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The Messenger – July 2023

The Messenger – July 2023

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July 2023 Events Calendar at St. James Lutheran Church

A Message From Pastor Andrew

40“Whoever welcomes you welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. 41Whoever welcomes a prophet in the name of a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward; and whoever welcomes a righteous person in the name of a righteous person will receive the reward of the righteous; 42and whoever gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones in the name of a disciple—truly I tell you, none of these will lose their reward.”

-Matthew 10:40-42

We’ve spent a lot of time here at St. James reflecting on the act of welcoming in recent weeks. 

A brief conversation at a Council meeting months ago motivated leadership to search for a consultant who might guide us in a process around evangelism and church growth.  After multiple conversations with various leaders across the ELCA, Council engaged Pastor Nathan Swenson-Reinhold. 

Pastor Nathan is an ELCA pastor, who currently serves as a consultant with Gronlund Sayther Brunkow.  He works primarily with congregations in the areas of leadership development, organizational cultural change, equipping staff and leaders, and training.  He is full of energy, has a love for Christ and the church, and cannot wait to begin working with us here at St. James.  I believe Pastor Nathan will help us better understand who we are as a congregation and where we might be heading in the days ahead. 

The verses above from Matthew, come from our assigned gospel on the first weekend of July.  In many ways, it is at the heart of what it means to follow Jesus.  To welcome another is to welcome Jesus himself.  Notice Jesus offers no distinction between who we are to welcome.  He offers no exclusions, no exceptions.  We are to welcome all; to care for all.

In my seven years here at St. James, our Welcome Statement is one of the things I have become most proud of.  We have stated in writing that we are a community of faith that welcomes and embraces all people, regardless of who they are, what they have done, and where they are in their faith journey.  My hope and prayer for us as a congregation is that we live into this statement more fully each and every day. 

If you worshipped with us throughout the month of June, you heard Jesus reflect again and again how difficult this work of welcome can be.  Work, that at times leads to division and persecution.  We saw this clearly as someone came onto church property and stole the pride flags placed throughout our flower beds.  What were meant to be a symbol of inclusive welcome and a sign of the love Christ calls us to, taken. 

The Bible, our book of faith, tells the story of humanity’s journey with God.  A journey we find ourselves in.  One that reflects the struggle of broken people attempting to follow a God of perfection.  It tells of success and failure, moments of hurt and pain alongside moments of joy.  In Jesus, the journey reaches a pinnacle as the Son of God sacrifices himself on the cross out of love for the world.  For those who follow Him, for you and for me, this is not only the act in which we are to put our hope and trust, but also the act we are to model day in and day out – our welcome included. 

So, go forth and welcome others as Christ has welcomed you.  Welcome the stranger and those you’ve known forever.  Welcome the lost.  Welcome the least.  Welcome the rejected and those who have no other place to go.  Welcome those who have wronged and those whom you have wronged.  Welcome in ways big and small.  Welcome with love.  And know that you yourself are always welcome here.

With love,
Pastor Andrew

Pastor Nathan Swenson-Reinhold’s assessment and consultation will include feedback from the Congregational Vitality Survey.  Please participate by July 5.

A Message From Vicar Libby

I spent time with our synod confirmands at Camp Nawakwa in mid June. The 65 campers spent time each morning diving deeply into the stories of Christ and the promises made to his disciples. Campers experienced the story of Christ’s resurrection this Wednesday. The visiting pastors created a courtroom scene, filled with witnesses, news reporters and a jury, to determine the validity of the resurrection claims.

While the activity was exciting and presented a different approach to the themes of “Doubt” and “Belief” found within Christ’s resurrection, I found the timing of the activity to be especially relevant.

The news this past week has been full of trials of its own: A former President arraigned on charges of obstruction and unlawful retention of defense information; Supreme Court discussions on the future of Affirmative Action; and the Southern Baptist Convention holding a trial for churches that had been removed from its roster.

The latter has been a topic of personal interest this week. The Southern Baptist Convention, gathered in New Orleans, Louisiana, voted to uphold the removal of three churches  from its roster.

Their crime? Having a woman pastor. Saddleback and Fern Creek Churches, in Southern California, and Kentucky, have had females in positions of pastoral authority for years. Saddleback church has a female student ministries pastor, and Fern Creek has a lead pastor who is a woman. The Southern Baptist Convention met, put both churches on trial for their misdeeds, and voted to remove the churches 9,437 to 1,212.

The news from the Baptist Convention has been one that has touched me deeply. I attended Catholic elementary school for six years, and was told I  could not participate fully in worship because of my gender and faith tradition. My heart breaks for the churches that find themselves without a mother church, and for the other young women who desire to serve fully in Christ’s church but find themselves without a purpose, filled with a calling that cannot be fulfilled.

The source of the decision comes from verses like 1st Timothy 2:12, which states: “I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet.” And yet, we see verses in the Bible that exclusively mention the leadership of women in spiritual spaces:  Anna the prophetess, Deborah the judge, and Phoebe the worship leader, among so many others. Women were the first to proclaim the news of the Resurrection, and it was a woman with whom Jesus has the longest conversation in the Bible.

At its heart, the Gospel tells us to love our neighbors. As people of God, we are called to use the Gospel to not only guide our own lives, but to support and uplift the lives of others. The Great Commission calls us to empower others with the Gospel, and we all are called to share the Gospel with others as part of the Priesthood of All Believers.

I recognize that there are specific challenges to being a young woman in ministry. However, I have found joy in the conversations that I have had with other young women entering ministry, youth navigating broken hearts and growing pains, and the struggles of daughters caring for parents and children.

I am grateful to be part of a faith tradition that empowers all of God’s people, gives them voices, and encourages them to speak the Gospel. I pray that this gift of empowerment may be present in the lives of all churches. Amen.

With Love and Grace,
Vicar Libby

Braband Organ Scholarship Winner

I am happy to introduce to you our second Braband Organ Scholarship winner, Caleb Leckrone. During a recent lesson, I interviewed Caleb so that you could learn about him and how this scholarship plays a part in training a new generation of organists. 

Caleb, congratulations on winning the scholarship. How did you get interested in playing the organ? I would always hear it as a kid in church and all the different sounds that it could create, and it was intriguing to me.

What do you like most about the organ? Messing with all the stops to see how many different sounds I can make to suit the piece that I’m playing.

What do you like most about playing for church? You can kind of just follow what the congregation wants to do and not so much that they have to follow what the accompanist is doing.

Do you play other instruments? I also play piano, violin, and clarinet.

What school do you go to? Southwestern High School.

How are you involved in music at school? I’m in band, choir, and orchestra. I’m in the men’s choir, You’ve Got Male, and I’m also in symphonic band and chamber orchestra.

Are you involved in sports or other activities? I do marching band in the fall and I swim in the winter.

What are your plans after high school? I want to go to college for music.

Where do you see yourself in five or ten years? As a music teacher somewhere, like middle or high school.

It’s a pleasure teaching you, Caleb. Thanks for doing the interview.

Caleb is involved in the music program at his home church, Trinity UCC in Hanover, where he also practices for his lessons. Thanks to your generous donations to the Braband Organ Scholarship, we are currently able to offer two scholarships. Anna Smith, the first recipient of the scholarship, was introduced to you in my March Messenger article and will be invited to play during a service at St James this fall.

Jonathan Noel

5th Sunday Servant Event:  July 30

We’ll be collecting school supplies for the United Way’s Back-to-School collection.  We have to have a quick turn around, so please have donations in on time!  The United Way will be distributing school supplies on August 5th.  Grab a donation item and bring it to church on July 30th or earlier!

Worship Previews

July 1 & 2:  Fifth Sunday After Pentecost

The welcome of baptism is for all God’s children. This baptismal gift sets us free from the power of sin and death. In today’s gospel, Christ promises that the disciple who gives a cup of cold water to the little ones serves Christ himself. From worship we are sent on our baptismal mission: to serve the little ones of this world and to be a sign of God’s merciful welcome.

Preacher: Pastor Andrew Geib
Readings: Jeremiah 28:5-9 | Romans 6:12-23 | Psalm 89:1-4, 15-18 | Matthew 10:40-42

Fellowship, hosted by Property Committee & the Prayer Shawl Knitters.

July 8 & 9:  Sixth Sunday After Pentecost

The mystery of God’s ways is sometimes hidden from the wise and intelligent. Jesus associates with those often excluded from the religious community. Like Paul, we struggle with our own selfish desires and seek God’s mercy and forgiveness. We gather to be refreshed by Christ’s invitation: “Come to me, all you that are weary.” Gathered around word, water, and meal, we find rest for our souls.

Preacher: Vicar Libby Baker-Mikesell
Readings: Zechariah 9:9-12 | Romans 7:15-25a | Psalm 145:8-14 | Matthew 11:16-19, 25-30

July  15 & 16:  Seventh Sunday After Pentecost

God’s word is like the rain that waters the earth and brings forth vegetation. It is also like the sower who scatters seed indiscriminately. Our lives are like seeds sown in the earth. Even from what appears to be little, dormant, or dead, God promises a harvest. At the Lord’s table we are fed with the bread of life, that we may bear fruit in the world.

Preacher: Pastor Nathan Swenson-Reinhold
Readings: Isaiah 55:10-13 | Romans 8:1-11 | Psalm 65:[1-8] 9-13 | Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23

July 22 & 23:  Eighth Sunday After Pentecost

It is an age-old question: why is there evil in the world? In the parable of the wheat and the weeds Jesus suggests that both grow together until the harvest. With Paul, we long for the day that all creation will be set free from bondage and suffering. Having both weeds and wheat within us, we humbly place our hope in the promises of God, and from the Lord’s table we go forth to bear the fruit of justice and mercy.

Preacher: Vicar Libby Baker-Mikesell
Readings: Isaiah 44:6-8 | Romans 8:12-25 | Psalm 86:11-17 | Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43

July 29 & 30:  Ninth Sunday After Pentecost

As Solomon prays for wisdom, we seek to more deeply know the treasures of faith. In today’s gospel Jesus offers everyday images that reveal to us the reign of God: a tree that becomes a sheltering home, yeast that penetrates and expands, a treasured pearl, a net that gains a great catch. Even as we seek the riches of God’s reign, the great surprise is that God’s grace finds us first!

Preacher: Pastor Andrew Geib
Readings: 1 Kings 3:5-12 | Romans 8:26-39 | Psalm 119:129-136 | Matthew 13:31-33, 44-52

Katharine Beckman will be ordained to the Diaconate at the Saturday, July 29, 5:30 p.m. worship service.  The service will be livestreamed as well. 

Young at Heart: Keeping Up with the Kids

Adam Michael, Director of Youth & Family Ministry

Can we have true faith without wrestling with doubt, or are the two feelings interwoven throughout our belief system?

This was the central question I and nine St. James youth groupers wrestled with for a week while navigating the hillsides of Camp Nawakwa at All-Saints Confirmation Camp in the middle of June.

During the week, we discussed three stories in which the disciples interacted with the resurrected Christ, The Women at the Tomb, Doubting Thomas, and Peter on the Beach. Each experience is described equal parts scary and exhilarating. In each story, the most devout followers of Christ find themselves doubting their experience, then leaping back to faith.

In John 21, we see that the disciples did not recognize the resurrected Christ when he first appears to them on the beach. At roughly 100 yards, it’s possible his closest friends just couldn’t get a good enough look to recognize Jesus. It’s also possible that Jesus got a glow up after his resurrection. Or maybe it was just too unbelievable that Christ had returned.

So how are we to know Jesus? We aren’t as lucky as the disciples. We never witnessed Jesus firsthand. But perhaps the message of this story is that knowing Jesus is not about sight or physical touch. Our connection to Jesus is felt through our heart, and through our connections with one another.

Mary knew Jesus by the way he called her name. Thomas knew Jesus through an intimate experience with him. The disciple whom Jesus loved knew he saw the Lord when he provided them with 153 fish.

While we may not experience Jesus the way the disciples did, we can experience Jesus in one another. We feel exhilaration in our collective strength and cooperation when we guide each other through a ropes course or work together to capture the flag. We feel God’s love as we trust one another with our vulnerable feelings or deeply held secrets. We feel harmony when we worship together, lifting our voices in his name.

In the book of John, Jesus calls Peter to feed his sheep. This begs the question, what will we do when Jesus calls us to do the same? Hopefully, we will tell his story, and we will have enough faith to give up a piece of ourselves for the collective good. This may be by sacrificing our money, food or clothing to help a stranger. It may mean risking our reputation to stand up for what is right. And it may be as simple as offering up our time and talents to help those less fortunate. After this past week, our confirmands are hopefully more prepared to overcome their doubts and step into a life of Christ.  

Summer schedule—Stay Tuned for More Details!

July 12, 11AM-7PM  MS & HS Hershey Park trip

July 23, 3PM-7PM  Family Lake Heritage party at the Crowell house

July 26, 9AM-5PM  Kids Olympics (location TBA)

Aug. 2, 9AM-5PM Cunningham Falls hike – MS only

Aug. 5, 11AM-5PM  Caledonia Family Picnic

Aug. 19-20  K-5 Workcamp at church

Board Game Nights—Mondays at 6PM

Play games, eat pizza, laugh and have fun in the Gathering Area at church. Play our games or bring your own. All family members are welcome!

Council Corner, June 21 Meeting Highlights

En Bloc Agenda

  • Approval of Minutes from May 17, 2023
  • Acceptance of Treasurer’s Report: Church Financials & ELC Financials
  • Acceptance of New Members: Via affirmation of faith: none; Via baptism: none

All items in the en bloc were approved.

Special Order Item:  Discussion of policies around welcoming all (including those with “challenging histories”). No action taken.

Old Business

  • Review SMART Goals and progress
May Giving6 & 713 & 1420 & 2127 & 28AVG
Worship Attendance213362*280219269
Actual Giving Offering$17,017$13,566$10,591$13,523$13,675

* Bluegrass worship & community dinner on Saturday

Weekly need per budget  $14,589.47 (with 53 Sundays in 2023)
Worship Attendance Goal of 250 attendees:  met
Budget Goal:  not met

  • Church Vitality Taskforce Update: A Congregational Vitality Survey was emailed to members on June 21. Current taskforce members are: Jim Dunlop, Carole Smith, Tom Uhlig, Pastor Andrew and Katy Clowney.  Pastor Nathan will be in Gettysburg at worship services the weekend of July 15-16.  There will be an all-day retreat on July 15 at the church with members of the taskforce and council. 
  • God on the Ground:  A motion was made and seconded to reconsider the motion passed at the May council meeting regarding God on the Ground.  This was in response to a letter council received from a member.  After discussion a vote was taken.  Motion did not pass.

New Business

  • Election of 2023-24 Council Officers: The slate of officers are as follows:  President: Carol Widerman, Vice President: Alan Haynes, Secretary: Debra Baker, Treasurer: Karen Lentz

A motion was made and seconded to elect these members as 2023-24 council officers.  Motion carried.

  • Youth House Kitchen Renovation: Motion was made and seconded to approve the estimate of $52,680 from Kirk Smith to complete the Youth House kitchen renovation.  Motion carried.  This estimate is $14,000 less than the amount of the grants received to complete the project.

Good for Council – Good for Church – Good for God

  • Upcoming Ordination at St. James: July 29, Katharine Beckman, diaconal minister
  • 2023 Synod Assembly:  Alan and Cathy Haynes were synod delegates.  Alan suggested that we present assembly attendance to the congregation as an uplifting and positive experience and encourage members to attend as delegates.  Quote from assembly: Our mission is not to count the sheep.  Our mission is to feed the sheep.
  • Pastor Andrew shared that a video highlighting the Miracle Workers was shown at synod assembly.
  • Operation Christmas Child donations will begin in July.
  • There will be a chicken BBQ in July to benefit Holiday Family Outreach.
  • Relay for Life fundraiser – June 22 at Hoss’s.
  • Pastor Andrew’s father – Pastor Richard Geib – will celebrate the 40th anniversary of his ordination on Sunday, June 25 at Tree of Life Lutheran Church Harrisburg.  Pastor Andrew will preach the sermon.

Next Meeting: Wednesday, July 19, 2023 at 6:30 p.m., Library

New Council Member Bios, Serving July 2023—June 2026

Visit the 2023 Incoming Council Members page.

  • Debra Baker
  • Carol Cook
  • Alan Haynes
  • Mark Withrow

Many Thanks to Jim Dunlop and Brent Smith for their Service on Council!!

Christmas In July:  Operation Christmas Child Begins!

Christmas in July is here at St. James. We will again be participating in the program Operation Christmas Child. Each month starting in July (and going through October), we will collect items to fill the boxes which are 13×7.5×4.7″- about the size of a regular shoe box. Our boxes will be for girls and boys ranging from ages 2-9. A list of donation items will be shared each month in The Messenger and in the eBlast.  Collection boxes will be outside the office to place your donations.

This is our 3rd year participating in this special project and it has gone very well in the past. Thank you in advance for your kindness and generosity as we collect these items, share our blessings, and spread God’s love. Any questions or concerns, contact Shirley Sanders.

You’re Invited—Relay for Life of Adams County

Relay For Life of Adams County will be held at Oakside Park in Biglerville on Saturday, August 12. The hours are 5:00 p.m. until 10 p.m. Many individuals from St. James are involved in this community event. Relay Teams: The Miracle Workers with Amanda Bair as Captain and Hope-Full Heels with Shirley Sanders as Captain. Troop 79 B/G will be in charge of the Flag Ceremony opening the Relay. Vendors and crafters will be there, as well as several food trucks.

There will be live entertainment with performer, Amy Rose at 7:00 p.m. and we are excited to have Ernie Kranias performing from 8:00 p.m. until 9:00 p.m. We hope you will come out and support these folks who donate their time and talents for this cause.

At 9:00 p.m. the Luminaria Ceremony is held. Pastor Andrew will speak at the opening and Shirley Sanders is the Luminaria Chairman. Amy Crist will be the guest speaker, sharing her story and cancer journey. The luminarias are around the pond and music is played as they are lit to remember those whose cancer journey is over, support cancer patients and to celebrate survivors! It is truly an emotional and inspirational part of Relay.

Please join us if you can!  Stay for a little while or for the whole Relay. Invite your family and friends as we strive to raise funds, raise awareness and support all the programs offered by the American Cancer Society. Thank you!

Parish Records

50+ Wedding Anniversaries

July 26 – Gary & Ann Ratay – 54 years