Paid for by your OCWM Contributions| October 21, 2020
Message to the Conference
Photo by Carolyn Bahm on Unsplash
October 21, 2020
Members and friends of Penn Central Conference-

It’s pumpkin season! Everywhere you turn there is a pumpkin and pumpkin flavored this and pumpkin flavored that! Jack-o-lanterns are being carved for porches and pumpkin seeds are being roasted for snacking.

I think there is a lot we can learn from a pumpkin. They come in every shape and size and color. Sounds like each of us? There’s yucky goop inside them all that gets scooped out and turned into a delicious snack or used to make more pumpkins. That sounds like some of us too. God can transform our yucky goop just like people do for pumpkins. And once you clean it out and put a light inside, the light shines for all to see (and lets them know you have something – candy -to share). Oh, wait, that’s the most important part, once God transforms our yucky goop and puts God’s light inside – we really do shine and have so much to share!

Now I know that’s a little bit like a children’s message, but I really needed it this week. They do say that sometimes the preacher is preaching the message she most needs to hear and I thought a few of us could relate. Lately, it just feels like the earth is shifting beneath me and something is hammering away at my being. It all came to a head in a small worship a few weeks ago as the gathering played color-coded hand-bells and it just made my heart soar! In that moment of soaring, I could suddenly feel all the loss of the past few months come crashing down on me. Here I was in the front of the church fighting back tears as I played a little green bell every time my color came up on the cards.

Fortunately, the song had four verses and I was able to put my thoughts back together before I had to stand up and talk again. As I continue to reflect on the feelings of that moment, I also see pumpkins everywhere and all the possibility they hold, symbolically of course. Some of this year’s losses have left tremendous pain in their wake; others have created space for something new. When I see the pumpkins, every single time now, I see the emptiness that makes room for God’s light to shine, in me and through me for others to see.

What yucky goop – or life-giving seed - is God scooping out and transforming? What losses are just painful? It’s OK to name the loss and grieve. Then ask which ones are making space for something new and meaningful? May you see pumpkins and jack-o-lanterns in a new light this season and give thanks for the life lessons from this harvest gourd!


Rev. Nora Foust, ACM for Congregational & Ministerial Excellence
Scheduling Notes:

October 25: Zion UCC, Chambersburg 10:45AM - Rev. Dr. Marisa Laviola preaching

November 1: Salem UCC, Dover 9:30AM - Rev. Dr. Marisa Laviola preaching

November 15: Mt. Zion UCC. Herdon - Rev. Dr. Carrie Call preaching

November 15: St. Paul UCC, Urban - Rev Dr. Marisa Laviola preaching

November 22 Trinity UCC, Palmyra - Rev. Dr. Marisa Laviola preaching
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...

Saint John's UCC, Tylersville
Saint Paul's UCC, Verdilla
Trinity UCC, Watsontown
Church of the Apostles UCC, Waynesboro
Join to Pray for Unity and Peace before the Election
These are difficult days. Tension on the streets, fires in the west, flooding in the south, and political rhetoric all around us. Many feel anxiety, anger, frustration and fear. In response to this and looking ahead to November 3, the Conference invites you to join us in prayer. During the month of October, every Wednesday evening you are invited to join together for prayer at 7:00 PM for 30 minutes. The zoom prayer time will be devoted to prayers for peace and unity as we approach the national election. There will be nothing partisan and no candidates will be mentioned by name.
This prayer time is open to all clergy and members of UCC congregations within the Conference. We ask you to register only so that we may send you a password directly for the zoom calls. There is no pressure to attend – but this way we can make sure these gatherings remain peaceful and prayerful. Register here.

Just announced! Wednesday evening prayers will continue through November 25th!
PCC Virtual Cantata

The director is hard at work, the singers and instrumentalists have been briefed and are receiving their scores, the narrator is practicing, and more than 65 people are hard at work creating a transcendent Christmas piece for your church to use in worship.

The piece uses 7 Spirituals and Gospel songs from African American heritage, along with Christmas poetry by African American pastor, theologian and mystic Howard Thurman.   The whole cantata, as well as the the seven individual pieces of it are going to be available for use in worship by all the churches of the Penn Central Conference of the UCC, and will be available via YouTube to the general public.  We've attended to Revised Common Lectionary readings in our selections, we will have a diverse group of musicians, and an interpretive guide you can share with your congregations.

If you want to use the music, and especially if you will need a download to use it, we encourage you to register. This helps us determine the distribution for our Mechanical licenses, ensure that your use of the music is properly documented, as well as make sure you have appropriate technical help in getting and using these files. You can sign up to receive the Penn Central Conference Advent Cantata at:

We will begin distributing the files by November 22, in case you wish to use them for the first Sunday of Advent.
If you have any questions, contact Julie Holm at
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.

Hartman Center Gatherings

We still have a few short months until Hartman Center is shuttered after the new year. So, we've planned a few times to gather together in our Sonshine Place.

10/24 - Fire for Campers 4:00 pm (Getting Started-Middle school adventure) Register here

11/14 - Fire for our High Schoolers, Staff, & Families 4:00 pm Register here

11/21 - Youth Retreat - "It's A Party!" 10:00 am - 5:00 pm Register here

11/21 - Women's Retreat with Kara Young 10:00 am - 5:00 pm Register here

Also, be sure to mark your calendars for December 13th, when we will gather for one last evening Vespers.
12/13 - evening vespers at Hartman Center - 4:00 pm
UCC National Events
UCC Congregations for Mental Health – Fall 2020 Seminar
November 13-14, 2020
Congregations are invited to explore becoming WISE: Welcoming, Inclusive, Supportive, and Engaged for Mental Health by attending the WISE Congregations for Mental Health Fall 2020 Webinar.  This is an opportunity to:
– learn about mental health
– explore how our faith communities can support those among us with mental health challenges
– attend practical workshops
– receive resources
– begin the steps to become a WISE Congregation for Mental Health, following the UCC resolution passed at General Synod in 2015.
Everyone is welcome to attend:
– church members, lay leaders and visitors
– clergy
– seminary students
– mental health professionals
Learn more here.
Reset for Renewal virtual gathering

An upcoming national virtual gathering for everyone serving in youth ministry on November 12-14, 2020. Participants will be able to select workshops and small groups, as well as other items that speak to their individual needs. Registration is now open and will close November 10th. More information, as well as the link for registration can be found here:
UCC Webinars

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

Prayers of the People October 22, 3:30 PM

Equipping for the Election October 25, 6:00 PM

Weekly Book Reviews
A new weekly feature!
October's reviews by Rev. Julie Holm
The Lemon Tree, by Sandy Tolan, © Sandy Tolan, 2006, Bloomsbury Publishing

Israelis and Palestinians are in persistent conflict over the area that has historically been called Palestine, and now comprises Israel and the West Bank.  Writings on the subject seem to inevitably take sides for one group and against the other.

Sandy Tolan’s book is different.  Exhaustively researched and presented, this story brings together a real Arab Palestinian family and a real Bulgarian Jewish immigrant united by the same house, which the Palestinian’s father built, and the Bulgarian’s father was given when they immigrated. In the garden is a lemon tree, which becomes the focus that allows these two to listen to each other, empathize with each other, and enjoy a friendship.

Interspersed with this story are the history of the founding of the modern state of Israel, the desperation of Jews after the Holocaust, the loss of home and land by Palestinians during wars with Israel, and the ongoing tragedy of life in this divided land.  The book provides deep understanding about how history, emotion, and personal tragedy intertwine in the Middle Eastern context, and uncoversthe extreme complications of understanding justice in this context.  It does so in a way that deeply touches the reader’s own heart and soul.
Association Events
October 25 - Harrisburg Association Fall Meeting 2:00 PM
October 25 - Lancaster Association 3:00 PM (Includes E-council at 4:00)
November 1 - Mercersburg Association 3:00 PM
November 8 - York Association 2:00PM
November 15 - Gettysburg Association 2:00PM (includes Town Hall with Rev. Dr. Carrie Call)
Clergy Events
Upcoming Boundary Training Online

Boundaries in Seasons of Crisis (2 hours)
Join with your colleagues on Tuesday, November 17th at 10am or 6pm for discussion of a variety of topics including: Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, Self-Care and Allyship in an Activist Age. Rev. Nora Foust will lead this discussion.
Register for the 10am-12pm Zoom session here
Register for the 6pm-9pm Zoom session here

For online boundary training options, Convergance offers an online course.
Attention Chaplains! We see you in this challenging season of ministry and invite you to a time of self-care, boundary awareness and continuing education with UCC Minister for Ministers in Specialized Settings, Rev. Stephen Boyd on November 12th and 13th. Right now we are building the sessions, but will offer three, 2-hour zooms over those days. Please mark your calendars and watch for registration information.
Kairos Spiritual Direction Training Program Enrolling Now
The Parish Resource Center is excited to announce that we are accepting applications for a new cohort of the Kairos Spiritual Direction Training program. The next cohort for this two-year certificate program begins in January.
There is an early bird discount of $500 if you register before November 1, 2020. You can find more information and apply online at
From Our Partners & Friends:

Awareness, Response and Prevention of Hate Crimes,
Bias Incidents and Extremist Activity
Join us for this Zoom presentation on
Thursday, October 29
5:30 - 6:30pm
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.
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
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