Monday, June 30, 2014

For a time such as this

By Terri Assael

The Opening Celebration of the 2014 Susquehanna Conference, held June 12-14 at Messiah College in Grantham, Pa., was “alive.” Hitchcock Arena decorated with window boxes, a greenhouse, and vegetation spoke to the times and seasons God gives for every activity under the heavens. Following a spirited time of worship, Bishop Jeremiah J. Park began his message by recalling how Queen Esther was called from silence to action by Mordecai, who said, “And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?”

Noting the recent court rulings regarding same sex marriage, Bishop Park noted the state of confusion that pervades our church. While church law remains the same, he acknowledged that the church is not of the same mind on this issue. People on both sides are hurting, Bishop Park said. Schism has been proposed. Whatever position we may take, we are to let the love of Christ arise to the other side. We are called to be a church for such a time as this.

It’s time to talk, the bishop said; silence in not an option. When our unity is threatened, it’s time to talk. Bishop Park proposed that we create a sacred space, and have a holy conversation. Time to talk is time to pray. A sacred place of trust, humility. God will take charge and God will show us the way. God is faithful. God is with us.

Bishop Park also urged the Annual Conference to not lose perspective. The mission of the church remains the same: making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.

Speaking to the urgency to defining and raising transformational leaders, Bishop Park said that business as usual for the church body will not work and transformation is not optional. Without change, there is no future, he said.

After noting that transformational leaders make culture shifts, the bishop spelled out cultural shifts churches need to make.

The first is a shift from maintenance to mission priorities. We are to be vital and viable by connecting the congregations to mission, Bishop Park said. Unless people are excited about mission, it becomes difficult to raise resources for mission.

The second is a shift from inward focus to outward focus: Be tenacious in making connections in the community. A vital connection with the community makes for a vital congregation, he said.

The third is a shift from making members to making disciples: Membership is a relationship with the congregation. Membership has little to do with our journey of faith. Discipleship is a relationship with God. The primary focus of the disciple is ministry to others. The future depends on engaging identity with a movement, Bishop Park said.

The best way to make disciples for Jesus Christ is to become one, the bishop said. The best way to raise up transformational leaders is to become one.

You are the reason for the hope we have, Bishop Park said. This is our time. We are the ones.

A video of the Opening Celebration service and Bishop Park's message can be viewed at 

Faith for a generation such as this

Left to right: In an Annual Conference worship session entitled “Engaging Young Adults in Ministry,” Rev. Anna Layman-Knox, Rev. Jacob Waybright, Pastor Mindi Ferguson, Pastor Luke Harbaugh, seminary student Kristopher Sledge, and Rev. Matthew Lake discuss ways to engage a lost generation of young adults in faith, in ministry, and in the life of the church.

At the invitation of Bishop Jeremiah J. Park, Rev. Jacob Waybright, seminary student Kristopher Sledge, Rev. Anna Knox, pastors Mindi Ferguson and Luke Harbaugh, and Rev. Matthew Lake led the Susquehanna Annual Conference in an hour-long, worship-infused dialogue, entitled “Engaging Young Adults in Ministry,” whose aim was to share meaningful and faithful reflections about the desires of young adults in matters of faith and the church.

This dialogue is being presented as a series, starting here, in the hope of encouraging dialogue and new ministry efforts in our local churches to reach and engage young adults.

Hearts Strangely Warmed: Rev. Ryan Kraus

“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

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.

Rev. Ryan Kraus

In 2003 I attended my very first Annual Conference — then Central Pennsylvania Conference — as a rowdy delegate from Conference Council on Youth Ministries. CCYM, of course, was the precursor to the Young People’s Ministry Council; same energy, different name.

At age 16 I witnessed ordination for the first time. Bishop Neil Irons, intimidating yet saintly, laid hands on ordinands, spoke with grace of the fiery empowerment of the Holy Spirit, and — like many bishops before and after — consecrated a time of invitation and prayer for anyone discerning even the minutest call into ministry. With the snap of a worn-out light bulb filament, any vestige of resistance to God’s call in my own life snapped, snuffed under the sacred grace spoken through Bishop Irons.

Eleven years, countless mentor relationships, three bishops, two post-secondary schools, and one invigoratingly challenging provisional process later, the sanctity and power of conferencing together still washes over me.

Annual Conference is an inheritance from John Wesley’s conviction that the church is enlivened by holy conversation together. For this reason, I have yet to even remotely begrudge the yearly pilgrimage to Messiah College. Surrounded by colleagues, friends, counselors, all of the passionate, playful, imperfect-yet-purposeful people of God, I never pull out of College Avenue but that my heart too is warmed (though whether by the Holy Spirit or the catering department’s delectible enchiladas, I cannot discern). And sure, our gathering as the Susquehanna Conference is not without late-night resolution sessions and faint eye-glazing at budget recitations, but just like the mud on which Jesus spat, so the most healing of experiences may be mundane and messy.

Now, in 2014, Annual Conference seems a looking glass. Once surrounded by teenage peers, I stand side-by-side with a class of driven, inspired ordinands whose impact and dedication is surely immeasurable. In equal measure I am humbled to be joining so many: clergy and lay, extension ministers and local pastors, retirees and Generation Y, the planters, seekers, and truth-speakers that comprise this stunning slice of the City of God in the Susquehanna Conference. Consider of the words of a hymn often sung at the conclusion of holy conferencing: “We are standing on holy ground.” We have stood here before; many of us will return again. Surely the Christ who dwells in our hearts through faith has so consecrated even us.

Engaging Young Adults in Ministry

Edited by Sandii Peiffer

The following begins a series about Engaging Young Adults in Ministry. At the 2014 Susquehanna Annual Conference we began a dialogue about the absence of young adults in the church and about how we can re-establish our relationships and ministry with them. This series is an edited transcript of the dialogue. 

The video of this presentation can be found at (“Young Adult Presentation”) and the full, unedited transcript can be found at

Rev. Jacob Waybright
We are really excited for this opportunity at Annual Conference, offered by the bishop, for some young adult voices to share things that are on our hearts and that are important to us. As the bishop expressed his desire to have a space for some young adult voices, one of the questions we asked was, “What kind of voices, what questions do we want to ask? What is going to be most helpful for our churches that would be outwardly focused, that would help us in our mission of making disciples?”

What we thought might be helpful is to look, from the perspective of young adults, at a phenomenon that’s been in the news a lot, and that a lot of [United Methodists] are talking about; the idea that young adults are, in a way that is different from previous generations, disconnecting from the church, and oftentimes from faith as well. 

We are going to use some research from the Barna Group and from David Kinnaman, author of “You Lost Me. Why Young Adults Are Leaving Church ... and Rethinking Faith,” as a springboard to begin this conversation. 

In the next issue Kristopher Sledge will share some statistics and some context for what we see going on in our culture and in our country about young adults. 

Then in subsequent issues, we will feature the thoughts of four young adults, Rev. Anna Layman Knox, myself, Pastor Mindi Ferguson, and Pastor Luke Harbaugh, who shared from their perspective some stories and understanding about some of the disconnection, and the themes of disconnection, that are brought up Kinnaman’s book and the Barna Group research. 

Finally we’ll end the print series (but not the ongoing conversation) with a dialogue led Rev. Matthew Lake, where he facilitated some deeper conversation about this, and we’ll also start to think about what this means for us, the church, and what it looks like to create Christian communities that offer authentic community and relationships for young adults.

I think, and I hope, that in some small way this might be helpful for us in our mission of making disciples and that it is a desire that many of us have to engage young adults. 

How many of you have that desire? 

I remember the first church that I served. There was a woman named Nancy, one of those “saints of the church” — you know of these women, these men. When I got there, Nancy was in her early 70s. When you met her you could just see that somehow God had done this great work within her over years of [reading] Scripture, prayer, study, and worship. She just sort of glowed with the light and the love of Christ. She had generosity and joy that just abounded through her and out of her. 

When I came to that church Nancy was fairly sick and at the end of her life. I visited her often in the hospital, and I asked her the question that I always asked, ‘What do you want me to pray for?’ What struck me is that she would never ask that I would pray for her health, but instead she always said, “You know, what I would really like you to pray for is my grandchildren, because I pray for them every day, and I worry about them sometimes.” 

Nancy talked to me in particular about one granddaughter who had been through some difficult things in her life and had completely disconnected from faith and the church. She said, “I pray so desperately every day for her, that she might have the faith that I have.” 

When I led Nancy’s funeral I had the opportunity to sit with the family. As they shared and talked about Nancy’s faith, and how it just exuded out of her, and the power of it, I had the opportunity to tell the family what Nancy had shared with me, about her hope for them, that they not only remember her faith, but they might actually have the faith that had sustained her and given her life. 

To my surprise — though maybe it was a work of God through the prayers of Nancy and a church that was willing to reach out and make connections to all people — about two months later the granddaughter that she had talked about showed up in the pew with her boyfriend and her daughter. And to my surprise she showed up the next week, and the week after that, and the week after that .... Six months after Nancy’s funeral I had the great privilege, and experienced one of the most powerful moments of my ministry, of standing up in front of the church beside her granddaughter who was once again recommitting herself to Christ and to the church, and to stand beside her now fiancĂ© who made his first public profession of Christ and was baptized, and to hold in my arms Nancy’s great-granddaughter and to baptize her as well.

At the heart of this is an issue about our children, our grandchildren, and for those of us who are sharing, our peers — and how we long that they would not just know about our faith, but that they might come to have a faith of their own. 

As you ponder this exodus of young adults from the church and from faith, and wait for the next installment in this series, please take some time to look at a video ( by David Kinnaman as he talks about how and why we are losing this vital generation.

2014 Annual Conference Report: Susquehanna Conference, The United Methodist Church

By Jerry Wolgemuth, Director of Communications

“Jesus reminds us that the world will know us as His disciples, not by taking certain biblical, theological, and doctrinal positions, but by our love for one another,” proclaimed Bishop Jeremiah J. Park in his keynote address that opened the Fifth Session of the Susquehanna Conference. The annual gathering of 1,500 persons for celebration, holy conferencing, and worship was held at Messiah College in Grantham, Pennsylvania, June 12-14, 2014. The theme, “Raising Up Transformational Leaders,” was the second under a quadrennial theme: “Alive in Christ, Together.”

Setting the tone for the event, Bishop Park related the story of Mordecai’s plea for Esther’s decision on behalf of God’s time by paraphrasing Esther 4:4b, “Esther, this is God’s time for you to act for the sake of the future of God’s people. This is the time and you are the one.”

The bishop motioned to those gathered, “The transformational leaders are already here. They are within this room and within the churches of the Susquehanna Conference. We do not have to wait until some people arrive or until God provides someone else, for God has already provided. My brothers and sisters in Christ, you and I are the ones God has called and sent to make a difference ... for such a time as this.”

A significant presentation around ministry with young adults focused on their realities and the unique challenge of our response as a church to engage them in the life of the church.

The combined leadership report focused upon the continuing effort to re-align all conference work around the work of leader development, resourcing local churches in their disciple-making mission, and celebrating our connectional life together. The alignment efforts have produced significant results through the conference’s intentional efforts. Especially celebrated were the Matthew 28, Pastoral Leadership Development, and Equipping God’s people initiatives, as well as Connectional Ministries’ E-Tours and resourcing efforts.

Mission Central reported continued expansion with the addition of the 29th Mission Central HUB. Since January 2014 Mission Central has connected 810,443 people with nearly four million dollars worth of resources.

The Ordination sermon was given by Bishop Joseph Yeakel. Pastor Yvette Davis was the Saturday morning Bible study speaker.

The Conference celebrated the ministries of twenty-five retiring clergy and the lives of thirty-eight clergy or spouses who passed to their eternal reward during the year. The sermon for the Service of Remembrance and Celebration of Life was delivered by Rev. Dr. Thomas Salsgiver, Dean of the Cabinet, who said, “They showed us the way home to God, and they want us to continue their work and move ahead. Even though we can’t see them, they are cheering us on.”

Legislative action included:
Resolution 1: Mental Awareness - Resolved that the Annual Conference should celebrate Mental Health Awareness Month, a special offering Sunday to benefit education efforts, recognition of Suicide Prevention Month, hold a day of prayer to celebrate Mental Awareness Week. The Annual Conference adopted the resolution
Resolution 2: Establishment of a “Home, A Place for Everyone.” Withdrawn, because Just Peace is partnering with the Annual Conference to provide resources for local churches to reach out to help veterans and their families in their communities.
Resolution 3: A Change in the Guidelines for the Chairperson of Administrative Council - Resolved that the “Book of Discipline” be amended to limit the length of service as chairperson on the Administrative Board. The resolution was not adopted because it was out of order.
Resolution 4: Proposing Changes to The Social Principles of the United Methodist Church: Resolved to call upon the General Conference to remove current wording from the Social Principles, Paragraph 160 (I)(F) - Science and Technology related to the descriptions of evolution not in conflict with theology. The resolution was not adopted.

Four persons were commissioned as provisional elders, two were commissioned as deacons, and seven persons were ordained as elders.

Special offering totals to date were: Bishop’s Partners in Mission, $26,087.07; Stop Hunger Now, $20,901.69; Mission Central, $17,356.93; Youth Service Fund, $6,171.19.

The Journey

By Rev. Mike Bealla, Director of Connectional Ministries

What an amazing experience! Friends, God’s Spirit is moving among us. I’ve been attending Annual Conferences for many years now, and I would rank our recent experience among the best. As a clergy person, Annual Conference is my home church … a kind of homecoming experience for clergy and lay alike. As a member of the Susquehanna Conference, I am a part of a God-given missional enterprise to make a difference in the world. It is the community through which I am connected to God in Christ and to my sisters and brothers of the faith by a very unique covenant relationship.

Each year as I watch fellow colleagues retire and new colleagues share in the covenant of ordination I am reminded of the tremendous gift it is to be a part of this great church. It is, simply put, a privilege to share in the ministry alongside the continuing procession of faithful saints, both clergy and lay, who through their lives and their covenants have modeled discipleship along the journey.

I celebrate the sense of hope and joy those attending this Annual Conference experienced as we worshipped, prayed, heard reports, contemplated how we can reach young adults, and were nurtured through preaching and Bible study. We proved again our missional spirit as we responded to the three major offerings with generous giving by our local churches and Conference members, and accepted the plan for funding ministry for 2015.

One of the marvelous blessings I experience as a part of the full Cabinet is to be a part of the laying on of hands during ordination. It is awesome. This year in particular, I was moved to tears as I witnessed the glowing face of each ordinand as Bishop Park empowered them to “take thou authority” to preach and teach, lead, order, and transform the lives of all who will follow Christ. The presence of God’s anointing was clearly visible right before our eyes as the words were spoken. Our future church is in good hands. Thanks be to God!

Although many are quick to point out troubles within and without of the United Methodist Church, this Annual Conference Session made me realize again that this church of ours, or should I say this church of Jesus Christ, is bigger than any one of us … of any one issue, concern, viewpoint, theological perspective, or perceived truth. It’s not about me … not about you … not about who is right and who may be wrong … it is about Christ … and Christ crucified and risen. One body, of which we are all a part, to become for the world in this year of 2014 the living, breathing, walking, transforming, loving, and grace-offering body of the risen Lord. If that’s not worth celebrating, what is?

Leaving the auditorium after packing up all of our materials and belongings, I was asked by a college staff person how everything went. I jokingly responded, ‘It went so well I think we’ll do it again next year!’ God willing, let it be so.

Grace & Peace!

Editorial: Behold! How they love one another.

By Jerry Wolgemuth, Editor/Director of Communications

One of the most profound comments made regarding the early church came from the lips of a man named Aristides, who was asked by the Emperor Hadrian to spy out those strange “Christians.” Having seen them in action, Aristides returned with these immortal words to the emperor: “Behold! How they love one another.”

As a response to the longing for conversation, we have established blog partners to the bi-monthly Susquehanna LINK and the Annual Conference Session Daily LINK. Articles of every issue will be posted on the blog. After each article there is a COMMENT area for you to express your response to the article or respond to the response of another.

The blogs serve a two-fold purpose: a repository for letters to the editor and a display of comments to individual articles in every issue. The blogs also bring to the fore a rather sobering fact that our conversations are now on public display. And that brings a level of judgement on the part of potential readers across the globe to our display of what we profess as “United” Methodists.

We do not always agree. That is reasonable and can be holy. The serious question is — after our virtual discussions, would Aristides return to Hadrian with the report: “Behold! How they love one another.”?
Our hope is that we will all take to heart the Holy Conferencing Principles found on the blogs under “Guidelines for Dialogue.” Your communications office has introduced a medium that we hope will help us articulate the variety in our positions in a gracious manner, offer a forum for listening to each other and, most importantly, an opportunity to truly hear each other.

The blog will be monitored by the editor of the Susquehanna LINK and the Daily LINK. Anonymous letters, or letters judged to be in conflict with holy conferencing principles, will be respectfully withdrawn.

From generation to generation

By Deb Steransky

The Memorial Service at Annual Conference could be summed up in these words: “The love with which we lived our lives is the life of God within us .... This love not only will remain but will also bear fruit from generation to generation.” — Henri Nouwen.

The service opened with a dramatic reading by Rev. Michelle Whitlock and Rev. Randall Bennett Jr. of a passage from Revelation 21 that tells us that there will be a new heaven and a new earth.

Later the congregation was moved by a touching rendition of “What Wondrous Love is This” by the Annual Conference Choir, directed by Matthew Wensel, and accompanied by Carol Heagy.

In Rev. Dr. Thomas Salsgiver’s message, “Celebrating the Raising of Transformational Lives,” he reminded us to celebrate the transformational lives of the people we remembered. They lived with the certainty of God’s word and God’s promise of eternal life. Altogether they served well over 150 congregations. They touched, transformed, and raised up huge numbers of leaders.

Rev. Salsgiver reminded us that Joshua didn’t want to be a leader, even though Moses taught him to be one. Joshua was grieving and felt like he couldn’t go on, just like we feel when we lose a loved one. But God reminded Joshua to be strong and very courageous. Transformational leaders, like Moses, want us to go on, Salsgiver said.

Those we celebrated and remembered showed people the way home to God, and they want us to continue their work and move ahead. Even though we can’t see them, they are cheering us on.

He told a story about a symphony orchestra playing one summer night when a sudden thunderstorm caused the lights to go out in the theater. The orchestra continued to play. When the conductor was later asked how the orchestra could continue to play even though they couldn't see him, he replied that they had practiced for the performance. They knew he was there. So it is with those we remembered, said Salsgiver. Even when we can’t see the saints any longer, we can go forward without fear into the future, knowing they are cheering us on to raise up transformational leaders. Each of those saints was then named and a bell was rung in their honor. A Bible was placed on the altar in remembrance of each lay member, and a stole was placed on a yoke in each pastors’ memory. The stoles will be donated to pastors in Sierra Leone.

In one further act of mission, the Annual Conference was invited to give an offering to Stop Hunger Now. A short video explained the mission of Stop Hunger Now. Over the last year 50,000 volunteers have helped to package meals that will be sent to places of hunger and food insecurity. The final frames noted that twenty children died of hunger while we watched the video.

Bishop Jeremiah J. Park led the communion service. Youth assisted in serving the elements at numerous stations within the congregation. The service ended with a mass choir singing the hope and the joy of following the Christ who hasn't failed us yet.

The video of the Memorial Service can be viewed at

Celebrating the visionaries, the equippers

2014 Class of Retirees
Back row, left to right: Rev. Keith R. Bitner, Pastor Kenneth R. Kitzmiller, 
Rev. Thomas B. Morningstar, Rev. Allen F. Hulslander, Rev. Dr. G. Edwin Zeiders, 
Rev. Dr. Lewis Arnold Parks, Pastor James Paul Rouse
Middle row, left to right: Rev. Dennis W. Derr, Rev. Judith P. Hulslander, Pastor Thomas M. Osif, Rev. Dr. David LaRue Reed, Rev. John Frederick Rauhut, 
Pastor Constance Anne Waugh
Front row, left to right: Rev. Susan Louise Halverstadt, Pastor Barbara Lynn Pease, Mrs. Tina M. Rockwell, Rev. Cheryl Saunders Cavalari, Rev. Jeffrey S. Swanger, 
Pastor Darwin C. Goshorn 
Not Pictured: Rev. William T. Anderson, Rev. H. Russell Blanchard, Rev. David E. Gallick, Pastor Sherry L. Good, Pastor Darlene Teeple Miller, Rev. W. James Pall

By Bethany Wood

The Celebration of Ministry, held Friday evening, June 13, kicked off with the jazzy sounds of the
Unforgettable Big Band. Joyously inviting the congregation to affirm the ministry of retiring clergy and welcoming those to be ordained, the traditional hymns had a decidedly swinging beat. “Come Thou Almighty King!” Be present with us this night, with might!

The celebration began with a welcome and continued as Pastor Kristen Wall-Love, one of the members of this year’s class of ordinands, offered prayer and then proclaimed the Epistle Lesson found in Ephesians 4:7-16. “To each of us, grace has been given …. It was he who gave some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers … to prepare God’s people for works of service so that the body of Christ may be built up.” We are to speak the truth in love, and the body is built up in love.

Rev. Catherine Boileau offered words of encouragement. Recounting her mother’s near drowning when young, Boileau told the gathering of her mother’s subsequent insistence that her children would learn to swim proficiently at the YMCA. She spoke of the grace that comes in equipping those we love for the life that is ahead. Her mother’s gift of making sure she could swim was providential when she joined her youth on a tubing trip. A beautiful day turned challenging as the water on the river began to rage into white water, with a waterfall in sight. The youth were safely able to get on shore with one exception. A boy’s tube overturned, taking him with it. Boileau swam out to help him and was able to rescue him, pushing him out so that he, too, could move to safety. But she was the one now trapped. Equipped by those swimming lessons, Boileau was able to release herself to the movement of the water and eventually find safe harbor. The real grace of the situation occurred when Boileau later baptized the young person who had been trapped under that overturned tube.

Speaking to the retiring clergy, she spoke of how they stepped into the water when they took that spiritual gift of mercy and sat with those who needed comfort; took that gift of administration and organized the work of the ministry, even as Jesus breathed life into that work. In his baptism, Jesus was fully with us. Lovingly he pushed us out of the way of harm with baptismal water and Pentecostal power. He did not ask us to make a memorial plaque and put it in the sand where we were saved. He said take this power and make witnesses and disciples in my name. And so Jesus came and equipped us to be teachers, preachers, and apostles to send to all parts of the river – even to those places we did not dream we would go. Tonight we celebrate the visionaries and equippers, those who prayed, proclaimed, and encouraged. “You lifted us up where our faith was weak, and coaxed us out into the deep where Jesus is.” Possibly we did not thank you at the time, but we are grateful.

The body of the service was crafted under three central themes detailing the many responsibilities and joys of pastoral ministry: The Journey of the Word, The Journey of Sacrament, and The Journey of Order and Service. A fourth theme, The Often Overlooked Journey, gratefully acknowledged the vital contribution and sacrifices made by spouses and family members to the living out of the call. Retiring clergy were greeted warmly by Bishop Jeremiah J. Park as their names were read and years of service were noted.

An offering was taken for the Bishop’s Partners in Mission initiative. Bishop Park invited pastors who do not pick up their congregational packets detailing the initiative to join him in doing one hundred pushups. There were few packets left after the celebration.

Retirees Rev. Dr. G. Edwin Zeiders and Rev. Susan Halverstadt passed the mantle of ministry to ordinands Anna Layman Knox and Ryan Krauss. Stoles belonging to Bishop Jane Allen Middleton, who presided over the formation of the Susquehanna Conference, and Bishop Park were placed by the retirees upon those representing the 2014 ordination class.

Bishop Park led the ordinand class of 2014 in the Historic Examination for Admission into Full Connection. A prayer litany preceded the celebration song of closing and benediction.

A video of the Celebration of Ministry can be viewed at

Transformational leaders in the making

By Terri Asseal

The Annual Conference Session felt a surge of energy as the Young People’s Ministry took the stage to the sounds of Toby Mac, and a media review of this year’s mission and retreats. Images from the initiatives included Stop Hunger Now and Hurricane Sandy relief efforts. Numerous delegates came forward to share various ways each of them embody leadership in their journeys of faith. In the 2013-2014 year, over 550 youth attended youth rallies across the conference. At these rallies thousands of meals were put together for Stop Hunger Now.

The Young People’s Ministry Council meets four to five times a year. YPMC oversees the Youth Service Fund, money raised by youth, distributed by youth, for the purpose of blessing youth. So far, the Annual Conference has raised over $3,100 for the Youth Service Fund. More information about YPMC can be found at

YPMC also represents and resources ministry with young adults. The purpose of this young adult contingent is to assist and model ministry within this age group.

Rev. Mike Bealla took a moment to express heartfelt thanks for the ministry of Rev. Warren Bevacqua, who led YPMC through numerous transitions in the conference. “Warren helped us become Internet savvy,” Bealla said, “as well as navigate important changes so that YPMC might be a place of deep resources.” At the same time, Bealla introduced Audrey Wilder as the new director of Young People’s Ministry.

The report ended with Bishop Jeremiah J. Park announcing that he would do one hundred push ups if the Young People’s Ministry Council would give $100 to the Bishop’s Partnership in Mission. The youth accepted the challenge, and the bishop did 110 push-ups.

Keeping the main thing the main thing

By Terri Asseal and Rose Baker

“Here I am, Lord, is it I, Lord? I have heard you calling in the night ... I will hold your people in my heart.”

A group of thirteen answered that question with a resounding “YES” by dedicating their lives to the work of God Saturday afternoon, June 14, at the Ordination Service of the 2014 Susquehanna Annual Conference.

The Chi Rho Singers opened the ceremony with “Washed Anew.” Bishop Jeremiah J. Park greeted and welcomed the congregation, and together we prayed for grace to fulfill each of our gifts that we may use them for God’s glory.

In preparation for ordination, the candidates were presented to the congregation to be ordained or commissioned, and we agreed to uphold them in their ministry. They answered the examination questions posed by Bishop Park.

The Chi Rho Singers returned to the stage and, with their awesome and angelic voices, moved us with the song, “Then Sings My Soul.”

Bishop Park introduced Bishop Joseph H. Yeakel, the speaker for Ordination, as his bishop — Bishop Yeakel was the one who ordained him.

Following an examination by Bishop Park, those being commissioned were blessed with the laying on of hands.

Bishop Yeakel began his message very simply. He said, “The main thing is to make the main thing the main thing and to keep the main thing the main thing. End of sermon.” Exactly 33 years and three days ago, Bishop Yeakel ordained Jungchan Park as an elder. He recalled what he told Bishop Park’s class of elders. He told them to have eagerness to share the good news, love for all God’s people, and desire to serve God wherever they are sent. He told the current class of ordinands to keep those three things in mind, too.

He said the key to the future of the church depends on its leadership. They must remember the main thing is
I Corinthians 13:1-14:1. It must be central to their ministry. Of all the characteristics that Paul explains in that letter, the ordinands must remember that the greatest of these is love; “Therefore, make love your aim.”

Bishop Yeakel said it’s a tough time to take on ministry right now. It’s a divided church, he said. He always talks about gender, because “when we talk about sex, we diminish love.” When we’re born, we have no religion. We must be carefully taught to hate or to love. As leaders of the church, the ordinands must be the first to offer acceptance. To inspire them, he offered a Franciscan benediction that they may be blessed with discomfort, anger, tears, and foolishness so that they look deep within their hearts, work for justice, reach out to comfort, and make a difference in this world.

A Mission Central video was shown that chronicled the progress and scope of its mission since its beginning two decades ago. Today’s offering will be given to Mission Central to continue its good work.
One by one the ordinands knelt at the altar, and Bishop Park laid his hands on each and blessed them to take on the work of an elder. At the conclusion of the ceremony, they were greeted with thunderous applause as a welcome to and in celebration of their new roles in the Susquehanna Conference.

Bishop Park reminded us that we are all called to serve. He invited the people to come to the altar and offer themselves in service to God in whatever way they feel our Lord has called them. Many answered the call.

A video of this service and Bishop Yeakel's message is viewable at

Celebrating those ordained and commissioned in 2014

Photos by Stacy Eckert
Ordination photos can be viewed and downloaded at

Ordained Elders
Back row, left to right: Robert M. Ryder, Brendan L. Hock, Kristen M. Wall-Love
Middle row, left to right: Laura M. Kyler, Ryan T. Krauss
Front row, left to right: Rachel L. Horst, Anna E. Layman Knox

Commissioning/Provisional Elder Membership
Back row, left to right: Ersel D. Staples, Brent A. Stouffer
Front row: Janet L. Durrwachter, Sarah H. Kim
Commissioning/Provisional Deacon Membership
Back: Megan C. Burd-Harris; Front: Karen L. Weiss 

The Service of Ordination and Commissioning can be viewed at

Newly licensed Local Pastors and certified Lay Servants

Licensed Local Pastors
Back row, left to right: Lauren Bissonnette, Caleb Fritz, Laura Aschenbrenner, Timothy Klein, David Brenneman, Brian Moyer, Roger Noss Jr., Christopher Lutz
Middle row, left to right: Elizabeth Taylor, Lisa Mitchell, George Price III, Donna Hildebrand, Trisha Brandt, James McGee 
Front row, left to right: Kathleen Keller, Edward Rodarmel, Joshua Wargo, Daniel Wilt,
Bruce Gowe, Rebecca Torres
Not Pictured: Cheryl Eyster, Mack Granderson, Scott Hover, Harold Schorr, Randy Traxler

Certified Lay Servants
Back row left to right: Ronald Reitz, Edward Giles, Eugene Sperazza
Front row left to right: Faith Anderson, Crystal Baumgardner

The least of these

By Terri Asseal

Pastor Yvette Davis led the Annual Conference in the study of God’s Word as recorded for us in Matthew. Using the parable of The Sheep and the Goats, Jesus, who is the Great Shepherd, the Sacrificial Lamb, reveals to us three key characteristics of his sheep and how we are called to minister to the least of these.

Sheep are all about relationships and the importance of sticking together when predators come. Sheep learn their name and hear even the whisper of their shepherd. They are reluctant to go anywhere they cannot see clearly, so even as they are walking along, they stop and look so they can see the details.

So what is it to be the sheep in God’s pasture? Who are the least of these? When they are in our path, do we recognize them?

When we are filled with the Holy Spirit we start to think, move, and serve differently. As sheep, we have to stop and see detail. The great gift that we have from God is the gift of the fruit of the Spirit.

Love is the key. Joy is love singing. Peace is love resting. Long suffering is love enduring. Kindness is love’s touch. Goodness is love’s character. Faithfulness is love’s habit. Gentleness is love’s self-forgetting. Self-control is love holding the reins.

Rooted, grounded, and saturated in love. This is where our individual transformation takes place and how God uses us to transform whatever space he places us in. We have to be willing so the Holy Spirit can reveal to us what we need to see.

We are challenged to consider the environment when determining who are the least of these. What about me? Am I? Are we looking at folks and dropping them into a category. It’s not only those who are without financial and materials resources. There will always be people in the world who have need. What are their names? Have you heard their story? Have you shared your story? Sometimes we don’t see the people who are the beneficiaries of our ministry, but sometimes we do. We need to develop the relationship that will be the transformation. You are God’s vessel. When we feast on the word of God, when we become so close in relationship with Jesus that when he whispers we can hear the sound of his voice, when we are so surrendered to the Holy Spirit and allow him to grow the fruit within us, we can see the least of these, even when they don’t look like who we think the least of these are.

Rev. Dr. Allen Rice said, “Wherever you find the poor, there you will find Jesus also.” We are on a mutual journey. Who is the Holy Spirit revealing to you? When is it that we become the least of these?

As we continue to be transformed God will transform through us.

A video of Pastor Davis' session can be viewed at

Laity: Called to make a difference

By Rose Baker and Teryl Cartwright

John Konieczny opened the Laity Session of the 2014 Susquehanna Annual Conference with a call challenging us to raise up transformational leaders and to be transformational leaders through our love, integrity, and compassion.

“People who make a difference aren’t the ones with credentials. In our minds and thoughts, they are those who have the right heart,” adding, “God is not concerned with ability, but availability.”

In order to intentionally build a Culture of the Call in the Susquehanna Conference, all laity is to engage and serve through our examples and responses to God’s call. To take that first step, the next presenter, Carol Diffenbaugh, invited us to ask, “God, how am I to serve you?”

Several discerning events coming up include God’s Call in Williamsport, and Explore and Serve in August. Immediately after Annual Conference, a new ten-day, online course is available to strengthen connections while listening for our call. “I compare leadership in the church to baseball,” Carol said. “One thing I want you to take home to your churches is that we need to get out of the dugout and onto the playing field.”

Each district will be “Equipping God’s People” through a new class, calling churches to make shifts in order to “take ownership of the change we want to see.” Diane Konieczny will be facilitating these sessions to revitalize churches developing disciples to transform the world. Participants in the pilot program especially expressed appreciation for the chance to meet and learn from each other. “We are called,” Diane said, “even if it means to put something on our plate we have to take something off.”

Leadership takes other forms for lay volunteers, including the Conference Response Team. As explained by Betty Westlake-Reist, in this ministry advocates are trained to help members of any congregation in which there has been an incident of sexual misconduct allegations for a pastor. Beside boundaries education to create safe ministry environments, we were reminded that leadership call includes reporting any misconduct in order to help prevent and deal with this issue.

Anne Horton wrapped up the session with a call to lead our youth, and encourage
and lead our youth to engage in the camping programs and outdoor setting for another way to develop and gain leadership. “Camps help children and youth to develop independence, to unplug, and to ask the tough questions,” she said.

For more information, contact:

Carol Diffenbaugh,

Diane Konieczny, 570-323-9161

Betty Westlake-Reist,

Anne Horton,

The video of the Laity Session can be viewed at

Child Advocacy: The time is now

By Terri Asseal

The 2014 Pennsylvania Poverty and Hunger Report as presented by Rev. Dr. G. Edwin Zieders reflected not just staggering statics that are difficult to examine, but also the great need for action and transformation.
Pennsylvania demographics show a food insecurity rate of 20.6 percent, allowing for over 500,000 children to be food insecure, resulting in health issues, absences from school, the need to repeat grade levels, depression, and psychosocial dysfunction.

God’s most vulnerable children continue to be placed into foster care due to neglect, parent drug and/or alcohol abuse, caretaker inability to cope, and inadequate housing.

Child abuse in our state is greatest in the age cohorts of ages 5-8 years, 12-14 years, and 15-17 years. Over 24,300 cases of abuse were reported to child welfare, and over 3,400 cases substantiated.

Dr. Zeiders reminded us that the time is now to break the cycle of despair. We must find the spiritual courage for advocacy. Each district must assess their community needs and develop and implement their own strategy. Street ministries are a way to fight, be we must all be mobilized. Forge partnerships and walk among those living on the margins for the future of the Commonwealth and the future of our children.

The United Methodist Stewardship Foundation, serving the Susquehanna Conference

By Phyllis M. Bowers, Executive Director, The United Methodist Stewardship Foundation

SAVE THE DATE!  Tuesday, October 21, 2014  - Communications and Social Media Clinic with Rev. Scott Vaughan, President and CEO, Scott Vaughan Communications, Lexington, South Carolina – 9:00 AM until Noon at Zion United Methodist Church, 1030 Carlisle Road, York, PA  17404-4938.         

All Susquehanna Conference Clergy and their staff, along with anyone interested in communications, are invited to join the Executive Directors and staff of the Northeastern Jurisdiction of the National Association of United Methodist Foundations for this Clinic presented in three, one-hour parts.  Here’s what’s happening:

1.      10 Things To Know About People.  The role of the church is to build relationships with people.  It’s often easy to see the crowd rather than the individual.  This segment focuses on understanding the audience, what’s happening with families, and how people respond to church promotion.

2.      10 Things To Improve Your Communication Mix.  Here’s a checklist to drive your church’s communication methodologies.  We’ll talk about everything from websites to social media, print management to worship announcements.

3.      10 Things To Know About Hospitality Ministry.  As we communicate in today’s marketplace, we must be prepared for people to respond and visit with us.  How is your church preparing to receive and love guests?  This segment will give you information to help your ushers, greeters and welcome center volunteers.

Rev. Vaughan’s company exclusively serves the strategic communication needs of churches and faith organizations throughout North America.

Scott is a native of Georgia, where he began a twenty-year newspaper career at the age of fifteen.  He is a graduate of the University of Georgia and of Emory University Executive Management Program with a focus on strategic marketing.  Working for both weekly and daily newspapers, he was an award-winning writer in both the Georgia and South Carolina Press Associations.

In 1994, Scott responded to the Lord’s calling, leaving the newspaper business behind.  Today, he networks with and serves more than 3,500 congregations in forty-five different faith organizations.

In addition to teaching communication clinics for church leaders; Scott works on-site with churches around communication education, research, and promotion strategy; and, writes extensively on strategic communication that translates into missions, outreach and evangelism.

He and his wife have been married twenty-six years and have four sons.  Scott is an ordained deacon at Lexington Baptist Church, and ordained to the Gospel Ministry by the Church.  He teaches and leads a growing mission Sunday school class of more than two hundred adults.

Register on line only at  Registration fee is $35 per person.

2013 Shares of Ministry paid by Susquehanna Conference Churches at 100% and 90%

Altoona District 100%
12th Street Huntingdon
15th Street Huntingdon
Asbury Altoona
Atkinson Mills
Bedford Forge
Bethel Bedford Valley
Bowmans Chapel
Broad Top
Calvary Bellwood
Canoe Creek Union 
Centerville Bedford Valley
Centre Grove Clearfield
Christ Clearfield
Christ Community
Clear Ridge
Clearville (Extended)
Cove Forge
Crever Memorial Petersburg
East Freedom
Ebenezer Harrisonville
Emmanuel Clearfield
Fairview McConnellsburg
Faith Petersburg
Faith Woodbury
First Hollidaysburg
First Houtzdale
Good Shepherd Tyrone
Grace Three Springs
Greenwood Altoona
Hicks Memorial Duncansville
Juniata Altoona
Kerr Addition
Laurel Grove
Little Cove
Llyswen Altoona
Mapleton Grace
Mill Creek
Mines (Extended)
Mt Carmel Three Springs
Mt Joy Clearfield
Mt Zion Olanta
Newton Hamilton
Pleasant Hill Shade Gap
Pleasant Valley Woodland
Royer (Extended)
Ryde United
Salem Hillcrest
Second Avenue Altoona
Siloam Harrisonville
Singers Gap
Six Mile Run
Spring Run
Spruce Creek
St Lukes Shade Gap
Stevens Chapel (Extended)
Tatesville (Extended)
Trans Run
Trinity Bellwood
Trinity Clearfield
Trinity Roaring Spring
Trough Creek
Warriors Mark
Waterfall Zion
Wells Valley
Wesley Chapel Huntingdon
Wesley Tyrone
West Side Clearfield

Altoona District 90%
Congress Hill

Harrisburg District 100%
Aldersgate Mechanicsburg
Asbury Duncannon
Baughman Memorial
Bethel Marysville
Big Spring
Calvary Harrisburg
Calvary Lemoyne
Camp Hill
Centenary Steelton
Chambers Hill
Community New Cumberland
Donnally Mills
Ebenezer Middletown
Emmanuel Enola
Evangelical Middletown
First Hershey
First Mechanicsburg
Grace Harrisburg
Grace Hummelstown
Grace Lemoyne
Grace Mechanicsburg
Grace Millersburg
Harris Street
Hays Grove
Hebron Millersburg
Hopewell Cumberland
Immanuel Loyalton
Messiah Shippensburg
Mt Calvary Harrisburg
Mt Gilead
Mt Hope Newville
Mt Olivet Mechanicsburg
Mt Rock Carlisle
Mt Zion Enola
Mt Zion Steelton (Extended)
New Bloomfield
New Buffalo
New Germantown (Extended)
Otterbein Boiling Springs
Otterbein Cumberland
Pfoutz Valley
Salem Liverpool
Salem Marysville
Shermans Dale
St Andrews Valley View
St Johns Grantville
St Johns Hegins
St Marks Spring Glen
St Marys Bloserville
St Peters Fearnot
Trinity County Line
Trinity New Cumberland
Trinity Walnut Bottom
Walnut Grove
Wesley Marysville
Wesley Wiconisco
West Fairview
West Hill
Youngs Shermans Dale
Zion Stone
Lewisburg District 100%
Beach Haven
Beaver Memorial
Bethany Berwick
Bethany Milton
Bethel Catawissa
Bethel Hill
Bower Memorial Berwick
Browns Cocolamus
Buffalo Valley
Calvary Berwick
Calvary West Nanticoke
Catawissa Avenue Sunbury
Centenary Ashley
Christ Benton
Christ Community
Christ Selinsgrove
Daniels-St Thomas
Dresslers Ridge
Ebenezer Berwick
Eyers Grove
Fairmount Springs
Faith Chapel White Deer
Faith Hoovers
Faith Sunbury
Faith Wapwallopen
First Berwick
First Nanticoke
First Shickshinny
Freemont Emmanuel
Good Shepherd Bloomsburg
Hope Port Trevorton
Hunlock Creek
Lime Ridge
McKendree Shickshinny
Mt Pleasant Sunbury
Mt Zion Richfield
New Berlin Emmanuel
Otterbein Sunbury
Pine Grove Mifflintown
Pine Summit
Ridge Street
Shamokin Dam
St Andrews Milton
St Johns Dewart
St Johns Elimsport
St Pauls Berwick
St Pauls Emmanuel Danville
St Pauls Penns Creek
St Peters Beavertown
St Peters Milton
St Peters Riverside
Stone Church
Summer Hill
Trinity Danville
Trinity Espy
Trinity Middleburg
Trinity White Deer
Wesley Bloomsburg
Wesley Nescopeck
Wesley Selinsgrove
West Milton
Zion Penns Creek

Lewisburg District 90%
St Pauls Lewisburg
Town Hill
Trinity Northumberland
Trinity Winfield

Scranton Wilkes-Barre District 100%
Albright Wilkes-Barre
Asbury Scranton
Beach Lake
Bethel Avoca
Bradley Memorial
Centenary Hamlin
Center Moreland
Central Honesdale
Central Wilkes-Barre
Clarks Green
Clarks Summit
Community Great Bend
Countryside Community
Court Street
Damascus Manor
Dimock Community
Dymond Hollow
East Benton
East Lemon
East Rush
Elm Park
First New Milford
First Old Forge
First Taylor
First West Pittston
Forty Fort
Franklin Forks
Hop Bottom
Lake Ariel
Lake Como
Lake Winola
Maple Lake
Mt Zion Wyoming
North Jackson
Pleasant Mount
Prompton Community
Russell Hill
Skinners Eddy
Smith Hill
South Montrose Community
St Pauls Scranton
Stewart Memorial
West Nicholson
White Mills

Scranton Wilkes-Barre District 90%
Maplewood Grace

State College District 100%
Albright Loganton
Aldersgate Mifflintown
Arch Rock
Black Oak
Buffalo Run
Calvary West Decatur
Christ’s Julian
Church Hill
East Main Street
East Salem
Emmanuel Rebersburg
Fairview Morrisdale
Faith Bellefonte
Faith Chapel
Faith East Waterford
Faith Sandy Ridge
First Lewistown
First Renovo
Freedom Avenue
Gethsemane Allport
Grace Centre Hall
Grace Lewistown
Grace Philipsburg
Greenburr Trinity
Grove Memorial
Lake Park (Extended)
Laurel Run
Locust Run
Mill Hall
Mt Nittany
Mt Pleasant Port Matilda
New Hope
North Bend
Otterbein East Salem
Park Forest State College
Pleasant Gap
Pleasant Valley Bellefonte
Port Matilda
Port Royal
Rhodes Memorial
Spring Mills Faith
Spring Valley
St James Coburn
St Pauls Sandy Ridge
St Pauls State College
Summit Hill
Trinity Bellefonte
Trinity Lewistown
Trinity Philipsburg
Trinity Woodward
Valley Salem
Valley View Bellefonte
Walnut Street
Watts Memorial Belleville
Wesley Chapel McVeytown
Woolrich Community

State College District 90%
Snoe Shoe (Mountain Top)
Valley St Marks
Williamsport District 100%
Antes Fort
Balls Mills
Beaver Meadows
Beech Valley
Bethany Hughesville
Bethel Loyalsock
Bethel Montoursville
Calvary Lawrenceville
Canton Ecumenical
Christ Hughesville
Columbia Crossroads
Coolidge Hollow
Eagles Mere Community
East Canton
East Smithfield
East Troy
Ebenezer East Point
Faith Community
Faith Montoursville
Farragut Mt Zion
First Blossburg
First Jersey Shore
First Mansfield
First Muncy
First Towanda
First Troy
First Williamsport
Fishing Creek
Franklin Bethel
French Asylum
Heshbon Park
Jackson Center
Knoxville Yoked
Liberty Corners
Little Marsh
Luthers Mills
Maple Springs
Middle Ridge
Mill Creek Loyalsock
Mt Pleasant Morris
Mt Zion Salladasburg
New Albany
Niles Valley
North Orwell
North Towanda
Park Coudersport
Phelps Chapel
Picture Rocks
Pine Center
Pine Creek Valley
Pine Run
Pine Street Williamsport
Point Bethel
Rose Valley
Salem Unityville
South Williamsport
Spring Hill
St Johns Chapel
St Johns Grover
St Johns-Newberry Wmspt
St Paul-Calvary Williamsport
St Pauls Dushore
St Pauls Nauvoo
St Pauls Nordmont
Standing Stone
State Road
Strawbridge Kedron
Sweden Valley Faith
Trinity Jersey Shore
Trinity Pennsdale
Trinity Williamsport
Union Corners
United Church of Nelson
Wallis Run
Warren Center
Wesley Chapel Unityville
West Burlington
White Pine
York District 100%
Aldersgate York
Arnolds Dillsburg
Bethany Red Lion
Bethlehem Codorus
Bethlehem Dallastown
Bethlehem Stonepile
Calvary Fayetteville
Calvary York
Centenary Biglerville
Chestnut Grove
Christ Jacobus
Christ Waynesboro
Christ Yoe
Christ Yorkana
Cross Roads
Cross Words Mt Wolf
Cross Words York Haven
Dover Bethany
Druck Valley
Emory New Oxford
Faith Waynesboro
Fetterhoff Chapel
First Chambersburg
First Greencastle
First Marion
First Mercersburg
First Roxbury
First Spanish
Fishing Creek Salem
Fort Loudon
Grace Hanover
Grace Shrewsbury
Grace Wellsville
Grace Windso
Grace York
McKendree Airville
Mont Alto
Mt Airy Dillsburg
Mt Calvary Bendersville
Mt Carmel
Mt Hope Orrtanna
Mt Nebo
Mt Olivet Delta
Mt Royal
Mt Tabor
Mt Union Chambersburg
Mt Zion Dillsburg
Mt Zion Glen Rock
New Bethel
New Creation Community
Otterbein Emigsville
Otterbein Fayetteville
Otterbein Spry
Paddletown St Pauls
Park Avenue Chambersburg
Pine Grove York
Pleasant Grove Windsor
Red Mount
Springvale St Pauls
St Johns Chambersburg
St Paul Chambersburg
St Paul Manchester
St Pauls York
St Thomas
State Line
Upper Strasburg
Violet Hill
Wesley Chapel Rouzerville
York Springs
Zion Freysville
Zion York

York District 90%
First Hanover