Notes from Pastor Steve

In many ways 2020 was a difficult year – we not only dealt with the Covid-19 pandemic but we also had five of our church members pass away. We lost John Brillos, Doris Judy, Gus Garleb, Jean Henson, and Ginny Lavender. We also lost three good friends of the church and church family in 2020: Mike Rottler, Zelma Ruple Basden, and Ruth Haas. May God continue to hold all of them in the palm of His hands.

Many of our church members and friends have been directly impacted by Covid-19. Several people have tested positive for this coronavirus and thus have had to quarantine or otherwise isolate themselves from others. Even without testing positive themselves, many have had to quarantine as a result of direct exposure to someone with a positive test.

In addition, our church family has had to miss many of our traditional celebrations and fellowship opportunities, such as: Maundy Thursday worship; our Easter SonRise service and all the other Easter traditions and festivities; Pentecost celebrations; Vacation Bible School; our in-person worship for three months; many people missing from worship because of Covid-19 concerns; our traditional fellowship dinners including Thanksgiving; our youth Christmas program; almost all of our fellowship activities planned for 2020 – to include our annual fish fry and picnic! It has been a truly unusual year.

And yet, the church has survived! We continued with our Helping Hands Food Pantry and Blessing Box ministries; we worshiped together online or via television when we could not gather in person; we did resume our in-person worship in limited circumstances – wearing masks, socially distancing, and without singing. Our members have continued to support our church financially and with your time and talents. We still have much to be thankful for as the body of Christ!

Our Christmas Eve worship service was held complete with communion and candlelight. It was take-home communion and the candles just sat in the windows, but we did celebrate! The birth of the Christ Child brings a new light into this world and we are called to spread this light to all!

We now turn the page to 2021 and we hope and pray that the end of this pandemic is now in sight. Bless be the ties that continue to bind us together in Christian love. Thanks be to God!

A special thanks goes out to our Guitar & Vocal Group made up of Marcia Schaefer, Becky Millinger, and John Weakly for continuing to provide much of our music during our restricted worship services. As we are still not allowing singing in worship (as of the printing of this article), this group has been meeting regularly and recording music for our use during worship.

Our annual Congregational and Corporate Meeting was held after worship on Sunday, January 10th. At this meeting we heard reports from the various committees and groups of the church as to their activities in 2020. Thanks to the many people who worked to keep our church ministries going in the past year. The church budget for 2021 was presented at this meeting and the pastor’s terms of call for 2021 were approved by the congregation. Also on January 10th we had the installation of our newest church officers: Joan Huck and Joy French as Elders to serve on the Session and Amy Pfaff and Julie Terry as Deacons to serve on our Board of Deacons. Please keep all of our church leaders in your prayers.

At a special called Presbytery Gathering on January 9th we accepted the resignation of the Rev. Dr. Craig Howard as our Presbytery Leader. Rev. Howard  led us through the hosting of the General Assembly and has put this presbytery back on sound financial and administrative footing during his tenure here – he will be greatly missed by all in our presbytery. Also at this gathering we were introduced to our Bridge Presbytery Leader, Rev. Rob Jenson, who will be filling this role until a new permanent Presbytery Leader can be appointed. We also approved the Rev. Liz Kanerva as our new Associate Presbytery Leader. The next regular Presbytery Gathering is scheduled for Thursday, February 4th. It will be a virtual meeting so if anyone would like to attend see Pastor Steve for details – you can attend from your own living room!

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, bringing us peace and joy.

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