Notes from Pastor Steve

 Fall is here and the end of 2020 is near! That’s good news for most of us as we anticipate better days ahead in 2021. But let’s not be too quick to overlook the remainder of 2020 and all the blessings God will provide in November and December. November includes All Saints Day (Nov. 1st), Christ the King Sunday (Nov. 22nd), Thanksgiving (Nov. 26th), and the first Sunday of Advent (Nov. 29th). December takes us through the remainder of Advent: 2nd Sunday of Advent (Dec. 6th), 3rd Sunday of Advent (Dec. 13th), 4th Sunday of Advent (Dec. 20th); Christmas Eve and our traditional Candlelight Christmas Eve Service; Christmas Day; and the 1st Sunday of Christmas (Dec. 27th). So much to celebrate and look forward to, even in the midst of this ongoing pandemic in our community, our nation, and our world. Don’t forget to thank God for the many blessings we receive each and every day!

I served on the Administrative Commission of the presbytery which worked with the closing of the Fredericktown Presbyterian Church. This church held its final worship service on September 20th with members, townspeople, former pastors, and friends in attendance. It was a bittersweet service full of laughter and tears for all concerned. May God continue to bless the ministries that will continue in Fredericktown even in the absence of this faithful congregation.

I officiated at Jean Henson’s memorial graveside service on September 25th. The Pilot Knob graveyard is located next to the Pilot Knob Church about 15 miles south of Rolla. This is near Edgar Springs where Jean and her husband lived and farmed for many years. Jean’s ashes were placed between her husband and her son in this lovely and well-kept little graveyard. The family expressed their appreciation to our church family for providing a “church home” for Jean for these past few years. Jean will be greatly missed by our congregation. Her shining presence at worship, in Sunday School, in the choir, and at various church events was always a welcome sight. May God continue to hold her in the palm of his hands.

Rikki Schaefer will be completing Jean’s spot in the liturgist rotation for 2020 and Richard Fieg is now leading the Older Adults’ Sunday School Class in Jean’s place. Thanks to Rikki and Richard for stepping up and filling in these important ministries. The Older Adult Sunday School class is now meeting after worship on Sunday mornings.

Both Jean’s unforeseen death and my working with the closing of the Fredericktown church were sad occasions and I certainly needed something to lift my spirits. So my days spent traveling in Indiana and elsewhere at the end of October were perfectly timed! The trees and fall foliage were beautiful and this served as a nice relaxing get-a-way. Julia and I spent most of our time in Parke County, Indiana, which bills itself as the “covered bridge capital of the U.S.” We didn’t make it to all 31 of the covered bridges in the county but we did get to see 19 of them!

I understand that worship went well in my absence – as it always seems to do. Thanks to Rick Schaefer for filling in for me in my absence. I am also taking the Sundays of November 15 and 22 as vacation days – my traditional “time in the woods.” This means that I will not be at the church from November 9th – November 22nd. I will still be available by phone and email if anyone needs to reach me during this time. Please text me, leave a voice message on my phone, or email me and I will try to get back to you that day.

The Session voted to NOT host the Isaac Lausen Trio in our church for the Christmas Walk this year. With the increasing cases of Covid-19 in our county they decided to err on the side of caution. They also feel we should NOT host a card-signing and sing-a-long that weekend. The live nativity scene should be OK as it is held outside.

The Session did approve my request to restart the Time With Children and Youth during worship on Sunday mornings. I felt bad one morning a few Sundays back when we had 5 young children in the sanctuary for worship but no way for them to really participate. Joan has agreed to continue leading this time in worship.

We continue to practice social distancing during our worship services and masks are recommended (NOT required). We have resumed some of our congregationally voiced worship responses (Call to Worship, Prayer of Confession, Affirmation of Faith, The Lord’s Prayer) but we still are NOT singing in worship nor has our choir resumed singing. We also encourage limiting human contact (no Passing of the Peace, no passing of Offering plates, no communion) and we dismiss slowly to avoid people gathering in groups at the conclusion of the service. These restrictions will remain in place until further notice – probably through the end of 2020.

The Thanksgiving and Christmas seasons are traditionally times for family get-togethers and shared meals. If you are gathering with family and/or friends during these seasons, please continue to practice safe protocols (regular hand washing, social distancing when possible, wearing masks when possible, limiting human contact, etc.).

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