Church Chatter - January 1, 2017

January 1, 2017
St. Peter's "Church Chatter!"
Whether a first- time guest with us or a life-long member, "Church Chatter" is designed to be a weekly publication for the family of Christ who gathers at


And now the word of the Lord is ringing out from you to people everywhere
1 Thessalonians 1:8a (NLT)


Greetings and peace to you all!


As I was thinking and praying about what to share with all of you on this the eve of a New Year, I was struck by the sheer joy of the picture above! Without hesitation, this young man grabbed the church bell on Christmas morning to "ring in" the birth of the Christ child! For many of those sisters and brothers in Christ who participate in this annual tradition at St. Peter's in the moment they "grab" the rope, there are no worries about the past; they are not overly concerned about their future, they simply relish in the joy of the moment!


You and I can learn something from this illustration. Far too many of us; far too often get "mixed up" in time. We can focus on events that have occurred in our past. Events that have been traumatic and have defined how we perceive the world. Events that have been glorious and we try to "get back" to the feeling that we once felt. We can focus on events that we believe will come in our future and begin preparing and planning with such zealousness that we raise our level of expectations and focus too much of our energy and resources on insuring that the future will be "just right!"


Yet when I bear witness to the work of God in this community; most often I see God working in "moments." "Moments" when a child's eyes light up with fascination as they hear the Christmas story shared in ways that they understand. "Moments" when an older man sees the fruits of his labor as that labor impacts a new generation of believers. "Moments" when a recent widow feels the love of sisters in Christ who share a word of comfort and peace. "Moments" when a person's hair on the back of their neck stands up when they absolutely; positively feel the presence of God dwelling upon them. "Moments" when friends, who once had fear of what their future might hold, find joy and meaning in the changes of their life that have occurred.


As you and I stand on the cusp of a New Year, it is natural to "look back" and take stock of the year that has passed with all its joys and with all its sorrows. It is also natural to "look forward" to the coming year and have new hopes and new dreams for how the year will "unfold" before us. Yet on this New Year's Day; I would encourage you to live in the innumerable moments that our Lord provides each and every day of our lives. For our greatest witness to the glory and love of God is often found in these moments and if we're not paying attention they can "slip" beyond our eyes and they will be gone forever!


May 2017 be filled with many moments that we all bear witness to of God's incredible and enduring love for the world. May the Word of the Lord "Ring" out from this place to people everywhere!
Peace for now
PJ


Exciting Upcoming Events!!!


Learning Ministry Day - hosted at St. Peter's January 28, 2017

Growing in faith takes place in all the ministries that are done in and through your congregation, not just Sunday School.

Anyone interested in the Education Ministry of St. Peter's should register for Learning Ministries Day which is a day of workshops, a keynote speaker, and lunch being held on January 28th, at St. Peter's. Learning Ministries Day is designed and sponsored by the Synod Faith Formation Resource Team and invites people from throughout the Northeastern PA Synod to participate in this day of learning and sharing for anyone who is interested in Christian Lifelong Learning~ Sunday Church School Teachers, Education Ministry Team members, Congregation Council members. See Kenda Riley if you'd like to register for the workshops, a keynote speaker, and lunch. Pastor Jerry will lead the opening devotions for the day.

Take a look at the kinds of workshops that are offered at this year's Learning Ministries Day. This year we have twenty different workshops covering a wide range of topics that relate in some way to our topic of growing in faith. Perhaps there is something here for you.

Pastors and congregation council members, for instance, will undoubtedly find Beth Lewis' workshop focusing on turning around faith-based organizations for the 21st century to be helpful along with her workshop on mining the leadership gifts in your congregation.

People interested in creation care can participate in a workshop to discover tools for helping to make their congregation more "green."

For youth and their advisors, there are workshops on servant ministry, creating a youth worship service, and how to help heal the wounds of racism.

Is social justice a concern for you? If so, then check out the workshops that will take a look at the ELCA social statement focusing on "Faith, Sexism, and Justice" or practicing faith in public life or a workshop focusing on healing the wounds of racism.

Bible studies for youth and adults, looking at new ways to implement a new Sunday School model, crafts for Reformation, Reformation history, science and faith, mindful ministry, Luther's hymns, faith and literature (Hogwarts anyone?), a Bible study on Reformation, confirmation ministry - these are all just a few of the workshop topics that will be part of our day together

For more information, you may also visit www.godslove.org

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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!


JANUARY 2017 TASK FORCE UPDATE:
Our next full Task Force meeting is currently scheduled for January 21 at 11:00AM (These meetings are open to anyone in our community of faith.)


Annual Congregational Meeting! January 29, 2017
Our annual congregational meeting to approve the historical records for 2016, approve a new congregational constitution and by-laws is scheduled for January 29, 2017! At this meeting, we will also be updating the community of faith on the progress of our St. Peter's Task force. Please join us if you are able!


Stewardship Corner


Throughout the course of 2017 our stewardship ministry team will be offering submissions to our weekly publications. Our hope is that you will enjoy and value these offerings shared to the glory of our Lord.


Over the course of 2016, several of our sisters and brothers in Christ made offerings to help ease the financial burdens of others within our community of faith. We thank everyone for your generosity with efforts that make life a "little more comfortable" for our sisters and brothers. St. Peter's has always had a generous heart with folks from the Bethlehem Emergency Shelter, New Bethany ministries, our friends from Head Start, and various other outreach efforts. This year however, nearly $8,000.00 in additional aide was shared with sisters and brothers in Christ who were in need. These monies were not withdrawn from Church funds, rather were direct gifts to very specific needs! We thank you for your generous and gracious hearts!


Financial Stewardship update
In 2017 we will be attempting to keep our community of faith
informed as to our financial status. Each week 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 December, 2016 $45,933.00
Received through December, 2016 24,751.00
We Missed our Goal for December ($21,182.00)

Year to Date Goal through December 2016 $244,892.00
Received thru December $226,290.00
Missing 2016 goal by ($ 18,602.00)

The goal for January 2017 - $13,417
with total giving of $209,000 projected for 2017

Please note: The congregational budget which was approved for 2017 included disbursements from our reserve funds of $93,000.00. 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.


KNOWING MORE ABOUT GOD
Check out the abundant opportunities to walk with our Lord! This coming Week!
Remember the Snow Policy is that if the Bethlehem Area School District has a delayed start or is cancelled, there will be no Bible Study. If you are uncertain, call the Church Office (610-867-0519) and the answering machine will have the cancellation information.


Begin the New Year with Bible Study
The Women of the ELCA Bible Study will gather on Tuesday, January 3 and 17 in the Social Room from 9:30 to 11 AM. As Lutherans in 2017, we will be celebrating the 500th Birthday of Martin Luther. The Jan.~Feb. Bible study will focus on the book of Galatians. It was while reading Galatians, Martin realized he did not have to work to earn salvation but that he and all who believe are justified by faith, the gift of grace given to us by a God who loves us. Together we'll explore what Paul and Martin Luther learned as they grew in faith in very different times. Paul wrote to the Galatians sometime between 50 and 55 AD, while Martin Luther was studying God's word in 1510 AD.

All women are welcome around the table. Coffee, tea, and some snacks will be ready. There is time to chat, study, sing, and pray. Please consider starting this calendar New Year by adding Bible Study to your routine.


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 will begin studying Tony Dungy's Book "Dare to be Uncommon." Beginning on January 4, 2017 so this provides a great opportunity for new people to join our study. Coffee is always brewing and our time together also includes an opportunity for mutual support and encouragement to one another.


January 4, 2017 - Healing Prayer worship with Holy Communion
The First Wednesday of January 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.


Wednesday Evening Holden Evening Prayer
St. Peter's offers "Holden Evening Prayer with Holy Communion at 6:30PM each Wednesday evening in our chapel. Consider joining your sisters and brothers in Christ for this beautiful evening prayer worship. This worship experience offers a wonderful alternative worship experience if you will be traveling during our weekend worship. Please consider joining us for this wonderful opportunity!

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!


January - Confirmation Class
CONFIRMATION CLASS will be held on the first Saturday of January (January 7, 2016.) The topic of the class for January will be the Apostle's Creed. Students should arrive for class to begin at 9:00AM and will last approximately 2 hours. Please contact Pastor Jerry if you are planning to attend this class!


Saturday Evening Worship
Join our sisters and brothers in Christ from CoMiT who gather each week at 5pm at Messiah Lutheran Church located on Easton Avenue for Worship with Holy Communion (concerned about how to give offering? Simply give in your St. Peter's envelope at the time of the offering.) Pastor Jerry will be officiating at this worship experience on Saturday November 19, 2016.


Sunday January 8, 2017 (9:00AM) Baptism of our Lord Day!
In the waters of the Jordan, Jesus is revealed as the beloved Son of God. Through this great epiphany, Jesus fulfills all righteousness and becomes the servant of God who will bring forth justice and be a light to the nations. In the waters of baptism we too are washed by the Word, anointed by the Spirit, and named God's beloved children. Our baptismal mission is to proclaim good news to all who are oppressed or in need of God's healing. This worship will also feature a baptism of one of our newest brother's in Christ, Benjamin Cybuck, and installing our 2017 Congregational officers and council!


"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 January 9, 2017 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!



SHARING WHAT WE KNOW
Check out the abundant ways to share your love of Christ
This coming Week!


Bethlehem Emergency Shelter
St. Peter's will be serving hot meals to women who participate in the Bethlehem Emergency shelter two night per month at Holy trinity from December through March! These meals will be offered on the Third Tuesday of each month and the First Sunday of each month. Our next scheduled evening is TONIGHT! If you'd like to be part of this ministry, please contact Amy Faulch or Kenda Riley. January 17, 2017 will be our next scheduled evening.


REMEMBER BACK PACK BUDDIES IN THE NEW YEAR

January and the season of winter 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.

A Reminder about ways in which we can help our young people begin preparations for the
ELCA Youth gathering in 2018


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!


Any items for submission for the February 2017 "Courier" must be submitted to Pastor Jerry by the close of business on Monday January 23, 2017.

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!"


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!


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