Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up the other; but woe to one who is alone and falls and does not have another to help." (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10)
Years ago I worked with a very small church in Valparaiso, Indiana. This church had formed intentionally as an African-American presence in a largely white community that had been home to persistent racist behavior and rhetoric. A Lutheran pastor named Michael served the lively and unique church while I was there. Michael had been a world-class trombone player and had a deep appreciation for jazz as well as for the church. We talked about what it might take for the small church to continue having a big impact in that community. In one of our conversations Mike introduced a phrase to me that I've never forgotten. He said, "All of my work is about one thing: creating coalitions of possibility."
In the face of some of the most challenging work a church can do (racial healing in a community) he consistently looked for ways people could work together to bring light and hope, regardless of where they came from. That phrase has continued to inspire me and I thought of it again this past Sunday when I had the blessing of preaching at a combined service of two churches in the Lebanon Association (Redeemer in Hershey and Trinity in Palmyra). Pastors Donte Jones and Tom Caruso shared the liturgy and Redeemer UCC shared its remarkable music. The joyful service demonstrated what more we can do and experience when we do it together, even for just one hour on a Sunday.
Afterward we gathered in the parlor for conversation. One topic was the number of small churches in transition within the Conference. Congregants asked about churches joining forces, sharing pastors, or merging. Numerous churches are doing this already, looking like they did 100 years ago when 2, 3, even 5-point charges were common. However, resistance to this idea nowadays is common too. We know the reasons why - devotion to our buildings, unwillingness to share a pastor, fear of losing a distinctive identity, fear of being hurt, fear of losing members. The list goes on. All the reasons are understandable. Yet they still emerge out of fear, and not hope. They still speak to closed systems, and not to possibility. They still demonstrate individual identity, rather than a shared sense of being the coalition of God's people.
I believe God is calling us, and has always called us out of a place of fear. God calls us as individuals and as congregations into new ways of being in the world - dynamic ways that will make us stronger and more effective in sharing and living God's Word. God's people, those free of fear, should be the leaders at the art of forming coalitions of possibility. What might this look like in Penn Central Conference?
Penn Central Conference Offices will be closed on Thursday, October 24, 2019 as all staff will be offsite. If you have any needs, please email or leave a voicemail and we will contact you when we are back in the office.
Fall Women's Retreat: Living Well - In The Moment
Friday, November 15, 2019 at 7:00PM - Sunday, November 17, 2019 at 11AMregister online
Fall Youth Retreat: Never Alone
Friday November 15, 2019 7:00 PM - Sunday, November 17, 2019 11:00 AMregister online
2020 Vision Retreat
Friday December 6, 2:00PM - Sunday December 8, 2019 12:00PM register online
Men's Retreat:Seasons of a Man's Life - read more here
Friday, January 17, 2020 at 7PM - Sunday January 19, 2020 at 1PM register online
Friday, March 27, 2020 - Sunday, March 29, 2020
2020 Vision Retreat
We can't wait until 2020 to make concrete plans for the New Year. The 2020 VISION RETREAT is for everyone willing to work for the future of Hartman Center to spend time together developing ACTION PLANS for 2020. Join us Friday December 6, 2:00PM through noon on December 8, 2019
If you are willing to come to the 2020 VISION RETREAT let us know SOON. The cost for two nights lodging (in A and B cabins) and five meals is $100 (a special UCCR offer.) Register online here. Or mail a check written to Penn Central Conference to the office (address at the end of this eNews.) Read more here.
Confirmation Retreat Planning Meeting
The Penn Central Conference Confirmation Retreat will be held March 27 - 29, 2020 at Hartman Center. This weekend is always a great opportunity for our confirmands to explore "Being The Church"
and to connect with other youth.
Planning for this retreat is done by the Pastors and/or youth leaders of the participating churches. We will gather for an initial planning meeting on Monday November 18 from 1 - 3 pm at the conference office, and Zoom will be avalable.
Please contact Pastor Patty Dodds as soon as possible if your church is interested in participating. 1-717-502-2246 or Program@HartmanCenter.com
REACH Mission Trips
REACH Mission Trips is a youth organization that invites youth & adult volunteers to follow in Jesus' footsteps, sharing God's love. Youth & adult volunteers chose one of several mission camps to help people in need with home repairs, maintenance, and building projects. The homeowner becomes the volunteer's Neighbor. As volunteers share their time, labor, & efforts, they also share their faith in God with each other and their Neighbor, putting their faith into action. This year, our group chose to go to Newfane NY July 15-20, 2019. Read more about this important ministry from St. Jacob's (Stone) UCC, Glenville.
50th Anniversary CROP Hunger Walks
CROP Hunger Walks - stepping up to end hunger since 1969.
Celebrating the 50
th anniversary of the national CROP Hunger Walk movement; CROP Hunger Walks continue to raise millions of dollars each year to help end hunger and poverty through long-term sustainable approaches to significantly reduce or eliminate hunger. In each CROP Hunger Walk community, 25% of money raised comes back to local agencies. Across the country, over 1600 local agencies receive funds from CROP Hunger Walks
This year some 800 communities nationwide are joining together in interfaith CROP Hunger Walks around the theme "Stepping up to End Hunger Since 1969." Because teens and their communities in North Dakota and Pennsylvania cared 50 years ago, the CROP Hunger Walk is now America's main hunger walk. Millions of people around the nation have since responded to the invitation to end hunger. We celebrate this 50-year legacy and challenge ourselves to keeping moving forward until there is enough for all.
Join Hummelstown UCC and other churches in the Hershey/Hummelstown area at the CROP Hunger Walk in Hershey on October 27th.
Click here to learn more.Interesting Factoid - George Sturgeon, who worked for Church World Service and started the CROP Walk, was a member of Hummelstown UCC at the time of his passing.
Every year, on the 1st Saturday in December, Salem UCC, 231 Chestnut Street, Harrisburg, Pa. hosts a free toy giveaway with Mr. & Mrs. Santa. We also try to have small items available for the children, if they would like something for a parent or grandparent. Also last year the children asked if we could have the gifts wrapped so that they had something to open on Christmas Day. Last year 120 children attended. The only requirement Salem asks is that they preregister for the event so that we have an idea how many will show up.
We were wondering if any of the other Churches would be interested in helping giving monetary to Salem's/toy give away or donating new toys to this cause? Please make checks payable to: "Salem UCC" memo line "Salem's Closet/toy giveaway". Toys should be unwrapped. Deadline for monetary/toys is November 25th. We never turn a child away and the numbers keep growing. Please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or contact: Sandy Sgrignoli at 717-635-0569.
UCC forgives millions in debt in Chicago, announces national effort
Almost 6,000 families on the South Side of Chicago have had their medical debt forgiven through a
collaborative effort of local, Conference and national bodies of the United Church of Christ and other partners. UCC leaders announced Oct. 20 that church donations have wiped out $5.3 million in medical debt for 5,888 Chicago families. They invited participation in a similar national effort being planned for Giving Tuesday, Dec. 3. Read more here.
Upcoming Ministerial Excellence Forum
November 20 - Rev. Donna Hale and Rev. Gloria McPherson,
The Opioid Crisis
It seems as though every corner of American life has been touched by the current Opioid Addiction Crisis, so much so that at General Synod this summer the
UCC urged every congregation to recognize it at a health epidemic. Revs. Donna Hale and Gloria McPherson have been working in their communities for some time now in various capacities. Gloria will be talking with us about the physical and personal realities of addiction, and Donna will follow with ways for churches to assist in the spiritual recovery as well as through community partnerships. They both highly recommend the book
In Pain: A Bioethicist's Personal Struggle with Opioids, by Travis Rieder, as a good read in preparation for our time together, however the reading is not required. (3 hours of Continuing Education) To register,
All forums are for clergy and will be held at
St. Thomas UCC - 6490 Linglestown Road - Harrisburg, PA 1:00 PM - 4:00 PM
Save The Date!
For those filling up their 2020 calendars, please save:
January 8 (Worship Planning at Colonial Park, snow date 1/9)
February 19 (MEF at St. Thomas)
March 18 (MEF at St. Thomas)
April 22 (MEF at St. Thomas)
May 13 (Worship Planning at Colonial Park)
More info to come!
Installations, Ecclesiastical Councils and Ordinations
November 3 - Ordination Service for Garrett Book at Christ Church UCC, Annville - 3:00PM
(Rev. Nora Foust attending)
November 10 - Installation of Alice Rauch at St. John's UCC, Lewisburg - 3:00PM
November 17 - Ecclesiastical Council for Gary Nottis at Paradise UCC, Milton - 3:00PM (registration deadline November 1; meeting of Central Association, quorum required) (Rev. Nora Foust attending)
November 23 - Installation as Senior Pastor of Rev. Cindy Garis at Colonial Park UCC, Harrisburg - 3:00PM (Rev. Nora Foust attending)
Association Meetings & Ministeriums
October 27- Harrisburg Association Fall Meeting at Colonial Park UCC - 2:00PM (Rev. Nora Foust Attending)
October 27 -
Lancaster Association Fall Meetingat Zion UCC, Marietta - 3:00PM (Rev. Carrie Call attending)
November 3 -
Mercersburg Association Fall Meeting at St. Paul's UCC, McConnellsburg - 3:00PM-5:00PM (Rev. Carrie Call attending)
November 3 -
Gettysburg Association Social at Bay City Restaurant, Hanover - 1:00PM
November 10 - York Association Fall Meeting at Mt. Zion UCC, York - 1:30PM (fellowship) 2:00PM (program) (Rev. Carrie Call attending)
Association Town Halls
You are invited to gather with others from your association (clergy and lay people alike) for fellowship and a light dinner of soup, sandwiches and dessert. (See dates, times and locations below)
Conversation with Rev. Carrie Call will follow our dinner. She will provide updates about Penn Central Conference, touching on topics such as new staffing, updated strategic planning, and the Hartman Center.
Please bring your questions and concerns as well as your enthusiasm and ideas for our Conference!
October 28 - Mercersburg Association - First UCC, Carlisle - 6:00PM
October 29 - Northern & Central Associations - St. John's UCC, Lewisburg - 6:30PM
October 30-Lancaster Association - Trinity UCC, East Petersburg - 6:00PM
November 13 - Lebanon Association - Quentin UCC, Quentin - 6:00PM
Local Church Events
Boston & Salem Trip with Grace UCC, Hanover
The Resource Committee of Grace United Church of Christ of Hanover is offering a trip of beauty, education and spooky adventure. We will be thoroughly touring Boston and JFK Memorial Library (many rare documents, the oval office desk, Jackie's gowns and much more.)
Enjoy a guided trolley tour of the city of BOSTON, then off to SALEM to tour the House of the Seven Gables and learn of the Witch History - Tour dates October 27 - 30.The perfect time for witches and Halloween!
Keep your calendar open for
Saturday, October 26th!
Join us for Mission Central's 5
th annual 5K Run/Walk!
This is the perfect combination of a family-friendly event and a great 5K. This is professionally timed with awards for top overall male and female runners and awards for the top male and female runners in each age group.
For those who aren't serious runners, this is a great morning walk. Families/groups of friends/church groups can participate and have a blast together... and you can walk our warehouse!
Mission Central has previously partnered with the UCC DR&R team so we are happy to pass this information along to PCC churches and friends.
Lancaster Theological Seminary Events
LTS Discover Days
Lancaster Theological Seminary is holding two Discover Days, open house events, on
Saturday, November 9 and
Wednesday, November 13. This is a wonderful opportunity for people who are considering a theological education to visit campus, sit in on a class, worship with our community, enjoy lunch and meet current students and faculty, and explore the programs, schedules, and costs. The events are free and registration is required. The details are on our website,
lancasterseminary.edu and by clicking this
Tuesday Talks at the Seminary
Seminary professors present free talks on current topics in Santee Chapel at 10:00 am on Nov. 19, Jan. 21andMarch 24. Attendees who buy lunch afterwards at the Gypsy Kitchen on campus receive a complimentary dessert.
Nov. 19 - The Future of Religion in America: The Situation 20 Years From Now
Who's in the pews? Join Dr. Lee Barrett, Professor of Systematic Theology, for a look at American worship in 2040.
Jan. 21 - Christianity and Immigration
Dr. Lee Barrett explores a prickly contemporary topic with deep, ancient roots.
March 24 - Women Who Speak for God: Females Among the Prophets
During Women's History Month, Dr. Julia M. O'Brien explores the stories of women called "prophets" in the Bible, and why they are important to our understanding of prophecy.
Download a printable flyer for your bulletin board or to share with a friend here.
Music Sundays at the Seminary
FREE MONTHLY CONCERTS IN SANTEE CHAPEL
Sunday afternoons at 4:00 pm.
Complimentary light refreshments will be served after each show.
Nov. 10 - Leaves of Many Colors
Dr. William Wright leads the 24-member Franklin & Marshall College Chamber Singers in spirituals and sacred motets, madrigals and contemporary art music celebrating the beauty of human voices in harmony.
Dec. 8- A Thrill of Hope, the Weary World Rejoices
Get your Christmas spirit flowing and feet tapping with a heart-warming holiday program of music for voice, organ, piano and Celtic harp. Presented by Scott Siciliano, pastor, composer, musician and Seminary grad known for his angelic voice and musical versatility.
More performances in 2020 to be announced! Download a printable flyer for your bulletin board or to share with a friend