Up and Down the Valleys: January 2018

Bishop Collins is interested in praying for you!  She wrote in a recent Facebook post: “So here’s the thing…we have been saying that it is all about relationships. Our relationship with God, our relationship with each other, and our relationship with the community, the world. It’s time to DO something intentional about these relationships if […]

Report on Fall Trip to Germany

On September 26, a group of 34 excited people began their journey to Berlin, Germany, from several airports on the East and West Coast.  The USS trip to visit “Lutherland” for the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation was planned by Pastor Lois Martin.  The group gathered at Berlin’s Tegel Airport and began the tour by […]

2017 Year in Review

Here is the USS Ark’s look back at the past year’s highlights: WORDS COLLECTED:  The Synod’s Mission Strategy Team asked congregations for input, sharing words about the synod.  The words were what those folks thought of when they heard the word “synod” and those they hoped to hear in the future.   The responses will be […]

Annual Report Covers Available

You can now download an annual report cover from the ELCA.  It is available here:  Hard copies can be ordered by calling 1-800-638-3522.

Mission Work Group Forming

Please remember in this Holy Season those who lost their homes and all their belongings in the floods related to Hurricanes in Florida, Texas and Puerto Rico.  Northumberland Presbytery and Upper Susquehanna Synod of the ELCA (and possibly others) are working together to organize Mission Work Groups to participate in rebuilding.   There are several […]

Up and Down the Valleys: December 2017

Clergy Notes:  Pastor Mark Galbraith, an Intentional Interim, has been extended a call through Synod Council to serve the Milton Parish.  St. Luke, Bloomsburg, had a call vote on November 12 and extended a call to Rev. Luther Martell.  Rev. Bruce Amme (retired) began work as Visitation Pastor at Messiah, South Williamsport (Pastor Joshua Reinsburrow) […]

Camp Affects Lives; Start Planning for 2018

Now is the time to think about being part of the Camp Mount Luther’s summer programs in the coming year.  The brochure for Summer 2018 has just been published to the camp’s website ( in the summer camp section. Chad Hershberger, Executive Director of Camp Mount Luther, says this summer is shaping up to be […]

7th Seafarers Collection

Members in 43 synod congregations and three individuals filled a total of 564 Christmas At Sea gift bags for the ministry of Seafarers’ International House.  The bags are given to merchant seamen who come into port to off-load their cargoes during the Advent/Christmas season.  This is a ministry of the ELCA whose port chaplains go […]

Charity Event Hits 10th Year

By Gary Womelsdorf, Messiah-St. James Lutheran Parish I went through the Lay Ministry Institute as an authorized Lay Evangelist. As a Lay Evangelist, I was required to have some sort of project that would include our parish and the community.  Rev. Carla Volland was my pastor then and we came up with the idea of […]

Organ Available

The Well Church in Williamsport, formerly Church of the Savior Lutheran Church, is looking to donate a pipe organ.  It is believed that the organ was built by the former congregation with elements from several other historical churches in the area.  It contains a Great, Swell, Choir and Pedal Organ, Compass of Manuals CC-61 Notes, […]

Ministry Opportunities in the Synod

Do you have a passion for a particular area of ministry such as advocacy, constitutions, disaster relief, coach training, assembly planning or worship planning?  We are looking to engage more leaders from across the synod, with a number of these areas of ministry that take place within our synod, in order to grow and empower […]

Up and Down the Valleys: November 2017

On October 14th, the Women of the ELCA collected one and a half containers of supplies to send to Lutheran World Relief in New Windsor, Maryland.  Coordinator Sue Baylor reports that the following were collected:  162 blankets, 1622 quilts, 901 school kits, 10 sewing kits, 264 health kits, 47 baby kits, 8 pieces of fabric […]

Fryer Speaks at Workshop for Leaders

In mid-October, author, former ELCA pastor, and professor Kelly Fryer came to the Upper Susquehanna Synod to discuss racism.  At the invitation of Bishop Collins, Fryer presented a program titled, “Cries from the Wilderness: A Down to Earth Conversation about Racism and Our Role in Ending It.”  Fryer is now literally in the desert, serving […]

LARC Activities Include Signing

In late October, the Upper Susquehanna Synod, along with the Episcopal Diocese of Central Pennsylvania and the Catholic Diocese of Harrisburg, commemorated the 500th anniversary of the Reformation at United Lutheran Seminary on the Gettysburg campus.  Bishop Ronald Gainer, from the Catholic Church, preached in the Lutheran Seminary Church of the Abiding Presence on the […]

Observances of the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation

Editor’s Note:  The following are reports we received of commemorations of Reformation 2017. Bishop Barbara J. Collins visited with Martin & Katie Luther as the Port Royal Parish celebrated the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation.  Pastor Charles Hershberger and his wife, Paula, dressed up as the Luthers during a celebration on October 28 at Port […]

Liberian Prayers (November- December)

The following prayer petitions are prepared and sent by the Upper Susquehanna Synod Liberia Committee. Please use them in your congregation to lift up our companion synod program; for example, include them in your intercessory prayers, print them in your bulletin or newsletter. The committee welcomes suggestions for petitions. Click here for the prayers

Fifth Edition of “God’s work. Our hands.” Day

Editor’s Note:  The following are reports we received of congregations who held service projects as part of the ELCA’s Day of Service in September. On Sunday, September 10, St. Peter’s, Kreamer (Interim Pastor Vickie Brown) showed God’s Work in the community as they held their Fall Festival.  The festival included free games and prizes, fire […]

God’s Love and Cookies

Reporting by Harry Deitz As part of “God’s work, Our hands” Sunday, parishioners of Grace, Shamokin (Pastor Sarah Hershberger) greeted the people who stopped in front of CVS Pharmacy. Passersby had the opportunity to also taste a variety of cookies, baked or purchased by the parishioners, to offer a simple reminder that God’s love is […]

Synod Pastor Becomes U.S. Citizen

Pastor Carla Volland (Evangelical, Reedsville), became one of America’s newest citizens on August 4, 2017. She took her Oath of Allegiance during the naturalization ceremony at the Department of Homeland Security in Philadelphia.   The week prior, she took a civics test.  Volland said, “I learned about the history and geography of the country and set-up of […]

Up and Down the Valleys: October 2017

Another semester is underway with Protestant Campus Ministry at Bloomsburg University! Campus Pastor Jill Young and her students are settling into their new office at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, just two blocks down from Carver Hall.  The church offered space after the ministry lost their on-campus office. St. James, Muncy (Pastor Bev Cotner) is our […]

Need to Refinance? The Mission Investment Fund is offering a 3.875% APY rate

If your congregation or ministry is looking to refinance an existing loan, this may be the time to proceed.  The Mission Investment Fund (MIF), the ELCA’s lending ministry, is offering a 3.875% APY (Annual Percentage Yield) rate, available through October 31, 2017, on a Five-Year Adjustable-Rate Mortgage.  In addition to refinancing existing debt, MIF loans […]

Musician Wanted

St. John, Unityville, is looking for a pianist/organist to play for Sunday worship and at special services. Anyone interested should contact Robert Gordner (570) 458-5237, Joanne Mosteller (570) 854-9288, Gail Lutz (570) 458-4360, or Pastor Ron Montgomery (570) 584-4465.

Reformation Celebration Stories and Pictures Wanted!!!

Let us know what your congregation is doing/did for the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation!  We’d like to feature your stories and pictures of these observances in next month’s USS Ark.  Please email pictures and stories to or tag the Upper Susquehanna Synod on Facebook so we can get your stories and pictures that […]

Up and Down the Valleys: September 2017

Rev. Cheryl Berner (on leave from call) has been granted retirement status by Synod Council, effective May 1, 2017. Rev. Stina Schaeffer was installed as pastor of Salem Lutheran on June 25. The ordination of Rev. Justin Lingenfelter (United In Christ, West Milton) took place on June 10 and he started on July 2. Deacon […]

Learning More About “The Water of Life”

Camp Mount Luther recently ended their summer camping season.   Around 662 participants took part in programs during the eight-week session. As always, there were several Day Camps at local churches, led by Mount Luther staff.  This year, 371 campers could experience camp through these off-site opportunities.  This summer, 291 campers enjoyed on-site programs including adventure, […]

Leaving a Legacy

When a congregation merges into another congregation it is normal for the receiving congregation to receive all the assets and liabilities of the merging congregation. This has to do with laws regarding non-profit organizations of which churches fall under. However, in October of 2013 when Trinity Lutheran, Avis, merged into St. John Lutheran, Jersey Shore, […]

Volunteering for a Good Cause

Youth and adult members and friends of Himmel’s, Dornsife, recently traveled to volunteer for “TEAMeffort” at their Blue Knob, PA, location.  The group did outdoor clean-up at a home, lots of scraping and painting at a church and some work for a Food Bank.  The theme for this year’s camp was Isaiah 9:6 talking about […]

Mission Builders of the ELCA

In the spirit of celebrating God’s work, Our hands, have you considered volunteering for a mission trip here in the US. Mission Builders as explained below is looking for volunteers. In the past we have provided men’s/women’s and youth group work opportunities across the US. Mission Builders of the ELCA is a mission outreach ministry of […]

Free Piano

Messiah Lutheran, Troxelville, has a Baldwin upright piano, free to a good church home (moving not included). For more information please contact Pr. Matthew Schuster at 570-658-9175 or at

Liberian Prayers (August-October)

The following prayer petitions are prepared and sent by the Upper Susquehanna Synod Liberia Committee. Please use them in your congregation to lift up our companion synod program; for example, include them in your intercessory prayers, print them in your bulletin or newsletter. The committee welcomes suggestions for petitions. Click here for Liberia Prayers

Other Notes from Assembly

Friday evening at the Synod Assembly featured dinner and recognition of congregations celebrating significant anniversaries.  The following congregations were recognized: Beaver Lutheran Church, Beaver Springs (50 years), Christ Lutheran Church, Buckhorn and St. John Evangelical Lutheran Church, Jersey Shore (150 years), St. James Lutheran Church, Muncy and St. John Lutheran Church, Richfield (175 years), St. […]

Report of the Synod Assembly Elections Committee

Elected to Synod Council for three-year terms were the following: Crystal Bollinger of First, Mifflinburg; Esther Bratton of St. Stephen’s, Mifflintown; Scott Frost of Sharon, Selinsgrove; John Riley of St. Matthew, Bloomsburg; Rev. MarthaSue Moll of the Elysburg Parish; Rev. Joshua Reinsburrow of Messiah, South Williamsport. Elected to the Consultation Committee for six-year terms were […]

Actions of the 2017 Assembly

  Elected as Synod Vice President for a four-year term was Melvin Stojakovich, Jr., of Bloomsburg. Outgoing Vice President Dr. Karla Bohmbach completes her four-year term this summer.   Elected as Synod Secretary for a four-year term was Rev. Thomas Glasoe of Milton. Outgoing Secretary Ms. Carol Waltz completes her four-year term this summer.   […]

Connecting to the World through Song, Work and Word: Synod Gathers to Relate and Reform

The Upper Susquehanna Synod connected to the world through song, work, and word during the 30th Annual Assembly, held on June 16-17, 2017, at Susquehanna University.  A Glocal Team of musicians and presenters from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) shared global songs on a local level and helped the assembly look at how […]

Volunteers Needed for CML Fundraiser in September

Camp Mount Luther is once again participating in a local festival to help raise funds for their campership fund.  The camp will staff a booth at the Selinsgrove Market Street Festival on Saturday, September 23, 2017.  Their booth will feature the sale of homemade whoopie pies.  Volunteers are needed to make these sweet treats, as […]

Participate in the Social Statement on Human Rights

As you hopefully are aware, the Draft of an ELCA Social Message on Human Rights has been available on the ELCA website since the beginning of July for reading and response. The comment period runs until August 31. The Draft is available online only, but it can be downloaded for review and there are two primary […]

Ministry Opportunities in the Synod

Do you have a passion for a particular area of ministry such as Advocacy, Congregational Health, Disaster Relief, Ecumenical Relationships, Global Partnerships, Mission, Outreach, World Hunger, or Youth?  We are looking to engage more leaders from across the synod, with a number of these areas of ministry that take place within our synod, in order […]

LAMPA Looking for Help

Travis Woodfield, an intern with Lutheran Advocacy Ministry in Pennsylvania is currently looking to put together a list of Lutherans around the state who might be interested in working on mental health and addictions issues. They are seeking individuals from diverse perspectives on these issues.  Some ideas for perspectives that would be helpful include: medical professionals, […]

Hymnals Available

Mazeppa Union Church has about 60 of the green (LBW) hymnals which they would like to give away to anyone who might want them.    Please contact Hazel Roush at

Youth Leader Position Available

St. Luke Lutheran Church in Bloomsburg is accepting applications for part-time (up to 10 hrs/week) Youth Leader. We are looking for an energetic person to engage with our youth and be a role model of living a life in relationship with Christ. A successful candidate must have a flexible schedule to attend scheduled youth activities and […]

Highlights of July Synod Council Meeting

Here are the major actions at the July 2017 Synod Council Meeting: Synod Council enjoyed having dinner, sharing fellowship, and devotions with the campers and staff at Camp Mount Luther. Outgoing Council members were recognized and incoming members welcomed. Members received a listing of ministry opportunities. Deacon Gary Schaeffer was called by Synod council as […]

Assembly is Underway! Follow Along

The Upper Susquehanna Synod Assembly for 2017 is underway!  You can follow along through our social media pages.  We are live “tweeting” from our synod assembly and invite others to also tweet from the assembly and use this hashtag:  #usselca17.  If you’d like to see what is happening at assembly in June, search for the […]

Director of Music Position Open

St. Michael Lutheran Church, Harrisburg, is seeking an enthusiastic and talented person for the position of Director of Music. This is a part-time position averaging 10 hours per week. St. Michael is a a vibrant and affirming congregation made up of a diverse group of devoted members welcoming all to our community located on historic […]

Up and Down the Valleys: June 2017

The Lay Ministry Institute held a reunion in May for those who went through the program over its nearly 20 years. They remembered good times and shared a meal at Mount Luther.  Pastor Melody Sell who serves as the LMI director, gave a history of the institute to those in attendance.  Rev. John Harwood (Zion, […]

Updates from our Bavarian Companion Synod

The Ansbach-Wurzburg Partnership Committee has just recently had an update from our Partnership office in Germany.   Rev. Dr. Philipp Hauenstein confirmed a date to celebrate our partnership and gave an update on the refugee crisis. Sunday, June 25, 2017, will be the date to lift up the Kirchenkreis Ansbach-Wurzburg in prayer.  This is the Commemoration […]

Highlights of May Synod Council Meeting

Here are the major actions at the May 2017 Synod Council Meeting: Approved the retirements of Pastor Cheryl  Berner and Pastor David Pennebaker Approved a revised budget for 2017, and recommended the 2018 budget to Synod Assembly for adoption Recommended salary and housing guidelines for clergy and salary guidelines for Deacons to Synod Assembly for […]

Up and Down the Valleys: May 2017

On May 21, a special joint worship service will take place officially dedicating the creation of the Buffalo Valley Lutheran Parish (Pastor John Yost).  This new parish consists of Christ’s United, Millmont and First, Mifflinburg.  Bishop Barbara J. Collins will be presiding over the worship and dedication service which will include the installation of Pastor […]

April Happenings


Distinguished Award for Retired Leader

As part of this year’s Gettysburg Seminary Spring Academy, a former synod leader received a prestigious award.  The seminary presented   Bishop Emeritus Robert L. Driesen with the Celebrated Lifetime Ministry Award.  The presentation was made at the 2017 Distinguished Alumni Award Service of Thanksgiving, held in the Chapel of the Abiding Presence.  In addition to […]

Holy Humor Sunday Features Academy Awards

At worship on Sunday, April 23, 2017, members at Trinity, McAlisterville (Pastor Erin Bovendam) were surprised with an “Academy Awards” ceremony.  The awards were presented to the men who were disciples in their Maundy Thursday drama, as well as others who helped with the service. Awards were given out for best costume design, best director, […]

Looking Ahead to June at Camp

Camp Mount Luther is gearing up for their summer camping season for 2017 and are accepting registrations for all programs.  Late fees will begin to be accessed on June 2, so register soon to avoid the late fees!  The summer camping session will be in full swing in June!  This summer’s staff will arrive in […]

Information on the ELCA Youth Gathering/Volunteer Registration Opening Soon

Next month (in May), volunteer applications for the ELCA Youth Gathering will go live and close on July 15.  Current high school seniors and older are eligible to apply as volunteer staff.  The gathering will be held in Houston, TX, from June 27- July 1, 2018.  Congregations should start to identify youth, leaders, and a […]

Up and Down the Valleys: April 2017

The synod’s new website ( debuted in early March.  New features on the website include a featured congregation as well as the ability to post blogs right on our website.  The synod staff plan to do regular blogging, which began on Easter Sunday.  Some new organizational items were added to make the website easier to […]

Chrism Mass is Holy Week Tradition

 The annual Chrism Mass with Renewal of Ministry Vows took place on the Tuesday of Holy Week, April 11, 2017, at Trinity, Hughesville (Pastor Cinda Brucker).  The service included the blessing of oil and the renewal of ministry vows for pastors, deacons, and Authorized Lay Worship Leaders.  Bishop Barbara J. Collins preached during worship.

Synod Assembly in June

The 30th Annual Assembly of the Upper Susquehanna Synod will be held at Susquehanna University on June 16-17, 2017.  The theme of this year’s assembly is “Together in Mission:  Relating and Reforming.”  Guest speakers and musicians from the ELCA’s Global Mission Team will be with us, including Sunitha Mortha as our ELCA Churchwide representative.  Items […]

Liberian Prayers for 2017

The following prayer petitions are prepared and sent by the Upper Susquehanna Synod Liberia Committee.   Please use them in your congregation to lift up our companion synod program; for example, include them in your intercessory prayers, print them in your bulletin or newsletter.  The committee welcomes suggestions for petitions. Click here to download the prayers

LAMPA Seeks Program Director

LAMPa is seeking applications for a full-time program director in its Harrisburg-area office. The program director is responsible for the coordination and communication of the Lutheran Advocacy Ministry in Pennsylvania (LAMPa) statewide action network, working with the seven synods and Lutheran ministries throughout Pennsylvania, as well as ELCA Churchwide partners, particularly World Hunger. The primary objective […]

Seminary Job Posting

United Lutheran Seminary is hiring for an Associate Director of Admissions on the Gettysburg Campus.  Click here for a job description.   Salary is low 50’s plus full benefits packet.  For more information, contact Elizabeth Meighan at the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg at or 717-338-3001.  

Where Do Our Offerings Go?

Many people may wonder where their “mission support” or “benevolence” money goes when they put their envelope in the offering plate.  As congregation councils prepare budgets, the question of why support is needed for the larger church often becomes a point of discussion.  Well, your mission support dollars help us work together to do ministry […]

Institute of Liturgical Studies Appoints Co-Directors

The Institute of Liturgical Studies at Valparaiso University has named Jennifer Baker-Trinity and Brian Johnson as co-directors of the Institute, accepting two-year appointments effective April 2017.  In their roles as co-directors, Baker-Trinity and Johnson will lead, supervise and direct the Institute of Liturgical Studies. They will be responsible for strategic and tactical planning, oversee day-to-day […]

Up and Down the Valleys: March 2017

The synod received a thank you note from Christopher Roehrer, Development Director of Seafarers International House, for the synod’s participation in the Christmas-at-Sea gift sack program.  Forty-one congregations and individuals filled 551 gift bags.  The six congregations contributing the six largest number were St. John, Unityville (48), Mountain Grove (41), St. Luke, Williamsport (32), Siloa, […]

Summary of March 2017 Synod Council Meeting

Council members were given suggestions on how to interact with congregations in their conferences as Bishop Collins has challenged the council. Bishop Collins reported on the recent meeting of the Conference of Bishops. She has been or will be involved in several clergy installations. Reminders were made of the Chrism Mass, Bishop’s Retreat, and Synod […]

Up and Down the Valleys: February 2017

Members of synod groups, Mission Interpreters, Stewardship Committee, Mission Table, Transformational Ministry Team, and Small Church Mission Committee met in January to talk about future directions.  Assistant to the Bishop Craig Miller convened the group as they looked at ways to function in the coming months and years, including “tables” to gather around for mission […]

FREE VBS Curriculum for ELCA Congregations

Lutheran Outdoor Ministries (LOM) produces the curriculum each year that is used in camp and retreat settings and for Vacation Bible Schools and day camps.  This year, LOM is offering their 2016 VBS Bundle of “The Jesus Way” free to ELCA congregations. To repeat:  Special for this year only, the VBS Bundle of the 2016 […]

Evergreen Center Debt Paid Off Nearly Two and A Half Years Early!

The Camp Mount Luther Corporation Board of Directors received good news at their January retreat when Chad Hershberger, executive director of the camp, announced to the board that the debt on the camp’s dining hall and activities building, the Evergreen Center, has been retired.  Through the support of some generous alumni staff donors at the […]

Synod Youth Retreat to Learn More About Faith Practices

  This year’s synod youth retreat, GROW in the Snow, was held on February 10-11, 2017, at Mount Luther.  Nearly 85 youth and their adult leaders attended, looking at “Our Way of Life.”  The theme was based on Matthew 5: 13-16, and explored faith practices and living a Christian life. Those in attendance participated in […]

Up and Down the Valleys: January 2017

Clergy Notes:  Rev. Matt Schuster is now the interim pastor for Christ (Brick) and Christ (White), Middleburg. Rev. Vicky Schaffner has resigned her call at St. John, Leck Kill, and Rev. Peter Bergstresser is interim.  Rev. Timothy Bingman has retired as pastor of the Freeburg Parish (Zion/Grubbs/St. Peters).  United in Christ Lutheran Parish voted on […]

LAMPA Welcomes Terry Brown to Policy Council

Terry Brown, a member of St. John’s, Potts Grove (Pastor Tom Glasoe), has been appointed to represent Upper Susquehanna Synod on the Policy Council of Lutheran Advocacy Ministry in Pennsylvania.  Recently retired from a Fortune 50 pharmaceutical manufacturer, where he served as Chief of Emergency Services, Terry has served his local communities since the age […]

2016 Synod Year in Review

Here is the USS Ark’s look back at the past year’s highlights: COLLINS ELECTED BISHOP:  The Rev. Barbara Jeanne Collins was elected as the third bishop of the synod for a six-year term beginning September 1, 2016.  She succeeded Bishop Robert L. Driesen, who retired on August 31, 2016, after nine years in office.  Collins […]

Report Describes “Halo Effect” of Sacred Places

America’s older churches and synagogues bring major economic value to their communities, making an significant contribution to local employment, education, children and families, the performing arts, and overall neighborhood health. A new scholarly study of the “halo effect” of older sacred places – conducted by Partners for Sacred Places in partnership with the University of […]

Up and Down the Valleys: December 2016

By action of the Upper Susquehanna Synod Council, the synod office will be closed for lunch from 12:00-1:00 p.m. weekdays.  The change took effect on December 1. Zion, Turbotville (Pastor Erwin Roux), began a new worship service this fall.  They now have a Saturday 6:00 p.m. liturgy. First, Watsontown (Pastor James Fladland), celebrated their 150th […]

As Winter Begins, Think Camp!

Ask yourself this:  When was the last time you played in the woods at night or slept outside and stared at the stars?  As the cold winds of winter blow, isn’t it nice to think about lying in a field, staring at the starlit night, as a warm summer breeze blows over your body? Now […]

Seafarers Collection

Members in 42 synod congregations and two individuals filled a total of 551 Christmas At Sea gift bags for the ministry of Seafarers’ International House.  Pictured above is Brenda Krouse, synod office manager, with the bags.  The bags are given to merchant seamen who come into port to off-load their cargoes during the Advent/Christmas season.  […]