The Messenger – September 2023
August 2023 Events Calendar at St. James Lutheran Church
A Message From Pastor Andrew
Then Jesus told his disciples,
“If any want to become my followers,
let them deny themselves and take up their cross
and follow me.”
– Matthew 16:24
New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof recently wrote an opinion piece entitled America Is Losing Religious Faith.
As the title suggests, Kristof reflects that Americans are becoming significantly less religious – drifting away from churches, praying less, and less likely to say religion is very important in their lives. Quoting the recently published book, The Great Dechurching: “We are currently experiencing the largest and fastest religious shift in the history of our country.”
We, who are a part of SJLC have certainly seen the impact of this reality. We can all think of folks who were once around, no longer.
This past month marked the eighth anniversary of my ordination. If you had told me eight years ago that less than ten years into my ministry the church would face the largest and fastest decline in our country’s history, I’m so sure what my response would have been. Certainly, it would have caused great anxiety…
The verse above from Matthew, part of our gospel for the first weekend of this month, is arguably the clearest statement from Jesus in all our gospel texts around what Christ followers should expect from their walk of faith (that is, if we’re doing it right). Maybe especially for Lutheran Christians. To follow Christ is to sacrifice… to deny oneself and take up their cross… If you were to ask me, the church’s failure to sacrifice has had a direct correlation with its’ failure – in America losing religious faith. As one individual quoted in Kristof’s reflection put it – “to many people the church hasn’t seemed very Christian.”
Amidst this reality, we continue to grow at St. James. Why? I would say, because of our culture of sacrifice. We are a community of believers who aren’t afraid to carry their cross. Who, as the song goes – let others know we are Christian by our love. And for that I am grateful.
As we enter into the Fall, our program year kicking off once again, I wonder how each of us might carry our cross for the good of our congregation, for our local community and beyond.
On the pastor’s mind:
Sign up to assist with worship.
Join one of our choirs.
Show up for worship and for our many upcoming events and bring a friend (or two or three).
Be generous in your giving, increasing your offerings if possible – not to support the budget, but the ministries of the church.
Volunteer in one of the many community organizations that are an extension of our ministry – Gettysburg C.A.R.E.S, SCCAP, Ruth’s Harvest, Habitat for Humanity, the Adams Rescue Mission, etc.
In all things, be a sign of what the church should be – love.
A Message From Vicar Libby
September meant the start of school, and that only meant one thing- it was time to get myself organized for the coming year. I would make a list of the recommended items for the school year, and my Mom and I would plan a mid-August trip to Staples. I would fill the cart with notebooks, folders, pens, pencils, and everything else I needed to be fully organized for the academic year. Every class had a separate color scheme – Science was green, American History was purple, Math was red, and English was blue. I color coordinated my book covers to my notebooks, and my folders, and my pencils. The only way I felt completely ready for school was to sit down, organize my school supplies, and print labels for all my subjects. The whole process took hours of time and even more mental energy. I thought I could control my nightmares about being late for class or not preparing enough for a math test with over-preparedness for the school year. As the school year began, I realized that all the color coordinating in the world would not stop deadlines from emerging.
Often, as math tests and cross country meets were scheduled, my inner critic would emerge. “Am I prepared? Did I study enough? Can I actually run at that pace?” Or, as I got older, “Will I get into college? Can I graduate at the top of my class?” Often when those thoughts became loud, I would find a note in my locker from a dear friend and fellow cross country runner, Tara. She would slip Bible verses in my locker, ones that often aligned with the pressure I experienced as the school year started. The most memorable note was a simple “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything” from Philippians 4:6. Paul’s words were a good reminder in the pressure of high school, and ring true today.
Fall brings new opportunities for us here at St. James. From a new youth group format to accommodate 50+ children on Wednesdays to new church windows. Some of these new opportunities will bring new challenges. We can have conversations around youth involvement, bringing liturgical elements back into our Sunday services, and church building renovations. We can meet with committees, plan, and discuss pros & cons for upcoming events. At some point, though, we will need to dive into these projects and opportunities, regardless if we feel completely prepared for the task.
This month, as fall comes and the leaves change as we enter a new season of the year, let us go forth without worry. May we know that we are prepared for all the challenges life brings our way.
Don’t worry about anything;
instead, pray about everything.
Rally Day & GWOH
September 10, 2023
Rally Day is an important day of the year; as traditions remain strong, it is the start of Sunday School. Our 2 & 3 year old youth receive story bibles, our 4th graders receive youth bibles, and all Sunday School classes start. Some of our adult Sunday School classes meet through the summer months, while others take a break during the summer months.
Coincidentally, Rally Day is also ‘God’s work. Our hands.’ Sunday in the ELCA. GWOH Sunday is a significant date in the church, as it is a unified day of service across the nation. Churches all over America participate in community service projects.
St. James church members are active participants in community service events, along with other Lutheran churches in the community: Christ in Gettysburg, Bethlehem in Bendersville, and St. Paul’s in Biglerville.
Sign-up for a service project! Community Projects include:
- Assemble LWR School Kits
- Camp Nawakwa Beautification
- Lutheran World Relief Quilting
- Ruth’s Harvest Food Collection (2 time shifts to help)
- Tender Care Pregnancy Center Blankets
- Fellowship with Agricultural Workers
We can’t wait to see you on Rally Day & at GOWH Service Events!! Learn more about GWOH & Rally Day!
The US in Music
Near the end of last school year, I noticed a sign in front of my son’s high school announcing upcoming music events. The designer of the sign very cleverly highlighted “us” in the word “music.” I had never noticed this!
We live in a world where listening to music has become a personal experience rather than a shared one. I and me, rather than we and us. We put on our earbuds and listen to playlists that we have created based on our personal likes and preferences. The “us” on the sign was a clear reminder that creating music is a shared, communal experience. Those involved in bands, orchestras, and choirs certainly know this. It is the sense of community that keeps many people involved in such groups.
So, this month, as the season begins anew, I want to thank all of you who sing with our choirs – the St. James Choir, the Martin Luther Choir, the WaterLife Choir, and the Summer Choir – for lending your time and talent to enrich the worship services this past season. Each of you is a testament to the power of music to create community and reach the heart.
Not in a choir? Reach out to me to talk about how you might become part of the “us” in our music.
Looking to Get Involved? Assist in Worship!
Our worship services are when we are all together and are our most meaningful opportunities of fellowship and faith. Would you like to play a more active role? We’d love to have you! There are a variety of ways you can serve in worship; these short descriptions might help you find a good match for your interests!
Opportunities for Youth
- Acolyte: Light the candles before service, give offering plates to ushers, extinguish candles after worship.
- Bell Ringer: Ring the church bells 15 minutes before service.
- Prayer of the Day: Read the prayer during the service. Prayer provided week prior so you can practice!
Preparing for Worship
- Bread Baker: Deliver bread for Communion to the sacristy at least 20 minutes before the service.
- Flower Deliverer: Remove flowers from florist vases following the 10:45 service and deliver them to a shut-in.
- Sacristy Attendant: Prepare for Communion, setting out bread, wine, and all the accoutrements for Communion.
- Usher: Arrive 15-20 minutes before the service. Hand out bulletins, say hello! Offer assistance (large print bulletins, hearing aids). Check that things are in order before and after the service.
- Lay Reader: Read the assigned scripture clearly so that everyone can hear it. Enunciation is key. Reading provided week prior so you can practice! You’ll be assigned to read about 2–3 times per year.
- Communion Assistant: Assist with distribution of the bread and wine.
- AV Operator: Livestream the 8:15 service, and show videos or PowerPoints during the sermon as necessary.
- Assisting Minister: Prepare and read the Prayers of Intercession; suggested prayers are provided, but you are invited to write your own. Assist with communion. Read closing prayer and dismissal blessing.
Contact Denise Wood at [email protected] for more information and to sign up!
Worship Assistants Fall Training Session
Wednesday, September 13
5:15-6PM—Pizza in the Gathering Area
6-8PM—Training in the Worship Space
(two training sessions available)
September 2 & 3
Fourteenth Sunday After Pentecost
The prophet Jeremiah speaks of the incurable wound of his suffering yet finds in God’s words the delight of his heart. When Peter doesn’t grasp Jesus’ words about suffering, Jesus tells the disciples they will find their lives in losing them. Such sacrificial love is described by Paul when he urges us to associate with the lowly and not repay evil with evil. In worship we gather as a community that we might offer ourselves for the sake of our suffering world.
Preacher: Pastor Andrew Geib
Readings: Jeremiah 15:15-21 | Romans 12:9-21 | Psalm 26:1-8 | Matthew 16:21-28
September 9 & 10
Fifteenth Sunday After Pentecost
God’s work. Our hands. Sunday & Rally Day
First Day of Sunday School; picture bibles presented to 2 & 3 year olds in Sunday School and 4th graders receive bibles during worship.
Fellowship, hosted by World Outreach & Endowment Committees.
Conflict is a part of relationships and life in community. Jesus’ words in today’s gospel are often used in situations having to do with church discipline. The prophet Ezekiel tells of warning the wicked to turn from their ways, and Paul reminds us that love is the fulfilling of the law. We gather in the name of Christ, assured that he is present among us with gifts of peace and reconciliation.
Preacher: Vicar Libby Baker-Mikesell
Readings: Ezekiel 33:7-11 | Romans 13:8-14 | Psalm 119:33-40 | Matthew 18:15-20
September 16 & 17
Sixteenth Sunday After Pentecost
In today’s second reading Paul questions why we judge one another, since we all stand before the judgment of God. Yet we do sin against one another, and Jesus’ challenge that we forgive seventy-seven times reveals God’s boundless mercy. When we hear the words of forgiveness in worship and sign ourselves with the cross, we are renewed in baptism to be signs of reconciliation in the world.
Preacher: Pastor Andrew Geib
Readings: Genesis 50:15-21 | Romans 14:1-12 | Psalm 103:[1-7] 8-13 | Matthew 18:21-35
September 23 & 24
Seventeenth Sunday After Pentecost
Matthew narrates one of Jesus’ controversial parables in which Jesus says that the reign of God is like that of a landowner who pays his workers the same wage no matter what time of day they began to work. When God changes God’s mind about punishing Nineveh for their evil ways, Jonah is angry. Yet God is gracious and merciful, abounding in steadfast love. In baptism we receive the grace of God that is freely given to all. As Martin Luther wrote, in the presence of God’s mercy we are all beggars.
Preacher: Vicar Libby Baker-Mikesell
Readings: Jonah 3:10–4:11 | Philippians 1:21-30 | Psalm 145:1-8 | Matthew 20:1-16
Young at Heart: Keeping Up with the Kids
Adam Michael, Director of Youth & Family Ministry
New Orleans is the birthplace of jazz, the home of Creole cuisine and is a haven for southern hospitality, at least according to the advertisements.
I wouldn’t know yet, but I hope that myself and several of our high-school-aged youth will be able to attest for it by this time of year next year, as we will be traveling to The Big Easy for the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America’s National Youth Gathering, held July 15-20, 2024.
This trip, held every three years since 1988, helps our high-school-aged youth see that they are a small piece in a much larger national congregation of saints. Filling entire stadiums with our bodies and voices, our youth will hear from thoughtful speakers and contribute to grand scale service projects while experiencing new perspectives, and challenging and affirming their faith.
The 2024 theme is “Created to Be,” focusing on how we can be in relationship with one another. We will discuss bravery, authenticity and freedom from a Lutheran perspective. We will also consider how we can balance being disruptive to injustice while remaining a disciple that draws people in through our love of God and one another.
We are still counting heads, but at least five youth and as many as 20 could make the trip next summer. Following a few summers without workcamp and the first-ever cancellation of National Youth Gathering, due to the pandemic, the church is in a great financial position to help families make the trip affordable. While an estimated cost to send a child is $1,800 to $2,000, we will ask parents to contribute no more than $450.
St. James Youth Group is immensely grateful for the contributions made by our congregation. Whether you’ve fed our endowment fund, or helped to make or even purchased Fastnachts, you’ve already made an investment in this trip.
While any student who will graduate between the years of 2024 and 2027 are eligible, it is essential that youth traveling to New Orleans set time aside to be with one another, to help us with local service projects, and to build trust with adult leaders who will join us on our trip. If you know of any youth who might be interested in attending but are not currently active in youth group, please encourage them to join us Sunday evenings. Middle school meets from 5 to 6:30 p.m. and high school meets from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. We will resume activity Sept. 10, the weekend after Labor Day, in the church until our youth house construction project is completed.
For more information, visit www.elca.church/gathering.
Church-Wide Events; All are Welcome!
Apple Gleaning: 10/1 @ 1:30PM
Benefit Concert with Jesse Holt, Suzanne Hubbard, Ernie Kranias and Sharon Kaya: 10/1 @ 4:00PM
Fall Festival & Blessing of the Animals: 10/8 @ 1:00PM
Bicycle Recycle Event: 10/14 @ 9:00AM—Noon
Family Halloween Party: 10/24 @ 5PM
Get to Know Megan Eppleman
St. James Church Member & ULS Student!
Many of you may know me from Bible Study, youth group, and VBS. My husband, Clinton, and I have lived in Gettysburg for 8 years, but just joined St. James in December. We stand amazed at your love for God and love for your neighbor! I am also excited to be a first year MDiv student at ULS Gettysburg! And, in late August, I have been Entranced by the Lower Susquehanna Synod as a candidate for rostered ministry (Word and Sacrament)!
Originally from Williamsport, PA, I grew up split between Alabama and PA, and Clinton and I met at Lycoming College, marrying in 2008. We love to travel, with New Orleans being our “second home.” We have 2 dogs, Atlas and Thor, and 1 cat, named Strawberry. I have loved living and volunteering in Gettysburg, especially with Gettysburg CARES, SCCAP, and the soup kitchen pre-pandemic. Currently, I serve with the Lower Susquehanna Synod’s AMMPARO and Justice Ministries task forces.
I am so grateful for friends at St. James and at Bethlehem Lutheran Church in Bendersville, which is Clinton’s familial church. Pastor Andrew, Vicar Libby, and Pastor Susan are just a few of the many leaders that have helped in my discernment process. What started as a desire to earn a Master’s degree to teach online, has led me to a vocational calling in ministry with the ELCA. Filled with the Holy Spirit, I hope that you will join me on this path as I strive to live the New Commandment. I would ask that you pray for my husband to be uplifted, especially over the next year, as I complete ministerial fieldwork and CPE away from Gettysburg.
Peace be with you!
Megan Eppleman (she/her/ella)
Council Corner, August 16 Meeting Highlights
En Bloc Agenda
Approval of Minutes from July 19, 2023
- Acceptance of Treasurer’s Report: Church Financials & ELC Financials. Karen Lentz will attend the September council meeting to explain the new balance sheets. Church & ELC CDs and investments completed.
- Acceptance of New Members
- Via affirmation of faith: none
- Via baptism: Lily and Mavis Fontaine, daughters of Zac Fontaine
- Pastor Andrew will officiate wedding of Kimberly Shultz and Bradley Ellis on September 2, off-site
- Motion from Endowment to nominate Lucinda Bringman to a second term
All items in the en bloc were approved.
|1 & 2
|8 & 9
|15 & 16
|22 & 23
|29 & 30
|Actual Giving Offering
Weekly need per budget $14,589.47 (with 53 Sundays in 2023)
Worship Attendance Goal of 250 attendees: not met
Budget Goal: not met
Church Vitality Taskforce Update: The taskforce to meet with the consultant September 17. Results submitted from the “Secret Shopper” who attended several services were mostly positive (we need to work on our greeting of visitors, and we need some better signage)
Gettysburg C.A.R.E.S. exclusively at St. James: Discussions revolved around being ecumenically inclusive, maintaining a permanent space for Scout activities and storage, maintaining involvement from other churches and providing volunteers, hosting for the season on a trial one-season basis.
Motion to have an information Q&A session on Sunday, August 27 with Gettysburg C.A.R.E.S. board members following late worship. Motion carried.
Motion for a Congregational Vote to host Gettysburg C.A.R.E.S. exclusively at St. James on Sunday, September 17 following the late service. Motion carried.
- Request from the ELC that the Personnel Committee recommend the hiring of Mr. Coty Slothour as assistant director for the ELC. Start date September 5. Motion carried.
- 2021 Financial Reviews for church and ELC have been generated by John Martin at Raffensperger, Martin & Finkenbinder; shared with council, finance and ELC.
- Preparation for 2022 Financial Reviews will take place in September.
- Budget for 2024 will be ready for review in October.
Good for Council – Good for Church – Good for God
- Council toured the ELC and the third floor to view recent building renovations
- Relay for Life was a success, with good attendance.
- Sharon Kaya shared good news about a new job.
- The ELC will undergo its final inspection leading to a full reinstatement of its license sometime during the next two weeks.
Next Meeting: Wednesday, September 20, 2023 at 6:30 p.m., Library
Gettysburg C.A.R.E.S. Proposal
St. James and Gettysburg C.A.R.E.S. are considering a partnership where the C.A.R.E.S. program will hold its overnights exclusively at St. James during the 6 month winter program (October—March). We hope that this proposed partnership will be more convenient and safer for the C.A.R.E.S. guests, while still depending on volunteers from all of the churches.
In years past, C.A.R.E.S. guests move to a different host church every two weeks. Since COVID, the Soup Kitchen has not been available to provide breakfast, and Sunday breakfasts have been served by our Confirmation Students using the St. James Youth House kitchen since 2021. The C.A.R.E.S. Resource Center is located in the St. James Slentz House. Offering three resources, all in close proximity, to those who are homeless is a great convenience to those served. Traversing downtown in the early morning (leaving the host church before 7AM and going to the Youth House for breakfast), especially in inclement weather, is quite a hardship for C.A.R.E.S. guests who are aging, have physical disabilities, or have young child(ren).
Other participating churches are still committed to the C.A.R.E.S. program and will help by providing host volunteers and overnight volunteers, cooking and serving breakfasts, and washing guests’ blankets on a regular basis.
When St. James is the host church, C.A.R.E.S. guests utilize a number of rooms in the upper level. Gettysburg C.A.R.E.S. has been awarded a grant which can be used to renovate some of the space, and provide a paid staff member to be present overnight throughout the season.
The St. James Council has discussed this partnership and wants this important consideration to be decided by the congregation. Two congregation meetings are set.
Sunday, August 27, following the 10:45 service was a Question-and-Answer meeting. Members of the Gettysburg C.A.R.E.S. Board were present to answer questions.
Sunday, September 17, following the 10:45 service, will be the Congregational Vote to determine whether this partnership is to move forward.
Council requests your attendance on these dates as the members of St. James make an important decision to follow our mission of living and loving like Jesus.
…for I was hungry and you gave me food,
I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink,
I was a stranger and you welcomed me…
– Matthew 25
Gettysburg C.A.R.E.S. board member & St. James Church member
St. James Council President
Coming Soon: New Stephen Ministry Class
A cup of cold water. It sounds like such a simple thing but to someone hurting, thirsty and lost in a place that’s hard to navigate alone, it tastes like the most expensive Champagne on the menu.
Part of the job of a trained Stephen Minister is to walk beside someone who is experiencing a difficult time in life: illness, the death of a loved one, divorce, loss of a job, depression, questions of faith, overwhelming stress at home or myriad other twists and turns in life’s journey. They need a listening ear, a reassuring voice, a hand to hold and a Christ-centered point of view that will help them move forward in a positive way. A Stephen Minister does the caring, while Christ does the curing.
Do you feel called to walk with someone as they discover their own path to healing? Do you want to know more about the important work Stephen Ministry does in our congregation and community?
Please mark October 8 on your calendar to meet in the Gathering Space after the 10:45 am service and hear more about Stephen Ministry and the start of a new class later this year.
For more information, email Debra Baker at [email protected].
September Operation Christmas Child
We are collecting small items for Operation Christmas Child. Children from across the globe will receive a shoebox sized box filled will small items to bring them Christmas joy. When you are out running errands, consider picking up a few items to be included in the Christmas shoe boxes!
- Drawstring bags
- Small towels (size: 24″x44″)
- Individually wrapped bars of Dove soap
- Hats & Mittens
- Kick Balls (deflated and include a pump)
- Scissors (blunt safety tips)
- Glue sticks
- Small foam balls
- Yo-yos, Slinkies, Tennis Balls
- Small Etch-a-Sketch
- Hacky Sacks
- Toy trucks, Trains, Boats
- Small dolls, Plush Animals
- Small musical instruments (recorder/harmonica)
- Plastic dinosaurs
50+ Wedding Anniversaries
September 11 – Joe & Kay MacDowell – 58 years
September 17 – Mary & John Stevenson – 62 years
August 9: Wanda L. (McCleaf) Allender
August 9: Robert G. Leedy
August 12: Loretta M. Hoffman
August 19: Janice A. Rebert
August 22: Betsy L. Bender