Paid for by your OCWM Contributions| September 16, 2020
Message to the Conference
September 16, 2020
Members and friends of Penn Central Conference-

So Moses and Aaron said to all the Israelites, “In the evening you shall know that it was the Lord who brought you out of the land of Egypt, an in the morning you shall see the glory of the Lord, because he has heard your complaining against the Lord.” (Exodus 16:6-7)
This is a season of complaint. We usually associate the word “complain” with actions or words that are negative and irritating. We lament those who complain constantly, judge some whose complaints we find trivial, and we go so far as to say, no one likes a complainer. However, the word itself does not invite easy dismissal. After all, a complaint is “a statement that a situation is unsatisfactory or unacceptable”. There are endless situations that are unsatisfactory and unacceptable.
The Israelites were well versed in complaint. They had been brought out of Egypt in rather dramatic fashion and now feared they would perish in the desert. Where was that dramatic God who had laid Pharaoh’s armies low and divided the waters for their escape? The dramatic power of God suddenly seemed to evaporate in the face of their own hunger. Yet we are told God hears their complaint and responds. There is some divine irritation in response to this complaining, since the people seem to forget rather easily their miraculous liberation from slavery. Yet God does respond.
I will say again, this is a season of complaint. Some of our complaints are trivial, when we reflect on them. Others are wrenching and come from a place of deep dissatisfaction and systemic suffering. Looking around us we see and hear much that is unsatisfying and unacceptable. A worldwide pandemic, racial divides, wildfires spreading, blistering political rhetoric, floods after floods. Far from offering up a simplistic “don’t worry, be happy” response, I am instead drawn to the idea of how God responded to the complaints of those wandering in the desert. The gift of manna had to be unexpected. Certainly it wasn’t familiar. Manna probably didn’t compare to the well-seasoned fish and legumes they had in Egypt. And they had to figure out how to prepare it. Certainly it was different. Probably not what they expected this powerful and dramatic God to provide. Yet it sustained them.
These days I think about what manna I might glean from the fields around me. What evidence is there that God hears our complaints in the midst of such turmoil? Where can I find the thin dusting of divine providence that provides sustenance and will feed my hunger? I could offer up another simplistic response by saying “love is the answer” and leave it at that. But instead I’m left with a challenge. Because I don’t think the answer is simple. I think the manna we seek is not obvious and we have to look for it. It’s unexpected and unfamiliar. I have to look in new places. I have found manna in glimpses and sudden moments - in people’s eyes on the street, in an unexpected gesture of mercy, in a girl singing a hymn, in a story of reconciliation. Those small flakes sustain me, for a time. They remind me that God provides and abides, even in these starving days.
Where do you find the manna of God? How have you prepared what you’ve found? Could we gather and share what we have found to make bread to feed us in this wilderness?


Rev. Dr. Carrie Call, PhD
Conference Minister
Virtual Choir

If you were part of the Annual meeting, you heard the virtual choir, made up of singers from all over the conference coming together for a choral anthem.
This anthem has been published, on Facebook, YouTube, Vimeo and Soundcloud, and can be used by you or your church for your services.
To get the anthem:
Contact Julie Holm ( or if you prefer to download a copy of the video or audio (mp3) file.
If you use this publicly, please appropriately attribute the work:
Leaning on the Everlasting arms, arranger/composer: Geordie Roberts
Sheet music available from Cypress Choral Music; visit

Do you want to form your own virtual choir?
Join Julie Holm, who coordinated that showstopping virtual choir at Annual Meeting, for an online workshop to learn how! Register now - event is September 28 at 6:00PM.

And on the topic of choirs, the New York Times has an article on a London choir who has been meeting socially distanced.
Scheduling Notes:

September 20: Wisdom's Table, Lancaster at 11:00 AM (via Zoom) - Rev. Dr. Carrie Call Preaching

September 20: Church of the Redeemer, Hershey at 9:15AM - Rev. Dr. Marisa Laviola Preaching

September 20: Trinity, UCC East Petersburg at 7:00 PM - Rev. Dr. Carrie Call preaching at evening vespers

September 27: Bethany UCC, Ephrata - Rev. Dr. Marisa Laviola in attendance

September 27: Salem UCC, Rohrerstown -Rev. Dr. Marisa Laviola in attendance for Rev. Maria Yocum call Sunday

October 4: St. Paul's UCC, West Milton at 10:30 AM (via Facebook Live or Youtube) - Rev. Dr. Carrie Call Preaching

October 4: Bethel UCC, Spring Grove at 9:00AM - Rev. Dr. Marisa Laviola preaching

October 4: St. Jacob UCC, York-New Salem at 10:30AM - Rev. Dr. Marisa Laviola 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...

St. John's UCC, Shamokin
Salem UCC, Coal Township
Grace UCC, Shippensburg
St. Paul UCC, Shrewsbury
Join to Pray for Unity and Peace before the Election
These are difficult days. Tension on the streets, fires in the west, flooding in the south, and political rhetoric all around us. Many feel anxiety, anger, frustration and fear. In response to this and looking ahead to November 3rd, the Conference invites you to join us in prayer. During the month of October, every Wednesday evening you are invited to join together for prayer at 7:00 PM for 30 minutes. The zoom prayer time will be devoted to prayers for peace and unity as we approach the national election. There will be nothing partisan and no candidates will be mentioned by name.
This prayer time is open to all clergy and members of UCC congregations within the Conference. We ask you to register only so that we may send you a password directly for the zoom calls. There is no pressure to attend – but this way we can make sure these gatherings remain peaceful and prayerful. Gatherings will be October 7th, 14th, 21st and 28th. Register here.
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.

Taking Action for Anti- Racism
Christ Church in Annville will be hosting a three part workshop series on Taking Action for Anti- Racism. There will be three 90 minute workshops focusing on anti-racism, including understanding of racist attitudes, inner work to combat racism and more. The workshop will be held via Zoom on October 4, 18 & 25. Learn more here.
Love UCC History?
Are you a history buff or want to learn more about the people who have shaped the UCC? If so, you’ll love UCC Roots. This monthly message is a short piece (only 300 words!) on someone who was important in UCC History. You’ll be surprised what you learn about our ancestors in the faith. The focus for September is a German Reformed lay woman from PA! Read September’s article by Carrie Call here. To receive UCC Roots for yourself, sign up here.
Creation Justice News
UCC Climate Ambassador Training
Free Event on Zoom
Saturday - October 3  -  11:30 am
With the more severe wildfires and hurricanes that the world is experiencing now, the time for faith-rooted and hope-filled climate action is here. To assist churches across Pennsylvania to answer this call, the United Church of Christ has partnered with Blessed Tomorrow to train clergy and laity who want to join with others to act for climate solutions as a matter of faith. This free, four-hour training will equip participants to go back to their faith communities with the tools and motivation needed to give presentations and develop concrete plans of action that actualize hope. This online training will take place on Zoom Saturday, October 3rd from 11:30 am to 4:00 pm (with a short lunch break and stretch breaks).
As part of the training, everyone who registers will be able to receive a free copy of Cathedral on Fire!: A Church Handbook for the Climate Crisis from the Rev. Brooks Berndt, the UCC Minister for Environmental Justice
Clergy Events
Upcoming Boundary Training Online

For Retired and Supply Pastors (2 hours)
Join with your colleagues on Tuesday, October 20th at 10am or 6pm for a discussion on supply and retired clergy boundaries. Rev. Sally Dries will join Rev. Nora Foust for leadership of this session. 
Register for the 10am-12pm Zoom session here
Register for the 6pm-8pm Zoom session here

Boundaries in Seasons of Crisis (2 hours)
Join with your colleagues on Tuesday, November 17th at 10am or 6pm for discussion of a variety of topics including: Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, Self-Care and Allyship in an Activist Age. Rev. Nora Foust will lead this discussion.
Register for the 10am-12pm Zoom session here
Register for the 6pm-9pm Zoom session here

For online boundary training options, Convergance offers an online course.
Kairos Spiritual Direction Training Program Enrolling Now
The Parish Resource Center is excited to announce that we are accepting applications for a new cohort of the Kairos Spiritual Direction Training program. The next cohort for this two-year certificate program begins in January. This cohort will have a new emphasis on practicing spiritual kinship with those on the margins who have not had the opportunity or means to participate in spiritual direction. This focus grew out of PRC’s work in food insecurity, immigration, and restorative practices.
The training is designed not only for spiritual directors, but for all those who offer spiritual care and companionship. Through this course, students will learn and develop skills in deep listening and noticing the presence of God as they practice spiritual companionship.
The program is based on the Ignatian tradition and emphasizes in-person instruction and training nine weekends a year. PRC will continue to reassess as the situation changes and has the ability to move the program online on an as-needed basis.
There is an early bird discount of $500 if you register before November 1, 2020. You can find more information and apply online at
Looking Ahead:

General Synod
The General Synod Program and Planning Committee met recently to discuss General Synod. We had a very energizing conversation and made a few decisions that we want to communicate.
General Synod 33 will take place Sunday July 11, 2021 – Sunday July 18, 2021. Pre-Synod events will occur on July 7-10, 2021.
Rooted in Love continues to be the theme. We will be adding SPECIAL EDITION to the theme.
We are hoping for a “leaner” General Synod in this virtual environment. We will worship, conduct business, provide educational opportunities and make space for experiencing the church gathered. 
Additional information will be coming shortly. Please let me know if there are any questions or concerns.
Pennsylvania Academy of Ministry at LTS

Nondegree classes are ideal for:
  • Lay Ministers already pastoring churches
  • Pastoral Leaders in part-time or bi-vocational ministries
  • Individuals in discernment
  • Laity serving Christian denominations and independent churches

Theology I and II have new dates, beginning Oct 3. Additionally, these classes now feature three synchronous Zoom sessions with the instructor, Holly MillerShank, to enhance online learning. Please note the following updated information to include in your conference communications:

Theology I: “Faith Seeking Understanding,” Oct 3–Nov 12, 2020. The Rev. Holly MillerShank offers a six-week online class through the Pennsylvania Academy of Ministry at Lancaster Theological Seminary. The class provides an introduction to Christian theology, focusing on God, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit in relation to congregational leadership. This 2.5 CEU class starts Saturday, Oct 3, followed by five weeks of asynchronous online instruction. PLUS bonus Zoom sessions with the instructor: Wednesdays Oct 21 and Nov 4, 6–7:30pm. Cost $325. Apply online at by Sept 25.
Introductory video:
Theology II: “Leadership and Community,” Jan 9–Feb 18, 2021. The Rev. Holly MillerShank offers a six-week online class through the Pennsylvania Academy of Ministry at Lancaster Theological Seminary. The class provides an introduction to Christian theology, focusing on the human condition, Christian hope, the church, ministry, and mission. Students may take this class without having taken Theology I. This 2.5 CEU class starts Saturday, Jan 9, followed by five weeks of asynchronous online instruction. Cost $325. Apply online at
Search & Call Associates
Mercersburg, York and Gettysburg Association Churches
Rev. Richard Gordon

Northern and Central Association Churches
Carolyn Herman
H: 570-538-9704
C: 570-220-8589

Harrisburg, Lancaster and Lebanon Association Churches
Rev. Richard Luciotti

Staff Directory
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
Zoë D'heedene
Coordinator of Camps/Retreats
Phone: 717-652-1560 ex. 16
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