Isaiah 40: 28-31 Have you not known? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. God does not faint or grow weary; God’s understanding is unsearchable. God gives power to the faint, and strengthens the powerless. Even youths will faint and be weary, and the young will fall exhausted; but those who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.
Anybody out there feeling a little weary? For me it comes in waves. There’s virus news and variant updates, personal, professional and congregational vitality and viability concerns all running through my mind everyday. I want to have an upbeat spirit when I inquire, “what’s next?,” but all to often the phrase is filled with dread.
This week’s lectionary reading from Isaiah 40 is a great reminder for me to wait on God. I am called to rest in my faith and let God’s strength – grace, love and peace – renew and refuel me for each day. I hope this passage might do the same for each of you. Reading scripture and doing daily devotions can be one way that we all rest in God’s strength and become refreshed from our weariness in this season and truly, in every season of life.
One resource will be the re-launch of my VLOG “Morsels of Excellence.” In 2019, this was popular with a number of consistories and thewhole playlist is still available on our PCC YouTube page. In this year’s series, I will look at ways to measure the health of a local church. Some of the topics will include discipleship, covenantal accountability, worship, theological reflection, spiritual formation and so much more! The season premiere on “Being a Member” can be found here.
Other resources can be helpful as well! Your PCC staff has been continually listening for needs from our congregations and clergy so that we might offer resources to meet those needs. We have a new wave of resources for the new year to help our congregations as we all continue to find ways to thrive in this prolonged season of global pandemic.
·Staff are available for online congregational consultations around search and call, coaching, conflict, and leadership training
·Staff are available for live and recorded participation in worship by invitation
·Conversations regarding regathering if your church is still gathering via technology
·Engagement with “A Sure Foundation” that offers resources to keep healthy the local church’s relationship with their pastor
·Weekly emails on Monday with upcoming events like the weekly lectionary discussion, the monthly coffee with conference ministers, boundary trainings and other continuing education events
·Trained chaplains to meet the pastoral care needs of our pastors
·A new sermon databankof prerecorded scripture readings and sermons (watch your email for access information)
Weariness has seemingly become a sign of the times. Hear the prophet’s words afresh this week and greet this new month with renewed vigor and strength for another day’s journey with God!
Peace and Blessings,
Rev. Nora Foust
Associate Conference Minister
Penn Central Conference.
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. John's Center UCC, East Berlin
Trinity UCC, East Petersburg
Christ Church UCC, Elizabethtown
St. Paul's UCC, Shrewsbury
The DataHub is now open through March 3rd for Yearbook reporting! Please learn more on the process here. If you need assistance, please contact Paul.
Make sure you also complete the supplemental survey! Link here.
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 https://pccucc.org/covid-19-resources/ regularly for updates.
The first anthem from the Penn Central Conference Virtual Choir, Lift Every Voice and Sing, is now available on the Conference's YouTube Channel. Learn more about why this anthem was chosen for Black History Month here.
If you want a downloadable file, contact Julie Holm at email@example.com and she will send a link. The second anthem, Mozart's Ave Verum Corpus, will be available February 16, just in time for Ash Wednesday, or for use during your Lenten services. Singers are still welcome!
Saturday, February 20, 2021
9 AM – Noon, US Eastern Standard Time (EST)
1500 – 1800, Central European Time (MEZ)
Conference via Zoom
Featuring Cameron Trimble of Convergence
(Formerly the Center for Progressive Renewal)
“Where Do We Go From Here?
German and American Church After the Time of Pandemic.”
Join Penn Central Conference and Evangelical Church of Berlin-Brandenburg-Silesian Upper Lusatia pastors as we learn and share what we have learned and what we take forward from the experience of Church during the Covid-19 crisis. What are the gifts of this time? What are the things in our churches that will need healing? How do we move forward to incorporate all of this newness?
Cameron Trimble, director of Convergence will join us in exploring these topics and sharing with one another our experiences over the last year. We will worship, dialogue and learn with our international counterparts in this mini-convocation.
Join us for the fellowship, the worship, the opportunity to learn how churches have been affected in both Central Pennsylvania in the US and Berlin-Brandenburg in Germany
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.
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.
Bring your family or youth group and enjoy an afternoon on Kirchenwald’s award-winning toboggan run, ice-skating on the lake, or simply exploring the camp, visiting the goats, challenge yourself on the ropes course, sit by the fire, or drinking hot chocolate in the lodge. Register here.
Lenten Day Apart sessions will include restorative spiritual practices and restorative soil work. We will learn about the soil on the farm and how we can improve its health. We will plant seeds in our greenhouse in the afternoon.Register here.
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.
February 16: Rev. Dr. Marisa Laviola – Pastoring Parishioners: A Mental and Relational Health Perspective
Pastors know the dear ones in our congregations who are beloved yet bristly; loveable and frustrating at the same; and sometimes just a perennial thorn in our sides. We may struggle how to be in relationship with these dear ones, while not allowing their bristle to push us or others away. This two-hour workshop will present a compassionate framing for how to understand these folks and how to relate most effectively with them in effective pastoral ways.
10:00AM registration full
6:00PM registration full
March 16: Stephanie Rader-Titzel - Mission Central and Connecting to Local Mission Possibilities
“Mission Central is about ‘Connecting God’s Resources with Human Need.’ This is accomplished by following three areas of focus…Mission Outreach, Mission Education and Disaster Response.” Mission Central – located in Harrisburg - partners with over 180 different organizations and they provide resources to groups who are doing humanitarian work locally, across the country and around the world. Stephanie will talk with us about connecting with Mission Central as well as how to tap into mission opportunities and organizations in our various counties. Lay persons and clergy welcome!
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
ONA WEBINAR SERIES STARTS FEB. 4!
Whether your church is just beginning its journey towards an Open and Affirming covenant, or you've been ONA for many years, you'll find a webinar that meets your needs! Our popular webinar series has helped congregations plan for an ONA journey that builds consensus and reduces the risk of conflict, and existing ONA churches have learned how to breathe new life into their ONA commitment. Our services are priced to fit almost any budget, and there are deep discounts when you buy a season pass. Learn more.
OPEN AND AFFIRMING EXPERIENCE: A 1-DAY VIRTUAL CONFERENCE
In partnership with the Michigan ONA Coalition and the Michigan Conference, we're offering a day-long Zoom event with worship and informative workshops for ONA and not-yet ONA churches on Sat., Feb. 27, 10 am-5 pm EST. Congregations from any Conference are invited!
We'll offer two tracks: one for not-yet ONA churches, the other for existing ONA churches.
You'll learn more about
planning a Bible-based ONA process that will reduce the risk of conflict and inspire your church with new passion and energy.
exploring new ways to be an effective ally for your LGBTQ+ neighbors.
Leaders will include Kimi Floyd Reisch, the Coalition's ONA Program Minister, and Andy Lang, our executive director. More details here.
From our Partners & Friends:
Parish Resource Center is partnering with CHI St. Joseph Children’s Health for a FREE Parenting Webinar Series: Simplicity Parenting - February 11, 7-8:30pm; Unplugged - March 11, 7-8:30pm; Family Communication - April 15, 7-8:30pm. For more information and to register for these workshops, https://parishresourcecenter.org/events/
Parish Resource Center offers basic, stand-alone Technology Webinars: Zoom for Presenters – February 8, 7-8:30pm; Intro to Word – March 1, 7-8:30pm; Intro to Excel – April 28, 7-8:30pm; Intro to Publisher – May 13, 7-8pm. For more information and to register for these workshops, https://parishresourcecenter.org/events/
Association of United Church Educators 50th Anniversary Event
"From Roots to Shoots"
Saturday, February 13, 12:00-3:30 p.m. EST
Guest Speaker Melvin Bray
Worship by Rev. Molly Baskette, with music by Mark Miller
Reading by Kassie Runsabove and closing song by Walter Runsabove
Fr. David writes, "In a time of division and denial, this is the most important study we can undertake. It provides the framework of understanding what we have in common about repentance and grace in Judaism, Christianity and Islam."
The Mercy Seminar explores why people have a passion for their own faith but fear or concerns about other faiths, and are bewildered by religious intolerance and where it comes from.
Fr. David continues, "We will explore what Rabbi Sacks describes as “the dignity of difference” that enhances and harmonizes who we are as children of God rather than divides us."
The Mercy Seminar meets on Thursday evenings from 7 - 8:30 PM. Term 1 begins on February 18th. You do not need to have attended previous terms.
The Brush Valley Fusion of Faith, a small, ecumenical (ELCA/UCC), rural congregation in Central Pennsylvania, seeks a temporary, part time pastor to fill in for 15 weeks while our pastor goes on Sabbatical. Current anticipated timeframe is between mid-July or early August and mid-November, 2021. Worship leadership and supply preaching required, plus 4-5 hours per week to be negotiated, which may include worship preparation, leading Bible Study and adult education, or other pastoral tasks. Visitation of a small number of shut ins, either in person or via phone, also requested. $300 per week, plus mileage. This will probably require you to be in person on Sunday morning only in the area of Rebersburg, Pennsylvania, as we hope to move back to in person worship by then, but may also a simultaneous phone conference option. No housing. Prefer someone who can be designated for this term by the UCC or who is ordained to Word and Sacrament in the ELCA.This may include ecumenical partners of both denominations. Seminarians encouraged to apply, and mentoring can be arranged for a seminarian who serves. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call (814) 349-5515 for more information.
Mission Central has a part time Business Administrative Assistant position open. This position functions primarily as the Bookkeeper and Administrative Assistant to the Executive Director but lends clerical and collaborative support to the Development Director. As such, the employee assists in implementing administrative strategies and objectives. Learn more here.