December 2016 "Courier"

St. Peter's
"Courier" 474 Vine St.
Bethlehem, PA 18015
610 867-0519

Volume 62, Issue 12

December, 2016



Therefore we have been buried with him by baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.
Romans 4:6

Greetings and peace to you all!

As I was thinking and praying about what to write about for this month's courier, several thoughts came to mind. I could write about the need for preparation during this season of Advent, perhaps a reflection that would serve as a prelude to Christmas, maybe a thought provoking reflection on our new "Task Force," or even some words of wisdom regarding directions we take in life. The choices this month seemed endless. Then I thought about the picture shown on the previous page.

A wonderful friend and colleague of mine keeps such a picture on her desk. She told me that when she asks people what they see on the page, more often than not, they will respond with; "I see a black circle." What people often fail to see is the great area they have to create their own pictures, write their own verses….

What a wonderful lesson, not only for the beginning of Advent… but truly for life! In reading Luther's Small Catechism in regards to the significance of Holy Baptism, Luther writes: "It signifies that the old person in us with all sins and evil desires to be drowned and die through daily sorrow for sin and through repentance, and on the other hand that daily a new person is to come forth and rise up to live before God in righteousness and purity forever."

Think about it… our faith informs us that with each morning we awaken, with every time we remember our baptism, we are given the incredible gift from God that we have a "blank canvas" in front of us. We get to chose how we will prepare during the Advent season… and if we don't like our choice…. We get to choose anew whenever we'd like. As a community of faith we get to choose how we will proceed through this difficult financial time period…. And if we don't like our choice…. We get to choose again! Concerned about a certain relationship, your vocation, how you spend your time? A blank canvas is yours to "re-draw" your picture.

This is one of the many gifts that our God shares with you and I, the ability to paint our own picture, the ability to leave the past where it best belongs… in the past… and become the children of God that we desire to be! May this Advent season be a season of renewal and refreshment, may we each experience the peace, joy and love of our God in ways that always seemed too challenging in the past, may our blank canvas be filled with beauty and glory!

Peace and Blessings

Exciting Upcoming Events!!!

The 51st annual Community Advent Breakfast will be held on Saturday, December 3, at Moravian Village in Bethlehem. Doors open at 8 AM and breakfast will be served at 8:30. Come early! There are no reserved seats and some 250 people usually attend. Advanced Tickets are necessary for this wonderful event!

Breakfast with Santa!
St. Peter's Advocacy Team, Thrivent members, and our youth are partnering to share a wonderful memory with you and your children by offering "Breakfast with Santa!" Join us on December 10, 2016 in our social Room

The event will feature a breakfast, a show from St. Paul's "Puppeteers," and yes a visit from the jolly old man himself..... SANTA! Children who participate in this event will also receive a small gift from good ole St. Nick after he shares the Christmas story with them.

Due to the nature of this event we will need to have RSVP's returned to St. Peter's not later than November 28th in order to purchase the necessary food and gifts for the children.

Wreaths Across America!
On Saturday December 17 at the noon hour, sisters and brothers from Christ from across the Lehigh Valley will be gathering at the Fountain Hill Cemetery to honor veterans from this country whose final resting place is in Fountain Hill. This service will prove to be moving and honoring as people from across our community have rallied behind this effort. Please consider coming out and joining and laying a wreath at the grave of a veteran. Our time together will include: the posting of colors, prayers, musical offerings from Freedom High School fife and drum corps, guest remarks and the laying of wreaths!

Annual Congregational Meeting!
Our annual congregational meeting to approve the 2017 operating budget and elect new congregational council members will be held immediately following our worship experience on December 4, 2017. Join us for this important meeting.

St. Peter's organizes a new Task Force!
During our last "Town Hall" meeting, the leadership of our community of faith presented the realities of our current financial situation to our congregation. During this meeting, we learned that we are expecting to have spent approximately $90,000 from our savings during 2016. Even though efforts were made by our budget ministry team to lower this deficit spending for 2017 there was little progress made.

It was also determined that we should begin a "task force" to look at alternatives for our future. The Task force will have three(3) smaller groups working to gather information to determine "real world" possibilities:
a. Option A: Investigate the possibility of entering into a more "cooperative" ministry arrangement including sharing of Financial expenditures with another community of faith(s).
i. This group will be convened by James Ritchie/Rich Hawk. Currently this group also has Jackie Radtke and Michele Lloyd as participants.
b. Option B: Investigate the possibility of placing our property on the real estate market and using the proceeds of this sale to establish our ministry in more efficient space while maintaining our independence as a community of faith.
i. This group will be convened by David Kolman and currently this group also has Marianne Napavarik and Al Radtke as participants
c. Option C: Investigate "viable" budgetary alternatives taking into account, current and necessary staffing and current/realistic income potential. This option should also be investigating the potential to generate additional income through use of building (Head-start, Pastors and Guardians of Holy Israel, Lehigh Valley Christian Chinese Church, Diacon ministries)
i. This group will be convened by Kenda Riley and currently includes Lois Ritchie, Gina DeAngelis, Tony DeAngelis Jr., and Jordan Hawk
If you might be interested in serving on this Task Force, please contact Pastor Jerry or Kenda Riley. We are asking that all people who gather at St. Peter's offer their prayers in support of our congregational leadership during this time of deliberate visioning.

Updates on the progress of the Task Force will be available in each edition of the "Courer" please share relevant information with your family and friends.

Would you or someone you know like to join our Community of Faith?

St. Peter's will be receiving new brothers and sisters in Christ into our community of faith at our worship experience scheduled for January 29th, year of our Lord 2017! If you or someone you know may be interested in uniting with our community on this day, please contact Pastor Jerry not later than January 8, 2017! Exciting things are happening within our midst and we are hopeful that we will receive more sisters and brothers in Christ to help us to continue to advance the "Good News" of God's love for the world!

Ministries to help us KNOW God on a
deeper more personal level

December - Confirmation Class
There will be NO CONFIRMATION CLASS held on the first Saturday of December. Instead, we are asking that ALL CONFIRMATION STUDENTS make themselves available to help prepare and serve breakfast at the Santa Breakfast Activity currently scheduled for December 10, 2016 to receive "SPECIAL CREDIT" for your confirmation curriculum. Please contact Cindy Kemp for information on Santa Breakfast

This month in worship

Congregations on Mission Together (CoMiT) Holden Evening prayer worship
Wednesday November 30 at St. Paul Lutheran Church 1059 Delaware Avenue
Every Wednesday during Advent we will celebrate "Holden Evening Prayer" worship with Holy Communion at the noon hour and again at 7PM at communities of faith across Bethlehem. Prior to the evening worship we offer a fellowship meal in the social room of the designated congregation. Consider joining your sisters and brothers in Christ from across Bethlehem for this beautiful evening prayer worship. Rev. Jennifer Bramble from Holy Trinity/Salem will be preaching at today's worship experiences.

Saturday December 3, 2016 - Funeral worship for Shawn Lance
As many of you are aware, our brother in Christ, Shawn Lance entered the Church Triumphant following a car accident on November 13, 2016. Shawn had recently completed a cross-country trip to California where he was excited about career possibilities. After much effort, Shawn's body will return to Pennsylvania to it's final resting place. St. Peter's will host a funeral worship for Shawn on Saturday December 3, 2016 at noon. If you might be able to serve as an usher or greeter for this worship, please let Kenda Riley know. All are welcome to come to this worship experience!

Sunday December 4, 2016 - Second Sunday of Advent
At the heart of our Advent preparation stands John the Baptist, who calls us to repent and make a new beginning. As the darkness increases we turn toward the light of Christ's coming. For Christian He is the root of Jesse, the righteous judge Who welcomes all, especially the poor and meek of the earth. We wait with hope for that day when the wolf will dwell with the lamb, and there will be no more hurt or destruction. From the Lord's table we are sent in the spirit of John the Baptist to proclaim that in Christ the kingdom of God has come near!

December 7, 2016 - Healing Prayer worship with Holy Communion
The First Wednesday of December we will be gathering together at 10:30 within our Chapel to experience a "Healing Worship" with Holy Communion. This worship experience allows for time for each person assembled to have prayers lifted up to God on their behalf and the "laying on of hands" for healing. Please consider joining us for this beautiful worship experience.

Congregations on Mission Together (CoMiT) Holden Evening prayer worship
Wednesday December 7 at Messiah Lutheran Church 2020 Worthington Avenue
Every Wednesday during Advent we will celebrate "Holden Evening Prayer" worship with Holy Communion at the noon hour and again at 7PM at communities of faith across Bethlehem. Prior to the evening worship we offer a fellowship meal in the social room of the designated congregation. Consider joining your sisters and brothers in Christ from across Bethlehem for this beautiful evening prayer worship. Rev. James Muske from St. Matthew's will be preaching at today's worship experiences.

Sunday December 11, 2016 - Third Sunday of Advent
A note of joyful expectation marks today's worship. Isaiah announces that the desert shall rejoice and blossom. Jesus points to signs of God's reign: the blind see, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear. We wait with patience for the coming of the Lord, even as we rejoice at His presence among us this day: in word and holy super, in church and in our homes, in silent reflection and in works of justice and love. We pray that God would open our eyes and ears to the wonders of Christ's advent among us.

Congregations on Mission Together (CoMiT) Holden Evening prayer worship
Wednesday December 14 at St. Matthew Lutheran Church 521 East Locust St.
Every Wednesday during Advent we will celebrate "Holden Evening Prayer" worship with Holy Communion at the noon hour and again at 7PM at communities of faith across Bethlehem. Prior to the evening worship we offer a fellowship meal in the social room of the designated congregation. Consider joining your sisters and brothers in Christ from across Bethlehem for this beautiful evening prayer worship. Rev. Jerry Kulp from St. Peter's will be preaching at today's worship experiences.

Sunday December 18, 2016 - Lessons and Carols!
At this morning's 9:00AM worship experience, St. Peter's once again celebrates a wonderful Advent Tradition as we participate in a Lessons and Carols worship for the season! Join us as special music coupled with Holy Scripture celebrate the season which is upon us!

Sunday December 18, 2016 - 2:00PM - Longest Night Worship Experience
While Advent is a season of hope and Christmas is a season of joy, not everyone feels hopeful or like celebrating. Grief, illness, again, depression, loneliness, unemployment, and loss are magnified. Even those who are not struggling with losses may feel the stress of preparations and expectations around Christmas time. The "Longest Night" worship experience held in our chapel provides an opportunity for solace during the chaotic days surrounding the celebration of Christmas. We gather together seeking healing and room to share grief, sadness, loneliness, or confusion when these emotions often feel out of place during the season!

Congregations on Mission Together (CoMiT) Holden Evening prayer worship
Wednesday December 21 at St. Peter's.
Every Wednesday during Advent we will celebrate "Holden Evening Prayer" worship with Holy Communion at the noon hour and again at 7PM at communities of faith across Bethlehem. Prior to the evening worship we offer a fellowship meal in the social room of the designated congregation. Consider joining your sisters and brothers in Christ from across Bethlehem for this beautiful evening prayer worship. Rev. Dody Siegfried from Messiah will be preaching at today's worship experiences.

Saturday December 24, 2016 - 4PM - Christmas Pageant with Holy Communion
Consider joining us for our Christmas Pageant celebration with the young people of our community of faith on Christmas Eve. Hear the story of the birth of the Messiah shared by the youngest of our believers! Sing songs celebrating the season, and enjoy the company of family of friends in this exciting celebration of Christmas!

Saturday December 24, 2016 -7PM- Traditional Christmas Eve worship
Join us for this beautiful and moving celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ as the light coming into the world! This worship experience includes Holy Communion, beautiful music, and of course the traditional singing of "Silent Night" by candlelight!

Sunday December 25, 2016 - 10:30AM - Christmas Day worship- Hymns & song
Please note time change! Join us for a celebration of Christmas during this worship experience. Over the last few years, this worship experience has become one of our favorite worship experiences of the year. Hear again the story of the birth of Jesus told through Scripture and song! Celebrate the day with the singing of some of your favorite Christmas Carols! Truly a day to feel the love and joy in the birth of the Messiah!

Sunday January 1, 2017 - 10:30AM - Name of Jesus
Please note time change! From the beginning, by virtue of our baptism, we are called Christian. We were "Christ-ened" at the font. Bearing His name, we share the same Father and are invited to address Him intimately: Abba! Jesus bears our sins in humble obedience to the will of the Father. Today we pray the the mind of Christ, who name we bear, would be our own. It is a good way to begin, again, another year!

CoMiT Saturday Evening Worship - Every Saturday evening at 5PM we are invited to join our sisters and brothers in Christ associated with CoMiT for worship. This worship experience which includes Holy Communion takes place at Messiah Lutheran Church on Easton Avenue. Pastor Dody Siegrfried normally presides at this worship experience however, Pastor Jerry will be officiating at this worship experience on December 3, 2016. If you have other plans for Sunday morning this worship offers a wonderful alternative. Consider coming on out and joining with others as together we worship the Lord!

Bible Study and Christmas Tea

Tuesday morning, December 6th at 9:30 am, all women are welcome to attend the Women of the ELCA Bible study and Christmas Tea in the Social Room. The study time will focus on the preparation time of ADVENT. Advent is a season that can be overwhelmed by all the doing and excitement in getting ready for Christmas, but Advent is an important piece in preparing for the true meaning of Christmas. The study looks at the aspects of Advent~~waiting, anticipation, preparation, making ready, a time of darkness, a time of possibility, a time to ponder as Mary did, a time to ask the question, "what wants to be born in me this season?" So, come, gather, and share in the study time with other women of faith. The other Advent session of Bible study will be Tuesday, December 20th, from 9:30 to 11 am in the Social Room.

Around 11:30, the Christmas tea will begin. Bring along your favorite tea/coffee cup and a snack to share, and enjoy time together with your St. Peter's sisters. You are welcome to come just to the tea if that works into your schedule. Should there not be Bible Study on the 6th, the Tea will happen on the 20th.

Since we have entered the season of variable weather remember that Bible study cancels when Bethlehem Area School District has delayed opening or is closed. Always call St. Peter's (610-867-0519) and check if not sure. Always better to stay safe if not sure about coming out!!

St. Peter's Men's Fellowship
Each Wednesday morning at 6:30 AM all men are invited to participate in our St. Peter's Men's Fellowship Group! Our group is currently studying the book "What Keeps you up at Night?" written by one of our favorite authors Pete Wilson. Coffee is always brewing and our time together also includes an opportunity for mutual support and encouragement to one another.

Stories of Faith Bible Study
Join us every Thursday at 10:00 AM or 6:30 PM in our Trauger room for Stories of Faith Bible Study. During this 90 minute session we will take a closer look at the Scripture assigned for the coming Sunday's worship experience and explore the questions and thoughts that you bring to these Scripture lessons! There is no prior Bible Study experience necessary to join this lively discussion, simply bring an open heart and willing ears and see where the Spirit will lead our discussion. A fellowship meal precedes our evening study at 5:30 PM. Consider joining us!

"Brewing Theology!"
Join your friends for a wonderful discussion in a relaxing atmosphere with the ability to share in beverage and food! Brewing Theology is a night when sisters and brothers get together at TAPS located on 378 South of Bethlehem for informal discussions about faith and the world around us. This month we will come together on December 5, 2016 at 7 PM (though some of us are there earlier to eat) and share time of fellowship together. Our gathering normally lasts until approximately 8 PM. This is a great place to ask questions and simply process the world around us through a faith perspective!

Sunday School!
Our Christian Education ministry team is pleased to announce that St. Peter's will once again be offering Sunday school for the coming academic year! We have two classes: Pre-school through 2nd grade which is being led by Tami Ihle-Holmes, and 3rd grade through 6th grade being led by Lois Ritchie.

On the 1st, 4th, and 5th Sunday's classes will be held in a "traditional" format.

On the 2nd Sunday of each month our children will be experiencing something new! "PMT (Popcorn and Movie Time)" will be held immediately following worship.

On the 3rd Sunday of this month the confirmation class will be leading our younger sisters in brothers in fun learning!

Please consider allowing your child to be part of this exciting ministry!

Ministries to help us "SHARE" what
we know about God with the world around us!

Christmas Food Baskets
We are once again looking for you to help with those financially less fortunate in our community of faith. Please consider sharing some food for Christmas day celebrations. "Tags" for this ministry can be found on the "Giving Tree" located in the lobby behind our worship space on November 27, 2016. If you'd like to help with this ministry but missed an opportunity to "grab a tag," please contact Sandy or Ted Birchmeier to see how you might be able to help!

Hats and Mittens for Head Start Friends!
Please join us in our efforts of providing a wonderful Christmas gift for the children who gather in our Church complex during the week! As you leave worship on December 4 or 11, please take a "tag" off the Christmas "giving tree" located in the lobby behind our worship space. Purchase hats and mittens for these wonderful children within our midst and bring them back to St. Peter's. We will be sharing these gifts combine with books that we have with the children and give them an extra special treat for the season!


December and the season of Advent are a wonderful time to remember to purchase items for the Back Pack Buddy program that St. Peter's supports with St. Paul's Lutheran in Fountain Hill. When out shopping remember to buy some easy to prepare, healthy foods~~microwaveable pastas, applesauce, fruit cups, soups, crackers, peanut butter and jelly, cereal, puddings~~then bring them along to St. Peter's and place in the shopping cart in the upper narthex hallway. As soon as the cart is full, the items will be taken to St. Paul's and then back packs will be filled for the children who won't be getting their school breakfast and lunches during the Christmas break.

New Bethany Ministries
The New Bethany Food Pantry is always in need of non-perishable food for their food bank that provides emergency food for people/families in need. NBM receives quite a bit of help around the holidays, but in the month of January etc. the shelves are often bare. You can help our neighbors in need by adding an item to your food order each time and bringing it to St. Peter's. Place the items in the laundry baskets marked with NBM Food Bank found in the Social Room, the Lower Narthex and at the Christian Ed front door. Jesus asks that we feed our neighbors and care for them, and together we can make a difference.

Thrift Shop Volunteers
We are always looking for additional Thrift Shop Volunteers to help facilitate the South Bethlehem Thrift shop on the 2nd and 4th Tuesday of each month at 10AM (This month December 13 and 27 .) Please contact Evelyn Smith if you might be interested in helping with this important ministry!

Knitters' Group Gathering in December

Anyone who enjoys time knitting or crocheting is welcome on Monday night, December 12 from 6:30 to 8 pm in the UCF room. Those gathered work on their own projects, especially those needed for gift giving season!! It is a relaxed time of conversation, stitching and prayers.
Some are just learning the arts and others are very accomplished at the craft. In January, the group will go back to the regular 3rd Monday of the month schedule, January 16th.

Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program

The Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program, also known as LIHEAP, helps low-income families pay their heating bills. LIHEAP is a grant that offers assistance in the form of a cash grant, sent directly to the utility company, or a crisis grant for households in immediate danger of being without heat. LIHEAP applications will be accepted starting November 1. People can apply for the LIHEAP benefits online by using COMPASS, a website where you can apply for LIHEAP and many other services. Alternatively, people can download an application for LIHEAP benefits and return it to their local county assistance office, or file the application at their local county assistance office in person.

Youth Gathering Fundraisers!
The youth of our congregation are beginning their efforts to be part of the 2018 Youth Gathering which will be held in Houston Texas! Here are some easy ways we can all help in their efforts!

Gift card program - Every Sunday after worship we have gift cards available for Weis, Giant and Shop Rite. The gift cards are in $25 denominations. For every gift card you purchase our Youth receive 5% of the purchase price. This is a great way to not have to spend any money that you wouldn't otherwise spend on groceries or gas yet help the youth of St. Peter's as they begin to prepare to be part of the Youth Gathering in 2018!

Sweet Treat for our Sweet Sound!
Do you like cookies? Our Advocacy Ministry Team is providing the ingredients to make your cookies at home…. Directions include! Think about it! No measuring… just add the liquids, stir, and bake! Then sit down, relax, and enjoy your "homemade no fuss or mess" cookies! Order forms are available on the desk leading into the Christian Education Addition. Any questions about the ministry please ask Cindy Kemp. Order forms must be returned by December 4th, 2016 and will be ready to be picked up on December 11th. All proceeds from this sale will be shared with St. Peter's Organ Fund!

Partnership Opportunities Abound!

Pastors and Guardians of Holy Israel Community of Faith
Each week, normally on Thursday evening and Saturday evening, the Pastors and Guardians of Holy Israel Community of faith meet in our facilities. This community of faith which offers ministry in both Spanish and English has been meeting in our facilities for approximately 6 months and has truly been a blessing. Led by Pastors Victor and Marilyn Mendoza an enthusiastic community of between 50-60 people worshipping our Lord!

Lehigh Valley Christian Chinese Church
Every week the Lehigh Valley Christian Chinese Church offers an extension of their ministry in our facilities. On Thursday's at noon Christian Chinese students from Lehigh University gather in our social room for Bible Study and on Friday evenings at 6PM approximately 80 sisters and brothers in Christ gather to worship our Lord and share God's teaching.

Financial Stewardship update
In 2016 are attempting to keep our community of faith better
informed as to our financial status. Each month we will post an offering "goal" for the month and each week in this space you will see how we are doing towards that "goal."

The Goal for November, 2016 $24,108.00
Received through November 20, 2016 12,457.00
Goal remaining for November $11,650.00

Year to Date Goal through October 2016 $174,851.00
Received thru October $174,082.00
Missing 2016 goal by ($ 69.00)

Please note: The congregational budget which was approved for 2016 included disbursements from our reserve funds of $94,296.00. Theoretically every dollar under our "giving goal" will be an additional dollar necessary from our reserve fund to sustain our ministries. Every dollar over our "giving goal" will theoretically "save" a dollar from being taken from our reserve funds. If our budget held "true to form", based on current year giving patterns, we would need to take $94,365 from our reserve funds to meet anticipated expenses.

The goal for December 2016 - $45,933.00

We will be attempting to publish the January 2017 edition of the "Courier" by Saturday December 24, 2016! Please have any information for inclusion in this edition to the church office by Monday December 19, 2016! Thank you

St. Peter's Vision Statement
"As children of God, living under God's Law of Love, we welcome and accept all to celebrate the Good News! Our desire is to make disciples for Jesus Christ and share in proclaiming God's story!"

Speaking of the internet, you can also "like" St. Peter's on Facebook to receive updates from the community!

Are you on St. Peter's email list? We regularly send out daily prayers, reflections from the pastor, and news updates to people who desire to receive email from the community of faith. If you'd like to receive these emails, please contact the Church office!

St. Peter's is a
Reconciling in Christ Congregation

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