Thoughts From Your Pastor

Oct 25, 2022 10:14 am

November Pastor's Message

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
I pray that all of you are doing well and will be able to enjoy one of the most exciting periods of the year. We are heading into a time of family get-togethers, holiday decorating and shopping, and great big feasts and meals.
If you have glanced at the worship information you know already that November brings excitement and vitality into the family’s worship life.
We begin by remembering those loved ones who now rest from their labors, and we celebrate them in their passing the faith on to the following generations.
We will celebrate the Bible as God’s Word; we will be called to gratitude and thanksgiving. Praises will come forth as we celebrate Christ as King of kings and Lord of lords.
November will even start us on our Advent journey to Bethlehem to witness the birth of the Christ Child. (First Sunday of Advent is November 27th, the earliest date Advent can begin. Its worship order will be given in the December newsletter.)
On November 20th our faith family will gather around the table for our annual Thanksgiving feast. After our dinner all are invited to stay and help decorate the church for Advent/Christmas.
So much. So much. And, if we are in too much of a rush, all missed!
I need to remind myself that it is all too wonderful. May I remind you? – please, stop and experience it all!
Thank you God for all those who have loved us and made us what we are. Thank you for all the saints in our lives. Thank you for Jesus Who loved us even to the Cross and Who now reigns in our lives. Thank you for Your Word, the Bible, “a lamp unto my feet.”
And, yes, even more. Remind us on Election Day, November 8, to pray for those in authority and to remember once more how blessed we are to live in the land of the free and the home of the brave.
And on Veterans’ Day, November 11, let us pause and reflect on the courage of those “who loved country more than self, and mercy more than life.”
Yes. An exciting, full and awe-inspiring time.
May all be moved by the spirit of the season, embraced in wonder by the Spirit of God. A blessed November to all.
“Mountains are all aglow with autumn colors so bright…” -Pastor Terry

Oct 7, 2022 8:31 am

October's message from Pastor Terry

Here it is: the day we are trying to finish the October newsletter. And here I am wondering what to send to you for this month's message. It isn't that there is a lack of topics to share. With me I have always felt that the pastor should have something "good" to share---the Good News trumps everything else.
And that has been my problem the last few days. I have tried to avoid writing concerning what I see as a "negative" topic---namely, church division. But here goes---take a deep breath.
As most of you know I am a retired United Methodist elder. I have attended several meetings recently where the participants were considering one agenda topic: do we separate from the United Methodist Church or not? Methodist Churches around the world are struggling with this question. A new Methodist denomination is being formed. When I served at the Greenfield Presbyterian Church the congregation also wrestled with the issue of separation from their denomination. We had a vote on separation when I served the church in South Point.
As the years have passed and Christians continue to divide from each other I find myself becoming frustrated and, yes, angry. On the very face of it Christians separating from other Christians defies the very Spirit of Jesus. One of Jesus' last prayers was that we, His followers, may be one. Jesus never shunned anyone: tax collectors, Pharisees, prostitutes, Samaritans, foreigners, etc. We claim that God loves all, as should we. We attest that all are God's children and, therefore, we are all family.
And then we turn around and live in such a way that contradicts what we proclaim.
I acknowledge that there are the heavy issues of association, correct doctrine, social values, church polity, and so forth. These items are not to be carelessly considered or easily swept aside. But an end result of us walking away from each other seems to me to be the larger scandal.
I once heard a religious leader say that to him the greatest sin of all was to shun another child of God, to deny the existence of that person by pretending they are not there, or simply keeping them out of our world.
Robert Frost reminded us that "way leads to way" and we rarely come back to restart our journey over. So it is when we leave each other. I've heard people say to each other, those who have decided to attend different churches, "Oh, we will still be friends. We will still see each other. We love you." To those statements I say, hogwash.
Yeh, right. We love each other but can't stay together because we disagree on some items. Some love. Love that is too weak to overcome simple differences. And I am not talking about the big, "earth-shaking" topics here. I can personally attest that I have seen people leave the church and the ones they love over such insignificant issues as:
Which trees should be cut down (East Monroe); What type of music should be sung (Elida Immanuel); Disagreement with the pastor's style (numerous), etc.
Do we realize the terrible witness this gives to the world? Think about it--we all have enough conflicts out there in the world during the week. Why would anybody with any sense want to seek peace and joy among a bunch of squabbling people who, if they don't get their way, simply hit the highway?
And this situation is what the world is seeing from the Christian Church today.
I recognize that there are times when we may be led to seek different rooms in God's Mansion. But our decisions should be free of judgement of the other and we must always seek continued relationship with all.
I believe that is what Jesus would have us do and is the Spirit in which Christ would have us act.
Now, in conclusion, how do these thoughts inform our actions in our church?
Just my opinion: I believe they call us to greater loyalty and commitment. We know our church will be, and is, facing great challenges. Many of us may wish to walk away and not carry the burden of the ministry. But if our love for God and our neighbor is as great as we say it is, then surely these challenges may be seen as God's love and trust in us. And our community will see a fellowship that practices what it preaches.
Carrying out the tasks of Love is not easy---just ask Jesus. Our tasks are light compared to His.
So let us commit to a new day in Christ. He has called us to this time and place. Let us love Him and one another as we journey on in our pilgrimage. Pastor Terry

Sep 22, 2022 10:54 am

Septembers Message from Pastor

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ:
First, let’s get this straight – I know nothing about classical music. So please don’t assume I do. However, over the years I have become familiar to a degree with Antonio Vivaldi’s “Four Seasons”. Through his inspired music we gain a sense of each of the seasons. Critics have generally rated the music pieces reflecting on winter, spring and summer as outstanding.
However, the section on autumn has often been judged as the least accomplished of the work. Critics say it is “understated”.
Perhaps that was Vivaldi’s intent. We are entering a new season in September. Growth stops; harvesting begins; days shorten; leaves will soon explode in an abundance of colors; routines return to some “normalcy”; we catch our breath before the celebrations of winter. For the Christian this month is a wonderful time to revive one’s spirit; quiet reflection; meditation. A time of praise for the gifts of each season. Yes, a time of thanksgiving. Praise for the fruits of our labors. “As long as the earth remains, there will be planting and harvest, cold and heat; winter and summer…” (Genesis 8:22a,b) and underrated Autumn.
Blessings – Pastor Terry

Jul 21, 2022 1:49 pm

August's Pastor Message

Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
At July's meeting of Session I think I got wound up just a bit. I found myself giving devotion off-the-cuff. What came to mind was the topic of church unity. I was moved to point out that almost the very last thing Jesus prayed for with His disciples in the Upper Room was for "unity". " that they may be united just as We are..." John 17:11c; "I have given them the glory You gave Me---the glorious unity of being one, as We are---." John 17:22
How do we address Jesus' prayer and desire for unity among His believers in today's church and society? After all, we are living in a day of disunity.
Even in our secular society we are seeing the phenomenon of "running away from those who think differently than ourselves." Studies have shown conservatives moving to conservative populated areas and vice-versa for liberals. Several Christian denominations have split or are in the process of dividing.
What would Jesus do? The scriptures give both sides of this coin. There are times when the believer is urged to get out of a situation that seems to be in opposition to God's will. On the other hand we are encouraged to snub, or separate ourselves, from no one.
So what do we do?
I believe Jesus might suggest the following.
1. Believe that God is working in and through the other person---even when we disagree. That person may be used by God to actually give us a chance to examine, reaffirm and solidify our own faith understanding.
2. Try to stay in contact with each other. We have nothing more to learn from each other if we have no relationship at all.
3. Speak softly. Why is so much angry talk going about?
4. And above all, love one another as Jesus has loved us.
5. Keep the faith as God has graced you to see it, but always be in prayer for further wisdom and insight into God's will for your life.

Blessings to all. May God grant a pleasant August to us. Pastor Terry

Jun 21, 2022 12:15 pm

July Pastor's Message

Explanatory Notes for July, 2022, Worship Services
• Scriptures cited are those assigned from Revised Common Lectionary for the Sundays in July, 2022.
• Not all scriptures will be shared in our services, but they will be available to view in the bulletin insert.
• All our encouraged to do private Bible studies on the texts assigned.
• Hymns are named even if you do not have a hymnal at home; we now have the internet where you may locate most hymns.
• The July 31 service has not yet been planned as that Sunday is designated for the Vacation Bible School program.

Worship in July
Sunday, July 3, 2022
Both Services:
[Proper 9: Sunday between July 3 and July 9 inclusive]
LITURGICAL COLOR: RED (Civil Observance.)
The Hebrew Scripture (The Old Testament Lesson): II Kings 5:1-14
[The king of Aram sends Naaman, his commander, to Elisha. Naaman is healed of his leprosy.]
The Psalter: Psalm 30:1-12
[David recalls his deliverance at God’s hand and exhorts the people of Israel to join in God’s praise.]
The Epistle Reading: Galatians 6:1-16
[Paul instructs the Galatians to reprove one another gently. They shall reap what they sow, so they are to do good for all. They should boast of nothing but the cross.]
The Gospel: Luke 10:1-11, 16-20
[Jesus sends seventy followers to go out to “the harvest”. They return with gladness at their success. Jesus cautions them not to rejoice in the power He has given them.]
“Battle Hymn of the Republic” #604
Though its biblical roots are often overlooked, this text incorporates many apocalyptic images such as the coming of the Lord in glory (Matthew 24:30 / Mark 13:26 / Luke 21:27), the winepress (Isaiah 63:3; Revelation 14:19, 19:15), and the sharp sword (Isaiah 27:1; Revelation 19:15). Written by Julia Ward Howe during the American Civil War it became something of a “moral justification”, or the “will of God”, anthem for the North.
“America the Beautiful” #600
This text (inspired by the vista from Pike’s Peak and by a visit to Chicago’s Columbian World Exposition) and tune (named MATERNA because it was composed for “O Mother, Dear Jerusalem”) were joined in 1912. The combination proved immensely popular during World War I and afterwards.
“God of Our Fathers” #599
This hymn was generated by 19th-Century centennial celebrations: the words by the Declaration of Independence and the music by the adoption of the United States Constitution. Despite these origins, no specific nation is mentioned in this hymn of praise and prayer for peace.
Poem: “The Blue and the Gray”

Sunday, July 10, 2022
Both Services:
[Proper 10: Sunday between July 10 and July 16 inclusive]
The Hebrew Scripture (The Old Testament Lesson): Amos 7:7-17
[The statutes and righteousness of God are likened to a plumbline by which all are measured.]
The Psalter: Psalm 82:1-8
[The psalmist warns all in authority not to give in to the temptations of power. God is the ultimate judge.]
The Epistle Reading: Colossians 1:1-14
[Paul gives thanks for the faith, hope and love exhibited by the Colossians. He prays for their patience and endurance.]
The Gospel: Luke 10:25-37
Jesus illustrates the commandment of loving one’s neighbor as oneself by telling the parable of the good Samaritan.]
“More Love to Thee” #428
Perhaps because this prayer-poem by the wife of a leading 19th-Century Presbyterian minister grew out of her own physical and emotional suffering, it has continued to speak to many people in similar distress. The hymn was written in 1856 by Elizabeth Payson Prentiss.
“Jesu, Jesu” [an insert]
Considering that this text comes from a part of the world where Christianity is not the primary religion gives these simple but powerful words even more depth and meaning. The tune name [CHEREPONI] recalls the district in Northern Ghana where it was collected.
Reading: “Flowers” by Bonnie Meadows

Sunday, July 17, 2022
Both Services:
[Proper 11: Sunday between July 17 and July 23 inclusive]
The Hebrew Scripture (The Old Testament Lesson): Amos 8:1-12
[God shows Amos the nation of Israel as a basket of fruit ready to be plucked. Their love of money has drawn them away from God.]
The Psalter: Psalm 52:1-9
[This psalm delineates the contrast between the unrighteous judgements of the wicked and the righteousness of God.]
The Epistle Reading: Colossians 1:15-28
[Paul declares that Christ is over all things from the creation of the earth; it is He Who has reconciled creation to God. The Colossians, too, are to be reconciled. Paul depicts his suffering as part of his ministry.]
The Gospel: Luke 10:38-42
[Jesus visits the home of Martha and Mary. He points out the need for a balance between meditation and service.]
“Take Time To Be Holy” #171
“There Is Power in the Blood” #334
“I’ll Fly Away” / “When the Lord Redeems the Very Least” [an insert]
The second selection addresses the question: What does it mean to pray “Thy Kingdom Come”? The text (loosely modeled on Psalm 126) sketches out some of the features that help us to know when God’s reign has truly come. The energy of the gospel song tune (“I’ll Fly Away”) adds to the sense of rejoicing repeatedly promised in the lyrics.
Poem: “The Sons of Martha” by Rudyard Kipling

Sunday, July 24, 2022
Both Services:
[Proper 12: Sunday Between July 24 and July 30 inclusive]
The Hebrew Scripture (The Old Testament Lesson): Hosea 1:2-10
[As a metaphor of the relationship between God and wayward Israel, here is depicted a marriage between the prophet and a “woman of whoredom”.]
The Psalter: Psalm 85:1-13
[The psalmist declares the faithfulness of God as a cause to trust that divine anger will give way to salvation.]
The Epistle Reading: Colossians 2:6-19
[Paul exhorts the Colossians to remain in Christ in Whom is the fullness of God and by Whom they have been redeemed. He warns them also not to be sidetracked by calls to asceticism.]
The Gospel Luke 11:1-13
[In answer to their request, Jesus teaches the disciples how to pray.]
“All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name” #68 [CORONATION]
This 18th-Century hymn celebrating the sovereignty of Christ has been through several expansions and contractions before reaching its present form. It is set to the oldest American hymn tune in continuous use since first published in 1793.
“Praise to the Lord, the Almighty” #10
This very strong 17th-Century German hymn employs many phrases from the psalms, especially Psalms 150 and 103:1-6. It did not receive an effective English translation until the mid-19th century, but has remained popular ever since, thanks in part to its stirring tune.
“Sweet Hour of Prayer” #166
A favorite hymn for many Christians; a quiet, enchanting invitation “that calls us from a world of care”. There is some question as to who the author of the text was, but most attribute it to one W.W. Walford, supposedly a blind preacher in Coleshill, Warwickshire.

Sunday, July 31, 2022
[Proper 13: Sunday between July 31 and August 6 inclusive]
The Hebrew Scripture (The Old Testament Lesson): Hosea 11:1-11
[God’s tender treatment of Israel – like a parent and child – makes Israel’s rebellion and punishment all the more painful. God promises that Israel will be restored.]
The Psalter: Psalm 107:1-9, 43
[The psalmist calls all the people to praise God, Who has delivered them from the desert and satisfied their needs.]
The Epistle Reading: Colossians 3:1-11
[Paul calls upon his readers who “have been raised with Christ” to set their sights beyond earthly concerns. They are to put off the old ways and be transformed.]
The Gospel: Luke 12:13-21
[Jesus calls upon His listeners to be concerned about heavenly things as He tells the parable of the rich fool.]

Nick Oglesby; Edna Schmied; people of Ukraine; Crue Swayne; Murphy Chaney; Eleanor Snodgrass; Bev Carroll; Jane Stowers; Terri Covert; Levi Krebs; Chancellor Krebs; Carmen Bourne; Keith Sowell; Betty Bishop; Jason Cumbo; Jeff Clouser; Family and Friends of Rose Alton; Davis Osborn; Chad Osborn; Family and Friends of Elizabeth Daniels
Betty Montgomery; Brian Johnson; Bob Fawley; Brent Haines; Brenda Kehrer; Marguerite Springer; Kay McMullen; Gloria Mann; Jennifer Humphries; Walter Rains; Zoe Davidson; Bethany Calhoun; Wilanne Stowe; Michael Conley; Heather Rigbey; Trent Beyersdoefer; Rob Wurzbach; Ella Griffitts; Jayne Barnhart; Minnie Davis; Joan Morgan; Kevin Scannell; Kathy Plummer; Laura Johnson; Roger O’Dell; Ron Caldwell; Linda Compton; Bill Bathalter; Evelyn Osman; Alan Owens; Sharon Kasten; Ryan Meacham; United Methodist Church; and traveling mercies.
Friends & family in the armed forces:
Dan Warner; Wyatt Irion; Eric Hapner; Colin Brown; Matt & Logan Kelly; Alex Butler; and Capt. Aric Carroll.
A Vacation Bible School is being planned for Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday evenings, 5:30 – 8 p.m., July 26, 27, 28.
There will be three groups of children: ages 1-4; 5-8; 9-15. There will be five different sessions each evening and the youth will be served the evening meal.
We are asking everyone to reserve these dates and to be willing to help in this wonderful ministry to our youth.
Please let the church office know if you can help. Phone #937-393-3171.

Missions and Projects
1. The External Mission Committee will be collecting toilet paper for the homebound clients of Samaritan Outreach Services during the month of July. The collection box is in the church Fellowship Room.
2. Community Market (Hillsboro & Greenfield); aka Great Scot: receipts in pouch on bulletin board.
3. Toilet paper rolls for VBS: box labeled as such in Fellowship Room.
4. Matthew 25 Pill bottles: basket labeled as such in Fellowship Room.
5. Outdoor Sign Project: donation box at back of sanctuary.

Thank you for your prayers and generosity to our church!

Jun 21, 2022 12:14 pm

June Pastor's Message

Worship in June
Sunday, June 5, 2022
Both Services:
LITURGICAL COLOR: RED (Presbyterians have developed a tradition of wearing red to church on this day which marks the gifting of the Holy Spirit to the disciples of Christ. All are encouraged to observe this tradition.)
The Hebrew Scripture (The Old Testament Lesson) Genesis 11:1-9
This reading is a near-perfect counter to the reading concerning the Day of Pentecost from Acts 2. In Acts the speakers of many tongues are enabled to understand the message of salvation through the work of the Holy Spirit. In the Genesis reading we see humankind depending upon its own strength in getting to Heaven by building the Tower of Babel. This self-reliance results only in confusion, division, and failure.
The Psalter: Psalm 104:24-34, 35b
God’s Spirit comes forth; the creatures of the seas and the earth are created.
The Historical Book: The Acts of the Apostles 2:1-21
With the sound of a rushing wind and the appearance of tongues of fire upon their heads, the apostles receive the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.
The Gospel: John 14:8-17, 25-27
In response to Philip’s request to “show us the Father”, Jesus declares that They are One. He promises to send the Spirit.
“Spirit of God, Descend upon My Heart”
This reflection on Galatians 5:25 was written by a literary Anglican clergyman, George Croly, 1867, whose preaching drew people of many social classes to one of the formally poorer London churches.
“Breathe on Me, Breath of God”
In both Hebrew and Greek, the words for “spirit” can equally well be translated as “breath” or “wind”, so it is very appropriate to address the Holy Spirit as the “Breath of God”.
“We Are the Church”
“Spirit Song”

Sunday, June 12, 2022
Both Services:
The Hebrew Scripture (The Old Testament Lesson) Proverbs 8:1-4, 22-31
Wisdom is depicted as a person who calls all to learn the way of righteousness.
The Psalter: Psalm 8:1-9
A psalm of praise to God Who deigns to look upon humanity and to bless it; indeed, to make it a little lower than God.
The Epistle Reading: Romans 5:1-5
Paul tells the Romans that all their suffering results in hope because they have been justified by faith.
The Gospel: John 16:12-15
Anticipating His departure from them, Jesus promises that the Holy Spirit will come and instruct them in the truth. [Here is a depiction of the relationship within the Trinity.]
“Come, Thou Almighty King”
The author of this Trinitarian text is unknown, but this hymn has proved popular since the middle of the 18th century, partly because of its effective use of biblical metaphors, but also because of the strength of the tune, Italian Hymn, which was composed especially for the words of the hymn by Felice de Giardini in 1769.
“Holy, Holy, Holy!”
Much of the imagery of this hymn comes from Revelation 4:2-11, which its author, Reginald Heber, an Anglican bishop, knew as a reading appointed for Trinity Sunday. The tune, written specifically for the text of the hymn by John Bacchus Dykes, 1861, reinforces the Trinitarian theme by strong dependence on the D-major triad.
“Father, I Adore You”

Sunday, June 19, 2022
Both Services:
The Hebrew Scripture (The Old Testament Lesson) I Kings 19:1-15a
In fear of his life at Jezebel’s hands, Elijah goes to Mt. Sinai. There he asks God to take his life, but God is not done with him. Elijah is sent to anoint the king and his own successor.
The Psalter: Psalm 42:1-11; Psalm 43:1-5
While separation from God brings despair, remembering the promises brings hope.
The Epistle Reading: Galatians 3:23-29
Paul proclaims the superiority of faith over the law. Faith in Christ overcomes all distinctions – Jew and Greek, slave and free, male and female – to make them one.
The Gospel: Luke 8:26-39
Jesus casts out a demon – named Legion – into a herd of swine. The man who was freed is sent to proclaim the greatness of God.
“O God, Our Help in Ages Past”
“God Will Take Care of You”
“In Christ There Is No East or West”
This hymn formed a very small part of an elaborate Christian missionary pageant in the early 20th century, yet it has endured while the grander aspects of that production have faded away. It is set to a simple 19th century tune [St. Peter. CM] that does not get in the way of its message.
“Faith of Our Fathers”
This hymn has a very interesting history. We Protestants associate the lyrics often as a tribute to our ancestors standing up against the oppressiveness of the Catholic Church. In reality the text was written by an Anglican turned Catholic, Frederick Faber. He was praising the Catholic martyrs of the faith. In fact to use this hymn Protestants felt the need to omit one of Faber’s lyrics, which follows:
Faith of our Fathers! Mary’s prayers
Shall win our country back to Thee;
And through the truth that comes from God
England shall then indeed be free.

Sunday, June 26, 2022
Both Services:
The Hebrew Scripture (The Old Testament Lesson) II Kings 2:1-2, 6-14
At his ascension into heaven by means of a chariot of fire, Elijah imparts a double share of his spirit to Elisha.
The Psalter: Psalm 77:1-2, 11-20
Turning to God for rescue in distress, the psalmist recounts the mighty deeds of God in the past and finds comfort therein.
The Epistle Reading: Galatians 5:1,13-25
Paul exhorts the Galatians to cling to the freedom they have received from Christ. He calls them to “live by the Spirit” rather than the flesh.
The Gospel Luke 9:51-62
After being rejected at a Samaritan village, Jesus and His followers go toward Jerusalem. He instructs His disciples that commitment to the kingdom must be total: “No one who sets his hand to the plow…”
“Swing Low, Sweet Chariot”
While ostensibly based on Elijah’s ascent into heaven (II Kings 2:11), this African-American spiritual also communicates the enslaved people’s hope that they might find deliverance across a river (i.e. in the free states beyond the Ohio). Call-and-response singing enhances this piece.
“Love Divine, All Loves Excelling”
The text of this hymn (written by Charles Wesley) and the tune, Hyfrydol, occur in almost all English-language hymnals (though not always together). The transforming power of love motivates the unending praise of the life to come, and this fine Welsh tune (whose name means “delightful”) gives us a foretaste of endless song.
“Where He Leads Me”
“Close To Thee”

Liturgical Colors in June
June will be the occasion for a wide variety of the colors of the Christian Year being on display in the sanctuary.
This year Pentecost falls at a later date and therefore ends up in June on the fifth day of the month. Red is a color of fire, symbolizing the Holy Spirit, and is therefore used on Pentecost, which celebrates the giving of the Holy Spirit on that day.
The very next Sunday, the 12th, is what is titled Trinity Sunday, which is always celebrated on the First Sunday after Pentecost. This is the only worship service which is centered on a doctrine of the Christian faith. White is the color for this Sunday. White indicates purity, innocence, and is strongly associated with Christ events (Christmas season/incarnation; Easter/resurrection; Baptism).
On the 19th of the month the church brings forth the color of green, and this color will be present through most of the following Sundays (though not all) up to the First Sunday in Advent. Green is a color of growth and new life.
Happy Father’s Day!
One of our church’s very special events in June is the Men’s Breakfast being prepared by the women of the church. This is for all men. Early service attendees, please plan to stick around. Later service attendees, please come early. There are rumors as to what will be on the menu! Come and be surprised!

1. Special offering on Pentecost, June 5, for youth programs of the PC/USA and our local church.
2. Samaritan Outreach is receiving toothpaste and toothbrushes for June. The collection box is in the Fellowship Room.

A Vacation Bible School is being planned for Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday evenings, 5:30 – 8 p.m., July 26, 27, 28.
There will be three groups of children: ages 1-4; 5-8; 9-15. There will be five different sessions each evening and the youth will be served the evening meal.
We are asking everyone to reserve these dates and to be willing to help in this wonderful ministry to our youth.
Please let the church office know if you can help. Phone #937-393-3171.
Outdoor Sign Project
The church is collecting funds for the building of a new outdoor sign for the church. It is being estimated that $10,000 will be needed for this project.
We ask everyone to prayerfully consider contributing to this effort. A collection box is at the church, or contributions may be mailed to the church itself. Please indicate on your check what you are designating it for. Thank you for your generosity.

Jun 21, 2022 12:12 pm

April Pastor's Message

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
George Orwell once stated that "the loss of belief in a resurrected life beyond death" has basically been the cause of a loss of "ethical excellence" in our modern day world.
Please think about what brought Orwell to this conclusion. If there is no life after death then where are we going? Another English philosopher, Bertrand Russell, put it bluntly: we live, we die, and then we rot.
Certainly, a crude and unfeeling way of putting it.
And, yet, that is what we say in Christian worship on Ash Wednesday. Remember how we started our Lenten journey? We gathered and had ashes imposed on our foreheads accompanied with the words, "Remember that thou art dust and to dust thou shalt return."
If our lot is one lacking the existence of a resurrection hope then we can understand Orwell's observation. My behavior, my moral standards, my very way of living will be determined by what I believe concerning Jesus being raised from the grave. If there is no Resurrection it means literally that all of us have come from nowhere and are going nowhere---except to the grave. But if I believe what Jesus said in the Gospel of St. John, chapter 14---
"Because I live, you too shall live"----then everything changes.
With Jesus's life, death and resurrection all of us have a clearly defined "purpose of life". We all have a destination. We no longer will be "wayfaring strangers" when we reach Heaven as our home.
A word of caution: we should not believe as a simple statement of faith. We should not let our belief be that which results in an outcome strictly for this age in the world----namely, if I say I believe in the Resurrection there will be a higher standard of morality for me and for today's society.
It should be and must be the other way around. We first must experience the wonder of the Resurrection in our very being. Yes, we are saved when with our lips we proclaim Christ as risen. But then Paul urges us to a deeper experience of the spirit, that we might come to believe in our hearts. That depth of belief leads us and our world into a new day and as a new creation.
Let us pray for one another's experience this Easter! May each of us stand before the empty tomb and proclaim from the very depths of our souls that "Christ is Risen! Christ is Risen, indeed!"
May all have a life-transforming Easter.
- Pastor Terry

Jun 21, 2022 12:11 pm

March Pastor's message

"The mighty oak from the tiny acorn grows."

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
The phrase cited above has apparently been around in the English language in one form or another since the 14th century.
It has been used in various ways to teach and explain many aspects of the human experience. Generally it is given as an example of great enterprises being achieved from very small beginnings. The phrase is offered to abet a spirit of perseverance, a spirit of hope, a spirit that dares to dream of achieving the impossible, the spirit of imagination and creativity.
I have found this ancient parable to be helpful in further affirming St. Paul's argument in I Corinthians, chapter 15, concerning life after death. Some Bible critics and interpreters have sometimes poo-pooed Paul's argument as overly simplistic.
What Paul does is to present an argument from nature. He points out that the body to be must first come from a body that dies. He relates the agricultural reality that the farmer sows one body (perhaps just a bare grain of wheat) in order to have a "greater" body, one that bears fruit. Even Jesus gives us such an example. In St. John's gospel Jesus says at chapter 12, verse 24, "In truth, in very truth I tell you, a grain of wheat remains a solitary grain unless it falls into the ground and dies; but if it dies, it bears a rich harvest."
I like simple. Being a country boy as a lad the analogy made sense to me. My father used to sell seed grain. On our small 50-acre farm I would see the grain placed into the ground---wheat, corn, soybeans, timothy, other grasses. What I saw in a few months looked nothing like that which had gone into the ground. The "new body" brought forth the harvest. And, oh, what a harvest!
It is March and Spring is nearly upon us. Look about! Every year it is the same at this time. The fields are showing nothing. The general color of the grasses is brown. The trees are dark and lifeless.
Then it happens---life springs forth!
Have we become dulled to this annual miracle? Are our senses numb to the proclamation of new life offered in Christ? Have we lost the sense of awe in holding an acorn and realizing that from that tiny object has come the mighty oak we are standing beside? Can we even hold the mustard seed from which comes the greatest of bushes?
I believe this is what Jesus and Paul are pointing us to. Our present bodies are small, finite, mortal. But if we believe in and follow the Way of Christ they will be transformed into "imperishable, immortal" bodies, bearing the fruit of life in the presence of God forever.
In Christ our dying is but our beginning---and what a great adventure it will be.
I pray that each of us may have a meaningful, reflective Lenten journey, as we walk with Jesus through the suffering of the Cross, stand in wonder before the empty tomb of Easter, and in the Resurrection Life bear much fruit for the Kingdom here on earth.
Have a blessed and joy-filled March! Pastor Terry

Feb 24, 2022 2:55 pm

February Pastor's Message

Do you remember “family meetings”? Perhaps in some of our homes we never met in such a formal way as to title our gatherings a “family meeting”. But, in almost all families there are “meetings”, whether so-called or not.
These meetings are made necessary in order to organize family plans and activities and to coordinate the means to carry out those plans.
Further, they are necessary in order to clarify the rules and policies under which the family operates. Who gets the car when? What time is supper? When must everybody be home? How is the family budget distributed?
Necessary for the successful joyous living of a family. So it is with our church family.
On occasion we need to sit at the table (every member of the family!) and have a “family meeting”. We need everyone – not just the parents/leaders/officers of the church. Some of us cannot be off in our bedrooms listening to Justin Bieber or Willie Nelson or watching the Bengals winning the Super Bowl.
There are times we need to refresh our memories concerning the family rules and values.
It is essential for a “living church” to be of one mind, one spirit, one vision, one body.
So, to answer the question several have asked of me, why an orientation meeting? What is it about?
I have pushed the idea for this meeting for several reasons – reasons formulated not just by me but by others.
In a recent Session meeting our discussions led us to the revelation that we were perhaps working from different perspectives concerning our ministry for Christ. We discovered we had some different understandings concerning the ministries of the church.
In other words, it is a time for a family meeting!
This meeting is open to all: members, non-members attending, young and old.
We have sent out a survey asking everyone for a selection of the most convenient day and time. We will be establishing the meeting date and time based upon your responses to the survey.
We are asking all of you to make every effort to attend.
The event will be roughly four hours in length with break-times, refreshments, and meal time included.
Three working hours will involve:
I Administrative structure in our local church
A. Session
B. Committees
C. Job Descriptions
D. Committees’ Interactions
E. Specific Tasks in Local Church Tradition
II Areas of Ministry
A. Worship
B. Mission
C. Finance
D. Christian Education
E. Property/Maintenance and Projects
F. Personnel
III Book of Order
A. Referenced throughout the meeting
B. Presbytery/Connectionalism
Hope to see you at orientation.
In Christ’s Service, Pastor Terry

Jan 4, 2022 1:40 pm

January 2022 Pastor's Message

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
This past season we attempted to hold a study group concerning the traditions and scriptures surrounding the season of Advent.
Unfortunately the study was interrupted by various circumstances.
I attempted to bring the themes of our study group's text into the content of our sermons. I was successful in bringing two of those themes to the pulpit and I would like to review them here at the start of the new year.
The first theme was "The Meaning of Memory". Here the case was presented that memory makes us what we are for the present. And we are what we are by the memories we choose to hold on to.
We all acknowledge that there are some memories we try to push away from us. Often we tell and retell the most pleasant remembrances. But, whether good or bad, and, how we interpret past events, our past has made us what we are.
What we are determines how we live the present and how we live into the future.
The second topic we were able to share was "The Promise of Potential". Here we were encouraged to see that potential, or what might be, all depends upon our individual perception, or dreams, of the future. What do we wish to be? What do we wish to happen? What do we hope?
We were challenged in the study to see that Advent and Christmas retell our stories as a people of faith. And in retelling those stories we remember who we are and Whose we are. And as a people we then recall that with God all things are possible----in Him we have the promise of a future with no limitation in our hopes, our joys, our love for God and one another.
At this time every year we are usually reminded of how the month of January received its name. The name derives from the name of a Roman god, Janus. Janus has two faces----one face looking backwards, the other face looking forward.
I invite you all to become two-faced----NOT really! Nobody likes a two-faced person. But for a moment let us adopt Janus' ability.
I think it would be well to reflect on the year past. What do we recall of our faith life? Did we grow closer to God and one another? How did we get through the tough times? What did we learn? How are we different on January 1, 2022, than what we were on January 1, 2021?
Then taking stock of our present by remembering the past, how do we step into 2022? What are our hopes as we journey through the year with Jesus? Do we continue to dream dreams, have visions in the power of the Spirit?
Folks, I believe all of us need to ask anew: where have I come from? Who am I now? Where am I going and who is going with me?
Our prayers are that each of us walk with Jesus in 2022, living by faith in Him, reflecting His love in all that we say and do, and being His voice of love and hope to the world.
God bless you all and Ruth Anne and I wish all of you a happy and prosperous 2022. Pastor Terry

Sep 23, 2021 8:53 am

September 2021

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
Like many of you, I'm sure, I cannot believe that summer is over. Time keeps going faster and faster. And so, here we are----facing September.
I pray that all of us have had a very nice summer. Of course, it is a given in life that whatever the season there will be challenges and, in some cases, heartache itself. I pray that if you have experienced difficulties that comfort has been found in the loving presence of God.
I have always thought September as a "special" month, a time of change and transition. So, it is this year. I would like to share with you some thoughts on events and dates coming up this month and how God's Word addresses these happenings in our lives.
Labor Day
Our nation celebrates the workers of our land with a national holiday every year known as Labor Day. It is a reminder to all of us how much we depend upon each other. Our labors are one way to fulfil the command that we love and serve each other.
Yet in our culture labor is often seen as something to be avoided. Labor is seen at times as something onerous, burdensome.
God blesses those who labor and care for His creation. Remember, please, that when Adam was created this very first human was directed by God to labor and tend the Garden of Eden. Our labors are a very part of who we are. Our employment gives us identity, dignity and worth. Research has shown that those who retire early are likely to die at a younger age than the average person. Many retirees find more blessing in performing work in a second career.
This Labor Day let us thank God for:
health and strength to work;
those who strive to make life better for all through their labors;
those, even though retired, continue to work in volunteer services;
and let us remember those who are unemployed, that they may find gainful employment.
We pray for those unable to work that they may be faithful in their prayers for those who do.
Grandparents Day
The second Sunday of September, this day is a call to remember those we call Grandma or Grandpa (or whatever terms of endearment families may employ for these loved ones). Many of us have fond memories of grandparents who have greatly influenced our lives for the better.
Sadly, there are two concerns surrounding this day. Our society has become so transient in nature that grandparents, although still living, are many times absent from the lives of their grandchildren. Also, because of the breakdown of the American family in today's world, we find millions of children being raised by grandparents in the absence of their parents.
I think we need to pray on these matters. May God grant strength and perseverance to those having to raise second families. Let us also pray for families, that God may be present in our homes and all children are loved and sustained.
"Happy the home when God is there."
Back-to-School Days
"Bring up a child in the way he or she should go and when they are old they will not depart from it."
September is the month when schools are back in full-swing. We pray for success this school year for students, educators, administrators, and other staff members.
This year we are moved to pray for special protection for our schools from the Covid-19 plague. We pray that schools may once again be teaching "in-person".
We pray that our nation's educational system may be a place where our children are taught social and moral values. This is not a call to mixing church and state. But surely there are some "universal" values that we should instill in our children without advocating one particular religious faith over another. Does not society need to "bring up children in the way they should go"?
I once took a class where the teacher made this argument: he pointed out how we have come to eliminating all teaching about morality in our schools. He pointed out that that course of action failed in its purpose. Indeed, as he noted, by censoring all talk about right and wrong our schools were still teaching a specific morality----it is called amorality. We are teaching our children by not teaching them.
Sadly, this month is now associated with one of the more horrific events in American history, the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. Twenty years ago, we as a nation saw the loss of thousands of lives.
This year the remembrance carries a very different spirit about it. We are witnessing death and loss at this very moment, in the very country from which we first attacked. I ask all of us to be in prayer for the nation of Afghanistan, for the refugees and their families, for the families who have lost loved ones in this war and loved ones lost in the recent attacks in Kabul, and pray for our country's safety and security in the future.
"For they shall beat their swords into plows and their spears into pruning hooks."
"And they shall learn war no more."
"Let it be, dear Lord, let it be."
May all of you continue to trust and obey. God bless. Pastor Terry

Sep 23, 2021 8:52 am

July & August 2021

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
I want to refer you to Jeremiah 29:4-7. In this lection Jeremiah is encouraging the captives who have been taken from Jerusalem to Babylon.
Jeremiah urges that while they may be slaves and while they may be forced to live in a foreign land, yet he urges them to pray for the peace and prosperity of that land.
Jeremiah pointed out that if they built houses, planted gardens, raised their families, and so forth, that, yes, the land of their enemies would prosper, but, in turn, so would they.
We can easily understand how the Israelites could have continued hating and fighting against their oppressors. Jeremiah indicated a different route for them to take as the people of God.
The people of God are those called to bring light, peace and joy to the world - whatever their personal circumstance – because in a true covenant relationship with God they walk in light, are established in peace, and praise in all things as joy flows in abundance from their hearts.
Happy is the land where such people dwell.
This July 4th we celebrate the 245th anniversary of our nation’s Declaration of Independence.
Do we feel content in our land? Or are we feeling like the ancient Israelites – lost, captive, unhappy, despairing?
We seem to have become a nation where people are hateful toward one another, divided, resentful. We appear to disrespect many elements of our collective national life.
Many of us feel that we are in a foreign land, different than that which we once knew. As the captives of old cried out, so many of our fellow Christians do so now: “How shall we sing the Lord’s song in a strange land?” (Psalm 137:4)
Strange land! That seems appropriate as a term for this day and age.
So what does God instruct us to do in this day? Through His prophet we hear His guidance anew: inhabit the land; live your lives fully in that land; build homes; raise your families; plant gardens; pray for the land’s peace, success and prosperity.
Be your homeland’s light, peace, and joy as a disciple of Jesus Christ.
Let each of us celebrate our great nation by remembering God’s blessings upon us in the past.
Let us determine to be God’s blessings in the days ahead, knowing that our country will thereby be blessed.
May you have a wonderful Fourth of July and may your summer be filled with joy.
In His Service, I am,
Pastor Terry

Sep 23, 2021 8:51 am

June 2021

Just a few worship reminders in June:
June 6: Graduates recognized. Are there some (high school/college) we should know about? Please contact the church office with names.
June 13: Hymnfest. Soloists, duets, any groups are invited to share special music selections with us on this date. Have a favorite hymn you’d like to hear? Call the church office with your choice (s).
June 20: Have a favorite story or anecdote on your father? Come and share with us on Father’s Day, our “Storytelling” service.
What is so rare as a day in June? Is that the way the poet put it? Most of us would agree that here in Ohio June is a special time. It is a month that ofttimes gives us some of the most beautiful days of the year. The earth is green; crops are growing; the air is often clear where we can see forever; days can be gloriously sunny and bright.
But as we walk with Jesus what day is not a rare day? Whether in the “bleak mid-winter”, or the “mud-lusciousness” of spring, Jesus brings to our hearts and spirits the wonders of joy and contentment whatever the circumstance – or weather. Jesus grants us the power to discern and to live each day in a sense of awe – the miracle of life itself.

May each of you have a wonderful summer!
See you in church!

Pastor Terry

Sep 23, 2021 8:51 am

June 2021

Just a few worship reminders in June:
June 6: Graduates recognized. Are there some (high school/college) we should know about? Please contact the church office with names.
June 13: Hymnfest. Soloists, duets, any groups are invited to share special music selections with us on this date. Have a favorite hymn you’d like to hear? Call the church office with your choice (s).
June 20: Have a favorite story or anecdote on your father? Come and share with us on Father’s Day, our “Storytelling” service.
What is so rare as a day in June? Is that the way the poet put it? Most of us would agree that here in Ohio June is a special time. It is a month that ofttimes gives us some of the most beautiful days of the year. The earth is green; crops are growing; the air is often clear where we can see forever; days can be gloriously sunny and bright.
But as we walk with Jesus what day is not a rare day? Whether in the “bleak mid-winter”, or the “mud-lusciousness” of spring, Jesus brings to our hearts and spirits the wonders of joy and contentment whatever the circumstance – or weather. Jesus grants us the power to discern and to live each day in a sense of awe – the miracle of life itself.

May each of you have a wonderful summer!
See you in church!

Pastor Terry

Sep 23, 2021 8:50 am

May 2021

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
Our church has been blessed with the ministry of passing the faith on to younger generations who do not yet know the Lord.

We have some children attending our worship services but we have no active youth Sunday School.

Certain ideas have been presented concerning ways in which our church may address a program of Christian Education.

Among these is the proposal of Junior Church education during the worship services themselves. At the opening of each service there would be a children's moment followed by their dismissal to Junior Church where they would be taught a short devotional or lesson for the day. They would then rejoin family or friends at the conclusion of worship.

This idea is particularly appealing as it requires no change in family activities or normal Sunday routines. The resources and lessons would be provided each week for those leaders and teachers at Junior Church.

Here is what we need to establish this good work: we need volunteers willing to sign up as members of a "pool" of teachers. In this way we can spread the responsibility out to many of us and not overtax one person.

Would you please do the following? Pray for this idea; pray concerning your leading to help with this ministry; share your ideas concerning alternatives or other suggestions.

Thank you for your prayerful consideration of this matter.

In His Love,
Pastor Terry

Sep 23, 2021 8:50 am

April 2021

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ:
Traditions of the church and those of the Christian year are treasured by many of us. Many of those traditions are often associated with the seasons of God’s Creation. And that fact makes me appreciate living in the Northern Hemisphere. When Christmas comes we have snow, reindeer, jingle bells, pine trees, evergreen wreaths, etc. In Australia at Christmas people are heading to the beach in an attempt to beat the heat.
So the constrast is the same with the Easter season. At this time the Southern Hemisphere is heading into Fall. But here we are entering Spring and the renewal of life is all about us. Wonderful signs pointing us to our hope in resurrection.
I find these symbols and representations to be inspiring. Eggs are colored and decorated as the eggs remind us that here is the potential of new life. Baby chicks are even hatched or purchased by families at this time. Creation itself cries out, “New Life”, as the earth awakens from its winter slumber. Trees come to life, the maple sap flows, ground is turned for planting, new lambs and calves arrive into the world, the sun shines a bit longer each day.
One of the more outstanding signs of spring’s new life in our area is the coming forth of the winter wheat. I have noticed how bright and colorful are the wheat fields this year-brilliant green in the midst of as yet leafless trees and fields not yet planted, lying brown and lifeless.
In John 12:24 Jesus refers to wheat when He says this, “Very truly I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” He goes on to say we too must die to this life and rise into the life offered by God—one of abundance and eternal in nature.
Friends, we stand before the empty tomb. The One Who died has arisen and has promised us that because He lives we too shall live. (John 14:19) And we shall live through faith and belief. Believe, for Christ is Risen, Christ is Risen, indeed!
May I impose upon our newsletter space by offering an Easter hymn to you, one that is not in many hymnals. I ran across it some decades ago while attending a Congregational Church in Connecticut. It too speaks of wheat’s amazing ability to die and yet bear fruit in new life. It is titled, “Now the Green Blade Riseth”.
1. Now the green blade riseth from the buried grain, wheat that in the dark earth many days hath lain. Love lives again, that with the dead has been: Love is come again, like wheat that springeth green.
2. In the grave they laid Him, Love Who had been slain, thinking that He never would awake again. Laid in the earth like grain that sleeps unseen: Love is come again, like wheat that springeth green.
3. For He came at Easter, like the risen grain, Jesus Who for three days in the grave had lain; quick from the dead my Risen Lord is seen: Love is come again, like wheat that springeth green.
4. When our hearts are wintry, grieving, or in pain, Jesus’ touch can call us back to life again. Fields of our hearts that dead are bare have been: Love is come again, like wheat that springeth green.
Ruth Anne and I pray a joyous Easter to all. And may the Risen Lord’s gentle touch call us back to life again.
-Pastor Terry

Sep 23, 2021 8:49 am

March 2021

Dear Family of God:
Maybe I am getting overanxious concerning the end of this period of the pandemic. But the word that has been stirring my heart and spirit recently has been the word “revival”.
Revival can basically be broken down to literally mean “again to live”.
I have begun to think about God’s amazing movement in the conjunction of time, event, and circumstance.
At the end of this month, we will be celebrating Palm Sunday on the 28th, the beginning of Holy Week, ending with Easter Sunday, April 4.
When our Board of Session meets on the 15th several items in the agenda will involve decisions regarding the “loosening” of some restrictions that have been placed on our fellowship and worship activities.
I am praying fervently for a joining together of joy-filled moments by the end of March. I pray that the weather will be spring-like-warm and gentle. I pray we will see new life springing forth in all the beauty of God’s creation. I pray that all will feel safe and secure in returning to in-person worship. I pray for a “revitalized” Christian Education program through Bible Study and church school.
In other words, I pray that we experience in the freshness of Spring, the love experience of our fellowship together and the awe we feel as we stand before the empty tomb.
Or, simply, I pray that we may experience revival, “again to live”.
But do we merely wish to be brought back to the “old life”? Jesus died perceived as a mere mortal. When He was resurrected He arose as a newly perceived Person. Now He presented Himself anew-Savior, Redeemer, Divine.
As we come out of the darkness of the past year what is our prayer? Lord, take us back to what we were on March 15, 2020?
Or, do we dare pray: Lord, revive us, but please revive us to a new life?
Do we dare become an Easter Church, making all things new for the sake of Christ and for the world?
With God’s help we hold the answer. Have a wonderful March. Pastor Terry

Feb 17, 2021 2:50 pm

February Pastor's Message

Dear Family of God,
Septuagesima. Sexagesima. Quinquagesima. Candlemas. Shrove Tuesday.
What do these terms mean? They all speak to something associated with the Christian faith. These terms may still be found listed in the calendar of The Old Farmer’s Almanac.
But what do they mean to us today?
I have to suppose that some of you may quickly recognize and define, but I would argue that most Presbyterians (and most Christians for that matter) would be unable to state where these terms come from or what they signify.
In an earlier day and in earlier societies where Christianity was the major religion of that society there is little doubt that the members of the general population would be able to identify and observe the dates.
One of the ways church leaders tried to keep the faith active in everyone’s minds and experiences was to offer a calendar full of observances. Saints’ Days used to be prevalent in other times and were actively observed. The Great Reformer, Martin Luther, changed these practices, arguing that the calendar was over-full and many observances meant nothing or little to most people.
So it is with the terms presented. It all began with Quinquagesima. This means fifty and indicates the fiftieth day before Easter, which, inevitably, is always the Sunday immediately before Ash Wednesday. This year Quinquagesima Sunday is February 14 as Ash Wednesday falls on February 17. That number works. Its purpose was to alert the believer to the beginning of Lent.
But then more was added: Sexagesima means sixty and is on February 7th this year; Septuagesima means seventy and is on January 31st this year. But they are obviously (as no doubt you have already figured out) not the sixtieth or seventieth day before Easter. The good intent to prepare people for Lent actually was diminished in effectiveness by that which we might term “overkill”.
What about us? Do we mark our calendars and plan events and celebrations around certain dates----and then forget the real meaning of the date we have circled on our calendars? Could we be guilty of this forgetfulness with such a date as December 25?
Yes, let us note that Lent begins on Ash Wednesday, February 17. But what will Lent mean for us individually this year?
What matters is not that which is marked on our calendars hanging on the wall, but what is marked on our hearts for every season. Are we seeking each day for a closer walk with God? Does each day find us hungering and thirsting after His Righteousness? Do we need a reminder on the calendar to love one another as He has loved us?
Lent is coming. May our Lenten practice be one we exercise throughout the year. May we repent, deny ourselves, pick up our cross and follow Jesus.
I pray a blessed Lent for all. Let us in a truer, more perfect way prepare our hearts to receive Christ, so that, standing before the empty tomb, we may in faith proclaim “Christ is risen! Christ is risen, indeed”.
In His Love,
Pastor Terry

Dec 29, 2020 9:00 am

January's Pastor Message

Reflections on January: Imitating Christ
January 1: We begin with resolutions. As followers of Christ may we resolve that in 2021 we will strive “to know Jesus Christ more clearly, to love Him more dearly, and to follow Him more nearly”. [Richard of Chichester]
January 1: One of the fullest days liturgically in the Christian year. On this date in many churches Mary, Mother of God, is celebrated. Being the eighth day after His birth when Jesus was circumcised and named, many churches observe a service of the Holy Name. And, of course, New Year services may be held with a renewal of our covenant with God.
January 6: Epiphany (meaning “manifestation” or “revelation”.) This day is associated with the coming of the Wise Men and the revelation to all the world of God in Jesus Christ.
Martin Luther King, Jr. Day: (this year observed on Monday, January 18.) Remembering the one who awakened our nation’s conscience to the need of racial equality and justice.
January 20: Inauguration Day
This day is a celebration of our American democracy. We should pause and give God thanks for the many blessings we enjoy here in “the home of the brave and the land of the free.”
And let us remember the Biblical injuction that we be in prayer for those in authority, especially for President-elect Joe Biden and Vice-President-elect Kamala Harris.
January 31: Septuagesima: we begin to prepare for Lent.
On Sunday, December 27, I wished everyone a “Happy New Year”. Rev. Thomas Wilson shared with us the fact that in Scotland the saying is “Good New Year”. I was amused when I looked in The Old Farmer’s Almanac, 2021, later that day and saw this poem from Scotland for the New Year.
“A good New Year to one and all,
And many may ye see;
And during all the years to come,
O happy may ye be.” -traditional Scottish poem
And so, as an olde English Methodist may I wish all of you in the spirit of an olde Scottish Presbyterian “a good New Year”. God be with you always.
-Pastor Terry

Nov 24, 2020 2:49 pm

December Pastor's Message

One word for this season – bright. Bright lights of color. Wrapping paper of color. Colorful ribbons and bows. Christmas cards of bright colors.
It is called the season of light. We hold up in this season such themes as joy, peace, hope and love.
We sing “It’s the most wonderful time of the year!”
There is the hustle and bustle of shopping. There are special meals to be planned and gatherings of family and friends to prepare for.
The reason for all of the above is easily explained. This season recognizes the greatest event in the world’s history – God became Man. God came to dwell with us.
Think on that for a bit.
And it is that reality –
Emmanuel, God with us – which moves us to great and joyful celebration!
Yet, you might be saying to yourself, “But, Pastor Terry, this year the season is not so bright. The pandemic is overshadowing the joy of the season.”
Is it?
Then shame on us!
Through the centuries the world has attempted always to stifle the Spirit. Yet hope and faith in the human heart prevails over all.
Think of the coming of Christ. How did God give us the gift of the Babe?
Let’s see: He used a village carpenter and a very young maiden, both poor and unknown. The angels spoke to lowly shepherds. The magi had a difficult and dangerous journey. Infants were killed. Joseph had to take his family to a foreign land.
How was Christmas in 1941 after Pearl Harbor? How was Christmas in 2001 after 9/11?
Those preceding questions are known as rhetorical questions: the answer is assumed. Christmas is Christmas whatever the circumstances of the present day.
And, in reflection, we know that Christmas is more than all the bright decorations and all of the excitement of the season. These are but mere trappings trying to signify the wonder of the Birth.
So, dear ones, we may look back and call Christmas 2020 the Covid Christmas.
But let us determine to look back and affirm that it was a true Christmas for all of us, finding us kneeling at that rude manger and preparing room in our hearts for the Christ Child.
A blessed Christmas to all.
Pastor Terry

Nov 3, 2020 12:20 pm

November Pastor's Message

Dear Ones in Christ,
In what is seen by most as a difficult year, 2020 still has offered us moments of wonder and joy. Surely the beauty of this autumn has been one of those joys.
With November here our thoughts turn to the great theme of the month, namely, Thanksgiving.
For many Thanksgiving is a favorite holiday. The gathering of families, good food, a more relaxed atmosphere, make this a deeply appreciated occasion.
And the theme of the day itself moves our hearts and spirits. We pause to give thanks for what our God has given to us.
Sometimes we fail to see exactly what it is that He has given, which is Himself in Christ.
There are times when we find it hard to give thanks. This year may be one of those times. Why should we be expected to give thanks in bad times? How can we give thanks when we are broke, or sick, or distressed in mind and spirit?
I have to remind myself often (as I gently remind all of you reading this) that my thanks to God is not qualified by daily circumstance. Paul writes in Philippians 4 that we are to rejoice in the Lord always. In I Thessalonians 5:18 Paul writes: “ Give thanks in all circumstances…”.
To put it in plain language we have one thing above all for which to be thankful. God has acted on our behalf through Christ Jesus.
With this knowledge and with our acceptance of Christ as our Lord and Master the circumstances of our daily routines become as nothing.
So when we gather this Thanksgiving let not the state of our spirit be determined by whether we are having a “good” day or “bad” day.
In Jesus every day is a good day. As one of our traditional Thanksgiving hymn states,
“So from the beginning
the fight we were winning;
Thou, Lord, was at our side,
All glory be Thine!”
Yes, we give thanks for the small blessings of life, “counting them one by one.” We give thanks in the moments of trial for we are not alone.
We give thanks for the One who is on our side.
Praise God!
Have a Happy Thanksgiving!
Pastor Terry

Oct 13, 2020 8:44 am

October Pastor's Message

“And now the days grow short, it is the autumn of the year…”
Some of you may recognize that verse as coming from a Frank Sinatra song, “It Was A Very Good Year”. In the song the singer looks back at some of the high points in his life and proclaim them as very good years, comparing life to the fine vintage of wines.
Even as life nears its end in the autumn of the year the singer rejoices in what has been and celebrates the joys of life.
As a young person I thought I was the only one who stated autumn as his favorite season. But as I grew older I discovered many people cite the Fall as a favorite time of year. When one thinks about it this could be considered rather odd; i.e., to prefer a season where everything is ending – going to sleep – dying.
In October, 1992, I was blessed in seeing a grandson for a first time in Maine and, then, being present for the birth of a nephew in New Hampshire. This allowed me to drive through the legendary fall foliage of New England.
It is not a legend. It is real. For a whole day I drove on back roads overarched by trees laden with blazing, fiery leaves. The brightness of it all actually tired the eyes.
Then it comes to all of us in this season: yes, it is beautiful, but, bluntly put, the leaves are dying.
A favorite hymn has the following as verse 1:
“Mountains are all aglow with autumn colors so bright; rivers are filled with water giving life to our days. Golden fields wave their praise to God’s bountiful harvest; gratefully, skyward arising, hear our joyous songs of praise”.
The harvest, too, is a sign of completion. What began with the spring planting is now seen in fields of gold – the time of reaping is here.
And we praise God for all of this. The brilliant leaves, the golden harvest, all are wonderful gifts of God’s Creation.
I think that is why so many love autumn. It does signify an end. But, oh, what an end! A rich harvest “safely gathered in, ere the winter storms begin”. The last leaf falling, but falling with the assurance of New Life in a Spring which is coming.
This is life for us. 2020 has been a difficult year. We can argree on that. And, with Sinatra again, we can sing, “Regrets, I’ve had a few; but then, again, too few to mention.”
In Jesus our lives blaze forth in glorious color. In Jesus our lives are rich with harvest. This year has seen us loving another by reaching out in new ways to bridge the gaps of separation. We have spoken words of comfort; we have spoken in soft tones which bring healing; we have shared our sorrows and joys in whatever circumstances we have found ourselves.
We are in the autumn of the year. We reminisce. We find we have journeyed through the year with Jesus by our side. And, indeed, we find our lives ablaze in His Glory, borne up by the assurance of a coming Eternal Spring.
It was a very good year.
Pastor Terry

Jun 26, 2020 10:26 am

July/August Pastor's Message

Psalm 133:1
Behold, how good and pleasant it is when sisters and brothers dwell in unity!

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
The verse cited above reminds us of our great joy when we experience unity with all people.
Psalm 133 only has three verses. The second verse of the psalm compares the pleasure of unity with the pleasure of precious oil flowing over the head and down the beard to the collar. The third verse compares unity’s joy to the peace and serenity of the dew falling on the mountains. Unity brings blessing – life forevermore.
Dear ones in Christ, it goes without saying that the past month has been a time that has tried many a soul.
We desire unity. Yet Covid 19 has separated us physically. We miss fellowship.
And in recent weeks we have witnessed our disunity as we divide from one another concerning race, culture, order and values.
How do we come together? What is our charge as Christian disciples?
What did Jesus say?
Mt. 5:7 “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.” Are we being merciful? Are we being open with and understanding of each other?
Mt. 5:9 “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God.” Are we actively seeking for unity? Are we instruments of peace? Are we speaking softly and tenderly in the midst of raging anger and hatred?
Mt. 5:22 “But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says ‘You fool’ will be liable to the hell of fire.” Why are we so angry with each other? Why so much name-calling?
I believe we all know what Jesus says to these matters. If we wish unity, then we must put forth a Spirit desirous of unity. We ardently seek the companionship of others. Our joy is found in being bound together in Love – thinking more highly of the other than ourselves.
As the song goes: “Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me.” Jesus has tagged us. We are the light of the world, the salt of the earth.
Are you praying for these days of division to end? Jesus has commissioned us. Soft words turneth away wrath. Come, let us reason together. Let us pray for a “kinder, gentler America.”
As we celebrate our nation’s Independence Day, let us seek the joy and pleasure of unity – one nation under God.
As disciples of Jesus, may we be in the vanguard leading all to the deep and wondrous spiritual experience of unity in Jesus’ Love.
We are marching to a new tomorrow – a day of peace, unity, love and JOY!

It is coming. See you there!

Pastor Terry

Jun 26, 2020 10:25 am

June Pastor's Message

Dear Family of God,
With the coming of June we find ourselves as Christians in the season after Pentecost. Ofttimes this season is represented by the liturgical color of red, a color of passion, spirit, heat; also represented by flame, indicating a church “on fire”.
The word for spirit in the Greek of the New Testament is pneuma. This word has several definitions in addition to spirit. It may also mean breath or wind.
It comes into our language with such terms as pneumatic tubes, pneumonia, etc.
On the Day of Pentecost, celebrated on May 31st this year, the gift of the Holy Spirit descended upon the disciples. Then wondrous things occurred. Tongues were spoken. People from all over the known world at that time heard for the first time the Good News in their own language. Thousands were baptized in Jesus’ Name.
The passion and enthusiasm of that day gave the day’s name to a particular branch of Christian worship – Pentecostalism – which has the worshippers exhibiting great enthusiasm by outward signs of joy, happiness and praise. Sometimes we see dancing, clapping, shouting, etc.
But the gift of the Spirit means much more than outward signs of individual salvation. The gift of the Spirit strengthens – both the individual believer as well as the corporate body of believers – the church.
In the power of the Spirit we find ourselves able to forgive ourselves in the forgiveness God grants us. In the power of the Spirit we are able to love the unlovable. In the power of the Spirit we are able to forgive others, able to persevere when the going gets rough, able to find lasting joy and comfort.
We will be returning to in-person worship on June 7th.
What will we return to? Will we return to a church beaten down, discouraged, disheartened, feeling hopeless?
Or will we return knowing that God is able to use the bad of Covid-19 for a new hope? Let us pray for a double portion of the Spirit. Let us seek a new day in Jesus, a new Hope.
He is calling us to repair the breach, build the new walls, erect a new Temple.
Allow me to close with an anecdote.
“When trying to motivate Christians, Billy Sunday used to speak graphically of the well-known village atheist, who was seen running vigorously to a burning church building, intent on joining with others in subduing the flames. A neighbor, observing him, exclaimed facetiously, ‘This is something new for you! I never saw you going to church before.’ ‘Well’ the atheist replied, ‘this is the first time I have ever seen a church on fire!’”
May our community see and run to our church on fire with the Power and Love of the Holy Spirit.
See you in church.
-Pastor Terry

Apr 30, 2020 9:46 am

May Pastor's Message

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ:
Psalm 30:5b “ …..weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.” KJV
My father served in the U.S. Army in World War II. He served almost five full years. And, like many war veterans, he did not share with us many of his experiences in the military. Part of the Greatest Generation he went and did his duty and said little about, and rarely complained about, the difficult times that generation experienced.
In fact the only thing he complained about was the delay in getting home AFTER the war was over. And that’s the only thing he actually shared with us kids. [Mom had to tell the other stories.]
He, along with millions of others, wanted to go home. And the return was being delayed.
He taught us a little ditty from that time. It went something like this:
“Mr. Truman, why can’t we come home?
We have conquered Berlin, Tokyo and Rome.
We have defeated the Master Race,
And still there is no shipping space.
O, Mr. Truman, why can’t we come home?”
This has stayed with me over the years. I think it reflects our human tendency to be more and more impatient, more and more frustrated, the closer we get to finishing a task, or “to see the light at the end of the tunnel.”
We want to get home.
Many of us may be feeling that emotion of frustration and an anxiousness to see the end of this current health crisis. Not to shame us in comparison with an earlier generation, or to compare two dissimilar events, but are we not amazed at the generation that weathered a crisis that lasted for years?
Our present crisis is four months in length, at the most.
Yes, “the darkest hour is just before the dawn.” We do not have to justify our feelings of despair. They are honest and real emotions.
We are, however, called upon to meet our challenges just as previous generations met the challenges of their day.
And how did they, and how do we, meet and conquer these crises?
John 14:27 “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give to you….Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”
Most trials and tribulations are overcome when we remember that Jesus promised to be with us even to the end of the age. We are never abandoned; we are always loved.
I want to encourage all of you to pray and wait upon the Lord. Jesus, the great Healer of Galilee, waits to bring us health and comfort. Let us ask Him; let us seek Jesus; let us find Jesus.
Let us finish this task before us, empowered by the Spirit and driven by our love of neighbor and the world.
We will see each other again.

In Jesus’ Love,

Pastor Terry

Apr 30, 2020 9:46 am

April's Message from Pastor

Sisters and Brothers in Christ:
Paul writes:
Romans 8:18 “For I am convinced that the sufferings of this present age cannot be compared with the glory which is destined to be disclosed to us.”
My heart goes out to each and every one of you. Even if you are avoiding the disease of the pandemic, you find yourself in the midst of an anxious and fearful world.
But troubled times often reveal the greatness of the human spirit and its nobility. I see first responders rushing into areas of danger in order to care for the neighbor. Food is being delivered to those unable to be out and about. The leaders of large corporations and those in government are taking extraordinary measures to assist millions of people.
And, perhaps most significantly, people are praying for one another, placing each other in love before the God of all-mercy.
It is regretful that we cannot be together in the wondrous time of spring to celebrate the Resurrection of Christ in sacred gathering. Yet, as Paul writes (Romans 8:31-39), nothing can separate us from the love of God. Likewise, nothing can separate us from the love we have for one another – that love which emanates from Christ.
So, in hope and patience we wait for the end of this “time of distance”, knowing that God’s love will keep us and bless us.
In hope we wait for that time when we will again shake hands, hug one another, and laugh, rejoicing through the empowerment of the Holy Spirit.
Until then, take care and be well. God willing we may see you soon!

In His Love,

Pastor Terry

Mar 20, 2020 1:17 pm

March's Pastor's Message

Dear Ones in Christ,
As I write this article, I am aware of so many topics I could address, such as Lent, fasting, repentance, etc., at this time and season of the year.
But I hope you will allow me to speak about one of our better known Christian saints, St. Patrick, whose day we celebrate this month on the 17th.
Patrick was kidnapped by pirates when he was 16 and taken from his home in England to be sold into slavery in Ireland. After a number of years in slavery he escaped and went to France. There he felt God’s call and became a monk. One day he had a vision of Irish people calling him back to Ireland to preach the Good News of Christ. He obeyed that call and is now credited as the person most responsible for converting Ireland to Christianity.
Think of this story! God used a man who had lost his home and freedom to proclaim Christ to the very people who had taken him from home and freedom. Patrick did not want to go back to Ireland, but he obeyed God’s will.
What is little noted about this story is what happened about two centuries after Patrick’s death. Christianity was falling into a desperate state in Western Europe and the faith was under threat of extinction. The Irish Church that had been founded by Patrick saw the need and sent missionaries back into Europe. This action has often been cited as saving Christianity in the West.
We are inheritors of Patrick’s willingness to say yes. We have the faith today because one man was willing to obey God. Are we willing to say yes when God calls?
Irish blessing: “May the road rise up to meet you; may the wind be always at your back; may the sun shine gently on your face; may the rains fall softly on your fields; and, until we meet again, may God hold you in the palm of His hand.” God bless all.

-Pastor Terry

Mar 20, 2020 1:16 pm

February's Pastors Message

Greetings in the Name of Jesus:
With the coming of February our thoughts are often centered upon the word “love”. This is known as the month of love as St. Valentine’s Day is observed in February. The love celebrated on that day, February 14, is associated with “romantic” love. But the occasion also invites us to consider the fuller meaning of love.
Christians use the term to describe God: 1 John 4:8b: “…for God is love”.
And what are we commanded to be? We are commanded to be love as God is love. “A new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.” John 13:34
God gave Himself to us to show His love. “In this was manifested the love of God toward us, that God sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him.” 1 John 4:9
Throughout the Word of God love is equated with the giving of self for the sake of the other. We are called to give to the widow, the orphan, the poor and needy. We are called to think more highly of the other than ourselves.
We cannot hold ourselves back and say that we are love. Ultimately, self-sacrifice defines love.
And that does not, by definition, exclude the “romantic” love. In each wedding ceremony I have ever seen, the bride and groom are both asked, “Will you give yourself wholly to the other? To love, to cherish, to care for, to be faithful, and to stand by each other until death itself?”
And so, we have love. “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” John 15:13
So, let us become love to one another. Let us become love itself, for in love we find eternity. As St. Paul wrote; “And now abideth faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” 1 Corinthians 13:13
May God bless you all throughout this month with the wonderful gift of love.
In His Service,
Pastor Terry

Mar 20, 2020 1:15 pm

January's Pastor Message

Greetings in the name of our Savior, Jesus:
We sometimes become amused at ourselves as we tend to repeat patterns over and over. One of those patterns is our tendency to examine our lives at the beginning of a new year on the calendar.
This self-examination results often in what we call “New Year’s Resolutions”. Many of these resolutions often relate to our physical self. “I will go on a diet.” “I will lose weight.” “I will exercise more.” “I will be less stressed.” “I will get more sleep,” etc.
Then we end up laughing about another tendency-that in which most resolutions are broken before the end of January.
But we do recognize the need for changes which will improve our lives, and, so, year after year we make new efforts to establish better practices so that we might become “better persons”.
There are those resolutions which look beyond the physical. Many of us will resolve to do better in our relations with others, or resolve to improve the way we think, or to seek spiritual health.
As we begin 2020 all of us who attempt to follow Christ might heed St. Paul’s words in Galatians 5:19-26. Here Paul tells us what Christ would have us give up in order to more perfectly follow Him. It is quite a list! And it involves a number of items that are not “visible” sins but are sins abiding in our hearts and souls – such as hating, making trouble, jealousy, anger, selfishness, envy, etc.
We should resolve to do away with such feelings in our lives.
Instead Paul urges us to seek the Spirit of Christ, to let Jesus have control of our lives. In doing so we will bear the fruits of the Spirit – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control – the nine fruits of the Spirit.
Can we make such a New Year’s Resolution? Can our prayer be, “God help me to abandon my sinful ways and help me to bear good fruits in the coming year”?
And there is Good News here! When we rely on God we can keep these resolutions! And even better news! When we break one of our resolutions, God is there to forgive, there to pick us up when we have fallen, and there to send us on our way as we grow in trust and obedience.
So how about it? Shall we resolve to be more like Jesus in 2020?
In His Service, I am,
Pastor Terry

Mar 20, 2020 1:15 pm

January's Pastor Message

Greetings in the name of our Savior, Jesus:
We sometimes become amused at ourselves as we tend to repeat patterns over and over. One of those patterns is our tendency to examine our lives at the beginning of a new year on the calendar.
This self-examination results often in what we call “New Year’s Resolutions”. Many of these resolutions often relate to our physical self. “I will go on a diet.” “I will lose weight.” “I will exercise more.” “I will be less stressed.” “I will get more sleep,” etc.
Then we end up laughing about another tendency-that in which most resolutions are broken before the end of January.
But we do recognize the need for changes which will improve our lives, and, so, year after year we make new efforts to establish better practices so that we might become “better persons”.
There are those resolutions which look beyond the physical. Many of us will resolve to do better in our relations with others, or resolve to improve the way we think, or to seek spiritual health.
As we begin 2020 all of us who attempt to follow Christ might heed St. Paul’s words in Galatians 5:19-26. Here Paul tells us what Christ would have us give up in order to more perfectly follow Him. It is quite a list! And it involves a number of items that are not “visible” sins but are sins abiding in our hearts and souls – such as hating, making trouble, jealousy, anger, selfishness, envy, etc.
We should resolve to do away with such feelings in our lives.
Instead Paul urges us to seek the Spirit of Christ, to let Jesus have control of our lives. In doing so we will bear the fruits of the Spirit – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control – the nine fruits of the Spirit.
Can we make such a New Year’s Resolution? Can our prayer be, “God help me to abandon my sinful ways and help me to bear good fruits in the coming year”?
And there is Good News here! When we rely on God we can keep these resolutions! And even better news! When we break one of our resolutions, God is there to forgive, there to pick us up when we have fallen, and there to send us on our way as we grow in trust and obedience.
So how about it? Shall we resolve to be more like Jesus in 2020?
In His Service, I am,
Pastor Terry

Nov 27, 2019 8:47 am

December Pastor's Message

Advent Message
The Grace and Peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.
The season of Advent is noted as the time of reflection upon the birth of Jesus of Nazareth; He Who is proclaimed Messiah, Savior, Son of God.
How about the preceding being an orthodox, traditional opening for an Advent meditation? And most of us will have quickly glanced over the lines.
If you are still reading, I invite you to reflect on one word in those lines – that word is “reflection”.
I know many of you have been urged in the past at this time of year to “slow down”, “don’t wear yourself out”, “enjoy the moment”, “remember the Reason for the Season”.
All those statements hold truth. But we need to further ask: “Are we reflecting on this birth?” What does it mean for us today?
What is a Messiah? What is a Son of God? What is Immanuel? What is a Savior?
Reflection indicates a practice of intentional centering upon a certain topic or event or person. I invite all of us this season to be fervent in prayer and contemplation upon the birth in Bethlehem. I invite all to consider this event as for the first time; an invitation to a renewed sense of awe and wonder.
I believe the God of all creation appearing as a helpless Babe will once again astound us. That this Babe has come to save should send a wave of comfort and assurance over all of us. That this Babe has sent to us His continued presence in the Spirit for even this day should elicit our shouts of joy and praise. That this Babe has promised to return to us is awe-inspiring. Almost overwhelming, isn’t it?
In Jesus we see the Face of God, the Word of God, the Spirit of God, the Heart of God. Immanuel-God with us.
Upon reflection we now know why the season is known as the Season of Joy.
May you and all your loved ones have a very happy Advent and a Merry Christmas.
In His Service I am,
Pastor Terry Washburn

Jun 21, 2019 8:42 am

June Pastor's Message

Dear Church Family,
Consider these words from 1 Peter 3:15-16a:

15 Instead, regard Christ the Lord as holy in your hearts. Whenever anyone asks you to speak of your hope, be ready to defend it.16 Yet do this with respectful humility, maintaining a good conscience.
This particular quote of one of the best verses in Scripture is from the Common English Bible. Any translation you choose will do a great job with this brief passage! It says three things:

First, regarding Christ the Lord as holy in your hearts is a great start! We are blessed with a savior in whose image our lives can flourish. To understand Christ as holy is the best way to grow in Christian faith!

Secondly, being prepared always to speak of the hope you have is such a great attitude. So many people today live without hope, even though their lives are so greatly blessed. Bringing the hope we have in Jesus Christ wherever we go is a great witness!

Finally, do this with respectful humility! If the good news is Jesus Christ, make sure the way you share that news is good!
It has been good to be with you. God bless you going forward. Apply these verses when you think of First Presbyterian Church, Hillsboro! Christ is Holy. There is hope in Jesus Christ!


Chris Torrey

Apr 26, 2019 1:20 pm

May Pastor's Message

Dear Church Family,

I shared with the Session in April my plan to complete my brief ministry at Hillsboro in May. The contract I agreed to with Session carried us through April. I’ll continue as Moderator of the Session and preacher on May 5 and May 19.
Jesus said, in John 14, “In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places.” Often we think of that as a glimpse of Heaven, but I’ve also understood it to be a description of the Church: the many, many dwelling places where “The Word of God is truly preached and heard, and the Sacraments are rightly administered . . .” to quote the Book of Order.
I felt the presence of God in this church, in our worship together, in the fellowship we’ve shared. Thank you for welcoming me into your congregational life from just before Christmas to just after Easter!
I’m helping the Session work with Presbytery to find the best possible next steps to help this church flourish and grow, to move into God’s future in the best ways possible. My assignment was to help you decide whether there is a church here which can sustain into the future. My assessment is that truly you can be a vital congregation going forward, with appropriate discernment and leadership!
God bless all of you! I will be with you through Sunday, May 19, and look forward to wishing you well beyond that!


Chris Torrey

Mar 27, 2019 8:44 am

April Pastor's Message

Dear Church Family,
“Blest be the tie that binds”! There are many connections we enjoy with other Presbyterians around the world, but one of the best is what’s accomplished in the One Great Hour of Sharing every Easter.
Elsewhere in this newsletter is more information about One Great Hour, but this is a personal testimony. As a child in a Presbyterian Church, I remember the little church-shaped coin boxes and the urging of earnest adults to put coins in the box leading to Easter.
Sometimes we grumble that the good things of the past are gone. One Great Hour of Sharing is one of the great things about being Presbyterian that is still very much alive. And thriving! And worth your support!
I’ve seen for myself in the mission field the benefits of One Great Hour of Sharing offerings, but one word of advice I heard 50 years ago I know to be true today: this is one of the most efficient and effective ways to make a contribution you’ll ever find. The overhead involved in this offering is lower than almost any other charity: if you want you donation to accomplish the purpose intended, you won’t find a better way to give than through One Great Hour of Sharing!

Chris Torrey

Feb 27, 2019 12:31 pm

March Pastor's Message

Dear Church Family,
At the end of our most recent meeting of Session and Deacons-Trustees, we took time to speak aloud the concerns and celebrations we share. Then we prayed and adjourned saying the Lord’s Prayer holding hands around the circle.
I paused after we collected the names and concerns and celebrations brought forward for a word of affirmation. I’ve served a number of churches, and moderated Session meetings at many more. I can’t think of any other church which does such a great job of truly caring about each other.
One of the gifts of being “new” in a church is recognizing some of the strengths of that church, maybe especially strengths the church doesn’t realize it has! What gives me hope as I think of First Presbyterian Church of Hillsboro is that the most important work of the church – caring for one another as God would have us do – is one of your great strengths.
It is a privilege to minister among you, and to work closely with your elected officers, whose love of the Lord so clearly includes the gift of loving and caring about the whole congregation.


Chris Torrey

Jan 30, 2019 9:55 am

February Pastor's Message

What’s God Doing in Your Life?
Presbyterian minister Fred Buechner, one of the better preachers our denomination has produced in generations, used to walk up to people and simply ask this question:
“What’s God doing in your life?”
He said it was amazing the kinds of answers he would get. It was a door people would gladly walk through, allowing them to shape their answer to reflect who they were as spiritual people.
It also challenged most people! A good challenge: the sort of question they had not thought about enough. God doing something in my life? I hadn’t thought about it!
It helps when we think about it. God, of course, is constantly moving and shaping our lives, when we allow that to happen. Sometimes we have so many plans of our own there’s little room for God’s purpose to show through. Perhaps the only encouragement you need is to stop and wonder: what exactly is God doing in my life?
Even best is when we pray or in some other way express openness to God’s activity. Perhaps the prayer is the question: “God, what are you doing in my life?”
Notice how the question changes a bit when we emphasize first one word and then another in the sentence. Read the sentence, the question, to yourself several times, emphasizing first one word then the next as you pray.
Remarkably, by the time you’ve come to the end of the question, and prayed it as a question with emphasis on each of the eight words, you may find you’ve found the answer. I hope so!
By the way, if you ever want to answer the question by telling me what God is doing in your life, please do so! In person works great, or by e-mail ( or in any way you think would appropriately help me know what God is doing in your life, and how that feels to you!
Chris Torrey

Jan 16, 2019 2:22 pm

Keep in touch!

Chris Torrey here, the Transitional Pastor at First Presbyterian Church, Hillsboro.
Do me a favor: if you read this message, send me an e-mail at and let me know this is a place you and I could meet.
I look forward to adding messages here from time to time, and knowing that you (and others) are looking here will encourage me so to do!
God bless you!
-Chris Torrey

Nov 30, 2018 1:38 pm


Welcome Rev. Chris Torrey!
We will be welcoming our new Interim Pastor, Rev. Chris Torrey on December 16th, with a Fellowship Coffee Hour after worship. Here is a biography piece to get to know him a little bit before he comes.
Both of Chris' parents came from Presbyterian families with deep commitment to serving others. His father's family served as missionaries to China from 1905-1948. His mother's father was superintendent of an orphanage in Xenia, Ohio.
His parents met at Maryville College, A Presbyterian school in Tennessee. Chris met his first wife at the College of Wooster, where he majored in mathematics. Sadly, their thirty-year marriage ended in divorce in 2007 and she moved to Maine. Chris has a daughter who lives near Cincinnati raising her two young children, and a son who is a doctor in residency at Case Western University and Rainbow Babies Hospital in Cleveland.
Chris felt called to ministry while working in Presbyterian summer camps. He went to seminary in Boston and Edinburg, Scotland, then served churches in suburban Boston, suburban Detroit, San Jose, California, and Lakeside Presbyterian Church in Northern Kentucky.
Chris was called to Lakeside in 1995. A series of self-inflicted wounds there caused significant membership loss and turmoil before that time. In his 22 years as pastor he helped the Session and congregation rebuild the ministry and mission of the church, and significantly renovate the church building. Chris most enjoyed direct involvement in missions, music ministry, and worship leadership at Lakeside. He retired June 4, 2017.
Chris and Dawn Butler were married in December last year. They enjoy taking walks along the Ohio river, believing they have found every good bench with a view on both the Kentucky and Ohio sides of the river. When Christ retired, they purchased a home in New Richmond, Ohio, with great river views and a lovely park-like setting. While Chris tends the home and property in retirement, Dawn works at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center as a Clinical Pharmacist in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.
Transitional ministry and conflict resolution have been special interests, especially during his recent term chairing the Committee on Ministry of the Presbytery. God brings people together with gifts to further the work of the church. Chris looks forward to his time at Hillsboro, hoping it will serve the church and God's people in meaningful ways!

Oct 12, 2018 8:34 am

October's Pastor's Message

I want to thank the Session and the members of the Hillsboro congregation for the generous gifts I received at my retirement reception. The money and gift card will help us as we settle into our new home. A special thank you to Joyce Sparks and the rest of the Fellowship Committee for all the planning.
Over the last 25 years, we have celebrated church anniversaries, weddings, and many accomplishments, we have also shared loss and disappointments. But through it all, God has been with us. After 42 years of ministry, it is time slow down and live a little lighter schedule.
Our children grew up in Hillsboro and we are thankful for your support of them and their endeavors. You hold a special place in our hearts and lives, and you will remain in our prayers.
Thank you, again, and God bless!
“Now may the Lord of peace Himself give you peace at all times and in every way. The Lord be with all of you…. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.” (2 Thessalonians 3:16 & 18).
Pastor Maurice Mitchell

Aug 24, 2018 10:27 am

September Pastor's Message

Pastor’s Article
I was reading my morning devotion the other day and ran across a timely meditation for myself, as well as for others. So, I thought I’d share part of it. You should read Ecclesiastes 3:1-11 first.
“As we live through the different seasons of life sometimes we are faced with unexpected changes. Accidents, natural disasters, children going off to college and/or getting married, job transfers (pastors being called elsewhere or retiring) and the like – take us by surprise and change our perspective for better or worse. Perhaps you’ve been fortunate enough to have seen a difficult situation turn around for the better. Or maybe you’ve gone through a sudden change in your life, a time when things went from good to bad or from bad to worse.
“It’s easy and natural at times to wonder why God allows certain events to happen. In what has become the best-known portion of Ecclesiastes, Solomon lets us know that, this side of heaven; we’ll never fully understand why such things occur.”
As you look back on your life, can you see any events or experiences that at the time seemed useless – or worse, even harmful? Over time, good can result from those experiences. Perhaps you’ve had experiences for which you can see no positive benefit whatsoever? That’s when faith enters the picture. Because we read that “in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who has been called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28), we can believe and rely on God to keep His promise to us. Change is part of life, all we need to do is keep close to God as these changes come along.
I am closing one chapter of my life and looking forward to a new one. That change affects this church and community. My prayer is that after some uncertainty, the change will be a blessing for all of those affected. God bless!
Pastor Mitchell

Jun 21, 2018 8:13 am

July/August Pastor's Message

Pastor’s Article
Five loaves + two fish = plenty for everyone + 12 baskets of leftovers.
What sort of math is that? It’s God’s math, of course. In God’s way of tallying, things always come out better than our school mathematics classes would lead us to believe. Read Matthew 14:13-21
Here are some more examples of God’s math:
• 100% - 10% = 100% (see Malachi 3:10)
• 1 wrong + 1 right = enemy into a friend (see Matthew 5:44-45)
• 7 x 70 > 490 (see Matthew 18:21-22, RSV)
• 99 + 1 = great joy (see Luke 15:3-7)
• 1 Christian + the Holy Spirit = 3,000 converts (see Acts 2:14-41)
God’s math doesn’t simply make do, or provide just enough. God’s math provides super abundance.
The account of the boy’s lunch of five loaves and two fish wasn’t much for a multitude, though Matthew doesn’t tell us where the food came from. But the boy shared what he had. Then Jesus took charge, blessed what they had, gave it to them and it was enough, and more. After everyone had eaten “and were full,” there was enough left to fill “twelve baskets.”
There was healing for the hurting and food for the hungry. Jesus took care of the people. He provided for their needs.
Now we are the disciples. We look at the vast needs of the world and are at a loss. Jesus can still work a miracle. He urges us to take what we have, share it, and give it away. And it is enough and then some.
Here is one more example of God’s math: One sinner + God’s grace = a forgiven child of God. Oh, yes, and it comes with a mansion!
We can’t out give God! What will you share to build the kingdom?
Pastor Mitchell

May 24, 2018 8:58 am

June Pastor's Message

This month, I am writing this article with a different purpose. As most of you are aware by now: on Sunday, May 20th, I announced my plans to retire this fall, effective the end of September. It has been a privilege to serve as your pastor for what has now been 25 years. This May I celebrated my 68th birthday. While I have never thought of age as a deciding factor, and still don’t, it simply feels to Debbie and I like the right time for us to move into a new chapter of our lives.
The decision hasn’t come easily, but the timing seems right. We knew that one obstacle to my retirement was a place to live. After a little while of searching, we found, what we think, is the ideal home for our retirement years. It is in Wilmington, not too far away.
I have been in conversation with Rev. Dr. Nancy Kahaian, our Presbytery’s General Presbyter. She and a representative from the Committee on Ministry will be meeting soon with the Session to outline the steps in the search process for a new pastor.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, while this may have come as a bit of a shock, it is not something totally unexpected. If you really considered it, you have known that I was approaching that time in my life and ministry. As the transition takes place over the next few months, I ask you to remember this above all else: while I am moving on, God is staying put. In the words of God’s prophet, Jeremiah:
11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call on Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek Me and find Me when you seek Me with all your heart (Jeremiah 29:11-13, NIV).
Pastor Maurice Mitchell

Apr 24, 2018 1:11 pm

May Pastor's Message

When we moved into the manse on Walnut St, there was a little pine tree next the driveway. It was about five feet tall, a nice little round tree. It’s still there, but it’s not little anymore. At first, I trimmed it to shape it. After three or four years, it was too big to reach the top branches, so I let “nature take its course”. It’s probably close to 30 feet tall (and no I didn’t climb up and measure it!). After all, God designed it to grow strong and tall, reaching for the sky.
I am amazed at how fast my grandsons, Caleb and Austen, have grown, just like that tree. They will soon be as tall as their grandmother!
It’s important for us to grow closer to God. How do we do that? By carefully tending our hearts and souls to seek out God. We do that by spending time with God in prayer and worship. Read Mark 6:45-46.
It’s no wonder, then, that Jesus’ effectiveness in ministering to the needs of others was borne out of His times of communion with His Heavenly Father (read Luke 5:16-17).
Each one of us has the opportunity to cultivate a daily devotional life. Time spent alone, in the scriptures and in prayer each day, will bear fruit in our lives as we experience an ever-deepening relationship with our heavenly Father.
Those who are willing to shut out the clamor and demands of each day’s activity, in order to sit at the feet of Jesus and listen to His words, will experience a closeness that most believers long to achieve.
Let God grow you into the best person, the best disciple, you can be. Study His word and spend time in His presence.
Pastor Mitchell

Mar 22, 2018 2:16 pm

April Pastor's Message

It seems odd to me that Easter falls on April 1st (better known as April Fools’ Day). In the last century this has occurred only 4 times. You may remember a couple of them. It has happened only once in my lifetime, but I hadn’t started school yet, so I don’t remember. It occurred in 1923, 1934, 1945, 1956, and will again in 2029.
In Western Christianity (including the Roman Catholic church and all Protestant churches), Easter Sunday always falls on the first Sunday after the first full moon after Spring Equinox [or the Pascal (Passover) moon]. Easter can fall as early as March 22nd and as late as April 25th.
Now, a little history about April Fools’ Day. April Fools' Day is an annual celebration in some European and Western countries commemorated on April 1st by playing practical jokes and spreading hoaxes. The victims are called April Fools. Some newspapers, magazines and other published media report fake stories, which are usually explained the next day or below the news section in small letters. Although popular since the 19th century, the day is not a public holiday in any country.
When real events happen on April 1st, folks tend to not believe the news. For example: On April 1, 1946 there was a warning about the Aleutian Island earthquake's tsunami that resulted in the deaths of 165 people in Hawaii and Alaska.
In the Middle Ages, New Year's Day was celebrated on March 25th in most of Europe. In some areas of France, New Year's was a week-long holiday ending on April 1st Some writers suggest that April Fools' originated because those who celebrated on January 1st made fun of those who continued to celebrate New Year’s Day on April 1st.
According to Old Testament scriptures, a fool is the opposite of a wise person. The early Christians, therefore, were considered fools because they believed in the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. In 1 Corinthians 1:18, Paul testifies: “For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” (Read 1 Corinthians 1:18-23).
It may seem foolish, but we have God’s word as proof! No fooling, Jesus is alive!
Pastor Mitchell
* * * * *

Feb 23, 2018 10:17 am

March Pastor's Message

I have heard people say, and at times I’ve said it myself, that they just can’t understand parts of the Bible, or that they don’t get anything out of it. In my experience, one of the biggest reasons the Bible remains a mystery to people, is because they simply don’t read it.
You and I are not the first to feel overwhelmed or confused by the Bible. In one of his books, Robert Farrar Capon says that when human beings try to describe God we are like a bunch of oysters trying to describe a ballerina. We simply cannot comprehend something so utterly beyond us. Our brains are simply not adequate to understand God in His fullness. The best we can do is point a trembling finger toward Jesus and declare, “If you want to know what God is like, look at this Man. Look at how He lived and how He died. This is what God is like.”
As you read God’s Word, ask Him to give you understanding. Ask Him to make those portions of Scripture that are difficult to grasp, clearer to you. Ask Him to make the familiar passages fresh and alive. Ask Him to reveal Himself and His ways to you.
As I write this article we are about 10 days into the season of Lent (a period of forty days before Easter, not counting Sundays). I challenge you to read at least one of the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John) between now and Easter. That would be only about a chapter a day. There is a total of 89 chapters in the four Gospels.
As you read, pause frequently to meditate on the meaning of what you are reading. Absorb the Word by dwelling on it, pondering it, and going over it again and again, in your mind, until it becomes a part of you. As we prepare for Easter, let us give thanks to a God Who loves us in spite of our sins, and freely offers us mercy and grace.
Pastor Mitchell
* * * * *

Jan 25, 2018 1:39 pm

February Pastor's Message

Pastor’s Article
February is a short month, but full of special days: Valentine’s Day, Presidents’ Day, and this year, Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent.
One of the predominant messages of the Bible is that “God is love” (Read 1 John 4). Some folks might say something to the effect of, “Really? God is love? Well, if that’s true, then how could He have allowed…?” – and out comes a painful story.
Maybe something happened to you. Something was done to you. Something devastated you, and you cannot accept or understand that pain with the message that God loves. Paul had a major physical affliction, the nature of which we don’t really know, but the severity of it is not in question (2 Corinthians 12:7-10). But God was able to use it for His kingdom.
You need to know that the way out of your problem is not to deny God’s love or run from God, but instead, to embrace His love. Too often we define God’s love only as protecting, caring, and blessing us.
Most people would agree that when you love someone, you protect them. God’s love is a protecting love, but it’s not always a preventing love. God doesn’t always keep back things and trials from happening. I always want to protect my grandsons, but sometimes, as grandparents and parents, we have to let them learn from their mistakes. But we are there to help them up when they fall. Like a parent, God can tell us how we should live, but He won’t stop us from making mistakes. We learn best from our mistakes. Don’t we? I do!
For me, here’s the single best way to describe God’s love in my life: He loves me with a perfecting love. You, too, are under construction, my friend. God is working on you. There will be difficult times, but you can trust Him. He loves you with an everlasting love.
The ultimate sign of love is seen when God was willing to send His Son to die for us. This year Ash Wednesday falls on February 14th, Valentine’s Day. What greater Valentine could we receive then the reminder of God’s redeeming sacrifice for us?
Pastor Mitchell

Dec 28, 2017 10:06 am

January's Message

My grandparents paid attention to the moon signs, and they read the “Farmers’ Almanac” regularly. They tried to plant potatoes on Good Friday, and other things by the moon signs. This comes to mind, because the last few months have been a busy time for astrologers. Last August 21st a total solar eclipse traveled across the United States. Many people traveled miles and miles to witness the event. Our eclipse was about 90%. If you want to plan ahead, there will be a total solar eclipse near us on April 8th, 2024. The total eclipse will be in Fairfield, Dayton, and extend to most of northwestern Ohio.
This winter another unusual event takes place in the skies above us. I assume you have heard of a “blue moon.” (A “blue moon” occurs when two full moon phases occur in the same calendar month.) It is fairly rare, often happening only once a year, if then. We didn’t have a “blue moon” in 2017. This is where the phrase “Once in a Blue Moon” comes from.
This winter we will experience two “blue moons”. One in January (on the 1st and on the 31st), and again in March (again, on the 1st and the 31st). This January/March event took place back in 2010 and will again in 2024. There can never be a “blue moon” in the month of February, because the cycle for the moon is 29½ days.
This also causes Easter to be on Sunday, April 1st this year (no April fooling!). Easter hasn’t fallen on April 1st since 1956, and won’t again until 2029.
Now most of us don’t pay much attention to the sun and moon, unless the sun is hidden too long behind clouds, but that is how the Israelites counted time.
The reason for all this info on our solar system and moon signs is not that they are rare, but it is all on God’s schedule, and part of God’s plan. How about you? Did you realize that God has a plan or you and your life? Read Jeremiah 29:11. Are you following God’s plan for your life?
Pastor Mitchell

Nov 20, 2017 10:39 am

Decmeber Pastor's Message

This is the time of year when much of the world comes to a standstill in recognition of the birth of Jesus Christ. It’s also a time when peace and goodwill are rather glibly talked about, but though wonderful sidebars to the birth of Christ, they are not the reason why Christians celebrate Christmas.
To Joseph, the angel of the Lord said, “She (Mary) will bear a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21 – read all of Matthew, chapter 1). And to the shepherds, the angel said, “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, Who is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:11). Through Adam, we were born spiritually dead and incapable of behaving as we were created to behave.
We live in a world dominated by corruption, greed and prejudice, so it’s easy to blame things on the state of the world. But the problem is that the world is made up of people like you and I. Unless we understand that Jesus came into the world to save us from our sin, Christmas will not be much more than a sentimental occasion for celebration. To understand His birth, we need to leave Bethlehem behind and go about a little over six miles up the road to Jerusalem. It is there, at the cross of Jesus, the penalty for our sin was paid, and it was the only way our relationship with God can be restored.
The greatest need of every human being is to be saved. Christmas is the beginning of the story of our salvation; a Baby was born in Bethlehem, sent into this world by a loving God to become the pure and flawless Lamb to die in our place. As Christians, we celebrate the birth of our Savior, because as the angel of the Lord said to Joseph, “He will save His people from their sins,” we know – we are the sinners He came to save.
Celebrate the true reason for the season – the Gift of God’s Son!
Pastor Mitchell

Nov 20, 2017 10:39 am

November's Pastors Message

Christianity is not a solo sport. It’s not like skiing, golf, archery, or bowling. My point is: it’s a team thing, that God has designed. We’re part of a team. You were never meant to get this done by yourself. That’s why Paul prays in Ephesians 3:18-19 (read Ephesians 3:14-19), “That you … may have strength to comprehend, with all the saints, what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge.”’
We need to remember that “you” in English can be singular or plural. The folks in the southern regions of our great land have a great expression – y’all – meaning ‘you’ plural. Read that passage again, but replace each “you” with a “y’all” and each “your” with a “y’all’s.” Now y’all are getting the picture!
When Paul was praying for the Ephesian church (and the rest of us), he was praying for us as a group, made up of individuals, who are redeemed sinners, or saints. God sees you (yes, you!) as part of His Church, part of His Body – not some lone ranger or superhero living for Him.
November 1st is All Saints’ Day. For centuries it has been a day set aside to thank God for all the believers who lived faithful lives, as examples for us all.
During November we tend to remember our blessings and pause to give thanks. So, this month remember to celebrate the “great cloud of witnesses” (Hebrews 12:1-2), who serve as examples for us. Also remember: we are called to be examples of faithfulness for the next generations. The question is: Will future generations give thanks for you? Now is the time to make a choice. I take a stand with Joshua (read Joshua 24:15). How about you?
Pastor Mitchell

Sep 21, 2017 9:23 am

October's Pastor's Message

“We Remember the Reformation”
This month we celebrate the 500th anniversary of a pivotal event in the life of the Christian Church. Martin Luther came to reject several teachings and practices of the institutional church (the Roman Catholic Church). He strongly disputed the Catholic view on indulgences as he understood it to be, that freedom from God's punishment for sin could be purchased with money.
Luther proposed an academic discussion of the practice and efficacy of indulgences. On 31 October 1517, Luther wrote to his bishop, Albert of Mainz, protesting the sale of indulgences. He enclosed in his letter a copy of his "Disputation of Martin Luther on the Power and Efficacy of Indulgences", which came to be known as the Ninety-Five Theses. Hans Hillerbrand writes that Luther had no intention of confronting the church, but saw his disputation as a scholarly objection to church practices. Hillerbrand writes that there is nevertheless an undercurrent of challenge in several of the theses, particularly in Thesis 86, which asks: "Why does the pope, whose wealth today is greater than the wealth of the richest Crassus, build the basilica of St. Peter with the money of poor believers rather than with his own money?"
Luther taught that salvation and, consequently, eternal life are not earned by good deeds, but are received only as the free gift of God's grace through the believer's faith in Jesus Christ as Redeemer. His theology challenged the authority and office of the Pope by teaching that the Bible is the only source of divinely revealed knowledge from God.
The Reformation marks a time when some in the church felt there was a need to get back to the foundation of the Christian faith. (Remember, the common people couldn’t read, and if they could, the Bible was only available in Latin). The people could only believe what they were taught.
There was talk of Christ and faith, of sin and grace, but the foundation was not quite right, because along with that came more talk, calling for a need to do something to guarantee one’s salvation. This was not some crude salvation by works, but rather a more subtle salvation by faith finished with or supplemented by works. It sounds good, but it is a little off the mark. But in fact, the message of faith, plus works, left people groping for certainty.
“How much is enough?” the young monk Luther asked himself. Only when Luther understood that the “righteousness” God required was not a quantity Luther had to achieve, but rather a quality God gives in and through Christ. Only then did Luther know the assurance of his eternal salvation. As the saying goes: “It’s not what you know, or do, but Who you know that makes the difference.”
The salvation God gives is through the gift of Jesus the Christ with His grace and love, through His life, death, and resurrection. In a sense, the Reformation was refocusing on the grace, freely offered through God’s Son. Read John 8:31-36.
Salvation is nothing fancy, or demanding. The promise of God’s love is sure.
Pastor Mitchell

Aug 24, 2017 11:48 am

September Pastor's Message

Conventional wisdom says that Christianity’s best spokespersons are the Chuck Swindolls, Billy Grahams, and James Dobsons of the world, who serve in the public arena. But guess what? Out in the real world – few people have even heard of them (except for Billy Graham), let alone heard their message. These individuals and others are extra-ordinarily effective at speaking to and equipping Christians, but it’s up to us, the men and women in the trenches of daily life, that makes the real difference.
I believe that the most effective disciples of Jesus Christ in the public arena will:
• Have never asked for money on radio or television,
• Not be on the payroll of any Christian organization,
• Through competence and knowledge of their own “secular” profession, have earned the right to be heard,
• Know and love God’s Word, and
• Understand that Christianity is relevant to daily life.
Yes, that means you! Research shows that the vast majority of people (70-80%) come to faith and join a congregation, because of a friend or relative, not some “professional” Christian. Read the ‘Great Commission’ (Matthew 28:16-20). Jesus is not only talking to the eleven disciples, but also to you and me in the 21st century.
So, what are you communicating to those around you? Do you help, or hinder, the message of God’s unconditional love?
Pastor Mitchell

Aug 3, 2017 9:44 am

July/August Pastor's Message

Pastor’s Article
It’s something you see every day. Everyone, who is 60 or so years-of-age, probably doesn’t remember a time without it. What is it, you ask? Television.
I don’t really remember not having a television, but I do remember going to our neighbors to see their new innovation, colored television (and it wasn’t just the cabinet, the picture was in color!). It’s easy for the younger generations to think television was always around, along with kindergarten, microwave ovens and cell phones (I didn’t go to kindergarten, it wasn’t available at my school until I was too old).
I admit that life without much of the trash on TV would be nice. But television in itself isn’t bad. It’s just that once human beings get hold of something, we inevitably use it to fulfill our own desires. The instrument, or device, isn’t good or bad. It’s what its used for, and how it’s used.
In Exodus 4, Moses had a staff (a walking stick or shepherd’s crook). Moses used the staff in his everyday life. Read Exodus 4:1-5. God had just told the prince-turned-shepherd that he would lead God’s people out of slavery. Moses had his doubts. God asked, “What is that in your hand?” God changed Moses’ simple staff, his useful tool, into a serpent, an example of God’s power. Moses was afraid and ran from it. Moses later used that staff as an instrument to make miracles happen for the Hebrew people.
It’s easy to think, “When the kids get out of school, I’ll be able to do more for the Lord.” Or, “I’ll get involved in ministry after I retire, I’ll have more time then.”
But you can serve God right now! No one is talent-less. You say you can’t sing or teach a class. Do you have a pen? Write a note to a shut-in, or someone you missed seeing. Volunteer at a service agency. Most can always use good volunteers.
God created the world out of nothing. Surely, He can use you with all the talents and abilities you already have. And you never know, you may develop a new talent. Someone has said, “God doesn’t call those who are able, God enables those He calls.” What does God have instore for you?
Pastor Mitchell

Jun 1, 2017 8:09 am

June Message

Former TV political correspondent Tabitha Soren once said: “No matter how secular our culture becomes, it will remain drenched in the Bible. Since we will be haunted by the Bible, even if you don’t know it, doesn’t it make sense to read it?” I’m afraid that seems less and less true. Still the Bible remains the most important book in history. But who wrote the Scriptures? Is the Bible true? Can it be trusted?
Read 2 Timothy 3:16 and 2 Peter 1:20-21. The Bible itself makes a fantastic claim about its authorship. The author is God. The Scriptures were inspired and breathed out by God. The Bible is a holy and divine book because it comes from a holy and divine source – God.
How did God do it? The writers of the Bible “were carried along by the Holy Spirit” (2 Peter 1:21, NIV), and as God spoke to them, they wrote. This means that God used their personalities, vocabularies, experiences, and culture to record exactly what He wanted written. The Bible is true.
But can it be trusted? Yes, because of its prophecy and unity. The overall theme of the Bible is humankind’s salvation through Jesus Christ. The Old Testament contains over 300 prophecies, many giving specific details of the life of Jesus. Statistician Peter Stoner has calculated that the probability of five major prophecies coming to pass by chance would be one in two quintillion. It’s comprised of 66 books, written by some 40 different authors, over 1,500 years. Yet, it is a unified book about one theme: Jesus Christ.
Because the Bible is God’s Word, we should spend time reading it every day and respond to it with humble submission to its authority. I have found a helpful app for my cell phone. It is “YouVersion”; it is a free Bible on your phone, tablet, and computer. YouVersion is a simple, ad-free Bible that brings God’s Word into your daily life (Check it out at You may choose short or long-term daily reading, that take 5 minutes or less. There are devotions for adults, youth, and even kids. Give it a try!
The Bible should be our standard of living. Set aside a little time each day to read the letter God has written to you.
Pastor Mitchell

Apr 21, 2017 9:17 am

May 2017

The end of this month our nation has set aside a day to remember the men and women who gave the ultimate sacrifice, their lives, serving our nation. We thank them, as well as those who courageously served in the armed forces, during times of peace and times of conflict.
Every day, hundreds of Americans receive military honors at their funerals. The Department Veterans Affairs estimate that 372 World War II veterans die every day. There aren’t too many left. At their service a two-person uniformed honor guard folds and presents a United States flag to the surviving family members, followed by a solemn rendition of Taps. To address concerns over a shortage of qualified buglers, the Defense Department has approved an electronic bugle that plays the song automatically when a stand-in places a horn to his or her lips.
Sometimes innovative substitutes will meet the requirements, but nothing beats the real thing when it comes to relationships. Paul rarely passed up an opportunity to meet with believers on his missionary journeys (read Acts 20:1-6). Why was this important to him? God created each of us with a deep desire for relationships with real people. So, God put followers of His Son into a family called “the church” and has asked us to make meeting together a high priority.
I worry about our younger generations, who seem to prefer relationships on their wireless phones or other electronic devices then face-to-face relationships.
As a believer, are you really involved with your church family, where you can share your life, concerns, and blessings with others? Watching worship on television and listening to Christian music may meet a need in your spiritual life. But consider how it compares to real life, face-to-face encouragement, and the opportunity to reach out and serve.
We hope to see you this coming Sunday!
Pastor Mitchell

Mar 28, 2017 8:56 am

April 2017

From where I’m sitting, I can see the folder holding my 2016 tax papers. It makes me want to get up and do about anything else. I don’t like preparing, nor paying my taxes. I’m always thankful when April 15th is behind me for another 12 months (this year we have until April 18th). And I assume most of you feel the same way. I haven’t met a person yet who jumps up and down with enthusiasm about paying taxes.
What if you received a personal letter from the IRS that said, “Dear what-ever-your-name-is, someone else has paid your taxes in full, and left an open tab so you’ll never have to sweat April 15th again”? Wouldn’t that be incredible?
That’s a limited metaphor for what Jesus did on the cross. His blood paid the price for our sins, forever. The theme of judgment is very real in Scripture. The Old Testament gives us the Ten Commandments and other laws, to show us how God intends us to live. They really don’t help us live a righteous, godly life; they show us where we fall short. We are also told what we must do to atone for our sins. The problem is we can never do enough, or be good enough, long enough. A permanent solution required the death of God’s Son. Then, and only then, was God’s justice fully satisfied. Our Judge became our Father. Therefore, if we put our faith in Christ, we will never face the punishment our sins deserve. Our debt is paid in full (read John 3:16-17).
I wish I could tell you how to get your taxes paid-in-full forever, but I can’t. I can tell you how to have your sins paid-in-full: accept God’s mercy and grace offered in the atoning death of Jesus the Christ, our Lord.
As the old hymn reminds us:
“Jesus paid it all,
All to Him I owe;
Sin had left a crimson stain,
He washed it white as snow.”
Pastor Mitchell

Feb 23, 2017 7:44 am

March Message

As I considered the subject of my article for this month, it seemed appropriate to consider the meaning of Lent, since it begins on March 1st this year. The season of Lent has not been emphasized in many Protestant churches, largely because it was associated with “high church” liturgical worship, that some churches were eager to reject. Many of those churches are now recovering many aspects of the older Christian traditions as a means to re-focus on spirituality in a culture that is increasingly secular.
Originating in the 4th century, the season of Lent spans 40 weekdays. It begins on Ash Wednesday and ends on the day before Easter. Ash Wednesday’s name comes from the ancient practice of placing ashes on the worshippers’ foreheads as a sign of humility before God, a symbol of mourning and sorrow for the sins of the world. The number 40 is connected with many biblical events, but especially with the 40 days Jesus spent in the wilderness preparing for His ministry by facing the temptations that could lead Him to abandon His mission and calling. Originally, Lent was the time of preparation for those who were to be baptized, a time of concentrated study and prayer before their baptism on Easter Day. And since these new members were to be received into a living community of faith, the entire community was called to prepare.
Today, Lent is marked by a time of prayer and preparation to celebrate Easter, the Resurrection of our Lord. Since Sundays celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus, the six Sundays that occur during Lent are not counted as part of the 40 days, and are referred to as the Sundays in Lent.
Christians today focus on it as a time of prayer, especially penance, repenting for failures and sin as a way to admit our need for God’s grace. It is a time of preparation to celebrate God’s marvelous redemption made possible by our Lord’s crucifixion, and the resurrected life that we live, and hope for, as Christians.
An appropriate prayer to pray during Lent is the prayer of the publican in the Temple (Luke 18:13). “God, have mercy on me, a sinner.”
Pastor Mitchell

Feb 9, 2017 8:46 am

February Message

Did you make a New Year’s resolution to start a diet, or join a gym or the YMCA?
If you watch any television, you have seen advertisement after advertisement for diets and gyms. And of course, they all promise great results. After the holidays and facing a new year, people want to be healthier in the new year. So, they resolve to start a diet or exercise program.
It is reported that 16% of new health club members join the 2nd week of January. Only 1 in 5 who sign-up, actually use it. That’s only 20%. 80% of those who made New Year’s resolutions drop off by the 2nd week of February. And by the end of February only 1 to 2% remains.
We easily give up because it takes too much effort. But the old saying holds true – “No pain, no gain!”
To achieve strong muscles, you have to use them. If I needed to move a cement block, I could do it, as long as I didn’t have to take it too far. But if I moved a cement block every day, I would soon be able to move it easier or farther.
The same goes for our faith. Maybe that’s why we have trials, to prepare us for bigger trials. Or to be able to support a brother or sister, as they endure a trial. If our faith isn’t tested, we may lose it. We slip into thinking that we can handle whatever comes along on our own. Consider James 1:12: “12 Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him” (NIV).
Now I’m not saying that we should look for hardships, but we can lean on God and one another, whatever the new year holds.
Pastor Mitchell

Jan 5, 2017 8:35 am

January Message

Pastor’s Article
“1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth… 27 So God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created them, male and female He created them” (Genesis 1). Read all of Genesis, chapter 1.
If you and I are to truly believe that we’re made in the image of God, shouldn’t there be evidence that we are indeed godlike? Dare we even be so presumptuous, knowing that our first forebears were made from the dust of a tiny planet in a remote corner of a vast universe by a creator God whose intelligence and power defies imagination? How is it remotely possible that we could be like such a God? God is spirit and we are but dust. Then again, we’re not just any old dust. We are dust that breathes … and dust that dies. And – if the end of the story be told – we are souls made for eternity.
Is it possible that we have overlooked the obvious – that we too are creators? No, it doesn’t mean that you and I are purposed to create a cosmic universe from nothing. It simply means that, like God, we too can dream big dreams and have the creativity to make them happen! In crafting this intricate universe, God was a genius engineer, architect, scientist, musician, mathematician, and artist. And all to His glory. To be made in the image of the Creator is to be a creature who creates! Whether it be breathtaking beauty in music or art, sheer genius in math, or molding a child into a precious person of faith, God has gifted us all with a tiny touch of His own creative spark. In the new year ahead, how can you use your creative abilities to benefit your community and the world?
Pastor Mitchell

Dec 6, 2016 9:38 am

December Pastor's Message

Do you think you could capture Niagara Falls in a teacup? How can a helpless baby contain the Creator of the universe? Does anyone pretend to understand the awesome love in the heart of God, that inspired, motivated, and brought about Christmas?
God entered our world not with the crushing impact of unbearable glory, but in a vulnerable Child. On a lonely night in an obscure cave near Bethlehem, the Son of God became a humble, naked, and helpless infant. God has come to us and allowed us to get close to Him.
Take a moment and read Colossians 1:15-20 (especially verse 19).
The Bethlehem mystery will always be a scandal to those who seek a triumphant Savior and a prosperity Gospel. The infant Jesus was born in unimpressive circumstances. His parents were of no social significance, and His chosen welcoming committee were all losers – dirt-poor shepherds.
Pious imagination and nostalgic music rob Christmas of its shock value, but the “poor in spirit” tremble at the stable in adoration of the in-breaking of God Almighty. All the Santa Clauses and red-nosed reindeer, 30-foot trees, and thundering church bells put together create less chaos than the infant Jesus, when, instead of remaining a statue in a manger or a crib, He comes alive and delivers us from ourselves. He opened the door of Heaven to let us in.
Don’t forget the reason for the season! Merry Christmas!

Pastor Mitchell

Oct 28, 2016 2:10 pm

November 2016 Pastor's Message

Read Ezra 3:10-13.
On October 3, 1863, at the height of the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln issued a Proclamation of Thanksgiving, calling the nation to observe a “day of Thanksgiving and Praise.” This proclamation eventually led to the establishing of our national day of Thanksgiving.
The document began by listing multiple blessings the nation had experienced through the course of the year, even in the midst of a severe conflict. It called the American people to recognize the Source of those blessings and to respond collectively to the Giver in gratitude, repentance, and intercession. Here’s an excerpt:
“No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy.
“It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States… to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.
“And I recommend to them that… they do also with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience … fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility and Union.”
Set against a background of divisive conflict, our nation’s leader in the 1860s was humble enough to know that our nation needed God and needed to be grateful. This kind of heart is no less needed in our nation today than it was then. Our nation isn’t in physical combat, but there is an ongoing war of words that has become more heated by the day.
The call to gratitude goes beyond the church and into every avenue of life. Pray today for a humble, grateful, repentant spirit to be born in our own hearts, and among our leaders at every level.
Pastor Mitchell

Sep 27, 2016 10:04 am

October 2016

Remember the old Verizon Wireless commercial, where the actor walks all over the place and keeps asking: “Can you hear me now?” Of course, Verizon wanted consumers to know that their cell phone coverage was everywhere.
Now the same actor is working for Sprint. He tells his fellow actor that he now promotes Sprint, because their coverage is within 1% of Verizon’s and it costs much less.
Let’s admit it, we all want to be heard. As a parent, or a teacher, have you ever said, “Listen, you need to hear this?”
Listen to the message God sent to the Israelites through the prophet Isaiah: “Come to me with your ears wide open. Listen, and you will find life (Isaiah 55:3). Read the larger passage Isaiah 55:1-6. God wants our attention. He wants our ears wide open – and our hearts wide open too. In other words, we could pray our prayers and then just walk away. But suppose we learn to wait in His presence, listening for His response? Isn’t prayer a two-way conversation, after all?
I’ve probably shared this before, but praying without pausing to listen is like stopping to ask for directions, and then speeding off before the person has a chance to actually give you directions!
Sometimes I think I have God all figured out. I’ve been a pastor for 40 years and a Christian longer than that, and it’s easy for me to “assume” that I know what God wishes to say. How silly! How arrogant! I am a finite creature, and God is infinite. I must listen, if I am to know even a tiny fragment of God’s full reality.
And while I can know God to the extent His self-revelation allows, it all depends on the level of my listening. Ears open; heart open. That’s how I want to be today. How about you? Let’s pray and listen…
Pastor Mitchell

Sep 1, 2016 10:50 am

September 2016

In times of crisis it’s difficult to know whom to trust. Put your trust in the wrong people, and you could end up in serious trouble. Consider a civil war, for example. Who among your neighbors is a secret informant, and who is on your side? Because we can never be completely sure, it’s not surprising that normally we would turn to trusted friends for advice and counsel. But what if those friends are wrong – or not as loyal as we thought? That was the problem with pitiful King Zedekiah (read Jeremiah 37-38, especially verses 38:20-28). In the time of siege, he ended up trusting the wrong source. King Zedekiah sought Jeremiah’s advice, but went with the wishes of the princes of the land. Why anyone would take another person’s word over God’s is a mystery. Even if the truth is ugly, it still remains the truth! One can live in denial only so long before running headlong into the truth. Just ask Zedekiah!
Because there’s no way we can be totally sure of any human advice, our safest course of action is to seek God’s counsel.
I’ve heard stories of churches in China that have had only one Bible for an entire congregation. They take that Bible, tear out pages, and give them to individual members of the congregation to memorize. For many of these underground Christians, Bibles are as valuable as gold – even more so. We need to see that same value in God’s Word and not take it for granted. As Psalm 19:9-10 states, “The laws of the LORD … are more desirable than gold, even the finest gold.”
Do you look for a quarter if you drop it? I do. Let’s say that you somehow misplaced one million dollars. Do you think you would search for it? My point is that there is buried gold in the pages of Scripture. When you’re reading through the Bible think about it as though you were mining for gold. You need to get into it, search it, and find all the treasure that’s in the Bible for you. Don’t know where to start? Start with the Gospel of John, or join the Adult Sunday School class, or our upcoming Bible study.
Pastor Mitchell