While First Lutheran is always keeping the idea of being “mission minded” and to give their full attention to what it means to serve Christ by serving others, the Advent/Christmas seasons is a special time. As a congregation and a church together we roll up our sleeves and do God’s work with our hands (and our minds and hearts, too). AND we pull out all the stops to using excuses like “We don’t have the time or the resources or money.” “How can we possibly help all those in need. “ “We really should take care of ourselves first.”
What a wonderful focus to have as a congregation - mission, ministry, outreach! During the recent Advent/Christmas season God’s love and our care and concern for others was bright and beautiful!
Many people served Christ by serving others, sharing the good news that the babe born in a manger brought to the world so long ago.
Mission and ministry took shape:
West End Food Pantry, a ministry of St. Paul Lutheran, Virginia Avenue received the many boxes of food gathered in support of the increased needs realized during the holidays. Including donations to the Backpack Project the total number of donated items for November and December was 1,434!
And while doing this we were able to support the Allegheny Synod 40,000 Can Challenge which will continue through Souper Bowl Sunday.
The annual Giving Tree provided many needed items to support the work of the Gabriel Project, a ministry of St. Francis Assisi Parish. This ministry is dedicated to helping moms and babies in our community.
Adopt-a-Family provided gifts for a number of children, youth and adults within our own church and the Greater Johnstown community.
Holiday gift bags were filled with goodies and holiday surprises then delivered to the members of our church family and friends.
Over 20 carolers shared the beautiful and merry sounds of Christmas with church family and friends.
Stockings for Soldiers received 35 filled stockings to be sent to those actively serving in the military. Thanks to our friends at Hindman Funeral Home these were delivered just in time for the holidays.
ELCA Good Gifts was another giving opportunity for our members as we purchased solar-charge lanterns for those who live with little or no electricity or means to have any light source after dark.
Christmas charity helped those in need now and beyond the holiday season.
The beautiful poinsettias present at our worship celebrations were shared with our church family and friends.
Fundraising distributed funds raised in 2019 to over 18 partners in ministry locally and across the globe. See the report on page 10.
Members of our congregation were visible signs of outreach mission and ministry in the community as they volunteered their time, talents and offerings with local charities and community causes.
This overwhelming generosity of time, talents and gifts has been awesome. First Lutheran is alive and well in mission and ministry in many and varied ways, serving the small baby in the manger by reaching out, serving others, sharing the good news and bringing light to a dark and weary world.
May we continue to think mission and do God’s work in the days, weeks and months ahead. Let’s continue to be a mission congregation focused on ministry in the world – the world that was made bright by the birth of a tiny infant in a bare manger.
Saturday Lectors: Volunteers to read the lessons during the Saturday service.
Altar Guild and Ushers: Men and women to serve for a month at a time placing paraments for the upcoming service or greeting those arriving for worship and handing them a bulletin. You'll be working with other volunteers, and the commitment is not difficult.
Video Techs: Volunteers to record the Sunday services for broadcast to a large audience on cable TV. We'll train you! See the Vine Street Journal for more information. Call the church office, 814-536-7521, to volunteer or ask questions about these important ministries.
Musicians: Looking for someone that can play the guitar for some music on a Sunday morning. It is not for every week, just a few. If you can help me out, please let me know as soon as you can. I also have a need for other instrumental help. So if you play any instrument, your help would be very welcome! Thanks.
Singers:. Even if you can only offer one Sunday morning a month, we invite you to join us. It's not as scary as you may think! Anyone age sixteen and older is invited to give it a try. If you can at least sing the melody when we sing our hymns, you're already halfway there! If you have any questions, just contact Howard Bennett at 288-7288 or see me in person.
Looking for Hospital Visitor Volunteers
We are looking for volunteers to visit
members who are in the hospital. In
today’s world hospital stays are usually
brief and patients are in and out quickly.
But it is still important that they know that their church family cares about them.
Visitors are scheduled to go to Conemaugh Hospital and related campuses to visit once a month. Every attempt is made to have at least one visitor per week scheduled. Some days we have no one in the hospital so the visitor does not need to go. Names and locations of those hospitalized can be secured from the church office.
The visits do not need to be very long and it is greatly appreciated if the visitor could pray with the patient before leaving.
If you are interested in visiting please speak with Patty Riddle or Harriett Miller, they can answer any questions you may have.
What is a blessing bag you ask? It is a gallon size plastic bag filed with a number of essential items that can be given to someone who is homeless, down and out or in need of a random act of kindness.
The bags have a label and include a card with a prayer and our church name and address. Members are encouraged to take a bag or two and keep them in your car to give to someone you may encounter who is struggling, down and out or is homeless.
A supply of the bags for members to take will be located in the Lounge. Please only take bags to be used as a random act of kindness. They can serve as a reminder that God loves everyone and as Christians we are signs of God’s love in the community.
Help the West End Food Pantry. Bring canned and packaged goods to the church lounge.