Paid for by your OCWM Contributions| April 21, 2021
Message to the Conference
Members and friends of Penn Central Conference -
"Know that I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.” Then Jacob woke from his sleep and said, “Surely the Lord is in this place—and I did not know it!”  And he was afraid, and said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.” Genesis 28:15-17

This scripture passage has always intrigued me. Jacob was blessed by his father after he intentionally stole his brother Esau’s birthright as first born. He deceived Isaac and was blessed by him anyway. And this scoundrel was then blessed by God and promised presence and progeny. It has intrigued me because it really underscores the mystery of a God who chooses despite villainous acts (David is a good example). This is a God who unconditionally accepts someone no matter what they’ve done or have failed to do—and has purposes way beyond what a person could imagine. (Jesus’ apostles never understood his message and Peter denied him. Yet God chose them to be leaders of the nascent church).

And I wonder what implications that has for me, for any of us, as we travel through our life journey; sometimes walking clearly, sometimes stumbling horribly. And I, any of us, can be in awe of how God is with us, blessing us, loving us unconditionally and having great intentions for our mission and ministry no matter who we are or what we’ve done or failed to do---lay and clergy.

A couple of weeks ago I had the deeply blessed opportunity to spend one week in silent retreat, accompanied by a spiritual director. I went in with all the baggage of “shoulda, coulda, woulda”, wondering if God would show up for me and how—with arms open wide—or, in my overly critical conscience, with a finger wagging of all I’ve failed to do. I hoped that God would show me all God has planned for me going into the future, especially in my call as Associate Conference Minister.

Much to my surprise and chagrined humility, God came to me, not with finger wags for where I had zigged where I clearly needed to zag; not with a list of all the ministry God has for me to do—but with a quiet, sure presence that beckoned me into the deep mystery of the eternal—to that thin place where heaven and earth meet. And I experienced what Jacob may have experienced: “surely the Lord is in this place—and I didn’t know it.”

Of course, I kind of expected God to show up at a retreat, as God has always shown up on retreats. But I didn’t expect God to show up in an ineffable, indescribable place that only my spiritual director was able to witness. As I prayed and received, as I walked their labyrinth and observed their herd of deer just 50 feet from where I sat; as I pondered the pond where a goose and gander were nesting; as I walked the grounds of creation with spring flowers and flowering trees; I truly felt, truly knew that God is in this place—and I didn’t know God would come to me in this way. And I, like Jacob, thought to myself: how awesome is this place, none other than the house of God, and this the gate of heaven.

I wish for each of us, for all of us, to have the time and space to experience a week of retreat. I truly believe it took that long for me to allow God to come to me as God wished to come to me, without all my expectations and assumptions. I wish for all of you every day to have “aha” moments of “God is here and I didn’t even know it.” I pray that each one can experience moments of the thin places where heaven and earth meet—where you are standing in the house of God, at the gateway to heaven.

Blessing upon blessing,
Marisa Laviola
Associate Conference Minister
Penn Central Conference
Courageous Church Summit

Faith leaders stand at a crossroads in North America today. As people of faith and moral conscious, we can either sit idly by and allow hate, greed, and fear to define us or we can channel the heart of our tradition and speak truth to greedy power, love to angry hate, and hope to unfounded fear.

The Courageous Church Summit provides a critical look at where we are now and how we get to a more sustainable and equitable future. Through interviews with influential North American faith leaders in activist-oriented congregations, the Courageous Church Summit equips virtual leaders with the audacity, connections, and practical advice to be active leaders in an emerging movement for change.

The UCC's own Rev. John Dorhauer, Rev. Traci Blackmon, Rev. Cameron Trimble and Bishop Yvette Flunder will be speaking alongside bestselling authors Rev. Rob Lee, Diana Butler Bass and many more. Learn more here.
Printable eNews are available. Pastors and secretaries, please feel free to share with your congregation members that don't get this weekly email. Download and print this PDF with the weekly message to the conference, prayers for Penn Central and brief list of events.
Scheduling notes:

May 2 - Faith UCC, Grantville - Rev. Nora Foust preaching
May 2 - Trinity UCC, Centre Hall - Rev. Dr. Carrie Call 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...

New Hope UCC, Landisburg
Grace UCC, Lebanon
Hill UCC, Lebanon
St. Marks UCC, Lebanon
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. Find them here:
FEMA Funeral Expense Assistance up to $9000 to pay funeral costs for any family experiencing COVID-19-related deaths. The grant phone line to apply is: (844) 684-6333. More information can be found at here and a printable flyer can be found here.
Penn Central Conference is once again accepting applications for the PCC Innovation Grants which is for PCC churches who are looking for funding for a bold & innovative approach to ministry. Application can be found here, please email completed forms to Paul.
Our Whole Lives (OWL) - See Information Needed!

What is OWL? Our Whole Lives and Sexuality and Our Faith respond to General Synod actions calling for the development of sexuality education materials for all ages. Participating in a human sexuality program in a supportive and affirming environment in the church will help participants understand that sexuality is an important part of the way God created us; that their church cares about their sexual development; and that caring Christian adults are willing and able to talk with them about their questions and concerns. 
A number of churches have expressed interest in holding a facilitator training right here in Penn Central Conference. If there is interest, the training would be some time in Fall 2021 or Spring 2022. If your church is interested in sending folks to a facilitator training, please email Shirley Keith Knox
OWL is...
  • A series of sexuality education programs for six age groups: grades K-1, grades 4-6, grades 7-9, grades 10-12, Young Adults and Adults. The resources are written by professional sexuality educators and provide accurate information for parents, teachers and pastors to be used in the affirming and supportive setting of our churches. 
  • The resources are based on the Guidelines for Comprehensive Sexuality Education produced by the National Guidelines Task Force, a group of leading health, education and sexuality professionals assembled by the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States.
Our Whole Lives , together with Sexuality and Our Faith , helps participants make informed and responsible decisions about their relationships, health and behavior in the context of their faith. It equips participants with accurate, age-appropriate information in six subject areas: human development, relationships, personal skills, sexual behavior, sexual health, and society and culture. It provides not only facts about anatomy and human development, but helps participants to clarify their values, build interpersonal skills and understand the social, emotional and spiritual aspects of sexuality.
Outdoor Ministries

The 2021 summer camp schedule is set! There are camps for all ages and interests at both Kirchenwald and Nawakwa. Check out what is offered online. There is an early-bird registration discount if you register before April 3. Also, if you attend the Open House, you can get an additional discount. Full brochure here.

Just announced - special PCC discounts available on camp registrations! Read more here.

Calling all high school kids, college-age young adults, and adults interested in working at camp this summer! Lutheran Camping Corporation is recruiting now for this summer's camp season. Learn more here.

Outdoor Ministries: Earth Day Celebration at Kirchenwald April 25 2:00 – 6:00pm Enjoy an afternoon of environmental activities, games, and crafts at one of your favorites places within God’s creation: CAMP! An evening meal is included in the $10 fee. All ages welcome. Register here.

Outdoor Ministries: Men's Retreat at Kirchenwald, April 30 - May 1 Need a weekend with the guys? Come on out to Kirchenwald for a retreat that’s sure to put hair on your chest. $85 Register here.

This will be a week of summer camp dedicated to carrying on the memorable and special experiences at Hartman Center. It will be a week for folks from Penn Central Conference and friends of Hartman Center to come together and celebrate outdoor ministry with familiar faces and through familiar traditions. There are a variety of camp options ranging from coming for a single day to staying the whole week, from bringing your own food to eating all the meals provided! The Conference has scholarships available - please reach out for more info.

More events and information here.
Check out the all new Outdoor Ministries page on the PCC website here!
And a history of Hartman Center is hosted on the PCC website here.
The Indiana-Kentucky Conference of the UCC is hosting a two-session YouTube presentation about preparing for hybrid worship
If, like so many churches, you are trying to figure out who you'll need to push the buttons, what tech to buy and build, and how to do both in-person and live-on-screen worship at the same time, this is the series for you. 
Session One: Time and Talent, premiering April 22nd at 6 pm EDT, helps you plan and prep. Find it here:
Session Two: Tools and Tech, premiering April 29th at 6 pm EDT, helps you with gadgets and go live. Find it here:
Watch them both during the live premiers, or return to the Indiana-Kentucky Conference YouTube channel at your convenience and get the information and help you need to plan and host a hybrid worship service. It's free!
Spring 2021 Ministerial Education Forums – Third Tuesdays
Due to the constraints of Zoom interactions, MEFs will have registration limits. If a registration is full, email Paul to be added to a waiting list. Please let us know if you need to cancel so your spot can be given to someone on the waiting list.

May 18: Life-Giving Leadership with Rev. Bill Worley, Conference Minister in the Pennsylvania Southeast Conference
“Wherever you see significant progress in an organization, it’s because a leader made difficult decisions.” – John Maxwell.
The central task of leadership is influencing God’s people toward God’s purposes.” – George Barna
Where there is faithful and effective ministry happening, there is a faithful and effective leader helping people make difficult decisions. The pastor cannot be the only leader—but the pastor MUST be among the leaders equipping church members to do ministry. Instead, pastors burn out because the pastor and the church members expect the pastor to do most or all of the ministry. This is a failure of leadership. So, what is life-giving leadership? What makes a good leader? This workshop addresses that question by examining some of the core characteristics, qualities, and examples of solid pastoral leadership.
Continuing Education in Theology – Open to all MIDs and Authorized Ministers
PCC Staff have been thinking a lot about theology and liturgy. You are invited to join us for a deeper discussion of our worship elements. We have designed a number of discussions for a registration required, limited-size continuing education opportunity. Twelve hours of theology credits will be offered.
Do you spend much time thinking about the theology behind the elements of the liturgy? What does an assurance of pardon really mean when pastors offer these words following a congregational prayer of confession? Did anyone really confess anything? How do we know? And what about communion - what happens when we speak the prayer of consecration and words of institution?
Register and join us for deeper discussion and community learning!
Theology of Liturgy (Day): May 6th, 13th, 20th, 27th and June 3rd, 10th
           Thursdays from 3:00 – 4:30 PM (TIME CORRECTED)
           Limit 15 Registration Full
Theology of Liturgy (Evening): May 27th, and June 3rd, 10th, and 17th
           Thursdays from 6:30 – 8:00 PM
           Limit 10 (minimum 6) Registration
Lectionary Discussion Group continues in the new year! Join other clergy on Tuesdays at 1:00PM to discuss the lectionary passages. Zoom link here.
Book Reviews
This month's reviews by Rev. Jane Compton

Robin Parry is a British scholar, with a Ph.D. from the University of Gloucestershire, who works in the field of publishing and has been a prolific author. This book was written in 2014. Parry provides original interpretations of Biblical passages based upon Bible-times understandings of geography, biology, astronomy, and cosmology. He writes as a committed Christian who believes the Bible is the vehicle of God’s ongoing revelation. He introduces his final chapters with a rhetorical question: “What does it mean for us, with all our scientific knowledge, to speak of chaos monsters, star gods, an underworld, heaven in the sky, and a living universe? Is there even a place for such talk?” He provides a sophisticated analysis that answers in the affirmative. 

This is a fascinating book which ties together traditional Christian faith with contemporary scientific understandings of the world. The book appears light-hearted and fun at first glance, and is that, but it is also a book for the serious thinker. It offers a fresh perspective, while not straying too far from familiar understandings of our faith. It is fun to read and would also be appropriate for use in a small discussion group, especially with a group of participants who are willing to wrestle with new ideas. And it is the kind of book that is almost as interesting to read for the second or third time. I would recommend it as a good addition to everyone’s library.     
Free Book Offer

Brooks Berndt's new book "Cathedral on Fire - A Church Handbook For the Climate Crisis" is on it's second printing. In appreciation of PCC's environmental justice ministry, he is giving away copies of the first printing while supplies last! Order the book here and use code 2020FREE when it asks for a promo code.

It's a short read, 57 pages and only 7 chapters, and would be great for a Sunday School class or Bible study.
Association Events:

Saturday. April 24, 2021 - Harrisburg Association Spring Meeting - 9:30AM
Sunday, April 25, 2021 - York Association Spring Meeting - 2:00PM
Sunday, April 25, 2021 - Central Association Annual Meeting - 3:00PM
Sunday, April 25, 2021 - Lancaster Association Spring Meeting - 3:00PM
Sunday, April 25, 2021 - Ecclesiastical Council for Joao Teixeira - 3:00PM - Lancaster Association (invitation here, register 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.

Spiritualities and Powers - April 21, 2:00 PM - 3:00 PM

Getting Ready, Getting Rooted Part II - April 22, 3:30 PM - 4:30 PM
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. Learn more here
UCC Disaster Ministries
Since 2008, Retirement Housing Foundation has helped rebuild the lives of people impacted by these types of natural disasters. We are pleased to partner again with the United Church of Christ’s Disaster Ministries to help those impacted by this severe winter weather.

For those who choose to respond with a tax-deductible gift through RHF Charitable Foundation, donations received through April 30, 2021 will be matched up to a grand total of $50,000 and sent to UCC Disaster Ministries. (If we receive $50,000, RHF will respond with $100,000 in total aid.) 100% of the donations received will go directly to efforts supporting needs for shelter and food, clean-up, and essential repairs.

To participate in this matching opportunity, note “Disaster Relief” as the gift designation when you make your gift online or mail a check payable to RHF Charitable Foundation and send to:
RHF Charitable Foundation
911 North Studebaker Road
Long Beach, CA 90815
From our Partners & Friends:
Veterans’ Moral Injury and
Suicide Prevention

May 11, 2021 from 9 a.m. -11:30 a.m.

Veterans are at higher risk for suicide than the average population. Moral
Injuries can have an underlying effect upon the Veteran, as the Veteran feels overwhelmed with shame and guilt. Faith community leaders are encouraged to join us for this virtual training event to learn more about how to help Veterans who may be contemplating Suicide and/or suffering from moral injury. To register and receive the link call: 717-272-6621 ext. 5085 or Email Vince:
May 16 is Seminary Sunday at Lancaster Seminary, a day when our faculty, students and staff visit (this year it'll be virtual visits) congregations to either preach, teach or simply say a few words about LTS and the importance of educating the next generation of leaders to serve the church. The pastor decides the level of involvement and are invited to email their interest / availability to our Admissions Team at, which is organizing the outreach this year.
Save the Date! June 13th is ERHS Heritage Sunday
The Evangelical and Reformed Historical Society looks forward to partnering with you in celebrating the continuing legacy of our historic E and R churches throughout the Penn Central Conference on Sunday, June 13th. Additional details are forthcoming. In the meantime, you can always visit us at and follow us on Facebook @erhistoricalsoc and Instagram @erhistoricalsociety
Parish Resource Center Webinars

Loss and Restoration: in Life and Faith
Rarely is the world so drastically disrupted, and rarely is there such an opportunity for renovation. Conrad Kanagy sees this massive reworking of our world as a reflection of the Grand Excavation Project of Isaiah 40 – lowering mountains, raising valleys, and making crooked paths straight.

This free workshop will be a meaningful time for pastors and others in ministry to grieve and hope, to hold disruption and restoration, to see gifts in losses.
– April 22, 8-10am
Safe Church - Safe Communities

FREE resource! "Guide to Creating Safe Environments For Survivors of Sexual Abuse"

We encourage you to download this new, 36-page guide which includes:
  • The impact of child sexual abuse on faith
  • Guide to conversations in the congregation
  • Elements of a safe environment for survivors
  • Pastoral care for survivors
  • Sermon texts and seeds
  • Helpful resources such as books, websites, workshops & supports for survivors

Download this free resource here, which is co-authored by Rev. Mark Harris from Salem UCC, Columbia.
Allentown, PA – Phoebe Ministries seeks applicants for the 2021 Summer CPE Program for those seeking Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) certification.
The 2021 Summer CPE program is full-time, 40-hours per week and runs ten weeks beginning May 24, 2021 through July 30, 2021. Three and a half days are spent in clinical assignments available at Phoebe Berks in Wernersville, PA and Phoebe Richland in Richlandtown, PA. Group seminars include one day on the Allentown campus and four hours virtually.
The Phoebe Ministries’ CPE program is designed to offer clergy, seminary students and qualified community members of all faiths the opportunity to practice ministry to senior adults in a variety of settings, including nursing homes and retirement communities. The CPE curriculum includes Spiritual Assessment, Bioethical Issues in Aging, Ministry to Persons with Dementia, and Life Review. Phoebe staff chaplains provide mentoring and guidance for students as they lead worship, Bible study, bereavement and support groups, and Spirit Alive™, Phoebe’s proprietary Montessori-based program developed for seniors with dementia. Interdisciplinary care conferences and case consultations for residents are also part of each student’s education. Each campus setting provides opportunities for students to develop long-term pastoral relationships comparable to parish experiences.
Phoebe Ministries is accredited as a center for Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) by the Association for Clinical Pastoral Education, Inc. It is one of only ten accredited CPE programs in the nation serving the long-term care setting.
For more information and application, visit Phoebe Ministries-Clinical Pastoral Education or contact Rev. Dr. Scott Brooks Cope, Director of Pastoral Care and lead educator at, or Rev. Leah Knox, CPE Certified Education Candidate and co-facilitator at Application deadline is May 1, 2021. Scholarships are available for those who qualify.
About Phoebe Ministries
Phoebe Ministries is a not-for-profit, multi-facility organization specializing in healthcare, housing, and support services for seniors. Founded in 1903 and affiliated with the United Church of Christ, Phoebe Ministries offers a full continuum of care — from independent living to rehabilitation, personal care, and memory support — through four continuing care retirement communities. In addition to eight managed or owned affordable housing locations, four pharmacies, and several other community based services, Phoebe offers 14 entities serving 11 Pennsylvania counties. For over a century, Phoebe's tradition of excellence and passion for caring have made us the leader in care for senior adults and their family members. For more information about Phoebe Ministries, call toll free 800-453-8814, visit, “like” us on Facebook ( or visit our YouTube page ( 
Employment Opportunities

The Lebanon Valley Home, a continuing care retirement community affiliated with United Church of Christ Homes, is seeking a compassionate and resident focused team member for the position of Chaplain. This position is Part Time (15 hours per week).
The primary duty of the Chaplain is to provide spiritual support and comfort for the residents of the facility in coordination with the resident’s home congregation.

The chaplain will communicate a caring friendship with a tolerant attitude for multiple cultural traditions and a wide range of spiritual beliefs. The chaplain will offer encouragement and support to clergy and churches as they continue to minister to the needs of their members.
The chaplain will be available to offer comfort to the individual as well as the family. During difficult times, sensitivity and compassion are requisite for the spiritual support needed by all involved; the resident, family, and staff.
Providing comfort for the dying is a key part of the Chaplain's job as well as coordinating and conducting regularly scheduled religious services for residents.

Requirements – Must be an ordained minister of the United Church of Christ with a minimum of one year experience in a pastoral ministry as well as one unit Clinical Pastoral Education.
A resume and letter of interest should be submitted to:
Meredith Schell Fields
Executive Director
The Lebanon Valley Home
550 East Main Street
Annville PA, 17003
Fax (717) 867-7060
There is a summer ministry opportunity open at Locust Lake State Park for this summer. The PA Council of Churches has supported a program of chaplains in PA's state parks for 60 years. The Schuylkill Association of the PA Southeast Conference supports the chaplain at Locust Lake State Park.

The Committee is looking for a lay or ordained chaplain to serve at Locust Lake State Park on weekends from Memorial Day, May 31, through Labor Day, September 6, 2021. It is a part-time position. Duties of the chaplain include leading Sunday worship in the park, and walking through the campground, visiting campers in a socially distanced manner on a Friday or Saturday. All ministry takes place outdoors, so it is among the safest ministries!
Worship draws many kinds of people from many different church backgrounds.

The position description can be found at:
Training is provided.

APPLICATION and SCREENING FORM Summer Campground Ministry (Section 1 of 8)
******PLEASE READ****** Do not hit the back arrow button or attempt to go back while completing this form. You will have an option at the end of the form to edit any information you have entered. An older paper version of this form can be found at this link: - Please do not include your SSN or Drivers License number on the paper version of this form. If you complete the paper version of this form, please email a scanned copy to or mail to: Pennsylvania Council of Churches Campground Ministry Coordinator 900 South Arlington Ave. - Suite 211A Harrisburg, PA 17109-5089

For more information contact the Committee Chair, Rev. Maureen Duffy-Guy at or (570) 952-5474.
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
Anne Rankin
Outdoor Ministries Liaison
phone: 717-945-4585
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