September 3rd : This is the unofficial last Sunday of summer. We’ll give thanks for the time of rest and look forward to what this fall has to offer. Our sermon will continue from August 27th studying Romans 12, and how we as a congregation see ourselves and who we are called to be as we prepare to vote on a new mission and vision to guide our life together in the coming years. And, we’ll be sure to bless all of our teachers and students heading back to school.
More on Blessing of the Backpacks – September 3rd
When I was little, my Mom would kiddingly sing, “it’s the most wonderful time of the year” when we started school. For some, students and teachers included, back to school is a wonderful time. For others, not so much; it would be nice if summer vacation were just a little longer. Regardless, school is starting soon. So, let’s bless all of our students, teachers, and school employees as the new school year begins. If you or someone you know are going back to school, bring your backpack or briefcase along with you to worship on September 3rd and we’ll send you off with a blessing for the new academic year ahead.
Sunday September 10th
Faith Renewal Sunday. This is traditionally the ‘kick-off’ to the program year. Our children’s Sunday Schools start up again, the choir resumes singing from the loft, and we continue meeting with our committees. On this Sunday, we will celebrate communion, honor those who have membership anniversaries, collect our offering for the Community Support Fund, and because of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation this October, begin an eight week study on the Lord’s Prayer phrase by phrase, with our focus this week being the opening petition of “Our Father”.
At this year’s Faith Renewal Sunday on September 10th, the Caring For Our Own Committee will honor church members who are celebrating special anniversary years as members of St. Mary’s church. Special recognition will be given this year to those who have member anniversaries of 10, 20, 30, 40, and 50 years in 2017, and all those who have been members of St. Mary’s for 60 years or more. A list of people being honored can be found in this newsletter on the last page. A commemorative picture will be taken of all of our honorees in attendance on Faith Renewal Sunday. Everyone is invited and encouraged to join in this special celebration.
WE HOPE THAT YOU WILL TAKE THIS OPPORTUNITY TO NOURISH OUR FAITH AND RENEW YOUR COMMITMENT AS WE BEGIN THIS NEW PROGRAM YEAR TOGETHER.
September 17th The Lord’s Prayer sermon study continues with the theme this week being “Hallowed by your name”.
September 24th We continue with our sermon series on the Lord’s Prayer, focusing on the phrase “your kingdom come”.
“Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.”
Children’s Sunday School
Beginning September 10th, “Faith Renewal Sunday,”
The Children & Youth Sunday School will begin a new program year. Classes will start at 9:30 am and end at 10:15 am. Classes are offered for children age 3 to grade 12. Please join us for games, stories and crafts.
Saturday, September 16th - Bonfire and Movie Night 6:00 - 8:00 pm
Sunday, October 1st - during worship Bible presentation
Sunday, October 22nd - Fall Harvest Celebration Potluck Lunch at noon, children’s games and crafts at 1:00 pm
Thank you to all who donated to our VBS charity Cape4Heroes. We were able to raise $750 for this wonderful ministry that provides capes, super hero visits, and stuffed animals to children in hospitals and Ronald McDonald Houses throughout the US.
Fall Bible Study – Starting October 4th
Since this October marks the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, I thought it would be a good idea to study some of the central insights from Reformers like Martin Luther and John Calvin that shape our faith today. That is, what does Luther’s insistence on the priesthood of all believers mean for us? Do we preach a gospel of God’s grace or are we more interested in what a Methodist theologian calls Moral Therapeutic Deism? Or, are humans really depraved, as John Calvin insisted? Several writers from around the United Church of Christ recently collaborated to publish a study guide that delves into these claims and how they shape who we are as Christians today. We’ll use this study guide in our discussion. Here are a couple of things you should know:
Dates: October 4th, 11th, 18th, 25th and November 1st, 8th, and 15th
Times: Wednesdays @ 10am & 6:30pm
Materials: 500: A Study Guide for the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation (we have pre-ordered copies, please let Pastor Eric or Sue know if you would like one. A donation of $3 to cover the purchase is appreciated, but not necessary).
Additional Info: If you are unable to join us in person, but would like to keep up with what we’re studying, please feel free to take a book. I would love if we as a congregation studied this together, both near and far.
Consider joining our vocal choir (rehearsals begin September 6 and are on Wednesday evenings at 7:30 p.m.) and/or our bell choir (rehearsals begin September 10 and are on Sundays after worship).
Community Support Offering – September 10th
We collect this offering to support the ministries and needs in our local community. Last year, money given to this fund helped support a single mother struggling to fill her car with gas, helped families buy groceries when the bank account ran low, and served a man named Patrick – a deaf and mute traveler whose bike was in need of repair and who needed food for his long trip to Texas. Your generosity is appreciated and directly serves our members and neighbors.
following Worship on September 17th
There will be a congregational meeting following worship on September 17th. One of the items of business will be a congregational vote on the Long Term Planning Committee recommendations. There will be a brief review of the recommendations and a question and answer period prior to the vote. There will also be a presentation on a proposed sound system upgrade and presentation system. Table fellowship will be provided.
Key recommendations to be voted on:
Proposed Mission Statement – Cultivate…grow…renew
Proposed Vision Statement – To be a sanctuary for all God’s children, built up in Christ, established in faith, and grounded in love.
Structure & Bylaw Updates Highlights –
-Expression of faith updated to reflect current UCC expression
-Consistory size of eight members versus twelve members
-Introduction of an ‘inactive membership’ status
-Restructured Committees: Outreach, Congregational Life, Spiritual Formation, Worship, Financial, Church & Ministry, Property, and Nominating
Copies of the proposed changes and presentation were handed out at the Congregational Information Meeting on May 7th. They are also available online and in the back of the sanctuary. If you would like a copy mailed or emailed to you, please contact the church office. Thank you!
Community Office Hours
After a long summer hiatus, Pastor Eric will again hold “Community Office Hours”. This past spring was a great way to get to know community friends and church family over a meal, and I look forward to restarting soon. See the schedule below:
Mondays: 12:30-2pm @ Bud’s in Silver Run (Mondays are ½ price burgers)
Thursdays: 8am-10am @ Jeannie Bird Bakery in Westminster
Please note, there will be no “Community Office Hours” the week of September 25th- 29th
Neighbors in Need Offering–October 1st 2017
Neighbors in Need (NIN) is a special mission offering of the UCC that supports ministries of justice and compassion throughout the United States. One-third of NIN funds support the Council for American Indian Ministry (CAIM). Two-thirds of the offering is used by the UCC's Justice and Witness Ministries (JWM) to support a variety of justice initiatives, advocacy efforts, and direct service projects through grants. One recent NIN recipient is a church close to home. Visit the Church of the Apostle’s website http://www.apostlesucc.org/ for more information.
Littlestown CROP Walk – October 8th
Registration Begins at 12:30pm
Walk Begins at 1pm
St. Paul’s Lutheran Church
53 West King Street
Littlestown, PA 17340
CROP Hunger Walks are community-wide events sponsored by Church World Service and organized by religious groups, businesses, schools and others to raise funds to end hunger in the U.S. and around the world. Last year, nearly $10 million dollars was raised by 120,000 walkers at over 1,000 walks. St. Mary’s will join our sister churches in Littlestown to walk. If you are interested in walking, please see Pastor Eric or Steve Matthias. Donations and support can be placed with the offering – be sure to label your check or envelope “CROP Walk” so we can get it to the correct fund. Thank you for your support!
Contributions towards Hurricane Harvey recovery will be sent to the UCC Disaster Ministries. Please mark your check or envelope “Hurricane Harvey” so we can designate it appropriately. Thank you.
New UCC Initiative
The United Church of Christ has a vision of a just world for all. In this world all are welcomed, everyone is loved and justice is inherent. The 3 Great Loves is the denomination’s opportunity to express how our Love of Neighbor, Love of Children, and Love of Creation work together to address the inequities in our current world.
Beginning at Synod 2017 and ending at Synod 2019, through the lens of the 3 Great Loves, the United Church of Christ in its many settings of ministry will discern and lift up how we act upon these 3 Great Loves. As we do so, we will tell the story of how we are impacting and transforming the world, as covenantal partners united in common purpose and mission.
During these upcoming two years, there will be moments of special invitation to participate in this denomination-wide undertaking. One by one we will focus on each of the 3 Great Loves in service to our communities.
As we prepare to vote and live into a new vision and mission statement for St. Mary’s UCC, we have an opportunity to show our love for our neighbors and kids, as well as care for the beautiful part of this country we are blessed to live in. Be on the lookout for ways we can serve our neighbors and kids, and care for our part of creation. Please do not hesitate to bring your ideas forward to Consistory, a committee chair, or Pastor Eric.
Church is a group effort!
General Synod 2017
It was my privilege to be part of the Central Atlantic Conference delegation at General Synod this summer. From June 30th-July 4th about 3000 persons, 700 of which were delegates, gathered in Baltimore for the 31st General Synod. During this time I attended workshops, worship services, committee meetings and eight Plenaries. During these business meetings, delegates voted on 16 resolutions to help guide the direction of the United Church of Christ.
One major change this year was the introduction of the Synod App. All schedules, business, worship, agendas, floor plans, and everything that was printed in a Program Book was available on this downloadable source. Delegates and visitors then could view Synod events on their smart phones or other mobile devices. A few books were available this year perhaps for the last time.
Some of my personal highlights were the Friday night worship service with Rev. Traci Blackmon giving the message, the workshop presented by Rev. Barbara Brown Zikmund on “How the Past Can Support Our Efforts to Change the Present,” and the Rev. John Deckenback Memorial Crab Feast.
“There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God” Psalm 46:4
”Make Glad” was the worship theme of General Synod and a theme that ran throughout the event. I know I am glad to have had the opportunity to work, to worship, and to have had fellowship with such a diverse group of individuals who love all of God’s children and listen to the Still Speaking God.
Blessings and Peace,
ST. MARY’S MEMBERS
Hello Friends and Family!
God is doing big things in my life, and I am so excited! I have been quite out of touch over the past two years, so I wanted to include you in on my faith journey recently. When I came to the University of Maryland last year, I joined a campus ministry called Maryland Christian Fellowship (MCF). Since meeting this group of loving, caring, God-centered people, my life has been drastically changed.
Though I grew up at St. Mary’s, learning Bible stories and serving, I didn’t feel God personally working in my struggles. I got caught up in the “religion” aspect and lived in a comfortable routine of attending church and being a “good person.” On the outside, I appeared to have it all together, but on the inside, I had my fair share of doubts.
When I went away to college, I had more freedom than I ever expected! The amount of available opportunities, activities to get involved with, and different perspectives I encountered was initially overwhelming. During the annual beginning of the year club fair, I stumbled into the “religious” section of campus groups. Looking for a friendly group of people, I picked up a flyer for MCF and decided to give it a try. They had Sunday services, so I figured it would be a comfortable environment that reminded me of my home church!
I had no idea that that decision would change my life.
I began attending Sunday services, and the messages seemed to be pointed directly at me. Looking back, I see God acting in every stage of the process to draw me in. But to my discomfort, the messages weren’t just about doing “good,” giving to the poor, loving our enemies, and thanking God for coffee and Friday nights. No, these messages told of the relationship we have with Jesus. They told not just of giving your Sunday morning to God, but your Monday evenings. Your Tuesday free time. Your Wednesday afternoons. Your coveted Friday nights. They told of a loving God who wants to guide us every step of the way. These messages told of the hope we have in Jesus Christ because of what He did on the cross for all of us.
One sunny afternoon I met with Jeff, the pastor of MCF, and Shelby, one of the older girls in MCF. I brought a sheet of questions about God with me, seeking answers. To my surprise, they did not answer the questions, but instead flipped my paper over, and on the back they drew a “bridge” diagram to explain the gospel message. Jesus was working in my heart, and as they shared the gospel message, I could not deny Him any longer.
I walked away that day feeling joy beyond words, due very little to the friendly smiles from Jeff and Shelby, the warm sunshine, or the scrumptious chocolate chip banana bread Shelby had made me. I felt an immense peace and a pure happiness I hadn’t experienced before. I was reassured of God’s undeniable existence and presence, and felt that I had purpose and direction in my life. I forgot all about the questions on the back of the paper, and haven’t yet returned to them, because I realize that a relationship with Jesus does not require a complete understanding of God’s plan (Proverbs 3:5).
Well, He hasn’t left me alone since. Over the past year He has called me to obey in many different steps of leadership as well as personal growth.
This summer I am participating in a collegiate summer leadership program in the beautiful mountains of Estes Park, Colorado! There are 9 other people from Maryland Christian Fellowship and 120 other college students who will be participating in the program and working at the YMCA of the Rockies. We are so blessed and grateful to have this opportunity to be working in beautiful Colorado and growing in our faith and relationships with each other. In between hiking and working, we'll be hearing from different pastors and speakers and going to workshops to hone our discipleship skills.
God is doing big things in my life lately, and I’m relating very strongly to Peter as Jesus called him out upon the ocean waters (Matthew 14:22-33). But with each terrifying step of faith, I learn more and more about His love and power. I am excited for the journey and where my life will lead. Thank you all for your support and encouragement in establishing my foundation in Christianity. I am extremely fortunate to have had a loving congregation during the formative years of my faith. Feel free to reach out to me if you’d like to hear more about any part of my testimony or just to check in! My email will be at the bottom.
Again, thank you, and God bless!
EVANGELISM Peace in the Midst
Unity World Day of Prayer is September 14th; the focus is “Peace in the Midst”. They offer several interfaith prayers for peace. Here is the Judaism prayer:
Dear Lord, Grant me the grace of wonder. Surprise me, amaze me, awe me in every crevice of your universe. Each day enrapture me with your marvelous things without number. …I do not ask to see the reason for it all: I ask only to share the wonder of it all.
Grant me peace, Your most precious gift, and give me the will to proclaim its message to all the people of the earth.
Although differences in thought and belief divide us, let the love of truth, and the pursuit of holiness, unite me with all life.
Strengthen the bonds of friendship among the inhabitants of all lands, and may the love of Your name hallow every home and every heart. May the one who makes peace in the heavens make peace for us all. Amen.
Who’s in your genes?
Have you dabbled in discovering your family tree and are curious about what resources are out there to help you make progress? Over the past years since I first did an introduction to genealogy session at St. Mary’s things have changed a lot. If you might be interested in getting together to discuss genealogy please take the time to stop by the vestry and fill out a little survey. I’m looking forward to helping you figure out who is in your genes! Vicki.
Total Income 0.00
July Net 726.33
Capital Improvement Fund Balance on
Thanks to all of you who continue to support God’s work through our church with your prayers and your gifts.
6 Samantha Owings
26 Hunter Berkau