Guarding Against the Pollutants of Worldliness
I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth. He will not let your foot be moved; he who keeps you will not slumber. Behold, he who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. The Lord is your keeper; the Lord is your shade on your right hand. The sun shall not strike you by day, nor the moon by night. The Lord will keep you from all evil; he will keep your life. The Lord will keep your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forevermore. – Psalm 121
Here we go again! Last month the air quality warnings from the Canadian wildfires put a hazardous haze over this region – including here in The Cove! Still wary after all the "back and forth" over COVID warnings, I wondered if this warning should be taken seriously. I'm not as young as I used to be, yet the proposed restrictions seemed like an unwelcome intrusion into my plans and my life. I did make some adjustments, but, frankly, only to a point.
Now, as I reflect on that experience, I am haunted by how I – maybe you too, guard against the pollutants of worldliness that are all around us. As discerning Christians, we are able to detect the hazy evidence of many of these worldly toxins. Even so, do I excuse myself, thinking I'm not at risk like others I could name? What about the worldly influences that so resonate with my selfishness, prejudice or other biases that not only do I not guard against them, but actually embrace them?
How can I detect truly hazardous air quality? Miners would have canaries to warn them of toxins in the mine. My question is when the canary died, the miners got out – but how much damage had they already suffered? Unfortunately, the debilitating effects of those toxins took years to come to light. Does my indifference to toxic worldly influences reach a similar "point of no return" effect on my lifestyle or even my faith? How can I guard against such toxins – including those that escape my notice?
I look to God who created this world, who so loves this world that He gave His Son Jesus to redeem this fallen world. God, who is holy, is above even the highest heights of this world – meaning, He has a clear perspective that eludes us who live on earth. His Word in Scripture renews my thinking in clear, unpolluted ways of divine truth. His Holy Spirit searches my heart, and exposes my blind spots – whether directly, or through a trusted friend who loves me enough to tell me the truth. Let us look first – and often – to God's Word of Truth, as we renew our minds with His enduring wisdom in Scripture, meditating on His revealed truth, praying His Word back to Him, opening our hearts and minds to His Holy Spirit to expose any dark or vulnerable spaces, and praying with other Christ-followers. Let us live each day to His honor and glory!
Because He lives,
Dave Meckley, Pastor
CCCC Annual Gathering Report
David M. Meckley, Pastor
I am grateful for the opportunity to attend the Annual Gathering of the CCCC. 253 pastors, missionaries, chaplains and lay delegates registered for the CCCC Annual Gathering as we celebrated our 75th Anniversary as a Conference. To commemorate this anniversary, CCCC Historian Alwyn York and others updated the book: Modern Day Pilgrims: The History of the Conservative Congregational Christian Conference. Pastor Dave has a copy for anyone interested. This resource details "the wonderful foundation that was laid for our fellowship in the first fifty years of her existence. The Conference was founded with the purpose of maintaining the values of historic Biblical Congregationalism" (vii). A second volume was released that covers the last 25 years, highlighting the strategic way God has led us in carrying out His Kingdom purposes.
Our sessions opened with inspiring worship led by members of our Board of Directors and other gifted volunteers. We heard reports and approved the budget for the year ahead. Important connections with more of our CCCC churches are taking place thanks to the outreach of our Regional Pastors. Ray Delaurier, Regional Pastor for the Upper Midwest Region, addressed the delegation concerning this ministry. He noted that Acts 15:36 is the Biblical pattern we follow: “Let us return and visit the brothers in every city where we proclaimed the word of the Lord, and see how they are.” (Acts 15:36).
We notice conflict erupted between Paul and Barnabas. Providentially, this church conflict results in doubling the number of missionary teams! As this work continued, we read "So the churches were strengthened in the faith, and they increased in numbers daily." (Acts 16:5).
I continue to serve the CCCC as Area Pastor for The Allegheny Fellowship: Western Pennsylvania. We meet 3 or more times each year. Ray noted, "When pastors meet with other pastors they stay in the ministry longer." He also observed, "Pastors like to be alone - a lone wolf is a dangerous thing." I praise God for the good connections we maintain in the Allegheny Fellowship. We have four new pastors in our area. I worked with several of these churches, and realize an unhurried approach ultimately yielded better candidates.
Our keynote speaker was Pastor Dale Hummel. One insight he shared is how God created Adam, then Eve. They were created out of love, with love and for love. They were created out of truth, with truth, and for truth. All they did was out of love and in truth. That was the nature of God's good creation. That was all corrupted when the Serpent introduced lies in the place of truth, and lust in the place of love. Since The Fall, humans – including Christians – constantly struggle to see others, self, and life through the lens of love and truth, as we are bombarded by lust and lies. We reclaim Scriptures such as Philippians 4:8 which call us to focus our thoughts on "whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, … excellent, … or worthy of praise."
John Kimball, our Director of Church Development, spoke on the topic: Moving Forward together in a Challenging World. He noted that "Historically the church has always had the greatest impact when the world was in upheaval. Our greatest opportunities are available to us in this time. We are not to look for human solutions for what ails this world. The answer is Jesus – we need to make disciples." He led us through 2 Timothy 2:1-6 and called us to our primary task as a church: to make disciples. Disciples not only know the truth, but live it out in relationship with other believers. We can’t lead others in that transformation unless we are experiencing that transformation ourselves. This transformation leads us from duty to internal desire, where we are personally devoted to Jesus, His church and His mission. It was noted elsewhere that “the church does not have a mission; the Mission has a church.” Jesus' Great Commission is our priority.
There were numerous helpful workshops on topics such as: forgiveness, renewing your mind, the history of the CCCC, intercessory prayer, addressing change, grief and growth in your church, discipleship and many others.
It was noted that "Unity is not something we can take for granted." We were also called to pray – not only for people to come into the church, but also to be praying for the church to be prepared for the people who come in! Prayer is essential. One teacher asked God to "Forgive us for trying to do church in the strength of our flesh." He cited the churches in Revelation 2-3.
"They will know we are Christians by our love." Not every group at a hotel treats the staff well. However, the staff at our hotel warmed up to the CCCC delegation, as smiles emerged more and more each day, and some were open to hearing the Gospel shared by various delegates.
For a small denomination we have an exceptional number of chaplains: 58 Chaplains: 36 Active Duty chaplains, plus 22 retired chaplains. We have chaplains serving in all branches of the Armed Services, as well many not included in this count who serve as hospital chaplains, corporate chaplains, and in various community organizations.
The Cornerstone Corps receives a special offering each year to assist a CCCC church with building improvement projects.
Thank you again for the opportunity to represent St John's Reformed Church of Loysburg at the CCCC Annual Gathering. We can also send two lay delegates as well as an unlimited number of visitors to any Annual Gathering. In 2024 the AG will be in Warwick, RI July 29-August 1.
Dave Meckley, Pastor
Vacation Bible School Plans Set for Aug. 7-11
Vacation Bible School will start on Aug. 7, and the volunteers are excitedly preparing for a full week of games, snacks, lessons, crafts, and a field trip on Friday. Hours will be from 9:39 to 11 30 each morning.
Beth Clark will teach our youngest children, Barb Thomas and Sarah Gunnett will teach our preschoolers, PeggyAnne and EllaMae Barnwell will teach our younger elementary students, and Debbie Bowser and Laurie Stiles will teach our older elementary to early middle schoolers.
The VBS team is still collecting snack and craft supplies, with signup clipboards on the back table of the church.
Additionally, we're collecting individually-packaged snack foods, men's body wash, and bedroom slippers for the residents at Rebecca's Personal Care Home in Everett, where we will go on our Friday field trip, to sing and visit with the residents there. Those supplies can be placed in boxes at the back of the sanctuary.
Children can still register up through August 7 on our website or by submitting a paper registration form to Beverly Smith.
--Submitted by Leah Salyards
Special Offering for CCCC to Be Received July 30
As reported in last month’s Jottings, St. John’s Reformed is observing CCCC Sunday today, July 30, and will be receiving a special offering for the Conference. Offering envelopes are available next to the offering plate at the back of the sanctuary.
St. John’s gives about 2% of its operating budget to the CCCC. We are not assessed, but this is well below what any denomination asks of its member churches. We are a lean, frugal Conference that is able to do so much with so little thanks to God's abundant blessing.
10 Vols. Take Meals to Staudenbaurs after Baby Arrives
We had seven ladies from St. John’s take the Staudenbaur family meals following the birth of Laurel May Staudenbaur. Three other ladies who are friends of the family heard about the meal train and also took meals, bringing the total to ten meals for Staudenbaurs. Thank you to all the ladies who participated.
- Submitted by Joy Nelson
Guild Close to Providing Visitation Teams
The Women’s Guild met Friday, July 14 at 6 p.m. in the church Fellowship Hall. Deb Bowser was in charge of the program. She spoke about her church camp days at Blue Knob, playing games, sitting around the campfire and singing campfire songs. Lorie and Molly served delicious refreshments, lovely fresh vegetables and Hopewell Homestead deviled eggs by Lorie and yummy desserts by Molly.
Molly Shirk presided over the business meeting. The women are a step closer to providing visitation teams to shut ins and the sick. They will team up in pairs. Please see Beverly Smith if you are interested in being part of the team.
Kim Ritchey returned to cleaning the church on the week of June 26th. She thanks everyone who stepped in during her shoulder surgery recovery. Thanks also to everyone who donated to the Paul Mills concert/reception with delicious refreshments.
The 4 C’s Allegheny Ladies Fellowship Fall Retreat will be held Friday, Sept. 22 beginning at 5 p.m. thru Saturday, Sept. 23, ending approximately 3:30/4:00. Our theme is “Fill Your Cup”. Our focus verse is Romans 15:13. Bible study sessions, praise and worship music, a craft and awesome fellowship time awaits you for a time of spiritual refreshment and restoration. All ladies are welcome to attend and encouraged to bring friends in need of time with Jesus and sisters-in-Christ. Price is $70 for both days, includes drinks, meals and linens; $35 for Saturday only. Registration forms will be available soon.
Our next meeting is Friday, Sept. 15, 6 p.m. in the Fellowship Hall. Barb Thomas will present the program. Cindy Johnson and Tina Holderbaum are the hostesses for the evening. Please join us!
--Respectfully submitted, Barb Thomas, President
Hollidaysburg Reformed Church to Install Pastor
St John's Reformed Church in Hollidaysburg is having a service of installation for their new pastor, Timothy McNutt, on Sunday, Aug. 6 at 4 p.m. CCCC Regional Pastor Tim Dubeau will lead the Service of Installation; CCCC Area Pastor David Meckley of Loysburg will preach the sermon. Pastor McNutt served most recently as pastor of Salt and Light Church in Casper, WY. Pastor Tim was born in New Kensington, PA, graduated from Clarion University and Reformed Presbyterian Theological Seminary. He is currently pursuing a Doctor of Ministry degree at Northern Seminary. He and his wife Amy are living in the parsonage in Hollidaysburg.