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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.


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


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


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 or search for "Grace UCC" on Facebook.


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.


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.


Millersville Church Welcomes New Lead Pastor July 20, 2018

On July 1, Kerry Leeper took up his appointment as lead pastor of Millersville Community Church (MCC), a United Methodist congregation, by preaching a message, "Sacramental Community," at MCC's Hope Campus, 242 Bender Road, Millersville.

"We have much for which to be thankful," Leeper told the congregation. "God has given me the blessing and privilege to join you as pastor. Thank you for the welcome you have given me."

An ordained elder in the United Methodist Church, Leeper has been shepherding congregations since 1992. He served in Annville at Kauffman's and Bellegrove United Methodist churches and at First United Methodist Church, Lancaster, as the associate pastor. In these appointments, Leeper gained an appreciation for the importance of spiritual growth as a catalyst for mission. He brings conflict resolution skills and experience with preaching and leading both contemporary and traditional worship to his new appointment in Millersville.

"Pastor Kerry is a listener who brings a non-anxious presence to the church and a relationship builder who seeks to foster transparency and promote open communication in the church," commented teaching pastor Bruce Heydt.

"God is doing some great things through the people of MCC," Leeper remarked. "I am so blessed and excited to be a part of it. I look forward to building relationships and community together in order to carry out the mission of MCC: to learn, live, love, and lead like Jesus."

Leeper is a graduate of Messiah College with a bachelor's degree in biblical studies. He is also a graduate of Evangelical Theological Seminary with a Master of Divinity and a Master of Arts in Religion with a focus in marriage and family counseling. He was ordained a deacon in 2002 and an elder in 2005.

Interested individuals may hear Leeper's inaugural sermon and share in his invitation to fellowship by visiting For more information about the congregation, readers may contact the church at 717-872-4571 or


Florin Church Names New Pastor July 19, 2018

Florin Church of the Brethren, 815 Bruce Avenue, Mount Joy, has named Thomas Weber as its new pastor. He will begin serving on Sunday, Aug. 5.

Born and raised in Mount Joy, Weber served as youth minister at West Green Tree Church of the Brethren for four years, and then as senior pastor at Akron Church of the Brethren for 17 years.

Weber initially attended college to become a teacher. Weber eventually received his Master of Divinity degree from Myerstown Evangelical Seminary. He and his wife Sandy have three children and two grandchildren.

For more information about the church, readers may visit


Hopewell UMC Welcomes Pastors July 18, 2018

On June 23, Hopewell United Methodist Church (UMC) in Downingtown welcomed and affirmed two new leadership positions. Amy Banka, elder, was appointed lead pastor, replacing Steve Morton, who has been assigned to the North District Superintendency of the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference of The United Methodist Church. In addition, Eddie Cameron, deacon, has accepted the appointment of associate pastor.

Banka graduated from Arcadia University, earning both a Bachelor of Arts in 1996 and Master of Arts in 1998 in English. She later graduated from Palmer Theological Seminary with a Master of Divinity in 2009. Banka joined the Hopewell staff in 2014 as pastor of Young Adults and Leadership Development and in 2016 became an associate pastor. Prior to coming to Downingtown, she served Johnson Memorial UMC in Philadelphia, Fallsington UMC in Bucks County, and Faith UMC in Stroudsburg. Banka shares that she finds deep beauty and life in Scripture, worship, prayer, music, and Christian service, and she desires to bring what God teaches her to Hopewell. She and her husband, Michael, have two daughters, Grace and Emily.

Cameron graduated from Campbell University with a Bachelor of Arts in religion in 1999 and from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary with a master's degree in biblical studies in 2009. Cameron joins Hopewell after serving First UMC in Lancaster since 2009. He and his wife, Lisa, have a son, James.


Church Will Welcome New Senior Pastor July 18, 2018

Immanuel Evangelical Free Church, 1140 Witmer Road, York, will welcome pastor Sean Rajnic and his family on Sunday, July 29, at 10:30 a.m. After the morning worship service, the church will hold a cookout. The welcome events are open to the community. Rajnic began serving as the church's senior pastor on July 23.

Rajnic has 14 years of experience as a pastor. He received a Bachelor of Science in music from Penn State University, graduated with honors from Denver Seminary, and became licensed as a professional counselor. His experience includes leading a contemporary worship team, directing worship bands and choirs, and leading large-scale worship events featuring bands, dancing and special effects. He has also worked with team-based prayer and caring ministries, developed an adult discipleship plan in spiritual growth, developed curricula and communication tools, and led small group ministries. He also provides Christian counseling for couples and individuals in his private counseling practice. Rajnic is the husband of Beryl, and their daughters are Aria and Aliya.

For more information about the church, readers may call 717-755-2413 or visit or


Diocese Posts Appointments July 10, 2018

The Most Rev. Ronald W. Gainer, Bishop of Harrisburg, has made several appointments. The appointments were effective June 18.

Appointments include the Very Rev. William C. Forrey from pastor, Saint Patrick Parish, Carlisle, to secretary for clergy for the Diocese of Harrisburg and pastor of Holy Infant Parish, Manchester; the Rev. Martin O. Moran from pastor, Divine Redeemer Parish, Mount Carmel, to pastor, Saint Patrick Parish, Carlisle; the Rev. Mark E. Weiss from pastor, Holy Infant Parish, Manchester, to pastor, Saint Joseph Parish, Dallastown; the Rev. Ryan M. Fischer from parochial vicar, Saint Joseph Parish, Hanover, to pastor, Divine Redeemer Parish, Mount Carmel.

At the presentation of The Rev. Tomy Joseph, vice provincial of the Fransalian Missionaries, appointments are the Rev. Dijo Thomas, MSFS from hospital chaplain, Hershey Medical Center, to pastor, Our Lady of Good Counsel Parish, Marysville, and Saint Bernadette Mission, Duncannon; and the Rev. Augustine Joseph, MSFS from parochial vicar, Saint Joseph Parish, Mechanicsburg, to parochial vicar, Saint Joseph Parish, Danville, chaplain, Geisinger Medical Center, Danville, and Danville State Hospital, Danville.

At the presentation of the Very Rev. Dominic Eshikena, OP, vicar provincial for North America and the Caribbean, appointments include the Rev. Bernard Ayo Oniwe, OP to parochial vicar, Good Shepherd Parish, Camp Hill; the Rev. Ignatius Madumere, OP from parochial vicar, Saint Joseph Parish, Danville, Chaplain, Geisinger Medical Center and Danville State Hospital, Danville, to hospital chaplain, Hershey Medical Center, Hershey, with residence at Saint Joan of Arc Parish; and the Rev. Benedict Faneye, OP, has been reassigned by his community.

At the presentation of the Rev. Antony Paulose, coordinator for the Carmelites of Mary Immaculate, appointments include the Rev. Sebastian Thekkedath, CMI, from parochial vicar, Saint Joseph Parish, Lancaster, to parochial vicar, Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish, Lancaster, and remaining part-time chaplain for Lancaster General Hospital; the Rev. Steven Arena from parochial vicar, Saint Joan of Arc Parish, Hershey, to parochial vicar, Saint John Neumann Parish, Lancaster, and chaplain at Lancaster Catholic High School, Lancaster; the Rev. Brian Olkowski from parochial vicar, Corpus Christi Parish, Chambersburg, to parochial vicar, Saint Joseph Parish, Lancaster, and San Juan Bautista Parish, Lancaster.

In addition, newly ordained priest appointments include the Rev. Richard J. Lyons to parochial vicar, Corpus Christi Parish, Chambersburg; the Rev. Stephen J. Logue to parochial vicar, Saint Rose of Lima Parish, York, and will return for graduate studies in Rome in September; the Rev. Kenneth C. Roth to parochial vicar, Saint Joan of Arc Parish, Hershey; the Rev. Timothy J. Sahd to parochial vicar, Saint Joseph Parish, Mechanicsburg, and chaplain, Trinity High School, Shiremanstown; the Rev. Matthew C. Morelli to parochial vicar, Saint Joseph Parish, Hanover, and chaplain, Delone Catholic High School, McSherrystown; and the Rev. Benjamin J. Dunkelberger to parochial vicar, Saint John the Baptist Parish, New Freedom, and campus minister, York College of Pennsylvania.


Glen Moore Church Welcomes New Pastor July 3, 2018

When Patrick Welch moved to Chester County 14 years ago, he discovered Glen Moore United Methodist Church, located on Route 282 near Wallace Township Community Park, during a walk around his neighborhood. Little did he know at that time that he would one day be appointed as the church's pastor.

Welch officially became pastor on July 1 during a special installation service that took place prior to the Sunday worship service. Welch succeeds pastor Ralph Cain, who retired after spending 10 years serving at GUMC.

Welch, who most recently was pastor at Friendship United Methodist Church (UMC) in Coatesville, introduced himself to the GUMC congregation by relating the story of his first encounter with the church.

"Fourteen years ago, my family and I moved right on the other side of Wagenseller Park. We (took a walk) and saw this beautiful church on my first night in Pennsylvania (and) I took pictures of it," he recalled.

He said that he spent his early years in business working for an escalator and elevator company. "All of the time, God kept calling me and I tried not to be a minster most of my life," he said. "I ended up (attending) Hopewell (UMC) in Downingtown. I wanted to get more involved in the church, and I asked the pastor what I could do. He told me that he wanted me to do prison ministry."

That event prompted Welch's work as a prison minster, which he has been doing for 11 years. "I go into the jail in Philadelphia preaching and sharing Communion," he said.

In time, Welch left his career and decided to enter into professional ministry, receiving his Master of Divinity at Palmer Theological Seminary.

During the installation service at GUMC, Welch was presented various gifts from congregation members, including the following: a new Bible from Henry Foehl; a cross from Don Graewe; bread and a cup to signify Communion from Marta Wierick; "United Methodist Church Book of Discipline" from Joni Thor; water for baptism from Gene Huffman; a globe, signifying missions, from Shawn Trego; a hymnal from Barbara Carter; a white robe from Becky Pendlebury; and a clergy collar from Bill Pendlebury. Welch donned the robe and collar following the presentation.

Welch credited Cain for his smooth transition into his new role as pastor. "Every United Methodist Church will either reappoint their pastor or appoint a new pastor every year. It's a one-year covenant," Welch said. "I am thankful that (Pastor Ralph) lived about 3 miles from my old church (at Friendship UMC). I would see him ... and we got to know each other. He was incredibly gracious (in the transition)."

Welch said he will also be spending time getting to know congregation members, as well as members of the community by visiting the neighborhood. "I walked around, visited the deli and walked in the park and (enjoyed) being able to say, 'Hi, I'm the new guy," he said. "I'm still learning."

Following the service, the congregation enjoyed cake, coffee and other refreshments during a reception to welcome the new pastor.

GUMC, located at 1920 Creek Road, Glenmoore, holds its Sunday service at 10 a.m. Sunday school for adults and children is offered at 9 a.m. For more information, readers may call the church office at 610-942-2324, email or visit More information is also available by searching for "Glen Moore United Methodist Church" on Facebook.


Church Installs Assistant Pastor June 20, 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's father was at one time a youth pastor at Calvary Baptist Church. Metze's parents, answering the call to become missionaries, moved their family to Mexico City, Mexico, when Metze 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.

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.


Hope Within Names Director Of Development June 15, 2018

Hope Within Ministries has named Aimee Bergner as its director of development. She began her role in June.

Bergner earned a bachelor's degree in elementary education from Shippensburg University. For the last 13 years, Bergner has been the center director at Sylvan Learning Center in Palmyra and Lancaster. She brings experience in organizational leadership and development to the position.

Bergner lives in Palmyra with her husband and three children.


18 South Bids Farewell To Director June 6, 2018

18 South Youth Ministries recently announced that Jessica Cauller stepped down from her position as executive director on May 5 after serving the organization for nearly six years. She has stepped down to focus on her growing family, and 18 South has welcomed Alia Dyke as a new ministry coordinator.

Cauller's involvement with 18 South began in 2011 when she moved to Red Lion to marry her husband, Joshua, who had volunteered at the youth center since it opened its doors in November 2007. She took her post as 18 South's first full-time employee in June 2012, leading both the youth center and the nonprofit.

In March 2016, the organization split her position into two after the birth of her son, Zeek. At this time, she remained part-time as the executive director of the ministry.

An attendee of The Brook Church in Red Lion, Cauller graduated in 2002 from Red Land High School in Lewisberry and received a bachelor's degree in English and communications from Albright College in Reading in 2006.

Under her leadership, 18 South Youth Ministries grew from an organization with two board members and 15 volunteers, serving approximately 30 teenagers a week and raising $8,000 a year, into a ministry with five board members and 30 volunteers, serving 70 teenagers each week and raising more than $70,000 a year.

The youth center is located at 18 S. Pine St., Red Lion. Readers may visit for more information.


Clouser Shares On Musician-Stewardship June 1, 2018

Jeffrey Clouser, director of music ministries at Palmyra Church of the Brethren (PCOB), has been published in the UCC Musicians' Association Journal.

In his three-page article, Clouser looks at what it means to lead a church's song in a general congregational setting of any denomination. He then examines how the specific music ministry at PCOB embraces the task of being musician-stewards of God's Word, and he discusses PCOB's mission statement in this context.

As part-time director of music ministries at PCOB, Clouser facilitates the choral, handbell, and praise team programs; participates in planning worship services; and organizes special musical events for the church. He also coordinates the Summer Melodies musical offerings for summer worship. He received his certification in Church Music through Virginia Wesleyan University and a Bachelor of Science in education from Millersville University. This summer, he is slated to begin his second year in the Master of Church Music program at Trinity Lutheran Seminary at Capital University in Columbus, Ohio. He maintains memberships in Handbell Musicians of America, the Lancaster and Harrisburg Chapters of the AGO, ACDA, The Hymn Society, and UCC Musicians Association. He sings with the Elizabethtown College Community Choir and serves as festival coordinator for the Central Pennsylvania Handbell Festival.


Wrightsville Presbyterian Pastor Retires May 30, 2018

On May 20, the congregation at Wrightsville Presbyterian Church, 205 N. Second St., Wrightsville, bid farewell to the Rev. Christine Blackford as she stepped into retirement. In honor of Pentecost Sunday, the sanctuary was filled with red balloons and geraniums, and two giant red banners that Blackford created shortly after she became pastor in 2004 were on display. "I think what I've brought to this church is that creative piece in terms of creating a service," Blackford remarked. "There's a lot going on in this church. This church is very alive."

Getting to know the approximately 50 members of the congregation, as well as neighbors and visitors, during her time at Wrightsville Presbyterian has been a gift for Blackford. "You get to know each other so well," she commented. "When tragedy hits, this congregation will surround you and they are very good at caring for each other. Every church has its own personality, and that is something that is done well here - and missions."

Folks from the church have taken part in 10 mission trips with Presbyterian Disaster Assistance (PDA) during Blackford's tenure, and she was able to join in two of those. This summer, Wrightsville Presbyterian will serve as a site for the Hands Across the Street summer lunch program for the fourth year, and that is just one of several of the church's outreach efforts. On the fourth Saturday of each month, the congregation works together with other area churches to host "Breaking Bread," a free community meal, in the fellowship hall at Wrightsville Presbyterian. Food is served from 4 to 5 p.m., and anyone is welcome to attend.

Wrightsville Presbyterian recently celebrated its 190th anniversary, and Blackford said that the church's rich history includes taking a hit from a cannonball during the Civil War. More recently - and slightly less dramatically - the building incurred damage from a windstorm in February of 2017 that caused the steeple to need repairs. Blackford said the entire roof is also being replaced. "That work began last fall, and it will be a number of months (until it is finished)," noted Blackford.

Originally from New Jersey, Blackford went to Elizabethtown College, where she majored in biology and met her husband, Nate. The couple lives in York and has three children and six grandchildren. Blackford plans to spend more time with family and travel now that she is retired.

Blackford graduated from Lancaster Theological Seminary in 2003 with a Master of Divinity, but joining the staff at a church was not on her radar when she decided to further her education. "I was originally going to expand my biblical knowledge and grounding," recalled Blackford, adding that she had been serving as an elder at her church and wanted more training. She took one class at a time over the course of several years since her children were in school at the time. "It took me a long time, but I got there," Blackford said with a laugh.

A mindset shift as far as Blackford's decision to pursue a leadership position came through encouragement from two influential individuals. "What was kind of a turning point for me was when Dr. (John) Payne came to me and told me that if I was to get into the ministry, he would encourage me to do so," Blackford shared. "Later I asked him why he said that, and he said, 'You have a love for the church that would carry into ministry.'" The second person was Blackford's father, who was living with dementia at the time. He told her: "You know, if you've got a call, you've got to answer it."

Wrightsville Presbyterian Church holds weekly worship services on Sundays at 10 a.m., followed by Sunday school from 11:15 a.m. to noon. All are welcome. To learn more, readers may call 717-252-1302 or visit


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.


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.


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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