CHURCH BRIEFS

Special to The Chronicle-Express

Penn Yan Area Council of Churches

St. Paul's Lutheran Church sanctuary set for the Prayer and Lament Service.

The Penn Yan Area Council of Churches hosted a Service of Prayer and Lament to honor those lost in the recent mass shootings as well as those who have died in the past couple of years to COVID-19. Clergy and Laity from local churches led the community in prayer, scripture, singing and a message given by Rev. Kristen Allen from the Penn Yan United Methodist Church. Thank you to St. Paul's  Lutheran Church for offering the space to gather. A recording of the service can be found on the Penn Yan Area Council of Churches channel on You Tube. The Penn Yan Council of Churches will be planning more opportunities for Ecumenical worship. Details will be available soon. 

Penn Yan First Baptist

Sunday, June 19, we celebrated Dads, Grads, and Sunday School Teachers. There were special snacks and cake at our Fellowship/Coffee hour and a time to say thank you and congratulations to all.

A reminder that FBC will be grilling hot dogs and hamburgers before the Summer Concerts on the Courthouse Lawn this year. Come early to purchase your dinner and relax as you wait for the music to begin.

Lastly, Penn Yan Community Summer Happenings begins Monday, June 27 and continues all that week. St. Michael's Catholic Church and the Penn Yan United Methodist Church are working with us to provide a safe and fun week for our children.

Our Sunday worship services begin at 10 a.m. We hope you will visit us over the summer months.

Branchport Methodist 

July 4 will be here before we know it!  Our church is getting ready to start off the festivities with our Red, White & Blue 5K Run/Walk at 8 a.m. (Warning to neighbors – we start setting up at 6 a.m.)  Thank you to all the sponsors who have helped us and to all the runners who have already signed up.  It’s not too late to register to run, in fact we will even be ready to sign you up on the day of the race.  It is too late to be guaranteed a t-shirt in your size, but we do order extras for late registers. Check out our website (www.branchportumc.org) for the registration forms or to sign up online.

Our Blessings Box is full of food for anyone who is in need.  Be sure to check it out.  Remember you can also go to The Living Well on Elm Street in Penn Yan for food and other needs that we might not have in our Box.

Thank you to Ted and Becky Hall for the flowers by our sign.  We are so fortunate to have so many people who help care for our church!  Thanks to all.

Our worship service is on Sunday mornings at 10:45, both in person and via Zoom.  All are welcome to join us. 

St. Mark's Episcopal

Perhaps you remember when summer meant reruns – a chance to see the episodes of a TV series that you had missed during the winter, or to enjoy a particular episode again. Those days are gone: TV reruns are available 24/7 all year long. But here is a rerun of a church brief from 2017, describing if not a St. Mark’s miracle, then at least a serendipitous coincidence. You decide for yourself.

The flowers were in place, the wine and wafers were at the back of the church, and the candles on the altar were lit. The congregation was waiting patiently for the 8 a.m. service in mid-September – but the usher and the lector knew something was amiss. Actually, someone: our rector was on vacation and the supply priest had not shown up (he was fine – just didn’t realize he was scheduled for the early service). The lector, who also happens to be the senior warden, decided to do morning prayer but the usher, just kidding around, actually, walked up the aisle, and said, “I guess this is where in the movie or play, I would say ‘Is there a priest in the building?’”

There was.  Someone who regularly attends the early service during the summer said, “I’m a priest. I retired 10 years ago and I haven’t said a mass since then, but I’m a priest. I’ll do the service.”

He asked for a stole, and the senior warden gave him one. He put it on, and as the bell tolled eight, Neil Johnson got up on the altar and led our service. It was an electric moment for him – and for all of us in the congregation that day. During the homily, he told us about his background and then told us that he had a house in Florida, and that some of his family was in Florida, right in the path of Hurricane Irma, which was on its way from the Keys up the west side of the state. He and his wife were very distressed and worried, of course, as Irma approached, and he told us that the usher’s question had jolted him into responding – and that he had felt the presence of God in the church, asking him to lead the service.

It was a vibrant, moving service, thanks to a change in plans – and thanks to Neil Johnson.

Note: there is now only one service, at 9 a.m., and we invite you to join us sometime soon. You never know what will happen – even in 2022!

Bluff Point Methodist

We enjoyed an ice cream and brownie social this past Friday, complete with toppings, and even with visits from the neighbors and several of their dogs. One managed to squirm up onto Bab’s lap for a good share of the evening.  I wonder what her kitties thought of that when she got home?

Is this the Pied Piper, or is it Jeff Stempien having fun with the kids of Bluff Point Methodist Church?  He didn’t even have to play his flute for the kids to migrate to him!

This past Saturday we had a late afternoon family/kids church, complete with Marcie and Daisy, our puppets, brought back from years ago.  We are tentatively planning this service once monthly during the summer, and perhaps more often during the school year.  Stay tuned for the schedule!

We continued our study of Women in the Bible, reading first from Luke 2:21-38.  We looked at the life of Anna the Widow, daughter of the tribe of Asher.  At 84 years of age, she spent 3/4 of her life praying outside of the temple, waiting for Jesus. She spent all of this time praying and fasting, in private worship, not leaving the temple during this time- nearly 60 years! 

Pastor Sandi then had us read the baptismal covenant, our first introduction to the church.  We give thanks to God for all he has given us.

Dresden Methodist

This past week at Dresden UMC, Lay Leader Toby Bond, lead service as Pastor Rachel, was off for the week after having dental surgery. Toby preached a message on Romans 5:1-5.

This week was also exciting as Dresden UMC received the name of their new pastor! Upper N.Y. Bishop Mark Webb has appointed Jeannine Biehls as the Pastor at Dresden UMC. Pastor Jeannine's first week will be July 1. Pastor Rachel's last week at Dresden UMC will be June 26. We invite you to join us for service at 9:30 a.m., with a fellowship and farewell luncheon following.

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 medical equipment donations to continue meeting 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 

As the school year draws to a close for primary and secondary age children in our area, kids and families begin to think about summer vacations and activities. Many area churches work to offer faith-based activities such as Vacation Bible School (VBS) and summer camp opportunities. After a two-year absence for so many summer programs there’s really a critical need for children to reconnect for summer fun and perhaps even share some valuable life lessons.

This summer, the First Baptist Church will be hosting a week long multi-denominational VBS program, together with United Methodist and St. Michael’s Catholic churches. It will be offered from June 27 through July 1 from 8:30 a.m. to noon each day, at the Baptist Church. It’s still not too late to sign-up but pre-registration is required by the end of the week. This can be done through the three church websites: firstbaptistchurchpy.com, pennyanumc.org and ourladyofthelakescc.org, or you can contact First Baptist at 315-536-9821.

Sitting on the western shore of Seneca Lake (off Route 14), you will find Camp Whitman, which is operated by the Presbytery of Geneva. Being Presbyterian is not a requirement to attend the camp. The stated aim is; “To teach positive values and lessons while living in community with one another. We provide a fun, safe place, to learn about yourself, and others, as you develop personal faith.”

Camp Whitman abides by an “Unplugged Policy.” TVs, computers, cell phones and Wi-Fi are not available to campers. Campers must “Power-Up” using interpersonal skills, imagination and their God-given talents to communicate.  The Camp offers weekly traditional residential summer camp experiences for children which are tailored by age groupings. Certain weeks are dedicated for groups of campers with developmental disabilities.  The camp also holds weekend retreats and single day events geared towards young adults and families. The weeklong camps are generally held during July and fill up quickly. There are a few spaces still available. The weekend and one day programs begin in August and have more openings right now. To learn about the programs, schedules, availability, costs and requirements go to the website, www.campwhitman.org, and click on the “Summer Camp” or “Events” tabs. 

Whatever the plans this summer, please be reminded, as the kids gain freedom they tend to forget about cross walks, sidewalks and traffic lights. Our parks and parking lots get busier too. Keep a watchful eye out for all pedestrians and have a safe and enjoyable summer!

Milo Center Methodist

What an amazing day for our little country church on Saturday. The barbecue was a huge success! Your support and the fellowship of our church family is unmeasurable. Our young disciples shared smiles and lemonade too. Many thanks to Karen Hallings for her leadership once again.

Some of the young disciples at Milo Center UMC had fun sharing lemonade and greeting our chicken barbecue guests.

Have you ever questioned "why things happen to good people?" Pastor Kim asked us to recall the verses from Romans 5 where we are led from the words of Apostle Paul to lean on God more in these moments of doubt. We have peace with God and His righteousness. We must boast in God's glory. Problems develop character, endurance and instill hope in our hearts if we let it in. Finding the silver lining in what situation God has brought us to, He will also see us through. 

Vacation Bible School plans are underway as we partner with the Second Milo Baptist Church — be on the lookout for the fun details soon. All are welcome.

The Yates County History Center will be at church on July 5 from 11 a.m. - 1 p.m. to scan local documents, photos or memorabilia you  may have to share. 

Prayers to all with struggles in their lives; those with health, financial or silent worries. Lean on your faith.

Jehovah's Witnesses

While Jehovah’s Witnesses have chosen to temporarily suspend their door-to-door ministry due to the pandemic, their activity was almost permanently banned by one U.S. village in the late 1990s — that is until the United States Supreme Court stepped in with a historic 8-1 decision on June 17, 2002, declaring the local ordinance unconstitutional.

As the 20th anniversary of that precedent-setting decision nears, local congregants of the Penn Yan congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses reflect on how their ministry has improved the lives of those who listen to their message.

The historic United States Supreme Court decision Watchtower v. Village of Stratton has protected freedom of speech, freedom of press and free exercise of religion for all citizens for the past 20 years, including Linda Helmer and Debra Warren, of Penn Yan. Among the protected freedoms is the door-to-door ministry of Jehovah’s Witnesses.

The 2002 Supreme Court decision in Watchtower v. Village of Stratton affirmed that a local village ordinance in Stratton, Ohio, requiring a permit to knock on doors violated the rights of any person who wanted to engage in free speech with their neighbor, including Jehovah’s Witnesses who practice door-to-door evangelizing. The Court overturned two lower court rulings that upheld the ordinance, and thus paved the way for all citizens to maintain open dialogue with their neighbors on any number of issues including environmental, civic, political or educational.

“Our motive for initiating the case was clear: We wanted to remove any obstacle that would prevent us from carrying out our scriptural obligation to preach the good news of the Kingdom,” said Robert Hendriks, U.S. spokesman for Jehovah’s Witnesses. “Making it a criminal offense to talk with a neighbor without seeking government approval is offensive to many people, but particularly to God who commanded Christians to preach the gospel.”

This victory is one of more than 250 rulings in cases brought by Jehovah’s Witnesses in high courts around the world that have expanded the rights of people of all religious faiths.

“We are thankful that we have the legal right to practice our ministry from door to door,” said Hendriks. “When the time is right and conditions are safe, we hope to visit our neighbors in person once again.”

For more information on the Stratton case, go to www.jw.org and type Stratton in the search field.