No Sunday School, but Keep on Studying
The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple; the precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes; the fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever; the rules of the Lord are true, and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold,
even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb. Moreover, by them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward. – Psalm 19:7-11 ESV
I had a parishioner who served our country as a Navy SEAL, the US Navy's primary special operations force. The SEALS have a saying that no one rises to the occasion, but that we all fall to the level of our training. In other words, the basketball player who sinks the buzzer beater has relentlessly practiced that shot to prepare for such a moment. Jack Nicklaus, "The Golden Bear", one of the greatest golfers of all time, was recently asked if he ever changed his swing. He laughed, noting some market a secret technique to make money. He acknowledged he has made minor adjustments, but when, in 1979 – his worst year as a golfer, having won no tournaments – he looked up his old coach to relearn the fundamentals: the grip, his stance, etc. The point of all this is that what we need, whether in sports, in life, in faith – is a good foundation. One can only build, or excel, if their fundamentals, their foundation is sound.
Until we can meet again for Sunday school let me encourage parents – and all of us – to make good use of this time to strengthen our familiarity with the foundation of our faith, which is Jesus Christ. We come to know Christ through God's revealed Word in Scripture as the Holy Spirit illuminates our thinking. Whether we are teaching our children – of any age – or strengthening our own spiritual health, the study of God's Word in the Bible is foundational. Studying the weekly Scripture in Luke's Gospel will give you deeper understanding and insight as you hear the preaching of God's Word. Memorizing verses from the Bible help us think through and apply the rich truth of God's Word as the Holy Spirit writes it on our hearts. Some find it helpful to read a short passage of Scripture, then meditate on what all God wants to reveal to you. Returning to that same short passage the next day, or even several days, has been enlightening for some. Others may find more benefit from a study Bible or a good Bible study aid. My prayer is we each are strengthened in our faith as God's Word revives our souls.
Growing with you in Christ,
Dave Meckley, Pastor
Abby Jasper Graduates
from Everett High
Abigail Jasper graduated in June from Everett Area High School. She is the granddaughter of Peggy and Joel Ritchey and has been attending St. John’s for church and Sunday school with them for years. She has volunteered in the nursery and for summer Vacation Bible School.
Abby’s parents were the late Karen and Mike Jasper. She and her brother Michael have been living with the Ritchey grandparents since the loss of her mother. Her dad died earlier.
At Everett High, Abby took part in the band, Student Council, Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD) and was a manager for the boys basketball team and the track team.
She plans to attend California University of Pennsylvania, majoring in the Physical Therapy Assistant (PTA) program. “Choosing CalU has strengthened my connections to my family and future,” she said. “One of the reasons is because my father went to CalU, majoring in athletic training. Knowing he went there made me want to go there and study in a field that both of my parents pursued. I also chose PTA because of my mom. I used to go to work with her when I was younger, and I loved it. I loved seeing what she did. Watching her help people made me want to help people.”
Abby described her last semester at Everett: “Going online was a little difficult,” she said. “But I managed it by getting a lot of help from friends on certain classes, such as physics. My teachers were great also. When I needed help they would respond pretty quickly to my emails. My calculus teacher was awesome, because she would set up a zoom call when I needed help going over something that I couldn't figure out by myself or with friends. Some days I did struggle with lack of motivation, but I would push myself to log on and complete my work.”
The Virus Is Real; This Virus Is Deadly
By P. JOEL RITCHEY
Here we are in the middle of a pandemic. God provides opportunities for us to draw nearer to Him, to lean on Him in many different ways. Even in pandemics. Like most I went through a blue, angry period when this thing first hit just to realize this is not what God wants from me. I understand the fear and that one of the primary symptoms of fear is anger. I have chosen not to raise my fist at the virus. I do not feel I have to prove my faith and my trust in God by ignoring the recommendations passed down by man. I do not like to wear a mask, I do not like social distancing, I do not like not singing in church.
During His short time on earth Jesus taught us to live in compassion, love, and grace towards others. He did this in words and in His actions. Even unto His horrifying death. It’s not like He wanted to go out and be beaten, tortured, humiliated, and hung on a cross to die a slow and extremely painful death. No, He did so because His Father, our God, asked Him to do this for our sake, by grace. After His ascension His apostles took the message of love, compassion and grace to the world in words and actions so that all who heard and saw might learn and teach others.
This virus is real. This virus is deadly. This virus is here.
We (including this writer) are all good at saying the words of these messages, but tend to fall short when it is time to put the words into action. I am now at the point where I do not care what the politicians say, I do not care what the angry voices say. There will always be politicians and there will always be angry voices. I do care about the susceptibility of others to the virus and what that still, soft voice says.
I wear my mask by grace rather than by law. I try to social distance by grace rather than law. I follow the recommendations of the Consistory, not because I am an Elder but because the Bible tells me to respect and follow the guidance of the leaders of the church. By grace.
This Too Shall Pass
Never make a permanent decision based on a temporary storm. No matter how raging the billows are today, remind yourself: “This too shall pass!”
- T.D. Jakes
How/When to Restart Sunday School Still in Question
The consistory met on July 9 in the copy room of the church.
There were several topics of discussion including a review of the surveys that were taken. Upon review it seems the majority of those who completed the survey are in agreement with how the reopening of the church has been handled. There is still concern about Sunday School though. Some are ready to return now but the majority still seem to be cautious about how and when we restart the Sunday School. All in all the survey provided the consistory with input we were seeking to help guide us along as the pandemic continues.
We are also looking for a way to celebrate Holy Communion in a safe manner. Each member of the consistory will be thinking and praying on this so we can come to a resolution by our next meeting.
Joel was in touch with the architect about the building project and informed him that for the time being the church is putting the project on hold. The architect was very understanding as his church is still in the reopening process also. The additional funds for the new video camera have been secured. If the plan falls into place we will have the camera installed and operational in August. Once installed, those who are attending church virtually will be able to see the service live. Every member of the consistory wants to thank everyone for your continued giving during these difficult times. Tithing this month was up from the previous month.
Abby Jasper was to be honored on July 26th for her achievements as a high school graduate. She leaves for college on Aug. 13. (See separate story elsewhere in this newsletter.)
The next meeting will be held in the copy room of the Church on Aug. 13 at 7 p.m.
--Submitted by Joel Ritchey, consistory president
Love INC Plans Hoss’s Fund Raiser on Aug. 30
Peg Wachter, a member of our congregation and long-time volunteer with Bedford County’s Love INC (In the Name of Christ), shares the following memo regarding a Love INC fund-raiser on Sunday, Aug. 30, at Bedford Hoss’s Steak & Sea Restaurant.
Dear Friends: I hope this note finds you healthy, happy and filled with hope! I just wanted to send out coupons for our next Hoss’s Day. (Peg will provide copies of the coupons to be available in church in advance.) It has been months since we have been able to get together at Hoss’s. We miss you! I asked Hoss’s management what their requirements are for dining in: There is a sign stating masks are required. If there is a health issue that prohibits you from wearing one you will not be hassled. If you are having the salad bar you must wear gloves; there is an attendant who will assist anyone who needs help putting them on. Praying we get to see one another on Sunday, August 30th.
Conference Delegates Meet via Zoom
Pastor Dave Meckley met with CCCC delegates from across the country on Saturday, July 18, via Zoom for the online business meeting. Our Annual Gathering was cancelled due to COVID-19 restrictions. Being able to see new and familiar faces online was encouraging, but there is nothing like being able to be together in person to share fellowship. Nonetheless, we carried on. We reviewed various reports, which are available for you to see on the CCCC website:
click on "Download/View 2020 Annual Reports"
One highlight is from the area of "Church Development." Church Development is on the forefront of developing healthy, vibrant churches that reflect the light and love of Christ. Various trainings are now available in an online format for churches to learn and advance at their pace. I have been through this training and would be glad to discuss this with anyone interested.
The beauty of the CCCC is that even though we have a limited staff, we are blessed with numerous gifted volunteers who are prayerful, competent and profoundly committed to Christ and His church.
The 2021 Annual Gathering will be in Warwick, RI July 13-16, 2021. In 2022 the site is Carlsbad, CA.
Pastor David Meckley reported to the consistory that he observed the 35th anniversary of his ordination on July 14.
He graduated from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in 1985 with a Master of Divinity. His first call was to Christ Church, UCC in Beaver Springs. He was ordained at Faith UCC in State College, where he had become a member in 1977 and served as Student and Parish Worker there for two years after graduating Penn State and before starting seminary. He was received by the CCCC as an ordained pastor in 2002. He earned his Doctor of Ministry at Gordon-Conwell in 2007.
He came to St. John’s on August 12, 2012.
Guild Nets $800 in Discarded Treasures Sale
St. Johns' Womens Guild held a successful Discarded Treasure Sale (aka Rummage Sale) on Friday, June 26 and Saturday, June 27, in the basement and carport of the church. The committee — Mava Cottle, Beth Cottle, Sandy Styer, Linda Henderhan, and Peggy Ritchey — accepted donated items on June 24, and 25. They want to thank all contributors for the amount and good condition of all that was donated.
The sale raised $747. The following two Sunday mornings a few members shopped, which pushed the total slightly over $800. Proceeds will be used to help defray costs of reopening the church due to the corona virus pandemic.
The August meeting/campfire, which was scheduled for Aug. 8 at Mava Cottle's back yard, has been postponed until further notice. The committee — Mava, Julie Russell, and Brenda Colyer — will inform us of future plans.
More information is on the basement bulletin board.
Ladies’ Retreat Canceled for This Year
Barb Thomas, chief organizer of the annual women’s retreat for CCCC regional ladies and others, submitted the following:
I spoke with Myra Whysong-Krentz (co-leader). We are in agreement that most of our ladies who attend are over 60 years old and there is no way to ensure their safety. Therefore it is with a sad and heavy heart that we will not have the 4-C's ladies fall retreat this year.
Barb has been a tireless leader in many areas at St. John’s, but the pandemic has put her energy on hold, as she related to the newsletter editor: “I have nothing else (for the newsletter) — no choir; no Sunday school, no ladies meetings or events, no planning for fall festivals or Christmas activities. Personally I find it hard to keep my spirits up. I am so tired of COVID-19, the manipulation of numbers of cases, the political deluge of barbs, lies and attacks, and the very idea that some people are essential and some aren't. I really need to live a normal life again.”
Sight of Bear Brings Bittersweet Memories
Barb Thomas writes: On a bright note (also bittersweet), John and I bought a small, red brick ranch house in New Enterprise Monday (on my birthday). I love living here in the woods but being on a hill, our home is like living in a tree house and John can no longer handle stairs well since his kidneys failed.
This morning (July 24) a bear meandered through my back yard right behind our house as I was doing morning devotions. He was casually eating blackberries that line the edge of our lawn next to the woods. I didn't get a photo. My camera is in one of the boxes I already toted over to the other house, but I was so enthralled watching him, I didn't think of that until later anyway.
I praise God for the 40 years we have lived in this wooded sanctuary. I have seen lots of deer, turkeys, rabbits, squirrels, possums, raccoons, birds, chipmunks, but this is the first bear. (I have come upon fresh, steaming piles of bear poop in the woods around my house but not the actual bear) I believe God granted me this experience to assure me I can move on — just like that bear moved on through the yard.
Prayers appreciated that we sell this home quickly to a nature-loving family
Who We Are
This month’s Jottings from St. John’s features Richard “Dick” and Beth Clark of New Enterprise, long-time members. During the coming year both newer members and long-timers will be featured in the newsletter.
Beth writes: I have been a life long member of St. John’s Church. I have many roots involved within this church. My great-great grandfather, John Dittmar, helped burn the brick used in building this church. His name along with that of his wife Catherine can be found on one of the stained glass windows in our sanctuary. My mother, Betty Dittmar Snider, was also a life-long member as well as song leader, Sunday School teacher, choir and Ladies Guild member. She enjoyed ringing the bell on Sunday mornings. My siblings Birch, “Tweet” and Berneta also attend St. John’s Church. I also have a sister Bobbie Yoder.
Dick and I celebrated our 49th wedding anniversary this year and have plans on how we will be celebrating our 50th, God willing. We have a son Clifton, who with his wife Nicole and their sons Coleton and Lucas, reside in Bedford. We have a daughter, Amber Kedar. She and her husband Yishai, and their children Ariela, Daviel and Gavriel, reside in Philadelphia.
Richard was born and raised in Everett. He is the son of Paul and Constance Clark. He served in the Vietnam War in 1968 and 1969. He eventually took over his father’s contracting business, which started 70 years ago. Clifton took over as president of the company in 1998. Richard (Dick) is now the maintenance manager of the business.
We enjoyed snow skiing in such far-away places as Colorado and Switzerland in our younger years. Now we enjoy family vacations and spending time with our grandchildren. We have vegetable gardens and enjoy the fruits of our labor.
God has blessed us in many ways and we give all our thanks to him. We are also thankful for our church, our pastor and our church family, and we look forward to all of us getting back together soon.
Editor’s note: Like her mother, Beth has been very active in the church, teaching Sunday School, singing in the choir, working with the Women’s Guild and serving as a deacon and secretary on the consistory (church board).