Paid for by your OCWM Contributions| July 29, 2020
Message to the Conference
Dear Friends and Family of Penn Central Conference :

Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words.    And God who searches the heart, knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to God’s purpose. Romans 8:26-28
I have been among you as your new Associate Conference Minister just shy of two months. I have learned some about you, but yearn to know so much more. I realize that I can learn best as I get to know you. I, as all of you, am dismayed by the physical distance forced upon us by this dreaded virus. I long for the day when I can freely visit the members, friends, and pastors of our churches. Until then, I pray you will feel free to reach out to me to say hello, to ask my help, to invite me to ministeria and association meetings by ZOOM or safely distanced; to join in worship or preach.

Some of you may be thinking: What can you help us with?  My official title of ACM for Congregational Transitions is vague. I oversee the processes of churches who are seeking a new pastor or are saying goodbye to their pastor, or are going into an interim period.  I oversee the processes of when churches are going through any transition—from adjusting to virtual worship to considering how to safely gather; from working through leadership challenges to navigating congregational changes in size or mission. Right now I can help with the transitions you find yourselves in during these challenging times of COVID 19.

Beloved of God, I realize we may be more aligned with the psalmist who cries out “how long, O Lord?” than with Paul who gives re-assurances that God works in all things for good. What good can come out of this seemingly unending time, we may ask? The Hebrew people were probably thinking similarly when they were enslaved in Egypt, and then were liberated only to wander in the desert 40 years. We too may feel enslaved by the virus, feel in an unending desert, and long for liberation. We may be more focused on the anxieties of when to open our sanctuaries than on how God is working in us to learn new ways of being church. We may be more focused on the fear of disease if we make missteps in re-opening than on the blessed assurance that the Spirit will pray for us and will guide us, according to God’s will, to take steps that keep our most vulnerable safe.

The good news of Christ still speaks to us in the midst of our anxieties and in the face of the uncertain future. We have been called to bring the love of God’s kingdom to the earth as Christ’s church. Many may not yet be in our sanctuaries, but we are still the church, with new opportunities for connection—through electronic means, church in the car or on the lawn—bringing hope to a troubled and pained world.  

Does God work in all things for good, for those who are called to God’s purpose? Absolutely. Our challenge is to ask the Spirit to pray for us and through us, according to God’s will, even when, especially when we don’t have the words and when we don’t know the way forward. Our mission is to be the people of the church, bringing the gospel of Jesus Christ to the communities around us with words and actions of hope and healing, even if, and especially if, it is in ways that are new. God’s voice is as fresh and new as it has been throughout the history of God’s people. Let’s come together with a unity of heart and purpose, covenanting together to hear God’s voice and act for the kingdom of God to come to our corner of the earth.

I am with you in heart and spirit, through conversation and prayer, in your communities and on the phone or ZOOM. I look forward to getting to know each of you, the members, friends, and pastors of our conference.

Marisa Laviola
Make sure you've saved the date of August 29th for Penn Central Conference's Annual Meeting! Registration is open! Please register by August 14th, it's important that we reach our quorum of 225. We will be voting on a Settled Conference Minister, among other votes.

There will be two options for attending and participating: each association will have a church set up to join the Zoom meeting as a group or attendees can join the Zoom meeting individually from home. All satellite sites in associations will be following their own on-site precautions including wearing masks and social distancing (some may require temperature checks.) More information on how to vote will follow registration.

Schedule of events:
8:30AM - Webinar opens
9:00AM - Meeting officially opens - Devotions, Business tasks and voting
12:00PM - Break for Lunch (bring your own picnic)
12:45PM - continued Business Tasks
2:00PM - Time of recognition, remembrance and closing worship (bring your own communion elements)
3:00PM - Meeting closes

“And God saw it was good, but not good enough, so he scrapped the whole earth and started on take two”- Hygenesis 24:7

Calling all churches who have had a zoom-worthy! performance! And by this we mean, all the hiccups, re-dos, whoopsies and laughable moments made along the way of this COVID-19 experience of doing ministry online (or, hey, even all of the outtakes you want to recreate)!

To bring a bit of levity to our Penn Central Conference Annual Gathering we are asking churches to submit a 1 minute video of a funny moment that has happened while recording or live-streaming your service. This can be a visit from a family pet, a slip of the tongue while still being live, or, anything that comes to mind!

Please submit these 1 minute video clips (along with your church name and location) to Rev. Jessica Hainley ( with the subject line: “1 Minute Church Video” by Saturday August 8, 2020.
Celebrating Hartman Center

Check out a Hartman Center themed Worship Service that can be used for your church service or a personal time of worship. More info here.

Our social media accounts will be hosting a “Month of Hartman Center Memories” throughout the month of July. So get your pictures and stories ready and check out the calendar on the Facebook page here.

“Hartman Hikes” will take place each Sunday from July 12th-August 2nd. Participants are asked to register, bring a mask, maintain social distance, and bring a packed lunch.
  1. Harrisburg & York, 07/26, register here!
  2. Lancaster & Lebanon, 08/02, register here!

A Service for the Decommissioning of Hartman Center will take place September 12th at Hartman Center, which will include a hike.

Plan your own visit to Hartman Center through Zach Hassinger for a personal time of thanksgiving.
Scheduling Notes:

Sunday July 19 - Saturday August 1 - Rev. Nora Foust will be on vacation. She will reply to emails and phone messages when she returns.

Monday July 27 - Thursday August 13 - Rev. Dr. Carrie Call will be working remotely from Michigan. Response times to emails and phone calls may be delayed.
These are Hard Times for Clergy.
Penn Central Conference, in response to the difficult situations, news, and decisions of the past months and weeks, the Conference wants to inform you of three things:
1.      These are very stressful times . Please reach out to our Clergy Care Facilitator ( Rev. Dr. Ronnette Comfort-Butler ) if you or someone you know needs support. This is confidential and pastoral. No matter what the issue, please reach out.
2.      Penn Central is in the process of creating an anti-racism program for clergy to begin at the close of summer. We will be providing information about a text soon (so you can read over the summer) along with our follow-up plans for clergy gatherings and discussions.
3.      Let us know what you need. We are committed to serving everyone in this Conference, so please send us your suggestions and ideas about how we can best provide you with support, education, and communication in these trying times.
4. The Congregational Empowerment Team is ready to assist churches and congregations in the complicated decisions facing them in this season. Read more about the CET here.
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...

Zion UCC of New Providence
Trinity UCC, Palmyra
Jacob's (Reed's Station) UCC, Paxinos
Saint Peter's UCC, Paxinos
Servant Keeper Discount!

Servant Keeper is offering Penn Central Conference's churches a 25% discount. Use this special link to reach out to Jon Haley, Director of Denominational Partnerships, today to get started with this special discount of 25% off an initial site license of Servant Keeper.
Insurance Board: Tell Us How Your Ministry Is An Everyday Superhero!

Entries Due By: September 15th
denominations! The first 35 entries win a $35 gift card for their organization, and a
chance for your story to be featured in our fall/winter issue of The Steward.
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 our friends at Mission Central
Thank you for your support in making Mission Central Care Kits and for setting a goal of 500 (almost 3 per church!) We are grateful for the support of the Penn Central Conference.

In 2019, these Care Kits were distributed throughout Pennsylvania and West Virginia as well as internationally to the Philippines, Belize, Niger, Cuba, Ghana, Dominica and Sierra Leone.

As needs have increased, we expect these to immediately go out within our communities in Pennsylvania.

We are grateful for your support!
This is our mission project for Annual Meeting 2020. Please email Sherry Spencer ( ) or Shirley Keith Knox ( ) if you have any questions. Click here for a flyer to share with your congregation and friends.
Association Events
Installations, Ecclesiastical Councils & Ordinations

Aug 2 - Ordination of Gary Nottis at St. John's UCC, Lewisburg - 3:00PM (Rev. Nora Foust attending) RSVP by July 24, procedures and guidelines here
Clergy Events
 Boundary Training & Ministerial Excellence Forums

For online boundary training options, Convergance offers an online course.
PCC Clergy Book Study: How To Be An Anti-Racist by Ibram X. Kendi

Completion of all four components will earn 4 hours of Antiracism Training and
2 hours of Boundary Training. You will have July and August to read the book and respond in writing to reflection questions. Discussion groups via Zoom will follow in September. Register now, space is limited. Registration links and more information here.
Council of Conference Ministers Webinars

Whether they are responding to COVID-19 or taking action against racism, this is a year of innovation for people across the United Church of Christ. Now the leaders of the UCC’s 36 Conferences are piloting a series of webinars to share what congregations are learning in this time of change. Learn more here...

Recording of first webinar can be found here.
Gestalt Pastoral Care Online Workshop

Learn more about Gestalt Pastoral Care in this free 3-hour online workshop. Learn more here , and register with Susan Silhan via emai l .
Hiring Information:
Office Experience Required, 24 hrs./week ($15/hr.) – M-F, Proficiency in: Microsoft Publisher, Word, and Excel
Looking Ahead:

General Synod
The General Synod Program and Planning Committee met recently to discuss General Synod. We had a very energizing conversation and made a few decisions that we want to communicate.
General Synod 33 will take place  Sunday July 11, 2020 – Sunday July 18, 2020 . Pre-Synod events will occur on  July 7-10, 2020.
Rooted in Love continues to be the theme. We will be adding SPECIAL EDITION to the theme.
We are hoping for a “leaner” General Synod in this virtual environment. We will worship, conduct business, provide educational opportunities and make space for experiencing the church gathered. 
Additional information will be coming shortly. Please let me know if there are any questions or concerns.

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

Register by August 7, 2020

Theology II: Leadership & Community (Theology I is not required to take this class.)
Register by September 25, 2020

Instructor for both: The Rev. Holly MillerShank
Search & Call Associates
Mercersburg, York and Gettysburg Association Churches
Rev. Richard Gordon

Northern and Central Association Churches
Carolyn Herman

Harrisburg, Lancaster and Lebanon Association Churches
Rev. Richard Luciotti

Staff Directory
Rev. Dr. Carrie Call, Ph.D.
Transitional 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

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