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Grace Covenant Church To Welcome New Worship Director December 12, 2018

The congregation at Grace Covenant Church in Exton will welcome Christopher Wright as its new director of worship beginning on Sunday, Dec. 16, at the church's 9:30 a.m. Sunday worship service.

Wright is a professional singer and songwriter and is also the founder of a national concert ministry, Blessed Hurricane Ministries. Prior to accepting the new position, he was a guest worship leader this past summer at Grace Covenant.

"I have been helping churches for a number of years. I do concert ministry, coach worship teams and help churches in transition," Wright explained. "(Grace Covenant) contacted me back in May and asked if I would help them lead worship at their church a few Sundays over the summer, so I did that and got to know the church congregation, the worship team and pastor Tim (Brown). When the position became available, they asked me if I would be interested."

He said that the part-time position will allow him to continue his concert ministry. "On Sunday mornings I will be (at Grace Covenant) and my wife, Jeannie, and I will be joining the church," he said. "We'll be anchored at Grace Covenant, and that will be our home church base. It's nice to have a church family praying for you and your ministry."

He said that in the past services at Grace Covenant were keyboard-driven. Wright will change the focus with more acoustic guitar. "Because I got to lead worship through the summer, (church members) are familiar with my worship style, which is acoustic-led blended contemporary," Wright stated. "The goal is to engage every generation so that all people can express their praise to God."

Wright explained that Blessed Hurricane Ministries was founded following the birth of his daughter, Amanda, who had special needs and lived only to the age of 15. The name of the ministry comes from a Charles Spurgeon quote that reads, in part, "In seasons of severe trial, the Christian has nothing on Earth that he can trust to and is therefore compelled to cast himself on God alone." "He was talking about the blessed hurricane that drives the soul to God," Wright said.

Wright noted that though Amanda was unable to see, walk or talk, she taught her family lessons about God's love. "Holding her was like holding an angel," he recalled. "She was a gift from God that helped us to really depend on Him and look to Him for everything. It kept me close to Him because I was dependent on Him like she was dependent on us."

In founding the ministry, Wright's goal was to use his music to comfort others. "From the time she was born, I started writing songs from my broken place and started to minster to people. I was going around to different churches and sharing her story and our journey and the ministry of the God of all comfort," said Wright. "The music in my concert ministry is geared toward helping people who are struggling to see God in the midst of their trials."

For more information about the concert ministry, readers may visit www.christopherwright.com/blessed-hurricane-ministries.

In addition to leading Sunday worship on Dec. 16, Wright will lead "Christmas in Exton" worship events at Grace Covenant on Sundays, Dec. 16 and 23, and on Christmas Eve, Monday, Dec. 24, at 4 and 8 p.m. Details about the events can be found at www.christmasinexton.com.

Wright said he excited to begin the next phase in his life of worship through music at Grace Covenant. "It's nice to do something you feel that God gave you the gifts to do and nice to be able to have a church home," he added.

Grace Covenant Church is located in the Oaklands Corporate Center at 444 Creamery Way, Exton. For more information, readers may visit www.gracecovenantepc.org.

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McNeal To Oversee Youth Protection Programs December 12, 2018

A retired police captain who ran the Megan's Law Section of the Pennsylvania State Police will run the Roman Catholic Diocese of Harrisburg's Safe Environment program. Retired Capt. Janet A. McNeal, through her firm Law and Grace Consulting, will review the Diocese's current youth protection programs, develop programs and policies to make any needed improvements, and serve as the Diocese's Safe Environment coordinator.

McNeal brings 26 years of law enforcement investigative and policy development experience to this position. She has a three-year contract with the Diocese and will operate independently, reporting her recommendations directly to Bishop Ronald W. Gainer. McNeal has been granted complete access to all the Diocese's records. In addition to reviewing every clergy child abuse case reported to the Diocese, including all previous reports, McNeal will meet with survivors to hear their stories and determine what stage they are at in the healing process.

McNeal will also work with parish pastors/administrators, parish staff, school administrators/principals, and appropriate Diocesan department heads to ensure that all adults who come in contact with minors are effectively screened and trained according to the Diocese's regulations, policies, and procedures. She will also ensure that children in the Diocese's Catholic schools and religious education programs participate in the required Safe Environment training program.

During her 26 years with the State Police, McNeal was assigned as the chief administrator for the Megan's Law Sexual Offender Registry for the entire state of Pennsylvania. In this role, she oversaw the entire operations for this department, including developing policies and procedures, developing a plan to automate the offender registration process, and overseeing the development of the offender website.

McNeal has also served on crisis response teams and ecumenical task forces for the United Methodist Church and is a licensed private investigator.

To learn more about McNeal and the Diocese's youth protection efforts, readers may visit www.YouthProtectionHBG.com.

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West Grove UMC Welcomes Youth Director December 5, 2018

Melanie Hartley is serving her first Christmas season with West Grove United Methodist Church (UMC) as the director of children and youth ministries.

Hartley began the role on July 1. Her tasks include overseeing the Sunday school programs for children and youths, children's worship and the Confirmation program. She also oversees the youth group for high school and middle school-age students, which meets each Sunday from 6 to 7:30 p.m. for games, a lesson, Bible study and discussion.

Hartley graduated from Eastern University in St. David's with a bachelor's degree in youth ministry.

"I'm a lay person. I'm not ordained, but I have an education in programming for kids and youths but also teaching faith and understanding the Bible and talking about theology and things like that," she explained.

Hartley has a variety of experiences working with youths, including a position at St. David's Episcopal Church following graduation. She then worked with children's programs at a YMCA in New Jersey and for the last five years was the director of youth and young adult ministries at Newark United Methodist Church.

"My first experience was as a 17-year-old camp counselor at a Christian camp in New Jersey," she said.

Hartley always felt her closest connection to older children, but it was a job at a summer camp in north Philadelphia that let her know she had a talent for working with younger children as well.

"I was working with the elementary-age kids, and it was a really great experience," she said. "What I took from that was a sense that I can work with kids that are younger; I have a gift for that I never thought I had."

Hartley is enjoying her position at West Grove UMC. "I just really love being a positive part of a child's life," she said. "It's wonderful. The people here are really great. They were very open and welcoming. I really love that it's a church that's intergenerational. It's wonderful to see multiple generations that come together and support one another."

West Grove UMC is located at 300 N. Guernsey Road, West Grove. For more information about church activities, readers may call the church office at 610-869-9334 or visit www.westgroveumc.org or www.facebook.com/westgroveumc.

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Pastor Marks 20 Years At Coleman Chapel December 5, 2018

In February 1998, the Rev. Russell E. Hobbs began serving as pastor at Coleman Memorial Chapel (CMC), 1980 Furnace Hills Pike, Lititz. In 2018, Hobbs celebrated 20 years as pastor of the church. Since his arrival at CMC, Hobbs has initiated and directed numerous pastoral, church growth, counseling, education, and social programs designed to assist church members emotionally and spiritually.

Hobbs came to CMC with professional experience in pastoral services, counseling, broadcasting, writing, and storytelling. He serves as adjunct professor of counseling and psychology at Lancaster Bible College.

Hobbs has initiated the CMC programs named Cliff Hangers and Logos Therapy. These programs offer group discussion and exploration of many emotional, mental, and spiritual issues of a therapeutic nature.

CMC is a historic chapel, dating back to the 1800s. Like many rural churches, CMC faces consistent financial challenges, and the congregation has initiated creative fundraising activities to help meet financial needs. Among these are the annual chicken barbecue and auction, seasonal candy sales, and the current CMC memorial brick program, which is open to the community.

The memorial brick program is part of CMC's plan to establish a memorial walkway, which will be part of a garden. Memorial bricks may be placed with a personal message. The church has planned a Memorial Day 2019 dedication program to kick off the memorial garden remembrances. Individuals who wish to place a memorial brick may contact CMC at 717-626-6933 or visit www.colemanchapel.org.

CMC also hosts weddings in its facilities. Those who are interested in utilizing the chapel may email dhobbs@dejazzd.com.

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Engaging Community November 29, 2018

St. John Center Welcomes New Pastor

Tom Darr, who was installed as pastor at St. John Center Lutheran Church, 599 Reading Road, East Earl, on Nov. 4, does not hesitate to sing the praises of his new congregation. "The thing I like about (the members of) St. John Center is that they're like a family," said Tom. "They are the kind of people who when they say they are there for you, they are truly there for you."

Tom's journey to his becoming a pastor and eventually to being installed at St. John Center began in Jacobus, which is south of York. "I grew up there and spent 45 years in that area," recalled Tom, who was an active member of the United Church of Christ (UCC) as a teenager. Tom entered college in a seeking mode: While becoming a pastor was always in the back of his mind, Tom pursued a career in accounting, attending Milligan College in Tennessee and then York College, followed by marriage and children.

In 1996, Tom once again felt the call to become a pastor. "When I announced I would go into seminary, I was the director of cost accounting and budgetary planning for a concern in Emigsville," said Tom, who had married his second wife, Liz, in 1995. Tom attended Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary in Columbia, S.C., where he earned a Master of Divinity.

Tom's first call was to St. John Lutheran in Clearfield, where he served for nearly three years. Following that post, he took a call to a church called Angel of Joy Lutheran in Lufkin, Texas. The congregation was located in an area where many residents belonged to Baptist and Pentecostal churches, and Tom noted the influence of those denominations on his flock. "They were sort of a mission church," Tom recalled.

In 2006, the Darrs moved to a church in McKnightstown, just west of Gettysburg, called Flohr's Evangelical Lutheran Church. They remained at Flohr's until 2016. "That church was a lot like this one," said Tom, noting the similarity in the agrarian setting, which included a number of farms and apple orchards. Tom also served briefly at Trinity Lutheran in Topton in Berks County.

In the spring of 2018, Tom answered a call to St. John Center. He and Liz visited, and he gave a trial sermon at St. Matthew Lutheran in Lancaster. On Memorial Day weekend, the congregation of St. John Center voted for Tom to become its new pastor.

Tom is impressed with the attributes of his new flock. "Even though this is a small congregation, there's a lot of talent and energy," he said. "They want to be connected to the community, which is vital to (church) survival."

The church's interest in serving the community dovetails with Tom's own mission. "My passion is to make sure children are fed and people are taken care of," he said, adding that at Flohr's he was instrumental in starting a backpack distribution program. He is looking forward to finding ways the congregation can work with CrossNet Ministries in New Holland.

Until then, Tom is visiting each member of the church in an effort to get to know the congregation. He also hosts a Sunday morning program called "Christ, Cream-Filled, and a Cup of Coffee." "We go over the Scriptures we will be talking about (in the service)," explained Tom.

Tom said he is excited to move forward with the church. "The people (of St. John) know that without change you start dying. Embracing (the opportunity for change) is our future," he said, expressing his commitment to the church. "I am here for the long haul," he added.

St. John Center will be celebrating its 200th anniversary in 2019. Plans include having the bishop visit to preach in June and possibly holding a living history service. The church holds a Bible study each Sunday at 9:30 a.m., followed by worship services at 10:15 a.m. Holy Communion is celebrated the first Sunday of each month. More information about the church may be found by visiting www.sjclutheran.org.

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Church Announces New Branch Presidency November 26, 2018

Dr. Conrad Knudson, stake president of the Lancaster Stake of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, has recently announced that the branch presidency of the Dover Branch has changed hands. When the former branch president, Blaine Hoopes, moved to another state, his presidency was released. Filling the new positions are president Shelby Bushey of Dover and first counselor John Matthews of Dover. Second counselor Tim Brown of York had served in his current capacity under Hoopes' leadership and has retained his position.

Most officers in the church are volunteers who generally hold a full-time job or are retired. The Dover Branch welcomes visitors at its services on Sundays at 9 a.m. at the York Haven Chapel, 800 Pleasant Drive, York Haven.

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Church To Host Retirement Celebration November 24, 2018

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Churches Announce Merger, Welcome Priest In Charge November 7, 2018

Saint Mary's Chapel in Elverson will now be known as the Church of Saint Mary at Calvary since the historic church has merged with Calvary Episcopal Church in Conshohocken.

In addition, Saint Mary's now has a permanent priest in charge, the Rev. Thomas McClellan. He joins church staff member Alan Lindsay of Chester Springs, senior warden, who has been leading worship services since the reopening of the church in 2014.

Lindsay explained that Calvary Church lost its meeting place, so the decision was made to combine the two parishes. The churches already had a relationship; the Conshohocken church recently donated its baby grand piano for use at Saint Mary's.

"(Saint Mary's) had been a parish years ago, and it closed. The bishop gave me permission to see if I could get a congregation going again, and that was nearly five years ago," Lindsay explained. "Calvary Church sold their building five years ago, and the people they sold it to did not renew (the church's) lease. The parish - which is not a building, but the people - decided to relocate themselves here. The parish came here, (and) now we encompass both names."

McClellan explained that he served as the priest in charge at Calvary Church before being assigned to Saint Mary's. "I was helping (at Calvary Church), and the priest there died," said McClellan. "The people at Calvary asked the bishop if I could stay, so I was the priest in charge there for two and a half years."

McClellan said that he looks forward to serving the people in northern Chester County. "There is a lot of distance to travel; it takes me about 40 minutes to get here, but I am happy to do it," McClellan stated. "I love this part of the country. It's beautiful out here."

In his new role, McClellan said he would like to expand the church's community outreach. Currently, the church is holding a food drive for the Coventry Food Pantry and is packing shoebox gifts for Operation Christmas Child. The church also has a sewing group that knits hats and scarves for people in need. "My goal is that I would like to see this parish serve the community (even more)," he stated.

McClellan said he plans to introduce himself to the neighbors of the church, which is surrounded by historic homes in Warwick village. "We want people to know that this place is open, and now there is an assigned permanent priest," McClellan added.

Sunday worship at the Church of Saint Mary at Calvary is held at 10:15 a.m. and is preceded by an Adult Forum, which includes a Bible study and discussion, at 9 a.m. A free continental breakfast is also available before and after the service.

The church, which features a hand-carved wooden altar, is open for meditation and tours on Wednesdays from 1 to 4 p.m. Visitors are encouraged to stop by to view the building, which is listed on the National Historic Registry. The current church dates to 1843, when it was built to replace the original structure built in 1806. The church is a one-story, rectangular stuccoed fieldstone structure built in the Gothic Revival style.

It is surrounded by a cemetery, which includes gravesites of veterans from conflicts as early as the Revolutionary War. The cemetery also contains the grave of the church founder, the Rev. Dr. Levi Bull.

Newcomers are encouraged by the congregation to attend Sunday worship in the historic church building. Visitors can easily follow the service using worship booklets distributed at each service. All baptized Christians are welcome to receive Holy Communion.

The Church of Saint Mary at Calvary is located at 161 Warwick Road, Elverson. For more information, readers may email Lindsay at AlanL@DioPA.org.

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Church To Honor Retiring Music Director October 26, 2018

Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church, 85 Brandt Blvd., Landisville, will hold a concert on Saturday, Nov. 3, at 7 p.m. to commemorate the years of service of the church's music director, Dennis Dezort. The concert, which is slated to be less than one hour, will take place in the church sanctuary.

Dezort, of Landisville, is planning to retire at the end of 2018 after using his talents for Zion Lutheran for 31 years. To honor his dedication and hard work, Zion has contacted musical performers from his past and present, including students and fellow workers he has been in contact with through his years of playing organ, piano, and electronic keyboard; composing and arranging worship songs; directing the Zion choirs; and working on a recent theatrical script, co-written with James Riggs of the Lancaster Opera Company and recently performed at Tellus360.

Light refreshments will be served after the concert.

The church is located one block off Landisville's Main Street. For further details, readers may contact the Zion office at 717-898-2911.

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Calvary Monument Welcomes New Pastor October 25, 2018

In March, Chris Lenhart did not know that Calvary Monument Bible Church (CMBC), 1660 Mine Road, Paradise, would soon be looking for a lead pastor when he resigned from his associate pastor position at Wesley Church in Quarryville after 14 years. "I felt a call to leave the church I was at ... to pursue a lead position in another local church," said Lenhart, who still lives in the Quarryville area. "(I) stepped away in faith believing that God had prepared (an) opportunity. (My wife, Sheila, and I) trusted that God had worked out the details and prepared our next place."

Lenhart, who was raised in Holtwood and graduated from Penn Manor, said that he and his family were committed to staying within the county. With a lot of prayer seeking God's direction and support from mentors, Lenhart took his leave and began looking at local churches. Before the end of March, he noticed a posting on the CMBC website. "There was no opportunity (at CMBC) when we left (Wesley)," noted Lenhart, who applied for the position immediately. Over the summer, he preached at CMBC a number of times, and he officially became lead pastor there on Sept. 1.

After graduating from Penn Manor, Lenhart went to Clarks Summit University in Clarks Summit, where he majored in Bible. He began working at Wesley Church as a youth pastor right after graduating from college. After serving as a youth pastor for eight years, he moved into the associate pastor role. Lenhart earned his master's degree in religious education from Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va. He has also completed all the necessary credits in the Lancaster Bible College (LBC) doctoral program in leadership and organizational management.

In addition, Lenhart is in his 15th season of coaching varsity football at Solanco High School. He serves on the board of Black Rock Retreat, and he is a member of the LBC sport management accreditation team. The Lenharts have three children currently attending Solanco schools, and they are in the process of adopting two young brothers from Haiti. They hope to meet the boys for the first time when they visit Haiti in November.

Community involvement is important to Lenhart, and he admires the way members of CMBC have reached out to residents in the local area. "I saw there was a strong connection between ministries at CMBC and a desire to reach the community," said Lenhart, who is still becoming familiar with the church culture. He cited the Great Giveaway CMBC held on Oct. 11 and 12, the strong Awana program held Wednesday nights during the school year, and the Miracle of Jesus event the church holds yearly at The Point in Parkesburg as evidence of this connection.

Looking forward, his goal is for the up to 500 CMBC worshipers to move closer to God and develop stronger relationships. "I would like to see us grow in a greater love for God and each other," said Lenhart. "That is predominant, and that will be an important emphasis as we grow together."

CMBC holds worship services each Sunday at 8:15 and 11 a.m. Sunday school and adult Bible fellowships meet at 9:45 a.m. each Sunday.

"We want to be intentional about investing in each other both in the church and in the community," said Lenhart, "with all the relationships the Lord directs into our paths."

Readers who would like to learn more about CMBC may visit http://calvarymonument.org.

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New Life Welcomes Lead Pastor October 22, 2018

Ron Bradley, who officially became the lead pastor at New Life Assembly of God, has been visiting Lancaster for more than 30 years, but he never realized that he and his family, which includes his wife, Jemma, and son, Ian, would live in the county. "Lancaster is so peaceful. We would come here just to get away," shared Bradley, adding that his family especially enjoyed visiting a local Christian theater on their visits.

Bradley has been to Lancaster so many times that when a fellow pastor from the area contacted him in early May about an opening at New Life, he recalled the church with the large blue dove on the side he had seen when traveling on Route 30. "He told me (New Life) needed a lead pastor, and he thought I was the guy," recalled Bradley. "He wanted (permission) to give them my name." Bradley sent his resume and cover letter to the search committee, and he heard back from the group within the same week.

In June, Bradley traveled to Lancaster to meet with the board. "It was an amazing meeting, and we sensed God was in this," remembered Bradley, who returned in late July for a candidate's weekend. During the weekend, Bradley and his family had dinner with board members and their spouses. He also met informally with staff members and held a question-and-answer session with the congregation. On Sunday, members from the Manheim and Lancaster city New Life campuses journeyed to the main campus at 1991 Old Philadelphia Pike, Lancaster, to hear Bradley preach. In the afternoon, a business meeting was held and the congregation voted to receive Bradley as pastor. He officially began serving the church on Sept. 1.

When Bradley first learned of the position at New Life, he was the care ministries pastor at Evangel Church, an Assembly of God congregation, in Scotch Plains, N.J. Bradley stated that he has been with the Assembly of God denomination since the first year after he was saved. "I met the Lord when I was 17 (during) my senior year (at Marlboro High School, Marlboro, N.J.)," said Bradley, adding that he became a Christian at a coffeehouse in Madison Township, N.J., in the fall of 1972 - a setting that he said was common during the Jesus Movement.

After graduating high school, Bradley headed to Zion Bible Institute (now Northpoint College) in Providence, R.I. "My ambition was to be a trial attorney, but I went to Bible school because I loved to share about Jesus," explained Bradley. "My (thinking) was that if I was going to tell people about Jesus, I needed to know what I was talking about." But Bradley's goals were not completely on target. "After three weeks at Zion Bible Institute, the Lord told me why I was really there, and it changed the course of my life," said Bradley, who moved on to Central Bible College in Springfield, Mo., to finish his bachelor's degree in biblical studies in 1978. He then attended Assemblies of God Theological Seminary, which is also in Springfield, completing his master's degree there in 1979.

In December of 1979, Bradley returned to New Jersey, where he joined the staff of the Princeton Nassau Christian Center. In 1984, he and Jemma planted the New Life Assembly of God in Trenton, N.J., and he pastored there for more than 12 years before becoming an assistant professor and the campus pastor at Central Bible College. In 2007, he pastored NewSong Church in Cleveland Heights, Ohio, and in December 2013, he joined the staff at Evangel Church in Scotch Plains.

According to Bradley, his initial impression of New Life in Lancaster is that people are welcoming, friendly, and warm. He is looking forward to pastoring at a church that he sees is hungry to learn God's Word and to have the Word set the direction for the congregation. "When I think of New Life's presence in Lancaster, I think of a beacon of light," he said. "That's what I see ... that New Life will continually be a place where people come and expect to have an encounter with Jesus Christ."

Readers who would like to learn more about the three New Life campuses in Lancaster may visit http://www.newlifelancaster.org.

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ROFM Welcomes New Director October 18, 2018

Joel Jakubowski, who became director at Revelations of Freedom Ministries (ROFM) in July, has no doubt that God led him to the position. A graduate and former employee of Teen Challenge, Jakubowski had held positions in counseling and outreach, eventually reaching the level of vice president of development. ROFM is a faith-based, Christ-centered discipleship program for men who struggle with addictions.

"You continue to call on God and ask what is the next step," said Jakubowski, who while working for Teen Challenge was also immersed in a doctoral program for organizational leadership through Grand Canyon University. Feeling God leading him to a director's position, he began looking about six months ago.

Through his work with Teen Challenge, Jakubowski had met Larry Daughenbaugh, who was then director at ROFM. "At a meeting, Larry said he was looking at retiring and asked if I would be interested (in applying for the ROFM directorship)," said Jakubowski, who waited for God's guidance on the subject before telling Daughenbaugh that he would be interested. "For four to six weeks, I prayed on it with my wife, Angie, and family and council in my life, including the executive director of Teen Challenge," said Jakubowski, who also began to meet with the ROFM board. About mid-June, after further discussion with Angie, Jakubowski felt confident that helming ROFM was God's will for his life.

Jakubowski's timing in joining ROFM coincides with changes at the ministry. "It's a brand-new season for our ROFM family," said Jakubowski. "We are going from a smaller cultural center to a much larger center as we move into the new building," he noted, referring to the former bank call center at 113 Rancks Church Road, Blue Ball, which is in the process of being remodeled for the ministry.

Currently, ROFM houses 15 men in buildings located along Route 23 in Blue Ball. The new building will be able to accommodate 50 men, and although ROFM may eventually house that many clients, it is not the initial goal of the move.

"We believe in quality over quantity," emphasized Jakubowski. "If we have 50 men, it (will be) because we have the staff and high-quality programming to meet the needs of those men." He noted that ROFM hopes to move into the building between Tuesday, Jan. 1, 2019, and the advent of spring.

Jakubowski noted that ROFM is known as the "say yes" center. "We do have program fees, but we work with every family (to stay) within their means so we don't have to turn anyone away for lack of funding," he explained.

To remain the "say yes" center, the new building will include a thrift store located on the first floor. "In the world of nonprofit, faith-based programs, you need to develop streams of income to balance the budget and to support the program," explained Jakubowski. In addition to thrift items, the store will also sell items made by clients, including candles.

Because of Jakubowski's positions with Teen Challenge, he has developed relationships with members of the ROFM board, including Marvin Weaver and board chair Charlie Junkins. Jakubowski believes God is using those relationships, and he looks forward to developing more. "We hope to work with churches and local residents and businesses to sponsor students in the program," he said. "Not only do we want to see individuals have profound life-transforming change, but we want to assimilate them into the community with a home church, employment, and support groups." Jakubowski's vision includes partnering with area residents to immerse clients in the community.

Jakubowski noted that readers should watch for ROFM teams around New Holland. "A team (will) go out to share their testimonies," said Jakubowski, who added that the team members also offer a resource to families who may want information about programs like ROFM. "Drug awareness and prevention is what we are (about)," he said. More information may be found at www.rofm.org.

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Living God Lutheran Church Welcomes New Pastor October 16, 2018

The congregation at Living God Lutheran Church (LGLC) in Honey Brook recently welcomed its new pastor, the Rev. Justin Nickel.

Nickel is the first permanent pastor that the church has had in several years. The congregation was previously led by a series of interim pastors.

"They are a remarkable group of people," Nickel said of the church members. "In the four years without a steady pastor not only did they survive, they thrived. They were adding members before I got here."

Nickel is a graduate of the University of Colorado and earned a Master of Divinity from Luther Seminary in St. Paul, Minn. He is completing his doctoral work at Princeton Theological Seminary in New Jersey. He and his wife, Mary, who reside in Thorndale, recently welcomed their son, Max, who is 7 weeks old.

Nickel, who was a pastor for three years at a small church in the Denver, Colo., area, learned about LGLC while completing his doctoral work at Princeton. "We really liked it here, and I was interested in the church from the profile I was given at the bishop's office. In the first interview, we clicked right away," he recalled. "I think the people at this church really made the difference (in my choice). They are a kind and open-hearted group of folks."

Nickel explained that in the Lutheran denomination, churches are matched with pastors. "I first had to apply through the synod office, which is out of Philadelphia," he said, noting that he applied to be pastor this past spring. On Aug. 19, he preached at LGLC and was named the pastor after a congregational vote.

For the past several weeks, Nickel has been going out to visit congregation members in their homes. "The most immediate goal is for us to get to know one another," he said. "I feel (visiting homes) is the best way to get to know people." He has also visited the Tel Hai Retirement Community, where several congregants reside.

Nickel plans to continue the programs already established at the church. "What is great about this place is that if people have an idea, they pursue it," he said. He noted that the church is currently collecting supplies for Thanksgiving food boxes that will be distributed by Steeple to People.

The Sunday service at LGLC, which includes a blend of contemporary and traditional hymns, is held at 9:30 a.m. The pastor's sermon revolves around the Scriptural reading. "I try and stick close to the assigned readings for the day," he said. "The goal is that people walk away feeling like they encountered God's love."

The church will celebrate its 25th anniversary on Sunday, Oct. 28. Bishop Patricia Davenport will preach at the service, which will be followed by a congregational meal. "The slogan back then was 'A church for people without a church,'" said Nickel. "While we are Lutheran in our theological identity, I think it's a place that is easy to come to even if you've never felt at home in a church."

Nickel noted that the church is a busy place. Country line dancing is offered on Sunday nights, and the church maintains a walking trail, which is popular with area residents. The church is also a meeting place for Alcoholics Anonymous.

The new pastor encourages people to attend a Sunday service to see first-hand what the church has to offer. "A lot of people know us as the church with the walking trail," he said. "We would love to invite the people who walk on the trail to come worship with us. Everyone is welcome. (The congregation members) are the friendliest group of people."

LGLC is located at 3200 Horseshoe Pike (Route 322), Honey Brook. For more information, readers may call the church office at 610-273-9383 or visit www.livinggodchurch.org.

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Bethany Presbyterian Welcomes Assistant Pastor September 26, 2018

As of July, Lincoln Larsen is the new assistant pastor at Bethany Presbyterian Church in Oxford.

The 30-year-old Larsen is originally from the Seattle area, but he and his wife, Emma, moved close to Philadelphia three years ago while he attended Westminster Theological Seminary in Glenside. They relocated to the Oxford area when he was accepted to the position at Bethany.

"This is my first full-time ministry opportunity," Larsen said.

In 2012, Larsen had been living in Grove City, near Pittsburgh, and working in construction until a shoulder injury kept him out of work for eight weeks. It was during that time that he started seminary classes part time at Reformed Presbyterian Theological Seminary in Pittsburgh.

"A lot of different things were encouraging me in that direction," Larsen recalled.

At his wedding in 2014, he met a couple who were friends of his new wife's family. A few weeks later, after just that brief meeting, they offered to pay for his tuition so he could attend seminary full time.

"They felt like God called them to do that. That was a huge confirmation to me," he said. "God put that on my lap in a way to prove, 'You hadn't even asked for this, but this is how richly I'm providing for you.'"

There were a number of applicants for the position at Bethany. A search committee narrowed it down to three candidates to meet in person.

"Right away I could tell Lincoln and I were seeing eye to eye. He's a sharp young guy, and he's doing this because he's called to it," said Bethany pastor Mark Mathews. "It's important to have a young person. The older I get, the less easy it is for me to relate to younger families. Culturally and generationally, it's better to have someone who's in tune with them."

Larsen was drawn to Bethany by the qualities of the church. "I listened to quite a few of Pastor Mark's sermons before I applied. I wanted to go to a church that was well established, that had elders and deacons. In the interview process I realized there is a good alignment of core values and focusing on the Gospel," he said. "Everyone was very welcoming and friendly, and it just seemed like a good place to be."

Larsen's duties at Bethany include working with the youth group and young families, as well as filling in preaching when needed. "Part of my job at this point is to get to know people. To effectively minister, you have got to know people," he said. "I definitely enjoy the one-on-one interactions. I think that's got to be the foundation for what you do. No one is going to listen to you from behind the pulpit if they have no relationship of trust with you."

When he has the opportunity to preach, Larsen's goal is to help people see Jesus more clearly and worship Him. "Preaching isn't only for the mind. Of course your mind should be informed (and) people should be learning new things about the Bible, but ultimately that should drive you to give Him the praise and the glory. I want people to have a real sense of who Jesus is," Larsen said. "My goal is that people would come to know Christ either for the first time or more and more."

Outside his pastoral duties, Larsen enjoys hiking, camping, playing guitar, reading and swing dancing. He and Emma are expecting their first child this fall. "She's my No. 1 cheerleader. I don't think I would be here right now if she were not behind it totally," he added.

Bethany Presbyterian Church is located at 2483 Baltimore Pike, Oxford. For information about the church, readers may call 610-932-3962 or visit www.bethanypca.org or www.facebook.com/bethanypca.

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Longtime Maytown Pastor Retires September 7, 2018

The Rev. Robert M. Lescallette, who served as pastor of St. John's Lutheran Church in Maytown for more than 40 years, has retired effective Sept. 1. The Harrisburg native served St. John's longer than any other of the 41 pastors who preceded him at the 251-year-old parish. He began his post on July 1, 1978.

His time in Maytown included the founding of the local CROP Walk and the co-founding of the Donegal/Conoy Christian Food Bank; the promotion of Maytown history and the co-founding of the Maytown Historical Society; the teaching of a long-term Bible study at the Paramount Home and at both St. John's and the Maytown Reformed Church; the leadership of a vacation Bible school that featured mazes made out of 50 or more refrigerator boxes; and the leadership, with Keith Smith and Amy Chapman, of biannual patriotic musicales on Memorial Day.

Lescallette was a graduate of Dickinson College and the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg. He was also a student at Johns Hopkins School of International Studies in Bologna, Italy, and served in the U.S. Air Force at Andrews Air Force Base in suburban Washington, D.C., as a medical administrative specialist.

Aug. 26 was the last Sunday that Lescallette preached and led worship at St. John's as pastor. An estimated 145 parishoners, family members, and friends attended the service, after which a reception was held in the parlor, featuring cake and other food, old photos, and more. Lescallette received many cards and gifts, as well.

Lescallette moved out of the historic parsonage in Maytown on June 26 and now lives in suburban East Shore Harrisburg. He intends to retain his membership in Maytown and occasionally worship there. He plans to do "supply preaching" at congregations throughout the area.

St. John's will be served by an interim pastor from Lancaster, the Rev. David Kreider, until a call committee is formed and a new permanent pastor is chosen.

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Zion Lutheran Welcomes New Pastor September 4, 2018

In June, Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church of Manheim welcomed the Rev. Kate Warn as its new pastor.

Warn had been living and serving in both east and west Africa and Asia from 2009 to 2017 - first in Sierra Leone and Lebanon before heading to Rwanda in 2014 to help start Young Adults in Global Mission in Rwanda, a program of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. "I really enjoyed working with young adults," Warn shared. Young Adults in Global Mission volunteers in Rwanda work closely with congregational, social, and reconciliation ministries of the rapidly growing Lutheran Church of Rwanda. According to Warn, the Lutheran Church in Rwanda has 40 congregations and approximately 5,000 members. It is unique in that it was started by indigenous people rather than missionaries after the 1994 genocide, when Rwandan refugees returned to their nation from Tanzania having learned about Christianity and Lutheranism.

"The church in the United States can learn a lot from our brothers and sisters in Africa about forgiveness and reconciliation and what it means to be faithful in a very difficult environment," reflected Warn.

Prior to her time in Africa, Warn served on staff in various capacities at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church in downtown Lancaster from 2001 to 2008. She enjoyed her time in the city and is grateful to have returned to the county and have the opportunity to live in Manheim. "Manheim is really interesting in terms of being a strong community," Warn remarked.

Born and raised in New York, Warn is also glad to be located somewhat closer to her parents, who still reside there. In her free time, she enjoys gardening, hiking, and traveling. Warn graduated from Wittenburg University with a bachelor's degree in history, earned a master's degree in social work from the University of Chicago, and graduated from Chicago Lutheran Seminary. She also served in Sudan with Mennonite Central Committee from 1988 to 1991. "Living in another country - especially a Muslim country - helped me to think deeply about my faith and what it means to be a Christian," said Warn as she recalled her time in Sudan and how it influenced her decision to later go on to seminary.

Warn cited the rich heritage and history at Zion Lutheran, which has been in Manheim for more than 200 years, among its many strengths. The church is well known in the community for its preschool and for being the Red Rose Church. Every June the church hosts the Festival of the Red Rose, based on a tradition dating back to Dec. 4, 1772, when Henry William Stiegel and his wife, Elizabeth Holz Stiegel, conveyed a plot of ground on the corner of Wolf and East High streets to their fellow Lutherans on which to build a church in exchange for a unique continual payment of one red rose every June. The church hosts an all-day celebration in conjunction with the annual rose payment to a Stiegel descendent.

Warn is focused on seeing where the Holy Spirit leads and how the congregation can be in partnership with other organizations in the community. "In this day and age, the church has a significant role to play in sustaining and enriching our community life," noted Warn. "We have a history of trying to meet the needs of people in the community, so I'm excited to see that come to life for Zion in the Manheim community."

Zion Lutheran, 2 S. Hazel St., Manheim, holds weekly worship services at 8 and 10:30 a.m. on Sundays. All are welcome. To learn more about the church, readers may visit www.zionmanheim.org.

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Diocese Names New Director August 29, 2018

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Harrisburg recently named Rachel Bryson to the newly created position of executive director for public relations.

Bryson holds a bachelor's degree in communications and journalism and a master's degree in communication studies and strategic communications, both from Shippensburg University. Bryson has more than 10 years of experience in the communications industry. Starting as a journalist, she has since worked in internal and external communications for corporate, nonprofit and government industries. A long-time Catholic, Bryson is a member of Good Shepherd parish in Camp Hill, where she is an active member of the choir, Sunday collections team and is a religious education instructor.

In her role, Bryson is responsible for developing and implementing the communications initiatives in the Diocesan Strategic Plan, executing all strategic communications and media relations, expanding the use of digital media, and overseeing the editorial content, news operations, product development and business affairs of The Catholic Witness.

All future media requests should be directed to Bryson and she can be reached at the Diocesan Center at 717-657-4804, ext. 203, or rbryson@hbgdiocese.org.

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Grace UCC Names New Director August 23, 2018

Grace United Church of Christ (UCC), 1947 New Holland Pike, Lancaster, in the Village of Eden, recently welcomed Jill Reichert to its staff as director of Christian education.

Reichert brings nearly 19 years of experience in educational ministries to Grace, and she is ready to develop new programs and ministries with the congregation.

Reichert studied at Union Presbyterian Seminary and Lancaster Theological Seminary, and she serves on the Eastern Association of Presbyterian Church Educators board of directors. She is a national APCE member and is a representative of the POINT (Presbyterians Organized in Nurture and Training), Donegal Presbytery. She is also an ordained ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church USA.

In addition, Reichert has education and training in reformed theology, worship and sacraments, polity-program-mission, human and faith development, spiritual formation, biblical interpretation, Gen-On/LOGOS ministries, and more.

Reichert and her husband, Brian, live in Strasburg with their youngest son, Jake, who is a student at Lampeter-Strasburg High School. The couple's oldest son, Brandon, and his fiancee recently moved to Ohio, where Brandon works as an engineer for the National Air and Space Intelligence Center.

All are welcome to attend Grace's weekly Sunday worship gatherings at 10:30 a.m., with pastor Katie Cort presiding. Upcoming events include outdoor movie nights at 8 p.m. on Fridays, Aug. 24 and Sept. 28, and Campfire Fellowship at 8 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 14. A Blessing of the Backpacks service for children and youths returning to school will be held on Sunday, Aug. 26, at 10:30 a.m.

For more information, readers may visit www.gracechurchlancaster.org or search for "Grace UCC" on Facebook.

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Grace Church Names New Pastor August 23, 2018

Grace Church, 501 W. Lincoln Ave., Lititz, has named its new pastor, Dr. Tim Boal.

Boal has a undergraduate degree in English from Washington and Jefferson College a Masters of Divinity from Grace Seminary, and his doctoral emphasis was on leading nonprofit organizations.

Boal accepted a call to become the senior pastor at Grace Church in April, and he and his wife, Tammy, moved to Lititz in July. They have three sons, three daughters-in-law, and seven grandchildren.

The public is invited to attend an installation service on Sunday, Sept. 9. Brunch and prayer walks will begin at 7:45 a.m., and the service will begin at 9 a.m.

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Miller Named Archpriest August 15, 2018

Father Stephen Miller of St. Nicholas Orthodox Church in Coatesville was elevated to the rank of Archpriest on July 15 by Archbishop Mark of the Diocese of Eastern Pennsylvania of the Orthodox Church in America.

Father Miller has served at St. Nicholas since 2011. During his tenure with the congregation, Miller has visited the sick and carried out various philanthropic works alongside his regular duties as a priest.

During the July 15 service, Archbishop Mark delivered a sermon on the role of priests as counselors and exemplars to their congregations. Miller was presented with a hand-painted cross, and a special luncheon was provided by the congregation.

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