His Story or History? 2017
Where did we see God at work in our congregation for the year of 2017?
Everywhere. Every day. All day. We encounter God in such everyday places as the grocery store, post office, school, in the work place, and at home in the presence of our families. God greets us with mercy, kindness, and grace.
Officers of church committees spend the week planning and preparing for Sunday worship that often includes special events following the service. In addition, church officers plan ahead for special events. January was officer training month. The message from I Peter 1 is, “Be alert, think straight and be ready when Jesus comes”. God said, “I am holy; you be holy”. Holy means listening. It is about listening to the Holy Spirit which leads us on a journey from slavery to sin to freedom through an embrace of God’s righteousness. The joy of Jesus lifts up life to be celebrated (The secret of Christianity).
During the Baptism of Our Lord Sunday, a special celebration was planned. This special day of baptism was a day when we pause and think Jesus’s ministry. Isaiah said, “He will bring forth justice”. Justice is doing right by our neighbor. Jesus identified himself with the suffering servant. The ministry of the servant is the dawn of a new era of salvation for the people of God. We continue this wonderful ministry every time we baptize a child of God. This year, Ryan Fatcheric and Danielle Moore were welcomed into God’s family through the sacrament of Baptism. In order to celebrate these individuals’ inclusion into the family of Christ and our church family, numerous church committees worked in tandem with Pastor Mary to make them feel welcome by hosting a receptions afterward to celebrate these new additions.
In 2017, our congregation welcomed six new members into our church through their confirmation. These individuals started classes in February and on Easter morning they were welcomed as new members of the congregation. Noah Hickok, Dylan Leubner, Danielle Moore, Meagan Fatcheric, Grace Fatcheric, and Jenna Grudzien became members of the First Presbyterian Church of Weedsport. They heard the message told through the ages that “Christ the Lord is risen today”. The resurrection is the beginning, not the ending.
Our present day task is the Great Commission: to share the good news, be witnesses, giving hope, and continuing what Christ began on Earth.
A work crew from the Cayuga County Jail came to the church to strip wallpaper, paint walls in various church rooms, and wax the dining room floors. Also, Pastor Mary and some dedicated helpers helped to paint the upper walls in the dining room. Jesse Dennis replaced windows in the church offices, Sunday school, preschool, and Koinonia rooms. Plaques were placed on new window frames to dedicate or honor the memory of loved ones. A fantastic job was done by everyone involved.
The Jean Smith Prayer Shawl Ministry was very in 2017 with providing shawls, baby blankets, lap robes, and prayer pets to help comfort those in time of distress, need, or joy. For the month of February, The ministry provided 18 knitted hats to the American Heart Association for newborn babies. In addition, sensory mitts were given for people with dementia and sensory issues. Hats, toys, and blankets were also sent to a child in Binghamton who had been diagnosed with leukemia. 6 baby blankets and 4 hats were created and donated to Pregnancy Loss Support Services at Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester. These gifts were truly blessings to those who received them from a very important ministry.
Throughout the year generous donations were given to Brutus- Sennett Food Pantry. One Big event is Souper Bowl Sunday. 195 items and $135 were raised for the food pantry. Every little bit helps with the need great and constantly increasing.
A Shower of Blessings spring luncheon was held to benefit refugee resettlement apartments. It was a real blessing filling two vans full of household items for refugees in need followed by a delicious luncheon afterwards.
One Great Hour of Sharing raised money for children around the world by asking our own children in Sunday school to fill fish banks to help loose the bonds of injustice. This program creates long term care to end hunger and poverty by providing food, shelter, and education to refugees fleeing Syria.
On Thursday mornings for the month of March, Pastor Mary led the congregation in a tasty smorgasbord of spiritual practices such as creative prayer, meditation, and Bible study. This smorgasbord of Lenten devotions provided a great opportunity for people to get together to celebrate and learn more about their faith through sharing experiences with one another. Everyone enjoyed the spiritual smorgasbord provided by Pastor Mary.
On Good Friday alongside the choir from Weedsport United Methodist Church, our church choir presented a short cantata, The Last Seven Words. The cantata was a moving piece of music that provided those in attendance with a reminder of the suffering Jesus endured to save us all from sin. A cross walk took place in order to give many people time to ponder what took place during the time of Jesus’s crucifixion.
Did I forget to mention our awesome choir? These talented individuals practice every Thursday regardless of rain, snow or shine. The choir is led by choir director Bill Smith who also writes music history pieces for the Steeple Chimes. One message from Our Daily Bread, A Reason to Sing was right on! The Bible says more than 50 times, “Sing, Praise!” Praising God has the power to change our thoughts, hearts, and lives. We have a joyful choir and that’s something to celebrate every day!
A community Easter Egg Hunt was held in the sanctuary. The congregation hid plastic eggs everywhere. After 12 resurrection eggs were found the Good News of Christ’s Resurrection was told. Prizes games, punch, and cookies were served to the children after the program had finished.
The graduating class of 2017 celebrated their milestone with a farewell sermon of wisdom from Pastor Mary. In every generation, the people of God have been blessed to find their home and resting place in God! We gathered to worship and praise the God of all people.
From members of the congregation, we were able to hear meaningful interviews from Charlie Kreplin, Joe Marshall, James Marshall, and Linda Willis. Pastor Mary asked meaningful questions about their faith journeys, life experiences, and reasons for following Jesus, firm knowledge of their own spirituality, and advice for those new to a faith in Jesus Christ. These interviews were very meaningful and inspiring for all who were able to hear them. The questions asked of the interviewees are great ones for us to ponder as well.
The Deacons were very busy planning, serving, and cleaning up on Sunday for worship and special occasions. Many of these events were funerals, weddings, baptisms, confirmations, communions, Christmas Angel deliveries, and most importantly fellowship. Prayers were offered to church family and friends. Deacons also organized an ice cream social and Christmas Cookie decorating event that included caroling at Evergreen Heights with adults and children celebrating alongside the residents.
Cyndy Rooker is the Christian education director and coordinator of all the church children’s programs including Children’s Day, Vacation Bible School, and the annual Christmas Program. Pastor Mary and Cyndy were very busy this year. Their phenomenal work, along with many volunteers, shows a commitment to the children and adults of the congregation. The Presbyterian, Baptist, Methodist, and Sennett Federated churches joined together for the annual community wide Vacation Bible School. The programs for 2017 was, Hero Central: Discover Your Inner Strength in God. Superhero costumes were worn on a float in the annual Weedsport Fireman’s Field Days parade. 40 children, 23 adults, and 15 teenagers from the community attended VBS learning to do good, seek peace, and go after it! (Psalm 34:146). VBS raised $237 for the Corporal Kyle R. Schneider Foundation. Local heroes shared information through visits from special organizations such as police K-9 units, fire departments, and local EMS units. A closing celebration for VBS was held at Trolley Park.
Pastor Mary served as chaplain at Vanderkamp for their 2017 summer camp program, We Believe. A collection of cans and bottles was started to raise money for Kamperships to help campers attend the summer program. We also had a Doug’s To Go and bake sale in our parking lot raising 153.00 from the bake sale and 399.70 from Doug’s To Go for a grand total of 552.70. The rummage sale raised 893.20. The prayer shawl ministry raised 60.00. With all of this hard work, seven youth were able to attend Vanderkamp. The hard work of the congregation was able to foster the physical, social, and spiritual development of the campers as they played and prayed with other youth growing in faith as a Christian community.
Liturgy means work of the people. So on Labor Day, we all shared in the work of worship. Scripture, hymns, and poems speak to us and will most likely speak to others.
In September, Blessings in Backpacks kicked off the return of Sunday School. This year 24 children and 7 confirmed youth leaders were taught what it means to be a follower of Jesus through Bible stories, opportunities to serve as disciples to serve in the classroom, community, and the world.
Our annual turkey dinner was another success by bringing the community together in a time of fellowship. This event also involved coordination and planning by many members of the church in order to make it a success.
The American Red Cross alleviates human suffering after emergencies have happened by mobilizing the power of volunteers and generosity of donors. Donors possess a generous spirit and desire to give back to their communities. A man said, “I feel it’s a gift I give to myself. I’m giving back what was given to me, LIFE!”. Blood donors play an integral part in the delivery of modern healthcare. Jeanette Bates is our church’s representative to the American Red Cross. She coordinates the blood drive at for the church every other month. Jeannette has been the coordinator and a donor for many years.
To bring 2017 to a close, the Salvation Army angel tags were available to make a child’s Christmas very special.
Each week for Advent, the Worship Committee decorated the tree with symbols of peace, wisdom, light, love, and joy. The congregation was transported back through time to the City of Bethlehem during the time of our savior. Volunteers ran the bakery, blacksmith shop, scribes tent, carpentry shop, pottery shed, painter’s hut, the stable, and village photography shop in Bethlehem. These shops received many visitors from the marketplace to laugh, play, create, and hear about the birth of our savior. A delicious dish to pass dinner followed.
It takes joyful volunteers to make all these programs possible and successful. It also takes love we receive from Christ to accomplish all that we do in our homes, church and the community. Love is the greatest healer to be found. Jesus’s commandment is given, “To love one another, as He has loved us”. If we fail in love, we fail in all things. Love trumps all!