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Church Installs Assistant Pastor May 23, 2018

Central Manor Church of God welcomed pastor Jeremy Metze as the new assistant pastor of youth and family ministries beginning on May 21. The church planned to officially install Metze in his pastoral role during the 10:45 a.m. service on May 27. Metze and his wife, Hannah, accepted the invitation to come to Central Manor Church following a 99 percent affirmation vote by the congregation.

Metze, whose father was at one time a youth pastor at Calvary Baptist Church, has seen ministry firsthand since he was a child. His parents, answering the call to become missionaries, moved their family to Mexico City, Mexico, when Jeremy was in middle school. Following graduation from high school in Mexico City, Metze returned to the United States to attend Baptist Bible College, now Clarks Summit University. There he studied theology, biblical languages, and philosophy. After graduation and marriage, he and Hannah spent 10 months in Mexico City assisting in a church plant on the north end of the city. They then settled in Lancaster and have been active members in the local church.

Metze, who is scheduled to soon complete a master's degree in counseling from Liberty University, is transitioning to full-time ministry after eight years working in human services with children, teenagers, and their families in Lancaster County. He and Hannah have three young children.

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EMM Welcomes Martin May 16, 2018

Krista Martin began her role as Kingdom Team director for Eastern Mennonite Missions (EMM) on April 9.

The focus of the Kingdom Team program is to provide opportunities for youth groups to serve refugees and immigrants alongside local community partners in Lancaster while also participating in activities and sessions. Kingdom Teams work with refugee children and youths through clubs, crafts, tutoring, English conversation activities, sports and games, and other activities.

Continuing to develop the Kingdom Team program, Martin will coordinate planning details, oversee the daily activities of the Kingdom Teams, provide evaluation for the program, and make initial preparations for the 2019 season.

Most recently, Martin worked as a foster care and adoption social worker for Bethany Christian Services in Lancaster. She served on a 2009-10 EMM YES team to Southeast Asia and also at EMM's Harrisburg Discipleship Center from 2010-11.

Martin holds a Bachelor of Arts in social work from Millersville University. She and her husband, Tim, live in Lancaster. They attend Living Light Mennonite Church in Washington Boro.

In 2017, Angie Earl transitioned into the role of EMM community engagement coordinator. The position of Kingdom Team director was created as a result of Earl's transition.

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Church Names New Pastor May 11, 2018

Silver Spring Baptist Church of Columbia recently named Joshua Bain as pastor of youth and young adults.

Bain and his family previously lived in the Houston area. While in college at Texas A&M, he met his wife, Michele, at an on-campus Bible study. After serving a brief stint in China, they returned to the U.S. to welcome their son, Josiah. A few years later, their daughter, Mayli, was born. Bain also works as a child nutrition director.

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Congregation Welcomes Senior Minister May 9, 2018

On May 6, the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of York (UUCY), 925 S. George St., York, hosted an installation service to recognize and celebrate the Rev. Dr. Gabriele Parks as its new senior minister. Parks joined UUCY last August after a yearlong search and a formal call to ministry by the congregation.

A lawn reception followed the service. Special guests included regional Unitarian Universalist ministers as well as leaders of local organizations that partner with UUCY in community service.

Parks earned a Master of Divinity from Lancaster Theological Seminary and a Doctorate of Ministry from Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, D.C. She has served congregations in State College, Maryland, and Michigan. She succeeds the Rev. Lyn Cox, interim minister at UUCY, and the Rev. Robert Renjilian, the previous UUCY senior minister.

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Salem UCC Appoints New Pastor May 1, 2018

On April 22, the congregation at Salem United Church of Christ (UCC) officially welcomed Mark Harris as its new pastor. Harris, who is currently pursuing his Master of Divinity at Lancaster Theological Seminary, first connected with Salem UCC through a professor who recommended Harris to serve as a pulpit supply preacher. After a few months, the congregation opted to hire Harris as the lead pastor.

Born in Scranton and raised in Lancaster, Harris attended McCaskey High School and later earned his General Equivalency Diploma (GED). Harris was most recently employed as a church administrator for four years in Keene, N.H., and prior to that had a 25-plus-year career in restaurant management.

Entering ministry has been something Harris was interested in for a long time, and two years ago he and his family moved from New Hampshire back to Lancaster so that he could begin attending Lancaster Theological Seminary. "After a health crisis two years ago, I decided it was time to go for it," recalled Harris.

Pastoring has felt like a natural fit for Harris. "I love people," Harris remarked. "I enjoy meeting people where they are and hearing what their journey has been like and getting to know them."

Harris currently lives in Manheim. He and his wife, Angela, have five children ranging in age from 6 to 20.

"I think (Salem UCC) has a lot to offer Columbia today," Harris said. Built in 1850, the church has a rich story and originally had all of its services in German. "Salem is beautiful. It's a pretty little church, and one of my goals is to get backlighting installed for the stained glass windows so that people will be able to see those better."

Harris said that he is also eager to work with the Columbia Ministerium, which is an active group of local church leaders who encourage one another and collaborate for community activities and annual events.

Enhancing and growing the programming for children and youths at Salem UCC is another priority for Harris.

Salem UCC, located at 324 Walnut St., Columbia, has approximately 75 members. Anyone is welcome to join in the weekly worship service on Sundays at 10:15 a.m. in the second-floor sanctuary. Parking is available on the street in front of the building and in the paved lot behind the main building.

Salem UCC hosts a free breakfast at 8 a.m. on the last Saturday of each month in its educational building. All are welcome. For more information, readers may call 717-684-6498 or email salemucc.columbia@gmail.com.

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Pastor Brings 35 Years Of Experience To Local Church March 27, 2018

The Rev. Merritt Schatz has been the new pastor at Nottingham Presbyterian Church since November of last year. She is a temporary supply pastor, with the option of continuing as the permanent pastor.

"So far, things are going wonderfully," she said. "I fully expect that in the fall we'll petition the Presbytery to change to a permanent status."

Born in Kentucky and raised primarily in Pensacola, Fla., Schatz comes to Nottingham with 35 years of experience in pastorship.

"I didn't really grow up thinking I would go into the ministry. I thought I would do counseling of some sort," she said, noting that when she was growing up, the church did not ordain women. That changed in 1963, but Schatz did not think the ministry was for her.

Schatz graduated from Duke University, and after trying a number of career options, she went to Columbia Theological Seminary in Decatur, Ga. "The moment I walked onto the seminary campus I felt that I was at peace for the first time in years," she said.

Schatz's first posting was in Edinburgh, Scotland, where she served for two years. That was followed by 10 years at a church in Wichita, Kan., where she met and married her husband, Noel. "It was a small rural church on the edge of the city with good, faithful people," Schatz said.

She spent 13 years as an associate pastor at Georgetown Presbyterian Church in Washington, D.C., and seven years as a pastor in Aberdeen, Md., where she still lives.

The commute to Nottingham is not a long one, and Schatz is pleased with what she has found in the church. "It's been wonderful. I'm excited about the potential here," she said. "The people have such good hearts, and they're willing to pitch in, and they are interested and willing to try some different things."

Schatz blends contemporary and traditional in the church. "We try to balance it because a lot of our members are older, so we have a lot of older hymns, but were also introducing some newer ones," she said. "I like the atmosphere of 'We're all in this together.' I come as a leader, but I also come recognizing that the church is people, so we talk about things before we make changes."

She is impressed with the congregation and how they have welcomed her. "They are very caring for one another, caring for the community, caring for the broader church and caring for me," she said. "They have a heart for missions, and they do a lot in the community."

Looking toward the future, she would like to see the church interact with more individuals. "One of the things we're looking at is engaging beyond big events, to see who is coming to our events and engage them person-to-person," she said. "You have to feel like having Christ in your life is valuable and can help others and you want to share that gift. You do that by getting to know the people and seeing them as a child of God."

Schatz has been married for 30 years, and she and her husband have two children, Jacob and Elizabeth. In her spare time, Schatz enjoys needlework and cooking, but most of her favorite activities are related to the church and helping others. She served on the National Response Team of Presbyterian Disaster Assistance (PDA) for eight years.

"(Being involved with PDA is) one of the other things I do that is close to my heart. I'm now on the (PDA) National Volunteer Team," she said. "A lot of what I do for fun is mixed with the church."

Nottingham Presbyterian Church is located at 497 W. Christine Road, Nottingham. For more information, readers may call 610-932-0556 or visit www.nottingampc.org or www.facebook.com/nottinghampc.org.

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Bridgeville Welcomes New Youth Director March 27, 2018

Joshua Carr, who became the part-time youth director at Bridgeville Evangelical Congregational (E.C.) Church in Narvon at the end of summer 2017, first considered becoming a youth pastor while working at a camp in the Poconos as a teenager. "When I was 15, I felt a calling to go into youth ministry, and I haven't looked back," said Carr.

Carr and his three siblings grew up in Landisville, where they were homeschooled. The family attended Grace Baptist Church on Marietta Avenue, and Grace Baptist youth pastor Mike Cortez became Carr's friend and mentor. Carr began attending Lancaster Bible College (LBC) full time a few years ago, and he is currently working toward a four-year degree in children and family ministry. "I only applied at LBC," noted Carr. "I felt if God wanted me to do this, I would do it here (in Lancaster)."

Through his work at Twin Pines Camp, Conference, and Retreat Center in Stroudsburg, Carr met Kirk Wolfe, Bridgeville E.C. pastor. "(Wolfe) directs camps at Twin Pines, and we built up a pretty good relationship," said Carr. When the youth director position at Bridgeville became available, Wolfe knew that Carr was matriculating at LBC with hopes of going into youth ministry. After Carr completed his fifth summer working at the camp, he met with Wolfe about the position. Carr interviewed with the church ministry council in the middle of August, and his first day in the position was Aug. 29.

The position held some surprising challenges for the new director. "When I started, there were not many students in the youth group and there were only girls," said Carr. "I asked what they wanted to learn about, and they wanted to learn about women in the Bible." Undaunted, Carr tackled the topic. "I was a little out of my comfort zone," said Carr, who dove in and gathered information for the lessons.

Carr is pleased that the number of students in the group has risen since autumn. "We're still a small youth group, but we're growing," said Carr, who noted that about a dozen students in grades six through 12 are now attending weekly meetings, which are held on Wednesdays from 7 to 8:30 p.m. and Sundays from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. "I have been working hard to help them know God and through knowing God to love Him and obey Him," noted Carr. "One of my goals is to make disciple-making disciples. I want them to get discipled here and go out and radically change their schools and the communities they're involved in."

The youth group has taken part in a number of activities, including a weekend retreat at Twin Pines called Winter Thaw, which was held in February. "We went with a lot of other churches in the area, and there were probably about 159 people there," said Carr. "It was a lot of fun, and it was a growing experience."

Carr has also organized lock-ins at the church, which have included videos, snacks, and games, and he has plans for more. "In April, I want to do a lock-in that involves bowling and movies," he said, adding that he hopes to hold lock-ins on a quarterly basis.

As warmer weather approaches, Carr is considering plans to take the group into Lancaster to work with a group called Go Beyond that holds clothing and food drives. He recalled working with the organization as part of the Grace Baptist youth group. "We went to the stadium where the Barnstormers play to pack food and clothes," he said. "That's something I want to get the students involved in."

Readers who would like to know more about Bridgeville may visit www.bridgevillechurch.com. The church, 5971 Division Highway, Narvon, currently holds services at 8 and 10:30 a.m. each Sunday.

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OPC Pastor To Retire January 31, 2018

After 12 years of service to the Oxford Presbyterian Church (OPC), pastor Kerry Slinkard will retire this spring. He will continue to lead services through February, with his term officially concluding at the end of March.

Slinkard has been in installed pastoral ministry for 29 years. Before coming to Oxford, he was an associate pastor in Newark, Del., and pastor at two churches in Dallas before that. He came to Oxford planning on a long stay. "I had a notion this would be my last installed church," he said.

When Slinkard arrived in 2006, the congregation had been back in its building for 10 years, having rebuilt after a devastating fire in 1989, but there was still work to be done.

"One of the first things we were able to do was secure an organ appropriate for the sanctuary," Slinkard recalled. "It had been in the works for a number of years but hadn't really come together. That was one of the things I put together early on."

During his time in Oxford, Slinkard has enjoyed working with the church members and the community.

"There are good folks here. I think we've done a lot of good things in our congregation and for the community and carried on the legacy of 275 years of leadership in this borough," Slinkard said. "I love the people here at Oxford. I've gotten to know folks elsewhere through the (Oxford) Ministerium and activities of the church.

"I've particularly enjoyed the association between Oxford Presbyterian and Shiloh Presbyterian, our sister church," he added. "I really have enjoyed that relationship and supporting that congregation and that interconnection between our churches."

Slinkard is happy with the accomplishments OPC has made during his time as the pastor. "I feel very good about the things that we have done here. I'm leaving the church, I think, in a strong position," he stated. "We've just completed a capital campaign that's financing the work to replace the air-conditioning system and a new sound system. There are a number of things we've been able to tackle because of this campaign."

Looking ahead, Slinkard sees good things for the church. "I think the ministry leadership among the congregation is strong, and they are ready to take on whatever new assignments and ministries God lays before them," he said. "I am confident the congregation will continue to be strong in outreach efforts and community service efforts."

Slinkard sees the change in leadership as an opportunity for the church. "I'm not so bold as to think there are not some new ministries I haven't thought of that will come out under new leadership," he commented. "I know the congregation will step up to new ideas. It's a very creative congregation, willing to accept new ideas and explore new opportunities. I've always appreciated that about them."

As he moves into retirement, Slinkard does not expect to give up this type of work completely. "I don't think I will stop all ministry 'cold turkey,'" he said. "I will probably continue part-time ministry of some sort - I'm not sure what or where. I think I still have some work I can do."

A resident of Newark, Del., Slinkard will focus on his family as one daughter enters college and the other begins high school.

At OPC, Slinkard said that a committee has been put together to bring in a transitional pastor. "That person will be in place for a transition time," he explained. "At some point down the line, another committee will be formed to search for the permanent pastor.

"I wish this congregation the best, and I ask for God's blessings and pray that they will continue to enjoy the journey," Slinkard added.

OPC is located at 9 Pine St., Oxford. For more information on the church, readers may visit www.oxfordpresbyterian.org.

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Healing Shepherd ECC Welcomes The Community January 24, 2018

The community is invited to experience Sunday worship at the newly formed Healing Shepherd Ecumenical Catholic Communion (ECC), which meets at the historic Vincent Baptist Church building, 2109 Art School Road, Chester Springs.

Healing Shepherd, which met for the first time on Dec. 3, 2017, holds Mass each Sunday at 10 a.m.

The Rev. Denise Roberts-Graham, pastor, explained that the ECC Mass is nearly identical to those of Roman Catholic churches. She stressed that all are welcome regardless of religious affiliation. "Even though it is a Catholic Mass, it is open to everybody," she stated.

A stained-glass window depicting Jesus as the Good Shepherd that was once located in the church building was the inspiration for the name of the new congregation. "The stained-glass window fell into disrepair, so they took it down when it became a safety hazard," Roberts-Graham noted. "Marc (Duey, the building's owner,) was talking about having the window repaired and placing it in a corner of the cemetery (for a prayer grotto). We decided to call the parish Good Shepherd, but there are other Good Shepherds in the area, so we went with Healing Shepherd."

Roberts-Graham explained that that the ECC traces its origin to 1870 - the year of the First Vatican Council - when a group of European Catholics broke off from the Roman Catholic Church, forming the Old Catholic Church.

"We broke off from the Old Catholic Church about 20 years ago," noted Roberts-Graham. "We have parishes in the United States and in several countries in eastern Europe and in India. One of the reasons we are setting up in Pennsylvania is because we only have one parish here in Pennsylvania, and it's Old Souls in Reading."

Roberts-Graham, who grew up in lower Bucks County, previously served as an interim pastor at Holy Family Church in Aurora, Colo. She learned about Duey and Vincent Church through ECC Bishop Francis Krebs. The bishop's nephew married Duey's daughter during a ceremony held in Pennsylvania.

"I was living in Colorado and was ordained out there," Roberts-Graham explained. "I decided to move back to my family here in Pennsylvania. I called the bishop and told him that I was moving. He said (he spoke with Marc, who) owned a church and was interested in having an ECC congregation meet there." Roberts-Graham spoke with Duey who agreed to allow the new congregation to meet at Vincent Church.

"It's great to be home," Roberts-Graham added.

The church only has a few congregation members but hopes to grow over the next several months. "Right now, I play the part of the priest and musician. Once we get large enough, we will look for a musician and have a pastoral council," noted Roberts-Graham.

The church also wants to educate the public about its building and the historic Vincent Cemetery that surrounds the church.

According to a written history, Vincent Baptist Church was built in 1812 and additions were made to expand the building in 1852 and again in 1928. Baptisms were held in the Pickering Creek located across the street from the church.

The cemetery contains the graves of Revolutionary War soldiers who were treated at the nearby Yellow Springs Hospital, as well as Civil War soldiers.

Visitors to Healing Shepherd can view photographs and a written history of the church, which are displayed in the rear of the church sanctuary.

"Our plan in the coming months is to have an event where we're going to invite (local) leaders, other pastors and people from the community to come and see who we are and learn about the church (building) and its history," Roberts-Graham added.

For more information about the church, readers may visit www.healingshepherd.com or email 64deniser@gmail.com.

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Church Names New Organist, Music Director January 16, 2018

Sean Fox was recently named the organist and music director at St. Mary's Episcopal Chapel in Warwick Township. His first service playing the organ at the local historic church was on Jan. 14.

Fox, who resides in Mohnton, is already familiar with St. Mary's and its members, including pastoral leader Alan Lindsay and parish administrator Peggy Kandle, who had served as interim music director. "(Fox) was my organ teacher for a time," Kandle noted.

Fox has been a guest organist at St. Mary's and has played for the church's Christmas service. He succeeds former organist Katie Rutt and interim organist Sharon Levering.

Fox describes the music played during the Sunday service as traditional. Some of the hymns featured on Jan. 14 included "How Bright Appears the Morning Star," "The People Who in Darkness Walked" and "Christ, Whose Glory Fills the Skies."

In addition to the organ, St. Mary's is home to a baby grand piano, which was dedicated during a Sunday service last September. It was donated to the congregation by Calvary Church in Conshohocken.

"I (will) play the church's old digital Hammond organ and the piano mostly for prelude," Fox said. "I also play guitar, so there's possibilities for that in the future." He added that the church has a pipe organ as well, which he hopes will be restored in the future.

Fox is the founder of a Morgantown music store, where he teaches guitar, piano and organ. He also teaches a beginner guitar class at Chester County Night School. "I have a large roster of piano and guitar students," he noted.

Fox said he is excited to play at St. Mary's Episcopal Chapel, also known as Old Saint Mary's Church, which is listed on the National Historic Registry. The current church building dates to 1843, when it was constructed to replace the original structure built in 1806.

The church is a one-story, rectangular stuccoed fieldstone structure built in the Gothic Revival style, and it features a hand-carved wooden altar and wooden doors that enclose the church pews. The church is surrounded by the parish cemetery, with burials dating back to 1806.

"I love this building," Fox stated. "It has an air about it. It's very beautiful."

He also said that congregation members all know and support each other and that they take special care of the old church building. "Everyone is so close here; everybody knows each other," he said.

"We are a family," Kandle added.

Sunday worship at St. Mary's is held at 10:15 a.m., and a Bible-based forum for adults is offered at 9 a.m. Light refreshments, including coffee and baked goods, are available before and after the service.

In addition to holding Sunday services, St. Mary's Chapel is open for tours, private meditation and prayer every Wednesday from 1 to 4 p.m. Kandle will guide visitors through the church and the historic cemetery that surrounds it.

The cemetery includes gravesites of veterans from as far back as the Revolutionary War. The cemetery also contains the grave of the church founder, the Rev. Dr. Levi Bull.

Lindsay also leads "Breakfast With the Bible," a Bible study group that is held every Friday at 8:30 a.m. at the Morgantown Coffee House, 4997 N. Twin Valley Road, Elverson. Attendees from all denominations are welcome, and people can join the group at any time.

St. Mary's Chapel is located at 161 Warwick Road, Elverson. The community is welcome to attend Sunday services and the Bible study group and to tour and visit the church on Wednesday afternoons. For more information, readers may email Lindsay at AlanL@DioPA.org.

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Congregation Names New Leader November 30, 2017

On Oct. 21, Lloyd Scalyer transferred leadership of The Seed of Abraham Messianic Congregation over to Dennis Shatto, who is now the new spiritual leader at the congregation. Shatto and his wife Betsy live in Harrisburg.

The foundation for the Seed of Abraham began with the Jewish evangelism work of Lloyd and Judith Scalyer and Edward Rhawn, along with volunteers from different congregations. In the early years of meetings, services and Bible studies were held at various locations east of Lancaster, including the Scalyer's home. After urgings from The Messianic Hebrew Christian Fellowship (confirmed by Lancaster Evangelical Free Church Elder Board), Scalyer decided to begin a new congregation. Scalyer was ordained in 1981.

In 1994, the Scalyers, along with several other like-minded persons, began meeting on Fridays. Soon they moved to Saturdays. In 1999, The Seed of Abraham moved to the Mill in Lititz, where it currently meets on Saturdays at 10:15 a.m.

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Church Wards Receive New Bishoprics November 22, 2017

The Lancaster, Elizabethtown, and Ephrata wards of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints received new bishoprics during October.

The Lancaster Ward is presided over by Bishop John W. Hume, and his counselors are Kevin Turner and Carlos Juarez. Hume provides software support and training. He is married and has five children. Turner works as a health care administrator and is married with two children. Juarez works as a commercial IT specialist and SAT coach. He is married with two children.

The Ephrata Ward is presided over by Bishop Simon Elmore, and his counselors are Karl Ludwig and Chris Baird. Elmore is a senior project engineer. He is married with six children. Ludwig is self-employed and is married with four children.

The Elizabethtown Ward is presided over by Wayne Bushey, and his counselors are Adam McBride and Kent Alexander Meldrum. Bushey restores Pintos, is married, and has five children. McBride works for the church as the regional coordinator of seminaries and institutes of religion. He is married with six children. Kent Meldrum is an OB/GYN physician. He is married with four children.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has four wards of the church in Lancaster County. Each ward consists of between 300 and 500 people, with organizations for children, teenagers, and adults. Each ward is overseen by a bishop and his two counselors. These men are called by higher church authorities and approved by a vote of acclimation from the congregation. They serve without compensation, volunteering their time and talents without receiving a salary. A bishop can easily spend 20 hours per week serving members of the ward.

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Church Appoints Director Of Youth And Family Ministries November 1, 2017

The journey from North Carolina to Pennsylvania has been one of many transitions for Will Adair, but he is now firmly established as the new director of Youth and Family Ministries at Grace Covenant Church in Exton.

After leaving the Southern Baptist denomination, Adair began researching job opportunities with the Evangelical Presbyterian Church (EPC). "I was bi-vocational. I was a Southern Baptist church-planting pastor and an information technology (IT) director for 10 years for a nonprofit," Adair explained. "My wife, Olivia, saw this position (posted online) before I did and she said this church looks like it would be a good fit for us."

Adair applied for the position, and Grace Covenant contacted him for an interview this past spring. "A member of the search committee from this church, in a place I never heard of called Exton, messaged me," he recalled. "We came up, touched down in Philadelphia (and) drove up here, and as we were driving, we literally fell in love with the area. I love mountains and rolling hills."

Adair had also interviewed at an EPC church in Ohio and he turned down a job as an IT system administrator at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina. "(God) has got a plan that is much bigger than our plans. If we pray and trust in Him, He will guide us," Adair said, noting that the family's home in North Carolina has been sold and his wife and four children will move to Chester County permanently by the end of November.

One of Adair's goals when he began at Grace Covenant in August was to establish a plan so that both children and adults who attend Sunday worship and Sunday school will all hear the same biblical message. "I told the search committee that I would like to create a ministry that is basically continuous across the board, so everyone is on the same page. You do a message series that is different for each age group (but on the same overall topic)," he explained.

Grace EPC provides Grace Kids, a ministry for children, during the 9:30 a.m. worship service. Children in preschool through second grade begin worship with their parents and come forward to hear the children's message. Then they may either go to class or stay with their parents. Third-grade through high school students worship with the congregation and may attend Sunday school at 11 a.m.

Children and adults at Grace EPC hear the same basic message, but for the younger children, it includes hands-on activities like creating figures out of modeling compound. "Basically, (the volunteers) distill down the idea of what the main sermon is that (the children's) parents (have listened to), and it's made age-appropriate," said Adair. "As a dad of four kids, I want my children to be learning what I'm learning so we can discuss it together."

He said that this enables the lessons learned at church to carry over through the week. "We want to train our parents to be the primary worship leaders for their kids. Worship is not something you do on Sunday; you do it as part of who you are. We put a lot of focus on that," said Adair. "We put a big focus on parents being able to disciple their own children."

Adair is also in charge of the church's teen ministry, which meets on Sundays at 6:30 p.m. The program includes music, a message, social activities and snacks. Adair is in the process of converting a room at the church into a teen center.

Grace Covenant is located in the Oaklands Corporate Center at 444 Creamery Way, Exton. For more information, readers may call 610-924-7282 or visit www.gracecovenantepc.org or www.facebook.com/GraceCovenantEpc.

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Stake Announces New Leadership October 25, 2017

President Conrad Knudson, president of the Lancaster Pennsylvania Stake of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) in York and Lancaster counties, has announced the calling of four new bishoprics in the Stake, which includes changes in leadership in four of the nine LDS churches in this area.

Members of the church are asked to attend church in geographical areas, called wards, in which they reside. A bishop presides over a ward; smaller churches use the term "president" instead. Bishops are lay ministers who volunteer their time and generally serve for a number of years in that position.

The newly called bishopric of the Shrewsbury Ward of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 2100 Hollywood Drive, York Township, is bishop Michael Abramson of Red Lion, who has replaced bishop Richard Miles of Shrewsbury. Abramson is married to Teri Sue Allen Abramson and has five children. He also holds a full-time job as a mathematician for the federal government. The Shrewsbury congregation meets at 9 a.m. for sacrament meeting, followed by Sunday school and primary at 10:10 a.m. and auxiliary meetings at 11:10 a.m., including priesthood, Relief Society, primary, and youth groups. The ward is also served by First Counselor A.J. Newcomer of Red Lion and Second Counselor Michael Stackhouse of Glenville.

The newly called bishopric of the Elizabethtown Ward, 1136 Sunwood Lane, Lancaster, is bishop Wayne Edward "Topper" Bushey II of Hellam Township, who is replacing bishop Derrick Herbert of Willow Street. Bushey is the son of the late Wayne and Shirleyanne Bushey of York. He is married to Shirley Sparkman Bushey, and the couple has five children. He is president of the National Nostalgic Nova Club, and he specializes in antique car restorations for a living. The Elizabethtown Ward begins sacrament meeting at 11 a.m., followed by Sunday school at 12:10 p.m. and auxiliary meetings at 1:10 p.m. The ward is also served by First Counselor Adam McBride of Elizabethtown and Second Counselor Kent Meldrum of Lancaster

Two other Lancaster County Wards received new Bishoprics. The Ephrata Ward is now being served by bishop Simon Elmore of Denver, First Counselor Karl Ludwig of Hopeland, and Second Counselor Chris Baird of Leola. Elmore has replaced bishop James Bowe.

The Lancaster Ward is now being served by bishop John Hume of Lancaster, First Counselor Carlos Juarez of Lancaster, and Second Counselor Kevin Turner of Lancaster. Hume has replaced bishop Allen Zerbe.

Additionally, the Columbia Branch of The Church of Jesus Christ, which was organized to accommodate Spanish-speaking people interested in attending a Mormon congregation, celebrated its two-year anniversary in May and recently called Second Counselor Luis Guerrero of Lancaster. The branch is split between two congregations: one meeting in Lancaster at 1200 E. King St., Lancaster, and the other meeting at 2100 Hollywood Drive, York. Meeting times are the same for each location, with Sunday school at 12:20 p.m.; priesthood, Relief Society, and youth groups at 1:10 p.m.; and sacrament meeting at 2:20 p.m. The meeting locations are combined on the fifth Sundays, and the approximately combined 74 members share a potluck dinner after the block of meetings. Officiating at the York church are First Counselor Angel Maximiliano Diaz of York and president Matthew Wayne Gogna of York. Gogna also presides as the branch president in Lancaster.

Interested community members are invited to attend LDS services, including these additional congregations in the Lancaster Stake: Dover Branch, Lititz Ward, West York Ward, and York Ward.

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Full-Time Church Growth October 19, 2017

In January of 2014, Tim Witmer thought he had retired from being a full-time pastor. The New Holland native had left his church in Upper Darby and was serving as a professor at Westminster Seminary in Glenside. A chance meeting with his cousin, Carol Sprecher, in the bakery department of a local grocery store caused his plans to change.

Sprecher asked Tim to help fill the pulpit at St. Stephen Reformed Church, 249 E. Main St., New Holland, and he agreed. In November 2014, the members of St. Stephen voted to call him as part-time pastor and elected to change denominations to become part of the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA). After serving as part-time pastor, Tim officially retired from teaching at Westminster on Sept. 5, having become the full-time lead pastor at St. Stephen on Sept. 1.

Tim's roots in New Holland run deep. He was raised in a local church, and he met his wife, Barbara, when Stan Deen cast the two opposite each other in a play at Garden Spot High School. Gesturing to a photo of a past New Holland Farm Show event on the wall of his office, Tim talked about his family's connection to the town. "This (photo is from) the late 1940s," he said. "My dad was on the farm show committee, and that's him right there. (The farm show) is part of our family history."

When Tim first suggested a denominational change to the members of St. Stephen, he had ideas for adding staff. "My original proposal in May 2014 included a part-time children's ministry director and a part-time youth intern," said Tim, who noted that the church had few, if any, children attending at the time. His plan was to reach out to young families. "Now we have excellent ministries in those categories, and we are seeing that bear fruit," he said.

The growth in the church since 2014 has been significant. St. Stephen is attracting more than 300 attendees to services each week and has added more than 180 new members in the last two years. "One of our keys has been a focus on Scripture in all our ministries," explained Tim. The church Sunday school program includes three adult electives and a children's program. "We'd love to see other dwindling churches consider this model for revitalization," noted Tim.

Tim is quick to acknowledge the support he receives in his role from children's ministry director Faith Titus and pastoral intern Nathaniel Stamper. Tim said that the church is looking forward to Stamper's scheduled ordination and installation as associate pastor in December. Stamper has been active in the church, recently spearheading the introduction of the church's life group ministry. Tim added that Barbara is leading the women's ministry, which currently involves about 60 women in Bible studies. Anita Witmer recently became the church's administrative assistant.

Tim first joined the teaching staff of Westminster in 1997 as a part-time lecturer in practical theology. He received full-time tenure in July 1999. Tim was promoted to associate professor in 2002, and the Philadelphia Presbytery of the PCA installed him as teacher at the seminary in February 2003. In 2006, he was inaugurated as professor of practical theology. In 2010, Tim published "The Shepherd Leader," which is now in use around the world to train church leaders. He later published two more books.

Tim is no longer making plans to retire. "I will continue as long as God gives me strength," he noted. "I am excited to be here in New Holland full time and to see what the Lord is going to do."

St. Stephen currently holds Sunday services at 8:15 and 10:30 a.m. Sunday school for people of all ages is held at 9:30 a.m. More information about the church may be found at www.ststephenpca.org.

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Church Installs Associate Pastor October 18, 2017

Mount Zion United Church of Christ (UCC) in York installed the Rev. Jeffery Kardisco as its associate pastor on Oct. 22. The installation portion of the service was conducted by the York Association president, the Rev. Kelly Shiflett, of the Penn Central Conferenece of the UCC.

In a unanimous congregation vote, Kardisco was elected to become associate pastor of Mount Zion in April. He was ordained at Trinity UCC in Waynesboro, of the Mercersburg Association.

Kardisco graduated from Penn State University and earned a master's degree from Lancaster Theological Seminary. He married his wife, Danielle, in 2012.

Those participating in the service included the Rev. Danielle Neff, senior pastor; the Rev. Cathy Sherry, former senior pastor; Danika Dallam, council moderator; the Rev. Pat Mullen, York Association Committee on Ministry partner; the Rev. Dr. Laurene Bowers, Penn Central conference minister; and members Rick Hogentogler and the Rev. Guy Wenck.

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Church Welcomes New Youth Pastor October 13, 2017

The Mount Joy Church of God, 30 E. Main St., has hired a new youth pastor, Johnny Krantz.

Krantz was born and raised in Orange County, Calif., before transplanting to Boston to pursue a philosophy degree at the University of Massachusetts; serve as a youth leader at his church in Cambridge, Mass.; and help plant a church in the Boston suburbs. One evening, Krantz listened to an online sermon by Dr. Ted Ewing, pastor of Mount Joy Church of God and longtime family friend. In the sermon, Ewing quoted Krantz's late missionary grandfather. As a result, Krantz reached out to Ewing to reconnect, discovering Ewing's church's need for someone to minister to youths.

Krantz noted that his first priority is to get to know local youths and community members. He also plans to develop personal, Christ-centered relationships and needs-based care and to remind students and parents that they are loved by God.

The youth group, for students in seventh through 12th grades, meets on Sundays from 6:30 to 8 p.m. in the fellowship hall. Readers may visit www.mountjoychurchofgod.org for more information.

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Church Welcomes New Pastor October 12, 2017

Gospel Light Baptist Church in Millersville will introduce Andrew Almanza as its new pastor on Sunday, Oct. 22, at 11 a.m.

Almanza was ordained into Christian ministry in 2006. His experience includes serving as a professor of New Testament theology, biblical studies, and biblical languages for eight years; serving on several extended missions trips in Zambia, Africa, and Mexico City, Mexico; directing a senior citizen's ministry; and organizing and directing an ESL program for Spanish-speaking people and numerous children's ministries. He holds a bachelor's degree in missions and a master's degree in Bible, both from Fairhaven Baptist College. He also has business experience; he started his own company and managed Lake View Ventilation for the past several years.

Almanza has been married to his wife, Anna, for 12 years. They have four children, Martha, Allen, Amelia, and Kara.

A special luncheon featuring Italian beef sandwiches will follow the 11 a.m. service. There will also be a caramel apple station and children's activities. The public is invited to attend.

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Grace UCC Names New Director Of Music October 12, 2017

Grace United Church of Christ (UCC), 1947 New Holland Pike, Lancaster, welcomed its new director of music, Sam Tarasenko, on Oct. 1. Since his arrival, Tarasenko has brought an eclectic mixture of music to the worship service, including compositions by Philip Glass, Beethoven, and even a piece Tarasenko composed himself in response to the tragedy in Las Vegas.

Tarasenko earned a Bachelor of Music in both theory and history from Temple University. He served as pianist and music director at St. Paul's UCC in Bowmansville and completed an internship with Astral Artists, a nonprofit intensive mentoring program in Philadelphia that specializes in developing the early careers of classical musicians. Tarasenko plays the piano and the organ.

Tarasenko plans to work with the church's choir, worship band, and leadership to create meaningful worship experiences. He hopes to integrate a blend of the arts into worship and events at Grace UCC and envisions a music ministry that will reach beyond the walls of the church building. The community is invited to experience worship at Grace UCC on Sundays at 10:30 a.m.

Additional information is available at www.gracechurchlancaster.org or by searching for "Grace UCC" on Facebook.

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Lampeter UMC Welcomes New Pastor October 12, 2017

Lampeter United Methodist Church (UMC), located at the corner of Book and Village roads, has welcomed John G. Smith as its pastor, replacing Blaine Wenger, who was sent to Ruhl's UMC. Smith is not a stranger to the area, as he had served in Lancaster at what is now New Creation UMC from 2001 to 2010.

Smith is Jamaican by birth, and he earned a Master of Divinity from United Theological College of the West Indies, an ecumenical seminary for Protestant denominations throughout the Caribbean. His first appointment was to Belize, where he and his wife, Claudia, served for nine years. A scholarship from the World Council of Churches took the couple to Indiana, where Smith earned a Master of Sacred Theology from Christian Theological Seminary. Smith was next appointed to Jamaica, where he was a pastor for nine years, and then he and Claudia, as well as their three children, came to Lancaster to serve at New Creation UMC. Most recently, Smith was the pastor at Pocono Lake UMC.

"Each (appointment) has had its unique blessings and challenges," Smith remarked.

He observed that the Lampeter congregation is uniquely positioned, with equal access to urban, suburban, and rural ways of life. One of Smith's goals is to move the church toward a greater realization of its role in shaping society.

"I would like to see the church become more mindful of the needs around here," Smith said. "We can be a strong voice and advocate for the poor and for other needs. Christianity is not just about piety. A good test of effectiveness is to ask, 'If your church would be destroyed, who would miss you?'"

Administrative council chair John Strange has appreciated Smith's approach.

"John has challenged us as individuals and as a church to consider (the question) 'what can you do to bring others to Christ?'" Strange said. "His preaching is conversational but deliberate, and it hits you deep."

Smith has been preaching on the topics of growing in Christ; compassion, care, and social witness; how to live out the faith, especially regarding parenting and suffering; and sharing the faith through evangelism. In November, he has planned a series based on Wayne Muller's book "How Then Shall We Live? Four Simple Questions That Reveal the Beauty and Meaning of Our Lives." During the month of December, each Sunday in Advent will explore the questions asked in the song "Do You Hear What I Hear?"

Smith has had cause to ask questions in his ministry, such as the reasons for his appointment to a particular country or congregation. However, he has exhibited faith and good humor through that process.

"The cabinet prayerfully discerns the gifts of its clergy," Smith said. "They don't tell you why you're placed."

Smith pointed out that in many of his appointments, he has had to help churches heal through remediation and restoring relationships, and he has developed a process to make the transition between pastors a positive experience.

"I take a long time to get to know people and to hear their story," he said. "Together, we articulate a vision of where we need to go. I help the church recognize its reason for existence and spend time refreshing (members') memories for why we're here."

People who would like to be part of that process may join the congregation for worship on Sundays. A traditional service is held at 8 a.m., and a contemporary service begins at 10:30 a.m. Children's Church for youngsters through fifth grade is offered during the second service. Sunday school classes for children, youths, and adults meet at 9:15 a.m. A nursery is available.

For more information about Smith or the church, readers may visit www.lampeterumc.org, call 717-464-4161, or search for @LampeterChurch on Facebook.

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