August 26, 2019

Dear FPC—

              What a wonderful, touching time of worship we had on Sunday, followed by an AMAZING celebration afterwards.  Being your pastor has been such a gift to me—I am so grateful for you!  Thank you for all the ways you welcomed, encouraged, nudged, put up with, and helped me over the last two years.  Alice and I LOVE this congregation and we will miss you all terribly. 

              Thank you again for all the gifts, cards and kind wishes.  And CAKE!  So good.  That Friendship Garden from the kids was particularly stunning.  You are amazing! 

              As we say farewell, we leave you in a remarkable place—right in the middle of God’s plan!  You are safe and provided for in His hands.  Your next pastor is, I believe, already committed to coming to you.  Your session is prepared and ready to lead you through the “gap” time.  The fall programs are launching over the next week or two.  God is at work! 

              I cannot wait to see what God does in and through you in the next years.  You are a very special congregation and His call on you is strong and clear.  May God continue to bless you and encourage you as you move with Him into the future he has already planned for you!  Grace and peace to you in the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, who is crazy about you!

               With gratitude for each of you and much love,

 

              Pastor Steve

August 19, 2019

Dear FPC—

              What a joy it was to be back home, worshiping with you!  Thank you to Anna Hamilton for inspiring our time of remembering our baptisms and rededicating ourselves to Jesus.  What a moving experience to have that impromptu outpouring of love for God—right in the middle of our worship service!  Hallelujah!  And thank you to the Grace Notes and Margaret for some wonderful music. 

              Actually living out Jesus’ command to make disciples is really challenging.  One of the best things I’ve seen on how each of us can actually do that is here.  The article includes a link to the video I mentioned of the mom who prayed for 5 friends with surprising results and it also describes a great way to engage with friends around the Bible.  If you click through on the information about the Discovery Bible Studies you’ll find that it is very similar to what we did with Immerse—but with a key addition!  --looking for a way to share what you are learning each week with someone else and sharing about how it went. 

              This Sunday we will be focusing on God’s upside down Kingdom.  I was inspired by a sermon by Mike Breaux that  I heard over the summer to share this great summary of this Kingdom life that Jesus invites us into.  This is the very heart of Jesus’ gospel, I hope you can join us for worship at 10:30! 

 

Blessings to you!
Pastor Steve

 

July 22, 2019

Dear FPC—

                Hello  Friends!  What a wonderful time of worship we had on Sunday.  I look forward to hearing about your experiences with praying “God use me” prayers over the next weeks! 

On Monday we had a very special time of remembering and celebrating the life of Lavern Gould.  Thank you to all who came and who so graciously provided lunch and hospitality to the whole Gould family and their guests.  Thanks also to the Grace Notes and to Margaret, as well as Jeanie, Stephanie, and Megan for the wonderful music. 

              Looking ahead, we will be focusing on the why of our worship—why do we do what we do in our worship services.  Over the next four Sundays we’ll look at times of music and worship, celebrating the Lord’s Supper, the reading and preaching of the Word, and the sacrament of Baptism.  Adam will be preaching the next 3 Sundays and then I’ll be back on August 18. 

              Alice and I are looking forward to our trip and to getting back home with you.  See you in a few weeks! 

 

              Pastor Steve 

             

July 15, 2019

Dear FPC—

              I am saddened to report that our brother Lavern Gould passed away shortly before our worship service on Sunday morning.  He was at home and surrounded by his family.  His memorial service will be held on Monday, July 22 at First Presbyterian.  There will be visitation in the chapel starting at 8:45 am, the service will be at 10 am in the Sanctuary.  There will be a reception and light lunch in Geneva Hall afterwards (thank you Presbyterian Women!).  The service will be jointly officiated by Pastor Steve and Bishop Jim Fronk, who was Lavern’s home teacher for many years.  Please join us and please keep Norma, Peggy and their whole family in your prayers.

 

              On Sunday we had a wonderful communion service as we remembered that “nobody’s perfect”—even and especially ourselves!  This Sunday we will conclude this short series on who we are as a church.  We’ll see how Anything is Possible—with Jesus.  No matter our circumstances, no matter our past—Jesus is able to do infinitely more than we can ask or imagine, through the power at work within you.  So come and let’s celebrate what God is up to in our lives and within our congregation! 

 On a different note—Adam is off to Triennium with about FOUR THOUSAND young Presbyterians!  He is leading our statewide group there.  Please be in prayer for all the kids there and for leaders like Adam!

              Finally, our friends at Trinity Presbyterian are presenting a concert this Friday, July 19, at 7 pm, by Karl Heimbuck, called “The Gospel of Protest in Song.”  Cost is $10. 

 

              Blessings to you this sunny week!

              Pastor Steve

July 8, 2019

Dear FPC—

              Summer has really arrived now!  I just want to soak my feet in a pool and eat a popsicle!  Last weekend Alice and I had some fawns in our backyard (among our newly planted shrubs!).  Their mom ran away, abandoning them when we went out to shoo them off.  The poor fawns didn’t know what to do.  I was struck how our God is a much better parent than that doe—he does not abandon us when we need him or when things get scary.  He doesn’t leave us running back and forth, uncertain where safety is.  Safety is with him. 

              Last Sunday we celebrated the fact that we want to be a church where everybody’s welcome.  I encourage each of you to welcome someone—invite them to worship with us!  This week we’ll be looking at how “nobody’s perfect.”  This is a freeing message—it means that we recognize that we are just as broken and messed up as the next person.  None of us are in a position to look down our noses at anyone else.  Part of being welcome is not being judged!  Come and worship with us as we share the Lord’s Supper together—a bunch of beggars who have found the bread of life. 

              Blessings to you as you enjoy this heart of summer!

 

Pastor Steve

July 2, 2019

Dear FPC—

Happy Independence Day!  I love this chance to celebrate and appreciate our country and our freedom.  Freedom from human tyranny is a very good thing.  But “freedom” from God is not good at all.  It actually leads to death.  A branch is made to abide in the vine; “freedom” is not a positive for the branch!  We were made to abide in Jesus like a branch abides in a vine—that way we can be nourished and we naturally bear fruit.  It is what we are made to do.  Trust in God as you rest in Him!

               As you go OUT to share God’s love this week, look for opportunities to have a conversation with someone.  Here are a few conversation starters you can try—but don’t forget to LISTEN to the answer!

 

What is one highlight from 2019 so far? 

What is one thing that you have learned about yourself in the past year or so?

How would your close circle describe you?

Where are you most “at home?”

Who has been the most influential in your life? --What parts of them do you see in yourself?

What is one thing I/we wouldn’t know about you without you telling me/us?

When you are down, how/where do you find hope? 

If you could do one thing, and you knew you wouldn’t fail, what would it be?

 

The goal is not to get a turn to tell the other person something, it is to get to know someone else better and show you care about them.  Let the Spirit guide you in your responses, and lead with love, not correction. 

               I hope you can join us this Sunday for worship, our focus will be on the fact that everyone is welcome at FPC.  That includes you! 

 

Enjoy the Summer,

Pastor Steve