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.    

Needed:

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.

 

                  Random Acts of Kindness

 

                               Aesop said, “No act of kindness no

                               matter how small is wasted.”  

   

     When school was open, she was there for a couple of hours every weekday morning and then again in the afternoon. Rain, shine, or snow, she was on the corner making sure the children crossed the street safely.

She made life and death decisions for our kids, and that makes her a hero in my book. Some of our heroes are those who have demonstrated astonishing bravery in the face of adversity. You know the ones who are braving the world these days.

     But the world is full of unlikely heroes—people like you and me—who step in to help in situations that might otherwise overwhelm someone.

     The young woman in the grocery store who shops for her elderly neighbor. The friends who take dinner to the family of a newborn. Take some time this month to notice the heroic deeds of those around you, and while you are at it, notice your own. Each time we are able to lift the burden from another’s shoulders we’re doing the work that God asks of us. Be sure to thank those who are helping others. Perhaps today is a good day for me to thank that grocery store worker or the nurse who valiantly takes care of the Covid-19 patient.

 

Blessing Bags

 

This might be a good time to have a blessing bag on hand if you should you encounter someone who is in need. What is a blessing bag you ask?  It is a gallon size plastic bag filled 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.

                First Lutheran blessing bags have an assortment of personal care items in each bag.  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 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 are 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.

 

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