Greetings Members and Friends of Penn Central Conference,
You have fixed all the bounds of the earth; you made summer and winter. (Psalm 74:17)
He has brought down the powerful from their thrones and lifted up the lowly. (Luke 1:52)
Today is the winter solstice. This is the day when the north pole reaches its maximum tilt away from the sun. In the northern hemisphere the winter solstice is characterized by short hours of daylight and long hours of darkness. (Meanwhile, in the southern hemisphere, they are enjoying mid-summer!) In northern climes the solstice became an important day for ancient peoples that ushered in festivals and feasting as the night stretched long and people waited for the morning when the sun would be reborn, and days would lengthen toward spring again. The festivals and feasts signified humanity’s innate grasp of the importance of this tipping point of the seasons.
Christmas was started by Constantine in the 4th century and may have been a way to suppress pagan solstice traditions. Ironically many of the pagan traditions simply merged into Christmas so believers could keep their traditions of old while also celebrating Christ’s birth. Christmas today is a collection of myriad cultural traditions including many from solstice practices.
Some of the most interesting traditions celebrated the solstice as a day of reversal or an “upside-down” day. Social roles were reversed through games, singing, and eating, creating a space for inbreaking of a completely different perspective on the world. Considering the nature of social roles in ancient times, the traditions must have felt liberating, providing a taste of solidarity and equity. These are the traditions I have been thinking about for days and which gave me a sudden insight into Christmas.
Thinking about the Magnificat in Luke 1:46-55, Mary’s words indicate an action of divine reversal. Mary tells us that she is among the lowliest and yet is exalted. God brings down the powerful from their thrones and lifts up the lowly. God feeds the hungry and sends the rich away empty. For us we remember that our God comes to us through Christ our Emmanuel in flagrant reversal, born out of an unconventional marriage, born among animals, fleeing in fear – all the reverse from what we would expect of a royal birth. Hearing these stories again now allows us to envision that upside-down world for a moment. To envision what might be possible among people, from warfare ceasing to the hungry ones being fed. All these offer hope because the actions of our God offer that moment for which we long – for the space where roles are reversed, the lowly are raised, and those who were afraid are now comforted. When we will be guided in the ways of peace.
In these days of warfare, cold, hunger, injustice, and fear, may we be warmed and fed by the reminder of God’s blessed reversal in the birth of Jesus. And on this, the longest night, may we prepare for the one who will come to us on Christmas and turn our world upside down.
Rev. Dr. Carrie Call
Penn Central Conference
Christmas blessings to all this holiday season from the United Church of Christ, and peace in the New Year.
Creation Justice Ministries
Congratulations to all eight churches that became Creation Justice churches in 2022 - including PCC's own Colonial Park UCC, Harrisburg! Colonial Park is the 4th Creation Justice Church in Penn Central Conference.
Prepare Now for Federal Energy Efficiency Grants
The bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) contains a provision for an "energy efficiency materials pilot program" for nonprofit organizations. This program will provide substantial grants to nonprofits to improve the energy efficiency of their facilities. Applications will not be available until sometime in 2023, but congregations can prepare now for a strong application by tracking their energy usage using the EPA’s Energy Star Portfolio Manager program.
January 8- St. Paul's UCC, Mechanicsburg - Rev. Dr. Carrie Call preaching
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.
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...
Faith UCC, Lancaster
First Reformed UCC, Lancaster
Grace UCC, Lancaster
Hamilton Park UCC, Lancaster
Fall/Winter MEFs (10AM hybrid, 6PM Zoom)
January 17 - "Grief and Loss" with Rev. Dr. Joel Hummel
This training, hosted by Revs. Tara Barber and Stephen Boyd, is open to ministers serving in specialized settings throughout the United Church of Christ. Serving in specialized setting requires particular attention to boundaries within the ministry setting and home church that are challenging and different from those serving as local church pastors. This training will focus on matters that relate specifically to issues that these ministers face, providing opportunities for clergy to reflect on best practices and growth in their practice of ministry. *Note - This training completes individual requirements for boundary training ONLY WHEN authorized by a local Committee on Ministry. Register here
UCC National Setting
These webinars are designed to help you enhance your local church ministries. Most are free to attend. Check out the calendar here.
What does “contemplation” mean? When we “contemplate” an idea, contemplation implies something deeper than thinking only. In contemplation, we start from a place of mystery and an acceptance of not knowing. This is often called the “mystical” dimension of faith, which shares a root with the word “mystery”. Spiritual truths often begin as a mystery because there is much we must spiritually unlearn, including many beliefs that no longer serve us. As we release fear’s grip and open our minds and hearts, new revelations are revealed to us. We shall talk more about these foundations over the course of our “Engaging Christian Contemplative Practices” gatherings
Six virtual 90-minute evening sessions on these 2023 dates (with one optional in-person meeting in Mass.): January 18, February 1, February 15, March 1, March 15, March 29
Faith and Money Network has two opportunities starting in January for deeper study, reflection and community:
The next Money, Faith and You online group will begin meeting Wednesday, Jan. 11. This group meets weekly via online video conference for six weeks to study some of today’s leading thinkers on faith and money and reflect on our own faith and money journeys. Learn more and sign up.
A new cohort of Household Practices Covenant Groups will also begin in January. Covenant Groups meet monthly to work through the seven household practices outlined in the sabbath economics framework developed by Ched Myers and Bartimaeus Cooperative Ministries. A Faith and Money Network facilitator leads an online group (via video conference) of six to ten people who have have already completed a Sabbath Economics Workshop or a Money, Faith and You study group and commit to meeting monthly and supporting one another in discerning how to put Sabbath economics to work in their daily lives. Learn more and sign up.
A new year brings new opportunities to learn and grow in faith! PATHWAYS Theological Education, Inc. is pleased to announce our January term online, asynchronous courses that are accessible and affordable for curious Progressive Christians. All courses are designed with the Marks of Faithful and Effective Authorized Ministers at their core, and are helpful to anyone who wants to develop spiritual and leadership gifts for use in the church and the world.
—United Church of Christ History and Polity, January 11-April 7; this course is designed according to the content recommendations of the UCC History and Polity Network Teachers group (12 weeks, $625)
—Practicing Our Faith in the Public Square, January 11-February 21(6 weeks, $325)
—Understanding the Bible as a Progressive Christian, January 11-February 21 (6 weeks, $325)
—The Art of Worship, January 11-February 21 (6 weeks, $325)
We will also offer a three week Introduction to Supervised Ministry for student ministers and their site supervisors who are participating in the PATHWAYS Supervised Ministry track.
NEXT Steps introduces participants to theological, philosophical, and psychological concepts of vocation and aging. The Spring 2023 semester is set to be a clergy only cohort. It is a gathering for adults contemplating or entering retirement, and for those who are recently retired.
Rev. Beth Long-Higgins, Rev. Steve Lawler, and Jill Schantz would like to invite you to an optional brief orientation to the course and introduction to the instructors on January 10, 2023, at 5:30 CST/6:30 EST.
Penn Central Conference of the United Church of Christ, located in Harrisburg, PA, is seeking a part time bookkeeper (averaging 10 hours a week.) A working knowledge of financial systems and processes, computer skills (including Microsoft Office and Servant Keeper) and a willingness to learn new skills as necessary are essential. Responsibilities include preparing payables; tracking receipts and payments of conduits; assisting in preparation of materials requested by auditors; working closely with accounting firm, bankers, auditors, and other financial partners; generating reports; preparing and generating year end giving statements. Hourly pay, compensation commensurate with experience. This position will report to the Office Manager. Interested parties may send a resume to Paul at email@example.com by February 1, 2023
Now Accepting Applications or Referrals for
FT STAFF CHAPLAIN AT PHOEBE RICHLAND
Conducts variety of religious activities and provides for the spiritual needs of residents and families and ministry with staff. Provides clinical oversight and mentoring for CPE intern chaplains, per diem chaplain and volunteers. Works closely with inter-disciplinary staff to meet the needs of residents. Conducts outreach to churches and community. Works collaboratively with other chaplains in the department. Will help establish pastoral care at our new Chestnut Ridge at Rodale campus in Emmaus, PA.
Master of Divinity; ordination in the United Church of Christ or a denomination closely related or dual standing in the UCC.
Minimum of 4 units of CPE; Eligible for APC Board Certification or working toward this certification
2-3 years of ministry experience in a parish or chaplaincy setting
Part time music director
Dreisbach UCC, Lewisburg, is looking for a music director beginning in January 2023. Dreisbach enjoys a diverse collection of music in its services including both contemporary and traditional. We have a small adult choir, a bell choir, and a praise band. We are looking for someone who can work approximately 3-6 hours per week. Position responsibilities include leading and directing the adult choir in rehearsal and worship, leading the praise band, directing the bell choir, and picking music for all ensembles.
Appropriate clearances are required. Qualified applicants should send their resume, cover letter, and references to: Dreisbach United Church of Christ, 875 Dreisbach Church Road, Lewisburg, PA. 17837, or email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Organist and piano accompanist
Dreisbach UCC, Lewisburg, is looking for an organist and piano accompanist beginning in January 2023. Dreisbach enjoys a diverse collection of music in its services including both contemporary and traditional. Dreisbach has an Allen digital organ that was installed in 1997. The organ has 2 manuals, a midi system, and a recording system. We are looking for someone who can work approximately 3-6 hours per week. Position responsibilities include accompanying the worship service and the choir, working with the pastor to choose music for the worship services, and reporting organ and piano repair and tuning needs to the consistory.
Appropriate clearances are required. Qualified applicants should send their resume, cover letter, and references to: Dreisbach United Church of Christ, 875 Dreisbach Church Road, Lewisurg, PA. 17837, or email to email@example.com.
Starview United Church of Christ has a Director of Music position open. This position involves 1 Sunday morning worship service, special liturgical services throughout the year, and direction of the church choirs. The estimated time per week is a 6 hours, which naturally, will vary depending on the church season and number of services planned. Compensation is negotiable. Resumes may be emailed to: firstname.lastname@example.org or mailed to 4832 N. Sherman St. Ext., Mount Wolf, PA 17347.
For additional contact information to address specific questions with the Worship Committee Chairperson or the pastor, please call 717-266-4248.
Starview United Church of Christ is located approximately 6 miles off of I-83 at Exit 24 and 6 miles north of the Galleria Mall on Rt. 24 (Mt. Zion Exit off of Rt. 30).
Open and Affirming Coalition of the UCC Executive Director
The ED position implements the strategic goals and objectives of the Coalition and provides direction and leadership toward the achievement of the organization’s mission and vision. Reporting to the Leadership Team (the Board of Directors), the ED manages the Coalition staff and provides effective and impactful leadership to this national non-profit.The Executive Director will vision and implement a movement that is energized, provides a full spectrum of advocacy and care, and promotes the mission and vision of the Coalition. The ED should have experience in working with diverse populations and lead the mission of the coalition with a commitment to intersectionality, diversity, equity, and inclusion. Learn more and apply here.
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: email@example.com. If interested, please mail or email resume to: Hamilton Park United Church of Christ, Attn: Search, 1210 Maple Ave., Lancaster, PA 17603
Hospice & Community Care
Chaplain- Home Hospice/Inpatient Unit
Per Diem (as needed)
Works in collaboration with the Home Hospice team and Palliative Medicine Consultants assessing and addressing spiritual care needs of patients and caregivers. Qualifications include board certification w/APC or NACC (or ability to be certified within 5 years of hire). M.Div. or equivalent from an accredited theological institution. Accredited training and a minimum of 4 units of CPE required. Must be able to complete 6-8 weeks of a FT, day shift orientation.