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Message from Pastor Andrew
Very truly, I tell you, the one who believes in me will also do the works that I do and, in fact, will do greater works than these, because I am going to the Father. If you love me, you will keep my commandments. 16And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever. This is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, because he abides with you, and he will be in you.
In my second year of seminary, I took a course taught by St. James’ very own Dr. Gil Waldkoenig entitled “Places of Faith: Ethnography of Religion.” In a matter of words, it was a course that looked at how different religious traditions function within their specific context. We looked at the joys and challenges of congregations in large cities, small towns, suburbs, and rural areas – how these contexts shaped the ministry that took place. As a young seminarian, one whose ministry experience was limited for the most part, to the thriving suburban congregation I grew up in, it was an eye opening class to say the least.
Our final reflection paper led students to take an in-depth look at a specific ministry context and study its narrative – to engage in its history and demographics, its culture and dynamics, its strengths, and its challenges.
At the time, my paternal grandfather was serving as the interim pastor of St. Mark’s Lutheran Church on the east side of the city of York. The congregation’s history dates to 1881, when on Reformation Sunday, twenty-four people attended an organizational meeting, becoming charter members. During the 1960s St. Mark’s underwent a building program of just over $400,000 – including a new sanctuary capable of seating over 400 people, a Sunday school wing that included five classrooms, offices, an indoor basketball court, a library, a parlor, and a basement that allowed for six more classrooms and two choir rooms. As time went on, the surrounding neighborhood changed dramatically and the congregation struggled to keep up – attendance began to decline, people transferred membership, money stopped coming in, ministries stopped happening. By the early 2000s it was decided that a full-time pastor was no longer needed. In the blink of an eye, a congregation that just thirty years earlier was worshiping over 300 people at any given service, had returned to where it began back in the late 1800s – a core group of less than 30 gathering together…
The scripture verses above come from the assigned Gospel for the day of Pentecost. At this point in the Gospel, Jesus is doing all he can to prepare his disciples for the time he will no longer be with them. As he does so, he is clear about two things – First, the one who believes in him will do what he does. And second, when doing so, they will never be alone.
As I write this newsletter article, in less than two months’ time, I have met with just under 50 households here at the church. Pastorally, these meetings have been the best thing I have done since being called to St. James as the associate pastor nearly seven years ago. It has been an opportunity to get to know people in a deeper way – to hear about your joys and sorrows, your family dynamics, what brought you to St. James and what has kept you here, and where you think we are heading in the future. In all of them, I have heard again and again how much this place means to you… how you have experienced the life-giving Good News of God in Christ through this family of faith.
Very truly, I tell you, the one who believes in me will also do the works that I do and, in fact, will do greater works than these, because I am going to the Father.
You have heard me say it before, and you will continue to hear me say it – I love the Church. I don’t say these words lightly. Regardless of how long or how challenging my day has been, when I lay my head down at night, there are very few days I can’t say I gave my best to do the work Christ has called me to do – work done out of love for Him who loved me first and continues to love me regardless of my failures and shortcomings… who sends the advocate to carry me through it all.
Back in February, you received an end of the year letter from our Council President, Kyle Smith, that reflected on the previous year and looked to the year we currently find ourselves in. In that letter, he reflected that while we ended 2021 $43,000 to the positive in giving, we also ended $81,000 short of budget – a difference fueled by staff vacancies. We still find ourselves short staffed – down a full-time pastor and an office administrator. In response to this, the question was asked – “so you’re asking me to give more?”
As your Lead Pastor, I am asking you to give more – with your time, your financial resources, and your talents. To reflect on the gift of God in Christ and respond accordingly, so that we can continue to do the work he calls us to in a world desperately in need.
As Kyle put it in his letter, “to fortify our congregation” – “to re-engage, recommit, and strengthen… reach out to those we’ve missed seeing… to remind people of the joy, love and community that was and is central to St. James.” As I proclaimed in my Easter sermon – “To offer hope in the face of hardship, forgiveness and reconciliation in the face of division, and life in the face of death… To give of what we have – our time, our talent, and our treasure… To love our neighbor as God in Christ loves us… To commit ourselves to Christ and His Church.”
God has so richly blessed us. Let us be a blessing to others. Come to worship. Come to Sunday school. Give generously. Bring your kids and grandkids and neighborhood kids to youth group. Talk to Jonathan about singing in one of our choirs. Serve on a committee or taskforce. Join a bible study. Come to events. Share St. James’ enthusiasm in your social circles and social media. Tell a friend about our wonderful family of faith and invite them to come be a part of it.
I love the Church. I know you do as well.
Thank you from Pastor Mike & Lois
Thank you to all who weathered the heat and threat of rain to gather for Mike’s St. James retirement picnic celebration on Sunday, May 22! Since a luncheon inside the church in February could not happen, the picnic at REC Park was just perfect.
And what a party it was!
Judy Seilhamer and Carol Cook created a beautiful quilt for members to sign. John Doerfler and so many others set up tents and tables for an amazing feast. We felt honored and loved. As always.
Thank you again, Pastor Mike & Lois
June 5 — Pentecost
On Pentecost, we celebrate that we have been given an Advocate to accompany us. Poured out in wind and fire, water, wine, and bread, the Holy Spirit abides in and among us. We give thanks that God speaks to each of us, no matter our origins, language, or life path. Filled with the Spirit of truth, we go out from worship to proclaim the saving power of Christ’s love and the freedom of God’s grace with all the world.
Readings: Acts 2:1-21 or Genesis 11:1-9 (alternate) | Psalm 104:24-34, 35b | Romans 8:14-17 or Acts 2:1-21 (alternate) | John 14:8-17 [25-27]
Confirmation at 10:45 a.m. worship service
Blessing & Official Welcoming of Pastor Clif Suehr
June 12 — Holy Trinity
“O LORD our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!” Today we celebrate the holy Trinity. Paul writes that through Jesus we have peace with God, whose love pours into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, giving us lasting hope. We celebrate the gracious One-in-Three, eternal Three-in-One, as we worship in community; as we share water and word, bread and wine; and as we bring God’s love and hope to our neighbors.
Readings: Proverbs 8:1-4, 22-31 | Psalm 8 | Romans 5:1-5 | John 16:12-15
June 19 — Second Sunday after Pentecost
This Sunday’s texts paint startling pictures of the horrific nature of sin. The church’s repeated celebration of holy communion counters that tragic reality in a continued showing forth of the death of Jesus until he comes again. It is a dramatic declaration of “how much God has done for you.”
Readings: Isaiah 65:1-9 | Psalm 22:19-28 | Galatians 3:23-29 | Luke 8:26-39
June 26 — Third Sunday after Pentecost
We have no good apart from God. That makes Jesus’ call to follow him an invitation to freedom. This is freedom to revel in the Spirit’s fruit: love, joy, peace, and patience. This is freedom to not be imprisoned by anything that would keep us from the fullness of the life God has given us. This is the path of life.
Readings: 1 Kings 19:15-16, 19-21 | Psalm 16 | Galatians 5:1, 13-25 | Luke 9:51-62
May 18 Council Meeting Highlights
Income and expenditures were approximately equal for the month of April, but the church was not fully staffed. For the year, income was slightly above expenditures. The Early Learning Center financials were good with revenue slightly ahead of expenditures.
Finance committee recommended that undesignated bequests each fiscal quarter from the Kime bequest for all four quarters of 2022 and the annual McVicker bequest be placed in the endowment fund. Council approved.
Committee and Task Force Reports—
The Endowment Committee recommended that a separate endowment fund be created for funds that are permanently restricted. This was recommended to Endowment by the ELCA foundation. This fund would be for money that permanently has been designated for one purpose. The proposal had been tabled at the April Council meeting, but with more information was reconsidered. The motion was approved.
The newly appointed Call Committee to search for a new associate pastor has met for the first time and will now develop action procedures and begin considering development of the St. James Profile.
Call Committee members include:
- Lucinda Bringman
- Glenn Munsee
- Jim Flanagan
- Amy Crist
- Ernie Kranias
- Kasey Smith
- Anne Lane, alternate
- Shirley Sanders, Congregation Council Liaison
Good for Council/Church/God—
Shirley Sanders reported that two Eagle Scout ceremonies went very well recently.
Brent Smith reported that the Synod Day of Edification was very interesting. Pr. Chris Suehr (son of interim Pastor Clif Suehr) reported on his doctoral dissertation about church membership decline nationally and locally.
It was also reported that the church needs more volunteers to assist with communion and other worship assistant needs.
When I was a sportswriter, the district and state track and field meets were my favorite events to cover. There was plenty to appreciate about the competitions, but it was the action before and after the events that drew me to the sport.
Students arrive on Friday, set up tents that would operate as their home base for the rest of the weekend, and were set loose to prepare for competition. For some, this meant long, slow jogs around the Shippensburg University campus. For others, simply stretching, resting and finding ways to keep their mind at ease.
Most sports are designed for rivalries. Sidelines, dugouts and benches keep athletes from fraternizing with the competition – or in my day, the enemy.
Track meets are different. Athletes from different camps venture to other camps with food or drink as a peace offering. Members of opposing teams banter, play and sometimes flirt while taking in all that nature has to offer. Occasionally, relationships that started while sitting in a competition queue turned into long-lasting friendships, or at least a commitment between workout buddies.
Once a baseball player who took pride in swapping barbs with the catcher while at the plate, or slung playful insults from one dugout to the other, this communal behavior seemed odd to a competition junky, but eventually came to be nourishing.
There are many other lessons I’ve learned from track athletes, but the one I treasure most is watching as they exert every last dash of energy into their performances. Particularly after races, athletes drop to the ground, faces pink, white or even a sickly shade of blue with exhaustion. After a minute or two staring to the heavens, they muster the strength to stand, and as the color returns to their face, so does the smile of appreciation and excitement to share their joy with their friends.
This summer, I want to challenge all of our kids to approach our activities like track athletes. We will encourage open and playful salutations to strangers as we look to make friends. We will strive to be the best versions of ourselves by pushing our limits and being comfortable in our discomfort. And when it is over, we will take a moment to pause, look to the heavens in thoughtful speculation and gratitude before expressing our joy.
To be a part of the fun, please visit our website, www.stjamesgettysburg.com, check out our calendar, and sign up for activities for all age groups this summer.
In Christ’s love,
All Summer Youth Activities are listed on the church calendar in orange. There is something for everyone, and all are welcome!
Please let Adam know if you’re planning to participate. And feel free to share with your friends and bring them along for some summer fun!
Committee Meetings: Where can you serve & get involved?
Committees have been meeting in-person and via Zoom. And we are working on filling the calendar to our pre-COVID busy-ness! If you are looking for something new, or a way to take leadership, there’s certainly a fit for you! Pick up a committee booklet with contact information later this month!
Art & Design—meet as needed
Christian Education—meet as needed
Columbarium—meet as needed; appointed membership
Council—3rd Wednesday, 6:30 p.m., Library
Creation Care Taskforce—2nd Thursday, 10:00 a.m., Library
Early Learning Center Governance—2nd Tuesday, 5:30 p.m., via Zoom (appointed/closed meeting)
Endowment Fund—1st Monday, quarterly [Feb, May, Aug, Nov], 5:30 p.m., via Zoom; elected membership
Evangelism & Fellowship—1st Tuesday, 6:30 p.m., Library (currently on hold; soon to resume meeting)
Executive—2nd Wednesday, 11:30 a.m., via Zoom (appointed/closed meeting)
Finance Committee—4th Monday, quarterly [Jan, April, July, Oct], 5:30 p.m., via Zoom
History & Archives—4th Thursday, 1:00—4:00 p.m., Gathering Area
Kitchen Subcommittee—Meet as needed; Annual Cleaning Day (typically after Fastnacht Fundraiser)
Landscaping Subcommittee—Meet as needed; Spring & Fall Gardening/Clean-up Days
Library—1st & 3rd Thursdays, noon—2:00 p.m., Library
Mission Fund—Meet in March to determine fund allocations (appointed)
Mission Support—3rd Tuesday, 7:00 p.m., via Zoom
Personnel—2nd Monday, 6:00 p.m., Library (elected/closed meeting)
Property—1st Monday, 6:30 p.m., Library
Reconciling in Christ—meet as needed
Social Ministry—3rd Tuesday [Feb, April, June, Aug, Oct], 7:15 p.m., Library
Stephen Ministry Group—4th Tuesday, 10:00 a.m., not in July, Room 300
World Outreach—4th Tuesday, 7:00 p.m., via Zoom
Worship & Music—1st Tuesday, 6:00 p.m., via Zoom [no meeting in July]
Youth Ministry—3rd Monday, 6:00 p.m., Youth House
Music as Therapy
My wife, Marian, has a degree in music therapy. A music therapist uses sounds, rhythms, and songs to bring about a response in an individual. It is a clinical process in which a patient, say, a child with developmental disorders, is given a regimen of music therapy tailored to improve motor skills, cognition, communication, or the channeling of emotions. This way of using music was a foreign idea to me and contrasted greatly with what I was familiar with from my own training – that practicing music was merely the means to an end and the final performance was what mattered most.
The importance of the therapeutic aspect of music became clearer to me during a time in my life when I was leading choirs in a nursing home. After service one day, a very elderly woman confined to a wheelchair told me that she had never sung in a choir before, and it was great fun! She had found new purpose at a time in her life when she had lost so much. It was clear to me, in that moment, that the improvement of her quality of life outweighed any consideration of the quality of the performance.
If you sing in one of our choirs, I hope that you feel a sense of fulfillment and purpose. If you are not in a choir, consider singing with the summer choir. It’s a low stress, low-commitment way to be involved. And, if choirs just aren’t your thing, I urge you to fully engage in singing the hymns and liturgy without concern for your ability. Give yourself permission to be transformed by the music as you connect with God and others in this community of faith.
Meet Our Call Committee
The Council has taken the first step in the call process for a second pastor by appointing a Call Committee. Council members shared possible names and determined who would make up the committee. The Committee met for an organizational meeting with Council President, Kyle Smith and Pr. Beth Martini, Assistant to Bishop Dunlop for Mobility, who attended via Zoom. The members of the Call Committee are Lucinda Bringman, Amy Crist, Jim Flanagan, Ernie Kranias, Glenn Munsee, Kasey Smith, and Anne Lane (committee alternate), with Shirley Sanders as Congregation Council Liaison. The committee together determined that Lucinda Bringman will serve as Chair, Amy Crist as Recorder and Glenn Munsee as Chaplain.
Our synod describes the steps in the Call Process by likening them to the 12-steps on a clock, and we are already at step 3! Our current task is to develop the Ministry Site Profile for St. James. This is an in-depth document to describe who we are, focusing on our
- vision for mission, including trends in our community context
- purpose, giftedness and mission, and finally,
- leadership needs
Obviously, this is not a simple document to complete, and will take significant time. You can be sure we will be coming to you for help and input for this, and the document will be entirely public within our congregation.
At the point when we feel that it is finished, our council will need to vote to accept it as our Ministry Site Profile. Then it will electronically go to the ELCA. Bishop Dunlop and his staff will work with our document to prayerfully recommend names of possible pastors or seminarian candidates for ordination to us.
We intend to keep you as informed as we possibly can, with the understanding that at the point of which we receive names of possible candidate(s) for the position, our work will become confidential for a time. Feel free to contact any member of the call committee with questions or concerns.
We invite you to watch an important video, Overview of the Call Process, provided by our synod office, with a message from Bishop Dunlop and explanations by Pr. Martini, which describes the call process in much more depth.
Also on this website is additional information and resources that will assist in the Call Process.
Yours In Christ,
Anne Lane, committee alternate
Shirley Sanders, Congregation Council Liaison
Contact information available from the office.
Holy Land Pilgrimage: February 6-16, 2023 (+ Jordan)
I would like to invite you to join Pastor Geib, Pastor Khader El-Yateem, (a native of Bethlehem, and Director of Evangelism for the Florida-Bahama Synod, ELCA) and myself on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land.
Those of us who live in or around Gettysburg know the value of “being on the field.” While there are so many informative works to read about the battle, it is just not the same as being there to experience Little Roundtop, or Devil’s Den or the Angle.
This pilgrimage takes us to explore the Holy Land, home to the three Abrahamic faiths; the land whose very geography made it a land bridge and crossroads for ancient empires. It is a land that has never known anything but conflict and occupation, from its earliest history to today. We will visit Israel and Palestine, with an additional opportunity to travel to Jordan and the ancient city of Petra. Along the way we will encounter the “Living Stones” of this land–the people who live here today–and experience why it has been called the “Fifth Gospel.”
In “Jesus, A Pilgrimage,” James Martin, SJ, tells the story of Jesus asking the disciples who folks say that he is, and then the point, “Who do you say that I am?” It is a question that, ultimately, we all must answer. There is no escaping it — even not to answer is to answer. It is the overarching question for this journey.
We will visit the traditional site of this question, Caesarea Philippi, today known as Banias. In Jesus’ day it was a religious “supermarket.” The remains of temples surround this headwater of the Jordan River. At its heart is a huge cave known as the Mouth of Hell, and cliff walls covered in niches for statues of the gods. Here, in the presence of his world’s gods as witnesses, Jesus asks, “Who do you say that I am?”
Well, your answer does not require a trip to the Holy Land, but, standing where Jesus asks it…
This land, its culture and history are where the “Word made flesh” lived, taught, died, and was raised. Like standing on our battlefield, imagine visiting the fields where the shepherds watched their flocks, walking through Capernaum — the center of Jesus’ ministry, standing beside the olive trees of Gethsemane, touching the rock of Calvary, offering prayer in the Edicule over Jesus’ tomb, being in a boat on the Sea of Galilee then sharing Communion where the risen Jesus met his disciples on the shore, as well as viewing the remains of Herod’s Caesarea Maritima, praying at the Western Wall of the Temple, and exploring ancient Jordanian cities Jerash and Petra.
The hospitality we find, belies the complexity of the politics. We stay in Bethlehem where we will see and experience firsthand how all this effects the daily life of the residents, many part of the remaining Christian community.
So, come join us on this “pilgrimage,” it will change forever your relationship to the stories of our faith. You will never read or hear them in the same way. Like standing at Caesarea Philippi and hearing his question, “Who do you say that I am?”
With our prayers,
Please call or write if you have questions:
Psalms 122:1-2,6-8Sign-up and register for the pilgrimage; travel details included.
1I was glad when they said to me,
“Let us go to the house of the LORD!”
2Our feet are standing
within your gates, O Jerusalem.
6Pray for the peace of Jerusalem:
“May they prosper who love you.
7Peace be within your walls,
and security within your towers.”
8For the sake of my relatives and friends
I will say, “Peace be within you.”
+ + +
The World Outreach Committee would love to host its annual October Knotting Session this year. We welcome anyone interested in building or sewing quilt tops at home or in the quilt room. Meeting times over the summer are flexible (mornings will be cooler). Call Judy Seilhamer (717-334- 4301) or Claire Anderson (717-779-6280) to plan a convenient day/time.
Do you have a song in your heart? Consider singing with the St. James Summer Choir. This low-commitment, come-as-you-are-able choir sings easy anthems at the late service over the summer months. No previous experience is needed. To participate, simply come to the choir room at 10:15 a.m. on Sundays beginning June 12.
To Pastor Geib and the community of St. James Lutheran Church,
A sincere word of thanks to those who planned, led, and participated in the spirit filled gathering on Sunday afternoon May 1 celebrating our forty-five years at St. James. The wonderful organ playing and choral singing under the direction of Jonathan Noel, the congregational hymn singing, the readings, and the reflections of Pastor Foltz made for a memorable afternoon. The opportunity to see so many friends and share in personal greetings, along with receiving the many cards was a true gift.
To the congregational council who conferred the honor of Minister of Music Emeritus on me and to those who contributed to the organ scholarship established in our names, a heartfelt thank you. A special thank you to Katy Clowney who was instrumental in pulling everything together. Finally, to Margaret Swartz, Mike Allwein, Rebecca Brown, Sue Currens, Sue Hill, Judy Leslie, Kay MacDowell, Jonathan Noel, Pete Riley and Ila Verdirame, the committee responsible for planning the event, kudos for a truly memorable celebration filled with singing, rejoicing and love.
Soli Deo Gloria!
Tim and Barbara Braband
Calls to Action: Worship Assistance Training
Feeling rusty? Need a good dusting? Have a renewed energy around worship?
We are planning a Worship Assistance Training for new & experienced worship leaders on Wednesday, June 22 at 7:00 p.m. in the worship space. This is a perfect opportunity if you simply need a refresher course, or if you are looking to learn how to participate and lead in worship. We welcome all who are interested in attending!
Leadership Training includes:
Acolytes, Assisting Ministers, Bell Ringers, Communion Assistants, Lay Readers, Sacristy and Ushers
May 8 Fred Braband
Upcoming 50+ Wedding Anniversaries
6/5 – Fritz & Faith Foltz: 62 years
6/5 – Bill & Shirley DeHaas: 67 years
6/7 – Dick & Ruth Jean Unger: 70 years
6/8 – Tom & Barbara Vossler: 54 years
6/8 – Dick & Donna Mountfort: 54 years
6/9 – Jon & Betsy Griffiths: 54 years
6/9 – Jack & Sally Crist: 60 years
6/17 – Richard & Susan Henry: 55 years
6/19 – John & Judy Seilhamer: 57 years
6/25 – Charles & Betsy Bender: 61 years
6/27 – James & Susan Roach: 52 years
6/28 – Dick & Greta Englund: 64 years
6/29 – Ed & Doris Groft: 60 years