“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” (Philippians 4:6)
Anxiety and fear can be terrible distractions in the spiritual life. But it is common enough for a person to get into a mode of negative thinking, fueled by fear, producing real anxiety. In their letter to the church at Philippi, Paul and Timothy recommended a different and a spiritual approach. It is seated in gratitude, and accomplished through prayer. Then the peace of Christ will replace fear and anxiety, and his peace can take hold in our hearts. (See Philippians 4:7)
How might this apply to our church collectively? When we think and remain stuck in our calculating minds with the dollars and cents, the property, and the staffing costs, we operate on the level of survival-ism. When we look beyond this, enjoying the resources that God has provided for us to create our ministry, we are concerned with employing these people and things gratefully. The next level of spiritual life is living in the present moment, without anxiety for the future, envisioning and creating what flows from God’s Spirit each day.
This kind of growth does not just come naturally. It is a gradual learning that is seated in gratitude and accomplished through intentional prayer.
Please pray with me: Gracious Father, when we are anxious, nudge us to turn our minds to your generous provision. Make us truly grateful for all the resources you are giving us for our ministry. May we serve and accept each and every child of God in their uniqueness. Bless us today to grasp onto and share the Good News of our salvation in Jesus Christ your Son. Amen.
In the peace of Christ,
Pastor Ann Marie Winters
ALL SAINTS BOOK OF REMEMBRANCE: Each year at All Saints, we remember those members of our congregation who have died over the past year. We have also made it a practice to inscribe their names in a Book of Remembrance. Our Book of Remembrance is fashioned after the words of the prophet Malachi (chapter 3, verse 16): “Then those who revered the Lord spoke with one another. The Lord took note and listened, and a Book of Remembrance was written before Him of those who revered the Lord and thought on His name.” Before worship begins, all worshippers are invited to write in our book the names of family members, friends, neighbors, and loved ones who have passed since All Saints Day last year, from November 4, 2018, to November 3, 2019. Our Book of Remembrance will be made available at worship each Sunday from November 3 through 17, 2019, on a table before the altar. Each Sunday, names written that week will be read.
BEGINNING IN NOVEMBER: Are you looking to do an evening bible study? Relate-able is a six-week bible study that looks at how God has gone to extraordinary lengths to relate to us and the world around us. Cherish is a six-week bible study for married couples, showing how bible teachings can have a powerful effect on marriage. These bible studies will be held on an evening or weekend timeframe. Sign-up sheets are in the narthex. Why not explore the bible and its teachings in an application that will make a difference in your life?
A MONTHLY STUDY OF LUTHER’S LARGE CATECHISM: Pastor Winters and Jean Waris have begun a study of Martin Luther’s Large Catechism. We welcome anyone interested to join the discussion on the second Thursday of each month (November 14) at 1:00 pm. If you plan to come, please let us know so we may have a copy of the materials available for you.
CELEBRATE GRAND-FAMILIES: “Celebrate Grand-families” is a support group for grandparents raising their grandchildren. St. Paul is reaching out to support these families with Christian compassion and a place to meet and discuss their needs. We now have 17 families who participate, and more are welcome, if you know of anyone who would fit in. While the grandparents meet, we will have crafts, games, bible stories, snacks, help with homework, tutoring, and a fun social time for children. Church members are needed to help with the children. Sessions in November will be on Saturdays, November 9 and 23, from 10:30 am to 12:00 pm. Please contact Brenda Ceplecci or Pastor Winters to help.
INTERFAITH THANKSGIVING WORSHIP SERVICE: How will you celebrate Thanksgiving this year? Most probably you will gather with family members and friends around a turkey dinner. Most likely there will be a prayer recognizing God as the source of all blessings, and thanks for a generous number of people or things in your life. This Thanksgiving, I challenge you to also make a worship service the center of your Thanksgiving. We will celebrate 68 years of community Interfaith Thanksgiving on the evening of Tuesday, November 26, at 7:30 pm to be hosted by St. Peter & Paul Byzantine Catholic Church. Lots has come and gone in 68 years, and most notably our congregations have changed. Our community has still valued the gathering of neighbors who revere the Lord and offer him praise. When I came to St. Paul, I was given the mandate to continue the Interfaith Thanksgiving Service, and we have kept it alive. PLEASE make this Interfaith Community Thanksgiving service a part of your Thanksgiving week festivity. It is definitely worth the investment of your time to welcome our neighbors and celebrate with them.
UPDATE – CHRISTMAS COOKIE WALK: The youth will be raising funds for 2020 mission work by hosting a Cookie Walk on Sunday, December 8, at noon. Helpers from the congregation are needed to bake/buy 2 to 3 dozen of their favorite Christmas cookies to donate to the Cookie Walk. Donations should be at the church by Saturday morning, December 7. The youth will be baking cookies as well on December 7. Participants in the Cookie Walk will select a variety of cookies from the tables for a donation. This is a Thrivent sponsored activity.
CELEBRATE RECOVERY UPDATE: The leadership team of Pastor Winters, Marty Maurice, Nola Bennett, Anna Lacy, Nick, Valerie Flanagan, and Debbie Illencik have been meeting weekly since August. We have visited four local churches that have Celebrate Recovery programs in place: Grace Fellowship Church (Warren), Parkman Road Nazarene Church (Warren), Damascus Friends Church (Salem), and Trinity Fellowship Church (Boardman). All of them have ongoing weekly meetings that are successfully helping to heal people’s “hurts, habits, and hang-ups” through the ministry and power of Jesus Christ. At a typical meeting, people gather for a time of worship songs, followed by a large group lesson or presentation. Then gender-based small groups (men together and women together) gather to discuss the 8 principles of the Beatitudes of Jesus in a study guide format that brings healing to the individuals in their groups. Our team has begun training for the start-up of this ministry at St. Paul Church, and we are working through the lessons in the training manual. The launch for getting information to the surrounding community will be on Wednesday, January 15. If you have any questions, please see a team member.
PANAMA UPDATE: Right now I am higher than a kite! Now hear me out. I am in the plane flying back to Panama and the plane flies at 30,000 ft. That is higher than a kite can fly! What a fantastic vacation this was. Lots of church visits, lots of people to talk to, and lots food eaten…of course. Also, lots of seeds seem to have been planted for future support of the mission work in Panama. A man from Mexico will be visiting for a few weeks in the beginning of the year. I am already working on his “project list”. The main gist of my sermons/messages this trip was to be all-in for Jesus. The time for fence sitting has long passed. We need to totally believe and trust God. God promises he will do as the bible says. Trust him! I do and it is really starting to pay off. I feel God working in my life and am sure he is up to something BIG! I don’t know how to explain it, but there is something brewing and I can’t wait till he shows me what he has in store. It boggles my mind that this 68 year old missionary still gets so fired up for Jesus after 8 ½ years on the ground in Panama. Only God can help me sustain that level of enthusiasm. I am so excited to be starting the second church that is about a half hour from my home in San Felix. This is a totally new area for me to reach with the Gospel. We will start out with a service based on the book of John, followed by the Jesus film. Emelio can alternate preaching there. I have three people scheduled for operations. I will start my list of candidates for the new, free cataract surgeries that are government sponsored and seemingly functional. Last time, the program was stalled for some reason. I have two houses to build and one rainwater recovery system to build. On top of that, I have five movie nights planned in various areas of the mountains, all before Christmas. I can’t wait to get back and get started. Thank you all very much for your spiritual, financial, logistical, and prayer support. God put each one of you in my path for a reason. May He bless you all abundantly. See y’all in April. Bobby Moyer