CHURCH BRIEFS

Staff reports

St. Mark’s Episcopal Church

Although there is a plethora of resources for worship and self-examination during Lent online and in print from many different sources, this year our Worship committee decided to create our own St. Mark’s Lenten Calendar. It was a bit of a challenge, but also a rewarding task. There are readings suggested from the Gospel of Mark, virtual opportunities for worship and study, actions to act on one’s faith, and questions to help explore your spiritual life. For example:

• The Gospel readings are paired with questions about one’s personal reaction to the passage such as “How would you react if you were there?”

• The calendar suggests that everyone join the group study of N.T. Wright’s "God and the Pandemic" on Wednesdays at 7 p.m. on Zoom, which began on Feb. 24.

• People are also encouraged to share something with St. Mark’s reMARKable sharing shed each week as well as finding opportunities to share with someone they don’t know.

• To encourage self examination, “What does it mean to you to know that you are a Beloved Child of God?” One member of the committee found one entry especially intriguing. “Do a task that you dislike, think about blessings connected with that task.” That particular entry was inspired by one of the conversations in an old book by Marjorie Holmes, "I’ve Got to Talk to Somebody, God." She tells God how grateful she feels when she finally faces the dreaded task of cleaning the refrigerator and recognizes all the blessings contained in that cold box.

Should anyone wish to join us for the study group or want a copy of the calendar, leave a message at 315-536-3955 and someone will get back to you ASAP.

Our weekly worship service is available at stmarkspenyan.org. We always enjoy visitors!

Penn Yan First Presbyterian Church

In the beginning of another unsettling year thus far, it‘s hard to believe we are already entering the last month of the first quarter. We are also approaching the midpoint of Lent and one topic Christians focused on during these last two Sunday’s has been temptation. Specifically the temptations Jesus dealt with and how he overcame them, while encouraging others to do the same. Jesus talks about the solutions to overcoming evil and temptation when he is asked “Which is the greatest commandment?” Jesus responds in Matthew 22:37-39, “… to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind. … And a second is like it, you shall love your neighbor as yourself.” In essence, “Life is about how we love God and how we love and treat each other.”

As this pandemic stretches on we are all suffering from pandemic fatigue. We are forced to continue to remain somewhat isolated and it can be tempting to just worry about ourselves and our immediate family. It can also be tempting to want to travel, spend time with friends and people outside of your bubble, especially as restrictions ease and more venues begin to re-open. The frustration with websites and repeated phone calls in attempting to sign-up for vaccines can cause the most patient among us to give up. Most parents are beyond anxious to have their children back in the classroom. Everyone wants to stop wearing these annoying masks. We want to return to our regular and comfortable routines. It is understandable. This is exactly why we must continue to resist temptation. There is still a need to rise above our personal desires for the greater good. We must continue to protect our loved ones, our neighbors, the elderly, children, teachers, front line workers, everyone. What better way to celebrate Easter and the rebirth of spring than by loving your neighbor as yourself.

Bluff Point Methodist Church

Our recent Zoom church service started with a beautiful piano arrangement of “Wayfaring Stranger,” by Ron Miller. We are still continuing weekly Zoom services, with some discussion of when we may again have safe, limited reopening of our church considering Covid safety restrictions.

Our weekly scripture lesson was Mark 1: 9-15. In this scripture, Jesus interacts with John. He was baptized by John in the Jordan River. In coming out of the river, Jesus saw the heaven being torn open, and a heavenly voice told him that he was a beloved son, and God was pleased. He was sent into the wilderness and tempted by Satan. After John was imprisoned, Jesus went into Galilee and proclaimed that God’s kingdom has come near. Pastor Sandi then showed us pictures of the topography of Galilee, with clay, fertile dirt and stones. She reminded us that we come from dirt: life may be smooth or have cracks in it.

We miss our kids! Talking about dirt reminds us of kids playing in the dirt! We have several new babies in our congregation we have not met yet, and other little ones who have changed so much in a year!

In thanks to our Penn Yan Public Health Department first responders, our church gave 30 health department workers prayer shawls which were made lovingly by our church ladies.

Remember and consider donating to UMCOR at this time. UMCOR is sending monitory donations and help to people near Houston Texas, suffering from burst pipes, loss of water, electricity and general misery from damaged due to recent prolonged sub-freezing temperatures.

Several Bible studies have commenced including a Lenten study based on “Les Miserables,” by Victor Hugo, and another study of the Ten Commandments.

Don’t forget the reverse advent calendar. Lent is about giving to others!

If you want to join our Zoom church services, please contact Pastor Sandi.

Penn Yan First Baptist Church

Many of you know that First Baptist holds a covenant with Habitat for Humanity of Yates County and that usually we hold a Super Sub Sale early in February to coincide with Super Bowl Sunday. This year, due to Covid restrictions, we decided to cancel that fundraiser. However, with the help of the Passage Fund, we still were able to make a donation of $800 to Yates County Habitat of Humanity. This spring, YC Habitat will begin work on their 19th home!

Our congregation loves to support the Living Well through their Lenten Calendar for Needs 'n Things. Donations are already piling up and we look forward to watching it grow through March and until Easter.

Through the American Baptist Home Mission Societies (abhms.org/afc) we begin our collection for the America for Christ offering. Our goal for 2021 is to raise $600. We have the opportunity to impact and transform lives across the United States and Puerto Rico.

Our worship services are held Sundays at 10 am, if you can't make it in person you can view on our Facebook page: First Baptist Church Penn Yan, NY.

On Sunday, Feb. 14, First Baptist Church Of Penn Yan honored Stan Ovens for his 32-plus years as Church Treasurer and for his loving service to the church and community as well as his far-reaching mission work. With new opportunities on the horizon for this incredible man, we wish him well and safe adventures ahead. “Well done, good and faithful servant!”