In the gospel lesson for Sunday Jesus is walking with the crowd when he tells them, “Whoever comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and even life itself, cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:26) This is always a shock to read because for many of us, family is simply our priority. We are bold to declare our commitment to “faith & family”.
When I was working at a Roman Catholic College family was a consistent emphasis. The concept of the nuclear family was intertwined with ideas about church and there was an unspoken assumption that they belonged together. This is the assumption of many protestant churches and believers as well. Yet it is an unhelpful and sometimes damaging one. I have known believers for whom family was the largest impediment to finding and following Jesus. Families who did not nurture faith or who used it as a means of control and domination of their children. While the church as an institution may focus on the family, discipleship and family cannot be fused together. Our discipleship moves beyond the family.
So, what did Jesus mean by saying this? Reading it feels like a scandal. Taken with the following sentence about bearing a cross in Luke 14:27, shocked listeners might be prompted to ask, who then can be a disciple?
This is one of the hard sayings of Jesus. It has no easy out, no soft touch, no conciliatory exception. Jesus is demanding full loyalty, making our relationship with God and our following of him our highest calling. As with other passages that seem to set up an impossible challenge (see Luke 14 and the great banquet), the purpose of the passage may be to shock us into examining what gets in the way of our discipleship, especially when it comes to human relationships. In Luke, Jesus teaches about how possessions, wealth, status, and social position can corrupt and block believers from true communion with God. Why are we surprised to hear him say the same of human relationships? Even our closest ones?
Thousands of ascetics in the early church followed Jesus’ call to the letter and left family for lives of isolation and prayer in the desert. Many of them found wisdom and had disciples of their own. That particular call many not be ours. Yet Jesus’ words may give us the shake-up we need to reexamine our own discipleship in the harsh light of its true cost.
Rev. Dr. Carrie Call
Penn Central Conference
Save the date:
September 10, 2022, 10:00AM-1:00PM
Open House to celebrate ACM Marisa Laviola's final month with PCC before moving on to her new position as Conference Minister in the Maine Conference. Refreshments will be served and a presentation will happen at noon. At Colonial Park UCC, Harrisburg.
Disaster Update, How to Help
Event: Major Flooding and Severe Weather from Missouri to Eastern Kentucky and West Virginia
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. John's UCC, Bellefonte
Peace UCC, Berrysburg
Zion UCC, Blain
St. John's UCC, Boalsburg
Local Church News
Congregation Granting, Scholarship and Leadership Development on the faith INFO team of Justice and Local Church Ministries has launched their common application for congregational grants for 2022. They are ready to receive applications. The common application allows grantees to apply for four different funding sources offered through Justice and Local Church Ministries: Neighbors in Need, Operational Support, CASA: New and Rebirthing Churches and the Pension Board New Church Start.
Below please find a link to the informational video that goes over frequently asked questions and walks through the grant application key aspects. Additionally, you will find the link for the application beneath it. Thank you for your assistance!
Old Zion German Reformed Church Anniversary Service
Sunday, September 11, 2022
The history of Old Zion German Reformed Church, Brickerville, is commemorated each year during its annual Anniversary Worship Service. The theme for this year’s Anniversary Service will be “Old Zion During the Revolution.” During the Revolutionary War, Old Zion, then known as Reyer’s German Reformed Church, served as a hospital for wounded soldiers following the Battle of Brandywine and the Philadelphia campaigns of 1777-1778. Revolutionary War veterans are buried in the cemetery.
Rev. William LaSalle will give the sermon, playing the part of Rev. John Christopher Gobrecht, the pastor from 1770-1779. The worship service will include music and hymns from the time period with soloist Amanda Mrenna and J. P. Welliver on Old Zion’s pump organ.
Gary Meyers of the German Battalion and other Revolutionary War reenactors will be present and offer a display of Revolutionary War equipment they might have carried.
Seeking to following guidance from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), while indoors masks are encouraged and remain optional at Old Zion events.
Old Zion German Reformed Church is located near Brickerville at 187 Reifsnyder Rd., Lititz, PA.
Kayak Vespers (on Land and Lake) at Lake Redman in Jacobus
Fellow members of the York Association!!
Please join fellow boaters for a 30-minute Vesper Service around 5 pm on September 25 at Lake Redman in Jacobus. Meet at the Muskie Pavilion; then gather for vespers on land or sea. Please bring a snack to share! Volunteers are needed to plan vespers and read. Boats may be available to rent, if ordered in advance. Please contact Pastor Martha Boyer, St Paul Church at 717 858-2991 for questions or more information! We will be including in prayer those in York County who are continuing to suffer hardship due to damage from Hurricane Ida in 2021.
This event will be live-streamed on the St. Paul Shrewsbury Facebook Page and available later on YouTube!
Sunday, September 25 - Installation Service of Rev. Heather Kurtz - Zion UCC, Arendtsville - 3:30PM
Sunday, October 23 - Installation of Rev. Ken Peterkin - Emmanuel UCC, Hanover - 3:00PM
PCC has launched a new monthly email just for clergy, with news, events and clergy transitions. If you did not get this month's email on Tuesday, please let Paul know.
We will be including some items in the eNews (see below), but please check out the full email here for more events and news!
The Mercersburg Study Group (a monthly gathering focused on Mercersburg theology) extends an invitation to all clergy and interested persons in Penn Central Conference to participate in a special study of church renewal beginning Thursday, September 8th, and extending monthly on the second Thursday of the month through December.
Among the topics to be discussed are: the context of ministry today, the essence of the gospel including an appraisal of justification by faith, the center of Protestantism in contrast to liberal and conservative faith, and worship as reclaiming Christ through proclamation, presence, and joy. Dr. Peter Schmiechen will be the group facilitator. Dr. Schmiechen’s forth coming book titled, Tradition in Crisis: The Case for Centric Protestants, will be a resource for the study. The study group meets at Trinity UCC in East Petersburg from 10:00 to noon on the second Thursday of each month. The environment is casual; coffee and donuts are available.
Indication of attendance through the provided link is appreciated but not required. Further information is available by emailing Tom Lush, pastor of St. Paul’s UCC in New Oxford: firstname.lastname@example.org
Church Vitality Workshop
Sponsored by the Congregational Empowerment Team of the Penn Central Conference
The “nuts and bolts” of how to be Alive and Thrive as God’s 21st Century Church!
Saturday, September 24 - 9am to 3pm
In person Colonial Park United Church of Christ, Harrisburg or online through ZOOM
Presenter: The Rev. Dr. Marisa Laviola
Workshops on church vitality this past year have focused on the what and why of becoming alive and thriving for all churches of all sizes.
This workshop will take the topic further by asking the questions:
·How do we come alive and thrive?
·How do we change our culture to be forward looking rather than wishing for the past?
·How do we reach out into our community?
·How do we welcome new folks to our family of faith?
·How do we discern if we need to come together with another church: eg share pastors, consolidate buildings?
·What is workable for our church?
·How do we plan the next steps for our church?
Have you participated in workshops with Marisa? Come and learn the “how to” steps toward vitality with a coach to guide you.
First time participating in a workshop with Marisa? Come and learn with a coach to guide you.
COST? $300 for workshop and coaching sessions.
Scholarships are available
INCLUDES: Three Coaching sessions to follow with experienced coach
For Questions and to Register no later than SEPTEMBER 2,
The Space Between: The Emerging Church in a Post-Pandemic World
September 19, 2022 – September 21, 2022
Join us to reflect on what we've moved through as church experiencing pandemic, to recognize the innovative ways we have survived and in some ways thrived: What did we learn when faced with the need to pivot quickly and still be effectively present as church? Where do we need to stretch ourselves? What and how do we need to build capacity to resource how we're evolving as church? What might we each offer to help us become? These and other questions will be contemplated as we lean in to lessons learned about adapting with agility, and unpack potential possibility. Learn more and register here.
From our friends and partners
Pennsylvania Academy of Ministry (PAM)
Church Finances, Oct 11–Nov 15. Tuesdays, 7–8:30pm. Instructor, Lovett Weems. Practical skills for creating and presenting budgets grounded in the church’s mission, expanding means of giving and sources of income, presenting accurate tracking and reporting of giving, proper financial administration of funds, and exploring new options for funding ministry. For pastors and lay leaders. 2.5 CEUs. $125.
2022 Business Continuity and Emergency Preparedness Conference
September 22, 2022
This workshop is designed to improve the knowledge in the business continuity planning areas related to an armed intruder incident. It is intended for professionals from the public and private sectors as well as faith-based organizations responsible for business continuity planning and emergency planning. This workshop is free of charge courtesy of the South Central PA Task Force, Millersville University and grants from US DHS! Seating is limited so register soon.
Office Administrator - Christ Church UCC, Elizabethtown
The Office Administrator provides administrative support for Christ Church UCC, Elizabethtown's pastors and lay leaders and coordinates church-wide communications.The Office Administrator position is Part Time—4 days per week, 7 hours per day, 28 hours total.
The Office Administrator should have education and/or training and/or experience in secretarial, clerical and computer skills—specifically in databases and publishing software; mainly MS Publisher, MS Word both for word processing, skill in inter-personal relationships, ability to honor confidences, and organize and implement an office routine.
The Office Administrator should have education and/or training and/or experience in secretarial, clerical and computer skills—specifically in databases and publishing software; mainly MS Publisher and MS Word, bookkeeping and accounting skills, skill in inter-personal relationships, ability to honor confidences, and organize and implement an office routine.
Colonial Park UCC, Harrisburg
POSITION ANNOUNCEMENT: OFFICE MANAGER
Full-Time: 52 weeks per year
37.5 Hours per week
The purpose of this position is to provide administrative support for the pastor, staff, Council, and committees. This person is appointed and dismissed by CPUCC Council and reports to Senior Pastor. Read full description here.
The communities of United Church of Christ Homes are seeking to fill several positions for Certified Nursing Assistants, Licensed Practical Nurses, Registered Nurses and Dining Service Assistants. If you or someone you know is looking for a new employment opportunity, please visit the UCC Homes Employment Opportunities page on our website at https://www.ucc-homes.org/employment-opportunities/ for more details. Our communities include The Lebanon Valley Home in Annville, Thornwald Home and Sarah A. Todd Memorial Home in Carlisle, Ephrata Manor in Ephrata and Kindred Place at Annville and Kindred Place at Harrisburg.
These highlighted employment opportunities are also available:
Information Technology Specialist: UCC Homes is seeking an Information Technology Specialist for a full-time position for an experienced individual to install, troubleshoot, and maintain computer software, hardware, and accessories, as well as network hardware and accessories for a multi-site healthcare organization.
Benefits include: Insurance coverage beginning the first of the month after hire! Employee Health Insurance for $40/month! $20 Doctor Office Visits with Prescription coverage; Free Dental Insurance with no deductible for preventive services! Two Vision Coverage Options to choose from! Free Life Insurance equal to your annual salary! AMAZING company-paid retirement plan! Pet insurance plan available! Other voluntary insurances available! Subject to reasonable accommodations for religious or medical reasons, proof of vaccination against COVID-19 virus is a condition of employment for this position. Please mail or email resume and letter of interest to: United Church of Christ Homes, 30 North 31st Street, Camp Hill, PA 17011; email@example.com.
Director of Nursing: Ephrata Manor is seeking a Director of Nursing. This is an exempt full-time position for a caring individual with exceptional organization, communication, and multi-tasking skills and a focus on quality resident care. The successful candidate will be a PA Licensed RN or BSN (in good standing) with three years of management experience in senior living care. Must have a thorough knowledge of Pennsylvania State and Federal regulations, MDS 3.0, CMI, UMR, QM, Care Planning Process. Excellent wages and benefits including retirement plan. Please mail or fax resume and letter of interest to: Heather Brand, Executive Director, Ephrata Manor, 99 Bethany Road, Ephrata, PA 17522; 717-738-7478 FAX by August 19, 2022. Subject to reasonable accommodation for religious or medical reasons, proof of vaccination against the COVID-19 virus is a condition of employment for this position.
Social Worker: Sarah A. Todd Memorial Home is seeking a Social Worker for a regular full-time position. Bachelor's Degree in Social Work is required. Excellent wages and benefits including retirement plan. Subject to reasonable accommodation for religious or medical reasons, proof of vaccination against the COVID-19 virus is a condition of employment for this position. Interested persons should please mail, e-mail or fax resume and letter of interest to Sarah A. Todd Memorial Home, Attn: Erin Jayman, 1000 West South Street, Carlisle, PA 17013; firstname.lastname@example.org; (717) 245-9733.
Director of Social Services: Sarah A. Todd Memorial Home is seeking a Director of Social Services for a full time-exempt position. Bachelor's Degree in Social Work or related human services field and one year in long-term care experience is required. Excellent wages and benefits including retirement plan. Subject to reasonable accommodation for religious or medical reasons, proof of vaccination against the COVID-19 virus is a condition of employment for this position. Interested persons should please mail, fax or email resume and letter of interest to Sarah A. Todd Memorial Home, Attn: Erin Jayman, 1000 West South Street, Carlisle, PA 17013; (717) 245-9733 FAX; or to email@example.com. EEOE.
Part-time Position Summary: Nurture and develop a caring Christian community where children and youth have a meaningful and fun relationship with other youth and adults; have an opportunity to grow in God’s grace; develop the spiritual and personal resources necessary for life’s journey and develop a loving relationship with God, themselves and others. Learn more here.
Accompanist Position Available
We are searching for an Accompanist to bring their gifts to our church where we appreciate a blend of contemporary and traditional music.
In support of the vision of the church, this year-round, part time, salaried position will provide music for worship and other events in a manner that enhances the spirit of worship and enriches the congregation's appreciation of music.
The current music ministry of HPUCC consists of one volunteer choir, as well as instrumental and vocal soloists.
For more information, please call the church at 717-397-9791 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org. If interested, please mail or email resume to: Hamilton Park United Church of Christ, Attn: Search, 1210 Maple Ave., Lancaster, PA 17603