January 2017 "Courier"


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

Volume 63, Issue 1

January, 2017


No power in the sky above or in the earth below-indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord
Romans 8:39


Welcome to Christmas 2016! Welcome to the dawn of a New Year!


It never seems to fail that during this time of year I often find myself reflecting on the year that is coming to an end. Over the course of 2016 we have witnessed with our own eyes many wonderful and blessed events within our midst! We have borne witness to God's creative plans for the lives of people within our community as more and more of our sisters and brothers in Christ are experiencing God in more profound and moving ways. Over the course of 2016 we have also witnessed with our own eyes many events that have been filled with grief, sorrow, and mourning. Together we have prayed for and with people who have been diagnosed with horrendous diseases. Together we have mourned over the loss of people who have entered the Church Triumphant.


As I look forward to the year of our Lord 2017 my heart is filled with hope and optimism for the coming year! We can look forward to God's Spirit moving people within our midst in new and powerful ways. We can also know in our heart of hearts that this year, like every year before, will also be filled with challenges, sufferings, grief, and mourning.


Yet through all these different emotions, through all these different seasons, through our joys and through our sorrows, I am convinced that God is with us. Emmanuel!


When we look to the night sky and see the stars shining above, we can know that God is with us! Emmanuel! And as my favorite author in the Bible says; "If God is with us, who can stand against us?"


Emmanuel…. God is with us. This phrase does not mean that our lives will be filled with warm weather, an abundance of worldly gifts, joy and happiness… but it does promise that in these times our Lord rejoices by our side!
Emmanuel… God is with us. While this phrase does not promise that we won't experience times of grief, suffering or mourning it does promise that in these times our Lord remains steadfast by our side! Walking with us; offering us comfort and peace that the world can not provide.


When we look to the night sky and see the stars shining above… it gives us purpose and meaning to be filled with joy, these cosmic lights continue to proclaim the promise of Emmanuel!
Peace and Blessings
PJ

Truly a December to Remember!


Advent breakfast

On December 3, 2016, approximately 40 sisters and brothers in Christ from St. Peter's joined many others within Bethlehem to Welcome in the season of Advent. A huge word of thanks to Barbara Taylor and Elizabeth Elterich who helped coordinate the wonderful activities!


Breakfast with Santa

On December 10, 2016, nearly 100 friends and family in Christ from across Bethlehem joined us for a Breakfast with Santa sponsored by our Thrivent members and our friends from CoMiT! A wonderful breakfast, entertainment from St. Paul's "Puppeteers" and a visit from Jolly Ole St. Nick Highlighted the day! A huge word of thanks to all who came together to make this such a special day!

Wreaths Across America


On December 17, 2016, after a year of planning and preparation from our very own Ron Frankenfield, St. Peter's partnered with many area neighbors to provide wreaths at the gravesides of veteran's laid to rest at Fountain Hill cemetery! The day was truly powerful and beautiful as over 340 wreaths were provided to veteran's graves. A Big word of thanks to everyone who helped make this dream become a reality!

In Addition to those wonderful Ministries
St. Peter's also:

• Provided both Thanksgiving and Christmas baskets to our brothers in sisters in Christ from our community of faith!
• Shared over 40 sets of hats and mittens and books to the children who occupy our halls Monday through Friday as part of Head Start!
• Shared two meals with the Bethlehem Emergency Shelter
• Hosted Holden Evening prayer on December 21, 2016 providing a wonderful dinner to over 70 of our sisters and brothers in Christ from CoMiT!

Also: A Word of Thanks from our annual "In Gathering" efforts from Evelyn Smith:
Thank you for the many, many wash cloths and soaps (200 each) shared with the Bethlehem/ Easton Mission Christmas Ingathering.
Ten agencies will receive these Healthcare packages- including New Bethany ministries, Head Start, Turning Point, Crisis Pregnancy Center and Victory House - All in Bethlehem!
These gifts make it possible for the agencies to help the persons in their care for a long time! Thank you so much! St. Peter's is a wonderfully giving community!

What a wonderful and powerful witness to the Living Christ
through Word and Deed!

Thank YOU all for your support and help in sharing the love of Christ
in the world in which we live


Exciting Upcoming Events!!!
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!

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.

JANUARY 2017 TASK FORCE UPDATE:
All sub groups of the Task Force have been busy with their assignments. 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.)

"Option A" update - This group has held two meetings since our joint gathering. They are in the process of visiting other communities of faith to see if there would be a "natural fit" with our community. More visits are scheduled and everything seems to be moving along fine.

"Option B" update - This group has also held two meetings since our joint gathering. They have asked a realtor to assess our property and have discussed various options. They are also looking into potential income associated space we have available.

"Option C" update - This group has met several times and has divided into three "smaller groups." One focused on taking a closer look at our budget, another looking into possible efforts generating previously "untapped" income, and a third looking into the possibility of opening a "day care" center within our facilities.

Please note: All information that we are sharing in this space is designed to share the discussions that are being held and the on-going work of the task force for the sake of transparency. No decisions are being made at this point, we are simply gathering information in order that we can make informed plans as our community of faith moves forward in our ministry. The Task Force work is projected to be completed by the middle of March at which time the Task Force will offer a recommendation to the congregational council for plans moving forward.

We are asking that all within our community of faith lift the work of our task force and our congregational leadership in your daily prayers.

It is vital, at this point in time, that all within our community attempt to not speculate on the future of our ministry. Allow God's Spirit to move through our discussions and lead our efforts. Remember; this Task Force has been formed to insure the vitality and continued growth of our shared proclamation of God's love for this world.


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!

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

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!

This month in worship

Sunday January 1, 2017 (10:30AM Worship time)- Name of Jesus
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 that the mind of Christ, Whose name we bear, would be our own. It is a good way to begin, again, another year!

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.

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!

Sunday January 15, 2017 (9:00AM) 2nd Sunday after Epiphany
Today's gospel opens with further reflection on Jesus' baptism. He is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world, and the one anointed by the Spirit. In the liturgy we come and see Christ revealed among us in word and meal. We go forth to invite others to come and worship the Holy One, and to receive the gifts of grace and peace made known among us.

Sunday January 22, 2017 (9:00AM) 3rd Sunday after Epiphany
Jesus begins his public ministry by calling fishers to leave their nets and follow him. In Jesus the kingdom of God has come near. We who have walked in darkness have seen a great light. We see this light most profoundly in the cross-as God suffers with us and all who are oppressed by sickness, sin, or evil. Light dawns for us as we gather around the word, the font, and the holy table. We are then sent to share the good news that others may be "caught" in the net of God's grace and mercy. On this Sunday we will also celebrate our RIC affiliation!

Sunday January 29, 2017 (9:00AM) 4th Sunday after Epiphany
Who are the blessed ones of God? For Micah, they are those who do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with God. For Paul, they are the ones who find wisdom in the weakness of the cross. For Jesus, they are the poor, mourners, the meek, those who hunger for righteousness, the merciful, the pure in heart, the peacemakers. In baptism we find our blessed identity and calling in this countercultural way of living and serving. During our worship we will be receiving new sisters and brothers into our community of faith at St. Peter's. Following worship this morning we will hold our annual congregational meeting to approve historical records and an updated congregational constitution.

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 January 14, 2017. 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!

Saturday January 28, 2017 RIGHT HERE AT ST. PETER'S
NE Penn Synod Presents: Learning Ministries Day 2017 - "Growing in Faith: Always [Re]Forming"
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

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.

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.

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.

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 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!

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!


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.


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 January 10 and 24 .) Please contact Evelyn Smith if you might be interested in helping with this important ministry!
Knitting and Crocheting Group
If you enjoy knitting or crocheting, come join those who will gather on Monday, January 16, from 6:30 to 8 PM. The group meets in the UCF room near the Church Offices. Bring whatever you are currently working on or start something new. The evening includes stitching time, good conversation, and prayer. All are welcome.

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!


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.

STEWARDSHIP TEAM UPDATE!

In the month of January, St. Peter's will need your help! Please prayerfully consider how you can share your time and talent to help advance our shared proclamation of God's love!

Learning Ministry Day Volunteers: We will need lots of help to host Learning Ministry Day on January 28th! On Wed. January 25th at 6PM we will need a crew of people to help set up the various classrooms for Learning ministry Day. On January 28th we will need volunteers to help with parking; serve as greeters, assist caterers during lunch, and serve as "guides" for our guests. Please look for inserts in the weekly bulletins on January 1 and January 8 to volunteer, or contact Kenda Riley.

During the month of January we will also be re-establishing our Worship and Music Ministry Team. This team will have input into the Sunday liturgies, scheduled worship experiences, music, décor, and overall feeling of our public worship experiences. This will be a standing ministry team that will meet once a month. The day and time of the meeting will be established from polling those who are interested in being part of this important ministry! Again, this will be part of our time and talent form for the month of January.

We would like to extend our thanks to Michel Lloyd, Beverly Kunkle, and Jordan Hawk for the time, dedication, and effort put forth in serving our congregation in your council positions!


We will be attempting to publish the February 2017 edition of the "Courier" by Sunday January 29, 2017! Please have any information for inclusion in this edition to the church office by Monday January 23, 2017! 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!"


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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