January 2022

Help at Solving the Mystery of ‘God with Us’

My goal is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. – Colossians 2:2-3


Don’t you love a good mystery? The subtle clues that help you weave through the twisting plot to discover what is hidden from most others. There is something about having the “inside track” that most people miss.


In the Christian life some talk of “mystery”. I must confess, when someone makes a big deal of some “mystery” in the Bible or in the Christian faith – one, they are quick to point out, that most churches don’t teach, or most believers don’t realize – I keep my antenna tuned for something kooky, or cultish.


I believe God Has revealed Himself in His Word in Scripture, and in His Word-made-flesh in Jesus Christ. While none of us can plumb the depths of such revelation thoroughly, God has made Himself known to us. There is certainly palpable mystery when it comes to our infinite, all-powerful God, and His redeeming work through His only begotten Son Jesus Christ.


While the Gospel message is simple enough for even a small child to grasp, the implications of this Good News are beyond the wisest scholars and most devout disciples. Awe is an appropriate response.


All exploitative tactics aside, this Scripture reveals the basic mystery of the Gospel – which IS the remedy for most – if not all – that is ailing believers – or the church – today. The message here is quite simple, nothing surprising. The Apostle Paul says his purpose is to present to you the word of God in its fullness— the mystery that has been kept hidden for ages and generations, but is now disclosed to the saints (Colossians 1:25b-26). There’s our word: “mystery.” But, "saints" refers to everyone who is a believer. This mystery is really no secret to those who know Christ.  Paul continues: To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory (Colossians 1:27). The Christian life is not a list of rules to follow, or a terrifying deity to appease, but the incredible message of Immanuel, God with us – through our crucified and risen redeemer Jesus Christ.


In Colossians 2 Paul writes to the church to encourage our hearts – because emotions matter to us. He also defines his purpose to unite us with fellow believers in love, so that we may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that we may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. (Colossians 2:2b-3) See, the mystery of God is not some obscure pattern of numbers, or a unique interpretation of Scripture or sic “lost” books of the Bible; not at all. It is Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. 


On one level, we already knew that. Yet the reality of Christ living in me, and me living in Him

– staggers our minds—and will captivate our living for the rest of our days.


The New Year is an excellent time to start a daily Bible reading plan. Here is a link to some good options: 2022 Bible Reading Plans (ligonier.org)


I use the M'Cheyne One Year Reading Plan year_classic_letter.pdf (edginet.org). I use the YouVersion App, which is available free where you download apps. This free app gives access to dozens of Bible translations and still more Bible reading plans.


Growing with you in Christ,

Dave Meckley, Pastor

New Backdrop Graces Altar in Sanctuary

A new dossal has been installed behind the altar in the sanctuary at St. John’s Reformed Church of Loysburg. The dossal replaces one that had hung there since before the late Rev. Adelbert Gordon retired as pastor and it had become quite faded. The new one was purchased through Lana’s Custom Draperies & Blinds of Bedford and was installed at a cost of $1,225. The panel consists of Athena 16 oz. material, a much lighter fabric than the old dossal. The color is listed as Cabernet (deep maroon), very similar to the original color. It measures 80" wide 93" in length. Beth Clark and Cathy Snider assisted with the installation.

Consistory Works on Budget for 2022

The consistory met on Dec. It was an exciting time as we worked on the preliminary budget for fiscal year 2022. We will continue to work on our budget in order to have it ready for presentation to the congregation at the annual congregational meeting on Feb, 13.


If you haven’t noticed the fabric dossal that hangs behind the altar has been replaced at a cost lower than originally expected. (See separate story in this newsletter) Because of the lower cost the consistory approved a motion to have the two chairs on either side of the altar reupholstered.


If you see Steve or Birch give them a hearty thank you for pulling out the shrubbery by the church that was dead or dying. Steve also reported that the maintenance committee replaced the eternal light bulb, cleaned the speakers and cleaned the bat droppings in the attic. He suggests that the items in the attic be covered in order to protect them.


A rough draft of the new directory is complete and we are still getting the names of families that want to be added. A reminder: There will be no pictures in this edition of the directory. We hope to have this to each family in the congregation very soon.


We are still focused on updating our audio/visual system in the church and purchasing a new copier. Unfortunately, the supply backlash from COVID has put a damper on these things, as they have for many other people.


We will be honoring David Snyder, Charles Mountain, and Wayne Kagarise for their years of dedication and loyal service on the Consistory. This celebration will occur during the congregational meeting. Please mark your calendars for Feb. 13 as the day we meet and discuss the future of our church. This is the most important meeting of the year and your input is needed. The consistory does the best it can but we work for you and we do our best work when we have suggestions and feedback from you. A reminder – Sunday School will be at 9:30 that Sunday, and church services at 10:45. A covered dish luncheon will precede the meeting.


Our church and our church family has been greatly blessed by the Lord this past year and we on the consistory lift our prayers of thanksgiving to Him for His ongoing generosity and grace. We also thank you for your dedication during the difficult times and the good times this past year. This coronavirus just doesn’t seem to want to go away and yet, we can sense normalcy returning, albeit slowly.


We ask that in the coming year you keep your Consistory in prayer that we manage the Lord’s house with love, according to His will. We also ask that you keep each member of our church family in prayer that this coming year that each may prosper in the Lord’s grace and love.


Our next meeting will be on Jan. 13, 2022 in the basement HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYBODY!!! We pray God’s peace will be upon each of you.

—Submitted by Joel Ritchey, consistory president

Full House for Sunday School Program Dec. 19

All classes of St. John’s Sunday School, including the adult classes, took part in a Christmas program during theSundaySchoolhour on Dec. 19. The program attracted a large audience, including many parents, grandparents, friends and relatives.


The adult classes opened and closed the program, providing Scripture and other readings, prayers and leading group singing of carols.


The children’s classes presented skits, readings, songs and several solos, guided by their teachers. Microphones were used for recitations and solos.


This was the first time the children’s program was held during Sunday School hour and separately from the choir’s cantata, which was held the same evening.




‘Tis the Season for Caroling, Candles


Seven from St. John’s gathered on the evening of Dec. 20 to go caroling through the village of Loysburg. They are Grayson Rodgers (front) and (left to right) Bevely Smith, Barb Thomas, Beth Cottle, Mava Cottle, Donna Smeltzer and Kim Rodgers. They all enjoyed the outing, but unfortunately Mava fell and broke a shoulder bone as the group was returning to the church for cookies and hot chocolate.


David Snyder again placed his creche set in the church vestibule. He is seeking someone who will take possession of it and, if they choose, loan it to the church over Christmas as long as consistory wants it.


Barb Thomas has assumed responsibility for many years for setting up the Advent Wreath, with candles glowing for each Sunday in Advent, Christmas Eve and the following Sundays.

Choir ’ s Cantata Brings Out Sizeable Crowd


St. John’s choir, directed by Barb Thomas (at piano) presented the Christmas musical celebration, “His Name Is Jesus,” on the evening of Dec. 19. A nearly filled sanctuary turned out for the performance.


Singing with the choir were (front row, left to right) tenors Pastor David Meckley and David Snyder; altos Peggy Ritchey, Beverly Smith and Mava Cottle; and sopranos Marsie Albright and Peg Wachter; also (back row) basses Joel Ritchey, Denny Holderbaum and Brad Gable; and sopranos Beth Clark, Deb Bowser and Tina Gojeski. Lorie LaSala played piano prelude music earlier.


An offering was collected to benefit Betsy Rupp, who has been through some very serious health issues that have prevented her from working and meeting her expenses.




Heifer International Christmas Project a Success

This Christmas season, in lieu of packing Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes, the consistory decided to support an international project that would provide more long-term help to its recipients. The consistory chose Heifer International as a special project to see how much money we could raise to purchase livestock animals that Heifer would then give to families in need in various countries.


We collected money during Sunday School hours through the last Sunday in November, and at that time we had $294. Beverly Smith, Sunday school treasurer, asked if we would like to vote to have the Sunday school round the amount to an even $300 or more. We inquired how much money was in the Sunday school account, and finding ample funds, we voted to round it to $600. By the time we were ready to choose animals, another $220 had come in for the project.


Matt and Joy Nelson were in charge of picking out the animals from the catalog on Heifer International’s website, heifer.org, and chose a heifer, an alpaca, a goat, a flock of chicks, and honeybees. You can read a more detailed description on the organization’s website of what these specific animals provide, but in general they provide food for the families, make farming more productive, and/or provide a product that the families can then sell to earn a sustaining income.


On their website Heifer International says “Our projects provide animals, training and basic necessities to help families lift themselves out of poverty.” The organization’s goal is to provide “living incomes.” We look forward to doing this again next year and hopefully being able to purchase even more animals to bring hope and life-sustaining resources to families around the world.

–Submitted by Joy Nelson 

Choir Taking Brief Break; Then Back to Work

The choir will take a short break in January and resume practice on Wednesday, Jan. 26 at 6:30 p.m. New singers are welcome to join us! We will be singing Sunday evening, Feb. 6, at the 7 p.m. Southern Cove Ministerium Evening of Praise to be held at the New Enterprise COB. The public is invited to attend.


Please see Barb to schedule special music. She is willing to practice with you before or after choir practice, evenings and Saturdays as available. Special music for January is Jan 2 – Choir; Jan. 9 – Gable Family; Jan. 16 – Gable Family; Jan 23 – Lorie LaSala; and Jan. 30 – Tina and Dennis.



Women ’ s Guild Makes Plans for New Year

The Women’s Guild 2022/2023 officers met at the home of Peggy Ritchey on Tuesday evening, Dec. 28 to plan the new year’s meetings and events.


Our first meeting in 2022 will be on Friday, Jan. 14, at 6:30 in the fellowship hall. The officers will provide refreshments. Molly Shirk is in charge of the program. Secret sisters of 2021 will be revealed and new ones drawn for 2022 for all who are interested in participating. Secret Sister forms are available on the welcome table or see Barb. Please remember that the purpose of having a secret sister is to encourage her and brighten her days with cards and small inexpensive treats. A birthday gift and a Christmas gift, both valued between $5 -$10, is suggested. The most important gift you can give your secret sister are faithful prayers in her behalf. If you can’t attend the Jan. 14 meeting but would like to participate, fill out a form and give it to Barb BEFORE the Jan. 14 meeting.


The guild’s purpose is to unite ALL ladies of the church in Christian fellowship and service. One does not “join.” We are automatically a part of this special ministry as women of St. John’s Reformed Church. We understand some are more active than others, and we assign hostesses, programs and committees to those who are more actively involved. We welcome ladies of all ages to attend when possible, to develop an understanding of the value of women’s ministries, to be supportive of one another and to deepen spiritual life as Jesus leads us through the year.


The 2022/2023 slate of officers nominated and elected by a quorum due to the November meeting cancellation are Barb Thomas, president; Peggy Ritchey, vice president; Molly Shirk, secretary; Peg Wachter, assistant secretary; Beth Clark, treasurer; and Beverly Smith, assistant treasurer.


The new 2022 Women’s Guild schedule is hot off the press. Please pick up one from the welcome table if you are not given one personally. Looking forward to great things that God has in store for us!

Respectfully submitted, Barb Thomas

Un-decorating & Removal of Christmas Tree Planned

Volunteers are asked to meet at 10 am on Saturday, Jan. 8, to un-trim the tree and take down the sanctuary decorations and put all the boxes back up in the attic. Ethan and Kim Rodgers could use as many helpers as they can get to put everything away. We will wait until Sunday, Jan 9, between church and Sunday School, to get the help of a few strong guys to take the tree out of the church.

Sunday School Starting New Year with 1 New Teacher;

New Focus for All

The Sunday school is looking forward to a new year of learning and fun. We have a new face on the teaching roster for 2022. Joy Nelson will replace Barb Thomas as the 2nd – 4th grade teacher. This class meets in the copy room. Barb has decided 45 years in the children/youth department is sufficient, although she is available and willing to substitute teach for any of the classrooms of any age. She is grateful for the many children/youth she has taught over the years and the opportunities God gave her to learn from them!


We have classes for all ages and encourage all to attend Sunday school. We are never too old to learn! Beth Clark teaches ages 2 and under. Sarah Gunnett has the3-year-old class. PeggyAnne Meckley handles ages 4 thru 1st grade class wonderfully. Joy Nelson will teach Grades 2 thru 4. Deb Bowser is in charge of Grades 5 thru 8. Chelsea Kurtz will teach Grades 9 thru 12 when they attend. Chris Kurtz is teaching a Young Adult class. Peg Wachter, Chris Kurtz and Pastor Dave lead the adult classes. (Adults choose for themselves which class fits best) Please join us!


The Sunday school organizes and funds various events during our calendar year. Volunteers form committees to prepare for our annual Easter Egg Hunt, Bible School, Back to School Bash, Rally Day, Fall Festival held in conjunction with the Women’s Guild Harvest Home, the Mitten Tree, and providing Christmas bag treats. The Sunday School also donates to various charities and ministries as needs arise.

Confirmation Class

There will be no Confirmation Class Jan. 2 but members will meet with Pastor Dave each remaining Sunday in January at 2 p.m. in the copy room. Class members are Bella and Blaire Gable, Deegan Wertz and Ella Snyder.

Acolytes, Altar Flowers, Organist

Acolytes for January will be Grayson Rodgers, Bella Gable and Mikayla Widmann.

Altar flowers for January will be given by David Snyder and family and by Birch and Cathy Snider.

Barb Thomas will be organist in January.

Greeters, Children’s Story Tellers Needed

Volunteers are needed for greeters throughout January and February. Volunteers also are sought for children’s lessons (see Beth Clark or Pastor Dave).


The January calendar is filled for music ministry (see Barb Thomas for February). Volunteers also are needed for nursery attendant. The sound system is piped into the nursery.


To volunteer simply sign your name on the sign-up calendar on the welcome table for the date(s) you choose to serve. Then show up!

Food Bank Needs for January

The Northern Bedford Food Pantry at Woodbury suggests donations of soups, both canned and dry, and boxed meals, such as mac and cheese, Chow Mein and Compleats.

35 Adults, 9 Children Attend Guild Christmas Party

St. John’s Ladies Christmas party had 35 adults and 9 children. in attendance in the church fellowship hall on Dec. 3. Kountry Kettle catered a delicious chicken dinner.


In the sanctuary after the meal musical entertainment was provided by Amy, Blaire and Bella Gable, and Lauren and Dana Sell. They were all accompanied by pianist Barb Thomas. Coleton and Lucas Clark also provided piano and trumpet selections.


Max and Deegan Wertz were Santa and an elf. They helped to hand out the exchange gifts following the entertainment. A fun time was had by all.

--Submitted by Beth Clark

Guild’s Next Meeting Jan. 14; New Officers to Be Seated

The Women’s Guild will be transitioning to a new slate of officers as current terms end this month.


Officers will meet to schedule meeting dates, program providers, hostesses, and special events, such as the Mother/Daughter Banquet, Salad Supper, Harvest Home Service and Ladies Christmas Party.


The purpose of the Women’s Guild is to unite all women of the church in Christian Fellowship. We ask God’s direction to help us develop an understanding of the work of the church, to deepen our spiritual life, and to promote Christian service in our homes, the church, the 4Cs Fellowship and the world.


The first meeting of 2022 is tentatively scheduled for Friday evening, Jan. 14, at 6:30. The 2021 Secret Sisters will be revealed, and new ones drawn for another year of fun and surprises.

—Submitted by Barb Thomas

Who We Are

          This month’s Jottings features Kim Ritchey of Loysburg.

          She is the custodian at St. John’s and grew up in the

          church with her brother and sisters who were the Rupp

          family. Her father passed away buther mother is still living.

I am the daughter of Ellen Swope and the late John Boyd Rupp. I was born in the Sweetroot area near Bedford, but my family moved to Loysburg when I was six years old. Our home was across the street from St. John’s church, where we all started attending church and Sunday School. Dad made sure we went.


I have four sisters and one brother. We are in this order — Laurie, Tim, Betsy, me, Sherry and Heather. I attended Smith Elementary School in Yellow Creek for six years and then Northern Bedford High School, graduating in 1986.


I have three sons, Christopher, Adam and Jason; and three granddaughters, Whitney, Charlie, and Avery.


After high school I attended what they now call the Bedford County Technical Center and earned my certification as a nursing assistant and worked for the Home Nursing Agency for three years. I then found a job with better work hours and less travel at Edgemate in Roaring Spring. I spent five years on that job making veneer. I then went to work for the Kitty Hawk restaurant at the Blair County Airport in Martinsburg.


I have been married to Darl Ritchey since 1994 and we live up the street from the church in Loysburg. Darl is well known in the area as the chief of the Southern Cove Volunteer Fire Company. He also helps with all of the fund-raising projects, including the turkey dinners on the third Sunday of every month.


I succeeded my mother as custodian of St. John’s church in 2019. In addition to cleaning the church, I take care of my granddaughters, seeing they get on the school bus each morning and getting them off the bus in the afternoon until their dad picks them up. I have been the care-giver for my sister, Betsy Rupp, since her health problems have become very serious. Betsy is presently at Penn Knoll Village in Bedford, being treated for infections while awaiting further examination for a fracture in her spine that keeps her from moving or being moved without extreme pain.

I like to plant and care for flowers, and I enjoy spending time and playing games with my granddaughters. I read the Bible and other religious tracts passed on to me by my mother and passed on from me to my sister Betsy.


I’d like to wish my church family a blessed New Year.



February 6 - Pulpit Exchange through Southern Cove-Yellow Creek Ministerium


7 PM Concert of Praise at New Enterprise Church of the Brethren


Feb 13, 1 PM Annual Congregational Meeting

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