Paid for by your OCWM Contributions| February 5, 2020
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Message to the Conference
Dear Friends of Penn Central Conference -

“Abide with me; fast falls the eventide; The darkness deepens; Lord, with me abide; When other helpers fail and comforts flee, Help of the helpless, oh, abide with me.”(Henry Lyte, c.1847)

These are the days that make winter especially hard. Grey skies, short days with few signs of life, complemented by cold rain and occasional snow – but not enough snow to close school or create excitement. I know T.S. Eliot thought April was the cruelest month, but when I find myself mired in February, I disagree.

However, I also know that this time is crucial for the natural world. This is a time of incubation and rest, of renewal and buried hope. The season of grey can remind us that God works in the hidden places in our lives, behind the scenes and in ways that we cannot see. There is a trust born from experience that winter passes. Even though there were days as a child growing up in cloudy Ithaca that I despaired of the return of spring, it did eventually come. Flowers rose eventually from the earth (and then were inevitably covered with snow at least once) and trees turned suddenly green.

The seasons of our faith lives can turn in similar ways. One of the common struggles among believers is that their faith does not protect them from the grey days - or the blackest ones - and they often feel guilty for “not being joyful at all times.” In fact, the experience of depression among clergy is especially trying because of the expectation that our faith should somehow protect us from a downward spiral. Expectations for clergy manifest themselves in subtle and not-so-subtle ways, from words shared in passing—“Don’t look so blue, you’ve got God on your side”—to denial of sabbaticals, clergy coaching, or spiritual direction because “they are a luxury.” There is a prevailing perspective that faith is a protective coating that somehow makes one’s spirit shiny and bright at all times. This is not an authentic description of faith.

Faith grants us the solidarity of Christ as we walk through landscapes of despair and suffering. Yet we still must walk through them. We are not promised protection – only presence. After all, right after he was baptized, Jesus was driven by the Spirit into the wilderness and underwent the most wrenching experiences of temptation and deprivation. If baptism cannot protect the one from Nazareth from suffering, why do we imagine it will protect us?

Solidarity with Christ is what allowed the early disciples to move through their times of desperation and persecution. Paul exhorts us to rejoice in our suffering – how can this be? Because in the midst of that suffering we will rely more on the presence and reality of Christ, and by doing so we will experience the power of God in our deepest vulnerability.

The grey days come. And the times of despair, grief and pain come. Depression is real and draws us under. But the presence of Christ reminds us that we are not alone. And the church – at its best – reaches out its hands to guide and walk beside those who are in the midst of their cruelest month, no matter what the cause. Pay attention in these grey days – and should you see a brother or sister in despair, do not explain it away. Instead, say “God is with you” and walk beside them in love, keeping your eyes open for signs of spring.


Preaching Around the Conference

February 9 - Faith UCC, State College - Rev. Dr. Carrie Call - 9:00AM

February 16 - Trinity UCC, Centre Hall - Rev. Nora Foust - 10:45AM

February 23 - St. John's UCC, Columbia - Rev. Dr. Carrie Call - 10:00AM

February 23 - St. John's UCC, Red Lion - Rev. Nora Foust - 10:00AM

March 1 - Heidelburg UCC, York - Rev. Dr. Carrie Call - 10:00AM
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...

Zion Reformed UCC, Chambersburg
Christ UCC, Codorus
Salem UCC, Columbia
St. John's UCC, Dallastown
I am 52 years old, and have spent
truly the better part
of my life out-of-doors
but yesterday I heard a new sound above my head
a rustling, ruffling quietness in the spring air

and when I turned my face upward
I saw a flock of blackbirds
rounding a curve I didn't know was there
and the sound was simply all those wings,
all those feathers against air, against gravity
and such a beautiful winning:
the whole flock taking a long, wide turn
as if of one body and one mind.

How do they do that?

If we lived only in human society
what a puny existence that would be

but instead we live and move and have our being
here, in this curving and soaring world
that is not our own
so when mercy and tenderness triumph in our lives
and when, even more rarely, we unite and move together
toward a common good,

we can think to ourselves:

ah yes, this is how it's meant to be.
BLACKBIRDS by Julie Cadwallader Staub from Wing Over Wing. Paraclete Press, © 2019. Used by permission of Paraclete Press in Brewster, Massachusetts. ( buy now ) Photo Credit: S. Hermann & F. Richter at

UNITE! Purdue University
July 22-25, 2020
Who’s headed to NYE this summer? I remember my first NYE at UT Knoxville where I realized just exactly what this Church I am a part of was all about. I remember how so many of the conferences sat together and had matching t-shirts and cheers as we would transition from one stage event to the next. Singing, praying, and worshiping with so many gave me glimpses of a different way to be church. Workshops with youth and leaders from across the country helped me get outside the box of the “way I had always done it.” Hopefully, your church youth are already fundraising for this exciting time! If you are planning to join the more than 3000 youth at Purdue University, please contact Rev. Nora Foust so we can UNITE! our Penn Central presence!
Climate Justice

From the Pollinator:

Recently, while locating past and current sources of environmental pollution in a Cleveland neighborhood, I came across the mural pictured here. It instantly became my favorite work of art for reminding me of why many of us do the work of environmental justice. We urgently want to protect the future of our children. This matter will be a core concern in an upcoming webinar entitled Ground Zero in the Struggle for Environmental Justice . The webinar is about communities in this country—often predominantly of color and low-income—that suffer from high concentrations of toxic air pollution from industrial facilities. One of the featured guests will be Bobby Taylor who is waging a struggle to protect children attending a school next to one of these facilities.

As we continue to focus on the Kairos Call to Action which urges churches to undertake an all-out mobilization to address climate and inequality, the focus on toxic air pollution is especially relevant. This week’s suggested kairos action focuses on the goal of churches becoming carbon neutral or carbon negative in terms of their own emissions. It notes the importance of thinking not just about the carbon footprint of your church, but also whether your current sources of energy harm public health, especially in ways that reflect inequalities of race and class. Moreover, we know that the developing, small bodies of children are particularly vulnerable to toxic air pollution from sources such as coal plants.
Look at your church’s energy use and remember to protect the future of our children.

With gratitude for your ministry,

Read the introduction to " A Kairos Call to Action ."
Read about the first suggested action : Enter a Period of Study and Immersion.
Read now about the third suggested action : Know Your Environmental Justice History and Become a Zero Waste Church .

Yearbook 2020
PCC finished the year strong with an 23% increase in December OCWM giving versus 2018. However, we still ended 2019 behind budget by 15% and behind 2018 OCWM giving by 2%. Despite that, we are thankful for your generosity! May 2020 be full of blessings for our churches and our conference - financial and otherwise. Prayerfully consider ways you can support your local church and the conference in 2020 and beyond.
Pledge Forms
We are grateful for the monthly OCWM gifts and appreciate those churches that added OCWM as a line item in their 2020 annual budget. Please let us know what you have pledged to OCWM in the coming year by completing and submitting this  online pledge form  or by sending this paper form  into Paul via email or mail.

Has your church starting filling out your yearbook information? The Data Hub is now open! All the links are below.

If you need assistance - reach out to the conference office and we will be glad to assist.

Church Officer Reporting

In addition to your online Yearbook reporting via the Data Hub, PCC will still be collecting the voluntary Church Officer reporting. Please complete this form and email to Paul at the PCC office.
Salem's Closet located at Salem UCC, 231 Chestnut St., Harrisburg, Pa. will be open on February 15th from 10AM to Noon.
The Closet is in need of blankets, pillows and socks, but it is in desperate need of Children's clothing. We give clothing not only to those who come on open days but also to various shelters such as the one for Abused Women. Many children are at these shelters and some only have the clothing on their back. If you have anything to donate please call Sandy Sgrignoli at 717-635-0569.
Association Events
Installations, Ecclesiastical Councils & Ordinations

February 9 - Installation of Pastor Ron Heagy at Trinity Roth’s UCC, Spring Grove - 3:00PM Clergy are invited to wear a favorite stole. (Rev. Nora Foust attending)
February 22 - Ordination of Amy Fishburn at Grace UCC, Lancaster - 2:00PM (Rev. Carrie Call attending)
February 23 - Installation of Craig Munnel at Trinity UCC, Lewistown - 3:00PM (Rev. Nora Foust attending)
June 7 - Ordination of Gary Nottis at St. John's UCC, Lewisburg - 3:00PM
Association Meetings and Ministeriums

February 15 - Ministerial Gathering, hosted by the Executive Committee of Central Associatio n - Silver Moon Banquet Hall, Lewisburg, PA - 8:15AM - Register by Februaury
March 9 - Mercersburg Ministerium–Spiritual Care in the Congregation with Rev. Nora Foust - 9:00am
April 25 - Harrisburg Association Meeting with Rev. Carrie Call attending
April 26 - Central Association Meeting with Rev. Nora Foust
April 26 - Gettysburg Association Meeting and Town Hall with Rev. Carrie Call
April 30 - York Ministerium with Rev. Nora Foust
May 3 - Lancaster Association with Rev. Carrie Call
May 11 - Mercersburg Ministerium with Rev. Carrie Call
May 14 - Gettysburg Ministerium with Rev. Nora Foust
Association Special Events

April 18 - York Association Earth Day Anniversary Weekend w/ Jim Antal - Mt. Zion UCC, York - 9:00AM
Outdoor Ministry Retreats at Hartman Center
Marriage in the Later Years of Life with Dave & Anne Bushnell- March 2 - 4
Countdown To Opening Day (Fishing, of course!) with Dave Bushnell & Friends - March 16 - 18
Confirmation Retreat - March 27 - 29
What is Good Leadership? with Rev. Dr. Carrie Call - April 14 - 15
Learning to See - A Photography Retreat with Nelson Dodson - April 27 - 29
Pride Retreat for LGBTQ Folks & Allies - May 29-31 (details to come)

Early bird pricing for those who pay in full before March 31, 2020.
Clergy Events
 Boundary Training & MEFS
February 19 - MEF: Ministry in an Election Year with Rev. Carrie Call - St. Thomas UCC, Harrisburg - 12:30-3:30pm
March 3 - Crossing Boundaries, Tending Boundaries: Collective Wisdom for Best Pastoral Practices with Rev. Ed Dickel - Colonial Park UCC, Harrisburg - 6:30-8:30pm
March 18 - MEF: Civility, Empathy and Well Being in Community with Therapist Judith Kennedy, MS, MA, NCC, LPC at St. Thomas UCC, Harrisburg - 12:30-3:30pm
April 22 MEF: Recognizing and Responding to Disruption in Community or Life Together: Its Challenges and Rewards with Scott Watts - St. Thomas UCC, Harrisburg - 12:30-1:30pm
May 7 - Retired and Supply Boundary Awarenes s with Rev. Sally Dries and Rev. Nora Foust - PCC Office, Harrisburg - 10:00am-1:00pm
May 13 - Ordinary Team Worship Planning - Colonial Park UCC - More info to come
From our Local Churches
Mended Heart Lenten Concert/Potluck - Salem UCC, Elizabethville - March 15 - 3:00pm

DVD Lending Library - St. John's UCC, Chambersburg

Free Choir Robes - Emmanuel UCC, Hanover
Emmanuel UCC has 36 choir robes (made in the US by E.R. Moore.) They are green, in a traditional style, gathered yoke, front zip with stoles. (See picture here.) Call Emmanuel UCC at 717-632-8281 for details.

Looking for Bells - Church of the Apostles, Waynesboro
Narda Druckenmiller is looking for a 2 Octave set of Handbells that another church may not be using or willing to sell. Contact Narda at 717-994-4614

Looking to borrow - A congregational set of "Unbinding Your Heart" by Martha Grace Reese. If your church has a set to lend, contac t Hamilton Park UCC, Lancaster
Open & Affirming
February 22 - ONA Winter Gathering at Colonial Park UCC, Harrisburg PA - 9:30AM-3:00PM - register by emailing

KEYNOTE SPEAKER : The Rev Dr. Beverly Dale - an ordained minister, a playwright/performer/author, sex educator, teacher, educator, and spiritual director.  

BREAKOUT GROUP PRESENTERS : Rev. Kim Kendrick - Chaplain of Bethany Children’s Home on O.W.L. (Our Whole Lives)

Steven Roush, Penn Central Conference’s ONA Consultant and Bethany Sweger, ONA Team Member on ONA 101A
From PCC Partners & Friends
Clark Forum for Contemporary Issues: How To Be Anti-Racist - Dickinson College, Anita Tuvin Schlechter Auditorium - February 6, 7:00PM

Stony the Road: A Musical Journey Celebrating African American History with Kellie Turner - Lancaster Theological Seminary, Santee Chapel - February 16, 4:00PM

Beyond Bullet-Points: Preaching with Screens workshops - Parish Resource Center - Jan 29, Feb 5, Feb 12 and Feb 19, 9:30 – 11:30 am

Stephen Ministry Introductory Workshop - Palm Lutheran Church, Palmyra - March 14, 9:00AM - 1:00PM

Tuesday Topics - Women Who Speak for God: Females Among the Prophets - Dr. Julia O'Brian - Lancaster Theological Seminary - March 24, 10:00AM

2020 UCC History & Polity Class - Lancaster Theological Seminary - February 21 through April 3

Mid-Atlantic Association of United Church Educators (MA-AUCE) 2020 Annual Conference Holistic Faith Formation: Engaging Our Whole Selves - Tuscarora Inn & Conference Center, Mt Bethel, PA - April 27 through April 29, 2020 - register online by March 1st here
Planning Ahead
Annual Meeting - June 12-13, 2020

Event with Bishop Robert Schnase & Recognition Dinner - September 19, 2020 (info to come!)
The more you know...
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. John Fureman

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
Zoë D'heedene
Coordinator of Camps/Retreats
Phone: 717-652-1560 ex. 16
Scott Watts
Facilitator of Care to Clergy & Clergy Families
Phone: 717-652-1560 ex. 15
C. Paul Keller
Office Manager
Phone: 717-652-1560 ex. 14
Laura Dalton
Administrative Assistant/Search & Call Assistant
Phone: 717-652-1560 ex. 10
Contact information: C. Paul Keller | email: | phone: 717-652-1560