Special to The Chronicle-Express

First Baptist Church

On Sunday, Dec. 12, we will receive our Retired Ministers & Missionaries Offering. Our goal this year is $700 to show our collective appreciation for the extraordinary commitment of those who serve God's people.  

A short Christmas play will be presented on Sunday, Dec. 19 and Christmas cards are being sent out to those who are living in the three nursing facilities. We are helping to collect instant oatmeal for the Backpack Program.

We want to be early to remind you that we will have our Christmas Eve Candlelight service at 7 p.m. so that you have time to invite family and friends to join you.

Thank you for pausing here to read our news. We hope to see you in church on Sunday!

Branchport Methodist Church

Many hands helped to decorate the sanctuary the Saturday before Advent. The nativity scene is on the front lawn again, the gazebo is lit up with its own little Christmas tree and soon the Memorial tree will have its lights also. This is a 45-year tradition with our church where you may help shine Christ’s light on the community by honoring someone with our Lights of Love project. Just send your contribution of $2 for each person you want to honor to Branchport Methodist Church, c/o Dave Thorn, Financial Secretary, P.O. Box 2, Keuka Park, NY 14478.

The first Sunday of Advent centered on Hope.  We are encouraged to share the hope of Christ with all we meet, by noticing, listening, and praying.

May the blessings of the Advent season be with you all. You are welcome to join us for Sunday worship at 10:45 am. Our Christmas Eve service will be on Dec. 24  at 7:15 p.m., both in person and on Zoom.

St. Mark's Episcopal Church

Until March 2020, not much thought was given to connections. Oh certainly, the “popular” kids (and adults!) seemed to connect with everyone. Those who were not in the “in crowd” seemed to connect with fewer people. Connections were assumed, and nurturing them was either done, or not done. You see, the ability to connect or reconnect was always there.  

And BAM. Suddenly connections meant something. That stranger at the coffee shop who you shared a smile with daily was missed. The loud coworker who interrupted your workflow with his or her boisterous laughter seemed welcome sitting in the silence of an empty or near empty house. The rushing about to get children to playdates and dance and sports was a distant memory, as were those that you ran into along the way.  

As “pods” developed, our hearts opened again to the sound of laughter. Perhaps that laughter originated from a masked face, but it was good. And we all realized how much we missed it. Small groups began to gather, and the laughter multiplied, and yet there is still hesitation to connect in ways that used to be so common like a handshake, or a touch of a hand on a shoulder, or even a kiss on a forehead. 

As our pods remain small, we lost some freedom to explore new ideas and share our thoughts and fears. Certainly, that is done within our pods and families, but the connections that help us to grow and inspire us don’t always come from those closest to us. It is rare now to engage in a conversation with a stranger. It would be unusual to join a new group right now. That connection that comes when you click with a stranger is always inspirational, and currently, rare. The human spirit seeks that. Each individual looks for comfort in ways that have always worked for them. Each individual also steps a bit outside that comfort zone in places that are safe and welcoming.   

The Search Committee at St. Mark's has been working hard to put together two things.  First, the profile of who we are. The second is the profile of the characteristics of the rector that we hope to have join us. What has been profoundly clear in this work is that we offer comfort for those who seek that, and a safe place for those who seek to step outside their comfort zones. In doing so, we connect. We connect in spite of all of our differences. Perhaps we connect because of them! Because we as humans connect differently and each way – a touch, shared laughter, a rub, a kiss, a conversation – is perfect.   

We welcome you to join us as we connect with one another on Sunday mornings at 9 am for our Worship service, and again at 10, as we enjoy a coffee hour together.