A Message from Pastor Kendra...
Advent and Christmas Greetings!
Advent and Christmas were the first pieces of worship I ever learned to write. I had a pastor who encouraged me to learn how to do this. He knew I had studied and understood the traditions of the church, and I had taken part in the decorating, too. So, the pastor had me write the majority of the Hanging of the Greens service. I did my scripture research to make sure everything that was shared was correct and true. Before too many years, the pastor (and many pastors after), organist, choir director, and I became a worship team putting many services together throughout the years. Eventually, I became a pastor as well.
The primary points I learned from all of these experiences are:
1) God created us to give God all the glory.
2) The service always needs to point to Jesus!
3) We are NOT the audience. God is the audience. We are the doers!
4) Sometimes the script changes with the movement of the Holy Spirit.
5) It is okay to mess up occasionally; God is still glorified. It was not for your glory anyway.
Which brings me to the subject of grace. This is the 250th anniversary of the hymn “Amazing Grace”. Some of you might be asking what this has to do with Advent and Christmas? Everything! John Newton was credited as the composer of the hymn. However, John was a very troubled man who had made a fortune as a sea captain and trader of African slaves.
It is said that the tune we know as Amazing Grace was probably sung by his captives in the hull of his ship. Later in his life, John repented and did everything he could to put an end to the slave trade. Better yet, he realized that he too could receive the gift of amazing grace - even for a wretch like himself.
Without the incarnation, birth, death, and resurrection of Jesus, none of us would have this incredible Christmas gift of Amazing Grace. Even in the darkest of times, we are still able to receive the gift of The Light of Grace.
Join us this Advent and Christmas seasons for the series entitled The Light of Grace. We have some special events planned to starting with a Hanging of the Greens worship service on Sunday, December 3rd followed by the Seeking Our Savior Advent activity in Miller Parlor afterwards. This season will bring many opportunities like Advent Bible Study, a Longest Night worship service and Candlelight Communion Christmas Eve service to stop our busyness and focus on the light of Christ coming into the world.
Grace & Peace, Pastor Kendra
THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!
A heartfelt thanks to: All who bring joy and order to worship each Sunday morning (including ushers, musicians, counters, “florists”, to CYF volunteers Gloria Shields, Jane Smith, Sarah Johnston & Susan Lipiec, to Tyson Johnston and helpers who keep our worship service "on the air", church holiday decorators Jim Ross, Darlene Ross, John Karns, Cindy Karns, Barb Baker, Debbie Knapp, Carolyn Turnbull, Jim Turnbull & Luca DiRienzo, to Sue Johnston for the decoration of our entry areas, to Joyce Minnis for the "amazing" decorations for our lobby and lobby Christmas tree; to Robert, Connie, Michael and Aaron Royer for their help in making updates to the church office area; to our Memorial Committee for the work to bring our Memorial Tree and to Jim Schlosser and Marti Maillard for bringing it to life; to Rev. Jim Tubbs for being with us in worship on Nov. 5th; to Joyce Minnis for "setting the table" for our All Saints Sunday worship; to all who brought food and ate food at our wonderful Stone UMC Family Thanksgiving Brunch and also thanks to those who helped set up and clean up …To all who give, pray and serve…THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!
Erie/Meadville District Cleaning Bucket Challenge
This fall, our Annual Conference’s Mission Barn made a plea for Cleaning Buckets. Multiple natural disasters, across our nation and world have significantly impacted the supply of buckets. The Mission Barn is currently collecting this important and tangible expression of God’s love.
In response to this need, the Erie-Meadville District is sponsoring a friendly cleaning bucket competition among the District Churches. Congregations are being challenged to purchase the components and assemble buckets for shipment to the Mission Barn. The Contest will end Easter Sunday March 31, 2024. Participating Congregations are asked to record the number of buckets they assemble and provide a digital picture of their collection as part of a District Conference Celebration in April.
The Mission Barn is a ministry of the Western Pennsylvania Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church. It is located in the City of New Castle. Part of the work of the facility involves the facility’s role as part of the UMCOR relief supply network. Volunteers collect and verify UMCOR hygiene and cleaning kits coming from area churches and other organizations. The Mission Barn stores and ships kits to disaster areas at UMCOR’s request. Visit the UMCOR website for a complete list of bucket supplies HERE.
The Inside Scoop - Sweet Things are Happening at Stone
Church historian Anne Finney and her helpers Jane Smith and Jean Shanley have been meeting regularly to label, sort and preserve the many documents and photos in Stone's archives...a wonderful preparation in anticipation of Stone's approaching bicentennial anniversary.
A Warm Welcome
Sue Johnston has taken on the task of sprucing up and updating the entrances to the church to provide a warm and inviting feeling to everyone who enters the building.
Family Corner Created
Children, Youth & Family Ministry Director Cyndi Bland has transformed the space outside her office door into a family information center. Stop by the bulletin board to see what events and opportunities to volunteer are available, or pick up activities and information in the Family Resource Center by the water fountain.
Stop in to see the updates to our church office. Our large filing cabinets have been moved to the basement to give our archives more storage space and a welcoming greeting area with a table and chairs (relocated from upstairs) has taken its place. Many thanks to everyone who volunteered their time and expertise including Jeff & Pat Loutzenhiser, Bob, Connie, Mike and Aaron Royer.
Amazing Grace in a Manger --Children's Christmas Program
Join us December 17th as the children of Stone UMC present their 2023 Christmas program "Amazing Grace in a Manger" during our worship service. Come and hear the Christmas story told by the angels! Light snacks, coffee and beverages will be served after the show in Miller Parlor.
RAISE RIGHT HOLIDAY GIFT GUIDE --Gifting That Gives Back!
Everyone can earn and make an impact by using gift cards purchased through the Raise Right program for all of your holiday shopping and gifting. Sign up for Raise Right today by going to raiseright.com and using enrollment code:
Have Questions? The Raise Right Pop Up Shop will be in Thoburn Lobby the first Sunday of each month after worship with gift cards for you to purchase, order forms and answers to your questions!
FILLING THE MANGER-GIFTS FOR THE BABY
We will be collecting baby items to support the work of the Pregnancy Center of Meadville throughout the season of Advent. Bring your gifts for the baby to the manger by our Christmas tree in Thoburn Lobby.
Needed Items Include:
URGENTLY NEEDED ITEMS
· Baby Wipes
· Diaper Rash Ointment
· Washclothes or Children's Bath Towels
· Children's Clothes or Pajamas (sizes preemie-6T, esp. boys 18mo.-5T)
· Baby Shampoo, Wash & Lotion (NO POWDER PLEASE)
· Safety/Childproofing Items (doorknob covers, outlet plugs, edge bumpers, hot bath water ducky)
· Feminine Pads
· Maternity Undergarments (sizes S-M-L, new only please)
OTHER APPRECIATED ITEMS
· Diapers or PullUps (all sizes)
· Formula (new)
· Onesies/Receiving sets
· Children's Shoes or Boots
· Crib Sheets
· Burp Cloths
· Maternity Clothes (current styles only please, all seasons, sizes S-M-XL)
· Disposable Nursing Pads (new unopened box please)
WILL ACCEPT IN CLEAN & SAFE CONDITION
· Bouncy Seat
· Small Baby Accessories (i.e. bathtub)
· Potty Chair
· High Chair
A Gentle Reminder -- Giving Intentions cards are still welcome to be returned throughout the month of December.
Just a note to say...
Dear Stone Church family,
Thank you for your prayerful presence with me over the last few weeks after my mother died and I then fell and broke my pelvis while I was in WV to clean out her house. Your emails, cards, and notes surrounded me with love and strengthened me as I healed, and being able to worship with you online helped me stay connected. I look forward to thanking you in person when I return after Thanksgiving.
Blessings, Jane Ellen
Thank you to everyone who stepped in to help with worship services and ministry and for the many cards, prayers and well wishes during my recuperation at the beginning of November. Pastor Kendra