Thursday, September 8, 2022

Remembering Our Heritage

By Dr. Milton Loyer, Conference Archivist

September – 100 years ago 

On September 24, 1922, the cornerstone was laid for the Trinity Methodist Episcopal Church at 915 North 17th Street in Harrisburg. The congregation had begun with a nucleus of 13 members from Stevens Memorial who lived in the immediate area and was being served by Elvin C. Myers as the Trinity-Bressler appointment. In 1970, Trinity merged with Sixth Street (formerly United Brethren) and the old Paxton (formerly Methodist) congregations to form the present Paxton UMC on N. Progress Avenue. The property of 17th Street was sold to the Harris AMEZ congregation.

While District Superintendent Edgar Heckman officiated at the 1922 ceremony, the address was given by former missionary to China, Dr. Isaac T. Headland, who was well-known across Central Pennsylvania in many denominations as a speaker and author.

October – 50 years ago

A formal reception for our new newly-elected bishop and his wife, John B. and Annie O. Warman, was held Friday evening, October 13, 1972, at the Zembo mosque in Harrisburg. All members of all the conference churches were invited to attend the dinner and special proceedings. Tickets were $4.00. The Warmans were temporarily living in the former EUB Mission House in Camp Hill until the recently-purchased (for $45,000) episcopal residence at 1 Frances Drive in Harrisburg could be vacated and renovated. Bishop Warman (1915-1993) came from the Methodist Protestant tradition and served the Harrisburg Episcopal Area from 1972 until his retirement in 1984.

Also elected bishop at the 1972 Jurisdictional Conference was ministerial son of Central Pennsylvania, Joseph H. Yeakel. Bishop Yeakel (1928-2021) came from the United Brethren tradition and served the New York West Area 1972-84 and the Baltimore-Washington Area from 1984 until his retirement in 1996.

New Studies Available for Fall Small Groups

As we enter the fall season, Discovery Place invites you to borrow our resources for your Sunday School classes and small groups! We have lots of exciting and challenging resources from which to choose. Listed below are some of our more recently purchased studies and brief descriptions of each. 

Undistracted: Capture Your Purpose, Rediscover Your Joy by Bob Goff. If you have enjoyed his other studies, Everybody Always, Love Does, and Dream Big, you’ll want to consider this DVD study. We all live with a massive amount of distraction: desperate headlines, smartphone scrolling, an endless to-do list. Your undistracted life is an adventure waiting to happen. How will you live with undistracted purpose and unstoppable joy? (5 sessions. Includes DVD, study guide, and hardcover book.)

Reckless Love: Jesus’ Call to Love Our Neighbor by Tom Berlin. Love God more deeply by learning to love your neighbor better. Tom Berlin will guide you to follow the Greatest Commandment and learn how your love for the people around you can give you a new experience of loving God. (6 sessions. Includes DVD, leader guide, and book.)

Romans: In the Grip of Grace by Max Lucado. Have you ever felt that you did something that could not be forgiven -- that God’s grace could not extend to your situation? As the apostle Paul reveals in his letter to the Romans, God’s grace is always sufficient to meet your needs and cover your mistakes and misdeeds. (6 sessions. Includes DVD and study guide.)

Scripture and the Wesleyan Way by Bishop Scott J. Jones and Rev. Arthur D. Jones. The Bible was central to John Wesley’s faith and the Christian movement he founded. In this study you will discover a Wesleyan approach to the Bible and the Christian life through a Bible study using Wesley’s own words. (8 sessions. Includes DVD, leader guide, and book.)

Spiritual Warfare is Real by Jim Cymbala. The author guides us on how to recognize we are in a spiritual war, understand the enemy’s plots against us, and develop practical strategies for fighting back. As believers in Christ, we have been given everything we need to stand strong against the enemy. (5 sessions. Includes DVD and study guide.)

When Compassion Meets Action by John Ortberg and Santiago “Jimmy” Mellado. This curriculum helps you reflect on the choices you make daily and your willingness to walk through the open doors God has provided in your life. You will be encouraged to make choices that align with God’s priorities as you begin the journey toward more compassionate living. (5 sessions. Includes DVD, study guide, and Compassionate Living booklet.)

As we all work toward Building the Beloved Community, I encourage you and your congregation to study this resource, Vital Conversations: Racism and the U.S. Church, published by the General Commission on Religion and Race (GCORR) of The United Methodist Church. Those of you who stopped by the Discovery Place table at Annual Conference in June received a free copy of this DVD and workbook. If you didn’t get one, contact me and I’ll be sure to send you a copy. The study contains 8 sessions, and the last session is by our own Bishop Cynthia Moore-Koikoi. 

Borrowing from Discovery Place is easy – and FREE except for the cost of the return postage! You may place an order through the online catalog on our website,, email, or call 7177-766-7968. I look forward to hearing from you!

Serving Christ with you,

Joni Robison

Disaster Response Ministry: Le Tour

By Douglas Hoy, Disaster Response Coordinator

I am an avid bike rider and enjoy spending time on the roads and trails. I cycle for exercise and the enjoyment of the outdoors. Each year, during the month of July, you can find me glued to the television watching le Tour de France and le Tour de France femmes. 

Also referred to as “grand tours” in the cycling community, these men’s and women’s races involve up to 200 individual riders representing 24 teams from professional cycling world-wide. Over the course of a few weeks, these riders traverse the French countryside completing daily stages (21 for the men and eight for the women) and riding approximately 3,500 kilometers (2,200 miles) and 1,033.6 km total (642 miles) respectively. For perspective, as a novice rider, the most I have ridden has been 74 miles in one day and 400 miles over the course of a month.

The tour is both a team sport and an individual one that relies on strategies and tactics to be successful. Only one rider can stand on the podium as the winner of each stage. Four additional riders are recognized as race leaders. Each is awarded a colorful leader’s jerseys (yellow, green, polka dot, and white) for that stage. And, when the tour concludes in Paris, the overall leader and category winners are crowned as champions. To have a rider from your team standing on the podium is celebrated as a team success.

As I watched each stage unfold, I could not help but think about the parallels of this concept as they apply to how the church and the Disaster Response Ministry work. Scripture tells us “There is one body, but it has many parts. But all its many parts make up one body. It is the same with Christ. We were all baptized by one Holy Spirit. And so we are formed into one body. It didn’t matter whether we were Jews or Gentiles, slaves or free people. We were all given the same Spirit to drink. So the body is not made up of just one part. It has many parts.” (1 Corinthians 12:12-14)

In cycling, the team is comprised of individuals who each have certain skills that contribute to the team. There are riders that are known for their speed and sprinting ability. Others are better at climbing the steep mountains. And, some are skilled at maintaining a pace. But, without them all, the team cannot be successful.

Likewise, in Paul’s illustration, the church is one body and comprised of many specialists who serve in many different capacities to share the gospel in the community. And, in disaster response, relief and recovery efforts would not be as successful without a multitude of people sharing their many skills and abilities. 

On July 27 and 28, portions of Kentucky sustained major flooding and hundreds of houses and businesses have been destroyed. Relief efforts are ongoing and my counterpart in the Kentucky Annual Conference is working with UMCOR and other disaster relief agencies to meet the needs of the communities affected. While we wait for assessments to be completed and needs to be identified, there are many things our team can be doing to support this effort.

PRAY. Spend time, individually and collectively, praying for the victims, leaders, and emergency responders in these communities. This can be a powerful tool in the immediate and long-term aftermath of a disaster. As you pray, petition God for direction and guidance on how you can be involved.

SUPPORT. The financial need after a disaster is great. Your generous giving makes this possible. To provide financial support, click: UMCOR US Disaster Response and Recovery Advance. This will ensure 100 percent of the donation reaches the affected area, supports the work of UMCOR and its partners, and meets the needs of the community.

ACT. While we wait, consider assembling UMCOR cleaning and hygiene kits. Information about those kits and how to assemble them can be found on the UMCOR website or the Mission Central website.

Every gift comes from God. And, 1 Peter 4:10 tells us we should “use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.” 

In the future, there will be opportunities to serve the people of Kentucky. Until then, work together as faithful stewards of these gifts to honor Him, bless others in your community, and build His Kingdom.

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

UMVIM: Allport-Bigler-Woodland Workcamp Bringing Hope in the Name of Jesus Christ

Michelle Schwartzman

VIM Coordinator




Many Volunteers in Mission (VIM) Teams are groups that have been meeting for years and helping in their community. This is the case for the Allport-Bigler-Woodland Workcamp. These volunteers build community as they spend a week in the Woodland, PA, area. This year the workcamp consisted of 40 volunteers. Even though it has been running for years, they welcomed 8 volunteers to their team that were new to missions. The volunteers and the individuals at the sites enrich each other’s lives so much. Thank you ABW Workcamp for your love in action! Thank you, Roger, for sharing your experience... -- Michelle Schwartzman

By Roger Walton

I had the distinct privilege of sharing my God-given gifts and talents, limited as they may be, with persons in need in the Allport-Bigler-Woodland area of Clearfield County, PA, June 19-24. I have been blessed to be able to participate for 9 of the 11 years of this workcamp. Our efforts are based on 1 Peter 4:10, which states “Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms”.

There were 33 individuals, families and/or institutions on the request list for this year’s workcamp. The projects ranged from straightforward items like yard work, interior cleaning, power washing, exterior painting and hauling/stacking firewood to more complex items like replacing a porch, installing fencing and building decks/wheelchair ramps. I haven’t seen the final report on all that was accomplished, but I know we made a difference in the lives of every person we interacted with during that week.

I spent the first three days of the workcamp as part of a team building a deck and wheelchair ramp. The husband was recently in the hospital and is now confined to a wheelchair. The problem was, he had no way of getting out of his house in case of an emergency or even to go to a doctor’s appointment. When he was released from the hospital, four individuals carried him up a steep set of stairs at the rear of the house and placed him in a wheelchair inside the home. That’s what his world consisted of when we arrived. In those three days, we built a 10x20 foot deck and the structure for the first phase of the much-needed wheelchair ramp. Unfortunately, we had to stop midway on this project after those three days, because my team leader had to return home. However, a group of people (most of whom had been part of the workcamp) came together after the workcamp to finish the ramp and give great hope to this family. 

On Thursday, I replaced two storm door latches, sanded, primed, and painted an exterior door of a large house for an elderly widow. Others power-washed the entire home and cleaned ceiling fans and lamp shades on the inside. On Friday, I helped dig six 36” deep holes in shale so that posts could be set for the building of a deck and cover to be attached to a trailer. The owner purchased the FEMA trailer and is making all the preparations to turn it into their home. They are currently serving overseas in the U.S. military but are soon due to return to life in Clearfield County. Every time we dug rocks out of the holes and got closer to the 36” depth, more rocks fell in making the process agonizingly slow. 

I can honestly say that I was physically drained by the time I drove home to Mechanicsburg on Friday afternoon, but I can also say that I was greatly blessed by the experience and look forward to “sharing my gifts” with the people of these Clearfield County communities in the future. 

Please be open to these types of mission opportunities, whether it be here at home, across the region and state, or wherever God calls you to serve. Let us all be doers of the Word, and not hearers only.

Contact Linda Wooster for more information.

Tuesday, September 6, 2022

Eagle Scout Chooses Wesley Forest for His Project

High School sophomore Evan Funk has chosen Wesley Forest as the site for his Eagle Scout project. “I will be building a stage area at Wesley Forest UM Camp big enough to hold all campers at camp.” said Evan, who has been active in scouting for ten years, as a member of Troop 180 in New Kingstown.

“Wesley Forest Camp is one of my favorite places in the world. I have so many memories and friendships that were formed and shaped there,” he said. His dad is Rev. Eric Funk, currently serving Central UMC, Honesdale, in the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre District, and his mom has been a camp nurse for many years. Living in a pastor’s family means that they have moved to many places but Wesley Forest has been a special, constant place in Evan’s life. “My Eagle Project is to make Wesley Forest even better for future generations who will come to grow closer to God and to each other.”

Evan has now reached the stage of fundraising the $7,000 needed to complete the project. You can help! Your giving will support this Eagle Scout project and the United Methodist camping program as well. Check out this video for inspiration and an explanation of the project.

If you want to donate by check, please make it out to “Susquehanna Conference” and on the MEMO line you must write “Wesley Forest Eagle Project” 

Mail checks to: 

SUSUMC Camping Office,
303 Mulberry Drive,
Mechanicsburg PA 17050-3179. 

You can also give through the online giving site, or access it using the QR code below.

Donors Continue to Make the Difference

pixabay: Alexas_Fotos

This is a note of thanks to all of you who are donors to Camp and Retreat Ministry! You have been a shining light, especially during the last couple of years when the need has been so great. Last year, you surpassed the needed $100,000 goal to reach $125,000! Such generosity!

This year we share the good news that we are continuing our comeback following the COVID pandemic. Camper numbers were up again this year exceeding 2021 numbers by close to 250 additional participants. We are still 450 campers short of our pre-COVID levels, so we have a ways to go but will arrive. We are counting on donor partners again to raise $100,000 in 2022, not only to sustain the ministry, but to expand it!

Our Fall Fundraising season will soon begin. Please consider coming to the Camp Fancy Gala on October 22 at Wesley Forest, contributing to the Monday Match Campaign beginning in late October, supporting Evan Funk with his Eagle Scout Project at Wesley Forest (see article on page 9), or give right now! It really does make a difference for so many!

Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

Camp and Retreat Ministry Team

Camp and Retreat Ministry Receives Ministry Impact Grant

By Kevin Witt, Director of Age Level and Beloved Community Ministries

Earlier this year, The United Methodist Camp and Retreat Ministry Association announced that a major donor contributed more than 1 million dollars to strengthen United Methodist Camp and Retreat Ministries across the denomination. The donor recognizes the unique power of this ministry to change lives, inspire young people and adults in their giftedness, and create deeper connections with Christ, community and creation. We are thrilled to share that the grant request from the Susquehanna Conference is one of the those chosen to receive funding.

The grant must focus on an initiative that “elevates future sustainability and lasting impact of your camp and retreat ministry”. Here in the Susquehanna Conference the Camp and Retreat Ministry Board is now working with Kaleidoscope —one of the most highly regarded consultants for non-profit and religiously affiliated camp and retreat centers in the country. The board has been discussing the need for a consultation to build upon the good work that has been done in recent years to improve the ministry and its reach. The grant comes at the perfect time. Kaleidoscope excels at helping ministries assess a wide range of factors that contribute to vitality, effectiveness and missional impact long-term. 

The consultation and strategic planning process go deeper in examining key areas to strengthen the overall ministry. One example is mission clarity, focus, and specific outcomes and changes identified as central to the purpose of our camp and retreat ministry. Some other areas of assessment include leadership models and preparation, participant and guest analysis, church and community needs, financial health and sustainability, facilities and programs, staffing, and much more. Kaleidoscope has worked with hundreds of faith-based and nonprofit camp and retreat centers and programs. They bring a wealth of information about innovative possibilities and important milestones to reach for long-term sustainability and greater missional impact. They are very familiar with United Methodist Camp and Retreat Ministries, which adds to their insight in helping us do our own planning for the present and the future.

“The board is excited to engage in this process! We are committed to exploring opportunities to grow the reach and impact of our camp and retreat ministry. We strive to understand more fully and prayerfully discern how we can best serve those in our communities,” said Kristin Hoover, Chair of the Board of Camp and Retreat Ministry.

What a blessing it is to have such a visionary donor who is gifting us and many others with a real opportunity through the Ministry Impact Grant! Thanks to all of you, also, for your prayers as the board seeks God’s guidance in steps that will “elevate sustainability and the lasting impact of Camp and Retreat Ministry” here in the Susquehanna Conference.

Growing Spiritual Transformational Leaders - What To Do?

By Kim Shockley, Coordinator for Pathways of Spiritual Leadership

At a recent God’s Call event our presenter shared information about the ongoing decline of Christianity. It was supported from an article in Patheos—Is Christianity Declining in Numbers by Alonzo Gaskill PH.D. This article shares the three reasons why, yes, indeed, Christianity is in decline. 

First, fertility rates are sharply declining. People simply are not having as many children. And for many of our communities in the Susquehanna Conference, those who are having children often have to leave the area in order to find work. There is not much we can do about that. 

Second, evangelism is not widely practiced by institutional churches in the United States and the average Christian is not comfortable speaking openly about their faith or living it in very public ways. 

And third, some people outside Christianity and many former practicing Christians find the faith (and church) to be unattractive and irrelevant. One point is often made that Christians seldom live the teachings of Jesus. Fortunately, there is something we can do about these second two reasons – and by “we” I am speaking to every person who considers themselves Christian and attends a local congregation. By the way, the information we glean from Mission Insite Ministry Priority reports verifies these two statements in our communities and around our churches. 

Evangelism is a really scary word! Does it conjure images of standing on street corners with a bullhorn? Do you think you have to know everything the Bible says and be able to quote chapter and verse? Are you concerned that you would have to lead someone through a “sinner’s prayer”? These are our own created perceptions of evangelism that keep us from being healthy faith sharers, and are NOT what other people want from us anyway!

To be a faith sharer, having a story to tell about what Jesus means in your life is important. Being able to lean into listening to others share their stories is even more important! What is your story about an answered prayer? Tell it, and ask – have you ever experienced answered prayer? I bet the other person has a story too! Before long, you are connecting your faith to actual living! Today, evangelism is about relationship and authenticity. No one expects you to have all the answers, but a real story about your relationship with God through Jesus, empowered by the Holy Spirit can be an exciting, authentic witness that other people want to hear. 

“Unattractive” and “irrelevant” are words that hurt us because we have invested so much of our lives into what we have now as “church” and we simply can’t understand how other people don’t want what we have. Unfortunately, these perceptions that others have about Christianity often come from one experience with one Christian during one part of their lives—and it simply (like prejudice) spreads to all who call themselves Christian. This is what we are up against when we move out from our pews into the community around us. We are called to be more like Jesus (loving, kind, graceful, etc.) everywhere we go in order to help other people realize that their perceptions may not be true about every church and Christian. 

A few weeks ago, while lunching at Olive Garden with a friend, our server came to our table flustered and concerned because we waited too long. We greeted her with smiles and said, “all is well.” During our interaction with her I noticed a lovely feather tattoo on her forearm, so I asked her to tell us the story of that art work. She quickly shared how it was a representation of a special relationship she has with her sister and was so grateful that we asked and were interested in her story. We all experienced an authentic conversation and felt a significant connection with another human being. 

My spiritual practice lately has been to see each person in front of me as a loved Child of God – no matter what. I’m hoping that our server felt that during our time together. We did the work of planting “love seeds” so that God can continue to grow them—that is evangelism—as we share abundant Christian love that transforms lives wherever we go!

Licensed Local Pastors and Certified Lay Ministers ‘22

The following people were recognized at the 2022 Susquehanna Annual Conference for completing their respective courses of study:

Licensed Local Pastors

(back row) W. Brian McTavish, Jeffrey Holland, Todd Davis, Justin Frear, Robert Paire, Justin Keel

(front row) Kelly Groves, Mary Forshey, Christina Moyer, Melia Garrett, Lucy Obrzut, Michele Galloway 

(not pictured)  Eric Light, Calvin Phillips II, Resa Schrack, 

Certified Lay Ministers

(pictured) Elizabeth Kostelnik and Ray Bailor

(not pictured) Norman Saylor, Sylvia Smith

Communications: The Power of Storytelling

By Liz Lennox, Director of Communications SUSUMC & WPAUMC

In February of 2016, I sat facing a group of eight kind faces as I interviewed for a part-time church secretary job at the local United Methodist Church. This was not a job I particularly wanted, but I had recently moved back to the area from a city I loved and missed and I was desperate. I was adrift and College Hill United Methodist Church tossed me the life raft I desperately needed. For the next year and a half, I walked into the wood-paneled church office every morning to answer phones, print bulletins and chat with the church members who would drop in to say hello. I could have never imagined where that job, begrudgingly accepted out of desperation, would lead me. 

Six years and a few months later, I walked into my office in Mechanicsburg as the new shared Director of Communications for the Susquehanna and Western Pennsylvania Conferences of The United Methodist Church. On my desk was a signed welcome poster from the wonderful staff at the Susquehanna Conference. As I stood there reading the kind greetings from my new colleagues, I reflected on the time I’ve spent serving The United Methodist Church and the path God sent me down when I accepted that church secretary position. 

Even as a part-time secretary for a small church, I recognized the vital importance of strong communication. My time spent working at the local church made me deeply value the critical role that communication plays and the relationship between local and conference communicators. I moved on from the local church to work for the Western Pennsylvania Conference as the social media and visual communications coordinator, but I carried with me that deep respect for the local church and the work they do. In my new role, I had the opportunity to work with numerous administrators, pastors and councils to strategize and strengthen their communication plans. It is my hope that I can continue to empower the local churches in the Susquehanna Conference by providing guidance and training around communication. 

Above all, I consider myself a storyteller. I recognize there’s a lot of power in the ability to tell stories—we use storytelling as a way to share news, inform and educate, preserve history and make a difference. Stories have the power to evoke hope, break hearts, speak truth and change lives. The most important stories are often deeply personal. 

Story from District Six Museum in South Africa

One of the more profound experiences of my life was reading the stories at the District Six Museum in Cape Town, South Africa. The museum, coincidentally located in the former Buitenkant Street Methodist Church, is dedicated to a Black neighborhood that was razed during apartheid. The people who lived in that neighborhood were removed from their homes and the entire neighborhood was destroyed. All that was left were various objects and stories. Some of those stories are written and displayed and some are shared verbally by the guides who once lived there. The museum and the stories stand as a gut-wrenching and powerful testament to the horrors of racism. Those profound stories changed my life and made me realize how important storytelling is. 

In my time as a communicator in Western Pennsylvania, I have had the privilege to tell many stories of those I’ve encountered. I profiled the oldest living retired clergy person in the WPA Conference and introduced Quinn, the service dog the conference supports. I shared the heartbreaking story of a Puerto Rican man who lost everything in Hurricane Maria and had been unable to clear the wreckage of his home until our team assisted him. I highlighted an antiracism event that showcased the music of Paul Robeson. All these stories have demonstrated to the world who we are as United Methodists and what we represent. 

Helping in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria

My ability to tell stories is a gift and I am so grateful for the opportunity to share that gift in the Susquehanna Conference. My path has led me here, to this conference, to tell your stories. And I am blessed.