Paid for by your OCWM Contributions| November 10, 2021
Message to the Conference
Dear Members and Friends of Penn Central Conference,
In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit intercedes for us through wordless groans.  And God, who searches our hearts, knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God. And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love God, who have been called according to God’s purpose. (Romans 8:26-28; amended for inclusive language)

Don’t know how to pray? The Spirit does. Every time we cry out with “O God help” or “I’m so confused” or “What is going on here?”, the Spirit interprets these expressions as prayer—and prays for us. All we need to do is groan. But it doesn’t stop there. In those things where we need help, where we’re confused, where we don’t know which way is up, God is working for good.

I don’t know about you, but sometimes it’s hard for me to fully grasp Paul’s words. The entirety of chapter 8 is dedicated to convincing us that we live in God’s spiritual realm, and not to be taken in by the temporal realities of the day. In other words, God’s got our backs in any circumstance, whether we see it, know it, believe it—or not.

When I first came across this scripture that God works in all things for good, it came as a shock. I was very young in my Christian walk, still believing that if bad things happen surely God has a hand in the bad. It took me a long time to work out my theology where I realized that God doesn’t send painful or difficult circumstances and experiences. God is with us intimately in all those circumstances and experiences—working for good to unfold. I also came to realize that the timing of good to happen sometimes, ofttimes, is way longer than I think it should be.

Lately I have been thinking about this scripture in relation to the state of the church right now: declining memberships and attendance, decreased coffers, more and more churches barely affording a part-time pastor where they have previously afforded a full-time pastor. In my role as Associate Conference Minister for Congregational Transitions, I spend a lot of time thinking about such things. And of course, I could blame the pandemic….

But….I am reminded that we have been talking about the new realities of church and where God is leading us since the early 2000’s. The signs of decline began even before then. These phenomena began as early as the 1980’s across denominations, and church development and vitality folk have been grappling and analyzing all along the way. There are some who suggest that the bubble that began in the 1950’s was just that: a bubble. Some wonder if we are poised to return to the early model of church in the first century with small gatherings as the norm.

At my last pastorate, our church needed to face head-on declining attendance on Sunday morning and a coffer that barely covered my salary and benefits. And then we were introduced to the concept of church being church every day of the week, not just Sundays. And becoming a mission church that is relevant to the greater community brought folks to us those other days of the week—including their time, talent, and treasure, although not on Sunday morning. And we joined with the United Methodist church across the street that was floundering to bring two communities into one which was a Godly boost as well.

As your ACM for Congregational Transitions, I am joyfully tasked with working closely with our churches to wonder how God is working for good, despite membership and attendance decline, despite there being more small churches than we could have imagined just 50 years ago. And I believe as we groan and sigh, the Spirit prays. And I have faith that even as we wonder “how long, O Lord”, God is already working for good.
This coming Sunday I have been invited to the York Association Annual Meeting to talk on churches joining together for ministry or mission. I am happy to share with other Associations as well. Beginning in March, I will be offering workshops in each of the Associations regarding the health and vitality of small churches—and celebrating these churches as God’s new vision of the realm of God on earth as it is in heaven.

I invite you to join me in the work that God has for us as a “new church” emerges and unfolds. As we join together, let’s dare to believe that even though we may not know what our future holds for the next 5 to 10 years, we indeed know who holds our future.
I believe that as we come together, we can wait in joyful hope, as Paul says earlier in chapter 8:

I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.

May we hope as we wait—together—with faith in our ever-present and intimate God,

Rev. Dr. Marisa Laviola
Associate Conference Minister
Penn Central Conference
Prayer for Veterans Day
Holy God, we give You thanks for all those who have worn the fabric of our nation’s military whether in peacetime or war. We honor their faithful service and their willingness to defend and preserve our nation’s highest values even when our leaders and citizens do not live by them. Help us remember, on this day, what our country has asked of them and what they gave in return.
By your Spirit, we join in prayer with combat veterans who lived by the hope that their war would be the last war. Let their hope be realized in a future we make together with You. We join in prayer with veterans who served in times of peace hoping for its endurance. Help us, Holy God, reassure them that they do not pray alone or in vain. Forgive us for divorcing the abundant blessings we take for granted from the extraordinary sacrifice they made to protect them.
We call on your Holy Spirit to be with those who have walked through war’s unholy fire and who live with the wounds of body, mind, and spirit. We pray for veterans who struggle for recovery in hospitals and rehabilitation centers; for those who suffer from post-traumatic stress and survivor’ guilt and who long for an elusive healing and peace. We pray for homeless veterans who met the needs of the nation that can’t now help them met their own.
The vision You gave to Isaiah that there would be a day when swords would be beaten into ploughshares still lingers in our imagination. Grant to us the conviction to continue believing, the creativity to fashion a world of justice and peace, and the courage to it see through until all nations learn war no more.
This we pray, O Lord our Rock and our Redeemer.
Prayer submitted by Rev. Bill Worley, who is the Conference Minister of the Pennsylvania Southeast Conference. Bill is a former Navy chaplain and a veteran of the Iraq War.
Address Change!

As you may have been hearing, the PCC offices will be moving in the month of November. Please begin mailing any correspondence to our new PO Box:

Penn Central Conference
PO Box 6625
Harrisburg, PA 17112

Our physical address starting the week of November 15 (Do not mail letters to this address!)
St. Thomas UCC
6490 Linglestown Road
Harrisburg, PA 17112

We thank you for your patience during our move, as response times may be delayed.
Scheduling notes:

November 14 - Himmel's UCC, Dornsife - Rev. Dr. Carrie Call preaching
November 14 - Zion UCC, York - Rev. Nora Foust preaching
November 21 - Paradise UCC, Milton - Rev. Nora Foust preaching
November 21 - St. Mark's UCC, Lebanon - Rev. Dr. Marisa Laviola 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...

St. Matthew's UCC, Carlisle
Salem Stone UCC, Carlisle
Trinity UCC, Cashtown
Trinity UCC, Centre Hall
Ten Days for Peace Service
November 14, 4pm

The Northern Cluster of Churches, as part of the partnership between the Penn Central Conference and the UEK Churches in Germany, hosts an annual worship service dedicated to peacemaking. This year’s service will be held on Sunday, November 14, 4pm, at Salem UCC, Elizabethville. The Rev. Dr. Marisa Laviola from the Conference Office will be the guest speaker, with refreshments following.
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:
The Virtual Choir is back! 
The Virtual Choir, which brought us so much lovely music last year, is back and will be continuing through this year, and probably as an ongoing effort!  Our first piece will be And the Glory of the Lord, from Messiah, which we will be recording in late November, and will be available to all churches by December 7 for your Advent/Christmas use.
If you did not receive an email from Pastor Julie Holm, and you want to be part of this group, you can email her at  If you are a church that would like to be on the mailing list when we have news, you can also email Julie. Of course, you'll get a link here to any music produced, as well.
Church World Services Bucket Project

UCC Disaster Ministries awarded a matching grant to St. Paul’s UCC, Stoverstown for creating CWS Clean Up Buckets. Their hope was to be able to create 7 kits. However, with the generosity of their members, St. Paul’s Special Gift Fund distribution, and the UCC Disaster Ministries Kit Matching Grant they were able to complete 12 kits!
See below for some pictures! St. Paul's pastor, Rev. David Martin, is planning for the kits to be dedicated on Stewardship Sunday, and then they will be delivered to the CWS Kit depot at the Brethren Service Center Annex in New Windsor, MD.
It is their hope that the gift of these clean up supplies will uplift the recipients. They pray that they will be a tangible sign of God’s love and compassion in their time of need.
Outdoor Ministries Fall Events
November 12-14 @ Nawakwa [$155/person]
Try new techniques, share your latest creations, work on whatever you've been trying to finish, and enjoy the relaxed atmosphere of camp in the fall. Worship led by Rev. Cindy Brommer. All meals provided. Please register by November 1.
Stay over an additional night (Thursday): $30

December 4 @The Wittel Farm (9 a.m. - 2 p.m.)
Enter into the Advent spirit by participating in a day of Bible study, worship, and prayerful reflection.

For more information & to register, go to:  

More events can be found here!
Clergy Events
Q&A and Panel Discussion
Our General Minister and President Rev. John Dorhauer will be in town and has asked to meet with clergy from Penn Central and our two adjoining Conferences. The event will happen at Lancaster Seminary and includes a catered lunch by Pepper Theo (yum!).

John wishes to hear how clergy have been adapting to the past 18 months and what the issues/challenges/joys have been. There will be a panel of 3 clergy – one from each Conference - and John will facilitate a discussion. This will also allow for substantial Q&A with clergy who attend.

Our numbers will be limited, so please register soon. The cost is $15 each and you can pay at the time of registration below.

Date: Monday November 22nd
Time: 11:30 AM – 12:00 PM Gathering
           12:00 – 12:45 Lunch
           12:45 – 2:00 Panel and Discussion
Registration Link - Registration is full, but there is a waiting list!
Fall 2021 Education Forums
Third Tuesdays at 10am LIVE ONLY at St. Thomas, Linglestown and 6pm ZOOM ONLY

November 16 with Rev. Nora FoustChallenges of Living in Covenant
10am LIVE at St. Thomas UCC, Linglestown (Register); 6pm Zoom (Register)
Penn Central Conference Lectionary Discussion Group - This group is open to all clergy, meets weekly on Tuesdays at 1:00PM to discuss upcoming lectionary passages. Us this Zoom link here.
Advent Prayer Group
Pastors are you weary? Is the yoke of pastoring in this extended season of COVID heavy? Share your burdens and joys as we pray together on Thursdays at Noon during the season of Advent! A brief period of facilitated check-in will be followed by curated poems, prayers, and silence. Light a candle and feed your spirit this Advent by gathering in prayer with colleagues from Penn Central, Penn Northeast and Pennsylvania Southeast Conference and prepare for the inbreaking of Emmanuel once again!

Join us December 2, 9, 16 and 23 at noon We will end promptly at 1pm each week.
Zoom #882 9955 4125, passcode Pray
"History & Polity of the UCC" Class for Spring 2022
This annual course is being taught by Carrie Call and Penn Central Conference staff with special guests. Join with students from all over the UCC to learn more about who we are and where we came from as a denomination!

Classes will take place Fridays at 2:00PM starting February 11, 2022 through April 01, 2022. Register by January 30th. Registration is limited. Classes are online via Zoom. Register here.
Association Events
York Association Annual Meeting - November 14, 1:00PM - Shiloh UCC, York
UCC Webinars

These webinars are designed to help you enhance your local church ministries. Most are free to attend. Check out the calendar here.

Digital Funerals & Grief: A Conversation & Ritual - November 11, 3:30 pm - 4:30 pm

Faith — Trauma & Healing - November 16, 3:00 pm - 4:00 pm

State of Creation - November 16, 3:30 pm - 4:30 pm

Queer the Church - November 18, 3:30 pm - 4:30 pm

What is the Doctrine of Discovery? - November 23, 3:30 pm - 4:30 pm
Global H.O.P.E. Kit Matching Grant Application (20-22)
- Grant Application will be awarded to churches that have submitted a completed Global H.O.P.E. Kit Matching Grant Application.
- Grant Applications for 2021 will be received through January 28, 2022. 
- Congregations that raise $250 or more (monetary or in-kind supplies) for Church World Service Kits are eligible to apply for a $250 matching grant from UCC Global H.O.P.E.
- Grant Applications must be accompanied by a completed W-9 form at
- 100% of Matching Grant funds must be used for purchasing supplies for the assembly of the CWS Kits or for processing costs ($3/Clean Up Bucket, $2/School or Hygiene Kit).
From Our Partners and Friends
Dr. Ryan P. Burge will be joining the Pennsylvania Council of Churches on November 17, 2021, at 10:00 am to lead a virtual forum on his recent book, “The Nones: Where They Came From, Who They Are, and Where They Are Going.” The “Nones” are defined as Americans who say they have no religious affiliation.

Registrations are open at for limited numbers to view on Zoom. Those wishing to indicate interest prior to the event may do so at, and it may be viewed on Facebook Live at Download a flyer here or read the full invitation here.
Employment Opportunities
Zion UCC, Arendtsville job openings

The Choir Director directs a 15-member choir to prepare music for regular Sunday morning services. The choir director also works with the minister and the organist to plan special services. Duties include preparing music, scheduling choir practices, identifying soloists, and developing special music presentations. Salary compensation is negotiable.
The organist/pianist accompanies a 15-member choir at regularly scheduled Sunday morning services. Applicants must have the ability to play both the piano and the organ, and be prepared for weekly choir rehearsals. Duties include following the direction of the choir director and minister in planning musical services. This includes Sunday worship and special services. He/she must attend regularly scheduled and special choir rehearsals. Salary compensation negotiable.
Position available: Church Musician
This 9 to 12 month position includes playing for weekly adult choir rehearsals, a scheduled single Sunday 10:30 a.m. worship service and occasional evening/special services. Proficiency with piano is required. We have two Yamaha studio upright pianos that are well maintained via regular tuning/maintenance. We also have the historic 1868 Durner tracker pipe organ that was restored in 1998 and is well maintained via regular tuning/servicing. Candidates will work with church/choir leaders in rehearsing and planning musical material appropriate to the liturgical calendar. Candidates should send a letter of introduction and resume to or mail to St. John's UCC, PO Box 88, Boalsburg, PA 16827
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. Rick Luciotti
Coordinator of Care to Clergy & Clergy Families
Phone: 717-679-0001
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