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Temple Names Director August 16, 2017

Benjamin Wachstein has been named the inaugural executive director at Congregation Shaarai Shomayim in Lancaster. In this role, Wachstein will work with Rabbi Jack Paskoff and the temple board of trustees to handle many of the business-related aspects of congregational life.

Wachstein previously served as the executive director of Beth El Temple in Harrisburg, where he was responsible for crafting a budget, overseeing the day-to-day operations of the facility, and leading fundraising efforts. Prior to his time at Beth El, he was the regional director of BBYO in Cherry Hill, N.J. Wachstein is a graduate of Rutgers University.


Stillmeadow To Celebrate Pastor's Ministry July 26, 2017

Stillmeadow Church of the Nazarene, 400 Stillmeadow Lane, York, will hold a Celebration of Ministry Service for pastor Bayse "Bud" Reedy Jr., who has accepted a call to the Charlottesville First Church of the Nazarene, Charlottesville, Va. The service will take place at 9:30 a.m. on Sunday, Aug. 27, in the church's Family Life Center. The community is invited.

Reedy has served Stillmeadow as lead pastor for the last 27 years. He started his ministry in August of 1990 and moved to York along with his wife, Sally, and children, Greg and Heather.

During Reedy's tenure, the church has undergone many changes. Stillmeadow changed its name from York First Church of the Nazarene to Stillmeadow Church of the Nazarene when it relocated from 850 S. Pine St. to the current location at 400 Stillmeadow Lane. During this relocation, a promise was made to "go back to the city of York." In 2011, Stillmeadow dedicated the York City Campus at 350 Chestnut St. The church has grown from about 400 regular attendees to about 1,200. Additionally, during Reedy's tenure, Stillmeadow entered into a partnership with the East Jamaica District Church of the Nazarene, allowing international relationships to be built that will last beyond his tenure.

Stillmeadow plans to continue Jesus' mission and look to the future with the foundation that has been laid by Reedy's ministry.


Olivet UMC Welcomes New Pastor July 20, 2017

Olivet United Methodist Church (UMC) in Coatesville welcomed Johnson Dodla as its new pastor during the 10 a.m. worship service on July 2.

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.

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


Olivet UMC Names New Youth Minister July 12, 2017

As part of its ongoing revitalization and to better serve the congregation, Olivet United Methodist Church (UMC) in Coatesville recently appointed Andrew Tait as its new family and youth minister.

Tait joined the staff along with pastor Johnson Dodla, with both starting their new positons at the church on July 1.

"This position is newly created," Tait stated. "The congregation and the leaders of the church wanted a revitalization of the children's and youth department. They raised the money and created the position."

Tait, a graduate of Eastern University, hails from Radnor. He said his upbringing - his mom was a Sunday school teacher and his dad was a deacon - prepared him for working in the church. "I was in the church a lot as a kid helping out with projects," he said. "It took me a while to realize, but being a part of that youth group helped me through a lot more than just mastering the basics of the Bible. The leaders and teachers I had while in the youth group - from sixth grade all the way through high school and even now - have been pillars in my faith journey."

Tait said his initial goal at Olivet UMC is to communicate with the youths who attend church and to get to know them. "There are a few youths active within the church. As far as a formal youth group, my job is to rebuild," Tait stated.

After his interview at the church several months ago, Tait began attending Sunday services at Olivet UMC along with his fiancee, Christa. The couple married in June.

"There are a lot of older generation congregants and grandkids, but we are missing (parents in their) mid-20s to 30s who have older elementary school kids (and beyond)," he observed. "There is room to grow in the future."

Tait said that he and Dodla hope to help firmly establish Olivet UMC as a community church. Right now, the church offers a free community luncheon every Wednesday at noon.

"(Pastor Dodla) is more of a contemporary worship type of guy," Tait said. "There is nothing wrong with tradition, but we like to liven things up. We are both excited about what we see and what we want to do as well. He has a youth ministry background as well, and he has a vision for the church as a whole."

Tait's eventual goal is to form a structured youth group with regular scheduled meetings and activities. "We will meet after the Sunday service or on a weeknight where (youths can) bring friends," he said. "We're working toward that.

"I want to see the church as a whole grow as well," Tait added. "With a church that is in such a unique area with so many children, it is a great opportunity and there is room for growth."

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


EPMC Announces New Lead Pastor, Sermon Series June 30, 2017

East Petersburg Mennonite Church (EPMC), 6279 Main St., strives to be a community of people who are learning to live and love like Jesus Christ. The church was formed nearly 300 years ago in 1720, when some neighbors first found themselves gathering together to worship God, celebrate community, and follow God's mission to share His love.

It is from this place that newly appointed lead pastor Jeff McLain has developed a sermon series titled "Won't You Be My Neighbor?" During the 10 a.m. main worship gatherings on Sundays from July 9 to 23, McLain will explore how followers of Jesus can be good neighbors and make a positive impact wherever they live.

"We love being part of this town," McLain said. "We've been here a long time, and I choose to believe that God put us in this neighborhood to announce, embody, and demonstrate the reigning good news and goodness of the Kingdom of God."

McLain believes churches should be deeply invested in their local neighborhoods, and he practices what he preaches. In addition to serving as a local pastor, McLain is actively involved with the East Petersburg Events Committee and with facilitating the East Petersburg Minister's Meetup. He also lives in the borough with his wife, Katie, and their three children.

In April, McLain stepped into the role of lead pastor after serving as associate pastor at EPMC for three years. It is a second career for McLain, who was a concert promoter for more than 16 years and also worked numerous side jobs. A native of Lancaster County, McLain worked with animal training at a local theater after graduating from Penn Manor High School in 2000. He then traveled with friends' bands, doing artist management. Later roles included retail clerk, greenhouse worker, limousine driver, and youth care worker at a substance abuse rehabilitation center.

"If you knew me in those years, you wouldn't have expected I would have wanted to be pastor, because I knew I didn't want to be a pastor," McLain said. "Churches and church leaders didn't leave the best impression on me growing up, so I enjoyed living and breathing adventure (instead)."

It was through a mentoring pastor, Jerry Shannon at the Lancaster Vineyard Church, that McLain began to change his mind about churches and pastors. Thanks to Shannon's influence, McLain discovered a love for neighborhood community and the joy in a shared mission. Following one more adventure out of the area, which included planting a church, McLain returned to Lancaster County and began his tenure with EPMC. As associate pastor, McLain helped the church to form neighborhood connections, and he worked with young adults and families with young children within the church. Now as lead pastor, he will continue to focus on neighborhood connections and find ways to lead the congregation and overall faith community into deeper discipleship and spiritual health. McLain graduated this year from Eastern Mennonite University's Study and Training for Effective Pastoral Ministry program.

Guests are always welcome at EPMC. Sunday school for people of all ages is offered from 9 to 10 a.m. The main worship gathering is held from 10 to 11:30 a.m. For more information, readers may visit, call the office at 717-569-9931, or email


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.


Church Will Install New Minister March 29, 2017


Church Welcomes New Pastor March 28, 2017

First Service Slated For Easter Sunday

Church of the Open Bible (COB) will celebrate Resurrection Sunday with a new pastor. Starting with the Sunday, April 16, worship service, Gary Becker will be the new transitional pastor at the church, located at 101 E. First St., Parkesburg.

Regular Sunday services at COB are held each week at 9 a.m., followed by children's Sunday school. The Easter Sunday service on April 16 will take place at 10 a.m., with no Sunday school scheduled that day.

Over recent years, COB has had several changes in leadership. According to Becker, the presence of a transitional pastor is an opportunity for the members to renew and refresh their vision for the future ministry of the church, reflecting a biblical mission.

Becker is the founder and director of Biblically Balanced Ministries, an organization that assists churches in pastoral transition. He has been a church consultant for more than 30 years.

"Our mission statement for the organization is (to) support and encourage churches through consulting, coaching and training ministries to help churches build a biblical balance," Becker explained. "Biblical balance means you are committed to the Great Commission, which is to go and make disciples of all nations, and, on the other side, it is to love your neighbor as you love yourself."

Both Biblically Balanced Ministries and the Church of the Open Bible are independent, nondenominational organizations. The church's evangelical worship is done in a contemporary style based on a biblical foundation.

"We don't know how long I'm going to be there," Becker said of his role as a transitional pastor with COB. "It would take (congregation members) through a time when they evaluate the entire ministry. They try to figure out how they can make this ministry be more effective and have a greater impact both locally and globally. We want to figure out how can we give this church a new vision."

Becker is impressed with the condition of the church building and the willingness of the congregation to recommit to its mission. "This could become a very effective ministry once we discover how this church can most effectively be used," he said. "I don't think there is one prescription to an effective church. I think you have to discover what the prescription is for this church."

With renewal for the future in mind, Becker noted that Easter Sunday is an appropriate time to start his pastorate with COB. "The theme (of the service) is the resurrection. To a certain degree, as God raised Christ from the dead, He can raise churches up," he said. "We want people to come in and say, 'We want to be a part of something new.'"

Originally from New Jersey, Becker was a toolmaker following high school. Looking for biblical education, he planned to attend night classes at Northeastern Bible College, but he instead ended up as a full-time student.

"I felt called at that point. I was about 19 or 20 years old. I really thought I would be in youth ministry, but it wasn't too long that I began to sense, biblically, that God's plan centers around the local church," he stated. "It was that emphasis that got me saying the pastorate is where I belong."

Becker went on to obtain a doctorate in practical theology from Master's Graduate School of Divinity. He and his wife, Dianne, live in Lancaster, with four grown children and their families all living nearby.

For more information about Church of the Open Bible, readers may call 610-857-3887 or visit


Church Appoints Worship Director March 24, 2017

St. Mark's United Methodist Church, 27 E. Main St., Mount Joy, has announced that Bobby Wehner is its new contemporary worship director.

Wehner has been leading worship in various capacities for the past 11 years, from small churches to youth mission camps with 400 or more participants. In 2005, Wehner, who plays multiple instruments, joined the newly created worship bands at St. Mark's.

He leads two bands at the church - Oddity and Unresolved. Music selections can include songs from rock bands such as Skillet, altnernative-folk styles from bands like Rend Collective, and worship songs from bands like Hillsong United.

Wehner also writes and records his own music and performs with the Steven Courtney Band.


Church Installs Senior Pastor March 7, 2017

Evangelical Covenant Church (ECC) superintendent the Rev. Howard Burgoyne installed Eric Palmquist as senior pastor at St. Paul's Wolf's ECC, 4501 Wolf's Church Road, York, on Feb. 26.

Born in Boston, Mass., and raised in New England, Palmquist spent a great deal of his youth in the church. His father, grandfather and great-grandfather all served as Covenant pastors, totaling more than 130 years of service.

In 1987, Palmquist attended North Park University and earned a Bachelor of Arts in fine art. He went on to work at the Evangelical Covenant offices before returning to North Park and earning a Master of Business Administration in 1994. He then worked in downtown Chicago for several years and worked with a youth group on the weekends. While in Chicago, Palmquist enrolled in the Master of Divinity program at North Park Theological Seminary.

While in school, Palmquist accepted the position of director of the annual meeting for the denomination and served in that position for eight years. In 2004, he graduated with honors and began working for the seminary as the director of admission. In 2008, Palmquist left the seminary to pursue vocational ministry and accepted the position of director of ministry operations at Newport Covenant Church in Bellevue, Wash.

Palmquist and his wife, Krista, were married in 1999. In 2005, they welcomed a daughter, Anna, and the Palmquist family is currently anticipating the birth of a second daughter.


Church Installs Senior Pastor March 1, 2017

Mount Zion United Church of Christ (UCC), 1054 Ridgewood Road, York, installed the Rev. Danielle Neff as its senior pastor on Feb. 12 at 10:30 a.m. in the sanctuary. Neff, in a unanimous congregation vote, was elected to become the church's 21st pastor and the second female pastor in Mount Zion's history since its beginning in 1851 as part of the Windsor Charge.

Mike Gibbs, York Association representative for the UCC, led the installation portion of the service. Danika Dallam, church council moderator, and designated pastor Jeff Kardisco also assisted. Various members of the Core Ministry Groups made special statements regarding the ministry of Neff and the congregation.

The Rev. Dr. Monica Dawkins-Smith, president and conference minister for the Penn Central Conference - UCC, and the Rev. Laurene Bowers, conference associate minister for congregational life and vitality, were in attendance. The installation service sermon was given by the Rev. Sarah Rentzel Jones, pastor of Lana'i Union Church on the island of Lana'i in Hawaii, where she also serves as associate conference minister in the Hawaii Conference UCC.

The congregation celebrated the occasion for Neff with the presentation of a weekend away at a bed-and-breakfast of her choice with her husband, Alan. The couple has two sons, Sam and Liam.

Neff was born and raised in Waynesboro. She completed her undergraduate work at American University, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts in psychology. She went on to earn a Master of Social Work from the University of Chicago and a Master of Divinity from Chicago Theological Seminary. She was ordained in 2009 in the Mercersburg association, as she became the associate pastor for Mount Zion UCC.

Neff is a member of the 2030 Clergy Network and a participant in the Next Generation Leadership Initiative of the UCC. The groups provide tools and support for younger members of the UCC clergy.

Mount Zion's mission and ministry efforts include One Great Hour of Sharing, Ronald McDonald House, Chop and Peel, Bell Socialization, Holy Joe's Cafe, Micro-Lending, Neighbors-in-Need, Northeastern Food Pantry, CROP Walk, Cooks on the Road, Blanket Sunday, Church World Service, York Habitat for Humanity, Lakota mission trips, and Compassion Food Run.


Gateway Oxford Welcomes Full-Time Pastor February 2, 2017

As of Jan. 14, Gordon McIlroy is now the full-time pastor at the Oxford branch of Gateway Church.

McIlroy has been the part-time pastor for the Oxford congregation since September 2015. "I was working part time for the church and part time for the Learning Center in Coatesville," McIlroy explained. Now that he will be working full time for the church, McIlroy noted, "(I'll) now be able to actually meet more people, come up with more plans, spend more time with the pastors and grow the church even more."

The Gateway Church of Oxford is a branch of the much larger Gateway Church in Parkesburg, which has a large building and congregation nearing 800 people. The Oxford branch, which does not yet have a building of its own, meets in the cafeteria of Penn's Grove School every Sunday morning at 10:30 a.m. The atmosphere is relaxed and contemporary.

"It's really warm and friendly-family. When you come in, there is coffee and doughnuts," McIlroy pointed out. "The motto of Gateway Church is 'You Belong Here,' and it really does feel that way."

McIlroy explained that at both the Parkesburg and Oxford sites there are three overall goals - to get people to come to Jesus, to experience community and to embrace mission work. "We want people to come in the doors, hear about Jesus and fall in love with Jesus and what He's done for them," he said. "At the same time, don't just keep that to yourself within the four walls. Go out and into the community."

McIlroy has helped the congregation in Oxford grow from 30 members to 80 people. A youth group meets in members' homes, and the church does a number of outreach programs in the community such as an "Eggsplosion" at Easter, a summer block party and Trunk or Treat at Halloween.

"It's the people who grow the church - people connecting with people," McIlroy said.

Originally from Northern Ireland, McIlroy was involved in missions worldwide and was also a youth pastor. His first full-time position with a church was in DeKalb, Ill. "The minute the first kid accepted Jesus with me, there was nothing else that would satisfy my soul. I just wanted to be in ministry," McIlroy recalled.

He returned to Northern Ireland, where he took courses at Belfast Bible College and became youth director at St. James Presbyterian Church in Ballymoney. During his five years there, he met his future wife, Ashley, who was there on a mission trip. He moved to America to work at Upper Octorara Presbyterian Church and became a volunteer at Gateway.

He received his degree from Lancaster Bible College and went to work at Salem Church in Reamstown. "I was really enjoying it - getting to do more preaching and teaching," he said.

When the opportunity to be a part-time pastor for the church in Oxford came along, he was willing to give up his full-time job. "That's how much I believed in it," McIlroy said.

McIlroy has been embraced by the Oxford congregation. "I talk to our people like they're family. That's what they feel like to me - an extended family. I love every one of them," he said.

That atmosphere allows McIlroy to relax with his preaching style. "I feel like I can be myself more," he said. "I can do metaphors and different things to get people to understand the bigger picture of what God's up to."

At this point, McIlroy is working out of the Gateway Parkesburg campus when he is not in Oxford. The hope is for the Oxford branch to have a building of its own. "We also do joint things with Parkesburg with their bigger facility," he said. "It's great having that big resource to help us."

For more information on the Gateway Church - Oxford Campus, readers may call 610-857-0720 or visit More information is also available by searching for "Gateway Church" on Facebook.

For more information about Gateway Church, readers may visit

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