News for the Church, 5/24/24

Greetings Church!

I’ve been participating in the Festival of Homiletics this week for continuing education, and hadn’t planned to send out an email today, but some important things have transpired that you need to know about. Here’s the news: 

Gordon Batson Passed Away Today

I got a note from Gordon and Katherine’s son Alex today, letting us know that Gordon passed away this morning at the age of 91. Katherine is doing as well as one can after 61 years of marriage. 

A funeral is being planned for next Thursday or Friday at Bayside Cemetery. I will let you know the details as I learn more. 

Ivette Herryman-Rodriguez to Present New Music at Online Connecticut Music Tomorrow (Saturday 5/25) 

Ivette would like to invite you to listen online to a benefit concert happening tomorrow evening at 8pm put on by the Haven Trio. The trio has commissioned Ivette to write music for them and they will be performing some of her pieces. The asking donation price is $20, but any amount will be gratefully received.

If you’d like to attend, the link is:

Franny Knott to Preach This Sunday 

In an unexpected series of events, Jeff Mitchell is unable to preach for us this Sunday. Thankfully, our guest preacher from last week, Franny Knott, will be filling in. A big thanks to Franny for stepping in to help! 

All-Church Potluck Next Sunday, June 2nd

Please bring a dish to pass the first Sunday in June, as we will be gathering together after worship to enjoy a meal together. 

Celebrating Lora Lunt and Arthur Freeheart’s Retirements

At the potluck, I’d like to recognize the recent retirements of two of our church members– Arthur Freeheart and Lora Lunt. If you’d like to bring a card of congratulations or share a short story about either of them, this would be the time to do it! We will take a few minutes during our meal to revel with them both and offer stories and/or a word of celebration. 

Bring In Your Rummage Sale Donations Next Week! 

Hear Ye! Hear Ye! Next week, beginning on June 2nd, we will gladly accept any gently used donations you might have to bring in for our upcoming rummage sale, scheduled for Friday and Saturday, June 7-8. We are accepting gently used spring and summer clothing, household goods, functional furniture, toys, books, gardening tools, plants, etc. Please no CDs, electronics, or textbooks. 

See you Next Week! 
Pastor Katrina

News for the Church, 5/10/24

Hello Church, 

We are in the sweet spot of spring now, aren’t’ we? The apple trees and the crab apples are in full bloom, songbirds are everywhere, the peepers are croaking at high volume, the grass is growing like gangbusters, and the trees are leafing in every shade of green possible. Life is exploding all around us! 

Here’s the news for the week: 

Church Yard Clean Up Happening Tomorrow (Saturday the 11th) at 10am

If you have an hour to spare tomorrow morning, please join Bob Pickard and the crew as they rake up the leftovers of winter in the church yard and prep things for spring. Bring a rake if you have one!

Pastor Katrina Away for 2 Weeks 

Next week I will be away on vacation– going to do some medical treatments in Albany. And the week after that I will be participating in the Festival of Homiletics. If you need anything while I’m gone, get in touch with a Session member (Terry, Dale, Renee, or Jeff). Or, feel free to call Sue in the office. 

Pentecost Sunday, May 19

While I am gone, Franny Knott, a lay pastor in the Methodist Church, will be preaching for us on Pentecost Sunday. 

Remember to wear red that Sunday to celebrate the coming of the Holy Spirit and the birth of the Church! 

Community Supper Set for Thursday, May 23

The next community supper will be held at our church the 4th Thursday of May. If you have any questions, give Sharon Pickard a shout. 

Jeff Mitchell to Preach May 26

And the next Sunday, May 26th, Jeff Mitchell will be preaching.

Rummage Sale is Coming Up! 

The week of June 7-8 Ling Zhang is going to need help setting up for our rummage sale– setting up tables, organizing items, and getting the Community Center in tip top shape. Might you have a few hours to drop in that Wednesday (the 5th) or Thursday (the 6th) to help? And might you be available to help run the sale on Friday and Saturday? If you know you can help, send her an email to let her know. Her email is:

Youth Group to Participate in Potsdam Pride

Saturday, June 8th, our youth will be running a booth at Potsdam’s second annual Pride festival. We will be offering free face painting and temporary tattoos in Ives Park. 

Creating a Welcoming Committee for the Pride Prom 

That same night, there is a Pride Prom being hosted at the Pine Street arena. Many young folks attend, but folks of every age who belong to the queer community are invited to attend. Last year at the prom, protesters came out to heckle people. 

Consequently, the folks at Pride have reached out to ask if some of our congregants might come and serve as a “welcoming committee” to stand out front and offer a welcoming presence to those coming in. 

The dance takes place from 6-9pm. They have asked if we can be there at 5:30pm and stay until most of the folks have come in the doors. If you’d like to help out in this way, please let either Jerf or Susan Mitchell know. 

Juneteenth in Ives Park on June 22nd, 4-8pm

This year’s Juneteenth celebration will be held on Saturday June 22nd. Music, speeches, a free dinner, and community booths will all be part of the afternoon. 

Church Picnic Scheduled for June 23rd

If you haven’t already put it on your calendar, make sure to set aside the afternoon of Sunday, June 23rd for our Church picnic at Lazy River Playground. It’s going to be a blast! 

Organ is On It’s Way to being Repaired

Ron has been working with an electrician on the organ this last week. They’ve been troubleshooting all sorts of reasons why it won’t work, and they think they finally got to the bottom of it. It seems that a coil inside the controller broke. They’ve ordered the part, and hopefully it will work when it’s been replaced. Keep your fingers crossed though, folks. Fixing the organ has been a saga! 

Our Support for Second Chance Scholars 

A few Sundays ago, Brandon Rodriguez and others from Second Chance Scholars came to tell us about the positive impact they’re making for men coming out of incarceration who are committed to finishing their college degree at SUNY Potsdam. We took a free will offering for SCS, and I’m proud to let you know that Sue dropped a check in the mail for them this week that totaled $3,109. Thank you so very much for your generosity! This money will go directly to help the next 4-5 men coming to Potsdam this fall to secure housing. 

What Do You Call God? 

Last week during the sermon we started digging into the Lord’s Prayer. In the opening phrase we learned that the word for God in Aramaic– Abwoon– refers to the creative, life-germinating force of God in the universe. We also learned that the essence of God, which is unity and oneness, rings out as sound, flashes as light, and can be felt as vibrations in the cosmic world of the heavens and the earth. 

All of this imagery got me wondering about the names that we use to refer to God. Many of us have a particular name that we typically use on a regular basis– our “go to” way of addressing God. Some of us pray to Jesus, others of us pray to the Lord, or to our Gracious God, or to the Spirit. Recognizing the richness of what lives within the divine, what would it feel like to try using a different name for God for a while? Might that change how we approach God? Might that open up a new way of relating to God? 

In Islam, they have 99 different names for God to reflect the many aspects of who and what God is. Using this as a model, if you pray to our ‘Father God,’ I challenge you this week to see what happens when you try praying to the Mother of Life, or to the Ground Beneath our Feet. What might happen if you refer to God as the Loving Force in the Universe? Or the Great Creator? Or the Healing Physician? Or what sort of name might you come up with that reflects the nature of God? 

 If you give this exercise a try– of using a different name for God– I’d be curious to know how it feels for you. And what you learn. And if anything shifts in your spiritual life. 

This week I will be trying out the name Birther of Life.

Pastor Katrina

News for the Church, 5/3/24

Hello Church!

What a gorgeous early May day, today is! The wood thrushes were singing this morning, the tulips are blooming, hawthorn trees and alder are in full bloom, and the sun is shining! Glory be! 

Here’s the news for the week:

All Church Potluck and Graduation Celebration This Sunday!

Don’t forget to bring a dish to pass this Sunday, as we will be gathering for lunch following worship. We will also be recognizing our 7 graduating seniors– with cake! You won’t want to miss it. 

Front Row Seats Reserved for the Hearing Impaired

Last week Dawn Bartow requested that we set aside some of the front row seats in the sanctuary for those with hearing impairment. (What a great idea, Dawn!) I’ve marked some of the hymnals in the front row with a note that those seats are saved for this purpose. If you struggle with hearing, please feel free to utilize these chairs!

Clarkson’s Take It or Leave It Event, May 3-9th

If you love looking for free treasurers, or have things you’d like to give away, bring them to the Clarkson campus between 10 am – 5:00 pm for the next week. They’re taking household furniture, appliances, kitchenware, tools, sports equipment, etc. etc. 

Meeting for ‘Stand Up for Our Town’ Taking Place on May 8th 

Local folks who are frustrated and/or concerned about the financial failings of our large local community employers and providers– SUNY Potsdam, Clarkson, SLU, nursing homes, etc– are gathering on Wednesday, May 8th at 7pm in the Potsdam Town Hall community room to discuss possible actions. The big, driving question is, “How can we stand up for our town and its local residents? Raamitha Pillay will be moderating the discussion. If you’d like to know more about the meeting, you can email Raamitha at

Tour of Riverview Correctional Facility, May 22nd

For those who are interested in learning more about the SUNY Potsdam at Riverview Correctional Facility program, and how we might be able to support those in the college program there, this is a chance to tour the prison. Supt. McAuliffe will be offering free tours of the facility on Wed. May 22 at either 10:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. If you’re interested in going and want to carpool, SUNY Potsdam will be sending a van for the morning tour. They will plan to leave campus at 9:00 a.m. and return to the college following the tour. If you would like to attend the tour, please email Nancy Lewis, SUNY P’s director of the program. 

Her email address is

Sending a Welcoming Committee to the Pride Prom, June 8th

Potsdam has a weekend of Pride events planned for the LGBTQ community, and they need our help. Last year was the first time our town had a Pride weekend, and they found protesters coming to heckle the kids who attended the Pride prom. Consequently, the folks at Pride have reached out to ask if some of our congregants might come and serve as a “welcoming committee” to the kids attending the prom. This would involve standing outside the front door of the Pine St. arena with welcome signs and our rainbow flag, offering smiling faces and hugs to those who are attending. 

The dance takes place from 6-9pm, and they have asked if we could be there at 5:30pm and stay until most of the kids have come in the doors. If you’d like to help out in this way, please let me know. Those of us who attend can gather at the church prior to 5:30 to make some signs. 

The Rummage Sale is Coming June 7-8!

If you haven’t already given some thought to what items you’d like to donate to our upcoming rummage sale, I hope you’ll start doing so soon. Ling Zhang has graciously offered to direct this year’s sale, and she’s going to need as many of us as possible to come earlier that week and help set up. 

Juneteenth in Ives Park on June 22nd, 4-8pm

This year’s Juneteenth celebration will be held on Saturday June 22nd. Music, speeches, a free dinner, and community booths will all be part of the afternoon. 

Church Picnic Scheduled for June 23rd

If you haven’t already put it on your calendar, make sure to set aside the afternoon of Sunday, June 23rd for our Church picnic at Lazy River Playground. It’s going to be a blast! 

Pastor Katrina’ Installation Set for Saturday, June 29th 

I’m starting to get excited, folks! My installation will be happening on Saturday, June 29th at 4pm with a dinner to follow. 

The decor for the event will include an art show in the back of the sanctuary, which you are invited to participate in! A few weeks before the 29th, we will start collecting pieces that those of us in the congregation have made, including, but not limited to– sculptures, embroidery projects, woodworking pieces, paintings, knitted items, quilted items, pottery, photography, flower arrangements, musical scores, fishing rods and fly ties. Whatever creative expressions you manifest into life, we’d love to use them as part of the celebration. 

Seating Has Been Rearranged 

As I mentioned before, this summer we are experimenting with seating arrangements in the sanctuary. This last week Ron and I returned the seating to the layout it was when the pews were bolted to the floor. We also moved the front row closer to the chancel, in the hopes that it might help those with hearing issues. Over the next few weeks, please pay attention to how you liked the last layout compared to this one, and let me know what you think! 

Looking to the Future 

Friends, as I begin to put together my installation service, I am thinking about how far our congregation has come in the last 4 years. When I first arrived to be your pastor, the handful of years prior had really taken a toll on you, and morale was low. Despite the low numbers of participants, you decided that you wanted to continue on as a congregation, but we didn’t know what that was going to look like. Would we be able to afford to stay in our building or would we need to sell it? When you called me, I came prepared to work with you on moving into a new home. 

But in the last four years, the tide has shifted. We have become a vibrant, lively church with the financial ability (at least for the time being) to stay in our building and there is a sense of joy and community among us now that did not exist then. Additionally, so many different people have stepped up to volunteer their services in all sorts of ways that keep our church moving into the future.

For all of this, I say thank you. Thank you for believing that God could pull us through! Thank you for becoming such a welcoming and friendly congregation! Thank you for offering your time, talents, and gifts! We are who we are because we have all come together to be the body of Christ. 

With gratitude,
Pastor Katrina

News for the Church, 4/26/24

Hello Church,

It’s a fine spring day outside! I saw a woodcock doing his diving dance for the ladies the other day and the forsythia have been putting on quite a show this last week. It’s a fine time to be outside– whether you’re the one doing a mating dance, or just enjoying the show from the sidelines.

Here’s the news for the week: 

SUNY Potsdam Students Staging March to Protest Excessive Violence in Gaza This Sunday at 2pm

Students are leading a march this Sunday at 2pm to protest Israel’s civilian casualty count against Palestinians in Gaza, as they wage war against Hamas. The protest will begin in front of Satterlee Hall at 2pm. Marchers will walk peacefully down to the Post Office. SUNY students are welcoming local neighbors to join them, and/or to watch on the sidelines as neutral observers. If you’d like to be part of this, feel free to participate in any way that you feel comfortable doing so. 

All-Church Potluck and Senior Graduation Celebration Set for Sunday, May 5th 

Next Sunday, plan to bring a dish to pass for our monthly lunch gathering after worship. That Sunday we will also be celebrating our graduation seniors with cake! We will be honoring Eric, Lee, Quinn, Marla, Emma, Lydia, and Sarah. (What a crew we have!) 

“Take It or Leave It” Taking Place at Clarkson, May 3-9

Clarkson is again hosting their “Take It or Leave It” event– where both students and local citizens are invited to bring items they no longer use to give away, or come and take things for free that others no longer want. The event will be ongoing each day from 10am-5pm on the south side of the ERC, on the lawn between the ERC, the townhouses, and Woodstock. 

Meeting for ‘Stand Up for Our Town’ Taking Place on May 8th at 7pm at the Potsdam Town Hall Community Room

Local folks who are frustrated and/or concerned about the financial failings of our large local community employers and providers– SUNY Potsdam, Clarkson, SLU, nursing homes, etc– are gathering on Wednesday, May 8th to discuss possible actions. The big, driving question is, “How can we stand up for our town and its local residents? Raamitha Pillay will be moderating the discussion. If you’d like to know more about the meeting, you can email Raamitha at

Bookshelves Looking for a Good Home

Susan Dillion has bookshelves to give away– a large one and a couple of smaller ones. If you’re interested, you can email her at

Ella Weldy Speaks to NCPR about Clarkson’s Earth Day Events

As some of you know, Ella Weldy, a junior at Clarkson, was a major organizer in Clarkson’s Earth Day events this last week. She spoke with NCPR about their goings-on. Way to go Ella! (If you’d like to listen in, here’s the link:

Weekly Update on the Sound Issue in the Sanctuary

Yesterday, Dale Hobson, Ron Kaiser, and I met with Crane’s sound engineer in the sanctuary to discuss options for improving the quality of our sound. Douglas McKinnie took measurements of the room and will be sending us a list of the number, size, and shape of sound absorption panels we should install to dampen the echo. It will take a few weeks to order them and then have them installed, but we’re on our way folks! 

Douglas also offered to give us (for free!) a sound mixer, which he and Dale are installing today. This new mixer will replace our old one, and will help improve the quality of our microphones’ projection. Additionally, he is sending us recommendations for a new camera and special microphone that will greatly improve the quality of viewing and hearing for our online participants. 

Lap Blankets for the Sanctuary 

Do you ever find yourself feeling chilly in the sanctuary? Last Sunday, Helen Kenny came to tell me about a brilliant idea she had to address this issue. While visiting Sweden, she noticed that many restaurants there offer outdoor seating– even in cold months. To help their patrons feel more comfortable, many restaurants have large baskets set nearby with lap blankets available for people to use while dining. Helen suggested we might borrow that idea for the sanctuary. Session thought this was a great idea and plans to work on acquiring both baskets and blankets. Thanks Helen! 

Our Lawn Fairies Have Returned 

A big thanks to those of you who anonymously show up to take care of the church yard during the week! The lawn has had its first hair cut of the season, sticks and other debris have been picked up, and things are looking spiffy. Thank you! 

Community Suppers are About More than Food 

Yesterday evening I had the pleasure of eating dinner with folks at this month’s Community Supper, and I was reminded about the importance of breaking bread with people. Our Community Supper volunteers did a fabulous job making chili, carrot salad, corn muffins, and dessert, but the food is only half of the magic. Yesterday, Arthur Freeheart, Susan Dillion, and I ate with a man named Tom. We had a nice time visiting together, but I felt something happening that was bigger than the words that were being shared. Tom and I connected over how nerve-racking it is to go for a job interview and what it’s like to be on disability. For a few minutes, over our bites of chili, we saw each other. And heard each other. And it was beautiful. 

I also got the chance to visit with a couple of our youth group kids. Their faces lit up when they saw me, and we had some good giggles together. And in those giggles, love and joy blossomed. 

Friends, I hope that you might find the opportunity to break bread with someone you don’t normally eat with. It’s not guaranteed that the Spirit will descend, but there’s something about sharing food together that opens the door up for spiritual connection. 

Looking Forward to Breaking Bread with You Soon,
Pastor Katrina

News for the Church, 4/19/24

Conklin during coffee hour this Sunday. Meghan works for CP of the North Country, which is launching a new volunteer program to help meet the needs of elderly folks in our community who can’t get out in the world any longer. She will explain how the program works and how you can get involved. 

Update on the Sound System in the Sanctuary 

If you were in worship last Sunday you will know that our sound system is having major problems right now. Even for those of us who can hear well, the echo is terrible! Thankfully, the mic attached to the pulpit seems to project sound more adequately, so I will do my best to sit on a stool and preach from there until we find a better solution. 

This week we reached out to Crane’s sound engineer to come consult with us on how to address the issues we’re facing. Hopefully he can come soon and direct us in helpful ways. 

For those of you who are frustrated, Dawn Bartow discovered that sitting in the front row, right in the middle helped. Perhaps you want to join her there for the next few Sundays. 

Sermon Series on the Lord’s Prayer/Prayer of our Savior

Back before I became your pastor, a decision was made at our church to switch over from saying The Lord’s Prayer every Sunday to a more inclusive version, called the Prayer of our Savior. Not everyone understands why we did this, so the first two Sundays in May we will dive into the Prayer of our Savior– to look at its meaning and why it’s important to have made this switch in our language. I hope you’ll join us for these special Sundays. 

Shall We Have a Church Picnic at Lazy River Playground June 23rd? 

We have the opportunity to play together again this summer at Lazy River Playground on a Sunday afternoon, but before Sharon Pickard books the space, we need to confirm that enough people want to come out for it. 

Last year we had a huge potluck and a place to grill meat, along with shuffleboard, corn hole, putt-putt golfing, roller skating, swimming, and the chance to go forest bathing. Those of us who went had a blast. Do we want to do this again this year? 

If you’d like to go, please send me a quick email letting me know you’d like to come! Or, let Sharon Pickard know. If we have enough critical mass, we’ll book the site. 

The Festival of Sacred Music and Text was a Hit Last Sunday! 

I am proud to announce that we’ve officially had our first guests in the newly renovated sanctuary. Last Sunday over 100 people came to listen to the varying musical traditions of our neighbors and friends. Folks from the UU Church, Congregation Beth-El, the Mormon Church, the Christian Science Church, and the Orthodox Church joined us to sing and share songs of our faith with one another. 

After that, each congregation had a booth set up in the Community Center to showcase what our congregations believe and live out. I want to give a big shout out to Diamante Maya who helped put our display together, as well as Susan and Jeff Mitchell, and Terry de la Vega and Dale Hobson, who volunteered to run the coffee station and help host all these folks. It was a wonderful day together! 

Support for Second Chance Scholars

I also want to thank all of you who came out last Sunday to listen to and support Brandon Rodriguez and the non-profit he started called Second Chance Scholars. I know that many of you were touched by Brandon’s story and the work his group is doing. 

I don’t have a final count yet, but Susan Mitchell tells me we raised around $1,000 for SCS! This money will go directly to help house men like Brandon, who come out of prison with nothing other than the desire to do better in the world and a chance to finish their bachelor’s degrees at SUNY Potsdam. Friends, THANK YOU for your generosity! This opportunity is the difference between men like Brandon ending up in a homeless shelter, struggling to keep their head above the water, and the chance to become a contributing member of society. 

This is How You Tell It Is Spring

As many of you know, I work two jobs. I work part-time at the church and I tutor math for students with learning disabilities at Little River Community School. Recently, the 5th graders wrote poems and one of them caught my eye. Liam Q. wrote a poem about spring. 

This is How You Tell It Is Spring

The flowers are blooming
The imagination is flowing
The trees are swaying
The water is crackling 
The wind is low and steady
The grass is green and warm
The stars are gleaming at night
This is how you tell it is spring. 

My prayer for us as a community is that spring might be bursting forth in us, just as it is in the world around us. Are the flowers of our soul blooming? Is our imagination flowing? Are the stars in our hearts gleaming at night? 

God, give us the desire to open ourselves up to your renewal of life. May we become a church bursting with life!

With gratitude for who we are becoming,
Pastor Katrina

News for the Church, 4/12/24

Greetings Church! 

I’m back from vacation, and while I’m sad to no longer be sitting on the beach, I’m overjoyed by the sounds and sights of spring in the North Country. So many migratory birds are either back for the summer or are flying through right now. The woods out behind my house are bursting with song! 

Here’s the news for the week: 

Sunday is a Big Day for Us! 

Second Chance Scholars will be with Us During Worship

Brandon Rodriguez will be with us during worship to share his story and fill us in on Second Chance Scholars– the non-profit he founded to help other previously-incarcerated men finish their college degrees at SUNY Potsdam, which they started while in prison. During the service, we will be taking a free will offering for Second Chance Scholars. If you’d like to contribute, please write your checks out directly to Second Chance Scholars or place your money in a cash envelope, which can be found in the pocket on the back of the seat in front of you during the service. 

Festival of Sacred Music and Text at 3pm on Sunday 

This Sunday afternoon, you’ll then want to come back to church to listen to a free concert of amazing music. Six different congregations in Potsdam will be coming together to share sounds of our various faith traditions. Following the concert, we will then host a Faith Fair. These same congregations have been invited to showcase their religious beliefs, congregational life, and ministry activities at tables set up in the Community Center. Refreshments will be served.

It’s not often that we get a chance to listen to the music of people from differing faith traditions. This is a chance to offer our respect and encouragement to our neighbors and friends of varying faiths. 

Earth Day Service Set for April 21

The following Sunday I will be offering a special sermon to celebrate Earth Day and to reflect on our godly call to Earth care. 

Community Friendship Volunteer Program Meeting during Coffee Hour on April 21

During coffee hour next Sunday, Meghan Conklin from CP of the North Country will be joining us to tell us about a new volunteer program that gives regular citizens the chance to visit with elderly residents who are shut in and need companionship. If you’d like to learn more about this program, please sit with Meghan during coffee hour on the 21st. 

Still Working on the Sound Issues in the Sanctuary 

Those of you who use hearing aids are likely aware of the echoing that now exists in the sanctuary as a result of our new hardwood floor. I just wanted to let you know that Session is working on this issue. We asked Ron to hang our quilted wall hangings at the back of the sanctuary to absorb sound, Renee Stauffer is experimenting with felted covers for the music stands I preach from, we’re looking into a better sound system, and we’re researching sound proofing panels to possibly attach to the metal covers that protect our heaters (which surround the outer walls of the sanctuary). Additionally, once we decide on the best configuration for our seating, we will purchase floor runners to lay down. All of these efforts and ideas take time in bringing to life however, and I appreciate your patience with this project. 

 In the meantime, if you struggle with the sound, you might want to try sitting more in the middle. You might find that being surrounded by people buffers the echoing some. Additionally, I’d really appreciate any feedback you might have to offer on this issue. If you notice that the sound is better or worse than it previously was, please let either me or an elder know! Or, if you have any helpful ideas, I’d love to hear. 

Still Working on the Pews

I also wanted to make sure you know that we’re still working on bringing the pews back into the mix for seating. Our carpenter recently had surgery on his hand and has been in recovery since. He did manage to experiment with a new idea however, to make our pews free-standing. He made a proto-type, which we need to test out. I know that many of us love our new chairs– they’re much more comfortable to sit in than the pews! But others of us still love to sit in pews. If this is you, please know that we haven’t forgotten about you. This process is just taking time. 

Also– if you enjoy sitting in the new chairs, but your feet don’t touch the ground and it drives you crazy, will you let me or an elder know? We might be able to construct little boxes for you to rest your feet on. 

Seating Arrangement

One final note about the sanctuary: In a week or two, I’d like to reconfigure the arrangement of our chairs. We’re experimenting with what the best layout will be for our seating, and the only way to do that is to try different arrangements. Can you be a researcher with me? Please pay attention to what you like and dislike about the different layouts we try and either let me or an elder know what your thoughts are. Your input is important!

Andre Needs a New Bike

Our friend Andre, the young man finishing his senior year in high school who has been homeless again, found himself in yet another crisis this week. His bicycle got stolen! If any of you have an extra bicycle that he can either keep or borrow, it would be a big help. He works at JReck Subs and needs a way to get around easily. 

Calling All Artists for Pastor Katrina’s Installation Service

Friends, I have been putting off something important since I came to be your pastor. I was called to be the installed minister at our church more than 4 years ago, but because of the pandemic and my health situation, I haven’t been ready or able to put together an installation service together to make it official. But now I’m ready, and Session and I decided on a date for this service– June 29th! 

To celebrate both my installation and our newly renovated sanctuary, I’m wondering if you’d be willing to help us decorate the sanctuary for 6-8 weeks this summer. Can we put on an art exhibit in the sanctuary, featuring our congregation’s creativity? 

If you paint, knit, or do floral design; if you write poems, or music, or quilt; if you are a photographer, or do embroidery; if you cook or do theater or dance– might you consider adding something to our display? It could either be a physical object you’ve made, or something that represents your creative pursuits. (For instance, if you’re a baker or a dancer, you could take a picture of your bread, or you yourself in the midst of a dance routine. Or if you’re a composer, we could display your score.) 

I would love to hang things from the back walls in the sanctuary and set up display tables in the back of the sanctuary and in the narthex that celebrate the creative talents that God has given us. It would be both a form of worship– giving thanks to God for our talents– and a way to celebrate how far our congregation has come in the last few years. 

We won’t start this project until June, but I wanted to drop the seed and get you thinking. If we all participate, our sanctuary will come to life in amazing ways! 

Giving thanks to God for the beauty of creation and imagination,
Pastor Katrina 

News for the Church 3/22/24

Good Day to you Church,

Well, it looks like winter finally decided to show up. My goodness it’s been cold! And we’re supposed to get a dump of snow to boot! March is definitely going out like a lion. 

Here’s the news: 

Palm Sunday Potluck Breakfast and Celebration in the Sanctuary this Sunday!

This Sunday is the day for celebration! We are moving back into the sanctuary for our first worship experience in our newly renovated space! Prior to that, at 8:45am, we will gather for a potluck breakfast. Please bring a breakfast item to share– eggs, bagels, fruit, yogurt, etc. (I’ve heard Dick Partch will be bringing French toast and maple syrup.) 

After we eat, we will each take a palm branch and a hymnal, and together we will sing as we process into the sanctuary. It’s going to be a special Sunday. I hope you’ll join us! 

Recital for Ivette This Wednesday Night

This Wednesday the 27th, at 7:30pm in Snell Hall, our very own Ivette Herryman-Rodriguez will be giving a composition recital. Ivette writes beautiful, stirring music and she will be presenting six of her pieces– some with a professional string quartet from Michigan that she was commissioned to write music for. 

Community Supper This Thursday 

This month, Community Supper will be taking place at our church, and Renee Stauffer is taking the lead. We will be serving baked ziti to our guests in the community center. If you’d like to help out or have any questions, please contact Renee. 

Good Friday Service in the Sanctuary at 7pm

 Next week during Holy Week, we will be taking a pause to rest with Jesus on his journey to the cross. Friday, March 29th at 7pm you are invited to join us in the sanctuary for a Tenebrae Service, as we reflect on the shadows and the silence of Good Friday. 

Lilies for Easter Sunday 

Thankfully, as Christians, our story does not end with Good Friday. As you know, death does not have the final word and we move into Christ’s resurrection at the end of Holy Week. 

Quite a few of us have purchased flowers to adorn the sanctuary on Easter Sunday, when we celebrate new life existing in the world. Between that and the choir singing, it’s going to be a special day! 

Marti Montovani to preach April 7 / Katrina on vacation 

The Sunday following Easter, our friend Marti Montovani will be preaching and leading worship. I will be on vacation that week, and I am grateful to Marti for joining us that Sunday. 

Brandon Rodriguez and Second Chance Scholars at worship April 14th

Brandon Rodriguez, the extraordinary young man who left prison in Ogdensburg last year in the middle of his college career, and is now finishing his senior year at SUNY Potsdam, has started a non-profit that hopes to buy the house next door to our church and turn it into housing for other men like him who leave Riverview Correctional Facility in the middle of their studies and want to come to SUNY Potsdam to earn their bachelor’s degrees. 

Brandon will be with us during worship on April 14th to tell us about this non-profit, Second Chance Scholars, and why it is important to our church and the Potsdam community. In addition to our regular offering, we will be taking a free will offering that day to go towards supporting Second Chance Scholars.

Festival of Sacred Music and Word in our Sanctuary on Sunday, April 14th at 3pm

Every year, the Potsdam Interfaith Community hosts a concert that celebrates the music and spoken word of our diverse communities in Potsdam. This year, our church will be hosting the festival in our sanctuary at 3pm. Last year it was held at the Methodist Church and over 100 people were in attendance!

New Church Directory

If you didn’t take one last week, we still have church directories to hand out. Look for the bright yellow packet next to the bulletins. It contains church folks’ contact information. 

A big thanks to Sue Waters for putting it together! 

Giddy with Excitement

Friends, I can’t tell you how excited I am for this Sunday. The newly renovated sanctuary is such an inviting space to be in, and I can’t wait for all of us to experience it together. 

I want to remind us, however, that it’s going to be different than what we’re used to. And that’s ok. The chairs are set up differently than they used to be. (And we haven’t yet incorporated the pews back into the mix.) The colors look different. The light looks different. The air smells different. The whole room feels different.

If you experience a moment of shock, or feel unprepared for the changes, be gracious with yourself. Remind yourself that even when something new feels good, it can also feel hard to accept. This is because our bodies like what is familiar. As humans, we are hardwired to seek out what feels normal to us– that which is recognizable. We like what we are accustomed to! 

Because change can be wonderful and hard all at the same time, I invite you to hang in there as we give our new space a chance to feel like home. Be gracious with yourself as we welcome in this change. Having multiple feelings all mixed together at the same time is normal. 

Looking forward to seeing you,
Pastor Katrina

News for the Church, 3/1/24

Happy Friday to you Church!

What a week of weather we’ve had– from 72 and sunshine to 0 with windchill. Yikes! Today feels a little more normal, and I’m grateful. 

Here’s the news: 


I hope you see this note in time to make a dish to pass for lunch this Sunday. We’ll be breaking bread together after the service on March 3rd. 

Youth Group to Meet Monday, March 4th

Our joint youth group will gather at our church this Monday from 6:30-8pm. 

Sanctuary Cleaning Days Saturday, March 9th and 16th

I have great news to share. We are planning to return to the sanctuary for worship on Palm Sunday, March 24th. In order to have the sanctuary ready for that day, we need a bunch of us to come together to do some cleaning. 

We’ll gather next Saturday, the 9th, as well as the following one, starting at 10am to dust the chancel, vacuum pew cushions, wipe down pew benches, re-install the sound system, and more. Even if you only have an hour or two to come volunteer, your help is important. 

If you have questions, please email Dave Wells at

Communion Set for Sunday, March 10th

We will celebrate communion together during worship in a couple of weeks. 

Palm Sunday Breakfast and Worship in the Center

Sunday, March 24th is our big day! That morning we will kick off the beginning of Holy Week by having a potluck breakfast at the church before worship. Please bring breakfast food to share at 8:45am that day. We’ll share this meal together in the Center and then make our first communal procession back into the sanctuary for worship with palm branches in hand! 

Just you you know, Session is planning a big re-dedication Sunday this summer. We’ll have a special worship service to celebrate our renovation project then, invite the whole neighborhood, and hopefully offer some sort of musical concert as well. In the meantime, this will be our “soft opening.” 

Per Capita Update

I am delighted to report that 19 people have donated $33 each to help us pay our Per Capita bill to the Presbytery. A big THANKS to all who have contributed! To those members who are still considering supporting the church in this way, we will continue to accept these donations throughout the coming months; just indicate that the gift is to help cover “per capita.”

$16,300 Raised to Help Cover the Cost of the New Floor

I am also delighted to report to you that we have raised over $16,000 to help supplement the cost of our new $25,000 oak floor for the sanctuary! We’ve had a couple of donors who have given large sums, and others who have given smaller amounts. Friends, no matter how much we are able to give, all of it works together for the good of the church. THANK YOU! 

Taking the Pressure Off 

Session met in the sanctuary this past week with a daunting task. We gathered together to decide the exact layout for our pews and chairs, so that our carpenter could come in next week and screw the pews down into the floor. 

As we stood there looking at our 18 rows of pews and 110 chairs– discussing all of the possibilities for how to set up our seating– we were feeling intense pressure to get it perfectly right. Do we angle the pews in towards the middle? Do we leave them all facing straight forward? Do we set them up in the round? And where do we put the chairs to compliment the pews best? Should they go behind the pews? Or to the side of them? Or behind them? 

If we decided afterwards that we didn’t like the configuration we chose, or disliked the degree of the angles, or even the distance apart between the rows, rearranging the pews would mean making holes in our beautiful new floor. We were sweating bullets under this immense pressure until Renee Stauffer came up with a great idea. 

“What if we take the heat off and move slower?” she asked. “We could use the chairs for a template, and try different configurations with them until we decide on a layout that we like. After we’ve tested various setups and decided on which one works best, then we can insert the pews into the mix and screw them to the floor.” 

This was a brilliant idea. And so, we did just that. We set our 110 chairs up in a particular configuration, which we will test out for a few weeks. After that, we will move the chairs around and try a different configuration– until we find the layout that suits us best. We will keep experimenting in this way with the chairs until we’re sure about where exactly we want the pews to be anchored. And then we will have the carpenter come in and drill the holes into the floor to screw down the pews. 

All that to say– when we head back into the sanctuary for Palm Sunday, don’t be alarmed when you don’t see any pews up front. It’s not that we’re not going to use them. It’s that we need more time before we make any permanent decisions about where to place them. It may take us a few months to figure out our lay out, but it’s better that way than have dozens of holes all over our brand new floor. 

As Renee noted, it’s ok for this to be a process. And it might be fun even, to try different configurations. Maybe we will decide on a layout that no one has yet thought of!

Life is a Process

This whole situation with the pews reminds me of a bigger lesson: Life in general is a process, isn’t it? God doesn’t expect us to “get it right” the very first time. We learn as we grow, and we mature, and grow in wisdom. 

For those of us who are perfectionists, this lesson is an important one. I was just talking the other day with someone about the word we translate as “perfect” in our Bibles. In Matthew’s gospel, Jesus is quoted as saying, “Be perfect, even as your Heavenly Father in heaven is perfect.” The Greek word teleios, which we have translated as ‘perfect,’ actually means something more akin to ‘complete,’ or ‘mature.’ I’ve even heard the idea of “fully bloomed” or “fully ripened” to explain the concept of what teleios means.

“Be mature, as God is mature.” 

“Move into full bloom, like God lives in full bloom.”

Maturation, ripening, blooming– all of these things are, by definition processes. And they take time! When we expect ourselves to get it perfectly right all of the time, we’re denying the creative system that God has built for us. We end up missing out on the beauty of the journey– on the transformative process that has to take place in order to move into the bloom. 

May we all take a lesson from the pews this week. Whatever it is you fret about getting perfect, give yourself a break and let God move through the ripening process with you. When we let grace in, the process of coming into bloom is just as beautiful, and important, as the end result. 

Working on Ripening Too,
Pastor Katrina

News for the Church, 2/23/24

Good Day to you Church,

It’s a balmy 50 outside, and since the sun is shining, I am writing to you from my back deck. I don’t often get a chance to spend time outside in the winter, so this is a treat! 

Here’s the news for the week: 

Jeff Mitchell to Preach this Sunday, Feb. 25 

This week I went in for an ablation of my SI joint, and I am so grateful to Jeff for taking the reins this week in worship so I can continue to rest and recoup. (The procedure went well, but I am slower to recover than I expected.) 

“The Gaza Crisis and the Debate about Genocide”

Wed. February 28, 7 PM

St. Lawrence University is hosting a spring lecture series called Israel/Palestine: Contexts and Perspectives. The February lecture, concerning the topic of genocide, will be presented by Elun Gabriel, in Hepburn Hall, 218 Auditorium.

All Church Potluck, Sunday March 3rd 

A week from this Sunday we will again be sharing a meal together after worship. I hope you’ll join us!

Youth Group Has Returned!

Our small but mighty youth group– a co-sponsored group between our church and the Methodist church– has been resurrected. Our next night for the youth will be Monday, March 4th at 6:30pm at our church. 

“The Israeli-Palestinian conflict: Multifarious Contexts; Diverging Perspectives” Wed. March 6th
SLU’s March lecture on Israel/Palestine: Contexts and Perspectives will be presented by Oded Haklai of Queen’s University on Wednesday, March 6, 7 PM in Hepburn Hall, 218 Auditorium. 

Calls for Per Capita Giving 

As I mentioned last week, we are collecting gifts of $33 from those of you who are members, who might be willing to help the church offset our per capita bill to Presbytery. This year our bill totals $1,386. As a reminder, we are only required to pay per capita for folks in our congregation who are members. If you have not officially joined the church, this does not apply to you.

The Sanctuary Floor is Complete! 

Waylon Maitland and his 6-person crew came this last week and laid our brand-new oak floor down in the sanctuary– and boy does it look beautiful! At this rate, we should be able to hold our first worship service back in the sanctuary by Easter Sunday. 

Sanctuary Cleaning Crew

Before we can move back into the sanctuary, we’ve got some major cleaning to do! We don’t yet have a date for a work party, but might you be willing to spare a couple hours on a Saturday later in March to come and help clean the sanctuary? The pews need scrubbing, the pew cushions need vacuuming, the walls need dusting, the sound system needs to be re-installed, and the narthex needs a good tidying up. 

I’ll let you know the details for the date as they become available, but we’re likely looking at the 16th or the 23rd of March. 

Church Directory is Almost Complete

We’ve all been waiting for this– our updated church directory. It should be available in the next couple of weeks! 

God Doesn’t Give Up on Us, and Neither Should We

Last night I got a surprise phone call from our friend Daniel, who is currently in rehab. He’s proud to say that he’s getting healthy, feeling good about himself, and giving back to the community he’s currently living in. While we talked on the phone, his second batch of banana nut muffins were baking in the oven– which he was delighted to get to share with his colleagues in rehab. 

Daniel asks that we continue to pray for him, and thanks us for all of the support we’ve offered to him over these last few months. He explained to me that he had lost himself over the years, but he’s ready to come back to life and be a contributing member of society. 

Friends, you and I are not so unlike Daniel. We lose our way too– in our relationships, our resentments and our grudges, our untruths, our fears, our guilt and our shame, and our disbelief in ourselves and in God’s goodness in the world. 

But God is always waiting for us with open arms– for that moment when we decide to come back to grace. We may or may not need to go to rehab to find the light of Life, but all of us are invited to move into mutuality, love, respect, and delight– in ourselves, in each other, in our community, and in God. In truth, we move in and out of these markers of God’s kingdom throughout our lives, but when we slide into half-living, God never gives us up. No matter what, God holds space for us to return to the light. 

If you are feeling lost, my prayer for you is that you don’t give up. God hasn’t, and neither will we. Grace is always waiting with her hand outstretched.

In Faith,
Pastor Katrina

News for the Church, 2/16/24

Happy Friday to you Church,

As I sit here gazing out my window this morning, a light snow is falling. Looks like we’re back to winter. It’s funny to me that it only took a week of warmer weather for me to feel shocked at the sight of snow once again! 

Here’s the news for the week:

Community Friendship Volunteer Program Presentation This Sunday 

This Sunday during coffee hour, Meghan Conklin will be offering a presentation on the Community Friendship Volunteer Program– a volunteer-based program that provides friendship and a helping hand to seniors in St. Lawrence County, whereby volunteers can assist a senior citizen through friendly home visits, phone conversation, light housekeeping, going on outings, help with errands, and more. 

Julie Miller Presents the Music of Keith Gates

This coming Tuesday, at 7:30pm in Snell Theater, Julie and a variety of other Crane faculty and students will be offering a special, free concert of music from Keith Gates, a former Crane professor who wrote beautiful, spiritually-informed songs and pieces. Julie has been working hard on this project for months, and it promises to be a powerful musical experience. 

Next Community Supper Slated for Thursday, Feb. 22nd

Our next joint Community Supper is being held at Trinity Episcopal Church. For those who want to volunteer, please see Sue Waters. 

Jeff Mitchell to Preach Sunday, Feb. 26th

I hope you’ll join us for worship next Sunday, as Jeff brings us a word from the Word.

Help with Per Capita

It’s time again to be thinking about per capita at church. For those of you who are members, I’d like to ask you to consider sending in a donation to help us pay for this. For each member on our rolls, our church is required to pay $33 to the higher-up governing bodies we belong to. We currently have 42 members, and at $33/per person, you can see that this is going to be a hefty bill for the church. That said, if some of us who are members are able to offer the church a special gift of $33, it will help offset some of what people sometimes refer to as a “head tax.” 

What do I mean by a “head tax?” Perhaps you already know what per capita means, but if not, let me explain. In the Presbyterian Church (USA), individual churches work together to help each other. In our denomination, individual churches in a particular region belong to a governing body we call the Presbytery, and Presbyteries belong to the next higher up governing body, called Synods. And Synods belong to the highest level of governance– the General Assembly. Together, all of these governing bodies help to support local churches with everything from Sunday School curriculum, to social justice resources, to real estate transactions, and hiring new ministers. 

Our church belongs to the Presbytery of Northern New York, which offers the most fabulous support I’ve ever encountered in our denomination. Our presbytery resource leader, David Bennett, was invaluable in helping our congregation navigate through the hardships of the previous 8 years, and was indispensable in helping to bring me on as your new pastor. What’s more, he’s always there to answer any questions I have, and gives the same helpful guidance to all of our local congregations. 

As you can imagine, however, none of this support comes for free. 

It costs money to pay David Bennett to serve in the position he does, and it costs money to run presbyteries, and synods, and the GA. This is why we have per capita. Each congregation is required to support these important governing bodies with their per capita giving, which is determined by the number of members we have. 

If you are a member, it is not mandatory for you to pay the per capita fee the church is charged to support your role in our church, but if you are able to help, it makes a difference for our congregation’s bottom line. If you are able to give, just write “Per Capita” on the memo line of your check. 

*Please note that if you have not formally joined our church as a member, per capita is not charged for you!

Sanctuary Renovations Continue

Well folks, we’re getting down to the end of our sanctuary renovation project! We have 3 more steps to go before we can move back into the sanctuary, and the next major step will start this coming Monday morning. Next week, Waylon Maitland and his crew will be installing our new oak floor. It’s going to be beautiful, and I can’t wait to see how it’s going to look! 

After that, the pews will need to be re-installed and our new chairs will need to be moved over to the sanctuary. And finally, the whole room is going to need a major, thorough cleaning before we can move back into the space for worship. We’re hoping that all of this can be accomplished before Easter Sunday on March 31st. 

This last week our custodian, Ron, started some of the initial cleaning. He also took down all of the plastic that had been keeping the organ’s pipes safe from plaster repair and painting. Doesn’t it look absolutely beautiful? 

Friends, that said– as beautiful as this room is going to be when it’s all said and done, it’s important to remember that our sanctuary is not our church. We are the church, and worship can take place in any space (no matter how ugly or beautiful). But if we’re going to have a designated space to bloom and flourish in as the body of Christ, this one certainly will make do, won’t it? 😉 

With Gratitude and Delight,
Pastor Katrina