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Laurelville church center hires director of communications

| Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2012, 9:15 p.m.
Mt. Pleasant Journal
Sayward Elliott was recently named director of communications at Laurelville Mennonite Church Center in Mt. Pleasant Township. She is pictured in a photograph taken in October of 2012. Kelly Vernon | Mt. Pleasant Journal

Sayward Elliott was recently named director of communications at Laurelville Mennonite Church Center in Mt. Pleasant Township.

“Sayward is going to be a great addition to our staff leadership,” said the Rev. John H. Denlinger, the center's executive director.

She replaces Brian Paff, who recently resigned, in the post.

“My goal is to get more organizations aware of the center and using our grounds for their needs, as well as continuing with the work that Brian Paff had already begun,” Elliott said.

The center has been a huge part of Elliott's life, she said.

She recalls many fond memories of attending the camp as a member of the Pittsburgh Youth Network (PYN) in addition to the time she spent there with her own family, she said.

As a summer family camper on the campus, Elliott walked up Sunset Hill and attended gatherings the Solar House like so many other young people have.

She said she recalls playing in mud and on rocks and worshipping in the Meeting House as a teenager with PYN, which today known as Pittsburgh Kids Foundation (PKF).

Before moving from the area 10 years ago, Elliott's husband, Matt, served as the PKF program director.

The center hosted a total of approximately 1,200 PKF middle- and high-school aged students for the 49th consecutive year for four weekend visits in November.

Elliott grew up attending such retreats, during which students play in mud, enjoy fellowship and hear passionate messages about the Lord.

“As we all know, Laurelville is a holy place and this is proven year after year through the PKF,” Elliott said.

Denlinger said the couple was very excited to encounter PKF officials and students during the recent events.

“We're excited about the connections (Sayward and Matt) have with the Pittsburgh area and the kind of networking that may happen as a result of that,” Denlinger said.

Brad Henderson, president of Pittsburgh Kids Foundation, spoke highly of the decision made by LMCC officials to bring Elliott aboard in her current capacity.

“Sayward brought a lot of joyful energy to PKF. I think she will bring that same passion to the Laurelville staff,” Henderson said. “The fact that she was once an active part of our groups that stayed at Laurelville gives her some unique insight on how to best serve those who stay at Laurelville.”

In 2000, Elliott earned a Bachelor of Science degree in media communications with a minor in journalism from Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

She previously served as director of student ministries for All Saints Church in Pawley's Island, S.C.

Elliott said she and her husband always talked about how great it would be to live and work at a camp like LMCC. She said she kept checking the camp's website for job openings.

She speaks with pride of the center's unique setting of more than 640 acres and of the of hiking and other activities the campus has to offer.

“It's the perfect setting for church retreats and training conferences, as well as corporate retreats,” Elliott said.

Living once again through cold winters will take some getting used to, Elliott said, but she added that she and her husband however are excited to raise their daughter Spencer, 7, and son Ian, 2, while living on the center's campus.

Kelly Vernon is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-547-5722 or at