Monday, February 22, 2016

Annual Conference 2016

This graphic is the 2016-2017 (fourth and final) installment in the “Alive in Christ” quadrennial theme of the Susquehanna Annual Conference.

The four themes were "Alive in Christ ...”

  1. “On a Journey of Faith”;
  2. “Raising up Transformational Leaders”; 
  3. “Equipping Vital Congregations”; and 
  4. “Creating New Places for New People.” 
Designed by Stacy Eckert, LINK Communications.

A word from your delegation

The Susquehanna Conference Delegation for the 2016 General Conference
and / or the 2016 Northeast Jurisdictional Conference.
By Lisa Bender, Head Lay Delegate, and Rev. Larry Leland, Head Clergy Delegate

Thank you. Each of us is honored to have been elected to represent Susquehanna Conference General Conference in Portland, Oregon, May 10-20 and/or at the Northeastern Jurisdictional Conference in Lancaster, Pa., July 11-15. We are committed to faithfully serve as delegates and to connect you and the entire annual conference with the life and work of the United Methodist Church.

What have we been doing? Our main task as a whole delegation of 20 plus four alternates is to discern who God may be calling our jurisdiction to elect as new Episcopal leaders in the Northeastern Jurisdiction. That process begins with the delegation going through a process of inviting, interviewing, and deciding whether or not to endorse potential episcopal candidate(s), which would then come to the Annual Conference for endorsement. Each Annual Conference goes through a similar process, and just prior to Jurisdictional Conference we will receive biographies of all those who were endorsed across the Northeastern Jurisdiction. These are the people we will interview and ultimately elect during Jurisdictional Conference. The number needed will be decided at General Conference.

What about preparing for General Conference? The ten General Conference delegates and four alternates are learning all we can about what to expect in Portland, where the theme is “Therefore Go.” We selected our legislative committees. We will each read thick volumes of legislation and an avalanche of mail requesting us to vote this way or that way. We are studying the key topics we expect will help shape the 2016 General Conference as we look to the future. Some of them are: church structure and governance; the church’s approach to ministry to and with LGBTQ persons; and the way we live out our call to be the church universal, especially in our denomination and global connections. We invite you to also become educated about these important issues and to follow the process our denomination uses to make decisions.

What will happen in Portland? Intense committee work for the first week will help us to meet other United Methodists from around the world. Forty percent of delegates come from outside the United States. Everything we do will be translated into eight languages. Lasting friendships will be formed. The days will be long, the work often difficult and painful, but we trust the Holy Spirit will be present to lead us to a new place through inspiring worship and celebrations of our mission and ministry. We have been warned to take care of ourselves - to get enough sleep, to drink lots of water, to get some exercise, and to eat right. When we need a break, our alternates will step in for part of a day or for a full day.

We covet your prayers and connections. Some of you have shared that you are praying for us as we pray for each other. We need those prayers! Others have asked how to contact us. We want to hear from you. Our email addresses are on the Conference website. While we represent Susquehanna Conference, each one of us is encouraged to make our own informed and prayerful decisions, and your thoughts are welcome. Our prayer is that decisions we make will help our great denomination remain vital and whole as we reach out to an often hurting world to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.

Leland named Lewisburg District Superintendent

Bishop Jeremiah J. Park is pleased to announce the appointment of the Rev. Larry L. Leland Jr. as Superintendent of the Lewisburg District effective July 1, 2016. He will succeed the Rev. Dr. Thomas L. Salsgiver, who finishes his eighth year of district superintendency.

Rev. Leland has been serving as the senior pastor of Faith United Methodist Church, Montoursville, since July 2010. During his tenure in his current appointment, Faith Church has experienced remarkable growth. His outstanding leadership and commitment to sharing the gospel with the larger community has brought a contagious spirit of vitality to the church as it continues to expand its presence, ministry, and witness in the community. He understands what it takes to be a church alive in the mission of Christ for such a time as this.

Leland’s other appointments include: senior pastor, Christ Church, Selinsgrove (1999-2010), associate pastor, Manchester St. Paul’s (1995-1999), and pastor, Dover Bethany, 1994-1995. He is a graduate of York College and Lancaster Theological Seminary.

Leland also serves the connectional church in very significant ways. For the past few years Leland has served as the Susquehanna Conference Secretary. He has also served in numerous areas of leadership. As the first clergy person elected, he leads the delegation of the Susquehanna Conference to the 2016 General and Jurisdictional Conferences.

“Larry is a person of deep faith. He is endeavoring to lead a holy life entirely committed to God,” said Bishop Jeremiah Park. “In addition to his exceptional gift of leadership, Larry’s gentle demeanor, his discerning spirit, his strong administrative skills, his listening ear, his pastoral heart, and his love of God and the church will serve him and the churches of the Lewisburg District well. Larry’s ministry has been greatly appreciated by each of the congregations he has served. He is deeply respected by his colleagues.”

Larry is married to Barbara. They are the parents of Henry. “I solicit your prayers for the Leland family and the Faith congregation during this time of transition,” said Bishop Park.

“We look forward to our new common journey with Rev. Larry Leland. Please join me in welcoming him to the ministry of superintendency.”

Vital Congregations - a dialogue to inspire churches with ideas for ministries of vitality

The following is the final installation in a five-part series based on a dialogue begun at the 2015 Susquehanna Annual Conference around stories and experiences of congregational vitality. The team that presented included Pastor Janet Durrwachter, Rev. Rich Morris, Rev. Dr. Randy Willis, and Jaime Carpenter. The video of this session (held Friday morning, June 12, 2015) and a full transcript can be found at

Passionate Connection
Jaime Carpenter, Laity
Christ UMC, Selinsgrove

edited transcript

I am the director of lay ministries at Christ United Methodist Church in Selinsgrove. I’ve been a part of the church for thirty years, but I’ve been employed there for eleven. I am also the chairperson for the lay servant ministries of the Lewisburg District. God has exactly called me to lead high-level leadership ministries as a lay person in these roles and for this time.

Organizing and teaching “Equipping God’s People” modules 1 and 2, organizing the lay speaking courses, and helping people understand the major shift in all of that, has been solid work. It’s true.

I know that good local church leaders need education. And so our districts have implemented the two modules, and are creating other courses to follow. Many of you are familiar with this. The feedback has been positive, and awareness is growing.

Today I bring along with me Grace Dunagan, a sixteen-year-old youth who has fulfilled her high school requirements, and will begin college in the fall. I have personally mentored her for the past year -and-a-half in church leadership, and truth be told, she has taught me a thing or two. She has been beside me as we organize courses, correspond with lay speakers in the district, and lead trainings in other local churches. As a member of our administrative council, she is a bright spot in our church’s leadership.

And today Grace and I are here because we want to share a characteristic of Christ United Methodist which has been identified as a vital congregation. And I feel the same way as some of the others up here about that. But the characteristic that we’ve chosen to talk about today is called passionate connection.

Eight years ago, the pastor of our church encouraged a few of us to read a book, entitled, “Fusion: Turning First-time Visitors into Fully-engaged Members of Your Church,” by Nelson Searcy. Are you familiar with that book?

We took that book to our hears. We removed the pew pads, and our staff added connection cards to the bulletins. We received lots of good information from our worship attendees. Not only updates to their contact information, which of course is important for our attendance, but also specific ways that worship attendees planned to respond to the message that they heard on Sunday morning.

We included a prayer, joys, and concerns line, and cannot believe what people write on those lines [when we read them] on Monday morning. They move us to tears. People will write things on those cards that they will never say [out loud]. Some Monday mornings get pretty emotional for us. But if there is something that the church staff or care teams need to follow up with, we follow up no later than Wednesday of that week.

First- and second-time visitors receive hand-written cards or emails; then a letter from the pastor; then a visit from one of our ministry staff members. In addition, thanks to the church’s awesome hospitality leader, Jinny Harnum, our ushers and greeters are well-trained.

Ushers stand by, available to assist. They walk worship attendees to their seats — they actually do that! I know that’s what they are supposed to do and it feels like I shouldn’t even have to say that, but sometimes we get involved in our side conversations, and we kind of miss a golden opportunity. The greeters try to remember the first names of the people on the first introduction. Their stations are located just inside the door and out on the street, helping drivers find a parking spot.

From that excellent training, our culture began to shift. The leadership and worship attendees began to care for one another, not simply just for the sake of caring. Not simply for the sake of saying we care, but actually honestly caring. And I know how that sounds. And if I would be [reading this], I would be wondering, ‘Really, it’s really that good?’ But you know, we all have things in our churches, and we have issues in other areas. But in this area of passionate connections, our church is really nailing it.

Taking it up a level, the church is connecting with community agencies, schools, and businesses. We are helping in classrooms, encouraging teachers, feeding hungry schools students on the weekends, and donating our gently-used shoes and so much more. All along we have earned the right to be heard, and we’ve built solid relationships through the community on all levels. I say this boldly and with confidence.

Again, you may be sitting there wondering, ‘How do you know that. How do you measure the trust earned in the community, school, and agencies?’ And again, I’d be asking the same thing.

But here is how we know. On Monday night, May 4, at 9:45 p.m., a report came to the 911 center that Christ United Methodist Church was on fire. Nine companies responded to the scene. The whole community gathered beside us as we watched our beloved church building burn until nearly 2 a.m. Neighbors brought out tables with bottled water. Community leaders came out, even while the church was still burning, to offer classroom and worship space for our preschool and church. The days and weeks after the fire were going to be critical to our recovery. Even those of us who have felt the heaviness of the loss and were beginning a full out grieving process, had a solid understanding of the following things: The last thing is never the worst thing. The church is the people. God gives us beauty for ashes and a future with hope.

So we were publicly grieving. We accepted the help of others. And we faced our struggles with transparency. We invited others to walk with us through one of the most difficult times of our leadership ministry, and we continue intentional connection and care for people of the church.

The Sunday after the fire we included blank pieces of paper which served as connection cards. Actually, it came from a desk drawer of some scrap tables that were in one of our member’s homes. They served as connection cards, and we included those in a bulletin that was graciously printed for us by another church in Selinsgrove. And we connected with the new people, our guests.

We had a copy of our directory and a database of contacts saved on the Cloud and a thumb drive with our servant keeper records saved to it. Are you guys backing your stuff up? You should!

While the pastor, trustees, and finance committees did work with insurance, investigating, and inventory, the ministry team leaders gathered to make plans for ministry. An emergency care team meeting was called, and I had photos printed and copied so that we could take them to our home-bound members and show them the pictures while saying the words, “The church burned. The fire was accidental and electrical. It was nobody’s fault. But it did happen.”

We immediately rebuilt the website to show pictures to tell the story, and designed a blog that gave daily updates from our pastor and staff. The entire community is invited to this story — you are invited to this story.

But here’s the shift I really don’t want you to miss. The community contacted the church to see how we could do ministry together. Susquehanna University, the Selinsgrove Borough, the school district, the county offices, all the local churches reached out. Hundreds of offers came from small businesses, civic organizations, our friends. And the people of the church are being cared for by the people of our community. And this is a true connection.

So it’s been asked of us, ‘If your church would disappear would the community notice?’ I know that the church has built systems, followed through with excellent practices, but we could never really measure the influence, the difference that the church was making in the community. Through the experience of this fire, we found out.

And as it turns out, all of it mattered and none of our resources were wasted. Passionate connection is active. It is well within your budget. It requires true care, which may require deep change, which is hard work.

The fire, although devastating and heartbreaking, provided an opportunity for heightened emotion, and a re-entry point for momentum. Does this sound familiar to anybody who took “Equipping God’s People” module 1, Session 3, when we studied Bob Farr’s book, “Renovate or Die”? That’s what we talk about there.

The fire, like any other tragedy that may have happened in your community or in your churches, can open the door to conversation with people who otherwise would not care to connect with you or the church. It opens doors to reconciliation from previously broken relationships. It allows for deposits to strengthen relationships. Tragedies also pique people’s curiosity. That’s OK, too. We are all part of the story.

The feeling of the longing is the fruit of passionate connections. Transparency of our vulnerability is a connecting force. Once connected, we share the stories of our faith and point others toward God. It is all about Jesus.

My prayer is that our church leadership, our clergy and laity, continue to be teachable, vulnerable, transparent, and hungry to passionately connect. My prayer is that you are earning trust and the right to be heard in your communities. Stay the course.

Sometimes the church’s influence cannot be measured. God is with us. He calls us in big ways to point each other toward Christ. And together we agreed, and all God’s people said, “Amen.”

Editorial: Welcome new readers

By Jerry Wolgemuth
Director of Communications

If you are reading this issue of Susquehanna LINK it is possible that you picked up this copy at a display area of your church.


Beginning with this issue your church is receiving a number of complimentary copies of this bi-monthly periodical that is one of the principle means of communicating the activity of United Methodists in central and northeastern Pennsylvania. It carries a sampling of the most newsworthy stories of what is going on in this annual conference of the United Methodist Church.

This is the first issue of Susquehanna LINK with a circulation of 20,000 copies rather than the usual 11,000 copies that we have been mailing bi-monthly (every other month).


We 900 United Methodist congregations believe ourselves to be part of a connectional church; that we are better together in the mission of bringing the transforming gospel of Jesus Christ to a broken world. Therefore, it is imperative that we share our lives together through engaging communication media.

We hope the Susquehanna LINK will be a welcome visitor in your world to help you better understand the vital ministries of the Susquehanna Conference, and that it will be a gateway to learning more through other convenient media. Each issue will refer you to other media resources that will connect you to news of the global United Methodist Church.

If you would find it more convenient to have Susquehanna LINK delivered to your home address you may use the convenient subscription form on page 14 of each issue. The top-right quadrant of page 15, called “Communication DNA in a Capsule,” presents the variety of communication media available to everyone.
Questions about the new distribution can be directed to 1-800-874-8474.


The Journey

By Rev. Mike Bealla
Director of Connectional Ministries

Grace and peace to you in the name of Jesus Christ!

It was about six years ago that I first floated a Connectional Ministries survey via the internet asking our local church leadership to tell us about how we could best resource them in the areas of mission and ministry. Many of you (some 300+) responded to that survey. The survey was an intentional effort to help us fulfill the purpose of the annual conference to “help equip local churches with effective tools and resources for effective disciple making.” Your responses were very helpful in charting the formation of our new conference structure including our five major ministry teams and helped to guide our work over the last few years.

As we now enter the new quadrenium, (the fancy name for the next four years of ministry which begins with the gathering of General Conference), it felt wise to ask you all again how we are doing, and how can we continue to provide you with relevant and effective resourcing for your local church. The Discipleship Resource Team, chaired by Pat Bollinger, went to work and put together a recent “Survey Monkey” asking church leaders to respond to where they felt they were most effective in ministry and where they could use some help. Your response was simply amazing! Almost 500 surveys were completed and the information gathered will help guide our work in the years ahead. Thank-you. Thank-you. Thank-you!

Since the mission of every local church is to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world, you have told us that areas where you felt the most need of tools and resources are: Developing and maintaining small groups as a foundational piece of disciple-making, Christian Education and Bible study. You indicated that ministry with 19 - 35 year olds is a challenge.

Although the information was not a huge surprise, it has confirmed we are on target with our current and future resourcing development. Our E-Tours for 2016 are focusing on each of these needs and we will certainly reinforce that direction as we approach future E-Tours. Come and check out why folks are loving E-Tours!

Please feel free to contact me ( or any of our staff at any time if you need support or direction in these or other areas of mission and ministry. Through our own resources, the networking of others who are effective in their work, and through the larger connection, we can partner with you to increase the vitality of your church for the living out of God’s purpose for each and every one of our local churches. As a connectional church, we truly believe that we are “Better Together!”

Bealla appointed to Elm Park UMC

Bishop Jeremiah J. Park has announced the appointment of the Rev. Michael A. Bealla as the new pastor of Elm Park United Methodist Church, Scranton.

Rev. Bealla has served for the past eight years as the Director of Connectional Ministries for the former Central Pennsylvania Conference and now the newly created Susquehanna Conference. Mike played a key leadership role in helping to bring together the former Central Pennsylvania and Wyoming Conferences to create the Susquehanna Conference. “He has served us well during this time of much transition,” said Bishop Jeremiah Park.

“It was an unfrozen time when as a new conference many decisions had to be made; and it required a lot of time spent listening and reflecting upon where God was leading us in the future. Mike has been a vital part of that vision casting. We have come to respect his keen insights and thoughts that enlighten what it means to be a church alive in Christ together raising up transformational leaders and equipping vital congregations on a journey of faith. His ministry and leadership among us as the Director of Connectional Ministries has made many significant contributions to the churches and people of the Susquehanna Conference and is greatly appreciated and celebrated.” reflected Bishop Park.

Mike began his ministry as a member of the Wyoming Conference before assuming the position of Director of Connectional Ministries. He has served pastorates at Alderson/Kunkle, Skinner’s Eddy, Factoryville-Nicholson, Endwell (New York), and Trucksville United Methodist Churches. Over the past eight years he has been a vital part of the Extended Cabinet and has provided many opportunities for our congregations to learn more about their faith, ministries, and the connectional system through diverse programs including E-Tours (which is being modeled in other conferences).

He will serve at Elm Park United Methodist Church in Scranton as of July 1, 2016. Elm Park has a rich history, including being the site for many of the worship services for the former Wyoming Conference. Elm Park is located at the edge of the University of Scranton.

 “I am sure that you join me in praying for Mike, his wife Bonnie, and their family, including their youngest son Wesley, as they enter this new journey with God and with the congregation of Elm Park United Methodist Church,” said Bishop Park.

Conference leadership engages in Cultural Sensitivity Training

By Rev. Mike Bealla
Director of Connectional Ministries

The Susquehanna Conference continues to strive for more diversity among its congregations, pastors, and conference leadership.

At a recent training event held at Mt. Asbury Retreat Center, the entire conference center staff and the Extended Cabinet attended training to better understand and practice cultural sensitivity.

The training was led by Rev. Giovanni Arroyo and Rev. Michelle Ledder, staff members of our General Commission on Religion and Race. Michelle is also a white pastor serving in an African Methodist Episcopal church, living out a cross cultural appointment.

Cultural Sensitivity Training is aimed at better understanding how our own cultures influence who we are and what we believe, as well as appreciating and understanding other cultures and ethnic groups.

Time was spent describing racism, how it works, and sensitizing us to what it means to live in a culture of white privilege. The Cabinet also spent time talking about cross-cultural appointments and how best to encourage and support this growing area of need.

SUSUMC paid 100% of 2015 Shares

“We always pray for you, and we give thanks to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. For we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and your love for all of God’s people ... This same Good News that came to you is going out all over the world. It is bearing fruit everywhere by changing lives, just as it changed your lives ...” Colossians 1:3-6 selected portions - New Living Translation

Dear Sisters and Brothers of the Susquehanna Annual Conference — How do I even begin to offer my thanks to you with enough joy and celebration? Once again, now for the second year in succession, the Susquehanna Conference has paid one hundred percent of our General Church Shares of Ministry. Praise be to God!

Shares of Ministry are ultimately about the mission, ministry, and witness of our church. Because of your generosity and faithfulness in sharing and spreading the love of God, the Good News of Jesus Christ is “bearing fruit everywhere by changing lives.” There is no way that any one of us can imagine and comprehend how many lives will continue to be touched, served, and transformed because of your giving out of your love for God. God’s people of the Susquehanna Annual Conference represent a mission-loving church at its best.

Thanks be to God that our conference continues to make progress each year in honoring the Shares of Ministry. It represents the continuous expansion of God’s movement by spreading the good news of Jesus Christ. Together, we will keep moving toward the goal of honoring the Shares of Ministry by each and every congregation.

I don’t take it for granted. I realize that it takes commitment, faithfulness, and sacrifice to meet the challenge of honoring the Shares of Ministry that has been assigned to every church. In partnership with you, your district superintendent, your conference office staff, and the Conference Council on Finance and Administration, we will do our best to help our churches meet their connectional covenant with financial responsibilities.

Once again, with joy, I would like to say thank you, and thank you, for all that every church is doing to share the love of God by honoring the covenant of Shares of Ministry. To God be the glory that we are a church alive in Christ together making disciples and transforming the world for such a time as this.

—Bishop Jeremiah J. Park

Andra Haverstock named conference treasurer / comptroller

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,

Grace to you in the name of Jesus Christ, Prince of Peace, Healer of Our Brokenness and Hope of the World!

Several months ago I shared that the Council on Finance and Administration would initiate a search for a new Conference Treasurer / Comptroller. According to the “Book of Discipline,” CFA is responsible to conduct this search. A committee, which was comprised of members of CFA and the Appointive Cabinet, initiated a nationwide search. The Conference Treasurer / Comptroller also serves as a member of the Extended Cabinet. The job description was sent through the various communication channels of the United Methodist Church as well as to the general public.

The committee was ultimately committed to finding the best person possible who could help the Annual Conference move forward in its commitment to help congregations strengthen their financial health and well-being for the sake of the mission of making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. They desired to locate an individual who had the necessary financial and accounting expertise, an ability to visualize the big picture, strong interpersonal skills to work with congregations, Conference staff and the Cabinet members, and a significant faith commitment to Christ and the church.

I am pleased to announce that the candidate selected is Mrs. Andra Haverstock, who is currently employed as our Pensions and Benefits Officer. The committee unanimously agreed that Andra’s deep spiritual life along with her excellent financial background presented her as the most qualified and best equipped person to be named as our new Conference Treasurer / Comptroller
Andra received her Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration/ Professional Accountancy from the Pennsylvania State University in Middletown, and her Master’s Degree in Business Administration from Lebanon Valley College. Andra has held several accounting positions such as staff accountant and then payroll supervisor at a regional utilities company, business manager at a large church, and a staff accountant at an international company.

She resides in Mechanicsburg and is an active member at Aldersgate United Methodist Church.

Mrs. Andra Haverstock is initially employed as the Interim Treasurer / Comptroller, effective immediately, until Annual Conference when she will be formally introduced to the Annual Conference. By virtue of the “Book of Discipline,” the selection of the Conference Treasurer/Comptroller must be approved quadrennially by the Annual Conference. In the meantime, I know that you join me in extending our appreciation for her willingness to accept this challenging position. I would ask you to uphold Andra, her husband Douglas, and their children in prayer.

With You in Christ’s Ministry,
Bishop Jeremiah J. Park

Award nominations open for AC

Do you know an outstanding United Methodist clergy or lay person or a congregation who you think should be recognized and honored at Annual Conference for their discipleship and achievements? You have the opportunity now through April 15 to submit nominations for the 2016 conference awards. Those selected will attend a special Awards Luncheon at Annual Conference in June. Use the information below to request award nomination forms or find them at

J. Marlene Atanasoff Award
Sponsored by The Center for Spiritual Formation, this award recognizes outstanding advocates of John Wesley’s principles of mercy, justice, and piety. Contact Rev. Dr. Russell Hart at 717-240-0678 or

Bishop’s Award for Christian Unity and Inter-Religious Concerns
The Bishop’s Committee on Christian Unity and Inter-Religious Concerns has an award for a lay or clergy person who has demonstrated outstanding involvement in ecumenical ministry. Contact Rev. Marty Cox at 570-226-4065 or

Howard and Elizabeth Brinton Award
Given by the Conference Missional Board in memory of former missionaries, this award is given to an individual who shows excellence in mission support and practice. Contact Rev. Lenore Hosier at 570-324-2671 or

Mission Excellence Awards 
Given to one church from each of the seven districts of our Susquehanna Annual Conference. These churches are chosen according to their commitment to and faithful support of United Methodist mission both here and abroad, the Advance, missionary support, and active involvement in hands-on mission. Churches need to exhibit good stewardship in being faithful to paying their Shares of Ministry in full. Contact Rev. Lenore Hosier at 570-324-2671 or

Harry Denman Award
The Foundation for Evangelism sponsors this award in three parts – for one clergy, one lay person, and one youth who show outstanding achievement in evangelism. Contact Mike Bealla at 717-766-7441 or

The Flying Dove Award
The Conference Peace with Justice Team presents two awards. One is to recognize the church that contributed the most financially to the Peace with Justice Fund and the other to a person or church striving to work for peace with justice in their community. Contact Michelle Bodle at 814-342-3060 or

Harry Hosier Award
Our Commission on Inclusiveness gives this award to an individual or congregation that moves people from dependence to independence; works with people who are downtrodden and empowering them; and helps a congregation move from inactivity to lively worship. Contact Yvette Davis at 717-238-6739 or

Bishop D. Frederick Wertz Award
Given by Lycoming College in memory of Bishop Wertz, this is given to a clergy or lay person who has rendered exceptional service to God through the church. Contact Jeff LeCrone at 570-321-4112 or

New for 2016: E-TOUR VI: Equipping Vital Congregations

Equip your church with exciting ministry resources ... Empower your leaders for today’s mission field ... Engage in transforming workshop experiences ... Connect with other church leaders ....

Seventeen different workshops are being offered as the Conference Connectional Ministries Team and Conference Leaders bring resources to you. From missions to hospitality to Christian education to communications, this event is designed to help leaders and future leaders in local churches discover the wealth of resources available to them through our United Methodist connection and the Susquehanna Conference. Through an offering of workshops, displays, media, and interactive learning experiences, participants will learn new ways to make disciples and will receive a disc packed with helpful tools and resources.

Saturday, March 5, 9:30 a.m. - 3 p.m. 
Shavertown United Methodist Church, 163 N. Pioneer Ave, 
Shavertown PA 18708

Saturday, March 19, 9:30 a.m. - 3 p.m., 
First United Methodist Church, 801 Allegheny St., Hollidaysburg PA 16648

Saturday, April 2, 9:30 a.m. - 3 p.m., 
Pine Street United Methodist Church, 441 Pine St., Williamsport PA 17701

Saturday, April 9, 9:30 a.m. - 3 p.m., 
Wesley United Methodist Church, 130 W. 3rd St., Bloomsburg PA 17815

Workshops and leaders:

  • Reaching the People in Your Neighborhood, Rev. Mike Bealla, Director of Connectional Ministries
  • What’s Happened To My Church?, Rev. Mike Bealla, Director of Connectional Ministries
  • Communications for Small Congregations, Jerry Wolgemuth, Director of Communications
  • Faith Across Generations, Jerry Wolgemuth, Director of Communications
  • Cultivating Community, Anne Horton, Director, Camp & Retreat Ministry
  • Is the Character of Hospitality Working in Me?, Anne Horton, Director, Camp & Retreat Ministry
  • From Newcomer to Disciple, Lisa Bender, Executive Secretary, Connectional Ministries
  • What’s Your Story?, Lisa Bender, Executive Secretary, Connectional Ministries
  • Faithful Witnesses: Not ‘to’ or ‘for’ but ‘with’, Lenore Hosier, Conference Secretary of Global Ministries
  • Mission Around Town, Curt Knouse, Director of Volunteers in Mission and Outreach
  • Are You Ready for the Next Disaster? (District Disaster Response), Ron Salsman, Disaster Response Coordinator
  • Mitakuye Oyasin: We are All Related, Larry Siikanen, Co-Chair, Committee on Native American Ministries
  • Find Your Story in Mission Central’s Unfolding Story, Rob Visscher, Executive Director, Mission Central
  • VBS Showcase, Jody Robinson, Director, Discovery Place Resource Center
  • You Teach Weird!, Audrey Wilder, Director, Young People’s Ministry and Christian Education
  • You Learn Weird!, Audrey Wilder, Director, Young People’s Ministry and Christian Education
  • Tough Crowd: Reaching Out to Youth through Small Groups, Audrey Wilder, Director, Young People’s Ministry and Christian Education

Lunch is included in the $5 registration fee. CEUs (.4) will be available for clergy.

The deadline to register for each event is the Friday one full week before the event.

For all the details, including brochures, online registration, and workshop descriptions, go to: E-Tour IV

For more information, contact Conference Director of Connectional Ministries, Mike Bealla, at, or Lisa Bender at, or call 1-800-874-8474 or 717-766-7441.

Discipleship Resource Team wants to know!

The Discipleship Resource Team cares about the needs of the local churches in our conference. We are here to help our churches be faithful to our mission statement.

We thank all of you who answered our survey. It has helped us see where the general needs lie. The data showed us that churches face the most challenges in making disciples through small groups, Christian education and Bible study. We also learned that a majority of our churches are facing the challenge of reaching 19­- to 35-year-olds.

We are encouraging you to talk with us at our table at the 2016 Annual Conference, where we will have information about ways to address the needs in the local church in discipleship and formation.

Thank you for allowing us to walk with you as we walk with Jesus together. If you have any thoughts, you can contact me, Pastor Pat Bollinger, at

Camp & Retreat Ministry welcomes new site staff

By Anne Horton, 
Director of Camp & Retreat Ministry

The Camp & Retreat Ministry office would like to introduce the conference to two new staff positions.

Joe Sprenkle, Director of Program for Camp Penn. Joe is a native of Pennsylvania and grew up attending Camp Penn. He brings a wealth of experience from camper, counselor, instructor, program coordinator, to site director for a technology-based camp. He has taught everything from environmental studies, to backpacking, rock climbing and canoeing. Joe is excited about this new adventure in programming for Camp Penn. He looks forward to meeting and working with campers, staff, camp deans, and parents who have a huge heart for Camp Penn.

Russell (Rusty) Gift Jr., Director of Facilities and Operations, will be serving two sites, Camp Penn and Mt. Asbury. Rusty is a native of Pennsylvania and presently lives in Waynesboro. He and his wife have two grown children. Rusty has a strong background in hospitality and facilities and operations management. He at one time worked with Rhodes Grove Retreat Center in Chambersburg. Thus, he is familiar with the impact camp and retreat ministry has in the lives of people of all ages.

Joe and Rusty look forward to meeting you. Whether you are at Camp Penn or Mount Asbury, exciting times are ahead. Come be a part of the fun.

Continue your mission at Albright Care Services

When Bob and Carol Peel joined Albright Care Services by moving to Normandie Ridge Senior Living Community in 2009, they made the decision based on comfort and security. The Peels were attracted to knowing they did not have to worry about things such as property maintenance or receiving skilled care if necessary. Years later, the couple shares the story of how Albright provides a home that allows them to keep doing what they love — serving others.

The Peels got involved in mission work over a decade ago and have been going on annual mission trips ever since. They chose Red Bird Mission Conference in southeastern Kentucky as the place to make a difference. Historically, this region of the Appalachian Mountains has had high unemployment and few opportunities. The mountains cause isolation, making basic needs difficult to access. An hour drive to the grocery store is usual, and there are few industries. Chronic poverty, poor housing, and rugged terrain make assistance essential. Bob and Carol Peel wanted to lend a helping hand.

On their first visit, the Peels were introduced to every aspect of volunteer work at Red Bird Missionary Conference, from education to housing needs. They were able to select a project based on interest and skills, and found their calling in the office assembling newsletters. The 10,000 newsletters are mailed to conference supporters throughout the nation and abroad, sharing good news of progress made and opportunities to help. The Peels now plan trips based on newsletter distributions.

Although assembling newsletters can be hard work, the Peels consider their trips rewarding. “I go to help others and I feel good about that,” said Carol. “There’s something I can’t describe about being able to help someone else in need.” Bob finds that his mission work helps him to grow as an individual. “When you’re put into a different environment and give your time and efforts toward helping others, I believe you become a better person,” he said. “I might not be the person that I am today if I hadn’t learned to give of myself.”

The Peels agree that they could not help others without receiving a little help themselves. Normandie Ridge Senior Living Community provides them with the assistance they need to take mission trips without having to worry about leaving. “It’s reassuring to know that we can go away and that our place will be safe. We find peace of mind knowing that safety is provided when we are away, with a team to take care of problems that may arise in our absence,” Bob said. “That’s what has allowed us to book two trips this year. We accept a little help, and in return give a little help to others.”

The Peels are shining examples of being called to serve and we are proud that they are part of our Albright family. Albright, celebrating its 100 years of service to the Susquehanna Valley, invites you to continue your mission by joining us at one of our six locations. Visit for information on senior living, day programs, volunteering, or giving.

‘Dr. Dilip’ named field representative for Bishop’s Partners in Mission

“There are different spiritual gifts but the same Spirit; and there are different ministries and the same Lord; and there are different activities but the same God who produces all of them in everyone. A demonstration of the Spirit is given to each person for the common good.” 
(I Cor. 12:4-7)

Through a monetary grant from the General Church, the Susquehanna Conference has secured the services of Dr. Dilip Abayasekara to be the field representative for the Bishop’s Partners in Mission, effective January 1, 2016. “Dr. Dilip,” as he is known, will work closely with Bishop Jeremiah J. Park’s office as well as with the Director of Connectional Ministries.

“Please know that no gifts from churches and / or individuals to Bishop’s Partners in Mission will be used in any manner for these administrative / personnel costs,” said Bishop Park. “The entire amount of the gifts received will be used to support Imagine No Malaria and Mission Central equally, except for when those gifts are designated.”

Dr. Dilip brings many gifts to this part-time position. He is a professor at Penn College and also serves on the staff at Middlesex United Methodist Church in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. He recently graduated from Wesley Theological Seminary with his Masters of Divinity degree. Many pastors, and thus churches, in our conference have been assisted by Dr. Dilip’s coaching course, “Preaching with Power.” He is an excellent communicator and he demonstrates very strong administrative skills. In this new temporary position he will help develop and implement a strategy to promote both Imagine No Malaria and Mission Central through the Bishop’s Partners in Mission initiative.

Dr. Dilip will be a great asset to our conference and to our individual churches as we continue to be a church alive in mission. He serves on the Board of Directors for the Stewardship Foundation and previously served on the Conference Congregational Development Team.

Bishop Park requests your prayers and support for Dr. Dilip and his new task.
“Your partnership with him in mission would be greatly appreciated,” said Bishop Park. “My heart overflows with joy and love for the outpouring of gifts and support for the Bishop’s Partners in Mission. Thanks be to God for the generous people of Susquehanna Conference. To God be the glory that together we continue to make a difference in our community and the world for such a time as this.”

Graduates ready to Preach with Power

Preaching with Power 2015 participants: (standing left to right) Pastor Cheryl Eyster, Pastor David Keyworth, Pastor Jon Morningstar, Rev. Dr. John Godissart, Pastor Betty Secrest, Pastor Brian Myfelt, and Pastor Richard Fluke Jr. (Seated left to right) Rev. Fred Hickok, Rev. Beth Stutler, Dr. Dilip Abayasekara, Altoona District Superintendent Rev. Dr. Kathleen Kind, and Pastor Julie Rosensteel.

The 12-week “Preaching with Power” course was developed by professional trainer and speaker (and pastor) Dr. Dilip Abayasekara, who serves at Middlesex UMC. The course, aimed at clergy, covers The Philosophy of Preaching, Sermon Preparation, Sermon Construction, Sermon Delivery, and Putting It All Together — all based on the foundation of Scripture and God’s power. Course topics explore the differences between preaching, public speaking, and Bible study; knowing your audience; behavioral styles, mind mapping, and creativity; use of multi-media; story-telling; and much more, including the opportunity to deliver and evaluate sermons.

The next course will begin March 8, 2016, at Middlesex UMC in Carlisle, Harrisburg District. To register, contact Candi Shaffer at or call 800-8974-8474 ext. 3200 by February 26, 2016.

February Poster

The circulation of the Susquehanna LINK has been increased to 20,000 copies ... and we are now delivering to every church in the Susquehanna Conference!


In November 2015, Chris Marinelli of DENTSPLY presented a check for
$2,107 to Lena Cordero, York City Day Camp Director, and Ebony Kennedy-Santiago, YCDC Board Member, for use in the York City Day Camp July 2016 ministry.

York City Day Camp’s mission is to share Jesus with the kids of York City. It is entering its eighth year this summer at Messiah United Methodist Church in York, Pa. An energized, passionate director and fabulous campers in first through sixth grades all combine to provide a fun, faith-based, four-week summer experience for all.

The future is bright for this camp as the YCDC Board of Directors looks ahead to 2016 and growing the number of children that it can serve. Look for more information on this year’s camp on the website.

DENTSPLY International Inc. is a leading manufacturer and distributor of dental and other consumable healthcare products, headquartered in York, Pa.

Rev it Up!

By Rev. Michelle Bodle

When I told people I was heading to Rev It Up! in Chicago in October 2015, I was commonly asked, “What exactly is this conference you are going to about?” My most common response was, “How to be able to retire someday,” but truly this event offered by the General Board of Pensions and Health Benefits was about so much more.

As a young clergy person with decades before I will be able to retire, the idea of investing for the future was far from the forefront of my mind. But upon the recommendation of several other young clergy who attended this conference I decided to attend, if for no other reason than to prepare myself for a lifetime in ministry. Once at the event GBOPHB explained that they created this event for clergy and their spouses under the age of forty, because they were finding that the majority of their conferences were attended by those clergy nearing retirement instead of starting out their carriers in healthy and holistic ways.

The topics presented were broken down into three categories - personal, financial, and leadership skills, all of which presented vital information for a life in ministry. The first day opened with Rev. Mike Slaughter talking about having momentum to stay in ministry for life. Slaughter pointed out that we are called to give our very lives for the greatest story and mission every told, which meant that we had to be prepared physically, spiritually, emotionally, rationally, and mentally. The day continued with teaching from certified financial planners and lawyers around personal finances and clergy taxes. Each evening those present were given the opportunity to sign up for personal consultation opportunities in the areas Rev. Slaughter presented in opening worship.

The second day offered ten classes to choose from, ranging in topics from strength-based leadership, to church finances, and personal health. These classes gave us opportunities to learn from the insights of the presenters, but the insights of fellow clergy and clergy spouses as well, around issues that many of us struggle with, including the pace of ministry and failing to observe the Sabbath with regularity. By having these open and honest conversations about personal wholeness, we were able to support each other in our joys and struggles.

The closing day was comprised of three core classes with topics such as creating a will, managing cash and dissolving debt, and the benefits provided for clergy persons in the United Methodist Church. I commented to the other young clergy attending Rev it Up! from the Susquehanna Conference, that I felt overwhelmed by the amount of information, but at the same time I was walking away with action steps and a plan to work toward truly living into a lifetime in ministry.

Rare is the opportunity when you can sit down with folks from general boards and agencies who you know deeply care about you and your ministry. Even rarer is the opportunity to have consultation and discussion sessions led by them with the purpose being to help you sustain your ministry in a vital way. Now, even days after the event has concluded, I find myself returning to their words of wisdom, knowing that I truly am “rev-ed” up for ministry for such a time as this.

Remove the sting – help them sing!

By Dr. Dilip Abayasekara

How can your congregation live out the mission of the church that impacts your community, country, and the world? There is no escaping the fact that we are called to a holy calling, to be transformative agents in the world in the name of Jesus Christ. Whether your church is small, medium, or large, whether it’s urban or rural, whether it’s members are old, young, or in-between, there is something that your church can do that can be hugely significant: become a Bishop’s Partner in Mission (BPIM).

When you become a partner in mission, you automatically help drive two huge endeavors to success: Mission Central, where “God’s Resources Meet Human Need” and Imagine No Malaria, where you join the fight to reduce and ultimately eliminate the needless deaths of thousands of people from malaria, a disease that is preventable, treatable, and beatable. Although an individual church might feel that it’s contributions are too small to make an impact, the truth is that when the Susquehanna Conference’s 900-plus churches all work together and pull together, we can make our ripples combine to create a huge wave of blessing to others.

Our conference has made a commitment to wipe out the $1 million mortgage of Mission Central and to raise $1 million for the global fight against malaria. Reaching those goals mean that once released from the burden of a huge mortgage, we can free up dollars for Mission Central’s amazing missions locally, nationally, and globally. It also means the difference between life and death for tens of thousands of people annually afflicted by malaria, most of them in sub-Saharan Africa. In 2008 when Imagine No Malaria was launched, a child died every 30 seconds due to complications from the disease. Now, a child dies every two minutes. That’s a significant drop in rates of death but still unacceptable, especially when the disease is preventable and treatable.

We are grateful for the generous contributions of quite a few churches already. BPIM brochures and pledge cards have been distributed to most of the churches. Consider inviting your congregations to roll up their sleeves, tap their creativity, and get involved in BPIM that will lead to healing the sick, reaching out in missions, and giving hope to those in need. We are happy to receive donations from churches as well as individual donors. However, never underestimate the impact that small but consistent efforts can create: Oak Hill UMC (in another Conference) raised over $100,000 in small active community engagements, beginning with lemonade stands.

I am looking for fellow believers in churches in each of our seven districts to become points of light for this effort. For more information or to join me in this exciting endeavor, please contact me at Please watch for announcements about regional or district training events. Let’s remove the sting of the mosquito and the sting of a mortgage over Mission Central as we Imagine No Mortgage and Imagine No Malaria!

Connect with General Conference through redesigned app

United Methodist Communications

General Conference, in the palm of your hand - a redesigned 2016 General Conference app is now available. A helpful way to stay connected and learn more about all aspects of the conference, the app will feature news, photo and social media feeds, video and audio archives, live streaming of worship and plenary, the DCA and ADCA, and petition tracking.

For delegates and others at the conference on May 10-20, there are also some features to make the experience easier: legislative committee assignments, conference schedule with the option to build a personalized calendar, a delegate discussion board, a daily devotional, and an interactive map of the convention center and Portland, Oregon.

“United Methodist Communications seeks to provide useful tools that connect the church and make it quick and easy to get information, whether it’s from your computer or your smartphone,” said Dan Krause, chief executive of the denomination’s communications agency.

The app is free to download and is available for Android and Apple devices. You can search for “United Methodist General Conference” in your app store or visit the general conference app website for a link.

“While we know not everyone has a smartphone or readily available Internet access, this app is one of many channels United Methodist Communications is developing for members to access information leading up to and during General Conference,” said Krause.


About General Conference: The General Conference is the top policy-making body of The United Methodist Church, and meets once every four years to determine the denomination’s future direction, consider revisions to church law, and approve plans and budgets for church-wide programs. The 2016 meeting will take place May 10-20 at the Oregon Convention Center in Portland, Oregon.

Coat drive a growing ministry

Top photo: Community generosity is a vital part of the Winter Coat and Outer Wear Drive held at Elm Park UMC, Scranton. Pictured are members of the Scranton chapter of UNICO National, an Italian American Service Organization, who brought in donated coats.

By Karen Sadowski

Elm Park Church in Scranton, through its Mission Team, completed its seventh annual coat and other winter outer-wear drive and distribution this past November, distributing 568 coats and 1,402 additional items (hats, scarves, gloves, mittens, shoes, boots, and more) in just three days. Some hats and scarves went to the Red Bird Mission, others were given to EOTC’s Parents as Teachers program by the youth group as random acts of kindness. Remaining coats were delivered to other local helping agencies for further distribution.

The annual event began as a “coats only” drive seven years ago when Jeanne Gordon, retired director of the local Girl Scout Council and chair of Elm Park’s Mission and Outreach Work Area, saw a need in the Scranton area for those who came to Elm Park’s Breadbasket (food ministry) inadequately dressed for winter. Gordon, Diana Powell, and friends went to work and started collecting coats. The event has grown and evolved to include many other warming items.

Bottom photo: Volunteers are another vital part of this ministry effort. After coats and other winter wear have been collected, they are sorted by size and type, and arranged neatly on tables and racks, some of which were built by the volunteers.
The generosity of the community is overwhelming. Elm Park receives bags and bags of warm clothing from other churches, friends, neighbors, relatives, and total strangers who discover our need through various print and media formats. In 2014 Eagle Scout Kevin Sompel personally collected one hundred coats for us to distribute for his Eagle Scout project. The connectedness for a cause is infectious and astounding.

Each new year starts with a twinge of doubt, and three questions: “Does anyone out there still have coats to give?” “Will there be enough help carrying, sorting, sizing, and displaying everything?” and most importantly, “How will we make sure we reach the people we can help?” Each year we realize the worry is unfounded. New sources of goods arise, volunteers sprout up, and the smiles and words of gratitude from the homeless, ill, and hurting assure us that God provides and works out the details.

One hundred ninety-five volunteer hours were recorded for the project, with many, many more hours “behind-the-scenes” in construction of display racks, communications, collection of items, and more.

Discovery Place: Are you looking for some encouragement?

At times, all of us could use a little encouragement as we seek to live a life worthy of the title Christian. A great way to receive that encouragement is by meeting regularly in small groups or Bible study classes. I’ve recently catalogued a handful of new resources that might help as your group grows closer to each other and to God.

Simplify - Unclutter Your Soul: “Exhausted. Overwhelmed. Overscheduled.” Today’s velocity of life can consume and control us until a breakneck pace begins to feel normal and expected. That’s where the danger lies: When we spend our lives doing things that keep us busy but don’t really matter, we sacrifice the things that do. If you crave a simpler life anchored by the priorities that matter most, roll up your sleeves: Simplified living requires uncluttering your soul. In this four-session study, author Bill Hybels identifies the core issues that lure us into frenetic living, and offers practical steps for sweeping the clutter from our souls.

Too Busy Not To Pray - Slowing Down to Be With God: The urgent need for prayer in today’s broken world is clear, but busyness still keeps many of us from finding time to pray. So Bill Hybels offers us his practical, time-tested ideas on slowing down to pray. In this four-session study Hybels conveys that each of us can become a person of prayer and calls both young and old to make prayer a priority, broadening the vision for what our eternal, powerful God does when his people slow down to pray.

Satisfied - Discovering Contentment in a World of Consumption: Why is a contented, satisfied life so evasive? What deep hungers drive the reckless purchasing habits, out of control accumulation, and crazy consumer lifestyle for so many of us? And why are we often driven more by what our neighbors own than what will truly make us happy? In this six-session study, Jeff Manion provides an inspiring and transformative vision for living a deeply contented life in the midst of our consumer-driven, materialistic, and often shallow culture.

Ask - Faith Questions in a Skeptical Age: We live in a skeptical age. People — especially young people — express doubts about Christian faith. In this thoughtful eight week study, Bishop Scott J. Jones partners with his son, Rev. Arthur Jones, to address hard questions that all of us face when considering faith, religion, and the church.

Forum, ideas for childrens ministry

By Jodie Dodson
Director of Children’s Ministry, Aldersgate UMC, Mechanicsburg

Many thanks to both the Susquehanna Conference and to Aldersgate Church in Mechanicsburg for affording me the opportunity to attend the Children’s Ministry Forum in Little Rock, Arkansas, November 17-19.

All excited on day one, I attended my second workshop, “Connecting and Equipping Families.” Here we took time to look at the Baptismal Covenant. As parents vow to “nurture their children in Christ’s holy Church” and the congregation vows to “nurture one another in the Christian faith and life” as well as pray for the children; how do we as a church equip families to hold true to this vow?

This workshop provided the most discussion of any that I attended through the next two days. The ideas were as vast as the churches that were there ... from California to Pennsylvania ... churches with hundreds of children and churches with 50 on a “good” day ... Children’s directors that have been in service for three days to ten years.

It is best to present these ideas in bullet points so that they aren’t lost among the words. Perhaps an idea or two will resonate with you and it will be something your church will begin doing.

  • Bringing a baby blanket to the hospital when children in your congregation are born
  • A monthly family outing coordinated by the church
  • Resources for “How to Pray with Your Child” 
  • Communication through stickers on the child’s body (It won’t get lost in the car)
  • A closed Facebook page featuring upcoming activities and then pictures following events
  • Intergenerational connecting of the moms and retired women in the church body
  • Following Christmas: A Blessing of the Toys where children bring one toy they received
  • Advent Festival of Family Activities
  • Bless your children
  • Luncheon Expo for Children and Youth highlighting the curriculum, special events and expectations for the coming year

Most of us know you learn so much more by talking with other participants. As I move forward in my calling, the ideas that were shared and the friendships I made will have an impact on the children in the church I call home. Let us all remember that Jesus called the little children and they are each a Blessing. Continue to bless and pray for the children in your life and the life of your congregation.

By Cassandra McCachren, 
First UMC, Hershey

Children’s Ministry Forum 2015 focused on renewal, discovering, and responding. Time was spent on personal spiritual practices and served as a reminder that ministry workers need to take time out of our schedules to experience renewal.

“Family Faith Formation” and “Children in Worship” were just two of many workshops that offered an opportunity to discover new information and ideas for local churches to equip our families.

Kara Lassen Oliver’s book, “Passing It On,” gives families practical ways to be together and aid in children and youth’s faith formation through four different seasons of their lives. Using the Wesleyan approach to spiritual formation, Oliver showed how that through family meetings and symbols we can help our families form their children spiritually. By pointing to God in our everyday experiences, creating a culture of hope, making time to pray together, and participating in the community and kingdom of God, families have seen changes in their children’s lives. Even if parents are just telling their children where they see God in everyday life, they are making a huge impact on their children’s spiritual lives. However, Kara points out that daily and weekly times spent praying and in family devotional gatherings is extremely beneficial to our children’s faith development as well.

Having children in worship is one of the key ways that their faith can be formed, but too often we put up barriers to them. Both Mark Burrows and Rev. Melissa Cooper discussed how the things that we should do in worship for children are elements that would benefit the adults as well. Intergeneration worship also fosters mature disciples and allows important relationships to form. They discussed how our children can serve in the church in more ways than just as acolytes, with Mark saying that children serving communion can be a very holy experience. When we plan our worship services it is important that we think of incorporating sensory connections into the service along with increasing the amount of participation of all members of the congregation.

Through worship, keynote speakers, and workshops, renewal was achieved, much was discovered, and now we must respond with our work at our local churches.

Where Your Treasure Is — Face to face: We are distinctive by our connectionalism

We are pleased to have a guest writer for this month, Rev. Dr. G. Edwin Zeiders, who is also a capital campaign consultant at The United Methodist Stewardship Foundation. Please read and reflect upon this contribution by our brother in Christ. Blessings, Rev. Phyllis M. Bowers

By Rev. Dr. G. Edwin Zeiders

The United Methodist Church is collegial, collaborative, Episcopal, itinerant, global, and always connectional. While we have a reasonable grasp of what it means to be all of these things, the “connection” seems more elusive now than ever! Well, many factors do mitigate against an effective “Connectionalism” these days, but I remain convinced that the United Methodist Church is not only correct in affirming our connectional life and polity, but we are likely the best at it.

I remember when Billy Graham wrote that the United Methodist Church was most poised to proclaim the Gospel world-wide. That is actually correct. While “independent” congregations and other Christian movements lay claim to mission and outreach here-and-there, we United Methodists lay claim to a global network of missionaries, mission projects, education, health ministries, partnerships, advocacy, community-building, and a global investment in real dollars and people unparalleled by most. I am willing to stand corrected on this, but my experience and years working with church leaders makes the claim believable and not empty rhetoric.

The “face” of the connection consists of everyone who participates in the life of the local congregation. We serve in congregations that are associated with other congregations and agencies by design and for greater impact and effectiveness. We itinerate our clergy from place to place so that laity are empowered to serve in every place. Our clergy serve to tell and re-tell the amazing story of God’s grace and to equip the church for the work of ministry. Our “conferencing” opens the door for thousands upon thousands of our laity and pastors to walk alongside a global constituency that we cannot even measure.

By the power of the Spirit, United Methodists are strategically placed to make a difference in the smallest village or the largest metropolis here and around the world. My own journey and that of countless others serves to validate the connectional nature and impact of the church. The holy influence of our commonly held faith, values, and sacred covenant is real, transformational, and equally exciting. God is in this, and when at our very best, we can see and experience the goodness and the glory of it all.

United Methodists make a difference by giving, too. While I was a superintendent and then conference director I heard any number of critics protest the connection and our Shares of Ministry. That critique is usually unfounded because the “Connection” is, by its very nature, larger than the local church and the emerging parochialism. We invest our resources of all kinds in both anecdotal and systemic ways, and reveal the love of God across the world and for millions of people.

I, too, am the personal benefactor of the Connection. The ministry of the local congregation and the ministries of our care-givers and witnesses in the harsh places of the world are all possible because the “Connection” opens doors, enables us to walk into the human suffering world-wide, stands alongside the broken and wounded, equips leaders for excellence and effectiveness, and proclaims in word and deed the hope for the world only found in Christ our Lord.

Yes, I affirm and believe in the Connection. I do because I am living it, celebrating it, and have been deployed for leadership within it for 48 years. Thanks be to God for the witness of the United Methodist Church.

Just Thinking.

Thomas Cartwright Scholarship (for young ordination candidates)

The Thomas K. Cartwright Scholarship will be granted annually by The Susquehanna Conference of The United Methodist Church. The granting agency is the Enlistment & Interpretation Committee of The Board of Ordained Ministry. The Scholarship honoring the memory of The Reverend Doctor Thomas Kevin Cartwright, who contributed heavily to establishing “The Culture of the Call,” encouraging men and women and young people to listen to the call of God to them in the former Central Pennsylvania Conference.

This scholarship has been established to support young adults as they respond to the call to ordained ministry. The recipient will be announced during the awards presentations of the Susquehanna Annual Conference. Qualities of the recipient will include demonstrated leadership in the church and the community, academic excellence, and a clearly articulated sense of call to ordained ministry in The United Methodist Church.

Additionally, applicants must be certified candidates for ministry in The Susquehanna Conference of The United Methodist Church who are currently enrolled or accepted into college or seminary and under the age of 35 years as of December 31 of that same year.

Applications are available online at and are due by March 10. Submit applications typed (no handwritten application please) and send electronically in a pdf file directly to Carol Diffenbaugh at

Our Heritage

By Dr. Milton Loyer, Conference Archivist 

January – 100 years ago
Evangelist W. E. Biederwolf was a slightly more refined contemporary of the more noted Billy Sunday. Although a graduate of Princeton Theological Seminary, he played college football and shared Sunday’s passion for athleticism, prohibition, and patriotism. As reported 100 years ago in Methodism’s The Christian Advocate: “The Biederwolf Evangelistic Campaign at York met expected and designed opposition in certain ecclesiastical quarters that dominate that community, yet the results are felt widely in the churches. On January 2 [1916] some of the subjects of this effort were gathered in – First Church received 59 members, Duke Street received 30, Ridge Avenue received 30, West Street received 28, and Epworth received 7.” Four of those five former Methodist Episcopal congregations now exist within vital York area United Methodist churches. First is now Asbury UMC. Duke Street relocated and is now Aldersgate UMC. West Street and Epworth united to relocate from the present Calvary UMC.

February – 50 years ago
The Methodist and Evangelical United Brethren denominations joined to form the United Methodist Church in 1968 – but the churches in Centre County’s Penns Valley were ahead of the curve. On February 22, 1966, the Methodist and EUB congregations in Spring Mills voted overwhelmingly to become the Faith United Methodist Church – taking the name of the former EUB congregation and worshiping in the former Methodist building. This was actually the final of three actions agreed upon by area congregations. Previously, the Tusseyville EUB congregation had voted 28-3 to become the Bethany Methodist Church of Tusseyville. Each of those actions was prompted by an earlier re-organization of efforts in the community of Centre Hall – where the former Presbyterian (45 members), Methodist (85 members) and EUB (125 members) congregations came together to form Grace United Church of Centre Hall. The new congregation would be part of the EUB denomination and worship in the former Presbyterian building. The final result of this ecumenical endeavor was a more efficient arrangement of two spread-out three-point charges and a struggling Presbyterian church into one EUB station appointment (Centre Hall) and one compact three-point Methodist charge (Spring Mills, Tusseyville, and Sprucetown).

On to Glory - Death Notices

Rev. Edward K. Furman, Retired, of Roberts Road, Pittston, Pa., died January 4, 2016, at Wesley Village, Pittston, Pa. Memorial services were held Friday, January 23, 2016, in Mehoopany United Methodist Church, Mehoopany, Pa. Interment was in Union Hill Cemetery, Mehoopany, Pa.

Mrs. Laura Roberta Hess, of Normandie Ridge Senior Living Community, York, Retired Diaconal Minister, died November 25, 2015. Memorial services were held Wednesday, December 9, 2015, in Aldersgate United Methodist Church, York, Pa.

Mrs. M. Charlene (Taylor) Hogue, of Ameret Street, Fredericksburg, Va., wife of Rev. R. Wayne Hogue, Retired, died Tuesday, December 22, 2015, in Mary Washington Hospital, Fredericksburg, Va. Memorial services were held Monday, December 28, 2015, in St. Matthias United Methodist Church, Fredericksburg, Va. Interment was in Sunset Memorial Gardens, Fredericksburg, Va.

Mrs. Joan E. (Strang) Strader, of Apple Way, Chambersburg, Pa., wife of Rev. Ronald K. Strader, Retired, died Friday, December 18, 2015. Memorial services were held Wednesday, December 23, 2015, in Thomas L. Geisel Funeral Home and Cremation Center, Chambersburg, Pa. Interment was in Edenville United Methodist Cemetery, Chambersburg, Pa.

Rev. Harold Warren Wheeler, Retired, of Wesley Village, Jenkins Township, Pa., died Tuesday, January 19, 2016. Memorial services were held Monday, January 25, 2016, in Anthony P. Litwin Funeral Home, Factoryville, Pa. Interment was in West Lenox Cemetery, Pa.