A Message from our Finance Chair: Dale Mease - NEW
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
I value the opportunity to share some updates with you about the financial ministry of Penn Central Conference. I wish that I had better news to share.
The contributions to Our Church's Wider Mission (OCWM) have been much less than needed to meet the obligations of the conference. Our contributions to OCWM for 2019 are down over $26,000 as of 3/13/19. This situation has caused us to make some unfortunate, but necessary decisions to defer making payments to the national United Church of Christ OCWM, Lancaster Seminary, and other conference-level benevolences. It is a position that none of us want to be in, and we are asking for your help by forwarding your congregational contributions to OCWM to help us 'be the church' and to serve together in larger ways.
United through Penn Central Conference, our churches are relevant and making a difference in being God's presence and sharing Christ's energy and action in our communities.
I was able to experience first-hand the connection and support of the conference in the past year as my church, Penbrook UCC, faced a serious financial challenge. Our church had lost a key tenant, a local charter school, that provided the revenue needed to run the former school building that housed our church's child care program. While we were actively looking for a new tenant and ways to fund the ministry of our child care program, we were continuing to deplete our church's savings. We were in need of help and insight beyond our doors to find a viable way out of the wilderness that we had found ourselves in. We were blessed by the help that we received from Penn Central Conference ministers and staff. We received guidance and support on engaging with the UCC Cornerstone Fund to help us secure a line-of-credit to help us weather the storm that was surrounding us and threatening to sink our ship. Through our partnership with Penn Central Conference, we were able to make it through the storm that threatened to close our church. Our church is
now positioned for the ministry of the future since we survived this storm, and we have also been able to call our new settled minister through our mutual covenant with Penn Central Conference and the United Church of Christ.
It is incredibly difficult to write stewardship letters for any of us who serve as stewardship leaders in the church. However, going forward, we are looking to provide the conference's financial information on a regular basis to help keep our congregations to be informed and engaged in the ministry and future of Penn Central Conference. Thanks for your consideration in responding to our request for your financial support.
With God's never-ending love and support, we are in this together.
In Christ's peace,
Chair, Finance Committee, Penn Central Conference
A Lenten Message from Rev. Nora Foust - NEW
As a middle schooler away at wilderness camp, I remember my friend Lily and I singing "You are my hiding place...whenever I am afraid I will trust in you" over and over as we ventured into the woods each evening for a flashlight-guided latrine search about 3am. We would literally scream the trust part of that song.
When teaching the song, our camp director had offered a meditation on Psalm 32 and we appreciated the relationship of our willingness to hide in God and be delivered with God's promise to instruct, teach and counsel. Of course our practical theology was a little off, but we were totally open to God instructing our path to keep us away from snakes, bears, and spiders.
Even now, I cannot read this week's psalm without thinking back to those dark trails and singing with Lily. Back then it was the weight of fear, alone in the woods that weighed heavy on Lily and me.
Today, especially during this season of self-reflection, missed opportunities for demonstrating God's love lie heavy on my heart and call me to seek forgiveness. "I acknowledged my sin...and you forgave the guilt of my sin." (v.5) As I revel in the "glad cries of deliverance" (v. 7), will I be open to the instruction and counsel of the StillSpeaking God? Or will I be more like the mule needing a bit to coerce expression of God's love to others?
What about you in this season of Lent? What missed opportunities might be weighing on your heart? "I will confess my transgressions to God" writes the Psalmist (v.5) and God will surround you with steadfast love (v.10). Do you willingly accept God's correction or must your temper be curbed with a bridle (v.9)? How might you meet the next occasion for a declaration or demonstration of the courageous love of Christ?
Friends, know that your sins are forgiven! "Happy are those whose sin is forgiven! Be glad in God and rejoice!" (v.1, 11)
"You are my Hiding Place" by Michael James Ledner
Thank you for your work on Yearbook - NEW
We finished with 73% of our churches submitting Yearbook Information. That was 133 of our 182 churches. Thank you for your work and effort on completing this important task!
3 Great Loves - Share Your Story This Lent
3 Great Loves: Celebrate and Lift Up Your Story
This Lenten Season, share you story with us! We are looking for 40 (or more!) stories where churches, congregations and people have shared in 3GL.
We want to hear from you so we can all celebrate and lift up the work throughout Penn Central Conference.
Please send your story to Stephanie and look for exciting stories from Penn Central Conference churches to celebrate each week. This week
What about you?!? What have you seen through your 3 Great Loves Googles - where does Penn Central Conference show their Love of Children, Love of Neighbor and Love of Creation?
A Taste of Heaven with Rev. Jes Kast - Come and experience A Taste of Heaven as we practice thy kin-dom come on earth as it is in heaven together. Many of us desire to lead our churches into greater outreach to our communities for justice and charity. In this workshop you will experience the revitalization and re-branding of outreach that West End Collegiate Church accomplished as we envisioned a new way of doing outreach for our neighborhood. Following the Benedictine Motto "All are to be welcomed as Christ" we practiced that literally among our volunteers and among the guests who found sanctuary in our "church within a church." In our time together we will partake in the worship so you can experience our methodology. After worship we will look at some of the opportunities that the church has as we imagine new models of outreach.
Is Change Really a Dirty Word? with Rev. Megan Malick - Have you heard folks in your community clamoring for changes only to find that when you go to make those changes the very people asking for the change resist it? In this workshop you will learn the stages of change as well as ways to assess how folks relate to change. Finally, you will learn specific questions to assist you in both assess readiness for change and questions to motivate folks to consider taking one small step forward.
Reverend Mitch Hescox, co-author (along with meteorologist, Paul Douglas) of the book entitled "Caring for Creation", will speak on the vital topic of climate change from a Christian perspective. Reverend Hescox leads the Evangelical Environmental Network (EEN), the largest evangelical group dedicated to caring for creation. He is a native of Pennsylvania with a strong family history of working in the coal industry.
Our Lutheran Friends have invited us to this ecumenical weekend.
Join others from around Pennsylvania for inspiration, education and participation - in worship, service, learning and advocacy. We will focus on setting bigger, more welcoming, tables in our lives, our congregations, our communities and our Commonwealth. Bring a friend - or a team!
Lancaster Association - April 7 - 3:00 PM at Hamilton Park
York Association - April 28 - 12:30 PM at Wyndham Garden Hotel, York
Harrisburg Association - May 4 - 9:00 AM
Gettysburg Association - May 5 - 3:00 PM at Homewood
Mercersburg Association - May 5 - 3:00 PM at Solomon's UCC, Chambersburg
Northern/Central Association - May 5 - 1:30 PM at Rebersburg UCC
Passion the Musical
St. Paul's UCC, Manheim celebrates their 250th year anniversary with Piercing Word's Passion the Musical. March 31, 2019 at 9:30 AM.
Pathways: UCC Polity Course - NEW
UCC History & Polity (May 1 - July 20) -
The purpose of this course is to explore the history, polity, theologies, and practices of the United Church of Christ and its predecessor denominations. Successful completion of this course will fulfill the history and polity requirement for authorized ministry in the United Church of Christ in many associations and conferences. ($595)
Lancaster Theological Seminary is launching the new Ministerial Institute of the Pennsylvania Academy of Ministry that will offer a new, non-degree program to prepare people for ministerial leadership.
The Ministerial Institute's three-year program includes online classes plus an on-campus summer session for one week each year. The Seminary is accepting applications for the first summer session to run from July 21 - 26. An associate degree or higher is required for admission. Tuition is $3,000 per year for the three-year program. Individual classes, ranging from one to three units each, cost $600 per unit.
For more information.
Tea with MOM: Open to All
You are invited to St. Peter's UCC, Rebersburg, for an afternoon team and discussion with Rev. Nora Foust about the new Manual on Ministry.
Great News - Trinity, Waynesboro and Creation Justice's
resolution on Plastic Foam is headed to Synod! Thank you to Kathy Brown, Gail Landers, Bill Lochstet, Wendy Anderson, Tom Hocking and Libby Loser for all your work on this!
The United Church of Christ Disabilities Ministries (UCCDM) has a tradition of presenting awards at the biennial General Synod. The UCCDM Awards recognize the contributions of congregations, other church settings, and individuals who have contributed to the inclusion of people with disabilities in all aspects of the life of the church.
Nominations are now open for the UCCDM Awards which will be announced at the Health and Wholeness Luncheon at General Synod 2019 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The lunch will take place on Sunday, June 23rd. Individuals, churches, and other settings of the church may nominate others or themselves. Awards may be given in the following categories:
● churches & organizations that have demonstrated leadership in accessibility & disability culture
● individuals who have shown exceptional leadership in disabilities ministries or advocacy and
● the Virginia Kreyer Award, a lifetime achievement award given to an individual who has made significant contribution to disabilities ministries in the larger church.
Nominations can be submitted online only, using this
Moving forward, we will be updating you monthly on our OCWM (monthly totals as well as % to budget.)
We currently have a significant shortfall as we are 45% of our budget. January and February 2019 OCWM totals are $73,763 and our budget for this time period is $165,110. We are at 93% of 2018. (January-February 2018 - $79,049 versus $73,673 for the same time period in 2019.)
Thank you for your financial support for the Penn Central Conference and Our Church's Wider Mission (OCWM). Your support strengthens and sustains a movement of equipping and empowering congregations and clergy for the declaration and demonstration of the courageous love of Christ.
Clergy Housing Allowance
The Seventh Circuit ruled today in a 3-0 decision that the clergy housing allowance is constitutional. This is terrific news for our clergy. It is likely not the end of the fight, but it is a reprieve. The housing allowance continues.
Clergy News and Information
Even if you are getting the eNews, we have a PCC Clergy distribution list as well.
Please sign up to get the latest news, events and information just for clergy.
Hartman Center Golf Outing
Hartman Center 12th Annual Golf Outing
May 11, 2019 1:30pm start
Fairview Golf Course, Quentin (Lebanon), PA 2399 Quentin Road, Lebanon, PA 17042 in memory of Rev. Lee Lawhead
Lots of people committed to many different opportunities to serve in many different ways. And the organization of such a group needs "called out". And so in 2019, we are announcing a Hartman Center Legion. For details...
Prayers for Penn Central Conference
Ephesians 6:18 (NLT): 18
Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere.
This week, we pray for each other as we continue to live into God's calling...
The PA Council of Churches is seeking a summer campground chaplain for Raystown Lake near Huntingdon, PA. Stipend for this full-time chaplaincy (38 hrs/week) is $4,890. Housing accommodations will be provided if needed. This is an exciting opportunity to cultivate preaching and pastoral skills in a beautiful setting. Please contact
Rev. Donna Jarrellfor more information. Other parks are also available for chaplaincy.