Paid for by your OCWM Contributions| July 15, 2020
Message to the Conference
Dear Friends and Family of Penn Central Conference :

“Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God.” 2 Cor 3:5

At a young age, I began to keep a journal. I wrote in my journal daily. My hopes and dreams and my everyday experiences became my focus of my daily chicken scratch. Every year, I would purchase a new journal with clean fresh pages, just waiting for my life experiences to be penned. As I got older, I started to include in my daily logging, my prayers, favorite scripture verses and meaningful hymns that I would find myself singing throughout my day.

This year I received a different type of a journal, a prayer journal that included prompts. The picture that I inserted at the top of this page is a snapshot of one of the pages from my journal. The prompt asked for my favorite hymn or praise song. I Need Thee Every Hour has been one of the hymns that I have found myself singing lately. This song seems to pop into my head when I am on my daily walks or on the beautiful bike trails that I ride on a couple times a week.

That song brings back a memory of a time in the fifth grade when my Sunday school teacher would begin her class with this hymn. Every Sunday morning, she would say “let us begin our class time with our special song.” I remember thinking, is this the only song she knows? I remember my teacher singing this song with such passion and conviction, that it obviously left an impression on me because I still remember it like it was yesterday, all of these years later.

Fast forward many, many years later as I am preaching at a local Senior Living Home and we begin to sing this very hymn, I notice an African American woman singing with the same passion and conviction. Her arms stretched out to the heavens as she belted out the words of this hymn. It literally stopped me in my tracks, as I watched her sing with every part of her being. I also noticed that she did not have a song book. However, she knew every note and every word.

After worship, as I introduced myself, I came to realize, that she was totally blind. She shared that, that particular hymn meant everything to her. She said that she needs God every hour of the day, and that God is a part of her every decision that she makes. “Without my relationship with God, I am nothing and I have nothing” is what she told me.

When Annie S. Hawk wrote the words of this hymn on a sun filled morning in June 1872, she wrote; “one day as a young wife and mother of 37 years of age, I was busy with my regular household tasks, when suddenly, I became so filled with the sense of nearness to God that I wondered how anyone could live without God, either in joy or pain? These words were ushered into my mind, the thought taking full possession of me.” [1] I wonder how often do we turn to God through the joys and the pains of our lives? Once a month? Once a day? Ever? In the instability of our world, perhaps, this song can bring us security in a time when we feel insecure and vulnerable. Perhaps, it may give us the comfort that we all so desperately need as we meander through the tough terrain of life. I invite you to look at the words of this song. Sing it with passion and conviction if the words make you feel like my Sunday school teacher and the woman in worship and now me.

My prayer for each of you, my friends, is that you turn to God for your every need, whether you are in a season of joy or a season of pain. Because we really do need Thee every hour.

Peace be with you,


[1] Morgan, R. J. (2011). Then sings my soul . Nashville: Thomas Nelson.
Make sure you've saved the date of August 29th for Penn Central Conference's Annual Meeting! Registration is opening soon, but here are some details:

There will be two options for attending: each association will have a church set up to gather (following on-site precautions including wearing masks, temperature checks and social distancing) to join the meeting over Zoom as a group. Attendees and delegates can also join the meeting individually from home via Zoom. More information on how to vote will follow registration.

Schedule of events:
8:30AM - Webinar opens
9:00AM - Meeting officially opens - Devotions, Business tasks and voting
12:00PM - Break for Lunch (bring your own picnic)
12:45PM - continued Business Tasks
2:00PM - Time of recognition, remembrance and closing worship (bring your own communion elements)
3:00PM - Meeting closes

“And God saw it was good, but not good enough, so he scrapped the whole earth and started on take two”- Hygenesis 24:7

Calling all churches who have had a zoom-worthy! performance! And by this we mean, all the hiccups, re-dos, whoopsies and laughable moments made along the way of this COVID-19 experience of doing ministry online (or, hey, even all of the outtakes you want to recreate)!

To bring a bit of levity to our Penn Central Conference Annual Gathering we are asking churches to submit a 1 minute video of a funny moment that has happened while recording or live-streaming your service. This can be a visit from a family pet, a slip of the tongue while still being live, or, anything that comes to mind!

Please submit these 1 minute video clips (along with your church name and location) to Rev. Jessica Hainley ( with the subject line: “1 Minute Church Video” by Saturday August 8, 2020.
Celebrating Hartman Center

Our social media accounts will be hosting a “Month of Hartman Center Memories” throughout the month of July. So get your pictures and stories ready and check out the calendar on the Facebook page here.

“Hartman Hikes” will take place each Sunday from July 12th-August 2nd. Participants are asked to register, bring a mask, maintain social distance, and bring a packed lunch.
  1. Gettysburg & Mercersburg, 07/19, register here!
  2. Harrisburg & York, 07/26, register here!
  3. Lancaster & Lebanon, 08/02, register here!

A Service for the Decommissioning of Hartman Center will take place September 12th at Hartman Center, which will include a hike.

Plan your own visit to Hartman Center through Zach Hassman for a personal time of thanksgiving.
Scheduling Notes:

Rev. Dr. Marisa Laviola will be preaching at Faith UCC, State College on Sunday, July 26.

Monday July 6 - Sunday July 19 - Rev. Dr. Carrie Call will be on vacation. She will reply to emails and phone messages when she returns.
Friends , we want to share a music resource with you from Rev. Scott Silciliano . He is posting traditional, contemporary and original hymns on his YouTube channel and offers them to you for use in worship as we continue to navigate worship in creative ways. Please be sure to share links with your congregation and include your CCLI or ONELicense information to cover lyrics (and be sure your license covers that particular song.) If using an original song, please contact Scott at .

There's also a virtual choir video that was produced by Convergence Leadership for Pentecost Sunday that's great. You can download it from their website with permission and use it in virtual services. It's a setting of a well-known African American Spiritual with new lyrics. Scott is one of the accompanists in the video.
These are Hard Times for Clergy.
Penn Central Conference, in response to the difficult situations, news, and decisions of the past months and weeks, the Conference wants to inform you of three things:
1.      These are very stressful times . Please reach out to our Clergy Care Facilitator ( Rev. Dr. Ronnette Comfort-Butler ) if you or someone you know needs support. This is confidential and pastoral. No matter what the issue, please reach out.
2.      Penn Central is in the process of creating an anti-racism program for clergy to begin at the close of summer. We will be providing information about a text soon (so you can read over the summer) along with our follow-up plans for clergy gatherings and discussions.
3.      Let us know what you need. We are committed to serving everyone in this Conference, so please send us your suggestions and ideas about how we can best provide you with support, education, and communication in these trying times.
4. The Congregational Empowerment Team is ready to assist churches and congregations in the complicated decisions facing them in this season. Read more about the CET here.
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...

Myerstown UCC, Myerstown
Emmanual UCC, New Berlin
Zion UCC, Newburg
St. John's (New Chester) UCC, New Oxford
From our friends at Mission Central
Thank you for your support in making Mission Central Care Kits and for setting a goal of 500 (almost 3 per church!) We are grateful for the support of the Penn Central Conference.

In 2019, these Care Kits were distributed throughout Pennsylvania and West Virginia as well as internationally to the Philippines, Belize, Niger, Cuba, Ghana, Dominica and Sierra Leone.

As needs have increased, we expect these to immediately go out within our communities in Pennsylvania.

We are grateful for your support!
This is our mission project for Annual Meeting 2020. Please email Sherry Spencer ( ) or Shirley Keith Knox ( ) if you have any questions. Click here for a flyer to share with your congregation and friends.
General Synod 33 to be a virtual experience

For the first time ever, the United Church of Christ General Synod will gather virtually in 2021. The biennial gathering is moving entirely online next year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The United Church of Christ Board made this historic decision this week after considering a number of factors. Read more here...
Every four years for four decades, the United Church of Christ's  National Youth Event  has attracted young people from all over the denomination for high-energy inspiration, faith-building and educational activities, community service, and in-the-moment actions for social justice.
Now, like so many other events in the Year of the Coronavirus, the live event has been postponed, with online opportunities taking its place this summer (including live chats, a playlist and more.) Learn more here .
Association Events
Installations, Ecclesiastical Councils & Ordinations

Aug 2 - Ordination of Gary Nottis at St. John's UCC, Lewisburg - 3:00PM (Rev. Nora Foust attending) RSVP by July 24, procedures and guidelines here

Association Meetings

July 28 - Harrisburg Association Northern Cluster Meeting - St. Peter's - 7:00PM
Clergy Events
 Boundary Training & Ministerial Excellence Forums

For online boundary training options, Convergance offers an online course.
PCC Clergy Book Study: How To Be An Anti-Racist by Ibram X. Kendi

Completion of all four components will earn 4 hours of Antiracism Training and
2 hours of Boundary Training. You will have July and August to read the book and respond in writing to reflection questions. Discussion groups via Zoom will follow in September. Register now, space is limited. Registration links and more information here.
Council of Conference Ministers Webinars

Whether they are responding to COVID-19 or taking action against racism, this is a year of innovation for people across the United Church of Christ. Now the leaders of the UCC’s 36 Conferences are piloting a series of webinars to share what congregations are learning in this time of change. Learn more here...

Recording of first webinar can be found here.
Hiring Information:
Office Experience Required, 24 hrs./week ($15/hr.) – M-F, Proficiency in: Microsoft Publisher, Word, and Excel
Learn more here...
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

Register by August 7, 2020
Search & Call Associates
Mercersburg, York and Gettysburg Association Churches
Rev. Richard Gordon

Northern and Central Association Churches
Carolyn Herman

Harrisburg, Lancaster and Lebanon Association Churches
Rev. Richard Luciotti

Staff Directory
Rev. Dr. Carrie Call, Ph.D.
Transitional 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

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