Transition: God's Way Not Always Our Way
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.
- Hebrews 13:8
Change can make us uneasy. We live in a rapidly changing society. New technology leaves many people baffled. New moralities leave us troubled. We find refuge in Christ who is "the same yesterday, today and forever."
The Gospel doesn't change. We communicate and believe the same essential truth of Christ's redeeming love on the cross and resurrection power that the Apostles proclaimed in the New Testament. We have modified the way we present this Good News. We prepare a lesson for children differently than a group of adults, for example. The message is the same, but careful attention to the learning style and attention span of one's audience is important.
God, in His unfolding plan of redemption, led His people through periods of change. Some were unsettling. For example, when God led His people out of Egyptian slavery, they left the old familiar way of bondage in pursuit of the "land of milk and honey". However, en route they went through a time of transition – unlike the old, but not like the new either – as they traveled through the wilderness. God was with them in all three of these phases. Not everyone was happy about the change God was leading them through, however.
Jesus began His earthly ministry with the message, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.” His life as an obscure carpenter ended at this moment, as Messiah Jesus was publicly inaugurated with God's divine endorsement at His baptism. This transitional phase continued through Jesus’ death on the cross and burial in the tomb. Jesus’ mighty words and mighty deeds all authenticated His anointing as the Savior of the world, pointing to a new beginning initiated by His resurrection from the dead. Jesus’ transition by way of the cross illustrates a new beginning, not only for Jesus, who is now seated at God’s right hand, but for all who trust in Jesus as Savior and Lord.
As I anticipate our Annual Congregational Meeting on February 9, we have some remarkable changes in our life together to celebrate as well as coordinate in order to faithfully steward all God is entrusting to our care. These Biblical examples show that, as Craig Satterlee observed, “God’s way is usually the more difficult option. Congregations may find that the most faithful way to engage the transition is also the more difficult one.” Let us be in prayer for God's leading and a spirit of unity and joy as together we discern how to navigate His blessings.
Growing with you in Christ,
David Meckley, Pastor
Pastor's Annual Report February 9, 2020
St John’s Reformed Church of Loysburg
And He gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.- Ephesians 4:11-13 ESV
As I reviewed my job description listed above, I am reminded that as a pastor or shepherd-teacher, my primary purpose is to "equip the saints for the work of ministry". This is how God designed the church so that all of us would be built up, unified in faith and become mature in Christ. While a significant part of equipping includes preaching and teaching, I also need to help you discover your spiritual gifts, and develop them by putting them to work in the ministry of the church and beyond. Let's explore together more ways to do this in the year ahead.
We welcomed 7 new members in 2019: by rite of confirmation: Cameron Garman and Mikayla Widmann; by letter of transfer: Noah and Erin Staudenbaur, Neal and Cheryl Salyards; by reaffirmation of faith: Ryan Salyards. We celebrated 6 baptisms and 1 child dedication in 2019: Samuel Nelson, Janie and Greggie Russell, and Noah, Savannah and Royer Staudenbaur. Luke Sell was dedicated to the Lord. I officiated two funerals: Clay Hull and Carrie Mauk. Clay's funeral included some exceptional music. Bill Lewis, a member who has been living in Johnstown in recent years, also passed away in 2019. I also officiated one wedding for extended family of a member of our church when their church was without a pastor.
In 2019 our average worship attendance increased 22% from 60 to 73 persons: 52.7 adults; 20.5 children. Our Sunday school also experienced a 21% increase in participation. God continues to bless our fellowship. Your warm, welcoming gracious spirit is being used by God to bless others! We purchased copies of Christian Truths Summarized and have been reading from the Heidelberg Catechism from these books during worship. The German Reformed Church has used The Heidelberg for confirmation as well as Sunday worship and family devotions since 1563.
I continue to teach a Sunday school class for young adults that "graduated" some members to Peg Wachter's class. In 2019 we studied The Holiness of God (R.C. Sproul) and now the Heidelberg Catechism. Bible Study has experienced a resurgence of interest. We still have room for more! This informal study and discussion of John's Gospel has been rich and enlightening. I participated in VBS with our new co-directors Joy Nelson and Sarah Gunnett.
Our Easter and Holy Week services are a highlight of the church year. For Maundy Thursday we presented a re-enactment of The Last Supper. We again held a summer outdoor worship service and church picnic at the Woodbury Community Center Pavilion. Our new sound system enhances our ability to hear. Hearing assistance devices are available on the coat rack in the back of the sanctuary.
In recent years, we combined our Christmas Cantata and Children's Program on Sunday evening. Due to overflowing attendance, Consistory decided to offer the Cantata and Children's Program during a combined Worship/Sunday School Service at 10 AM. We then offered mostly the same presentation Sunday evening. This change did ease the crowding Sunday evening, as 74 persons attended in the evening, while 121 attended Sunday morning. That includes 16 choir participants at each service. We need to revisit the matter in planning for next time.
I thought, as a pastor serving a Reformed church that I should look for someone to fill the pulpit in my absence who would speak from a Reformed perspective. I am grateful our son Mark spoke in my stead on Jan 5, 2020.
Thank you to Consistory and to all of you for the generous bonus, salary increase and vacation time to enjoy with our growing family. PeggyAnne and I were blessed with three newborn grandchildren in August and September. Charis gave birth to Leah in August, then EllaMae gave birth to twin boys, Micah and Ansel. All three were premature births due to complications. After much prayer, we are especially grateful to God for this miracle of new life, healing and love. I used some vacation time in October to fly to Arizona to be with our daughter Charis and her family after the birth of their daughter Leah.
I continue to coordinate Religious Release Time with the local Ministerium and Northern Bedford County Elementary School. We had 45 students in the Spring session and 77 in the Fall. We are blessed with gifted and devoted volunteers – lay as well as clergy – who make this such a meaningful experience for these young people. I was also privileged to participate in the Baccalaureate service at Northern Bedford County High School. Joel Ritchey and I attended an introductory meeting of the ministry of Freedom House on Chalybeate Road in Bedford.
I attended the 71st CCCC Annual Gathering July 9-12 in St. Paul, MN. The theme: “The Faithful Shepherd” focused on one of our guiding values: Healthy Pastors. Annual Gathering is always rich with inspired preaching and worship, informative workshops, updates on developments in the CCCC and valuable networking with like-minded colleagues in ministry. I continue to serve as CCCC Area Representative in western Pennsylvania. We are privileged to have Pastor Tim Dubeau serve as our CCCC regional pastor. Tim lives in Pittsburgh, after serving a pastorate in Connecticut for 20 years. He is most helpful in bringing the CCCC home to more churches and pastors in our region. We are blessed to be affiliated with the CCCC, which is thoroughly Biblical, administratively lean, yet a cutting-edge leader in discipleship, church multiplication and church development.
The church is an organism, the Body of Christ, rather than simply an organization. The church as a living organism will inevitably experience changes as the church grows and matures. Growth is a gift of God (I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. – 1 Corinthians 3:6). Managing growth is our responsibility as stewards of all God has entrusted to us.
Navigating the changes necessary to faithfully steward what God is growing in our church requires we be on our faces before God in prayer, meditating on His Word and holding before Him the people that He is bringing into our midst: children, their parents, retired persons, and additional gifted individuals in other life stages who are part of our fellowship. We also need to be praying for all those who have been here for years – for generations, who have weathered other changes – and found a way to keep the ship afloat. We need to be faithfully praying for one another – especially those who complicate things for us.
“Healthy things grow.
Growing things change.
Change challenges us.
Challenge forces us to trust God.
Trust leads to obedience.
Obedience makes us healthy.
Healthy things grow…”
- James Ryle
As we are challenged by the changes we are experiencing, recognize God is at work in our midst. Let us seek His Face, discern how He is leading and working, and give ourselves fully to serving Him in this new day He has given us.
Growing with you in Christ,
Dave Meckley, Pastor
Sunday School to Observe ‘Souper Bowl’ Sunday
Sunday, Feb. 2, will be “Souper Bowl” Sunday at St John’s.
Sunday School attendees of all ages are encouraged to bring cans of soup for the Northern Bedford Food Pantry and remain after Sunday School for a soupfest.
Everyone is invited to bring a crockpot of a favorite soup. Vegetable soup will be prepared by church kitchen volunteers and will be served in the fellowship hall along with the donated soups. The committee is looking for volunteers to supply crackers, fruits, drinks and desserts. Donations will be accepted for the church window fund.
Each Sunday School class will be collecting cans of soup for the food bank on that date.
Children’s Valentine Parties Planned
The teachers of the children's dept. (grades 4 and under) decided that each teacher would hold their own Valentine party in individual classrooms. Each child's teacher is responsible to tell parents when their party will be and provide a list of names of the boys and girls in that child's classroom. Each child need only bring valentines for those students in his/her classroom.
Alaina and Barb, along with Connie Ochoa, have opted to hold their classroom parties on Sunday, Feb. 16, following our opening devotion time and lesson period. A list of names will be prepared to send home.
--Submitted by Barb Thomas
Consistory Prepares for Annual Meeting
St. John’s annual congregational meeting will be held Sunday, Feb. 9, following a carry-in fellowship meal. Target time for the meeting is 1 p.m. As a reminder Sunday School on this day will be at 9:30 and worship will begin at 10:45. The meal will follow at noon. Abby Jasper has agreed to provide child care during the meeting in order to free up parents to attend.
A highlight of the business meeting will be the pastor’s report. A copy is provided in this newsletter so that members can review it in advance and be prepared with comments and questions.
At the January consistory meeting Pastor Dave noted that church and Sunday School attendance has increased steadily since 2012. In 2012 our average attendance at church was 42 and attendance at Sunday School was about 27 people. In 2019 our average attendance was 73 and 52 respectively. An increase of 22% for the church and 21% for the Sunday School. The consistory thanks Pastor Dave for his work on tracking the numbers and we would also like to thank the congregation for their faithful attitude toward attendance.
In other business in January, David Snyder announced he would like to step down from some of his volunteer duties. David has faithfully seen to it that our congregation has a bulletin and insert every Sunday. This is one of those behind the scenes jobs that gets no recognition (except for the very rare mistake) and involves a lot of work and attention. David has done this task for longer than most of us can remember and he informed us that he would like to retire from this position in the church. We are currently looking for someone willing to make the commitment to take over his position. David is more than willing to train whoever decides to take over. Please take some time and pray hard if you think (or know) you have the talent for this position and unique way to serve this house of the Lord. Please take a minute to shake Dave’s hand and thank him for this service to the church. He plans to continue putting out the newsletter.
The Consistory is still planning to update the congregation’s directory to reflect the new members and attendees we have received since our last directory was published. We came to realize though that to have it completed by the congregational meeting was, to say the least, ambitious. Our new target date is Easter. More updates will follow.
The next consistory meeting is March 12 at 7 p.m. in the copy room of the church.
--Submitted by Joel Ritchey, Consistory President
New Members Class to Start
Pastor Dave will be teaching a new members class starting Feb. 4 and continuing for four weeks on Tuesday evenings at 6 PM. Sign up on the welcome table.
SS Children Grade 4-Up Sought for Jr. Chorus
For all students Grade 4 and up and their parents!!!
Lorie LaSala would love to work with girls and boys from Grade 4 and up with music. A talented musician, Lorie is well qualified and excited to share her love of music with our young people.
This group will present special music throughout the year. We would appreciate any and all feedback from parents of students Grades 4 and up at a short meeting to be held directly after the worship service on Sunday, Feb. 2, to determine interest, best time to practice, etc. Thank you for your consideration. It is an awesome way for our junior members to participate, be more involved in St. John's Reformed Church, and to develop God's talent within them. Thank you.
--Submitted by Barb Thomas
Sale of Used Books Benefits NB Food Bank
A used book sale is held twice each week at the Woodbury Community Center. Hours are Wednesday and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
The sale also takes place every third Friday morning during the monthly food distribution. All proceeds benefit the Northern Bedford Food Pantry.
Book donations are accepted during sale days and can also be made by calling Amanda Feight at 766- 3531. Bring your old books and shop for new reading material.
Rev. Howard Sloan Now in Mission Work
Rev. Howard Sloan, former pastor of St. Paul’s Reformed Church, near Cessna, is now a missionary at large. He has asked the Loysburg congregation to consider supporting his work. He is affiliated with Westminster Biblical Missions, Inc, headquartered in Rising Sun, Md.
Pastor Sloan formerly served as secretary of the Allegheny Fellowship of the CCCC.
He recently returned from Cusco, Peru, where he taught local pastors the “Principles of Renewal from the Book of Acts.” The topics were church disciplines, Biblical teaching, worship and church unity, starting with a challenge: “Is your congregation diving, surviving or thriving?”
He says the question for the Peruvian churches is the same one for any church. “A thriving church is strong, abounding in love, Biblically wise, evangelizing, disciplining and caring for their members in all their needs.”
Sloan is attempting to learn three languages, Spanish, Swahili and Nepali.
He is also studying the “Lighthouse for Christ Catechism” to prepare to teach it to clergy abroad in 2020. This catechism was assembled using elements of the Heidelberg Catechism, Westminster Short Catechism and new questions that are specific to their context.
In his November newsletter, Rev. Sloan said he was looking forward to a five-day mission in Mombasa, Kenya, in January, focusing on the Lighthouse course. He expected to attend a conferences in early February on “2019 Perspective on the World Christian Movement” in Altoona and State College and will be continuing his studies with WBM.
He asks that anyone wishing to support him send donations to Westminster Biblical Missions, Inc.; P.O. Box 212; Rising Sun, MD 21911. Checks should be made payable to WBM and note “Sloan Fund” on the memo line. Person with questions may contact him at email@example.com.
Military Personnel Deployed
Folks are asked to keep in their prayers two members of the military who have been deployed. WO3 Christina Lunardini is serving in Kuwait and James Ray is aboard a Navy aircraft carrier. Lunardini is the daughter of Deborah Bowser, and Ray is the son-on-law of Marsie Albright.
Scot Myhr’s Mother Passes at Age 88
Please keep Scot Myhr and his family in your prayers. Scot, wife Sheryl, and daughters Corrie and Esther are commissioned by the 4Cs as missionaries with OMF. While in Pittsburgh for several years working with Chinese graduate students, they attended St. John's Reformed Church to speak. Sheryl was active with the 4Cs Ladies Fellowship. Several years ago they moved to Redland, Calif., where they continue to minister to Chinese students. The goal is to equip the students to tell about Jesus when they return to China.
Scot's mother, Marjorie J. (Groe) Myhr, a resident of Dothan, Ala., passed away Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2020, at her residence. She was 88. A memorial service and burial will be held at a later date in Iowa. Mrs. Myhr was born Dec. 23, 1931, in Lake Mills, Ia., and married Roy, with whom she shared 62 years of marriage. Mrs. Myhr was a loving Christian, wife, mother, and grandmother. Her extended family brought her great joy and happiness. She was a member of the United Methodist Church. Scot sent the following testimony concerning his mother:
Mom's memory wasn't good in the last years and she'd be confused about things. In recent weeks, mom had been having some trouble swallowing certain things but was eating pureed food well. In recent days her strength to hold on was weakening and it was hard for us to understand a lot of what she was saying. Back in November, when I kissed mom goodnight on the last night of my visit, she responded with something that really blessed me. Here is what I wrote down on the night of Nov 19, 2019: As mom was in bed and saying good night, I prayed for her. I said something about Jesus after I had prayed, and she said something like “I'm so glad he's my master.” I said "who?" and she said "Jesus." Then I again said something about Jesus and that he is our master and that he paid for our sin. She then held her hand up with her index finger and said, "That's number one!"
We praise God for a life well lived! Thank you for your prayers for Scot and family.
--Submitted by Barb Thomas
Feb. 1-8 Next Recycle Days in So. Woodbury Township
The Bedford County Conservation District will have its mobile recycle collection bins at the South Woodbury Township Building, off Brumbaugh Road at North Road, midway between Loysburg and New Enterprise, through Feb 8.
Persons may 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).
The bins will be removed for several days after Feb. 8 to be emptied, but then will be returned for the rest of the month. Township workers are available to help folks deposit their recyclables in the bins during the hours of 9 a.m. to noon on the second Saturday of each month.
Those who empty plastic, glass or metal containers in the church kitchen are urged to rinse them, remove lids and deposit them in the appropriate recycle collection bin just outside the kitchen door.
Do not throw water bottles in the trash. Empty them, throw the lids in the trash and deposit the bottles in the plastics bin.
Lions Sunday Brunch Feb. 2
The Cove Lions Club will hold a Sunday Brunch from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Feb. 2 at the Lions Building in Loysburg. Scott and Molly Shirk are Lions Club members.
Christmas Offering Goes To Storm Window Fund
A line of type was missing from the January newsletter report on the Christmas programs. The offering from the evening program amounted to $249 and was given to the storm window replacement fund.
If you like the look of our new windows, let Scott Shirk know. He was our contractor.
FOOD PANTRY LISTS FEBRUARY REQUESTS
The Northern Bedford Food Pantry is requesting cereals and boxed dinners (such as Hamburger Helper) for the month of February.
On Feb. 2 all are asked to bring cans of soup for “Souper Bowl Sunday” and stay for a noon “soupfest.
Who We Are
This month’s Jottings features Mava Cottle of Loysburg.
Each month one family, couple or individual 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 August 3, 1944. I was put into foster care at the age of 18 months and was very blessed to be placed in the Detwiler family. We lived on a farm on Pinchot Road near Saxton. I loved it on the farm. In March 1954 they sold the farm and we moved to Loysburg. I was in fourth grade. Ruth Bayer became my first friend and she invited me to St. John’s church, but the family started attending Koontz Church of the Brethren.
I graduated from Northern Bedford High School with the class of 1962. I went to work at the sewing factory in Everett.
In 1963 I met the love of my life, Bill Cottle, and we were married April 17, 1965. We had bought our house on the suburbs of Loysburg before we were married. Our first son, Jeffrey, was born March 5, 1968, and our twins were born five years later on Aug. 16, 1973. They were named Keith and Kevin.
Jeff went to Alaska soon after graduation and was there 18-1/2 years. I have two wonderful daughters-in-law and one grandson.
On July 12, 1998, Bill passed away from a massive heart attack. I went to work at Giant Eagle for over a year, then Cottle’s Corner, but later retired from Long’s Outpost. I then went back to my love of babysitting. I got Laura Beach when she was five weeks old and then two wonderful boys, Tanner and Tate Russell.
I love to travel. I’ve been to Alaska 22 times, to California and drove across the U.S. I’ve been to England, Wales, Belgium and France.
Over all, God has been very good to me. I thank him every day.
21 Enjoy first Guild Meeting of 2020
Barb Thomas began her program by welcoming a nice group to the first 2020 Guild meeting on Jan. 17 in the Fellowship Hall. While officers hoped for 20 attendees, three young ladies, Ivy Ochoa, Darcy Gates, and Mallory Gates attended, which pushed the number over the goal to 21. Also attending were Alaina Gates, Kim Rodgers, Donna Smeltzer, Tina Gojeski, Linda Henderhan, Brenda Colyer, PeggyAnne Meckley, Cindy Johnson, Connie Ochoa, Berneta Gable, Sandy Styer, Mava Cottle, Beth Cottle, Jeannie Detwiler, Julie Russell, Beverly Smith, Barb Thomas, and Peggy Ritchey. All ladies: Our attendance goal for February is 24.
Barb continued the program with five ways to reach Jesus. 1. He always hears us and wants to hear from us. 2. He wants us to obey his commands. 3. Always trust him (you can always turn things around, work it out with him). 4. Treasure his word (the Bible is a love letter from God). 5. The word of the Lord is perfect. Some of the Bible references were: Rev. 2:2-4, John 14:15, Romans 8:28.
All read together: “The purpose of the Womens Guild is to unite all women of the church in Christian Fellowship, with divine help and guidance, to develop an understanding of the work of the entire church, deepen spiritual life, stimulate sacrificial giving, promote Christian giving in the home, the church, the 4Cs Fellowship, the nation, and the world.”
The beauty of the church is that as a body of sinners, we are saved by grace. Barb closed with a poem "My God" and a prayer.
The business meeting was called to order. The secretary's report was accepted.
Thank yous were received from Peg Wachter, Judy Carper, Barb Thomas and Hoffman Homes for gifts given to them by the Guild.
Beverly Smith gave the treasurer's report. It was accepted as presented.
The 2019 Secret Sister program will be continued until the next meeting on Feb. 21. At that time the 2019 secret sisters will be revealed and new names drawn for 2020. If you cannot attend the February meeting, forms will be on the welcome table for all to sign up.
A motion was passed to serve Mava Cottle's high school class reunion dinner at noon on Sept 12, 2020.
Easter sunrise service will be April 12, 2020. Following the service the Guild will serve a breakfast. Tina will chair the committee. Members are asked to sign up if they can help.
A motion was passed to purchase 70 Lenten Devotional Booklets for the church. Pastor Dave will be asked to review a copy before they are distributed.
Refreshments were prepared by the officers. All enjoyed pulled pork, macaroni salad, baked beans, vegetable platter, strawberry salad, punch and cookies. New Year's horns, hats, and masks decorated the table.
Next meeting is Feb. 21. Hostesses: Beth and Berneta; Program: PeggyAnne and Kim Ritchey.
--Respectfully submitted, Peggy Ritchey, President
Adults Become New Members; 3 Children Baptized
Five adults of one family unit became members of St. John’s on the last Sunday of 2019, Dec. 29, and three children in the same family unit were baptized the same day.
The service involved three generations. The adults were Neal and Cheryl Salyards of Roaring Spring; their two adult children, Ryan and Erin, and Erin’s husband, Noah Staudenbaur, all of Osterburg. The children are those of the Staudenbaurs, a couple who have been involved with foster care and adoption.
Josh and Sarah Gunnett are serving as the family’s discipleship partners.