Pastor Mark Ruzicka

Pastor Mark is currently serving as Chaplain to two UCC Nursing Homes in Carlisle: Thornwald and Sarah Todd Homes.  He has been there about 4 years.  Previously, he served as Pastor at St John’s UCC in Chambersburg, PA for about 8 years.  Earlier, he served as Associate Pastor at Christ Church UCC in Bethlehem, PA for about 6 years.  He grew up in the Lehigh Valley, PA.   He graduated from Susquehanna University and Princeton Theological Seminary.   He is married to Christel (a high school English teacher at Waynesboro), and they have three children:  Hope (16), Jacob (13) and Samantha (9).   His interests include baseball (go Phillies!), soccer, speaking Spanish, hiking, and bird watching.  

From the Desk of

Pastor Mark

     I write this article in the midst of a Holy Week unlike any other I’ve experienced.  As the church, we are meeting only online. In the nursing home, there are no outside visitors and I can visit with the residents only if I (and they) wear masks…and we stay 6 feet apart from each other. I tune into the news a few times a day and each time I see the number of deaths caused by the Corona Virus going up dramatically. We have to ask,

“What does our faith have to say at a time like this?”

     I wanted to share something that has been helping me: to share my/our sufferings with Christ. Here’s one way we can do that…by the great author named Joyce Rupp in her book Praying Our Goodbyes.

     “When we are feeling overwhelmed by suffering, it is helpful to go and sit by the cross of Jesus, to hear his cry, to see his pain, to know that he understands and sees ours. Reflect on one dimension of the passion that most relates to your own particular suffering.”

*Sit with him [Jesus] in love at the table where he experiences the sadness of farewell

(Luke 22:14-20)

*Kneel with him in the garden of agony where he struggles with surrender (Luke 22:39-46)

*Hear the jeers and insults flung at him (Luke 22:63-65)

*Stand with his mother, bent in sorrow (John 19:25-27)

*Cry out with him in surrender to the Father (Luke 23:44-46)

*Bathe his wounds and gently lay him in the tomb (John 19:38-42)

*Keep company with those who mourn his passing (Matthew 27:61)

     I believe connecting our sufferings with Christ’s..…makes them holy and helps us to draw upon Christ’s strength. Perhaps this will be helpful to you.

     To close, Joyce Rupp shares a prayer that I commend to you (based on 2 Cor. 4:5-12):

God of Hope, I unite with your son, Jesus, and I renew my belief in your loving power and strength. I believe that even though I am in difficulties on all sides…that I shall never be hopelessly cornered.

Even though I see no answer to my problems, I need not despair.

I may feel as though I am persecuted, but I will never be deserted by you.

I may be knocked down, but never destroyed.

Always, wherever I may be, I can draw strength and courage from the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.

I will have my own time of transformation.

I open myself to your light shining in my darkness and I rejoice in the overwhelming fidelity of your love in my life. Amen.”


Blessings from Pastor Mark

Our Staff and Committees

Elaine Scheffer

GUCC Office Manager

When you call the Grace United Church of Christ office you will first hear the cheery voice of  Elaine Scheffer.  She has been with GUCC for over 5 years and is integral in keeping the operations at the church running smoothly.  Elaine, not only makes sure issues that come her way are resolved, she also offers creative ideas to improve any projects going on at the church. 

When Elaine is not busy at the church you will find her at home doing various craft projects, crocheting, scrapbooking, and oil painting.  She loves baking treats and chocolate candies. She enjoys bargain hunting at yard sales and antique shopping with her husband, John.  She loves the summer months, cookouts, bonfires and spending time with her family at the lake.

2020-2021 Consistory Members


Marg Stouffer

Vice President

Steve Miller


Lu Miller


Larry Stepler

Jeff Stouffer

Sydnae Vanner

Mark Stahl

Carolyn Shoemaker


2020 Committees & Chairpersons

Altar & Flower Committee:
Kate Kennedy, Cathy Keefer, Mary Frances Myers, Lu Miller, and Gladys Doyle

Building and Grounds:
Steve Miller, Jeff Stouffer, Barry Shoemaker, and Mark Stahl

Congregational Care Committee:
Pastor Mark, Sydnae Vanner, Jeff & Marg Stouffer, Carolyn Shoemaker, Lorna Thomas, Jan Shafer, Debi Pirtle

Scholarship Committee:

Lorna Thomas, Marquita Storms, Tony Homer and Jim Thomas

First Saturday Free Meal: 

Lorna Thomas, Chet Nye, Mildred Minnich, Tammy Hockenberry, Jan Shafer

Activities & Fundraising Committee: 

Marg Stouffer, Lorna Thomas, Chet Nye, Mildred Minnich, Tammy Hockenberry, Carolyn Shoemaker,
Jean Rice, Jan Shafer, Cathy Keefer, Nancy Myers, Debi Pirtle, Sydnae Vanner, Kate Kennedy

Grace’s Closet: 

Nancy Myers, Jean Rice plus volunteers including Chet Nye, Mildred Minnich, Tammy Hockenberry

Grace Snyder Circle:

President Darlene Bitner, past President Nancy Myers

Laundry Love:

Carolyn Shoemaker, Sydnae Vanner

Music Ministry: 

Patty Stepler, Susan Alsip-Lawson

Choir Members:  


Kate Kennedy, Elaine Scheffer