Paid for by your OCWM Contributions| June 10, 2020
Message to the Conference
Dear friends of Penn Central Conference,
But I do not count my life of any value to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the good news of God’s grace. ” (Acts 20:24)
Paul speaks to the Elders at the church in Ephesus as he bids them farewell. He warns that the church will face trial and division. He is also sure that Christ will continue to work within them and through them. The original congregation in Ephesus does continue for some time (most likely into the 5 th century), but eventually its ministry comes to an end. However, the centuries of its existence served as a consistent witness to the good news of the gospel and spawned countless other Christian communities in the area.

Ephesus is a good reminder that churches do not die. Congregations rise and they decline, opening and ending times of ministry – some for centuries, and some for only a few years. If we claim the church as the body of Christ, then we cannot say (though we often do) that churches die. After all, the risen body has escaped the bonds of death. The church as the body lives. Individual gatherings of that body come to an end – they bring their ministries to a close. The reasons for ending are complex and almost always include demographics, geography, and material resources. Sometimes endings also result from conflict, poor leadership, and historical decisions with lasting impact. Regardless of the reasons, the body serves and witnesses for a time and then draws to a close.

Currently we are experiencing the end of the ministries of four of our churches in Penn Central. Two have already ceased worship and disposed of property. Two are in the process. I want to list them here so that we can hold their members in our prayers. And also so we can give thanks for the thousands of lives they have affected – through worship, singing, baptisms, communion, confirmations, weddings, funerals, Vacation Bible Schools, Christian education, pastoral care, Bible studies, youth groups, outreach, advocacy, celebrations, vigils, picnics, parades…and more. Their ministry was a living witness and it continues. The lives affected will carry all of that joy and good news to where they go to next. Please hold them in prayer and in gratitude for their testimony over the last 161 to 290 years.

St. John’s UCC in New Columbia : Founded originally in 1817 in Milton, PA. Items from St. John’s including the altar, candelabras, alter candles, large print bibles, alter cloths, hymnals, bibles in pews, Sunday school materials and more have gone to St. Paul’s in West Milton, St. Peter’s in Lewisburg and St. John’s in Lewisburg. Final worship service was Sunday, February 23 rd . Proceeds from sale of property will fund a variety of community-based missions in the area including food distribution.

Zion’s Reformed in Ephrata : Founded in 1852. Zion’s formed originally as a union church to serve both Lutheran and Reformed Germans in the area. Later the two groups separated and built their own churches. The current Zion building still displays the bell and weathervane from the original church. The building was sold recently to the Coptic Church in the area, who will benefit from the beautiful gathering space. Financial distributions have been sent to Ephrata Area Social Services , Power Packs Project, Ephrata Manor , Bethany Children’s Home , Water Street Mission , the Penn Central Conference and more.  Due to Covid-19, Zion’s was unable to have a closing worship service.

St. John’s UCC in Lebanon : Founded in 1859 and served by the illustrious Rev. Henry Harbaugh. The church building will transfer to the Penn Central Conference in July (future use under exploration). Meanwhile, sacred objects will move to the sister church, St. Mark’s in Lebanon, including the original 1859 Bible presented to the church by Tabor Reformed Church, the mother church in the area at the time. Final worship service for members is Sunday June 28 th at 10:30 AM. Financial proceeds will benefit St. Mark’s church, the Evangelical & Reformed Historical Society, the Penn Central Conference, Lebanon County Christian Ministries (the local food bank), Lebanon Rescue Mission (the local homeless shelter), and Lebanon Valley Home in Annville. Rev. Dave Jones has served as their pastor, and also at St. Mark’s.

Zion UCC in New Providence : Founded in 1730 this church includes a historic graveyard. The church building will be sold while the graveyard will exist as a separate entity with its own endowment. Rev. Bob Bistline has been serving recently and the final worship service will be Sunday July 26 th at 3:00 PM (in person). Dr. Lee Barrett from Lancaster Theological Seminary will preach. (Note, these plans are subject to change depending on course of Covid). Distribution of financial assets is still in discussion.

All of these church communities will be named and remembered at our Annual Meeting on August 29 th .

In Peace,
Online Worship Service

We are happy to share a special gift with you. The Penn Central Staff (along with two other conference members) have created a worship service that we want to share with you so that you may share it with your churches. We hope that for some of you, at least, this would enable you to have a Sunday off from worship preparation and execution. The service is “plug and play” on Youtube . Learn more 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...

Christ UCC, Madisonburg
St. Luke's UCC, Malta
St. Paul UCC, Manheim
Canoe Camp Church of Christ, Mansfield
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.

We will be having another round of meetings around reopening churches . Please register soon, these fill up very quickly.
Monday June 15 th at 6:30 PM for Lancaster and Lebanon
Tuesday June 16 th at 6:30 PM for Harrisburg and York
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

June 28 - Ecclesiastical Council for Stephanie Dorsey - 3:00PM via Zoom. (Lancaster Association) 

Aug 2 - Ordination of Gary Nottis at St. John's UCC, Lewisburg - 3:00PM (Rev. Nora Foust attending)

Association Meetings

June 27 - Harrisburg Association Meeting - via Zoom - 10:00AM
Clergy Events
 Boundary Training & Ministerial Excellence Forums

Boundary Training - POSTPONED new date TBA
For those who need boundary training in the meantime, Convergance offers an online course.
The Perfect Blend: Five Practices of Fruitful Congregations
A day with author Bishop Robert Schnase
Saturday, September 19, 2020
Lancaster Theological Seminary, Santee Chapel

Come spend a day in conversation around how these practices can help your church live out the Gospel and be a missional presence in your community.
We will hear 3 presentations from Bishop Schnase and have a few guided, small group discussions along the way. See a full flyer here. Seating is limited, so registration is required. $25 per person, or a discounted rate of $100 for groups of 5 people. Register here!
Planning Ahead
Online Board Meeting - June 13, 2020

Annual Meeting - August 29, 2020

Recognition Dinner - September 19, 2020 (info to come!)
From PCC Partners and Friends:

Spiritual Direction in a Digital Age - Parish Resource Center - June 9, 10:00am - Register Here

Involving Children in Worship - Parish Resource Center - June 10, 10:00AM - Register Here
From our Local Churches
Pig-Roast and The Seger Family Concert - hosted by the Northern Cluster of UCC Churches - June 28, 5:00PM CANCELLED
Hiring Information:
Executive Director – Pennsylvania Interfaith Power & Light
(Half-time position)

We are seeking a visionary: a flexible and creative individual who can help guide PA IPL into the next decade, particularly with the work of expanding and deepening the organization’s base of support and of helping PA IPL realize its broader goals from its strategic plan such as clarifying our organizational identity (rebranding and diversifying stakeholders), developing more focused programming, and building the necessary internal infrastructure to see PA IPL into the future. Learn more here.
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. Richard Luciotti

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

Rev. Dr. Marisa Laviola
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
Contact information: C. Paul Keller | email: | phone: 717-652-1560