109 York Street, Gettysburg, PA 17325

The Messenger – January 2024

The Messenger – January 2024

You can download a copy of The Messenger with graphics. Or if you just want to read the text, keep scrolling! January 2024 Events Calendar at St. James Lutheran Church.

All of our community events are posted on our events page, be sure to check them out!

A Message From Pastor Andrew

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven. ~Ecclesiastes 3:1

The history books will note that the ancient Babylonians were the first to make New Year’s resolutions, some 4,000 years ago. They’re also given credit for the first recorded New Year’s celebrations – though not in January but in mid-March, when the harvest was planted. Through a 12-day religious festival known as Akitu, the Babylonians crowned a new king or reaffirmed their loyalty to the reigning king, made promises to the gods to repay any debts owed, and returned any property they had borrowed. Resolutions, that allowed people to wipe the slate clean and begin anew. If they followed through with their resolutions, the gods would bless them for the coming year. If they failed to follow through, they would fall out of the god’s favor.

For early Christians, the first day of the new year became the time to reflect on one’s past mistakes with the hopes of resolving them and setting a path for a better future. John Wesley, founder of the Methodist tradition, built upon this practice with the formation of the Covenant Renewal Service – reading scripture and singing hymns on New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day, as public witness of their resolutions for the coming year.

While the historical timeline of our New Year’s resolutions is rooted in spiritual practices of one kind or another, they have become mostly secular for people of today’s world – a recent study claiming that most resolutions last less than three months. Like most, I admit that I don’t have the best track record when it comes to keeping New Year’s resolutions. With the best intentions, old habits quickly creep up. Though, the coming of a new year has become a time for me to do some more intentional reflection. What could I have done better this past year? What needs more attention in the year ahead? What are those things I need to work harder on? What mistakes have I made that need addressed? At home: How can I be a better husband? How can I be a better father? Can I care for myself? Here at church: How can I be more faithful to the people of St. James? Can I proclaim the Gospel more fully? Can I provide more opportunities for people to be in Christian fellowship?

While I’ll leave the resolutions for home at home, I do have some thoughts on those here at church. As I look back over the past two years, really since transitioning into the Lead Pastor role, I fully recognize the many places I have missed the mark. In my discovering what it means to be Lead Pastor (and solo), I know that my visitation and pastoral care has at times, left much to be desired. There have been hospital and home visits that I simply haven’t gotten to. I know that I haven’t been at every committee and community meeting. I know that I haven’t always been at the top of my game. In saying this, looking to 2024, I am grateful for the opportunity of resolutions and new beginnings.

While 2022 was, in many ways, a new start for us as a congregation, there was much that needed to be addressed before we could more fully live into the days ahead. Staffing concerns in the Early Learning Center, new church staff members learning the ropes with other positions yet to be filled, Interim Associate Pastor transitions, and becoming a Seminary Internship site for the first time in years, to name a few.

As I write this month’s Messenger article, I would say that the Early Learning Center is stronger than it’s been in quite some time, that our church staff is capable and energized and passionate to live the Gospel life, and I think we’d all agree that being an internship site was a wonderful experience. In short, things are pretty good here at St. James. I look forward to filling the Associate Pastor position (soon hopefully!) and serving God by serving our neighbor with a full staff.

As you reflect on the new year for yourself, I wonder, what are those things in your life that need resolution and newness? That need to take place in order to set a path for a better future? What healing needs to take place? What hurt needs to be resolved? What relationships need mended? What work needs to be done in order for you to live more fully into your faith?

When it comes down to it, the heart of the Christian rite rests on the promise of new beginnings. In Christ, we have received this promise. Not just at the onset of the New Year, but each and every day – every moment. It is never too late to ask for forgiveness and offer it to one in need of receiving it… to commit oneself to a new, more fulfilling way of life… to instill practices of faithful generosity and sacrificial love… to give to others what God in Christ has already given to us. With gratitude, let us respond to this promise in the new year with joyful hearts, knowing that we ourselves have already received it.

With love,
~Pastor Andrew

A Note From Vicar Libby

St. James Family,
As I completed my internship this past December 31st, all I could think about was Psalm 136-“Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good.”

When I met with Pastor Andrew last October to discuss a potential internship site, I could not have imagined the impact that this place could have had on my ministerial formation. I could not have imagined a more comprehensive internship or an environment that was more encouraging of my own growth.

Words cannot express the outpouring of support I have received this year from St. James. Pastor Andrew introduced the congregation to me as “The church with open doors.” My experience this year included a new addition: “The church with open hearts.”

Thank you for opening your hearts and minds to an internship opportunity this year. Thank you for being a congregation that loves wholeheartedly, serves all our of neighbors, and brings an abundance of light to those it serves here in Adams County.

I am proud to be part of the St. James family and will treasure the time I have spent in this place for years to come. May God be with you all.

With love,
-Vicar Libby

Tree4Hope Mission Trip Opportunity

The World Outreach Committee has been in contact with representatives from Tree4Hope school and orphanage in Antigua, Guatemala, to arrange a mission trip for interested St. James members. Tree4Hope is a place well known to people in our area. St. Matthews members in Hanover have been traveling to Guatemala for years, and Pastor Andrew’s father, Pastor Richard Geib, has visited Tree4Hope in the past. Pastor Andrew is a seminary classmate of one of the founders of the school/orphanage.

The Committee is planning a trip for July 11-19, 2024. Summer dates were chosen so some of our youth might be able to participate in the mission. Youth may apply for the Global Mission Scholarship to defray trip costs. An information session will be held Sunday, January 7 at 9:30 AM for those interested in learning details about the trip. You may contact any of the committee members as well: Claire Anderson (chair), Dennis Carter, Bill Shoemaker, Dave & Pat Crowner, Sharon Kaya, Barbara Schmitthenner, and Pastor Andrew.

Music Notes: Jonathan Noel, Minister of Music

Epiphany Lights
Within a week following Christmas our neighbors pack away decorations, take down festive lights, and drag Christmas trees to the curb. When the lights go out, our long winter evenings seem darker. January can be quite bleak.

We have a tradition of leaving our lights and decorations up throughout the twelve days of Christmas and at least until Epiphany on January 6th. Our persistent light in an otherwise dark neighborhood reminds us of the good news that Christ the Light has come to us and remains with us.

Why, as a culture, are we so quick to move beyond Christmas? To pack up those lights and discard those trees? Why not take the time to revel in the joy of the Incarnation? To pause and reflect on the holy child that brings salvation to earth?

Perhaps our own busyness or expectations leading up to Christmas tire us out? Perhaps we forget that Christmas is a beginning and not an ending? Perhaps we are ready to put the holidays behind us and get back to normal? Perhaps, we just follow our neighbors in taking down the lights because, well, Christmas is over? Our house is often the last in the neighborhood with lights, Epiphany lights! Christ the Light came to bring hope, joy, peace, and love. These are what the world needs most, and this is why we let our lights shine !

Jonathan Noel

Winter Quilting

Monday mornings are quilting mornings. If the roads are clear, our quilters will meet in room 303 from 9:30 am – noon starting January 15th. We have brand new cutting mats, rotary cutters, rulers, and scissors to make cutting squares fast and easy. We have lots of fun fabrics to cut, to pin, and to sew. Two quilts are ready! We have 38 more to build to meet our spring goal of 40 quilts. We may not sit around a quilting frame, but we do find comfort, companionship, and laughter in room 303. All are welcome, come when you can for as long as you can, & bring a friend!

Worship Previews


Our re-creation in baptism is an image of the Genesis creation, where the Spirit of God moved over the waters. Both Mark’s gospel and the story in Acts make clear that it is the Spirit’s movement that distinguishes Jesus’ baptism from John’s. The Spirit has come upon us as upon Jesus and the Ephesians, calling us God’s beloved children and setting us on Jesus’ mission to re-create the world in the image of God’s vision of justice and peace.

Preacher: Pastor Andrew Geib
Readings: Genesis 1:1-5, Acts 19:1-7
Psalm 29, Mark 1:4-11

Fellowship, hosted by Early Learning Center Governance & Youth Ministry


All the baptized have a calling in God’s world. God calls not just pastors and deacons but also the youngest child, like Samuel. The story of the calling of Nathanael plays with the idea of place. Nathanael initially dismisses Jesus because he comes from Nazareth. But where we come from isn’t important; it’s where—or rather whom—we come to. Jesus refers to Jacob, who had a vision in a place he called “the house of God, and . . . the gate of heaven” (Gen. 28:17). Jesus says he himself is the place where Nathanael will meet God.

Preacher: Pastor Andrew Geib
Readings: 1 Samuel 3:1-10, 1 Corinthians 6:12-20
Psalm 139:1-6, 13-18 John 1:43-51


As we continue through the time after Epiphany, stories of the call to discipleship show us the implications of our baptismal calling to show Christ to the world. Jesus begins proclaiming the good news and calling people to repentance right after John the Baptist is arrested for preaching in a similar way. Knowing that John was later executed, we see at the very outset the cost of discipleship. Still, the two sets of brothers leave everything they have known and worked for all their lives to follow Jesus and fish for people.

Preacher: Pastor Andrew Geib
Readings: Jonah 3:1-5, 10 , 1 Corinthians 7:29-31
Psalm 62:5-12, Mark 1:14-20
WaterLife Children’s Service @ 10:45 a.m


In Deuteronomy God promises to raise up a prophet like Moses, who will speak for God; in Psalm 111 God shows the people the power of God’s works. For the church these are ways of pointing to the unique authority people sensed in Jesus’ actions and words. We encounter that authority in God’s word, around which we gather, the word that prevails over any lesser spirit that would claim power over us, freeing us to follow Jesus.

Preacher: Rev. Dr. R. Guy Erwin
Readings: Deuteronomy 18:15-20, 1 Corinthians 8:1-13
Psalm 111, Mark 1:21-28

Young At Heart: Keeping Up With The Kids

Adam Michael, Director of Youth and Family Ministry

Every elementary school child learns how to ask questions at an early age. Who – what – when – where – why – how – are practically tattooed into your mind by the time you’re in fourth or fifth grade. It takes much longer to learn how to ask the right questions. For me, even as a former journalist, it’s still a work in progress.

This past month, our K-5 youth group spent time thinking about curiosity. We began the unit with a curiosity box, filled with strange items like a laptop fan, a plant mister, a pastry blender, an igniter of model rockets, and several others.

Before beginning the exercise, we told the kids they could ask any question about the item, except “what is it.” The kids were very good at examining the devices, but in their haste to get the right answer, they skipped helpful questions like, “Are these fan blades or some sort of propeller,” “where might this be used?” “how does it plug in,” or “what time period was this most useful,” and instead took random stabs in the dark about the name of the device.

“Is it a hovercraft?” “A weird window fan?” “A weird car fan?” “A UFO?” There was a lot of creativity in some of the guesses, but each question eliminated only one possibility, leaving the list of imaginable correct answers nearly infinite.

While the kids can be excused for having developing brains, many adults also fall into this pattern as well. Rather than thinking critically to narrow the field of unknowns, we take stabs in the dark and if our guesswork fits our narrative, we accept it as fact.

The Bible, meant to provide us with essential truths to better understand God, can become a dangerous tool if used in this way. People who claim to be curious come to accept their first understanding rather than continuing to ask questions about the text, the context, the period it was written and the cultures and norms of the people it reflected.

By focusing on what we hope the answer is, we miss an opportunity to ask questions that will lead us to a greater understanding. Curiosity is linked to free will, and with this great gift comes great responsibility. Asking the right questions is hard, but it’s a necessary skillset to learn to be a responsible Christian.

While we will never know why or sometimes even how God does things, we can ask good questions to narrow the field of possibility, while reminding ourselves what has been consistent about God – creation, love, compassion, goodness, harmony, truth revealed both from beauty and suffering, and that there is life after death.

By not accepting simple answers and continually pouring our understanding through critical filters, we can come to know God and hopefully, find our purpose to fulfill his will.

Adam Michael
Youth and Family Director

Breakfast With Santa

Breakfast with Santa was held on December 2, 2023. Fun times, games, crafts, good food, and fellowship were enjoyed by all. Thanks to everyone who helped to make this a successful event !!

Council Corner, December 20 Meeting Highlights

En Bloc Agenda:

  • Approval of Minutes from November 15, 2023
  • Acceptance of Treasurer’s Report
  • Church Financials
  • ELC Financials
    The En Bloc Agenda was approved unanimously.
  • Special Request for approval of the Fastnacht fundraiser to benefit the youth programs of St. James (February 10-13). (Kyle Smith) Passed unanimously. Kyle also mentioned there would be extra shifts added to the baking cycle this year and that signup sheets will be available soon.
  • Church van proposal (Alan Haynes): In his proposal, Alan believes the church could benefit from owning and operating its own van (large enough for 12-15 riders), especially for youth activities and to transport congregants to and from Sunday services. The van could cost anywhere from $15,000-$30,000 and could be financed through endowment dividends. Parking is an issue that would need to be resolved, due to limited space at the church. A task force will be formed to look into renting/test driving van models for several months to gauge which model would be best and to see how in-demand the van would be; reps could include members from Youth and Worship & Music committees.
  • Old Business
  • Review SMART Goals and progress: November was a good month for St. James (see chart at the end of this report). As such, St. James needs to keep getting the word out consistently about increasing giving just a little to meet its 2024 goals, as was discussed during the November congregational meeting .
  • CARES discussion: During the first few weeks of St. James serving as the one place for cold-weather shelter, there have been a few issues involving both infrastructure and guests. There is a possibility of replacing the current third-floor urinals with waterless varieties along with better ways of securing church Sunday-school materials while still providing child guests with activities. Better communications need to be developed between the church and the visiting church breakfast volunteers to make sure the new kitchen is maintained correctly and that leftover food earmarked for the breakfasts is used promptly. There has been a certain amount of extra work put on the church staff, which is being mitigated now, and some guests need additional care (i.e., healthcare), which is under discussion with CARES.
  • Capital growth campaign: Pastor Nathan held his last meeting with the Capital Growth Task Force, and he reiterated the need for raising up new leaders in the church to take on “cultural shifts” in the congregation (i.e., more evangelism, more small groups, improving welcoming techniques, helping with pastoral care, meal teams).

    New Business
    Good for Council – Good for Church
    Good for God: the ELC received almost $7,000 from the Giving Spree. Mark Withrow was commended for a great job as Santa at the annual breakfast. Pastor Andrew unveiled the startup of the Common Ground Recovery Ministry, a once-a-week program based on the 12 Steps that will begin at the end of January 2024
    Next Meeting: Wednesday, 1/17/24, at 6:30 p.m.

Poinsettias & Gifts to World Hunger Are Given In Honor Of

The Social Ministry Committee, given by Lou & Priscilla Shuba
The St. James Staff, given by Dee Wells
Geoffrey Thulin & Julie Aha, given by Elizabeth Thulin
Our grandchildren, Cole, Brant, Maeve and Vance, given by Betsy & Tom Keefer
Libby Baker-Mikesell, given by Mom & Dad
Jesse Holt, given by Suzanne
Dee Wells and Judy Seilhamer, given by Sam & Ed Main
My children: Kim, Michael, Robin and Frances Bair, & grandchildren: Luke, Taylor & Olivia Bair, given by Margaret McGlaughlin
Nadine Baugher; Alli, Nate, Eliza & Rhea Crowell, given by Phil & Tara Baugher
Elinor ‘Teeny’ Bender, given by Tom & Mary Bender
Our grandchildren: Drew, Gracie, Gavin, Layla, given by Tom & Mary Bender

Poinsettias & Gifts to World Hunger Are Given In Memory Of

Our parents: Neil & Carol Kessel and Raymond & Kathleen Blum, given by Dan Kessel & Carol Widerman Milton Nicks, given by his loving wife, Barbara
Our parents, & son, Jason, given by Kenneth & Judy Boyer
Marty Young, given by his wife, Anne
Fern Klinefelter, given by his sister and brother-in-law, Glenn & Nancy Klinefelter Heller Our parents, given by Glenn & Nancy Klinefelter Heller
Jim Lohuis, Pap & Nana Coshun, & Virginia Small, given by The Lohuis Family
Loved ones, given by Lou & Priscilla Shuba
Loved ones, given by Wayne & Sue Hill
My mom, Ruth Bender, given by Betsy & Tom Keefer
George Bender, given by Teeny Bender & Children
Carolyn and Arnold Nicholson, given by Suze, Miriam, Paul & Karyn
Morris M. and Mary Caroline Steinour, given by Tom and Mary Bender
Donna Taylor & Doug Gochenour, and Hellen & Stanley Gochenour, given by Pegg Gardner
Nelson & Hazel Sixeas, given by his daughter, Janet Rice & family
Our father, Samuel A. Small, given by his children, Jennifer, Samantha, & Daniel
Our family and friends, given by Shirley & Dave Sanders
Jason Withrow & Robert Withrow, given by Sonja & Mark Withrow
Jack Bucher, given by his wife, Jenny
Our parents, given by Barbara & Tom Vossler
Yvette Holt, given by Suzanne
Hal Platzer, J. Claude Shea, Gertrude M. Shea, Joseph C. Shea, Jr., Louise Shea Lang, given by Kathy Platzer G. Richard & Glenna G. Boyer, given by their children: Anna, Peggy & Carole
All who have died in Israel and Palestine, given by Pete & Marty Riley
Our Grandparents, Kenneth C. & Josephine Haugen Senft and Richard E. & Alice Romaine Geib, given by Johanna Kiehl, Elizabeth Ashoka, Andrew Geib
My husband, Robert, & his parents, Curvin & Frances McGlaughlin, and my parents, Glenn & Mabel Sterner, given by Margaret McGlaughlin
Joann Smith & Jean Bair, given by Amanda Bair
Dennis Frankfort , given by his mother, Ruth Knaub
Salud Nieting, given by Judy & Bill Leslie
John Baugher, Janel Baugher, Jay and Lou Auxt, given by Phil & Tara Baugher
Our Grandparents, given by Mark & Katy Clowney
Ralph & Ada McGregor, given by Matthew & Ila Verdirame

Christmas Wreaths Are Given In Honor Of

In honor of the Sunday School Teachers, by Kathy & Bill Avery
In honor of Katy Clowney, by Norma Wood
In memory of John & Catherine Coughlin, Patricia Coughlin & Steven Bates, and Richard & Muriel Anderson, by Claire & Bob Anderson
In memory of Samuel Green by his wife Peggy, son, Travis & grandchildren, Zach & Abby
In memory of our parents, by John & Judy Seilhamer

Yoga Ministry At St. James: 2nd Session

If you missed the first session, a second session will be held starting on Feb. 23, 2024. Sessions will continue to be on Fridays at 1:15 pm, and continue to be led by Alli Crowell, St. James member and owner/instructor at RISE Yoga Gettysburg, Gentle Yoga classes are beginner friendly and accessible to all levels of experience and ability. Yoga Ministry classes are open to the public.

A free-will offering will be collected: during these sessions. 50% of offerings collected will be donated to St. James and the other 50% will be donated to the Love Your Brain Foundation, an organization providing free yoga and mindfulness resources to the brain injury community. Bring your own mat and water bottle! Extra yoga mats and props will be available to borrow. Walk-ins are welcome, but pre-registration is appreciated !

Parish Records

January 27, David and Barbara Hedrick- 54 years

December 12 Donna Straka
December 13 Jack Chambers
December 24 Dorothy Johnson

Looking Ahead

January 5-7, Winterfest (High School Youth Retreat)
February 4, Benefit Concert (Jesse Holt & Friends)
February 10-13, Fastnachts !!

Visiting St. James

Office Hours:
Monday—office closed
Tuesday—Friday, 9:00 a.m.—3:30 p.m. Wednesday until 5:30 p.m.
The rear door at the parking lot is open. Come on in!!