Central Conference's own Rev. Dave Stewart (New Hope (Fissel's) UCC, Glen Rock) has contributed to the anthology The Death Project: An Anthology for These Times. In this collection of stories, poems, memoirs, and information, 36 writers from across the US, Australia, Turkey, Britain, Bosnia and Herzegovina share their experiences of death, dying, grief, and recovery. The writers are Muslims, Christians, Hindus, Bah'ais, atheists, and New Age. They are different races and from different immigrant communities. Some write of family loss including suicide, others of war or devastating illness, COVID-19 and Black Lives Matter. Others share rituals that help them recover.
Rev. Jes Kast (Faith UCC, State College) is featured on the cover of the January/February 2021 issue of Spirituality & Health magazine. See more here.

Rev. Christina Fidanza (Freysville Emmanuel UCC, York) wrote an Advent devotional for the Open and Affirming Coalition's Picture Advent. Read it here.
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.

OWL Taking Flight: WYD sliding into my DMs? January 6, 2021 @ 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm

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
Pennsylvania Academy of Ministry at LTS

Nondegree classes are ideal for:
  • Lay Ministers already pastoring churches
  • Pastoral Leaders in part-time or bi-vocational ministries
  • Individuals in discernment
  • Laity serving Christian denominations and independent churches

Theology II: “Leadership and Community,” Jan 9–Feb 18, 2021. The Rev. Holly MillerShank offers a six-week online class through the Pennsylvania Academy of Ministry at Lancaster Theological Seminary. The class provides an introduction to Christian theology, focusing on the human condition, Christian hope, the church, ministry, and mission. Students may take this class without having taken Theology I. This 2.5 CEU class starts Saturday, Jan 9, followed by five weeks of asynchronous online instruction. Cost $325. Apply online at
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!
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
Search & Call Associates
Mercersburg, York and Gettysburg Association Churches
Rev. Richard Gordon

Northern and Central Association Churches
Carolyn Herman
H: 570-538-9704
C: 570-220-8589

Harrisburg, Lancaster and Lebanon Association Churches
Rev. Richard Luciotti

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