Thirsting for God
"The wind blows wherever it wants. Just as you can hear the wind but can’t tell where it comes from or where it is going, so you can’t explain how people are born of the Spirit.” – John 3:8 NLT
As I write this, a spiritual awakening has been taking place at Asbury University in Wilmore, Kentucky for over a week now. Timothy Tennent, President of Asbury University, says what is happening there "is like stepping into a flowing spiritual river. You sense the presence and power of God working in people’s lives." He prefers to call this an "Awakening" rather than a "Revival". He notes what is happening there is characteristic of "any authentic revival: people repenting of their sins; people being filled with the Holy Spirit; men and women finding reconciliation with God and their neighbor; people capturing a renewed love for Jesus, the gospel and the Holy Scriptures." J. Edwin Orr, the renown revival historian, observed that we really don’t understand what we are praying for when we pray for revival – we think we are praying for ecstasy, and yes, joy is a by-product of revival. But true revival doesn’t begin in ecstasy, it begins with agony - the agony of true repentance. It doesn’t begin with laughter but with tears. Repentance is more than feeling sorry for our sin, but also seeking God’s help to utterly rid sin from our lives.
Tennent rightly cautions that only in hindsight can one determine if something is actually a revival. What constitutes a revival is a changed lifestyle, the fruit of repentance over time. This is consistent with what Jonathan Edwards, Congregational preacher during The First Great Awakening in this country, wrote on true revival: "It is the mature fruit which comes afterwards, and not the beautiful colours and smell of the blossoms, that we must judge by."
Asbury University and Seminary continue to meet for class. Dr. Tennent says this “is not because we are in a ‘business as usual’ mode. Far from it.” This awakening is essentially all people talk about - both on and off campus. He continues, “We all love mountaintop experiences, but we also know that it must be lived out in all the normal rhythms of life. We have to live into this desperation for God to do what we cannot do. We have to live into transformed relationships.
We have to live into new patterns of life and worship. In short, we must embrace what it means to really live as Christians in the midst of a church culture which has largely domesticated the gospel beyond recognition. We will know that revival has truly come to us when we are truly changed to live more like [Christ] at work, at study, at worship, and at witness.”
May God grant each of us a spiritual thirst for that living water Christ alone supplies, not only to refresh us, but to also transform us to be more and more like our Redeemer, as we live for Him each day.
Dave Meckley, Pastor
We are hosting our 2023 VBS from August 7 to 11, with a possible service day on Friday, August 11, in collaboration with In One Accord Ministries (formerly Love Inc). They will also be our featured ministry for any funds raised.
We will serve students from 3 (if potty-trained) to 12, with older students serving as "camp counselors" for younger age groups. The exception, as has long been the case, is for volunteers' children, who are welcome in the nursery, if they're old enough to be in Miss Beth's Sunday School class.
This curriculum will require more innovation and planning on our part, as it is not a traditional VBS bundle. Consequently, those signing up to lead any portion of VBS will be included in a collaborative leadership committee to plan decorations, snacks, music, openings, games, and teaching. Those who sign up for the leadership committee (this includes lead teachers for each age group) will begin meeting monthly in April, and then more frequently as we draw nearer, likely by Google video meeting. If you have concerns about meeting through video, then please reach out to me.
If you're interested in volunteering, then please fill out this form or sign up on a paper version, on the table at the back of the church.
- Leah Salyards, VBS Director
Last Supper to be Recreated on Maundy Thursday
Maundy Thursday is April 6. This is the occasion when Jesus shared His Last Supper with His disciples before He suffered. We plan to recreate that experience by hosting s Seder meal in our Fellowship Hall, with insight from this side of Christ’s resurrection, in order to discern the various ways that this Seder meal points to Christ, our Passover Lamb.
Heidelberg Catechism Classes Continue
Heidelberg Catechism study meets Tuesdays at 6 p.m. in the copy room with Pastor Dave.
Pick Up a ‘Daily Bread’; Take One to a Shut-in
Copies if Our Daily Bread are available on the welcome table. This is a daily devotional guide for the months of March, April and May, provided by the Women’s Guild. The first lesson is “Finding Rest in Jesus.”
Hoss’s Supporting CEF With Feb. 26 Fund-Raiser
Child Evangelism Fellowship of PA and Hoss’s Steak & Sea Houses are teaming up on a fund-raiser Sunday, Feb. 26. Folks who pick up a copy of the Hoss’s flyer from the welcome table and shows it while ordering at Hoss’s in Altoona, Duncansville or Bedford on that date will have 20-25% of their check to be returned to CEF.
Congregational Meeting Well Attended
The annual Congregational Meeting was held on Jan. 29, in the fellowship hall of the church. We have been blessed that our attendance continues to grow, and we are averaging 60 people per week for worship, which places us in the median
range nationally. Although we are growing our work is not yet done. Sometimes something as simple as an invitation to attend our service is all that is necessary for someone new to come and see what we have to offer as a church family.
Cathy Snider reviewed the proposed budget for the fiscal year 2023. The budget of $116,384.41 was voted on and unanimously approved. This includes an increase in operating costs from $5,000 to $10,000. These are funds the Consistory can use for projects without seeking approval from the congregation.
The Congregation agreed that we request a refund from Baker’s Waterproofing after Pepple’s Excavating came in with a bid of $9,500 to put in a French drain, seal the foundation, remove and replace the sidewalks, stone removal, new down spouting and the removal of the back porch. This bid also eliminates any indoor work and will save the church the cost of installing wains-coating. At this writing the new drainage system is completed, however as with all projects there were a few glitches. The foundation of the original church had some gaping holes in it and needed to be filled with concrete and then sealed which is done.
The back porch on the Sunday School Annex, facing the parsonage, was rotted and needs to be replaced. That will be done within the next week or two weather pending. The cost of the drainage system came in at approximately $11,200 after the repairs to the foundation. The cost of the supplies for the new porch came in at $2,900. We do not yet have an estimate for the labor to rebuild. We are projecting the reseeding of the yards to begin in March. Baker’s Waterpoofing refunded 100% of our deposit.
St. John’s 175th anniversary is May 27, 2023 and an anniversary committee consisting of Julie Russell, David Snyder, Peg Wachter, Berneta Gable and Joel Ritchey was selected to come up with ideas for a celebration. They will meet this month and present initial ideas to the Consistory for revision and approval on March 2, 2023. The audio/visual committee is also accelerating its work and will be meeting this month to determine our movement forward with this project.
The congregation voted to support the following missions for the coming year. The Chinese Ministry, Samaritan’s Purse, the Berean Bible Chapel of Butler PA, and Central Africa Vision. Each will receive $1,000. The congregation also voted to continue support of the Child Evangelism Fellowship and the Breezewood Trucker/Traveler Ministry. Each will receive $500. It was recommended we increase our giving to Homewood and Hoffman Homes for Youth. Since these are not missions but organizations St. John’s has supported for years, the Consistory will discuss this request to increase as part of the budget.
Julie Russell was re-elected as Deacon and Beth Clark as Elder. However, a personal note: Our By-Laws require we elect a Deacon and an Elder each year. This year both Julie and Beth were up for re-election and I mistakenly stated that Beth was up for re-election as an Elder. That was my mistake. Beth has been a deacon for years and after speaking with her about what happened she has requested she remain a deacon. At the next consistory meeting I will recommend we change the By-Laws to read that we elect two persons to the consistory each year. If approved by the consistory we will bring it up for a vote at our next congregational meeting. I will also recommend Beth remain a deacon. I apologize for my mistake and any confusion it has caused.
Under New Business we informed the congregation that we are looking at a list of items the CCCCs sent us to improve some safety measures for the church as well as some items we may need to address concerning some possible legal and liability issues. Most of the items on the list do not pertain to us or we already have them in place.
--Submitted by Joel Ritchey, Consistory President
4 Youth Confirmed Feb. 19
Four young people were received into St. John’s Congregation during a Confirmation Service Feb. 19. Posing with Pastor Meckley are (left to right) Blaire and Bella Gable, daughters of Aaron and Amy Gable; Deegan Wertz, son of Corey and Karey Wertz; and Ella May Snyder, daughter of Adrian and Kristin Snyder. All the parents and many grandparents were in attendance. Each confirmand was presented with a certificate and a study Bible.
FOOD PANTRY LISTS MARCH REQUESTS
The Northern Bedford Food Pantry is requesting instant hot cereals (cream of wheat/Quaker instant oatmeal) for the month of March. Also laundry detergent and dish detergent (sm & med sizes)
Guild Plans Mar. 14 Kitchen Cleanup; Mar. 17 Meeting
The Women’s Guild met Feb. 10. at 6 p.m. PeggyAnne organized a wonderful (unrehearsed!) skit as her program. Beth Clark and Barb Thomas portrayed secret agents on a mission to learn more about Jesus as they interviewed Nicodemus (Marsie Albright), Thomas (Beverly Smith), Peter (Sandy Styer) and Barnabas (Peg Wachter). Barb’s secret agent character was equipped with lots of “secret agent gadgetry” such as a shoe phone, computer headband and a talking pen (Kim Rodgers). It was an amusing yet inspiring skit reminding us that Jesus was born to save. He fulfilled His mission, He gave us a mission to share the gospel, and He calls us to work TOGETHER! We concluded with a chorus of “We Are the Church!”
Barb opened the business meeting with a reading of the minutes and treasurer’s report. We reviewed recent actions. Ladies Bible study is off to good start. “Beauty for Ashes” retreat has 29 ladies registered, with Carol Demerer and assistants making the total almost 40 for the day. Lent devotion books purchased by the guild are available on the welcome table. Lorie gave a summary of Valentine Donation Dinner plans (see separate story). Fifty-eight have signed up to partake. Marsie and Tina will feed and entertain 12 children upstairs. We are grateful for your support in our local mission projects.
We were blessed with a donation from the youth Sunday school class toward future missions, which they raised through the winter candy bar sale. We agreed to serve meals as needed for upcoming church events if asked. The Sept. 8 meeting has been changed to Sept. 15. We have designated Tuesday, March 14, as kitchen clean-up day, beginning at 8:30 a.m. Volunteers are welcome to come for whatever time they have available, and we can use men as well as women! Boxes and totes you no longer need may be helpful also. We hope to expand our efforts into surrounding areas, cleaning out closets and cabinets, if time allows.
Our next meeting is March 17, 6 p.m. Peggy Ritchey and Kim Rodgers will do both the program and provide refreshments. They have depicted many women of the Bible, as well as other characters and moments in history throughout the past years. Assuredly they will have a special evening planned for us again. You don’t want to miss it!
--Respectfully submitted, Barb Thomas, president
COVE COMM. STUDENTS TO MEET IN RS
Cove Community Students will be meeting at the Arch in Roaring Spring during the month of March. The address there is 714 Rockingham Avenue. We will meet from 6-8 p.m. each Sunday.
Dave Scott, leader
Fine Dining on Valentine’s Day — Right Here!
Approximately 50 diners and 9 takeouts enjoyed our Feb. 14 Valentine Donation Dinner, sponsored by the Women’s Guild. Lorie LaSala, assisted by husband Bruce, prepared delicious soups, entrees and sides for exquisite four-course meals. Diners could choose between coleslaw or salad, french onion, beef/barley or chicken rice soup, and five varieties of chicken meals, two types of quiche, three varieties of marinated beef brisket meals or beef bourguignon, with nine choices of sides. Volunteers made desserts – brownies/ice cream, apple pie, raspberry cream pie or coconut cake.
Deb Bowser, Chelsea Kurtz and Barb Thomas waitressed. Jack Styer and Denny Holderbaum served as hosts. Sandy Styer and Linda Henderhan washed many stacks of dishes, pots and pans.
We received very generous donations with a profit of nearly $1,400, which will support both local and distant missions. Thank you to all who attended, participated and donated to this special event. Love comes from God!
--Submitted by Barb Thomas
Wonderful Turnout for ‘Beauty for Ashes’ Retreat
We had a wonderful turnout for our first “Beauty for Ashes” women’s retreat on Saturday, Feb. 18. Twenty-seven participants, representing at least 10 churches, listened as Beauty for Ashes leader Carol Deremer and five group leaders (all from Chestnut Ridge Independent Fellowship Church) led us in the purpose of restoring and inspiring women to be Christ’s ambassadors for change, healing and freedom in our homes, churches and communities. Group leaders were Autumn Claycomb, Melissa Crist, Patty Larson, Vickie Sellers, and Vickie Seymour. Mrs. Sellers also led praise and worship music.
St. John’s Reformed ladies provided a continental breakfast of juice, coffee, hot tea, fruit, yogurt, granola and pastries. Carol and her team led us through scripture, activities, group discussions, skits worship music. We explored our view of God, our identity in Christ, and our worth to Him – so valuable He sent Jesus to save us. One lesson encouraged us to recognize whatever sin, shame, season of loneliness, or lies we are hiding. Another session delved deep into forgiveness, which can be difficult, but it is a valuable treasure that brings riches and peace to our lives, whether it is forgiveness from God, forgiveness of others, or forgiveness for ourselves.
The Women’s Guild served a delicious lunch consisting of homemade soups, sandwiches, salad, cheese balls and cakes, supplemented with the morning’s fruit and pastries. We were blessed to have a safe place to be real with ourselves and one another, to commit our lives to serving God, and to build hope and seek truth in scripture, bonding in a community of like-minded women. Everyone has a story. Be willing to share yours!
--Respectfully submitted, Barb Thomas
SS Seeks to Fill Easter Baskets for Hospitalized Children
Elias “Eli” Garrett was a loving 3-year-old in Roaring Spring when he lost his courageous and long battle with Non-Hodgkins T-Cell Lymphoma on May 7, 2009, 10 days before his 4th birthday. Eli’s father formed “Easter for Eli” Foundation (non-profit 501-c-3) in his memory, delivering baskets to children’s hospitals, Ronald McDonald Houses and other families in need, along with gift cards for fuel, travel, and online purchases during hospital stays. In over eight years EFE has filled 54 Children’s Hospitals and 14 Ronald McDonald houses with 60,000 baskets and $58,000 in gift cards.
The goal this year is to deliver 10,000 baskets and $10,000 in gift cards, Unfortunately, the response has been low this year as they navigate Covid protocols and economic difficulties. You can help! Linda Henderhan, great aunt to this precious child, Eli Garrett, will deliver our baskets to her nephew for Easter for Eli. Other drop offs are available throughout the area also, such as the Kountry Kettle Restaurant, Turkey Hill, Klassy Kuts, Dick’s Home Care, Copy-Rite and Banner Zone, Base Camp Guns, Thomas Chevrolet and Serenity Salon. Donations are due by March 15 to available drop offs. To assist Linda in delivering your basket, please have it at the church by March 12 if possible or make other arrangements with Linda.
A supply of plastic baskets has been left in the church basement for your use. Click the link below for more information:
Hoss's Fundraiser for IOA
In One Accord Ministries (formerly LOVE Inc.) will hold a fund-raiser in cooperation with Hoss’s Steak & Sea House, Bedford location, on Sunday, March 12. Foks wishing to dine at Hoss’s that date in support of IOA must pick up a Cash Cow Card from the welcome table, and show it when placing your order or paying your bill. Hoss’s will donate 20% to IOA.
Drivers Needed for Med. Patients
In One Accord Ministries (formerly Love Inc.) is looking for drivers to transport clients to medical appointments, etc. If you can help, please contact Aimee Steed at 814-652-0025.
-- Submitted by Peg Wachter