Thursday, April 3, 2014

Bishop’s greetings to Annual Conference

Bishop Jeremiah J. Park
Dear Laity and Clergy of the Susquehanna Annual Conference. Grace and peace to you in the most precious name of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior. I greet and welcome you to the upcoming fifth session of the Susquehanna Annual Conference, to be held at Messiah College in Grantham, Pennsylvania, from Thursday, June 12 through Saturday, June 14.

Last year was my first Annual Conference with you. My wife, Lisa, and  I immensely enjoyed getting to know you and discovering the depth of Christian faith and commitment within the hearts and lives of God’s people in central and northeastern Pennsylvania.

Under the quadrennial theme of “Alive in Christ Together,” we celebrated who we are as a people of God “on a journey of faith.” Lisa and I are looking forward to greeting you at Messiah College once again.

The theme for this year’s Annual Conference session will be “Alive in Christ Together; Raising up Transformational Leaders.”

The United Methodist Church defines the mission of the church as, “To make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.” To fulfill the mission, four areas of focus were identified  by our denomination:

  1. Raising up principled Christian leaders
  2. Congregational development, by creating new places for new people, and vitalizing the congregations for mission and ministry.
  3. Improving global health by stomping out the killer diseases like malaria, AIDS, and tuberculosis.
  4. Ministry with the poor.

We believe that these four areas are the most critical places where our church can make a huge difference in fulfilling the mission of Making disciples and transforming the world.

This year, during our  holy conferencing, we will have a time of focusing on raising up transformational leaders as we affirm and celebrate that we are God’s people in mission.

As clergy and laity we all know how critical it is for us to be transformational leaders for such a time as this. Indeed the mission field is ripe for transformational leaders to lead the church and to serve the world in the name of Jesus Christ with the love of God and by the power of the Holy Spirit.

The United Methodist Church has a clear understanding that an Annual Conference is the basic body of the church. All clergy have his or her membership in the Annual Conference and each church is represented by at least one lay member  to the Annual Conference. Please note that  we do not have “lay delegates” to the Annual Conference — they are members of the Annual Conference. Clergy and laity alike, as members of the Annual Conference there is no more important responsibility than to be present and participating in the conference sessions. your presence throughout the session is not only expected, but is required.

Our gathering in June as the Susquehanna Annual Conference will be a celebration of who we are, and Whose we are, on a grand scale. It will be one of the most exciting and uplifting witnesses of the United Methodists of the Susquehanna Annual Conference.

Together we will worship, praise, pray, hear the words, sing dance, tell stories and share testimonies, discuss, debate, discern, liberate, decide, eat have fellowship, sleep, rest, and meet new friends in Jesus, all to the glory of God.
Please make every effort to be present.

As your resident bishop I am looking forward to our gathering as an Annual Conference with a heightened sense of expectation of what God is going to do with us. Your prayer for the Conference is greatly appreciated. Please know that  your faithfulness as partners in the mission and ministry of the Susquehanna Annual Conference means so much to all of us — to the church of Jesus Christ, to the world, and to our God we worship and serve.

See you at Messiah College in June. May God’s love, peace and joy continue to abide with you evermore abundantly in all that you do. Amen.

— Bishop Jeremiah J. Park

2014 Susquehanna Annual Conference: Speakers

Annual Conference Speakers

Memorial Service, 
Thursday, June 12, 7 p.m.
Rev. Dr. Tom Salsgiver, Dean of Cabinet

Thomas L. Salsgiver (Tom) currently serves the Susquehanna Conference as the Lewisburg District Superintendent, and Dean of the Cabinet. Prior to his current appointment, Tom was the Council Director/Director of Connectional Ministries for the former Central Pennsylvania Conference.

Ordained an elder in the Central Pennsylvania Conference in 1977, he has served in a variety of pastoral appointments including Grace UMC in Harrisburg, Fourth St. UMC in Harrisburg, Wellsboro UMC, and Wesley UMC in Bloomsburg. In 1987 he became Director of Youth and Young Adult Ministry for the General Board of Discipleship in Nashville, Tennessee. His job involved resourcing United Methodist Churches throughout the United States concerning youth and young adult ministry.

Tom earned a bachelor of Bachelor of Arts in Sociology and Social Work at Lambuth University (1972), a Master of Divinity at United Theological Seminary in Dayton, Ohio (1975), and a Doctor of Ministry also at United Theological Seminary (1987).

He has authored, co-authored or edited a variety of books, study guides & youth programs, including: Evangelism and Youth Ministry: New Wine for a New Day, Discipleship Resources, Nashville, 1989. Co-authored with Dr. Shirley Clement; The Complete Youth Group Checkup and Other Great Retreats, Abingdon Press, Nashville, 1992 (Editor); Creative Teaching Series: Teachers of Youth, 1989 (study guide for video); Teaching the Bible to Youth, 1990 (video script, study guide and co-host of video); For Such a Time as This: Building Bridges to People (study guide for video); A Return to Our First Love: The Church at Ephesus (study guide for video); Leap of Faith:  Persons Alive in Christ, Transformational Leaders, Healthy and Growing Communities of Faith (study guide for video); five Youth Fellowship programs published in UMY Program Annual, Cokesbury, 1995-1996; two Youth Fellowship programs published in UMY Mission and Event Annual, Cokesbury, 1995-1996.

Tom is a member of the Conference Vision Leadership Team, Sessions Committee, Board of Pensions, Medical Leave Committee and Conference Response Team. Tom was elected a reserve delegate to General Conference in 2004, a delegate to General Conference in 2008 and 2012, and a delegate to Jurisdictional Conference in 2004, 2008, and 2012. He is also the Secretary for the Northeastern Jurisdiction; a board member of the United Methodist Publishing House, and President of the USA Board of Ludhiana Christian Medial College, Ludhiana, India.

Tom is a native of Williamsport, Pa. In July, he will celebrate forty years of marriage to Joanne (Hughes). They have two children, Becky (Cronrath) who lives in Florida with her husband Daniel, and Brent who lives in Altoona with his wife Elizabeth and son Mason.

Bible Study, 
Saturday, June 14, 8:15 a.m.
Pastor Yvette Davis

Yvette B. Davis is currently serving as the Lead Pastor at Asbury United Methodist Church in York, Pennsylvania. She is the first woman and person of color to serve this church in its 230+ year history.

Pastor Davis also serves as Chairperson of The Northeastern Jurisdiction Urban Steering Network (NEJ USN) of the General Board of Global Ministries. In that capacity, she is also the convener of the NEJ Urban Task Force, a collaborative partnership of representatives from Boston University School of Theology; The Theological School at Drew University; Wesley Theological Seminary; the Northeastern Jurisdiction Urban Steering Network; The Multi-Ethnic Center for Ministry; and the Center for the Study and Practice of Urban Religion (CSPUR) of New York Theological Seminary. This summer, the NEJ Urban Task Force will present “Jazz in the City: An Institute for Urban Ministry Leadership Training”, a one-week intensive, case study based, graduate level course taking place in New York City.

Prior to her appointment to Asbury, Pastor Davis was Director of The Office of Urban and Global Ministries and Conference Shalom Coordinator of The Eastern Pennsylvania Conference of The United Methodist Church where she resourced more than 120 urban local United Methodist churches.

Prior to engaging in fulltime ministry, Pastor Davis was the corporate librarian and paralegal at an international, publicly traded plastic container manufacturer located in Northeast Philadelphia. She was also the pastor of Bridesburg United Methodist Church, also located in Northeast Philadelphia. Pastor Davis was the first person of color to be appointed to that church in its, then, 174 year history.

Pastor Davis was the Collection Supervisor of the Johnson-UGO Foundation Library, the first faith-based entity to be designated a Cooperating Collection of The Foundation Center, a national philanthropy resource center. She has been an information specialist for 20 years and has 15 years experience working for nonprofit and faith-based organizations. A native New Yorker who has lived in Pennsylvania for the past 11 years, she has served as a Board member, Executive Director, Associate Director, and in other roles for a number of community and faith-based organizations.

Pastor Davis earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in English Literature from New York University and a Master of Science in Library and Information Science from Drexel University. In 2002, she was one of 12 persons selected to receive a Fellowship from The JP Morgan Chase Foundation to participate in The Nonprofit Management for Faith-Based Leaders Institute at Milano Graduate School for Public Administration at New School University. Pastor Davis is also a Drew University Certified Regional Trainer for Communities of Shalom.

Pastor Davis is pursuing ordination in The United Methodist Church as well as a Master of Divinity from Drew Theological Seminary.

Ordination Service, 
Saturday, June 14, 1:30 p.m.
Bishop Joseph Yeakel

Born in Mahanoy City, Pennsylvania, Joe Yeakel attended the Pottsville, Pennsylvania, public schools. His matriculation to Lebanon Valley College was interrupted by a tour of duty with the United States Navy Seabees, returning to Lebanon Valley College from which he graduated with an A.B. degree.

He served the Gardners-Mt. Victory Charge near Mt. Holly, Pa., during his senior year in college. He attended United Theological Seminary in Dayton, Ohio (M.Div.), serving as a student Assistant Pastor at the Euclid Avenue EUB Church in Dayton.

He became a member of the Central Pennsylvania Annual Conference of the former Evangelical United Brethren Church as a probationary member, and was ordained an elder by Bishop George Edward Epp. He was Assistant Pastor at Otterbein Church in Hagerstown, Md.; Pastor at Messiah Church in York, Pa.; and Memorial Church in Silver Spring, Md.

In 1963 he was elected Assistant General Secretary of the Board of Evangelism with offices in Dayton, Ohio. In 1965 he became the General Secretary of the Board and at the time of church union in 1968, he became the General Secretary of the Board of Evangelism of The United Methodist Church.

The Northeastern Jurisdictional Conference elected him to the episcopacy in 1972. He administered the New York West Area, 1972-84, and the Washington (DC) Area 1984-1996. He retired on August 31, 1996.

Bishop Yeakel has served on the General Board of Church and Society and the General Council on Finance and Administration. He was President of the Council of Bishops (1992-93).

Editorial: Four important words

By Jerry Wolgemuth
Director of Communications

“The Big Sort: Why the Clustering of Like-minded America is Tearing Us Apart” is authored by columnist and reporter Bill Bishop. He says, “America may be more diverse than ever coast to coast but the places where we live are becoming increasingly crowded with people who live, think and vote [the same]. We've built a country where we can all choose the neighborhood—and religion and news show—most compatible with our lifestyle and beliefs. And we are living with the consequences of this way-of-life segregation. Our country has become so polarized, so idealogically inbred, that people don’t know, and can’t understand, those who live just a few miles away.”*

Spread across this country (and the whole world) is this group of believers called United Methodists who profess a Wesleyan world view but who also suffer the consequences of societal clustering and polarization, Christians who desire to witness to their world as a united church but struggle with the attraction of uniformity.

Where do we take hold of the dilemma? Bill Bishop contends that “we Americans don’t know how to listen anymore.” Writer and speaker, Tom Peters co-authored In Search of Excellence in 1982.** In 2010 Peters posited that the most important words in an organization are: what do you think?  Peters says, “Those four words mean, ‘You are a person of value who has an opinion that I want to hear.’”
Maybe that’s where we start. As humans we are driven by a freedom to express ourselves as to what we hold dear in our beliefs and our longings. “What do you think?” can be music to our ears.

There is a certain weariness that comes in a quest to innaugurate victors and excommunicate vanquished. Might the weariness of that “football kind of mind” bring us to a place that would make us more anxious to speak gracioiusly, to listen intently, and to find common ground on which to live with our differences in a more congenial, creative, and collaborative mode? And that should be good news for people who call themselves Methodists. Connexionalism (to use Wesley’s spelling) is the brand in which the Methodist Movement was birthed and we may live to see the day when our connectedness ignites a revived spirit among us.
The bad taste of a church split is on our lips and we seek God’s face.

Much of publishing these days is interactive. It is two way with the chance to respond to ideas submitted by authors. As the Susquehanna LINK we will be venturing into a new communication endeavor in the near future. We ask your prayers and attention in the next few months.

So, what do you think?

— JW

  * See
** See

The Journey

By Mike Bealla, Director of Connectional Ministries

Vitality … a passing fad?

Let’s be honest. Over the years, we in the church have heard catch phrases, themes, and visions come and go. Most have had value to encourage us, captivate our dreaming, and sometimes challenge our ways of thinking about and being the church. Right now we are hearing a lot about vitality. From its Latin root (I just wanted to let you know that I took Latin in High School!), vitality is about life. It also implies a sense of healthy existence beyond just being.

In the last year or so, the United Methodist bishops and General Church entities have encouraged us to think about our vitality. The Vital Signs dashboard was designed so that we as leaders of our churches could record data to the site so that we could track indicators of vitality. In the medical world, we know doctors chart our vital signs to measure how healthy or how ill we are at a given time. Keeping those charts also help give a long-term view of our health and, need I say it, our vitality.

While we might smile and consider all of this talk simply another passing fad that will come and go and be forgotten over time, perhaps the conversation is more prophetic than faddish. The reality is, the church exists as the living body of Christ present in the world today to continue Christ’s work. Without vitality any organism will eventually weaken and die. Perhaps checking our vitality is so much more important for the future of our churches than we might want to believe.

What is vitality and how do we measure it? The general church has suggested sixteen drivers of local church vitality … expressions of a church alive in mission and ministry. The Vital Signs dashboard is built upon several of these drivers, suggesting we can measure vitality by attendance, number of folks in small groups, number of persons involved in actual hands-on mission in their communities, dollars received for mission and ministry, etc. Others have described what a vital church looks like and does in a new flourish of books and articles.

While all of these methods of checking our vitality can help, let me offer a simpler measure. Since the very reason … the most important purpose … the one thing we must do to dare call ourselves the church is summed up in our mission statement of “Making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world,” why not begin there. After all, the mission statement comes from the very commissioning words of Jesus as he left the first disciples in charge of all that he had begun (Matthew 28:16-20).

 To be faithful to Jesus is, for the church to lead new people into new relationships with Jesus and each other, and to help nurture them in order that they will help transform the world into God’s kingdom. Having said that, how is your church doing? How many new professions of faith has your church celebrated this year? Have people in your congregation grown in their faith and commitment to Christ? What has changed in your local community because of your church’s faithful work?
The reality is, checking our vitality … checking the state of our health as a church … is not just busy work or a passing fad. It is both a measure of our faithfulness to Christ’s commission of the church and a call to be diligent in the things that really matter for the future of your church’s ministry.

Our Connectional Ministries Staff and the Growing Effective Churches Office can help you examine your vital signs and partner with you to provide the information and tools to help increase the vitality of your church’s mission and ministry. Without our concern for our vitality, the church will not be the people of God alive as Christ envisioned it.

How vital is your church? Think about it along the journey!

Commentary: A question on the end of Blue Mountain

By Jerry Wolgemuth
Director of Communications

It’s been a few years but I remember meeting my friend, Marv, at a yard sale at the Rockville Church one Saturday. From the sidewalk I could see clearly the steep cliff at the end of Blue Mountain above Rockville Bridge
Pointing, I asked, “Marv, how do I get up there?”

“I’ll take you,” he said.


“Sure. Get in the truck.”

For some time I’d stared at the end of Blue Mountain wondering what the world looked like from way up there, and now my friend, Marv, was going to treat me to the view.
In his four-wheel-drive truck we were soon climbing a creek bed that was masquerading as a road. “Watch out for snakes when you come up here,” Marv warned.

I shuddered.

Someone had told me that on a clear day you can see forever way up there at the end of Blue Mountain. It was clear. And sure enough, I could see forever.

Lofty heights take my breath away. They inspire me. They make be feel big; they make me feel small, too. Watching the pavement of Interstate 81 on the way to work every day makes the world take on the personality of concrete and it’s hard to see God in that; but look into a child’s eyes or look at “forever” and your pulse changes.
On another visit to the end of Blue Mountain it seemed like God tapped me on the shoulder and pointed.

There was a little white cross propped up against a tree on the end of Blue Mountain. In black scribbled letters was the name, “Bryan.” That left me pondering. I learned later that a young Bryan took his life at the end of Blue Mountain.

I don’t look at the end of Blue Mountain without pondering — pondering questions that are ages old.

Glad we could get together.

Live Streaming Schedule for Annual Conference 2014

2014 Susquehanna Annual Conference

The following events will be broadcast live via
Verify times at

Thursday, June 12:
Laity Session: 9:30 a.m.
Opening Celebration: 2 p.m.
First Plenary: 3:15 p.m.
Memorial Service: 7 p.m.

Friday, June 13:
Young Adult Worship Experience: 8:15 a.m.
Second Plenary: 9:30 a.m.
Third Plenary: 2 p.m.
Celebration of Ministry: 7 p.m.
Possible Fourth Plenary: 8:15 p.m.

Saturday, June 14:
Bible Study: 8:15 a.m.
Fourth Plenary: 9:15 a.m.
Ordination Service: 1:30 p.m.

Discovery Place: Introducing Covenant Bible Study

Many of you will remember the “Disciple” Bible study series that was produced by Abingdon Press over a decade ago. You’ll remember how these long, in-depth Bible studies were challenging but how they also gave you a comprehensive understanding of the Scriptures. In that same spirit, Abingdon Press has just released its newest study to help us move further along in our study of God’s Word. Covenant Bible Study is an in-depth group Bible study that centers on our relationships with God, with each other, and with the world.

It differs from other Bible studies in that it emphasizes the biblical concept of Covenant — the enduring commitment between God and people — as a unifying pattern throughout the entire Bible. It underscores the unique relationship that God chooses to have with us as God’s people.

The 24-week study covers the whole Bible by moving between the Old and New Testaments — discussing books from each in a way that shows the interconnectedness of Scripture as a whole.

Each week’s episode includes a thought-provoking 20-minute video conversation between biblical experts that stimulates further discussion and reflection among the group members.

To help the Covenant group deal with busy schedules, the episodes are structured in a modular way to provide flexibility without sacrificing committed study. Three 8-episode segments each explore a different aspect of Covenant life. Each will examine what Covenant means, and the progression of a Covenant relationship with God.

Creating the Covenant examines how the Covenant community is created and established.

Living the Covenant focuses on how the community lives out their Covenant in faithful love — how it’s applied to actual relationships in everyday life.

Trusting the Covenant looks at the crises that sometimes call Covenant life into question, and how we are restored to trust in God when troubling things happen.

By mid-April, Discovery Place will have these studies available for lending. Call Jody Robinson at 1-800-682-2615, send an email to, or view the catalogue at to place an order or get more information. More information on the study can be found at

Hearts Strangely Warmed: Charlie Bubb

“While the leader was describing the change which God works in the heart through faith in Christ, I felt my heart strangely warmed. I felt I did trust in Christ alone for salvation; and an assurance was given me that He had taken away my sins, even mine, and saved me from the law of sin and death.” — John Wesley, May 24, 1738

By Sandii Peiffer

God calls us to tell our story so that others may come to know Jesus Christ. “Hearts Strangely Warmed” was created to share these stories about tranformational encounters with the Living God.

Charlie Bubb holds his newborn granddaughter
Charlie Bubb 

When Charlie Bubb had the dream of going on a mission trip with his wife Nadine, he never imagined how much he would get out of it. They always went away in the winter to a luxury resort where they would soak up lots of sun, rest, and relax.

Their newly appointed pastor at Dorranceton UMC, Rev. Calvin Rich, knew Rev. Lenore Hosier, who was a missionary pastor in Freeport, Bahamas. Rev. Hosier was in Huntingdon in July 2012 with a Bahamian choir group. The choir held a concert at the church where Charlie and Nadine met Hosier, and  they got the [mission trip] ball rolling. They announced that they would be going on a mission trip in January 2013, and invited anyone interested to join them. They ended up with a group of sixteen people, and after several meetings, a lot of phone calls, many emails, and a lot of fund raising — including donations made to the church in support of the mission trip — they raised enough funds to go.

“Before I went on our mission trip I was not sure where my Christian faith was heading. I always believed that there was a God, but just wasn’t sure how he could help me to go down that path,” Charlie remembered. He wasn’t sure what to expect on the mission trip, either. “I was a little nervous about going because of the unknown, but I knew that we weren’t alone on this ride, because God would be there to guide us and lead us wherever he wanted us.”

They set out on the trip to Freeport, Grand Bahamas. After a long day of travel to get there, Rev. Rich, Rev. Hosier, Charlie, and Abe McIntyre, a representative from Bahamas Methodist Habitat, visited some of the sites at which they would be serving for the week. (They also worked with the Urban Renewal office, a government agency that deals with low income housing, who lined up the sites at which they would be working.)

“When we got to Aunt Henney’s house, I knew something special was going to happen that week. She was so full of fire for the Lord, and she got so excited, that she almost fell down a couple of times — good thing Rev. Rich was there to catch her!” Aunt Henney was 97 years old and did all of her housework by herself.

Then they arrived at Julie’s house. “When we got there and saw her house, I just couldn’t believe that anyone could live in a place like that, let alone five people living there,” recalled Charlie. It was about a 16-foot-by-20-foot ‘shack.’ There was no running water, no toilet, very little lighting, and trash laying everywhere outside. “It was terrible, but that was just the way it was.” They were only supposed to hang a door and put in a few windows, but it was apparent that they would be doing more.

On the first day of work, the mission team was split in two; one team going to Aunt Henney’s house and the other team going to the house of Miss Hestine. The group that went to Aunt Henney’s fixed some doors, but she was most grateful that they had cleaned her house. The second group, of which Charlie was a part, hung two doors “with a little persistence and a lot of help from God,” for Miss Hestine.

“They were so thankful for our help,” said Charlie, “and that was the start of the transformation that occurred with me. It gave me peace-of-mind knowing that we were able to help someone who needed it.”

Then both teams went to Julie’s house and started to prepare for the work to be done. One of the volunteers walking inside her house stepped through the floor, so they decided to put in a new floor as well. They pulled out the half-rotten wood floor and prepared it for a new concrete floor to be poured the next day. Charlie fell ill the next day and had to stay in bed. “I felt so bad that I couldn’t go out with them, but I knew that I had to rest and get my strength up so that I would be able to go back when I could.” In Charlie’s absence the team and many local volunteers had mixed and poured the concrete floor, reframed one wall of Julie’s house, and installed a new door and window. “This wasn’t an easy thing to do, but the community came together to help, and it was amazing,” said Charlie.

“There was a lot of hard work and we were tired every day, but in the end it was all worth it just to know how much our help was appreciated. The thanks that we received was so gratifying.”

After coming home from the mission trip, things were much clearer to Charlie. “I realize that God has his hand in everything we do. Helping those families really opened my eyes, and now I know that helping others to improve their way of living, and helping spread God’s word, is awesome! After leaving I felt much more comfortable in my faith, and now I believe I have an idea of what God wants from me.

“We left our footprints in the Bahamas, and they left their footprints in my heart. It is such a great feeling knowing that we were able to touch just a few lives and know that God is living with us all.”

New Conference Director of Young People’s Ministry

Audrey Wilder will assume the role of Director of Young People’s Ministries on July 1, 2014.

Rev. Mike Bealla is pleased to announce the addition of Audrey Wilder to the Connectional Ministries Team staff, as Director of Young People’s Ministry. She will follow the Rev. Warren Bevacqua who left the position last January on medical leave. Audrey will begin this half-time position on July 1, 2014.

Audrey says she is excited to become a part of the great ministry God is doing in and through the Susquehanna Annual Conference. She moved to Hershey with her husband, Jack, in 2011, after he took a job with The Hershey Company. Audrey was born and raised in Burlington, North Carolina and is a lifelong United Methodist. After serving as President of her youth group, she went on to major in Religion at High Point University, where she graduated Summa Cum Laude and with all university and departmental honors.

Recognizing her passion and calling for youth ministry, Audrey enrolled in Duke Divinity School, where she received her Master’s in Divinity with a certificate in Christian Education. She has served two previous churches as the Children’s and Youth Minister. She most recently served as the Director of Youth Ministries at First UMC, Hershey.

Audrey has been involved in several areas of ministry in the Susquehanna Conference, serving on both the Young People’s Ministry Council and the Board of Ordained Ministry.

Jack and Audrey recently added another member to their family. Flynn Wilder was born  on March 2. In her now more limited spare time, Audrey enjoys drinking coffee, reading, and photography.

Growing Effective Churches welcomes new Administrative Assistant

Rev. Margaret (Peggy) Spengler is the new Administrative Assistant in the office of Congregational Development.

The Rev. Margaret (Peggy) Spengler began working with Growing Effective Churches in April, 2014.

Peggy is an ordained elder of the United Methodist Church (retired). In her most recent appointment she was part of the initial group of pastors and churches to move through the Matthew 28 process beginning in 2009.

Below is what Pastor Spengler shares about herself and her ministry:
“I am a child of God, daughter of the King with a deep desire to be part of “Growing Effective Churches” for the Kingdom of God.

“I have served churches in Durham, NC; Birmingham, Alabama; Denver, Colorado, Altoona, Chambersburg, Montandon/Milton, Mechanicsburg, and Newburg, Pennsylvania.

“After serving United Methodist Churches for 26 ½ years, I retired last July 2013, after 10 years of service with the Newburg United Methodist Church. The last years of my ministry with the folks at Newburg was being part of the Matthew 28 Initiative. The benefits we received from Matthew 28 helped us to reorganize our ministry to make effective disciples of Jesus Christ and reach out in mission and ministry to the community.

“My positive experience at Newburg with the Matthew 28 Initiative lead me to another Matthew 28 church in retirement, Fishing Creek Salem UMC, where I have participated in, and watched the growth and change in their ministry over the last 6 months.

“I am excited about becoming a part of “Growing Effective Churches” with Rev. Dr. Dennis Otto, Director of Congregational Development. As we work together to enable pastors and congregations to develop their potential as instruments of God for the purpose of “[making] disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.” (U.M. Mission statement)

“I live in my retirement home in Mechanicsburg. I am the mother of three children and grandmother of eight. My goal in retirement is to be a mentor, advocate and prayer warrior for all 12 children/grandchildren! Along with my ministry to my family is my call to the contemplative life. I have taken the course in Spiritual Direction through the Center for Spiritual Direction and am now taking an additional course, Spiritual Direction/Spiritual Guide through Oasis Ministries.

“As you begin working with Dennis and myself, know that your churches: congregations and pastor(s) will be held up in prayer.”

A swingin’ Celebration of Ministry

The Unforgettable Big Band of York, Pa., will play some swingin’ music during the Annual Conference Celebration of Ministry service on Friday evening, June 13.
By Matthew Wensel

The music at this year’s Celebration of Ministry service at Annual Conference will be lead by the Unforgettable Big Band, a traditional classic big band from York, Pa. Unforgettable covers many of the great and lasting songs of the swing era including arrangements by Glenn Miller, Tommy Dorsey, Benny Goodman, Duke Ellington, Count Basie, and more. At Annual Conference, they’ll be sharing several outstanding big band arrangements of hymns and gospel favorites. Their outstanding big band vocalists will lead the congregational singing!

Unforgettable is a faith based, community service-oriented group of musicians. Currently in their 13th season, Unforgettable was founded in 2000 by Steve Spangler. The group is lead by Thomas McLaughlin, who is assisted by pianist/arranger Lindy Mack. The band operates as a non-profit organization, dedicated to continuing the American big band tradition.

To find out more about the Unforgettable Big Band, please visit

Bald Eagle Area: Mountain Top volunteers close in on community center goal

An architect’s rendition of what the Mountain Top Activity Center will look like when renovations are complete

This article can be found at:

Wesley ‘failure’ morphs into lively renewal movement

By Joey Butler
Reprinted from Interpreter Magazine, January/February 2014.

The roots of Methodism were actually grounded in a perceived "failure." Brothers John and Charles Wesley were Church of England missionaries to the colony of Georgia, arriving in March 1736. Their mission was unsuccessful, and both returned to England disillusioned and discouraged — Charles in December 1736, and John in February 1738.

Transformative spiritual experiences reenergized the brothers, and they went on to found the lively renewal movement within the Church of England.

John Wesley
John Wesley believed and preached that God’s grace was available to all. His often-controversial sermons led many churches to shun him, so he took to the streets to preach directly to the public. His mission was to spark a revival within the church, and to do so, he gathered new converts in small groups, societies, and appointed laypeople as leaders. Once a year, he gathered them together for a conference.

He also embraced lay preaching, a somewhat scandalous idea at the time. However, he needed people to carry on his movement, and it would have been impossible to get enough ordained ministers for the task.

Wesley was fervent about evangelism – hence his famous saying that “the world is my parish.” Today, The United Methodist Church is in mission in more than 135 countries.

Methodism is deeply rooted in social justice and “practical” Christianity.

Wesley believed that followers of Christ are called to care for those in need. Deeply concerned with human suffering and following Jesus’ teachings to help the poor, he organized a group of volunteers in London who routinely visited with the sick, providing spiritual and, if possible, medical care.

He also fought against what he considered the greatest evils of his day: poverty, war, ignorance and disease. Those beliefs aligned with his insistence that all are merely stewards of wealth, not owners of it, and that we are called to “do all the good you can” – the seeds of modern philanthropy.

Wesley’s conviction that education should be available to all led him and the church he founded to be forerunners in the field of higher education, a mission that continues to this day. Currently, 121 colleges and universities are affiliated with The United Methodist Church, and more than 700 schools worldwide share a commitment to the Wesleyan tradition.

Though overshadowed by his older brother, Charles Wesley is responsible for Methodism’s musical tradition. Charles is reported to have written more than 6,000 hymns, including many of the church’s best-loved hymns still featured in today’s United Methodist Hymnal: “O for a Thousand Tongues to Sing,” “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing,” “A Charge to Keep I Have.”

John Wesley started a movement that would become one of the largest Protestant denominations in the world, but he died in 1791 thinking of himself as an Anglican priest. It was only after his death that his followers left the Church of England to found The Methodist Church.

The Wesleys never returned to the colonies after their missionary experience, but others in their movement took the message across the Atlantic. Organized Methodism in America began as a lay movement. Among its earliest leaders were Robert Strawbridge, an immigrant farmer who organized work about 1760 in Maryland and Virginia, Philip Embury and his cousin, Barbara Heck, who began work in New York in 1766, and Captain Thomas Webb, whose labors were instrumental in Methodist beginnings in Philadelphia in 1767. African Americans participated actively in these groundbreaking and formational initiatives, though much of that contribution was acknowledged without much biographical detail.

The ordination of Bishop Francis Asbury by Bishop Thomas Coke at the Christmas Conference establishing the Methodist Episcopal Church of the United States at Baltimore, Maryland, in the winter of 1784.
To strengthen the Methodist work in the colonies, John Wesley sent two of his lay preachers, Richard Boardman and Joseph Pilmore, to America in 1769. Two years later, Wesley dispatched Rev. Richard Wright and the Rev. Francis Asbury to undergird the growing American Methodist societies. Francis Asbury to undergird the growing American Methodist societies. Asbury — also the first Methodist bishop — became the most important figure in early American Methodism. His energetic devotion to the principles of Wesleyan theology, ministry, and organization shaped Methodism in America in a way unmatched by any other individual. In addition to the preachers sent by Wesley, some Methodists in the colonies also answered the call to become lay preachers in the movement.

As Methodism flourished in the 19th century, the denomination split into several denominations over slavery, the treatment of African Americans by the church and other issues. Some of those churches eventually reunited; others remain separate today.

At the same time, two other church movements were growing rapidly.

The Rev. Philip William Otterbein, a German Reformed pastor, and Rev. Martin Boehm, a Mennonite, preached an evangelical message and experience similar to the Methodists. In 1800 their followers formally organized the Church of the United Brethren in Christ. Jacob Albright, a Lutheran farmer and tilemaker in eastern Pennsylvania, who was converted and nurtured under Methodist teaching, began a second church, The Evangelical Association. It was officially organized in 1803.
These two churches were to unite with each other in 1946 to form the Evangelical United Brethren Church. That denomination united with The Methodist Church in 1968 to form The United Methodist Church.


Adapted by Joey Butler from The Book of Discipline of The United Methodist Church - 2004. (Copyright 2004 by The United Methodist Publishing House) and Meet the Methodists by Charles L. Allen. Butler is editor of young adult content for United Methodist Communications in Nashville, Tenn. Used by permission.

Pastors offer ‘Ashes to Go’ in Waynesboro

Rev. Mark Shover, pastor of Faith United Methodist Church in Waynesboro, Pa., imposes ashes on Joseph Clark on the morning of Ash Wednesday, March 5, 2014, on Waynesboro’s Center Square.

This article can be found at:

Plenty of opportunities

Members and visitors at Wellsboro UMC explore the Opportunity Fair to learn more about the various ministry opportunities of the church.
By Dave Bowen

Sunday, March 30th, Wellsboro UMC held their first “Opportunity Fair” after the morning worship service. Hosted by the Lay Leadership team, tents were set up in the large common area next to the sanctuary affectionately known as the “Rotunda.” Each tent was manned by team leaders from various ministry opportunity areas of the church to help explain the mission of their particular area and answer any questions. Interest surveys were available for the church members to indicate where their interests are. A Spiritual Gifts Inventory was also offered.

It was a successful event with many visitors to the morning service also participating. Popcorn and food added to the ‘Fair’ feel. The event’s theme was supported during the Laity led service with a drama skit, children’s message and scripture reading (Ephesians 4: 1-6 & 11-16), all emphasizing how we are all a part of the Body of Christ.

Pray for Ukraine

By Rev. John Calhoun
General Board of Global Ministries missionary

Greetings and peace from Kyiv, Ukraine. As you have been following, it has been a traumatic few months here in Ukraine. In February, the center of Kyiv was engulfed by violent confrontations between protesters and riot police that left up to 100 dead and many hundreds injured. The upheaval led the (former) President Victor Yanukovich to flee Ukraine, and resulted in a new government being elected to serve the country.

Since those tumultuous events, the streets in Kyiv have remained calm, but conflict has spread to other parts of Ukraine. In recent weeks, Russian forces invaded Crimea, a move that resulted in this southern Ukrainian peninsula being annexed by Russia. Russian forces are now positioned along Russia’s western border with Ukraine. There remains a fear that even a small provocation could lead to an invasion by Russian troops into eastern Ukraine.

Throughout these difficult months, congregations of the United Methodist Church in
Kiev clergy protesting
Ukraine have been fervently praying for a peaceful end to the violence. The conflict is not over, and so we remain in prayer, awaiting the next developments and striving to proclaim the gospel message of peace. In these dark moments, we have found strength and comfort in the support of our many friends in the US and around the world who have been joining us in prayer.

Kiev protests Russia's invasion of Ukraine
Recently our Bishop, Eduard Khegay, traveled from Moscow to western Ukraine
to visit with our pastors and offer his support and prayers during this difficult time. You may read his personal reflection on the current situation below.*

Thank you, dear friends of the Susquehanna Annual Conference, for your continued support and prayers.

The Rev. John Calhoun, an ordained elder of the New York Annual Conference, is a missionary with the General Board of Global Ministries of The United Methodist Church serving as director of St. Luke’s United Methodist Church’s Family Center in Kyiv (Kiev), Ukraine.
As the center director, John works with a team of social workers and community organizers to provide a wide range of services, including counseling, work and life skills, and educational support to street children, single mothers, and families in crisis. Within the St. Luke’s congregation, John assists in conducting worship services and serves in a mentoring role to the congregation’s Ukrainian pastor and leadership team.


*Bishop Khegay Offers a Prayer for Ukraine

My prayer is for Ukraine, for peace and unity. My prayer is for Ukraine – this is a song of our brothers and sisters from The United Methodist Church in Kiev.

During our meeting of pastors and leaders of United Methodist Church in Ukraine last week, we lifted up our prayers for the people and the country, for peace and unity. Brothers and sisters shared their worries and concerns for the country’s future.

Many could not come from the east to Zakarpatie where we have had our meeting. As I was preaching in our churches in Zakarpatie, my heart was filled with grace and faith, when brothers and sisters with tears in their eyes lifted up their prayers to God for their country.

In this politically conflicting time, the church continues to share the gospel way – the way of active ministry to people, preaching of hope and faith, proclamation of God’s power and providence in the history of humankind. According to testimonies of brothers and sisters from different cities, Christian churches never prayed so fervently for their country and for their people as in this difficult time. Also, people were never so open for the gospel and for prayer as in this time.

I thank God for United Methodist churches in Ukraine, who bring hope and reconciliation to people in this difficult time, encourage people and serve those in need. Let us all stand in prayer for our brothers and sisters in Ukraine, for all people and country. My prayer is for Ukraine.

— Bishop Eduard Khegay, The United Methodist Church in Eurasia

Start by creating community

By Anne Horton, Director of Camp & Retreat Ministry

Since January, I have been to numerous churches and events.  I have heard similar questions being asked, whether it’s related to children, youth or adults.

  • “How do you begin to meet the needs of people?” 
  • “How do you get people involved?”  
  • “How do you get new people and current members to agree on anything?” 
  • “What can we do…?”

You can probably add your own questions! These may be questions you have heard within your own church.  Many times, what I hear is more of the divide that churches are experiencing of we/they, us/them mentality, than of creating a culture of community.

My feeling from all these questions is why are we not spending time getting to know people? Why are we not creating community?  Whether they are in the church, in the community, at work, or in the neighborhood, why are we not reaching out to get to know people? We say we want to be in community, yet we do not take the time to listen, to get to know the people that cross our path on a daily basis.  I believe we are too afraid to open ourselves to let the walls come down that we have spent so much time building, so that we as individuals can remain on the edge when Christ is calling us to get into the game of life.

Many times I feel we have lost the art of communicating with each another.  So how do we engage conversation with people who say they know each other but it’s evident that they do not?

The next time you have a church meal, for everyone who attends, give them a nametag.  Each nametag needs to have a symbol on it (star, flower, sun, cross,…).  If you think 50 people will be present, create 10 different symbols.  As you start your meal, have the people find the others with the same symbols to sit together. Have a designated leader who will guide the conversations for all the different tables by asking any of the following questions:
  • Share your name and does it have a special meaning or were you named for someone?
  • Where are you originally from?
  • What is one interesting fact about the town you grew up in?
  • Who was God to you when you were a child?
  • What has been one of the best compliments you have received as an adult/youth/child?
  • What is one thing you are really good at doing?
  • If you had the opportunity to meet someone from history, who would it be and why?
  • Who or what makes you laugh?
  • What gives you the greatest satisfaction and what gives you the greatest concern?
  • Tell about a time when someone was generous to you?
  • If you had your own talk show, who would your first 2 guests be and why?
From these questions and others like them, we begin to find commonalities.  We discover we are more alike than we thought.  The cultural barriers start to come down as we see we are both striving for similar things; to be heard and recognized as a human being. We’re striving for the love and grace of God.  Oh, we may not say it that way, but we are all seeking recognition and affirmation.  “Thank you for a job well done.” “We appreciate what you are doing.” “Thank you for caring, listening, giving of yourself.”

May this be a starting place for the church, the small group, the new members, the current members, the youth, or whomever.  It will begin the process of creating community and hospitality.

Attention singers!

The Annual Conference Choir performed a number of moving musical selections during the Memorial service at the 2013 Susquehanna Annual Conference in June, 2013. The opportunity is open once again to sing with the Annual Conference Choir in June, 2014.

The Annual Conference Choir once again provide music ministry at the Memorial Service at this year’s Annual Conference. The choir of 80 voices was very well received at last year’s Annual Conference!  The Memorial Service will be held at 7:00 PM on Thursday, June 12. Choirs from several churches and members of Chi Rho singers will make up the core of this ensemble.  However, an open invitation is extend to any singer from our annual conference to join this exciting ministry.
The music for this event will be accessible enough that it can be prepared through individual rehearsal with online practice tracks and in a brief rehearsal at 5:30 PM before the service.

Please visit to register to participate in this event.  The registration information will allow the leaders of this ministry to order the appropriate amount of music, which will be provided by the conference.  

If you have any questions or you are unable to register online, please contact Matthew Wensel, the musical director for the 2014 Annual Conference. You may call him at 717-451-5990 or email him at

Please consider being part of this choir. Many will be blessed by your ministry!

Where your Treasure is: Feeding sheep: Generosity from a young perspective

By Rev. Phyllis Bowers
Executive Director United Methodist Stewardship Foundation

We trust good deeds will trickle down according to God’s design, just as exhaled, condensed breath is molded into a cloud and trickles down, drunk by moss on a forest floor we’ll never see.

Some understand environmental interdependence, but we’re now confronting global wounds on a whole new scale. We do this daily, facing bruises given to those we love and those we don’t even know.

We’re charged to steward a global household. But how can we manage this abundance of matter? We must balance feeding with being fed. God’s generous hand continues to spill manna and sometimes we exploit that gift.

One night I fed orphaned lambs from a bottle. The bottle wasn’t going anywhere, but they were chasing it, kicking their hind legs. It’s natural to want to satiate an appetite. But human greed is mindless, distinguishing it from generosity, which is grounded in mindfulness. In a way, college students are orphaned, so I couldn’t blame the lambs for kicking, after all, they’d just lost their mother.

We are kicking just as desperately as we try to organize daily activities around chaos. We’re afraid of leaving a messy planet for future generations and of disappointing parents. In young adulthood, we still want acknowledgment from parents, but we also want to challenge them. Sometimes our generation is afraid of not being acknowledged to the point of forgetting to give quietly. Let’s be remembered in family stories after we’ve been folded back into clay.

What are we called to do? Feed my sheep. Sometimes this literally means offering a bottle of milk to hungry lambs, and sometimes it means setting aside ten percent of your energy to help a friend. It is the work of the young to redefine stewardship. Maybe tithing means reducing fuel-powered energy usage by ten percent.

My friends express fear of being alone – socially, spiritually, physically – on campus, on line, falling asleep. Mom’s recipe for friendship (true social security): Very few people won’t return a smile. Cultivating generosity begins with giving a smile, knowing you might not get one back.

Make sure you’re chasing things worth chasing: a parent’s blessing and the gratitude of your unborn children.

Excerpted from an article by the same title from “Giving – Growing Joyful Stewards in Your Congregation – Fearless Generosity,” the annual stewardship magazine published by the Ecumenical Stewardship Center.

Original article by Anna Mullen. To order your copy of “Giving…” contact us at 717-766-7343, 800-272-0113, go to or call 855-278-4372. Other theme materials are available.

For more information contact Phyllis Bowers at (local) 717-766-5376 or 

(toll-free) 1-877-619-5974 or e-mail

Creation and Spirituality retreat

A “Creation and Spirituality” retreat will be held April 25-26, 2014, at the Center for Spiritual Formation at Orchard Hill in Millerstown, Pa.

Rev. Jean Blackie will lead a multi-media exploration of the ways we experience God in nature, and how we might intentionally live in relationship with the created world.

  • Explore the geology of Orchard Hill and environs;
  • Participate in a “Green” Bible study;
  • Discover the wildflowers and other flora on the mountain;
  • Notice the songs of birds;
  • Plan creative ways of caring for the environment.

Bring a journal, even a friend, and a willingness to experience God anew in creation and find new ways to improve your relationship with the earth.

The cost of $100 per person includes overnight accommodation, meals & 1 ceu.
Friday, April 25th at 6:30 p.m. until Saturday, April 26th at 4:00 p.m.

For more information, contact the Center for Spiritual Formation, 45 South West Street, Carlisle, PA 17013, e-mail or phone 717-240-0678.

Mission U offers learning opportunities around missions

Once again, excellent courses and leadership are planned for this summer’s “Mission U” experience at Bucknell University in Lewisburg. Sponsored by the Susquehanna Conference and United Methodist Women, this annual event is scheduled for July 10-13, where participants are “learning together for the transformation of the world.”

  • Sampler Day is July 10
  • Youth event is July10-13
  • Adults and Children 3-day event, July 11-13

Courses offered are: “How Is It with Your Soul?” and “The Church and People with Disabilities,” as well as a mini-session on last year’s offering of “The Roma of Europe.”

Complete course descriptions, brochure, and registration information, as well as scholarship applications for youth, are available at
Register by June 15. CEUs are available.

For more information, contact Sue Reisinger, Registrar, at 570-743-1809 or

From Membership to Discipleship workshop offered

Phil Maynard
You are invited to participate in a workshop entitled “From Membership to Discipleship,” led by Phil Maynard.

The workshop is being offered twice:
Saturday, April 26, 2014, 9:00 a.m. - 3:30 p.m. at Shiremanstown UMC, 125 E. Main St, Shiremanstown, PA 17011; and again on Sunday, April 27, 2014, 2:30 p.m. - 8:30 p.m. at First UMC, 604 Market St, Williamsport, PA 17701

The key shifts that will be explored are:

  • From fellowship to hospitality.
  • From worship as an event to worship as a lifestyle.
  • From membership to discipleship.
  • From serve us to service.
  • From ‘survival mentality’ to generosity.

Phil Maynard serves as Director of the Coaching Network and Church Strategist for Path1 (General Board of Discipleship, UMC) and Director of Excellence in Ministry Coaching.  After several years serving as the Director of Congregational Excellence in the Florida Conference (UMC) Phil has moved into a full-time ministry of coaching, consulting, and training.

Phil is an Endorsed Coach (UMEA), a pastor with 25 years experience of growing healthy churches, and has four graduate degrees (M.Div., Th.M., M.S.Ed., and D.Min.) all with a focus on growing mature disciples and healthy churches.

These workshops are provided as ongoing support for all pastors and congregations that have been part of Matthew 28 or other consultation process, but all are invited.

The cost is $15 per person for those whose churches have been part of the Matthew 28 process; $30 per person for those who have not been part of Matthew 28; or $25 per person for any group of 4 or more from a church not already part of Matthew 28. Included in the registration fee is a copy of Phil Maynard’s book Shift, a meal, and .5 CEUs.

Online registration, with the ability to pay by credit card or check, is available at (look under “Events” on the main page.)

Questions about the workshop? Contact Dennis Otto at
Registration questions? Contact Eileen Vizthum at or call 717-755-8863.

Heritage Sunday 2014 focuses on Thomas Coke

By Milton Loyer, Susquehanna Conference Archivist

The theme for Heritage Sunday in 2014 as set by the General Commission on Archives and History is “The Church’s Heritage in Mission: Remembering the 200th Anniversary of the Death of Thomas Coke.” The May 18 date is set by action of the General Conference and noted in The Book of Discipline as being Aldersgate Day or the Sunday preceding that day. Certainly a local church is free to observe it on another date. The Discipline states, “Heritage Sunday calls the Church to remember the past by committing itself to the continuing call of God” (par. 264.1).

Internationally, the 200th Anniversary of the death of Thomas Coke will be commemorated by a weekend of addresses and worship at Brecon Cathedral, Anglican, in Wales, the birthplace of Thomas Coke. Robert Williams, General Secretary of the Commission on Archives and History, will deliver an address. Preaching on Sunday morning, May 4, will be Bishop Thomas Bickerton, Pittsburgh Area; and a Saturday afternoon sermon will be delivered by Lord Leslie Griffiths, Superintendent Minister of Wesley’s Chapel, London.

In 1782 Thomas Coke became the head of the Methodist movement in Ireland. To conclude the celebrations in the British Isles, General Secretary Williams will travel to Belfast for a reception hosted by the UK Embassy in that city. At that time he will present to Robin Rodie, archivist of the Methodist Historical Society of Ireland, a gift from the Susquehanna Conference: the original “Preaching Diary and Hymnbook of David Gordon.”

David Gordon (1757-1799) was an early itinerant under John Wesley who personally introduced Wesley into the city of Londonderry and was instrumental in the spread of early Irish Methodism. A 1799 letter from Thomas Coke to Gordon urges him to “labour to kindle the same glorious flame in Birr as the Lord blessed us with in Dublin.” This valuable manuscript, presented to the Susquehanna Conference archives by descendants of David Gordon who had lovingly preserved them for generations, will be treasured in Ireland as one of the earliest known records of Irish Methodism.


The following text can be reprinted in church bulletins & web sites:

The Church’s Heritage in Mission: Remembering the 200th Anniversary of the Death of Thomas Coke.

Thomas Coke (1747-1814), primarily remembered as the “Father of Methodist Missions” was also a key figure in the development of Methodism on both sides of the Atlantic. As John Wesley’s right hand man, he became President of the Methodist Church in Ireland in 1782 and was sent to North America in 1784 to organize American Methodism and ordain Francis Asbury as its first bishop.

During his ministry Coke visited America nine times, the last being in 1803, and he and Asbury are the namesakes of United Methodism’s Cokesbury publishing enterprise.

Always deeply interested in missionary work at home and abroad, he established Methodism in the West Indies. Hoping to open Methodist missions in the East Indies, he set sail for Ceylon in 1814 but died on the way.

In addition to being an effective preacher, Coke was an author of considerable importance. His writings include a multi-volume commentary on the Bible and a history of the West Indies. The conference archives at Lycoming College contain four different biographies of Thomas Coke, one dating from 1853, and a rare 1803 volume of his Bible commentary.

Our heritage

By Milton Loyer, Conference Archivist

March - 100 years ago
The 1914 Annual Session of the Central Pennsylvania Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church, March 18-24, at Grace Church in Harrisburg, was the first Methodist conference attended by supply pastor Edward J. Croft, recruited by Harrisburg District Superintendent Augustus S. Fasick, to serve the Harrisonville charge in Fulton County. “Harrisonville had no pastor … I went over to see what could be done. I found a man whom God seems to have called. He was postmaster, store-keeper, and blacksmith at Dane. I took him with me over the circuit on Sunday. He accepted the appointment, closing his shop, his wife taking care of the store and post-office. He was not a Methodist, but a local preacher in the United Brethren Church … God bless him and the county in which he works, from which more preachers have come into this Conference than from any other county in the state.”

The son of a United Brethren pastor, Croft served the six-point Harrisonville Charge for nine years – erecting church buildings at Mt. Zion and Needmore. He then served at Concord, Fort Loudon, York Springs, and Blain for another 19 years – putting in 28 continuous years as an effective supply pastor for Methodism. After retiring to Markes in 1941, he served for brief periods of time at Burnt Cabins, Hustontown, Harrisonville, Neelyton, East Waterford, and Bendersville before dying in 1956.

April - 50 years ago
The Central Pennsylvania Conference (former Evangelical) of the Evangelical United Brethren Church began its Annual Sessions April 28, 1964, at Zion EUB Church [now Zion UMC] in York. The agenda included two items relating to denominational unions.

(1) The Conference approved a Plan and Basis of Union with the Pennsylvania Conference (former United Brethren) that, if approved by the Pennsylvania Conference at its Annual Session in October, would unite the two bodies and end the existence of two overlapping conferences that had been in place since the denominational union of 1946. Later that year, in November 1964, the two conferences formally united to form the Susquehanna Conference.

(2) The Conference approved a plan to place Witmer’s First (former Evangelical Association) from the Selinsgrove Charge and Witmer’s East (former United Evangelical) from the Hummel’s Wharf Charge together as a two-point charge. This ended the existence of two churches in the same denomination that were directly across the road from each other, being on two different charges since the denominational union of 1922 – when two competing denominations put aside past differences, but two competing congregations would not. Later that year, in December 1964, the Witmer’s First church burned down and the two congregations formally united to erect the present Witmers UMC.