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Olivet UMC To Welcome New Pastor June 21, 2017

Olivet United Methodist Church (UMC) in Coatesville will welcome Johnson Dodla as its new pastor during the 10 a.m. worship service on Sunday, July 2. A luncheon will be held after the service in the church's McKinney Hall. The community is invited to attend both the service and the welcome reception.

Dodla is from Exton UMC, where he served as lead pastor since July 1, 2011, when Exton UMC was formed from the merger of Crossroads UMC and the United Methodist Church of the Resurrection. Dodla had been serving as lead pastor at Crossroads UMC at the time of the merger.

As in the UMC tradition, Dodla was assigned to lead the congregation at Olivet UMC. "I love the appointment system. The church belongs to the people and not necessarily the pastor," he said. "The ministries that are carried on need to be driven by the body (of the church). It is not solely based on one leader."

Dodla grew up in India and received Bachelor of Arts degrees in theology from both Trinity Christian College and Hindustan Bible College. He began his ministerial work as a youth and outreach coordinator at Centenary Methodist Church in India.

In 2000, Dodla moved to England, where he served as a youth and community worker at St. John's Anglican Church. After one year in that position, he moved to Pennsylvania to work with The Pittsburgh Project, a Christian organization for inner-city at-risk youths.

While in Pittsburgh, Dodla met his future wife, Christyn, who lived in Downingtown. He eventually made the move to the area, where the couple married and had four children: Samara 9; Elijah, 7; Annika, 4; and Josiah, 3.

Dodla said he is excited to lead Olivet UMC, which is celebrating 200 years of Methodism in the Coatesville area. The church was founded in 1817 and, in 1885, it moved to its current location at Third and Chestnut streets.

"My immediate goal is to get to know the people and the community," Dodla stated, noting that visitors are especially welcome to meet him and view the sanctuary, which features magnificent stained glass windows and ornate woodwork. "We are intentional in knowing that not everyone is coming to the worship service with the same experiences. (You will feel comfortable) if you were part of the church for the past 80 years or it's your first time at the church," he said.

His goals also include establishing a recovery ministry for those who suffer from addictions. "I also want to engage in community partnerships," he added. "There is so much good that is happening in Coatesville, and we need to bring our resources together (to) have a bigger impact."

Dodla said that pastoring a church in an inner-city environment has both differences and similarities to leading a church in the suburbs. "What is similar is that we are all broken and in need of God's grace," he said. "What is different is that each and every community has its own set of challenges and needs. The work of the church is to determine what those needs are and address them."

Dodla said he would like Olivet UMC to be a place where people of all ages and backgrounds come together to worship God. "(I envision a church) where the economically advantaged and the disadvantaged, the white, the brown and the black would all come to worship together," he stated. "That is my vision for the city - (that) we would do ministry in a way where all (people) can sing and praise God together."

Olivet UMC is located at 310 E. Chestnut St., Coatesville. The Sunday worship service is held at 10 a.m. and is preceded by Sunday school for adults from 9 to 9:45 a.m. Sunday school for children takes place during the worship service, and nursery care for infants and toddlers is offered from 9:45 to 11:15 a.m.

For more information, readers may call 610-384-5828 or visit or


Local Man Will Promote Disability Inclusion In Diocese June 21, 2017

A member of Saint Leo the Great Parish in Rohrerstown has been hired to serve the Roman Catholic Diocese of Harrisburg as the coordinator of the Diocesan Office of Ministry With People With Disabilities. Larry Kiley succeeds Ginny Duncan, who recently retired after serving in that role since the office was instituted a decade ago.

Kiley noted that he wants to build upon the momentum established by his predecessor and those who serve in the Parish Advocacy Program, an initiative designed to enable parishes to better respond to the gifts and needs of parishioners with disabilities.

"I have an image of my work being about pushing down while also lifting up," Kiley said. "We want to push down and eliminate the barriers that prevent the full participation of persons with disabilities, whether those barriers are physical or other. The lifting up is the elevation of the person with disabilities and celebrating their gifts and talents."

Kiley will promote the full integration of people with disabilities in church life. He would like to see congregations make it possible for disabled individuals to serve at Mass, participate on committees, receive the sacraments, and be active in parish life in general. Classes and social functions must be planned with accessibility in mind, he said.

"I think our bishops have summed this up perfectly, stating, 'There can be no separate church for people with disabilities. We are one flock that serves a single Shepherd,'" Kiley remarked.

Kiley has a personal connection to individuals with disabilities, as his older sister, Lisa, sustained a brain injury after birth that rendered her completely disabled. Their mother was the primary caregiver for Lisa, who depended on round-the-clock care until she died at age 27. Additionally, Kiley and his wife, Katie, are the parents of a daughter with Down syndrome.

The diocese's Parish Advocacy Program was created in response to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' 1978 Pastoral Statement on Persons With Disabilities, which challenges the church to create an environment that fully recognizes the dignity, rights, and potential of all people. Readers may find resources on disabilities ministry, learn more about the Parish Advocacy Program, and read the U.S. Bishop's 1978 pastoral statement at

Established in 2007, the Diocesan Office of Ministry With People With Disabilities serves and supports people with disabilities and their families and parishes in working toward individuals' full participation in all aspects of the life of the church. The office is a source for reference material, guidelines, and training programs, and it hosts annual events such as the diocesan Mass celebrating the gifts of people with disabilities and offers a summer camping experience at Camp Kirchenwald in Lebanon for adults with intellectual disabilities.

This year's summer camp will take place from Sunday, Aug. 13, to Friday, Aug. 18. Volunteers are needed to provide a positive experience for the approximately 40 adults who will attend. Anyone age 16 or older is welcome to serve full or part time. There is a particular need for male volunteers age 18 and older who are able to spend the night. All volunteers must complete the diocesan clearance process and attend a training session before the week of camp. Interested individuals are asked to apply by Friday, June 30. Additionally, sponsors are being sought to defray the cost of camp attendance.

For more information on volunteering or sponsoring a camper or to learn more about disability accessibility, readers may contact Kiley at 717-657-4804, ext. 322, or


Churches To Greet New Pastor June 20, 2017

The Gatchellville Charge of the United Methodist Church (UMC), which consists of the Prospect and Cross Roads churches, will welcome the Rev. Rob Anderson to the pulpit on Sunday, July 2. Anderson is replacing the Rev. Michael Trimmer, the previous pastor, who has retired after serving for 13 years.

Anderson most recently served as pastor at Pine Creek Valley UMC in Galeton in Potter County. He and his wife, Melanie, have three grown children and four grandchildren.

Following the 11 a.m. worship service on July 2 at Prospect UMC, 8 Orchard Road, New Park, there will be a covered dish luncheon to welcome Anderson. Dessert and beverages will be provided. All are welcome.


First Baptist Welcomes Pastor Of Discipleship June 16, 2017

It has been a long road home for First Baptist Church of Pequea's pastor of discipleship, Clint Shondelmyer, and his wife, Tammy, who grew up at First Baptist where her father, Pastor Venmen, served as lead pastor for a number of years. Clint officially began his tenure with the church on March 27.

First Baptist, which is located at 6062 Old Philadelphia Pike, Gap, is unique in that the congregation is not affiliated with a larger Baptist denomination.

Clint was raised in Avonmore in Westmoreland County in western Pennsylvania. He attended Philadelphia College of Bible, now Cairn University, where he met Tammy. He graduated in 1987 with a degree in music, and he accepted his first position as a youth and music pastor with a church in Indiana, Pa. He and Tammy were married in 1989. After six years at the Indiana church, Clint and Tammy moved to Venice, Fla., where Clint served as worship leader and music director for more than three years. Their next move, to a church in Springfield, Va., just outside Washington, D.C., kept the family, which eventually included three children, in one place for 20 years, while Clint served as assistant music pastor and later as the music pastor.

Clint learned of the open position at First Baptist through Tammy's nephew, Tukker Zimmerman, who serves as director of student ministries at the church, and his parents. "They had not had a pastor of discipleship, and that is what I am," said Clint, who noted that his 30 years of experience in full-time minstry prepared him for the position. "I help the church as a whole to grow in spiritual maturity," added Clint, who preaches approximately once a month and oversees the Christian education mission of the church, including children's and youth ministries. "My main (mission) is developing a plan to help people grow in their faith," said Clint, who added that the church had utilized a variety of programs in this area but not had a comprehensive plan. Clint's strategy is to start with small accountability groups of three or four men who meet with other men and women who meet with other women for accountability, prayer, and outreach. "We are using that as the building block for (larger) groups down the road," said Clint. "The plan is for these groups to multiply within a year," he added.

Returning to the county represents a homecoming for Tammy and a return to Pennsylvania for Clint, but he noted that the biggest change for him is moving from a suburban area to a rural spot on the eastern side of the county. "The difference is that (in the suburbs) things are moving all the time, and there is a busyness," said Clint, who admitted that he is used to the background noise of cars, traffic, and people on the move. "Here, when I look out over the farm, there is a calm, relaxing feeling." He added that both he and Tammy are happy to be living in Lancaster County."We are really thrilled to be here," said Clint. "It's just great. Coming back was wonderful."

Worship at First Baptist is at 10:30 a.m. each Sunday. Readers who would like to learn more about the church may visit


New Pastor Welcomed At Jerusalem Church June 15, 2017

"God has given me a lot of gifts, and I believe He wants me to use them. That's why I am here," said the Rev. Bonnie M. Oplinger. Oplinger was accepted into candidacy in the Lower Susquehanna Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America in 2016, and in December of that year, she was called by Jerusalem Evangelical Lutheran Church (ELC), 36 Church St., Rothsville. At the end of January 2017, Oplinger was welcomed as Jersalem's new pastor.

Oplinger's journey to Jerusalem ELC began when she retired from teaching elementary school in Berks County in 2008. "I wasn't retired two weeks when my friend Dennis Trout from Swamp Lutheran in Reinholds called me," said Oplinger. "His organist and choir director had resigned, so I went to help him out." Oplinger said she would stay through the holidays, and when the church hired a replacement, she sought to move on. "The congregation wanted me to stay, and I started helping with Communion, home Communion, being a lector. It just felt so right."

In addition to her involvement with Swamp, some ministers in her life were encouraging her to look further into ministerial work. Oplinger had worked in ministry before she was married, as a director of Christian Education at a Lutheran church in West Oak Lane, Philadelphia. She attained her Master of Divinity from Lancaster Theological Seminary, and she did her internship at Trinity Lutheran Church in Robesonia.

When Oplinger arrived at Jerusalem ELC, she found a group of people already having an impact in Rothsville and beyond. "This is a very warm and welcoming congregation that reaches beyond its doors to the community," she said. Oplinger described outreaches including free community meals, which will be served at the church on Mondays, July 17 and Aug. 21, beginning at 5:30 p.m. She also mentioned women of the church who make quilts for Lutheran World Relief, along with projects such as knitting hats for International Seafarers House in New York City, creating health and school kits for Lutheran World Action, and the observance of God's Work Our Hands on the second Sunday of September. Under the coordination of church member Beth Trachte, the church collects food for the Lititz-Warwick Community Chest. The church also partners with Millport Mennonite Church to provide a place for the Rock Connection after-school program that is held on Tuesday afternoons. "They have crafts, a Bible story, and singing," shared Oplinger. "They serve a meal, and then there is an adult Bible study after the meal."

Oplinger said that she has found that her congregation is eager to learn about the Bible and grow in their faith. She has responded with new programs, including a healing service on the fourth Tuesday of each month at 7 p.m. that is open to the community and a grief support group that utilizes the GriefShare curriculum called GIFT (Grieving Into Faithful Trust) on the fourth Thursday of the month at noon.

Attracting young families to the church is an area where Oplinger sees the opportunity for growth, and she has drawn on her teaching experience to reach out to children on Tuesdays and Thursdays over the summer, when the Warwick Ministerium is distributing lunches in the Warwick Township Lions Park on Church Street near Jerusalem ELC. "Jerusalem is sponsoring a reading program for the summer," explained Oplinger, who noted that children will be able to self-select books at the church beginning at noon on Tuesdays and Thursdays. "They keep a log of the time that they read, and when they have read 10 hours, we will give them a free book to keep," said Oplinger.

Readers who would like more information about the church may visit or call 717-626-8972.


Church Names New Pastor June 15, 2017

Central Manor Church of God in Washington Boro has announced its new senior pastor, Scott Davis, who began on June 18. He will begin preaching on Sunday, July 2. Davis and his wife, Lisa, accepted the invitation to come to Central Manor Church following a 96 percent affirmation vote by the congregation.

After graduating from Bob Jones University with a Bachelor of Arts in Bible, Davis married Lisa and attended Calvary Baptist Seminary in Lansdale, where he received his Master of Divinity and later his Doctorate of Ministries. His doctoral thesis reflects his 22 years of senior pastorate and church planting experience.

Davis served as the founder and senior pastor of Nazareth Baptist Church and later administered a church merger with Slate Belt Church in Pen Argyl, where he assumed the role of senior pastor. He also assisted in planting a Korean church and Allentown Bible Church during his ministry. Additionally, Davis currently serves as the assistant spiritual director at Central Manor Campmeeting and Bible Conference.

The Davises have three children, Ashley, Kirsten, and Noah.


Church Announces New Pastor June 15, 2017

The congregation of Derry Presbyterian Church has announced that the Rev. Dr. Stephen McKinney-Whitaker will be the next senior pastor and head of staff. His first Sunday leading worship at 248 East Derry Road, Hershey, will be July 16.

McKinney-Whitaker is a preacher, teacher and leader who comes to Derry Church from the United Presbyterian Church in Peoria, Ill., where he has served as pastor and head of staff since 2009.

Stephen grew up in Spartanburg, S.C., and has been ordained as a teaching elder in the Presbyterian Church (USA) since 2006. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in religious studies from the University of South Carolina and a Master of Divinity from Princeton Theological Seminary in Princeton, N.J., where he received the Mary Long Grier Hugh Prize in Preaching. In 2014 he completed a Doctor of Ministry in preaching from McCormick Theological Seminary in Chicago, Ill., earning the John Randall Hunt Prize for Outstanding Thesis. In addition, he has been active in local mission initiatives in Peoria and is active in the national Next Church movement within the Presbyterian Church (USA).

McKinney-Whitaker has written for The Presbyterian Outlook, Lectionary Homiletics, and Preaching magazine. He has also twice been the featured preacher for the "Day1" radio show, which broadcasts sermons and interviews with leading figures in mainline denominations.

McKinney-Whitaker is married to Courtney McKinney-Whitaker, an author of historical fiction and nonfiction for children and young adults. The family includes a preschool daughter and two rescue animals.

Derry Presbyterian Church is a congregation of the Presbyterian Church (USA). Worship services are held on Sundays at 8 and 10:30 a.m. and on Tuesdays from 6:45 to 7:30 p.m. For directions or more information, readers may call the church office at 717-533-9667 or visit


Church Posts New Service Time May 24, 2017

St. Michael Lutheran Church, 40 E. Main St., Strasburg, has announced that its Sunday morning worship service will begin at 10 a.m. starting June 4 and continuing year round.

All are welcome to attend. The new pastor at St. Michael is the Rev. Bob Wegehoft.


Church Hires Associate Pastor May 18, 2017

Hope Community Church in Mount Joy has hired Joe Stecz as associate pastor to help with the teaching and to facilitate small-group ministries of the growing congregation.

Joe completed his master's degree at Cairn University and has worked for more than 13 years in pastoral ministry. He and his family were attracted to Hope Community Church due to the value of being internally strong and externally focused, as well as the warm welcome they received.

Joe and and his wife, Betsy, come to Lancaster County and Hope Community Church after living in the King of Prussia area since 1999. They have two grown children, a daughter and a son-in-law who live in Georgia, as well as a son who attends Messiah College.

Hope Community Church is an Evangelical Free Church located at 1806 Harrisburg Ave., Mount Joy.


Church Welcomes New Pastor May 2, 2017

ValleyView Alliance Church, 200 Alliance Ave., York, has announced that, after 25 years, the church has a new pastor. Pastor Lee Nanfelt became the church's lead pastor in late March, and his first Sunday was March 26. The church will hold an installation service for Nanfelt on Sunday, May 21, at 6 p.m

Nanfelt holds a Doctor of Ministry in advancing the church from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. He loves caring for people and equipping them to live out their faith through word and deed. He believes in servant leadership, helping everyone work together to fulfill their mission.

The Nanfelts moved to York from Wisconsin, having served previously in Illinois, Maine and Massachusetts. Nanfelt grew up in small-town New England. His wife, Maureen, is from Ontario, Canada. They have four grown children, three of whom are married, and three grandchildren.

For more information, readers may call the church at 755-0193.

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