Paid for by your OCWM Contributions| December 08, 2021
Message to the Conference
Dear Members and Friends of Penn Central Conference,
"See, I am sending my messenger to prepare the way before me, and the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple. The messenger of the covenant in whom you delight--indeed, he is coming, says the LORD of hosts." - Malachi 3:1
I must admit that I have struggled with this week’s epistle. In my conversations with pastors over these past couple of weeks, I have heard frustration and weariness, as well as a deep desire for hope that comes with anticipating the coming of the Light this Christmas; a hope that Emmanuel-- God-with-us--is still with us.

As I prepared to write, I pondered what more I could possibly say to commiserate with, bring a word of comfort, anticipate joy despite the ongoing COVID times we are in. I want to soothe. I want to encourage, but I don’t want to come off as pollyannish. I want to commiserate, I want to stand in solidarity, but I don’t want to bring us down further than we already are.

So I decided to look at last Sunday’s lectionary texts that speak of God-with-us, God STILL with us. This year’s Advent lections put pain and hope, lament, and anticipation of joy so expertly together in one large, encompassing understanding of our God. The text from Malachi immediately caught my eye and spoke to my heart as an affirmation of our God who was and is and will be; our God who has traversed the expanse of human existence, even as human existence has changed, as human understanding of bad times and good times has changed.

“The Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple…brought by a “messenger of the covenant whom you delight in.” What timeless words—given to ancient Hebrews; recalled by us today. Is the meaning the same? Is this Lord the same? Malachi was speaking assurances to the Hebrew people those millennia ago—words that we too so much long and need to hear. God is indeed timeless and shows up at any point along the human traverse of existence.

And then it dawned on me. God certainly has not changed in everlasting presence, love, and care. We have changed. Our ancient ancestors certainly knew the travesties of their existence and did not understand them as we do in our technological age of modern medicine, social media, and flip-of-the-switch news. They knew terrible plagues just as we know the plague of COVID. They knew unspeakable violence just as we hear about (or experience) unspeakable violence. They believed it all came from the hand of God, just as redemption came from the hand of God. To our benefit, we now understand that disease is a part of the natural order of human existence; violence is the result of human choices that thwart God’s desires for human relationships.

In many ways we are no different than our ancestors of faith. In many ways we are different because we know so much more, at least intellectually, what’s going on around us, and we understandably rail against it. I believe our ancestors accepted their experiences as part of their existence. That’s why the prophets re-assured them so much that despite their plight, God is with them, holding them, giving them hope and a future. Despite our knowledge, we too need so much to hear that despite anything we experience, God is with us, holding us, giving us hope and a future. And we Christians believe that’s why God became flesh—so we know that God understands every aspect of human existence. Jesus knew unspeakable pain and violence, the travesty of oppression and denial of relationship. And he knew at a deeply personal level.

So, my friends, this Advent I encourage us all to realize that the God of the Hebrews is our God—the Lord whom we seek who is foretold by the messenger of the covenant. My friends, especially this Advent I encourage us to contemplate this Jesus who came to us in a cold and damp and dung-filled stable, in a trough filled with hay and animal saliva; this Jesus who appeared first to the lowest members of society in the shepherds. Contemplate this Jesus who became a refugee in Egypt with his parents because Herod sought to kill him; who 30 years later continued a ministry of knowing first-hand the worst pains, illness, and travesties of human existence. Emmanuel—God with us.

And don’t stop there, friends. Look to the hope of the Light that we anticipate this Christmas—a saving light that leads us all the way to being a resurrection people; people who seek the God whom the Hebrews sought—and found—over and over again. And drink deeply of the well of assurance that as resurrection people, we continue our faith in the first resurrected one to bring hope out of the ashes, peace from unspeakable hardship, joy from the deepest sorrow, love beyond measure.

Rev. Dr. Marisa Laviola
Associate Conference Minister, Penn Central Conference
Address Change!

As you may have heard, the offices have moved! Please begin mailing any correspondence to our new PO Box:

Penn Central Conference
PO Box 6625
Harrisburg, PA 17112

Our physical address starting the week of November 15 (Do not mail letters to this address!)
St. Thomas UCC
6490 Linglestown Road
Harrisburg, PA 17112

We thank you for your patience during our move!

Updated phone numbers:
Marisa Laviola: 717-433-3564
Nora Foust: 717-433-2587
Carrie Call: 717-433-3196
Rick Luciotti: 717-433-6306
Paul Keller and main office line: 717-652-1560
Scheduling notes:

December 12 - Myerstown UCC, Myerstown - Rev. Dr. Marisa Laviola preaching
Printable eNews are available. Pastors and secretaries, please feel free to share with your congregation members that don't get this weekly email. Download and print this PDF with the weekly message to the conference, prayers for Penn Central and brief list of events.
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...

Dover UCC, Dover
Salem UCC, Dover
Mt. Olivet UCC, East Berlin
Zwingli UCC, East Berlin
The Virtual Choir is back! 
The Virtual Choir season debuts with G. F. Handel's "And the Glory of the Lord." The piece is the first chorus in Handel's masterwork, Messiah. The text, Isaiah 40:5, promises the presence of God's glory to all of humanity, and is a great option for either Advent or Christmas.
You can stream the music from the Penn Central Conference's YouTube Channel. The direct link is
You can download from Google Drive at :
Our next song will be Mendelssohn's "How Lovely Are the Messengers."  If you are interested in joining us, contact Julie Holm at Don't worry if you don't know the technology; Julie will help everyone be part of this project! 
Outdoor Ministries Winter Events

December 19 @ The Wittel Farm (7-8:30 p.m.)
Come gather around the outdoor fire and have cookies and cocoa in the barn. There will be inspiring lights and seasonal decorations!

For more information & to register, go to: 

"[Every]Body Of Christ" Youth/Confirmation Retreat
March 18-20 at Camp Nawakwa, located near Gettysburg. The weekend will begin at 7:00 on Friday evening and end with a closing program at 10:00 on Sunday morning. Cost is $100 for 2 nights of lodging and 4 meals (3 on Saturday and breakfast on Sunday) Learn more here. Registration link coming soon!
Clergy Events
Penn Central Conference Lectionary Discussion Group - This group is open to all clergy, meets weekly on Tuesdays at 1:00PM to discuss upcoming lectionary passages. Us this Zoom link here.
Advent Prayer Group
Pastors are you weary? Is the yoke of pastoring in this extended season of COVID heavy? Share your burdens and joys as we pray together on Thursdays at Noon during the season of Advent! A brief period of facilitated check-in will be followed by curated poems, prayers, and silence. Light a candle and feed your spirit this Advent by gathering in prayer with colleagues from Penn Central, Penn Northeast and Pennsylvania Southeast Conference and prepare for the inbreaking of Emmanuel once again!

Join us December 2, 9, 16 and 23 at noon We will end promptly at 1pm each week.
Zoom #882 9955 4125, passcode Pray
"History & Polity of the UCC" Class for Spring 2022
This annual course is being taught by Carrie Call and Penn Central Conference staff with special guests. Join with students from all over the UCC to learn more about who we are and where we came from as a denomination!

Classes will take place Fridays at 2:00PM starting February 11, 2022 through April 01, 2022. Register by January 30th. Registration is limited. Classes are online via Zoom. Register here.
UCC Webinars

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

The State of Black Bodies in the US - December 9, 3:30 pm - 4:30 pm

The State of Rural Churches & Communities - December 14, 3:30 pm - 4:30 pm

Blue Christmas Service - December 16, 3:30 pm - 4:30 pm
Global H.O.P.E. Kit Matching Grant Application (20-22)
- Grant Application will be awarded to churches that have submitted a completed Global H.O.P.E. Kit Matching Grant Application.
- Grant Applications for 2021 will be received through January 28, 2022. 
- Congregations that raise $250 or more (monetary or in-kind supplies) for Church World Service Kits are eligible to apply for a $250 matching grant from UCC Global H.O.P.E.
- Grant Applications must be accompanied by a completed W-9 form at
- 100% of Matching Grant funds must be used for purchasing supplies for the assembly of the CWS Kits or for processing costs ($3/Clean Up Bucket, $2/School or Hygiene Kit).
From our friends and partners
Conducting Church Safety Inspections
Webinar: December 9th, 2pm EST
It is critical for ministries to understand the importance of conducting regularly scheduled safety inspections of their facilities and grounds. This webcast will dive into the specifics about what needs to be evaluated at your church. Join us for our webcast on Thursday, December 9th, at 2:00 p.m., while Howard Sewell, Board Member of Insurance Board and retired insurance risk manager, offers suggestions on how to mitigate loss based upon inspection findings, as well as discussing the major loss drivers for churches.
Click here to register and learn more.
NEW online classes at the Pennsylvania Academy of Ministry:
Introduction to Pastoral Care, Jan. 6 – Feb. 10, 2022. This class provides an introduction to pastoral care with attention to trauma histories, healthy boundaries, self-care, and social justice. You will be introduced to pastoral care practices in a variety of settings, including organizing caring ministries within the congregation, and attend to particular circumstances of ministry, such as loss and grief, illness, marriage, and family. Learning activities include use of role play and analysis of case studies.
Fundraising Fundamentals: Churches and Other Non-Profits, Feb. 22 – March 29, 2022. This class provides essential fundraising tools for lay leaders, pastors, and other ministerial leaders. Whether working in a congregation or not-for-profit, all ministerial leaders need to be able to raise money. Taught by an experienced fundraising consultant, this class helps participants hone their skills in developing the fundraising “ask,” writing letters for fundraising, and leveraging networks to grow your ministry.
Each six-week class is offered online. 2.5 CEUs. $325. Deadline to register for Pastoral Care is December 21.
Employment Opportunities
UCC Homes is seeking an Accounts Payable/General Accounting Clerk for a full-time position working 75 hours in a two week pay period. This position requires previous general office experience, basic computer skills and attention to detail. Subject to reasonable accommodation for religious or medical reasons, proof of vaccination against the COVID-19 virus is a condition of employment for this position. Excellent wages and benefits, including retirement plan. EEOE
Interested persons should please mail, fax or e-mail resume and letter of interest to UCC Homes, Attn: Human Resources, 30 North 31st Street, Camp Hill, PA 17011; (717) 303-1607 FAX or by
December 20, 2021. 
Zion UCC, Arendtsville job openings

The Choir Director directs a 15-member choir to prepare music for regular Sunday morning services. The choir director also works with the minister and the organist to plan special services. Duties include preparing music, scheduling choir practices, identifying soloists, and developing special music presentations. Salary compensation is negotiable.
The organist/pianist accompanies a 15-member choir at regularly scheduled Sunday morning services. Applicants must have the ability to play both the piano and the organ, and be prepared for weekly choir rehearsals. Duties include following the direction of the choir director and minister in planning musical services. This includes Sunday worship and special services. He/she must attend regularly scheduled and special choir rehearsals. Salary compensation negotiable.
Position available: Church Musician

This 9 to 12 month position includes playing for weekly adult choir rehearsals, a scheduled single Sunday 10:30 a.m. worship service and occasional evening/special services. Proficiency with piano is required. We have two Yamaha studio upright pianos that are well maintained via regular tuning/maintenance. We also have the historic 1868 Durner tracker pipe organ that was restored in 1998 and is well maintained via regular tuning/servicing. Candidates will work with church/choir leaders in rehearsing and planning musical material appropriate to the liturgical calendar. Candidates should send a letter of introduction and resume to or mail to St. John's UCC, PO Box 88, Boalsburg, PA 16827
Hamilton Park UCC, Lancaster has two positions open:

Director of Children & Family Ministry: Authentic, Out-going, Creative, Enthusiastic and have a passion for sharing the love of Christ with children and their families? Raise your hand if that is you! Hamilton Park United Church of Christ (HPUCC) is looking for someone like you to become our Director of Children and Family Ministries (DCFM). Join the commitment leaders and members of HPUCC in finding new, innovative ways to share and experience the love of Christ within the church and the community. Contact the Administrator of the Church for more information:

Worship Accompanist: Like to lift a joyful noise? Do you love playing a wide variety of music among an enthusiastic congregation? Hamilton Park United Church of Christ (HPUCC) is searching for someone to bring their gifts to their Sunday morning worship service where we appreciate both piano and organ music as well as a blend of contemporary and traditional pieces. The successful candidate will provide piano and organ music during one Sunday worship service as well as accompany one weekly rehearsal throughout the choir season.
Contact the Administrator of the Church for more information: Read more here.
Rev. Dr. Carrie Call, Ph.D.
Conference Minister
Phone: 717-433-3196

Rev. Nora Driver Foust
Associate Conference Minister 
Phone: 717-433-2587

Rev. Dr. Marisa Laviola, Ph.D.
Associate Conference Minister
Phone: 717-433-3564

Rev. Rick Luciotti
Coordinator of Care to Clergy & Clergy Families
Phone: 717-433-6306
Anne Rankin
Outdoor Ministries Liaison
phone: 717-945-4585
C. Paul Keller
Office Manager
Phone: 717-652-1560
If you have future eNews stories, please send them to C. Paul Keller
Contact information: C. Paul Keller | email: | phone: 717-652-1560