109 York Street, Gettysburg, PA 17325

The Messenger – December 2022

The Messenger – December 2022

December Messenger Front Cover
December Messenger Front Cover

The calendar graphic is clickable, and then you can zoom to more easily read the text. 


A Message From Pastor Andrew

5He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child. 6While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child. 7And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.

8In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: 11to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord. 

By the time you receive this month’s Messenger, we are already one week into the season of Advent.  We find ourselves in the season of waiting and anticipation, looking forward to the birth of our Lord – to the day of Christmas. 

Our Lutheran resource, Keeping Time, makes note that scholars argue over competing theories as to the origins of the Christmas cycle.  It’s believed that the early Christians didn’t observe Jesus’ birth in any way.  That, such celebrations didn’t begin to spread until late into the fourth century, and weren’t widespread until well into the fifth.  Some scholars believe that Christmas celebrations were first introduced as a way to counter excessive partying and immorality of the Roman Saturnalia. Others believe that the first Christmas celebrations stemmed from those of the winter solstice – In the dark of the year, celebrating the birth of the Son side by side the return of the sun.

Regardless of origin, for people of faith, Christmas has become the time of year in which we reflect on God’s incarnate presence in our lives and in the world – through Christ and through the Word.  A time to reflect on God’s activity – past, present, and future.  On the hope and promise of God’s love, made real and evident in the birth of the babe in the manger – the Word made flesh. 

As we work our way through the season of Advent here at St. James, we’ll gather for food and fellowship down in our dining hall on Wednesday evenings beginning at 5:15, then make our way upstairs for worship beginning at 6:30.  Per our tradition, we’ll worship together under our Unfailing Light liturgy.  Our preachers for the season – all newer faces to St. James – will share messages around the theme of Journey: Stories of faith and God’s presence along the way. 

As we hear stories of the journeys of others, I wonder about your journey.  How has God been active in your life?  How has God journeyed with you?  Guided you?  Shaped you?  Led you?  How has our family of faith been a part of your journey –  supported you and cared for you along the way?

If you were at our Congregation Meeting last month, you know that a big part of our journey together this coming year will include welcoming in a seminary intern (you’ll find her bio in this Messenger).  Her name is Libby Baker-Mikesell.  This is an exciting opportunity for us as a congregation, and I would say for Libby as well.  St. James is an active and thriving congregation that can provide a wonderful learning experience for a soon to be rostered minister.  I am grateful for your support in approving this opportunity and for the support you will, no doubt, continue to offer Libby throughout her time with us. 

For those unfamiliar with the seminary internship program, interns are given the title “Vicar”, and in many ways function as a full-time member of the pastoral staff.  Vicar Libby will share preaching and worship leadership responsibilities, as well as acts of pastoral care.  She will participate in Sunday school, bible study, committee meetings, our youth group programming, and the many other ministries of St. James.  Please take the time to greet her and make her feel welcome.

From the moment of Jesus’ birth, his journey was one of meekness.  Wrapped in strips of cloth and laid in a manger – the first throne of God.  Not a cradle or pack-n-play… not a crib or swinging chair… not surrounded by handknitted blankets and stuffies… but in a manger, surrounded by livestock…  From here, a journey of humble service rooted in love, till humanity hung him on the cross – the second throne of God…

This is the journey we are called to walk as well.  Not one of excess and pride.  But one of sacrificial love – in all that we do, pointing to the one who was born and died out of love for us. 

Advent blessings,

~Pastor Andrew

An Introduction To Seminary Intern – Vicar Libby

Vicar Libby/Libby Baker-Mikesell, our new seminary intern.

Hello Siblings in Christ,
My name is Libby Baker-Mikesell and I am honored to serve my internship year with you all at St. James Lutheran Church. I am a third-year student at United Lutheran Seminary and currently reside on the Gettysburg campus with my cat, “Earl Grey.”
I spent my childhood on a 50-acre beef cattle farm in Juniata County, Pennsylvania and have always had an affinity for the agricultural industry. I was an active member of the Greenwood FFA chapter in Millerstown, Pennsylvania and was fortunate to serve as both the 2016-2017 Pennsylvania FFA State President and Pennsylvania’s National FFA Officer Candidate in 2018. 
I attended Penn State University and graduated with a degree in Agriscience and Soil Science in the spring of 2020. I discerned a call to ministry during my senior year at Penn State, and began my Master of Divinity degree at United Lutheran Seminary in the fall of 2020. 
My faith experience is quite eclectic. I am a ‘cradle Lutheran’ but have spent time at both Sacred Heart of Jesus Catholic Elementary School and Saint Stephen’s Episcopal Middle Schools. Spending time in diverse religious environments helped me realize that I love learning about people, their beliefs, and their relationship with God. 
When I am not in classes, you can find me at the YWCA or running around Gettysburg. I recently ran my first marathon and love to bake, read, and watch re-runs of Little House on the Prairie. 
I hope you all have a blessed holiday season and I look forward to our time together. 

Grace and Peace,
Libby Baker-Mikesell

Music Notes from Jonathan

The tradition in many churches is to hold a service of lessons and carols during the Advent or Christmas season. Here at St. James, the service will be held on the Sunday after Christmas, January 1. Hence, we will have one final opportunity to sing the beloved Christmas carols before turning the page to the season of Epiphany.

The service as we know it today is based upon the annual service of Nine Lessons and Carols celebrated each Christmas Eve in the chapel of King’s College, Cambridge, UK, since 1918. In 1928, the BBC began to broadcast the service. Millions around the world tune in annually by television and radio. For some, Christmas is not complete without experiencing this annual broadcast from King’s College.

The service always begins with a single boy chorister singing unaccompanied the first stanza of “Once in Royal David’s City.” It is always a magical moment, the purity of this single voice in a candlelit chapel on a dark, wintry Christmas Eve. The service continues by telling the Christmas story, broken into nine scripture readings, interspersed with many carols. In Anglican tradition it is largely a choral service, but the congregation does have the chance to join in on some of the more familiar carols.

The service as it is done in Cambridge is not a communion service, and there really is no time constraint. So, most churches who wish to borrow from this tradition, including St. James, must adapt the service to their own use. Here, we will fit it within the framework of our liturgy by using fewer readings, singing selected stanzas of carols, and, of course, allowing time for communion.

– Jonathan

Worship Previews

December 4: 2nd Sunday of Advent

At the heart of our Advent preparation stands John the Baptist, who calls us to repent and make a new beginning. As the darkness increases we turn toward the approaching light of Christ. For Christians he is the root of Jesse, the righteous judge who welcomes all, especially the poor and meek of the earth. We wait with hope for that day when the wolf will dwell with the lamb, and there will be no more hurt or destruction. From the Lord’s table we are sent in the spirit of John the Baptist to proclaim that in Christ the kingdom of God has come near.

Preacher: The Rev. Andrew Geib

Readings: Isaiah 11:1-10; Psalm 72:1-7, 18-19; Romans 15:4-13; Matthew 3:1-12

December 11: 3rd Sunday of Advent

A note of joyful expectation marks today’s worship. Isaiah announces that the desert shall rejoice and blossom, and Jesus points to the unexpected and transforming signs of God’s reign. We wait with patience for the coming of the Lord, even as we rejoice at his presence among us this day: in word and holy supper, in church and in our homes, in silent reflection and in works of justice and love. We pray that God would open our eyes and ears to the wonders of Christ’s advent among us.

Preacher: The Rev. Clif Suehr (and special appearance by St. Nicholas!)

Readings: Isaiah 35:1-10; Psalm 146:5-10; James 5:7-10; Matthew 11:2-11

December 18: 4th Sunday of Advent

Today Isaiah prophesies that a young woman will bear a son and name him Emmanuel. The gospel is Matthew’s account of the annunciation and birth of the one named Emmanuel, God-with-us. During these final days of Advent we pray, “O come, O come, Emmanuel,” a beloved hymn based on the O Antiphons, ancient prayers appointed for the seven days preceding Christmas. On this final Sunday of Advent we prepare to celebrate the birth of the one born to save us from the power of sin and death.

Preacher: The Rev. Andrew Geib

Readings: Isaiah 7:10-16; Psalm 80:1-7, 17-19; Romans 1:1-7; Matthew 1:18-25

December 24: Christmas Eve

In winter’s deepest night, we welcome the light of the Christ child. Isaiah declares that the light of the long-promised king will illumine the world and bring endless peace and justice. Paul reminds us that the grace of God through Jesus Christ brings salvation to all people. The angels declare that Jesus’ birth is good and joyful news for everyone, including lowly shepherds. Filled with the light that shines in our lives, we go forth to share the light of Christ with the whole world.

Preacher: The Rev. Andrew Geib

Readings: Isaiah 9:2-7; Psalm 96; Titus 2:11-14; Luke 2:1-14 [15-20] 

Christmas Eve Worship Services: 5PM; 6:30 PM – outside; 8 PM; 10PM 

December 25: Christmas

As on the first day of creation, on this Christmas Day the Word illumines the world, shining forth to bring all things into being. Today we celebrate the incarnate Word, God becoming flesh to live among us in the person of Jesus Christ then and now. Emboldened by the good news of Christ’s birth, along with the shepherds, Mary and Joseph, and all witnesses to the light of Christ, we declare to the world that we have indeed seen and been transformed by the arrival of “the salvation of our God.” O come, let us adore!

Preacher: The Rev. Catharine Senft-Geib

Readings: Isaiah 62:6-12; Psalm 97; Titus 3:4-7; Luke 2:[1-7] 8-20

Christmas Morning Worship Service is at 10 AM Only

Weekly Advent Bible Study with Pastor Andrew

Council Corner


  • Approval of Minutes from October 19, 2022
  • Acceptance of Treasurer’s Report
  • Church Financials
  • ELC Financials
  • Motion from Executive Committee: That the congregation proceed with its annual Fastnacht preparation and fundraiser February 18-21, 2023.

All items in the en bloc agenda were approved.




  • Motion from Executive Committee: That the congregation authorizes Pastor Andrew Geib, the officers of the congregation, and scout leaders to conduct a transaction to sell a parcel of land gifted to the St. James Boy Scout Troop 79 in Maryland.
    • While the congregation council approved a similar motion at the October meeting, our constitution requires any real estate transactions be approved by the congregation.
    • This is a recommendation to the congregation for it to consider the Annual Congregation Meeting on November 20, 2022.
    • Motion carried.




  • Human Capital Campaign – target December – Will invite members of the Evangelism committee to join in the discussion.
  • Annual Congregational Goal setting – target January
  • Building Usage – target early 2023
  • Stewardship, and Giving


  • Sharon Kaya and Barbara Schmitthenner attended an informational meeting at St. Matthew Lutheran Church in Hanover about a service opportunity for members of St. James at an orphanage in Guatemala. This idea will be referred to the World Outreach committee.
  • Shirley Sanders thanked council and the congregation for supporting Operation Christmas Child boxes; 60 boxes were sent out on November 15.
  • Katy announced that Gettysburg C.A.R.E.S. will be at St. James 12/5-12/25. Hosts will be needed from St. James each night.

NEXT MEETING: Wed, December 21, 2022 (following Advent service)

Gettysburg C.A.R.E.S. is at St. James 12/5-12/25 (volunteers needed!)

C.A.R.E.S. logo

St. James Lutheran Church is hosting guests of Gettysburg C.A.R.E.S. December 5 – 25.  They will be sleeping over night in our church for this three week period.  Gettysburg C.A.R.E.S. finds overnight hosts to stay with the group, but it is our responsibility to find Host Volunteers for each night they are here.  Host Volunteers stay for approximately 1 hour while guests arrive and get settled.

Host  Volunteer responsibilities include:

  • arrive at 8PM to greet folks as they arrive
  • show them around the church
  • prepare hot chocolate/coffee/tea
  • share a devotion or prayer

All volunteers should go through a training PowerPoint, even for just a refresher.  You may contact Deb Little, Gettysburg C.A.R.E.S. Director to receive the PowerPoint training ([email protected]).  If you have questions about host volunteer responsibilities, contact Bill Shoemaker ([email protected] or 717-451-6549).

Sign up at StJamesGettysburg.org/CARES to volunteer!

All Saints Sunday

On November 6, 2022 we remembered those who have departed this life since All Saints Day 2021, holding a firm conviction that they are safe in God’s keeping and remembering their lives with thanksgiving:

  • Daniel G. Blocher
  • Duane L. Wood
  • Rosie M. Ketterman Stine
  • Helen E. Wilkinson
  • Phillis J. Donmoyer
  • Gary E. Frederick
  • Darwin F. Heagey
  • Luxie R. Althoff
  • Marilyn D. Meixell
  • Joan B. Herrick
  • Particia G. Gardner
  • Michael P. Chaple
  • Donna E. Plank
  • Robert W. Ziegler
  • Jean W. Odom
  • Dr. George Settle
  • Geraldine A. Waybright Settle
  • Rebecca B. Harris
  • Barry J. Sease
  • Karen E. Kessler
  • The Rev. E. Edward Keyser
  • Franz A. Foltz
  • Kim L. Bixler-Smith
  • Dimitrios & Evelyn Ganas
  • Mary L. Knox
  • Frederick E. Braband
  • Linda G. Starry
  • Kenneth C. Adams
  • Howard G. Guise
  • Joseph E. Heltzel
  • Curvin F. Tyson
  • T. Ruth Carbaugh
  • Jacob L. Nicholl
  • Betty J. Baker
  • The Rev. Martin T. Young
  • Geraldine E. Troutman Good
  • Paul B. Myers
  • Joyce E. Walter
  • Catherine Bigham
  • Ralph H. Arendt, Jr.
  • O. Frederick Schutt, Jr.

A Message From Adam

To know oneself is to fully understand the beliefs and values that make us who we are.

Ask a middle school student for their identity and they’ll give you their name. They might tell you the sports they play, their association with friends and family members, and other roles that they play. After this year’s middle school retreat at Camp Nawakwa, hopefully they will start to share the layers underneath as well.

Don’t get me wrong. They’re still middle school kids; not yet trusting themselves, let alone others. They’re still testing the strength of their loyalty and patience, still stepping gingerly into love and vulnerability. But at our retreat we spent the weekend discussing what it might mean to be our best self. We considered how events and attitudes toward us may change who we are in the moment, and began to build our defenses against this. And last, but certainly not least, we discussed God’s view of us, and his role in our metamorphosis.

According to scripture, God sees us as children of God. Beloved. Blessed. Precious. Redeemed. A Saint. Alive in and a friend to Jesus Christ, as well as an ambassador of his good will. A new creation. Fearfully and wonderfully made. Through his blessing, we pray we are inspired to live into his vision for us.

A good coach is someone who not only knows you for who you are, but can see the potential of what you may become. They will be kind, honest and fair in their evaluation. They will not always give you what you want or tell you what you want to hear, but they will hold you when you fail and cherish your victories with you.

We look for good coaches in our lives and hold tight when we find them. God is the best coach of all. God is great because he is good.



Call Committee

If you’ve had a chance to read the November Messenger, you already know that our congregation’s Mission Site Profile is complete, was adopted by our congregation council and submitted to our Lower Susquehanna Synod (LSS). The bishop’s staff reviewed it, and it is now posted on the Evangelical Lutheran Church In America’s (ELCA) Ministry Data System. This means that the summary statement included in it is visible to anyone who can access that system, which includes all pastors of the ELCA.

You can read it too, at this link: Stjamesgettysburg.org/call

We’ve received comments from some folks in the congregation who have read it and are grateful for those who caught typos none of us did! The comments we received are positive, with people telling us the document fairly and clearly describes who we are and the mission to which we’ve discerned God leading us.

Bishop Dunlop and his staff are in charge of the active work for this call process now, reviewing those Rostered Minister Profiles they have and reaching out to pastors and/or seminary candidates they feel would be a good fit for us. Pr. Andrew has had several conversations with the bishop regarding our call and potential candidates. Because the MSP is on the ELCA site, pastors who are looking for a call can also contact our LSS office and talk to the Bishop and/or Pr. Beth Martini, who has worked with us, to indicate their interest in our congregation.

Our Call Committee has “gone quiet” for now. We won’t be able to explain what is happening to you until our congregation council is ready to recommend a candidate to the congregation. You might recall from last month’s article that Pr. Andrew will receive any name(s) first and only after he has completed his interview and discernment process would a name proceed to the call committee. Once the call committee is able to vote unanimously for a candidate, it will go to the council. They would complete their interview process and vote for a recommendation before anything is announced to the congregation.

Waiting is hard and we are all anxious for the next step in our mission and ministry to be determined. As we enter our liturgical season of Advent, with its theme of waiting and “already but not yet”, please pray  this multiple- meaning text with us:

Isaiah 42: 16 I will lead the blind by the ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them: I will turn darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth. These are the things I will do; I will not forsake them.

St. James Call Committee Lucinda Bringman, Amy Crist, Jim Flanagan, Ernie Kranias, Glenn Munsee, Kasey Smith, Anne Lane, committee alternate, Shirley Sanders, Congregation Council Liaison

St. James Lutheran Church Capital Campaign – Renewing God’s House to Share God’s Love.  

The three year period ended November 1, 2022.   Faithful stewards were asked to respond to God’s Love so our ministry could improve our building and the way we serve our community. We have been truly blessed in this process!

We want to thank everyone who responded and faithfully participated and prayed for this campaign over the last 3 years. 

This involved more than 100 people working on the campaign plus hundreds of donors making the campaign very successful.  

Our goal was to raise $1 Million dollars and we actually raised over $1.1 Million thanks to the sacrifice and generosity of many faithful stewards.

At this point our ministry needs to have money that has been regularly going into this campaign to be redirected towards our current giving so we can continue to grow the ministry of St. James Lutheran Church to serve others.

Again, thank you very much.

Thanks be to God!

Daniel M. Bringman, Co-chair of the Capital Campaign

Christmas Pageant

If you would like your child (or grandchild!) to participate in the pre-recorded Christmas Pageant, please see the rehearsal & recording schedule below.  The video will be shared on YouTube and in worship on December 18.  If you have any questions or concerns, please reach out to Kasey Smith ([email protected]).

  • 12/4 @ Sunday School (recording: speaking roles + K-5 animals)
  • 12/7  @ Youth Group (recording:  group narratives)
  • 12/11 @ Sunday School (recording: speaking roles + K-5 animals)

Nicholas of Myra: A Medley of traditions

Pastor Clif dressed as Saint Nicholas

Bishop Nicholas of Myra is known to us as Saint Nicholas.  Numerous traditions suggest he was born of wealthy parents in Patara, a port city in southwestern Turkey.   Many historians mark his birth around March 15, 270 and his death about December 6, 343.  Among his names from different nations include: Sinterklaas, Kris Kringle, Père Noël, Father Christmas, and our favorite: Santa Claus.  He became a priest at the guidance of his uncle, a bishop.  When Nicholas’ parents passed away, he gave his wealth away to care for the poor and needy.  Since December 6 is his day of remembrance, an interpretive impersonation of this loving caring “saint” will be presented on December 10 and 11.

Mid-Week Advent Services

This Advent we are returning to our mid-week “Unfailing Light” worship services. Unlike last year, we are grateful to be serving dinner every week before worship. If willing and able, please bring your tastiest covered dish because dinner is a potluck!

Our theme this year is “Journey: Stories of faith and God’s presence along the way.” Join us for delicious food and fellowship, and stay to  listen to special messages by newer members in our congregation. 

The following speakers will share their journey to St. James:

  • Nov 30 Debra Baker
  • Dec 7 Megan Eppleman
  • Dec 14 Chris Lauer
  • Dec 21 Kristine & Kirby Scott

A Goodbye Message From Pastor Clif

As my ministry at St. James is coming to its conclusion, I commend the congregation for becoming an internship site for both the congregation and the church.  This is a good opportunity for all.  I will miss those I have had the privilege to serve and to partner with while pursuing our mutual ministry.  There will always be a warm spot in my heart for St. James. 

– Pastor Clif

Parish Records


November 6: Rilynn Robinson & Josiah Robinson

New Members

November 6: Ashlyn Heller, Cara Russo, & Briah Russo


October 28: Stephanie ‘Cian’ Green

November 1: Linda Straka

November 6: Charles Dale

November 16: Lawrence “Larry” Kinneman

Upcoming 50+ Wedding Anniversaries

December 12: Jerry & Linda Neth (58 years)

December 16: Cecil & Pat Sandoe (60 years)

December 27: Peter & Martha Riley (53 years)

Looking Ahead

December 24: Christmas Eve Worship Services: 5 PM; 6:30PM – outside; 8PM, 10PM

December 25: Christmas Morning Worship Service, 10AM (only)

January 1: New Years Day Worship Service, 10AM (only)

January 6-8: Winterfest; Fun, fellowship, & faith formation for high school youth group.

Visiting St. James – New Office Hours

  • Monday: 9AM—3PM
  • Tuesday: 9AM—Noon
  • Wednesday: 9AM—5PM
  • Thursday: 9AM—3PM
  • Friday: 9AM—3PM