Paid for by your OCWM Contributions| December 18, 2019
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Message to the Conference
Dear Friends of Penn Central
“Her husband Joseph, being a righteous man and unwilling to expose her to public disgrace, planned to dismiss her quietly.” (Matthew 1:19)

Joseph is a shadowy figure in the nativity story. His presence is felt, but he doesn’t speak a word. In Christian history Joseph is relegated to the sideline intentionally. The image on this page, for example, is still viewed as heretical by the Orthodox Church. According to dogma, Joseph was not Jesus’ father and therefore did not have a relationship with Jesus “in the flesh”, but only spiritually. Therefore, this type of image – which I love because of Jesus’ cheek touching the cheek of Joseph – is “misleading” because Jesus should only be depicted in such a pose with his mother. In this case I am thankful that ours is not the dogma of the Orthodox church.

On the contrary, I love these images because they push us to consider Joseph anew. His actions tell a compelling story. In Matthew’s and Luke’s versions Joseph demonstrates his love of God (and Mary!) through faithfulness and courage. When we pay close attention to Joseph’s actions, we see hints of the form of character that foreshadows the sacrificial life Jesus demands of his followers.

Joseph must have loved Mary. In the story, Joseph stays with her, even with her mysterious pregnancy and the looming threat of an adultery charge as an unmarried woman. Joseph, instead of publicly denouncing her, as was his right to do (and pride may have demanded), determines to dismiss her quietly. Even more surprising is that Joseph followed the directive of an angel and spent the next nine months living with a woman who was pregnant with a child who was not his own. His faithfulness in light of such social pressure is worthy of note. Joseph follows the call of God, slogging upstream against the religious and familial norms, laws, and values of the time. He holds Mary’s life in his hands and chooses protection over rejection.

The life to which he commits demonstrates courage in the face of despotic rule and geographical dislocation. Yet even more provocative to me is his courage in the face of deep mystery. During the wanderings, dreams and exile, he trusts what he is told and walks into this new life without a plan. His faith in the face of fear is a model for us. Joseph embraces his family and raises Jesus as his son (see Luke 4:22). He walks through mystery, committed to a divine plan he cannot yet see.

All the more reason to remember Joseph and his central role in this season.


Penn Central Conference's office will be closed for the Christmas holiday from December 24th, 2019 through January 1st, 2020 . We will return on January 2nd, 2020. Any emails or voice messages left during this time will be answered when we return. Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
Preaching Around the Conference

January 5 - Trinity UCC, Hanover - Rev. Dr. Carrie Call - 9:00AM

January 12 - Hill Church, Cleona - Nora Foust - 9:00AM

January 19 - Trinity UCC, Gettysburg - Rev. Dr. Carrie Call - 8:00AM
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...

Heidelberg UCC, York
Locust Grove UCC, York
Mount Zion UCC, York
St. Stephen's UCC, York
Congratulations to our Conference Minister, Rev. Dr. Carrie Call, on being voted onto the board of trustees of Phoebe Ministries. From their website: "Phoebe Ministries is guided by its mission to provide compassionate care to residents of its communities, regardless of their ability to pay. Over fifty-six percent of our skilled nursing population and a smaller percentage in other living situations rely on Phoebe’s promise of charitable care."
Penn Central Conference rejoices with Rev. Dr. Chris Rodkey on his announcement that he has been awarded a $15,000 pastoral research grant from the Louisville Institute to fund a research project called "Confirmation in Post-Christendom America." He writes: "My intent is that the final product will contribute to future scholarship and applied practice within religious communities." Learn more about his project and the Louisville Institute here.
Salem's Closet located at Salem UCC, Harrisburg held their Christmas Toy Giveaway on Saturday December 7th. We wish to thank all the individuals and churches within the Conference who gave financially and also donated toys. Last year the children asked that the gifts be wrapped so that they had a gift to open on Christmas Day so this year several members of Salem and residents of the local apartment building helped to wrap the gifts prior to the gift giveaway. We had 92 children and 70 plus adults .  Santa & Mrs. Claus were also there. According to all the smiles; it was a great success.
We have served 212 people since we were open in October.  Many are people referred from different social services in the Harrisburg area. At the present time   we need blankets, pillows, and socks.    All year we provide free of charge clothing and house wares to anyone who is in need.  If anyone would like to donate clothing feel free to call the Church and leave a message or call Sandy Sgrignoli at 717-635-0569.
Congratulations to Shiloh UCC, Danville on their work to make the body of Christ to accessible to all! Penn Central Conference is proud to acknowledge our first A2A church, and only the thirteenth in the denomination. Last week Shiloh received their letter of certification that they are Accessible To All. To learn how your church can join Shiloh UCC, Danville in being A2A, see the UCC Disabilities Ministries website here.
November OCWM was significantly down from 2018 - approximately 41%. Do not fear - we had some very generous donations in the first week of December that will hopefully balance some of that. We are tracking at 72% of our 2019 Budget, year-to-date and are still at 92% of 2018 OCWM. 
Please continue to send your OCWM gifts monthly and budget OCWM in your 2020 church budgets. We appreciate your prayers for the Conference. If you haven't already, please read and share Dale Mease's letter about OCWM giving.
Year End OCWM
Thank you for your gifts to OCWM . All 2019 donations (OCWM or others) must be received at the Penn Central Conference Office by Friday , January 17, 2020.   Any money received after that date will be counted as 2020 donations.

Pledge Forms
We are grateful for the monthly OCWM gifts and appreciate those churches that added OCWM as a line item in their 2020 annual budget. Please let us know what you have pledged to OCWM in the coming year by completing and submitting this  online pledge form  or by sending this paper form  into Paul via email or mail.
Don't forget to choose Penn Central Conference of the United Church of Christ as your AmazonSmile recipient before you begin your holiday shopping!
Association Events
Installations, Ecclesiastical Councils & Ordinations

January 11 - Installation of Rev. Beth Rogers at Hummelstown UCC - 3:00PM
January 26 - Installation of Rev. Betsy Bruaw at Peace Church, Swartzville - 3:00PM
Association Meetings and Ministeriums

January 15 - Harrisburg Ministerium (with Rev. Carrie Call) - Kindred Place - 9:30AM
Association Special Events

January 12 - York Association Town Hall w/ Rev. Carrie Call - Mt. Zion UCC, York - 2:00PM   

January 17 - Retiree Breakfast sponsored by the Gettysburg Association COM - Trinity UCC, Hanover - 9:00AM (snow date is January 25th)

February 3 - Harrisburg Association Town Hall w/ Rev. Carrie Call - Chapel Hill UCC, Camp Hill - 6:00PM   

April 18 - York Association Earth Day Anniversary Weekend w/ Jim Antal - Mt. Zion UCC, York - 9:00AM

Hartman Center Retreats
Confirmation Retreat - March 27 - 29 (details to come)
Pride Retreat for LGBTQ Folks & Allies - May 29-31 (details to come)

Early bird pricing for those who pay in full before March 31, 2020.
Clergy Events
Lenten Worship: A Collaborative Planning Event - Colonial Park UCC, Harrisburg - January 9, 10:30AM-3:00PM Register here
Mid-Winter Clergy Sabbath
January 21-23, 2020

Join Jill Peters and Maggie Wellert as they lead us through a look at balance with workshops and discussions. PCC's own Rev. Carrie Call and Scott Watts will also be leading sessions. There will also be fellowship, self care spaces, time to speak with chaplains and more! See the full agenda here . Learn more about our speakers here .

 Save the date
February 19 - MEF at St. Thomas
March 18 - MEF at St. Thomas UCC
April 22 - MEF at St. Thomas UCC
May 13 - Worship Planning at Colonial Park UCC
From our Local Churches
“Angels of Christmas” Cantata - St. Paul’s UCC, Manheim - December 22, 9:30 am

109th Annual Carol Sing - Emmanuel UCC, Hanover - December 22, 7:00PM

250th Anniversary Year End Celebration - St.Paul's UCC, Manheim - December 29, 9:30 am

DVD Lending Library - St. John's UCC, Chambersburg
Open & Affirming
Save the date:
February 22 - ONA Winter Gathering at Colonial Park UCC, Harrisburg PA
From PCC Partners & Friends
"As He Did Unto Others" Music Sundays - Dr. Robert Horton - LTS Santee Chapel - January 5, 4:00PM

“Solidarity Not Solitary” - St. Stephen’s Cathedral in Harrisburg - January 12, 1:00-3:00 pm - register here

LTS Tuesday Topics "Christianity & Immigration" - Lancaster Theological Seminary - January 21, 10:00AM

2020 UCC History & Polity Class - Lancaster Theological Seminary - February 21 through April 3

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 here
Creation Justice
Planning Ahead
Annual Meeting - June 12-13, 2020

Event with Bishop Robert Schnase - 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
Scott Watts
Facilitator of Care to Clergy & Clergy Families
Phone: 717-652-1560 ex. 15
C. Paul Keller
Office Manager
Phone: 717-652-1560 ex. 14
Laura Dalton
Administrative Assistant/Search & Call Assistant
Phone: 717-652-1560 ex. 10
Contact information: C. Paul Keller | email: | phone: 717-652-1560