A Message from Pastor Kendra...
“Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.” James 1: 2-4 (NLT)
I have heard it said that “life is hard”. I agree that life is sometimes very difficult. Sometimes we question God about the “whys” of life. People have illnesses, job loss, schedule problems, and then there are the things we see in the news especially now with the problems with Israel, Gaza, Hamas, and now Hezbollah.
This is not the first-time atrocities have entered this region. In fact, you can find them all throughout the Bible and the history books. There have been times that Israel has been captured, taken into exile and have returned. The Epistle of James was written to the Hebrew people at the time of the Diaspora during the disbursement of the Jewish people after the Romans had occupied Jerusalem and destroyed the Temple. James tells the readers to look at trouble as an opportunity for great joy. It is a moment they can build endurance, bring you closer to God, and give a sense of gratitude.
The Cambridge English Dictionary defines a survivor as “a person who is able to continue living his or her life successfully despite experiencing difficulties.”1 When I had visited Israel and Palestine in 2017, I found there were more similarities than there were differences, and yet the hate was palpable. The people I had met had problems like we do here in the United States as well. There were people with illnesses at the hospital we had visited. There were unemployed and underemployed. There were people struggling to make ends meet and had problems putting food on the table and heating their homes.
And yet, I encountered moments of joy while there. While in Bethlehem which is in Palestine, we were able to have dinner with a Christian family who was celebrating Western Epiphany and Eastern Orthodox Christmas, who also had a daughter who just finished college with a degree in the hospitality trades. My group and the crew on the boat was stuck for over an hour on the Sea of Galilee in Israel, because our boat had broken down in the water, but because of this unexpected delay, we were able to have some of the most wonderful worship of our Lord that many of us had ever experienced while waiting to be rescued.
I have come across some miracles this past month as well. I have observed tests reveal that there was no cancer. I have received the news a baby has been created after a year and a half of fertility treatments. I have witnessed the protection that God provided when there was heart problems and the medical teams that cared for them. New jobs were found, and work began right away. And I have seen the work of the people of Stone UMC reaching out to others through the Soup Kitchen, a place of welcome rest has been given, making kits for people in need during disasters, food boxes are being provided, and a place of safety and nurturing for our children.
So, in this season of Thanksgiving and for always, may we be grateful for what God has done and is doing in our midst. Look for where God is working and count your blessings.
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” and CYF volunteers: , Bev Barickman, Ron Snow, Debbie Knapp, Darlene and Jim Ross, Barb Baker, Millie Ray, John Karns, Phyllis Stockton, Anne Finney, Patty Brown, and Sue DeArment…Jeff Loutzenhiser and trustees for their diligent care, steardship mailing helpers Janet Leonardi and Suzanne DeArment, our dedicated Senior Food Box volunteers John & Cindy Karns, Debbie & Bob McConnell, Jim Schlosser and Matt McElhinney, Carolyn Turnbull for volunteering to be in the broadcast booth (even when she had to fly solo!), Debbie Knapp, Joyce Minnis and all those who prepared the sanctuary and lobby with fabulous fall decoration, everyone who gave candy or brought a trunk for Trunk or Treat, to all those who donated supplies and all those who stayed to "build" buckets for UMCOR on Oct. 15, Pat Loutzenhiser, Jim Ross and Sue Wardian and all involved with the Finance and Stewardship committees for their work to prepare the Narrative Budget, Meadville Free Clinic for their donation of COVID testing kits, Joyce Minnis and all of our Hot Cocoa stand volunteers on Halloween Parade night, all our talented bakers and everyone who bought goodies at our CYF Bake Sale, to Jake, Luke, Carter, Nathan, Alaina, Rylee, Sam, Noah and Adlee for leading worship on Oct. 22nd, to children's ministry volunteers Susan Lipiec, Jane Smith, Millie Ray & Leanne Venesky for helping out with children's church and Sunday School this fall…To all who give, pray and serve…THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!
2024 STEWARDSHIP CAMPAIGN UNDERWAY
Our 2024 stewardship letters were mailed in October and the pledge cards for 2024 are already beginning to find their way back to us! We are so grateful for the careful and prayerful consideration that goes into the stewardship campaign each year from our finance and stewardship committees who plan and implement it to all of you who prayerfully consider and extend your support to the mission and ministries of Stone UMC.
Can you believe that Stone has been serving the community for almost 199 years? Even as we honor the past, Stone UMC has a vision for the future. With the capital campaign complete and the completion of many needed repairs and updates, we look to maintaining and continuing to build upon all the ways Stone UMC provides worship, faith formation and service to the community.
Our ministry is vital to the community. Please consider a gift this year and more importantly -- a commitment that we can count on from you in 2024.
RAISE RIGHT HOLIDAY GIFT GUIDE
The 2023 Holiday Gift Guide is coming Wednesday, November 1. Everyone can earn and make an impact by using gift cards for all of your holiday shopping and gifting.
If you haven't checked it out yet, visit www.raiseright.com to learn more...be part of the Stone UMC team by enrolling in the program with our Enrollment Code: R2JAWC962GJA
NOVEMBER EVENTS -- SIGN UP TODAY!
HOCKEY GAME-The Erie-Meadville District of the WPAUMC is having an outing to the Erie Otters Hockey game at the Erie Insurance Arena on November 17. Discounted tickets are $14. RSVP to the EM District office 814-250-2089.
ADVENT BIBLE STUDY-All are welcome to join Pastor Kendra in Miller Parlor for an advent bible study on Monday mornings at 10:30 am beginning November 27, 2023.
Free Safe Sanctuaries training will be held at Stone UMC on Sunday, November 5th after worship and on Wednesday, November 8th at 6:30 pm.
Those who work with children, youth, and vulnerable adults MUST complete Safe Sanctuaries training every 2 years. To RSVP for this event, please call the church office by phone 814-724-6736 or email email@example.com or sign up on the table in the sanctuary or lobby.
Staff Parish Relations -- Wednesday, Nov. 8 -5:30pm -- Living Room (3rd Floor)
Trustees -- Thursday, Nov. 9 at 5:30pm -- Miller Parlor
Finance -- Tuesday, Nov. 21 at 4pm -- Miller Parlor
Children's Center Board -- Tuesday, Nov. 28 at 9:30am -- Library
CHRISTMAS POINSETTIA ORDERS
We will begin taking orders for Christmas poinsettias this Sunday, November 5th. The cost will be $11 per plant and color choices will be red, white or pink. Order forms will be available in the sanctuary or lobby or visit our website to order. ALL ORDERS MUST BE TURNED INTO THE OFFICE BY DECEMBER 3RD.
SEEKING OUR SAVIOR ADVENT ADVENTURE
Join us on December 3rd for an all ages advent adventure as we go Seeking Our Savior! Cyndi Bland is looking for 10 volunteers who would like to help run this event. Stations will be set around Miller Parlor for children and families to go to with different small crafts and activities to learn the Christmas story. This is a great way to kick off the Advent season! There will also be some light snacks for all. If you are interested and want to sign up for a station, please contact Cyndi Bland or see the CYF bulletin board in the lobby next to the elevator.
F/F OUTREACH IS NOW FAIRVIEW/FAIRMONT FAMILY CENTER
For approximately the past 18 months, the Fairview/Fairmont Outreach Program has operated in partnership with the Y, with the Y providing financial support for the staff for 4 hours per day. This partnership also brought the Outreach Program into a relationship with Rosanne Sommers and Emily Seibel who were employed by the Y and worked at the Outreach Center. Unfortunately, the Y was unable to continue to sustain this level of support. Thus, the Outreach Board petitioned the United Housing Board (made up of members of both First Presbyterian and Stone UMC) to reinstate the level of funding it had provided in 2019, the last year that Outreach operated independently prior to COVID. The Housing Board agreed to reinstate its funding and the Outreach Program could begin to operate on its own and employ Rosanne and Emily on a full-time basis. To fully fund the program, however, continued funding from First Presbyterian and Stone UMC remains vital along with donations from other sources.
So the Outreach Program is back and we are thrilled to have Rosanne and Emily as our employees! They have brought the program to a new level of support for the residents at Fairview/Fairmont Apartment Complex. During the past several months, the Outreach Center has morphed into a real family center, hence the change of name. It fits with our mission and emphasizes what we are about.
It has long been our goal to support families but over the many years we have been in operation, there has often been a lack of adult support and/or participation in services at the Family Center. A new program, which has garnered great success, is “Grown-Up and Me.” This program focuses on preschoolers and their parents for a morning of reading, crafts and snacks. We even have had dads participate which is a wonderful occurrence. Community dinners have been held monthly, also with good turn-out. Residents are even volunteering to cook for these meals and have made some specialty dinners. A favorite walking field trip in good weather has been to take in the activities in the Children’s Garden on South Main Street, then walk to the Library, then get ice cream at Pizza Villa. Again, there are parents accompanying their children and all are enjoying the outing. The after-school program is thriving.
Rosanne and Emily are well-versed in the concepts of trauma-informed communities and building resilience. Their kindness and ability to zero in on how to support the residents are outstanding. Allegheny Bonner students also are on hand to supplement the paid staff.
We thank you, the members of Stone United Methodist Church, for your continued financial support and other support through the years. You also should be extremely proud of the mission at Fairview/Fairmont. It’s weathered many storms and continues to provide a safe, secure and welcoming environment for all residents. Housing issues are a significant concern across the country currently. Your continued support provides a safe, well-managed and supportive environment for those who live at the Fairview/Fairmont Apartment Complex and who participate in and enjoy the Family Center.
Our CYF Bake Sale raised more than $350 for our sponsor child.
So far we have collected 3 cleaning buckets & 12 hygiene kits to donate...and the collection continues! Please see the display in the hall by Miller Parlor for more information.
Thank you to Pastor Kendra and my Stone Church family for your prayers, cards, messages, food and flowers as I recovered from cardiac surgery. --Janet Waid
Happy Birthday! I want to wish a very happy birthday to my dear husband Jim Turnbull who turns 80 on November 21st! -- Carolyn Turnbull
Thank you to the church members, community members and local agencies who joined us and handed treats to the hundreds of trick or treaters who visited us during our Trunk or Treat event on October 26, 2023.
STONE UMC CHILDREN'S CENTER HAPPENINGS
The children at Stone UMC Children's Center have been busy with many fall activities. Our preschool children recently did a "Pumpkin Jack" experiment where they got to empty the pumpkin, count and do activities with the seeds and explore the texture of the pumpkin "guts". The empty pumpkin is then placed in a container so they will be able to observe the process of decomposition and renewed growth from the seeds.
Many thanks to the members of Stone UMC who came to the church on Oct. 30th for the return of our annual in-church trick or treat experience. All ages enjoyed walking around the first floor and sanctuary.
THE PLAY'S THE THING...
Help is needed each Sunday in Advent from THREE ADULTS to perform short skits during the worship service. These skits are 4-5 minutes in length and aim to teach while also introducing a little bit of humor into worship during the advent season. You must be willing to speak a little bit and wear a costume! Sign up today by calling the church office.