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Pennington Presbyterian Church
February 25, 2021
This week, worship and the annual meeting will be on Zoom.

Scripture Reading

Psalm 23
Philippians 1:12-26

Preacher
Rev. Nancy Mikoski

"God in the Midst of Insurmountable Problems"

(Second in the Sermon Series during Lent on the Book of Philippians)

Liturgists
Phil McMillan
Megan Coiley
Dr. Christine James
The Sunday worship service will be live on Zoom because the annual meeting of the congregation will follow immediately on the same Zoom link.

10:15 AM - Live Worship Service

(no recording available later)

You will receive the link in an email from the church office by 9 AM.

 
"Gracious God, as the evening comes and the light fades, I look for you even in the shadows. Your love and protection stay with me through the night hours, and I rest in your promises. For the day as it has been, I give you thanks. For the gift of rest, I offer a hymn of praise. You love me and the whole world so greatly that you offer us salvation. After a night of rest, bring me into the light of a new day. In gratitude, I pray in Jesus' name. Amen." 

From Feasting on the Word Worship Companion Year A Volume 1. Kimberly Bracken Long ed. WJK Louisville. 2013.

News . . .  Briefly
  • You are receiving this email Thursday morning instead of Thursday afternoon so you may still decide to participate in two events later this afternoon and evening.
  • First, today there will be a brief prayer circle with prayers, bells, and candles at 5:00 PM to remember the over 500,000 deaths from COVID. Please come to the steps in front of the sanctuary with your mask on and be prepared to be physically distanced from those outside your family unit. If you cannot make it to the church, please stop for a brief prayer at 5:00 PM wherever you are. A special prayer is included below.
  • Second, there will be a free workshop about "Hymns as Devotional Practice" led by Slats Toole, which is sponsored by our Music Ministry. It will be over Zoom, starting at 7:30 pm until 9:00 pm. You may sign up online at this link and the Event Brite system will send you the Zoom link at the email address you provide in your sign-up. (If you have already signed up with the church office or Megan Coiley, you do not need to sign up again.) Learn more below. (Sign-up link is repeated). 
  • You are invited to a special Matthew 25 event over the next week and need to sign up in the next few days: Small group discussions to explore the meaning of the scripture and share ideas about how God is calling our church to be a Matthew 25 congregation! Pick a group and please sign up at the link provided. Starting on March 1, you have 5 opportunities to gather with others to explore the meaning of the scripture and share ideas about how God is calling our church in new ways. Learn more below and sign-up at the link provided.
  • During the Season of Lent, we are holding Wednesday Morning Lenten Devotions with Communion. The remaining devotions will be on March 3, 10, 17, and 24 at 8:00 AM over Zoom. Worship will be led by a member of the clergy and a layperson from PPC. If you want to participate in communion, please prepare in advance. (While we will use the same link as we did for Ash Wednesday, for your convenience, we will send an email with the Zoom link on Tuesdays as a reminder. Send an email if you are not getting these emails.) See below the clergy-lay person pairings for the remaining Wednesdays in Lent.
  • A Congregational Meeting will be held this (Feb. 28) immediately following worship. Both the worship service and the meeting will be held on Zoom and the congregation will receive the link that morning in an email from the church office by 9:00 am. Learn more about the annual meeting here.
  • If you have an active email listed with the church office, you received links to the annual report narrative and the financial report on February 21. For those who traditionally receive This Week/This Month by US mail, the reports have been mailed and should arrive before the meeting. 
  • We neglected to include the write-up about the Memorial Garden in the annual report that was distributed. We have included it in this newsletter.
  • It is traditional at annual meeting time to make available an updated Church Family Directory for those who want it. It will be made available by a document link and in response to an email request to the church office. The reason for this is to limit distributing information to those who need it and keep this information within the church family. The directory is for church-related use only. (We will mail a copy to our seniors who do not use technology.)
  • Remember to order Easter flowers and the One Great Hour of Sharing collection. In your special Lent mailing from the church office with a devotional, prayer aid, a schedule for Lenten worship including how to prepare communion at home, there was the One Great Hour of Sharing brochure and envelope, and the Easter flower order form. 
  • If you are interested in using pledge envelopes, there are boxes in the vestibule between the double glass doors. The outside door is unlocked so you may come by to pick one up at your convenience. (If you cannot get to the church offices, send an email to the church office to request that a box is mailed to you.)
  • Food is often involved in social interactions between people and it helps in the 'getting to know you' process. It's in this spirit that Nancy Schluter reached out to her friend Beverly Mills, who is also known to others in our church, to share some favorite recipes. The recipes are shared below. It's part of the effort by the Thursday Afternoon Racial Equity discussion group to communicate messages that foster better understanding between blacks and whites, and about equity and justice in general. Visit https://www.facebook.com/pennpres to check out our February posts.
  • Learn about the World Day of Prayer that we will celebrate on March 5 this year.
  • All child, youth, and adult Christian Education programs continue over Zoom. See the recurring schedule at the end of this newsletter.
  • For youth programs, please contact Rev. Casey Aldridge, or if you are already registered, look for his emails.
  • If weather becomes an issue affecting power or travel, anticipate that you will be sent a newsletter or email with a clear subject line and updated information. Information about changed worship plans will also be posted on the PPC Facebook page. And, finally, you may also call Rev. Nancy Mikoski's extension at the church to hear the update in the outgoing message: 609-737-1221, extension 14.
A Special Prayer for Our COVID-19 Related Deaths

Good and gracious God, we come before you with heavy hearts as our country now mourns the deaths of more than 500,000 people in our country alone from COVID-19.  This virus has devastated many of our most vulnerable older citizens and has left a trail of pain and sadness in the African-American and Hispanic communities that have been disproportionately affected. The medical community and first responders are exhausted and many are suffering from mental health challenges that accompany trauma. Families and friends across our land are grieving the deaths of those we love. Hear us Lord as we cry out to you. You are our rock and our redeemer, our comfort and our peace. We pray, Lord, for healing for those who are currently infected, for the vaccines to be quickly distributed, for the vaccines to be effective against new variations of the virus, for people to be vigilant in wearing masks and maintaining social distance. Help us to continue to love our neighbors in this way. We pray for restored health, for renewal in our church and relationships, for recovery for those struggling financially, and for relief for those who are burdened by anxiety, loneliness, or despair. As we mark this milestone in our country, we pray, also, for those around the globe who are struggling with this pandemic, especially those who do not have access to good health care or the basic necessities of life. Bring your healing to this world you love. We thank you, God, for all the ways we experience your love and mercy. With tears of sadness and tears of gratitude, we pray this in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. 
 
Lenten Wednesday Devotionals with Communion at 8:00 AM
                                . . .  . with Communion
 
At 8:00 AM on Wednesdays on Zoom -- a thirty-minute devotional

(Weekly devotional leader and clergy pairs)

Mar   3 Vicki Wheeler and Nancy Schluter
Mar 10 Sarah Gregg and Casey Aldridge
Mar 17 Joe Tully and Jean Pinto
Mar 24 Cary Bruestle and Miriam Diephouse McMillan

 
 Hymns as Devotional Practice: A Workshop with Slats Toole
Thursday, February 25, 2021
7:30 p.m. - 9:00 p.m. EST 
via Zoom
 
Please join us for a special workshop with Slats Toole!  Slats will lead us in an interactive exploration of hymns.  Most often, hymns are music that we all sing together.  Among other things, they help us remember that we experience Christianity in community.  Hymns can still do that even when we can't sing them together in exactly the same way.  Slats will teach us ways of creating devotional practices for ourselves with hymns.  Together, we will explore how we can use this music to take us spiritually through different seasons in our year and in our lives. 
 
For more information on Slats, please visit their website:

By now, most everyone has heard that our church is now a “Matthew 25 congregation”. The themes of Matthew 25 are grounded in scripture, and everyone is invited to spend some time together reflecting on a passage that contains one of the most important messages of Jesus’ ministry. 

The Matthew 25 task force is offering an opportunity for members and friends of our congregation to gather in small groups to explore the meaning of the scripture and share ideas about how God is calling our church in new ways. We will be considering questions like: 
 
  • What does it mean to be “saved to serve”?
  • What is our story at Pennington Presbyterian Church, and how would you tell it to someone else?
  • How are we like sheep and goats and what does that have to do with the systems and structures that include some people but marginalize, or exclude, others?
  • Who are “the least of these”?

We hope you will join us and be part of the conversation! Small group dates and times are:
 
  • Monday, March 1 from 7 to 8:30 pm facilitated by Ron Russell
  • Wednesday, March 3 from 7:30 to 9:00 pm facilitated by Sarah Gregg
  • Friday, March 5 from 11:30 to 1:00 pm facilitated by Rev. Casey Aldridge
  • Saturday, March 6 from 9:30 to 11:00 am facilitated by Suzanne Elliott
  • Monday, March 8 from 2 to 3:30 pm facilitated by Rev. Dr. Nancy Schluter

Here is a link to sign up for one of the “Sheep, goats, and the least of these: Exploring Matthew 25” sessions. 

https://www.signupgenius.com/go/10C0C4EAAAE2EA3FFC61-what

We are looking forward to spending some time learning, reflecting, and sharing with you.

Blessings,

Matthew 25 task force
 
A Congregational Meeting will be held on Sunday, February 28, immediately following worship. Both the service and the meeting will be held on Zoom and the congregation will receive the link that morning in an email from the church office. 
 
On the Agenda:  receiving the annual report and celebrating our ministry in 2020, hearing updates about our year-end financials from 2020 and the budget for 2021, electing a Nominating Committee, and sharing inspiration from our Matthew 25 Task Force.
 
The Annual Report was distributed by email on 2/21 and mailed on 2/22 to our seniors.   Everyone is encouraged to read the report in advance of the meeting. It will allow all of us to get a big picture view of how the Spirit has been at work in us and through us in this most unusual time.
MEMORIAL GARDEN
(With regret, this write-up was left out of the Annual Report distributed on Feb. 21.)
 
Tucked away in a corner of our churchyard is our Memorial Garden.  There, members of our congregation can be laid to their final rest in a beautiful and peaceful setting.  The garden is landscaped with flowers and greens from spring through the end of autumn, thanks to members of the Facilities Committee who donate their time and talent to keep the garden looking pristine and well cared for.

A bench is located nearby available for visitors and those who would like to meditate.  Those who reside in the garden have their names engraved on a brass plaque placed in a warm wooden frame made by church member Chris LaCasse.

Anyone who would like information about the Memorial Garden can contact the church office or Pastor Nancy Mikoski and Garden representative Nancy Mason.
 
 
World Day of Prayer – March 5, 2021
 
Every year hundreds of thousands of men, women, and children from 170 countries around the world participate in worship, service, and celebration on the first Friday of March (this year, March 5) to promote justice and equality. Pennington Presbyterian Church has been an active participant in World Day of Prayer for many years. This year, given the pandemic, each of us is encouraged to set aside a time on this special day for our own personal prayers for peace, justice and equality.
 
Each year one country takes the lead in this global effort. This year that country is Vanuatu, a
South Pacific Ocean nation made up of about 80 mountainous islands. Bislama, English and French are the official languages. Seventy percent of the people are Protestant, with a significant portion of them being Presbyterian. Vanuatu is considered to be the country with the highest risk of natural disaster. Its worst disaster ever, Tropical Cyclone Pam in 2015, did serious damage to the country’s important tourism industry. Vanuatu would appreciate our prayers for its people and for the entire world.
Some Traditional Sides in Honor of Black History Month
 
Food is often involved in events that help people get to know each other. In that spirit, Nancy Schluter, who along with Madeleine Mansier leads the Thursday afternoon Equity Discussion group that is going strong, reached out to her friend Beverly Mills to ask for some favorite recipes to share with our congregation during Black History Month. She obliged with two which we share here.

Some of you may remember Beverly Mills, a resident of Pennington because she came to PPC during Thoughtful Christians with her co-author Elaine Buck to discuss their book “If These Stones Could Talk: African American Presence in the Hopewell Valley, Sourland Mountain, and Surrounding Regions of New Jersey.”

Here's hoping that soon the PPC community can come together for a big, shared meal and some of you may be inspired to share one or both of these recipes. These recipes are ideal for that since they are each set to feed 10-12 people. (The ingredients easily allow you to cut the recipe to 1/2 or 1/4 for a family-sized meal.)
 
Recipes 
More about Beverly and Elaine and their book.

 
Pray for our Community ...
  • Our neighbors at the Pennington AG Church
  • All Americans impacted by extreme weather and continuing to face deprivation and danger, most notably in Texas and North Carolina
  • Our healthcare workers, essential workers, and teachers who are doing heroic work as the pandemic continues to rage
  • All those suffering from COVID19 or who have lost family and friends to COVID
  • All those developing, approving, manufacturing, transporting, receiving, and  administering the COVID19 vaccines and therapeutics so that this pandemic may be controlled and lives can be saved
  • All those suffering the many forms of insecurity due to COVID19 and all those who are helping locally and throughout the world
Continue to Pray for …
Don Trismen (1); Nancy Russell; Hal Wittlinger's wife Marilyn and his family; Galen Meyer and his family; Edna Neu; Barb Sergeant; Jean Cooper's family and friends; Ruth Morewood's family; Evelyn Marion Keneman; Virginia Silliphant; Don Trismen; Edna Stout; Robin Hepburn; Elsa and Charles Koczan; Bob Macek; Shirley Norton; Corinne Beyer; Bill Sherman; Marji McAvoy; Marge Ryan; David Anderson; Michael Berkowitz; Karen Kelly; Dawn Cocco; Bob Fletcher; Caroline Woodward; Jayne and Jay Neary; and all families who are grieving and lonely.


(1) Nancy Trismen Ronquist asks for our prayers for her dad Don, who is now in hospice. 
 
Pray for Our Church Family ...
We pray each week for those listed alphabetically in our church family directory. This week: Taylor Robinson; Barbara Rockel; Debbie Rockey; Kirt, Jackie, Alexa, Weston, and Isla Rosenbaum; Stephen and Chris Rush.

Keep in your prayers ...
This week we discovered flooding in the church
basement under the Heritage Hall kitchen caused by recent weather. Please pray for our facilities committee and staff as we deal with clean-up and repair decisions.

Let's welcome and bless a birth in our church family ...
A new daughter was born to the Fischer family. Welcome Oakley, and bless her and her big sisters, her parents, and family.

Pray for the People of the World …
Please continue praying for the world. All nations are being impacted by the pandemic, on top of the daily universal challenges that include climate change, and economic, food, and physical insecurity. Let us also pray for our Living Waters for the World partners in the Yucatan. 


Here is a special prayer to prepare for World Day of Prayer:


Father, you have given all peoples one common origin.
It is your will that they are gathered together as one family in yourself.
Fill the hearts of mankind with the fire of your love and with the desire to ensure justice for all.
By sharing the good things you give us, may we secure equality for all our brothers and sisters throughout the world.
May there be an end to division, strife, and war.
May there be a dawning of a truly human society built on love and peace.
We ask this in the name of Jesus, our Lord.
Amen.


Prayer Chain ... 
Contact Nancy Lehman to request prayers. She will distribute the request to the PPC's Prayer Chain. If you want to use a telephone, please call Barbara Pratt.

 


Recurring Schedules at a Glance

It's never too late to sign up for any Christian Education, Youth Group, or other repeating events. You may send an email to office@pennpres.org to be put in contact with the program leader.
 
Sunday Schedule
9:00-10:00 am - Adult Education: Bible and Theology on Zoom
9:15-9:45 am Age 3 - Grade 4 Church School and Music with Mr. Phil on Zoom
10:15 am  Worship via live stream connected through our website (
pennores.org) Becauose of weather or other needs that better fit with Zoom, services also use this platform. The Sunday Worship Newsletter confirms the platform for that Sunday. (If you are not receiving the Zoom links and want to, contact the church office.) Communion is part of worship on the first Sunday of every month. Videos of worship that includes communion is not posted to the online worship page.
11:30 am - Virtual Coffee Hour on the first Sunday of the month (Find the link on the
online worship page.)
11:30-12:30  Grades 5-8 Church School on Zoom
11:30 - 12:30 Grades 9-12 Church School on Zoom
6:30-7:30 pm Sunday Night Central Youth Group (grades 5-8) on Zoom

Wednesdays During Lent
8:00 am - Lenten Wednesday Morning devotional with communion until Holy Week
(March 3, March 10, March 17, and March 24 -- Information about how to connect will be in your Lenten package from the church and also in a weekly reminder email.) (Holy week worship will be shared in the March issue of This Month and special emails. Be on the lookout.)

Youth Group Events 
Please contact
Rev. Casey Aldridge, Youth Minister, if you are interested in programs for young people in middle-school and high-school. Registered youth and their parents will receive an invitation to Church School and youth activities with the link to a Zoom meeting or other information about the activities or events.

Weekday Christian Education and Fellowship Events
Wednesdays, 9:30-11:30 am, Shalom (a women's study group) on Zoom) Contact
Madeleine Mansier if you are interested in joining. 

Thursdays, 2:00 - 3:00 pm, The Racial Inequity Study Group meets over Zoom. Both men and women are welcome to join in. Contact
Nancy Schluter.

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