Thursday, January 12, 2023

Susquehanna LINK, January 2023


A PDF of the January, 2023, issue of Susquehanna LINK
can be viewed or downloaded at

Remembering Our Heritage

Dr. Milton Loyer, Conference Archivist

January – 100 years ago

The January 1923 issue of The Evangel, monthly magazine of The Women’s Missionary Association of the United Brethren Church, included a lengthy article titled “The Missionary-Wife” by Mrs. Grace Ressler Shively. Mary Grace Ressler (1883-1974) was the daughter of Rev. John I.L. Ressler (1854-1934) and granddaughter of Rev. Jacob B. Ressler (1821-1891), United Brethren pastors and superintendents in the Allegheny Conference. She was the wife of Rev. B. Franklin Shively (1880-1956), a United Brethren pastor in the Pennsylvania Conference. Rev. Shively is a ministerial son of Otterbein Church in Fayetteville, Franklin County.

The Shivelys met while students at Otterbein University and served briefly in Milton, PA, before entering the mission field and serving in Japan from 1907 to 1941. Home on furlough when Pearl Harbor was bombed, they avoided internment in Japan but were never able to return to their mission field. They served Otterbein Church in Emigsville, York County, 1942-46 before working for the EUB Board of Missions in Dayton, OH, and retiring in 1949.

February – 50 years ago

On Sunday, February 11, 1973, the Quincy Home formally presented to the Quincy UM Church the parsonage/apartment building that the congregation had been using to house the pastor. As reported in THE LINK, “In addition to the parsonage dwelling, this building contains two apartments and is located on a piece of ground 190′ x 278′.” The building, still standing at 8625 Anthony Highway, was used as a parsonage until it was sold on April 1, 2003. The church office had been in the basement until 1998, then the District Superintendent said it could no longer be used since there was no access to the bathroom.

The Quincy Home started in Mechanicsburg in 1893 as the Colestock Old People’s Home and was the first benevolent home in the entire United Brethren denomination. The Quincy Orphanage started in 1903 and was the denomination’s second benevolent home. In 1915 the two institutions completed a merger to become the Quincy Orphanage and Home. The orphanage was discontinued in the 1960s. Ownership of the home was transferred in the 1990s and Quincy Village continues today as part of the Presbyterian Senior Living family of communities.

Discovery Place: Lenten Studies

Ash Wednesday is February 22, so it’s not too early to start planning for a Lenten study! Choose from the following resources. Quantities are limited, so reserve your first choice early.   

Revolutionary Kingdom: Following the Rebel Jesus
– This study by Mike Slaughter will challenge all Jesus-followers to step out of our places of comfort as we step up, proactively and courageously, to address the economic inequalities and unjust policies afflicting the least, lost, and underserved. (6 sessions. Includes DVD, leader guide, and book.)

The Walk: Five Essential Practices of the Christian Life – How do we walk with Christ: daily follow Him, grow in Him, and faithfully serve Him? Join Adam Hamilton to discover five essential spiritual practices rooted in Jesus’ own walk with God. (6 sessions. Includes DVD, leader guide, and book. Children and youth books also available.)

Why Easter Matters – Andy Stanley looks at the lives of several key people in the familiar story of Jesus’ crucifixion. The circumstances they faced are different than ours, but their actions and mistakes are not different at all. (4 sessions. Includes DVD and study guide.) 

Simon Peter: Flawed but Faithful Disciple – Adam Hamilton studies the life of Simon Peter, an ordinary fisherman who heard an extraordinary call. Filmed on location in Israel and Italy, the DVD shows key sites in Simon Peter’s life. (6 sessions. Includes DVD, leader guide, and book. Children and youth books also available.)

What Makes a Hero? The Death-Defying Ministry of Jesus – Looking at pop culture heroes through the lens of faith, author Matt Rawle shows how Jesus turned the concept of hero on its head. (6 sessions. Includes DVD, leader guide, and book. Children and youth books also available.)

Restored: Finding Redemption in Our Mess
– Author Tom Berlin encourages us to reflect and meditate on our own brokenness, showing us that it is only when we focus on the cross as a place to surrender control that we can leave our mess and find true redemption. (6 sessions. Includes DVD, leader guide, and book. Youth book also available.)

Final Words from the Cross – Adam Hamilton examines Christ’s dying hours and His final words as seen and heard by those who stood near the cross. (6 sessions. Includes DVD, leader guide, and book.)

24 Hours that Changed the World – Travel to the Holy Land with Adam Hamilton, visiting the sites where the earth-shaking events of the last 24 hours of Jesus’ life took place. (7 sessions. Includes DVD, leader guide, book, and 40 Days of Reflection booklet.)

The God We Can Know: Exploring the “I Am” Sayings of Jesus
– Author Rob Fuquay explores the “I am” statements of Jesus found in the gospel of John. (7 sessions. Includes DVD and book.)

Creed: What Christians Believe and Why – Adam Hamilton believes that for Christians and others seeking faith, powerful answers are contained in the Apostle’s Creed. (6 sessions. Includes DVD, leader guide, and book.)

The Way: Walking in the Footsteps of Jesus – Author Adam Hamilton follows in the footsteps of Jesus from His baptism to the temptations to the heart of His ministry. (6 sessions. Includes DVD, leader guide, and book.)

Complete descriptions of these and all our other resources can be found in the online catalog on our website: You may place an order directly through our online catalog, e-mail, or call 717-766-7968. We look forward to hearing from you!

Serving Christ with you,

Joni Robison

Susquehanna Conference
303 Mulberry Drive, Mechanicsburg, PA 17050

Commentary: Have You Heard the Bells…and the Message?

Douglas Hoy, Conference Disaster Response Coordinator

Last month, my wife and I took the opportunity to go on a date. We decided to take in a movie entitled “I Heard the Bells.” The storyline chronicled how poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow came to write the poem that eventually turned in to a popular Christmas carol. After seeing the movie, I was intrigued by the portrayal of Longfellow’s life, decided to do a little research, and familiarize myself with his writings. The result of that exploration revealed that, while he was considered the most popular poet of that time, Longfellow also lived a real and relatable life.

Without giving away the entire story line, he lived a simple yet very happy life. He experienced family struggles, grief and healing. He was drawn into the conflict created by a charged political and social climate. He grappled with keeping promises and addressing teen rebellion. Longfellow was a widower and single father after tragic circumstances took his second wife, whom he described as the inspiration for his poetry and his life. His faith wavered. His hope for the future was lost.

Over the past few years, we have experienced much of the same. The pandemic turned our world upside down. Social distancing forced many to abandon the sense of community we previously enjoyed. We became distant from our neighbors, friends, and church community. Our ministry and mission suffered.

In the early morning hours of December 25, 1863, while still wrestling with his hopelessness and grief, Longfellow heard the bells of the local church ringing. Justin Taylor, executive vice president for book publishing and publisher for books at Crossway Publishing, explained in his blog that Longfellow heard these bells and “the singing of ‘peace on earth’ (Luke 2:14), but he observed the world of injustice and violence that seemed to mock the truthfulness of this optimistic outlook” (Taylor, 2014). Longfellow recognized this contrast in his own life and in our nation and began to pen the words of the poem that eventually became the Christmas carol: words that lead the reader or listener to understand that peace and hope can be found despite the despair surrounding us.

Last month, we celebrated the birth of our Savior. And, Scripture tells us He came as the Prince of Peace. The angels sang about it. His ministry was filled with the message of peace. Scripture tells us, “My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you” (John 14:27). And, when Jesus arose from the dead, He spoke of it saying, “Peace be to you. As the Father has sent Me, I also send you” (John 20:21). 

In 1838, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow also wrote the poem, “A Psalm of Life,” in which he encourages readers to make the best of their life. It speaks of having a purpose despite the messiness around us and ends with a call to action. 

“Let us then be up and doing,/ With a heart for any fate;/ Still achieving, still pursuing,/ Learn to labor and to wait.” (Longfellow, 1838)

We have heard the bells ringing and the carolers singing. We have been assured there is peace in knowing and following Jesus. As you begin the New Year, let this message fill your heart. Return to your mission and ministry. And, being commissioned, go out and take action to spread the message that: 

“Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:/ ‘God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;/ The Wrong shall fail,/ The Right prevail,/ With peace on earth, good-will to men.’” (Longfellow, Christmas Bells, 1863)


Douglas Hoy
Disaster Response Coordinator
Phone: 717-766-7441, ext. 3402
Disaster Response Ministry Blog:

Recycling Becomes a Ministry

Story and photos by Sandii Peiffer

In the midst of COVID pandemic, Wendy Miller, a member of Aldersgate UMC in Mechanicsburg, was inspired by a sermon about stewardship given by Rev. Jan Hughes. Good stewardship isn’t just being wise with money, but also about making the most of our possessions and reducing what we throw away. It got Miller thinking. She knew of some schools that recycled plastic film and wondered if the church could do it too. She contacted NexTrex, the recycling program of the Trex company, and started a new ministry in November 2020.

The ministry is one of stewardship and outreach. People are invited to fill collection bins, located inside and outside the church, with soft plastic bags, plastic film, and packing materials including bubble wrap. There are four collection bins at the church that include a picture of the plastics that are accepted. On a regular basis, the donated plastics are collected, consolidated, weighed, the weight recorded, and then they are dropped off at an approved collection point, which is a nearby supermarket. The weights of the donations are tallied and reported monthly online, via an account with NexTrex. When they reach the required goal of 500lbs in six months, NexTrex uses about 15% of the plastic to make a composite park bench, which it donates back to the donor, in this case Aldersgate Church, ready-to-assemble. The rest of the donated plastic is used to make composite decking and building materials. 

Since 2020, Aldersgate Church has met the goal of collecting 500lbs of plastic every six months, and they have received five park benches in return. The first three park benches were placed around the church in a garden area and the preschool playground. Bench number four was gifted to Mission Central, who auctioned it for a fundraiser. Bench number five was given to the nearby Good Hope Fire Station in Mechanicsburg. Future benches already have designated community service recipients and each bench will include a plaque to let people know it is a gift of Aldersgate UMC.

It’s a win-win ministry: good stewardship through recycling, and outreach by letting the community know Aldersgate Church cares about the earth and the community through their donated benches. I addition, NexTrex gets the “waste” materials they need to manufacture their products too. Another win. 

Miller hopes to grow the ministry to provide two park benches every six months - that’s 1 US ton of waste reduced, reused, and recycled every year!

For more information about the plastic recycling/park bench program, check out

Hershey First VIM Serve at Red Bird Mission

Hershey First UMC VIM team members. Front row, l-r: Bev Meiser, Wallace Greene, Patricia Mulle, Sue Edris, Sara Crowther, Barb and Bill Jaeger. Back row, l-r: Jenny Greene, Jill Briggs, Scott Snoke

By Jenny Greene

The Central Appalachian Missionary Conference (formerly Red Bird Missionary Conference) in Kentucky is in the poorest area of the U.S. The people of Red Bird Mission in Beverly, Kentucky, have huge hearts for this region and they also have some of the best scenery! First United Methodist Church in Hershey has had a long history of sending work crews to serve the mission. 

A Volunteer in Mission (VIM) team of ten left the first week of October, 2022, to help a lovely, elderly widow, Marilyn, whose house was literally falling in from foundation damage. When working on an older home, it is common to discover more problems as you work. This was the case for Marilyn’s home, which was found to have gutter and flooring issues too. Our team was able to rebuild the rotten foundation and keep water from coming into the home. We also winterized other areas of the home for the cold weather ahead.

Red Bird Mission is a helpline for those in need in this area. They provide medical and dental services, a community store, Meals on Wheels, Volunteer in Mission teams for home repair, a Christian school, mothers and children programs, and senior citizen center activities. Marilyn was among many who have been helped by VIM teams coming to volunteer in this remote region in the Appalachian Mountains. Marilyn was so thankful for the help she was given because of the outpouring of love and prayer. Check out their website at For assistance in planning a Volunteer in Mission journey contact Michelle Schwartzman, VIM Coordinator at

Wednesday, January 11, 2023

Camp & Retreat Ministry Hosts Camp Fancy Gala

by Kristin Hoover, Chair of the Camp and Retreat Ministry Board

On October 22, 2022, in the large recreation field at Wesley Forest, surrounded by stunning autumn leaves, The Susquehanna Conference UMC Board of Camp & Retreat Ministry held their first Camp Fancy Gala.

When at camp, things get a little silly! Guests dressed in their “Camp Fancy” finest; Camp Fancy means anything from prom night outfits to outdoor gear, and in most cases a fun blend of the two. Guests celebrated the goodness of God with smiles and laughs as we offered the Superman Prayer before our meal and sang and danced to camp classic “Pharaoh, Pharaoh.”

Campers and former campers offered testimonies- sharing their memories of camp and explaining how the camping program has impacted their lives.


The SUSUMC camping community generously participated in the Live and Silent Auctions. Guests bid on items like a
Fly-Fishing Experience, Wesley Forest Rolls, Old Camp Signage, Camp Penn Metal Trays, Philadelphia 76ers tickets, Hershey Bears tickets, local theatre tickets, Greene Hills Oreo Fluff, Camp Tie Dye Shirts, and a Mystery Box of Camp Lost and Found Items!

Guests also celebrated gala honoree
Dave Poole, one of the most prolific and longest-serving camping program mentors/volunteers. Dave first came to the camping program in 1982 in the form of a counselor.  In 1990, he became a camp dean at Wesley Forest, alongside Beth Jones.  Since then, Dave has impacted thousands of lives with his kindness, his care and his love.  He has launched the career and nurtured the call of at least a dozen pastors in the Susquehanna Conference. 

The Board is thrilled to announce the Camp Fancy Gala raised over $20,000 for the Camp and Retreat Ministry! Many thanks to our generous gala sponsors- Aldersgate UMC Mechanicsburg, Swissdale UMC Lock Haven, Trinity Charge Williamsport District, Calvary UMC Harrisburg, Cardinal Creek, Hess Hanna & Associates, and Juniata UMC Kristin Hoover, Chair of the Camp and Retreat Ministry Board.


Dave Poole ended his remarks at the gala with the simple, yet profound statement “Camp Changes Lives.” The success of this event allows us to change the lives of even more young people. You too can offer your support to the SUSUMC Camp & Retreat Ministry through the Matching Monday campaign.

Stay tuned for information on the 2023 Camp Fancy Gala!


So That...

Using the two important words “so that” has the power to change the way [church] leaders work... so that everything that God’s people do is shaped toward mission and results in fruitfulness.” 
— Lovett H. Weems, Jr. 
Recently, the Connectional Ministries staff of the Susquehanna Conference assessed our work areas to refocus on why we do what we do... 

Rev. Dr. Kathleen Kind

The Director of Connectional Ministries exists to be part of and lead the Connectional Ministries team so that we can resource and support clergy, laity, and congregations in being followers of Jesus who are making new followers of Jesus.

Amy Wynn

I serve as the Administrative Assistant to the Director of Connectional Ministries so that I can assist the director to provide resources and make connections to help pastors and laity to transform their lives, and those that they come into contact with, by sharing the love of Christ.

Connie Waggoner

As the Receptionist, I am here to greet, investigate, answer, help, and smile so that people know we are a loving, giving, and faithful community.

Liz Lennox

As Director of Communications, I strategize with and direct the Communications Team to share pertinent information with clergy and laity so that they remain well-informed and fully connected to the conference and one another. Stories and experiences are chronicled so that we can celebrate our transformative ministries while educating the public about who we are not just as United Methodists, but as followers of Jesus Christ. 

Stacy Eckert

As a Communications Specialist (Web/Graphic design) for the Communications Team, I help resource our Conference through effective and consistent communications in a variety of communication outlets, so that by witnessing God’s work and inspiring new ideas through these communications we can Grow, Equip and Connect in an ever-changing world.

Sandii Peiffer

As a member of the Communications Team, I publish the news of God’s work in and through United Methodists in the Susquehanna Conference and throughout the world so that our readers can understand and feel part of the powerful connection we have as a global church and be inspired to join us in making disciples and transforming the world. I also maintain a presence for the Susquehanna Conference on Facebook so that we can reach and connect with even more people about God’s work in and through United Methodists and portray a positive Social Media presence.

Rev. Kevin Witt

Age Level and Beloved Community Ministries provide opportunities for the wide diversity of people in our communities to experience the embrace of God so that all understand their giftedness and more deeply value each other; so that together we join Jesus in making the way of love our way of life; so that the world increasingly embodies the Beloved Community of God

Cindy Weaver

Our ministry area (Age Level Ministries, Equipping Vital Congregations, Building the Beloved Community) provides resources and learning opportunities to pastors, laity, and local churches so that they become energized and excited (as their next faithful steps occur) in creating new places for new people, revitalizing their ministries, bringing young people to know Jesus, and building the beloved community.

Kim Shockley

I serve as the Coordinator of Lay Excellence so that lay people throughout the Susquehanna Conference have the tools needed to engage others in abundant Christian love that transforms lives wherever they go.

Tricia Frye

I perform administrative tasks for the Camp & Retreat Ministry so that our camps and retreats are places where participants can be themselves, form new relationships, experience personal growth, appreciate nature, and encounter Jesus in new ways.

Douglas Hoy

We do Disaster Response Ministry so that members of the Susquehanna Annual Conference can be equipped and empowered to answer the fundamental calling to be missionary communities and missionaries in the community, share the love of Jesus with and be a caring, Christian presence in the lives of those suffering from disasters in their lives.

Michelle Schwartzman

As the Volunteer in Mission Coordinator for the Susquehanna Conference, I cultivate connectional relationships, and I train and mobilize volunteers so that we in the local church can put our “Love into Action.” We act in love with intentionality and awareness so that we enter into service as a partnership and uphold the dignity of our partners.

Joni Robison

Discovery Place provides free Bible study and spiritual growth resources, guidance, and support so that churches have access to a wide selection of materials from a variety of authors and viewpoints to nurture spiritual growth; so that study participants can grow in their faith or meet Jesus for the first time; so that Sunday School teachers will have access to a variety of teaching resources; so that teachers of children and youth have access to a myriad of creative ideas; so that people can find deeper meaning in seasonal studies such as for Advent and Lent; and so that churches can save money to fund other outreach and ministry programs.

Growing Spiritual Transformational Leaders: Exciting Opportunities to Empower Lay People in 2023

Kim Shockley, Coordinator of Lay Excellence

This new year is bringing with it many opportunities to refresh and empower lay people throughout the Susquehanna Conference! Bishop Jeremiah Park often reminded us that we serve the risen Christ “for such a time as this!” Bishop Steiner-Ball and Bishop Moore Koi-Koi tell us that “God is doing a new thing!” Both of these scriptural directives ring true for me as the Coordinator of Lay Excellence! Now is the time for lay people to embrace their God-given gifts and talents for God’s Beloved Community!

There are two opportunities, among many, that are particularly helpful to our lay people. The first is our Certified Lay Minister School for 2023. Certified Lay Ministers (CLM) are current Certified Lay Servants who are feeling a call to a new ministry. Whether this is a supportive role within the life of your congregation, or as a pastor in another congregation, or as an educator, or musician, or community developer, CLM ministry is an important step in lay empowerment! 

We have an exciting line up of instructors for this school and we are excited to see how God uses this training in your life! Some Districts are offering scholarships for this school, so check with your District Lay Servant Committee to see what may be available! The flyer with information and a registration link is provided here.

Second is our Coach Approach Training, offered in three locations in February and March for $15, which includes lunch. The instructors for these 6-hour training events are ICF Certified Coaches in our conference who are currently active members of our Susquehanna Coaching Network: Ron Doverspike, Ryan Krauss, and me. 

The purpose of Coach Approach Training is to learn the skills of coaching and how to put it into practice. Anyone who leads a group or team will benefit from this training because the end result of a coach approach is greater accomplishment of goals and engagement of people in those goals. The posture of a coach approach is curiosity, leading to listening well and asking powerful questions that lead to committed action steps. Come join us as we learn the basics and several different ways that a coach approach can be used within your local congregation’s ministry. The flyer and registration is provided here.

If you have questions about either of these events, please contact me at