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Message from Pastor Mike

Dear St. James family,

The best things are the most difficult things to be talked about!

Here are a few thoughts that have guided my ministry these 40+ years.

The best things are the most difficult things to be talked about. The second best things are almost always misunderstood. So we spend most of our lives talking about the third best things: sports and weather. This is one of the most arduous areas of spirituality: that the best things are most often the most difficult things to talk about.

They say that when Dante wrote The Divine Comedy, he wrote the Inferno (journey into hell) and the Purgatorio (journey through evil and purgation), both as a young man. But he waited until the very end of his life to write the Paradisio (journey into heaven), and to this day it is the least read of the three—because it is so hard to talk about union, to talk about God, to talk about mystery and spirituality. It is so easy to be misunderstood, which is the great difficulty and challenge, but also the most courageous part of the journey in ministry.

I have dared to enter into this world of Mystery and Spirit in my years of ministry. I have done so with trepidation but with great care—and I have hoped to bring you with me. Because somehow, all along the way, I have wanted to talk about the inner life that really cannot be easily talked about—yet is at the deepest center of who we are!

Thank you for being open to the Divine which is alive in each one of you! Dare to enter into this world of Mystery! It is our only survival in this world—in order to be nourished, in order to grow!

I offer you this Blessing:

“May God bless you with discomfort at easy answers, half truths, and superficial relationships, so that you may live deep within your heart.

May God bless you with anger at injustice, oppression and exploitation of people, so that you may work for justice, freedom and peace.

May God bless you with tears to shed for those who suffer from pain, rejection, starvation, and war, so that you may reach out your hand to comfort them and turn their pain to joy.

And may God bless you with enough foolishness to believe that you can make a difference in this world, so that you can do what others claim cannot be done. Amen.”

Blessings & love,
~pastor mike

Message from Pastor Andrew

3 There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven: 2 a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, 3 a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, 4 a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, 5 a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing, 6 a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away, 7 a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak, 8 a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace.

~ Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

These words from the book of Ecclesiastes offer us one of life’s most basic, yet profound truths – there is a time for everything, a season for every activity under heaven. There is a time, a season, for every activity under heaven…

With the announcement of Pastor Mike’s retirement and the ensuing call process, I have been thinking about the many seasons of life a lot over these past months. Something, that likely doesn’t come as much of a surprise. Where I have been. Where I currently find myself. Where I see myself in the future – where God is leading me.

In many ways, my seminary years feel just like yesterday. In others, a distant past. The same could be said about my call process for the associate pastor position here at St. James back in the summer of 2015.

Throughout the past six years, my life has seen its fair share of seasons. Seasons of death and seasons of life. Seasons of brokenness and seasons of healing. Seasons of weeping and seasons of laughter. Seasons of embracing and those in which I have refrained from embracing. Seasons of tearing apart and seasons of mending. Seasons of remaining silent and those of speaking up. Seasons of searching, of giving up, of holding on, and of throwing away. Seasons when I have loved really well, and those in which I haven’t loved nearly as well as I should. My guess is you could say the same about your own lives.

For our community of St. James, the past few months have been a season of discernment – of prayerful reflection on the future of pastoral leadership. As I write this newsletter article, while Council has unanimously voted to bring my name forward to the congregation on whether or not I should be called as the next lead pastor, the vote has yet to happen. The discernment is still happening, we could say.

It has been a season of mixed emotions. Of sadness, uncertainty, and anxiety, joy and celebration, and hopeful anticipation, and many, many more. In all these emotions, there has, for me, been the underlying emotion of gratitude. Regardless of what the future holds, I am grateful for all that my calling here at St. James has been thus far. I am grateful for our staff, for Pastor Mike, for the love and support of Christina and from family and friend, and I am grateful for all of you – for your presence, your faithfulness, your generosity, and for your prayers. I am grateful for the friendships that have been built, the memories made, and the ministry we have done in Christ’s name. I am grateful for our worship and praise, our time of study and moments of spiritual growth, and for our proclamation of the Gospel through word and deed.

In all things, in all seasons, we are a people who walk as yet by faith. The path ahead isn’t always clear. Life happens at times in ways we don’t expect, certainly not always in the ways we want or would like. Yet, in all things God journeys with us. And for this, our walk of faith is, in all things and in all times, one of gratitude.

May you be reminded of the promise given through Christ in whatever season you find yourself in. May you cling to it and be a sign of it – bringing hope and healing where it is needed most.

For we have a God not distant, but close by. Who is by our side every step of the way. Who sent the one and only Son to live and die and rise to new life, that we would as well. Who sent us the Spirit to be our advocate and our guide, our eternal counselor and comforter. Who has given us, the gift of each other.

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven… And for this we give thanks.

Pastor Andrew

Memo from the Minister of Music

Susan Palo Cherwien

The Lutheran Church mourns the untimely death of Susan Palo Cherwien this past December. She was an international leader in creating lyrics suffused with the imagery of the earth, its
diverse creatures, and seasons. Susan’s hymn texts appear in hymnals in the North America and Europe. She has written for journals including The Lutheran, Christian Century, CrossAccent, Gather, and Word and World. She is the author of the hymn text collections, O Blessed Spring: Hymn Texts of Susan Palo
Cherwien; Vol. II: Come, Beloved of the Maker; and Vol. III: Peace, Be Still (all with  AugsburgFortress); as well as hymn
festival reflections collected in Crossings: Meditations for
Worship, From Glory Into Glory: Reflections For Worship, and To God I Give My Melody (all with MorningStar); Susan also edited the sacred vocal collection, To God Will I Sing (AugsburgFortress). She served on the ELCA Language Consultation, whose work set language guidelines prior to the development of Evangelical Lutheran Worship.

She received her undergraduate degree in church music and voice from Wittenberg University, holds the
Abschlussprüfung in voice from the Hochschule der Künste Berlin, and a Master of Liberal Studies degree from
Mundelein College, Chicago, focusing on spirituality, ritual, and the arts. Eight of her hymn texts appear in the ELW. #261 As the Dark Awaits the Dawn; #306 Come, Beloved of the Maker; #374 Day of Arising; #447 O Blessed Spring; #548 Rise, O Church, like Christ Arisen; #648 Beloved, God’s Chosen; #672 Signs and Wonders; and #699 In Deepest Night.

Jonathan Noel, Minister of Music

Pre-Lent Evenings of Prayer – Save the dates!

“Praying Our Longings: Using Poetry in Prayer”

February 7, 14, 21, 2022
6:30 p.m. –  8:00 p.m. (worship space)

“Reading poetry before sleep is essential; it is like flossing the word-loving parts of the brain.” ~Barbara Kingsolver

For three evenings before we begin the season of Lent, let’s gather for a time to experience the poetry of Mary Oliver, Wendell Berry, the Psalms, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, and more…. Prepare for an exciting, prayer-filled time together! Sign ups accepted at StJamesGettysburg.com/poetry until the initial evening together! Let’s explore a creative experience of prayer going into Lent, 2022.

Wednesday Morning Bible Study

10:00—11:30 a.m. (Pastor Mike leading)

Each week we are looking at one of the scripture texts from the upcoming weekend worship.  Most often we look closely at the reading from the Jewish Bible (Old Testament), and how this relates to the Gospel text for the weekend.

Thursday Morning Bible Study

10:00—11:30 a.m. (Pastor Andrew leading)

Our Thursday morning Bible study is currently wrapping up an in-depth look at the book of Romans.  As far as Lutheran Christians go, maybe our most important book outside of the gospels.  We gather via Zoom each Thursday at  10:00 a.m.  New participants are  always welcome!

Worship Previews

February 6 — Fifth Sunday after Epiphany

The fifth Sunday after Epiphany continues to highlight unlikely instruments and circumstances appointed to reveal God’s glory. “Who will go for us?” God asks. A person of unclean lips, a former persecutor of the church of God, and three fishermen who couldn’t catch a thing. More surprising still, perhaps, is that we are also called. Readings: Isaiah 6:1-8 [9-13]; Psalm 138; 1 Corinthians 15:1-11; Luke 5:1-11

February 13 — Sixth Sunday after Epiphany

Blessings and curses abound on the sixth Sunday after Epiphany. We would do well to listen closely to whom the “blessed ares” and the “woe tos” are directed and to find our place in the crowd among those who desire to touch Jesus. The risen Christ stands among us in the mystery of the holy supper with an invitation to live in him, and offers power to heal us all.   Readings: Jeremiah 17:5-10; Psalm 1 ; 1 Corinthians 15:12-20; Luke 6:17-26

February 20 — Seventh Sunday after Epiphany

Mercy. Mercy. Mercy. Joseph lives it in Egypt. Jesus preaches it in the gospel. The Spirit guides us into merciful lives with the power of forgiveness to reconcile what is fractured and divided. Such merciful living is the baptismal blessing of having put on Christ. It is the gift of the life-giving Spirit. It is a reflection of God’s glory revealed in Christ. Readings: Genesis 45:3-11, 15; Psalm 37:1-11, 39-40; 1 Corinthians 15:35-38, 42-50; Luke 6:27-38

February 27 — Transfiguration of Our Lord, Seventh Sunday after Epiphany

Witnesses to the glory of God in the face of Jesus reflect that glory in the world. It was true for Moses. It was doubtless true for Peter, James, and John. We pray that it will be true of all of us who see God’s glory in the word and in the supper and who are being “transformed into the same image” by God’s Spirit.  Readings: Exodus 34:29-35; Psalm 99 ; 2 Corinthians 3:12–4:2; Luke 9:28-36 [37-43a]

To the Congregation of St. James Lutheran Church:

We invite you to commemorate Pastor Mike and lift him up in your prayers as he transitions into retirement.  We will have celebratory worship services for Pastor Mike on his last Sunday, February 27, 2022.  Differing from previous communication, there will be two Sunday services – at 8:15 a.m. & 10:45 a.m.  The 8:15 a.m. service will be livestreamed.  Youth Sunday School classes and confirmation will not take place.  The Saturday 5:30 p.m. worship will take place as usual, and Pastor Mike will be preaching.

Following each worship service, there will time to visit with Pastor Mike, Lois, and their family, but there will be no reception food as previously mentioned. Please take advantage of the abundant space in the building, and mask when you are able.

There are a number of ways in which you may honor Pastor Mike’s 18 years serving the congregation of St. James Lutheran Church and 42 years in Ministry.

  • Card Shower – we will present Pastor Mike and Lois with a basket of cards on February 27. Consider writing a thoughtful note expressing your gratitude and cheering him into retirement. Please deliver or mail cards to the church by Friday, February 25. [P.O. Box 4596, Gettysburg, PA 17325, Attn: Card Shower]
  • Financial gift in honor of Pastor Mike – we are collecting funds to be donated to two organizations near and dear to Pastor Mike:
    • Gettysburg C.A.R.E.S. – our local winter resource center; Pastor Mike was greatly involved in their establishment and ministry to the homeless community
    • Oasis Ministries for Spiritual Development (Camp Hill) – a program which Pastor Mike has utilized throughout his ministry for retreats and continuing education opportunities

The gifts received for the honorarium will be split equally between the two organizations. Please submit financial gifts by Tuesday, February 15. Place them in the offering plate, drop off at the office, or mail. Checks payable to St. James Lutheran Church; indicate in memo line Pastor Mike Retirement. Please do not enclose honorarium checks in card shower envelopes, as they will be opened by Pastor Mike and Lois.

  • Token of gratitude – the church will also purchase a personal gift for Pastor Mike from the honorarium collection. Pastor Mike and Lois enjoy bicycling and they hope to purchase electric bikes to enjoy in retirement. We would like to financially support this adventure.

While we are continually making adjustments to keep ourselves and others safe and healthy, we want to respect everyone’s comfort, yet provide opportunities to celebrate Pastor Mike’s service & ministry. On Sunday, May 22, we will host a church picnic in honor of Pastor Mike at the Fireman’s Pavilion, located at Gettysburg REC Park. Hopefully, by then, it will be a safe opportunity for many to gather, share a meal together, visit and have fun (with maybe a few innings of baseball!). More details to follow, but please mark your calendars for this spring event!

Yours In Christ,

Members of Pastor Mike’s Mutual Ministry Committee, Evangelism Committee, Council, and Church Staff

Congregational Vote to Call The Rev. Andrew R. Geib as Lead Pastor at St. James Lutheran Church

On Wednesday, January 19, Council voted unanimously in favor of recommending Pastor Andrew Geib to the congregation for a call vote as lead pastor.  [Pastor Mike is retiring and his last Sunday is February 27.]

The voting weekend is Saturday & Sunday, February 5 & 6.  A Call Sermon will be given by Pastor Andrew at each service that weekend.

All eligible congregation members are able to vote by one of the following methods:

  1. In-person Paper Ballot on the voting weekend following each of the three worship services
  2. A Zoom Meeting will begin at 12 Noon on Sunday, February 6 for those who are unable to attend worship that weekend.  The zoom vote will occur via a private chat function with Synod representatives.  To vote on 2/6 at Noon, use StJamesGettysburg.com/vote [meeting id:  859 8524 9668 // passcode:  462357]

No absentee or proxy ballots will be accepted.

In the event of inclement weather on February 5 or 6, the entire voting schedule will be postponed until the following weekend, February 12 & 13.  

The compensation package for Pastor Andrew falls within budget and synod guidelines and is available for review in the office.

Ringing the Bell

If any of you are interested in ringing that steeple bell prior to worship please be in touch with Dee Wells, Worship Assistant Coordinator (717-586-9734), any of the pastors, or church staff. No age limits required – all are welcome to ring, though parent or accompanying adult may need to provide a bit more strength for a light-weight youth.

Ordering Flowers (Standing Orders)

Judy Seilhamer is updating her records for altar flower orders. If you would like to confirm your standing order, please contact her with dates. She is also the point of contact for individual orders for flowers in honor or memory of a loved one.

This can be done in the following ways:

  1. Email: js360@comcast.net
  2. Mail: Judy Seilhamer, 360 E Lincoln Ave, Gettysburg, PA 17325
  3. Phone: 717-334-4301 (leave a call back # if I don’t answer)

Basic flower arrangements are $30.00, red rosebuds are $9.00 (other colors vary in price)

Parish Records

Wedding

January 8: Kimberly Garrett & Craig A. Oyler

Baptisms

January 16: Addison Paige Smith

January 16: Eevee Lee Mauston

January 22: Landon Calvin Nell

Deaths

January 12: Darwin F. “Sonny” Heagey

January 14: Luxie R. Althoff

January 21: Joan B. Herrick

January 25: Patricia V. Gardner

Upcoming 50+ Wedding Anniversaries

February 14: Dennis and Becky Carter (52 years)

February 10: Thomas and Madeline Gormley (60 years)

February 24: Stephen and Rebecca Harris (54 years)

February 16: Charles and Judy Sterner (53 years)

Youth News

Heading off in the thick of winter to join dozens of Lutheran teenagers at Winterfest felt so natural that at times I forgot I was supposed to be leading our group. The nine kids we took to Wyndham Resort and Convention Center in Lancaster flashed some dance moves, bared their souls, and represented St. James in a way our congregation can be proud of.

During group sessions, we contemplated the versions of ourselves we’re willing to reveal to close friends and strangers. We thought about who influences us and how we might influence others. We also learned how to interrupt racism, provide positive impressions of Christians on social media, and took a closer look at who we make room for in our lives.

In the evenings, we prayed with our Lutheran brothers and sisters, ate tons of great food, and sang our hearts out. My only wish is that we could have had even more youth join us for the trip. Thank you to the St. James congregation for providing our students with an opportunity to explore our faith and meet new friends across the synod.

Our Wednesday K-5 Youth group has returned in full force. I remember fondly the days of joining friends from several schools in the church  basement to play games, listen to Bible stories, and sing our hearts out. It’s been fun to blend old traditions with new attitudes and energy.

I’m so proud of the enthusiasm the students show when learning about the miracle of Christ and the many people who helped him to find his way as a child. In the coming weeks, I plan to provide parents with questions they can ask students on the drive home to reenforce the ideas we discussed during the day.

There’s nothing I’m looking forward to more than meeting with your middle and high school youth groups. Prior to joining the St. James staff, I was on the road to earning my secondary education certification. Utilizing my education while getting the chance to help students explore their faith and serve God and their community is a dream.

Please encourage the middle schoolers in your life to join us at the Youth House Mondays from 3 to 5 p.m. High schoolers will meet Sundays from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Putting our heads together and hands to work, we can make a great impact in our church, town, and community. Hopefully we’ll have some fun along the way!

Adam Michael, Director of Youth and Family Ministry

Youth Group Schedule

  • HS Youth Group
    Sundays 6:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.
  • MS Youth Group
    Mondays 2:30 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.
  • MS/HS Youth Breakfast
    @ the Youth House        
    Wednesdays 6:45 a.m.
  • K-5 Youth Group
    Wednesdays 3:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Calling all Youth Volunteers

If you’d like to contribute time, expertise, and energy to Youth Ministry through St. James, please don’t hesitate to reach out to Mr. Adam, our Director of Youth and Family Ministry. He can guide you through the process of becoming a Youth Volunteer!

Council Corner

January Council Meeting Highlights:

Treasurer’s Report

The Endowment loan of $2,760 for Worship Area Renewal was paid off with money from the Capital Campaign.

The Actual Giving Fund ended the year with a positive balance of $43,801 although this was only possible because throughout the year there were staffing vacancies involving the positions of Minister of Music and Director of Youth and Family Ministry. Personnel expenses for 2021 were about $97,000 under the estimated budget. St. James is now fully staffed, so giving will need to increase to match budgetary expectations.

The Early Learning Center ended the year with a positive balance of $178,170.

Lead Pastor Call Voting

Council voted to recommend to the congregation that St. James call Pr. Andrew Geib as lead pastor. First the call committee of Council voted with the result of 6-0 in favor of recommending Pr. Geib as lead pastor to the congregation. Next the full Council voted with the result being unanimously in favor of recommending Pr. Geib to the congregation for a call vote.

Congregation Call Vote Procedure

Council approved the following process. The vote will occur February 5 and 6 with voting following each service. In case of snow, the alternate dates are February 12 and 13. Additionally, a Zoom meeting will be held at noon, following the 10:45 service with voting  to occur online. A synod representative will be present to oversee the meetings and vote count. Communications to the congregation will include announcements in the Messenger, Blast emails, and a mailed letter to all members. The salary and compensation package will be available for congregation members to review in the office.

Good for God, Church & Council

Emili Scavitto reported on Winterfest which was held the weekend of January 8. Participants had a good time and enjoyed getting to know the new Director of Youth, Adam Michael. Upper classmen and lower classmen interacted and got along well with the goal of getting the youth program back in good form.

Pr. Andrew Geib reported that the first phase of installing the new AV system is beginning January 24. A thank you was extended to Kyle Smith and Joe Dutrow for extensive time they spent running wires in preparation for the install.

St. James is hosting C.A.R.E.S. overnights February 7-20. Hosts are needed from St. James for each evening’s arrival of C.A.R.E.S. guests. Volunteers may sign up virtually on the e-Blast button titled, Gettysburg C.A.R.E.S. Volunteer Sign-Up or by going to StJamesGettysburg.com/CARES.

Adult Discussion Class Yearly Report: 2021

Members of the Adult Discussion Class are proud to serve St. James and others locally and worldwide. This year, our class members reported (even though we were unable to meet most Sundays) over $16,187.73 to the following church and community organizations: C.A.R.E.S., SCCAP, Ruth’s Harvest, Red Cross Ida Relief, Lutheran World Relief, COVID Family Relief, SCCAP Endowment Fund, and the Resettlement Project of Gettysburg (Refugees). (Some class members chose not to report their donations so the actual total is higher.) In addition, class members purchased thirty-two  $25.00 Christmas gift cards for a total of $800.00 given to the Circles Program (SCCAP) family members.

“It’s only by separating yourself from your native country and living in other countries that you can see that all countries are special in their different ways; and actually there are people just like you and just like your friends all over the world, who have perfectly satisfying and interesting lives in wildly different circumstances.”

~ Robert Cottrell

Calls to Action

Mission Fund Committee

At its annual meeting in January of 2010, the Congregation re-affirmed a resolution by Congregation Council to allocate one tenth of undesignated bequests to support the local and worldwide mission of the church. Starting in 2020, the main source of funding for this mission switched to 30% of the Endowment Fund
distributions from its ELCA Fund A.

The purpose of the Mission Fund Committee is to solicit suggestions from members of the congregation about organizations or programs to be considered for support and then to evaluate the suggestions and make specific recommendations to Congregation Council for distribution of the Mission Fund monies. Three projects received Mission Fund support in 2021:

  • SCAAP Emergency Rent and Utility Program $2,225
  • Lutheran World Relief Yemen Humanitarian Relief project $2,000
  • Community table at Bethlehem Lutheran Church, New Orleans $2,000

The committee is now ready to receive suggestions from members of the congregation for the 2022 distributions from the Mission Fund. If you have an organization or program that you wish to recommend for consideration for possible support, please send the following information to Claire Anderson by e-mail (battleburg@gmail.com) or in writing through the church office by Noon on Thursday, March 3rd:

  1. Your name and your contact information (telephone and/or e-mail address).
  2. The name and contact information of the organization or program that you are recommending (name of organization or program, name of a person, telephone, address, website, etc.).
  3. The mission of the organization or program and a rationale for support from St. James, including the extent of need for that project.

As the committee develops recommendations for distribution of the Mission Fund monies, it keeps in mind the overall mission of St. James: “We respond to God’s abundant grace by being hearers, proclaimers , and doers of the Word.”

Refugee Resettlement Partnership of Gettysburg

WHAT IS IT?

The Refugee Resettlement Partnership (RRP) of Gettysburg is local partnership among eight area churches and other interested parties working together to make a new home in the Gettysburg area for two or three refugee families from Afghanistan. The RRP of Gettysburg is partnering with Bethany Christian Services, Lancaster.

These families are part of a group of more than 70,000 refugees temporarily residing on U.S. military bases here in the United States. The Department of Homeland Security and Department of State have completed medical and security clearances for all of the refugees currently waiting for permanent placement. They are all legally admitted to the United States, either as legal permanent residents or humanitarian parolees. Some of the family members may possess English language ability already, but we currently don’t have those details.

HOW MUCH SUPPORT IS NEEDED?

In the beginning, support will be needed to for nearly every service and daily need of family life that we take for granted. The goal is for each family to be self-sufficient as soon as possible, but it will take time, as they get established in new jobs and new neighborhoods.

WHAT CAN I DO?

The best way to be involved is to be on one of the many committees: the work of the RRP of Gettysburg is done through committees.

Immediate committee needs include:

  • Health and Benefits
  • Transportation
  • Finance and Employment
  • Fundraising

HOW DO I GET INVOLVED?

Contact your church liaison or pastor/church leader for additional information. For community members or church members who wish to help, contact us through this email: RefugeeGettysburg@gmail.com

Welcome

We are Christ’s people, and this is Christ’s house with its doors wide open. If you are passing through, Godspeed. If you are looking for a worship home, stay with us. We invite guests to join us, but most of all, to return often.

Welcome to long-time Lutherans, Christians from every tradition, and people new to faith. Welcome to all who have no church home, want to follow Christ, have doubts, or do not believe. Welcome to new visitors and old friends. Welcome to people of every age and size, color and culture, every sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, socio-economic status, marital status, ability, and challenge. Welcome to believers and questioners, and to questioning believers. This is a place where you are welcome to celebrate and sorrow, rejoice, and recover. This is a place where lives are made new. Come and listen for the Holy Spirit calling you to love your neighbor wholeheartedly, seek justice, create peace, and practice compassion.

As members of the body of Christ, we are called to be ministers of reconciliation both in the church and in the world. Through our baptism we are reconciled to God through the saving grace of Christ Jesus and challenged by the Gospel to be agents of healing and love within our church and society. As a community of faith, we proclaim this statement of welcome.

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