Sunday, July 31, 2016

Missionary becomes US citizen

The Fourth of July was a special one for Fuxia Wang, a missionary and the international director at the Wesley Foundation at the University of Oklahoma in Norman.
After 20 years in the United States, this was Rev. Wang’s first Independence Day as a U.S. citizen.
Eleven days earlier, the native of China had recited the Pledge of Allegiance, waved a small flag, and taken the oath that concluded a years-long journey to becoming a citizen.
For her, the moment signified a new kind of independence — a guarantee that she can preach and worship the Lord.
"You cannot do what I’m doing here in China, publicly," she said. She wants people to appreciate that the United States is blessed.
The rest of the story ... coming to the USA as an atheist, meeting Jesus through a United Methodist campus ministry.

Friday, July 29, 2016

Even more new members!

Amanda and Andy, presented by Cris, at the 7:00 pm Open Table gathering on July 17. You can find information on who we are and our membership vows on the About Us and Resources pages.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Youth Mission Trip 2016

Lots of fun to go along with the hard work.

More new members!

Cathy, presented by Suzanne; Judy, presented by Mary; and Gail and Ted, presented by Steve at the 10:45 worship service on July 10. You can find information on who we are and our membership vows on the About Us and Resources pages.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Youth Mission Trip - in Local News!

Image description
by Tessa Iglesias

Mission trips are common summer activities, and the United Methodist Action Reach-out Mission by Youth is no exception. This week, 56 workers descended upon Washington, paint brushes and hammers in hand, to participate in community outreach.
The U.M. ARMY, a national organization, started almost 40 years ago, with a goal “to provide Christ-centered missions that serve people in need and promote spiritual growth and leadership development in youth and young adults.”
This year, there are more than 4,000 participants working on mission week programs across the Southwest, Northeast and Southeast.
The rest of the story, from the Washington County Observer-Reporter, tells the story of our young people in mission this year!

New members!

Debbie, presented by Cheryl, and Pat and Rose, presented by Dori, at the 8:30 worship service on July 10. Congratulations on your next steps in discipleship! You can find information on who we are and our membership vows on the About Us and Resources pages.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Monday, July 25, 2016

Controversy, Communion, Welch's Grape Juice

Welch's Grape Juice was created by a Methodist as a substitute for communion wine. Photo illustration by Kathleen Barry, United Methodist Communications.

A Feature by Joe Iovino*
June 28, 2016
You are probably familiar with Welch’s Grape Juice, but you may not know it has ties to the history of The United Methodist Church.
In the 1800s, churches faced a dilemma. To combat the epidemic of alcoholism, the temperance movement advocated total abstinence from all alcohol. In celebration of the Lord’s Supper though, the church filled the communion chalice with wine.
Substituting grape juice seems an obvious solution. “For us today it is such common practice. We don’t know any different,” explains Adrienne Possenti, church historian at First United Methodist Church of Vineland, New Jersey.
In the 1800s, however, that was no easy task. Raw grape juice stored at room temperature—home refrigerators were not available until 1913—naturally ferments into wine. This caused a problem for congregations not wanting to use anything containing alcohol.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Vacation Bible School gift

 Vacation Bible School gift - from a bake sale! Our children's ministries make a huge difference.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Cursed and Captive: O Freedom! (3) (2017-0717)

(Sorry, no video this week.)

2016/07/17 Christ Church, Mountain Top
Call to worship, Psalm 22, selections
Children, Luke 8.26-39 (Gerasene demoniac)
Message, Galatians 3.1-29

Review: Freedom theme
      People pleasing
      Guilt trips – discussion of the racial divides in our nation
This week: (human experience)
      Living under a curse
      Living as captives
Intro story:

      Abandoning the gospel
      Paul’s frustration
Galatians 1:6-9  I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel--  7 not that there is another gospel, but there are some who are confusing you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ.  8 But even if we or an angel from heaven should proclaim to you a gospel contrary to what we proclaimed to you, let that one be accursed!  9 As we have said before, so now I repeat, if anyone proclaims to you a gospel contrary to what you received, let that one be accursed!
Galatians 3:1  You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly exhibited as crucified!
      Theological question:
            The applicability of Jewish law to Gentile Christians
            Law as a path to righteousness
            Law as a boundary for the covenant community

      Law as a path to righteousness.
      Law exposes, names, and condemns sin
            Righteousness only comes through Jesus

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Making music

 From the piano recital of Michele Millington's studio on June 3. Great music every time!


Our 2015-2016 Confirmation Class, with leaders Tim and Kim. Congrats to all!

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Responding to Addiction

Approximately one out of every eight Americans live with some form of addiction, according to reports by the National Institute on Drug Abuse. The Global Health program of the General Board of Global Ministries shares some examples of how churches and partners of SPSARV offer informed and compassionate responses to the needs of individuals and families impacted by the disease of addiction. 

1. Care seeking support 

Seminarian Birgitte Simpson shares how her training in Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) at Central Park United Methodist Church, known as The Recovery Church, in St. Paul, Minn., has helped this local congregation through care seeking support.
“I had the opportunity to take a phone call from Timothy (not his real name), a methadone addict and alcoholic living with a gang. He was looking for pastoral care support as he explored sobriety and faith for the first time in his life. He asked me about Christianity and what he needed to do to be a part of the faith. He was amazed to find out that he didn’t need to do anything. I told him to come and worship with us whenever he wanted and that he was welcome here. This good news was overwhelming to him and brought him to tears. At the time of this conversation, Timothy was looking for ways to help himself continue in his sobriety through the rest of the week. I was able to give him information about all the meetings offered at The Recovery Church. As we were getting off the phone, Timothy told me that he was going to interview for a spot in an in-patient treatment program. I prayed with him that he would be accepted and able to continue his sobriety, knowing that God is working in our lives to combat the struggles that we experience along the road of life.”

Friday, July 15, 2016

Once Tortured for his Faith, Sudanese Man Becomes a Pastor

<p><u>Photo above</u>: The Rev. Botrous Tutu, a newly licensed local pastor, receives his clergy robe from (left to right) Rev. John Gargis, Rev. Michael Sluder, and Rev. Charles Maynard during a June 11 ceremony. <u>Photos at top of page</u>: (1) Rev. Charles Maynard tells the story of the "Magic Stick." (2) While Rev. Buzz Trexler watches, Maynard presents the stick to Tutu. (3) The congregation sings in celebration.</p>
Botrous Tutu has been a preacher for many years -- since the 1990s when he was tortured in Sudan for refusing to renounce his faith -- and for the last four years, in a little church in Alcoa, TN.
On June 11, 150 people came from three states to see Tutu put on a clergy robe and celebrate his official status as a licensed local pastor in the United Methodist Church.
Now, the Rev. Botrous Samuel Tutu, age 50, is under appointment to Green Meadow United Methodist Church, serving the Spring of Living Water community of worship, mission, and discipleship at the church.
“I’m so happy, because the Holy Spirit was moving when he gave me that stick,” Tutu said, referring to a highlight in the Saturday afternoon ceremony. “I’m going to be the leader of the people.”

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Guilt Trips (O Freedom! 2), 2016-0710

Call to worship, Psalm 32
Children, Luke 7.36-50 (woman washing Jesus’ feet)
Message, Galatians 2.1-21

Opening remarks
My intent in the message today was to focus on broadly applying our freedom from guilt to all human relationships, rather than the specific focus in the passage on whether or not Jewish Christians and Gentile (non-Jewish) Christians could eat together and share in the Lord’s Table together. For many Jews of Paul’s time, the law was not only a moral guide and a path to righteousness but also a boundary marker for inclusion in the covenant people of God. To be a Gentile was, by default, to be a sinner. For a Jew to live like a Gentile, that is, to socialize with Gentiles, was for a Jew to become sinful, guilty by association and more. The Law, while not technically mandating such a separation, was used as the basis for such separation. In some circles, then, Gentile Christians were required to become Jewish – by circumcision and eating habits – in order to associate with Jewish Christians.
      Today, we struggle with other kinds of racial separation. We’ve had “separate but equal” as the law of our land. Separate rest rooms and water fountains prevented white folk from being contaminated by black folk. While that particular question – bathrooms and water fountains segregated by race – is behind us historically, we still are surrounded by multiple ways in which we separate ourselves from one another on the basis of race, nation, political party, gender, sex, religion. Violence against any of us is violence against all. Bias, even implicit bias, against any one of us is bias against all of us.
      The sniper in Dallas reportedly said that he wanted to kill white people, especially cops. Just over a year ago another man walked into a church in Charleston and killed our brothers and sisters because he wanted to kill black people and start a race war. Both killers are on the same side – the side of separation, the side of hatred, the side of violence, the side of bias. (See Saletan, William).
      The people of God are on the side of the gospel. Like Paul, we recognize that the most important truth that sets us apart is not race, nation, party, gender, sex, religion. It is grace. The grace of God shows no partiality. The grace of God makes us all equal – as both sinners and saints. “Christ died for us while we were still sinners, and demonstrates God’s love for us” (Romans 5.8). “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son that whosoever believes in him might have eternal life” (John 3.16). That “world” includes a lot of people who are not like me. Amen! That “whosoever” includes lots of folks with whom I would rather not associate. Praise the Lord! Those “sinners” for whom Christ died includes me. Thank you Jesus!

Monday, July 11, 2016

People Pleasing (O Freedom! 1)

2016/07/03 Christ Church, Mountain Top, Lord’s Table
Children, Luke 7.1-10
Message, Galatians 1.1-17

Today we begin a series of messages from Paul’s letter to the Galatians, a letter that has “freedom” as a theme word. Paul is convinced that a distorted and weakened version of the gospel has threatened their freedom as the people of God.
      And he is “distressed”, to put it mildly. His letters often begin with a celebration of his relationship with the church, their shared struggles, the great news he is hearing.  But not here.  He dives right in: “I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting” (1.6).  Paul typically dictates to a secretary, perhaps because of a vision impairment.  But not here, he has to write, and now, no matter that he doesn’t have a secretary available.  He writes, in 6.11, “See what large letters I make when I am writing in my own hand!”
            Preachers, “false believers”
            Barnabas, hypocrisy
            Apostle Peter, “self-condemned”

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Clean Water in Costa Rica

Around the world, 668 million people do not have access to clean drinking water to meet their everyday needs. Among the poor and especially in developing countries, diarrhea, a preventable disease, becomes a major killer for those under 5 years of age. 

Agua Viva Serves (AVS), Advance #3021984, a mission project supported by First United Methodist Church in Winter Park, Fla. and other United Methodist congregations and ecumenical partners, addressed this issue by drilling and building a well system that provided clean water for hundreds of people in Los Chiles, Costa Rica. The communities were experiencing illness due to contaminated water. The project was made possible by generous donations made to AVS during last year’s UMC #GivingTuesday event. One woman, Tomasa Lazo Davila, explained the benefits she’s seen since the instillation of the new well. 
“Before this project, the whole community would get their drinking and bathing water from a nearby river. This water would cause a lot of diarrhea and vomiting. We’ve always asked for water, but everyone would say ‘no’ because we live in an isolated community and because most people [here] are Nicaraguans. Because of those things, we couldn’t get water anywhere—until Agua Viva came with this project! Now everyone is extremely happy because of the water. The outbreaks and viruses have gone down, nobody has to go wash in the river, and everyone is overjoyed with this water. The change in the children has been especially drastic. They aren’t sick as often as they used to be—no more diarrhea, vomiting, and going to the hospital.”
For this upcoming year, AVS has four large-scale water system projects planned, thanks to UMC #GivingTuesday donations. These systems will provide clean water to more than 1,000 people in various communities of Los Chiles. They will provide the tools, education and technology for communities to improve their lives and health. 

For more on our mission connections...

Saturday, July 9, 2016


The Confirmation and Youth classes plant geraniums on the last Sunday of the Sunday School year. Thanks young people! The geraniums are planted each Memorial Day, two for every year since the main building was erected and two for each of our ancestor congregations.

Friday, July 8, 2016

Bishop Park on recent violence

July 8, 2016

"If you, even you, had only known on this day what
would bring you peace..." (Luke 19:42a)

"Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you,
in order to bring praise to God." (Romans 15:7)

Dear Peacemakers of the Susquehanna Conference,

Grace to you in the name of Jesus Christ, Prince of Peace, Healer of our Brokenness, and Hope of the World!

Our hearts and prayers go to the families and the loved ones of the victims of injustice and violence in our nation. Our prayers also go to the communities and people directly affected. We are to remember that violence towards one is violence to all and an injustice to one is an injustice to the rest of us.

Recent events have once again shown us the deeply painful reality that faces our country. Just yesterday several police officers, who were trying to assure that a protest rally would be safe, were killed by snipers. The act of violence was despicable and must not be condoned. The rally was proceeded by a number of other incidents nationwide, particularly the most recent incidents in Louisiana and Minnesota where African-American civilians were shot and killed by police officers under questionable circumstances. There have been cries from the affected communities that there are too many incidents in which police officers use deadly force unjustifiably. The act of power abuse by authority is horrible and must not be tolerated.

VBS Program videos

Thursday, July 7, 2016

From our new District Superintendent

     I love Legos and I always have.  Back in the day, that meant a sack full of random blocks that we just built and tore apart, and rebuilt to our heart’s content and at our creative mind’s bidding.  Unfortunately, we also eventually got rid of them somehow, which would have saved me hundreds of dollars in the parenting game more recently.  But, even now, I love Legos, and luckily get to share that with Henry, too.  We’ve been to LegoLand, Lego Stores, Lego Conventions, and basically have a lego room at our house, which contains some other toys, too.  Last summer, we saw an amazing art exhibition in Philadelphia creating and recreating stunningly beautiful works of art from these simple toy blocks.  When you visit my office, you’ll see replicas of the NYC skyline, Trevi Fountain, the White House and Big Ben.  In a few months, when Henry (our 8-yr old son) and I complete it, there will be a replica of the Tower Bridge, 40 inches long and containing 4295 interlocking pieces that will join them – a gift from our church in Montoursville, and by far our biggest build yet. 
     The phenomenon of Lego even led to a documentary, released a few years ago.  In that documentary, I heard the words, “At the core of what is human is the capacity to build.”  I think that the Lego is a powerful symbol of the calling of the Church, and the power of the Holy Spirit to take something ordinary, and through the miracle of connection, make something new and beautiful and extraordinary – something that reflects the color and creativity of the Creator – and that something is community.  I agree that something at the very core of humankind – how we were created by God, is the capacity and the desire to build.  But not to build just anything – to build connections.
     I am incredibly excited at the privilege of serving among you in the Lewisburg District!  I hope to start building those connections among us in the first months of my superintendency: through one-on-ones with every pastoral leader in July and August, our welcome picnic at Knoebels in August, beginning to visit churches in the district for worship, and other gatherings of leaders that are already in the works.  Know that Barb, Henry and I are praying for you, and anticipating with great joy the work of the Holy Spirit in building the kingdom together during this season!

In Christ,
Larry Leland

VBS Tuesday (3 of 3)

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

From Bishop Park on the Istanbul Airport attack

July 1, 2016

 "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they
will be called children of God."
(Matthew 5:9)

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,

Once again, we heard and saw accounts of the horror of terrorism. This time the target was the innocent at one of the busiest airports in the world during a particularly busy time to cause maximum casualties. Our prayers are with the families and the loved ones of those who died and were injured as our hearts are broken for them. 

The most recent terrorist attack became more real for many United Methodists. Thomas Kemper, General Secretary of the General Board of Global Ministries of the United Methodist Church, was waiting in the lounge for his flight at the Istanbul Ataturk Airport when the terrorists' bombs exploded. He hid in a back room near the lounge kitchen for forty minutes before it was safe to come out. United Methodist News Service (UMNS) reports what Kemper wrote soon after the attack: "Terror coming so close lets me give thanks for my life, my family and calls us to fight hate and terror everywhere. And it leads us into deeper solidarity with all who experience terror and violence not just once but every day and every night." UMNS also reports what Kemper said during a live CNN interview: "We need to set examples that humankind can stand together. We need to build bridges."

VBS Video

Thanks to Carrie, Sheri, Joanne, and the team for making it a fabulous week!

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

From Bishop Park on the West Virginia floods

June 30, 2016

"In the day of my trouble I will call you, for you will answer me...
Give me a sign of your goodness, that my enemies may see it
and be put to shame, for you O Lord, have helped me
and comforted me."
(Psalm 86:7 & 17)

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,

National news has shared with us the horrific devastation of the floods in West Virginia. Tragically, there has been the loss of many lives along with the material losses in this recent flood. Some say that it was the worst flood in a century. Many churches and communities within our Annual Conference experienced similar floods not that long ago. There is no way to adequately describe the emotions and heartaches that come with such losses. I am compelled to come to you with an urgent request. I come with an invitation for the generous spirit of the people of the Susquehanna Conference to respond to this most recent natural disaster of historic proportions.

First and foremost, please pray for the people directly affected by the flood. Pray for Bishop Sandra Steiner-Ball, the West Virginia Conference leadership, and the laity and clergy, as well as the affected families and their communities. Much of the destruction has occurred in places that could least afford such a tragedy. We shall partner with our sisters and brothers not only within our denomination but also with all of the residents of that state. When one of us suffers, we all suffer.

Secondly, there is a need for financial assistance to help the people and the churches and homes rebuild. There is a long journey ahead for them. We know that there are still persons in New Jersey recovering from hurricane Sandy. I call upon the churches and pastors of the Susquehanna Conference to consider collecting an offering this coming Sunday, July 3rd, or the next Sunday, July 10th to help provide the needed resources for recovery. I know that you will be generous. Checks for the offerings received should be made out to the Susquehanna Conference with 2830/West Virginia Flood Relief in the memo line and sent to the Conference Office, 303 Mulberry Drive, Mechanicsburg, PA 17050-3179 (if from a church please include a remittance report with your church information).

You have been faithful and generous partners in Christ's ministry in so many amazing ways. Truly, I am blessed to serve the Lord with such giving and serving people of the Susquehanna Annual Conference.              

With You in Christ's Ministry,

Jeremiah J. Park

Transformation in Cambodia

Saturday, July 2, 2016

United Methodist leader safe after Istanbul attack

By Linda Bloom
June 29, 2016 | NEW YORK (UMNS)
A United Methodist mission official caught up in the attack at Istanbul Ataturk Airport is calling for a show of solidarity in response.
Thomas Kemper, top executive, United Methodist Board of Global Ministries, was in transit from Berlin on Turkish Airlines on June 28 — waiting in a lounge for a flight to Japan — when the terrorist attack began.
He thought about people who live in places where they experience such fear “every day and every night,” Kemper told United Methodist News Service in a June 29 phone interview.
“I felt very deeply there’s a joint shared humanity and the need for solidarity.”
Two of the attackers began shooting in the international terminal and then detonated their suicide vests. Kemper hid in a back room near the lounge kitchen for 30 to 40 minutes before a staff person said it was safe to come out.

Blue and Gold (2)

Additional pics from the Cub Scout Blue and Gold banquet. Lots of fun!

Friday, July 1, 2016

Double Portion: The Elijah Cycle (5) 2016-0626

2016/06/26 Christ Church, Mountain Top
Call to Worship, Psalm 77
Children, 1 Kings 19.19-21
Message, 2 Kings 2.1-15

1999, ordained elder
      Retirement service, passing of the “mantle”
      Stole, “Yoked to Christ, now and for eternity”
      Rev. Merle Saxman, wife Ruth, buried in 1997 (Merle) and 1996
            Had been pastor of that congregation
            “Stacked children like cord wood”
            Marbles on the sanctuary floor
            Laid brick
            Drove school bus
            Conflict: “What we need here is a just a few good funerals”
            “They just don’t make ‘em like they used to.”
            Our visits, pray for each other
      Merle, if I can have a double portion of your spirit …

Ordination themes in the passage
The special call of ordination is tied to the general call of all disciples expressed in baptism – passing through the Jordan

      Prophetic succession, apostolic succession
            Elijah’s mantle
            “The Spirit of Elijah is upon Elisha”
      UMC “bishops” – Asbury, Wesley
            Canterbury: Thomas Cranmer, Anselm
            Irenaeus of Lyon
            Onesimus and Timothy of Ephesus
      The role of the community (“sons of the prophets”)

      The source of pastoral authority (including succession)
      Not in being a unique human being
            Elijah just like us (James 5)
            Elisha invisible in the 2 Elijah stories between these portions
      In the power and presence of the Spirit
            Spirit often mediated through persons
            Got close enough to receive the gift of the Spirit
            Likewise close enough to see the full humanity (serve)