Locally, the religion beat was hoppin' in 2008. Here's a summary of the top eight stories.

1. Former synod treasurer sentenced.

Barry R. Herr earned a 30-month stay in a federal prison for embezzling more than $1 million from the Lower Susquehanna Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

Herr, 61, of Lancaster was sentenced Nov. 21 in U.S. Middle District Court after pleading guilty to the federal charges. He was treasurer for the nine-county synod for 28 years.

2. Locals glimpsed pope in D.C. and New York.

Catholics from York County were among 46,000 who worshipped at the April 17 papal Mass at the open-air Nationals Park in Washington, D.C. Pope Benedict XVI was making his first visit to the U.S. since becoming pope in April 2005.

3. Pastor charged with corruption of minors.

The pastor at New Beginnings Bible Fellowship in Windsor was accused of kissing a 13-year-old girl from his congregation and sending thousands of text messages, including some obscene images, to her and a 14-year-old girl.

The Rev. Scott Allen Snyder has said he's not guilty. He's scheduled for a pretrial conference on the charges Jan. 8.

4. Candidates pursued Pennsylvanians of faith.

Democratic presidential candidates, and Barack Obama especially, made a conscious effort to woo faith-based voters. Obama and Hillary Clinton participated in the Compassion Forum at Messiah College, a Christian school in Grantham, where they tried to explain the role that their faith would play in their presidency.


5. Lutherans questioned pay for Diakon CEO.

Prompted by York Lutherans, a regional church assembly asked the nonprofit agency Diakon Lutheran Social Ministries to explain its philosophy on executive pay.

Their main concern was that Diakon executives ranked among the top five earners in a report of midstate nonprofit groups. The Diakon board defended the compensation, saying salary and pension payments were fair and competitive.

6. A long-time rabbi retired.

After 35 years, Rabbi Irwin N. Goldenberg, 67, retired in June from the Reform congregation Temple Beth Israel in York Township.

7. Christ Lutheran turned 275 years old.

German settlers gathered at the Codorus Creek in 1733 for a baptism and later founded Christ Lutheran -- mother church to many Lutheran parishes. Mark S. Hanson, presiding bishop of the denomination, visited.

8. Jehovah's Witnesses rebuilt after a fire.

In a few short weeks, more than 600 Jehovah's Witnesses from around Pennsylvania reconstructed a house of worship in Windsor Township that burned down in 2007.

In other religion news:

Future of the farm: Proceeds from the sale of a Christian campsite in North Codorus Township will fund a new day camp in York.

Programming should begin by summer, focusing on youth in inner-city York, said Anne Horton, who directs the Methodists' regional camping and retreat ministry.

From 1961 to 2005, the 14-acre Bethlehem Farm on Tunnel Hill Road hosted youth from York. The site was sold after two years of its sitting largely unused. The buyer, Peter Drueckhammer, paid $346,500, according to county records.