Susquehanna Valley Ministry Center
A Note from Donna Rhodes, Executive Director
To say that our world finds itself in uncharted territory during the pandemic of COVID-19 does not feel like an adequate statement. Each of us experience unexpected changes in our daily pattern as we practice social distancing, scrub our hands, carefully plot simple trips to the grocery store or post office, and join our beloved families of faith virtually. We are learning anew how important relationships are and the need to be mindful of family and neighbors who may be alone and in need of care during this time.
The Susquehanna Valley Ministry Center is also adapting to the unexpected changes in our carefully planned courses and continuing education events. Our spring ACTS course for four of our five districts is Introduction to Pastoral Care. If there ever was a time to be creative in how pastoral care is provided, the time is now. Our students are learning quickly that while face-to-face pastoral care may be preferred, pandemic precautions call for creativity. The courses in Introduction to Pastoral Care are being taught via Zoom and the instructors are helping students hone skills for pastoral care in all circumstances including the pandemic in which we find ourselves.

SVMC acted quickly to rearrange schedules and plans for 1 graduate course, 6 ACTS courses, 3 continuing education events, and multiple meetings. Most courses and meetings are utilizing Zoom and our continuing education events are postponed with new dates already established or will be soon.

Our office on the Elizabethtown College campus is closed due the closing of the college. However, Karen Hodges, SVMC Program Coordinator, is working from home as is my usual practice. Our phone messages and mail are forwarded by the college. Through all these changes, we continue to provide the same attention and care to SVMC, and its students and instructors, as we have always done.

Your prayers and financial support for SVMC continue to be deeply appreciated as we fulfill our mission and ministry in these new circumstances. We know that COVID-19 has caused economic ramifications which affect individuals, congregations, and districts. SVMC will be affected by the economic ramifications, and we hope you will remember SVMC's ministry as you consider your charitable giving. Your support enables SVMC to carry out our work of ministry training in our geographic area.

May this excerpt of Psalm 109 from Psalms for Praying by Nan Merrill provide inspiration on this challenging journey:

For You are kind and merciful, ever searching for ready hearts, and comforting those who cry out to You! Implant your gifts within my spirit, that I might offer them out to those in need! For, I long to do Your will, to co-create in joy, to become a beneficent presence in the world! Become like a garment wrapped around me, clothe me in the raiment of your love! Then I will be strong to face my fears with a love that is firm and sure. For You, O Heart of all hearts, are the Thread that connects each one of us, that defines the interconnectedness of all being! Though I am weak and yet have miles to go, your steadfast love will lead me Home. Fear yields itself to Love and cannot withstand the Light; just as one lit candle dispels the darkness, each ray of love eases the pangs of fear. O, Giver of the Journey, companion me along the way; then I will recognize your Face in each one I meet. 
Continuing Education Events 2020-21
Excellent continuing education events are being planned by the Susquehanna Valley Ministry Center. Detailed information and registration forms are found by clicking on above link, or on SVMC’s website: under “Continuing Education”. (Due to COVID-19, several events have been rescheduled. The schedule below reflects all changes -- to date).

  • Binocular Vision: Seeing Through Eyes of Faith and Science, .55 CEUs
Juniata College, .55 CEUs
Leader: Russell Haitch
Postponed: TBD (Originally scheduled for March 19 2020)
  • Pastoral Care & Crisis Intervention, Part III, .5 CEUs
Leader: Dale Leverknight
Originally scheduled for Saturday, March 28, 2020 at Newville Church of the Brethren
New Date and Location: Saturday, October 24, 2020, Huntsdale Church of the Brethren
  • Neurocognitive Disorders: Supporting Parishioners through the Journey, .5 CEUs
Leaders: Jenn Holcomb and Kimberly Korge
Originally scheduled for Monday, May 11, 2020, Cross Keys Village 
Postponed to May 10, 2021 , same location.
  • Stories of Transformation in Luke-Acts and their Expression in Narrative Art, .55 CEUs
Leaders: Christine Bucher and Bob Neff
Monday, October 5, 2020, Elizabethtown College
  • Pastoral Care & Crisis Intervention, Part IV, .5 CEUs
Leader: Dale Leverknight
Originally scheduled for Saturday, October 24, 2020, Huntsdale Church of the Brethren
Postponed: Date and Location TBD (Note that Part III will be held October 24)
  • Kingdom Building in Worship, .55 CEUs
Leaders: Cindy Lattimer, co-pastor; Marty Keeney and Loren Rhodes, musicians
Saturday, October 31, 2020, Stone Church of the Brethren            
  • Science Fiction and Theology: Connections with Culture, .55 CEUs
Leader: Steve Schweitzer
Wednesday, November 11, 2020, Elizabethtown College

2020-21 Class Schedule
The ACTS (Academy Certified Training System) and TRIM (TRaining In Ministry) courses of SVMC are available not only to students in ministry training, but also to lay persons seeking development of their understanding of scripture and ministry skills. In addition, courses are available for CEUs (Continuing Education Units). The cost is: Credit=$240; Audit=$80; CEUs=$90; TRIM=$300.

To register for the ACTS or TRIM courses listed below, please contact Karen Hodges by email:, or phone: 717-361-1450.

To register for the Graduate courses hosted by SVMC, please contact the Admission's Team at Bethany Theological Seminary at 800-287-7722, or email

Please share this information with persons who may be interested in registering for our courses.
Susquehanna Valley Ministry Center
SVMC's mission is to equip leaders for ministry in a regionally based, Christ centered, culturally relevant context in ways that bear witness to the beliefs, heritages and practices of the Church of the Brethren. SVMC is a Church of the Brethren ministry partner with Bethany Theological Seminary, Brethren Academy for Ministerial Leadership, and five Church of the Brethren districts: Atlantic Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, Middle PA, Southern PA and Western PA.

Photo by Karen Hodges