Notes from Pastor Steve

A new year begins! My prayer for 2022 is that God continues to bless First Presbyterian Church and the many ministries that are the focus and life of this congregation. 2021 was another unusual and somewhat difficult year as we continued to manage this pandemic which is still impacting our community and our world. But the Spirit of God still flows through the ministries of this church and its people – thanks be to God!

The Advent and Christmas season of 2021 was a celebration of joy for our church. The Live Nativity Scene in early December was a sight to behold as kids, grandkids, and friends of the church helped to make this a very moving event. On this warm evening many, many visitors stopped by the see this live presentation of Mary & Joseph, the shepherds, the kings, the angels, and, of course, three lively donkeys – all attending to the babe in the manger. Thanks to all who helped to organize and participate in this special evening.

A wonderful Christmas pageant was presented by our children, youth, and those young at heart during worship in the Advent season. This retelling of the nativity story was re-enacted  in full costume and it was a touching presentation of this story from Luke which needs to be told again and again.

Our Christmas Eve Candlelight Communion Service was the culmination of the Advent season. This beautiful and moving worship is always a highlight of our Christmas celebrations. I hope you had a merry and happy Christmas in 2021!

A personal joy for my family during December 2021 was the birth of my grandson, Philip Matthews, on December 3rd. Philip had some early breathing difficulties and spent a few days in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, but he is at home and doing GREAT now! Thanks for all the thoughts and prayers of support for Philip.

The First Presbyterian Church Annual Corporate and Congregational Meeting took place after worship on January 9th. This meeting always summarizes the many ministries of our church for the previous year – I hope you were present to hear these.

One thing that has changed in the ministries of our church is that Ed Millinger has “retired” as the manager/administrator of the Helping Hands Food Pantry. Ed had been the face and the hands of the majority of this ministry and we owe him a deep debt of gratitude for the many, many hours of work he committed to this special ministry serving those in need in our community. The next time you see Ed Millinger tell him “thank you” for his service on behalf of this church! Ed had served in this capacity for nine plus years and now others are stepping up to fill his rather large shoes! More information to come about the “reorganization” of our food pantry responsibilities and roles in the near future.

Also in January, we install our church officers for the new year. Sharon Boyer is a new Elder serving on the Session and Patti Weakly is a new Deacon serving on our Board of Deacons. Rick Schaefer was also elected to a second 3-year term to continue serving as an Elder on the Session. We presently have six Elders serving on the Session (Sharon Boyer, Joy French, Joan Huck, Kathy Roth, Rick Schaefer, Bruce Terry) and six Deacons serving on the Board of Deacons (Ann Coulson, Amy Pfaff, Marcia Schaefer, Julie Terry, John Weakly, Patti Weakly). Our church could not operate without all these people being willing to serve in positions of leadership. A special thanks to all those who serve in leadership roles in our church.

What will the remainder of Winter and then the Spring of 2022 bring in the life of the church? I know it is difficult to plan very far ahead as we continue to cope with this pandemic. But it is my hope that the next few months will bring a sense of “normalcy” back to our lives. Regardless, we know that God is always with us: For God is always above us, watching over us; God is always below us, supporting us and holding us up; God is always behind us, protecting and guarding us; God always goes before us, leading and guiding our way; God always stands right beside us, giving us a shoulder to lean on; and God is always inside us, bringing us peace and joy. Go now in peace, into this new year of 2022, my friends!

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own insight. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Proverbs 3: 5 & 6 (RSV)

Yours in Christ,                    

Pastor Steve