As you listened to this incomplete list of names and events, I’m sure they conjure up images and feelings of sadness, horror, fear and here and there a little optimism.
The hope we all seek can be found right here. Now, look to the person sitting on either side of you because Jesus said in Matthew “For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.”
We are a church determined to be the change we want to see in the world. We have an active and engaged Mission committee, good people focused on supporting our surrounding communities, as well as the world. We began the year with our 2nd annual celebration of the life and legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. It was not as well attended as we had hoped but the 6 degree weather didn’t help. The Church Has Left the Building also returned for a second go round. We briefly worshiped then left the building to serve in many areas, from animal welfare to taking care of our environment, collecting food to fill the MEND “green bean” bus at Stop and Shop and filling school backpacks for children of incarcerated parents and selling baked goods for Mission of Hope Haiti.
We invited Interfaith Hospitality Network families into our home in July and again in August and prepared nutritious meals, served and cared for our guests as they prepared for life on their own. We made 2400 sandwiches and distributed 1200 bag lunches for House of Mercy Mission to help families stretch those food dollars to the end of the month when public assistance is all but gone. We sent many deserving children to Camp Johnsonburg through our campership program and bought sleeping bags and supplies for those who needed them. October 5th the Pumpkins arrived!! After unloading 44,000 pounds of pumpkins and roughly 210 volunteer hours we ended up with right around $30,000 to support our mission projects. Our leftovers did not go to waste this year, they became food for animals at the turtleback zoo. We prepared and served a Pre-Thanksgiving meal complete with stuffing and potatoes at House of Mercy Mission. We sent bags and bags of warm clothing, blankets, toys, even furniture to the Elizabeth Coalition, and delivered many, many Christmas gifts to deserving children through The Greater Abyssinian Baptist church, House of Mercy, and Elizabeth Coalition. Our Magnet for Mission is going strong. The magnet designates each month as a specific collection. As an example, February, we collected Peanut Butter and Jelly, always in high demand at the local food pantry. We continued our connection to MEND (Meeting Essential Needs with Dignity) by collecting change for them on Souper Bowl of Caring Sunday. A Syrian supper was held as a cultural exchange as well as a way to help support the resettlement of Syrian families seeking to escape the societal unrest in their country. We continued to work with One World/One Love which helps those in refugee detention centers. And we thank those who give generously to One Great Hour of sharing each year. Do you work with an organization you would like to introduce to us? Do have an organization where you like to serve? The mission committee would like to hear from you!
Our wonderful director of The WPC Christian Education program, Michelle Pourakis, resigned in June and we welcomed a new director in September, Sabrina Legiec. Sabrina set to work organizing and recruiting for Sunday School with a new curriculum and the goal of growing the program. We look forward to more great things from Sabrina when she returns from maternity leave.
For families…The annual Sights & Sounds of Christmas is a Holiday Workshop and a fun family event, with hot chocolate, caroling, baking, ornament making and a living nativity. The empty manger appeared on the lawn during Pumpkin Patch and stayed through the arrival of the baby Jesus. Baby animals returned to comfort the baby and a giant snow globe appeared on the lawn. People at the Pumpkin Patch commented on the return of the manger, recognized it for what it was and said it was good to see the manger return.
Our 3rd Mission trip left for Kentucky in June. They raised money for the trip with a very successful Beef steak dinner, selling raffle tickets for tricky tray items. Dinner was served by the mission trip participants. Once in Kentucky, not only did they have an awe-inspiring week and plan to stay in touch with the friends that they made along the way. Roofing and carpentry skills were an added bonus that will serve them well in life. If you are 14 or over this could be your trip of a lifetime.
Education for adults is also a top priority. The Weekday Bible study met faithfully on Wednesdays. They studied the Biblical roots of the Messiah as well as Cold Case Christianity, a homicide detective proving that Jesus was the Messiah through forensic methods often seen on CSI and Law and Order. During Lent, all adults were invited to join in “An Acceptable Fast”.
The Deacons are always on the job to help and serve in countless ways: delivering meals, sending cards, running errands, as well as just being available to talk. They also host the Maundy Thursday Communion service. They jar soup, make gift baskets, and serve a fall luncheon for seniors. They also served as gracious hosts for several funerals in 2019.
The Prayer Shawl ministry met once a month to knit beautiful pieces created from yarn to be given as a blessing to others – a comfort during a time of healing or loss, a life transition, or a time of recovery. Each shawl is intertwined with love, prayer and comfort.
The Worship and Discipleship committee oversees all things to do with worship. They assist with preparation for all worship throughout the year, Ash Wednesday, Good Friday, Easter, Christmas Eve, lighting of the Advent candles, liturgists, ushers, communion, seasonal sanctuary decorations as well as worship in the ordinary time. We had a few Café style services, a more relaxed and informal worship, a Women’s Sunday in March and a Children’s Sabbath.
Psalm 51:10 Create in me a clean heart, O God. And renew a right spirit within me. Those who sing each week in the Chancel Choir live this prayer. We thank director and organist Steven Shellman, for his faithful commitment to worship. A Men’s Quartet, soloists both vocal and instrumental, the Men’s choir, the Praise ensemble, and the Wyoming Handbells are some of the musical offerings we enjoyed. The annual Messiah Sunday in December is always a glorious morning dedicated to our wonderful counsellor, the mighty God, the Prince of Peace.
Under the leadership of Ebony Wiggins, the Director of Children’s Performance and Music, the Children’s Choir sing each month in worship. In the spring the children presented Star Quest, a musical telling the story of the search for the Stolen Scripture and in December another wonderful musical, The Promise of Noah and the Great Flood.
SoulFood, a group for all the women of Wyoming, met monthly in the Cottage for evenings of fellowship and renewal. The “Read Your Own Darn Book Club”. Each reader brings personal suggestions for the group.
The Celebrations committee created opportunities for people of all ages to socialize. The committee organized the fall Welcome Back reception and AppleFest, a Progressive dinner, a Shrove Tuesday Sunday Pancake Breakfast, a barbecue to celebrate the opening of Pumpkin Patch and a Chili Carol Sing in December.
During the week, the halls are filled with the voices of the children of Open Door Nursery School. We are grateful for the caring and competent leadership of director, Alethea Randazza. Committed to mission, the parents got together to assemble pajama packages at Christmas, collected toys for the Salvation Army and donated countless goods to our many drives. They are swift and responsive to any immediate needs coming from the Elizabeth Coalition.
We also want to thank our Sexton Erik Dolansky who takes care of our home with great care.
We are blessed and grateful for the caring and spiritual leadership of our Interim pastor The Rev. Caroline Steinemann Unzaga. We look to Pastor Caroline to lead us through this transitional time as we search for who WPC wants to be and do next.
We also want to thank the Transition Study Team for their thoughtful work with a survey and listening groups to determine the direction that WPC wants to take into the future. We look forward to the next step in this transition process as the Pastor nominating committee continues their work to find our next installed pastor.
We thank all of you, who as one of our newer members put it, are not just pew sitters but take your responsibilities and your obligations seriously. You don’t wait to be volutold, you raise your hand and volunteer.
So be in those pews as often as you can, stay involved. Consider Sunday a day “on” instead of a Day “off” to honor the vision of Martin Luther King Jr. Don’t miss a chance to do “what is right and good in the sight of the Lord”. (Deuteronomy 6:18)
Mother Teresa said…Every volunteer contributes a drop to the ocean of humanity, and it is certainly true that the ocean would be less without these drops. It is so easy to look at the big picture; to see the thousands of suffering people, and forget that we can only do small things, small things with great love.
May God continue to bless all who find their way to our door.
Blessings to you Wyoming Presbyterian Church. Amen.
Respectfully submitted, Sandy Kramer