Paid for by your OCWM Contributions| July 22, 2020
Message to the Conference
Dear Friends and Family of Penn Central Conference :

What else is the entire creation but the Word of God uttered by God?
(Martin Luther, Lectures on Genesis )

The past five months have seen our world changed and challenged. Covid-19 is spreading without reason and without plan across our nation and world. We have been dealing with the pragmatic concerns this engenders: how to worship safely, how to stay healthy, how to think differently about what it means to “be church”, how to cope with anger, how to deal with grief regarding what and who have been lost as a result. The pandemic has ground us down in various ways.

Feeling ‘ground down’ myself, I have been reflecting on how I have been thinking about God. This difficult task requires that I take a step back from my own feelings and thought patterns and attempt to see things from a different perspective. I became very aware that one aspect of the pandemic we do not discuss is that Covid is part of God’s created world. My primary theological orientation is God as Creator, so I asked myself if there were something new to learn here. And while the “how” of God’s action in creation is often mysterious, obscured and even troubling (especially when considering some aspects of biology and evolution), I still affirm that I am a creature of God, and that other creatures are also made by God. This includes created beings such as viruses and pathogens. While some traditional theologians thought that mosquitos and other unpleasant entities (such as hornets, gnats, and stinging nettle, according to Luther) were created after the fall of humanity, Ulrich Zwingli thought differently. And since Zwingli, a plague survivor himself, is such an important part of our German Reformed heritage, his words speak to me now in the midst of the pandemic. Zwingli held that all creatures have something to teach us about the wisdom of God. This included, for him, those plants and animals disparaged by Luther. Zwingli asked, in his Sermon on Providence , “What word, what speech, pray can proclaim the divine wisdom as well as these creatures which are among almost the humblest of living things?”  Far from being created after the fall (demonstrating God’s wrath in response to human sinfulness), all beings – even viruses - live within God’s divine web of life and all reveal something of the wisdom of God to those who pay attention.

For Zwingli, and for me, I find the wisdom of God in the experience of humility. Considering Covid and asking myself what a pandemic has to tell me about the wisdom of our Creator, I’m left with these realizations: The biological reality of the creation is complex, mysterious, and sometimes deadly. All of divine creation is an intricate cycle of life and death. Some of that cycle is life-giving while others aspects provide nothing but grief to humanity. All of it is bigger than I am. God and God’s providence are larger than I can fathom, control or tame. After all, Zwingli reminds us that God’s providence “is the enduring and unchangeable rule and direction of all things in the universe.” ( Sermon on Providence ) However, humanity also has the capacity for intellectual pursuit, ethical reflection and mechanical skills. We will develop a vaccine in time, as we have done previously, and we will curb one aspect the created order. Yet all of our work, invention and ingenuity should be tempered by humility in the face of God’s creation. I shall not rail against the disease or use to it further my own theological or political agenda. Instead I’ll accept the wisdom of humility and the consistent call of the gospel which remains the same as always: to share the power of faith in Christ. That faith enables us, in the midst of grief, to lift the hopeless, to comfort those who mourn, to act for justice, and to claim God as creator of us all.


Carrie .
Make sure you've saved the date of August 29th for Penn Central Conference's Annual Meeting! Registration opens this week, but here are some details:

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, temperature checks and social distancing. 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:

Rev. Dr. Marisa Laviola will be preaching at Faith UCC, State College on Sunday, July 26.

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.
Friends , we want to share a music resource with you from Rev. Scott Silciliano . He is posting traditional, contemporary and original hymns on his YouTube channel and offers them to you for use in worship as we continue to navigate worship in creative ways. Please be sure to share links with your congregation and include your CCLI or ONELicense information to cover lyrics (and be sure your license covers that particular song.) If using an original song, please contact Scott at .

There's also a virtual choir video that was produced by Convergence Leadership for Pentecost Sunday that's great. You can download it from their website with permission and use it in virtual services. It's a setting of a well-known African American Spiritual with new lyrics. Scott is one of the accompanists in the video.
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...

St. Paul's UCC, New Oxford
Incarnation UCC, Newport
Elias UCC, Newmanstown
St.Paul's UCC (Millbach), Newmanstown
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

Association Meetings

July 28 - Harrisburg Association Northern Cluster Meeting - St. Peter's - 7:00PM
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.
Hiring Information:
Office Experience Required, 24 hrs./week ($15/hr.) – M-F, Proficiency in: Microsoft Publisher, Word, and Excel
Looking Ahead:

General Synod - July 16-20, 2021: Entirely online. Read more here...
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