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Sermons from St. Paul’s

May 24, 2019

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Who’s In, Who’s Out
Rev. J. Matthew Deal
Sunday, May 19, 2019
Easter Happens
Rev. J. Matthew Deal
Easter Sunday, April 21, 2019
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May’s Mission Offering Is St. Paul’s Homes

May 24, 2019

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 St. Paul’s, historically related to the United Church of Christ, has been serving the needs of residents of western Pennsylvania and the surrounding states for 138 years.  Our congregation has a history of supporting the mission of St. Paul’s Continuing Care Community.  Through our continued support of St. Paul’s mission, we are realizing Jesus Christ’s call to love God and neighbor.  The Rev. Glenn Sadler, St. Paul’s Pastor Emeritus will be joining us for worship on May 12th for a special mission moment.

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A Message from Pastor Matt

May 22, 2019

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Dear St. Paul’s Family,

Five or six years ago I attended a pastor’s conference at Church of the Resurrection, the largest United Methodist Church in the world located in Kansas City, KS.  They had a number of speakers, mostly mega church pastors lecturing us about church growth strategies, programming, and the tricks of hospitality.  The content was good even if contextual understanding was lacking.  The assumption at most of those types of conferences is that if we hear from some pastors of really big churches (all with memberships over 5,000) somehow the growth mojo will rub off on the rest of us, regardless of the realities of demographics and context.

I don’t remember most of the speakers, except one young woman who stuck out from the crowded field of white, middle-aged men.  Rachel Held Evans was not a reverend, nor did she possess a terminal degree in theology or church growth.  Rachel, a 32 year-old small town newspaper reporter from Dayton, TN had over the preceding 2 years accidentally garnered quite a following because of her blog posts and a New York Times best selling book dealing with Christian faith.  She had experienced somewhat of a religious awakening that stirred the waters of her own Christian Fundamentalist upbringing.  Her awakening sprung out of the tension between the moralistic rigidity of the faith community of her childhood and Christ’s abundant love that included everyone in God’s saving work.  Where the church of her childhood excluded people who didn’t fit in their mold of discipleship, Rachel found in the stories of Jesus a God who welcomed and loved everyone.  Her eloquent writings about her new found understanding of the church and Jesus resonated with a growing audience of readers, especially youth and young adults, and those who had been hurt by the church.

Following one of the plenary sessions my friend and I had the opportunity to chat with Rachel.  She was very approachable, funny, and disarmingly humble.  After introducing ourselves,  Rachel quickly offered affirmations to us regarding the importance of pastors she said, “I have no idea why people invite me to talk at these kinds of events.  They should be listening to you!”  I was touched by her kind words, but also a bit chagrined knowing that pastors often don’t say what ought to be said, either out of a lack of courage or because of wrong-headed convictions.  

Hanging on the wall above the desk where Rachel sat to write blog posts, articles, or one of her best selling books is a sign that simply says, “Tell the truth.”  Perhaps that was what made Rachel so popular in parts of the church and society at large.  She told the truth where others failed.  She candidly and kindly reminded the world that Jesus welcomed everyone and turned away no one, therefore the church should follow suit.  Marginalized groups in the church felt the power of Christ’s affirming love through Rachel’s work.  Women, persons of color, and members of the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender) community discovered a Savior who welcomed them through Rachel’s faithful interpretation of scripture and Jesus’ teachings.  Her plea was for a church who would tell the truth and follow Christ’s example of radical welcome of all people.

Despite all of the Twitter followers, blog readers, her New York Times bestselling books, or being a nationally recognized religious commentator on CNN, Rachel remained humble.  She used her platform to advance the thoughts and careers of others, giving additional voice to those who are often marginalized by culture.  Rachel’s love of God, the church, others, and especially her conviction to tell the truth, helped to strengthen Christ’s church.  

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about Rachel’s life and work.  On May 4th she died after a sudden illness that caused her to have seizures and traumatic brain swelling.  Rachel leaves behind her husband Dan and two little kids.  Making sense of her death has been challenging, especially in this season of resurrection.  The 37 year-old mom and Christian leader had so much more to contribute to our shared existence.  

The world is full of losses that cause people to ask the great why questions of life as they search for understanding and meaning.  In fact, a number of you have experienced such loss at one time or another.  The great mystery and miracle of Easter is that God enters fully into loss and does something totally unexpected.  New life, resurrection springs forth from death.  The trauma of life’s losses have no power over the redemptive love of God.

This may seem little consolation to those whose experience with death is quite fresh and the pain is quite real.  Feeling the storm of emotions that are present in the aftermath of a loved one’s death is normal.  Even in the midst of the sorrow, pain, and anger we may be feeling, Jesus Christ is reclaiming life so that in the fullness of time we all will live within God’s eternal self.  As for the rest of us, those still living each day in this part of creation, it’s up to us to continue Christ’s life-saving work of love.  It’s up to us to tell the truth.  People need to hear that they are unconditionally loved by their creator and that they are welcome to participate fully in the Body of Christ, the church.  We must also reckon with the powers of destruction that try to stir up division and hate within God’s beloved creation.  These evil forces are not of the spiritual realm, but are flesh and blood, powers and principalities that seek to divide for personal gain.

Christ’s saving work is not only discovered in the writings of Rachel Held Evans, but in any place where the truth of God’s unconditional love and inclusion are being spoken or practiced.  God’s call to us is simple, to love as Christ loved:  unconditionally, generously, and graciously.  Through loving we enter into God’s presence.  And that’s the gospel truth!  

Blessings on your journey,

Pastor Matt

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News for May and June from St. Paul’s

May 22, 2019

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Transportation Assistance:  If you, or someone you know, needs a ride to church or any church-related event, please contact the church office, 445-4534.

Emailing the church and Pastor Matt:  If you need to email the pastor or the church, please direct your email to jmdeal@gmail.com–Thanks!

The church office email is stpaulsuccoffice1@gmail.com

May’s Meetings at a Glance (available at press time)

Thursday, May 2nd:  Care Team, 1:00pm, CE Room

Thursday, May 16th:  Stewardship Team, 10:30am, Library

Saturday, May 18th:  Men’s Brotherhood, 8:00am, King’s Restaurant

Sunday, May 19th:  Church Council, 11:00am in the CE Room 

Tuesday, May 21st:  CE Team meeting, 5:00pm, CE Room, Trustees Meeting, 6:00pm, CE Room, Spiritual Life & Evangelism, 7:00pm, CE Room

June’s Meetings at a Glance (available at press time)

Sunday, June 2nd:  Community VBS planning meeting, 2:00pm, CE Room

Monday, June 3rd:  Family Fellowship Meal, 6:00pm, Fellowship Hall

Thursday, June 6th:  Care Team, 1:00pm, CE Room

Tuesday, June 11th:  Legacy Fund, 6:00pm, CE Room

Saturday, June 15th:  Men’s Brotherhood, 8:00am, King’s Restaurant

Tuesday, June 18th:  Church Council, 7:00pm in the CE Room 

Sunday, June 23rd:  Community VBS All Staff orientation, 2:00pm, Fellowship Hall

St. Paul’s is on Facebook!  Be sure to “Like” us to keep up with updates and events.

Book of Remembrance forms are in the literature rack in the narthex.  If you wish to give a gift in memory of or in honor of a loved one, please use this form.  You can place it in your offering envelope along with your monetary gift or you can bring it to the office.  We save these forms for documentation until the Book of Remembrance is published in the newsletter twice a year.  Thank you for taking the time to submit the form.

Bible Study: Bible Studies following worship themes will be held on Tuesdays at 10:00am in the Salem Chapel.  

Women’s Fellowship

All women of the church are invited to attend the upcoming Women’s Fellowship meeting on Monday, May 13th at 6:30pm.  This will be a regular business meeting.    

Men’s Brotherhood

The Men’s Brotherhood will meet for their May meeting on Saturday, May 18th at 8:00am at King’s restaurant.  Their June meeting will be on Saturday, June 15th at 8:00am at King’s.  All men of the church are invited to attend!

Family Fellowship Meal

Please join us for our annual summer meal on Monday, June 3rd at 6:00pm in Fellowship Hall.  Please bring your favorite covered dish, your friends, and family, as we open up the summer season.  We will enjoy great food, fellowship, and our special musical guest, St. Paul’s own NoteWorthy!

Church Ministry Team Meeting Nights

Church Council, at their March meeting, put forth a new plan to streamline the process of committee and ministry team planning.  The recommendation is that the committees of church council and other special groups that meet on a regular basis covenant to meet on either the first Wednesday or third Tuesday of each month.  Hour-long meeting slots will open at 4:00pm each day and close at 7:00pm.  The hope is that by having most of our meetings on two nights we can better plan when committees will meet and give each committee better access to the church’s programming staff.  We also anticipate that the common meeting nights will increase opportunities for worship and fellowship.  This plan also leaves open the possibility of committees still meeting outside of the two Church Ministry Team Nights if neither of those dates and times work for their committee members. 

Committee and group chairs should contact Pastor Matt with questions or to schedule meetings.

St. Paul’s Continuing Care Community is May’s Mission Offering:  St. Paul’s, historically related to the United Church of Christ, has been serving the needs of residents of western Pennsylvania and the surrounding states for 138 years.  Our congregation has a history of supporting the mission of St. Paul’s Continuing Care Community.  Through our continued support of St. Paul’s mission, we are realizing Jesus Christ’s call to love God and neighbor.  The Rev. Glenn Sadler, St. Paul’s Pastor Emeritus will be joining us for worship on May 12th for a special mission moment. 

Greeters & Ushers for May

May 5:  Communion By Intinction: Sally McClintock—Chair & Elder, Carole Wilson—Elder, Candy Christner, Ray Toy

May 12:  Craig Weaver—Chair, Youth Members

May 19:  Angie Brumbaugh—Chair, Josh Brumbaugh, Emma Mumau, Eli Mumau 

May 26:  Rebecca Miller—Chair, Samantha Miller, Laura Bowers, Abby Bowers

Greeters & Ushers for June

June 2:  Communion By Intinction: John Geary—Chair & Elder, John Geary, Sr.—Elder, Sandy Geary, Anna Geary

June 9:  Jenn Boland—Chair, Sienna Ash, Joan Martz, Lisa Yeckley

June 16:  Karen Addleman—Chair, Steve Addleman, Greg Keim, Kim Keim 

June 23:  Patrick Ferko—Chair, Jean Romesberg, Pam Webreck, Judy Swank

June 30:  Andra Snyder—Chair, Brad Winters, Amy Winters, Wynne Sechler

2019 HIGH SCHOOL & COLLEGE GRADUATES:  Please let us know if you are a graduate!  We would like to honor you by placing your graduate photo in our display case in the narthex.  We would like a 5×7, however, if you do not have this size, please bring us what you have available.  Thank you!

Be sure to join us on Pentecost Sunday, June 9th as we recognize our graduates.  Please plan on joining us as we celebrate our graduates and offer a blessing over them.

Save the date for “To Mars and Beyond” Community VBS!  This year’s Community VBS will be June 24th-28th.  Please join us for “To Mars and Beyond” as we discover God’s boundless love.  Children from 3 years old to 6th grade are invited to attend.  This year’s Bible school will be a cooperative effort between 4 partner churches.  As is the case every year, we need adult and teen helpers to make our VBS a success.  Please talk to Pastor Matt or Jenn Boland if you are interested in helping!

Church Camp Schedule

The 2019 Living Waters brochures are now available!  Copies of the brochures, complete with this year’s schedule of events are available in the Edgewood Avenue Narthex.  Scholarships are available for those who are interested in attending camp.  Please talk to Pastor Matt for more details.

“A Just World for All” is the theme for the 2019 Penn West Conference Annual Meeting:  June 7 & 8 at California University of Pennsylvania.  Join us for two days of inspiring worship, fellowship, and learning.  The Rev. Traci Blackmon, United Church of Christ Minister for Justice and Local Church Ministries will be the keynote speaker.  The annual gathering of the churches of the Penn West Conference is always a great opportunity to connect with other churches and share resources and ideas.  

St. Paul’s UCC has the opportunity to send three voting delegates and one youth delegate.  Please speak to Pastor Matt if you’d like to attend.

 Coffeehouse Talent Showcase

Please join us for a celebration of the youth in our church and community with this Spring’s Coffeehouse Talent Showcase.  Proceeds will benefit St. Paul’s youth programming

Where? In Fellowship Hall

When? Friday, May 24th, beginning at 7 pm

How can you get involved in this great event? Come out to enjoy the performances and/or perform in the show yourself.  If you’re a little stage-shy, you can also support the event by donating baked goods, which will be sold during the coffeehouse. We are also seeking donations of bottled water and/or juice boxes to serve at the event. 

Admission is by donation and includes coffee, tea, and other light refreshments. We hope to see you there!

St. Paul’s Extends a Special Thank You to Our Sunday School Teachers

As another school year comes to an end, we are grateful for those who have shared their time and talents with us.  Their dedication is the greatest lesson they have given us! 

Here is a list of our teachers and Christian Education committee members:

Isabel Shumaker–Preschool and Kindergarten

Kim Keim–Preschool and Kindergarten

Suzy Housley–Grades 1-3

Christie Schenck–Grades 1-3

John Harris–Grades 4-6

Craig Weaver–The Adult Class

Gary Cameron—Young at Heart Class

Carole Wilson—Young at Heart Class

Audrey Hay–Young at Heart Class

Jenn Boland—CE Team Chair and Children’s Church

 

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The May & June Cornerstone Newsletter

May 22, 2019

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Children’s Church: Helping Kids Worship God!

November 14, 2018

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We are very excited about our brand new children’s ministry!  Children’s Church is for kids 5 years-old through 5th grade.  Participants will begin worship in the Sanctuary with their parents or guardians and will leave for Children’s Church following the Time for Children.  They will conclude their time at the close of the regular worship service.  The children can be picked up outside of the CE Room.

What is Children’s Church?

It’s a brand new worship opportunity for some of our youngest church family members.  Children’s Church will engage kids in worship at their level while also keeping a common worship theme with the regular worship service.  This will give children the opportunity to worship God at an age appropriate level and also engage with parents and guardians around the shared theme between the two services.

The Children’s Church worship space will be set up in the CE Room at the end of the hallway in the education wing.  We would appreciate prayers and volunteers to help us as we get this new ministry up and running.  Adults and youth are needed to help lead each service and provide programming support as we prepare each week.  Please speak with our Children’s Church Coordinator Jenn Boland or Pastor Matt if you’d like to help.  Both can be reached through calling the church, 814-445-4534

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