News for the Church, 9/10/21

Good Day to you Church!

It’s a true fall day outside– oscillating between sunshine and clouds. When the sun peaks out it’s warm and cozy, but when it disappears the air is cool and breezy. Do you love this weather? Does it make you anxious? Autumn has a certain set of feelings that accompanies it. I don’t know how to describe the stirrings that it creates within, but our bodies definitely absorb the change in seasons with mixed emotions. What are your favorite aspects of fall? I’d love to hear, if you have the desire to share. 

Here’s the news for this week: 

1. This coming Thursday, the 16th, at 11:30am, the men’s group will meet for lunch at the Potsdam Golf Club. 

2. Next Sunday, September 19th will host our first monthly all-church discussion around our church’s forthcoming “Big Shift.” We will meet following the worship service in the Center for this discussion. 

As you know, we are living under deficit spending, and will likely run out of money within the next 2-3 years if we do not make an intentional shift in how we live as the church. (The short story is that our congregation is too small to support our old, expensive building.) So what might God be calling us to next? What could “church” look like for us in the future? None of us knows the answer to these questions right now, but together we will begin to decipher God’s new vision for us through these Big Shift discussions. 

Now, some of us get a lump in our throats even thinking about this topic, but I want to assure you that even though this can be a scary experience, God is going to be with us. And it’s OK to be going through this process. Before I came to be your pastor, I worked for two different congregations in Rochester that both went through this experience. It was hard work for them to face their reality and look to a new (and different) future, but by the end of their process, more than one person had decided that this challenge was the best thing that had ever happened to their congregations. It brought them together as a family, it revitalized their commitment to living the gospel, and it created new energy and excitement for being God’s church. 

Sometimes, the hardest, most terrifying things we might ever do in our lives turn out to be the best things that could have ever happened to us. I feel confident that this could be our story, and I believe with all my heart that God will carry us through– no matter what happens next. So, no matter how worried, scared, angry, or distraught you are at our current situation, I hope that you will be brave enough to join us for these conversations. Our church needs you right now– we need your listening ears, your thoughtful ideas, and your faithful commitment. Together we will discern God’s new chapter for us. 

3. Sunday, September 26th, the Rev. Marti Montovani will be preaching and leading worship. 

4. Mary Ellen Frackenpol’s memorial service will be held Saturday, October 2nd at 2pm in the sanctuary. The Rev. Scott Barton will be co-officiating with me, and we will have special music to commemorate Mary Ellen’s life. 

5. Saturday, October 9th, at 2pm, there will be a small gathering to inter the cremains of George Davis down at the A. George Davis Park, on the Clarkson campus (down by the river). You are invited to attend. *Please note that we will be having a full memorial service for George next July at our church. 

6. Here is an Update Regarding Progress of High School Students Supported in Kenya, by Dave Wells.

It is a pleasure to report progress on the following Kenyan high school students supported from Potsdam. These students were identified by Joanina Gicobi some time ago and we have been able to continue support for their education since they commenced high school.

1. Eric Nyaga Njagi was a senior this past year at Tharaka Boys High School and successfully completed his studies. He is now a high school graduate and no longer requires our support!

2. Stella Kainda Charles was a senior this past year at Rubate High School and successfully completed her studies. She is now a high school graduate and no longer requires our support!

3. Christine Kawira Njeri is currently a senior at Rubate High School and her annual fee of $388.00 is in the process of being met. This will be an important year for her to earn excellent grades if she is to pursue further education following high school, however she is expected to satisfactorily earn her diploma this year.

4. Caxton Koome Kiura is currently a senior at Tharaka Boy’s High School and his annual fee of $405 is in the process of being met. His academic progress continues to be excellent and he is expected to earn his diploma this year. We are hopeful that he will continue his pursuit of education following high school.

5. David Mutugi Macharia is currently a junior at Tharaka Boy’s High School and his annual fee of $405 is in the process of being met. His academic progress continues to be excellent.

6. Annicy Kaimuri Gichovi is a junior at Njuri High School and her annual fee of $406 is in the process of being met. She is working very hard to improve performance so that she will be able to continue her education following high school.

For obvious reasons such as Covid, this has been a most difficult year for each of these six students and we are so grateful that they continue to make good progress with their education.

These students have come into our lives as a result of the relationship we have built with Joanina Gicobi and her younger sister, Juster (who is currently a student at Clarkson). We met Joanina through Bob Donaldson, whom some of you may remember. Bob Donaldson graduated from Clarkson in chemical engineering in 1951, and attended our church during his time in Potsdam. After graduating, he went on to serve in the Army, worked in industry, and became involved with mission work through the Presbyterian Church congregation where he was living. That connection took him to Kenya a handful of years ago, where he was introduced to a young, promising student named Joanina. He made it possible for Joanina to attend Clarkson, and she attended our church and sang in the choir during her four years in Potsdam. As you may be aware, Joanina is now in the middle of her PhD pursuit at the Mayo Clinic working in immunology.

Since then, Joanina has helped our congregation identify other Kenyan high school students worthy of support in their pursuit of a diploma. A few years ago, Joanina gave us a presentation on how enabling a Kenyan student to attend high school can raise the standard of living for that student’s entire family. Currently, a group of us are supporting four students as they continue to progress toward graduation from high school in Kenya. 

Additionally, we also have Juster Gichovi commencing her junior year in Chemical Engineering – she is a younger sister of Joanina and attends our church. You have seen updates regarding her progress as she completed last semester with a course overload on Dean’s List!

September 18th-19th, Bob Donaldson will be in town with family members, along with Joanina and her husband Chris, to celebrate Bob’s 70th class reunion, and also to further promote the Bridges to Africa program at Clarkson. Bob and some of his family will be worshiping with us that Sunday. Please come and welcome Bob back and take a moment to consider how careful efforts can have such a long-lasting positive impact.

Dave Wells

Friends, be safe this weekend as you enjoy the fall weather! I look forward to seeing you in church!

Pastor Katrina