Paid for by your OCWM Contributions| May 27, 2020
Message to the Conference
Dear friends of Penn Central Conference,
“And this is my prayer, that your love may overflow more and more with knowledge and full insight to help you determine what is best…”
(Philippians 1:9-10a, NRSV)

This is a time of decision-making. Many among us are daily weighing options related to time in the midst of pandemic. Some are rather benign (do I really need 5 bottles of hand sanitizer?) while others are more serious (how many can we seat in the sanctuary while keeping social distance?). I too have been weighing options, considering possibilities, talking through ideas with the Penn Central staff, and generally trying to make my way forward through a time that requires a great deal of navigational skills.

I’m grateful in the midst of all this to be reading Susan Beaumont’s book, How to Lead when You Don’t Know where You’re Going (Roman & Littlefield, 2019). For a title that sounds almost flippant, this is a weighty book with great insight. Beaumont has pushed me to think carefully about the difference between decision-making and discernment. And that word – discernment – has also been floating around quite a lot in conversations these days. And I stand convinced that in these days we need more discernment, even though we long for decision-making.

Decision-making is our familiar terrain. It involves clear, logical thinking. To make good decisions we collect data, weigh evidence, evaluate alternatives and run meetings with parliamentary procedure. It’s action-based and helps to restore order. Quickly. Decision-making feels good. We have direction and a goal. We know where we are going. No wonder we favor it.

Discernment is different, Beaumont writes, because “the participants adopt a stance of indifference to anything but the will of the divine as discovered by the group.” (pg. 72) And if we are being asked to wait upon the will of God, then we may not move in the same way as we do in decision-making. Discernment takes time, requires putting off personal certainty, shedding ego, and an abundance of prayer and conversation. If you were raised Quaker, you probably know how to do it well. But for most mainline Protestants this can be difficult work. Discernment requires a slower pace, careful consideration of other’s perspectives (and releasing our own), a willingness to be in prayer with others, and a great deal of humility. It doesn’t abide by Robert’s Rules, but creates space in which God’s Spirit will work and become manifest.

I lift up the difference between the two because this is a time in which we may need to temper our decision-making with discernment. Consistories, councils, elders and pastors are making decisions about re-gathering in buildings (when? how?). We want to make decisions quickly. However, we do not know what lies ahead in terms of this virus and how it may re-emerge. This is a liminal season – a time between. We know what the past looked like (we miss it, after all), but we do not yet know what the future holds. Uncertainty surrounds us. Liminal seasons call for more discernment. For taking our time, listening for God’s direction and the Spirit’s urging.

In the days to come, take a deep breath. Resist the urge to jump into decision-making. Join with others as the apostles did. Pray together. Consider the most vulnerable. Take your time. Seek the guidance of the Spirit, as Paul says, “to help you determine what is best.”


Online Worship Service

We are happy to share a special gift with you. The Penn Central Staff (along with two other conference members) have created a worship service that we want to share with you so that you may share it with your churches. We hope that for some of you, at least, this would enable you to have a Sunday off from worship preparation and execution. The service is “plug and play” on Youtube . Learn more here...
"Poetry as Prayer"
A Weekly Gathering for Clergy
10:00 AM and 7:00 PM via Zoom
June 3 rd , 10 th , 17 th , 24 th
Registration Limited to 15 per group
Learn more here .

The poet’s voice has spoken of the mysteries of life (both divine and human) for centuries. Poetry can open windows and elicit insight into who we are as human beings. The poet can also point us toward the divine light in new or unexpected ways. In this group we will explore how the use of poetry can lend depth and texture to our prayer and worship life. We will focus on a particular theme each week and you will receive the featured poems in advance.
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...

Redeemer's UCC, Littlestown
St. Luke's UCC, Lock Haven
Sandy Hill (Kistler) UCC, Loysville
St. Peter's UCC, Lykens
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.

We will be having another round of meetings around reopening churches . Please register soon, these fill up very quickly. More info to follow today.
Monday June 8 th at 6:30 PM for Central, Northern, Mercersburg and Gettysburg.
Monday June 15 th at 6:30 PM for Lancaster and Lebanon
Tuesday June 16 th at 6:30 PM for Harrisburg and York
The Perfect Blend: Five Practices of Fruitful Congregations
A day with author Bishop Robert Schnase
Saturday, September 19, 2020
Lancaster Theological Seminary, Santee Chapel

Come spend a day in conversation around how these practices can help your church live out the Gospel and be a missional presence in your community.
We will hear 3 presentations from Bishop Schnase and have a few guided, small group discussions along the way. See a full flyer here. Seating is limited, so registration is required. $25 per person, or a discounted rate of $100 for groups of 5 people. Register here!
Creation Justice
View this past Wednesday's Answering the Call: Environmental Justice is Health Justice with Sen. Cory Booker, Dr. Francesca Dominici and Rev. Lionel Murphy. The webinar addresses the connection between COVID-19 death rates and environmental injustice. 
Association Events
Installations, Ecclesiastical Councils & Ordinations

Aug 2 - Ordination of Gary Nottis at St. John's UCC, Lewisburg - 3:00PM (Rev. Nora Foust attending)
Clergy Events
 Boundary Training & Ministerial Excellence Forums

Boundary Training - POSTPONED new date TBA
For those who need boundary training in the meantime, Convergance offers an online course.
Planning Ahead
Online Board Meeting - June 13, 2020

Annual Meeting - August 29, 2020

Recognition Dinner - September 19, 2020 (info to come!)
5 for 5
Is your church 5 for 5? The next Special Mission Offering is Strengthen The Church - which takes place on the Pentecost, May 31, 2020.

Re-imagines and builds the future of the UCC. Shared at the conference and national levels, STC largely supports youth ministries and full-time leaders for new churches in parts of the country where the UCC does not have a strong presence. Its also provides support for existing church's new initiatives

For more information on the 5 for 5 offerings, click here.
From our Local Churches
Pig-Roast and The Seger Family Concert - hosted by the Northern Cluster of UCC Churches - June 28, 5:00PM CANCELLED
Hiring Information:
Executive Director – Pennsylvania Interfaith Power & Light
(Half-time position)

We are seeking a visionary: a flexible and creative individual who can help guide PA IPL into the next decade, particularly with the work of expanding and deepening the organization’s base of support and of helping PA IPL realize its broader goals from its strategic plan such as clarifying our organizational identity (rebranding and diversifying stakeholders), developing more focused programming, and building the necessary internal infrastructure to see PA IPL into the future. Learn more here.
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. Richard Luciotti

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. 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
Contact information: C. Paul Keller | email: | phone: 717-652-1560