Paid for by your OCWM Contributions| March 17, 2021
Message to the Conference
Members and friends of Penn Central Conference -
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,” declares the Lord. Jeremiah 29:11-14a
When Jeremiah was writing these words to the captives in Babylon, they had lost all hope that they would ever return to normal in their beloved Jerusalem. We don’t know if these words got through to them. Sometimes when we are in the depths of grief, unconvinced that anything will return to the way we hope, we can miss the message God has for us; even if it is a promise for hope and a future. Actually, if we look at these words carefully, God does not promise a return to “normal”, as I would imagine the exiles yearned for. God says “I have plans to prosper you… give you hope and a future”: not necessarily back to the way it was, but certainly plans filled with prosperity, hope, and a vision for what is yet to come.

I wonder. Could it be that God is saying these words to us? We certainly can relate to yearning to return to “normal” after the pandemic eases. We may feel like hope is elusive. Maybe God is telling us as well that things won’t necessarily go back to the way they were. Maybe God promises prosperity and hope, as we look to God, pray for what God has in store for us—seeking God with our complete hearts until God is found.

In the past few months, a group of 14 churches have gathered in the Congregational Empowerment Academy with Paul Nickerson, renowned consultant for church vitality. So far, we have had 2 half-day workshops (the 3rd and last workshop is in May), and coaches have been meeting with these congregations in between the workshops. The pastors and lay leaders have been listening for God’s voice to them for prosperity, hope, and a future. One thing Paul has emphasized is that we may not want things to return to normal after the pandemic no longer grips us. Normal really wasn’t working anyway, as 85% of churches in the United States have seen a decline in the past 20 years.

In this Academy we are looking for a new normal; a thriving, not only surviving new normal. We have been discussing how some churches can retain contact through technological means even when there is a return to the sanctuary. The “couch attendees” are a new mission field, ripe with opportunities for connection. We have been discussing how each church, large and small and anywhere in between, has a unique call from God to live out the mission to be the hands and feet of Jesus Christ in their greater communities; to reach out to the unchurched through building relationships over time.

I would imagine many of our churches in Penn Central are pondering “what does the future hold for us? What will be our post-COVID normal? Will we even survive?” My friends, have hope that as all of us look to God we will find God and God will show us our new future; our new normal.

We are currently discussing the possibility of another Academy in late fall or winter. If you are interested, let me know right away. Until then, coaching is available to you. I am certainly available for discussion and conversation; to help you discern your path forward. And perhaps through discussion and conversation, God will surprise you and will reveal ways for your church to thrive; to reach out beyond the four walls to the people around you; to invite them to a life in Christ; to be the hands of feet of Jesus for a hurting world—in our own backyards.



Rev. Dr. Marisa Laviola
Associate Conference Minister
Penn Central Conference
Our Conference Minister, Carrie Call, served on a panel recently sponsored by Bucknell University entitled Faith in Action: Christians and Gun Violence Prevention. The event drew over 100 people and provided a lively discussion among 4 religious leaders (representing the UCC, Quakers, Disciples of Christ and the Roman Catholic Church). You can view the video here:
Returning: printable eNews! Download and print this PDF with the weekly message to the conference, prayers for Penn Central and brief list of events. Pastors and secretaries, please feel free to share with your congregation members that don't get this weekly email.
Scheduling notes:

Sunday March 28 - Heidelburg UCC, York - 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...

St.Thomas UCC, Harrisburg
Salem UCC, Harrisburg
Trinity UCC, Hellam
David's UCC, Herndon
DataHub is closed! There is still time to submit yearbook info - PLEASE fill out the paper forms and return them to Paul by March 20th if you haven't yet.

Treasurers - please find below a 2021 updated Remittance Form We have changed just a few lines, most notably adding a line to support Outdoor Ministries. Some folks have had issues downloading the the Word document, please email Paul if you do.
Word / PDF
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.

From the Climate Justice Team
Sacred Ground: Cultivating Connections Between Our Faith, Our Food, and the Climate. We examine how our food systems contribute to injustice and to climate change, and how our faiths call us to respond through practical solutions.
Join Interfaith Power & Light’s annual premier week of worship and action focused on climate – Faith Climate Action Week, April 16-25, 2021. Learn more here
Penn Central Conference is once again accepting applications for the PCC Innovation Grants which is for PCC churches who are looking for funding for a bold & innovative approach to ministry. Application can be found here, please email completed forms to Paul.
Virtual Choir for Lent & Easter

The PCC Virtual Choir has it's newest video "God So Loved the World" available. Watch it here now, and the full playlist here.

After a break, the Virtual Choir will return with Hallelujah Chorus.

If you have questions, or if you'd like to join the group for any of our music that delights you, contact Julie Holm at
PCC ONA Ministry Team
Outdoor Ministries 2021

The 2021 summer camp schedule is set! There are camps for all ages and interests at both Kirchenwald and Nawakwa. Check out what is offered online. There is an early-bird registration discount if you register before April 3. Also, if you attend the Open House, you can get an additional discount. Full brochure here.

Calling all high school kids, college-age young adults, and adults interested in working at camp this summer! Lutheran Camping Corporation is recruiting now for this summer's camp season. Learn more here.
You are invited to visit Kirchenwald or Nawakwa on March 21 or April 11. Take a tour of camp with members of our summer staff and see what camp is all about. As a bonus, we will give a $10 gift certificate for the camp store to every brand new camper! Register here

More events and information here.
Check out the all new Outdoor Ministries page on the PCC website here!
And a history of Hartman Center is hosted on the PCC website here.
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.

April 20: Personalities and Communication with Dr. Bob Fogel
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.)

May 18: Life-Giving Leadership with Rev. Dr. Bill Worley, Conference Minister in the Pennsylvania Southeast Conference
“Wherever you see significant progress in an organization, it’s because a leader made difficult decisions.” – John Maxwell.
The central task of leadership is influencing God’s people toward God’s purposes.” – George Barna
Where there is faithful and effective ministry happening, there is a faithful and effective leader helping people make difficult decisions. The pastor cannot be the only leader—but the pastor MUST be among the leaders equipping church members to do ministry. Instead, pastors burn out because the pastor and the church members expect the pastor to do most or all of the ministry. This is a failure of leadership. So, what is life-giving leadership? What makes a good leader? This workshop addresses that question by examining some of the core characteristics, qualities, and examples of solid pastoral leadership.

More event registration links here.
Poetry as Prayer Retreat will be rescheduled, registration is paused until new date is announced.
Book Discussion Group
Tuesday, April 22nd and 29th: White Too Long: the Legacy of White Supremacy in American Christianity by Robert P. Jones. Participants can choose a 10:00-12:00 Noon or a 6:00-8:00 PM timeslot for the dates. This is an excellent text that will generate deep and insightful reflection. Register now as space is limited. Once you have registered, order the book and start reading!
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, April 18, 2021 - Service of Ordination of Sue Schmidt - 3:00 PM York Association - Dover UCC (invitation here)
"Congregations of the German Reformed Church in the United States," is a new book, recently released, that summarizes the life of over 4,000 Reformed churches, including the many churches in the Penn Central Conference. The book begins with a social and organizational history of the denomination, including six maps, as well as charts, and illustrations. A useful tool for genealogists, its over 700 pages also note about 1,300 Lutheran churches that were in union arrangements with Reformed congregations. Its author is the Rev. Richard H. Taylor, a former Chair of the Historical Council of the United Church of Christ. People interested in procuring a copy of the book can contact him at 610-438-3771 or More information is available at the website:
UCC Webinars

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

Celtic Worship - March 18, 3:30 pm - 4:30 pm

Building Supportive Networks in Faith Formation - March 23, 3:30 pm - 4:30 pm

Since 2008, Retirement Housing Foundation has helped rebuild the lives of people impacted by these types of natural disasters. We are pleased to partner again with the United Church of Christ’s Disaster Ministries to help those impacted by this severe winter weather.

For those who choose to respond with a tax-deductible gift through RHF Charitable Foundation, donations received through April 30, 2021 will be matched up to a grand total of $50,000 and sent to UCC Disaster Ministries. (If we receive $50,000, RHF will respond with $100,000 in total aid.) 100% of the donations received will go directly to efforts supporting needs for shelter and food, clean-up, and essential repairs.

To participate in this matching opportunity, note “Disaster Relief” as the gift designation when you make your gift online or mail a check payable to RHF Charitable Foundation and send to:
RHF Charitable Foundation
911 North Studebaker Road
Long Beach, CA 90815
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
From our Partners & Friends:
The Pennsylvania Academy of Ministry at Lancaster Theological Seminary is delighted to offer a new, six class series: Introduction to Worship Leadership and Liturgical Practices.
Taught by the Rev. Dr. Marty Kuchma, this class will prepare worship leaders to plan, prepare, and practice congregational worship, rites, and rituals, especially baptisms, weddings, and funerals/memorial services.

Register and learn more here.
Veterans’ Moral Injury and
Suicide Prevention

Lebanon VAMC Clergy Virtual Training Event

April 13 or May 11, 2021 from 9 a.m. -11:30 a.m.

Veterans are at higher risk for suicide than the average population. Moral
Injuries can have an underlying effect upon the Veteran, as the Veteran feels overwhelmed with shame and guilt. Faith community leaders are encouraged to join us for this virtual training event to learn more about how to help Veterans who may be contemplating Suicide and/or suffering from moral injury.

Guest speakers include: Chief of Chaplains, Dean Luther Suicide Prevention Coordinator, John Lucas

To register and receive the link call: 717-272-6621 ext. 5085 or Email Vince:
Save the Date! June 13th is ERHS Heritage Sunday
The Evangelical and Reformed Historical Society looks forward to partnering with you in celebrating the continuing legacy of our historic E and R churches throughout the Penn Central Conference on Sunday, June 13th. Additional details are forthcoming. In the meantime, you can always visit us at and follow us on Facebook @erhistoricalsoc and Instagram @erhistoricalsociety
Penn North East Conference presents:

Congregational Leadership Training

What: Training for Congregational Boards, Councils and Consistories

When: Saturday, March 20, 2021 – from 9 am – 4 pm

Who: Congregational leaders, board members, board secretaries, board treasurers, pastoral
relations teams, and pastoral care teams

How: Register on this form or on line to

A Zoom link will be sent for the training
Cost: $25 each or $100 maximum per church

Topics covered: leadership basics, meeting management, defining core values, behavioral covenants, governance and ministry models, specific position training for Chairs, Vice-Chairs, Secretaries, Treasurers, Pastoral Care Teams, Pastor Relations Teams

Registration form here.
Pennsylvania Council of Churches presents:
Women's History Month Service
A celebration of the role and contributions of women everywhere

Featured preacher:Rev. Dr. Bonnie Bates
Conference Minister Penn Northeast Conference UCC

March 28, 2021 7:00 pm
Register here
Live stream here
Download flyer here
Employment Opportunities

The Brush Valley Fusion of Faith, a small, ecumenical (ELCA/UCC), rural congregation in Central Pennsylvania, seeks a temporary, part time pastor to fill in for 15 weeks while our pastor goes on Sabbatical. Current anticipated timeframe is between mid-July or early August and mid-November, 2021. Worship leadership and supply preaching required, plus 4-5 hours per week to be negotiated, which may include worship preparation, leading Bible Study and adult education, or other pastoral tasks. Visitation of a small number of shut ins, either in person or via phone, also requested. $300 per week, plus mileage. This will probably require you to be in person on Sunday morning only in the area of Rebersburg, Pennsylvania, as we hope to move back to in person worship by then, but may also a simultaneous phone conference option. No housing. Prefer someone who can be designated for this term by the UCC or who is ordained to Word and Sacrament in the ELCA.This may include ecumenical partners of both denominations. Seminarians encouraged to apply, and mentoring can be arranged for a seminarian who serves. Contact or call (814) 349-5515 for more information.

The Lebanon Valley Home, a continuing care retirement community affiliated with United Church of Christ Homes, is seeking a compassionate and resident focused team member for the position of Chaplain. This position is Part Time (15 hours per week). Requirements – Must be an ordained minister of the United Church of Christ with a minimum of one year experience in a pastoral ministry as well as one unit Clinical Pastoral Education. A resume and letter of interest should be received by March 24, 2021. Learn more here.
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
Anne Rankin
Outdoor Ministries Liaison
phone: 717-945-4585
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