CHURCH BRIEFS

Special to The Chronicle-Express

St. Mark's Episcopal

In most Episcopal churches, there is an Annual Stewardship campaign. It’s usually in the fall, and the goal is to ask the parishioners for their annual pledge so that the Vestry, the governing board of the church, has a budget for the following fiscal year. So, Stewardship and donations may seem like synonyms, but they are not. There are many definitions.  One is  a sharing of bounty. A sharing of time, talents and treasures. Another is that Stewardship is about being grateful, responsible stewards of the gifts we receive from God. The Episcopal Church sees stewardship as more than simply contributing money to the church. It’s also about contributing time and talents and volunteering for ministry and mission. It is about reaching out to build relationships from a perspective of abundance instead of scarcity. 

One of the best definitions, though is “Stewardship is everything you do after you say I believe.” It is less about the church and more about faithful living. It is what you do everyday in your church instead of what you do for your church. 

Before Covid, no-one gave any thought to grocery shopping. It was understood that you go to the store and get what you need and you leave. Then came the pandemic. Grocery shopping became something you thought about. You thought about if you ordered online. Or maybe, you ran in to get a few things and did it every day so that you were only in the store for a few minutes at a time. Or maybe you thought about getting up early and going at 6 am to do a “big shop” when there was nobody else in the store.  

Have you ever gone into a grocery store when they are re-organizing the layout? You get a little nervous. Your pace changes. You might feel confused. Oh, but boy are you alert! Aisle 2 – which used to have your favorite catsup 22 steps down on the right now has baby food in that same location. Now though, you have to pay attention. You have to really look at the displays. In doing so, you notice a few things that you never noticed before. “Wow – they have a whole display of Indian food.” Or “Gee – I didn’t know they had ant poison. Now I don’t have to go to the hardware store.”

You really see things in a whole new light. Not only might you see new products, but you see new possibilities. You might get excited about cooking a new recipe. You might be relieved that you no longer have to stop at a different store. You left that same grocery store getting what you need and more. 

Back to stewardship. What if the idea of stewardship was approached like a re-organized grocery store visit? What if the Vestry items were switched with the Altar Guild? What if the ministry of the search committee was in the aisle where you expected coffee hour? 

Each one of us offers time, talents and treasures to the church. Maybe that shift in perspective, noticing everything along the way might take Stewardship to a different level. One that happens every day, not once a year. One that is shiny and bright and memorable. 

Please join us on Sunday mornings at 9 a.m.  

Penn Yan First Baptist

Plans for the Community Summer Happenings (VBS) are continuing with volunteers beginning to create backdrops and imagination stations and everything that goes into preparing for the children. Parents can register their kids through our church website at: https://www.firstbaptistchurchpy.com and look for the "Monumental" link for more information and to register.

Our Blanket Offering continues to grow and we now can help to provide 37 blankets. 

The schedule for pulpit supply for June will be as follows: June 5 - Brian Bleiler; 12 - Mark Slomski; 19 - Dale Wakley; 26 - Rev. Don Lawrence.

Dresden Methodist

This past week at Dresden UMC, Pastor Rachel spoke about listening to God's voice. In the scripture reading for this week (Acts 19:9-15), we see Paul and Lydia both listening to the voice of God. Sometimes it is difficult to discern what God wants you to do, and other times it seems very clear. When Paul had a vision of a man calling for his help from Macedonia, Paul immediately knew this vision was from God. he packed up his stuff and headed there. While he was there, he met a woman named Lydia who listened to Paul talk about the good news of salvation through Jesus. She listened to God through Paul and was baptized. These days it's less common to have visions from God, but we can still hear, discern and listen to his voice. Pastor Rachel suggested three tools to help us discern the voice of God in our lives. 1. Friends and Family - often, God speaks to us through the counsel of wise and trusted people in our lives. 2. The witness of Scripture - through understanding God through the biblical narrative, we can check what we think God is saying to us against the character of God. 3. Prayer - through prayer, patience, and silence, we can often hear God speak to our hearts. Listening and discerning God's voice is an integral part of discipleship, and we hope that you will consider these tools when trying to connect with and understand God in your life. 

We are working on updating our internet so we can begin to stream our services live on Facebook! Currently, we record and post our videos, but we desire to offer our service online in real-time. Check out our Facebook page for more information: www.facebook.com/DresdenUnitedMethodist. We invite you to join us on Sunday for service at 9:30 a.m. We'll save you a seat!

Are you in need of medical equipment such as wheelchairs, hospital beds, crutches, canes, etc.? Call Dresden UMC and ask for the First Aid Closet. We have equipment available to borrow for free. The First Aid Closet is also looking for donations of medical equipment to continue to meet the community's needs. If you have equipment you'd like to donate or have equipment you need to return, please get in touch with the church.

First Presbyterian 

This Sunday Christians celebrate Pentecost. The origin of Pentecost comes from the Greek word meaning fifty. Its roots trace back to ancient Israel and in early Judaism was known as Shavuot, which is observed on the 50th day after the Sabbath of Passover, to celebrate the first harvest of grain. As religions have evolved throughout the world, it is now known by several names: Feast of Weeks, Whitsun, Whitsunday or Trinity Sunday, to name a few.  

For Christians, Pentecost represents the day the Holy Spirit was revealed to humanity “with a mighty rushing wind and tongues of fire.” In the Book of Acts, according to the Apostle Peter, speaking on behalf of the original Apostles and Matthias (who replaced Judas), he told the crowd of some 120 followers gathered in Jerusalem that this was the fulfillment of a promise made during Christ’s last days. Acts 2:38, “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” In Acts 2:41, “So those who received His word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.” Some Biblical scholars’ interpretations of the Book of Acts indicate, “This central role of the Holy Spirit and Jesus Christ signified a fundamental theological separation from the traditional Jewish faith.”  In the Bible’s timeframe, Pentecost was in fact a Jewish festival. However, as Christianity flourished, the date was eventually changed to coincide with Easter (49 days later) but retained the same name.

In terms of significance, the Christian celebration of Pentecost has more meaning theologically as the birth of a new community, the Christian Church. The event defined an ever larger group of followers who began to gather together with the purposeful mission of spreading Christianity. They expanded congregations, moved out of the temples and built their own houses of worship. Within a few decades Catholic churches had been established throughout every major city of the Roman Empire. As various denominations of Christian churches have developed, identified by differing traits or doctrines, the basic principles remain steadfast. The church would not exist without the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit empowers us all to believe in God and Christ. The Spirit is not concerned with denomination, nationality, religion, race or gender and understands all languages. The choice is ours. “If you are on the right path you will find that invisible hands are helping,” said Joseph Campbell.

Bluff Point Methodist

The Westerdahl family joined in a memorial service Sunday, May 22 for long-time Bluff Point Methodist congregation member Nancy Westerdahl, who left us for her heavenly home on Dec. 24, 2021.

In memory, we celebrated the life of Nancy Westerdahl on May 22, who departed us on Christmas Eve.  Many family members came from afar to honor the life of Nancy, a long-time member of our congregation, Penn Yan Central School District teacher, wife, mother and grandmother.  Babs Steinert gave the beautiful eulogy, and Aimee Perry sang a beautiful arrangement of the hymn "In the Garden." Nancy loved her gardens and flowers! 

Babs Steinert gave the church message this past week, based on scripture from Acts: 9-15. At this time Paul was beginning his second journey. Paul had his destination in mind.  The spirit of the Lord would not allow him to enter Bithynia, so he and his companions continued onto Macedonia.  He stayed with Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth, after she and her family were baptized, as she knew Paul and his friends believed in the Lord. 

Babs related a journey event in her own life. She recently had gotten a GPS, which she had just begun to use while driving. It announced when she was going over the speed limit, and told her the directions to her destination. When she was going to a place near Rochester that she was not familiar with, with friends, she could not get the GPS to tell her the way. She admitted to not fully studying the manual when she got the tool.  They eventually got to their destination, and Babs found out that the GPS had somehow been muted during her trip. Babs noted that when we choose our own plans we often mute the voice of wisdom and God. We become lost and misguided, missing the destination of God. Our manual is the Bible, which we must read for our directions.  Our homework was to note our blessings and God’s repositioning of our paths. 

Our sincere condolences to Sally Head and family members in the recent passing of Ed Head. His service will be in Penn Yan on June 4.  Sally and Ed were long-time members of our congregation.