News for the Church, 2/3/23

Hello to you, dear Hearts!

It’s currently -21F at my house (counting windchill), but I’m sitting snug as a bug in a rug by my wood stove, soaking up the sunbeams that are pouring in through the window. 

Are you warm enough today? If you’re struggling with heat, please let me know. Seriously. Please let me know. 

Here’s the news for the week:

ONNY Concert Saturday Night!

The Orchestra of Northern New York is hosting a Winter Serenade concert tomorrow evening at St. Mary’s Church in Canton at 7:30pm. If you’re willing to brave the cold, it will be a lovely evening of music. 

Potluck and Congregational Meeting on Sunday

What delectable things will we have to eat on Sunday? You always manage to bring the most delicious food to our potlucks. I can’t wait to see what we have this time! 

If you have time between now and then, I encourage you to read through both the congregational report and the financial documents I sent out earlier this week. We will be voting on my terms of call for 2023 and the budget for the year. 

Game Night at Church Feb. 23rd

Our church will be hosting this year’s PIC Game Night, being held in the Center on Thursday, Feb. 23rd from 5:30-7:30pm. Folks from the 9 different congregations that participate in the Potsdam Interfaith Community are invited to attend. We will be ordering pizza and have a variety of games to play. You are welcome to come, to bring your own games to play, and to bring any other vegetarian appetizers or desserts that you’d like to contribute to the evening. It’s going to be a fun night! 

Lydia Stauffer’s Newest Flick!

If you didn’t know it already, Lydia Stauffer has been making short, black and white films set in the 1940s with her friends for a couple of years now.  

Their first film was called The Jewel of Venice, and our church’s sanctuary is featured in the film. The 26-minute film tells the story of “a discontented journalist looking to break free of her impecunious circumstances, who seizes her opportunity when she’s assigned to interview a fabulously wealthy fashion designer who owns an incredibly valuable necklace. She teams up with a shady crook and a skilled jeweler, and the dubious trio of thieves hatch a plan to appropriate and sell the pricey pendant.” 

Here’s the link to the film on YouTube:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HKa8ntDDCm8

That should entice you to watch the trailer for their newest production coming out next week, called A Date with Deception. It’s “a tale of treachery, brimming with bitterness… and that date with deception!” If you like a good old fashioned drama, this is for you! (Our sanctuary is also featured in this one too!) 

YouTube Link for the Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EspI8oRv6Bw

Way to go Lydia, Sarah, and the rest of the crew!!!! 

Racism and Brutality in America

This last week was another grievous one for both Black Americans and for our nation as a whole. The funeral for Tyre Nichols was held yesterday– the Black man who was fatally beaten to death by Memphis police after being pulled over for a traffic violation. 

Friends, the Black community deals with trauma after trauma, while we continue to allow racism and brutality to rule our cultural values and national policies. I don’t have any easy answers for how to respond to the situation, but we have to put effort into changing our culture. Do you have any ideas of what we as a church can do locally to speak out? I’d really love to hear your thoughts. Where do we go from here? 

God calls us to acts of love, and this includes standing up for justice in our country. But here’s the thing– standing for justice makes us terribly uncomfortable, doesn’t it? Offering acts of charity to others often makes us feel warm and fuzzy in the world, but standing up for social justice means that we are challenging the way things are done, and this invites us into the realm of social conflict– something we typically desire to avoid at all costs! But this work is too important. People’s well-being is are at stake. 

If we’re going to be faithful to God’s desires for us as Christians, we have got to learn to become comfortable with being uncomfortable– because fighting for social justice is what love looks like in the public realm.   

Last Sunday Jeff Mitchell preached on Micah 6:8, a powerful scripture verse that reminds us that God calls us to do this hard work in our faith– of standing for justice in the face of discomfort. Let us continue to spend a little time with this verse this week, shall we?  

  “With what shall I come before the Lord
    and bow myself before God on high?
Shall I come before him with burnt offerings,
    with calves a year old?

 Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams,
    with ten thousands of rivers of oil?
Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression,
    the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?”

He has told you, O mortal, what is good,
    and what does the Lord require of you–
but to do justice and to love kindness
    and to walk humbly with your God.  

~Micah 6:6-8

May we prayerfully consider what justice work God might be calling us to,

Pastor Katrina

News for the Church, 1/27/23

A Snowy Afternoon to you, Church!

Well, we are definitely walking in a winter wonderland today, aren’t we? I think we got close to a foot of snow at my house yesterday and the flakes are still gently falling to the ground today. 

Here’s the news for the week:

Jeff Mitchell to Preach this Sunday

Jeff has been preparing his sermon for weeks, and I hope that you will come out to join worship and support him, as he brings us a word from the Word.

Congregational Meeting and Potluck, Sunday, Feb. 5th

Early next week I hope to send out our congregational report and other corresponding documents, so that you have time to read through them before we have our meeting on the 5th. It’s been a good year for us, and it’s a joyful endeavor to read and remember all that happened in 2022! 

At our meeting, we will have time to discuss the year in review, as well as look through our financials and vote on our 2023 budget. 

I hope you will join us! 

Your Charitable Giving Report

If you gave any sort of donation to the church last year, you would have recently received a tax document in the mail from the church reporting on your giving. Unfortunately, when Sue Waters graciously drafted these documents for us, she did not have all of the pertinent information needed to generate correct documentation of your giving. 

The error has been noted however, and Sue is currently redoing all of our tax forms. She hopes to have them out by next week. My apologies for this mishap, and thank you for your patience!

Gifts Sent to Ukraine!

On Wednesday of this week Renee Stauffer boxed up the various items folks in our congregation purchased to help support the soldiers in Ukraine. We sent 2 sleeping bags, 6 sleeping pads, 1 waterproof coat, 16 pairs of wool socks, 3 fleece pullovers, 2 wool hats, 1 fleece balaclava, 2 pairs tactical gloves, 2 pairs of long johns, and 7 winter insoles. A big thanks to everyone who bought items, helped with shipping, or contributed money! 

Celebrating Snow

Today I got to wondering if snow shows up in our Bibles. Certainly, snow is used as a metaphor for cleanliness– “washed whiter than snow” shows up in many different places. But does snow itself have a presence? I did a little digging, and I found this lovely passage from Job that I wanted to share with you. I don’t think it needs any explanation. 

37 1-13 “Whenever this happens, my heart stops—
    I’m stunned, I can’t catch my breath.
Listen to it! Listen to his thunder,
    the rolling, rumbling thunder of his voice.
He lets loose his lightnings from horizon to horizon,
    lighting up the earth from pole to pole.
In their wake, the thunder echoes his voice,
    powerful and majestic.
He lets out all the stops, he holds nothing back.
    No one can mistake that voice—
His word thundering so wondrously,
    his mighty acts staggering our understanding.

He orders the snow, ‘Blanket the earth!’
    and the rain, ‘Soak the whole countryside!’
No one can escape the weather—it’s there.
    And no one can escape from God.

Wild animals take shelter,
    crawling into their dens,
When blizzards roar out of the north
    and freezing rain crusts the land.
It’s God’s breath that forms the ice,
    it’s God’s breath that turns lakes and rivers solid.
And yes, it’s God who fills clouds with rainwater
    and hurls lightning from them every which way.

He puts them through their paces—first this way, then that—
    commands them to do what he says all over the world.
Whether for discipline or grace or extravagant love,
    he makes sure they make their mark.

May we enjoy the extravagant love of God’s beautiful snow today!
Pastor Katrina

News for the Church, 1/20/23

Good day to you, Church! 

As I gaze out the living room window next to my cozy wood stove, the snow is gently falling. It’s a welcome sight after last night’s rain–although, it sure would be nice to see the sun one of these days! The dark grey skies are starting to get to me a little. 

What are your tricks for overcoming the gloomy weather? I’d love to hear. 

Here’s the news for the week: 

Learn about Hospice Care Jan. 25th

If you’d like to learn more about the services that Hopsice offers in the North Country, join us this Wednesday night at 7pm for a special zoom session. The program is sponsored by the Potsdam Interfaith Community. 

ZOOM link
https://us02web.zoom.us/j/83921663734?pwd=aUcrMEM0MUVQc3lWQUdFbjBBR2U4Zz09

Meeting ID: 839 2166 3734
Passcode: 946215

Community Supper This Thursday Night 

There’s still room to help volunteer at this month’s community supper. If you’d like to participate, contact Jane Wells. 

Jeff Mitchell to Preach Sunday, Jan. 29

As you know, I have one Sunday a month off from preaching, and this month we welcome a new friend of the congregation to the pulpit, Jeff Mitchell. Jeff has taken courses from seminary and has some experience with preaching at his last church in Maryland. I hope you’ll join us next week as Jeff brings us a word from God’s Word!

We’re Switching to Local, Sustainable Electricity!

I recently learned that there’s more than one option for where we can purchase electricity from. Apparently, National Grid is not the only service provider in our area. There is also a small, local company called Northern Power and Lights that offers electricity to local residents and it comes from a nearby, renewable resource– the Sissonville hydrodam, located a couple miles outside of town on the Raquette River.

The cost for electricity from NP&L is exactly the same as it is with National Grid, so Session decided that we need to put our money where our faith is and switch electricity providers. 

If you’d like to join the church in supporting local, sustainable electricity you can switch your service over too. Click on the following link for more information and to learn about how to sign up: https://www.npandl.com/

Winter Blues

Friends, right now is a hard time to live in the North Country. It’s wet, icy, cold, and grey. 

If you’re like me, these are key ingredients for seasonal depression– otherwise known as The Winter Blah’s. 

When we get the Blah’s, we can either fall into that black hole and feed the sadness and the grouchiness that comes with it, or we can try something else. I’ve recently met a new friend who talks constantly about “flipping the situation”– about finding a way to reframe what you’re going through; to see hard things as an opportunity instead of a burden. 

Taking his advice, how might you be able to flip the Blah’s on their head? Can you get outside and do some fun winter activities? The World University Hockey tournament is still going on for a few more days. What if you leave the house and catch a game? Or head out into the yard to make a snowman? 

If you’re like me and can’t do outside activities right now, what fun, adventurous things are there to do inside? Can you find a new recipe and try your hand at cooking a fun meal? Is there a letter you’ve been wanting to write to a long-lost friend? Maybe there’s a craft project you haven’t had the courage to undertake. 

Now is the time to seize the day! What creative joy is hiding inside of you that wants to come out? Winter is the perfect time for these sorts of explorations. 

Every single day God gives us the gift of new life– an opportunity to find joy in the hidden folds of everyday living, and winter, especially, is an opportunity for treasure hunting like this. 

May you find a way this week to “flip” the Blah’s and discover untold treasure in your everyday life! 

On the treasure path with you,
Pastor Katrina 

News for the Church, 1/13/23

Good Day to you Church,

It’s icy and snowy out today, but I’m inside warming my feet by the wood stove, watching the cats tussle and play. 

I have a great deal of good news to share today, so grab a champagne flute or your afternoon cup of coffee and raise your glass! 

A Church Fairy

Some churches have mice, but we have fairies. Well, let’s be honest, we have mice too. But back to the fairies… Yesterday someone(s) came to the church and dealt with all of the downed tree limbs strewn all over the yard! Whoever you are, if you’re reading this– your church thanks you! 🙂 

$1,000 Grant From the Synod

This last week the church received a $1,000 check with no strings attached as the result of David Bennett (our presbytery leader)’s efforts. He convinced the Synod of the Northeast to disburse funds to small churches in our presbytery who are doing good work. And we were one of them! 

We Got the Big Grant!

If you weren’t at church on Sunday you might not have heard– we got it! We were one of this year’s recipients of the Rock Charitable Grant! We will be receiving $25,000 to make repairs to the sanctuary roof, soffits, and molding and to construct a custom-made gutter system above the bell tower entrance, which will prevent water damage to those doors. 

We Received Insurance Money Too!!

I am so grateful to Sue Waters and Dave Wells for their help in soliciting our insurance company regarding other damage to the sanctuary roof, which resulted in the collapse of a section of plaster in the sanctuary ceiling (from water damage). We received a check for $64,000 to repair that part of the sanctuary roof, to repair the sanctuary ceiling…. AND….. get this….. to repaint the entire sanctuary!! 

Have you noticed how sad and decrepit our sanctuary ceiling is– with cracks, holes, and peeling paint everywhere? In the next few months it’s going to get a shiny, fresh make-over! 

Yahoo! That’s a total of $90,000 to put towards the upkeep of our building, which supports the work and mission of our congregation. 

Support for Ukrainian Brothers and Sisters

Renee Stauffer’s friend Kateryna is from the southeast region of Ukraine, near Mariupol. She got her PhD in Linguistics from the University of Minnesota, and now lives in Minneapolis with her husband and two young boys, but most of her family is still in Ukraine.

Her grandmother and aunt live in Lviv. Her grandma hasn’t been out of their apartment in months, because the last time she went out a bomb fell nearby. She spends all day in the dark apartment, where they have electricity and heat for a couple of hours each day. They are the “lucky” ones, because they still have a home to live in.

Kate is raising money for food, diapers, and medications for displaced people and elderly people. If you’d like to help, here are some ideas. 

You can send money to Kate’s GoFundMe here: 

https://www.gofundme.com/f/help-for-displaced-families-in-odesa-ukraine

Kate’s uncle is serving as a soldier. The soldiers are very unprepared for winter, and are sleeping in sleeping bags on the frozen ground. She says there is a real need for sleeping bags, pads, and warm clothing. Together Kate and Renee created an Amazon wish list. Renee will keep the wish list active until Monday evening (1/16). If you order from the list, items will ship to Renee, and then she will ship them all together. Here’s the link to the wish list: 

https://www.amazon.com/hz/wishlist/ls/U8IT5ENDDBK6?ref_=wl_share

Most of all, Kate would like to ask for your prayers, and that the Ukrainian people’s struggle will not be forgotten. Feel free to share this info with anyone who may be interested. 

(A woman from Kherson receiving one of Kate’s food packages last week.) 

Upcoming Events–

Youth Group Postponed

Youth group was pushed back to next Thursday, the 19th, out of concern for last night’s freezing rain. We will meet at the Methodist Church at 6:30 that night. 

Learn about Hospice Care Jan. 25th

Forget all of the preconceived notions you have about what the word “hospice” means. In the North Country, hospice is better than what most of us believe it to be. If you’d like to learn more, you are invited to attend an interactive and informative zoom program. 

Hospice will be launching a new advanced planning guide that was created out of their 40 years of experience. Over the years, Hospice has expanded its services and has become the primary resource in the community for grief information and education, services and support.

Hospice Highlights will be held online via ZOOM on Wednesday, January 25 at 7 p.m. It is free and open to the public. The program is sponsored by the Potsdam Interfaith Community as part of its ongoing online learning series.

ZOOM link
https://us02web.zoom.us/j/83921663734?pwd=aUcrMEM0MUVQc3lWQUdFbjBBR2U4Zz09
Meeting ID: 839 2166 3734
Passcode: 946215

Community Supper Jan. 26th 

There’s still room to help volunteer at this month’s community supper. If you’d like to participate, contact Jane Wells. 

Celebrations are Necessary

Dear hearts, this week’s newsletter is chock full of highs and lows– of joys for our church and sorrows for people who are living in war. 

Sometimes, when life is hard, we forget how vital it is for us to celebrate when God’s Good Life falls into our lap. We might have a moment of gratitude, thinking to ourselves, “Thanks be to God for _____,” but then we move on with our day. 

Living in God’s peace requires more from us than that, however. When we take time to intentionally mark our thanksgiving together for what God provides, those provisions take on greater meaning. Joy is contagious, isn’t it? And once you catch it, you start to see more reason to live continually in that state.

Psalm 32:11 reminds us– “Be glad in the Lord and rejoice, you righteous ones; And shout for joy, all you who are upright in heart.

So, this Sunday during worship, we’re going to take a moment to let out a shout for joy! And later, after all of the building repair work has been done (hopefully by this summer), let’s have a party! 

Rejoicing in God’s Care,
Pastor Katrina

News for the Church, 1/6/23

Good Day to you, Church–

Happy Epiphany– the day when some people celebrate the magi finding Jesus, others celebrate the birth of Jesus (The orthodox Church), some celebrate John baptizing Jesus in the Jordan River, and others take down their Christmas decorations. Do you celebrate? If so, I’d love to hear what your traditions are. 

Here’s the news for the week: 

Moving into the Center for Worship

When you come to church this Sunday, make sure you turn into the Community Center instead of heading to the sanctuary. For the next few months we will enjoy the warmth and cozy feeling of the Center for worship. 

Also for this Sunday– Since we weren’t able to celebrate Christmas Eve together, the choir will be singing their special selections this Sunday, so bring whatever leftover stirrings of Christmas/Epiphany cheer you might still have for one final celebration of the Baby Jesus!

Congregational Meeting and Potluck February 5th

Plan to bring a dish to pass the first Sunday in February to share while we hold our annual congregational meeting. We will review the year 2022 and vote on both our budget for 2023 and Pastor Katrina’s terms of call for 2023. 

p.s. There’s really good news on our financial front, but I’m going to keep it secret for another couple of weeks and let it be a surprise! 

Festival of Sacred Music and Text Set for March 26th

This year’s Festival (sponsored by the Potsdam Interfaith Community) will be in March. Might those of you who like to sing in choirs be interested in singing a song or two for the festival? Let’s talk with Keilor and see what we might be able to come up with in the next couple of months! So far there will be representatives at the festival from Beth El, St. Mary’s, the Methodist Church, the Potsdam Masjid, the Church of Latter Day Saints, the UU Church in Canton, the Christian Scientists, and possibly the Quakers and the Orthodox Church. It’s going to be a great concert!! 

Tree Limbs Down

I was in my office yesterday and, looking out the window onto the church yard, I noticed quite a few tree limbs downed from the Christmas blizzard. Might a couple of you be able and willing to come do some clean up? Bob and Sharon Pickard are in Florida already, so they’re not around to organize this. Might there be a volunteer to gather some folks together? 

Still No Word on the Rock Grant

For those of you who might be waiting on bated breath (like me), we still have not received word on who this year’s recipients are for the grant we applied for. Fingers remained crossed! 

An Exciting Gift to the Church

Last week the church received a monetary gift from a friend of the church that I wanted to share with you. People who don’t even attend our congregation sent us $500 and a thank you note! The note explained that the gift was given as “an expression of our gratitude for your faithful ‘open and affirming’ witness to Jesus Christ and God’s inclusive love.” The note went on to say “We appreciate all you are seeking to accomplish in the greater Potsdam area.” 

If you ever wondered about whether or not it’s the right thing for us to support the LGBTQ community, let us be encouraged by this note. Whether or not we are aware of it, people are watching and listening. They see us throwing open arms of inclusive love. 

Thanks be to God! And to you! And to this gift giver! 

Maybe someday we will get to know the impact we are having on people who have always been told that God hates them. But even if we don’t, let us know in our hearts that we are living in God’s love. Truly– thank you– for being a congregation that seeks love above all else. 

Prayers and Rejoicing for Sabrina Petrie

Sabrina had surgery this week and would love your prayers and cards as she recovers. (I’m sure she wouldn’t turn down a meal or a plate of cookies either, if you felt so inclined.) 

We can be praying for her, but also rejoice with her as well! She was recently accepted into Buffalo’s Master’s Program for Social Work. Sabrina has had a tough couple of years lately, so this news is extra special. 

If you’d like to send a card:

Sabrina Petrie
8 Cedar St. Upper Level
Potsdam, NY 13676

A Word about Grace

As we move into a new year of living, I thought I’d share a special reminder about grace. The Greek word for grace, charis, means ‘gift.’ 

At the heart of our religion is the unending belief in gift giving– gifts given by God to us and gifts we are to share with others and ourselves. But here’s the thing about a gift. By definition, a gift must be received. If you earn it, it is considered a wage. If you win it, it’s a prize. If you qualify for it, it’s a reward. 

Grace is amazing, but it’s also terrifying to accept. Grace also means that we have to decide to believe that we are worthy of receiving such love and consideration. (And who of us actually believes that?) This is the catch with grace. It cannot save, empower, or bless us if we close ourselves off to it. If we refuse to be receptive of wondrous love. 

This week, what would it look like for you to open yourself up to discovering the gifts of love that God sprinkles in our lives? 

Not only big gifts– like the $500 gift someone sent to the church– but the small gifts too. Grace, you see, comes in all shapes and sizes– jokes worth laughing out loud at, hugs, kind words, beautiful music, and yes, grace sometimes even comes disguised as challenging experiences. 

Dear Hearts, may we open ourselves up this week to being receptive of God’s gifts of amazing grace and abundant love! 

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this is not from yourselves, it is a gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast! 

Ephesians 2:8-9

Stretching My Grace Muscles Too,
Pastor Katrina

News for the Church, 12/9/22

Happy Day to you, Church! 

Yesterday I found myself listening to Christmas music and I laughed. “O, the weather outside is….” well, it’s not frightful outside, is it? What mild temps we’ve been having lately! 

Do you think we might actually get snow for Christmas this year? I’m not so sure we will. Hopefully some of us are wearing our snowflake pajamas to bed at night. What are other “tricks” for bringing on snow? 

Here’s the news for this week: 

This Sunday, December 11th is a Busy One!

*Wear your favorite, festive red and green attire to church this Sunday to celebrate the season. 

*We will be celebrating communion together this week.

*Christmas Joy Offering: This week we will be collecting the Christmas Joy offering, which goes to support struggling ministers and church workers in our denomination. If you plan to contribute, please make your check out to our church, with Christmas Joy on the memo line. 

*After the service, during coffee hour, Ivette Herryman-Rodriguez will be leading a Christmas hymn sing along. If you love singing Christmas carols, this is your chance to fill your Christmas cup to overflowing!

Pledge Cards

If you’ve received your pledge card this week, will you be prayerfully considering what you might be able to contribute next year for your giving? 

Vernice Church is Home

After being gone for 2 months, Vernice Church has finally made it back to the North Country! She’s currently recovering from surgery at Maplewood and would love to receive cards from us, but isn’t quite up to having visitors yet. 

If you’d like to send her a note in the mail, send it to:

Vernice Church 
205 Canton-Madrid Road
Canton, NY 13617

Moving into the Center for Sunday Worship in January

Given the spike in heating costs, Session has decided that we will once again move our Sunday worship to the Center for the coldest winter months. Beginning in January, you can shed your winter coat and hat for worship, as the Center will be comfortably warm! 

Advent Tidings 

We’re about halfway through our Advent season and I wonder how you’re faring. Have you been able to quiet your spirit and listen deeply? 

This can be a difficult time for some. The sorrows we carry silently with us in our everyday lives seem to magnify during the darkest days of the year. Our grief for loved ones lost feels heavier, our feelings of disconnection and depression intensify, and it’s easy to become overwhelmed by all there is to do to prepare for Christmas. 

As you quiet your spirit this week, I invite you to consider that the comfort and joy that the Baby Jesus brings into the world is also meant for you. This is certainly a time of year to think of others, but our giving needs to live in balance with caring for our own aching souls. What is it that brings comfort to your sadness? What compassion might soothe your despair? What tenderness can speak to your sense of hopelessness? 

This coming Sunday we will be sitting with Matthew 11:2-6. In it, John the Baptist wants to know if Jesus is really the Messiah that everyone has been waiting for, or if they should keep looking elsewhere. Jesus responds in the affirmative, but indirectly. All he says is that “The blind can see, the lame walk, the dead are raised, and the lepers are cured.” 

Dear Hearts, Jesus has come to bring healing into the world– into your world too! 

Let us remember to pray for our own healing, even as we work to create wholeness for others. God’s tender compassion is meant to reach our own broken places and offer a soothing balm. 

May you find God’s peace and tenderness amidst these darkening days,
Pastor Katrina 

News for the Church, 12/2/22

Good Day to you, Church!

It’s December outside, and the weather is finally feeling a bit more Christmas-y. Do you have decorations up? I hope to have mine up this weekend. I love the cozy feeling that comes with holiday cheer! 

We’ve got a lot going on in the next few weeks. Here’s what to look for: 

THIS Sunday….

Advent Potluck This Sunday

Bring a dish to share for after the service and we’ll spend time visiting together. I’m bringing a peppermint chocolate cake. How about you? 

*If you have something that needs to stay warm, you’re welcome to put it in the oven before worship. Terry and Dale will have it on and ready to go. 

**Sue and Joanne will be leading the clean up efforts, but they would love to have a few people pitch in. Might you be willing to wash a few dishes afterwards?

Sweater Sunday

This week is also Sweater Sunday! Wear your favorite sweater, or a Christmas sweater, or an ugly sweater…. This week is all about being warm on the inside and the outside and having fun in the process. 

Crane Candlelight Service

Crane’s annual candlelight service will be this Sunday at 3 pm and 7 pm. You won’t want to miss it!

And NEXT Sunday, December 11th…

Christmas Joy Offering

December 11th we will be collecting the Christmas Joy offering. This offering goes to support Presbyterian-related schools and colleges that support communities of color as well as current and retired church workers who are in need. 

Red and Green Sunday on the 11th

Wear your favorite red and green outfit to church on Sunday, Dec. 11th! 

Christmas Hymn Sing During Coffee Hour

Ivette Herriman-Rodriguez will be leading a Christmas hymn sing in the Center during coffee hour on the 11th. You won’t want to miss it! 

Christmas Eve Service, 7 pm 

We will gather together for a special Christmas Eve service on Saturday, Dec. 24th at 7pm. Keilor will be leading a choir that night. If you’re interested in participating, let him know! 

No Church Service Christmas Morning, Dec. 25

Christmas falls on Sunday this year, and Session felt that we would best honor our Christmas time by staying home that morning to celebrate with family. But we will be back with regular Sunday services the following week, on New Year’s Day! 

Advent Devotional 

Our former minister, Scott Barton, has a number of beautiful poems in a daily Advent devotional put together by our denomination. The poems are short and sweet, and offer an easy way to stay centered as we move through the season of Advent. Just click on this link to open up the devotional:

https://issuu.com/pres-outlook/docs/advent-2022_half-letter_color_combined?fr=sM2FmZjU0MDI5ODU

Funds to Fix the Leaking Roof and Sanctuary Ceiling

I have wonderful news to share with you today. Our insurance company has sent us funds to fix the two holes in the sanctuary roof that caused the ceiling to collapse above the choir loft! We hope to have the roof fixed in the next few weeks, and the sanctuary ceiling at a later date. 

In addition to that, we are still waiting to hear back from the Rock Charitable Grant about whether or not we might receive additional money to fix other holes in the roof, rotting soffitting and molding, and construct a gutter system for above the bell tower doors. We will find out if we receive the award at the end of December. 

Pledge Cards

We had a bit of a hiccup, but your pledge cards should be arriving in your mailboxes early next week. Be on the lookout for them! 

Advent– A Time to Slow Down and Pay Attention

News for the Church, 11/18/22

Good Day to you, Church!

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

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

Here’s the news for the week: 

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

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

Game Night at Bible Study, Saturday, 11/26

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

Monica Sandreczki to Preach Next Sunday, 11/27

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

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

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

Pledge Cards are Coming

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

Giving Tree Coming

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

Sharing our Community Resources

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

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

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

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

I dare say God was smiling with me last night.   

Giving Thanks for our Church,
Pastor Katrina

News for the Church, 11/11/22

Good Day to you, Church!

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

Here’s the news for the week: 

Food Pantry Launch is This Sunday!

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

Pledge Time!

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

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

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

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

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

Thanksgiving Community Supper

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

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

Monica Sandreczki to Preach, Nov. 27th

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

Giving Thanks

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Giving thanks for us,
Pastor Katrina 

News for the Church, 11/5/22

Good Afternoon Church!

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

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

Here’s the news for the week: 

Sack Lunch Sunday on Nov. 6

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

Speak Your Mind! Vote this Tuesday

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

Food Pantry Launch, Sunday Nov. 13

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

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

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

Community Supper to Prepare Thanksgiving Meal

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

Big Week for Projects at the Church!

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

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

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

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

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

When You Least Expect It

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

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

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

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

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

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

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