Christmas Is Almost Here!
Christmas is almost here! It is only hours away!
I hope you are making your way through your “to do” list and are nearly finished with your preparations for tomorrow. I hope you’ll include one more item on your “to do” list, perhaps the most important one of all. Add “worship at a Christmas Eve service” and put it in large print at the top of your list.
This evening, three worship services will be held at Pearce. The first, at 5pm, provides nursery care for children up through four years of age. Another service follows at 7pm. Both of these services are in Pearce’s Sanctuary. At 11pm, a service will be held in Parmerter Chapel and will feature Communion. All three services, of course, will conclude with the traditional candle-lighting ceremony.
At each of these services, we’ll receive a special offering for Pearce’s “Compassion Fund.” This fund helps us meet a wide variety of needs for people in our congregation and in our community throughout the year. This year, we have distributed more than $8,000 to help people with expenses during difficult times. I hope you’re considering making a special gift so that Pearce can continue to be a caring congregation.
One Last Angelic Message
We have one more angelic message to consider in our Advent/Christmas sermon series “Words Worth Hearing!” In the days immediately following Christmas, we’ll take a look at when an angel instructed Joseph and Mary to take their child and flee to refuge in Egypt. You may want to read this account in Matthew 2:13-23 as you prepare for worshiping with us!
Worship services will be at 5pm on Saturday (December 26) and 10:30am on Sunday (December 27).
Finding Financial Peace
Making resolutions about your finances for the coming year? If so, you may want to enroll in the Dave Ramsey Financial Peace University (FPU) being held on Wednesday evenings at Pearce, beginning on January 6. This seminar can help you reach your financial goals by showing you how to eliminate debt, save for the future, and be a more generous person. The cost is $93 per family, but is well worth the money. Register on our website at http://www.pearcechurch.org/dave-ramseys-financial-peace-university-2/.
I’ll be leading a four-week Discovery Seminar on Wednesdays, beginning on January 6. This seminar will help you become more familiar with Pearce Church. We’ll explore our history, our beliefs, and the ways we are seeking to bring God’s restoration to the lives of those we know and to our very planet. I’ve asked Bill Smout and Dr. Doug Cullum to assist me in leading this seminar. Register by contacting Kim Brittin at email@example.com.
Congregation, Did You Know?
What a wonderful celebration took place here last Sunday morning. Under the direction of Pastor Tim, a host of people of all ages participated, from young children in the choir to Dr. Livermore’s portrayal of Grandpa Waite! Thanks to the many people who made our worship so rich and full, from actors to dancers and stage/tech crews, to narrators and musicians.
A couple of things you may appreciate knowing about the “Be Born in Us Today” service. One thing is that many of the songs were original compositions by Dr. Dan Barta. (He also provided “the voice” for the Jeremiah passage!) Another thing is that the baby Jesus was a real baby. I was surprised to discover that fact Monday morning. During the service I thought to myself, “What a realistic looking doll!” Later, I found out that the child was Ben, the three-and-a-half month child of our bookkeeper and her husband, Jess and Robby Alcorn.
The Countdown Is Accelerating!
Are you feeling what I am sensing today? I am a bit on the frantic side as I realize Christmas is only a week away and I have so much yet to accomplish. Such feelings are typical for this time of year, but I feel it is a bit heightened this year.
Christmas is approaching with such suddenness. I blame some of that on the weather. After all, the landscape hasn’t looked very Christmas-like! Perhaps it is that Mary and I are dealing with her chemotherapy this week and our focus is on more immediate concerns. (By the way, Mary is doing great! Thanks for your prayers on her behalf!)
Yet Christmas is approaching whether or not I feel ready for it. So, my challenge in these next several days is to make myself stop and allow God’s presence to flood my heart and mind. I don’t want to miss the significance of Jesus’s coming.
I find several things help me in this regard.
First, worship is crucial. It is as I sit in a worship service that I often feel my heart drawn to the things of God. Worship forces me to take my eyes off myself and look at my Lord. I look forward to this weekend’s services and, especially, I anticipate gathering with others on Christmas Eve.
I also find Pearce’s Service of Hope to be one of the most treasured hours of my Christmas observance. There is something very precious about that service as I take time for lament. Allowing my grief to surface somehow frees me to better celebrate Jesus’s coming. (The Service of Hope will be held this coming Sunday at 6:30pm.)
Secondly, I find beautiful sacred music helps me regain perspective. Playing Handel’s Messiah is a must for me at this time of year. (Especially after hearing Mariah Carey’s All I Want for Christmas is You for the umpteenth time on the radio!)
Thirdly, I simply need to be still. This year, I imagine I’ll come home from the final Christmas Eve service at Pearce to find my chair by the window and just sit in quiet stillness. There is something about looking out a window at 1am on Christmas morning that allows the contemplation that is so often avoided. It is in those moments, as most of my neighborhood sleeps, that I sense a deep gratitude for the salvation I have been gifted through Jesus Christ’s life and ministry.
I encourage you to find your own ways of allowing the meaning of Christmas to sink into your heart and mind.
Thanks for Your Generosity
As we are getting ready to finish the year, I want to express my thanks to the many that financially support our church. At this point in the year, we remain a bit behind in our Operations Budget. To date, we are about $30,000 behind budget in Operations and about $7,000 behind in our Building Fund. If you are able to help us close these gaps, I encourage you to do so. Thanks for your faithful stewardship!
The Power of Story
I was recently listening to a TED talk by Susan Conley, a teacher from Portland. (TED, Technology, Entertainment, and Design, is a nonprofit devoted to spreading ideas, usually in the form of short, powerful talks, 18 minutes or less.) In this TED, she spoke about the power of story. “Lives can be changed by stories,” Conley asserted.
I agree with Conley. I think stories are indeed powerful and that lives can be transformed through the telling of stories. After all, isn’t that what we believe as Christians? We are convinced that the gospel story can bring about a wonderful conversion.
I want our children to hear great stories, especially at this time of year. Which is why for the past 35 years as a pastor, I’ve hosted an annual “Christmas Story Hour.” (You can see I’ve collected a sizeable collection of Christmas stories!)
This year, I’ll be hosting another evening of stories on Wednesday, December 16, at 6:30pm in Parmerter Chapel. I invite all children, whatever their age, to join me. Kids are welcome to come in their pajamas, bring a blanket to spread on the floor, and a pillow or stuffed animal to make a cozy spot on the chapel’s floor.
Following the story time, we’ll gather in the Family Life Center for refreshments and, as a special treat, each child will receive a toy courtesy of the Pearce Toymakers.
The Gift of Teaching
I had the opportunity on Tuesday to sit down with Kristin Coon, Lydia Monroe, and Carol Stevenson to discuss their upcoming visit to Rwanda. These three educators will head out in nine weeks to spend time in Nzige, assessing ways we can encourage and assist the teaching staff of the preschool.
During this brief trip, the three will be in Rwanda for only five days; a second team will go next August to provide teacher training for the preschool staff. Kristin, Lydia, and Carol, will use their experience as teachers to assess what is presently being done at the school and develop an initial plan for how next summer’s team can best be of help.
Carol has experienced many short-term mission trips over the years, but this is Kristin’s first such opportunity. “You think you are going to give to others,” Carol noted, “but you discover that you receive ten-fold.”
The team leaves on Thursday, February 13.
Reindeer Hoof Prints
Up on the House Top was made popular by Gene Autry in 1953. The lyrics, which I am sure you recall, speak of a visitor landing on the roof of a home on Christmas Eve.
Here at Pearce, we are hoping no visitor arrives at Parmerter Chapel in such a manner. The roof is in rough enough shape without the hooves of reindeer pausing on the brittle shingles!
You are well aware that throughout this year we have been financially preparing to replace the aging Parmerter roof, hoping to have a new roof installed next summer. This much-needed roof will cost an estimated $160,000.
So far, we have received a total of $86,174.50 and, as a result, are slightly past the halfway mark. As you plan your end-of-year giving, would you consider making a donation to this project?
The Joy of Serving Others
I thought you might like to hear about a few things that have been going on around Pearce the past couple of weeks.
Pat Wright wrote a note of thanks for all the help with the “Clothes for Kids” ministry. Eighty-five kids will receive warm winter clothes this year due to the generosity of people at Pearce.
Carol Wilson worked with a group of Pearce teens to make thirty Christmas cards for delivery to those who may be homebound or find it challenging to get out to services at church. Some of the teens also make birdhouses that were auctioned off a few weeks ago to help raise support for Pearce missionaries, Al & Stacy Anderson.
Pastor Jeremy recently gathered with members from various Pearce support groups to make more than 120 Christmas ornaments for distribution at the upcoming Service of Hope on December 20.
I often marvel at the many ways Christ’s love is expressed by this congregation. Thanks for being part of a family that cares in ways great and small.
The Messages Keep on Coming
This weekend, I’ll examine the wonderful and joyous message of the angels as found in Luke’s second chapter: “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” I hope to see you at Pearce at one of services this weekend.
I should also note that this is our final weekend of the existing Sunday morning worship schedule. Beginning on December 20, we’ll have a single worship service beginning at 10:30am.
I realize this change in schedule may be challenging for you. I ask that you join with me in asking the Lord to help us as we move through this time of transition and adjustment. Pray that a spirit of unity will permeate our congregation as we discover new ways to worship together.
There will be no Christian education classes on December 20, 27, or January 3. When classes resume on Sunday, January 10, they will meet beginning at 9am.
From Scraps to Scarves
Jean Ellinwood recently stopped by the reception desk at Pearce to deliver a plethora of hand-knit winter clothes for our “Clothes for Kids” ministry. Jean knitted or crocheted a total of 77 scarves, 10 pairs of mittens, and 6 hats. The scarves were crafted in a variety of lengths to accommodate children of different ages.
Last December, Jean brought in 11 scarves that she had made and donated them to our “Clothes for Kids” ministry. She was told then that her handiwork made wonderful additions to some of the gift boxes of winter clothing being provided to inner city children in Rochester. She then inquired as to how many children were being given winter garb and she found out that 63 kids were being helped.
Jean went home, determined to make enough scarves for each child touched through this Christmas distribution. She began knitting in January, a skill she learned as a young girl of 12 or 13 years old. Jean wanted to start knitting in January as, “I didn’t want to be handling yarn during the hot months of summer!” “But I ended up knitting then anyways,” she added.
This year, a total of 86 children are being assisted. Fortunately, Jean made enough scarves, hats, and mittens to allow one item to be included with each gift box.
“I had a lot of fun and ended up using many of the scraps of yarn I had lying around the house,” Jean wanted me to know.
I’m grateful for the many Kingdom servants at Pearce who find stuff “lying around” and put it to use in redemptive ways. Thanks, Jean, for helping us remain a congregation that blesses many with Christ’s love.
More “Words Worth Hearing”
Last weekend, I began our Advent sermon series entitled “Words Worth Hearing.” In this series, we are considering the messages delivered by angels to people in the opening chapters of Luke’s gospel. This week, our focus will be on the message given to Mary, as found in Luke 1:26-39.
In the 10:30am service on Sunday, Tyler and Becca Logan will present their first-born son, Jack, in dedication. Assisting me in this special moment will be the child’s great-grandfather and the person whose name he bears. Rev. Jack Logan, a retired Free Methodist pastor and long-time attender at Pearce, will have the privilege of presenting young Jack before the Lord.
Pssst! Join the Conspiracy!
If you have been around Pearce the past few years, you are aware of our annual participation in the Advent Conspiracy. This is a global movement of people and churches resisting the cultural Christmas narrative of consumption by choosing to “worship fully, spend less, give more, and love all.” You can find out more about this conspiracy at adventconspiracy.org. (While at the website, check out the wonderful and humorous new video that we ran in services a few weeks ago!)
The originators of the Advent Conspiracy encourage us to free up funds, the money normally used to purchase gifts, to help provide clean drinking water in places around the world. Since 2010, the Pearce family has contributed a total of $60,274.98 to Clear Blue Global Water. This ministry, based in Akron, Ohio, exists to provide clean, safe water to desperately needy locations.
On Sunday, December 20, we’ll receive a special offering as part of Pearce’s participation in the Advent Conspiracy. I encourage you to carefully consider your participation in our consumer culture and discover ways to free up funds for Clear Blue Global Water.
Thankful for Thanksgiving
I recently received the final summary of this year’s Thanksgiving boxes ministry. I thought you should see these bullet points and celebrate with me the generosity of so many people!
- 1,000 Thanksgiving boxes were packed and then delivered by more than 200 volunteers from Pearce, Browncroft Church, Rochester Family Mission, and an RWC class.
- Food donations were received from: Foodlink, Pearce Church, Browncroft Church, East River Veterinary Clinic, Wheatland-Chili Middle School, Holmes Road and Buckman Heights Elementary Schools (Greece), and Charles Finney School.
- Twelve Rochester-area churches, including Heart & Soul, provided names of deserving families and then helped to distribute the boxes.
- Nearly 800 deliveries/pick-ups were completed by Saturday evening, November 22.
- 815 glasses of Alka-Seltzer were taken on Thanksgiving Day to relieve the pain of overconsumption. (I made up this last one; can you tell?)
Thanks, Pearce Family, for a job well done!
Coal in My Stocking?
These last two weekends at Pearce, we’ve been examining chapter three of Genesis, the story of the fall of humankind. It’s a sobering chapter, dealing with sin and the consequences of our disobedience.
Two weekends ago, as I was preparing my heart at the beginning of the 9am worship service, I noticed the “inspiration slide” for the morning on the sanctuary screens. Superimposed on a photo of the railroad trestle at Letchworth State Park were the words of Psalm 32: “Blessed is the one whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered.”
In my message that morning, I joked about the fact that I had, on more than one occasion, walked across that trestle even though it is posted with no trespassing signs. I related that I felt, when I saw that morning’s inspiration slide, that “my sin was always before me!”
I asked for those who had also transgressed that law to raise their hand. Needless to say, there were quite a few at Pearce that Sunday. We all had a good chuckle at our rather harmless (fortunately) transgression.
Fast forward to this past weekend, as I’m getting ready to walk into the sanctuary for the 9am service. Ruth Trost, one of our receptionists, stopped me and said, with a twinkle in her eyes, “Bob and I have a something for you in our car!”
Her husband Bob quickly ran out to the car, walking back in with a small paper bag. Opening the bag, I discovered a lump of coal. Turns out that Bob had walked across the railway trestle that very week and picked up a souvenir for me as evidence.
So now, as I write this Dangling, that lump of coal sits on my desk. Reminding me of a delightful congregation who really does pay attention during my sermons! Even more importantly, I’m reminded of the blessed forgiveness of my God. Hope you have experienced that too!
Do You Hear What I Hear?
Some of the Christmas carols simply tell the story. Others romanticize the story. Still others dig deep into the story’s meaning.
Join Dr. Dan Barta, Professor of Music Theory and Composition, for a consideration of the songs of Christmas on Wednesday, December 9, at 6:30pm in Pearce’s sanctuary. In this informal seminar, you’ll have the opportunity to celebrate the wide variety of music that is heard and sung by Christians as they observe Christ’s birth.
You’ll enjoy Dr. Barta’s insights; and I imagine you’ll leave the church that evening humming one of your favorite carols!
Better Late than Never!
Do you ever collect piles of paper like I do? You set aside a letter that you intend, someday, to answer. Or you place on a pile that article you clipped from a magazine, saving it for a day when you have leisure to read it.
Evidently, I have some pretty serious “piles” sitting around. Going through one of them, I recently came across a certificate to document the dedication of an infant, a little boy by the name of Nathan. His dedication was held on March 11, 2007, while I was pastoring the Edgewood congregation in Brighton. Usually, I think I am quite careful to give the certificate to families the day of the dedication, but I failed to do so in this instance.
This past Sunday, after the 10:30am service, I finally got around to taking care of my failure to place that certificate in the right hands. I invited Nate; along with his sister, Leah, and his friend, Brandon; to come back to my office. With a brief ceremony, I placed the long-overdue document in Nathan’s hands!
One pile down, but I still have several to go. I wonder what I’ll unearth this week!
“Linked with Love”
There have been a couple of recent developments in our “Linked with Love” partnership with the preschool in Nzige.
First, tickets have been purchased for our “exploratory” team that is heading to Nzige later this winter. Lydia Monroe, Carol Stevenson, and Kristin Coon will be leaving on February 11 for Rwanda. While there, they will observe the instruction being given in the school and develop initial plans for a second team, traveling next August, to provide teacher training for the Nzige staff. Lydia, Carol, and Kristin will return to Rochester on February 18.
If you are an educator and are interested in participating in the August teacher training, contact Lydia Monroe at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Secondly, I received confirmation this past week that Bishop Samuel, the leader of the Free Methodist Church in Rwanda, will be with us on the weekend of April 30/May 1 to celebrate the first anniversary of our “Linked with Love” partnership. Dr. Linda Adams, the director of International Child Care Ministries, will be with us that weekend as well. So mark that weekend your calendar as a special time to celebrate!
Lastly, if you are interested in sponsoring a child at the Nzige school, we have requested a few more sponsorship packets. Contact Kim Brittin in the church office if you would like one when they arrive!
Grateful for Generous People
I noticed this past weekend that we almost reached the halfway mark in our efforts to raise $160,000 to reroof Parmerter Chapel next summer. To date this year, we have received a total of $79,949.50. That means we need only $50.50 to be on the downhill side of this ambitious fund-raising project.
Also, I encourage you to attend the Finance Committee’s “Financial Forum” on Wednesday, December 2, at 6:30pm in the Friendship Center. Each year, the Finance Committee presents an informative seminar on Pearce’s finances, helping those in attendance to better understand the complexities of our congregation’s budget and the many ways in which the Lord is blessing our church. I hope you’ll come.
Due to the Thanksgiving holiday next Thursday, I’m taking a brief hiatus from my Dangling. Let’s pick up the conversation on December 3!
An Overflowing Mailbox
Ginny Scott sent me this photo of Pastor Harold arriving home from their vacation to find his mailbox filled with nearly 100 birthday cards. “It took him over an hour to open all the cards and read the notes and messages!” Ginny wrote. Thanks, everyone, for helping Pastor Harold celebrate his 70th birthday!
Bringing an End to the Beginning
This weekend, I’ll be wrapping up my series of messages on the first three chapters of Genesis. You may want to read Genesis 3:8-24 in preparation. I’ve titled the message “And the Beat Goes On” in acknowledgement of the persistence of sin in the world as a result of our ancestors’ decisions.
Every part of life in our world is impacted by the fall of Adam and Eve. But, as believers, we have a wonderful hope, don’t we? We know there is a way to deal with sin and its tragic impact on our lives! I hope you’ll join me at one of this weekend’s worship services.
Fair Trade Market
Don’t forget to check out the Fair Trade Market at Pearce this weekend. Your support of this ministry provides, in a very concrete way, a livelihood for someone seeking to climb out of poverty. The market will be open this Friday from 3-7pm, on Saturday from 1-6:30pm, and on Sunday morning, 8:30-noon. Also, Beth Honan will provide a harp concert on Friday evening in Common Grounds, beginning at 6pm.
As a special feature of this year’s market, David Brewer, the co-director of SEED, with his wife, Rose, will be sharing more about the importance of holistic livelihood groups. Dave will be sharing briefly in Pearce’s Saturday evening and Sunday 10:30am worship services. He will also be speaking on Friday at 7pm in Common Grounds Café and during the Christian education hour on Sunday at 9am (Room 134).
Books to Help You This Advent Season
In an effort to help you better prepare for Christmas, I’ve placed three books on the “Pearce Reads” bookrack in our lobby. Hopefully, one of these books may be a good resource for you and your family.
One of the books is Ann Voskamp’s Unwrapping the Greatest Gift: A Family Celebration of Christmas. Ann is described as someone who “loses library books, usually has a sink full of soaking pots, and sees empty laundry baskets rarer than a blue moon.” Her book offers a wonderful way to help families with young children learn the story of Jesus and God’s wonderful salvation plan for us.
I also selected Jotham’s Journey: A Storybook for Advent by Arnold Ytreeide. Ytreeide is a gifted storyteller and has a passion for nurturing spiritual growth in families. This book is probably best suited for older children.
Another resource, and one I have utilized the last few years, is Goodness and Light: Readings for Advent and Christmas. This is a wonderful anthology of selected readings from some of my favorite Christian authors, people like Annie Dillard, Kathleen Norris, and Phyllis Tickle.
Each of these books is available for a modest donation.
Where Scholars Tread
New carpet was recently installed in the education wing at Pearce. The old carpet, installed at the time of the wing’s completion in 2001, had deteriorated and was not only unsightly, but posed a tripping hazard. As this hallway bears heavy traffic between Pearce events and RWC classes, this improvement was merited. (This project had a $4,200 price tag.) Thanks for your support of Pearce’s Operational Budget that permits us to keep our facility and grounds in good shape.
Can You Spot the Differences?
Can you spot the differences in these two photos of Parmerter Chapel? The photo of Parmerter on the left is one that Mendal Dick recently dropped off at the office. It was taken in the late 1950s. The photo on the right is a photo I took this past Tuesday. How many differences can you identify?
New Wheels for Food Deliveries
As many of you may be aware, Pearce’s 1999 blue Ford van has been unsafe to drive for quite some time and was taken off the road due to its deteriorating condition. The van was used regularly to pick up food for Pearce’s Food Service and P4K ministries, as well as helping transport Mission Garage Sale goods, drama ministry props, and other items.
For the past 6-7 months, Jim Heeks, our director of food services, has been using his personal truck in order to make the weekly food pick-ups. We are grateful to Jim for making due during these months the van has been off of the road.
Now, at long last, Pearce has a cargo van! Ron Sittig and Honna Curtis worked together to determine our best options.
Ron found a great 2011, white Ford cargo van for $8,900 which was negotiated down to $7,900. Honna worked with the Finance Committee and Official Board to allocate funds from other areas of the 2015 budget, areas that had incurred cost savings throughout the year, in order to make this purchase. It is expected that we will benefit from at least four or five solid years of use from this van.
Again, your support of our Operational Budget makes these vital equipment purchases possible. Thank you!
Celebrating a Public Witness to Faith
RWC freshman Li “Mylee” Mingyue professed her faith in Christ through baptism this past Sunday in the 10:30am worship service. Mylee is a delightful young woman from China who has been attending Pearce this fall. She approached me several weeks ago, requesting baptism.
In her testimony, Mylee mentioned a Chinese proverb that says “When things happen in threes, it is no coincidence.” She went on to tell of the three ways God has worked in her life to bring her to a point of faith in Christ.
The first way was when as a student in elementary school, Mylee’s teacher, a Christian, showed a video about Jesus’s life. The second was the fact that Mylee grew up near a large church. She often walked by it, wondering what the church was like inside. This past summer, Mylee went to that church and experienced a worship service first-hand. Thirdly, a fellow student witnessed to Mylee at Roberts, encouraging her to make a personal commitment to Christ. Together, these three incidents have prompted Mylee to publicly confess Christian faith.
How wonderful to celebrate Mylee’s decision! The occasion was made all the more special by having President Porterfield assist me with the baptism.
Savoring Another Season of Savory Suppers
I recently had an opportunity to talk with Jim Heeks, director of Pearce’s food service, about our Savory Suppers. According to Jim, Pearce began serving these meals in the fall of 2002, not long after the Family Life Center was built. This past fall’s attendance was the highest in the entire fourteen-year history of the dinners, with a weekly average of 240 individuals, many of them from outside of the Pearce Church community.
Talking with Jim about the ministry that takes place during Savory Suppers, he mentioned that he would like to be a “fly on the wall” to hear all the good conversations that are taking place. He said that, at times, he catches snippets of conversation among the kitchen staff that are reminiscent of a Bible study. “Ministry is happening everywhere!” Jim remarked.
Thanks, Jim, along with your marvelous volunteer team, for seven great suppers this fall. We look forward to the start-up of Savory Suppers January 13–February 24, 2016.
It’s November! At Pearce that means its time for our annual Thanksgiving box ministry. Last year this ministry enabled 905 families in Monroe County to receive a box of food with which to prepare a delicious Thanksgiving meal.
You can assist us this year in the following ways:
- Pack an “adopt-a-box” where you provide all the ingredients for one of the boxes to be delivered. To date 53 families have packed an “adopt-a-box.”
- Provide empty boxes (copy paper or equivalent size).
- Help deliver boxes on November 21-24, especially on Saturday, November 21.
- Bring in canned fruit and pasta donations.
- Provide one of 200 frozen turkeys needed. (We’ve already made arrangements for the rest of the turkeys to be supplied through Foodlink.) The “turkey hotel” will be in the Family Life Center beginning Sunday, November 15. (Please don’t bring your frozen turkeys before that date!)
All donations, except the frozen turkeys, can be left at the Thanksgiving Basket table in the atrium, where you may also find details and sign-up sheets for drivers and Adopt-a-Boxes. If you have questions about our Thanksgiving Basket ministry, you may contact Terry and Sherri Taber at email@example.com.
Or check out our web site at http://www.pearcechurch.org/thanksgiving-basket-ministry/.
Every Story Has a Beginning
This weekend, I’ll continue our look at the first three chapters of Genesis with a look at Genesis 3:1-7. This is the account of the fall of humankind and is the story of how we became alienated from God. I’ve titled the message “Blinded by Lies,” as this passage recounts the sad story of how Adam and Eve bought into falsehoods about their Creator. I hope you’ll join me!
At the Dollar Tree Checkout!
I love hearing stories of the wonderful ways God is at work in the lives of our Pearce family. This week, I received an email from Sue Smout in which she shared what happened to her and her daughter, Kristina, as they were shopping for items for Operation Christmas Child boxes. Here’s her story:
Kristina and I went shopping at a dollar store on Saturday to pick up items for our shoe boxes. We brought one of the boxes along with us, so we could judge how much stuff we needed. We had a lot of fun piling stuff into the cart.
No one else was waiting in line at the cashier when we went to check out, so we started piling things on the belt. We had bought items to fill six boxes, so the pile on the belt was pretty big!
Kristina dislikes waiting in line. Suddenly she said, “Mom, what if someone comes behind us in line? They will get mad that we have so much stuff to buy.”
I told her that if someone came in line after us, we would apologize and explain why we were buying all of the stuff. She thought that was a good idea, so we waited as the cashier began scanning items.
Sure enough, about one minute later, an older gentleman came behind us and placed only four items on the belt behind our pile. Kristina poked me in the side and nodded her head at the man. I smiled at the customer and explained what all of the items were for and that I was sorry to make him wait.
He started asking questions about Operation Christmas Child. As I answered his questions, the cashier listened and commented, too. The man wanted to know who received the boxes, so I told him.
He listened and seemed genuinely interested.
As we finished, he asked politely if we would tell him what the final bill was. I told him it was almost $100. I also told him we would add an envelope to help cover the mailing costs of the boxes when we got home. He nodded, opened up his wallet and handed me a $20 bill and told me to use that toward the postage. The cashier thanked us for doing the boxes and smiled as we left.
Sue concluded her note to me with this statement: “It’s always neat to spread a few ‘seeds’ when you aren’t even intending to.” I whole-heartedly agree, don’t you?
Pearce’s Investigative Team
Plans are being finalized for a small team from Pearce to travel to Nzige, Rwanda, in February of next year. The team led by Pearce 4 Kids director, Lydia Monroe, will also include Carol Stevenson and Kristin Coon.
Carol is a third-grade teacher in the Rush Henrietta School District and is experienced in providing teacher training in cross-cultural settings in both Africa and South America. (Carol is pictured speaking at a recent meeting of Pearce educators to discuss the Nzige partnership. Laura Ciminelli, a special education teacher at Holy Childhood, looks on.)
Kristin is a music teacher in the Hilton Central School District. This will be her first cross-cultural experience.
This team will observe teachers at the Nzige preschool to better understand the school’s curriculum and identify ways in which Pearce may assist the staff in their vocational development. Plans are that a second team will visit Nzige in early August 2016 to provide workshops and training for teachers at the preschool. The members of that team have yet to be identified.
Hoping to Make it ‘til Summer!
This morning, I ran into Bob Antes and Ardell Dean, members of our facilities staff, as they were heading downstairs from checking out the Parmerter roof. They brought me up to date on its condition, highlighting the challenge of avoiding water damage to Parmerter Chapel if we encounter heavy snows in the coming winter months.
Our conversation reminded me of the importance of having the funding necessary to replace the roof next summer. To date we have raised $75,215 towards the $160,000 project. This means, after ten months of fund raising, we have 47% of the necessary funds on hand. We have approximately eight months remanding to raise the remaining 53%. Can we meet that goal? I think we can!
I point this out simply to encourage you to join with me in funding this vital project. The Pearce family has responded well thus far, but we have quite a bit of ground to cover in the coming months. Thanks for making this a priority in your giving.
The Heroin Addict Next Door
The subject of next week’s Lifetree Café focuses on a challenging subject: the significant heroin use in the United States. It has doubled since 2007 and is no longer an inner city problem, it has invaded towns and suburbs across the country. Come and discuss this important issue on Thursday, November 5, at 7pm.
Tonight’s Lifetree Café features the story of the Prime Minister of Ethiopia and his encounter with God while serving an 18-year prison sentence. You’ll be intrigued by his account. Join others who enjoy “casual and welcoming conversation” at 7pm this evening.
Kids Say the Most Delightful Things!
Pastor Kathy sent me the following story. I thought you might enjoy it!
“I received a message on my phone this week from Judy Bailey, my 3rd grade Sunday school teacher. The kids have been studying creation this fall. Last Sunday, Judy asked her class, “Why do you think God created humans as the last part of His good creation?” Ellerie Finger spoke up and said, “Because we are God’s dessert!”
I don’t think that is bad theology, do you?
President Porterfield is speaking at a Women’s Brunch at Pearce on Saturday, November 7, at 10am. I asked for a comment about the brunch and she wrote: “What a blessing to be a part of the Women’s Brunch! One of the gifts we have been given as women is the gift of friendship. I am looking forward to connecting and celebrating the strong legacy of Pearce friendships!”
Responding to a Crisis
The Bishop’s Crisis Response Fund is a first line of rapid response to aid those affected by natural disasters, famine, and persecution. It is a way in which the US church can provide immediate assistance through our missions infrastructure.
Through our “Exit Offering” on October 4, the Pearce family generously provided $1,083.05 to those caught up in the refugee crisis, as tens of thousands of migrants and refugees are settled throughout Europe. Pearce’s Great Commission Leadership Team (GCLT) contributed an additional $2,000 from their budget to assist in the effort, allowing us to contribute a total of more than $3,000 to help meet this need. Thanks, once again, for being such a generous congregation!
Can You Hear Me Now?
A couple of weeks ago, during one of our Sunday worship services, a rather loud “snap, crackle, and pop” thundered through the Pearce sanctuary. (If you were present, you’ll recall this moment!) This prompted us to take overdue action to replace our old analog sound board with a digital model.
Recently, the Official Board approved the allocation of funds in the current budget to cover most of this expense. Several individuals also graciously contributed funding to close the gap, permitting the equipment to be purchased.
I am deeply appreciative to both the Official Board and those “angels” who helped meet this need! Thanks!
What a Wonderful World
This weekend’s message continues our look at the opening chapters of Genesis with a consideration of Genesis 2:1-17. I’ve titled the message “A World We Have Never Known,” an acknowledgement that none of us have ever experienced the perfect and untarnished world of Genesis 1 and 2. But we have the hope of someday experiencing all that God intended for this planet! I hope you’ll join me!
Basking in Blessings!
I am writing this week’s Dangling from the infusion center at the Wilmot Cancer Center at Strong, where Mary is undergoing her first of a series of chemo therapies that will be administered over the next six months. As we sit here together, we are aware of many blessings.
One blessing is that it has almost been three years since Mary’s diagnosis with chronic lymphocytic leukemia. We are grateful that treatment hasn’t been necessary until now.
We are also blessed to be in close proximity to a gifted medical team that oversees Mary’s treatment with skill and compassion.
Finally, we are blessed to have such a wonderful and supportive Christian community. Thanks for your many prayers and gestures of caring!
Thanks on Behalf of the Children
What a delight for the Pearce family to reaffirm our “Linked with Love” partnership with the Nzige Preschool this past weekend. An additional 15 children were sponsored, nine of them in Nzige and six of them in Kigali at the Amizero Centre, a special needs school. This brings our total of Rwandan children sponsored this year to 100. How exciting to have seen such a response!
On Sunday evening, a great group of educators met with Dr. Linda Adams and Lydia Monroe, our P4K director, to discuss ways in which Pearce can assist in teacher training in Rwanda, and particularly in Nzige.
My special thanks to Pearce’s Great Commission Leadership Team, under the leadership of Karen Hopkins, for helping our first year of partnership to go so well!
Lost in Creation
This weekend, I’ll begin a new six-week sermon series entitled “Every Story Has a Beginning,” based on the opening chapters of Genesis. The first message, “It All Depends on the Vantage Point,” considers the dramatic opening to the Bible with the powerful and poetic language of Genesis 1. I hope you’ll join me!
Creative Minds at Work
During last Sunday’s “children’s moments,” I challenged the children to construct a toy with items contained in a bag of miscellaneous craft supplies; items like popsicle sticks, pipe cleaners, and construction paper. The exercise had a purpose. As we celebrated our “Linked with Love” partnership with the Nzige Preschool, the children were encouraged to realize that nearly all toys in Rwanda are the result of each child’s creative use of whatever materials he or she is able to salvage from around their home.
Beckham Donleavy’s mom, Celeste, sent me a photo of her seven-year-old son’s carefully constructed airplane before they left Pearce’s sanctuary. I think he did a great job, don’t you?
Always Room for Another Good Read
This past Monday, the Pearce pastoral team attended a seminar at Northeastern Seminary on “Creation—God’s Other Book,” featuring keynote speakers Steve Delamarter and Beth Habecker. (By the way, both of these individuals grew up as Free Methodist pastor’s kids!)
When I asked Dr. Delamarter what book he would put in the hands of people in churches who desire a better understanding of creation and its origins, he replied, “It hasn’t yet been written!” He then explained, speaking of his desire to have books that celebrate the wonder of God’s creation from a biblical vantage point. Lastly, Dr. Delamarter recommended The Language of God by Francis S. Collins.
Collins, former director of the Human Genome Project, writes of his own faith journey and of the integration of his faith and science. He insists that “science is not threatened by God; it is enhanced.”
Copies of this book are available for a $10 donation in Pearce’s lobby. Two other books from Wheaton College professor John H. Walton are also available for a modest donation.
This past weekend, Pearce entered the final financial quarter of this calendar year. I thought you might appreciate an update regarding our church’s financial picture thus far in 2015. The two tables above should help you grasp where we find ourselves, as of October 4.
The first table shows last weekend’s giving. What a great weekend it was for us! Thank you for your generosity.
The second table details giving to-date this year. You’ll notice that we are 5% behind in our Operating Budget. That’s the bad news! The good news is that we are carefully managing our expenses and we remain in the black. (My appreciation to our administrator, Honna Curtis, for her excellence in keeping an eye on our expenses!)
You will also note that we are 6% behind in our Building Fund, a fund from which we make our bi-weekly payments on the loan for the 2001 addition to our facility. This is a bit of a concern, as Pearce’s Operating Budget has to cover any shortfall in giving to the Building Fund.
We are also 7% behind in our Mission giving. But I realize that many of you have been giving generously as you have begun sponsoring children at the Nzige Preschool. Unfortunately, that giving is not included in this report, as payments for sponsored children are made directly to International Child Care Ministries by sponsoring families.
I hope we will be able to make up our budget shortfalls as we move through this final quarter. It would be wonderful to end the year with a strong financial position. Thanks for your faithful support of Pearce and its many ministries!