News for the Church 7/1/22

Hello Church,

A warm, sunny summer day to you! I’ve been back from my family reunion for a few days now after having had a wonderful time seeing my aunts, uncles, cousins, and all of their kids. There were 47 of us who gathered at my aunt and uncle’s camp on a lake in New Hampshire to swim, fish, kayak, lounge, laugh, eat, and visit. That’s a lot of family(!) and I was absolutely tuckered out by the time we got home. 

 Here’s the news for the week: 

Difficult Conversations Lab

For those taking this class, this is a reminder that we won’t be meeting again until Wednesday, July 13th at 3:30pm.

Memorial Service for George Davis

The memorial service for George Davis will be Friday, July 15th at the church at 3pm. A catered reception is to follow and you are welcome to attend. 

If you were at church on Sunday, you will have heard Sue Water’s announcement that there will be wine served at this reception. George’s son Rick owns a vineyard in California and asked if we would allow his wine to be served at the dinner. For many years the church has prohibited alcohol on the premises but Session felt that this particular occasion merited its presence. I wanted to make sure you know about this beforehand however, so that you wouldn’t be surprised to be offered a glass of wine if you come to dinner. 

Community Suppers

Sharon Pickard has let us know that the monthly community supper we’ve been offering in conjunction with the Episcopal Church is picking up steam! Last week they had over 40 take-out dinners served! July’s supper will take place on the 28th, and will be offered at our church. If you’d be willing to help out with making food, please contact Sharon. 

Special Offering for Buffalo

I wanted to let you know that last Sunday we collected $533 to send to Mt. Olive Baptist Church, a sister church in Buffalo doing important community service work, following the racially-motivated mass shooting there. Thank you for your generosity! 

Supporting Students in Kenya

In a few weeks I will be reaching out to you once again concerning another special offering. It’s nearing the time for us to send our church’s donation to help make education possible for a handful of selected students in Kenya who show promise in school but don’t have the financial means necessary to attend. Will you be praying about what you might be able to give? Gifting children education is an effective way of pulling an entire family, for generations, out of poverty. 

Many Hands Make For Light Work

This last Sunday we resurrected coffee hour, and I hope you enjoyed yourselves! Having time to share together after the service is an important part of the worship experience because it allows us to be relational with one another. In the past, coffee hour has been an elaborate affair, and perhaps you have shied away from volunteering because it seemed too daunting a task. Because of this, in the past, a handful of people took on the majority of the work of putting on coffee hour. But those folks simply don’t have the energy to “be in charge” any longer. 

Being a smaller congregation now, and as we start over again with many of our traditions following the pandemic, we get to redefine what coffee hour is. Moving forward, we get to decide how important coffee hour is to us. Is standing around with a cup of coffee and a cookie in our hands something we want to hold onto? The next few months will be an experiment for us. Coming out of Covid, we don’t have to abide by the old rules that say, “Well, we have to do it this way because it’s how we’ve always done things.” We get a fresh start to figure out what’s important and how much energy we’re willing to spend. 

It may be that after a month or so, we realize that no one actually has the energy to bring cookies and brew coffee, and that standing around in the sanctuary after the service to chat and visit works well enough for us. We may also find that we love being able to visit afterwards with that coffee mug in hand. If it is something that we love, more of us are going to need to volunteer to help host it– to bring cookies, learn how to brew a pot of coffee, and be willing to do a few dishes afterwards. Is this something you’d be willing to do? Will you think about it? And will you pay attention to what you think of coffee hour in general? 

If it’s not valuable enough to us in this present moment, it’s ok to let it go. There’s nothing wrong with acknowledging that this isn’t the time for it, and allowing ourselves to be at peace with that decision. 

In the fall I hope to have a “check-in” Sunday one week after worship. I’d like for us to talk together as a group about how we feel that church is going and check in about our financial situation. I’d like for us to discuss what we think is going well with our church, what we’d like to focus our energy on, and continue to talk about what’s important to us as a congregation. 

The State of our Nation

Friends, this week more big decisions have been handed down to us from the Supreme Court. In the last 8 days we’ve had major decisions made about religion in public spaces, abortion, gun rights, and most recently about the EPA’s ability to regulate large companies and the pollution they produce. Perhaps some of us are feeling huge relief at these decisions, but I’d hazard a guess that many of us are feeling scared, lost, angry, and/or worried about the state of our nation and its effects on the world. 

Today I want to remind you that whatever your emotions may be, they’re not “wrong.” Our emotions are part of who we are, and they express what’s deepest inside of us. If you’re really struggling this week, I encourage you to do a couple of things. First, sit down and pray– not a “you need to fix this right now, God!” sort of prayer. (At least not to start.) Instead, I encourage you to follow in the footsteps of the psalmists and become a lamenter. Figure out what you’re feeling and share that with God. Are you angry? Offer that. Are you afraid? Feeling hopeless? Powerless? Lay out for yourself and for God what’s rumbling around on your insides. That’s the first step. But there’s more to it as well. Can you sit with God long enough to figure out why you’re feeling the way that you do? What is prompting these feelings? What’s underneath them? Are you angry because you feel betrayed? Are you feeling powerless because someone else is making a decision for you that you don’t agree with and you don’t know what to do next? Whatever that slimy thing is at the bottom of your pot– the IT stirring up your emotions– what would it mean to offer that slimy IT to God? 

Bottling up our emotions on the inside and doing our best to ignore them has never been an effective way of facing troubles. Bottling up our emotions causes paralysis, which is neither healthy nor helpful. Instead, it robs us of our ability to find peace within ourselves and makes it impossible to work towards effective change. 

I don’t have any helpful answers on “what the world needs now,” but I do know that if we can sit quietly enough– for long enough– with God, with each other, and with ourselves, perhaps God will reveal the next step forward in this life we share together on earth and make peace possible for us in whatever shape we need that to be in this moment. 

 Isaiah reminded his people, who were chin deep in serious peril, this truth from God. I think it fits for us today as well:

“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

Isaiah 41:10 

Hold onto God, dear Hearts. Keep holding onto God. 

Sitting with God,
Pastor Katrina

News for the Church, 6/25/22

Good Day to you Church,

Well, today is a big day in the Hebb house.  My son Henry is graduating from high school today and then we’re packing the car and heading to our family reunion in New Hampshire for a long weekend!  My mama’s heart is overflowing with joy, but also with some twinges of sadness for the end of an era.  I’m about to become an “empty nester,” as they say.

For these reasons, I’m going to keep this email short.

Here’s the news for this week:

Coffee Hour This Sunday at Church

Drum roll please…… I am elated to announce that beginning this Sunday we will be returning to regular coffee hour in the Center. 

Session met this week, and as we do every month, we looked at Covid in our county. This last week SLC has been oscillating back and forth between “moderate” and “low” levels. Consequently, Session decided that it’s time to bring back coffee hour– obviously without masks so that we can enjoy drinking coffee and eating cookies.

That said, we will continue to require masks during worship on Sundays (for at least until our next check in next month). Session feels that worship needs to be accessible to everyone in our congregation without fear of contracting Covid (including people who are immuno-compromised)– especially since we are singing hymns. When levels are consistently low, we will be able to make masks optional. This is a way that we can love and support our people who struggle with health issues.

Special Offering for Buffalo

This Sunday we will be taking a special offering at church to support the grieving Black community in Buffalo, following the racially-motivated mass shooting at the Tops Market there. Whatever we collect for this offering will be sent to the Mount Olive Baptist Church in Buffalo, a Black church that does extensive community outreach.

Marty Weitz to Preach

Also, Rev. Marty Weitz will be preaching and leading worship this Sunday.

Celebrating Ivette Herryman-Rodriguez’ Music

A few weeks ago Ivette received one of the highest honors you can receive as a music composer. The renowned music director Gustavo Dudamel, who conducts the LA Philharmonic, the Paris Philharmonic, and the philharmonic in Argentina, selected one of Ivette’s pieces to be played at the Walt Disney Concert Hall by the youth orchestra, and it will be played there again by the philharmonic in the coming weeks! Her piece is called “A Danzon Done My Way” and is a take on a danzon from her native Cuba. 

I’ve included an article from Crane about the event and another link that allows you to listen to the piece. I hope you enjoy listening!  

Listen to Ivette’s piece here:

Read more about it here:

Friends, I could use some of your prayers this weekend with my family. One of my aunts has been fighting cancer, and it’s looking like this might be our last family celebration with her. Additionally, my mother will not be joining us because she is recovering from cancer surgery herself. This is going to be a weekend of both joy and sorrow for us.

I know that I am not the only one facing grief, struggle, and sorrow this week.  May God hold all of us in tender care, as we live out the tension of life’s joys and sorrows.

In this light, I will leave you with a few lines from last week’s Psalm, Psalm 42-43:

My soul is cast down within me;
    therefore I remember you
from the land of Jordan and of Hermon,
    from Mount Mizar.

Deep calls to deep
    at the thunder of your torrents;
all your waves and your billows
    have gone over me.

By day the Lord commands his steadfast love,
    and at night his song is with me,
    a prayer to the God of my life….

Why are you cast down, O my soul,
    and why are you disquieted within me?
Hope in God, for I shall again praise him,
    my help and my God.

If your soul is cast down this week, may you find hope and help in God,
Pastor Katrina

News for the Church, 6/16/22

Good Day to you Church,

It’s shaping up to be a hot one today. For saying we’ve been having such cool and rainy weather the last couple of weeks, it looks like summer is now upon us! A few days of this and the river will be warm enough for swimming! 

Here’s the news for the week: 

The Rummage Sale is On! 

Friends, the rummage sale is shaping up to be a success, but we still need help with set up and clean up. If you have an hour or two in the next couple of days to help out, it would be much appreciated. Just drop in and ask Beth Grace what you can do to help out. She’ll put you to work! 

And don’t forget to tell your friends about the sale itself. We’ve got a lot of items to sell, but now we need people to come and buy them! 

Rummage Sale:

Saturday, 8:30am-3:30pm


Juneteenth Celebration!

This Saturday is shaping up to be a busy day. After the rummage sale is over, make your way over for one of the best community events in Potsdam at Ives Park! The whole town will be celebrating Juneteenth from 4pm-9pm, with free food, singing and dancing, storytelling, a fashion show, merch and craft tables, and more! Bring a picnic blanket or a lawn chair for the festivities. 

Marty Weitz to Preach, June 26th

Marty will be preaching and leading worship next Sunday, the 26th. After pastoring churches in the Caribbean, Oman, India, and Scotland, Rev. Weitz is now back in the North Country for retirement. He’s a dynamic preacher and you’ll enjoy this Sunday with him. 

Special Offering June 26th

As a way of acknowledging the racism involved in the tragic mass shooting in Buffalo last month, we will be collecting a special offering to support the work and mission of the Mt. Olive Baptist Church in Buffalo, NY as they work to support the grief stricken, carve out economic improvements in their city, and work for racial reconciliation. Please pray about what God might be asking you to give. 

Invasive Species Awareness

A big shout out of thanks to all who came and participated in our invasive species awareness events last week. We learned a lot and had fun doing it! 

Also: Renee is still missing some of her books that were on display. If you took them home to read, please just let her know that you have them. 

Rock Charitable Grant

Have you noticed that the turrets on the front of the sanctuary are missing roofing tiles? Dave Wells will be collecting estimates on the work in the next few weeks, for us to be able to write up our application for the Rock Charitable Grant, which offers $100,000 every year to churches and cemeteries for the upkeep of their buildings and land, and for veterans organizations. We’re hoping we have a chance of being selected this year! (Grantees will be named on 12/31/2022.) 

Prayers for Julie Miller

We offer up prayers for Julie Miller, who is undergoing surgery today for her 3rd port for chemo. If you’d like to send her a card in the mail, email me and I’ll send along her address. 

National Gun Violence in Perspective

Friends, I’m still thinking about gun violence in America. Are you? This morning, the New York Times posted an article that helps shine a light on an ignored and overlooked issue around gun violence in America– something white, middle-class Americans are often uncomfortable with acknowledging or addressing because of how it focuses on our systemic racism. If we’re serious about loving Jesus and following his Way, this is something we need to start addressing in ourselves as a culture and as a society.

Here are excerpts from the article entitled Highly Concentrated, by German Lopez in today’s NYT’s. I’m including them to get us thinking and talking together.

“Thirty-five people were killed in mass shootings in Buffalo, Uvalde and Tulsa over the past few weeks, focusing national attention on America’s unique gun problem.

In that same time, around 1,800 people were killed and almost 500 wounded in nearly 1,600 other shootings in the U.S…. 

Mass shootings account for less than 4 percent of gun homicides in a typical year, and most gun violence in the U.S. takes a different form. So I went to Chicago, where shootings are a daily occurrence in some areas, to see what more-typical gun violence looks like.

There, I met 24-year-old Jomarria Vaughn. After spending time in jail on domestic violence and weapon charges, he has tried to rebuild his life. But his past haunts him.

The last time he was on Facebook, he found out his best friend had been shot to death. He now tries to stay off the site, out of fear that posting the wrong thing could anger the wrong people — and make him a target.

In his neighborhood, he tries to avoid spending too much time “out on the block,” he said. Even if he is not a target, violence is so common there that Vaughn worries he could be hit by a stray bullet.

“I’m scared,” Vaughn told me. “I have my guard up all day.”

This is what daily life looks like for many Black Chicagoans. Across the city, the murder rate for Black people is higher than it was from the 1980s through the 1990s — a violent period that drove a nationwide push for mass incarceration. Black Chicagoans are nearly 40 times more likely to be shot to death than their white peers, according to an analysis by the University of Chicago Crime Lab.

….Similar disparities exist across America. Black and brown neighborhoods suffer higher rates of poverty, and violence concentrates around poverty. The violence is so intensive that a few neighborhoods, blocks or people often drive most of the shootings and murders in a city or county. And this is true in both urban and rural areas, said Patrick Sharkey, a sociologist at Princeton.

The disparities have held up as murders have spiked across the country since 2020. So while the numbers are typically reported through a national lens, the reality on the ground is that a small slice of the population — disproportionately poor, Black and brown — suffers the most from it.

The concentration of violence has another effect: It pushes violence out of sight for most people.

In Chicago, 51 people were shot in Chicago over Memorial Day weekend — a five-year high. Almost all of the victims were on the city’s South and West Sides, which are mostly Black and brown.

Only when violence hits closer to home does it typically grab more people’s attention. That happened nationwide this year after mass shootings in schools and grocery stores, where Americans can imagine themselves or loved ones falling victim. In Chicago, public outrage over a shooting last month that killed a 16-year-old boy downtown — a richer, whiter area — prompted the mayor to impose a curfew for minors.

But that is the kind of violence that poorer, minority communities deal with daily, with little to no public attention. The vast majority of shootings never make national headlines.

Speaking to Black activists and residents in Chicago, I was struck by how they spoke almost dispassionately about the violence around them. They all had stories of dead friends and family members killed in gang shootings, episodes of domestic violence or road rage, or during petty conflicts over women — the shootings sometimes just days or weeks apart. Outside their homes, the sound of gunshots is common.

As I traveled around Chicago, the two worlds were clearly visible. Wealthier parts looked like a modern, rich city — parking meters and payment terminals built for smartphones, bustle around packed businesses, and residents on electric bikes and scooters. Poor areas were marked by disinvestment: homes in disrepair, boarded-up buildings and few to no stores.

What I saw exemplifies a vicious cycle that causes the concentration of violence in an area, experts said. Poverty leads to violence, which leads to disinvestment, which leads to more poverty and violence. Coupled with a police force that fails to solve most murders and shootings, the cycle becomes difficult to break.”

By contrast, other communities have a host of social supports keeping violence at bay, including good jobs, better schools, well-kept parks and recreation centers, and responsive police.

For most Americans, violence is something they may hear about on the news but do not deal with on a regular basis. But for people in the hardest-hit communities, violence is a fact of daily life. Like Vaughn, they come to expect it — and worry that they could be the next victim.”

Friends, as a predominately white, middle class church, it is not our place to solve what has often been referred to as “black-on-black” crime. The actual violence taking place in places like Chicago, Rochester, LA, and Buffalo is for those communities to work on healing. What is our responsibility, however, is to address how our accumulated white affluence has created the circumstances for such violence to take shape in poor Black and Brown communities. 

On average, a white American holds 13 times more wealth than a Black American. That doesn’t happen by chance. And the ripple effects are real. 

Jesus made it clear to his followers that we are to take care of one another– not just through charity, but through justice; through shifting our systems of economic and social engagement with one another. 

The racial and economic injustices that live in our country are easy for us to ignore when we stay in our regular ol’ patterns of community engagement, but what if we stepped out past the comfortable boundary lines we make for ourselves? How can we do this in our current situation? How can we address systemic poverty and racism here in Potsdam, NY? We are not immune to poverty or racism where we live. 

My prayer is that as a church, we might find ways of living deeper into God’s call to follow Jesus– even when it takes us into uncomfortable territory. Because when we do, we find ourselves living in the Kingdom of God. 

God, be with us and lead us, I pray!
Pastor Katrina

News for the Church, 6/10/22

Good Day to You Church!

Today I’m sitting out on my back porch as the sun peaks in and out from the clouds and the leaves of the forest rustle in the breeze. My bleeding hearts are nearing the end of their bloom and the yellow iris are in full display. What do you have singing in color at your house right now? 

Here’s the news for the week: 

Univited— the Movie– Showing Saturday Night

If you’d like to learn more about how to control Japanese knot weed, wild parsnip, spongy moths, and other invasive species, this is the movie for you! We’ll be viewing it at 7 pm in the Center. 

Then, Sunday at around 11:15 am, following the service, folks from the Nature Conservancy will be here to take us on a guided tour of other invasive species we have on the church grounds. They will talk to us about replacement options and how to manage invasives more effectively.

March for Our Lives

Also on Saturday– a rally in Ives Park against gun violence will begin at noon. North Country This Week ran an article about this event on Thursday, misrepresenting it as an anti-gun event, but that is not the case. To clarify, this is an anti-gun violence rally. (I know that some of you were looking for clarification on that.) 

Book Group’s Final Gathering, June 14th

Those folks who have been reading Shalom and the Community of Creation will gather for a final book talk and dinner Tuesday, June 14th at Jane Wells house at 6pm. 

Rummage Sale on June 18th

Starting next Wednesday, June 15th, you are invited to bring gently used items to sell in our upcoming rummage sale. Clothes, toys, books, household items, furniture, and jewelry will be accepted. Please do not donate electronics, however. 

Beth Grace is looking for volunteers on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday to help organize and set up. Please get in touch with her if you’d like to help! 

The sale itself will be Saturday from 8:30 am-3:30 pm. 

Juneteenth Celebration, June 18th

This year’s Juneteenth celebration will be held on Saturday, June 18th from 4-9 pm in Ives Park. Delicious (free) food, dancing, speeches, singing, and a Black is Beautiful fashion show are some of the offerings on tap for this day, which commemorates when Black Americans were freed from enslavement in America. Come learn some history you didn’t know, revel in Black culture, and celebrate! 

Community Supper on June 23rd

Our monthly get-together with the Episcopaleans to prepare a take-out meal will be happening this month on Thursday, June 23rd. If you’d like to volunteer, please give Sharon Pickard a call. 

The dinner is served from 5-6 pm– this month at the Episcopal Church. 

Taking a Break from Monthly Lunches

After a low turnout for the men’s and women’s lunches last month, Sharon and Bob Pickard have decided to hit the pause button on these get-togethers for the summer months. Too many of us are off doing summer things. But! They will be back again in the fall. 

Special Offering for Buffalo

In the wake of the most recent shootings, and as a way to honor Pentecost, Session is inviting people to contribute to a special offering that will be taken on June 26th. This offering will be sent to the Mt. Olive Baptist Church in Buffalo as a sign of care and support of the Black community there, as they grieve the racially-motivated killing that occurred in their city last month. Mt. Olive does a lot of outreach into the community and we believe that the money we send will be put to good use fighting racism and upholding their community. 

Violence in America

Friends, it’s been a tough few weeks in our country, and all across America our hearts are aching. If you’re anything like me, you might also be feeling dismayed over our collective inability to find a way forward– to find a way to reduce gun violence while still honoring the 2nd Amendment. As a nation we do not agree on how to do this, and resentment and anger mounts on both sides. 

I don’t see any way out of this political battle in the near future. The two “sides” hold opposing strategies for how to approach the problem and we are stuck in gridlock. There does not appear to be a way forward. What I do wonder about, however, is if there might be a way sideways, that might eventually lead to a way forward. 

Clearly, attempts at man-handling each other does not work. No one wins when we live at war with each other. So what if we try Jesus’ way instead?

My brother (who is a card-carrying member of the NRA, and strongly believes in full-fledged gun rights) and I (who am not and do not) have talked about this issue a number of times over the last couple of years, and I’ve come to realize that, while we seek different solutions to the problem of gun violence, we both start from the same place: we both fear violence and feel deep-seated concern for the safety of our families. 

Friends, I know the feeling is strong to want to demonize people who hold differing opinions– especially when it comes to issues of life and death. But Jesus calls us to recognize and see the humanity in people whom we would deem our enemies. This does not mean that we let go of our own position, but it does mean that we seek to know them as people, rather than as objects of disgust. 

I don’t have any answers today for the problem that lies before us. Only questions and curious wonderings. And prayer…. prayer for those who grieve the loss of loved ones, those who live in fear of gun violence, those whom I have a tendency to consider my “enemy,” and for myself. 

God of both justice and mercy, hear our cry for peace in our land! And help us, we pray! We are at a loss to save ourselves from our own madness. 

Looking to God,
Pastor Katrina 

News for the Church, 6/3/22

Good Day to you Church, 

It’s a cooler, overcast day today and the black flies are out. Blek. They are persistent little buggers, aren’t they? But the lightning bugs are also out! Have you seen them yet? They make the night so enchanting. 

Here’s the news for the week: 

Pentecost This Sunday!

Sunday, June 6th we will be celebrating Pentecost– the day the Holy Spirit came to town. If you think of it, wear something red in honor of the day!

We will be handing out pamphlets in honor of the day for the PC(USA)’s nation-wide One Great Hour of Sharing. This special offering goes to help people effected by disasters, poverty, and civil unrest. You can take these pamphlets home and pray about what you may want to share to help people in need across our country. We will collect the offering at the end of June. 

We will also be celebrating communion together this Sunday. 

News from Session

Session met this last week and took a look at Covid in our county. Since we’re still at medium contagion levels, we are extending the church’s mask policy for another month. (We are evaluating on a monthly basis.) My hope is that by next month, numbers will have finally dropped so that we can make masks optional. Let’s keep our fingers crossed! 

March for Our Lives

If you are looking for a way to express your grief over the latest mass shootings and/or looking for a way to express your opinion about the lack of gun regulation in America, Sabrina Petrie is helping to organize a local rally in Potsdam on June 11 from 11 am-2:30 pm in Ives Park. This event will be local representation of a national movement of rallies happening all across American on the same day. 

Invasive Species Awareness Week

Invasive species are a real problem in the North Country and we have an opportunity to learn about how to manage them. Saturday, June 11 at 7:00 pm we will be showing a documentary at church called Uninvited: The Spread of Invasive Species.

And the next morning, during and after the service, two representatives from the Nature Conservancy will be joining us. They will talk a little bit about earth care during the worship service and then offer a guided tour of the church grounds afterwards to point out the invasive species we have on our property and discuss management practices. This will be a great opportunity for us to learn about how better to care for God’s creation. 

Rummage Sale Coming

I hope you’re rummaging around in your closets and attics for well-cared for items you no longer need. Beginning June 12th we will open up the Center for you to drop your items off. Later that week we will need volunteers to come and help set up, and then staff the actual sale, which will be held on Saturday, June 18th. If you have any questions, get in touch with Beth Grace. 

Happy Pride Month!

To celebrate Pride month, and to continue communicating to the LGBTQ community that God loves them in spite of the hate and fear directed towards them by people in our world, we have hung banners on the railing in front of the sanctuary along Elm St. Check them out! 

Need Odd Jobs Done?

Lydia Stauffer is home from college and looking for odd jobs for the summer. She’s available to do house cleaning, yard work, sewing, mending, and alterations. If this is something you need you can give her a call or a text at (315) 742-7740. 

Taking in the Wonder of Creation

Friends, it’s easy to get caught up in the myriad of activities we have going on on a regular basis and forget to see the forest for the trees. Let us remember that today is the day that the Lord has made. So let us rejoice! And be glad in it! I hope you will take a moment today to set down your business, step outside, and take in the beauty of God’s amazing wonder. Take a minute to watch an ant or fire fly going about its own daily routine, stop to take in the sight of the blooming iris, listen for the call of the birds, smell the sweetness of cut grass, feel the spring breeze on your skin, and soak up the sunshine. Today is the day to be amazed by God’s creation! 

Reveling in the Wonder,
Pastor Katrina

News for the Church, 5/13/22

A Beautiful (Hot) Spring Day to You, Church!

Can you even imagine that it’s supposed to hit 85 degrees today?  I’m currently sitting out on the back deck (in the shade), watching cottonwood tree fluff float on the air, smelling the sweet fragrance of freshly cut grass, and listening to the melodic chatter of Baltimore orioles, cardinals, and wood thrush.  It’s just about heaven out here! 
Here’s the news for the week: 

Prayers for Ron Kaiser
Please be praying for our custodian, Ron, who has been in the hospital with Covid this week.  Thankfully he’s home now, but he’s not out of the woods yet because of his heart condition.  If you’d like to send him a get well card, you can drop one in the mail at: Ron Kaiser/ 457 Sykes Rd. / Canton, NY 13617

Cleaning the Church
Since Ron has been out of work for almost 2 weeks, the church building is in need of some cleaning.  If anyone is interested in making a little extra money we’re hoping to find someone to do a little work.  (Volunteers would be welcome too.) If you’re interested, please email me back for more information. 

Spring Cleaning!  Church Grounds Clean Up Day this Saturday, 5/14 at 9am
If you’d like to help with beautifying the church grounds, a crew of folks will be meeting this Saturday at 9am.  Bring your gloves and a rake.  For questions, call Bob Pickard at (315) 212-0008. 

Pastor Katrina on Study Leave
Rev. Rich Hinkle will be filling the pulpit for May 22nd and May 29th, as Pastor Katrina will be away on study leave. 

Difficult Conversations Lab to Begin June 1st
There’s still time to sign up for this 6-week class, if you’d like to join.  We will meet every Wednesday from 3:30-5:30pm beginning June 1st. 

Saying Goodbye to Gail and Roy Schaberg
Our dear friends, the Schabergs, are moving to North Carolina after having lived in the North Country for decades.  If you’d like to send them a card with your well wishes, you’re welcome to do so!  Their new address is: Gail and Ro Schaberg/ 31 Deer Glade Lane/ Waynesville, NC 28786

Earth Care: Installing a Pollinator Garden, Planting Trees, and Learning about Invasive Species
Bob Picard and Renee Stauffer have been working behind the scenes to get our church ready for big events in June!  On the evening of June 11th, a representative from the Nature Conservatory will be showing a documentary at the church on invasive species– for us to learn more about the human toll on plants and animals in our region.  And then, after the Sunday service on the 12th, she will be back to take us on a garden tour of our own church grounds.  She will point out for us the invasive species we have on our property and talk to us about management and removal, and offer alternate ideas for better earth care in the North Country.   

In the meantime, HeadStart students have been growing milkweed seedlings for us to grow in our newly-established pollinator garden, the Girl Scouts, who meet weekly in our building, recently planted three oak trees on our property, and this last Sunday we planted and dedicated two blight-resistant elm trees (on Elm St!) to replace the 200-year old maple tree that died last year.

Huzzah for the life of plants on God’s green Earth!  

“Then God said, ‘Let the land produce vegetation; seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds.’ And it was so. The land produced vegetation….And God saw that it was good.”  —Genesis 1:11-12

Saying a prayer for our new trees. 

Planting an elm

Our pollinator garden site!

Enjoy the wonder of God’s Beautiful World this week, 
Pastor Katrina

News for the Church, 5/6/22

Good Afternoon Church!

It’s a lovely sunny spring day and I hope you’re enjoying it! I’ve got tulips, hyacinths, violets, and the last of the daffies blooming in my yard. And there are marsh marigolds and wild leaks not too far away. What’s blooming in your neck of the woods? 

Here’s the news for the week: 

Two-Week Sunday Series on God, Gender, and Patriarchy 

Every once in a while, we have “teaching” Sundays where we explore a theological topic in depth during Sunday worship. This coming Sunday we’re going to kick off a two-week mini-series that looks at the topic of God, gender, and patriarchy. 

The topic emerged a few weeks ago, after a professor at SUNY Potsdam contacted me. He wondered if I’d come be part of a panel of local faith leaders that discusses the aforementioned subject for students on campus. He was asking at the prompting of students who were upset about a local campus group doing an event that praised patriarchy as “God’s way.” These students wondered if there’s an alternate way of understanding the relationship between God and patriarchy, besides believing that God ordained for men to be “over” women. 

Since students aren’t the only ones thinking about this topic, it makes sense that we take up the subject at church too. I hope you’ll join us for these special Sundays of theological inquiry! 

 May 12th– Gender and Religious Belief: A Conversation with Local Faith Leaders

If you’re interested in furthering your understanding on this topic, you’re also welcome to attend the event itself at SUNY Potsdam. On Thursday, May 12th, from 4-5:30 pm at Satterlee Hall, in Room 117, three local faith leaders will gather with students and guests to discuss the relationship between gender and religious belief. Pastor Hattie Taylor of the Potsdam United Methodist Church, Rev. James Galisinski of the Unitarian Universalist Church, and Rev. Katrina Hebb of the Potsdam Presbyterian Church will converse with students about the nature of God, the persistence of patriarchy in society, and the role of religion in patriarchy’s existence. 

If you’d like to attend, let me know and I will send you a parking pass for Satterlee Hall. 

Learn How to Sing Like a Professional with PIC, Online, May 10

 Join the Potsdam Interfaith Community online on Tuesday, May 10 at 7 p.m. for this one-hour, interactive program. Topics will include posture, breathing, vocal technique, artistic interpretation and more. Dr. Colleen Skull, assistant professor of voice at the Crane School of Music, and the students in her Vocal Pedagogy class will be providing us with the tools necessary to develop and improve our own singing technique and artistic communication. Here’s the zoom link:

Pastor Katrina to Take Study Leave 

I will be away at the end of May for study leave, taking a class on prayer and meditation. I will be gone Sunday, May 22nd and Sunday, May 29th. Rev. Rich Hinkle will be filling the pulpit those two Sundays. 

Difficult Conversation Lab

Results are in from the survey sent out about when to hold the Difficult Conversations Lab. It looks like the majority of people would like a 6-week class that runs from the beginning of June to mid-July. The class time that works best will be Wednesday afternoons. 

If you’d like to join us in learning how to function better in difficult conversations, there’s still time to sign up! Please email me and let me know if you’d like to participate. The cost will be $60 for the course, but we have scholarships available for anyone who would like one. 

Communion Coming June 6th 

We will be celebrating communion together in about a month and we need volunteers to help make it happen. If you’d like to participate in this special way, please contact me or Sharon Pickard. You do not need to be an elder or a deacon to help. It’s free and open to anyone who feels called to serve.

Covid Still Kicking Around

Friends, Covid is still a major thing in our neck of the woods. Many people are finding themselves sick and under the weather. If you haven’t heard from a friend in a while, it’s worth reaching out and asking how they’re doing. 

Let’s also be praying for our teachers and students right now. This remains a difficult time to learn and teach. 

In his letter to the Galatians, the Apostle Paul offered all sorts of wisdom to the early believers living in Galatia. In it he advises, 

“Share each other’s troubles and problems, and so obey our Lord’s command.

~Galatians 6:2

Friends, this is good news– as Christians, no one does anything alone. We can help friends and family get through life’s big and small obstacles, and they will do the same for us. 

Let’s lift each other us up,
Pastor Katrina 

News for the Church, 4/29/22

Good Day to you, Church! 

The wind is breezy today, but the coltsfoot, the sun, and the daffodils are all shining brightly today against a blue sky! I hope you get a chance to step outside and feel the warmth of spring’s energy. Grace abounds all around! 

Here’s the news for the week: 

A Shift in the Batting Rotation for this Sunday

Well friends, I have succumbed to Covid. I’ve been sick for a few days now, and although, thankfully, I’m on the mend, I need to stay home this Sunday. Consequently, Monica Sandreczki, who is contemplating going to seminary at some point in her life, has offered to try her hand at leading worship and preaching the sermon I had already written for this coming Sunday. Will you come out and support her as she dips her toe into the waters of leading worship? It fills me with such joy when people are willing to be part of leading worship! Thank you Monica for meeting our church’s need this week. 

A “Difficult Conversations Lab” 

Last week I told you about an exciting opportunity we have coming up at church– learning how to become better communicators with our spouses, friends, “enemies,” neighbors, and family. It’s an opportunity that might well be the most important ministry-related activity we’ve ever engaged in. 

Raamitha Pillay, a professor at SUNY Canton, has put together what she calls “a conversation lab” to help people practice skills to help navigate thorny and emotionally-charged conversations. 

In this 6-8 week lab we will learn how to: 

• build courageous conversational space and develop trust
• listen and speak with empathy
• foster the art of patience and critical thinking before responding
• reflect before articulating our thoughts and feelings

Dr. Pillay is available to teach us beginning in mid-May to early June, and suggests that an 8-week class will be most effective, but if our summer schedules will not allow us to meet for 8 weeks, she can squeeze the content into 6 weeks. 

If you’re interested in signing up, these labs will meet IN-PERSON at church on a weekly basis. The cost will be $10/session– so either $60 or $80 depending on how long the course runs. (For those who cannot afford the class, sliding scale pricing and/or full scholarships will be available!) 

If you’re interested, I’m requesting that you fill out the survey at the link below to help us to figure out scheduling. So far we’ve only had 2 respondents and I’m wondering if there might be more interest. Here’s the link to the survey:

Also, if you would reply to my email here and let me know that you’re interested, I’d greatly appreciate it! (If you’re interested in the class but can’t meet this summer, I’d like to know that too.) 

Learn How to Sing Like a Professional with PIC, Online, May 10

For any individual who sings in a congregation or a choir, Dr. Colleen Skull, assistant professor of voice at the Crane School of Music, and the students in her Vocal Pedagogy class, have volunteered to provide us with the tools necessary to develop and improve our own singing technique and artistic communication.

Join the Potsdam Interfaith Community online on Tuesday, May 10 at 7 p.m. for this one-hour, interactive program. Topics will include posture, breathing, vocal technique, artistic interpretation and more. Here’s the zoom link:

Rummage Sale Coming Soon!!!

Have you heard the rumor of an upcoming rummage sale? If so, I’m here to confirm it! Beth Grace has offered to organize this important fundraiser in June. The sale will be Saturday, June 18th. We’ll start taking donations for the event the week of June 18th.

Honoring Our Bodies with Rest

This week, while I’ve been laying at home sick in bed, I’ve been thinking about how toxic our American culture of productivity is. We’ve built a world around the idea that “time is money.” We’ve come to believe that we must always be working, working, working…. busy, busy, busy…. doing something “productive!” If we’re not constantly moving, we’ve been taught to feel a sense of worthlessness creeping into our souls. 

Lying in bed, I realized just how far our culture has moved away from honoring and celebrating God’s created order. When we give into the culturally-accepted practice of never letting the grass grow under our feet, we end up disregarding God’s gift of shalom to us here in this life. 

Friends, we were not created by God to be machines– to work, work, work– never taking time to rest and rejuvenate. In God’s great wisdom at the beginning of creation, she knew that even she needed time to rest. To lay low for a while. To nestle into peaceful restoration. 

And God built that into creation for us too! It’s the whole point of having a Sunday in the week! Our day of peace was designed to be a blessing of restfulness– not because there isn’t still more work to be done. (Anyone who’s ever done dishes knows that there’s always more work to be done.) But that’s not the point! 

The point is to set the work down on a regular basis. Not just to restore rest to our weary bones, but to be reminded that God’s got this– that you and I are not responsible to carry 100% of the weight of the world on our backs 100% of the time. In a sense, living into rest is actually a form of faith. It’s choosing to live into the belief that nothing, in all of creation, can ever grow too big or unwieldy for God to take care of, in God’s good timing. 

At the end of God’s work week, in Genesis 1-2, we learn this wise truth about creation: 

“God saw everything that he had made, and indeed, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.

Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all their multitude. And on the seventh day God finished the work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all the work that he had done. So God blessed the seventh day and hallowed it, because on it God rested from all the work that he had done in creation.”

~Genesis 1:31-2:3

My prayer for all of us this week is that we will intentionally take time to stop our working– not only on our day of Sabbath, but when our bodies need us to slow down. May we have the faith to believe that God will bless us and keep us, even when we’re not able to work. 

Resting in faith this week,
Pastor Katrina

News for the Church, 4/22/22

Happy Earth Day to you, Church! 

Have you been outside yet today? Felt the breeze on your skin? Smelled the spring air? Listened for birds returning to our area? Looked for blooming flowers? It’s a great day to appreciate the beauty of the world we live in! 

Here’s the news for today: 

Rev. Shaun Whitehead will be preaching and leading worship this Sunday, April 24th. 

Men’s and Women’s Lunches

Next week, the men’s lunch will be taking place at Jake’s on Wednesday, April 27th at 11:30am and the women will meet on Thursday, April 28th at 11:30. Please let the Pickards’ know if you will be attending so they can make the reservation. 

A “Difficult Conversations Lab” 

Do you get frustrated trying to communicate with people, especially when it comes to sensitive or “hot button” topics? Today I am thrilled to let you know that we have an exciting opportunity to learn how to become better communicators– with our spouses, friends, “enemies,” neighbors, and family. 

Raamitha Pillay, a professor at SUNY Canton, has put together what she calls “a conversation lab” to help people practice skills to help navigate conversations that seem thorny, end up emotionally charged, or seem to have insurmountable barriers. And Dr. Pillay has offered to teach her lab to folks at our church, if we’re willing and interested! 

In this 6-8 week lab we will learn how to: 

• build courageous conversational space and develop trust
• listen and speak with empathy
• foster the art of patience and critical thinking before responding
• synthesize what we experience from the outside environment
• reflect before articulating or rephrasing our thoughts and feelings

Dr. Pillay is available to teach us beginning in mid-May to early June, and suggests that an 8-week class will be most effective, but if our summer schedules will not allow us to meet for 8 weeks, she can squeeze the content into 6 weeks. If you’re interested in signing up, these labs will meet IN-PERSON at church and require weekly participation (if you miss a week because of vacation, that is understandable.) 

The cost will be $10/session– so either $60 or $80 depending on how long the course runs. (For those who cannot afford the class, sliding scale pricing and/or full scholarships will be available.) 

If you’re interested, I’m requesting that you fill out the survey at this link to help us to figure out scheduling. Given everyone’s summer schedules, we need to decide when to begin the class, how long to run it, and when during the week to hold class. Here’s the link to the survey:

Also, if you would reply to my email here and let me know that you’re interested, I’d greatly appreciate it! (If you’re interested in the class but can’t meet this summer, I’d like to know that too.) 

Learning to Communicate

Dealing with conflict is never easy, is it? As followers of Jesus, our most important job in life is to lead our lives in love, and it’s quite possible that the most critical moments for doing this are when we are faced with relational struggle– when we can’t figure out how to agree, how to get along, or how to stay in relationship. 

Oftentimes, when we get caught in these troubling waters, we do what humans have been doing for thousands of years: we try to ignore the problem. We sweep things under the rug. But doing this doesn’t make whatever the problem might be go away. It just moves the trouble into the dark shadows, where the troubles have space to fester and multiply. 

But what if we learned how to manage conflict better? The love that Jesus asks us to live into is not just a warm, fuzzy feeling, friends. Learning to love is a skill that we can practice getting better at. Love, dear Hearts, is a muscle we can strengthen! 

Ephesians says:

“Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.”

~ Ephesians 4:31-32

Kindness, tenderness, forgiveness, gentleness, patience, love– all of these descriptions of Jesus’ Way of living are muscles that grow with training. And just like physical muscles need training, so do our spiritual muscles. I truly hope that you will consider joining us in strengthening our love muscles with Dr. Pillay’s conversation lab. 

Excited to begin spring training,
Pastor Katrina

News for the Church 4/15/22

Good Day to you, Church,

Although sunny, today is a blustery spring day. It feels fitting, perhaps, that creation is offering the chaos and disruption of wind on this Good Friday– a day that turned the world upside down. I think I will sit outside for a bit and feel the topsy-turvy effect of the churning air pressures. Change is afoot, as they say. 

Here’s the news for the week: 

Easter Resurrection, this Sunday, 10 am

Then, you are again invited to join us this Sunday, as we celebrate Jesus’ victory over the cross. 

Rev. Shaun Whitehead to preach April 24th

Join us Sunday, April 24th, as Rev. Shaun brings us a word from the Word. 

Coffee Hour is Coming!

If you’ve been wondering when we’re ever going to drink coffee together again, the answer is…. soon! Starting April 24th, we will resume this age-old tradition after Sunday worship. 

I realize that some of us are more than ready for this, while others are thinking to themselves, “Why in the world would we take up coffee hour when the next wave of Omicron is about to hit!” 

As you know, we are still choosing to wear masks in our worship service in order to honor those with compromised immune systems. This gift of love makes it possible for some of us to join in person– those who otherwise would have to stay home. 

Now, while making this sacrifice for the good of the whole community, Session has simultaneously decided that it’s also important to honor those who are ready to gather together without masks, by resuming coffee hour once again. 

I recognize that not everyone is going to want to partake of coffee hour, sans masks. And that’s ok. There’s still the option to visit in the sanctuary after the service is over. But for those who desire it, coffee hour will also be available. 

It’s no easy task to strike a balance between people’s varying desires and needs to wear masks, and also, to take them off. Session is trying its best to hold the balance, and we appreciate your grace and understanding in the process of holding our whole community together as best we can. 

Men’s and Women’s Lunches

For those who are open to it, lunch dates are being set once again to gather together at Jake’s on the Water! The men will be gathering on Wednesday, April 27th at 11:30am and the women will gather at the same time on Thursday, April 28th. If you’d like to attend, please let the Pickards know so that they can make the appropriate sized reservation. 

*An important note: For those who are non-binary in their gender, you are welcome to choose the lunch crew you feel most comfortable with. 

The World in Chaos

Dear Hearts, if you’ve been listening to the news, you know that the next wave of Covid is on our doorstep, the war in Ukraine continues, and inflation is jacking up the cost of everything. And my heart is heavy. Is yours? I am so tired of Covid, I don’t even know what to do with myself some days. And my soul aches and my worries fret over what is happening half-way around the world. And if that’s not enough, my stomach also sinks every time I go to the gas station to pump gas. 

This Easter I don’t feel much like celebrating. I’m tired, and grieved, and plumb worn out. 

And also. And also, this year, especially, I need Easter. This year, especially, we need Easter. We need to be shocked out of our dredgery with the mystery and the power of God’s love– which somehow, someway, cuts straight through the walls of our darkness, and cracks open our world to let the light stream in. 

Friends, if you are struggling like I am right now, I invite you to turn your ear in the direction of the resurrection. 

Listen. Can you hear the seed growing? 

Waiting in the dark for the Light of the World,
Pastor Katrina