News for the Church, 11/18/22

Good Day to you, Church!

Huzzah! We’re experiencing our first winter wonderland of the season today. The silence of snow is exquisite, isn’t it? And the peacefulness of seeing brilliant white flakes frosting the evergreens sets the world at ease. 

I’m hoping that you were ready for the snow. Do you have your shovels and your snow blowers in working order? Are your backs ready for this? 

Here’s the news for the week: 

A Big Thank You to All who Help with Community Suppers!

As our Community Supper volunteers rev up for Turkey Day, I wanted to give out a shout of thanks. It’s no small thing to set aside your own Thanksgiving plans to make meals for others. Thank you for the love you are offering in the world! You are most appreciated. 

Game Night at Bible Study, Saturday, 11/26

The Bible Study crew at Diamante Maya’s house (8 Hillcrest Drive) invite you to come for a game night next Saturday at 6:30pm. 

Monica Sandreczki to Preach Next Sunday, 11/27

Come worship together and support Monica as she continues to practice her preaching skills next Sunday. 

Sweater Sunday and All-Church Potluck, Sunday, 12/4

Mark your calendars for a special Advent event! Wear your favorite sweater to church on Sunday Dec. 4th and bring a dish to pass. We’ll revel together in the season and enjoy each other’s company over lunch following worship. 

Pledge Cards are Coming

Pledge cards are headed your way soon! Be on the lookout for them beginning next week. They will include a list of what you’ve given to date for this year, and ask you to prayerfully consider what you might be able to give to the church for 2023. 

Giving Tree Coming

After going on hiatus for the pandemic, Potsdam’s Giving Tree is returning this year! Might you be able to purchase a gift for a child in need this year? Details will be forthcoming.

Sharing our Community Resources

Last night I was at church late, the last person in the building. I was getting ready to turn off the lights in the Community Center when I paused for a moment and thought about all of the activity the room had seen that evening. 

There were a few beads and bits of glitter strewn about the room, and I smiled to myself thinking about all the fun that the girl scouts had had there earlier that evening. There’s a whole gaggle of little girls that flock to the Center each Thursday night at 6, and last night they were making Thanksgiving crafts. From my office I could hear their loud chatter and giggly voices filling the air as they constructed their works of art.

Then, after the girl scouts had gone, our youth group kids descended upon the room. We played tag and improv-ed a few acting scenes, amidst fits of laughter and goofiness.

As I switched off the lights for the night, putting the room to bed for the evening, the joy that had filled this place rested in the smile on my face. What a gift to know that our building is building community and contributing to the well-being of both church folks and Potsdam residents alike.

I dare say God was smiling with me last night.   

Giving Thanks for our Church,
Pastor Katrina

News for the Church, 11/11/22

Good Day to you, Church!

Today is another eerily warm day and I am again writing to you from my back porch. They say that starting tomorrow the weather will finally be turning back to “November”– and then staying that way. Will you be sad to see the warm weather go? I have mixed feelings about it. 

Here’s the news for the week: 

Food Pantry Launch is This Sunday!

If you’ve got a few more extra non-perishable food items at home that you don’t mind sharing with people in need, we’re still collecting food to get the pantry off the ground again.

Pledge Time!

It’s that time of year again– time to be thinking about what God might be calling you to give to support the church monetarily for 2023. We’ve done better this year than we expected, but we’re still in the red. And with inflation continuing to rise, it’s going to be more expensive to run the church next year than it is currently. 

In the next week or so you will be receiving a pledge card in the mail, asking you to let us know what you think you’ll be able to give for 2023. Accompanying this request will be a statement showing your balance-to-date for 2022. (Some folks have lost track of where they’re at currently, and want to make sure that they fulfill their pledge in full for 2022.) 

Please be in prayer about what you are able to contribute. Current Cost of Living Adjustment rates (COLA rates) are set at 8.3% for 2023. If even a portion of us can increase our pledges by this much, it will help the church out considerably. 

Men’s and Women’s Lunches at Jake’s This Week

If you’d like to attend the men’s luncheon this Wednesday or the women’s luncheon this Thursday (both at 11:30am), and you haven’t yet let Bob or Sharon Pickard know, please do so soon. They need to call in our reservation to say how many of us will be coming. 

Thanksgiving Community Supper

If you’d like to help support our free Thanksgiving meal for local residents, there’s still time to sign up to help. Give Sharon Pickard a call and she’ll tell you what is needed. 

In like manner, if you are in need of a free Thanksgiving meal, all you need to do is call and sign up! Call Trinity Episcopal Church at (315) 265-5754 and let the secretary there know how many meals you’ll need. (If she’s not there you can leave a message. Just include your name, the number of meals you’re requesting, and a call back number.) Then, just head to Trinity on Thanksgiving Day between 12-1pm for pick up. 

Monica Sandreczki to Preach, Nov. 27th

The Sunday after Thanksgiving, our very own Monica will be taking to the pulpit once again. 

Giving Thanks

This week I’ve been reminded of something very special about our church that I wanted to bring to your attention. Did you know that at the present time we have a healthy congregation– psychologically speaking? 

It’s sad to say, but many churches in the world today are steeped in toxicity. Do you know what I am referring to when I speak of a toxic church culture? In a dysfunctional church setting, there will be one or two people in the congregation who use either outright aggression to sway the church to do certain things, or who use passive-aggressive tactics to push their agendas on the whole. Sometimes these people are in leadership positions, but they can also function from the wings. In either situation, aggressive and passive-aggressive behavior creates a culture in a church where people are bullied, manipulated, or coerced into things– rather than invited, encouraged, or requested. In a church like this, power is defined negatively, through dominating control. 

But this is not currently the case in our church. Have you noticed that? In my experiences thus far, I encounter a culture present in our congregation that is built around mutuality, respect, and honor– both for each other’s individual dignity and for the group as a whole. In a church like this, power is defined positively, through mutuality and sharing. It takes a certain level of maturity and growth to become a church like this! 

I know that we’ve come through many challenges in the last 8-10 years, but I hope you see and feel what I am experiencing right now: a body of Christ where people genuinely care for each other and manifest that care through mutual trust and respect.

If you haven’t ever paid attention to this before, and don’t know what I’m talking about, there’s an easy way to find out what sort of culture you’re enveloped in. You have to be on familiar terms with people inside the culture for this to work, but here’s what you do: When you walk into a room filled with your church people, or if you recall these people in your mind, what happens in your body? Do you tense up? Do you feel relaxed? Do you put your guard up, psychologically? Do you feel comfortable and at ease? 

Do this little exercise a number of times over a period of a few months, and keep track of your findings.

You will know that you are in the presence of a dysfunctional community if you find yourself tensing up, feeling uneasy, or feeling as though you need to protect yourself on a regular basis. 

Conversely, you will know that you are in the presence of a healthy community if you regularly walk into the room and you feel a lightness and a peacefulness in your body. 

(This works in any setting. Not just for churches. You can try it in your family or workplace too– as long as you are on familiar terms with both the people and the culture of the group.) 

I feel honored and blessed to be the pastor of a congregation where I feel welcomed, peaceful, and calm on a consistent basis!

Giving thanks for us,
Pastor Katrina 

News for the Church, 11/5/22

Good Afternoon Church!

It’s another unseasonably glorious day outside. Never in my dreams did I imagine I would be sitting out on the back porch in a t-shirt and shorts in November!

I hope that you are soaking up the sunshine with me. 

Here’s the news for the week: 

Sack Lunch Sunday on Nov. 6

For those coming to worship this Sunday, we will be hosting our first ever Sack Lunch Sunday. Bring a pack lunch with you when you come to church and we’ll eat and visit together following the worship service. If you happen to forget your lunch, or you can’t make one, we’ll have sandwich fixings available for you. 

Speak Your Mind! Vote this Tuesday

Are you sick of the political ads inundating us everywhere right now? I know I am! I’m ready to scream, “Go away!!” But we’ve got to hold on for just a few more days. If you haven’t already, please remember to vote this Tuesday. It is both our privilege and our responsibility to help shape and decide the fate of our country, state, and town. 

Food Pantry Launch, Sunday Nov. 13

Just another reminder that we’re currently collecting non-perishable food items to stock our emergency food pantry with. If you’re able, would you mind bringing a few things with you this Sunday to add to the tub? Other local congregations are doing the same thing, so that we can have a fully stocked pantry for people in need prior to Thanksgiving. 

Men’s and Women’s Lunches, Nov. 16 and 17

If you’d like to attend one of the lunch gatherings at Jake’s on the Water, our men’s and women’s groups will be meeting at 11:30 am on the 16th and then the 17th, respectively. Please let Bob or Sharon Pickard know if you’d like to attend so that they can make a reservation. 

Community Supper to Prepare Thanksgiving Meal

If you’d like to join the team of Presbyterians and Episcopalians preparing a free Thanksgiving dinner for local residents, please let Sharon Pickard know! Currently, we are in need of frozen corn, cans of cranberry sauce, dinner rolls, stuffing, pumpkin pies, and/or monetary donations to purchase these items. Sharon will also need a few more people on Thanksgiving Day to help assemble the meals. 

Big Week for Projects at the Church!

Almost two dozen people showed up on the church grounds this last week to work on two very important projects! Last Saturday nearly a dozen people came to rake leaves, pull weeds, trim bushes, and put the church grounds to bed for winter. A big thank you goes out to all who volunteered their time and energy!! 

Then, last Sunday, nearly a dozen people showed up to help heave our 150 lb. star back up to its home at the top of our church steeple, in order to grace Potsdam’s night sky with our twinkling sign of hope! 

Dick and Joanne Partch have been the caretakers of this star for 44 years, and they were on hand once again to lead the efforts. A big thanks to all who came out to help– including Joyce, whose short stature was perfect for giving DJ a chance to rest his burning muscles when the star was suspended in mid-air for long lengths of time! (See the picture below.)

While a larger team stayed on the ground to guide the star into place, Monica Sandreczki and Ben Miller climbed the stairs with Dick all the way to the top of the bell tower in order to do the heavy lifting. Monica, who is a reporter at NCPR, produced this fun audio story of the event.

A big thanks to Monica, Joyce, Ben, Julie, DJ, Jane, Dick and Joanne, and Dave and Christopher Powers! 

When You Least Expect It

Most of the time, I think many of us go through life with set expectations about how things work and what people are like, don’t we? I do it all the time. When I go into a store, I expect that workers behind the counter wait for me to come to them in order for me to make my purchases. And when people I don’t know inquire about getting together to discuss something on zoom, I’m always a little leary of what it is they want from me. 

This week, however, I found myself in both of the situations mentioned above, and each time something unexpected happened. 

A few days ago I was struggling to wheel myself up the ramp at the post office with a package on my lap, when the postal worker inside noticed me. Rather than leave me to my own devices– what the world expects of her– she came all the way outside and offered to push me up the ramp. And then she held the doors open for me. I had been dreading this trip to the post office because I thought I knew what was going to happen when I got there. But I was pleasantly surprised when my expectations didn’t hold true! 

And then an Ethiopian man living in Germany, who has seen some of our worship services online, requested to visit with me over the internet. And I’ll be honest with you– I was both leery of what his intentions were and not excited about sharing my time with someone I didn’t know. As we chatted earlier today, however, I learned some of his story, and how, like me, he has had some of his theological views challenged in life, and now feels called by God to live differently than the ways he was taught growing up. He explained to me that he was taught by his church growing up to denounce the LGBTQ community and believed that a woman’s role was to be silent and submissive. Along his life’s journey, however, God has challenged these beliefs. He said it’s been painful to see his own hypocrisy at play in his life, but he now believes in supporting the LGBTQ community and accepts women as his equal– because he believes in his heart that God is calling all people to do those very things. Since his change of heart, he’s volunteered with a group to end female genital mutilation in his country and is currently studying to become a social worker, so that he can go back to Ethiopia and help people who live on the margins, especially those whom the church casts out. 

I never imagined in my wildest dreams that today I would meet a theologically like-minded man from Ethiopia who works for the good of women and oppressed minorities, and who would thank our congregation for teaching him more about the Bible and how it reflects on gender and sexuality! 

Today I am reminded that the world is not always what I expect it will be. Friends, God is at work everywhere, bringing unexpected grace and love and justice to our world! May we all remember to keep our hearts open when we stumble upon such grace. May we rejoice when we find it. And may we even become that unexpected grace for someone else in the world at a time when they least expect it themselves. 

The grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you this day!
Pastor Katrina

News for the Church, 10/21/22

Good Afternoon Church!

Today is a glorious fall day– the sort that comes after grey skies and rain. Bright blue skies, a light breeze, and the shimmering sound of maples singing their final glory to God for the year fill the air. I hope you’re enjoying this gift of a day! 

Here’s the news for the week:

The Story of Plastics, a Documentary: Saturday, Oct. 22nd, 3pm- 5:15pm

Join the Canton Sustainability Committee, the League of Women Voters of St. Lawrence County, and the Cornell Cooperative Extension for a showing of the award-winning film The Story of Plastic, followed by a panel discussion with local experts on the topic. The film will review the story of plastic waste in our environment, how we got here, and what can be done moving forward. 

When: 3:00-5:15 PM on October 22, 2022

Where: St. Lawrence University, Griffiths Arts Center Room 123 (Harlan Holliday Lecture Hall). Parking is available in the Vilas Hall parking lot off Ramoda Dr. and University Ave.

Community Supper, Thursday Oct. 27th

If you’d like to help prepare or serve this month’s community meal, please let Sharon Pickard know. Last month we served 65 meals, and this month will likely be the same!

Communion on October 30th

We will be celebrating communion together on Reformation Sunday! 

Prayers for Dear Friends

Quite a few of us are experiencing serious physical troubles at the moment, heading into surgery, or finding ourselves in the hospital. Will you send your prayers, encouraging cards, and positive energy to our beloved friends? 

Vernice Church came through surgery to remove cancer from her colon and the doctors believe that they got it all! She is currently recuperating at a rehab facility in Carthage. Despite this good news, healing is moving slower than expected and Vernice could use some encouraging notes and cards. 

If you’d like to send her one, here’s the address: 

Vernice Church 
1045 West St. Room 110B
Carthage, NY 13619

Helen Brouwer, who is 91, has been in the hospital for both liver and heart problems, and has taken a turn for the worse and is now entering the final stage of “comfort care.” 

If you’d like to send Helen a card, you can send one to her daughter, who will deliver it to Helen. Here’s the address:

Helen Brouwer
1 Chestnut St.
Potsdam, NY 13676

Also, Neil Johnson is heading for surgery in the coming days, Sue Waters just had surgery, and Cyndy Hennessey is recuperating from time in the hospital. Will you hold them in your prayers?

Trillium is Dissolving

Today I have big news to share with you. At the end of this year, Trillium Wellness Center, which currently serves as a stand-alone non-profit in our Community Center, and pays the church rent, will be coming to a close. The pandemic was incredibly difficult on Trillium and resulted in the loss of both teachers and students attending yoga classes. It has also grown increasingly difficult for Trillium to find board members to do the work required of a non-profit entity. As a consequence of all this, Trillium’s board has decided to close itself down as a not-for-profit and offer the church Trillium’s rental revenue, ministry presence, and physical space for use. 

While this is both a sad occasion for those who have been part of Trillium in the past, the end of Trillium as a not-for-profit does not mean the end of wellness endeavors taking place in our building. Session has talked at length with Terry de la Vega, who has been the driving force behind Trillium from its inception, about finding a way forward, and we have an exciting plan to keep the gifts that Trillium offers to the community going in a way that financially benefits the church and lives fully into our church’s mission. 

To understand what this all means, let me explain how things have worked in the past with Trillium:

For the last five and a half years, Trillium has offered yoga classes in their yoga room and hosted the Potsdam campus of North Country Tai Chi in our Community Center on a weekly basis. In addition to this, they have sub-leased four full-time individual office spaces to healing practitioners, and recently, one shared office space for Reiki, spiritual counseling, and a life coach. The full-time practitioners include two massage therapists, a mental health therapist, and a physical therapist. In exchange for running all of these activities in portions of our building, Trillium has paid the church monthly rent. 

Now, here’s the plan for how things will run in the future:

With Trillium closing, we will no longer receive rent from their organization. Instead, the church will receive rent directly from the healing practitioners who rent the five office spaces, as well as from Sean Boutin, who teaches and owns North Country Tai Chi, which uses the Center on Tuesdays and Thursdays. As for the yoga room, we are changing the format for how yoga classes are organized in this space. Moving forward, the church will take donations from yoga teachers and others who might request use of that space, and who organize and run their own classes. 

What this means for our church: 

These changes will result in a net gain of at least $4,650 per year for the church in rental income and it will reduce our taxes– because the yoga room can now be taken off the tax rolls as “exclusive rental space.” This is because the church will now be allowed use of the yoga room for church-related activities, in addition to the yoga classes that we will continue to schedule there. Dale and Terry just announced that they will be offering a short meditation session in that space on Sunday mornings at 9:30am right before our worship service begins. Activities such as these will be possible for our congregation in that space moving forward! 

Trillium Wellness Center is coming to an end in the shape and form that it has held for the last 5 1/2 years, but the healing and wholeness that Trillium creates in the community will remain– just in a different form, and under the care of our church. 

I can’t tell you how exciting it is for our church to be able to carry on with Trillium’s legacy of creating wellness in the Potsdam area. Their mission fits into our church’s mission exactly –of bringing Christ’s healing and wholeness to our community. To be able to honor Trillium in this way, live further into our church’s own mission in the world, and increase the church’s financial situation feels like God’s hand at work. 

Learning to Adapt and Change

Friends, if there’s one thing to take from Trillium’s story, it’s this: Life never ends. Even in “endings” life continues on. Yes, it may take on a different shape and form, but what has been will both continue to be in the world, even as it brings about new life, in new ways. Have you ever sung the Gloria Patri at a church somewhere? I used to sing it every week at the Canton Presbyterian Church. The song sings: “As it was in the beginning, it is now and ever shall be, world without end, amen, amen.”

When life shifts and turns, or comes to an end and begins again, we can rest assured that Life continues on– because God continues on. 

Even when our lives come to an end, the Life that we are part of, remains in the world. 

Thanks be to God,
Pastor Katrina

News for the Church, 9/30/22

Good Day to you, Church!

Today is the perfect fall day– full of blue skies, sunshine, and a slight chill in the air. I hope you get the chance to step outside and enjoy it! 

We’ve already had our first fire at my house. The hope was to build just a big enough fire to drive out the damp chill. Unfortunately, however, it seems I’ve forgotten how to make a small fire. By the time it was really cranking, it was up to 92 degrees in my house! Oopsies! (It always takes me a fire or two at the beginning of the season to get the hang of it again.)  

Here’s the news for the week.

Pastor Katrina Away for 2 Sundays

I’m packing my bag today and heading out with my daughter Lexi to spend a couple of weeks with my mom in Missouri, following the death of my step-dad. We will get to spend time not only with my mom, but with nearly all of my aunts and uncles from New England who are flying in for the funeral, and with my step-brother, brother, sister-in-law and my nieces and nephews who live close by to my mom. I can’t wait to be with my family at this sad time. 

That said, I want you to know how much I appreciate all of your kind, supportive letters, emails, texts, and prayers this last week. They’ve meant a lot to me. You are all part of my extended family and I have felt your arms around me!  

While I’m gone, here are the details for the next couple of weeks:

10/2: Rev. Shaun Whitehead will be preaching and leading worship.

10/9: Dale Hobson will be preaching and Diamante Maya will be leading worship. 

Coffee Hour Instructions

For those of you who have signed up to host coffee hour, Terry de la Vega has made a printable cheat sheet for you!

Burial Service for Marie and Floyd Callahan

For those of you who remember the Callahans, you are invited to a short committal service at Bayside Cemetery of Saturday, Oct. 15th at 2:30pm. Both Floyd and Marie are being buried here in Potsdam, where they lived and raised their children. 

Prayers for Vernice Church 

Vernice had colon surgery in Syracuse yesterday to treat the colon cancer that has returned to her body. Will you please be in prayer for her in this difficult time? Her sons are doing a great job taking care of her at the moment, but Vernice asks for all the prayers she can get. 

Upcoming Fun

The potluck we held a couple Sundays ago was a hit! It gave us a chance to reconnect with one another and it provided the opportunity for new folks to make friends. 

Because building relationships are so important to the well-being of our church, Session has decided to have monthly opportunities for fellowship after the Sunday worship service. Every other month we will have a potluck, like we did a few weeks ago. And the in-between months we will have a Sack Lunch Sunday– where you are invited to bring your own lunch with you. On these more casual Sundays we will break out games for those who want to play dominoes, checkers, yahtzee, Uno, Connect 4, or any other game you might want to bring. And if games aren’t your thing, you’re also welcome to just sit and enjoy conversation around the table on Sack Lunch Sundays. 

Also! For those who happen to forget their lunch, or can’t make one, we will provide basic sandwich making supplies so that you can participate too!

Our first Sack Lunch Sunday will be Nov. 6th

And our next potluck will be Dec. 4th.

Our Church Needs New Leaders

Friends, this coming year things are going to be changing on Session, and we’re going to need a couple of people to step up as leaders. (For those of you who are new to Presbyterian lingo, “Session” is the funny name we give to the church board– the governing body that oversees the life and mission of the church. “The Session” is what we call the board, and “elders” or “session members” are what we call the people on the board.) 

Recently, we’ve had 4 people on Session– Sue Waters, Terry de la Vega, Alicia Newcombe, and Renee Stauffer. At the end of this year, however, Sue Waters will be stepping down as both a Session member and as clerk of Session. Additionally, Alicia Newcombe will also be going off of Session. 

This means that we need two people who feel led, to take on a bigger role in our church’s life. Could this be you? 

Here’s what members of Session do: once a month we have a meeting to discuss the life of our church and make decisions. Together, we decide things like when to serve communion or hold pot lucks, what ministries we will take on, what to do when the boiler breaks or the roof leaks, and how to address concerns in the congregation. It is our elders who “steer the ship” of our church– both spiritually and physically. 

When decisions are made at Session meetings that involve work to be done– like starting new ministries or fixing the building, sometimes elders are the ones who take the lead role in organizing these particular projects. But other times, the work is done by other people.  

Here’s what the clerk of Session does: He/she takes notes during the meeting, and keeps those notes organized for the year. The clerk, in essence, is the secretary of the board. This person can be an active Session member, but they don’t have to be. They can also just serve in the role as clerk.

As far as time commitments go, being an elder takes about 3-4 hours of time (on average) a month. And the clerk’s position takes an additional hour of time. The bulk of this time is spent in our monthly Session meeting, but we also chat online on a regular basis, to keep up with the happenings of our church in real time. 

I know our congregation is small and many of you have already served as elders on Session in the past. If this is you, you might think, “I’ve already served my time.” That may be the case, but it’s still possible that God might be calling you to this role again, so will you be in prayer about it?  

We also have a number of new people in our congregation, which I am very excited about! Thankfully, being new does not discount you from being eligible to serve as an elder, if you feel led to take it on. However, being on Session means making a real commitment to both our church and your own personal faith. 

To be an elder, you must not only be a mature Christian but you must be a member of our congregation– which means promising to care for the people in our community, loving Jesus, and agreeing to the tenets of reformed theology (the underpinnings of Presbyterianism). 

Being an elder on Session is a special job, and I am grateful that our church does not exclude people from the role. You can be an elder if you are a man or you are a woman; if you are older or you are younger; if you are rich or you are poor. You don’t even need to know how to be an elder before you start, or be knowledgeable about things like roofs or boilers. All you need to have is a heart for God, a sense that God is calling you to the role, and a willingness to serve. The rest you can learn as you go. 

And thankfully, because elders lead together, no one person needs to know all of the answers. And no one person takes on all of the responsibility. We work together to find solutions to problems and we share the weight of the load as a team! 

Be in prayer about the possibility that God is calling you to serve in this way in the coming year, will you? Our church– literally– cannot function without a Session! 


The other leadership role that our congregation desperately needs to fill is that of treasurer. Cynthia Coleman has served in this position faithfully for many years, but it’s getting to the time when she needs to step down. If you are good with numbers and have 1-2 hours a month to share your time, we need you! We currently have 2 assistant treasurers, but need someone willing to hold the reigns. 

Here’s what the treasurer does: She/he helps to count the offering that comes in on Sundays, helps keep track of our finances, and signs the checks that our bookkeeper generates. And the treasurer always has helpers. Just like with the Session, the treasurer is not meant to work alone. It’s all about teamwork in this job too! 

Also, thankfully, the treasurer is not responsible for making any decisions about what money is spent. That job is for the Session. The treasurer just watches the numbers and makes sure money gets to the places it needs to be so that our church finances run smoothly. 

Could this important job be for you? Just like the Sesion, a church cannot operate without a treasurer. Please pray about it, won’t you? 

Membership Class

At some point in the coming months I will be offering a membership class– a time for people who might be interested in becoming members to learn about how the Presbyterian tradition fits into the broader scope of Christiainity.

Taking the class does not mean that you must become a member. It just means that you are curious about what Presbyterians believe, and are perhaps considering the idea of becoming a member. If this class is something you are interested in, please email me and let me know! We already have 2 people who would like to take the class, and you are welcome to join them!

In closing, I will leave you with this confounding, lovely thought. (Is fall actually the beginning of the new year?)

While I am away, my heart is with you, and I know that your heart is with me too,
Pastor Katrina

News for the Church, 9/16.22

Good Afternoon, Church!

The sun is shining warmly on this beautiful fall day, but the nights are starting to chill. Last night I shut my window for the first time this season. And I pulled a jacket out of the closet to go to the PIC picnic last night. Fall is descending!  

Here’s the news for the week: 

PIC Picnic was a Success!

Seven folks from our church joined in last night’s fun at PIC’s annual picnic. There were well over 60 people at Sandstone Park from nine different congregations in the Potsdam area. I sat next to a man named Basel, who attends the Potsdam Masjid and is working on a PhD at Clarkson, studying space engineering. Basel is a Palestinian man who grew up in Saudi Arabia, went to college in Moscow, and is now here in Potsdam.  I also visited with his friend Bo, a Chinese-American man who converted to Islam and just moved to the area to work as a public defender in St. Lawrence County. We had a great time talking about our faith and why it matters to each of us!  

There aren’t many opportunities like this to meet people of other faiths and Christian traditions in a welcoming environment, which is why PIC is so very important. It gives us a chance to make friends with people with whom we might otherwise steer away from.  

All-Church Potluck This Sunday 

Hear Ye! Hear Ye! This is the week! Bring your dish to share this Sunday and we’ll have a special time of sharing the bread of life together after worship.  

Sanctuary Ceiling

This last Sunday, as I sat in the chancel to lead worship, I noticed something vexing. A section of plaster had fallen from the ceiling above the choir loft. This was the result of water damage from the holes we have in the sanctuary roof. (Gah!!) Thankfully, Sue Waters called the insurance company and I contacted the roofing contractor to have them come put a temporary fix on the roof– to get us through until next spring when we’re scheduled to have the roof repaired (hopefully with the grant money we’ve applied for). The roofers will be out to put a band-aid over the holes, but unfortunately they can’t come until November, which means we need to be especially careful with the sanctuary until then.  

So here’s how we are taking care: Ron has laid plastic down in the attic to try to keep the water from seeping into the ceiling. And we’ve cordoned off the back rows of pews for the time being, because no one needs plaster falling on their head in the middle of worship! And we’re going to refrain from playing the organ until the roof has been temporarily repaired. The organ causes vibrations in the plaster, which could further loosen the damaged ceiling, so for the time being we’re going to enjoy listening to the piano.   

New Youth Group Starting! 

I am tickled pink to announce that beginning September 22nd, we will be joining with the Methodist church to hold a youth group for our teenagers! Twice a month, Pastor Hattie Taylor and I will meet up with our five young people for games, fun, food, and conversation. For our first meeting we’re going to play Apples to Apples, eat ice cream sundaes, and discuss the question “Do Animals Go To Heaven?” (If only you were 13, to be able to join in the fun!) 

Rev. Rich Hinkle to Preach

Rich Hinkle will be preaching and leading worship, Sunday, Sept. 25th. I hope you’ll join us.  

Film Screening of The White Right: Meeting the Enemy, Sunday Sept. 25th at 4pm at the Canton UU Church 

Our friends at the UU church are showing the film The White Right, and they’ve invited us to attend. Deeyah Khan, a documentary filmmaker of Pakistani descent, traveled to meet with white supremacists face-to-face for the making of this film. Kahn’s skillful way of engaging with those who see her as an enemy offers an important model in our divided world. If you’d like to learn more about the Alt Right and positive ways of engaging them, this is a movie for you!   

Sarah Manley has Passed Away

If you haven’t heard, our dearly beloved Sarah Manley died this last Sunday, after a long battle of physical pain and struggle. The family is choosing not to hold a memorial service, but you are most welcome to send a card to her sister, Robin. In lieu of flowers, contributions may also be made to Massena Rehabilitation and Nursing Center. 

Robin and Brian Wilkinson
25 Prospect St.
Norwood, NY 13668 

Time for an Updated Covid Booster Shot?

Friends, the new fall Covid booster shot– the one designed to boost against the Omicron variants (as wellthe original strain)– is available in our area now. You can make an appointment at either Kinney Drugs or Walgreens. Susan and Jeff Mitchell both got their booster last week and report that the side effects were markedly milder than last year’s booster.   

Covid is back on the uptick in our area again, and getting a booster is a wise idea. Thankfully, testing positive these days doesn’t necessarily mean you will get devastatingly sick, but it does still means quarantining for a few days– and who wants to have to stay home?  

I genuinely hate getting shots, but it’s important to take our health seriously– not only for ourselves, but for those in our community. Getting a booster shot is a special way that we can offer our love to our family, friends, and neighbors. I hope you will consider joining me in this community health effort!  

The Joy of Fall

As I bring this letter to a close, I wonder if you’ll share with me your favorite sign of fall.  Do you have one? What is it that you look forward to with the changing of the season?  

This is the time of year that I love to ruminate on Isaiah:

“You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and the hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands.” 

~ Isaiah 55:12

The hills will soon be bursting forth in song and the trees will be clapping in joy,
Pastor Katrina

News for the Church, 9/9/22

Good Afternoon Church,

It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood! A warm, clear, early fall day. From where I’m sitting on my back porch, I can see the goldenrod in full bloom and the aster are warming up for their own showy display. 

If you’ve got a garden, I’m guessing that your tomatoes, peppers, beans, and maybe even early apples, are in abundance. This is a beautiful time of year to be alive, and I thank God that we have the opportunity to enjoy it. 

Here’s the news for the week: 

PIC Picnic in the Park this Thursday Night, Sept. 15th!

Plan to come down to Sandstone Park on Thursday night, starting at 5:30pm for one of Potsdam’s best yearly events. We will be gathering with our Jewish, Methodist, Mormon, Catholic, Christian Science, Muslim, and UU brothers and sisters in a fun night of fellowship and friendship. The Muslims are providing the meat (both halal and kosher), PIC is buying pizza, and you are invited to bring a vegetarian dish to share. There will be games for kids and adults alike, and a chance to make new friends.

Games to Play at Coffee Hour

We’ve recently picked back up with visiting together during coffee hour, and some of us are experiencing some anxiety around it. As a way to ease the tension of conversing, especially if you’re new and don’t know anyone, Renee Stauffer suggested we have a game table. We’ve ordered checkers, Yahtzee, Uno, and Connect 4, and will have them available to play while we drink coffee and nibble on cookies. I hope this will be a fun, more relaxing way for some of us to enjoy spending time together after the service!

All-Church Potluck, Sunday Sept. 18th!

Just a quick reminder– we will be eating our first meal together since the pandemic in a couple of Sundays. I’m excited to see what sort of spread we end up with! What are you bringing? 🙂 🙂 

Food Pantry Temporarily Closed

Perhaps you’ve been to church this week and noticed that the food pantry in the breezeway is missing in action. I’m very sad to say that for the moment, the pantry is closed. We have been having serious troubles with a single couple who have been coming in regularly and cleaning out the pantry. We’ve spoken to them numerous times about changing their behavior, posted signs, and spoken to the couple again, but they have not complied with our requests to take only what they need and consider others. We are hoping that taking a break for a while will send the message that they cannot treat this emergency food pantry like a free grocery store and leave bare shelves for our other guests. We deeply apologize to our other guests for this action and hope to be back soon. 

Community Supper Set for Sept. 22nd

If you’d like to join in the fun of helping to prepare and serve a meal to our greater community on Thursday the 22nd, please get in touch with Sharon Pickard. 

Mitchells Looking for a Place to Live

Perhaps you met Susan and Jeff Mitchell last week at church. They have been joining us online for most of this past year from their camp in North Bangor. The Mitchells are from Maryland, but after their house was struck by lightning in a hurricane, they were forced to move. Since moving to their camp this past spring, they have decided to move permanently to the Potsdam area (and get involved in our church!), but they aren’t able to buy a place to live until their Maryland house has been fixed and sold. Thankfully, they’ve been able to live in their camp. The problem with this is however, that winter is too cold. 

Do you happen to know of snowbirds who fly south from January to March, who might want a responsible couple to house sit while they are gone? Or do you happen to know of a suitable short-term rental in the Potsdam area for those months? 

Even if you don’t have any ideas, let’s make sure to make the Mitchells feel welcome in our congregation when they come in person again! 🙂 

Changing Seasons

I always start to experience stress and anxiety in the fall season. Do you happen to have the same problem? I love fall, but there’s something about it that induces a touch of panic in me. Perhaps it’s residual muscle memory from going back to school as a kid, or perhaps it’s my psyche’s fear of winter, but there’s something unsettling about autumn. It means change is a foot! 

If you experience similar feelings of discomfort– whether it’s because your schedule has changed with this new season or because you just feel the new weather patterns in your bones– I invite you this week to pay attention to your body. Listen to it. What is it saying to you? Is your stomach in knots? Are you breathing faster? Are you feeling snippy with others and short on patience? Do you have the urge to hide under the covers and sleep for hours? 

If so, I encourage you to think about what you would do for someone else if you noticed them having these same problems. Would you give them a hug? Bring them a cup of tea or take them out for a beer? Send them a note of encouragement in the mail? Whatever it is that you might do for someone else in this situation, I invite you to do that very thing for yourself. Ask someone for a hug. Invite a friend to have a cup of tea with you. Write yourself an encouraging note and then be silly and send it to yourself in the mail (so that you forget about it for a couple of days and have a surprise waiting in the mail.) 

When life feels topsy turvy, this is an important time to be gentle and compassionate with yourself. It’s a time to invite God’s comfort to surround you and uphold you. The 23rd Psalm reminds us of this. It says:

“The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul. Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me … Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” 

~Psalm 23:1-4,6

May you find God’s goodness and love following your every step this week,
Pastor Katrina

News for the Church, 8/26/22

Good Day to you, Church!

It seems that summer is still hanging on here at the end of August. Are you enjoying these warm sunny days, amidst the downpours? I certainly am. I’m back from vacation this week and so glad to find that I don’t have to pull out long sleeves and pants quite yet. 

As for church news– after the summer lull, things are beginning to pick back up in September! Check out the latest—

No Bible Study This Saturday, Aug. 27th

Our weekly Bible study will not be meeting this week, as both Ivette and Diamante are away. We will pick back up with the book of Phillipians next Saturday, September 3rd at 6:30pm.

Dale Hobson to Preach this Sunday

Please come out and support our very own “preacher Dale,” as he takes the pulpit this Sunday. While I am back to work this week, I am extra busy putting our grant application together for the Rock Charitable Grant, and am grateful to not also have to prepare a sermon as well. Thank you Dale!  

Free Concert Friday, Sept. 2nd, Sponsored by the Orchestra of Northern NY

Friday, September 2nd at 7pm, you are invited to attend a concert of popular classical music by a string quartet right in our sanctuary! Ken Andrews, Liesl Schoenberger Doty, Scott Woolweaver, and Karen Kaderavek will be providing an evening of beautiful music for all of Potsdam to enjoy. (See the attached flyer below.)

Potsdam Interfaith Community Picnic, Thursday, Sept. 15th

The annual Fall Interfaith Picnic, sponsored by PIC, will be held Thursday, Sept. 15th at 5:30pm at Sandstone Park, 43 Pine St. in Potsdam. Pizza and grilled meat (both halal and kosher) will be served. Attendees are encouraged to bring a vegetarian dish to share. The picnic will also include games and activities for all ages. 

PIC is composed of more than 10 religious communities in the Potsdam areas and sponsors this picnic every year to welcome new people to the area. Our church is a big part of PIC and your presence will support the interfaith work that we engage in. 

All-Church Potluck Set for Sunday, Sept. 18th

After 2 1/2 years of avoiding eating together because of Covid, I am delighted to announce that we will be fellowshipping together as a church family over food once again! Bring a dish to pass on Sunday the 18th following the worship service, and we will revel in the joy of sharing a meal. 

*If you plan to come, we do need volunteers to stay after and help clean up. If you’re willing to jump in and wash a few dishes, please let me know! 

Rock Charitable Grant

Dave Wells and I have been busy crafting our church’s application for the Rock Grant, which gives away $100,000 each year to churches, cemeteries, and veteran organizations in St. Lawrence County. We are seeking funds to repair leaking spots in the sanctuary roof, repair slate tiles on the turrets, replace soffitting and molding, construct a heavy-duty gutter system to divert water away from the bell tower doors, and replace the failing bell tower doors. Our application is due on 9/2, and the awardees will be announced at the end of 2022. 

This, I Believe

Last week on vacation, I spent time visiting with a dear friend of mine from seminary. My friend Brae is pastor of the UCC Church in Worcester, MA, and while I was visiting her there, we spent hours catching up on our lives. We talked about family, friends, church, and of course, our own personal faith. In our conversations, we took stock of how much we’ve grown in our faith since we started seminary and we laughed at how different we are now, from the people we once were. 

While we were chatting, Brae recalled that every year in seminary we were required to write a personal credo. These personal faith statements were meant to keep us aware of our own personal faith journeys– to wrestle with what we really believed and to reflect upon the people we were growing into. Brae noted that as people of faith, God is always calling us into deeper relationship, and the growth we encounter as we live more deeply aligned with God impacts how we see the world and what we believe about God. 

As Presbyterians, we say that God is always reforming us, and so today I wonder what “reforms” God has brought you to. Do you ever stop to think about what you believe? Or don’t believe? Maybe your faith is the same as it was 20 years ago, but if you’re engaged in growth, it’s probably going to look differently.  

If you have any interest in this spiritual practice, I invite you to take some time and write out a personal credo. Keep it short–no more than a page. And use your own words. It doesn’t have to sound “professional”. Who is Jesus to you today? What does it mean that God is Creator? Who is the Holy Spirit? What does grace mean? What do you believe about heaven and hell? Why might social justice be important (or not) to your faith? What does it mean to walk with God? Where do you see God? What does salvation mean? What is forgiveness? What is love? What exactly do you believe? 

There’s no right or wrong answer to any of these questions– if we’re being honest, that is. Faith is something that we share together in community, but each of us understands it in our own way. It’s taken me a long time to come to this, but believe that since God has created us all as distinct conscious beings, I don’t think our unity must be dependent upon uniformity. So I wonder what you think in your own thoughts. 

One thing I love about our Presbyterian faith is that we proclaim that “God alone is Lord of the conscience.” This means that at the end of the day, what you believe in your heart sits between you and God. Your conscience and your faithfulness belong to God first, even while we hold our faith together communally. 

So, here it is: If you were going to tell God about what you believe to be true in the world, what would you say? 

Wondering about Faith,
Pastor Katrina

p.s. If we all wrote down our credos, would we have the courage to discuss them together some day? 

News for the Church, 8/12/22

Good Afternoon, Church!

Well, we made it through this week’s heat spell and have returned to pleasant August temps. How did you hold up in the heat? I was so grateful to have the opportunity to go swimming a couple of times. It’s not often that you can sink into a North Country river without gasping from the shock of cold, so I relished dunking down into the tepid temps!

The news this week will be short and sweet.

Monica Sandreczki to Preach 8/21

I’m headed out on vacation on Monday, and I’m very excited that Monica will be stepping into the pulpit with her very first sermon on Sunday, the 21st. Come support her as she preaches a word from the Word! 

Ukrainian Benefit Concert August 21st at 3pm

Two weeks from now, our very own Keilor Kastella will be joining another Crane professor, Christine Hoerning, to offer a music concern at our church to support Ukraine. They will offer selections for clarinet and piano, with all donations going to the Atlantic Ukrainian Association. The concert begins at 3 pm. Come enjoy some beautiful music and lend your support of a country in need!

All-Church Potluck Set for Sunday, Sept. 18th

I’m excited to announce that we’re going to give eating together (for the first time in 2.5 years!) a try. Bring a dish to pass on 9/18 and we will break bread together after the Sunday service ends.

To make the potluck work, we need a couple of people to step up and volunteer to help with set up and clean up. This will likely require your presence 30 minutes before the service starts and about an hour at the end. Work includes helping set out plates and utensils and then washing dishes and wiping down tables at the end. If you’re not someone who usually helps with this sort of thing, would you consider giving it a try? It would be a lovely gift to the whole church! Just email me back if you’re willing to be on the team.

Life and Death Perspective

I don’t often talk about my family, but will you be praying for us right now? My stepdad, John Tate, contracted spinal tuberculosis 4 years ago and has been in agonizing pain ever since, as a result of lesions on his spine. This week he will enter hospice care. It comes as a huge relief in some ways but is grievous in others. 

The last few days I’ve been in constant contact with my mom and stepdad, and I’ve realized how important it is to express to him (while he’s still cognizant enough to follow along in conversation) what he has meant to me for the 30 years that he’s been in my life. Melding two families together in a second marriage was not easy– especially with 4 teenagers in the house– but we muddled through it. And now, all these years later, I see the impact he has had on my life. 

Friends, we don’t often spend time thinking about what people mean to us until they’re no longer with us, and so we don’t get a chance to communicate that to them. My invitation to you this week is to become aware of how the people around you impact your life and let them know! Convey to them why they are important. Do you appreciate how dependable they are? Do you love that they make you laugh? Are they good listeners? It’s a very special gift to give someone you love recognition for what they mean in your life. It may very well be the most important gift you ever give them! 

My stepdad taught me some very valuable lessons about grace and I’m going to make sure to tell him this week. Join me in this adventure, will you?

Pastor Katrina

News for the Church, 8/5/22

Good Day to you, Church, 

August has arrived! If you have a garden, are your zucchini and summer squash beginning to pile up? A neighbor of mine jokingly mentioned that if we don’t want to find surprises left in our cars, we’d better make sure to lock them for the next month or so. She’s got more zukes this year than she knows what to do with, and she loves to leave “presents” for people in their cars, where they least expect to find a giant zucchini waiting for them! 

Here’s the news for the week: 

Bible Study, Saturday Evenings

Last Saturday we started our new weekly Bible Study, which meets at Ivette Herryman-Rodriguez’ house in Potsdam. (8 Hillcrest Dr.) Last week, four of us gathered to sing, visit, pray, and begin exploring the book of Philippians together. We had a wonderful time! If you’d like to join in some week, please feel free. We’re meeting from 6:30-8:30pm each Saturday night. 

Sermon on a Bible Passage about Homosexuality this Sunday 

This Sunday I will be preaching on 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, a passage often used to disparage gay men. This passage is not as straightforward as the English translation suggests, and we will explore what Paul might be saying in the Greek. Because explicit sexual content will be addressed, this sermon may not be appropriate for all young listeners. If you have any questions, please feel free to email me. 

Pastor Katrina Away 

The last two Sundays in August I will be away. I am going to visit a friend in Boston! While I’m gone, I am thrilled to announce that Monica Sandreczki will be preaching August 21st– her first sermon ever! And August 28th, Dale Hobson will be filling the pulpit. It is a beautiful gift when people in the congregation are mature enough in their faith, and brave enough in their spirits, to lend their hand at crafting a sermon and delivering a word to the people. Please be praying for Monica and Dale, and come out to support them at the end of August. 

Gordon Batson has Moved to Assisted Living in Syracuse

As some of you know, Gordon and Cathy Batson have both been in ailing health for some time, and as of this last week, some major changes have occurred in their lives. Their son Andrew had been living with them for a number of years, but recently took a new job down in Syracuse. Because of their health issues, it was determined that it was not safe for them to remain in their home alone, so Gordon has moved into an assisted living facility in Syracuse near his son. At the moment, Cathy is still convalescing in rehab in Ogdensburg, but they are both hoping that she can join Gordon soon. If you have a minute to send Gordon a note of encouragement in this abrupt and challenging transition, I’m sure he would appreciate it.

Gordon Batson
The Hearth on James
830 James St. Apt 224
Syracuse, NY 13203

Caring for our Bodies

Friends, a number of us are struggling with our physical and mental health right now. If this is you, I hope that you will give yourself permission to be gentle with yourself. It’s okay to not be ok, and when we aren’t okay, it’s important that we do what we can to honor our needs. 

For some of us, it’s hard to say “no” to social engagements, even if we don’t have the energy for it. When your habit energy tells you to commit to things you’re just not able to do, I hope that you will be as gracious with yourself as God is with each of us. It’s ok to need a little extra love for yourself sometimes. It’s ok to say ‘no.’ 

Dear Ones, what do you need today to find wholeness? What would bring healing into your life? We spend a lot of our spiritual energy seeking to meet the needs of others, but it’s important to remember that you count too! In God’s eyes, you are just as important as the people you seek to bring comfort and care to. 

In his first letter to the Corinthians, who were struggling with caring for their bodies in the manner that God calls us to, Paul offers these words:

“Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.”

~1 Cor. 6:19-20

The context of the Corinthians’ struggles was different than it is for most of it today, but Paul’s exhortation still speaks. Our bodies are precious to God, and so we are to treat them as such. 

What might glorifying God in your body look like today? 

Praying for your health and your wellbeing,
Pastor Katrina