Dear Members and Friends of St. James;
The month of May is upon us as I write these words. Looking ahead to this month, with the arrival of spring, and contemplating all of the activity that will be taking place in the coming weeks, one word seems to come to mind… That word is “change!”
This certainly is a time of transformation! Change is all around. The grass is greening, the flowers blooming, and trees are bursting forth with fresh leaves. The school year is rapidly coming to a close. End-of-year programs and activities are in full swing. Field trips, school musicals, proms and graduations have us scurrying to keep up. What an active and exciting time of year!
As I look across the pages of this edition of our St. James Witness, I am aware that “change” seems to be the theme of our life as a congregation. Included in this issue is a series of little biographical paragraphs about the graduates we will be honoring on May 20. I have just finished preparing an article that you will read elsewhere in this newsletter. It is titled “A New Generation,” and is a brief glimpse of the cycle of life within our St. James family. As I wrote the article and thought about the role the church has played in the life of Kristy Keefe, a young woman who grew up in our midst, I was reminded that yesterday I began my 13th year as Pastor here. I paused for a moment to reflect on all of the changes that have happened over these years. How different life looks! Slowly but steadily, each day our world is changing, and we are each being transformed along the way.
Speaking of change, this newsletter includes a letter from Bishop Kurt Kusserow. That letter speaks of a most recent change that has come about in the life of our Southwestern Pennsylvania Synod. It announces the call of Pastor Ed Sheehan to serve as an Assistant to the Bishop, filling the vacancy that resulted when Pastor Sandy Kessinger left our synod staff earlier this year to serve as Pastor of a congregation in Virginia. I have known Pastor Sheehan as a friend and colleague for 35 years. We attended seminary together, and we were ordained on the same day. He brings many gifts for ministry, and will be a wonderful asset to our life together! Because Pastor Sheehan is assigned to represent the synod to the congregations of Conference 4, we can expect that he will be visiting us here at St. James, and I am certain that you will find his presence to be a very positive change in our corporate life.
Be sure that you take time to read the words of thanks written by Daniel Clark. They can be found in the pages that follow. You will remember Daniel as our Project Connect summer intern several years ago. He is now about to begin his final year as a student at Gettysburg Seminary. Daniel writes to thank us for our ongoing financial support in the form of an annual scholarship from the Endowment Fund. But, more importantly, he shares news of his upcoming marriage to Kerri Wadzita, and their plans for internship in North Carolina next year. Change can be exciting!
A very special change is happening in our family very soon! On Saturday, June 2, our son Andrew will be married to Rachel Johnson. Recalling the joyful weekend when David and Christine were married on the first Saturday of June two years ago, we are filled with anticipation. The wedding is in Rachel’s home congregation at State College, and I will be taking a vacation day on Sunday, June 3 so that I can stay over and be a part of the weekend of family celebration. Pastor Robert Smith, who has preached here at St. James a number of times over the years, will lead worship that day.
Finally, let me share with you this word of an upcoming change that will impact each person who reads this… As a result of several co
nversations at meetings of the Congregational Council during the past year, we are about to initiate changes in the way in which this newsletter will come to you. Due to changing US Postal Service policies, it has become more difficult and more costly for us to bulk-mail our newsletter and offering envelopes to the members and friends of St. James. In order to cope with these realities, to save on postage costs, to decrease the amount of paper we consume, and to take advantage of the technology available to us, we plan to make significant changes in the distribution of our newsletter. Plans are being discussed and details are being worked out. Soon, each individual or household (there are 200) on this mailing list will be contacted. You will be given several options as to how your newsletter will come to your home. They will include: 1.) Going completely “paperless,” and receiving your newsletter electronically; 2.) Continuing to receive a printed newsletter, but eliminating postage costs by picking up your individually labeled paper copy when you are at the church, or; 3.) Having a paper copy mailed to your address by First Class mail. In the meantime, upgrades to the Internet and computer systems in the church office are currently being made. We are hopeful that these coming changes will help us to function more effectively, and be better stewards as well.
Yes, change is constant, and change is everywhere. Yet, our faithful God walks with us every step of the way. May God’s blessings be with each of us as we live into the changes of each new day.