Paid for by your OCWM Contributions | June 7, 2023

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Message to the Conference

Greetings members and friends of Penn Central Conference,

“Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’” (Matthew 9:13 NRSV)


Mercy is in short supply these days. Oxford Dictionary defines mercy as “compassion or forgiveness shown toward someone whom it is within one’s power to punish or harm.” When I read this definition, I immediately thought of social media. Lack of mercy runs rampant. Every opportunity to ‘punish’ others for the way they look, sound, sing, talk, write, perform, or simply show up is taken up by trollers and others. Compassion is in short supply. We know from news reports that the lack of mercy online is responsible for an increase in suicide among young people. Mercy is a matter of life or death.

Yet mercy also gets a bad rap. In our culture mercy is almost synonymous with letting someone “get away with it” – whether it’s a crime or honest mistake. “Show mercy” is not a phrase we hear much. We are more concerned, these days, with justice. According to Oxford, justice is “behaving according to what is morally right and fair.” We have good reason to be concerned for justice given much of what has happened in the past few years in this country. Unfortunately, some equate justice with revenge (tit for tat) and mercy is not part of the equation. How did this happen, that justice and mercy in our society could now be seen as opposites?

In scripture, justice and mercy show up as attributes of God and as desirable attributes for humans. We are told, consistently, to “give justice to the weak and orphan, maintain the right of the lowly and destitute.” (Psalm 82:3) We are called to be just in our dealings, negotiations, exercise of law, and finances. When humanity is called out by God for repentance, it is most often for our practices of injustice that add further oppression to those already suffering, struggling, or on the margins.

What then is mercy? Where does it show up? A request for mercy is on our lips when we have fallen short of the mark, as in Psalm 51: “Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions.” And God is merciful, consistently. Even when we have turned away repeatedly, we still receive mercy, as in Hebrews 8: “I will be merciful toward their iniquities, and I will remember their sins no more.” Our job then is to “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.” (Luke 6:36)

We have a call from Jesus to show mercy. Showing mercy and not sacrifice speaks to the ease with which we may go through the motions of formal worship and yet have no mercy for those around us. If our hearts are not merciful, how are we reflecting the way of Jesus to the world? Unfortunately, the church is no guarantor of mercy.

How then can we practice being merciful to one another? Mercy means giving one another the benefit of doubt. Not jumping to conclusions. Not rushing to judgment. Seeking and listening to both sides of a story. Withholding sharp comments even when you feel they are deserved. Approaching one another with compassion as the first goal. This requires spiritual practice and patience. We all have the capacity to harm one another in so many ways. Let us instead be part of the healing. 



Rev. Dr. Carrie Call

Conference Minister

Penn Central Conference

Our monthly Clergy Updates email will be out next week. Sorry for the delay!

Annual Meeting registration is now open!

"Renewing the Covenant We Share"

 “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up.” Ecclesiastes 4:9-10a 

The 61st Annual Meeting of the Penn Central Conference will return to in person, with virtual options for plenaries. We will gather at the Doubletree Resort by Hilton; 2400 Willow Street Pike, Lancaster, PA 17602 on June 9th & 10th, 2023.

Our special guest is Rev. Dr. Jane Fisler Hoffman, author of Covenant: A Study for the United Church of Christ. She will be our keynote speaker as well as lead a workshop.

We will be voting on two bylaws changes as well as a slate of nominees. You can see more about those bylaws in the full invitation here.

Read all about the tentative schedule, workshops and more on the registration page here.

Scheduling notes:

June 11 - Apostles UCC, Waynesboro - Rev. Dr. Nora Foust preaching

June 11 - St. Paul's UCC, Shrewsbury final service - Rev. Dr. Carrie Call preaching

June 18 - Zwingli UCC & Mt. Olivet UCC, East Berlin - Rev. Dr. Nora Foust preaching

June 18 - Salem UCC, Campbelltown - Rev. Rick Luciotti preaching

June 18 - Faith UCC, State College - Rev. Dr. Carrie Call preaching

August 13 - September 4 - Rev. Dr. Nora Foust on sabbatical

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...

Apostles UCC, Waynesboro

Trinity UCC, Waynesboro

Mazeppa UCC, Lewisburg

St. Pauls UCC, West Milton

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.

Creation Justice

UCC Webinar—Seizing an Opportunity: Strengthening EPA Protections in 2023

As UCC congregations across the country embark upon collecting thousands of signed postcards for the Environmental Protection Agency as part of the Climate Hope Cards campaign, this webinar will cover how the coming months at the EPA present a significant opportunity to save thousands of lives, address societal inequalities, and put the United States on a path to achieve 100 percent carbon-free electricity by 2035. Even if you cannot make the webinar at its scheduled time on June 14th at 1 pm ET, still sign-up, and we will send you a link to a recording of it. Register now!

Local Church

Christ Church United Church of Christ in Elizabethtown PA are the stewards of the Alwine Scholarship, an endowed scholarship established in 1957 by H.K. Alwine in memory of Anna Hershey Alwine. The scholarship is to assist a female student who is attending Hood College in Frederick, MD. The scholarship was established to first awarded to a female member of Christ Church, United Church of Christ, Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania or second, a female member of the same denomination from Lancaster, Lebanon or Dauphin Counties (Pennsylvania). Christ Christ UCC, Elizabethtown does not have a female high school senior who will be using the scholarship in 2023. 

Does your congregation have a female student who might be eligible and interested in this scholarship (a 2023 graduating female student who would want to attend Hood College, who has been accepted to Hood College and who will need to be in contact with Christ Church UCC, Elizabethtown to be awarded the scholarship)? If we get multiple interest we will need to have an application process to award the scholarship to one student. Please contact Grace Wells and our Pastor Galen Russel with any interest by June 18th. 

Grace Wells email:  

           phone: 717-572-2270


Galen Russel

Congratulations! The United Church of Christ has awarded St. Paul's UCC, Stoverstown in Spring Grove, PA with a $250 matching grant for their fundraising efforts and commitment to assemble 144 Hygiene Kits. These Hygiene kits mean the difference between sickness and health for struggling families facing natural disasters, violence, or poverty. We are so proud of this church's ministry!

St. Paul's UCC, Dallastown has a large quantity of Chalice Hymnals they no longer need. If your church is in need of them, please contact the church via email or phone (717) 244-2090.

Is your church looking for a local mission project? Starview UCC, Mt. Wolf has been partnering with Servants in York County for nearly two decades. Churches can assist with a variety of residential home repairs for people in need, or with meals for volunteers and homeowners. Learn more here.

Bethel UCC, Spring Grove will be celebrating 150 years with a Concert and Hymn Sing on June 24m from 2-4PM. Join them for food, fellowship and games!

St. Thomas UCC, Harrisburg is having their annual blueberry sale! $34 for a ten pound box, last day to order is Tuesday, June 27 with pickup on July 7.

Association Events

Northern Cluster Pig Roast and Concert – June 25

On Sunday, June 25, beginning at 5pm, the Northern Cluster of UCC Churches will host a free pig-roast and concert at MYO Park in Millersburg. Brothers in Grace, a Southern Gospel quartet from the Hershey area, will provide the music. Bring a covered-dish to share, and a lawn chair. A free-will offering will be received. All are welcome – come join us for great food, music, and fellowship!

Outdoor Ministries

Events with our partners at Lutheran Camping Corporation

Summer Camp with Lutheran Camping Corporation - use code PENNCENTRAL2023 to use a 50% campership from PCC's Outdoor Ministries!

Hartman Center Homecoming week

July 31 through August 5, 2023

We will be returning to Hartman Center Campground in Milroy, PA as guests.

Camping experiences for all ages, including intergenerational camps.

2 night camps - Monday, July 31 at 4PM through Wednesday, August 2 at 4PM

Getting Started - Grades 1 and 2 ($125)

Intergenerational Camp ($125)

3 night camps - Wednesday, August 2 at 4PM through Saturday, August 5 at 11AM

Intergenerational Camp ($190)

Camp of the Heart ($250)

5 night camps - Monday, 31 at 4PM through Saturday, August 5 at 11AM

Elementary - Grades 3 - 5 ($300)

Junior High - Grades 6 - 8 ($300)

Senior High - Grades 9 - 12 plus ($300)

Leadership - Grades 9 - 12 plus ($300)

For more information, contact Rev. Alice Rauch (director) 

or Rev. Amelia Price (registrar)

Register here and print a brochure here

Summer camp with St. John's UCC, Chambersburg

2023 Summer Camps 

Camp Galilee (9-12) June 18-23

Camp Kum Ba Yah (5-8) June 25-30

Camp Noah (K-4) June 26-30

Learn more here.

Clergy Events

Upcoming Trainings sponsored by the National Setting. Please click the Title link to register

Monday, June 12, 9:30pm – 11:00pm PM Eastern Time, 6:30pm-8pm Pacific Time: PPRC to PSC with Rev. Tara Barber and Rev. Stephen Boyd

Pastoral Support Committees - Not your Predecessors PPRC! Pastor/Parish Relations Committees have provided essential leadership in the life of a congregation. And the name has led to some confusion about the focus of their role. Come to this workshop as we explore what it means to become a Pastoral Support Committee - what it is and what it is not. We'll be talking through and naming the priorities and commitments of a well-functioning PSC. Revs Tara and Stephen will share best practices from around the church and be prepared to answer your questions. Open to pastors, lay leaders, and judicatory staff. **Please note the late hour is to accommodate leaders on the West Coast and in the Pacific Islands. Other trainings happen at times geared more for folk in the Eastern and Central time zones.**

Wednesday, June 21, 5:00-8:00 pm: Retired Ministers Boundary Training  

Maintaining healthy boundaries is challenging at any stage in ministry and it is particularly tender and difficult attending to boundaries as we transition out of our last call, and while in retirement. "A Sure Foundation", "The Ministerial Code" and Rev. Dr. Bruce Epperly's new book, "The Jubilee Years" along with case studies, will provide the content of this training. Rev. Stephen Boyd and Rev. Tara Barber will offer this focused Boundary Awareness Training for those entering and living in retirement. Note - This training completes individual requirements for boundary training ONLY WHEN authorized by a local Committee on Ministry. 

Our own Conference Minister Carrie Call will be speaking at the Mt. Gretna Tabernacle Friday Night Services on June 23, 2023. Learn more at

From our Friends and Partners

Bethany Children's Home

Celebrating 160 Years

Summer Concert Series

July 14th - Flamin' Dick & the Hot Rods - 5:00PM, $5.00 per car

August 19th - Anniversary Day Returns: Raffles, Live Music, Carnival Games, Food & Ride - $5.00 per car & additional costs for activities

Jeff Krick Jr: Elvis Tribute - 12:00PM

The Celtic Martins - 3:00PM

On June 15, Phoebe will celebrate the 25th Anniversary of our Clinical Pastoral Education program with current students, alumni, staff, generous donors and members of the community. The Reverend Naomi Washington-Leapheart, currently Director of Faith-Based and Interfaith Affairs for the city of Philadelphia will be speaking at the event. She is a graduate of Lancaster Seminary and an ordained UCC minister. The event will take place at the Lehigh Country Club, at 2319 S Cedar Crest Blvd, Allentown, PA 18103. 

If your church, business or organization would like to be a sponsor for the event, here is the link to the sponsorship page on our website: If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to be in contact with me. 

Are you interested in singing inspirational and fun music for Central Pennsylvania Pride? MCC of the Spirit's choir is welcoming UCC and UU singers to join our rehearsals for Voices United Pride Concert (July 28th, 7:00PM) and the Spirits United Interfaith Pride Service (July 30th, 5:00PM) Rehearsals begin every Thursday from 7:00-9:00PM starting June 1st at MCC of the Spirit, 2973 Jefferson St., Harrisburg, PA 17110, plus additional optional rehearsals Mondays in July at Colonial Park UCC. Ability to read music not required, just have a willingness to learn and make a joyful noise. The choir will be singing religious, inspirational and pop pieces. Contact Rev. Lawrence at for more details or to let him know if you are interested.

UCC National Setting

UCC Webinars

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

Seizing an Opportunity: Strengthening EPA Protections in 2023

JUN 14, 2023 | 1:00PM - 2:00PM

Discover Your Why: How a Clear Purpose Strengthens Evangelism, Giving, and Impact  

JUL 26, 2023 | 6:30PM - 7:30PM

Rev. Dr. Aaron B. Wade, Minister for Congregational Leadership Development,

Granting & Scholarships, is delighted to share the exciting news that the 2023 Justice and Local Church Ministry Common Application is NOW OPEN. I encourage you to share the link provided below with individuals and churches who may be interested in applying for Operational support, Neighbors in Need, CASA New and Renewing Church, and Pension Board New Church Start Benefit Support grants.

Link to the application:

This convenient link allows applicants to either print the application or start filling out the common application for any of our four grant offerings. Please note that all applications will require a reference from their respective Conference Minister.

"Making All Things New"

General Synod 2023


"Making All Things New” will be the theme of the 34th biennial General Synod of the United Church of Christ, scheduled for June 30–July 4, 2023, in Indianapolis.


Delegates and visitors will meet June 30 through July 4 at the Indianapolis Convention Center.


For the full press release, click here.

Our Whole Lives training

In addition to an increasing number of in-person trainings across the country, Our Whole Lives trainings will continue to be offered online in 2023 for UCC and UUA members, at a cost of only $250 plus curriculum.

Registration applications will be accepted from July 17-July 31 for a Jr Sr High Level Training in September

Registration applications will be accepted from Aug 21-Sept 5 for an Elementary (Grades K-1 and 4-6) Training in October

Registration applications will be accepted from Sept 11-Sept 25 for an All Adult Levels Training in November

More information about these trainings, in addition to information about upcoming in-person trainings, can be found here.

From our friends and partners
Pennsylvania Academy of Ministry (PAM)


July 11 - August 15, 2023


Tuesday evenings via Zoom.

Clergy and laity are invited to join instructor Kelsey Wallace for an introduction to the art and practice of biblical interpretation. We will consider issues of historical context, translation, literary analysis, and social location and the skills necessary to be a responsible public interpreter of scripture.

For clergy/pastors and lay leaders

$325 for each of the two series of six classes

2.5 CEUs may be earned for each series

Information and Registration:

2023 Festival of Biblical Storytelling

AUGUST 2,3, AND 4, 2023

At the Maritime Conference Center near BWI and Baltimore, MD

Learn more and register here.

Employment Opportunities

Current Openings - UCC National Setting

OPTIC - Philanthropy

Generosity Officer, West Central Region Open until filled

Generosity Officer, New England Region Open until filled

Global H.O.P.E. - Humanitarian. Opportunities. Progress. Empowerment.

Minister for Disaster Response and Recovery Open until filled


Rev. Dr. Carrie Call, Ph.D.

Conference Minister


Phone: 717-433-3196

Rev. Dr. Nora Driver Foust

Associate Conference Minister 


Phone: 717-433-2587

Rev. Rick Luciotti

Coordinator of Care to Clergy & Clergy Families


Phone: 717-433-6306


C. Paul Keller

Office Manager


Phone: 717-652-1560

Penn Central Conference Ministry Opportunities Page

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