Thursday, May 3, 2018

New staff meet changing needs of conference

By Rev. Jason Mackey, incoming Director of Connectional Ministries

On June 8, Lisa Bender will retire after eighteen years of leadership and service to our conference as the Executive Administrative Assistant for Connectional Ministries. (See commentary, page 9.) We offer thanks to God for her ministry among us.

We are excited to announce that Amy Wynn will be the new Executive Administrative Assistant beginning in June.

Amy, who currently serves as the conference receptionist, has shown amazing customer service and dedication to solving problems for anyone who walks through our doors or calls the office. With her ten years of experience here at the conference office, Amy will provide the continuity we need.

* * *

By Kay Kotan, Director of Equipping Vital Congregations

It is an exciting time. The office of Equipping Vital Congregations has grown and transitioned in this past year, and the needs for administrative support have changed.

Rev. Peggy Spengler will retire as the EVC Administrative Assistant June 28, 2018. Peggy has been pivotal in the transition of this office. I am so very grateful for her hard work, support, and encouragement during my first year in the Susquehanna Conference. Though Peggy is retiring from the office, she is not retiring from ministry and is already planning her new ministries around prayer, fresh expressions, and spiritual direction. Please join me in thanking Peggy for her ministry here in congregational development.

We are excited to announce that Cindy Weaver will fill the role of administrative assistant in the office of Equipping Vital Congregations beginning July 2. Cindy comes to us with a wealth of knowledge and experience from the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre District Office. Cindy’s husband, Rev. Gary Weaver, was recently appointed to serve at Camp Hill UMC beginning in July.

* * *

By Rev. Larry L. Leland Jr., Lewisburg District Superintendent

I am excited to share with you that Rev. David Dearing and Rev. Jennifer Parks-Snyder will begin serving as the assisting elders in the Lewisburg District. Revs. Dearing and Parks-Snyder will each continue to serve in their local churches, while sharing the responsibilities of the 20-hours-per-week assisting elder position, held for five and one-half years by Rev. Dick Leonard.

The assisting elders serve as an extension of the Office of District Superintendent. They will provide administrative support to churches and pastors, presiding over charge conferences, answering questions, and offering resources for particular situations, including questions of vital mergers, church closures, etc. They will assist with providing pastoral care to both active and retired pastors and their families as needs arise and their time allows. They may offer leadership development and teaching opportunities.

Using their God-given gifts, training, knowledge, and ministry experiences, Revs. Dearing and Parks-Snyder will work with me to continue moving forward in our vision of building a culture of vitality, in which all churches are moving toward their disciple-making potential, and pastors and laity are being equipped as transformational leaders.

Young Clergy Leadership Forum

By Rev. Clayton Childers
Reprinted with permission from

More than 60 young clergy, represented 34 annual conferences, participated in this year’s Young Clergy Leadership Forum held in February.

This year’s featured speaker was Shane Claiborne. Claiborne is a founder and board member of The Simple Way, a faith community in inner-city Philadelphia. He writes and travels extensively and is perhaps best known for his book, “The Irresistible Revolution.”

Claiborne connects faith in Jesus Christ with peacemaking and working for social justice.

The forum was held in the United Methodist Building on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. The building sits directly across the street from the United States Capitol and beside the Supreme Court. These are the hall of power where the critical decisions are made each day that impact the lives of many throughout the world. Claiborne’s message reminded Young Clergy “of the reign of God and the call of Christ, a reign and call that challenges so many of our human preconceptions.”

Participants in the forum heard from several other speakers who also connect their faith with the work for justice.

Church and Society partnered with the General Commission on Religion and Race to guide a conversation on racism and the church. Participants also spoke with Church and Society’s general secretary, The Rev. Susan Henry-Crowe, and Bishop Marcus Matthews, executive secretary for the Council of Bishops, who discussed a number of the challenges facing both the church and society.

The group also met with the chaplain of the U.S. Senate, the Rev. Dr. Berry Black, The Rev. Dr. Kirk VanGilder of Gallaudet University and Dr. Sayyid Syeed, national director of the Office of Interfaith Alliances at the Islamic Society of North America.

More than 750 young clergy have participated in the Young Clergy Leadership Forum over the last 15 years. The forum seeks to:

  • Connect young clergy with the critical ministry of Church and Society.
  • Provide a forum to share knowledge and experience with one another.
  • Create bridges for future ministry collaboration.
  • Build relationships with other young clergy from across the United Methodist connection.

* * *

Rev. Rachel Wong and Pastor Nick McMichael represented the Susquehanna Conference at the event. Rev. Wong offered the following reflection:

“I went to the Young Clergy Forum at the General Board of Church and Society with few expectations, but came home with a wealth of information, meaningful connections, and new insight into the United Methodist Church’s impact in the public square.

“Located next to the Supreme Court and across the street from the Capitol building, GBCS seeks to be the voice of the church in the public sphere and do all they can to advocate for the church. A large part of their work is on the implementation of the Social Principles and other policies on social concerns set forth by the General Conference.

“I was convicted during panel discussions with the GBCS staff surrounding the way we talk about the most critical issues of today. We were all challenged to change the terminology we use when speaking about human rights. For example, instead of labeling someone “underemployed,” imagine saying, “People who work two to three jobs just to put food on their family’s table.” Similarly, instead of calling those who are being released from prison, “formerly incarcerated individuals,” imagine calling them, “returning citizens.”

“I was also convicted during a discussion on racial justice with the question (in the context of the church), “Why are we talking about racism instead of talking against racism?”

“These discussions challenged us to look at our communities and individuals on the margins of society in new ways. So often the church stays away from discussions on the biggest political issues of today for fear of creating tension or division. However, Jesus was very political and longs for the church to seek justice and peace.

“This forum reminded me that the church is at its best when it engages with society and the current issues of today. I’m so grateful I was able to go and represent Susquehanna Conference with Nick.”

Creative Insights: Ask for Peace

By Janelle Walker, Assistant Director of Communications Ministry

“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.”
Philippians 4-9 NASB

Life’s anxieties and overwhelming feelings oftentimes overshadow the big picture. Preparing for events, new adventures, or a change in life can bring too much focus on the uncharted waters and take away from what brought you there in the first place.

God can put you in unimaginable circumstances that can cause an immense amount of stress on you and others around you. But pulling focus from God in those times can lead you through even more hardship.

Recovering from the stress of the stress is sometimes more stressful than the original. Paul writes in his letter to the Philippians about not being anxious for anything, but through thankful, thoughtful, humble prayer and supplication God can deliver an inexplicable peace that can protect you from the stress. Or at least ease your mind to the point where it feels better.

The thought of God being so powerful, but at the same time so caring, to bring peace to a situation that you made more worrisome, can be comforting and maybe a little scary at the same time. It’s comforting to know that He will take care of you; scary to think of the sovereignty He has over your life and how often you take that for granted.

Paul also says in Philippians 4 to focus on what is true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, of good repute, excellent, or worthy of praise. Take time to think about what is good and going right. Yes, you will get stressed. And yes, you may lose track of God’s purpose in the moment. But remember that you can ask for peace.

From Where I Sit: So glad we had this time together

By Rev. Dr. Tom Salsgiver, Director of Connectional Ministries

As I sit down to write this last article as the Director of Connectional Ministries, there are two songs running through my mind. One was the theme song from the brilliant comedy-variety show of Carol Burnett. Her husband at the time, Joe Hamilton, wrote the lyrics for the song. A short part of the song says, “I’m so glad we had this time together ... before you know it comes the time we have to say so long.”

It is the way she closed her show for 11 seasons.

There is another song, a gospel song, that became one of the most popular songs of Vestal Goodman. Vestal and her husband were regular singers with the Gaither Homecoming Tours. One of her biggest hits, which became one of her testimony songs, was, “I wouldn’t take nothin’ for my journey.”

In some ways it is the way I feel – I’m so glad I’ve had the total of 10 years as the Director of Connectional Ministries with you the people of the former Central Pennsylvania Conference, and now the Susquehanna Conference. It has been a privilege beyond anything I could have imaged to walk with you as we explored some new territories, as we worked and labored together for Christ and His kingdom.

God has been so amazing in the experiences, the ministries, and the work that we have been able to do as a conference that, indeed, I wouldn’t take nothin’ for this journey.

It has been beyond anything I could have imagined.

We know as a conference it’s not always been easy and it certainly won’t be easy in the next two years. But God has been faithful beyond all else and we can depend on God’s faithfulness in the days, months, and years to come.

I remember Bill Easum in a prayer he prayed when he was preaching at Wesley Church, Bloomsburg. He said, “If God never does another thing for me, God has done more than I deserve.” That is exactly where I am as I move into this next part of my journey.

Someone asked me if I was sad at deciding to retire. I can unequivocally say absolutely not! It’s time – time to retire and time for a new person with a new vision, and new leadership ideas to lead the conference into the next faithful step of God’s call.

The staff of the Connectional Ministries is poised to follow Christ and Jason into the next chapter of mission and ministry.

I’m so grateful to God and to the bishop for appointing Jason Mackey to be the next DCM. I look forward to seeing where God will lead Jason and the conference. I know that Jason is creative, forward looking, always open to and being on the cutting edge of mission and ministry. That’s where the annual conference is, and I believe Jason is the best person to lead the staff and the annual conference forward.

I’m so glad we’ve had this time together as DCM and as a conference. I’m so grateful to God for all the people that I have walked beside.

I would, however, be remiss if I didn’t ask forgiveness to anyone along this journey I might have offended, was short with, or did not live up to the expectations of what was assumed in my ministry. Please forgive me.

It is with a joyful and full heart that I look forward to the next chapter that God is calling me to.

It is with a heart of expectation that I stand on the sideline and cheer Jason, the staff, and the annual conference as this conference runs faithfully the race that God calls us to run.


Equipping Vital Congregations: Learning innovators

By Kay Kotan, Director of Equipping Vital Congregations

We all know the importance of continuous learning. There are studies after studies showing the need and return on investment for learning. Our tribe traditionally reads a whole lot and attends lots of seminars and workshops. Many practice continuous learning. Yet we often stop too soon. We do not complete the cycle.

“Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.” W.B. Yeats

We have become great collectors of knowledge, but we many times fail to do anything with our new-found knowledge. We fill our heads with good information, yet we often fail to take the steps to put into place this good information. We sometimes keep the information to ourselves and do not share it with our colleagues, peers, other leaders, and congregations. Have you been lighting the fire with the new information you are learning?

Learning is only the first step. Doing something with it is the second step. We must apply our learnings. Therefore, I would like to challenge all of us to stop being learners. Instead, let’s all strive to be learning innovators. In other words, let’s not only create and sustain a culture of continuous learning (“that’s just who we are and what we practice”), but also become innovators as a result of our learning – learning innovators!

As learning innovators, we will be learning and sharing new ideas and information. We will be early adopters. We will become more comfortable in experimenting and trying new ministries or methods of offering or practicing current ministries. We will constantly be raising our bar of excellence in our pursuit of the mission to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. We will become more effective, efficient, and focused on our mission.

Too many times our churches lose touch with their community and their local context. In other words, the culture around the church changes, but the church lags behind in adapting and keeping up with culture. Before we know it, we have become culturally irrelevant. We become foreign in our own neighborhoods. This leads to frustration and sometimes hopelessness. We cling to yesterday and its practices when our neighbors have moved ahead.

This fall the Susquehanna Conference will be launching new learning opportunities for both laity and clergy. Our purpose and hope is for all lay leaders and clergy to engage in some sort of learning opportunity, share the information back in their local context, and then create action steps in relationship to the learning.

“Action speaks louder than words but not nearly as often.” 
Mark Twain

We are United Methodist – a movement rooted in laity. The movement was revolutionary. The Good News was being spread in new ways. It was new thinking. It was a new day. For us to recapture our roots of once again being a revolutionary movement, we must become learning innovators. We will do our part to offer the opportunities, won’t you do your part and join us?

Pathways of Discipleship: Why camps and retreats make powerful pathways of discipleship

By Kevin Witt, Director of Camp & Retreat and Discipleship Ministries

Did you know that the United Methodist Church has one of the strongest and most extensive networks of camp and retreat ministries of any denomination? One hundred ninety centers now serve over one million persons annually in the U.S. The United Methodist affinity for this unique pathway of discipleship can be traced in part to the very beginning of the Methodist Movement. The Wesleys make a radical choice for their day to move faith formation outdoors through “Field Preaching,” in order to reach new people, deepen the faith of those already engaged, and extend the presence of the faith community into the wider society.

We are blessed in the Susquehanna Conference to have five United Methodist camp retreat centers serving in partnership with our congregations. Today, camp retreat ministries happen in a myriad of new and emerging forms to meet the changing needs and landscape of Christian faith formation. I encourage you and your congregation to connect and develop fresh, creative collaborations with your colleagues in ministry Joe Sprenkle at Camp Penn (, Charlie Renner at Greene Hills (, Patty Weidman at Mount Asbury (, Matt Williams at Sky Lake (, and Emily Sliski at Wesley Forest (

Why camps and retreats make powerful pathways of discipleship

  1. Christian camps and retreats engage us in spiritual rhythms of journey and immersion. As a church, we intentionally locate our camp and retreat centers in places that move people from the milieus of daily distractions and responsibilities to focus with great intentionality on going deeper with God and each other. This creative dislocation heightens new possibilities in relationships, reflection, and transformation. Consider how much of the Bible’s descriptions and stories of encounters with God happened while on journeys or moving from one place to another. Pilgrimages to camp and retreat centers are one concrete way to respond to Jesus’ invitation: “Come Follow Me.” Discipleship involves periodic departures beyond the familiar for journey and immersion.
  2. Christian camps and retreats maximize caring relationships which is how love expresses itself in the world. Camps and retreats focus on experiential faith formation. Living together becomes the classroom where we learn through a wide array of shared experiences the teachings of Jesus, grace that makes life more abundant, and the nourishment of giving and receiving the Fruit of the Spirit. This kind of discipleship learning is hard to duplicate in settings where people learn concepts but do not have the immediate opportunity to engage in trying to live them out in real life encounters together. Having time to live in residence with others in fresh ways and places set apart for this purpose often has a profound transformational impact. Strangers more rapidly become friends and new possibilities for what the world can be come alive to be carried with us into the wider world.
  3. Christian camps and retreats take seriously wisdom within Christian tradition. These include dichotomies of understanding that differ from many of the prevailing patterns and perspectives prolific in our daily lives. Here is a small sampling. The greatest is servant of all. One receives by letting go. Stillness can move us closer. Silence is a way of hearing. Rest is faithful action. Advances emerge in the practice of retreat. Solitude is not about being alone. Going away often makes us more present. Abundance is found in simplicity. We embrace ourselves when we reach out. God comes in the stranger. The creation speaks of God. What is done to the least of us is done to Christ. The kingdom of heaven grows from the smallest of seeds. The heart of Sabbath is freedom and gratitude. Often this wisdom abounds in the great storytelling tradition within camp retreat ministry that models Jesus’ own mode of teaching through parable, story, questions, and unexpected twists on people’s assumptions. We learn from each other’s stories, too, around the campfire and in attentiveness to teachable moments. It is part of what makes camps and retreats so engaging.

So much more could be said about the benefits of camps and retreats as one of the powerful pathways of discipleship your congregation can offer for your members and your wider community. We are so blessed in the Susquehanna Conference to have camp and retreat ministry colleagues who are ready and eager to partner with you and help. Consider the possibilities.

Young People's Ministry

Global Young People’s Convocation

Global Young People’s Convocation is an international quadrennial (every four years) ministry opportunity for youth, young adults, and adult youth workers in the United Methodist Church. Each Jurisdiction or Central Conference elects 12 voting delegates to represent them at the convocation. The Northeastern Jurisdiction elected two youth and one adult youth worker from the Susquehanna Conference. We have raised such quality young leaders in our conference, that one quarter of the NEJ voting delegation will come from our Young People’s Ministry Council.

GYPC supports Susquehanna Young People’s Ministry’s continued commitment to equip student leaders to make disciples. One of the goals of GYPC is to strengthen leadership skills of young people. Intentional leadership development will happen when student leaders attend workshops, share ministry stories from their contexts, and learn from their peers who come from different countries and cultures. Additionally, the Legislative Forum will place young people in small groups to discuss significant issues being faced by the church and the world. These small groups will produce legislation that will go directly to the General Conference of the United Methodist Church. Through this, our young people will lead the church.

This is the most extensive global gathering of United Methodist young people. It is a time for young people from different social, economic, cultural, political, and even theological backgrounds to come together to worship and form lasting relationships. The transformative power of these young leaders will be palpable not only during this event, but also when they return home to continue the work of the kingdom.

GYPC initiates students into the life of a global connection. Bringing together the voices of young people from around the world, these strong leaders will develop a global perspective of the United Methodsit Church. This global perspective will give them the experiences to understand how their discipleship journey extends beyond the walls of their local church and the boundaries of their school district, and will empower them to open the eyes of fellow disciples on the journey.

Left to right: Alexander Clark, First UMC, Mechanicsburg; 
Hannah Carter, Christ Community UMC, Selinsgrove; 
Christina McDermott, Northeastern Jursidiction GYPC Co-Chair

Foundations Youth Leader Training: Partnerships for Vitality

Partnerships produce excellence.

The Young People’s Ministry has initiated a partnership with Perkins School of Youth Ministry and Discipleship Ministry’s Young People’s Division to provide professional training for youth leaders in the Susquehanna Conference.

For thirty years Perkins School of Youth Ministry has been coordinating and leading specialized training programs exclusively designed to resource those in the church whose ministries focus on youth and young adults. Until now this training has been exclusively offered in Dallas, Texas. This August, with the support of Camp and Retreat Ministries, the Young People’s Ministry is bringing this training to Mt. Asbury Camp and Retreat Center in Newville, Pa.

Among many extraordinary opportunities for relationship development offered during the training, participants will have the option to have personal conversations with the senior editor of Youth Ministry Partners, a division of the UM Publishing House. Additionally, a panel discussion with members of the Connectional Ministries executive staff will provide opportunities for exploring new partnerships between the conference and participants’ congregations.

Along with a certificate of completion from Perkins School of Youth Ministry, participants will walk away from the training with a deeper understanding of the theology of youth ministry, practical tools to help grow a vital youth ministry in their local context, a challenge to continue to develop meaningful partnerships within the conference, and a commitment from Discipleship Ministries for two online follow up sessions in the ensuing year.

The Young People’s and Camp and Retreat Ministries desires to build deeper partnerships with youth leaders from around the conferences, so that we might continue to work together to explore new opportunities to grow young leaders.
Space for the event is limited to ensure that the trainers will be able to give personal attention to participants. Open registration begins May 19, 2018. The cost of the retreat, including meals and lodging, is $240. For more information about registration or the event, visit

Recalculating Rally recap

Teens have lots of different options for how to spend their Sunday afternoon. We as the Young People’s Ministry Council are grateful for the youth and leaders who choose to spend their time with us. From October to April, we got to worship, play, study, and serve with 162 students and 73 adult youth leaders from around our conference.

The goal of our time with each other was to give young disciples a chance to grow their faith, think about faith for themselves, and explore their path with God. These comments from young disciples, written on their evaluations, lead us to believe that we accomplished our goals:

“God is asking me to focus on exploring my path, because I don’t know where I’m going. I want to figure out our future. One thing I will do differently is be a leader to those around me.”

“I think God is asking me to focus on thinking for myself and standing firm in God’s word. Even if it means being alone.”

“I feel as though I need to explore different ministries through the church to find where I am most called.”

“I think God is asking me to explore my path, because there are still bumps in the road that I think He can flatten.”

“I will believe in myself more, and talk to God more often.” 

“God is asking me to focus on growing in my faith by giving more time to God and making Him my top and first priority.” 

We thank God for the work that is being done in and through the young people who are open to the Holy Spirit and are recalculating their relationships.

Commentary: Always fresh and new

By Lisa Bender

As Executive Secretary of Connectional Ministries, I most enjoyed responding to the requests of clergy and laypersons. Whether it was a Safe Sanctuaries question, inquiries about conference grants, the needs of any of our committees, publicizing upcoming events through the Ministry Resource Packets, or sending a bulk mailing - whatever I could do to help was satisfying to me. Changing technologies and co-workers allowed many parts of my position to change over the years so it was always fresh and new.

Being exposed to the workings of the denomination and spending time with our top-notch conference staff helped me to learn and to stretch. We made many memories as we traveled in the districts leading workshops during our “On the Road” and “E-Tour” days. I was glad to use my organizational skills as we prepared for Annual Conferences.

Thank you to my DCMs, Rev. Tom Salsgiver, and Rev. Mike Bealla, for being terrific colleagues, to everyone on staff, and to all of you with whom I interacted over the years.

Serving as a General and Jurisdictional Conference delegate for two quadrenniums was a highlight. At General Conference, I met leaders of United Methodists for Kairos Response just after my first trip to Palestine/Israel. Volunteering with UMKR is my passion - invite me to talk about it.

In retirement, I will continue to advocate on behalf of my Palestinian friends, will continue serving as Mission Central’s secretary, will head the General Conference 2019 Delegation, continue as chair of the Episcopacy Committee, and as a member of the Mission and Outreach Team. On Sundays, you’ll find me singing with the Grace UMC, Harrisburg, church choir.

Family needs will fill a lot of time as I help care for my elderly parents, follow the adventures of two grown sons, and do some traveling with my husband, Wayne. Trips to weddings in California and Greece and swimming in my pool (and other exercise) will give me a good start on retirement.

Thank you, Lisa, for the many ways you helped, encouraged, taught,
and blessed the Conference staff.

2018 Susquehanna Annual Conference

Susquehanna Annual Conference

May 31 - June 2, 2018.   Hershey, PA

Tuning in to AC 2018

Dear Brothers and sisters of the Susquehanna Conference, I greet you in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior, Prince of Peace, Healer of our brokenness, and Hope of the world.

On Thursday, May 31st, we will gather at Hershey Lodge for the 2018 Susquehanna Annual Conference. As we consider our theme this year, Better Together: One in Christ, we are drawn to a symbol of unity, the tuning fork.
Consider these words from A.W. Tozer in his piece The Pursuit of God:

“Has it ever occured to you that one hundred pianos tuned to the same fork are automatically tuned to each other? They are of one accord by being tuned, not to each other, but to another standard by which each one must individually bow. So one hundred worshipper met together, each one looking away to Christ, are in heart nearer to each other than they could possibly be were they to become ‘unity’ conscious and turn their eyes away from God to strive for closer fellowship.” — A.W. Tozer

Friends, when we gather in May, we will tune our hearts to the standard of Christ. It is by that standard that we will celebrate the oneness in Christ for we are Better Together.

“Let us fix our eyes upon Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith” 
Hebrews 12:2

“May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus, so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” 
Romans 15:5-6

Are you ready to join together like finely tuned instruments?

We will experience excellent times of worship, witnessing, learning opportunities, and fellowship.

I am looking forward to meeting you at Annual Conference.

In the name of Jesus Christ, unified and atoned by which we tune our lives.
Amen and amen.
— Bishop Jeremiah J. Park

Pre-Conference Workshops on May 30

Here is your chance to grow, be equipped, and connect with one another as part of your Annual Conference experience this year. We are bringing in nationally recognized speakers and local experts to provide you with excellent learning opportunities to meet the needs of our leaders and congregations. Don’t miss this opportunity to take advantage of these workshops and learn from specialists. Space is limited, so be sure to register today.


Track A: Communicating Vision with Jason Mackey
Track B: Ruts in the Discipleship Path with Jason Mackey
Track A&B: Fresh Expressions of Church- The Five W’s with Audrey Warren
Track A: Spark: Vital Mergers - You Don’t Have to Start From Scratch: Vital Mergers and Restart with Paul Nixon
Track B: Spark: Re-Starts - You Don’t Have to Start From Scratch: Vital Mergers and Restart with Paul Nixon
Track A&B: Small Church Checkup with Kay Kotan
Track A: Your Pastor’s Benefits: What Finance Needs to Know with Kelly Cox
Track B: Conference Loan Fund: What’s New with Lauren Hokamp
Track A: Opioids and Teenage Disciples with Kayt Hughes
Track B: Pathways to Spiritual Leadership with Kevin Witt
Track A: 5 Things Your Visitors are Thinking But Won’t Ask with Jason Moore
Track B: Worship That Sticks: Creating Worship that Lasts Beyond Sunday with Jason Moore

The workshops are being hosted at Trinity UMC, Hummelstown on Wednesday, May 30 from 1 till 5 pm.

The cost for attending will be $25 per person with an offering of .35 CEU’s.
Parking is limited. We will be offering shuttles to/from Hershey Lodge to Trinity for your convenience. Look for the shuttle signs.

Notice that some workshops will last the entire afternoon (both Tracks A and B) while other workshops are shorter in duration (only Track A or B) and will allow you to take two workshops.

We encourage you to attend these workshops but they are not required for Annual Conference.

More information at


Featured Speakers

Bishop Jeremiah J. Park
Bishop Susquehanna Conference: Opening Celebration

Rev. Marian Hartman
Scranton/Wilkes-Barre District Superintendent: Memorial Service

Kay Kotan
Director of Equipping Vital Congregations: Laity Session and Friday Plenary

Bishop Sandra Steiner Ball
West Virginia Conference: Bible Study and Ordination Service


Support the Youth Service Fund

The Young People’s Ministry is committed to making a difference in the lives of teens in our Conference and around the world. One way in which we do this is through Youth Service Fund (YSF) grants. You can help us make a difference by supporting YSF at Annual Conference. During Conference, please visit the YSF display booth at Annual Conference to place a bid on a basket, or stop by the charging station to give your mobile device a boost, or drop some money into a jar to pie your “favorite” Conference Leader in the face! Your donation will go to fund youth ministry projects locally, nationally, and internationally!


Annual Conference Special Offerings

Memorial Service, Thursday, May 31, 2018:
Mission Central (Advance #7059) is the place of miracles, now including 37 HUBS, “connecting God’s resources with human need” through mission education, mission outreach, and disaster response. Annually, over $7-10 million worth of goods are distributed through Mission Central transforming over three million lives locally, nationally, and globally. Your generous offering contributions make the daily operations possible.

Celebration of Ministry, Friday, June 1, 2018:
The Cup of Water Fund (Advance #8160) is a fund which is available to lay persons in our conference who are facing difficult financial hardship. These donations provide emergency grants to families or individuals who are recommended by pastors to the Cabinet. In these difficult economic times your generosity provides needed help to our brothers and sisters.

Ordination Service, Saturday, June 2, 2018:
Bishop’s Partners in Mission (Advance #7090) calls us to Imagine No Malaria and Imagine No More Debt! 100% of the proceeds from this fund go to Imagine No Malaria (the UMC’s global campaign to fight malaria) and paying down the debt of Mission Central so they can focus on their core mission of connecting God’s resources with human need. Bishop Park is inviting individuals, congregations and church groups to join him and be Partners in Mission, committing to $100 or more a year. Whatever you can give helps the lives of those locally and around the world. God is still calling us to imagine great things, he is calling us to Imagine What We Can Do Together! 

Please make checks payable to Susquehanna Conference and include your church number and the advance number (listed after the name above) on the memo line of the check.



The 2018 Annual Conference will once again be broadcast LIVE via

What is an Annual Conference? and “The Book of Discipline of the United Methodist Church”

Annual Conferences
When you hear the term “annual conference,” it could be referring to any one of three things. The annual conference as a regional body, an organizational unit, and a yearly meeting. 

Many of these yearly meetings happen in the U.S. in May and June. You can read reports from the 2014 Annual Conference Session on our Annual Conference Reports page.

Regional body
The annual (sometimes referred to as ‘regional’) conference is described by the church’s Constitution and (other parts of the ) “Book of Discipline” as the ‘basic unit’ of the church.

In the United States, an annual conference may cover an entire state, only part of the state, or even parts of two or more states. There are also three missionary conferences in the United States, which rely upon the denomination as a whole for funding.

The United States has 57 annual conferences, which are supervised by 46 bishops. There are 76 annual conferences in Africa, Europe, and the Philippines, which are supervised by 20 bishops.

Organizational body
In the U.S., the annual conference has a central office and professional staff that coordinate and conduct ministry and the business of the conference. It likely has a director of connectional ministries, treasurer, directors of program areas (such as camping), communications director, and other staff as deemed appropriate for the annual conference and as required by the “Book of Discipline.” Clergy and lay persons may also serve on conference boards, commissions, and committees.
“The purpose of the annual conference is to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world by equipping its local churches for ministry and by providing a connection for ministry beyond the local church: all glory to God” ¶ 601

Annual Conference sessions
Each year an equal number of clergy members and lay members attend their conference’s Annual Conference Session for worship, fellowship, and to conduct the business of the conference, which may last 3-5 days. During these sessions members of the Conference hear reports of past and ongoing work; adopt future goals, programs, and budgets; ordain clergy members as deacons and elders; and elect delegates to Jurisdictional and General Conferences (every four years). The bishop presides over these meetings.

Annual Conference Membership
The clergy membership of an Annual Conference shall consist of deacons and elders in full connection, provisional members, associate members, affiliate members, and local pastors under full-time and part-time appointment to a pastoral charge. ¶ 602.1

The lay membership of the Annual Conference shall consist of a professing member elected by each charge, diaconal ministers, deaconesses, home missioners, the conference presidents of: United Methodist Women, United Methodist Men, Youth and Young Adult Ministries, the conference lay leader and district lay leaders, one youth (age 12-18) and one young adult (age 18-30) from each district, and the chair of the conference college student organization. 
If lay membership should number less than the clergy members of the Annual Conference, the Annual Conference shall provide for election of lay-equalization members.

Lay members must be members of, and active in, the United Methodist Church at the time of election (with some tenure requirements) ¶ 602.4

The above mentioned have voice and vote at the Annual Conference Session. Other representatives (¶ 602.9) are given privilege of the floor (voice) without vote.

It is the duty of every member of the Annual Conference to attend its sessions and furnish such reports in such forms as the “Book of Discipline” may require. (¶ 602.8)

A brief history of United Methodism in Pennsylvania


The United Methodist Church was officially formed on April 23, 1968, with the unification of the Methodist Church and the Evangelical United Brethren Church, along with the dissolution of the Central Jurisdiction, a segregated group of African-American congregations.

Fifty years ago 1,300 delegates and 10,000 visitors met in Dallas, Texas, on April 23, 1968, to celebrate the formation of the newly-constituted United Methodist Church. This merger of 10.3 million Methodists and 750,000 members of the EUB Church resulted in one of the largest Protestant denominations in the world. Flags from fifty-three countries testified to the breadth of the new reality.
As we celebrate this anniversary throughout 2018, especially around Heritage Sunday on May 20, return to this page ( for the latest resources to help your congregation remember this important anniversary of our church.

Follow and tag us on social media with #UMC50

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Susquehanna Conference Archivist Dr. Milton Loyer recently offered some insight into the beginnings of United Methdodism in Pennsylvania.

What were the reasons behind the Methodist and EUB uniting in 1968?

There were two reasons, one spiritual and one practical.

The spiritual reason, I think, was for with the unity of the church. Jesus prayed that his believers would be one. The merger of Methodist Church (English roots) and the Evangelical United Brethren Church (German roots) was a natural spiritual union; though speaking different languages (English vs. German) they had the same discipline, same practices, same outlook, same philosophy, and similar spiritual roots — there was no reason why they should remain separate.
For many years the Methodists, because of their circuit-riders and their outreach, had been the largest Protestant denomination in America. In the 1960’s they began to decline. There were about nine million Methodists and roughly a million EUBs — from a practical point of view a merger would restore them as the largest protestant denomination. Although the EUBs were a national denomination, they were not very strong in the South, the West, the Southwest, the Northeast, and the New England states, so, it made sense from a practical point of view to become part of a larger body that had name recognition and was very similar.

How did the union help us in Pennsylvania?

The church is about people. One thing that the union did is it brought together different people with Wesleyan roots; EUB’s were Wesleyan in theology through Jacob Albright, a Pennsylvania German Lutheran who converted to Methodism then started the Evangelical Church (so he could preach in German); Philip Otterbein, German born and raised in the Lancaster Reformed Church, was a friend of Francis Asbury (a Methodist Episcopal Bishop in the U.S.) and started the United Brethren in Christ with Martin Boehm (Pennsylvania German raised in the Mennonite Church) based on Methodist classes, but German speaking. The Evangelical Church and United Brethren in Christ merged in 1946 to become the Evangelical United Brethren Church; Methodists in turn learned more about the rich spiritual history of Albright, Otterbein, and Boehm when they united with the EUBs in 1968, and of course shared more about their deep spiritual roots in John Wesley and Francis Asbury.

What kinds of changes took place in Pennsylvania after the merger?

For two years after the merger in 1968 there were five or six overlapping conferences in Pennsylvania - former EUB Conferences and a former Methodist Conferences. But in Pennsylvania there was a great spirit of unity so in the entire state of Pennsylvania all the former EUB and Methodist Conferences got together and agreed on a Basis and Plan of Union. It was decided to divide the state into three conferences; the Western Pennsylvania Conference, the Central Pennsylvania Conference, and the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference, each with roughly the same number of churches.

The Plan and Basis of Union included structural guidelines that a certain number of Commissions would be headed by former EUBs and a certain number of Commissions would be headed by former Methodists, and there was general agreement and working together, although each conference could make it’s own decisions for pensions, insurance, ordination standards, and some other things.

How did they handle other differences after the merger?

There were a number of differences between the two denominations. EUBs elected Bishops for four years, Methodists elected them for life. As United Methodists they elected Bishops for life. District Superintendents were elected by the conference in the EUB Church but appointed by the Bishop by the Methodists. A proposal to have the Bishop nominate District Superintendents and Annual Conferences approve them was presented, but that was not approved, and together as United Methodists they chose to have them appointed by the Bishop.

In general the traditions of both denominations were honored, such as The Lord’s Prayer has two versions in the UM hymnal: “forgive us our trespasses” for the former Methodists, and “forgive us our debts” for the former EUB’s. EUB’s dedicated their infants rather than baptizing them, but this was a tradition that was discouraged. Occasionally families still request to have their child dedicated and there is an EUB Book of Ritual for the dedication of infants in the Conference Archives.

Language was no longer an issue as all congregations were now English speaking (post World War II.)

What happened to all the different church buildings?

In many places the former congregations united into one church building, but in many towns, there may be two or more United Methodist Churches, like Mechanicsburg where there are three - one a former Evangelical, one a former United Brethren, and a former Methodist church. Carlisle also had three churches from the former denominations that became Allison, Grace, and First United Methodist Churches — they recently merged into one congregation to become Carlisle United Methodist Church and are planning to build a new church building.

In a number of suburbs and towns there are two United Methodist churches across the street from one another, each with a vibrant congregation and distinct ministry niches.

What should we learn from our history?

We should remember that the church shouldn’t be afraid of change and that we can’t be static. There were good reasons for each denomination to remain separate and some people wanted that. But the merger taught us that change can be good. We gained more than we lost. We’re a stronger church for it. If we face change constructively, honestly, prayerfully, and realistically then I believe God has a good future for us.