Our Conference Minister is pastor, spiritual leader as well as the chief executive and administrative officer. The Conference Minister also represents the Conference and its vision to various constituencies including the national setting of the United Church of Christ as well as the ecumenical church and judicatories in this region.
THE REVEREND DOCTOR MONICA DAWKINS-SMITH
Conference Minister and President, Penn Central Conference of the United Church of Christ
The Reverend Doctor Monica Dawkins-Smith currently serves as the Conference Minister and President of Penn Central Conference of the United Church of Christ. Rev. Dr. Dawkins-Smith is an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ.
Prior to her election to serve as Conference Minister in 2016, she provided pastoral leadership for two churches in the Conference: historic Salem United Church in downtown Harrisburg PA (2008-2012) and Faith United Church of Christ (2013-2016), an open and affirming congregation in downtown State College, PA.
Both congregations lived out their mission to love God and neighbor by engaging intentional community outreach addressing issues of poverty, hunger and bullying in schools.
Rev. Dr. Dawkins-Smith currently serves the wider church in various leadership positions: Lancaster Theological Seminary Board of Trustees, Mid-Atlantic Region Cabinet member for UCC Council of Conference Ministers, Council for Health and Human Services Ministry Board Member, PA Council of Churches and a member of the United Church of Christ Council for Theological Education.
Prior to a vocation in ministry, Rev. Dr. Dawkins-Smith served in management positions in sales, marketing and in training and development roles across several industries (pharmaceutical, manufacturing and banking).
Rev. Foust provides conference wide leadership focusing on preparation, formation and continuing education for ministry in and on behalf of the United Church of Christ for authorized ministers and the ministry settings in the Penn Central Conference.
Nora is a cradle-UCCer. At the heart of her call is a passion for teaching and helping others live into the call of God on their lives, individually and in community. She has served the local church in several roles along this journey: deacon, youth leader, Sunday School teacher, liturgist, lay preacher, associate pastor and judicatory staff. Nora explored many avenues of lay leadership in the church while pursuing a career first in education and then in college athletics administration, before attending seminary and seeking ordination in Christian ministry. Along the way, she served in wider church ministry on the executive committees of the boards of the Eastern North Carolina Association, Johns River Valley Camp and Blowing Rock Conference Center. There is a great love for outdoor ministry expressed through service for years as a program director at Johns River Valley Camp and through work with the Southern Regional Winter Youth Retreat at Blowing Rock Conference Center. This past summer, she began her relationship with Hartman Center serving as a Big Splash participant and as a chaplain for one of the camp weeks.
One focus of Rev. Foust’s ministry in Penn Central Conference is staffing the Committees on Ministry as they work with already authorized ministers as well as those seeking ordination to pursue excellence in that work. Helping to interpret the draft Manual on Ministry working toward more consistent processes across Penn Central Association Committees, Nora brings administrative gifts with an eye toward detail and consistency. Additionally, she has envisioned more relevant boundary training awareness for authorized ministers that invites them to see healthy boundaries as an everyday habit in ministry rather than a 6-hour workshop that has to be attended every 3 years. The topical, two-hour sessions, including one designed especially for retired clergy, occur several times a year so that ministers can choose topics that are relevant to their ministry and keep on the 6-hours every three years cycle. Part of bring relevancy into this training has included the development of trainings for local church leaders as well.
Another area of focus for Nora is leadership development and training. Servant recruitment is only effective if those being recruited are trained for the ministry they are called to in the local church. From the ministry of the sexton and the Sunday School volunteer, all the way across the spectrum of the church to the ministry of the pastor, Rev. Foust seeks to encourage continued practical and spiritual development and growth so that all members of the Church might live fully into being the body of Christ that celebrates the differing gifts of its many members. Nora is a graduate of Elon University (’98) with a Bachelor of Arts in History. She earned her teaching license and taught high school social studies and worked as an athletic trainer for four years prior to returning to Elon to work as the Assistant Athletics Business Manager and Ticket Manager. Nora also holds a Master of Divinity from Duke Divinity School (’07). She was ordained at First Reformed UCC in Burlington, NC and served as Associate Pastor there prior to being called into ministry with the Southern Conference in 2012 and then to Penn Central Conference in 2016. She continues to envision her call through a teaching lens and strives to help others seek excellence in their ministry, both lay and clergy. She lives in Harrisburg with her husband, Mike and their two children, Mckenzie (20) and Joshua (8).
Rev. Dodds provides oversight of the weeks of summer camp as well as conference sponsored events at Hartman Center throughout the year.
Scott Watts is responsible for recruiting, training, and coordinating a team of chaplains in the Associations and throughout the Conference to provide pastoral care to Clergy and Clergy families in their times of need.
Scott Watts has been a pastoral counselor to many clergy and clergy families for over 16 years as Director of Bethany Counseling Ministry and in private practice in Harrisburg, PA. He has also provided clinical supervision for other therapists and conducted a number of workshops and seminars for clergy on prayer, spirituality, communication, self-differentiation, and being a non-anxious presence in midst of conflict, to name a few.
He has earned a Master of Divinity degree and worked for five (5) years in local pastoral ministry, in the Quaker tradition, which he says has given him “an appreciation for the challenges and rewards of ministry in the church.” His clinical training will be beneficial in assisting chaplains in the various Associations.
Scott says that he “…feels drawn to and a concern for pastors today, partly out of my own experience, but also out of a desire to support those men and women who provide a witness to the love of God and the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Some of them stand on the front lines of service in difficult circumstances and I know from consultations with Penn Central Conference staff that the care, support and love provided for clergy can make a very real contribution to the building up of the Kingdom of God.”
Wendy provides secretarial services for the Conference Minister and our Associate Ministers. She also works with the remittances from our congregations. All address changes should be directed to Wendy.
Stephanie is responsible for strategies and activities that advance the overall mission of the Conference, which include fundraising and donor development, communication, special events and volunteer management.
Stephanie Rader-Titzel is the newest staff member of Penn Central Conference. She started here in April, 2017 as Director of Communications and Generosity. Prior to coming to Penn Central Conference, she was an adjunct communications professor at Messiah College and held varying positions at Sprint, over a 20 year career, in communications, public relations, sales, marketing and corporate real estate. Her non-profit experience includes a tenure at the Girl Scouts where she served as Chief Marketing and Communications Officer here in Harrisburg.
Stephanie holds a masters of arts in public communication from American University, with a specialization in public relations and a bachelor of science in mass communication with minors in advertising and journalism from Towson University. She is a 1991 graduate of Broadneck High School in Annapolis, Maryland.
Stephanie married her husband, John, in 2007 and they have one child, Drew, an enthusiastic eight year old son along with a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel named Toby. Stephanie loves basketball (coaching, cheering or playing), water of any and every kind and being a mom.
Laura is responsible for scheduling meetings for our ministry groups and keeping our master calendar updated. She also is our profile secretary and receives clergy and church profiles and works on search and call along with supporting the Penn Central Conference staff.
Laura Dalton joins the Penn Central Conference staff with previous experience working as an Event Coordinator, Director of Communications, Program Director, and Sr. Recreation Specialist for Parks and Recreation organizations in Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Texas.
She is familiar with Microsoft programs, Web sites and various marketing tools. Her writing and editing skills are highly honed, having written and produced web-based and print articles, publications and projects. She has also served on several social media marketing teams (using Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter).
Having planned many events throughout her career, she thinks incrementally with the mind of a project planner. Of course, this will be very helpful for assisting with planning Annual Meeting and other Conference events.
Laura sings with the Central Pennsylvania Womyn’s Chorus and currently serves as Metropolitan Community Church Northeast Network Leader. She and her partner of 18 years (and legal spouse since 2015), Rev. Fern Gaffey (retired MCC clergy), live in Camp Hill.
Her educational background includes a Master of Science degree in Park, Recreation and Tourism, Certificate of Public Administration and a Bachelor of Science in Recreation Administration and English (Summa Cum Laude).
Hours: Monday – Thursday, 8:30am – 4:00pm