The Messenger – May 2022
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Message from Pastor Andrew
1On the first day of the week, at early dawn, [the women] came to the tomb, taking the spices that they had prepared. 2They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, 3but when they went in, they did not find the body. 4While they were perplexed about this, suddenly two men in dazzling clothes stood beside them. 5The women were terrified and bowed their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen.
Alleluia. Christ is risen!
If you worshiped with us on Easter in-person or online, you heard me wrestle a bit with the ways of the world – the things of hardship and division… of violence, warfare, and unnecessary death… of depression and anxiety– increasingly impairing the lives of young and old… And, with these things, thanks to a bit of research conducted by the Harvard School of Public Health, states that active Church participation may provide a piece of the puzzle to changing the course. Those “who regularly attend religious services, who are active in a faith community – have greater life satisfaction… have higher levels of volunteering and a greater sense of mission and purpose in life… do better in school… have a deeper sense around the importance of practicing forgiveness… are at a lower risk of drug use… are less likely to struggle from depression… and are at a lower risk of pre-mature death…”
On April 23, our family of faith laid to rest Pastor Ed Keyser. A long-time pastor of St. James, whom countless people knew and loved, and received love from him. As I shared in my sermon at the funeral – for those who knew him, Ed really was about as good as they come.
On a more personal level, Ed was a good friend of my maternal grandfather and was the last person to give him communion before he died in 2019. I’ve known this for years and it was one of the more significant connections I had with Ed – in addition to being able to call him friend, for myself. Just weeks before Ed died, when talking about my grandfather and their friendship, he shared that he was also the last person to give communion to my maternal grandmother before she died in 2015, just a few weeks before I was called to St. James as associate pastor – something my mother never knew, that brought tears to her eyes when I shared.
As it became clear that Ed was nearing the end of his life on this earthly plain, I made my way to share communion with him for the final time. Along with Pastor Steve Herr, we worked our way through those all too well known words of the Holy Supper, as Ed received into his body, the body and blood of our Lord.
The season of Lent begins and ends in darkness – the acknowledgement of our sinful nature, and of our mortality in front of us. That brokenness and death are simply a part of life. Though, as we gathered on Easter, we were reminded of that which is greater than death – the promise of the Resurrection. That of grace, forgiveness, and new life, given to us and all the world through the cross and the empty tomb.
As I sat in a chair beside Pastor Keyser, proclaiming those words he had uttered to so many over his ministry – “The Body of Christ given for you. The Blood of Christ shed for you.” – his daughter Heidi placing the bread and wine into his mouth, I couldn’t help but reflect on the promise these words mean for us, in this life and on into the next.
For Luther, the Sacrament of the Altar was deeply connected to the ongoing covenant of the gospel – a means of grace that allows us to come in contact with the living Christ, meant to strengthen us for the many hardships this world has to offer, so that we can go out into the world and be Christ for others. An understanding we Lutheran Christians hold onto to this very day.
As we make our way through this Easter Season, may you find strength through the covenant of the gospel and in the meal of grace instituted by Jesus himself. May you find relief in its unwavering forgiveness. And may it lead you to a deeper understanding of how your faith is calling you to live. For, you and me – all of us together – are the body of Christ, sent out into a broken world to bring life where it is needed the most. To restore hope and peace and love in His name. To roll away the stones that keep resurrection life from breaking forth.
Council Corner: April 20 Council Meeting Highlights
Mission Fund – The Mission Fund Committee recommended that Council approve $5,300 be allocated to the Lutheran Disaster Response (for tornado relief) and $4,000 for the Gettysburg Afghan Refugee Resettlement. Council approved.
Endowment Fund – The Endowment Committee recommended that Council send a recommendation to the congregation at the annual congregation meeting in November that the endowment fund, currently named Fund A, be renamed Ministry Growth Fund. Council voted to send the recommendation to the congregation. Also, the Endowment Fund committee recommended setting up an additional Endowment fund for restricted funds. Council questioned this thinking, suggesting that restricted funds could easily be tracked within the current fund, much like the five “buckets” of funds are currently tracked. Council voted to table the recommendation following a motion from Jim Dunlop and second from Peggy Green.
Council Nominations – Four names were put forward by Council to be included on the ballot for the next Council term. Those included Will Lane, Shirley Sanders, Ann Ketterman, and Ed Main. Further nominations will be solicited from the congregation in May. There was no recommendation for youth representative. Following a motion from Peggy Green and second from Sharon Kaya, the four were approved for the ballot.
Interim Pastor – Personnel Committee recommended that The Rev. Clif Suehr be hired as an interim pastor until a new associate pastor is called. Pastor Suehr will work 1/3 time or about 12-13 hours per week, beginning May 9. His responsibilities will include pastoral care and preaching. Council approved.
Israel Trip – Rev. Richard Michael is coordinating a group trip to the Holy Lands in Israel February 6-16, 2023, with an option to add 3 days to visit Jordan. Pastor Geib plans to go and asked for Council’s support of the trip by advertising the trip to St. James members. Council agreed.
Good for Council/Church/God
- Carol Widerman reminded Council of the picnic honoring Pr. Mike Allwein on May 22. John Doerfler will coordinate food for the event.
- Council was also reminded of the celebration for Tim Braband on May 1 at 4:00 p.m.
- Pr. Geib expressed appreciation to the staff who worked tirelessly during Lent and Holy Week. This was particularly challenging with Pr. Allwein retired, Staci Grimes departed, and Jonathan Noel having worked his first Lenten season/Easter at St. James.
Music Notes: Jonathan Noel, Minister of Music
“Musical Offering” is a term used in our worship bulletin for music that is sung or played while the offering plates are passed. I like this term because it describes what is happening in the moment. Not only do we give our possessions, but also our time and talents, whatever those gifts may be.
This idea is captured in one of our offertory prayers: We offer with joy and thanksgiving what you have first given us—ourselves, our time, and our possessions, signs of your gracious love. Receive them for the sake of him who offered himself for us, Jesus Christ our Lord.
The term “musical offering” was coined by Johann Sebastian Bach. In 1747, King Frederick the Great invited Bach to come for a visit and to play a new instrument in his collection—the fortepiano. The king presented Bach with a theme upon which to improvise. Bach later took this theme and created an entire collection of pieces that he sent to the king as a gift. He entitled the collection “The Musical Offering.”
The musical offerings that we present now are not for the benefit of any earthly king, but the King of kings. My vision for St. James is to expand our musical offerings by encouraging and empowering people of all ages and abilities to offer their musical talents to God within a loving and supportive community.
Welcome to Pastor Suehr!
Dear Siblings in Christ,
I am looking forward to serving the Lord with you beginning May 9. It is to be a 1/3 time call, which means about 14 hours per week and two weekends of worship per month. Some in the congregation already know me. My wife (Jeanne) and I have been married over 45 years. We have two children (Joanna and Chris) who live locally. Chris and his wife (Angela) have blessed us with two wonderful grandchildren. (Yes, I am extremely biased!)
In my forty years of service before retirement, I served the Arona-Seanors Lutheran parish (6.5 years), First Lutheran in Leechburg (4 years), both east of Pittsburgh, St. Paul in Littlestown (11.5 years), and I retired as Pastor Emeritus from Holy Trinity Lutheran in Irwin (18 years).
Educationally, I have a B.S. in Biology from Grove City College (and the requirements for a B.A. in religion with honors); an M.Div. from Gettysburg; an M.S.Ed. Pastoral Counseling from Duquesne University; and a D.Min. in Stewardship, which was a joint program of Philadelphia and Gettysburg Seminaries.
Traveling is a passion for me. We have visited 40/50 states. (COVID-19 has slowed us down!) I have been to the Holy Land twice, Scotland (hopefully, twice by the time of reading this article), Italy, France, Britain, Canada, the Caribbean, and China. Going to Alaska was a thrill for us! I would love to take a Viking cruise from Berne, Switzerland to Amsterdam, Netherlands. This is the basic route some of Jeanne’s and my ancestors took through the British Isles to the United States.
My hobbies include: golfing, exercising, fishing, photography, reading, cooking, geneology, and just plain chilling out. If and when time ever permits, I would like to take a stab at authoring a book on parish ministry. I am a Pittsburgh sports fan.
Finally, some ask, “How does one pronounce my last name?” We pronounce it as “seer.” I look forward to doing ministry with you as partners in Christ.
Peace be to you, Pastor Clif Suehr
May 1 — Third Sunday of Easter
The disciples make a big splash and eat breakfast with the risen Jesus. Wading in the water (remembering baptism) and eating with Jesus (celebrating holy communion) is our weekly encounter with the risen Christ. Jesus asks us again and again: Do you love me? And Jesus invites us, again and again, to follow him, bringing the Easter life to others.
Readings: Acts 9:1-6 [7-20] | Psalm 30 | Revelation 5:11-14 | John 21:1-19
May 8 — Fourth Sunday of Easter
The gift of new life, of eternal life, is the gift of the risen Christ. It is the promise of Jesus. It was true for Dorcas in Joppa. It was true for those “who have come out of the great ordeal” in the Revelation vision. It is true for us and for all the baptized: Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
Readings: Acts 9:36-43 | Psalm 23 | Revelation 7:9-17 | John 10:22-30
May 15 — Fifth Sunday of Easter
Easter initiates a new day. It anticipates a new heaven and a new earth. The risen Christ is making all things new. In the mystery of holy baptism God has made new people of us. Today Jesus invites us to see everyone in a new light—through the lens of love.
Readings: Acts 11:1-18 | Psalm 148 | Revelation 21:1-6 | John 13:31-35
May 22 — Sixth Sunday of Easter
Visions abound in the readings for the sixth Sunday of Easter. Paul has a vision about what to do. John has a vision of what will be. Jesus provides visions of peace that surpasses human understanding and power beyond human imagination.
Readings: Acts 16:9-15 | Psalm 67 | Revelation 21:10, 22–22:5 | John 14:23-29 | John 5:1-9 (alternate)
May 29 — Seventh Sunday of EasterIt is possible to hear in Jesus’ high priestly prayer, a prayer he offered shortly before his death, the petitions of the ascended Christ for his own throughout history—to our day—and beyond. Jesus prays for us. In holy baptism we become believers in God, have our robes washed in the flood of Christ’s forgiveness, and receive the gift of life forever with all the saints.
Readings: Acts 16:16-34 | Psalm 97 | Revelation 22:12-14, 16-17, 20-21 | John 17:20-26
Weekly Bible Study with Pastor Andrew
Thursdays 10:00—11:30 a.m.
The Thursday Bible Study is currently reading and discussing Ecclesiastes.
This Bible study meets through Zoom. If you’re interested, reach out to Pastor Andrew for the resources you need to participate.
All are welcome.
We will take a break during the summer months, but that time-frame has yet to be determined.
Summer planning is underway and this summer I have a little more to plan for than I anticipated when taking the job with St. James!
For those that don’t know, my wife and I are expecting a baby at the end of August. Hannah learned of the news on Christmas and we received visual confirmation that it will be a boy the day after Easter, which makes it all the more fitting that I’m working here as we move into this blessed stage of our lives. God is good!
I would like to thank our daycare and youth group kiddos for the crash course in child rearing, problem solving, and mess clean up. Every day, I’m filled with love as I listen to the playful sounds coming from the youth yard and see the wide-eyed excitement of youthful exploration and, hopefully, eventual understanding. Though we cater the Bible stories to the kids, many of the messages have taken on new meaning for me as we prepare to love our child unconditionally.
This news has also meant there will be some slight changes this summer for our youth programming. We were unsuccessful in our attempt to find a week for workcamp that would satisfy the schedules of my family, the kids and our volunteers. With heavy hearts, we decided to pass up workcamp this year with a commitment to begin planning next fall for 2023.
As a backup plan, we will scatter this summer’s calendar with day-long and overnight activities, including lock-ins, movie nights, a canoe trip, service days, and trips to Harper’s Ferry, Caledonia, Lake Heritage and other drivable destinations. Church President Kyle Smith has encouraged me to recreate a semi-annual tradition from the Michael household, The Kids Olympics, for our K-5 group.
In the workcamp simulation department, our kids will have the chance to contribute to a Church and Youth House Cleanup Day. We hope to find other home repair projects in the area the kids can help with as well. If you know of a church member in need, please reach out: [email protected].
In the leadup to the summer, we are holding a high school axe throwing event at Back Alley Axe at 5:30 p.m., Sunday, May 1. Parents must fill out an online waiver for children ages 14-17. At 2:00 p.m., May 15, you can meet us at Hanover Bowling Centre for a church family bowling day. Sign-up or Email me ahead of time so I can reserve lanes.
Check your weekly eBlast for upcoming events and be on the lookout for direct communications from your friendly, neighborhood youth and family director concerning specific dates for the aforementioned events, as well as others!
Pastor Andrew has enjoyed his time visiting with households! And he hopes you take the time to complete the questionnaire and sign-up for a time slot to visit with him.
Someone asked recently “Well, does he really want to meet with me??”
The answer is YES!
Sign-up for a Meeting Time with Pastor Andrew:
Complete the Questionnaire to facilitate your conversation:
Heads Up All Youth & Families
Mark your calendar for VBS at St. James: Knights of North Castle, June 6-10 in the morning
Register online: bit.ly/VBS-SJ-Christ-2022
Pastor Mike’s Retirement Celebration Picnic
Sunday, May 22 at 1:00 p.m. at
Gettysburg REC Park, Fireman’s Pavilion
When Pastor Mike retired at the end of February, we felt that it was safest to have a large fellowship gathering to celebrate and honor his 18-year ministry at St. James Lutheran Church later in the year.
With the warming weather in May (hopefully…there was snow in April!), we felt that we could finally celebrate with Pastor Mike & Lois!
All are welcome to a Celebration Picnic, filled with food, fellowship & fun! Food will be provided (a menu of fried chicken, baked beans, hot dogs, salads, cookies, AND an ice cream truck! Paper goods/place settings and water will be provided; if you’d like something else, you are welcome to bring your own soda or tea.)
Please RSVP by Sunday, May 15 so we can prepare and order food accordingly. We will have the shade of the pavilion and use of the picnic tables, but it is recommended to bring chairs in case the pavilion gets crowded and we want to spread out. In the event of rain, we will move the celebration to the St. James Dining Room.
Ministry Celebration of Timothy & Barbara Braband
After a long COVID delay, we can finally gather to honor the ministry of retired Minister of Music, Timothy Braband, and his accompanist, Barbara. Together they served the congregation of St. James Lutheran Church for 45 years!
Tim and Barbara came to St. James in August of 1975, and retired in August of 2020. They lead the congregation in song and music to the glory of God.
1979—Martin Luther Choir established
1981 & 1983—Koinonia & Alleluia youth choirs established, respectively
1995—Adult Choir took a 15 day concert and sightseeing tour in Luxembourg, Germany and Austria
During their tenure, several Bible story musicals were performed by the older elementary youth, Epiphany concerts were given by the Adult Choir for many years, along with Bach Cantatas. Soloists, ensembles, and instrumentalists (including many St. James youth) were nurtured and featured. And who can forget the St. James Troubadours?
2018—An organ Festival Trumpet along with a new 16-foot Posaune reed in the pedal, a 32-foot Contra Courdon and a 16-foot Principal were installed as part of the organ refurbishment project. A Dedicatory Concert was held on June 3, 2018.
On Sunday, May 1, 2022 at 4:00 p.m. in the St. James Worship Space we will honor and commemorate the 45 years of Tim & Barbara’s music ministry. The afternoon program will be filled with choir anthems, hymns, readings and prayer. Following the program, there will be a time for greeting the Brabands.
All are welcome to share in the celebration!
Calls to Action: Mission Support
“The Power of Talk”
On Earth Day, which we celebrated on April 22, we recognize and honor our interdependence with the natural world around us and acknowledge our responsibility to do what we can to protect nature and the natural systems that, in turn, sustain us. Many ask, however, what can I do? How can I possibly make a difference? In her new book, Saving Us, evangelical Christian and climate scientist Katharine Hayoe has a suggestion: have a conversation!
She urges us to talk with family, friends, neighbors and coworkers—and fellow church members—about climate change and the steps we can take to slow it down.
Listening will be a big part of that conversation. Begin with something you and your conversation partner both love, she says: trout fishing, time spent in the woods, the ups and downs of farming, the joy of good food. No need to push an agenda. The goal is simply to break the silence in our lives about the disruptive climate changes we are beginning to experience. Talk is cheap. Why not put it to use?
Creation Care Task Force Member
March 30 Karen E. Kessler
April 7 The Rev. E. Edward Keyser
April 9 Franz Foltz
April 12 Kim Bixler-Smith
April 12 Dimitrios & Evelyn Ganas
April 21 Mary Knox
Upcoming 50+ Wedding Anniversaries
May 14 Barry and Donna Bixler (61 years)
May 22 Jerry and Sandra Mills (57 years)