FROM PASTOR ANN MARIE PERKINS: I have found the following words of my teacher, Dr. Mark Allan Powell, to be very inspiring. He seems to hit the nail on the head when describing why we give, and what happens in our hearts, spiritually. In fact, if you want to read an exceptional book, pick up his book, “Giving to God”. An excerpt follows:
“WHY WE GIVE”
In my own study of the scripture and in my own life with God, I have discovered that giving can be both a “duty” and a “delight”. First, I feel a certain obligation to give to this church since I am a part of that particular community and benefit from its ministry. The Bible says that we should each give according to our means and do our “fair share” to support the congregation (2 Corinthians 8:3, 11-13). But that is the “duty” part. The “delight” comes in giving as a grateful response to God’s grace. So, I give to this church as a way of expressing my love for God, of touching God’s heart with my own. This brings me incredible joy.
Together, duty and delight represent the conscious motivations for my giving, but if we go deeper, I think the real reason I give has little to do with me. It is the work of the Holy Spirit and a result of the transformation that God has worked within me. Left to my own devices, I would be too selfish to ever give anything to anyone. But I have become a new creature in Christ Jesus (2 Corinthians 5:17). He lives in me (Genesis 2:20) and the Holy Spirit produces virtuous fruit that changes me from the inside out (Galatians 5:22-23). Simply put, I think that we give because the goodness of God takes hold of us and makes us into more generous and loving people than we would ever be otherwise. (By M. A. Powell)
During the first week of October, you will receive a letter that explains how we will celebrate our “giving to God” at St. Paul. We specifically chose November 18, the Sunday before Thanksgiving, to be our Consecration Sunday; to celebrate together our feelings of gratitude and blessing. I do not make many promises, in general, but I am certain that you will grow spiritually, and feel renewed in your heart and soul, if you participate fully in this worshipful ministry.
With Great Thanksgiving to God for YOU,
Pastor Ann Marie Perkins
STEWARDSHIP REFLECTIONS: Gene Cravotta (our past Stewardship Chairperson) was a true steward. Let us ponder these words of our friend, the late Gene Cravotta, on the meaning of stewardship over his lifetime: “At this point in my life, I feel very positive about stewardship. Giving both monetarily and with time makes me feel not as self-centered and has helped me realize that we all need to give to God. Things were not always so easy or as fulfilling. As a younger man, I had to work two jobs to support my family and relied on my wife to be the spiritual leader. Time, effort, and energy have been an evolution, and I feel that having the time to participate and to contribute to church is certainly a blessing from the Lord. Giving has helped me turn things over to the hands of God. I view stewardship as connected to my spirituality and this has been a journey in my life, and it has taken me at least fifteen to twenty years to get to where I want to be – we all learn and grow, and growth is part of stewardship.” Thank you to Gene for these wise words. May his honesty help to remind us all to consider our own role within our church.
COUNCIL RETREAT: St. Paul Congregation Council will be having our bi-annual leadership retreat on Saturday, November 3, beginning at 9:00 am in the Parlor. Each Council member is asked to bring one idea for improving our church, making our focus positive and hopefully productive. Plan to spend the morning at our retreat.
FROM PASTOR LANG COLLINS: It is good news that Pastor Perkins’ husband, David, is much better and that she is able to resume and complete her sabbatical. I am thankful to be with you this summer and participate in your 150th Anniversary. Jeff Trimble put together an uplifting worship and Diana Bauman and Terry Ceplecci did excellent work with their committee to have celebrations throughout the year, as well as the “wonderfully rainy event” at Avalon. When picking up my suit from the dry cleaner, I was asked “Did you go for a walk in the rain in that suit?” “Well, yes.”
I plan to work with you for five weeks, Sept. 17 – Oct. 21. I will preach three of the five Sundays. Two of the Sundays were committed elsewhere earlier. I will have office hours and visit shut-ins, nursing homes, and hospitals as before. I really enjoy working with you and making new friendships.
Pr. Lang Collins, retired
CELEBRATE GRAND-FAMILIES: “Celebrate Grand-families” is a new 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 are starting with the group with five families from the community, and more are welcome, if you know of anyone who would fit in. While the women 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 October will be on Saturdays, October 13 and 27, from 10:30 am to 12:00 pm. Please contact Brenda Ceplecci or Pastor Collins to help.