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September Newsletter

Change from Peace-taker to Peace-maker

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.Matthew 5:9


Our keynote speakers for three main sessions at the CCCC Annual Gathering were Tom Johnston and Mike Perkinson. Their upbeat, Biblical teaching was designed to bring hope, healing and life for the reality in which we live. They noted that division and struggle plague our culture. As Christians, reconciliation and peace is our calling to this society today. We are most like God when we are peacemaking.


The Irreducible Core of our calling as Christians is to love God, love others and make disciples as we go through life. They noted that Satan also has his own Irreducible Core, which dates back to the temptation in The Garden. In short, Satan tempts us to “Be God,” “Call the shots,” “Use others to magnify chaos,” and “Make abusers.” The “Enemy of our souls” utilizes fear, shame, and our impulse to cover up to attempt to quench the Holy Spirit in us.


We were counseled to commit each day to Jesus. Every day we “come to Christ”. We may have “come to Christ” years ago when our faith became real for us. However, every day we need to “come to Christ” to be renewed in our thinking so we see life and the people we meet from God’s perspective. We need to be attuned to His indwelling Holy Spirit, confess our sin and our need for the Savior this day to empower us for whatever we may face.


Our God is a God of peace. Jesus gives us peace. Peace is what the Hebrews call “shalom”. Shalom includes our forgiveness and salvation, as in being right with God, or at peace with Him. In all our relationships and endeavors we want to bring “shalom”, the peace of God we have through Christ. Shalom cannot be had without reconciliation. Reconciliation is shalom.

Christ is our peace, yet peace is not what most of us experience. We need to come to Christ for His cleansing forgiveness. Through faith in Him we are His sons and daughters. We are blood-bought, loved, and forgiven. But we “come to Christ” every day to remember afresh that “It is no longer I who live but Christ lives in me” (Galatians 2:20). He enables me to walk in shalom as I live for Him and bring His shalom to those I encounter. This reality transforms our homes, families, and churches.


Such transformation starts in one’s individual life. To be a peacemaker, one must possess peace. “Blessed are the poor in Spirit…” (Matthew 5:3), that is, those who know their need. This is essential, for where I lack peace is an opportunity for the enemy to provoke me. We need to remember that the entire Kingdom of God is at our disposal. Without peace, fear tries to replace what is lacking in our brokenness, or we simply deny we have any brokenness; all that makes us agitators or “peace-takers”. God alone can transform our hearts, minds and attitudes to make us Peace-makers.


Growing with you in Christ,

Dave Meckley,




Children’s Story Tellers Needed for September

Children’s story tellers are needed for four of the five Sundays in September. Beth Clark is signed up to give a children’s message on Sept. 9. Volunteers are needed for the other four Sundays.


Pastor Meckley will teach a confirmation class for persons 12 years of age or older beginning in September. A meeting for parents of confirmation students will be held on Tuesday, Sept. 11, at 6 p.m. in the basement copy room. It is an opportunity for parents to review what we will be studying in confirmation class, answer any questions and confirm the best time for the class to meet.





Pastor Meckley will be preaching through the Book of Judges this fall. During September he will be looking into the lives of Gideon, Jephthah and Samson.



Bible Study to Resume

Sunday evening Bible Study with Pastor Meckley will resume Sept. 9 at 6 p.m. in the church basement, with Colossians 4:1ff. Guild to Meet Sept. 7; Salad Supper Oct. 4 The next Women's Guild meeting is Friday, Sept. 7, at 6:30 p.m. in the fellowship room. Peg Wachter will lead the program. Sandy Styer, Jeanne Detwiler and Molly Shirk are the hostesses. All are welcome and encouraged to attend. We enjoy our little visitors too, so bring your kiddos along! The Ladies Salad Supper will be held Thursday Oct. 4. Please bring a salad and a friend.

‘Praise the Lord! We (SS) Are Growing’
“Praise the Lord! We are growing in many ways – deeper faith, physically growing and expanding our numbers!”
This is how Barb Thomas began her explanation of changes in the Children’s Department of the Sunday School.
Sept. 2 will be the first Sunday of the 2018 Fall Quarter and that is when our students will begin new classes to better accommodate the little ones and provide a spirit-filled learning experience individually and corporately for all. “We welcome Chris Kurtz to the teaching staff for Grades 8 and up!” Barb said, and added, “Thank you all for supporting your child's faith journey at St. John's Reformed Sunday School.”
The classes, their teachers and their meeting places are as follows:
•Nursery — Beth Clark – teacher, Connie Ochoa – substitute teacher; presently six students, meeting in the nursery (south side of SS Annex).
•Ages 3-5 (Kindergarten) — PeggyAnne Meckley – teacher, Kim Rodgers – substitute; presently 10 students meeting in the pink room across the hall from the nursery.
•Grades 1-4 — Barb Thomas/Alaina Gates – team teachers (substitutes for each other); presently nine students meeting in the green room.
•Grades 5-7 — Deb Bowser – teacher, Tina Gojeski – substitute; presently four students meeting on the ground level.
•Grades 8 & up — Chris Kurtz – teacher (substitute to be named); presently three students also meeting on the ground level where a folding divider will provide privacy for each class.
The Children's Department through Grade 4 will all be together on the upper level for opening devotions and music time.
Each teacher should be responsible for inviting boys and girls of their age group who are affiliated with the church in any way to join their class.
Rally Day Sept. 16
Rally Day has been scheduled for Sunday, Sept. 16 during the Sunday school opening time at 10:45. All are encouraged to be there as students of all ages are recognized for perfect/faithful attendance. The Children's Department will sing a few songs. Most importantly we will join together in prayer for our students, teachers, staff and families for God's wisdom as we grow in faith together!
It is important to note that Pastor Dave’s young adult class is growing in numbers as are the children’s classes. Many of them are parents of the youngsters in the Children’s Department.
Choir to Resume Monday Evening Rehearsals
Regular choir practice will resume Monday, Sept. 10 at 6:30 p.m. sharp. New members are welcome. Practice for our annual Christmas program (scheduled for Dec. 16 at 7 p.m.) will begin on Monday, Sept. 24 at 6:30 p.m. Additional singers who would like to participate may begin then.
Sept. Food Bank Items
The Northern Bedford Food Pantry is requesting sugar, flour and cereals for the month of September. Garden produce is also welcome if you have late harvests to share.
Connie Ochoa Is New Ladies Encounter Rep.
Connie Ochoa is the new St. John's Reformed Church Representative for the Ladies Encounter under the direction of Joyce Bassler and executive committee.
Barb Thomas has served in this position for several years. Connie has attended meetings with Barb and has served as our table hostess for the past two springs events at the Blair County Conference Center, making the favors for the table with the help of her mother, Jeanne Detwiler.
Connie will attend the Ladies Encounter fall and spring representatives’ meetings, report to St. John's of the details of up-coming events and assist local ladies with purchasing tickets.
The Ladies Encounter Executive Committee reports “It is with sadness that we accept Barb's resignation as a church rep. We thank her for providing a terrific lady to take her place.” Please see Connie Ochoa for any information or questions concerning Ladies Encounter events.
Folks Asked to Keep Hoffman Homes in Prayer
Barb Thomas, guild representative for Hoffman Homes, reminds all to keep the facility, the staff and especially the residents in their prayers.
As of June 30, 2018, Hoffman Homes had 91 children in care from 25 counties in Pennsylvania. The average age of the children in care is 13, and nine months is the average length of stay.
One hundred four students received education at Hoffman Academy in the 2017-18 school year. In 2017 students received 681 pet therapy sessions, 765 art therapy sessions, 593 therapeutic horsemanship sessions and 380 music therapy sessions. The oldest and longest-working horse on the campus is Copper, who turned 31 in April.
St John’s Consistory budgets $300 a year for Hoffman Homes. In addition a collection is asked of St. John’s members each December to be used by Hoffman staff to purchase Christmas gifts for children who do not go home for the holiday.
This month’s Jottings features
Lauren and Mark Sell and family of
1111 Hickory Bottom Road, Woodbury.
Each month one member or family from
St. John’s is asked to write about themselves
so that we all may get to know each other better.
Who We Are
Mark and Lauren both grew up in the Cove area and attended Northern Bedford County School District. Mark, son of Richard and Cindy Sell, was raised just north of Woodbury and attended the Woodbury Church of the Brethren. Lauren, daughter of Rick and Beverly Smith, grew up near Bakers Summit and attended St. John’s Reformed Church. Although they never dated in high school, they did participate in several activities together, such as AYSO soccer, track and field, chorus, and playing trombone in the band. It wasn’t until Mark was through college at Penn State University and Lauren was through her undergraduate studies at St. Francis University that they started dating after being set up by family members. They were married on May 21, 2011 and now reside in Woodbury.
Mark began taking flying lessons while still in high school and soloed a plane before driving a car by himself. After graduating in 2002, he attended Penn State University where he obtained a degree in Agricultural and Biological Engineering. Mark has worked at the McLanahan Corporation in Hollidaysburg since graduation and has since earned his Professional Engineering license. His work at McLanahan includes designing manure systems for sand-bedded dairy farms. Customers that he works with are located as near as Spruce Creek and as far away as Uruguay and Japan, and farm sizes range from 180 cows to 8,000 or more. Mark’s hobbies and interests include anything that will fly, hunting, target shooting, fishing, canoeing, and picking banjo. A childhood dream of Mark’s was to restore his dad’s 1946 2-seat airplane. In April 2017, after 10 years of hard work, that dream came to fruition with Mark at the controls for the test flight.
After graduating from high school in 2004, Lauren attended St. Francis University and completed her studies in 2010 with a Doctor of Physical Therapy degree. She is now employed by Home Nursing Agency. Based out of the Roaring Spring office, she travels to her patients’ homes and coordinates care with other therapists and nurses for patients who have recently experienced illness or hospitalization. Lauren can be found mostly in Martinsburg and Roaring Spring, but can travel anywhere in the surrounding counties.
In 2012, Lauren traveled to the Dominican Republic with a group from St. Francis University on a missions trip to provide physical therapy services and educate staff in local clinics on current practice. Despite intentions to educate others, she also had her eyes opened to life outside of the Cove and the United States of America. Lauren doesn’t have many hobbies, as her time is consumed with working full-time and caring for her family. Music, however, has always been an interest of hers.
Mark and Lauren have two children. Dana Mae was born on July 22, 2015, and has been keeping them busy ever since. Dana, like her mother at that age, loves her doll babies and can usually be found carrying at least one of them around. She attends daycare most days through the week, but enjoys when Grammy Smith comes over to watch her. She also likes going to the farm and taking buggy rides with Pappy Smith as well as playing with her cousins, Mikayla and Joelle.
Their most recent addition, Luke Richard, was born on Aug. 11, 2018, at UPMC Altoona. He weighed 8 lbs. 2 ozs. and was 20 inches long. Mark and Lauren haven’t had much time to learn what he is interested in yet, besides eating, sleeping, and being outside, but they are sure that his likes will include airplanes and tractors. Dana loves her little brother, and Grammy and Pappy Smith are glad to finally have a grandson to spoil.
Mark and Lauren find fulfillment in attending St. John’s due to the small church atmosphere and friendly faces. The strong, Biblical teaching in church and Sunday School is of utmost importance as well. In addition, it is nice to worship and learn with others at similar places in their walk of life. Last, but not least, they are thankful for the children’s ministry to help their children grow to know the Lord.
Guild to Meet Sept. 7; Salad Supper Oct. 4
The next Women's Guild meeting is Friday, Sept. 7, at 6:30 p.m. in the fellowship room. Peg Wachter will lead the program. Sandy Styer, Jeanne Detwiler and Molly Shirk are the hostesses. All are welcome and encouraged to attend. We enjoy our little visitors too, so bring your kiddos along!
The Ladies Salad Supper will be held Thursday Oct. 4. Please bring a salad and a friend.
Homewood Aux. Fall Meeting and Bazaar Set
The Homewood Auxiliary Fall Meeting will be held at 10:30 a.m. on Friday, Sept. 21, at the Givler Cultural Center on the Martinsburg campus with lunch and a program.
This meeting kicks off the 2019 membership campaign. This is a great way to become acquainted with the amazing work the auxiliary does to support various programs that make Homewood such a nice place to live. Members who attend will hear about auxiliary-funded purchases, future projects and Homewood's volunteer program. Information will be available on a sub sale in November and the 2019 silent auction.
Contact June Mountain or call Debbie Pierce at 793-1350 to make a reservation for the fall meeting. The lunches are delicious, the program informative and entertaining, and the fellowship with Homewood residents and church members is always good! Please RSVP no later than Friday, Sept. 14, to Debbie Pierce.
Fall Bazaar Set for Oct. 4 and 5
The annual Fall Bazaar will be held on Thursday and Friday, Oct. 4 and 5 – both days from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. All proceeds from the bazaar benefit Homewood residents. Please see June Mountain or call Debbie Pierce at 793- 1350 to donate baked goods, volunteer to help at the event or to be a vendor.
Lifetree Café Helps Folks Deal with Problems
Faith United Methodist Church of Woodbury is sponsoring Lifetree Café on Thursday evenings, starting at 6 p.m. in the Woodbury Café (former Lutheran Church, across the street from the Methodist Church).
A film will be shown each evening, dealing with various life problems. The gatherings are free to the public. Dates and topics are as follows:
•Sept. 6 — Living a Rich Life, Finding Meaning and Purpose
•Sept. 13 — The Art of Listening, An Act of Love
•Sept. 20 — Miracles or Mere Coincidences? Does Everything Happenfor a Reason?
•Sept. 27 — When Anxiety Strikes, Compassion, Peace and Understanding
•Oct. 4 — A Family Divided, Finding Peace by Letting Go
Gavin Gilbert Writes from Army Post in Germany
I am truly grateful for the newsletter you sent to me. Seeing pieces of home in my mailbox brings me greater joy than you could imagine. In the email to follow, I'll detail some of my adventure with the Army as well as some of the things I have going on away from “the office.”
I've been in a town called Vilseck, Germany, since early March of this year, serving with the 2nd Cavalry regiment as a combat medic. Living abroad has been an incredible opportunity that has exposed me to innumerable experiences that I would not have been likely to have otherwise.
In my short time here, I've trained with 13 different militaries in 5 different countries: Germany, Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, and Georgia. Of these, I'd have to say my time in Georgia has been the most eye-opening. Because of it's proximity to Russia, Turkey and Iran, Georgia has been war torn and was at war with Russia as recently as 2008. Because of this, living conditions there are in stark contrast to those which we enjoy in the United States. The smallest gesture or friendly interaction with myself or other soldiers was a genuine pleasure to the locals and it certainly didn't hurt our morale, either. To me, this is a testament to the human race’s awesome ability to see past trouble and appreciate the positive happenings of life, no matter how seemingly insignificant — and I think everybody can take a page from that book.
Otherwise, my position as a medic has been fulfilling. Helping the guys around me “stay in the fight” is a responsibility I'm proud to have. The Army has been very good to me both personally and professionally, and I'm happy with my choice to commit some of my life to it.
Personally, I recently got engaged to Cassidy Donaldson, and I couldn't be happier or more excited about it. Cassidy is a superb individual who shares my love for God and people and is more than okay with adventure (as one has to be when related to the military). We plan on wedding during the summer of 2019, but haven't been able to set a date as of yet because of the fluidity of an Army training schedule. Going forward, I couldn't be more confident than I am with Cassidy at my side.
I've also started school in my off time, and I'm working on an application to volunteer for the Army Religious Support Program with my on-post chapel.
I can't wait to be home, whenever that may be. I'll be sure to come home to St. John’s when I'm able, and hope to see everybody's smiling faces soon!
If you have any questions or just want to talk and catch up, feel free to reach out! Here is my contact information; don't hesitate to contact me!
CMR 411 Box 5615
APO, AE 09112
Facebook: Gavin Gilbert
Back to School Picnic Held
A back-to-school picnic was held Sunday evening, Aug. 19, in the church pavilion.
The church provided hamburgers and hot dogs and the Gable family provided corn on the cob.
Following the meal Pastor Dave gave a short talk to the children and youth about school and the importance of keeping Christian values in their minds and actions. He and others joined hands in a circle to pray for the students and school staff and asked God to be with them as they return to classes on Aug. 22 and throughout the school year.
Games were provided for all ages. Young people and adults joined in volleyball while youngsters enjoyed blowing giant bubbles and playing other games.
Guild Meets for Picnic at Mava Cottle’s 
A lovely evening guild meeting was held on Thursday, Aug. 22, at Mava Cottle's home. We began in a circle around the campfire – a wonderful place to spend a summer evening. Brenda presented a “God Goes Where You Go” devotion by Martha Noebel which reminded us how comforting it is to know God is there for us in the situations of life.
Martha’s lesson focused on Isaiah 43:1-3, 13 – but now the Lord who created you says: “Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you. I have called you by name; you are mine. When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of distress, you will not be burned. The flames will not consume you. For I am the LORD, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior. From eternity to eternity I am God. No one can snatch anyone out of my hand. No one can undo what I have done.” He walks with us every moment of every day.
Brenda particularly was touched with Martha's statement – “The devil can't stand it when we, in confidence, speak God's Word.” Brenda concluded by saying, “God has made it possible for you to know Him and experience an amazing change in your life.” The group shared times we felt God's presence and mighty power in our lives. Brenda offered prayer and blessing on the food.
A short business meeting was held. The guild is serving Mava Cottle's high school reunion on Sept. 8 – a noon meal. There will be 33 guests. Barb Thomas volunteered to co-chair with Mava. We will appreciate your donations and help as possible.
Barb Thomas explained the craft ideas at this fall's 4-C's Ladies Retreat Sept. 14 & 15. Myra Whysong-Krentz is putting together the materials for a craft that will be constructed in stages following the various sessions. Barb is gathering dry ingredients for a Bean & Barley Soup Mix as our mission craft that can be given to someone in need or made at home and shared in containers to others. Whether you are attending the retreat or not, she would appreciate donations of the ingredients. See Barb for a list. It's not too late to sign up for the retreat. See Barb for registration forms.
Mava and Brenda, assisted by Peg Crawford, served a delicious picnic supper – Sloppy Toms, beans, corn on the cob, broccoli salad, jello salad, cookies, watermelon, cupcakes on a stick, sugared nuts and more. Even better was being together around Mava's picnic table. There were eight in attendance.
Pastor's Report on CCCC Annual Gathering
PeggyAnne and I attended the CCCC Annual Gathering at Gordon College in Wenham, Mass. We were especially excited about this Annual Gathering because 1) It was near where we attended seminary at Gordon-Conwell (GCTS), where two of our children were born. We revisited some memorable hiking trails around scenic ponds in the area. 2) The keynote speakers, Tom Johnston and Mike Perkinson, have been profoundly insightful Biblical teachers every time we heard or read their work previously. They did not disappoint. I shared a glimpse of their teaching in the September devotional message. (Page 1)
Our Conservative Congregational Christian Conference (CCCC) is governed by a Board of Directors. Conference Minister Ron Hamilton reported that “the biggest component of the work of the Board is prayer, and there was much prayer at this year’s meetings, which encourages me greatly. There was prayer over God’s direction and vision, prayer over our churches and their ministries, prayer over each staff member and their work for the coming year, and prayer for Board members and specific needs as they arose. It was a blessing for me to see the hearts of this Board and their utter dependence on Christ as they serve and lead the mission of the conference,” Dr. Hamilton concluded.
Our Board President, Matt Milligan reported that the Stewardship Committee introduced a new effort to develop resources to support the ministry of the CCCC at the Annual Gathering. The theme of this effort aligns with our guiding value of Shared Life and Shared Mission. Peter Balentine, chair of the Stewardship Committee, presented this effort with an appeal to view the ministry of our fellowship as a mission and to support the CCCC through our church’s Mission budget. We were reminded of the words of William Carrey, known as “the father of modern missions,” who said, “Expect great things from God, attempt great things for God.”
The Conservative Congregational Christian Conference was formed to support the mission of member churches and pastors. The purpose of our ministry is clear:
1. To promote the worship of God in our churches.
2. To deepen and extend the fellowship of our churches
3. To encourage a steadfast, Biblical witness by our churches.
4. To facilitate cooperation and counsel among our churches with regard to evangelism, edification, Christian education, stewardship, missions, church extension, Christian action, women’s and men’s fellowships, youth activities, the pastoral ministry, and other related concerns.
5. To preserve and promote the Scriptural principles of the autonomy of the local church and the freedom of the believer in Christ.
I encourage you to pray for the mission of the CCCC and to actively support our ministry. Financial support of our Conference should not be viewed as “dues.” In contrast, these gifts should be viewed as an investment in the mission of the church.
In other mission work, we were reminded that World Relief is a Christian mission that grew out of Park Street Church, a prominent CCCC church in Boston. World Relief was established with the belief that the church can change the world. In this increasingly secular society, our Christian mission speaks compellingly about the heart of Christ-followers to a skeptical world. As Evangelicals, we not only meet physical needs, but also give testimony to Christ as we serve. We need to keep our mission emphasis ever before us.
We heard from Etienne Nahimana, a CCCC church planter in Maine who was born in Burundi. Yes, Africa is sending missionaries to the United States. Etienne was planting churches in Burundi when his rivals conspired to turn his own people against him, not just to drive him out, but to kill him. He fled to Rwanda where he learned to forgive his persecutors. He planted two churches there in Rwanda, then came to the USA to plant churches for African immigrants living in Maine. He made this observation, “When the church focuses on what God is focusing on, the church grows. In acts 16 Paul confronts the spirit of divination – which in Jesus’ Name is overcome to set prisoners free. Likewise we need to be alert to the cultural mores that indicate unbiblical powers, or strongholds to target in our prayers for God to disarm and conquer.”
Gathering with like-minded believers in terms of essential Christian doctrine, yet diverse in many secondary ways reaffirms the benefit of our associating with one another, sharing wisdom and experience. PeggyAnne and I met for the first time with a pastor and his wife. They were about our age. He has been serving the same church for 25 years in a setting very different from our rural Pennsylvania region. The situation is such that he is seeking a new ministry opportunity. This pastor, with such solid experience and fruitful, devoted ministry in the same place for 25 years should be easy to place. However, many search committees narrow their search for pastors between the ages of 30 and 50. In this case, after our breakfast conversation and time of prayer, I mentioned his situation to a pastoral colleague, Peter, who was in my graduating class at GCTS. Peter happens to be the area representative in this fellow’s neighboring region. Peter mentioned an open church that would be well served by this man’s experience and gifts. We continue to pray for this situation, with the assurance of God’s sovereign leading.
Inspiring worship, accompanied by keyboards and a praise band supplemented with trumpets, saxophones and more, opened each of our sessions together.
At this Annual Gathering we welcomed perhaps the largest group of new pastors into the CCCC in recent years – including two from the Allegheny Fellowship (our Western PA regional fellowship): Andrew Pepe (Butler) and Robert Nash (McClure).
Peter Wood, our CCCC Director of Conference Care, reminded us that congregationalism is a gathering of people – each member with one vote. However, congregationalism is not a democracy, nor is it “the will of the people.” Rather, it is a theocracy, where together we seek to hear from the Lord and discern His will and His leading.
Next year our Annual Gathering will be at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minn., July 9- 12, 2019.
Respectfully submitted,
David Meckley, Pastor 
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