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: 

https://potsdam-edu.zoom.us/j/82192053926

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: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/XRKC2MT

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: 

https://potsdam-edu.zoom.us/j/82192053926

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: 

https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/XRKC2MT

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 

News for the Church, 4/8/22

Good Afternoon Church,

Well, we’ve had a variety of spring weather the last few days haven’t we? From bright, warm, shining skies to rain, rain, and then more rain! But we’ll take it because the snowdrops are in full bloom, the crocus are beginning to flower, and the daffodils are in their warm ups!

Here’s the news for the week: 

Festival of Sacred Music and Text This Sunday!

After a two-year hiatus, PIC’s Festival of Sacred Music and Text is back in person once again! This year it is being hosted at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints on Sunday, April 10th at 3pm (21 Castle Drive, Potsdam). Please come, listen to beautiful music and spoken word from a variety of different faiths and Christian traditions, and eat dessert at the reception to follow. There will be entries from the Mormon Church, the Catholic Church, the Masjid, the Christian Science Church, the Synagogue, the Quakers, and from us at the Presbyterian Church. 

Tenebrae Service Set for Friday, April 15th, 7pm

This year for Good Friday we will be coming together to sit in the shadows with Jesus and the disciples, as we prepare our hearts and minds for the resurrection of Easter Sunday. This simple and moving service will give us a chance to plumb the silent depths of holy week, and find a spiritual posture that will put Easter in proper focus. I hope you’ll join us!

Coffee Hour is Coming!

Have you been practicing your coffee cup holding stance?  I hope so, because you’re going to need it once again starting April 24th. In just a couple more weeks, we will be back to drinking coffee and nibbling cookies in the Center while we visit after the Sunday service!  

Men’s and Women’s Lunches to Resume in April

Friends, the Pickards have returned from Florida, and are ready to organize our monthly lunch dates once again! Sharon will have all the details for April’s lunch dates during announcements on Sunday. (Stay tuned.) 

Sitting with Jesus’ Lament

Did you know that our Bibles make room to rail at God? I was nearly an adult before I learned that, in the Bible, part of having reverence for God includes holding God’s feet to the fire sometimes.  

Next week, as we witness Jesus on the cross, we will hear him cry out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?!” Have you ever thought that that was a bit of a sassy thing to say to God? Well, when Jesus speaks these words, he’s actually quoting from Scripture, and in so doing, he participates in the long-standing tradition of offering spiritual lament.

To lament is to express deep sorrow, grief, or regret, and the Psalms are filled with hymns that express the depths of human struggle, as well as the fear, bitterness, anger, and sorrow that comes with feeling betrayed or abandoned by God. 

If you ever wonder if it’s ok to yell at God, or question God’s presence, you might find it helpful to dig into the psalms of lament. They offer powerful examples of people’s honest moments of grappling around in the dark, as they seek to find God when he seems nowhere to be found.  

Psalm 22, which Jesus quoted on the cross begins this way, 

1-4 “Doubled up with pain, I call to God
    all the day long. No answer. Nothing.
I keep at it all night, tossing and turning.

3-5 And you! Are you indifferent, above it all,
    leaning back on the cushions of Israel’s praise?
We know you were there for our parents:
    they cried for your help and you gave it;
    they trusted and lived a good life.

6-8 And here I am, a nothing—an earthworm,
    something to step on, to squash.
Everyone pokes fun at me;
    they make faces at me, they shake their heads:
“Let’s see how God handles this one;
    since God likes him so much, let him help him!”

9-11 And to think you were midwife at my birth,
    setting me at my mother’s breasts!
When I left the womb you cradled me;
    since the moment of birth you’ve been my God.
Then you moved far away
    and trouble moved in next door.
I need a neighbor.

12-13 Herds of bulls come at me,
    the raging bulls stampede,
Horns lowered, nostrils flaring,
    like a herd of buffalo on the move.

14-15 I’m a bucket kicked over and spilled,
    every joint in my body has been pulled apart.
My heart is a blob
    of melted wax in my gut.
I’m dry as a bone,
    my tongue black and swollen.
They have laid me out for burial
    in the dirt.

16-18 Now packs of wild dogs come at me;
    thugs gang up on me.
They pin me down hand and foot,
    and lock me in a cage—a bag
Of bones in a cage, stared at
    by every passerby.
They take my wallet and the shirt off my back,
    and then throw dice for my clothes.

19-21 You, God—don’t put off my rescue!
    Hurry and help me!
Don’t let them cut my throat;
    don’t let those mongrels devour me.
If you don’t show up soon,
    I’m done for—gored by the bulls,
    meat for the lions.” 

~Psalm 22:1-21, the Message Version

Psalms of lament always begin with raw, aching sorrow– with laying before the feet of God our true feelings.  But they do not end there.  While holding in balance the struggles and suffering of life, psalms of lament also hold the faith line.  Even while sticking it to God for what God seems to not be doing, laments always end on a note of hope– of choosing to trust that somehow, some way, God is going to right what has been wrong.   

Psalm 22 makes this shift into hope, beginning this way: 

22-24 “Here’s the story I’ll tell my friends when they come to worship,
    and punctuate it with Hallelujahs:
Shout Hallelujah, you God-worshipers;
    give glory, you sons of Jacob;
    adore him, you daughters of Israel.
He has never let you down,
    never looked the other way
    when you were being kicked around.
He has never wandered off to do his own thing;
    he has been right there, listening.”

Friends, I don’t know what you’re going through today, but I hope that you can practice the dance of lament– of holding tenderly in your hands the balled-up messes we are of hope and struggle, trust and sorrow.  

I hope you can be honest with God and still find room in your heart to say, “This is not going to be the end of my story. There’s more to come.”

Holding the faith line with you,
Pastor Katrina   

News for the Church, 4/1/22

Happy April Fool’s Day to you Church! 

Can you believe we made it to April? We did it! We survived another winter. And today the sap is running, the earth is thawing, the birds are singing, and the mud is mudding. Hello Spring! 

Here’s the news for this week: 

Baptism this Sunday

Just a reminder that this will be a special Sunday at church. Terrance Summers is going to be baptized!  Please join us for this important day. 

The Peep Show is Coming! 

For those who don’t know, every year on Palm and Easter Sunday we do a reenactment of Holy Week in the kid sermon with marshmallow peeps and a chocolate bunny.  In the past, I’ve used minimal props, but this year Isaiah and Levi went all out building stage sets.  You’re going to be amazed by Pilate’s palace and the Palestinian home the disciples ate their Passover meal in!  Stay tuned! 

Festival of Sacred Music and Text

The Festival of Sacred Music and Text will take place Sunday, April 10 at 3 p.m. at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints at 21 Castle Drive in Potsdam. Participants include choirs and readers from a variety of local congregations and campus groups.

Admission to the concert is free and open to the public. A dessert reception will follow. (This is the first time since 2019 that the Festival will be held in person. The past two years the program moved online due to COVID.)

Sponsored by the Potsdam Interfaith Community (PIC), the annual event is an opportunity for congregations to come together from different faith backgrounds to appreciate the individuality of the various religious communities that are found in Potsdam. The mission of the Potsdam Interfaith Community is to celebrate diversity within our community by providing mutual support, encouragement, and education through acts of service and compassion, common witness, and spiritual and intellectual growth.

*Unfortunately, our church does not have an entry in the program this year, but it would be wonderful if some of us would go to support our neighbors and friends from other congregations, as they share their faith. 

Support for Kenyan Students

For a long time, our church has supported high school students in Kenya. For the past several years, owing to a shortage of financial resources, this support continued through the efforts of individual members of our congregation. Now, our church will resume support for the coming year, which allows contributions to again be tax deductible. 

We have supported up to six students in the past, but we currently have two seniors to support this year:

Annicy Kaimuri Gichovi at Njuri High School
David Mututgi Macharia at Tharaka Boys School

The total estimated costs for the coming year are about $750.

$354 of this will go to support Annicy at Njuri HS and the rest will go for David Mututgi. (We are awaiting the final fee estimate and due date from Tharaka, the other school.)  The funds will be wired to each school at the end of April by Dave Wells.

Many have participated in supporting students in Kenya in the past. If you wish to do so, make your contribution to the Potsdam 1st Presbyterian Church and note that it is for the support of our sponsored high school students in Kenya.

Hopefully, in this coming year, new students can be identified for support! 

The Flow of Life

Well, today is a bit of a hard day for me, friends. My daughter Lexi, who is 21, has been living with me for the last year, and it has been a wonderful gift for both of us. Yesterday, however, she moved out — to try living all on her own! (Thankfully for me, she’s only 1/2 block down the road in a tiny cabin, so I still get to see her a lot.)  

And while I am both excited and delighted for her new adventure, my mama’s heart is also grievous and sad. I will miss having her around all the time. 

As a result, I’ve been reflecting on the impermanence of life. Even though we don’t necessarily want it to, life is always changing, isn’t it? Our kids are born, and then they grow up. Our grandchildren are born, and then they grow up. Our parents, older family members, and even our spourses get older each day, and then eventually, they die. In the same manner, friends and neighbors come into our lives, and then they leave again.

It can feel disheartening when people leave us, can’t it? We feel like they should belong to us forever! But here’s the paradox that God made for us: while we do belong to one another, and we are deeply connected to each other– also– we are also separate beings living in our own spheres of influence. And we don’t get to dictate for one another when or how we will come or go.

This can create a feeling of immense “alone-ness” in us sometimes. But here’s the thing to always hold in this mix of the “comings and the goings”: No matter what, all of us belong to God. All the different ways– both coming and going. 

No matter where you go, you will always belong to God.  And no matter where someone you love moves on to, they also belong to God.

It’s still hard to say good-byes when people leave us, but we can rest in the assurance that no matter what, we all still belong to the one who loves, redeems, and sustains us. And in this belonging, we are all still eternally connected to one another.

Last week I gave you a bit of Psalm 139 to read, but it’s so powerful that I’m going to give you more of the same this week.   

Is there any place I can go to avoid your Spirit?
    to be out of your sight?
If I climb to the sky, you’re there!
    If I go underground, you’re there!
If I flew on morning’s wings
    to the far western horizon,
You’d find me in a minute—
    you’re already there waiting!
Then I said to myself, “Oh, he even sees me in the dark!
    At night I’m immersed in the light!”
It’s a fact: darkness isn’t dark to you;
    night and day, darkness and light, they’re all the same to you.

Oh yes, you shaped me first inside, then out;
    you formed me in my mother’s womb.
I thank you, High God—you’re breathtaking!
    Body and soul, I am marvelously made!
    I worship in adoration—what a creation!
You know me inside and out,
    you know every bone in my body;
You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit,
    how I was sculpted from nothing into something.
Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth;
    all the stages of my life were spread out before you,
The days of my life all prepared
    before I’d even lived one day.

~Psalm 139:7-16

Friends, let us never forget that we belong to the God who made us and shaped us; to the God who rests with us and travels with us to the furthest limits of where we reach. For God is everywhere– abiding in all places, times, and things.

In everything, each of us– all of us– belong forevermore to Love,
Pastor Katrina

News for the Church, 3/25/22

Good Morning to you, Church! 

Well, spring is springing, isn’t it? The snow is melting, mud season is upon us, the birds are returning, and sugaring efforts are in full swing. What a wonderful time to be alive, as the earth awakens from its winter slumber once again! 

Here’s the news for this week:

Rev. Rich Hinkle to preach and lead worship this Sunday. 

Please join us for worship this Sunday, as Pastor Rich brings us a word from the Word. 

Terrance Summers to be Baptized on April 3rd

If you didn’t get to meet Terrance at church this past Sunday, make sure to find him and introduce yourself in the coming weeks. Terrance has been coming to our church for over a month now, and has decided that we’re the sort of church family he wants to be part of. In addition to this, he has decided that he wants to welcome God into his life in a public way by being baptized. If you’d like to be part of this celebration, make sure you’re at church on April 3rd!

Emailing The Sunday Bulletins

We’ve had a request for the bulletins to be emailed to everyone on a weekly basis, so that those who continue to watch the service from home can still participate in the liturgy and hymn singing.

Claire will begin sending out these emails on Saturdays. If you do not wish to be on this email list, please let me know and we’ll take your name off the mailing list.

Tenebrae Service to be held on Good Friday

This year for Holy Week we will be holding a special service on Good Friday called a tenebrae service. The word tenebrae means darkness, or shadow, in Latin. In this simple service, we will begin with 13 candles lit– one for each of the disciples and Jesus. Throughout the service, the story of holy week will be told, and as the story progresses, each of these 13 candles will be extinguished, until there is only darkness left. This will mark the end of the service, when everyone will be invited to leave in silence.

More than any other gathering during holy week, tenebrae services make real the impact of Jesus’ death on the cross. And the tension it creates then brings into greater relief the joy and resurrection of Easter Sunday. I hope you will consider joining us for this special service. 

Holding onto the Light

Friends, as I read the news each morning, I struggle with feeling crushed by the darkness in the world right now. Do you know that feeling too? Listening to the state of the world, I am tempted to be overcome by fear and swallowed by the shadows.

But one thing we know from Scripture is that even in the bleakest moments of our history, God is there in the darkness with us. That is one of the most important promises that God makes to us, and it’s part of the power of the crucifixion. God reaches to the furthest ends of the universe– even into utter darkness– to be with us. Psalm 139:7-12 puts it this way:

Where can I go from your spirit?
    Or where can I flee from your presence?
If I ascend to heaven, you are there;
    if I make my bed in Sheol, you are there. 
If I take the wings of the morning
    and settle at the farthest limits of the sea,
even there your hand shall lead me,
    and your right hand shall hold me fast.
If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me,
    and the light around me become night,” 
even the darkness is not dark to you;
    the night is as bright as the day,
    for darkness is as light to you. 

Dear Hearts, God does not promise us that we won’t ever be plunged into the depths– that we will not face the strife of shadows. Struggle is part of what it means to live in God’s creation. But no matter how deep we fall, and no matter what we face, God is still with us in those moments. And because we know that with God, darkness is as light, we can be assured that there is reason for hope. The darkness cannot overtake us when we find God’s presence.

This week, when you are tempted to fall into the pit, I encourage you to find God’s presence in the situation. Where do you see God in this experience?  The light is there, if you have the eyes to see it. 

God is holding us together, even now.

In faith and hope,
Pastor Katrina

News for the Church 3/18/22

Good Day to you, Church!

Did you have the chance to revel in yesterday’s glorious sunshine and warm weather? I sure hope so! It’s amazing to be able to see the bare earth again, after being hidden by the snow for the last 3 months. Make sure you take a moment this week to take in a deep breath of the earthy, wet smells of early spring. What a gift they are. 

Here’s the news for the week: 

Keilor Kastella’s Faculty Recital This Sunday

If you love to listen to Keilor play piano, you’ll have a chance to attend his first faculty recital at Hosmer Hall this Sunday, March 20th at 7:30pm. Keilor brings such depth to our worship through music, and I can only imagine that his recital will be just as moving. 

Shift in Covid Protocols

Session met this last week and discussed changes to our current covid protocols at the church. Since Covid numbers have dropped significantly in our county– from extreme levels to moderate levels– we’d like to begin bringing back some important aspects of church that we’ve had to set aside during the pandemic. 

Beginning the Sunday after Easter, April 24th, we will add Passing the Peace back into our worship time and we will resume having coffee hour in the Center! In addition to this, we will resume hosting monthly dates for the men’s and women’s lunches (as long as the Pickards, or someone else, are willing to organize them). Huzzah!! Hooray!! 

Now, about masking. Session also discussed the possibility of making masking optional during worship. Since worship is the most important part of our church life together, and Session feels that everyone— including immuno-compromised people– should be able to feel safe coming to worship, at this time we are going to continue with our masking protocol during our worship services. This decision is not meant to punish those who do not like wearing masks. Neither is this about restricting freedom. This is about creating access for people with certain physical disabilities– to allow them to participate in in-person worship while Covid numbers are still at moderate levels. It’s about making sure that everyone who desires to come to worship is able to do so. Does that make sense? I recognize that some of us might be frustrated with this decision, but can you see where Session is coming from on this? (Even if you don’t like it?)

That said, Session is hoping that at some in the not-too-distant future, Covid levels in our county will be low enough to allow masks to be optional. We will look at it again at next month’s Session meeting. 

Tax Form for Donations

Have you been wondering where your tax form is that states the amount of your donation to the church? They are on their way to you in the mail, as we speak. 

Recognizing their tardiness, I’d like to ask for your grace in this matter. Cynthia Coleman has been our trusty treasurer for a very long time, and she does amazing work. At this time, however, she has been dealing with difficult health issues– something many of us know about. She’s doing the best she can with what she’s been dealing with. 

This leads me to ask again about the possibility of someone in our congregation being willing to step up and serve as a co-treasurer. Simply put– Cynthia needs help. Our church needs help. If you are comfortable working with numbers, would you be willing to take on a 1-2 hour/week job to help support our church family? 

Arabic Music Presentation

Here’s the link, one more time, for PIC’s upcoming program on Arabic Music, which will be held via zoom on March 24th from 7-8:30pm. 

Zoom link: https://potsdam-edu.zoom.us/j/89883420424?pwd=by9Obm45Uk5GVXhEalZNbm94T0pNQT09

Rev. Hinkle to preach 3/27

Please join us for worship on the 27th, as Rich Hinkle brings us a word from the Word. 

A Story of Kindness

This week I want to tell you a short story. Yesterday, as I was making my way to my office at church, I ran into a woman who was bringing little bottles of shampoo, conditioner, and soaps to leave at the Free Little Pantry. She asked if I had any small baggies, so that she could separate them into single-person bags. 

I invited her into my office, while I scrounged around for some, and we started to chat. She said how wonderful it is that we have this pantry, and how happy she is that she can make donations now. She explained that she’s been homeless for 3 years, living in a camper year-round, and just recently moved into a real home– an apartment at the Quarry (the apartment complex across the street from the church). Now that she’s in a more stable environment, she’s able to give back to others, and it brings her joy to be able to help other people. 

While we were chatting I asked her about what it’s like to live at the Quarry. She said it’s amazing and she’s so grateful for the folks who live there. I also asked her if there’s anything she needs in her new life. She said that she’s looking for a loveseat and really needs a new cell phone because hers is no longer functional. I told her that I’d ask around to see if anyone had a gently used loveseat or cell phone that they’d be willing to donate, and she gave me an email address, to be able to contact her (because her phone doesn’t work). 

We then said our goodbyes, and she left. A few minutes later, however, she popped back in. “Excuse me,” she said. “I don’t mean to bother you, but I just noticed these little flowers blooming, and I wanted you to have them. Aren’t they the most beautiful miniature flowers you’ve ever seen?” With a joy-filled smile on her face, she handed me 4 tiny snowdrop flowers– the first blooms I’ve seen this year. 

This totally made my day. 

Thank you, Joanne, for the snowdrops and the gifts you gave to the Little Free Pantry. You brought the light of God’s goodness to me, to our church, and to the Potsdam community this week! 

Enjoy the beauty of snowdrops and the all the other little secret joys of early spring this week, will you? 

I am too,
Pastor Katrina

News for the Church, 3/11/22

Good afternoon to you, Church:

The sun is shining for a few more hours, but we are predicted to get a major snow dump starting later this afternoon. March is our bipolar month, isn’t it? We swing from one extreme to the other! 

Here’s the news for the week:

Vigil for Ukraine to be Held This Saturday

Tomorrow, March 12th at noon, Ola Aldous, a local Ukrainian woman, is holding a vigil at the Canton Village Park in downtown Canton. There will be Ukrainian speakers and able-bodied participants will walk east to Ramoda Drive and back again. The event is anticipated to last one hour. Respectful signs showing support for Ukraine are welcome. 

Spring Forward this Sunday! 

This Sunday begins Daylight Savings Time, so remember to push your clocks forward an hour before you head to bed Saturday night! 

Collecting Donations for Ukrainian Refugees/Displaced People

The Ukrainian community in Montreal is collecting items to be sent to Ukraine to aid people who have been displaced and are unable to access essential goods, and to support refugees who have made it to Canada. Christine Hoerning, a Crane professor, is connected with the Ukrainian community in Montreal, and has agreed to coordinate a donation drive in our area to support their efforts. 

If you would like to make a donation, they are looking for the following items: 

  • first aid items (they must be new and unopened, can include Tylenol, Advil, burn cream, gauze, medical tape, bandages, wraps, antiseptics, rubbing alcohol, band-aids, etc.)
  • emergency/survival items (sleeping bags, camping mats, emergency blankets, etc.)
  • baby food (baby food in all forms, as long as it is new)
  • new or lightly used winter coats
  • hygiene products (sanitary napkins, wipes, soap, toothbrushes, etc.)
  • children’s toys(small, lightweight only, please; books are welcome, but please be mindful that they may not speak English and they may not be settling in a part of Canada that speaks English; picture books are great) 
  • cash donations to help cover the cost of shipping

We will collect these items in a box in the front of the sanctuary. 

Arabic Music Presentation

On March 24th Potsdam’s Majid will present “Arabic Music: Some Influence and Some Authentic.” (Thursday, March 24,from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.) The program will be hosted by Tarik Maatallah, president of the Potsdam Interfaith Community. 

This evening of beautiful music will explore the influence of Arabic music in America and the world. The cultural program will be held via Zoom and is part of the Potsdam Interfaith Community’s series of online learning opportunities. Together, we will sample a few songs from Arabic classical music, modern music, and folklore. We will listen to a beautiful blend of voices of Arabs of the Jewish, Christian, and Muslim faiths. We will also hear a few social justice and revolutionary songs as well as a few remixes that combine the music of the east and the west.

ZOOM LINK https://potsdam-edu.zoom.us/j/89883420424?pwd=by9Obm45Uk5GVXhEalZNbm94T0pNQT09

Update on our Local Tax Situation

I have good news to report! We have been in discussion with the tax assessor for years over his insistence that we pay taxes on the portion of our building that we rent out to Trillium. Two years ago we hired a lawyer through the Presbytery to look into how/why we might be able to grieve these taxes, since we are a not-for-profit entity. At that time, we did our best to lay out our legal reasoning for why we felt it was inappropriate for us to be taxed, but the assessor was adamant that we are legally obligated to pay these taxes.

As a result of this correspondence from the tax assessor, last year Dave Wells and I met with him to discuss the issue. While we were there, we recognized that the only recourse we would have to fight this would be to take it to court– which would likely cost far more on our end than it was worth. That was both a sobering and disappointing realization. In that meeting, however, we also learned from the tax assessor how we might be able to lower our assessed value, and as a result, reduce our taxes slightly.

Consequently, we did what we could to prove that the assessed portion of the building should be decreased, and this year he lowered the assessment by $2,500. This does not translate into major savings for us, but every penny counts. And so we are grateful! 

A big thanks to those who have worked on this project over the last few years– Sue Waters, Terry de la Vega, David Bennett, Dave Wells, and myself.

Spring is springing!

Friends, with this snow storm coming tomorrow, I’ve found myself wallowing in self-pity the last few days. I’m so over winter already, and I want to pout like a two-year-old. Are you in that place too? Today, however, God is helping me to make an attitude adjustment. Rather than spend today pondering how much I’m going to dislike tomorrow, I’m sitting in the window soaking up today’s sunshine. And I’ve made a pact with myself that tomorrow– hopefully for the very last time this season– I’m going to do something snow-related that brings me joy. Maybe I will have a cup of hot cocoa and watch the snow fall. Maybe I will go outside and try to catch snowflakes on my tongue. Or, if I’m feeling well enough, perhaps I will throw on my snowsuit and go lay in the white stuff and make a snow angel. Will you join me in this (hopefully) last major hurrah for winter? 

The author of 1 Thessalonians wrote to the ancient believers in Thessaloniki to:

 “Rejoice always, pray continually, and give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

~1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

I Have Confidence Spring Will Come,
Pastor Katrina