Paid for by your OCWM Contributions| December 4, 2019
Message to the Conference
Dear Friends of Penn Central
“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on the throne of his glory.” (Matthew 25:31)

Ask people to describe the days between Thanksgiving and Christmas and you will likely hear a long list. In American society we experience a dizzying combination of excessive consumption, astonishing generosity, joyful family reunions, Blue Christmas grief and sadness, cyber sales, cookies of every kind, new movie releases, family arguments, Rudolf and Charlie Brown, Advent wreaths, spiked eggnog, and more. Our multiple screens and media outlets multiply the images, songs, and pleas of the season. The in-between days have become a time of tension between the secular demands of the “holiday shopping season” and the religious preparation of Advent.

What a contrast to what my Puritan ancestors would have known at this time of year. They didn’t celebrate Christmas, and only some calendars of the time would include the Feast Day of Christ’s birth on the 25 th of December. Further back, during the Middle Ages, Advent was known as a Lenten season in which believers prepared for the second coming of Christ. Our lectionary readings for early Advent reflect this, with a focus on the end times and apocalyptic visions of Jesus as the returning judge. The modern understanding of Christmas - with a focus on the nativity in particular - is relatively recent.

The emphasis on the nativity at this time of year is easy for us. There is, after all, such great music and art depicting the baby Jesus in his mother’s arms, surrounded by soft-eyed cattle, donkeys and sheep. The wise men add royalty and exoticism to the scene. The angels and shepherds watch over the stable and bring praise to the newborn king. Our emotions are stirred when we hear “O Holy Night” and when we light our candles and sing “Silent Night” together.

Perhaps my Puritan ancestors are to blame, but I confess that I’m drawn to the practice of Advent as a Lenten season as well. There is something challenging in that idea. Something that feels like spiritual house-cleaning. A time of preparation and self-examination. A time of provocative scripture that awakens the soul. As the year comes to a close I need the penitential reflection time and the humbling apocalyptic visions. I need to be reminded that Jesus is not only my savior-as-a-baby, but also my judge. I want to hear John the Baptist calling me to repent and to bear fruit worthy of repentance. As the year draws to a close, I want to be reminded of the demands of my discipleship and pushed to examine myself. Not only whether I have enough wrapping paper, but instead, is my soul truly prepared for the coming of the king? 


Preaching Around the Conference

December 8 - First UCC, Carlisle - Rev. Carrie Call - 8:00AM
December 15 - St. John's UCC, New Columbia - Rev. Nora Foust - 10:00AM
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...

St.Paul's UCC, West Milton
St. Peter's UCC, Lewisburg
New Covenant UCC, Williamsport
Willow Street UCC, Willow Street
Penn Central Conference presents
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 .

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 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)
Clergy Events
"Clergy Advent Peace" Breakfast and Worship Retreat - PCC Cafeteria - December 11, 9:30AM-Noon Register here

Lenten Worship: A Collaborative Planning Event - Colonial Park UCC, Harrisburg - January 9, 10:30AM-3:00PM Register 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
Live Nativity First UCC, Middleburg - December 14, 6:00PM - 8:00PM

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
"If You Knew Me, You'd Love Me" concert with The Ripple Effect - Salem (Rohrerstown) UCC, Lancaster - December 4 - 7:00PM

LTS Music Sundays "A Thrill of Hope, the Weary World Rejoices " - Rev. Scott Siciliano - December 8 - 4:00PM

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
Rev. Patricia Dodds
Coordinator of Camps/Retreats/Youth Ministry
Phone: 570-506-0677
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