Saturday, February 29, 2020

What's Happening March 2020

What’s happening in St. Mark’s . . .

St. John’s UCC - Perhaps the greatest challenge for St. Mark’s for 2020 is the coming closure of St. John’s.  While not exactly a total surprise, the timing of this momentous event is coming sooner than expected.  On February 2nd, Rev. Dr. Carolyn Call of Penn Central Conference, spoke at the services of St. Marks and St. John’s.  After St. John’s service she addressed the concerns of their congregation especially with matters of attendance and monetary giving.  She then returned on Wednesday, February 5th, to attend St. John’s monthly Consistory Meeting.  At this meeting she explained the procedures which would be necessary in closing the church.  At the end of the meeting their Consistory voted to recommend to their membership that the church close its doors.  It also called for a Special Congregational Meeting for March 8th.  At that time the congregation will first have to vote to close the church, and if that is affirmed then several other decisions will have to be made.

            Rev. Call joined St. Mark’s Consistory Meeting on February 13th to explain what effect the closing will have on St. Mark’s.  At that meeting the Consistory voted to recommend two  actions by St. Mark’s congregation.  First to welcome any and all members from St. John’s and to invite them to bring with them significant artifacts from their church.  The Consistory also called for a Special Congregational Meeting to be held on March 1st following the morning worship service so that the congregation can act on these recommendations.

            On March 8th when St. John’s holds its Congregational Meeting, I will ask permission to address their congregation before the meeting begins to present St. Mark’s invitation to joint with our congregation.  St. John’s will then have to take several votes.  First, and most difficult, should they close their church?  If that is approved then they will have to vote to set a final date of operations, to send their congregational records to the Historical Society of the UCC,  and to give authority to disburse their assets to their Consistory.

            If all this goes as planned Sunday, May 31st will be the last service for the congregation of St. John’s.  It will be an afternoon service at 2 p.m.  St. Mark’s congregation needs to attend this service to support them in this most difficult event and to welcome them home to St. Mark’s.

Another thought on St. John’s closing -  We have just adopted an annual budget for the operations of St. Mark’s at our Annual Meeting in January.  With the closing of St. John’s that budget now has a $30,000 hole in it!  After the dust settled this spring, we absolutely must address this problem.  Our giving must increase and/or items must be eliminating from our budget.  This is a serious issue.  Do you, our members, have any suggestions as to how this challenge can be met?

Pictorial Directories - It seems like a long time ago we were having our photos taken.  All the material has now been submitted to the company which is assembling a proof copy for us to examine before the final one is printed.  So, there is light at the end of the tunnel.  If everything goes well we may have the directories in our hands by Easter.

Lenten & Easter Services -  In the last issue of the Carillon, I presented what I thought was the final schedule for the Holy Season.  Turned out there were more changes after that.  Below is the new schedule.  On March 25th, the Lenten Service will be held at Hebron UM instead of St. John’s, and the April 1st service will be at St. John’s.  Take time to take this journey to the cross with us during these services.  The meals offer good fellowship (and good food) and the services are always inspirational!

  February 26th   Ash Wednesday       7 p.m.                                                 at St. John’s

   March 4th.      Lenten Service         meal at 6 p.m., service at 6:30        at Grace UCC

   March 11th.    Lenten Service         meal at 6 p.m., service at 6:30         at St. Mark’s

   March 18th     Lenten Service         meal at 6 p.m., service at 6:30         at Moravian Church

   March 25th     Lenten Service         meal at 6 p.m., service at 6:30         at Hebron UM

   April 1st           Lenten Service         meal at 6 p.m., service at 6:30        at St. John’s

   April 9th           Maundy Thursday   7 p.m. reception, communion at 7:30 p.m.   St. Mark’s

   April 10th         Good Friday            7:30 p.m.                                             at St. John’s

   April 12th         Easter Sunrise        6:30 a.m. (no communion)                at St. John’s

   April 12th         Easter Service        9 a.m. communion                              at St. Mark’s 

            (Note: The Lenten Services are short in time, usually 30 minutes.)

Security/Safety Upgrades -  Last year the smoke detectors in the Sanctuary were replaced along with those on the third floor of the Christian Ed Building.  The control panel which receives the data from these detectors was also upgraded.  Phase 2 of the upgrades will begin very shortly.  This includes replacing the rest of the old smoke detectors and installing additional fire pull stations to bring us up to code.  This work will be financed through the Endowment Fund which was approved by the Congregation in January.

Lebanon County Christian Ministries’ Annual Lenten Breakfast - In the last issue of the Carillon, I mentioned that the Lenten Breakfast this year will be held March 28th at the Cedar Crest Middle School cafetorium.  Tickets can be purchased in the office from Gayle for $15.00.  Since that time a member has donated ten tickets which can be obtained FREE in the office.  That’s a pretty good price so let’s not let them go to waste.  See or call Gayle today.


What's Happening February 2020

What’s happening at St. Mark’s .  .  .   .   .

Winter & Pine Acres -  We all like warm weather, green grass and leaves on trees when we visit Pine Acres, but our park is still there in the winter months.  Maybe you like the winter outdoors.  There are activities which can be planned for Pine Acres during the cold months.  Talk with Kathy, Chuck, or Jeff for information on how you can enjoy Pine Acres in the winter.

Wood for Sale - If you are one who would rather sit by an open fire and enjoy the warmth of the season and dream of spring rather than trudge through the snow, Pine Acres has something for you as well.  There is firewood for the purchase from the woods of our park.  When trees have to be taken down, they are processed into firewood.  You can purchase whatever you like.  Thus you are adding to your warmth while supporting the financing of the park.  Again, talk to Kathy, Chuck, Jeff, or a member of the Pine Acres team for information on how you can get wood.

How did we end the year financially? - There is both good news and bad news.  We started 2019 with a negative $7,521.93 balance.  Not a good way to start the year.  We ended 2019 with a negative balance of $4,071.15.  So we did make progress, but we are starting 2020 with a negative balance again.  As we start a new year, each of us must ask ourselves if we can afford to offer more for the support of our church and the work of the Lord.  You may be doing your share now, but if we are to do continue this congregation, we will all have to do just a little bit more.

Ash Wednesday - Start the Lenten season with us at St. John’s on February 28th beginning at 7 p.m.  It will be a combined service.  Now there are two commitments you must make.  First, set aside this Wednesday evening to begin the march to the cross and Easter.  What else can be more important in your life in Christ.  The second step is just as important:  You will have to cross the bridge and go to St. John’s.  Get out of your comfort zone, and meet with us at St. John’s; believe it or not, the Lord will be waiting for you there!

Lebanon County Christian Ministries’ Annual Lenten Breakfast - Is scheduled for Saturday, March 28, 2020.  The event begins at 8 a.m. and will be held at the Cedar Crest Middle School cafetorium.  The guest speaker will be Steve Sabol, community pastor at LifeWay Church.  Providing the special music is the Celebrate Recovery Praise Team from Church of the Good Shepherd.  The breakfast buffet is catered by Country Home Catering and will be scrambled egg casserole, pancakes, bacon sausage, fruit, pastries, juice and coffee.  The price of each ticket is $15.  They are on sale in the office from Gayle.  Please make sure you make your purchase by March 18th.  Space is limited so don’t delay in making your reservation.

Organ Fund - Some months ago I informed you that our organ is going to need extensive restoration in the next several years.  The estimated cost for this work is over $100,000.  Whether we tackle this restoration or whether we take another road with an electronic organ, we are going to need substantial funds.  To start preparing for this project, an organ fund has been established.  If you would like to contribute to this fund or make a memorial donation, just make your wishes know.  Let’s start now to build this fund so we are ready when the need comes!

Lenten Services -  As we begin our march to the cross, you will want to add the dates of these services to your calendars.  As a Christian you should want to participate in these spiritual steps in preparation for Easter.  Come walk with us along this sacred path.

   February 26th   Ash Wednesday        7 p.m.                                             at St. John’s

   March 4th.      Lenten Service            meal at 6 p.m., service at 6:30        at Grace UCC

   March 11th.    Lenten Service            meal at 6 p.m., service at 6:30          at St. Mark’s

   March 18th     Lenten Service       meal at 6 p.m., service at 6:30          at Moravian                                                                                                                                                 Church

   March 25th     Lenten Service            meal at 6 p.m., service at 6:30          at St. John’s

   April 1st          Lenten Service            meal at 6 p.m., service at 6:30          at Grace UCC

   April 9th         Maundy Thursday     7 p.m. reception, communion at 7:30 p.m.   St. Mark’s

   April 10th       Good Friday                7:30 p.m.                                           at St. John’s

   April 12th       Easter Sunrise            6:30 a.m. (no communion)                   at St. John’s

   April 12th       Easter Service            9 a.m. communion                             at St. Mark’s 

          (Note: The Lenten Services are short in time, usually 30 minutes.)

Thanks - To everyone who stayed and participated in our Annual Meeting on January 26th.  Both items on the paper ballot, the 2020 Budget and the use of Endowment Funds, were approved by a wide majority.  Let’s make this year another productive one!


What's Happening January 2020

What’s happening at St. Mark’s . . . . .

New Organist - As you learned last month, Jim Biever resigned as organist as of the end of 2019.  We are sorry to have him leave us, but . . . we are lucky to have had another organist interested in our position.  Her name is Cindy Johnson, and she is currently organist of St. John’s with whom we share a pastor.  Cindy will also accompany the choirs in additional to her responsibilities as organist.  As Pastor Dave does, she will zip over the bridge when our service is over and provide the music for St. John’s.  Please welcome Cindy to our congregation!

Annual Congregational Meeting - As a responsible member of this congregation, you need to set aside time to attend our Annual Congregational Meeting on Sunday, January 26, 2020, beginning at 10:15 A.M. following our morning service of worship.  I know this is not always an exciting meeting, but it is an important event in the life of St. Mark’s.  We must have a quorum, or our official business cannot be conducted such as approving the 2020 budget, the new members of our Consistory, as well as approving funds from the Endowment Fund.  Again, please plan to stay for this important event.

New Copier Plus -  As I shared with you several months ago, after a study of the cost of operating  our current copier which is rented and the cost of buying one outright, it was decided to recommend to the Congregation that it would be more financially efficient to purchase our own copier.  The money for this would come from the Endowment Fund.  Another recommendation for use of Endowment Funds is the second step in upgrading our security system by replacing our obsolete smoke detectors on the first floor of the Christian Ed Building and installing additional emergency pull stations.  A third item is having a dehumidifier added to our system to control the moisture in the Community Rooms where mold was found growing this summer.  These items and several others will be up for approval at the Annual Congregational Meeting.

Financial Planning - Again, a reminder for those of you who must withdraw funds from your IRA during 2020.  By having your investment broker transfer funds directly to charities including St. Mark’s, you will not have to pay tax on your withdrawal plus you can still claim a standard deduction on your 2020 income tax obligation.  You can make one lump sum contribution to your church for the year and include something extra since you won’t be paying tax on the withdrawal.

Christmas Decorations - Thanks to those who came out to set up and decorate our Christmas trees and Sanctuary.  With many hands, the job goes smoothly.  The team then returners after New Years to pact everything up and remove the trees.  Again, thanks to these volunteers who make our Christmas more joyful.

Communion - January 5th is Communion at St. Mark’s.  I hope you started the new year on a positive note by celebrating this sacrament with us.  If you know of anyone who is unable to physically get to St. Mark’s for this Christian rite, please call the office and let us know.