Wednesday, February 18, 2015

2015-16 Annual Conference Theme announced

This graphic is the third in the “Alive in Christ” quadrennial theme of the Susquehanna Conference. The four themes are “Alive in Christ ... On a Journey of Faith” (2013-2014); “Raising Up Transformational Leaders” (2014-2015); “Equipping Vital Congregations” (2015-2016); and “Creating New Places for New People” (2016-2017). Designed by Stacy Eckert.

Faithful to the Covenant

By Jerry Wolgemuth

There was a jubilant reaction by the Cabinet and the Conference staff to the news announced by Susquehanna Conference Treasurer Gary Smith on January 28, “We have paid 100 percent of our monetary commitment to the budget of the United Methodist Church.”

Bishop Jeremiah J. Park responded in a QuikLINK e-mail broadcast, “This $2,949,444 demonstrates the generosity of God’s people of the Susquehanna Conference, as well as their commitment to the connectional covenant, for the sake of the mission of our church: To make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. It also represents more lives touched and transformed with the love of God. Indeed, together we make a difference in a more significant way. I deeply resonate with the words of thanksgiving in First Thessalonians as I think of God’s people of the Susquehanna Conference: ‘How can we thank God enough for you in return for all the joy we have in the presence of our God because of you?’ (1Thessalonians 3:9, NIV) You are a gift of healing and hope for the hurting world.”

The Susquehanna Conference, formed as a new annual conference in 2010, fell short of the amount allocated by the General Church.

“We actually accomplished this sooner than we expected,” Gary Smith says. “Because of the economic impact of forming a new annual conference we anticipated that it might be six years before we could meet our annual apportionment.”

The primary way in which the ministries of the United Methodist Church are supported is by a method called apportioned funds, a way of giving that proportionally allocates the church-wide budget to conferences and local churches. For United Methodists, this method of giving has become a powerful, generous tradition.

There is an historical conviction among United Methodists that connected congregations accomplish what no single church, district, or annual conference could ever do alone. In this way, each individual, each family, each congregation gives a fair share for the church’s work. United Methodists combine their prayers, presence, gifts, and service to make a significant difference in the lives of God’s people.

Each annual conference has the authority to decide its own formula for the apportionments to local churches within its boundary. Annual conferences can use different approaches in determining the formula; for example, some use membership or church financial health. The formulas are determined in legislative session where all churches are represented.

Bishop Park announces appointment of Rev. Barry Robison as Harrisburg District Superintendent

Rev. Barry Robison
Bishop Jeremiah J. Park is pleased to announce the appointment of the Rev. Barry Robison as Superintendent of the Harrisburg District effective July 1, 2015. He will succeed the Rev. Dr. Dennis Keller, who will be appointed to First Church, Mechanicsburg.

A native of Altoona, Rev. Robison graduated from Hollidaysburg High School, Robert Morris University, and Methodist Theological School of Ohio. He was recommended for ordained ministry by Gethsemane Church on the Juniata Charge and was ordained as deacon in 1982 and as elder in 1985. Rev. Robison has served the following pastorates: Red Lion, St. Paul’s; Salladasburg; Berwick, Bower Memorial; Hummelsworf, Christ Community; and Stewartstown, where he presently serves as lead pastor.

Rev. Robison brings a wealth of experience in connectional ministry to the Cabinet and the office of district superintendency. He has served as president of the Conference Board of Trustees, as a cluster leader, and as a mentor to pastors and candidates for ministry. He has served on the Lewisburg District Committee on Superintendency as well.

He is currently the chairperson of the Conference Property and Casualty Committee. Rev. Robison also has been actively involved in the conference camping program, serving as dean for the Elementary Music Camp at Greene Hills for 23 years.

As a strong advocate for developing transformational leaders, he has taught both Pastoral Leadership Development and Equipping God’s People. He has a passion for teaching and preaching and seeing people grow in their faith. Rev. Robison has outstanding gifts and graces as a pastor and is a respected spiritual leader. As a committed disciple of Christ, he is a faithful and exemplary servant leader.
Barry is married to Joan (Joni) Robison. They have two children, Lindsay and Gabriel.

“I solicit your prayers for the Robison family and the Stewartstown congregation during this time of transition,” said Bishop Park.

We look forward to his leadership in the Harrisburg District. Please join us in welcoming Rev. Barry Robison to the ministry of superintendency.

Hearts Strangely Warmed: Marsha Banks

“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. 

Marsha Banks

Life as I know it was a little difficult, but I am confident that God has always had a plan for my life. I was raised by my grandmother in the beginning years of my life when both my parents were struggling with an addiction. I met my father when I was five years of age and my mother when I was about ten years of age. Both of them lived very different lifestyles. By the age of eleven I was an emotional mess. I witnessed my father’s domestic abuse, and while under the care of my mother, I experienced rape and incest. Without proper counseling and support I became very rebellious, and by the age of eighteen I was a teenage mother with two children and an abusive boyfriend who introduced me to drugs.

For the next ten years my life spiraled out of control. My addiction caused a lot of damage. My children and I were homeless and spent many nights without food. I tried many times to get away from the man and the drugs by entering into rehab and safe houses, but nothing seemed to work.

On a cold January morning a neighbor cared enough about me to call the police when she saw me leave the kids home alone. It was that night that I truly believe I was rescued. The police ordered me to surrender my children and turn myself in. I spent my final night at home packing and praying. This was it! Not quite how I expected things to end, but what [was] necessary for God to get my attention.

On the morning of January 26, 1994, I placed my children in the care of Children and Youth [Services] and turned myself in. I was very afraid of what was ahead, but I was tired and I was relieved. During my processing exam I received some shocking news. I was pregnant with my seventh child. Five months later I experienced something that no mother should ever have to encounter: I gave birth to my son handcuffed to my hospital bed. This emotional experience is something that I keep fresh in my mind. I am truly grateful to God for having a healthy baby boy.

I served two years in state prison, and during that time I sought out the treatment that I needed to sustain my recovery. I was diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder and treated. I attended church and re-dedicated my life to Christ. Volunteers from the local churches came in to teach Bible class and gave us lessons to complete. I wanted to know more. I studied every day and I made a promise to God that I would never let Him down again. When it came time to get out, I could not get a home plan approved. After three failed home plans, an opportunity was presented for me to be released to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. I knew no one, but was excited about the possibility of me starting my life all over again.

[When] I was released in 1996 I went straight to the local church and got connected. It was difficult for me to find a job so I volunteered at a local women’s shelter. After being home for a year, the courts granted me custody of the children. It was an awesome blessing and, I must admit, more than I thought I could handle — but I was grateful. During my tenure at the shelter I met a couple from Camp Hill United Methodist Church, Fred and Barbara Clark. Although they were not initially coming to visit me, they in fact were an answer to prayer. They invited me to their church.

I started attending Camp Hill UMC and later became a member. I must say, my initial reaction was that I didn’t think we would fit in, but I was wrong. I was amazed at the welcome my family received when we arrived. Members directed my children to their appropriate classes and I went on connecting with the women of the church and learning more about God. It’s amazing how the years have passed. I attribute my parenting skills and abilities to the men and women of the church. They are good examples for me to follow.

This year marked a milestone for me, I celebrated 50 years of life, which is truly a blessing from God! When I think about all that He has brought me through, I am forever grateful.

Today, I am a proud mother of eight children and eight grandchildren. I am a college graduate and the founder of a non-profit organization called Amiracle4sure Inc., which was established with the sole purpose of helping women, like me, who are looking to redefine their lives after incarceration. This is my pay-it-forward opportunity. I am thankful to God for entrusting me to share His love to those in need. For more information about Amiracle4sure, please visit our website,

Engaging Young Adults in Ministry - part five

The following is part five in 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 that dialogue. The video of this presentation, and the full transcript, can be found at

Pastor Mindi Ferguson
serving at First UMC, Huntingdon

On a typical Saturday night, a majority of my friends are not thinking about going to church on Sunday morning. It’s not that they don’t believe in God, or even that they aren’t living out their faith in some way, but it has been their perception that the church has not been a place that has loved, supported, or encouraged them.

Even the friends that I made in youth group are no longer active members of the church. It’s not that their experience was necessarily a bad one, but after they graduated high school it was as if the church as a whole had forgotten them.
As youth, our creativity, excitement, and ideas were valued when planning a youth service; now those ideas are not as easily accepted. What was once a sweet gesture by the youth is now viewed as a young person who just isn’t satisfied with tradition.

There is a greater sense of over-protectiveness of what is acceptable to come into the church from outside than there was before. It’s not really all that surprising that young people are not in our churches.

More specifically, it has been my and my peers’ observation that sometimes the church seems to struggle with change. It seems difficult for the church to consider allowing music, movies, influences, books, and poetry from the secular world to permeate the walls of the church. The issue with that is that young people are not leaving those things behind if, and when, they set foot inside our churches. There is not a fine line for young adults about what should and shouldn’t be acceptable in the church.

This concern and resistance isn’t only directed at young adults. We teach it to our children and our youth. We try to shelter them from all things secular. And while there is a lot of stuff out there in the secular world that we should want to guard our children and our youth from, there’s also a lot to learn from. God is in a lot more than simply the things that we deem “Christian” or “acceptable.”

This secular world we live in might be on to something. It has become a place where people can express who they are and explore who they want to be. And whether it’s from hurt, disapproval, judgment, or rejection, community can be found in places that don’t cause these types of feelings. It has been perceived by young people that the church hasn’t been the place for that, so we’ve gone looking in other places.

I have friends with tattoos and piercings that have been asked to cover up or remove them before entering the church. In churches, I have overheard conversations about young people wasting their money on damaging their bodies. This quick judgment hurts deeply my friends who have used these creative arts as a way to honor those who have passed away or to remember the time that they have served in the military.

For many years now I have been participating in dance in worship. Sometimes, when searching for a song, my dance team has used songs that were not written by specifically Christian artists. In college, my dance team went to a church to worship through dance with them, and there was a lot of resistance to this type of worship. And it wasn’t only because of the song choice, but also because of the dancing. We chose two different types of dance, ballet and modern, and in my mind there was no issue, because this is how I best connect with God. But from the perspective of those watching this was not the kind of thing that happened in church.

It is not out of disrespect that young adults are expressing themselves through things considered to be a part of the secular culture. In many ways these things help young people to discover who they are, and who they were created to be. It helps us to connect to God in a way that things deemed “Christian” and “acceptable” cannot.

Growing up, one of the best things that my church did was to allow a few local bands to play their music in the basement of our building. There were rules. The music wasn’t allowed to include swearing and had to be respectful of the location, but what a crowd that event brought. There were young people of all ages in attendance. One of our youth leaders hung out in the kitchen as this event happened — she was there to make sure everything went OK. But more than that, she showed us that she loved us, and that she supported us. It wasn’t that she loved this particular type of music, but she knew how important it was to those who were there.

Is the solution to the absence of young people in the church allowing any kind of secular music to fill our churches? Probably not. But in inviting this kind of event into their space the church was communicating to the young people that they cared about them and that they mattered. The church was interested in hearing about what was most important to them.

It is not a guarantee that my friends, who were once so involved in the youth group, will return if there is more openness to the secular world that we live in, but I think that being open to the possibility could open some doors. And being open to the possibility that our thoughts and interests and music and poems could be accepted in that space. And maybe its an openness to allow pieces of who we are to enhance our worship together.

Many young people are simply seeking to be in relationship with people they know authentically care about them. And that authenticity starts with a willingness to be in conversation with one another.

Editorial: Decisions, decisions, decisions

By Jerry Wolgemuth, Director of Communications, SUSUMC

In an article called “The Science of Making Decisions” in the Tech & Science section of a 2011 issue of Newsweek, author Sharon Begley asked her readers to “imagine the most mind-numbing choice in which the possibilities almost paralyzed you.” Perhaps all of us can respond with the struggle of a choice that needed to be made but we felt overwhelmed by the necessity of a choice alongside the possible consequences of making the wrong choice.

The Newsweek article introduced Angelika Dimoka, director of the Center for Neural Decision Making, Fox School of Business, Temple University. Based on her research, Dimoka suspects that a more complicated phenomenon is at work. To confirm that, she studied activity that overtaxed people’s decision-making ability. Dimoka’s research confirmed that a brain overtaxed was prone to support critical errors and bad choices.

That’s probably not a surprise.

For earlier generations, the process of making well-informed decisions involved visiting the library and conversation with those “in-the-know.” Now we have Facebook, Twitter, smart phones with apps, you name it. The deluge of facts and opinions never stops. That can be to good advantage but it can more often lead to a catastrophic failure to decide. And we all know that the failure to decide is to decide.

What can we glean from Dimoka’s research as a church?

First, we must freely admit that, although we are in touch with the Almighty, we are prone to all the vexations of the human family. We fully understand that the decisions we make can determine our presence as a witness of our faith to the world around us.

How can we protect ourselves from having our decisions warped by excess information? Dimoka would suggest that we organize ourselves as sufficers, not maximizers.

Sufficers are able to say, “enough.” Sufficers understand that there could be more to learn but they’ve garnered enough possible answers to set priorities and, as we say, “get on with it.” Excellent choices can turn on only a few criteria. Perhaps in the interest of expediency we need to “give those a whirl” rather than attempt to exhaust every possibility.

Maximizers never stop surfing, devouring information, attempting to find the very last word, and so, struggle to make a decision and move on.

Read the full Newsweek article at There is a full plate of thought there.


The Journey

By Rev. Mike Bealla, Director of Connectional Ministries, SUSUMC

Greetings in the name of Christ!

As we move toward the end of the current quadrennium, we have much to be thankful for. Real ministry is happening across our conference in both dramatic and faithfully subtle ways.

For some reason we are shy to talk about the lives we touch through our day-to-day and week-to-week ministries. Hundreds of persons are fed meals without cost in every one of our districts. Breakfast is fed to young children to make their school days more productive. Food pantries uplift families of little means. The number of small group gatherings continue to grow in number and in impact within our congregations and our communities. The making of disciples of Jesus Christ is happening, and our world is beginning to be transformed.

When I hear stories of fruitful ministries and maturing discipleship I thank God for the chance to be a part of this wonderful church of ours. While we haven’t quite moved on to perfection, our Wesleyan way is the best way we know to move toward a more loving and grace-filled world.

Since the birth of the Susquehanna Conference in 2010, we have strived in our covenant to practice continual improvement. We have committed ourselves to do as Mary did, “listening” at Jesus feet rather than becoming so tied up in the “busy-ness” of the church that we miss God’s voice. And so we have tried to listen carefully in order to discern God’s will for our life together.

The role of Connectional Ministries is to help train and develop transformational spiritual leaders, provide the tools, techniques and best practices to support our local churches in their disciple-making mission, and to re-imagine connectionalism in this 21st century.

Over the last few weeks Jerry Wolgemuth and I have been visiting with small groups of pastors across our conference. The purpose of these conversations is to ask the question, “How is Connectional Ministries doing in providing you the support you need as local churches and as pastors to be the kind of vital congregations necessary in today’s world?” Other questions have included, “What resources do you need that we are not yet offering?” and “How might we better communicate with you and your people?”

Many thanks to those pastors who have already met with us. We have gained much insight into how we are doing and how we can become more effective in the future. These conversations will continue in February and March.

Growing Effective Churches: What can we do to help our church?

By Rev. Dennis Otto, Director of Congregational Development

We hear that question often from church leaders who are deeply concerned about their congregations and communities. Churches often look to a program or maybe even a pastoral change as what will “fix” them. Based on what we have seen in our efforts to help churches transform, let me make one simple suggestion that can go in two possible directions.

Begin by building leaders. Commit to helping the leaders of the church grow. There are two directions to consider. First, and it must be first, create opportunities for the spiritual growth of leaders. There are two books that would be excellent for a council to use to enable spiritual growth: “Five Practices of Fruitful Living” by Robert Schnase, and “Foundations” by Phil Maynard. Either book would be great tools in helping the leaders of a church develop deeper and stronger spiritual disciplines. Consider meeting weekly for a season, or meet monthly, but alternate between business and study/small group from month to month. Schnase’s book is widely available (Amazon et. al.) and Maynard’s book has more limited distribution, so contact us at

Second, offer training on the techniques and current best practices of churches that are effective in making disciples of Jesus Christ who transform the world. “Equipping God’s People” (Module I or II or both) would be a great way to get started. There are lay people in every area of the conference who have already completed this, and some who have led the course. This would be an excellent way to get started in building leaders.

There isn’t a magic wand out there for creating churches that make disciples, but most often it begins with leaders. If you have other questions or want to explore this further, email the above address or

Commentary: Seven reasons youth should participate at Annual Conference

By Audrey Wilder, Director of Young People's Ministry, SUSUMC

When you look over those gathered for worship in your congregation, who do you see? When you look over those gathered for Annual Conference, who do you see? Who do you wish were there? I wish there were more youth in every congregation and at every Annual Conference. They are desperately missing. Here are seven reasons why I think it’s so important for youth to participate at Annual Conference.

7. Profound questions
Youth ask us hard questions. Youth ask us offensive questions. They don’t mean to make us uncomfortable, they are genuinely wanting to understand “WHY!?”. We need to be asked the hard questions. Hard questions open us up to the movement of the Holy Spirit. As we answer hard questions, we learn more about who we are and who God is calling us to be.

6. Investment 
Ownership is key to prolonged investment. Basically, the more youth feel they have a stake in the goings on of the United Methodist Church, the more likely they will be to stick around. Providing an avenue for youth to become owners of the church, rather than consumers, fosters discipleship.

5. We learn best from experience
Youth need to sit beside seasoned Annual Conference veterans to learn why we appoint pastors, how to have holy conversation, what it means to be connected beyond the local church, and how to transform the world. Understanding how the church works cannot be explained in a book or confirmation class. A live-action film is much better. If you truly want these young people to become pastors of your church some day, they need to know how that happens.

4. They are members
We baptized these children into the body of Christ and confirmed them into the full life of the congregation. They have just as much responsibility for the ministries of the church, and therefore the conference, as anyone else in any congregation. Our table is not complete until we have youth seated beside us.

3. Interesting perspectives
Teens offer a different perspective on the world. Their understanding of what it means to be a Christian in the world today and what the church looks like to the world today are two lenses through which we need to gaze.

2. They are fun!
Youth make Annual Conference more fun! From delicious smelling popcorn, to “selfies” with the bishop, to mad dance skills, having youth present gives us all a break from the serious business at hand.

1. Decisions impact them MOST!
The decisions made at Annual Conference will have a lasting impact on the United Methodist Church for decades to come. Youth in their teens now are our sisters and brothers who will be most profoundly influenced by these decisions. It stands to reason that they should be a primary voice in votes cast, legislation passed, and representatives elected. If you know a youth whose voice needs to be heard and whose vote needs to be counted, there’s still time for them to become lay members-at-large for your district. Please contact your district office before February 27 with the name, address, email address, phone number, district, church/charge, and name of the youth you would like to be at Annual Conference.

Next charge conference, please have a conversation about sending a youth to Annual Conference as your church/charge representative.

McKenzie energizes preaching at Clergy Retreat

Rev. Dr. Alyce McKenzie speaks to clergy gathered at the annual Retreat for Clergy Families, held at the Double Tree Resort in Willow Valley. Photos by Sandii Peiffer

By Jerry Wolgemuth

"Share the story; shape the world” was the first directive from Rev. Dr. Alyce M. McKenzie for the annual Retreat for Clergy Families. Dr. McKenzie, a native of New Cumberland, Pennsylvania, is George S. and Nell Ayers Le Van Professor of Preaching and Worship at Perkins School of Theology.

In the two-day event, Dr. McKenzie presented five engaging subjects for those in attendance at the retreat: Share the Story, Shape the World; Knack for Noticing: How to Pay Attention; Sermon Surgery; Making a Scene in the Pulpit; and What Not to Say.

Dr. McKenzie is the Director of the newly formed Perkins Center for Preaching Excellence. The center sponsors peer groups of pastors focused on enhancing their preaching.

The retreat promised a time of renewal and refreshment in spirit and community, transforming worship, an occasion to meet other clergy and their families, time to explore Lancaster County, and what has become a tradition: Karaoke with Bishop Park and Lisa.

GROW ON district youth rallies GROWING!

Youth assist the Rise Worship Band (from Second Avenue UMC, Altoona) in leading worship at the Lewisburg District Youth Rally, held at Wesley UMC, Bloomsburg, in January.

By Audrey Wilder, Director of Young People's Ministry, SUSUMC

Eighty-six youth and youth leaders braved the snow and wind to attend the Lewisburg District Youth Rally Sunday, January 25, at Wesley UMC, Bloomsburg.

Lead by a full team of fifteen Young People’s Ministry members and the Rise Worship Band, attendees worshiped, played, ate, discussed, and danced the afternoon away. Everyone had a fantastic time GROWING ON their walk with God.

The Lewisburg District Dance Challenge Prince and Princess (front row, wearing “crowns”) with the Rise Worship band.

Andrew, of Christ UMC, Selinsgrove, and Kirsten, of Klinesgrove UMC, took home the titles of the Bishop’s Partners in Mission Dance Challenge Prince and Princess. Together with eleven other competitors these brave dancers raised $150. Harrisburg and York Districts are hereby challenged to raise more.

Four more District Youth Rallies are scheduled February through April. Go to for more information, future dates and to register.

Better Together: understanding your Shares of Ministry

What Are Shares of Ministry?

As United Methodists, we believe the church is bigger than any one congregation. In the Susquehanna Conference we are over 900 congregations sharing a mission and a ministry to our communities and to the world.

By sharing our resources, amazing ministries can touch the lives of people down the street or half way around the world.

It’s simple mathematics ... when your church fulfills its covenant to pay its Shares of Ministry, you are fulfilling Christ’s command to go into all the world to make disciples for him and transform the world in Christ’s name.

Shares of Ministry pay our combined cost of being in ministry in central and northeastern Pennsylvania.

80 cents to Local Church || 15 cents to Conference || 5 cents to General Church
About 80 cents of each offering dollar your church receives stays in your local church for its immediate mission and ministry.

About 20 cents of each offering dollar is sent in to the conference treasurer to be used as Shares of Ministry, providing support for the cost of being a connected
church, support of current and retired pastors, and for local and conference shared ministries. They also help in providing tools and training for effective local church ministry.

Of those 20 cents, 5 cents covers our conference share of the larger general church operating expenses and world-wide mission.

How are Shares of Ministry calculated?

In June of each year, pastors and lay members from each of our congregations gather for Annual Conference. Together they decide on which ministries will continue to be our priorities and, in so doing, set the conference budget for the coming year. A formula is then applied and each church is assessed its share of the total amount. That amount is its “Shares of Ministry.”

What Do Your Shares Do?
Your Shares of Ministry help support such ministries as:
  • United Methodist Children’s Home
  • Benevolent Homes
  • Our Camping and Retreat Program, Including Four Camping/Retreat Facilities Across the Conference
  • Volunteers in Mission Training and Support
  • Neighborhood Center
  • Congregational Revitalization / Matthew 28
  • New Church Development
  • Campus Ministries
  • Prison Ministries
  • Parrish Development Grants
  • Congregational Health Ministries Grants
  • Youth and Young Adult Ministries
Your Shares of Ministry help your church become more effective in mission and ministry through:
  • Discovery Place Resource Center
  • Consultations:
    - Christian Education
    - Small Groups
    - Visioning and Planning
  • MissionInsite   (demographic tools)  
  • Information and training on how to reach people in the church’s community
  • Safe Sanctuary training
  • Communications:
    - The LINK (Newspaper)
    - Susquehanna Xpress
    - QuikLINK (email)
    - Social Media presence
    - Video Production
    - Local Church Communications
    - Conference Website
  • Disaster Response Training
Shares support the basic cost of operating our connected ministry:
  • Bishop’s Office, Staff and Residence
  • Conference Center Operations
  • Finance and Administration Office
  • Stewardship Foundation
  • Connectional Ministries Staff and Offices
  • Congregational Development Staff and Office
  • Information Technology Department
  • Annual Conference Sessions
  • Five Ministry Resource Teams:
    - Congregational Development
    - Discipleship
    - Finance and Administration
    - Leadership Development
    - Mission and Outreach
    And more ...
Shares provide funding for leadership development and for recruiting, training, assigning, supervising, and supporting pastors:
  • Pastoral Leadership Development I & ll
  • Equipping God’s People  (Lay Servant Training)
  • Equitable Salary Support
  • Small Membership Church Salary Support
  • Pensions for our Retired Pastors
  • Health Insurance for our Retired Pastors
  • Clergy Moving Expenses
  • Emergency Support Funds
    And more ...
Your Shares do even more ... they support global and national missions too!
  • World Service Fund (Amazing ministries around the world)
  • UMCOR (United Methodist Committee on Relief)
  • Africa University
  • Black College Fund
  • Youth Service Fund
  • Interdenominational Cooperation Fund
    And so much more ...
Check out to discover what God is doing with the gifts we provide through our Shares of Ministry!


Shares of Ministry exist because of who we are and what we believe as United Methodists. While not perfect, they are the best way we know to bring about the making of disciples and the transformation of the world.
Shares are built upon the decisions your leadership makes in holy conferencing with those from each of our congregations at Annual Conference each year.
Shares of Ministry are not optional expenses. They are the real cost of doing ministry and being faithful to Christ. Each church has a covenantal responsibility to pay its Shares. Beyond even that, Shares are a gift to One who has made our lives possible.

Your Shares connect with millions of other United Methodist Christians around the world to make possible ministries none of us could ever do on our own. We are Better Together!
When any one church doesn't pay its Shares of Ministry, the burden becomes larger for everyone else!

Second Mile Giving

Churches are reminded that Shares of Ministry are the primary responsibility to be paid before local churches give to other ministries.
After a church fulfills its obligation of paying 100 percent of its Shares of Ministry for the calendar year, designated giving through the Advance is possible.
Gifts to the Advance are especially powerful in that no administrative expenses are taken for a church’s gift. That means 100 percent of every dollar given to the Advance is used for the fulfillment of that ministry.
A listing of Advance giving opportunities are available in the Conference Journal and online on the conference website. These ministries are approved for this kind of special giving and include ministries of the district, conference and general church levels. 

For more information

If you have questions about your Shares of Ministry, contact:

Rev. Mike Minnix, Chairperson, Conference Council on Finance and Administration,

Gary Smith, Conference Treasurer or 717-766-7441

For more information on giving and finances, check out our Website:

For more about the United Methodist Church and giving, go to

Friday, February 13, 2015

February Poster

The Spirit of Invention: 10,000 Hours of Service Challenge

By Thom Pentz

Members of the Stewartstown United Methodist Church, York District, are challenged to collectively accomplish 10,000 hours of active service in outreach ministry during 2015. To be actively and purposefully engaged in outreach ministry fulfills the mission of the church: to first reach up to God, to then reach in to grow in discipleship and fellowship, and ultimately to reach out to the world with acts of loving service.

In Matthew 25, Jesus calls his disciples to serve Him by serving others, to reach out to those in need with acts of loving service. We have been called as a church to be a missional people, empowered by the Holy Spirit to exercise a healing and transformational force in the world and in the lives of the world’s people. Let us therefore devote ourselves during the coming year to be committed to active and purposeful outreach ministry.

Here is how the challenge works: Church members have a mission brochure to learn about more than two dozen current mission partnerships within the church and the opportunities for outreach ministry they present. Members have been asked to consider adopting a new mission partnership, either as an individual or as a group, within the church. Mission partners develop a relationship with the ministry they are supporting, maintain correspondence, provide financial support, and wherever possible arrange for face-to-face, hands-on opportunities for outreach.

Other opportunities for outreach ministry will also be presented throughout the course of the year, such as mission trips, work camps, seasonal outreach activities, trips to York Rescue Mission, Helping Hands, Mission Central, etc.

Members are encouraged to be on the lookout for other opportunities of outreach ministry presented outside of our church and share them with the church.
As members engage in activities of outreach ministry, they are asked to record their hours served and submit them to the church for tracking.

Opportunities to share about their outreach ministry and mission experiences will be given during the time of testimony in Sunday morning worship.

If members want to go the extra mile, they have been invited to consider pledging a dollar amount for each hour they serve in outreach ministry during the coming year as a donation to the Bishop’s Partners in Mission fund.

If every member of Stewartstown UMC volunteers and serves one hour or more each week, they will far surpass the 10,000 Hour Challenge in 2015.

Thom Pentz is Chair of Outreach Ministries and Missions Team at Stewartstown UMC.

General Conference 2016

The United Methodist Church’s top legislative body will meet at the Oregon Convention Center, the largest convention center in the Pacific Northwest, May 10-20, 2016.

General Conference is the top policy-making body of The United Methodist Church which meets once every four years. The conference can revise church law, as well as adopt resolutions on current moral, social, public policy, and economic issues. It also approves plans and budgets for church-wide programs.

The new logo for General Conference 2016 provides “an action-themed logo that ties to the roots of The United Methodist Church, a denomination striving to fulfill the Great Commission.”

Thirty percent of delegates in 2016 will be from Africa, 58.3 percent from the U.S., 4.6 percent from Europe, and 5.8 percent from the Philippines, with the remainder from the Concordat churches.

A small church serves, reaches out, grows

Rev. Kathy Harvey Nelson is a quarter-time pastor of a very small, rural congregation in York District. Salem United Methodist Church in Martinsville has a regular worship attendance of 32-35 persons (up from 18-20 persons in July 2013) and recently celebrated paying their full Shares of Ministry in 2014 for the second year in a row.

Each year on the Saturday of Labor Day weekend, this small church hosts a car show and pig roast that in 2014 drew in excess of 400 people. More than 100 cars entered the show, with trophies being awarded in a variety of categories. There was a band playing blue grass/country music and a silent auction.
“We opened the church so that folk could walk in and sit in the sanctuary, and we offered a box for written prayer requests, which was used by a few folk,” said Harvey.

At the 2015 car show, the church will be doing a “blessing of the cars and drivers” before giving out the trophies and adding some organized children’s tables/games, etc. “It’s all about sharing love and laughter with folk who aren’t with us yet.”

After recently hearing a presentation on the Bishop’s Partners in Mission initiative, Harvey didn’t know if her congregation would be able to meet the “tithe of worship” partnership challenge issued by Bishop Park, but she left the meeting with a couple of ideas that she wanted to try.

One Sunday, Rev. Harvey used one of the Sunday worship services to talk about being in ministry to all the world, and talked specifically about the fourth Sunday offerings that the church collects for selected mission projects.

“We usually receive about $20 to $30 in those offerings each month. The offerings are given to four different mission projects throughout the year. This year, one of those projects will be the Bishop’s Partners in Mission,” said Harvey.

In addition to choosing the Bishop’s Partners as one of the special mission projects, Harvey explained to her congregation what needs would be met by the monies received, and the Bishop’s vision for being a connectional church that is alive together in Christ and moving forward in mission and ministry for the transformation of the world.

Rev. Harvey is thrilled to report that one of the couples in her congregation gave $100 to become Bishop’s Partners, along with her daughter (who lives and works in New York City but is still connected to the Susquehanna Conference) who gave $100 to be a Bishop’s Partner. Rev. Harvey and her husband also gave $100 to become Bishop’s Partners. In 2015 Salem UMC will combine three “fourth Sunday offerings” with the goal of raising $100 so that the whole church can become a Bishop’s Partner. With those contributions, they have exceeded the tithe of worship attendance challenge to become Bishop’s Partners in Mission.

“I am so proud of my little country church and their heart for mission and ministry. They are good people who want to be the church and serve Jesus wherever and whenever they can. I give thanks to God for them and for the gift of my appointment there,” Harvey exclaimed.

“Our prayer is to continue to serve our community where we are planted in any way that we can. May God be praised.”

What is YOUTH 2015?

By Audrey Wilder, Director of Young People's Ministry

YOUTH 2015 is the national gathering for United Methodist youth groups and their leaders. It happens every four years. YOUTH 2015 will be from June 24-28, 2015, in Orlando, Fla. This event has happened since 1988 in the UMC, and the speakers, activities, and artists have always carried a distinctively Wesleyan and United Methodist tone. The theme for YOUTH 2015 is ‘Go On’ – grounded in both Scripture and several of John Wesley’s sermons.

Groups who come to YOUTH 2015 will participate in acts of piety and mercy (means of grace) during the event. Participants will be inspired to continue doing acts of piety and mercy at their home churches and in their communities based on what they experience at YOUTH 2015.

Every evening at YOUTH 2015 will host a worship concert in the big room at Marriott World Center. Moving messages and song with a focus on John Wesley’s means of grace as a set of actions that help us go on to transform ourselves and the world. Wayne Kerr Band is with us all week as the house band, with all other artists participating in worship and late night activities other nights of the event.

Youth Leaders can register their youth at from now until the end of May, 2015. The base price includes sleeping four to a room, buffet-style dinners on June 25, 26, and 27, and all YOUTH 2015 programming. The best prices for registration are happening now, so get yourself and your group into the registration system.

Getting There
The Susquehanna Conference Young People’s Ministry has chartered a private bus to take youth groups from our conference to Orlando for Y15. There are 52 seats on the bus, and ticket purchasing will remain open until May 31. This will be the cheapest and easiest way to transport your group to Orlando for this must- attend event.

Visit for prices and to reserve your seat.

Save-the-date: support Camp & Retreat Ministry at Harrisburg Senators baseball game

Instructions for submitting petitions to the 2016 General Conference

“Any organization, clergy member, or lay member of The United Methodist Church may petition the General Conference ….” (¶507, “The Book of Discipline of The United Methodist Church 2012”)

Format for Petition Submissions
All petitions should be submitted digitally by e-mail, CD, USB drive, or through the General Conference website. Petitions not submitted digitally shall be in typed or printed form following the format below. Handwritten or hand printed submissions will not be accepted.

Petitions must be typed and double-spaced. Microsoft Word or any other software that allows files to be saved as rich-text format (RTF) may be used.
Do not use “Track Changes” at any point in the preparation of a petition. Do not use subscript or superscript, as it is commonly used for footnotes and endnotes. Instead of footnotes and endnotes, use in-text citations.

The top of the first page of the petition should read as follows:

  • Total Number of Pages
  • Suggested Title: (i.e., “Establish Quorum”)
  • Discipline Paragraph or Resolution Number, if applicable: (i.e. “Discipline ¶ 506” or “Resolution #42)
  • General Church Budget Implications: (i.e. – “General Church Budget Implications: None or Yes”)
  • Global Implications: (i.e. “Global Implications: None or Yes”) 
The bottom of the final page of the petition should include:

  • Date
  • Signature of the Petitioner
  • Identification of the Petitioner: (i.e. “Member of Local Church,” “Secretary of Annual Conference,” etc.)
  • Phone
  • Fax Number: (if applicable)
  • E-mail Address: (if applicable)

“Each petition must be signed by the person submitting it, accompanied by appropriate identification, such as address, local church, or United Methodist board or agency relationship.” Telephone numbers must also be included. “Each petition submitted by fax or electronic mail must identify the individual submitting it, accompanied by identification as above, and must contain a valid digital electronic mail return address or return fax number by which the submitter can be reached. Electronic signatures will be accepted in accordance with common business practice .” (¶507.3, “The Book of Discipline”)

Further instructions, including Content of Petition Text, Supporting Material, Sending Petitions to the Petitions Secretary, and Frequently Asked Questions, can be found at

Applications for scholarship open

The Thomas K. Cartwright Scholarship is awarded annually by the Enlistment and Interpretation committee of the Board of Ordained Ministry of the Susquehanna Conference. The scholarship honors the memory of the late Rev. Doctor Thomas Kevin Cartwright.

This scholarship has been established to support young adults as they respond to the call to ordained ministry within the Susquehanna Conference of the United Methodist Church. Qualities of the recipient must include demonstrated leadership in the church and the community, academic excellence, and the ability to clearly articulate a sense of call to the ordained ministry in the United Methodist Church. Applicants must be certified candidates for ministry in the Susquehanna Conference, under the age of 35 years old, and currently enrolled or accepted into a college or seminary.

Applications and additional information are available online at (Board of Ordained Ministry link, Resources link) or go directly to Application deadline is March 10, 2015. For additional information, contact Carol Diffenbaugh at or 717-737-7923 ext. 104.

Discovery Place: Confirmation Resources

 Click here to go to the Discovery Place website

Are you planning to teach a confirmation class this spring? Discovery Place has several different titles in our Confirmation Resource list. We also have lots of resources that can add depth to your confirmation teaching plan. Here are just a few. You can get a complete list by going to our online catalogue and searching under the subject “Confirmation.”

Claim the Name Confirmation Teaching Plans: Available in 8-week, 6-15-weeks, or 39-week versions. This is a step-by-step teaching plan for confirmation classes. It teaches the basics of the Christian faith, engages youth in the practices of the faith, and focuses on commitment and discipleship. Prepare your 6th-8th graders to claim the name “Christian” and claim the name “United Methodist.”

Credo: Confirmation Curriculum: Confirmation in the United Methodist tradition is a rite through which young Christians affirm the faith of the church, renew the vows of baptism, and commit to lives of discipleship as professing members of the United Methodist Church. Credo helps prepare young people for the rite of confirmation by teaching them about Christian story and essential Christian beliefs. 8-week version available for use. 3-year version is for preview only.

Crossings: God’s Journey with Us: This unique confirmation program focuses on exploring the eight core stories of the Bible. The Crossings confirmation program concentrates on identifying the eight parts of the core biblical story, relating the core biblical story to our individual stories, and participating in the real life practices of the Christian church through worship, community, devotional life, and service. Crossings includes a total of 30 sessions.

The Apostles’ Creed: Knowing What We Believe: This video invites young people to go beyond merely knowing the words of the Creed to exploring it as a guide to their Christian walk and a unifying force that connects them to the Body of Christ. Divided into seventeen lessons covering each phrase of the Creed, this video brings new meaning to the truth and simplicity of the Apostles’ Creed.

Fast Forward: A Visual History of the Church: This stunning 13-minute presentation of the history of the church will captivate a broad audience. The fast-paced words, supported by music and rap narration, will challenge your congregation to embrace the call to step boldly, as a unified body of Christ followers, beyond the walls of the sanctuary.

Claiming the Story: A Journey in Christian History for United Methodists: This presentation can be used with both young and old as it unfolds the drama of Christianity — the personalities, the movements, and the events that shaped each age through the centuries. Following the German and English Reformations, the story line follows the development of United Methodism, showing the denomination’s direct links with the entire span of Christian history.

Where Your Treasure Is: Power of Personal Perspective: a spiritual day of encouragement

Introducing Emory Austin, CSP, CPAE; Member, International Speaker Hall of Fame and Legend of the Speaking Profession.

Friday, April 24, 2015
Zion United Methodist Church
1030 Carlisle Rd.
York, PA 17404
9:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

Reflect on your life, relationships, and success. Emory Austin, often described as a “pin drop” speaker, is also fun, connecting, and insightful. She takes a unique approach to what this adventure called “life” is really all about.

She has confidence that is not arrogance and love of knowledge that is not snobbery. She tells moving stories that are not sentimental. She is vibrant without jumping around and personal without being confessional. Emory has spoken for hundreds of organizations. Here are some of her biographical highlights:

  • Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Wake Forest University with a major in Journalism and Psychology/Philosophy
  • First foray into business was with the Raleigh Chamber of Commerce, helping to bring industry to Raleigh
  •  As a creative entrepreneur, started her own business, Suite 1000, in Charlotte, North Carolina, which is now a franchise
  • Call-in talk show host for “Wellness, the 90s, and You.”

Emory is a thirty-year cancer survivor and active member of Weddington United Methodist Church in South Carolina. Her entertaining programs are the perfect combination of solid expert substance, contagious warmth, and original humor. Successful Meetings magazine calls her “one of the decade’s best!”

Please join us for a day apart specifically designed for clergy and conference leaders. Register on line only at Registration fee is only $5 to offset the cost of lunch provided by the church.

Our Heritage

By Dr. Milton Loyer, Conference Archivist

January - 100 years ago
On Sunday morning January 31, 1915, the Methodist Episcopal Church at Oriole, Lycoming County, burned to the ground. The building, a modest “meeting house” with two front doors and no steeple, had been erected in 1851 – and a parsonage for the charge had been built next door in 1879. The fire was attributed to a defective stove pipe, and it was only the work of a furious bucket brigade that saved the parsonage from being consumed by the flames. Those battling the fire threw wet blankets on the parsonage roof and used it as base to throw water onto the burning church while watering down the house. A rebuilding campaign was launched before the embers cooled, and the first donation came from a Lutheran who gave $25 and the use of his team and wagon to haul lumber and stone. The new church, the present Oriole UMC, was dedicated September 26. 
The Oriole charge at one time consisted of four churches: Antes Fort, Oval, Oriole, and Elizabeth – a no longer standing building near Rauchtown that was built by the Evangelicals in 1871 and owned by the Methodists from 1897 to 1918.

February – 50 years ago
The Wyoming Conference Committee for the Decoration of Ministers’ Graves met at the New Milford Methodist Church on February 24, 1965, and committed itself to the following task: “That Christian flags be placed on all graves of Methodist ministers buried within the bounds of the Wyoming Annual Conference on Memorial Day, May 30, 1965.”

The Committee noted that this ministry would involve the purchase and placement of 390 flags, and it also prepared a request to bring before the Conference that “this Committee be empowered to investigate the suitability of decorating the graves of the deceased wives of ministers of the Wyoming Annual Conference and report to the 1966 Annual Conference.”

On to Glory - Death Notices

Mrs. Barbara Anne Faulkner, wife of Rev. Dr. Joseph E. Faulkner Sr., Retired, on Honorable Location, died Tuesday, January 6, 2015. Memorial Services were held Saturday, January 10, 2015, in St. Paul’s United Methodist Church, State College, Pa.

Rev. Fred J. Fields, Retired, of Center Street, Lock Haven, Pa., died Monday, December 15, 2014, in Geisinger Medical Center, Danville, Pa. He is survived by his wife, Linda S. (Henry) Fields. Memorial Services were held Friday, December 19, 2014, in Mill Hall United Methodist Church, Mill Hall, Pa.

Mrs. Romaine E. (Rohrbaugh) Frey, of Hidden Creek Drive, Miamisburg, Ohio, died Monday, December 22, 2014, at Elmcroft, Washington Township, Ohio. She was the widow of Rev. George W. Frey, Retired. Graveside services were held in Mt. Rose Cemetery, York.

Mrs. Betty Lou Furman, of Roberts Road, Pittston, Pa., died Thursday, January 1, 2015, in Wesley Village, Pittston, Pa. She was the wife of Rev. Edward K. Furman, Retired. Memorial Services were held Saturday, January 24, 2015, in Mehoopany United Methodist Church, Mehoopany, Pa.

Rev. John E. Lehr, Retired, of Moffett Lane, York, Pa., died at home Wednesday, December 10, 2014. Memorial Services were held Saturday, December 20, 2014, in Fourth United Methodist Church, York, Pa. Interment was in Red Mount Cemetery, East Berlin, Pa.

Luis A. Mercado, of West Walnut Street, Beavertown, Pa, died Thursday, February 5, 2015, at home. He was the husband of Rev. Kathryn R. Mercado, active clergy in Susquehanna Conference serving Beavertown United Methodist Church. Memorial Services were held Wednesday, February 11, 2015, in Beavertown United Methodist Church, Beavertown, Pa., and Thursday, February 12, 2015, in Asbury United Methodist Church, York, Pa. Interment was in Susquehanna Memorial Gardens, York, Pa

Seeking “Call” and “Send” stories for LINK

Susquehanna LINK is looking for stories about pastors’ calls to ministry. God calls us all to work alongside Him, but sometimes the calling is higher to a role of shepherd, teacher, leader. How did God call you? Who did He send to mentor you? Who inspired you? Where did the call lead you? What are the greatest blessings in your calling? What church nurtured you?

Those persons “called” need to be affirmed, encouraged, nurtured, supported, and recommended by local churches ... is yours one of those “sending” churches? Who have you “sent” into ministry? Who have been key mentors in your congregation? How do you affirm someone’s call to ministry?

Please share your story in 1,000 words or less and send a photo or two to accompany it (candidate with mentors, ordination, supporting church, current appointment, administering sacraments) to