Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Our Heritage - Celebrating the history of our faith

Dr. Milton Loyer, Conference Archivist

July – 100 years ago 

The cornerstone was laid July 13, 1919, for a new brick United Brethren church building in Tower City. Organized in 1871, that congregation had erected a frame structure at that same East Grand Avenue site in 1872. The Evangelical congregation in Tower City had an almost identical history, erecting a frame structure in 1872 on the northwest corner of Grand Avenue and Fourth Street and replacing it with a brick building in 1922. Similarly, in 1888 the Methodists erected a frame building on the southeast corner of Grand Avenue and Fourth Street and replaced it with a brick building in 1918. These three congregations are now one. In 1947, following the 1946 EUB denominational merger, the former Evangelical building burned down and that congregation joined with their counterparts in the former United Brethren building. In 1978, following the 1968 UMC denominational merger, the Zion (former EUB) and Wesley (former Methodist) congregations united to form Christ UMC and met in each church on alternate Sundays. In 1980, the furnishings from the Zion building were moved into the Wesley building, where all services would be held. In 1991 the present new Christ UMC building was erected on Grand Avenue next to the former Methodist site, which is now a landscaped lot within the Christ UMC complex. The 1919 United Brethren building is now a funeral home.

August – 50 years ago

After one year in the former Wyoming Conference and two years in the former Central Pennsylvania Conference of offering a week of camp for persons with special needs, both conferences announced they would be adding a second week for such campers in August 1969.

The August 24-30 Wyoming Conference week at Sky Lake included a concurrent youth service camp, limited to ten young people, to include all the usual camp amenities while focusing on servant ministry and whose service component would be to spend six hours each day assisting and interacting with attendees at the special needs camp. The August 3-9 Central Pennsylvania Conference week was held at Wesley Forest.

Both camps were promoted by articles in their conference’s regular publications. While the heading in the Wyoming Conference Methodist read “Special Needs Camp,” the then acceptable but now inappropriate headline in The Central Pennsylvania United Methodist proclaimed “Two Camps for Retarded Planned.”

Save money ... Borrow from Discovery Place

THANK YOU to everyone who stopped by our Discovery Place display table at Annual Conference. It was great to meet many of you for the first time, and renew relationships already established. A special thank you to our two volunteers who helped with coverage at the table: Sandy Zirbel (Camp Hill UMC) on Thursday, and Rich Dixon (Shepherdstown UMC) on Friday. Your help was greatly appreciated!

Discovery Place exists to help churches save money by borrowing resources rather than purchasing them. DVD studies almost always include a study guide and/or a book and can be borrowed for as long as you need them. The purchase of these materials and the postage to mail them to you is covered by the Shares of Ministry each church pays. Your only cost is the return postage by library rate, which is inexpensive. You will receive the materials in a canvas bag, and you will return the materials in the same bag. Mailing instructions and a return address card are included. It’s very easy!!

Featured studies for this month are the series That the World May Know by Ray Vander Laan. Popularly called Faith Lessons, there are 16 different titles. Vander Laan helps the viewer experience the Bible in its historical context by visiting the locations in which the Biblical events took place. Listed below are the titles. To view full descriptions, visit our online catalog at www.discovery-place.org and search by title as listed below. We have multiple copies of all 16 titles, and we would strongly encourage you to check them out.

  1. Faith Lessons on the Promised Land
  2. Faith Lessons on the Prophets & Kings of Israel
  3. Faith Lessons on the Life & Ministry of the Messiah
  4. Faith Lessons on the Death & Resurrection of the Messiah
  5. Faith Lessons on the Early Church
  6. Faith Lessons in the Dust of the Rabbi
  7. Faith Lessons Walk as Jesus Walked
  8. Faith Lessons God Heard Their Cry
  9. Faith Lessons Fire on the Mountain
  10. Faith Lessons With All Your Heart
  11. Faith Lessons The Path to the Cross
  12. Faith Lessons Walking with God in the Desert
  13. Faith Lessons Israel’s Mission
  14. Faith Lessons The Mission of Jesus
  15. Faith Lessons A Clash of Kingdoms
  16. Faith Lessons Cultures in Conflict

We invite you to visit Discovery Place at the Conference Office, 303 Mulberry Drive, Mechanicsburg PA 17050. Our hours of operation are Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. (but closing at noon on Fridays in the summer). Other hours can be arranged. If you can’t come in person, visit our website at www.discovery-place.org and view the online catalog (you can even place an order online!), e-mail us at discovery@susumc.org, or call 717-766-7968. Thank you, and we look forward to helping you find resources for your church!

Serving Christ with you,
Joni Robison

Thank You

2018 Shares of Ministry Paid at 100% and 90%

Altoona District 100%

12th Street Huntingdon
15th Street Huntingdon
Asbury Altoona
Atkinson Mills
Bald Eagle
Bedford Forge
Bethel Bedford Valley
Bowmans Chapel
Broad Avenue Altoona
Broad Top
Calvary Bellwood (Extended)
Canoe Creek Union (Extended)
Centerville Bedford Valley
Centre Grove Clearfield
Christ Community Altoona
Christ Tyrone
Clear Ridge
Congress Hill
Cove Forge
Crever Memorial Petersburg
East End
Ebenezer Harrisonville
Fairview McConnellsburg
Faith Woodbury
First Hollidaysburg
First Houtzdale
First Mt Union
First Three Springs
Good Shepherd Tyrone
Greenwood Altoona
Hicks Memorial Duncansville
Hope Alexandria
Jaggard First
Juniata Altoona
Kerr Addition
Lake Street
Laurel Grove
Little Cove
Llyswen Altoona
Mapleton Grace
Mill Creek
Mines (Extended)
Mt Carmel Three Springs
Mt Joy Clearfield
Mt Zion Olanta
Pleasant Hill Shade Gap
Pleasant Valley Woodland
Royer (Extended)
Ryde United
Salem Hillcrest
Second Avenue Altoona
Siloam Harrisonville
Six Mile Run
Spruce Creek
Stevens Chapel
Trans Run
Trinity Clearfield
Trinity Roaring Spring
Trough Creek
Warriors Mark
Waterfall Zion
Wells Valley
Wesley Chapel Breezewood
Wesley Chapel Huntingdon
Wesley Tyrone
West Side Clearfield

Altoona District 90%

Broad Top
Emmanuel Clearfield
Grace Three Springs


Harrisburg District 100%

Aldersgate Mechanicsburg
Barry Salem
Baughman Memorial
Bethany Marysville
Bethel Marysville
Big Spring
Calvary Harrisburg
Calvary Lemoyne
Calvary Wiconisco
Camp Hill
Centenary Steelton
Chambers Hill
Christ Shippensburg
Christ Tower City
Community New Cumberland
Derry Street
Donnally Mills
Ebenezer Middletown
Emmanuel Enola
Evangelical Middletown
Faith Halifax
First Hershey
First Mechanicsburg
First Millersburg
Good Shepherd Community
Grace Hummelstown
Grace Lemoyne
Grace Mechanicsburg
Grace Millersburg
Hays Grove
Hebron Millersburg
Hope Eternal
Hopewell Cumberland
Immanuel Loyalton
Linglestown Life
Messiah Shippensburg
Mt Calvary Harrisburg
Mt Gilead
Mt Holly Springs
Mt Hope Newville
Mt Olivet Mechanicsburg
Mt Rock Newville
Mt Zion Carlisle
Mt Zion Enola
Mt Zion Steelton (Extended)
New Bloomfield
New Buffalo
New Germantown (Extended)
Otterbein Boiling Springs
Otterbein Duncannon
Otterbein Newburg
Pfoutz Valley
Pine Creek Spring Glen
Salem Liverpool
Salem Marysville
Shermans Dale
St Andrews Valley View
St Johns Hegins
St Marys Bloserville
Trinity County Line
Trinity Hummelstown
Trinity New Cumberland
Trinity Penbrook
Trinity Walnut Bottom
Walnut Grove
West Fairview
West Hill
Youngs Shermans Dale
Zion Stone

Harrisburg District 90%

Grace Penbrook
Trinity New Kingston
Twenty-Ninth Street


Lewisburg District 100%

Beaver Memorial
Bethany Berwick
Bethany Milton
Bethel Catawissa
Bethel Hill
Bower Memorial Berwick
Browns Cocolamus
Buffalo Valley
Calvary Berwick
Calvary West Nanticoke
Catawissa Avenue Sunbury
Centenary Ashley
Christ Benton
Christ Mountaintop
Christ Northumberland
Dresslers Ridge
Ebenezer Berwick
Emmanuel Fremont
Emmanuel New Berlin
Eyers Grove
Fairmount Springs
Faith Chapel White Deer
Faith Hoovers
Faith Sunbury
First Berwick
First McClure
First Nanticoke
First Shickshinny
Fowlersville-Lime Ridge
Good Shepherd Bloomsburg
Hummels/Christ Community
Hunlock Creek
Lime Ridge
Lincoln Chapel
McKendree Shickshinny
Mt Pleasant Sunbury
Mt Zion Richfield
Otterbein Sunbury
Pine Grove Mifflintown
Ridge Street
Shamokin Dam
St Andrews Milton
St Johns Dewart
St Pauls Berwick
St Pauls Emmanuel Danville
St Pauls Lewisburg
St Pauls Penns Creek
St Peters Beavertown
St Peters Riverside
Stone Church
Summer Hill
Town Hill
Trinity Danville
Trinity Espy
Trinity Middleburg
Trinity Northumberland
Trinity White Deer
Trinity Winfield
Turkey Valley
Wesley Bloomsburg
Wesley Nescopeck
Wesley Selinsgrove
Zion Penns Creek

Lewisburg District - 90%

First Catawissa
Roaring Creek Valley
St Johns Elimsport


Scranton/Wilkes-Barre - 100%

Albright Wilkes-Barre
Asbury Scranton
Beach Lake
Bethel Avoca
Bradley Memorial
Calvary Waymart
Center Moreland
Central Honesdale
Central Wilkes-Barre
Clarks Green
Community Church Great Bend
Countryside Community
Court Street
Dimock Community
East Benton
East Lemon
East Rush
Elm Park
Embury Scranton
Evans Falls
Fairdale Community
First New Milford
First Old Forge
First Taylor
First West Pittston
Forty Fort
Franklin Forks
Hemlock Grove Greentown
Hop Bottom
Lake Ariel
Lake Como
Maple Grove
Maple Lake
North Jackson
Pleasant Mount
Prompton Community
Russell Hill
Salem Community Church
Skinners Eddy
Smith Hill
South Auburn
South Gibson
South Montrose Community
St. Paul’s Scranton
West Nicholson
White Mills

Scranton/Wilkes-Barre 90%

Church of Christ Uniting
Damascus Manor
Mt Zion Wyoming
Union Wayne County


State College District 100%

Albright Bethune
Albright Loganton
Aldersgate Mifflintown
Arch Rock
Bald Eagle Valley Community
Black Oak
Christ’s Julian
Church Hill
East Salem
Emmanuel Rebersburg
Fairview Morrisdale
Faith Bellefonte
Faith Chapel
Faith East Waterford
First Lewistown
Gethsemane Allport
Grace Lewistown
Grace Mexico
Grace Philipsburg
Greater Buffalo Run Valley
Greenburr Trinity
Lake Park
Laurel Run
Mill Hall
Mt Nittany
Mt Pleasant Port Matilda
New Hope
North Bend
Otterbein East Salem
Park Forest Village
Pleasant Gap
Pleasant Valley Bellefonte
Port Matilda
Port Royal
Rhodes Memorial
Snow Shoe
Spring Mills Faith
Spring Valley
St James Coburn
St Pauls Sandy Ridge
St Pauls State College
Summit Hill
Trinity Bellefonte
Trinity Lewistown
Trinity Mifflin
Trinity Philipsburg
Trinity Woodward
Tusseyville Bethany
Valley Salem
Valley St Marks
Walnut Street
Watts Memorial Belleville
Wesley Chapel Lewistown
Woolrich Community

State College District 90%

Faith Sandy Ridge
Grace Centre Hall
Locust Run
Port Matilda


Williamsport District 100%

Antes Fort
Balls Mills
Beech Valley
Bethel Montoursville
Calvary Lawrenceville
Columbia Crossroads
Coolidge Hollow
Eagles Mere Community
East Smithfield
East Troy
Ebenezer East Point
Faith Community
Farragut Mt Zion
First Blossburg
First Jersey Shore
First Muncy
First Towanda
First Williamsport
Franklin Fairview
French Asylum
Heshbon Park
Holy Trinity
Jackson Center
Keating Summit
Knoxville Yoked
Liberty Corners
Luthers Mills
Maple Springs
Middle Ridge
Mill Creek Loyalsock
Mt Pleasant Morris
New Albany
Niles Valley
North Orwell Union
Park Coudersport
Phelps Chapel
Picture Rocks
Pine Creek Valley
Pine Run
Pine Wesley
Point Bethel
Rose Valley
South Williamsport
St Johns Grover
St Johns-Newberry
St Paul-Calvary
St Pauls Dushore
St Pauls Nauvoo
St Pauls Nordmont
Standing Stone
State Road
Strawbridge Kedron
The Beacon
The Pathway
Trinity Jersey Shore
Trinity Pennsdale
Trinity Williamsport
Trout Run
United Church of Nelson
Wallis Run
West Burlington
White Pine

Williamsport District 90%

Canton Ecumenical
First Mansfield
Mt Zion Salladasburg


York District 100%

Asbury York
Bethany Red Lion
Bethel Brogue
Bethlehem Codorus
Bethlehem Dallastown
Bethlehem Stonepile
Calvary Dillsburg
Calvary Fayetteville
Calvary York
Centenary Biglerville
Chestnut Grove
Christ Jacobus
Christ Waynesboro
Christ Yoe
Christ Yorkana
Cross Roads
Faith Hallam
Faith Waynesboro
Fetterhoff Chapel
First Chambersburg
First Greencastle
First Hanover
First Marion
First Mercersburg
Fishing Creek Salem
Fort Loudon
Grace Hanover
Grace Wellsville
Grace Windsor (Extended)
Immanuel Glen Rock
McKendree Airville
Messiah York
Mont Alto
Mt Airy Dillsburg
Mt Calvary Bendersville
Mt Carmel
Mt Hope Orrtanna
Mt Nebo
Mt Olivet Delta
Mt Pisgah Trinity
Mt Royal
Mt Tabor
Mt Union Fayetteville
Mt Victory
Mt Zion Dillsburg
New Bethel
New Creation Community
Otterbein Emigsville
Otterbein Fayetteville
Otterbein Mt Wolf
Paddletown St Pauls
Pine Grove York
Pleasant Grove Windsor (Extended)
Pleasant Grove York Haven
Red Mount
Saginaw Community
Salem Airville
Salem Guldens
Salem Martinsville
Springvale St Pauls
St Johns Chambersburg
St Paul Chambersburg
St Paul Manchester
St Pauls Red Lion
St Thomas
State Line
Trinity New Freedom
Upper Strasburg
Violet Hill
Water’s Edge (Extended)
Wesley Chapel Rouzerville
Wrightsville Hope
York Springs
Zion East Prospect
Zion Freysville
Zion Red Lion

York District 90%

Bethany Dover
Chapel Church
Park Avenue Chambersburg

Continue your Mission at Albright Care

Mary Ellen Bartholomew
A Milton woman has been volunteering for Meals on Wheels at RiverWoods Senior Living Community since its inception in 1972. Mary Ellen Bartholomew is now 90 years old, but her volunteer service to Meals on Wheels hasn’t ended, and she’s been delivering meals for 46 years.

Mary Ellen’s volunteering began when a new associate pastor spoke to her at church about the Meals on Wheels program. Mary Ellen and her best friend, Jane Kaar, signed up to deliver for Meals on Wheels every Tuesday. Mary Ellen is still delivering meals, but now she goes every other Tuesday, and her delivery partner is her daughter, Carolyn Daniloff. Mary Ellen drives and Carolyn delivers the meals to the doors of the customers. Mary Ellen explained, “We have about 16 stops and 20 meals to deliver every other Tuesday.”

Carolyn remembers helping her mother when she delivered meals with Jane, “When we were growing up, one of us would always go with Mom and Jane in the summer. We would hand the meal to Jane, who would then deliver it to the client’s door. We were brought up learning about service. We all took turns doing that with our Mom.”

Mary Ellen said she never thought about how many years she’s been volunteering for Meals on Wheels, “I don’t think that far ahead. I just go ahead and do what’s there now to be done and if it’s still there when I’m still here, I’ll do it.”

She added, “There are people who do not see anyone else but you that day and it always makes you feel good to see their smile and that they are happy to see you. My grandson Nicholas has gone with me. He would carry the bag in, and I’ll tell you, when recipients see a young person, they just light up. It just makes you feel good to make somebody else feel good.”

Mary Ellen Bartholomew is a shining example of being called to serve, and Albright is proud that he is part of our family. Albright invites you to continue your mission by joining us at one of our six locations. Visit www.albrightcare.org for information on senior living, day programs, giving or volunteering.

Susquehanna Conference Receives Young Clergy Initiative Grant of $105,000

The Blessing

We are tremendously blessed as a Conference to be among those chosen to receive this pivotal grant through the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry. The Young Clergy Initiative focuses on developing young Christian leaders under the age of 35. It provides very intentional opportunities for youth and young adults to grow in spiritual transformational leadership while discerning their calls to ministry as laity or clergy. The Young Clergy Initiative, as its name indicates, ultimately intends to increase the number of young ordained clergy which is a priority across the denomination, while many lay persons will grow in their passion and calling for Christian leadership, too. Kevin Witt, Director of Growing Spiritual Transformational Leaders for our Conference expresses gratitude to all who helped. “I want to thank the leaders here who worked so hard to formulate the grant proposal and to layout a framework for our Pathways of Spiritual Leadership that we can now move forward to implement. It is a true collaborative effort to address a very real need.”

The Need

Lovett H. Weems, Jr., Former Director of the Lewis Center for Church Leadership, professor of church leadership at Wesley Theological Seminary, and author of several books on leadership lays out the ministry frontier for the United Methodist Church.

“If we reach more people, they are likely to be younger since United Methodists are overrepresented in every age category above 50 and underrepresented in every age category under age 50, compared to overall U.S. population… If we reach younger people, they are likely to be more diverse since the younger population is vastly more diverse than the nation’s older population. Statistics make clear whom we are not reaching for Christ. They tell us that as we respond to the call to take the Good News to all people, we must give special attention to younger people and more diverse people.” From Focus Newsletter, November 14, 2017

We recognize the valuable contributions of leaders of all ages who bless our Conference each and every day, and at the same time it is important to be purposeful in widening the engagement of the gifts and graces of younger leaders. Add to this the upcoming “tsunami” of clergy retirements among the Baby Boomers and the need comes even more to the forefront.

The most recent report “Clergy Age Trends in the United Methodist Church” (https://tinyurl.com/y5er23pt) is revealing. In 1985, 15% or approximately 1 out of every 7 U.M. Elders in the U.S were under the age of 35. By the year 2000, the number dropped to 1 in 20 Ordained Elders under the age of 35 (5%). A slow increase has occurred across the denomination since 2000 with a heightened focus, however, the statistics in the 2018 Clergy Age Report indicate that the number of Ordained Elders under 35 in the Susquehanna Conference is still less than 5% as of 2018. Changing this trend will take deliberate, steady attention and teamwork. Over the last decade the average percentage across the nation of Ordained Deacons under the age of 35 has surpassed 12%, but our Conference is far below that. Though statistics never tell the whole story, they do help us recognize trends and opportunities.

Where We Shine

The national average of U.M. Local Pastors under the age of 35 is 8%, but in the Susquehanna Conference the tables show us ranking 2nd in the country behind Texas with 20.1% of our Local Pastors being under the age of 35 in 2018 – 1 out of 5. We will learn from what is happening in this arena, while we work to open up new avenues to increase young leaders exploring calls as ordained Elders, Deacons and Certified Lay Ministers.

Collaboration and “On Ramps”

The Pathways of Spiritual Leadership that will develop over the coming year hinge on linkages with key groups already engaged in leadership formation that can provide “on ramps” for a more interconnected, integrated and collaborative approach to growing young Spiritual Transformational Leaders. Rev Witt reflects on his own journey and implications for moving forward.

“Several factors come to mind immediately that had a big impact. I first preached in my local church when I was 16. The Local Church nurtured my gifts and created a culture where youth were called and led. Camp and Retreat immersions had a profound impact on recognizing my unique Spiritual gifts and encouraged me to consider a call to ordained ministry, which changed the direction of my life. Youth Ministry provided me with experiences with youth from other congregations as we were trained and put our learning and Spiritual growth into action. Mentors from the Board of Ordained Ministry provided encouragement and guidance as I pursued this call that God had nudged and confirmed for me. The interplay and interconnections between these experiences it what kept me growing.”

How can we as a Conference develop very intentional pathways that move young people from one leadership experience to another rather than being siloed and separate from one another? The Young Clergy Initiative is a catalyst for creating this kind of collaboration along with new and innovative training and spiritual growth opportunities that don’t yet exist. Stayed tuned for updates throughout the coming year along with invitations to join in as we create new Pathways of Spiritual Leadership together.

Calvary UMC, York - Hope Church

A member of Hope Church network, held monthly at Calvary UMC in York, shares about his organization’s efforts to meet the needs of the York City and County community. Rev. Dr. Mike Brossman (standing at left) started the group four years ago.

By Sandii Peiffer

This is the second installment in a series of stories highlighting some of the ways God is at work in and through Calvary UMC and its many partner churches to transform the community of York, Pa.

Five years ago, the Calvary UMC building in West York was used only a few days a week. When Rev. Dr. B. Michael “Mike” Brossman was appointed in 2014, things started happening.

Brossman poured encouragement, love, care, healing, team-building, and great amounts of enthusiasm into the church leaders and then, he started making connections out in the surrounding community.

Calvary UMC is now a thriving congregation and the building is utilized seven days a week by a host of church and community groups.

Recently sworn into the York City Police Chaplain’s Corps (by invitation), Brossman is on call to support the police force and for other situations as needed. “It’s about being involved and visible in the community, and being available,” he said.

Brossman’s involvement in the community created the foundation for Hope Church, which started around four years ago. On the fourth Monday of each month Calvary UMC hosts Hope Church, a network of leaders from a wide variety of community organizations that help the underserved people of York.

The mission of Hope Church is: 
Promoting mutually respectful and cooperative work and conversation among churches, agencies and organizations, schools and businesses for the sake of offering hope to the community that they share. 

Hara Lewis, Calvary UMC’s Administrative Assistant, keeps the group organized by maintaining a spreadsheet of contact information for the 270+ organizations that are part of Hope Church and sending monthly updates and meeting notices.

Around 30-40 people attend each monthly meeting. After a brief welcome and introduction by Brossman, those in attendance take turns introducing themselves, describing what their organization does, and promoting upcoming events or special projects. It gives an opportunity to the others in attendance to learn about what is going on in the community and about the myriad organizations available to serve people in need. Hope Church offers a place to network which helps service providers refer needs appropriately. It is a way to build relationships, discover the needs in the community, learn about unique services available, and brainstorm and collaborate on possible solutions to community problems.

“Our focus is to help the people of York City and York County,” said Tracy Young, President of On Common Ground, a non-profit that offers experiential therapies for the recovery community and veterans. “We do a lot of collaboration within the community and that’s how I came to be a part of Hope Church. It’s such a cool concept to bring people together, collaborating, talking, resourcing. As a result of one of the Hope Church meetings, I am now a mentor in the Veteran’s Court.” Tracy is a Marine veteran, and his wife an Army National Guard veteran.

Ken Bruggeman of Campell Associates is also a member of Hope Church. “I am a community guy. I used to live downtown. I have a heart for the city [of York] and awareness of the things that are going on in the city and my faith pushes me forward to do things to serve the city in any way that I possibly can. My role with Campbell Associates has allowed me to do that in the construction end of things and my role with Hope church has allowed me to connect with people and to come up with solutions to challenges that they may be facing.”

One of those challenges is the area of Salem Square, considered to be the worst section of York City in terms of poverty, drug use, and crime. Through Hope Church,  four non-profits expressed interest in establishing a community center in Salem Square to serve that community. Calvary owns a parking lot from the former St. Paul’s UMC (merger) there, so Brossman called Bruggeman to discuss the possibility of building on the site. Bruggeman is now working with the four non-profits to move forward on the idea.

“To put a community center in that space would open an opportunity to transform that neighborhood. The non-profits involved are focused on youth and would allow them to have opportunities they wouldn’t otherwise have,” said Bruggeman.

For more information contact Hara Lewis at Calvary UMC 717-979-2513 or dimp1022@gmail.com or join the Hope Church York public group page on Facebook where you can find out about community events and meetings.

You Filled the Trailer and More!

By Douglas Hoy, SUSUMC Disaster Response Coordinator

A team is only as good as the tools and training available to it. I learned this valuable lesson repeatedly during my time in the military. I observed teams being sent into the field with all the tools required to successfully complete their assigned tasks. Unfortunately, I have also been part of a few ill-equipped teams, and the outcomes were less desirable. It was not for lack of effort or attempt. Neither was the consequence a result of questionable knowledge or skills. We just did not have the right tools for the job.

Imagine how things would have turned out for Noah if God had limited His instructions to the first part of Genesis 5:14, “So make yourself an ark….” No further guidance. Not a single dimension. No tools. Just, go build an ark. Keep in mind, God had just revealed His plan to destroy the earth and the people on it. The outcome could have been less than desirable for Noah and his family. Fortunately, God did provide him with some very specific instructions and tools, so he could do the job.


A few months ago, the Disaster Response Ministry started to plan the “Fill the Trailer” campaign. And, we asked everyone to prayerfully seek how God would want them to support this endeavor. We placed our trust in Him and put our reliance on Him to bless us abundantly with all we needed to “abound in every good work” (2 Corinthians 9:8).

Because of that trust and reliance, and the generosity of many throughout the Conference, the ministry has been blessed beyond measure. The “Fill the Trailer” campaign produced a plethora of tools, equipment, and a brand-new response trailer, as well as financial donations, that will further equip the ministry and enable it to meet the needs of those facing rising waters, raging winds, and recovery from the destruction that occurs.

Early Blessings

One of those blessings arrived even before “Fill the Trailer” was officially promoted. After discussing the possibility of undertaking such a campaign at a staff meeting, I was approached by a co-worker who was interested in helping. Ann Watts, Conference Finance and Administration team member, asked what kind of tools and equipment we needed. I detailed the needs of the ministry and told her any donations, new or used, would be accepted. She explained she had a collection of tools that belonged to her husband, who passed away a few years earlier. She was in the process of moving and did not want to take the them with her. She intended to donate them to various other organizations until she heard about the campaign.

“I wanted to make sure the tools went to a good cause and where there was a need,” said Watts. “When I found out the ministry needed tools for the trailer, I wanted to give it the opportunity to identify what it could use before I gave them away.”

After further conversation, we settled on a date and time to meet. When I arrived, Ann showed me the tools being stored in her garage, shared stories about some of them, and explained how her husband would save everything because “you just never know when you might need it.” When we finished looking at the tools, I politely thanked Ann and started to examine them closer. Ann then informed me there were more tools being stored in a shed in her back yard. I was shocked. I couldn’t imagine what the term “more tools” meant because I was already staring at a large collection. As it turned out, in addition to the saws, drills, a sander, and countless hand tools, Ann had shovels, rakes, a few shop vacs, some extension cords, and a couple of very comfortable folding chairs. By the time I sorted through everything, the bed of my truck was completely full.
“I’m just glad the tools will be used to help the disaster ministry meet the needs of the people it helps,” said Watts.

With a little trust and faith, our God “will meet all [our] needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19). But, He was not finished.

 A Legacy of Service

Three weeks before Annual Conference, Debbie Ackley, in the Lewisburg District Office, forwarded an e-mail to me. As I read it, my eyes welled with tears.

“This is Warren Baughman’s daughter, Kathy, writing. As you know, Dad passed away two months ago, and we are in the middle of cleaning out the house. What you may not know is, Dad had quite an extensive workshop and tool supply. He also had an intense desire to serve, even up into the last month of his life. He was lamenting the fact that he couldn’t go help somewhere.”

I called Kathy (Baughman) Frey the next day. As we talked, she explained how she was working through her dad’s e-mail account as part of the “house cleaning” process and, by chance, came across an e-mail promoting “Fill the Trailer.”

“He worked extensively with affected churches up and down the Susquehanna River after Hurricane Agnes in 1972,” she said. “Dad led a rebuilding team from Berwick after Hurricane Katrina.”

During our conversation, I learned there were numerous other clean-up projects in which Rev. Warren L. Baughman, Jr. either organized or participated. Kathy shared with me that she and her brother, Ron, wanted to donate some of the tools and equipment from their father’s basement workshop.

“Many of Dad’s tools are in pristine condition, some even in original boxes,” Kathy explained. “If the Disaster Response Ministry can use them, we want you to have them.”

We arranged to meet and, before I hung up, Kathy informed me that they also wanted to make a financial contribution from their father’s estate to support the ministry. She proceeded to ask about the needs of the ministry and how they could help meet them. While recovering from the emotions that flooded my heart and quickly reviewing the many ideas running through my mind, Kathy asked a very specific question. “Do you need another response trailer?”

In silence, I wrestled with an outpouring of emotions that filled my heart. When I assumed the position of Conference Disaster Response Coordinator, I outlined some goals for the future of the ministry. Some were immediate. Others were more long term and a bit lofty. One of those goals included having a response trailer in each District. Kathy could not have been aware of my goals and her question could have been prompted only by the Holy Spirit.

“And my God will meet all your needs…”

A week later, I drove to Berwick. As I pulled into the driveway, Kathy met me with a warm smile and a welcoming hug. She introduced me to Ron, who was in town from his home in Texas. He took me to the basement workshop, showed me the tools, and shared some stories about his dad. It became quite clear that Ron and his dad had a mutual passion for woodworking. Eventually, Ron stepped back and said, “take what you need, I’ll be over here working on some things.”
Silence filled the room. I felt uncomfortable “taking” what belonged to someone else, even though it was freely being given. Finally, Ron offered his assistance, and, over the next two hours, we explored the workshop, disassembled stands, and carried things to the truck. All the while, Ron shared more stories about his dad and showed me some of his work. When we finished, again I had truck full of tools and equipment. As we secured the items, Kathy shared with me that the hymn, We’ve a Story to Tell to the Nations, was part of the service celebrating her dad’s life.

“Dad had a heart for serving others in their time of need. And, the reason we wanted to donate to the ministry is to enable others to continue dad’s legacy of service and share the story of God’s love.”

As I prepared to leave, Ron, Kathy, and I shared some time in prayer. We shed some tears of sorrow and joy. And, we celebrated the life of their dad and God’s servant, Rev. Warren Baughman, Jr.

As I look back on the past couple of months, it is evident God does provide. All that is required is that we trust and obey. It is also clear the words of that hymn exemplify the calling of God’s people and the mission of the Disaster Response Ministry. We do have a story to tell, one that identifies God “has sent His Son to save us” and “show us that [He] is love. Because of that love, and the knowledge of a Savior who the path of sorrow has trod, we can rest in the assurance that darkness shall turn to dawning, and the dawning to noonday bright, and Christ’s great kingdom shall come on earth, the kingdom of love and light ...in disaster and in life.

For more information or to make a donation email drc@susumc.org.

A New Vision for Church Planting

By Shawn Gilgore

New Fresh Expressions of Faith are being created throughout our Susquehanna Conference. In the coming months, you’ll see some new communities of faith around the Conference, so, we wanted to give you a deeper look into what a Fresh Expression of Faith is, and how they are reaching new people for Jesus.
Fresh Expressions are new ways that the churches of the Susquehanna Conference can reach out to new people in new places.

These new communities of faith have begun in a variety of places and locations serving a wide range of people who are looking for places to connect with God and with others in their communities. At The Open Door, a ‘church within a church’ launching from Calvary UMC in Dillsburg, Chrisanna Rogers is leading a team of people who are on fire for what God is doing in their community.  “God brought along this opportunity, I did not seek it out. He gave me the chance to see something new begin from scratch and watch it grow. I was excited at the prospect of ‘something new’.”

Rogers said that The Open Door is looking forward to helping the surrounding communities learn more about their faith. “Walking people through their first steps of faith is an honor, and one we can’t wait to take on.”

Often, it’s a big step in faith to go forward in a Fresh Expression. Pastors Kris Sledge and Deb Port of The Journey, a Vital Merger, said, “This process has been exciting, challenging, and a testimony to the amazing things that God can do. The vision for the future is to create life-giving communities both in and around Harrisburg. God will do this as we connect new people with Jesus and invest in and love our neighbors.”

The Journey in Harrisburg is a work in progress. New people can pour into a ministry area where God is calling them and help to form that ministry for the future.

“We are a diverse community of broken people who are driven to see God’s love break through the darkness”  said Tim Parker, pastor of The Valley, a new church plant in State College. Even though Parker and many others have experienced feelings of apprehension, they trust in Jesus. “It may be uncomfortable to put yourself out there and walk by faith. But if we truly believe that the gospel has power and that people need saving then this a no-brainer. There is no risk when the risk is in Christ,” Parker said.

Parker hopes that the people in the communities that surround The Valley will know that God wants to be part of their stories. “God wants to use them to impact their neighbors. Even if it is something small or impermanent. Our job is to be faithful.”

Matt Verstraeten is launching The Well, a new cooperative parish, made up of three churches, all in one movement. “Jesus sent the disciples out and gave them the authority to do some radical and miraculous things, but they were never sent out alone. Jesus sent them two by two. There’s incredible power and potential in collaboration.” The Well began on July 1st of this year.

You can connect with these Fresh Expressions at:

Young Voices in Song, Perry County’s Newest Community Children’s Chorus, Makes Public Debut at New Bloomfield Memorial Day Ceremony

Young Voices in Song, performing on Memorial Day, 2019.

By Jairee Counterman

New Bloomfield, PA – On a beautiful Memorial Day Monday, Perry County’s newest choir – Young Voices in Song - made its public debut as part of the annual Memorial Day Ceremony in the New Bloomfield Cemetery. After an introduction by co-founder Rev. Jean Felty of New Bloomfield United Methodist Church, the children, ranging in age from kindergarten through 5th grade, sang “My Country ‘Tis of Thee,” once by themselves and once with the enthusiastic crowd of ceremony attendees joining in.

Brief History: Young Voices in Song started in the fall of 2018 with a $1,000 “Mission Ignition Initiative” grant from the Harrisburg District of the United Methodist Church. Starting in November, every Wednesday that school was in session, between 8 and 15 children attended Young Voices in Song for singing, crafts, snacks, and activities that emphasized good manners and positive behaviors. Young Voices is staffed primarily by volunteers, including the pastors, from New Bloomfield United Methodist Church and Christ Lutheran Church (also in New Bloomfield). The director/accompanist, Mr. Bob Buyers (who also directs the choir at Enola Emmanuel United Methodist Church and works with the youth choir of the Susquehanna Chorale) receives a stipend and reimbursement for mileage. All staff and volunteers are vetted and have up-to-date background checks and clearances. Currently most attendees are “walkers” from New Bloomfield Elementary School, but Young Voices is open to any Perry County child in kindergarten through Grade 5, and we expect the program to grow. All children are welcome regardless of experience or ability. Additional funding has been received from the Lower Susquehanna Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America and the Harold Greaney Charitable Trust of the Perry County Community Foundation of The Foundation for Enhancing Communities.

Purpose: Provide Perry County children with a safe, supervised activity that reinforces positive social values and instills and develops a lifelong hobby/skill.
Schedule: Young Voices in Song had its last meeting of the 2018-2019 school year on Wednesday, June 5, 2019, at New Bloomfield United Methodist Church. After taking the summer off, Young Voices will resume after Labor Day.

Program Contact: to register a kindergarten through 5th grade child for Young Voices in Song for the 2019-2020 school year, or to volunteer or donate, please contact Rev. Jean Felty at 717.582.2715 or Rev. Linda Shank, Christ Lutheran Church, at 717.582.4356.

Young Voices in Song Committee – Rev. Jean Felty, Rev. Linda Shank, Rev. Miriam Nicholson, Mrs. Suzanne Twilley, Ms. Jairee Counterman, Mrs. Elizabeth Sawyer

New Conference Treasurer

It with joy and thanksgiving to God we announce that Mark H. Knecht, CMA, has been selected and hired as the Treasurer of the Susquehanna Conference. Mark comes to the Susquehanna Conference with a wealth of experience, knowledge and a commitment to Jesus Christ.

Mark has 27 years of strategic financial planning, budgeting, treasury management, and management of all financial matters. Mark’s experience includes working in for-profit as well as non-profit organizations. His work-related experience is with companies in the United States as well as an international ministry organization.

For 11 years, Mark was the CFO for Cure International, Inc. Cure International ministry is focused on providing medical care for children suffering primarily from orthopedic and neurological conditions. Their mission is “healing the sick and proclaiming the kingdom of God.” While at Cure, Mark led the effort of long-term financial strategic planning. Mark has experience and expertise in working with diverse cultures and diverse people throughout the world as a result of his work at Cure International.

Mark is married and together he and his wife have two daughters. They live in Mechanicsburg, Pa. When Mark isn’t working his “day job” he helps at his local church with outreach programs for families that are going through significant health concerns.

Mark began his work with Susquehanna Conference on June 20, 2019.
The Conference Council on Finance and Administration gives thanks for the United Methodist General Council on Finance and Administration who helped us undertake a national search. The national search garnered over 20 resumes. Telephone screenings were completed with fifteen prospective candidates. After interviewing 5 candidates in person, Mark was unanimously selected.

One of the exciting things about Mark is that he believes it is important for him to use his gifts of accounting and financial expertise in a Christian ministry setting.

We know that over the next months you will warmly welcome Mark as he learns about the Susquehanna Conference and works with the office staff as well as churches, pastors, and local church treasurers.

With you in Christ’s ministry,

Jeremiah J. Park,  Resident Bishop
Timothy R. Baer, President, CF&A