Paid for by your OCWM Contributions| November 25, 2020
Message to the Conference
Members and friends of Penn Central Conference-

“Rejoice always. Pray continually. Give thanks in every situation because this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
There is no doubt that we have all been praying continually during these difficult times of uncertainty. With the rise in virus’ numbers, the unclear future of our country and the various other things in our lives, that may cause us to experience anxiety, stress and grief, the only thing left to do is pray and pray continually? But what about the part of the verse that talks about rejoicing? Rejoice always and give thanks in every situation? How? How can we be expected to give thanks and rejoice in times like these? Sometimes we may feel like screaming, how Lord, how? How can we think about rejoicing when our world has been turned upside down?

If you have asked yourself any of these questions, you are not alone. However, when Paul stated to rejoice always, I don’t believe Paul meant that we should walk around in the most unbearable situations with a big smile on our faces. Nor do I believe that he meant that we should deny our feelings when we are at the end of our ropes and feel deep sadness and dismay. What Paul meant was that we have two choices when we are faced with difficult situations. We could focus on the trials that we are going through and possibly fall into a place of deep despair. Or we can set our minds on the things from God that brings us light in the darkness. Rejoicing may bring us an attitude of hope, contentment and joy that can only come, when we focus entirely on Jesus Christ as we receive the eternal gifts that only Christ can give.

Next we are to give thanks in every situation. This can be very difficult especially as we are right in the middle of the muddy waters of 2020. Paul in the book of Ephesians says to “give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”  Giving thanks does not mean that we have to accept what is happening without praying for something to change.

I like to keep this scripture verse on my desk in full view as a reminder that when I just cannot take one more thing and I feel as though nothing seems good, that there is always something that I can rejoice about if I look at the situation from all perspectives. It also reminds me to pray continually no matter what circumstances I find myself in. My prayer can be as simple as, giving thanks for the beautiful creation that is visible right outside of my window as I have a Zoom meeting. Or giving thanks for the warm house that I live in. Thanking God for the food that I eat every day. And giving thanks for the people that I love and who love me right back.

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving. It may not be the typical Thanksgiving festivities that we are all used to, but even in this crazy unpredictable time, remember to rejoice, and pray and give thanks, because this is the way God wants you, who belongs to Christ Jesus to live out our lives. Happy Thanksgiving to each and every one of you.

Your friend in Christ,
Ronnette Comfort-Butler
Annual Meeting Service Project update!

Thank you for your partnership! We are grateful for Penn Central Conference’s work at collecting and putting together over 500 Mission Central Care Kits. And thank you for the amazing ‘extras’ as well.
All items have gone out and will be instrumental in providing cleaning and hygiene for those in need as well as assisting in mitigating the spread of COVID-19. Your Care Kits went to students and their families in the Cumberland Valley School District, families in the Appalachian Mountains in West Virginia as well as to the homeless population in Harrisburg.
Thank you for your donation! You are helping us fulfill our mission of “connecting God’s resources with human need.”
-The Mission Central Team
Scheduling Notes:

PCC Offices will be closed Thursday and Friday, November 26 & 27, in honor of Thanksgiving. Paul will also be off Wednesday, the 25th. Staff will return emails and phone calls on Monday.
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, York
St. Jacob's UCC, York New Salem
St. Peter UCC, Aaronsburg
Salem UCC, Spring Mills
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.

Prayers For When You Feel Anxious Coloring Pages from Illustrated Ministry NEW!

PCC Virtual Cantata

The music is recorded and the editing is underway - soon the full cantata will be available for you and your church to enjoy!

You can sign up to receive the Penn Central Conference Advent Cantata at:

The first video is ready, stream it here!

If you have any questions or would to download video files, contact Julie Holm at
From Our Local Churches

St. Matthew's UCC, Carlisle just installed an electronic sign. They have a complete set of 4 inch, black, changeable letters, numbers, and punctuation that they’d love to donate to a church that could use them.
Interested parties should call the church at 717-243-1537, that’s St. Matthew’s UCC office number.
Due to Covid 19 Salem UCC Harrisburg is not going to have the Annual Toy Giveaway with Mr. & Mrs. Santa. Instead we are gathering items for residents of a local women's shelter which includes more than 50 children also 30 + kids that are in a group home waiting for placement into foster care. In addition to items on hand from the clothing bank, we are putting together bags of toiletries for the residents.  
Among the organizations served were individuals at Bethesda Mission, 2nd Chance Ministries, Group Home for Special Needs, Morning Star Pregnancy Center, Daily Bread, Justice Youth Center and others. 
If any local Churches would wish to donate please contact Sandy Sgrignoli at 717-635-0569.
Colonial Park UCC, Harrisburg's Annual Creche Festival has been cancelled.
Weekly Book Reviews
A new weekly feature!
November's reviews by Rev. Sue Fritz
Theme: Male Depression
“I Don’t Want to Talk About It: Overcoming the Secret Legacy of Male Depression” by Terrence Real
Men and women do not want to talk about depression. They fear being labeled, “the other,” or “a bit crazy.” But depression is a real, silent epidemic - particularly with men. Men will often go to great lengths to hide the depth of their depression with others. Sometimes, the result of untreated depression is alcoholism, workaholism, rage, intimacy issues, as well as many other types of behavioral issues.  Untreated depression tears families apart and can permanently destroy parent-child relationships. Terrence understands this - he has personally dealt with serious depression and considers himself a constant work-in-process. In this book, he strives to help men and their families or mates understand what depression is, how it manifests itself, and how it can be managed for life to be joyful again. Through appropriate treatment, life can be wonderful!
Theme: Race
“Let the People See: The Story of Emmett Till” by Elliott J. Gorn
In August 1955, young Emmett Till of Chicago was visiting family in Mississippi. Carolyn Bryant, who worked behind the counter of a local store, named Till as the man who had flirted with her while she was working in the store. Three days later, Till’s dead body was found in the Tallahatchie River. Till’s white killers were quickly acquitted of his murder.
Mamie Till-Mobley insisted that Emmett’s casket remain open during his funeral, despite wounds clearly visible on his body. This became groundbreaking news and sparked a public outrage. In 2005, fifty years following the murder, the FBI reopened the case. New testimonies were forthcoming, which broadened the historical context of this event. 
Gorn not only does an excellent job of explaining what happened that August day but he clearly shows how the story still resonates today. His goal is to describe to the public why we must examine our old thoughts and behavioral patterns, so we don’t allow such racial crimes to happen once again in our lifetimes. 
From UCC national setting

The United Church of Christ and the National Council of Churches have joined forces to offer faith- based organizing training to the wider church and beyond.
During this Advent season of viral pandemics, racial injustice, economic uncertainty, physical isolation, and socio-political strife, how does one prepare for what is to come? Advent is the season Christians are called to prepare for the coming of Jesus in the world and, with Jesus, the in-breaking of justice.
What distinguishes faith -based organizing from other trainings is our reason why. These trainings are built on a foundation of discipleship.
What will the world look like when justice comes? And how do we prepare for its arrival?
We have gathered four nationally recognized organizers and trainers, each paired with a theological reflector, to help us interrogate both these questions and the sacred text that undergirds our discipleship in this area.
Over the course of four sessions participants will gain tools for: basic organizing & embodiment; direct action & risk assessment; communication & accompaniment; trauma care and healing space. Each sessions also includes space for interaction, questions, and downloadable resources. Learn more 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
Survey from the Women's Table

We invite female clergy and lairt to complete this survey prepared by the Women’s Table of the United Church of Christ. It is intended to gather information from women in the UCC about the issues and concerns you most care about, are engaged with, and for which your faithful responses make a difference in the world around us.

We are not yet certain of the future of the Women’s Table but we are cognizant that as a denomination which has provided a great deal of leadership and advocacy on gender justice and for women in ministry within ecumenical and interfaith partnerships, that we need to find ways to remain visibly engaged, accessible, and resourceful on these matters. This survey, sent out to a diverse cross-section of women in the UCC, is designed to help inform next steps. What is on your minds and hearts matters to us.

Again, we cannot thank you enough for taking the time to offer your feedback. We look forward to hearing from you and to reporting our findings. Your responses will be strictly confidential and anonymous. It will take approximately 10 minutes to complete the survey. Please have your responses included by Friday, December 11, at 11:59 pm EDT.
UCC Webinars

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

Wednesday, December 02, 12:00 PM

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

Theology II: “Leadership and Community,” Jan 9–Feb 18, 2021. The Rev. Holly MillerShank offers a six-week online class through the Pennsylvania Academy of Ministry at Lancaster Theological Seminary. The class provides an introduction to Christian theology, focusing on the human condition, Christian hope, the church, ministry, and mission. Students may take this class without having taken Theology I. This 2.5 CEU class starts Saturday, Jan 9, followed by five weeks of asynchronous online instruction. Cost $325. Apply online at
Employment Opportunities

The Center for Spiritual Formation is seeking applicants for the position of Center Director beginning July 1, 2021. For more information or for an application, contact the center office at
Search & Call Associates
Mercersburg, York and Gettysburg Association Churches
Rev. Richard Gordon

Northern and Central Association Churches
Carolyn Herman
H: 570-538-9704
C: 570-220-8589

Harrisburg, Lancaster and Lebanon Association Churches
Rev. Richard Luciotti

Staff Directory
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
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