Paid for by your OCWM Contributions| February 24, 2021
Message to the Conference
Members and friends of Penn Central Conference-

Numbers 21:4-5 From Mount Hor they set out by the way to the Red Sea, to go around the land of Edom; but the people became impatient on the way. The people spoke against God and against Moses, "Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? For there is no food and no water, and we detest this miserable food."

This passage isn’t in the lectionary for a couple more weeks, but it’s one I’ve been thinking about a lot as we entered Lent. This church year feels like we’ve already been in Lent for 12 months. We’ve given up the “normal” ways of life at church, at work, at the grocery store and even at home.

For myself, patience is like manna - I hope I get a fresh supply each morning because it did not keep from yesterday’s store. There are many days when I’m impatient, I’m angry and I’m scared at the ways things have changed. I’m impatient for how long it’s taking to get back to “normal”. I see my loved ones mourn friends and family members lost to Covid and I see those who survive it struggle to return to full health. I see businesses close and people struggle with loss of income. And some days I grumble. I ask God, “why have you brought us here to die?” 

In the journey of this pandemic, we’ve become different people. We’ve adapted to the changes in ways both big and small. I grew a beard. I learned how to go live on Facebook and so much more about Zoom than I thought possible. I carry extra masks in my car, leave one at the office and have a stash of “fancy dress” masks for when I want to dress to impress.

When I think about this story from Numbers, I think about this song by Sara Groves called “Painting Pictures of Egypt”. In it she sings 

I’m painting pictures of Egypt and leaving out what it lacks
The future looks so hard and I wanna go back
But the places that used to fit me
Cannot hold the things I’ve learned
And those roads were closed off to me while my back was turned.

I want to go back. Go back to the way things were. Hugging people after church on Sunday and dancing with friends on a Saturday night. 

Friends - we’ve learned so much in this past year. We’ve learned that maybe “the way things were” wasn’t working for everyone. We’ve learned that businesses can thrive while employees work from home, which opens the doors for folks with disabilities who have been asking for that for years. We’ve moved church services online and reached people who would never be able to join in person. We’ve seen the cracks in the healthcare industry and have the opportunities to fix them. We cannot go back to the way things were, and that’s a blessing not a curse.

We know how this chapter in the story of the children of Israel ends. They make it to the Promised Land. They settle there and build a nation. But in that moment of hunger and frustration and impatience they couldn’t see it. It’s okay if we don’t see it either, as long as we keep moving forward. The roads back are closed anyway.

Lenten Blessings,


C. Paul Keller
Office Manager
Penn Central Conference.
The Conference congratulates our ministry partners at Phoebe Ministries! Three of their facilities are included on the US News & World Report’s list of Best Nursing Homes for 2020-21.
The Health Care Centers at Phoebe Allentown, Phoebe Richland, and Phoebe Berks made the list for the Short-Term Rehabilitation category.
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 14 - St. John's UCC, Boalsburg - 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...

Trinity UCC, Glen Rock
New Hope (Fissel's) UCC, Glen Rock
St. Paul's UCC, Gowen City
Faith UCC, Grantville
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.

The DataHub is now open through March 3rd for Yearbook reporting! Please learn more on the process here. If you need assistance, please contact Paul.

Make sure you also complete the supplemental survey! Link here.
Virtual Choir for Lent & Easter

The latest Penn Central Conference Virtual Choir video is available and ready for your use.  Ave Verum Corpus is a motet, in Latin, by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, meditating on the body of Christ, especially on the cross. This beautiful piece is appropriate for use during Lent, especially on Good Friday, and for the feast of Corpus Christi.
The choir is accompanied by a partly human and partly synthesized string quartet, and both Latin and English lyrics are part of the video.
The video is available on the Penn Central Conference's YouTube Channel, in the Virtual Choir Playlist.  The Link directly to the video is at:
In addition, downloads of both audio and video versions of all the Spring Music can be found at:
In the next three weeks we will complete Billings' When Jesus Wept and, in preparation for the 14th of March, Stainer's God So Loved the World, to go with the lectionary text for that day. Then we will take a short break before presenting the Hallelujah! Chorus from Messiah for your Easter celebrations.
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
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.

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
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.
Lenten Day Apart sessions will include restorative spiritual practices and restorative soil work. We will learn about the soil on the farm and how we can improve its health. We will plant seeds in our greenhouse in the afternoon. 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.

March 16: Stephanie Rader-Titzel - Mission Central and Connecting to Local Mission Possibilities
“Mission Central is about ‘Connecting God’s Resources with Human Need.’ This is accomplished by following three areas of focus…Mission Outreach, Mission Education and Disaster Response.” Mission Central – located in Harrisburg - partners with over 180 different organizations and they provide resources to groups who are doing humanitarian work locally, across the country and around the world. Stephanie will talk with us about connecting with Mission Central as well as how to tap into mission opportunities and organizations in our various counties. Lay persons and clergy welcome!
April 20: Dr. Bob Fogel - Personalities and Communication
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.)

More event registration links here.
Poetry as Prayer Retreat will be rescheduled, registration is paused until new date is announced.
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.
UCC Webinars

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

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
Open and Affirming Experience: A 1-Day Virtual Conference
In partnership with the Michigan ONA Coalition and the Michigan Conference, we're offering a day-long Zoom event with worship and informative workshops for ONA and not-yet ONA churches on Sat., Feb. 27, 10 am-5 pm EST. Congregations from any Conference are invited!

We'll offer two tracks: one for not-yet ONA churches, the other for existing ONA churches.

You'll learn more about
  • planning a Bible-based ONA process that will reduce the risk of conflict and inspire your church with new passion and energy.
  • exploring new ways to be an effective ally for your LGBTQ+ neighbors.
Leaders will include Kimi Floyd Reisch, the Coalition's ONA Program Minister, and Andy Lang, our executive director. More details here.
From our Partners & Friends:
Insurance Board

In collaboration with the Active Assailant Security division of CISA, two special Active Shooter training events specifically for member denominations of Insurance Board are being offered on 3/4/21 and 3/12/21. We encourage each church to take advantage of one of these free training opportunities to help them prepare for potential active shooter events. We recommend that churches sign up as quickly as possible. Thank you!
Pennsylvania Academy of Ministry

Introduction to Worship Leadership and Liturgical Practices
April 10 – May 15, 2021

Faith In Action: Christians and Gun Violence Prevention
Wednesday, March 10th / 7-8:30pm

Panelists include:
Peter Murchison
Religious Society of Friends
Rev. Carrie Call, PhD
United Church of Christ
Father Michael Rothan
Roman Catholic Church
Rev. Don Gaffney
Disciples of Christ

Register here:
Mission Central's online auction starts this March. This is a great opportunity to support Mission Central and shop for yourself or others!

The auction runs March 4 - March 7, 2021 and all items can be found at Items will be added daily until the auction kicks off. Learn more here.
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.
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.
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
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.
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