109 York Street, Gettysburg, PA 17325

The Messenger – March 2024

The Messenger – March 2024

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

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

A Message From Pastor Andrew

Faith is a living, daring confidence in God’s grace, so sure and certain that the believer would stake his life on it a thousand times.” 


For as long as human sin has roamed the earth, so has the notion of scapegoating – the casting of unmerited blame and consequent negative treatment.  What the world of medicine defines as an ego defense, in which anger, frustration, envy, guilt, shame, and insecurity are displaced onto another. 

We see this lived out in scripture, in a variety of ways.  Old Testament literature reflects a more literal rendering – goats sent out into the wilderness after the Jewish chief priest had symbolically laid the sins of the people upon it.  Our gospels tell a similar story.  Jesus, the Agnus Dei – the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world.

Back in January, I wrote a proposal which I sent to our Worship and Music committee, hoping that they would send it on to our Congregation Council for approval.  The proposal, rooted in the above quote from Luther and on our theology of justification – that we are saved by grace through faith; to paint Judas’ halo on our worship area relief of the Last Supper to match those of Jesus and the other disciples.  

For those who have been around long enough, you may remember that the original design for the relief contained no halos at all.  Once the halos were added, Judas was excluded all together.  It wasn’t until a concerned member emailed church leadership arguing against this exclusion, that Judas received his halo – though in lighter form.  That while “Judas’ actions set him apart from the other disciples,” they would not put him “outside the abundant grace of God.”

Worship and Music has approved the proposal, as has Council.  Our hope is, so long as scheduling allows, to have Judas’ halo painted and the relief rededicated during worship on Maundy Thursday of Holy Week.  A testament, I think, to our identity of grace. 

By the end of this month, we will have completed our Lenten journey to the foot of the cross and to the empty tomb.  We will have

gathered on Wednesday evenings for soup and bread (and of course the pastor’s gourmet mac n’ cheese) and for our Unfailing Light midweek services under the theme – What is love?  We will have spent time reflecting on our need for repentance and self-examination and the gifts of forgiveness and  grace that come to us through all of it. 

As we make this journey, side by side one another, know that there is no wrong Christ cannot right, no sin He cannot absolve.  For God meets the worst of us, to remind us of the best of us. 

May you trust in this promise in those moments when you can’t seem to let go of mistakes made, when the weight of guilt is too much to bear.  And may it lead you to offer it to others, bringing light and life wherever it is needed the most.

With love,
~Pastor Andrew

Winter Quilting Update

Thanks to a cheery group of volunteers, the Winter Quilting sessions have been great fun.  We have enjoyed the camaraderie of our congregation friends and welcomed new members from our community. We have accomplished our goal of 40 quilts to contribute to Lutheran World Relief.  With so many helping hands, we have cut, pinned, sewn, and knotted all 40 quilts during the winter sessions. Thanks to Pegg Gardner, we have 10 sets of quilt blocks for volunteers to sew in preparation for our Fall campaign.  With the seasonal fabrics donated last spring, we will create a holiday quilt for Camp Nawakwa’s Fall Auction.  If you would like to help at home, we welcome volunteers to sew quilt tops together with Pegg’s block sets throughout the spring, summer, and fall. Call Judy at (717) 334-4301 or Claire at (717) 779-6280 to choose your fabrics.

We hope to see these women again in the fall: new friends:  Sally Kopp and Kathy Rehak, & our tried and true friends: Shirley Sanders, Ila Verdirame, Brenda Heberling, Jean Uhlig, Barbara Nicks, Barbara Hedrick, Sandy Waybrant, & Sherry Waybright.

A Message from Libby Baker – Mikesell

“…and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”
-Ephesians 5:2

Lent has traditionally been a season of reflection, sacrifice, and one of personal childhood curiosity. I distinctly remember as a Lutheran girl in a Catholic school learning about the time before Easter with the reminder to “give up” something for the next 40 days (excluding Sundays!).  Some years, these sacrifices were pre-planned; “I’m going to give up chocolate!” or “I’m going to give up french fries!”  Other times, however, Lenten sacrifices were more spur-of-the-moment, based not on genuine vices, but rather on what we had already eaten that day. Suddenly, my classmates and I were giving up chocolate milk or pizza-not because we wanted to, but because there was a pressure to give something up for Lent. The ‘what’ wasn’t important, it was the action of sacrifice that mattered the most.

Pastor Andrew reminded us at our Ash Wednesday service that we should focus not on outward, obligatory sacrifice of material goods, but rather on ways that we can add to our lives and the lives of others.

Last week, I received a photo from one of our family friends, Eric Cowden and Mark Withrow. Mark and his mother were visiting the locally famous Upper Ten Mile Presbyterian Church’s annual fish fry in Prosperity, PA. It is an event, similar to our annual fastnacht sale, that brings people together.  Church members gather annually to bread, fry, and distribute fish meals to thousands of people, from Washington County and beyond.  All proceeds are given to local charities. This year, the church will feed thousands of people, donating over $500,000 to local charities since the fish fry’s beginning 20 years ago. Instead of giving up something for Lent, the congregation adds to the overall physical, mental, and wellbeing of the community.

Lent doesn’t have to be a time of obligatory sacrifice. Rather, it can and should, be a time of intentional reflection to bring us closer to the God we know in our souls, and away from the things of this world that keep us from loving others to the best of our abilities.

And we are called to that challenge, as well. This Lent, let us abstain from giving up material goods arbitrarily, and add to our spiritual lives and the lives of others. Give more of your time, talents, or treasure to the church or an organization that is personally important. Spend time reading the Bible over the next month, or taking intentional time to check in with loved ones. Spend less time on your phones, and more time reading a new book.

This Lenten season, let us move in the way of love, as Christ so loved us.

With Love,
Libby Baker-Mikesell

Young At Heart: Keeping up with the Kids

Adam Michael, Director of Youth and Family Ministry

When we talk about courage, we often think of a knight in shining armor, soldiers in battle or people surviving a catastrophe of some sort by continuing to make good choices.

But at its root, courage is simply a show of determination and daring; working through a flight reaction to get to fight. Hypothetically, one shows courage in all sorts of reckless behaviors; speeding on the highway, robbing a bank, or manipulating people to do wrong.

Courage on its own isn’t worthy of celebration. But courage with a healthy dose of strong character, or good moral qualities, will help us use our powers the way God asks us to. Since Christmas, we’ve discussed this value as showing grit.

With faith in God and in his training as a shepherd, David faced the giant Goliath in champion warfare to defend God’s people. Noah heard God’s plan to build an ark and stayed the course no matter how many people thought he’d lost his marbles. Watching Jesus walk upon the water, Peter felt fear but eventually showed enough grit to walk along the Sea of Galilee with his teacher.

During our lesson on grit, we learned many of our kids have faced some measure of teasing, and even some peer pressure and bullying from friends. We provided some tips and tricks to help them determine their best course of action when faced with these challenges.

We talked about internal and external calls to action, and bouncing concerns and potential responses off of others before enacting them. We encouraged them to share any perceived disrespect with trusted adults. But we also encouraged them to look around the room at one another, asking them to stick by their friends in their community of faith when they’re in a tight spot.

Sticking up for a friend or sharing a difficult story so that others can relate can cost us social currency. That’s why those actions also require a lot of grit. When building a community, it’s not enough to show up and share some good times. It’s also important to share our sadness, insecurities and fears. Letting people see that even the strongest among us have reservations and concerns.

While grittiness from knights, soldiers, and survivors requires an external strength. The softening of the heart required to experience another person’s pain takes as much grit as any external action. Our hope with our youth group is to build these emotional bonds between our kids that can last a lifetime.

Recent events:
Hanover Bowling Centre outing: St. James youth group and families went bowling at Hanover Bowling Centre on Sunday, February 25.
Adam Michael
Youth and Family Director
St. James Lutheran Church

Music Notes

Jonathan Noel, Minister of Music

Lenten Offertory

Restore in us, O God,  The splendor of your love; 
Renew your image in our hearts,  And all our sins remove.

The offertory we are using at St. James during Lent is the first stanza of a hymn by Carl P. Daw, Jr. The text appears in ten hymnals, including Evangelical Lutheran Worship (ELW 328). I chose this text because I believe it beautifully encapsulates the Lenten tenets of restoration, renewal, and forgiveness within a concise prayer worthy of weekly repetition.

The author, Carl P. Daw, Jr. (b.1944, Louisville, KY) is a priest in the Episcopal Church who began writing hymns while serving as a consultant for that denomination’s new hymnal published in 1982. Prior to ordination, he was a professor of English at the College of William and Mary in Virginia. He served as Executive Director of the Hymn Society in the United States and Canada for more than a decade. The website hymnary.org reports 107 hymn texts attributed to Daw. 

In ELW, this fine text is paired with the tune BAYLOR composed by Hal H. Hopson (b. 1933). A Texas native, he earned degrees in music from Baylor University and Southern Baptist Seminary and had an active career as a church musician in Nashville and Dallas. He served at the national level of the Presbyterian Association of Musicians and the Chorister Guild. A prolific composer of sacred music, Hopson has over 1300 published works in his portfolio.

– Jonathan Noel

“Restore in Us, O God” by Carl P. Daw, Jr. © 1989 Hope Publishing Company. All rights reserved. Used by permission under OneLicense.net #A-707473.

Lenten Services

Midweek Lenten services continue throughout the month.  On Wednesdays soup and bread is provided for a community meal at 5:15 pm,  and a worship service at 6:30 pm.  There is no meal on March 27, and the service on this date will be at 7:00 pm.  

What is a Pollinator Garden and Why Should We Care?

You are invited to attend a presentation on Thursday, March 14 from 3:00 to 4:30 P.M. in the Fellowship Room at SpiriTrust Lutheran Village at Gettysburg (1075 Old Harrisburg Road). Chair of the Creation Care Task Force, Debby Luquette, a Master Gardener, will give a presentation on pollinator plants and gardens, the critters that thrive on them, and why they are important to humans.  In addition, you can see the winter view of the garden planted last spring.  All are welcome!

Worship Previews

March 2 & 3: Third Sunday in Lent

The third covenant in this year’s Lenten readings is the central one of Israel’s history: the gift of the law to those God freed from slavery. The commandments begin with the statement that because God alone has freed us from the powers that oppressed us, we are to let nothing else claim first place in our lives. When Jesus throws the merchants out of the temple, he is defending the worship of God alone and rejecting the ways commerce and profit-making can become our gods. The Ten Commandments are essential to our baptismal call: centered first in God’s liberating love, we strive to live out justice and mercy in our communities and the world.

Libby Baker-Mikesell
Readings: Exodus 20:1-17 1 Corinthians 1:18-25
Psalm 19 John 2:13-22
Fellowship,  hosted by Adult Discussion Group & Creation Care Taskforce

March 9 & 10: Fourth Sunday in Lent

The fourth of the Old Testament promises providing a baptismal lens this Lent is the promise God makes to Moses: those who look on the bronze serpent will live. In today’s gospel Jesus says he will be lifted up on the cross like the serpent, so that those who look to him in faith will live. When we receive the sign of the cross in baptism, that cross becomes the sign we can look to in faith for healing, for restored relationship to God, for hope when we are dying.

Preacher:  Pastor Andrew Geib
Readings: Numbers 21:4-9              Ephesians 2:1-10
               Psalm 107:1-3, 17-22       John 3:14-21

March 16 & 17: Fifth Sunday In Lent

God promises Jeremiah that a “new covenant” will be made in the future: a covenant that will allow all the people to know God by heart. The church sees this promise fulfilled in Christ, who draws all people to himself when he is lifted up on the cross. Our baptismal covenant draws us to God’s heart through Christ and draws God’s love and truth into our hearts. We join together in worship, sharing in word, song, and meal, and leave strengthened to share God’s love with all the world.

Preacher: Libby Baker-Mikesell
Readings: Jeremiah 31:31-34    Hebrews 5:5-10
Psalm 51:1-12    John 12:20-33

March 23 & 24:  Palm Sunday

This week, the center of the church’s year, is one of striking contrasts: Jesus rides into Jerusalem surrounded by shouts of glory, only to be left alone to die on the cross, abandoned by even his closest friends. Mark’s gospel presents Jesus in his complete human vulnerability: agitated, grieved, scared, forsaken. Though we lament Christ’s suffering and all human suffering, we also expect God’s salvation: in the wine and bread, Jesus promises that his death will mark a new covenant with all people. We enter this holy week thirsty for the completion of God’s astonishing work.
Preacher: Pastor Andrew Geib
Readings: Isaiah 50:4-9a   Philippians 2:5-11
Psalm 31:9-16   Mark 14:1–15:47
WaterLife Children’s Service @ 10:45 am

March 30 & 31:  Easter Day

Christ is risen! Jesus is alive, and God has swallowed up death forever. With Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome, we may feel astonished and confused, unsure of what to make of the empty tomb. But this is why we gather: to proclaim, witness, praise, and affirm the liberating reality of Christ’s death and resurrection. In word and feast, we celebrate God’s unending love, and depart to share this good news with all the world. Alleluia!

Preacher: Libby Baker-Mikesell
Readings: Acts 10:34-43   1 Corinthians 15:1-11
Psalm 118:1-2, 14-24   Mark 16:1-8

Council Corner, February 21 Meeting Highlights

En Bloc Agenda:
Approval of Minutes from January 17, 2024
Acceptance of Treasurer’s Report
Church Financials
ELC Financials
Acceptance of New Members—Via affirmation of faith: Steve and Amy Duncan will join after Lent
Motion from the Endowment Committee: The Fred Schutt estate be quested $13,456 to St. James. The Endowment committee is making a recommendation to the council to put these funds into the ELCA Ministry Growth fund (Endowment Fund).
The En Bloc Agenda was approved in one motion.

CARES report from Bill Shoemaker:  Bill updated the council regarding the progress of the cold-weather shelter at St. James. Council will vote at the March 20, 2024 meeting whether St. James will continue as the cold-weather shelter for the 2024-25 season.

S.M.A.R.T. Goals

New Business:
The nominating committee for council elections seeks candidates to replace the four council members whose terms expire this summer: Peggy Green, Sharon Kaya, Kyle Smith and Carol Widerman. Nominations will be announced during services the weekend of April 27/28, and the congregation will vote during services the weekend of May 18/19.

Looking Ahead
Church vitality: At its March 20 meeting, council will consider how to move forward with and implement suggestions made by Pastor Nathan regarding future growth initiatives for St. James.

Good for Council – Good for Church – Good for God 
Nearly 1,900 dozen fastnachts were produced to raise money for St. James youth activities. Some 60 congregants gathered Feb. 18 to view the movie “Do I Need This?,” and $102.00 was donated back to the church to help cover expenses. Social Ministry continues to provide food vouchers for those in need, and a hearty thankfulness was voiced for the vote to call Vicar Libby as Associate Pastor.

Next Meeting: Wednesday 3/20/24, following Lenten worship.

Habitat For Humanity Blitz Build – April 2024

Habitat for Humanity is ready to build a new home in Littlestown at 41 Craftway Drive.  St. James is a covenant church, and we are called on to provide workers and food for the volunteers on our assigned days.

Working dates are April 4, 5 & 6, April 11, 12 & 13, and April 18, 19 & 20 from 8:00 AM until 2:00 PM. Snacks and lunch will be provided.   If your schedule allows you to help on any of these days in any way, please contact Shirley Sanders. Shirley can also handle any questions or concerns.  More information will follow about the dates for providing snack and lunch. Thank you for supporting this cause! 

Seminarian Update—Megan Eppleman

Hello Friends!
Thank you for your continued prayers and support for Clinton and myself as I wrap up my first year at United Lutheran Seminary. I have a busy schedule this semester, spending one week per month on the ULS Philadelphia campus. Clinton and I will celebrate 16 years of marriage this April and we are grateful for all of our friends at St. James! This spring, I will preach four more times at St. Benjamin’s Lutheran Church in Westminster, MD, while I finish my ministerial fieldwork placement. I am so excited to have Vicar Libby join our congregation as an associate pastor, and I look forward to the blessings she will bring!

Thank you to Judy Leslie and the adult Sunday School class for having me visit in January! Pastor Andrew and I are planning to offer a series on being an LGBTQIA+ ally this fall for St. James. This summer, I will be completing an intensive 11-week CPE assignment as a chaplain intern at St. Mary Medical Center in Langhorne, PA, and will be living on the ULS Philly campus. Please pray for me as I develop my professional pastoral skills in a hospital setting.

Your prayers and gifts motivate my studies! This semester I am studying Lutheran Foundations, African American theology, Christianity as a World Religion, and the Story of Jesus. For Lent, I have renewed my challenge from last year to complete 10 hours of online Spanish language immersion lessons with La Union Spanish School in Guatemala.

Again, I am so thankful for the love and support for my journey through the candidacy process! God is at work in Gettysburg and you friends are a beacon of hope for the promises of our Savior’s love! I pray this Lenten season that you are renewed in your own faith journey as we walk the path of Jesus’s life, death, and glorious resurrection together.

In peace,

The Creation Care Task Force

I always have trouble with the Lenten Season. It’s hard to be somber and morose when I see the world bursting with renewed life well before Easter. By St. Patrick’s Day, if gardeners are not planting onions and peas, you can believe they are thinking about planting something.

Truthfully, I’m looking at new snow as I write, and when you read this, winter might still be hanging on. This is a good time for waiting for hardy crocuses to bloom  – and planning for spring. You don’t have a piece of repurposed lawn that you put aside for a garden? What if, in your flower beds, you planted some red-leaved lettuce, or a few herbs? How would a couple of colorful pepper plants look between blue salvia? The bees would think it’s fantastic. Does inviting hummingbirds with trellised scarlet runner beans appeal to you, especially if you can eat the beans?

Think about the impact you can have on your health and your grocery bill, not to mention your carbon footprint, if you grew more of your food at home. And did I mention that home grown produce tastes better than the same food items with enviable frequent flier miles? (Look at the country of origin of your produce sometime.) And there’s no reason to tear up lawn if you really like pushing a mower over the lawn; putting edibles in gaps in your foundation plantings is fine.

The best sources of plants are from local growers. Big Box Stores get their stock from large mega-growers that usually aren’t local. Local sourcing means the plants are chosen for their suitability to our local climate and soils. They are more likely to be successful and feeding our local economy, too.

What about you? Are you ready to put you hands to the soil this spring? The Creation Care Task Force hopes you have a Lenten season warmed by thoughts of new growth, good food, and happy pollinators.

The Creation Care Task Force

“Yoga For Loving Connection”

A second session of yoga classes continues through March.   This series is led by Alli Crowell, St. James member and owner/instructor at RISE Yoga Gettysburg,  The series incorporates yoga and mindfulness strategies that support loving connection to self, neighbor, loved-ones and the world we live in. Free-will offerings are accepted but never expected. All donations will support St. James Lutheran Church and the Love Your Brain Foundation. 

These classes are beginner friendly and accessible to all levels of experience and ability. Yoga Ministry classes are open to the public.    Classes will  be held  in Room 300 at 1:15 pm on the following March dates:   March 1, March 8,  and March 15. 

VBS 2024 – June 3-7

Mark your calendars and get ready for another week of adventures  at Vacation Bible School !  From June 3-7, youth will have the opportunity to explore stories of the Bible through games, activities, and lessons.  Volunteers will be needed to help lead art, music, and snack stations.  Contact Adam Michael to sign up to volunteer.  You will be part of a fun week and be able to share God’s love with our youth !!

Parish Records

50+ Wedding Anniversaries
March 31  Eugene and Nancy Rifle    67 years

Visiting St. James

Office Hours: 
Monday—office closed
TuesdayFriday, 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!!

Calling St. James at 717-334-2012

201     Katy Clowney
Church Administrator
[email protected] 

202   Julie Albert
  Administrative Coordinator
  [email protected]

203     Adam Michael, off on Fridays
          Director of Youth & Family Ministry
[email protected] 

205  Libby Baker-Mikesell, off on Fridays
Associate Pastor
[email protected]

206 Pr. Andrew R. Geib, off on Fridays
Lead Pastor
[email protected] 

207  Jonathan Noel, off on Fridays
Minister of Music
[email protected] 

215 Tom Bender, off on Fridays
Building Superintendent
[email protected]