Keep the Faith when Facing Harsh Pruning
“I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” – John 15:5 NIV
I remember years ago visiting a family that loved to garden. The husband had just pruned their grape arbor – hard. I mean, there was barely the stump left. His wife and I wondered aloud if the vine could recover from such a severe pruning. In the months that followed, that vine blossomed
and flourished, producing large, succulent grapes.
Maybe you have had a time when you felt “cut down to size” by life’s circumstances. When people experience set-backs, some are quick to point to the devil’s work. I am well aware of the "enemy of our souls" and his schemes. However, I choose to give glory to God and remain in Him.
Knowing God is sovereign, I look first to what God is doing, how God is in this, and endeavor to join Him and follow His lead. When I look to God, I am reminded in Scripture that He is our hope, and in Him is our purpose for living. God’s Holy Spirit gives me fresh perspective to face life’s prunings with the assurance that God is working out His larger purpose in me and
in this situation. We look to Jesus, who is not only our strength, but our very life source. Apart from Jesus, we can do nothing.
The Psalmist says, “Glorify the Lord with me and let us exalt His name together!” (Psalm 34:3) Even in the face of set-backs, when we experience profound hurt, or feel isolated, look to God and discern His Presence and working in your situation. Pruning is not punishment, although it can feel like it sometimes. In fact, pruning is what God does with fruitful branches. As Jesus says, “while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.” (John 15:2b)
Remaining in Christ is our best response to whatever we face in life.
For His Glory,
Time to Take Down the Christmas Decorations
Help is needed at 2 p.m.Sunday, Jan. 5, to remove the Christmas tree from the sanctuary and take down the other Advent decorations and put them in the attic for another year.
Besides the “regulars,” only a few volunteers showed up to help put up the tree and other decorations before the start of Advent. The “regulars” include the Rodgers family and the Thomas family. Show them you care by showing up on the afternoon of the 5th! --David Snyder
Bible Study to Resume
Sunday evening Bible Study with Pastor Dave will resume Jan. 12, meeting at 6 p.m. in the church basement. All are welcome. The study of John’s Gospel will continue.
Ministerium Sets Pulpit Exchange, Hymn Sing
The Southern Cove/Yellow Creek Ministerium has planned its annual pulpit exchange and hymn sing for Sunday, Jan. 26. For morning worship that Sunday, Pastor Mick Dawes of Faith United Methodist Church, Woodbury, will preach here at St. John’s. Pastor Dave will preach at the German Seventh Day Baptist Church of Salemville on Sabbath, Jan. 25.
On Sunday evening, Jan 26, a community musical worship service has been scheduled at the Woodbury Church of the Brethren. An offering at the service will be split between Freedom House (Chalybeate Rd., Bedford) and Meals on Wheels of Bedford County.
Any choir or individual wishing to provide a selection during the service is asked to contact Rev. David Ulm, host pastor, by Jan. 15.
Congregational Meeting Sun., Feb. 9
St. John’s annual congregational meeting will be held the afternoon of Sunday, Feb. 9, following a carry-in fellowship meal at noon. [On
that Sunday the times for worship and Sunday School will be reversed, with Sunday School at 9:30 and worship at 10:45.] All members are
urged to attend both the meal and the meeting.
Joel Ritchey, consistory president, will preside at the meeting and Pastor Dave will give his annual report. A budget for 2020 will be presented and acted upon. One elder and one deacon will be elected.
Members will have an opportunity to bring up matters that they feel the congregation should discuss. See Joel in advance to get your topic
on the agenda. Reports will be given by the church treasurer and the treasurers of the Women’s Guild and the Sunday School.
Carolers Visit Shut-ins
Mava Cottle, Bruce and Lorie LaSala, Pastor Dave and PeggyAnne Meckley, Joel Ritchey and Barb Thomas enjoyed an evening of caroling and visitation on Dec. 17.
The group began with the homes of June and Charlie Mountain, Peg Wachter, Nancy Detwiler and John Thomas.
Peggy Ferry and Linda Pressel were next at the Graystone in Roaring Spring.
A stop was made at The Village to see Mava's sister-in-law, Phyllis Detwiler.
At Homewood, the carolers were treated to “White Christmas,” played by Gloria Baker on her organ. Goodies were left in Anne Detwiler's apartment as she was not home. A lovely visit was hadwith Mildred (Mid) Smith and a stop was made with Florence Ritchey.
Cards, calendars, candy, Poinsettias and/or cookies were delivered to our shut-ins while carols were sung with all!
The evening ended with a nice time at Fox’s Pizza. “Won't you join us next year?” asks Barb Thomas, who organized the outing.
Consistory to Seek Architect’s Advice
The Consistory met on Dec. 12 in the copy room of the church. One of the first items attended was the approval to help a local family in need with a $500 gift. The treasurer will also transfer monies into our missions account to cover our pledges for the upcoming year.
Pastor Meckley requested time off on Jan. 5, and that request was approved. His son Mark will fill the pulpit that day. There is also a pulpit exchange on Jan. 26. Pastor Dave will preach at the German Seventh Day Baptist Church in Salemville while Pastor Mick Dawes of Faith United Methodist in Woodbury will come to St. John’s.
The board received several recommendations for a possible addition to the church. It was approved to have architect Bill Defibaugh consult with the Consistory to explore viable options for a project. We will be meeting with him in January and will report his findings to all at the annual meeting in February.
With our continued growth it was decided to update the church’s directory. Kim Rogers has agreed to take pictures for those who wish. The goal is to have it completed in time for the congregational meeting. Whether that is an achievable goal or not is the question. We will keep you updated on the short term through
announcements during church and, if necessary, with notices in the church bulletin.
Food for thought: Election of two consistory members will be held during the annual meeting. One for elder and one for deacon. Joel Ritchey is currently serving as elder and is up for re-election, however, Brenda Colyer offered her resignation as deacon. As in any election, both positions are available to be filled by anyone who feels the calling. We ask that you give prayerful consideration to serving. If you wish to serve please notify someone on the nominating committee (Pastor Dave, Cathy Snider, or Joel Ritchey).
We on the consistory pray you each had a blessed Christmas filled with God’s glory, and that you are covered in our Father’s grace and peace in the upcoming year.
Next meeting is Jan. 9 at 7 p.m. in the copy room of the church.
—Submitted by Joel Ritchey, consistory president
Youth SS Class to Handle Changing of Paraments
Deb Bowser and her youth Sunday School class have agreed to assume the responsibility of changing paraments (altar cloths) according to the church year.
The year begins with Advent, and the color of the paraments is blue. They change to white for Christmas and the first Sunday of Epiphany.
Throughout the year the colors change to purple for Lent; white for Easter; red for Pentecost, followed by green; red for Reformation Sunday and All Saints Sunday;
and back to blue for Advent.
Volunteers in the past have been June Mountain, Jeanne Detwiler and David Snyder.
Christmas Eve Candlelighting Service Well Attended
No official count was taken, but the Christmas Eve service this year drew the largest attendance since St. John’s began holding a 9 p.m. service to celebrate the coming of Christ.
As always, the service culminated in the lighting of individual candles and
the singing of “Silent Night” as those in attendance formed a circle around the
inside walls of the sanctuary. This year there were no “gaps” in the circle.
Readers of the Bible lessons regarding the prophecies and the birth of
Christ were interspersed with the singing of carols by all present plus special music. The special music was provided by Peggy and Joel Ritchey, singing “Beautiful Star of Bethlehem” and by Lorie LaSala and Bill Bishop, singing “O Holy Night.”
Readers were Mark Meckley, Aaron Gable, Rick Smith, Steve Rodgers,
Alaina Gates, Mallory Gates, and Bruce LaSala. Pastor Dave presented a
Christmas message before the candle-lighting.
2 Christmas Programs This Advent
Because of the growing number of children enrolled in Sunday School classes, it was decided this year to present the Christmas program twice instead of one evening program as done in the
The 10 a.m. program on Sunday Dec. 15 replaced both the regular worship service and Sunday School. Each of the children’s classes presented short skits/readings followed by singing by all
the classes. The choir then presented its cantata, “Holding on to Christmas,” during which the middle elementary class formed a manger scene as “Give Jesus My Heart” was sung by the choir.
The morning program was attended by 92 adults and 29 children. The evening program, which included a candle-lighting and the singing of “Silent Night” as the conclusion, attracted 58
adults and 16 children. These numbers include the participants.
The choir performed its cantata at Homewood on Dec. 3.
Teachers who assisted with the children’s portion of the program were Barb Thomas, Beth Clark, Abby Jasper, Sarah Gunnett, Connie and Aaron Ochoa, Erin Staudenbaur,
PeggyAnne Meckley, Kim Rodgers, Alaina Gates, Deb Bowser, Tina Gojeski, Chris Kurtz and Matt Nelson.
An offering of $249 was received at the evening program to benefit the stained-glass window restoration fund.
Christmas Communion Celebrated Dec. 22
Communion by intinction was celebrated at the close of the Dec. 22 worship service.
As decided by a vote of the congregation, communion at St. John’s is offered in three different way — at the altar rail, in the pews and by intinction.
Molly Shirk has volunteered to prepare the elements for communion. She
succeeds June Mountain.
Volunteers are urged to sign up on the volunteer calendar for greeters, music ministry and children’s messages.
The volunteer sign-up calendar is on the welcome table. If you have questions you may contact Joel Ritchey, greeter; Barb Thomas, music; or Beth Clark, children.
Children Gather around Santa at Guild Party Dec. 6
St. John’s Women’s Guild held its Christmas party Dec. 6 at the church. Santa (Joel R.) showed up to distribute gifts to the children who were there. A dinner was prepared and served by folks from the Bedford Forge United Methodist Church.
[Photo by Kim Rodgers]
Christina Lunardini in 3rd Deployment to Kwait
Christina Lunardini, daughter of Deborah Bowser, is mid-way through her third deployment to Kwait and her fifth deployment to the Middle East. She also has served with the Army in Iraq and Afghanistan. She grew up in Loysburg and attended local schools. She has served in the
military since 1996, most recently as part of a reserve unit in Coraopolis, where her rank is Chief Warrant Officer 3.
She and her husband, Steve, a retired lieutenant colonel, make their home in Washington, PA, when she is not on active duty. Christina’s birthday is Jan. 7. She would appreciate mail at any time. Her address:
CW3 Christina Lunardini, 1TSC — 103ESC, APO AE 09366.
Jan. 11 Recycle Day for in South Woodbury Township
On Jan. 11 the Bedford County Conservation District will have its mobile recycle collection bins at the South Woodbury Township Building, North Road, midway between Loysburg and New Enterprise. The bins are there throughout the month but the second Sataurday of each month is the last day people can deposit recyclables there before the bins are removed temporarily to a collection point and emptied. Persons can drop off newspapers; magazines; office paper/junk mail; flattened cardboard; plastic containers (rinsed, drained, lids off) with recycle numbers 1 & 2 (sorted in advance); bi-metal cans; aluminum cans; and glass jars and bottles (no window glass). Help unloading recyclables is available from 9 a.m. until noon on the second Saturday of each month.
Who We Are
This month’s Jottings features Linda Jean Pressel of Graystone
Court in Roaring Spring. Each month one family, couple or indi-
vidual from St. John’s is asked to write about themselves in the
newsletter so that we all may get to know each other better.
I was born on Feb. 23, 1943, to Albert and Pauline Reffner. From the Altoona Hospital they brought me home to Lafayetteville. When I was six we moved to a farm near the foot of Brumbaugh Mountain. I spent a wonderful childhood and teen years there. After my sister, Lois, was born my family began going to church at St. Johns. Rev. A.A. Hartman
baptized me. The church had a Youth Fellowship group. I remember hayrides, swimming parties, summer camp, Christmas programs, choir practice and car washes, along with Christian fun and fellowship.
I graduated from Northern Bedford County High School in May 1961 and married Kenneth R. Pressel in December 1961. We determined to go to his church, Trinity Lutheran in Woodbury. In later years we also attended the Barley Lutheran Church.
I worked at the New Enterprise Bank, Barkman Oil Co. and Walmart. I was privileged to be able to stay home with our sons, Mark and Brad, until they were both in grade school. We lived in Woodbury from November 1963 till summer of 1986. At that time we moved to
Salemville. In July 2014, we retired to the Graystone Court apartments, where I still reside. Ken passed away in March of 2017.
I have four grandsons: Allen, Kyle, Zachary and Taylor and one granddaughter, Cameron They are all adults now.
God has blessed me with:
•Very Good parents
•A good husband who was my other half for 55 years
•Two fine sons
•My first job (I did not apply for it)
•A new home at Woodbury
•My second job (I did not know of the opening)
•Our second home
•My third job (part-time only)
•Sale of our second home completed in God’s perfect timing
•God arranged for an apartment at Graystone (we were not on a
•Being able to care for Ken at home during his decline with aid from
Grane Hospice Care.
God has taught me to speak good, positive words and to speak to prob-
lems or illness using Jesus’ name, commanding resolution and healing.
And to pray God’s blessing into the lives of loved ones. I give praise and
thanksgiving to God for all he has done.
I now “work” at home with crafts while looking forward to my eternal
Choir Practice to Resume January 20
Choir practice will resume on Monday, January 20, at 6:30 sharp. All interested singers are welcome. Barb Thomas and Lorie LaSala are working together to select music and plan schedules.
Reserve 2020 Dates To Supply Altar Flowers
The altar flower calendar for 2020 hangs on the end of the display cabinet nearest to the door at the rear of the sanctuary. If you would like to reserve particular dates to donate altar flowers, write your name on the appropriate dates on the calendar.
Altar flowers are kept refrigerated between Sundays and last for three weeks. Beverly Smith is the new altar flower chairman, succeeding June Mountain. Persons with questions may contact Beverly.
A Sunday morning carrier is needed to help Charles Mountain bring the flowers from the basement refrigerator to the altar before each worship service, and taking them back to the refrigerator after each service.
Flowers can be ordered from any florist but must be billed to the donor, not the church. The donor also must make sure that the florist supplying the flowers has a pair of our vase liners to place the arrangement in.
Lions Sunday Brunch Jan. 5
The Cove Lions Club will hold its monthly Sunday Brunch from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Jan. 6 at the Lions Building in Loysburg. A variety of breakfast dishes are offered on an “all you care to eat” basis.