Northway Presbyterian Church

Bright Sunday’ adds humor to service at Northway PC

People don’t normally associate humor with the Bible, especially around the Easter season. Pastor Taylor Camerer isn’t one of those people.

Taylor-CamererAn eight-week pulpit supply pastor at Northway Presbyterian Church in Williamsport, PA, Taylor began his two-month stay on the Sunday after Easter with a sermon that was called “Bright Sunday.” Taking ideas from “Holy Humor Sunday” in which some pastors use as an opportunity to dress in costumes for a light-hearted Sunday worship, Taylor didn’t go quite that far in his very first Sunday at Northway PC. Instead, he just preached about how humor is very much a part of the Bible and how it should be embraced.

“There’s an old tradition in the church, rooted in the early church theologians who saw a practical joke played on the devil when Jesus was raised from the dead,” Taylor said. “So Easter was a God-supreme joke played on death. On either Easter Monday — the Monday right after Easter Sunday — or Bright Sunday — the Sunday after Easter – they were kind of days of joy and laughter, parties and picnics, pot lucks to celebrate Jesus’ resurrection. There was a tradition of practical jokes. There was a lot of water being thrown back in the day – drenching people with water, baptizing so to speak – singing and dancing. There was a tradition of telling jokes and telling stories with a twist at the end that end unexpectedly with a laugh.”

Taylor included about a half dozen stories or light-hearted tales that had surprise endings in his service on April 12. Because it was his first service, he kept it fairly low key compared to what some churches were doing elsewhere.

The Fellowship of Merry Christians is an organization that highlights different ideas on how to celebrate “Bright Sunday.” One church in North Carolina has a pastor who delivers his sermon dressed as a medieval jester with a sermon on I Corinthians 4:10 titled “Fools For Christ’s Sake.” Another congregation in Missouri put up a sign that read “If you must sleep in on Sunday, sleep in here.” The church then laid out sleeping bags on the back pews and actually allowed for a few minutes for naps during the service.

Adding a humorous element to the service can be a pleasant change for some worshipers.

“God so often uses tragedy and suffering and difficulties,” Taylor said. “There’s a lot in the world that is sobering and sombering but there’s a difference between being serious and solemn and just kind of being sour.”

Among the most recognizable ways the Bible uses tragedy to send a message is around Easter when Jesus dies on the cross only to have the stone rolled away from the tomb and find out he had risen from the dead. Taylor is quick to point out that there definitely was a party-like atmosphere outside the tomb when word quickly spread of the resurrection.

“There was a euphoria, a hilarity, an unspeakable gladness that your sins had been forgiven,” Taylor said. “To be glad and to not be fearful is an imperative in the Bible. There is a victory over death, but the twist is what men meant for evil, God meant for good.”

Ultimately, injecting some laughter into a service now and again, or devoting an entire sermon to Biblical humor once a year the week after Easter, can help people better understand the way in which God works.

“Part of humor and making things unexpected in church at times is part of listening for God because he arrives in unexpected ways and unexpected times,” Taylor said. “If you have everything planned out and thought out and it’s always the same, you’re not really doing a very good job of preparing people to find God.”

by Mike Givler, Synod of the Trinity

Bald Eagle United Presbyterian Church

Knitting ministry has Bald Eagle United PC in stitches

American troops are involved. So are women recovering from breast cancer and newborn children. Guys in their leather jackets on Harley-Davidson motorcycles are pitching in, too. What was originally taken as a leap of faith seven years ago has quickly grown into something very special at Bald Eagle United Presbyterian Church in Mill Hall, PA.Prayer Shawls Bald Eagle UPC

The church’s Prayer Shawl Ministry is in its seventh year and has grown immensely from its humble beginnings. Originally created to knit shawls to give comfort to those facing surgery or other hardships, the ministry now includes everything from prosthesis to “Pocket Prayer Shawls for Troops” to “Pretty Pockets,” which are given to people who are coming home from the hospital with post-surgical drains like a colostomy bag.

The brainchild of Pastor Susan Champion, the ministry has grown from just a couple of worshipers from Bald Eagle United PC to 30 people from the Mill Hall community who are eager to knit and crochet. One knitter is over 104 years old, and the volunteers are supplying their own yarn to keep the program running cost-free, adding to the powerful ministry this has become.

“When I started it, I did it on a wing and a prayer,” Susan said. “I did not know if anyone would come through that door or not but they did. They came and those who came wanted to give back because they had either been healed of cancer or someone in their family had been healed of cancer and they wanted to do something for a ministry.”

The gatherings occur at noon on the first Wednesday of the month and consist of lunch and a couple hours of knitting and sharing. For most, the bulk of the knitting occurs in their homes prior to the monthly gathering where much of the conversation includes the reading of “thank you” notes from people who have received the handmade items, enabling the volunteers to feel the joy for the items they have created.

“It’s only through the grace of God that I have not had to ask the church for one single penny,” Susan said. “We provide all of the yarn. We provide lunches for everyone. We provide the needles and the patterns, the fellowship and the fun.”

While knitting prayer shawls as a type of comfort blanket distributed to those facing illness was the original intent, the Prayer Shawl Ministry has developed into much more. Knitters have come in requesting to make things like children’s clothes, which are now being given to every Mill Hall couple with a newborn. And thus the “Infant Sweater Ministry” was born. Another person came up with the idea of creating “Pretty Pockets” as a fashionable holder for post-surgical drains, and this outreach was organized.

Among its most popular items being created through the so-called “Wednesday Weavers” group is prosthesis for women who have undergone mastectomies. Susan came up with the idea after reading about such a thing in Reader’s Digest, and it has taken off by leaps and bounds.

“I found out there is no place where people who had mastectomies – and 40 percent of the women who are diagnosed with breast cancer have to have mastectomies – there was no place where they could go to get a free kit for prosthesis,” she said. “If you have insurance you can get prosthesis but they are made of silicone and very heavy. These are hand-knitted and made out of special yarn that’s skin sensitive. We make them in sizes and we weight them.”

Many times women who go through this procedure can’t wear the prosthesis until they are healed from the surgery, but the knitted ones from Bald Eagle United PC can be worn immediately.

“Oftentimes women cannot get their prosthesis because they have to heal, so they have to go around with socks in their bra, but ours you can put in right away,” Susan said. “We have had calls from all over the United States. … We have one lady who stepped up to the plate and she said ‘My mom died from breast cancer. I want this part of the ministry.’

“We’re the only organization in the state of Pennsylvania that does this. I find it very interesting that it’s a church, and it should be.”Prayer-Shawls3 Bald Eagle UPC

Another outreach that is fairly new to the Wednesday group is “Pocket Prayer Shawls for Troops.” These 2.5-inch squares are sent to American military for them to wear in their helmets. They are knitted or crocheted from either cotton or wool – other materials will melt to a soldier’s head if they are under fire — and come with a tag explaining their purpose.

“We’re starting with 1,000. We have people already asking us when they are going to be ready,” Susan said. “But we’re not just going to stop there. We’re taking these Pocket Prayer Shawls to emergency rooms, to hospital waiting rooms, to nursing homes and putting them in baskets for anyone who is walking by and needs to hold something in their hand — something tangible so they know that God is working in their lives.”

Other items that are being made include celebration shawls, lap robes, comfort dolls for infants, mittens, scarves, booties and neo-nic sweaters and hats. One way of getting these items to the people who need and request them is through the Susquehanna Valley Big Twins Motorcycle Club. The club does a yearly “Knit N Run” on their cycles, delivering the knitted goods to places like hospitals and nursing homes.

The Bald Eagle United knitters don’t take orders, they just make what they can make and send them out to those in need.

Praye ShawlsKnit-N-Run-Bald Eagle UPC“We pray over these items,” Susan said. “We don’t know where they’re going to end up, but we just know whoever receives these, our prayer is that God’s peace and his presence just surrounds them. We pray that they are able to feel the presence of God working in their lives. These items are tangible evidence that other people care.”

Susan, who admits she has never made a prayer shawl in the seven years of the ministry, is quick to credit the volunteers for what this ministry has turned into.

“I give all of the glory and all of the credit to our Lord and also these wonderful ladies,” she said. “I’m in awe. We’re non-denominational. When we come together, we are all knitters, and we’re doing something to advance God’s kingdom.”

Note: Anyone interested in learning more about the knitting ministry at Bald Eagle United Presbyterian Church or who would like to request an item should contact the church at (570) 726-4112 or email Pastor Susan Champion at ms_champion@comcast.net. The prosthesis kits are free to anyone and there are no mailing restrictions. When ordering a kit, a size for the prosthesis will be needed.

by Mike Givler, Synod of the Trinity

Rummage Sales

RummageSPRING CHURCH RUMMAGE SALES:

Milton First Presbyterian church

47 Walnut Street, Milton PA
Friday April 24 from 9 am to 5 pm
Saturday April 25 from 9 am to 11 am

All rummage sale proceeds support missions.


Bloomsburg First Presbyterian Church

345 Market Street, Bloomsburg
Friday May 1 from 9 am to 1 pm and 5pm to 7pm
Saturday May 2 from 9 am to 11 am
There will be no set prices at the sale; shoppers may pay what they wish. Proceeds of the sale go to mission projects of Presbyterian Women.
Proceeds of the food sale go to refurbishment of the kitchen.

Watsontown Presbyterian Church

put_this_on_calendar_clip_art-285x300Watsontown First Presbyterian Church

401 Main Street

Watsontown, PA

570-538-1491

First Presbyterian Church of Watsontown is holding a concert featuring “Bluegrass Express Reunion” on Saturday April 26, 2015 from 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm.  “Bluegrass Express” is a band from Danville that formed in 1980 and has recently reunited.  It features some of the finest local bluegrass musicians; Bob Knorr, Steve Shelhamer, Jim Cram, Steve Davy, and Bob Shuey.  Their repertoire includes traditional bluegrass songs as well as current and original material.  Come and enjoy a night of music featuring the sound of bluegrass.

A free will offering will be taken and refreshments will be available during intermission.  The concert benefits the ministry of the church.

Everyone is welcome!

 

Resource Center Huntingdon / Northumberland Presbyteries

New Books located at the Huntingdon Presbytery Resource Center

Why_Jesus_Crossed_the_Road

scan0136Check out more new titles and other resource material at:  http://www.huntingdonresources.org/JUST-ARRIVED.html

 

Parish Paper

T H E  P A R I S H  P A P E R
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P P –3-2015 What Churches Can Do to Increase Social Media Security

P P –4-2015 Finding God’s New Call in the Same Place

P P –5 – 2015 Seeking a Bivocational Calling for Pastors and Churches

P P –6 – 2015 Could Lack of Curiosity Kill the Church

 

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Presbyterian Women

2015 Spring Gathering

Presbyterian Mission Agency

Missions
Meet mission co-workers Michael and Rachel Ludwig

Michael Rachel Ludwig
About 70 percent of the people in Niger cannot read or write and have no easily accessible way to learn how. Michael and Rachel and their Nigerien partners want to change that. They are starting a literacy ministry in this deeply impoverished country. Their efforts will make Nigeriens’ day-to-day lives better and boost their chances for a brighter economic future. It will also help our partners present a respectful Christian witness in this predominantly Muslim, and typically peaceful, country. Though Niger has experienced riots and church burnings recently, our partners and the Ludwigs remain hopeful. Thanks to the prayers and financial support of people like you, numerous Nigeriens stand to gain the gift of literacy.

Please make a gift to support Michael and Rachel Ludwig and other Presbyterian mission co-workers.

1001 Worshipping Communities Workshop

THE 1001 WORSHIPPING COMMUNITIES WORKSHOP IN BELLEFONTE FOR TOMORROW MARCH 20 HAS BEEN CANCELLED DUE TO THE INCLEMENT WEATHER.