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Samuel Getty, for The Sentinel  

Camp Hill’s Amias Colestock works his way through an aggressive Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic defense in the PIAA Class 1A Boys Soccer Championship held Saturday at Hersheypark Stadium.

Man hopes cowboy church finds roots in Newville area

An area man hopes a traditional idea will lead to a new worship idea in the Newville area.

Larry Flood would like to bring a cowboy church to the Newville area, and he’s inviting local residents to an informational meeting at 9:30 a.m. Saturday and a Christmas candlelight service at 7 p.m. Dec. 17. Both events will be held at Ye Olde Country Auction, 40 Shepherd Road, Newville.

If there is enough interest, a cowboy church could be holding regular services locally within a few months.

Cowboy churches offer informal nondenominational Christian services without membership requirements or a dress code. They are relatively new in the Northeast but became increasingly popular in the West over the past 40 years, and in the southern part of the East Coast in the past 15 years.

“It’s a more informal style of worship,” Flood said. “There are hundreds around the country. They just haven’t made their way to the East yet. We’re hoping to change that.”

He said the roots of cowboy churches can be traced to cowboys who started holding church services while on the rodeo circuit.

“Most of the rodeos traveled around the country, and they put on their shows at different arenas,” he said. “They’re away from home, away from any chance of attending church on a regular basis, so they started gathering together on Sunday mornings and having worship in the rodeo rings.”

Flood said the idea is “the perfect fit for our rural culture.”

“What we’re looking to do is have a regular church service — the difference is in the style of worship, which is more of an informal style,” he said.

The church would meet in the auction house. Flood, who is certified as a lay speaker and working toward his ordination, would serve as pastor and offer a weekly sermon. The congregation would sing hymns, and other music would be provided by guitarists and possibly a country or bluegrass band, Flood said.

He compared a typical cowboy church service to the contemporary service “that is so popular today with young people, except that we’re going to sing a lot of the old hymns.”

“The music would be different, but the contemporary style would be similar,” he said.

Flood, who once served as a state park chaplain, said this type of service is much like the worship service offered to campers. In fact, that’s where he got the idea to start a cowboy church.

“It was back while I was doing my chaplaincy that I got the idea,” he said. “There were several times when people said they didn’t have a regular church, but they would attend (state park services). It got me to thinking, what do they do the rest of year. There’s a need here.”

He said casual dress is also a plus for many people.

“People don’t go camping with anything but their camping clothes,” he said. “Cowboy churches are like that (because) there are people who don’t feel comfortable in the dress-up custom that has become common.”

Flood said he was encouraged by attendance at an earlier informational meeting.

“The turnout was more than a dozen,” he said. “We had people in their 80s and some in their 30s and one teenager. There was a large variety of ages and where they came from. To get people coming out of curiosity to see what it’s all about, I was tickled with that. If we can get that many Saturday, I think people may be interested in something like this.”

Flood said Saturday’s meeting will help to determine if there is enough interest to hold regular services, and the Christmas service will be the perfect opportunity for people to see for themselves just what a cowboy church is all about.

“We just want to provide something for people who are looking for something,” he said.

For more information, email Flood at

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Wolf starting to look like 'two-term Tom' as 2018 approaches

HARRISBURG — He’s starting to look like two-term Tom.

Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf likely has wrapped up his biggest first-term fights with the Legislature’s huge Republican majorities and his record is largely set a year before voters decide whether to give him a second term. He now heads into the 2018 election year with political winds at his back.

Wolf’s polls currently resemble those of former Gov. Ed Rendell’s, the Democrat who won a second term in 2006, rather than former Gov. Tom Corbett’s, the Republican who Wolf beat in 2014 to make the first Pennsylvania governor to lose re-election and the original “one-term Tom.”

“That is a decent spot to be in for an incumbent governor who’s been through lots of fiscal battles the last three years,” said Christopher Borick, a pollster and political science professor at Muhlenberg College in Allentown. “All in all, you probably take that if you’re Tom Wolf.”

In recent days, eyes increasingly have turned to next year’s election.

The budget battle of 2017 ended, if four months late, and the four-candidate Republican primary field appears set with the entry of House Speaker Mike Turzai, R-Allegheny.

Wolf’s potential adversaries attack him in relatively boilerplate terms: he’s a serial tax hiker, an out-of-touch elitist and a lousy leader. The state Republican Party calls him “America’s most liberal governor.”

To be sure, Republicans have blocked the vast majority of Wolf’s proposed tax increases, billions of dollars primarily to fix yawning budget deficits and funding disparities in public schools.

Wolf, 69, was virtually a political novice when he took office in 2015, and his strategy in the Capitol has evolved.

In this year’s budget stalemate, Wolf allied with Senate Republicans against House Republicans. He also agreed to versions of legislation long-sought by Republicans — and long opposed by public-sector labor unions — such as breaking the state’s monopoly on wine and liquor sales.

Those concessions and the drumbeat for a tax increase make Wolf’s record a “mixed bag,” said Gene Barr, president and CEO of the Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry, which backed Corbett in the 2014 campaign.

Wolf signed robust medical marijuana legislation — something Corbett opposed — and a package of measures designed to fight Pennsylvania’s opioid-addiction crisis. Meanwhile, his administration has been relatively scandal-free, Pennsylvania’s uninsured rate has fallen to the lowest on record, unemployment is at a post-recession low and hiring has picked up.

As of September, Pennsylvania had the nation’s 29th fastest 12-month job-growth rate — better than the bottom-10 ranking it racked up over the past three decades.

Wolf faces no Democratic Party challenger in the May 15 primary election, despite complaints from the left’s coalition of labor unions and environmental advocacy organizations about the deals Wolf cut with Republicans.

To some extent, he is forgiven for having little choice with historically large Republican legislative majorities — the biggest since the 1950s — and some in the coalition see 2018 as an existential election if a Republican governor joins those majorities in power.

“It appears highly likely that the choice will be between Gov. Wolf and someone who is highly anti-environmental,” said David Masur, executive director of Philadelphia-based PennEnvironment.

Wolf has not really achieved his major first-term aims to fix Pennsylvania’s long-term finances, raise the minimum wage or overhaul the state’s tax structure and system of public-school funding.

Allies blame Republican lawmakers, and Wolf has signaled that he will, too.

“Governor Wolf has been fighting to change Harrisburg and move Pennsylvania away from the days of Harrisburg insiders balancing budgets on the backs of children, our schools and seniors,” his campaign said.

That said, Wolf has gotten almost halfway to his goal of $2 billion education funding increase, as well as Senate passage of a tax on Marcellus Shale natural gas production.

Next year’s election provides a built-in advantage for Wolf: mid-term elections tend to go poorly for the party of the president, currently Republican Donald Trump.

This month’s sweeping election victories for Democrats across Philadelphia’s heavily populated suburbs is another good sign for Wolf. No prospective opponent of Wolf’s has a household name and Wolf can conveniently campaign against an unpopular Trump and GOP-controlled Congress.

Historically speaking, incumbents in statewide office in Pennsylvania only go down in defeat when swing voters are motivated against them, such as Corbett.

Analysts say they see no similar pattern for Wolf.

“And when you combine that with a potential wind of positive Democratic fortunes in 2018,” Borick said, “you certainly could be optimistic if you’re in his camp.”

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Santa arrives during holiday parade in Shippensburg

Hundreds of people braved the cold and lined King Street on Friday night to welcome Santa Claus and kick off the Christmas season at the 26th annual Shippensburg DOIT Holiday Parade.

“The streets were very full this year,” said parade chair Lizzie Bailey. “There were a lot of people, and we had a nice crowd at the tree lighting, too. We had more people than last year, and last year was a boomer year.”

Bailey said the community support was especially nice because the theme of this year’s celebration is “Hometown Christmas.”

“I was pleased that the veterans participated, and we had Little League and elementary wrestlers marching in honor of Bill Wolfe,” she said.

For many people, the parade, which is followed by the tree lighting ceremony, refreshments, holiday activities and visits with Santa, is a tradition.

“We come every year and then go on a carriage ride,” said Kristy Wagner of Shippensburg. “We get hot cocoa and cookies, too.”

“I like to see all the lights and floats, and music,” said daughter Abby, 9. “And Santa,” added 2-year-old daughter Harper.

Chris and Amy Jackson, of Shippensburg, and their three sons also attend the parade every year “unless it’s really, really cold,” Amy Jackson said and chuckled.

Chris Jackson said they once lived along King Street, and it’s always nice to return to see their old house, enjoy a few cookies and visit with Santa.

Bryan and Heather Zeger, of Shippensburg, were at the parade with their children, 5-year-old Lexi and 9-month-old Gabriel.

“She’s so excited to see Santa,” said Heather Zeger of her daughter.

Lexi said she asked her parents to take her to the parade so she could ask Santa for a stuffed unicorn and a Fitbit.

Crystal Torres and her children have attended every parade since moving to Shippensburg five years ago.

Torres said it’s “the joy of Christmas” that makes the evening special.

“We come to see Santa come to town and to see them light the tree,” said her son Logan.

Mary Aylesworth, of Shippensburg, waved to parade participants and shouted, “Merry Christmas.”

“We appreciate everything our vets and fallen heroes have done for us,” she said, adding that it is important to be positive and set a good example for children.

Bailey agreed.

“The community needs to be there for these youths,” she said. “Over the last decade, we have lost a lot of people in our hometown who were doers, and it is the younger people who will step up to lead us.”

Aylesworth said everyone should also remember that Christmas is “all about Jesus.”

“Don’t forget why we have this season,” she said.

Aylesworth was especially grateful to spend the evening with her brother, who is visiting from Syracuse, N.Y.

David and Ashley Lane, who recently moved to Shippensburg, brought their children to the parade to kick off the holiday season.

“We wanted to get to know the town a little more and get in the spirit of Christmas,” David Lane said.

Festivities continued through the weekend in Shippensburg.

Teen of the Week: Music captures Laura Mueller's heart

Chemistry may have stolen Laura Mueller’s mind, but music always has her heart.

A senior at Cedar Cliff High School, Mueller is the daughter of Eileen and John Mueller. She said she had always wanted to be a doctor—until she took her first chemistry class. Then, she realized she liked chemistry so much that she plans to major in chemistry in college.

“I was thinking to have a career in chemistry. I’m not completely sure which career yet, but I’m going to explore my options in college,” Mueller said.

Science has also been at the core of two of her activities in high school, the Science Olympiad and the Epidemiology Challenge.

Mueller explained that students compete in the Science Olympiad in challenges ranging from biology to psychology to physics. Of course, she competes in the chemistry-related disciplines of chemistry lab, forensics and material science.

As a freshman, Mueller applied to participate in Cedar Cliff’s Epidemiology Challenge. Then, as a sophomore, she participated in the challenge that gave students the opportunity to meet with epidemiologists at Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center and to be part of creating an epidemiology-based project, which was presented at the Capital Area Engineering and Science Fair.

But, for all her skill in science, music plays the major role in the highlights of her high school career.

Mueller’s love of music started when she was about 3 years old and started taking piano lessons from her best friend’s father. That sparked an interest in music that went on to joining choirs and to participate in musicals, including lead roles.

One of Mueller’s favorite roles came in elementary school when she played the Artful Dodger in “Oliver,” but she said her “absolute favorite” was the role of Elle Woods in “Legally Blonde Jr.” as a freshman.

“It was such a new experience for me because I had leads before, but I had never been the focus of the whole show. I was pretty much onstage the entire time,” she said.

At Cedar Cliff, Mueller has been a member of Cedar Cliff Chamber Singers, a group for which she is serving as the president this year. She also plays the marimba in the West Shore Marching Band and Indoor Percussion Ensemble.

One thing Mueller would like to accomplish in her remaining months of high school is to write her own song. She’s already talked to the chorus teacher about helping her with music theory, and has been working on her writing and improving her vocabulary.

Though she plans to have a career in the field of chemistry, Mueller said music will always be a part of her life, potentially through teaching private vocal lessons or assisting with the direction of a musical.

“Music is a huge passion of mine. It’s the thing that takes me away from real life and opens me up to a whole new dream world,” Mueller said.