Appreciating the Marvel that God Knows and Loves Us
I give thanks to you, O Lord my God, with my whole heart, and I will glorify your name forever. – Psalm 86:12
In this season of Thanksgiving, I recognize more and more references to “being thankful” as a virtue to embrace. However, what is lacking is the One to whom we are to give thanks. I notice on television as well as at civic gatherings, offerings of polished, even passionate expressions of thanks being given. However, when listening carefully, God was not the One being thanked. Instead, thanks was expressed to the host, the cook, those gathered, or just a general expression of appreciation.
Rather than “brutz” about this sad situation, I decided to strengthen my own practice of offering thanksgiving to Almighty God. The renowned Reformer John Calvin’s first rule for prayer is to approach God with awe. He says we are to be “so moved by God’s majesty” that we are “freed from earthly cares and affections.” Calvin is referring to the “fear of God.” We need to understand that fear of God is not a fear of punishment, or a fear that if I don’t pray or live exactly right I will be spiritually lost. In 1 John 4:18 we learn that “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.”
A legitimate fear of our God of love involves reverence and awe. I have been moved to look upon God with awe, inspired by some brilliant autumn colors. I recently preached a sermon that touched on spiritual warfare. I found myself choked up, in awe of the truth of what I was preaching – that the forces of evil are real, yet Christ is greater. At that moment in the pulpit, I found it difficult to speak. For me, the “fear of God”, actually, the “awe of God” was so overwhelming, leaving me speechless. I did not plan that. I practiced delivering that message earlier that morning. I knew it was true and was prepared to deliver that truth in a compelling, composed way. However, as I looked over the congregation, recognizing the significance of that message for each person there, I found myself trembling with awe before Almighty God.
Such “awe of God” is not something we can plan or even control. However, as we recognize who God truly is, His holiness, beauty, mercy and majesty, our time of prayer becomes less of a duty to check off our list, and more of an appreciation of the marvel that the Creator of the universe knows us, loves us, hears us and cares for us. For that I am truly thankful!
Grateful to God, in Christ,
Dave Meckley, Pastor
Community Thanksgiving Service Set Nov. 12
The Southern Cove/Yellow Creek Minsterium will sponsor a Community Thanksgiving Service at 6 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 12, at the New Enterprise Church of the Brethren.
There will be an in-gathering of items for In One Accord Ministries and for CCA Homeless Ministry, and an offering will be received for each of these ministries.
In lieu of a speaker, the program will be in the Praise Service format with music and group singing.
Items requested for the in-gathering are:
In One Accord
Personal hygiene items
Toothpaste and Toothbrushes
Body wash (male and female)
Backpacks and backpack items
Dish washing Liquid
Reusable shopping bags
Brush/comb; bars of soap
Shave cream (men/women)
Tissues, Box of bandages
New Blankets, the size of a throw blanket
Lorie LaSala Composes Christmas Musical
Lorie LaSala has written the words and music for “Luke the Musical,” to be presented at 6 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 17 in the sanctuary.
Seventeen vocalists make up the choir, along with Lorie as director and violinist, Barb Thomas on piano, Ethan Hess on Cornet, and Cindy Johnson and Kim Rodgers with speaking parts. Bruce LaSala is narrator.
St. John’s children will participate as Sunday school students and shepherds.
The choir is rehearsing each Wednesday at 7 p.m. for the Christmas presentation and 6:30 p.m. for regular Sunday anthems. Please mark your calendars and plan to attend.
Church Newsletter Begins 25th Year; Help Needed
St. John’s newsletter—Jottings from St. John’s—begins its 25th year with this issue. A newsletter was started with the help of Pastor Bob Langtree in 1998 while the church was part of the three-point Hickory Bottom Charge.
Pastor Bob recruited a correspondent from each parish and contributed himself to each issue. When the Hickory Bottom Charge fell apart, the newsletter was continued as “Jottings from St. John’s” by Sharon and David Snyder. Dave remains as editor but is looking for a replacement. He learned whatever computer skills he has while working at the Morrisons Cove Herald and depends on a software package called QuarkXpress to import stories and pictures each month. Joy Nelson is considering taking on the job.
PASTOR, WIFE RECOGNIZED
Pastor Dave and PeggyAnne Meckley were recognized for over 11 years of faithful ministry and service to St. John’s Reformed Church.
A basket of cards from the Sunday School, Women’s Guild and individuals was presented to the couple on Oct. 15 for Pastor Appreciation Month. All agreed we appreciate Pastor Dave and PeggyAnne every day of the year! Pastor Dave humbly returned the sentiments, saying they are blessed to be a part of St. John’s Reformed Church.
Community Chorus Plans Concerts Nov, 18 & 19
Cove Community Chorus has begun rehearsals for a holiday concert Nov, 18 and 19 at Memorial Church of the Brethren in Martinsburg.
Beverly Smith and Birch Snider of St. John’s are singing with the group and have tickets to sell. Sue Stoudnour of Martinsburg is the director.
All-Saints Sunday Service of Remembrance Nov. 5
All Saints Sunday is November 5. We will have a Service of Remembrance during our 9:30 a.m. worship service. Please submit names of persons who have died within the past year to Pastor Dave in writing by Nov. 1 so they can be included on the list.
NOVEMBER FOOD PANTRY
Requests for donations during November for the Northern Bedford Food Pantry include hot chocolate mix, stuffing nix, cranberry sauce, canned yams, fruit juices, coffee, and tea.
71 Elem. Schoolers in Release Time
Religious Release Time meets Thursday afternoons through Nov. 9, ministering to students at Northern Bedford Elementary in grades kindergarten through second grade. We have 71 students registered. Debbie Bowser and Pastor Dave are providing leadership from St John’s Reformed Church. Your prayers are appreciated.
DID YOU ENJOY THE COMMUNION BREAD?
Did you enjoy the Communion Bread on Oct. 8? It was homemade by Molly Shirk, who with her husband Scott prepares the elements for each communion. Molly used a recipe for unleavened bread that was passed down from Sharon Snyder, who had received it from a dear friend of Peggy Ritchey, Thalia Fleetwood of Bedford.
Shane Thomas, Jennie Dries Wed at St John’s
St. John’s sanctuary was the scene of a wedding on Saturday, Sept. 16, 2023, when Jennie Dries became the bride of Shane Thomas.
Jennie's parents are Fred and Donna Dries of Woodbury. Shane is the son of John and Barb Thomas of New Enterprise.
Pastor David Meckley officiated the ceremony.
Shane and Jennie honeymooned in the Pidgeon Forge/Gatlinburg area of Tennessee.
Jennie works at Weis Market in the Bedford Plaza. Shane works for R.L. Insulation.
Their address is 1286 Jack's Corner Road, Hopewell, Pa. 16650.
Women Lead Harvest Home Service
St. John’s women led the annual Harvest Home worship service on Oct. 15, which was preceded by Sunday School and followed by a fellowship carry-in meal in the fellowship hall.
The guest speaker was Anita Keagy (center in photo). In addition to delivering the worship message, she taught a special session of adult and youth Sunday School classes. Mrs. Keagy, accompanied by her husband, Paul, told the compelling story of how God used a very difficult situation in her life for His glory and how she has learned to seek Scripture and to devote time daily to prayer and Bible Study. In photo with Anita are Lorie LaSala, who introduced her, and Barb Thomas, Women’s Guild president, who organized the day.
Others Who Participated
Other church women who assisted at the worship service were Laurie Stiles, who led the Call to Worship; Donna Smeltzer, who led the Lord’s Prayer and Confession of Sin; Mava Cottle, who led the Assurance of Pardon and the Apostle’s Creed; Beverly Smith, who led the Harvest Litany; Beth Clark, who told the Children’s Story; Deb Bowser, who gave the Offertory Thought and Doxology; Kim Rodgers, who served as offering usher. Joining many of the women already mentioned were Sandy Styer and Peg Wachter, who joined the others in a Ladies’ Chorus in singing “Beyond Description” for special music.
Cindy Johnson had the congregation form a circle around the sanctuary for the Benediction and the Blessing on the meal that followed.
A wide array of hot and cold foods was offered for the fellowship meal with many of the women named previously, and others, helping to set up the buffet line outside the kitchen and remain after the meal to help clean up.
The flowers on the altar for Harvest Home were given to the Glory of God by Brad and Berneta Gable in memory of Berneta’s mother, Betty Snider, Brad’s father, Ken Gable, and their nephew, Chad Yoder.
Harvest Table Donations for Food Bank
The harvest table was laden with donations for the Northern Bedford Food Pantry. The food bank was very appreciative of all the food provided, including $105 in cash. “Your generosity was displayed for all to see, much like God's glorious display of the beautiful leaves all around us,” said Sandy Styer. “Patricia Snyder from the food bank shared that the needs have increased lately and we are coming into their busy season. She also said they accept any donations you think would help young families and the elderly. The food bank until recently supplied 50 families but the most recent need was for 87 families,” she reported.
Sandy, along with her husband Jack and Linda Henderhan, take care of the monthly deliveries of food bank donations left at the church. The donation box is at the back of the sanctuary on the side toward the parking lot.
Nov. 7 Is Election Day—Get registered. Vote!
Tuesday. Nov. 7, is election day in Pennsylvania. If you are not registered, you have until Oct. 31 to get to your county courthouse and register. And then vote, either by mail (apply for a mail-in ballot before Oct. 31) or go to you local polling place on Nov. 7 (7 a.m. to 8 p.m.).
Statewide there are races for four judicial seats, including one for State Supreme Court Justice. In each county there are races for county commissioner and other county officials; district justices; township supervisors and auditors; and school directors in each school district
Service Marked 1st Completion of Basement Dig
A brief history of St. John’s Reformed Church and Sunday School was written in 1932 and distributed at a service marking the completion of a basement-level Sunday School classroom, now the fellowship hall.
The only “basement” until 1932 was a pathway from the basement door on the cemetery side of the church to a dugout area for the coal-fired furnace and fuel storage a short distance inside the front foundation wall. No record was kept when the furnace was added, but there originally was no heat in the sanctuary except what people brought with them.
There were five persons from Loysburg present for the 1932 dedication of the new Sunday School room who were children and Sunday School attendees when the first church was built in 1848 — Samuel Fluke, C.W. Dittmar, Mrs. Kathryn (Snider) Isenberg, Miss Mollie Snider and Mrs. Annie (Dittmar) May. By 1932 the church and Sunday School had been in existence for 86 years and membership was about 100. Sunday School attendance had been as high as 120 in 1875. At that time the nearby Methodists held their Sunday School in the afternoon, and many persons attended both churches for Sunday School.
By the time the present church was built in 1881, the Sunday School enrollment had declined to about 85. After the new church opened, Sunday School attendance picked back to 110 and from that time remained over 100 into the 20th Century.
When the sanctuary became overcrowded with Sunday School scholars in the 1920s and early ‘30s, It was decided to create a room for a primary department in the basement. Work was begun on April 12, 1932, and completed July 31, 1932, and used for the first time on that date. Much of the work was donated by members who were willing to use picks and shovels and push wheel barrows to cart out the dirt.
The excavation included about two-thirds of the basement level. The remaining third was excavated in the mid-to-late 1950s and early ‘60s to create space for two restrooms, a utility closet, kitchen and one classroom, now used by an adult class, but originally used as a nursery.
Parts of the “brief history” of 1932 will be used in future editions of Jottings.
--Submitted by David Snyder
Hoffman Homes Box Is Now Being Circulated in Church
The Hoffman Home box is in circulation, upstairs and downstairs, to accept donations for children and youth resident of Hoffman Homes near Gettysburg, ages 7-21.
Many of these have nowhere to go for the holidays. Our Christmas donations will be used by staff to purchase Christmas gifts for those who will spend Christmas at the facility. Hoffman Homes provides psychiatric care, treatment, therapies, services and education to approximately 110 residents. Your donation says someone cares.
Please leave your donation in the box by early December to give staff shopping time.
--Submitted by Barb Thomas
Help Decorate the Basement Tree with Hats, Socks, Scarves & Gloves
We will be decorating the fellowship hall Christmas tree with donations of socks, hats, gloves, mittens and scarves, which will be divided between the Hollidaysburg Veterans Home and the NB Food Bank for needy families. Please help us cover the branches generously.
--Submitted by Barb Thomas
Choir practice each Wednesday at 6:30 sharp. Christmas musical at 7 p.m. No practice on Nov. 22, but we WILL meet on Monday, Nov. 20.
Consistory September Meeting updates
by Pastor Dave Meckley
An air filter system was installed on the sanctuary HVAC and paid for as an anonymous gift. This is greatly appreciated and will be helpful as cold and flu season arrives. A technician fixed the live stream, the hearing assistance devices and other improvements in the performance of the audio-video equipment. The new flat screen TV in the fellowship hall is now in working order. The old TV was recycled.
Appreciation was expressed for Stephanie and Jeremy Seep’s presentation on their work with Oasis Refugee Ministry in Austria. The Church Bar B Q and Back-to-School celebration was well received. Grilling by Ryan and his team was outstanding.
Pastor Dave officiated the wedding of Shane Thomas and Jennie Dries on September 9. He also prayed with the NBC volleyball team prior to a game. The Prayer Walk at NBC schools had about 100 participants of all ages.
CCCC Regional Pastor Tim Dubeau will preach October 1 when Pastor Dave is on vacation. Pastor Tim will then meet with the consistory during the Sunday school hour. He will talk with them about planning for succession. While still well in the future, a healthy transition takes more than 90 days to prepare. Each of us should be starting to train and equip the next generation of leaders. An interim time can be an anxious time. Uncertainty doesn't always bring out the best in people. Anxiety can move people to try to find a "quick fix," which can leave lingering regrets. Calling an intentional interim pastor through Interim Pastor Ministries for 18 months would be a wise investment, add stability with an experienced, seminary-trained pastor who is equipped to guide us through the interim process, prepare us for our next settled pastor, provide stability and consistency in the pulpit and on consistory so we can make a thorough, unhurried, responsible search that affirms our structure, our polity, and our core values.
Julie has prepared an application for an AED through The Nason Foundation. She is preparing a maintenance plan including monthly testing (chart) and training. Church Directory updates will be completed the end of September.
The contractor will replace the Parsonage roof next month. Glass – encased shelving in the Fellowship Hall is in need of a contractor to complete.
Chris reported that Community Group has resumed and is meeting on the second Sunday of the month after Sunday school.
Pastor Dave will resume Bible Study the first and third Sundays starting October 15.
October Consistory Meeting Report
By Beth Clark, Secretary
Present were Pastor Dave, Steve Rodgers, Cathy Snider, Brad Gable, Julie Russell and Beth Clark.
Pastor Davie reported taking communion to Wayne Kagarise, John Thomas and Mava Cottle. He attended “See you at the Pole” at Northern Bedford High School and reported it was well attended by all age groups. He expressed gratitude for family vacation time and was given two additional days since his vacation was cut short due to Peggy Ritchey’s funeral.
The pastor passed out a list of persons on our prayer list who have died during the past year. They will be recognized on Sunday, Nov 5, All Saints Sunday.
The Maintenance Committee reported no refund has been received as yet for the fellowship hall shelving. President Joel Ritchey is negotiating. Steve Rodgers will caulk a hole in a front door leading to the sanctuary. Steve Garman will replace parsonage roof in November. Another connection is needed for a router on the Wi-Fi at the church. A fire extinguisher will be installed in the back pew area. It was noted that emergency exit signs are not lighting as required.
Julie Russell passed around information for an AED. She will coordinate maintenance of it. A log will need to be maintained along with training. She will notify EMS and 911 when completed.
Tim Dubeau’s presentation was well prepared, informative and attended by all consistory members following the worship service at which he spoke to the congregation.
Pastor Dave had a replacement part to fix an overloaded glider on the playset. PeggyAnne has told older children to stay off. Church insurance policy may not cover accidents outside of church activities.
Advent begins Dec. 3; Christmas Eve candlelight service will be held Sunday, Dec. 24, 7 p.m. The next consistory meeting will be Nov. 9 at 7 p.m
Sun. Eve. Bible Studies to Continue
Bible Study with Pastor Dave will meet the first and third Sundays of the month at 6 p.m. in the basement classroom. All are welcome. We will look at John 11:9ff
Need a Directory Update?
If you have changes to your contact information for our Church Directory or need a copy, please reach out to Julie Russell in person; via cell 814- 414-1100; or email her at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Laurie Stiles Speaks of Autum Colors at Salad Supper
The Women’s Guild held their annual Ladies Salad Supper on Thursday, Sept. 28, in fellowship hall. Sixteen ladies filled the tables with a wide variety of salads, from taco salad to cranberry, grape and strawberry Jello salads, deviled eggs to Pumpkin Truffle and a dozen in between!
Beth Clark chaired the event. PeggyAnne Meckley and Julie Russell served on the committee.
Portions of Peggy Ritchey’s obituary were read and a candle lit for the evening in her memory.
PeggyAnne began with scripture. Beth and Julie both offered prayers. Then we shared food and fellowship.
Laurie Stiles presented the program, beginning with a wonderful skit, “Leaf Peepers.” She and her husband Hiram (from Las Vegas where everything is brown unless you plug it in!) took a fall foliage tour, amazed at the glorious colors God provides in nature. Laurie said 25% of the tourism in New England happens in those few short weeks of fall foliage.
Using various scripture texts, she explained that death is part of God’s message. We should be like autumn leaves, dying daily, yet filled with Christ that should fill others with awe in God’s beauty and spirit. We are called to bring heaven down – what a great thought! Laurie used great illustrations of various stages of branches to explain her message, including a beautiful live tulip, which represents what Peggy is now in heaven. Laurie challenged us to live glorious lives, asking us “What do we need to let go of ? What part of our life needs to die that we might live?”
Laurie closed by sharing how God has equipped her to be a prayer warrior and offered the closing prayer. It was a beautiful evening, reminding us that God speaks to us everywhere, in many ways.
The Women’s Guild will meet on Friday, Nov. 10, in the fellowship hall at 6 p.m.. Peg Wachter will present a program. Berneta Gable and Beth Clark are the hostesses. They will be assisted by those bringing 2-3 dozen cookies each to sample and to share in our annual cookie exchange. We welcome all ladies, along with visitors of all ages, to join in the fun. Cookies may be homemade cookies or bars, or store-bought. They are all delicious!
Our Ladies Christmas Party will be held on Friday, Dec. 1, at 6 p.m.The committee consists of Peg Wachter, Cindy Johnson and Marsie Albright. Come, let us celebrate the birth of Jesus our Lord and Savior!
--Respectfully submitted, Barb Thomas