Paid for by your OCWM Contributions| March 18, 2020
Message to the Conference
Dear Friends of Penn Central Conference -

In the past two weeks I have experienced a wide range of emotions. While I have felt anxiety, I have also felt a sense of connectedness as colleagues, friends, neighbors and families pull together to help one another. I confess I also feel frustration and not a small amount of irritation when I see erroneous information shared as if it were truth, bad theology couched in oblivious privilege, and posturing in place of servant leadership. Times such as these bring out the best and the worst in humanity.

I took comfort by re-reading Martin Luther’s letter “Whether One can Flee a Deadly Plague” written in 1527.* Luther was writing to Rev. Dr. Johann Hess, a pastor at Breslau in Germany. There is evidence from the original manuscript that Luther was interrupted in this task several times, in part because of the terrible bouts of depression he experienced as the Black Death swept through parts of Germany. The university in Wittenberg had moved to a new location as the plaque approached, but Luther refused to leave. Ignoring the pleas of his Dean, Luther stayed behind with his friend and colleague Johannes Buegenhagen to minister to the sick and dying. From his own words it is clear that Luther was struggling spiritually and emotionally, as people he knew died in his arms and women and children passed away every day. He noted in a letter to another friend, “So there are battles without, and terrors within.”

Luther’s letter reveals that there was poor advice and bad theology all around him. He strove to provide reasonable, nuanced suggestions on how one could view the plague and how to behave appropriately while remaining faithful. On the one hand, Luther acknowledged the legitimacy of looking out for one’s own well-being and survival during such times. He writes, “It is not forbidden but rather commanded that by the sweat of our brow we should seek our daily food, clothing, and all we need to avoid destruction and disaster whenever we can, as long as we do so without detracting from our love and duty toward our neighbor.” On the other hand, while standing in the mist of one of the most horrifying pandemics in human history, Luther was forceful and clear that everything has to be done to protect the weak and leave no one alone to suffer in isolation. Luther stakes his allegiance to Christ by quoting Christ’s warning to his followers: “I was sick and you did not visit me” (Matt. 25:43). “According to this passage we are bound to each other in such a way that no one may forsake the other in his distress but is obliged to assist and help him as he himself would like to be helped.”

We are bound to each other . No matter what the danger we face, then or now, our task as disciples of Christ is both simple and very hard: care for each other and leave no one alone. How we are doing that will vary by place and capacity. What matters is that we recognize our boundedness and reach out – even in the face of anxiety and fear. May our transformed hearts radiate Christ’s compassion, burning through selfishness, greed and fear.


*Luther’s Works Volume 43, Devotional Writings II.
All active clergy (parish minsters, chaplains, and specialized settings) are encouraged to join one of the scheduled zoom calls with Carrie, Nora and Zoe tomorrow (3/19) at 9:00 or 6:30 or next week on Wednesday (3/25) at 10:00 or 6:30. We will pray together. We will also discuss several items: what clergy need from the Conference at this time, what some of you are doing to connect digitally and in other ways, challenges you are facing and how we all might be able to assist one another. Links and phone numbers for the Zoom calls can be found here.

Special Zoom Call for Retired Clergy
Nora and Carrie invite you to join with them on Friday March 20 th at 9:00 am via Zoom for a time of prayer and sharing. Bring your thoughts, concerns and ideas for how we can support one another during this time of crisis. This call is open to those who are no longer actively serving in ministry settings. We hope to see you Friday!

Join Zoom Meeting
 Or dial in: +1 646 876 9923
Meeting ID: 379 406 117

If you are interested in having a zoom meeting with staff for clergy in your association specifically, please let Paul know asap. A separate zoom for MIDs has been scheduled.
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, Gettysburg
New Hope (Fissel's) UCC, Glen Rock
Trinity UCC, Glen Rock
St. Paul's UCC, Gowen City
Online Giving Tips
As churches make the difficult decision of whether they should cancel their worship services and/or move them online, many folks are asking us: "what about our finances?" Here are some ways to accept tithes and offerings online:

Vanco/Give Plus
Here at the conference level, we already accept donations for Our Church's Wider Mission, Hartman Center and other fundraising efforts using a service called Vanco. Several PCC churches use this service already. Vanco has multiple options for online giving, including via text and even in-church credit card kiosks. There is a monthly fee ($10 or $49, depending on your donation levels) and a per-transaction fee (.45 or .35, plus a percentage of between .80% and 2.75%) so be aware of that while looking at the options. Give Plus also easily integrates into Servant Keeper, if you are already using that program. Learn more about Vanco/Give Plus here.

Many folks are already familiar with PayPal, it's been used for purchasing online since the early days of online auctions. I do not have personal experience with it but I know many churches who use PayPal. They do have an eligible charity option with rates of 2.2% + $0.30 per transaction. If you want the money instantly, there is an additional fee of 1%, as well as other fees for additional features. Learn more about PayPal here .

Bill Pay Options
Encourage your congregations to send their tithes and offerings through their bank's online bill pay. There's usually no fees for you, and often times they can set it to autodeduct on a regular basis, making it even easier for giving to continue while folks are on vacation or otherwise miss a Sunday. Check with your bank to see what you may need to do to accept donations this way.

Other Online Options
I have not vetted any of these, but click here for an article with other options.

Mailing a Check
Of course, if someone is still getting the mail at your church you can always encourage your congregation to utilize the good old fashioned postal service! Through rain, sleet, snow and gloom of COVID-19, they have been faithful. has an article with even more ideas and tips here.

The mission of the church is even more vital than ever. Make it easy for your congregation to support you financially as you support them and your wider community in these unusual times. If you have questions, please reach out.

Stay Safe,

C. Paul Keller
Office Manager
Outdoor Ministries at Hartman Center
Dear Hartman Center family,

It is with a heavy heart that, due to the risks of Covid-19, we are postponing the following events until the public health emergency has passed:

Countdown to Opening Day Fishing Retreat, Mar. 16-18
Confirmation Retreat, Mar. 27-29
What is Good Leadership Retreat, April 14-15
Learning To See Photography Retreat, April 27-29
PRIDE: LGBTQ+ Retreat, May 29-31

The Golf Outing on May 9th will be determined by their planning committee.

A decision on whether Summer Camp will continue as planned will be made once we are closer to the summer and can make informed decisions. However...

I remain optimistic and excited about our Summer Camp program. We have an amazing Summer Service Team lined up and the registrations seem to be flooding in! I want to reassure everyone that, should a decision be made that the programming cannot continue throughout the summer, full refunds will be issued.

All of us who see these posts love Hartman Center. The measures which we must take to keep ourselves and each other safe right now are difficult. Giving up opportunities to gather at Hartman Center are one of the most painful sacrifices we must make, and the very thought of not gathering in our beautiful camp this summer is heartbreaking for each and every one of us.

But Hartman Center is more than a place, we are a ministry. Since I have come into this chapter in my life, I have been moved innumerable times by the love of and devotion to this camp, which I have seen demonstrated by just about each and every one of you.
Just like our churches, we are called to stay connected. Therefore, I am inviting the Hartman Center family to join me for some virtual fellowship and light brainstorming at two different meeting times next week:

Youth- Tuesday, March 24th 6 pm. --
Adults- Wednesday, March 25th, 6 pm. --

Know that I am holding each of you in prayer.
Your sister in Christ,
Zoë A. D'heedene
Coordinator of Camps and Retreats
Hartman Center Golf Outing Fundraiser - May 9 - Fairview Golf Course - Quentin (Lebanon), PA - Registration now open!!!

Early bird pricing for those who pay in full before March 31, 2020.
The Perfect Blend: Five Practices of Fruitful Congregations
A day with author Bishop Robert Schnase
Saturday, September 19, 2020
Lancaster Theological Seminary, Santee Chapel

Come spend a day in conversation around how these practices can help your church live out the Gospel and be a missional presence in your community.
We will hear 3 presentations from Bishop Schnase and have a few guided, small group discussions along the way. See a full flyer here. Seating is limited, so registration is required. $25 per person, or a discounted rate of $100 for groups of 5 people. Register here!
UNITE! National Youth Event
"Due to recent CDC protocols regarding COVID-19, registration for NYE2020 has been suspended indefinitely. All paid registrations will be refunded" - Traci Blackmon
Creation Justice

We are looking for pictures of congregations involved with Hopeful Climate Action . Please email any pics of your church to Libby at . Could be an creation centered worship space, a group studying Climate church Climate World, a church garden, recycling, planting a tree, writing letters to our elected officials about environmental concerns, using alternatives to styrofoam during coffee hour....etc. etc..... the sky is the limit. Get creative! Thanks.

Over the course of 50 days in 2013, the United Church of Christ planted over 141,000 trees as part of Mission 4/1 Earth. In celebration of the 50th anniversary of Earth Day on April 22nd, this year we are seeking to plant over 50,000 trees in ten days from April 17th to 26th. Learn more here.
Association Events
Installations, Ecclesiastical Councils & Ordinations

May 17 - Laura Ramsey’s installation at Emmanuel UCC, York, service at Hayshire UCC, York - 3:00pm
June 7 - Ordination of Gary Nottis at St. John's UCC, Lewisburg - 3:00PM (Rev. Nora Foust attending)
Association Meetings and Ministeriums

April 19 - Northern Association’s Spring Meeting - Trinity UCC, Centre Hall (Rev. Nora Foust attending)
April 25 - Harrisburg Association Meeting (Rev. Carrie Call attending)
April 26 - Central Association Meeting with Rev. Nora Foust
April 26 - Gettysburg Association Meeting and Town Hall with Rev. Carrie Call
April 30 - York Ministerium with Rev. Nora Foust
May 3 - Lancaster Association Meeting (Rev. Carrie Call Attending)
May 3 - Mercersburg Association Spring Meeting
May 11 - Mercersburg Ministerium (Rev. Carrie Call Attending)
May 14 - Gettysburg Ministerium with Rev. Nora Foust
Association Special Events

Clergy Events
May 13 - Ordinary Time Worship Planning - Colonial Park UCC - register here
July 26 - 31 - UEK Pastoral Colloquy 2020 - Elizabethtown College; register here
 Boundary Training & MEFS
April 22 MEF: Building Community - Within and Beyond the Building with Rev. Carrie Call and Rev. Nora Foust - St. Thomas UCC, Harrisburg - 12:30-1:30pm
May 7 - Retired and Supply Boundary Awarenes s with Rev. Sally Dries and Rev. Nora Foust - PCC Office, Harrisburg - 10:00am-1:00pm
May 20 - MEF: Civility, Empathy and Well Being in Community with Therapist Judith Kennedy, MS, MA, NCC, LPC at St. Thomas UCC, Harrisburg - 12:30-3:30pm DATE CHANGE
From our Local Churches
Emmanuel Union UCC in Tusseyville in Northern Association will be holding a Blessing Of the Tractors Service on May 3, 2020 at 9:00 a.m. during our regular church service. The service honors and centers on the contributions of all farmers and food providers who help feed our nation. The service begins in the social rooms and ends in the parking lot where water is sprinkled from an evergreen branch on assembled tractors and samplings of seed, water, and earth. Further information is available from our Pastor Craig Munnell at or myself, Bette Bender at

DVD Lending Library - St. John's UCC, Chambersburg
5 for 5
Is your church 5 for 5? The next Special Mission Offering is One Great Hour of Sharing - which takes place on the 4th Sunday of Lent, March 22, 2020.

OGHS channels resources for international programs in health, education and agricultural development, emergency relief, refugee ministries, and both international and domestic disaster response, administered by Wider Church Ministries, Global Sharing of Resources.

For more information on the 5 for 5 offerings, click here.
From PCC Partners & Friends

Seeing Stewardship Clearly 2020 - Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd, Lancaster - April 20, 27, May 4 - Register here

Mid-Atlantic Association of United Church Educators (MA-AUCE) 2020 Annual Conference Holistic Faith Formation: Engaging Our Whole Selves - Tuscarora Inn & Conference Center, Mt Bethel, PA - April 27 through April 29, 2020 - register online by March 1st here
Planning Ahead
Annual Meeting - June 12-13, 2020

Recognition Dinner - September 19, 2020 (info to come!)
The more you know...
Search & Call Associates
Mercersburg, York and Gettysburg Association Churches
Rev. Richard Gordon

Northern and Central Association Churches
Rev. Sally Dries

Harrisburg, Lancaster and Lebanon Association Churches
Rev. John Fureman

Staff Directory
Rev. Carrie Call, PhD
Transitional Conference Minister
Phone: 717-652-1560 ex. 12

Rev. Nora Driver Foust
Associate Conference Minister 
Phone: 717-652-1560 ex.13
Zoë D'heedene
Coordinator of Camps/Retreats
Phone: 717-652-1560 ex. 16
C. Paul Keller
Office Manager
Phone: 717-652-1560 ex. 14
Contact information: C. Paul Keller | email: | phone: 717-652-1560