Tag Archives: Ministry

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

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.

One Great Hour Of Sharing

OGHSOne Great Hour of Sharing
The second Special Offering on the Liturgical calendar.

Gracie was the Lenten centerpiece of our supper table when our children were growing up. She was the reminder of what Jesus could do with small fish. My husband remembers the ½ pint milk cartons that preceded Gracie. Together they demonstrated for children the power of pennies, nickels and dimes, combined with the willingness of tiny hearts to serve God.

One Great Hour of Sharing began as a response to the devastation of World World II in Europe. It was started in 1946 as a radio plea that raised $3.8 million for relief and reconstruction. This nationwide ecumenical offering has evolved into in to an international witness to the glory of God when Christians work together for a common cause. The purpose of OGHS has remained the same for almost 70 years—to collect offerings to assist those in need. Today projects are underway in more than 100 countries, including the United States and Canada.

Follow Gracie: http://www.pcusa.org/resource/gracie-and-food-desert-2015/

Follow Special Offerings at: https://www.facebook.com/specialofferings

Contact Special Offerings Ambassador Bobbi Updegraff @ Robertaupdegraff@me.com to schedule a mission interpretation opportunity for your congregation

2015 Winter Leadership Conference

put_this_on_calendar_clip_art-285x300FEBRUARY 28, 2015 ~ THE 2015 WINTER LEADERSHIP CONFERENCE
HELPING CHURCH LEADERS LEAD
 
will be held at the Montoursville Presbyterian Church * 900 Elm Street, Montoursville, PA
8:30 Registration and Refreshments
                                                     Workshops begin at 9:00
                                                     Closing 12:00 pm
Click below to Register or contact the Northumberland Presbytery Office at 570-368-3906 or presbynorth@comcast.net
2015 REGISTRATION FORM FOR NORTHUMBERLAND PRESBYTERY EQUIPPING OF THE SAINTS
 
SNOW DATE: Saturday March 7, 2015
Workshops:
Ruling Elder Training: This class is important for newly ordained Ruling Elders to prepare them for their role as spiritual leaders.  Facilitator will be the Rev. Dr. William Knudsen.  Handbook will be provided.
Deacon Training: {Deacons and other caregivers} How to harness the power of caregivers in your congregation.  This class is very important for all newly ordained deacons to help them understand the biblical concept of providing compassionate care to those in their congregation.  This class is open to anyone in your congregation that is providing care to others.  Facilitator will be Rev. Elizabeth Affsprung.  Handbook will be provided.
Change bags aren’t  just for change anymore: There are a variey of tools that do not require high tech equipment or a brain surgeon to use when teaching others about Jesus Christ.  Change bags, evangecubes, stickers, flaming Bibles, and other items can be used to teach children, youth and Alzheimer patients.  Simple messages about the love of Jesus.  Persons attending the seminar will learn how to use such tools to minister to the needs of others, and how to obtain them.  Facilitator will be the Rev. Dr. James Behrens.
Perspectives: “God has a world-sized role for every Christian in God’s global purpose: Whether people go to distant countries or stay at home is a secondary issue. The primary issue is what most people are hungry to discover vision to live a life of purpose. Discovering that vision makes this course valuable, and perhaps crucial, for any Christian.  This class will introduce you to “Perspectives: a 15 week course that will be offered this year, designed around four vantage points or ‘perspectives’ – Biblical, Historical, Cultural and Strategic.  Each one highlights different aspects of God’s global purpose.”  Facilitator will be Roberta Updegraff
 

 

Human Trafficking Awareness

An important message from
Grace Marable
Social Action Coordinator (Philadelphia Presbyterian Women)

 2f77c80a7cbbc2bcd61dfc5a40526c3fJanuary 11, 2015 was Human Trafficking Awareness Day.  You can find many resources to share with your congregations at http://www.traffickfree.org

The hotline number is 888-3737888

There is a film available at http://www.polarisproject.org

There is literature available on the Presbyterian Mission website (bulletin inserts)

There are organizations around that are working hard to put a stop to this crime

SOAP (start a) Save Our Adolescents from Prostitution campaign www.trafficfree.com

Work with ECPAT-USA (End Child Prostitution and Trafficking)

www.thecode.org      www.ecpatusa.org

You can support organizations working with-at-risk women and girls to prevent trafficking

Eagles Wings –   Lifeboat Project – Ecumenical Women’s Coalition against Human Trafficking- Restore Hope www.facebook.com/ewcahumantrafficking

www.presbyterianwomen.org/justice

 

Pray For Our Missionaries – December

burkhard_petzold_001-2_medium250Burkhard Paetzold ~ Mission co-worker in Germany  since 1998
Serving as regional liaison for Central and Eastern Europe
and facilitator of work with the Roma people.

As regional liaison Burkhard Paetzold helps connect Presbyterians in the United States with partner churches and programs in Eastern and Central Europe. He also implements regional strategies and provides support for mission personnel. Much of his ministry is with the Roma people of Central and Eastern Europe. Formerly referred to as “Gypsies,” a term now considered pejorative, they have encountered discrimination and oppression for centuries. Burkhard works with partners to promote the participation of Roma in congregational and church life, develop Roma leadership, and improve the economic development and education for Roma.

Burkhard Paetzold is helping PC(USA) partner churches to get a fresh vision of the Christian faith that transcends old divisions and builds on new opportunities. “Christians and non-Christians need to be enabled to see Christianity in a new light,” Burkhard says. “The challenge for Christians is to work for peace, justice and the integrity of creation and to communicate expressions of faith, hope and solidarity within a seemingly overwhelming “new world‟ of greed, selfishness and material temptations.”  {you can read more on Burkhard by clicking here ~ presbyterianmission.org mission connections – paetzold-burkhard/

You can also download a prayer card here ~ Prayer Card

 

Presbyterian Women Synod Mission Project

FREE WHEELCHAIR MISSION
2014/2015 PW Synod Mission Project
 

FWM_Logo

Free Wheelchair Mission is a humanitarian, faith-based, nonprofit organization that provides wheelchairs at no cost to people with disabilities living in developing nations. In collaboration with a network of like-minded partners, FWM has sent more than 781,000 wheelchairs to people in 91 countries, providing dignity,  independence and hope through the gift of mobility.

Our Mission is to provide the transforming gift of mobility to the physically disabled poor in developing countries as motivated by Jesus Christ.

Our Vision is to be a world-class provider of mobility, transforming the lives of 100,000 people with disabilities in 2014.

With an estimated 100 million people around the world today in need of a wheelchair without the means to get one, FWM strives to distribute over 100,000 chairs annually, and continues to pursue our goal to distribute 1 million chairs by the year 2016. Free Wheelchair Mission continues its focus and commitment on becoming a leading provider of mobility in developing nations, but beyond placing recipients in a chair, FWM is bringing transformation that opens doors to education, employment opportunities and community that these individuals only dreamed of before receiving the gift of mobility.

more information

Observe ORANGE DAY on the 25th of each month

Orange Ribbon Campaign-FBWitness and act for an end to violence against women and girls

On the 25th of each month – join people around the world in observing an Orange Day to work for an end to violence against women and girls. This call comes from Say NO – UNiTE to End Violence against Women, a social mobilization platform on ending violence against women and girls that is related to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon’s campaign, UNiTE to End Violence against Women.

orangedayPray and Worship

  • Pray for guidance for all those who work to end violence against women. Pray that all people turn from violence.
  • Opposing violence against womena prayer by the Rev. Sarah Henkel
  • Teaching elders can preach on the issue of ending violence against women and girls. Check out this sermon by the Rev. Jeffrey Geary of the White Plains Presbyterian Church.

Advocate

Act

  • Take part in the Stop Rape Now campaign to stop the use of rape in war.
  • Plan to observe Domestic Violence Awareness Month in October. The Presbyterians Against Domestic Violence Network provides ideas and liturgical resources.
  • Wear orange. Tell those you meet why you are wearing orange. Take pictures and share them on social media with an explanation of why you are wearing orange.
  • Join Presbyterians Against Domestic Violence.
  • Create a group in your worshiping community, mid-council, school or other location to work to end violence against women and girls.
  • Sign the global call for action to tell governments around the world that you want them to make ending violence against women and girls a top priority.
  • Ask 3 people you know to sign the call to action.
  • Join SayNO – UNiTE to End Violence Against Women on Facebook and share why you think ending violence against women and girls should be a priority for decision makers around the world.

Connect with other Presbyterians

Learn what others are doing and use your imaginationUNiTE Orange Day Banner

Bloomsburg First Presbyterian Church

bloomsburg first2014 Columbia County Christian Fair Ministry Clothing Drive

The First Presbyterian Church will be organizing the 2014 clothing giveaway for Bloomsburg Fair Carnival workers.  Clothing may be dropped off during normal office hours.  Please call the church office at 570-784-2322 in advance  if you need help in unloading or need to drop off at a different time.  Place men’s clothing in black clothing bags and women’s clothing in white clothing bags.  the fair workers live in rough quarters with little space for storage.  They work outside in all sorts of weather; access to expensive dry cleaning facilities is not possible.  With this in mind DO NOT donated dress clothing.  Call the church office 570- 784- 2322 for more information on the clothing needs.

Visit the facebook page for Columbia County Christian Ministry

https://www.facebook.com/ColumbiaCountyChristianFairMinistry