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Pastor Matt’s Musing for March 7th

March 5, 2021


Dear St. Paul’s Friends & Family,

The Ten Commandments are one of the great images of the Judeo-Christian religious tradition that has gained iconic status in popular culture.  Often portrayed on two sets of stone tablets, many of us often think of them as a series of “thou shalt not” statements that act as guiderails to living a faithful life.  Go ahead and take a moment to read the scripture included in this mailing that lists the Ten Commandments. 

I’ve often heard the Commandments interpreted in a negative sense, meaning, don’t do this, don’t do that.  While such “thou shalt not” refrains are helpful regarding judging right from wrong behavior, there’s far more to the Ten Commandments than just being God’s rule book.  Following the Ten Commandments is more of a lifestyle choice than anything else.  Do you want a life where you are good with God and your neighbor?  Do you want a life where honor and faith are key?  If you answered yes to either of these questions, then the Ten Commandments open up many affirming opportunities in your life than prohibitions.  In other words, refraining from worshiping other people and priorities (a.k.a. gods) opens rich possibilities with the one true God.  Similarly, preserving your neighbor’s life, not to mention their possessions, not only lends to being neighborly, but also a series of relationships that will support and sustain your life.

Jesus, when asked about the most important of these commandments summed them up in one word: love.  Total love of God, neighbor, and self (my paraphrase of Luke 10:27).  In other words, adhering to the Ten Commandments is much more about loving than abstaining from certain behaviors.  Loving opens up infinite possibilities when it comes to relating to God and others, not to mention ourselves.  Love means that we will take time to learn about God, engaging in worship and prayer; love means that we will seek to help our neighbor, looking out for their well-being and even giving of ourselves so that they can have a better life; and love certainly means that we will follow Jesus in our actions.  The Ten Commandments are points that lead us to the same conclusion as Christ’s commandment to love: wholeness and abundant life for ourselves, our neighbors, our community, and our world.

May you sense the Holy Spirit’s presence in your life, leading you in loving and restorative relationships.   Please don’t hesitate to reach out to me if I can be of help.  My cell number is: 814-279-5504.

Blessings,Pastor Matt

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One Great Hour of Sharing Is March’s Mission

March 4, 2021


One Great Hour of Sharing began in 1949 to help people to rebuild after World War II.  Since that time they have continued to address the needs of people who suffer the effects of conflict, disaster, and severe economic hardship in more than 100 countries including the US and Canada.  Eight Christian denominations participate in this effort to provide funds that are administered by Church World Service to spread Christ’s love throughout the world.

Although their projects have varied in the past 70 years, OGHS is currently working in three major areas.  They are helping communities to combat disease by education, helping them develop clean water sources and adequate sanitation facilities.  They are combating hunger that is caused by natural disaster, displacement, and drought by supplying food in the short term as well as providing seeds and instruction to help people grow their own crops. OGHS is helping to provide funds to empower and educate people in areas that range from providing ‘clean up’ buckets to hurricane survivors in Houston to teaching Cambodians how to raise chickens and establish a community rice bank.

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Psalm 23: Our Guide Through Lent

March 4, 2021


Thank you for joining our weekly at home prayer vigil. Please take a look at this week’s vigil reading using the link below. We give thanks to our friends at Unionville United Methodist Church in Beaver County, PA for sharing with us these devotionals. 

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Worship Connections for February 28th

February 28, 2021


Sunday, February 28

The Second Sunday In Lent

The Call to Worship:   Rev. Thom Shuman

Lent calls us to journey, this and every day, following Jesus wherever he leads us.

Lent calls us to journey:  to the place where God covenants with us, to receive the new 

names we are given.

Lent calls us to worship together, to tell future generations the good news.

Lent calls us to practice justice, to bring God’s hope to all people.

Lent calls us to faithful living, to trust the One who gives us life.

Lent calls each of us to take up our cross, to trust the One who bears it with us.

Lent calls us to journey with God.

Let us worship God, who walks with us, this and every day. 

Opening Hymn:  “The Glory of These Forty Days”   Sheet music resource

Unified Invitation to Confession and Prayer of Confession Rev. J. M. Deal

God of the cross.  God who bears the unbearable.  Come to us in our darkest hour, when the light of day seems far away and hope a dismal aspiration.  

Be with us in the darkness of life’s cruel ironies: 

When life-giving religion turns from love to cruel judgement and division.  

God in your mercy, hear our prayer.

When our leaders care more about their wealth than the welfare of those they are charged with leading.

God in your mercy, hear our prayer.

When we choose cynicism and uncaring words over Christ’s life-restoring grace and love.

Save us, O God.

Forgive us, O God, who bears all.  Help us to lay down our own lives, opening ourselves up to others’ experience and stories.  Give us courage to bear the crosses that minimize the lives of all your children.  In our bearing, our laying down, may we experience Christ’s resurrection.  In Jesus’ name we pray.  Amen. 

A time for personal reflection and confession.

Words of Assurance  Rev. Thom Shuman

This is the good news:  God does not go back on the promises made so long ago.  God does not reject us, God redeems us.  God does not withhold love, God pours it into our barren lives.

Forgiven of our sins, filled with hope, living in relationship with God and one another – 

we are a new people.  Thanks be to God.  Amen.

Passing the Peace

Mark 8:31-38

8:31 Then he began to teach them that the Son of Man must undergo great suffering, and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again.

8:32 He said all this quite openly. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him.

8:33 But turning and looking at his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan! For you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.”

8:34 He called the crowd with his disciples, and said to them, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.

8:35 For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it.

8:36 For what will it profit them to gain the whole world and forfeit their life?

8:37 Indeed, what can they give in return for their life?

8:38 Those who are ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of them the Son of Man will also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.”

Sermon: “Taking Up the Cross

Pastoral Prayer  

The Offering

The Prayer of Dedication Rev. J. M. Deal 

Thank you God for the many blessings you’ve given us.  During this holy Season of Lent, accept our lives as an offering.  Guide us, inspire us, and use us so that the whole world may experience the blessings of your love and grace.  In Jesus’ name we pray.  Amen.

The Prayer of Our Savior

Our Father, who art in heaven, Hallowed be thy Name.  Thy kingdom come.  Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.  Give us this day our daily bread.  And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.  And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.  For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever.  Amen. 

Closing Hymn:  “There’s a Wideness in God’s Mercy” Chalice Hymnal #73


“Go forth into the world to serve God with gladness; be of good courage; hold fast to that which is good; render to no one evil for evil; strengthen the fainthearted; support the weak; help the afflicted; honor all people; love and serve God, rejoicing in the power of the Holy Spirit.”

And may the blessing of God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit remain with you forever.  Amen.

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Gathered Worship Update

February 21, 2021


In-person Worship Update:

In-person worship continues this week!  Over the last month the COVID-19 infection rate and new numbers of infections in Somerset County have been on a steady decline.  In order to keep up this positive momentum, masks will be required while in the building, including during worship.  We will also be practicing social distancing, so please find a row with a bow.   I look forward to continuing our Lenten journey together on-line and in-person.  In the spirit of Lent, let us work together by sharing the responsibility of stopping the spread of COVID-19.  By showing up for in-person worship you are covenanting with the your fellow worshippers to mask and social distance while we are gathered together.  The in-person service will begin at 9:30am along with the online worship options on Facebook and YouTube.  Telephone worship continues to be offered at 11am.


Pastor Matt  


Pastor Matt  

Here are our worship opportunities for the week ahead:

Gathered Worship (in-person).  Sunday morning at 9:30am.  Masks covering the mouth and nose are required.  We will be practicing social distancing, so please sit in a row with a bow.  

Worship by Telephone.  We are very pleased to announce a toll-free worship option.  The toll-free conference call number is 1-844-855-4444.  The automated service will then ask for your access code or PIN.  Please enter: 512013#.  The audio service will begin at 11:00am. 

Online.  This Sunday’s Service streaming live on the church’s Facebook page and YouTube at 9:30am.  You can find the church’s YouTube channel by searching for St. Paul’s UCC Somerset in the YouTube search bar.  The streamed service will be available on demand on both digital platforms following its streaming at 9:30am.  (This service is pre-recorded but is streamed as live for the online community.)

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Good Friday Prayer Vigil

April 10, 2020


Please join us for our prayer vigil that begins on Good Friday evening and continues through Easter Day. Although we are distanced physically, let us draw to one another spiritually as we unite to pray for our church, community, country and world. The vigil can be accessed through clicking the link below.

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A New Way To Give

March 27, 2020


The current COVID-19/Corona Virus pandemic has forced many individuals, businesses, and organizations to rethink how to accomplish day-to-day functions.  The church is no different.  

St. Paul’s continues to do vital ministry:

  • Reaching out to the homebound & lonely
  • Caring for the sick
  • Comforting the dying & their families
  • Working with the Somerset Area School District, Meals on Wheels, Somerset Area Ministries, and other agencies to ensure our most vulnerable community members are fed everyday
  • Online children’s programming
  • Online fellowship events
  • Live-streaming and videos of worship services on Facebook & YouTube
  • Launching a COVID-19 community mission fund to assist those in need because of social distancing, job loss, and illness
  • Honoring our monthly mission partners

A number of our members and friends have asked for an online way to give, so we are pleased to offer this service through  You can make a gift by accessing our website (see the “Give” button on the homepage or the button below),  You may also download the free app to your smartphone or tablet and customize it to meet your needs.  Although the service is free to the church, credit card and transaction fees are assessed to each gift, so when making an online contribution through, please consider using the bank funds transfer feature, which has the lowest fee of one percent per transaction.  For your convenience, you may also select the reoccurring gift option if you would like to make regular gifts to the church.  If you have any questions or need assistance using this service, please do not hesitate to contact Cindy, our financial secretary.  And as always, we still accept and appreciate your mail-in contributions!

We value your continued thoughts and prayers during these challenging times.  On behalf of the staff, and lay leadership of our church, we wish you good health and strength as we encounter each day together.  Relying on God and one another, we will get through this!


Pastor Matt

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Sermons from St. Paul’s

February 21, 2020

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“An Ethic of Love”
February 16, 2020
Rev. J. Matthew Deal
“The Third Way”
February 9, 2020
Rev. J. Matthew Deal
“When Things Break Down”
February 2, 2020
Rev. J. Matthew Deal
“Following Jesus”
January 19, 2020
Rev. J. Matthew Deal
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Mardi Gras Worship!

February 19, 2020


Sunday, February 23, 2020, during & after worship

Mardi Gras in the Christian tradition is a festive time of laughter and celebration right before the contemplative six weeks of Lent.  We will be celebrating our own Mardi Gras with some special surprises during worship.  Johnstown Brass Works will be with us providing some Dixieland style music.  Our Chancel Choir and the Children and Youth Choirs are preparing a couple of selections that will get us into the spirit.  We’ll follow worship with a special potluck brunch in Fellowship Hall, complete with King’s Cake cupcakes and a few special surprises!  You won’t want to miss the fun, so be sure to bring your favorite dish to share, a friend (if you’d like), wear colorful clothing, and be prepared for some enjoyable fellowship.

Please join us!

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Taste of the World

February 15, 2020

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Sink Your Teeth into a New Experience at the Taste of the World Ethnic Food Festival!

We invite those who love food and adventure to join us for this FREE family-friendly event. Community members from countries such as Brazil, Egypt, India, Mexico, Nicaragua, and Thailand will be present to offer samples of their traditional native foods and share interesting information about their homeland. The Somerset Exchange Students will also be preparing and serving some of their traditional foods from France, Germany, Italy, and Switzerland.

Inspired by Fred Rogers, who stated, “We want to raise our children so that they can take a sense of pleasure in both their own heritage and the diversity of others,” the Taste of the World event will provide specific opportunities for children to explore the commonalities and celebrate the differences embedded in our community’s diverse cultures. Children and youth can explore the entertainment space offering games (take a swing at our pinata or try your hand at Mexican Bingo) and crafts from the representative countries. They can also visit the story corner and explore multi-ethnic and bi-lingual books.

St. Paul’s UCC, alongside of Love for the World, a group of church & local community members, is committed to empowering our community to love and care for our neighbors both near and far. It is our hope that through offering small bites of new cultural experiences, the Taste of the World event will carry forward the mission of building strong caring relationships with all those in our community.

Taste your way around the world by reserving your FREE ticket online at FREE tickets will also be available at the door.

Add Taste of the World to your calendar. You won’t want to miss it!

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