Pastor’s Portion for February 2019: The Grace of Groundhog Day
One of my annual February rituals is to watch the movie Groundhog Day, starring Bill Murray. If you are not familiar with this film, here is a brief synopsis: Bill Murray plays a cynical TV weatherman who finds himself condemned to reliving the same day over and over again when he is assigned to report on Groundhog Day in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. At first, Murray is befuddled at being trapped in a constant replay of February 2nd. But he soon finds ways to selfishly benefit from the repeated day until he begins to dread its monotony and seeming meaninglessness. (Spoiler alert here!). Somewhere along the millennia of repeated days, Murray begins to use the time for self-improvement and self-transformation. Instead of acting in his own self-interest, he finds meaning and purpose in helping others and improving his own talents to benefit the whole community. It is only when he discovers the value of compassion and self-giving love that the spell of repeated days is broken. The internet is full of opinions expounding on the meaning of this movie. Some are psychoanalytical and offer the explanation that when we break the monotonous behavioral patterns of our everyday lives we are able to grow as individuals and see new possibilities in our lives. Others see the movie as a symbol of reincarnation or purgatory and some military personnel have even compared it to the monotonous boredom of deployment overseas. (I know family members who think that February is such a dreary, boring month that there ought to be legislation passed to erase it from the calendar!) One of my favorite opinions regarding the meaning of this movie was given by New York City rabbi, Dr. Niles Goldstein who told the New York Times that Murray’s character transformation through multiple chances to do mitzvahs (“good deeds”) is reflected in Jewish theology. “The movie tells us, as Judaism does, that the work doesn’t end until the world is perfected.” Regardless of the various opinions about the meaning of the movie, it always reminds me of my gratitude for the grace of God. Unlike Bill Murray’s character, I cannot constantly revisit moments I deeply regret in my life and change them. I can only seek the mercy of God, ask for forgiveness and hope that I can make amends. I lean on the Gospel and the love of God in Jesus Christ. But like Bill Murray’s character - by the grace of God - I always hope that as more of my old self dies, that something new is reborn in me that is closer to the image of Christ. I don’t need Groundhog Day to come around once a year for this; this is what I seek every Sunday morning in worship with all of you. May the Lord be with us all. - Pastor Dennis
All-Day Soup Making Party Friday, February 1st beginning 9am Those famous pints of delicious Calvary Baptist homemade soups don’t just appear out of thin air! They are lovingly and expertly made by members of our church. Come join the soup making party this Friday and help us prepare for our Souper Bowl Sunday sale on Saturday, February 2nd from 9am to 2 pm.
Souper Bowl Sale Saturday, February 2, 9am - 2pm Homemade soup and pierogies will be on sale in Fellowship Hall. You can also call in your order to the church office (609-466-1880).
Please join us for our Saturday Morning Breakfast Club gathering this Saturday, February 2, 9 am. Come start your celebration of Groundhog Day with good food, good conversation and good friends. There’s a spot for everyone.
Everyone is invited to join us for Sunday morning conversations with Bibles & Bagels each Sunday at 9 a.m. in Fellowship Hall. This month we complete our discussion of the Psalms on February 3 with Psalm 71:1-6 and the “Nearness of God.” The rest of the month we will be looking at and discussing the lectionary readings from Luke: 2/10 (Luke 5:1-11); 2/17 (Luke 6:17-26); 2/24 (Luke 6:27-38) and 3/3 (Luke 9:28-43). As always the bagels are fresh, the discussion instructive and the company warm. Please join us.
Worship in the season of Epiphany continues every Sunday morning. We gather at 10 am, worship together and then invite everyone to Fellowship Hall for coffee, tea, bagels and other enticements. Please join us for songs, prayers, news of our church family and the hearing of God’s Word. Our blessing and learning is increased with the addition of each worshipper.
Our next Church Council Meeting will be Tuesday, February 12, 7 p.m.Council members, please submit your reports by Monday, February 11. Thank you!
Grief Share Support Groupwill meet in February on Tuesday, February 12 at 6pm and also on February 26 at 6 pm. Please contact Joe Immordino for more information or to join a support group.
“Fill that Truck!” Hopewell Elementary School February 20at 8:15 a.m. We continue our partnership with the Hopewell Elementary School in collecting needed items for the East Trenton Center (ETC). This month we will be collecting food items, new toiletries and gently used or new toys or games to send to the East Trenton Center. For your convenience, there is a collection bin just beneath the bulletin board in the sanctuary vestibule. Thank you for your help!
Troop Support Blanket MakingThursday, February 21 - 6 p.m. This month’s blanket making will be held in Fellowship Hall. Last month, in addition to their monthly gathering at church, Linda Allen and Ruth Allen joined forces with Pennington Crossfit Gym for an evening of blanket making and troop support. Below our photos from that evening at Pennington Crossfit Gym.
Thanks again to our friends at Pennington Crossfit Gym!
Happy Birthday to our February stars! February 6 - Scott Dansberry February 8 - Elsie Van Liew February 27 - Jed Cole February 27 Julie Van Doren February 27 - Chris Hale
Just a reminder that we are continuing our Retired Ministers and Missionaries Offering (RMMO), throughout the month of February. Our goal is $1,000 for this offering that is “rooted in thankfulness and honors the individual acts of support and faith that recipients have shown to their congregations and communities.” Thank you for your past faithfulness and continued support of American Baptist Special Offerings!
Winter Carnival returns Saturday, February 23, 6 pm. Join us for a night of fun, friends and frog flipping (and other games!) and help support the “Ties to Home” care package ministry to deployed men and women who serve our country as well as K9 Hero Haven and the Popcorn Zoo “Share a Pet” program. A great time is always had by all. (By the way, it’s not real frogs we flip.)
You can also help by coming Friday evening (February 22) at 6 p.m. to help set up or bring baked goods for the Carnival. Volunteers are always welcome to help with the games as well (It’s actually hard to tell who has more fun - the kids or the volunteers). For more information, questions or to find out how you can help call the church office at 609-466-1880. (see flyer below)
Jazz on Broad, hosted by our own Phil Orr, continues with great music throughout February on Thursday evenings from 6 to 9 pm at the Hopewell Valley Bistro and Inn. For more informationvisit www.jazzonbroad.com.
The Golden Gals Bible study of Esther is taking a brief winter hiatus. We will be gathering at the new home of Doris Wert when the weather warms. Stay tuned for details.
The Beacon January 2019
Pastor’s Portion for January 2019: Looking Back and Looking Ahead Jesus once said “the first shall be last and the last shall be first.” Well, at the time that I sit down at my desk and write, this is the last thing I will write about 2018 and the first thing I write about 2019. Christmas Eve was a wonderful celebration of the birth of Jesus. We were fortunate enough to have Rosie Sprague, Fire Chief Joe Novak and Michelle LaPaglia share their musical talents with us and the gift of their songs set the tone for our evening. I wish I had recorded it, but I’m not sure any recording would have captured the spirit of the evening. I’m also grateful for Michelle taking the time to organize a handful of hand chime novices into a simple choir of accompanying bells on two Christmas carols - especially Silent Night. Thank you Sophia Pedersen, Joan Bratsko, Lauren Jones, Pat Dansberry, Scott Dansberry, Cary Powser and Jed Cole for having the courage to try something new (more about trying something new later). Thanks always to Philip Orr’s musical guidance, spirit of inclusion and especially for his rousing rendition of Go Tell it on the Mountain to send us off into the wonder of the evening and the gatherings of family and friends. That song has become one of my favorite Christmas Eve traditions since coming to Calvary Baptist Church. The most memorable part of the evening for me is always the candlelit faces of our Calvary Baptist Church family while singing Silent Night. It’s an emotional moment for me when I see the faces of everyone who is a part of this family of faith; even more so when I imagine also seeing the faces of those absent from us. Some are away visiting family; but some have passed on to a place prepared for them by Christ. There’s comfort in that, but I still grieve their absence from us. I was thrilled that Elsie Van Liew was able to join us for the first time in many years and so many of you greeted her and helped make her Christmas Eve celebration even more special. This year during Silent Night, instead of holding a guitar in my hand, I held a hand chime and stood next to my friend Jed. We worked together - along with the rest of our group - to make chords of harmony as we sang the traditional candlelight Christmas carol. I couldn’t help thinking that this is what we try to do all year as a church family - stand side by side, and out of the diversity of our gifts, talents, personalities and perspectives, try to work together in harmony to make a difference in the world and share the good news story of God’s love in Jesus Christ. As I looked around during the singing of Christmas carols, I also thought about how many of you took time to help decorate our sanctuary on our Hanging of the Greens gathering. Thank you Ruth Allen and Linda Allen for organizing that evening. That was an evening of both sadness and hope. That was the day that Claire Hall went to be with the Lord and we prayed for her and for her beloved George. But we also prepared the sanctuary for sharing the news that Jesus was born into this world to comfort the broken hearted and liberate all of us from the bondage of sin and death. That message was brought home to those who were grieving about the loss of loved ones at our Blue Christmas Service on December 21 - the longest and darkest night of the year. Our guest harpist set the tone of reflection, but every year Phil finds a song to sing that brings comfort to those of us who grieve and sends us out on the path of healing. Thank you, Phil!
Thanks are also due to everyone who helped make this year’s Living Nativity a great success. Thanks to our Saturday morning breakfast club guys for helping to put up our new structure: Ron Baris, Mark Bean, Mark Hornung, Jeff Fedor, Jay Petrillo, Gary Bellaus, Joe Immordino and sons Joe and Chris, - a special thanks to Keith Johnson for making everything easier with his gas-powered auger that made digging post holes a lot easier! Leighanne Sadley had the straw we needed for the manger delivered (thank you!), Rick Edling booked our superstar sheep Rocky for a two night engagement thanks to his friend Anne (Thank you!) and thanks also to my wife, Janice, for making the Peace on Earth sign and decorating the manger with greens and lights. And thanks to everyone from all our Hopewell churches who volunteered to stand as a witness to the Christmas Story (in the same way that St. Francis envisioned when he re-created the first nativity to tell the story of Jesus’ birth) especially the Bellaus family (Gary, Linda, Michael and Jane), Ruth Allen and Mark Hornung who stood for us on Christmas Eve. I also want to thank all of those - who in past years - helped with the Living Nativity. I especially want to thank Milt Higley who built our now retired structure (a little too heavy with the few backs we have left and in need of many repairs after years of faithful service) and Shawn Blythe who faithfully and expertly guided us every year in putting our retired structure together and lighting it. Despite two rained out evenings, we were able to celebrate our first carol singing (thank you, Michelle!) and visit from Santa Claus (thank you, Connor O’Neill and Hopewell Fire Department!). People sang, enjoyed hot chocolate and home-baked cookies, had their photos taken with superstar Rocky <grin>, and spilled into Fellowship Hall to spend more time together. Pat Dansberry commented that it was an “amazing evening with such a diverse group of people” and that our volunteer church family members “didn’t seem to want to go home, but enjoyed fellowship together.” It was a great way to end our year. Thank you all for all that you are and all that you accomplished in 2018. That’s the last thing I want to say in 2018…
…and the first thing I want to say in 2019 is where are you headed? I came across a photo of the Sourland Mountains recently (above). It’s a beautiful photo looking across the valley into trees and the misty hills at sunrise. It’s an image I’ve often seen as I’ve driven early on Sunday mornings down Manners Road (Rt. 609) toward the Neshanic River crossing, past the Alpaca farm and sunflower fields. It has always made me think of the possibilities of fresh starts and new ventures. The photo reminds me of the beginning of a journey across the valley of what is known now, through the mist and mountains of an uncertain and challenging future. But it is always a journey toward the light of hope. I’m doing something new for me this year. Some of you are already aware that I have begun training to run in my first marathon next November - the Philly Marathon (of course!!!). When people ask me why I would do such a foolish thing at sixty-one years of age, I have a number of reasons why, but really the simple answer is because Jesus asked me to run. That may sound overly simplistic, glib or crazy, but let me explain. When our small group of young folk made suggestions about how to make the world a better place (it included helping animals, feeding and sheltering people), providing clean water for everyone was something I hadn’t thought of much before. With my curiosity piqued, I began researching the issue and was astounded to learn that nearly 900 million people in the world do not have access to clean water. I recently learned that 63 million US citizens (!!!) are exposed to unsafe drinking water. It got worse. Every year nearly a million people worldwide die of water-related diseases - many of them children. I learned that every ninety seconds another child dies from complications due to water-related diseases. That statistic has haunted me. So inspired by our own kids, we started the water project to raise awareness about this issue. We knew we couldn’t realistically provide safe water for everyone in the world ourselves, but we could spread the word about the global water crisis and change the lives of at least one village in the world. We chose a hill tribe village in northern Thailand because whatever money we raised would be used directly to building a water filtration and sanitation system and none of it siphoned off for administrative costs or publicity. The project would cost about $12,000. In order to ensure that we reached an optimum amount of people about the global water crisis and raised the needed amount, we made a rule that no individual could give more than $12. This way we would have to reach at least 1,000 people. We started off with a lot of enthusiasm and quickly began raising money - our kids even asked people they knew for donations to the water project in lieu of gifts for their birthdays! Recently, we had a successful Walk 4 Water 5K where people walked more than three miles carrying weighted buckets to experience a little of what many people around the world do every day - walk (miles sometimes) for their daily water. People were generous and thoughtful. Some donated cash and some donated on our Calvary Baptist Clean Water Crew( CBCWC Clean Water Project) GoFundMe website page: (https://www.gofundme.com/hope-for-the-hill-tribes?utm_source=internal&utm_medium=email&utm_content=body_photo&utm_campaign=upd_n) We’ve reached more than 250 people and raised more than $3,000. That is great, but it is only one quarter of our goal and we have discovered just how hard it is to make this - as Anna Petrillo said - “the mission of the many instead of the charity of a few.” We’ve never done anything like this before and it has taught us - among other things - how hard it must be for poorer people with limited resources to raise enough money to survive when they are limited by the trickle of low wages. Feeling a little stumped and frustrated by how hard this has been I was hit with a conspiracy of other inspirations. First, I ran my first 5K ever last November for Team Luca to help raise money for Children’s Organ Transplant Association in celebration of - and gratitude for - Luca Palmisano’s successful lung transplant. Amazingly, I finished and I started running almost everyday since then. Second, my nephew Alex Tierney, finished the New York and Boston marathons last year and has encouraged me to think about doing something I have hated all my life unless a ball was involved - running more. Also, I was recently inspired by Leanne Storer completing her first marathon about a month ago in Philadelphia. Lastly, when we did the Walk 4 Water 5K, I was troubled by the thought that people did this every day around the world and I was only doing a symbolic act of empathy for one day. I had been praying for a way to keep these people in my heart, but also for a physical way to remind me of what they do each day.
In one of my morning devotions I came across the story of Peter at the Beggars Gate. Peter is asked for money by a man who is lame. Peter’s response is: “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you.” That’s when I knew what I should do - when I read those words again “what I do have I give you.” I still have two legs in relatively decent shape for a sixty-one-year-old man. And that’s when Jesus asked me to run - in my prayer that morning; that’s when I knew I could share a physical daily reminder of what many people around the world do every day. I could walk and run every day this year to train for a marathon to help reach our goal. I hope you’ll help me get the word out. Meantime, where are you headed in 2019? What new venture or challenge awaits you? I’m praying that - with God’s help - we all will try something new for the sake of Jesus Christ and his children. I hope you all have a blessed, happy and venturous New Year! God be with you - Pastor Dennis
Please join us for our Saturday Morning Breakfast Club gathering this Saturday, December 5, 9 am. All are invited and afterward we will make short work of putting away our Christmas decorations.
Everyone is invited to join us for Sunday morning conversations with Bibles & Bagels each Sunday at 9 a.m. in Fellowship Hall. This month we will be discussing Psalms in Lectionary readings: Psalm 72, Psalm 29, Psalm 36 and Psalm 19. The bagels are fresh, the conversation instructive and the company warm.
Epiphany worship begins thisSunday, January 6, 10 a.m. Come begin the New Year by taking the lead of the Magi and coming to find Jesus in your own heart and life. This Sunday we celebrate communion together.
Our next Church Council Meeting will be Tuesday, January 8, 7 p.m.Council members, please submit your reports by Monday, January 7. Thank you!
The next gathering at the Hopewell Bistro will be Wednesday, January 9, 6:30 p.m. to belatedly celebrate the birthdays of Phil Orr and Elvis (mostly Phil - January 8!). RSVP to Scott Dansberry.
The Golden Gals Bible study will continue on Thursday, January 10, 10:30 a.m. at the home of Janet Riemer, We will begin our study of Esther. All are welcome
“Fill that Truck!” Hopewell Elementary School January 16at 8:15 a.m. We continue our partnership with the Hopewell Elementary School in collecting needed items for the East Trenton Center (ETC). We will be collecting food items and new toiletries to send to the East Trenton Center. This month's special collection is for gently used or new children's books. For your convenience, there is a collection bin just beneath the bulletin board in the sanctuary vestibule. Thank you for your help!
Troop Support Blanket MakingWednesday, January 9 - 6:30 p.m. At Pennington Crossfit Gym - 55 route 31 South, Pennington. Crossfit has been a good supporter of the Ties to Home ministry. Also monthly blanket making will be hold the monthly event at church Thursday, January 17 at 6 p.m. Contact Ruth Allen or Linda Allen for more information. Thanks!
Pierogi making returns in January. All are invited to help make pierogies Thursday, January 10, Thursday, January 17, Wednesday, January 23 and Wednesday, January 30 . All are welcome to join the group on Wednesday evenings beginning at 6 p.m. The homemade pierogies will be made as part of the Souper Bowl Sunday fundraiser. On Friday, February 2 they will be making more soup to also benefit the Souper Bowl Sunday sale. Thanks.
Please join us for an important congregational meeting following our worship Sunday, January 27, 11 am We will be discussing updates on current projects and continuing plans for 2019. We need everyone’s input. Thanks!
The Artists at the Station The Artists at the Station, a group of mostly local artists who paint together at the Hopewell Train Station Tuesday mornings, has mounted their annual exhibit at the Hopewell Valley Inn and Bistro right down the street. 60 paintings are on display by 10 artists - including 5 from our own Janet Purcell. The exhibit ends early this month so take time to visit!
January 3 - Tracey Petrillo January 6 - Morgan Hale January 7 - David Lake January 8 - Phil Orr (and Elvis) Happy Birthday!
Please have all articles for January’s newsletter in by January 23. Thanks!
Ron Baris does a great job with promoting our special offerings. This month we begin collecting for the Retired Ministers and Missionaries Offering (RMMO). It may seem like we are a month late (since the promotion is for 2018), but we are actually almost a year early. We begin our special RMMO collection early in the year so that our contribution is made ahead of time to say thank you! to our retired ministers and missionaries at Christmastime. Here’s a little background about RMMO from American Baptist Church USA (ABCUSA): The roots of the Retired Ministers and Missionaries Offering (RMMO) originated in the mid-1930s, when American Baptist congregations received a Communion Fellowship Offering on the first Sunday of each month to support retired ministers, missionaries, their widowed spouses and elderly clergy within their churches. In 1977, American Baptist Churches USA launched RMMO to continue this appreciation of God’s service. The offering is rooted in thankfulness and honors the individual acts of support and faith that recipients have shown to their congregations and communities. This year’s theme, Extending Our Hands to Our Neighbors illustrates the importance of being there for one another and remembering we are stronger together then on our own is central to the Christian faith. We hope you will join us in honoring God’s committed servants. Thank you for your continued support!
Let's all have a blessed and happy New Year!
The Beacon December 2018
Pastor’s Portion. November was a busy time in our church. We began with preparations for our annual Red Cross Blood Drive. It was the most successful drive we have ever had with 45 donations! There was little time to celebrate because we had to quickly prepare to host the kickoff for the Sunday of Service(SOS) gathering the next day. Another great success! More than 125 people gathered for the commissioning service before setting out all over Hopewell in acts of community service including packing lunches for the Trenton Area soup Kitchen, filling jars with soup mixes for the Fisherman’s Mark, the Wagon Train food collection, making blankets for the Linus Project, visits to the Atrium Nursing Care facility, shoe pattern cutting to help make shoes for Sole Hope, winter clothing sorting and packing for No Name Kitchen refugee relief, exterior painting of the Stoutsburg Sourland African American Museum and the first Walk 4 Water 5K to build a water and sanitation system for a hill tribe in Thailand. There was no rest for the weary after SOS. Soups and set ups were already being made in preparation for our annual Christmas Bazaar. Another great success! Perhaps the best measure of its success was the comment given to me that “we had a great day of fellowshipand working together. There was a lot of laughter and time to share.” And so many people helped! Including our youth! Was that it? Of course not. We needed to prepare for Thanksgiving by collecting food items to help feed needy families in our area through our partnership with the Hopewell Elementary School “Fill that Truck” program and also to help count and transport the thousands of food items collected by Leighanne Sadley’s company. Another overwhelming success as Leighanne’s group nearly doubled their donations from last year and the director of the East Trenton Center food pantry celebrated that shewould be able to feed an additional 75 families! We do a lot of preparing as a church family. Most of our preparations revolve around community service some of it in fundraising. We prepare for rummage sales, troop support, K9 Hero Haven days, Memorial Day parades, church dinners, special offering mission campaigns, Lenten suppers, Grief Share support, pierogi making, Souper Bowl Sunday dishes, blanket making, and the list goes on. Right now, most of you are preparing for the Christmas holiday with shopping baking and decorating. This Friday (November 30), we’ll be gathering for a fun night of “Hanging of the Greens.” We will decorate the church for Christmas. I’ve already been preparing for this year’s Living Nativity, Blue Christmas candlelight vigil, carol sing and Christmas Eve celebration. All of this is great and I am proud to be a part of a church family that does so much for so many. But Advent is a season that calls us to do a different kind of preparation. Advent is a season that reminds us that there is a difference between preparing for the holiday of Christmas and the Holy Day of Christ’s birth. The busy-ness of Black Friday, Cyber Monday and the holiday shopping season - even with it’s 24 hours of looping Christmas songs on the radio, pausing only for the latest sales commercials - is the kind of commercialization of Christmas that Charlie Brown complained to Linus about in holiday classic “A Charlie Brown Christmas.” Charlie Brown is looking for the Holy Day meaning of Christmas amidst all the holiday glitter. And as people of faith, that is what the season of Advent does for us, too. It calls us to prepare for the Holy Day of Christmas. Christmas as just a holiday is something that we take down in boxes from the attic once a year and then pack up and put away again until next year. But Christmas as a Holy Day is making room in our hearts for the birth of Christ to live and grow within us throughout the year and our lives. Christmas as just a holiday is traditions we repeat year after year hoping they never change. But Christmas as a Holy Day is recognizing the season of Advent as a time for intentionally preparing for changes in our lives because we have encountered God face-to-face in Jesus. Christmas as just a holiday means just a short seasonal change in our lives. But Christmas as a Holy Day means transformative changes in our lives that alter our values, priorities and attitudes; changes that alter the way we always treat others because of how God has loved us. Christmas as just a holiday season excludes those who are hurting from need or broken hearted by loss. But Christmas as a Holy Day brings a word of hope and healing to those in need and a word of comfort and peace to the broken hearted. Christmas holiday celebrations can certainly be wonderful traditions in our lives - I have wonderful family traditions of my own that I honor and celebrate every year. But Christmas as a Holy Day is what has comforted and sustained me - and will continue to comfort and sustain me - when my heart has been broken by loss and grief. Christmas as a Holy Day is also what has sustained my joy even as I have struggled with those losses. Because contained within the birth of Christ is the hope of new beginnings for us all and the promise of resurrection. My hope for all of us this Advent season and Christmas - especially for myself - is that we will put as much planning and effort into our spiritual preparations for Christmas as a Holy Day in our lives as we do for everything else throughout the year. A good way for taking time to pay attention to that is joining together on Sunday mornings in worship this December as we prepare for Jesus to be born into our lives in fresh ways this year. Even if you haven’t been able to join us for some time - especially if you haven’t been able to join us for a while - Advent is a great time to restart and reconnect. Here is our worship schedule and theme for Advent: Preparing for Christmas as a Holy Day Sunday, December 2 - “Signs, Signs Everywhere a Sign” - Luke 21:25-36 Sunday, December 9 - “The 3 Rs - It’s Not What You Think” Luke 3:1-6 Sunday, December 16 - “Hey John! What Am I Supposed to Do?” Luke 3:7-18 Sunday, December 22 - “Preparing for the Unpreparable” Luke 1:26-38 We’ll be lighting the Advent candles each week and sharing both Advent songs and Christmas carols as we help prepare one another for the celebration of Jesus being born into the world and into our lives. - Pastor Dennis
Please join us Friday, November 30, 6 p.m. for the Hanging of the Greens. Come wearing your “ugly” holiday sweater (hats optional) and join us for a feast off pizza and hoagies before we decorate the church sanctuary and vestibule for Christmas. There will also be time to try out the hand chimes for a Christmas song. Michelle La Paglia will help us put together a song to celebrate Christmas.
After you have recovered and had a good night sleep from Hanging of the Greens, come begin the month of December with a good meal and good company. Join us for our monthly breakfast this Saturday, December 1 at 9 a.m.
Advent begins Sunday, December 2. Join us for bagels anda spirited discussion of the first Advent text beginning at 9 am. Then join us for worship as we light the candle of HOPE and share communion on the first Sunday of Advent.
Our monthly Church Council meeting will be held a week early this month on Tuesday, December 4 at 7 p.m. Please submit your reports by Monday, December 3. Thank you.
The Golden Gals Christmas Party will be held on Thursday, December 6, 11:30 am at the home of Ginny Van Doren. For more information, please contact Edith Majors.
Second Sunday of Advent: December 9 Join us for bagels anda spirited discussion of the the second Advent text beginning at 9 am then join us for worship as we light the candle of PEACE.
Our annual congregational business meeting will be held following our worship service on Sunday, December 9 at 11 am.Please join us for this important meeting that will chart the course of our mission and ministry for 2019.
The Golden Gals Bible Study resumes on Thursday, December 13, 10:30 am at the home of Ginny Van Doren. We will begin the book of Esther. All are welcome
“Dinner at the Bistro” All are invited for an evening of fellowship at the Hopewell Bistro & Inn, Thursday, December 13 - 6:30 p.m. Please RSVP to Scott Dansberry if you are attending so he can secure a group table. (You will need to pay for your own food and beverages.) The evening’s headliner will be our own Phil Orr with Michael O'Brien (bass, Gene Pitney, Harry Connick, Jr.), and Andrew Atkinson (drums, Michelle Walker, Kyoko Oyobe) as they “reprise a favorite Princeton-area event, now at The Hopewell Valley Bistro for the first time. With its roots in the Cool Yule Jazz concerts at Westminster Choir College in the 2000s, "Jingle Bell Jazz" continues to highlight 'the best songs of the season, un-traditionally seasoned.”
Third Sunday of Advent: December 16 Join us for bagels anda spirited discussion of the the third Advent text beginning at 9 am Then join us for worship as we light the candle of JOY.
“Fill that Truck!” Hopewell Elementary School December 19at 8:15 a.m. We continue our partnership with the Hopewell Elementary School in collecting needed items for the East Trenton Center (ETC). We will be collecting food items and new toiletries to send to the East Trenton Center. For your convenience, there is a collection bin just beneath the bulletin board in the sanctuary vestibule. Thank you for your help!
We will be collecting newly bought and unwrapped toys for the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia to help families they serve. The deadline for donating a new toy, new book or new art supply (like crayons) will be Thursday, December 13. For infection control purposes and the safety of their patients, CHOP can only accept brand new and recently purchased items. They cannot accept used toys, stuffed animals, wrapped or hand decorated boxes or bags, collector’s items, cards/handwritten notes, messages, hand-made items, food or violent items. If you would like to make a donation, Rick Edling has given us a collection box that we have placed in the vestibule. This is another way of saying thanks to the people who have taken such great care of Luca. For more information and a list of items that you can donate, visit https://media.chop.edu/data/files/pdfs/2018-2019-holiday-wish-list.pdf. Thank you!
The tradition of the Living Nativity continues this year beginning on Thursday, December 20. We need volunteers to help host each night. Hosting is easy and includes helping volunteers from other participating churches with their costumes and serving hot chocolate and cookies when they finish. Preparation begins at 6:30 p.m. (putting on costumes) and the Nativity display runs from 7 to 8:30 p.m. We also needs volunteers from Here is the schedule: Thursday, December 20 - Second Calvary Baptist Church - 6:30 - 8:30 pm Friday, December 21 - Hopewell United Methodist Church - 6:30 - 8:30 pm At 7:30 pm the community is invited to a candlelight vigil to name those they miss and wish to remember. This is part of the Blue Christmas service. Saturday, December 22 - Hopewell Presbyterian Church - 6:30- 8:30 pm At 7:30 pm the community is invited to a carol singing. There will be small treats for the kids and we’re hoping for some special visitors. Sunday, December 23 - St. Alphonsus Church - 6:30 - 8:30 pm Monday, December 24 - Calvary Baptist Church - 6:00 - 6:55 pm We need volunteers to stand in Living Nativity for a short time (6:15 - 6:55 pm) as people gather for our Christmas Eve Candlelight service at 7 pm
Blue Christmas Friday, December 21 - 7 pm This year’s Blue Christmas service will begin in our sanctuary at 7 pm with a brief service and then conclude (weather permitting) outside by the Living Nativity with a candlelight vigil to name those we miss and wish to remember. We are inviting anyone in the community who would like to remember a lost loved one to join us for the service and/or the candlelight vigil.
Christmas Caroling at the Living Nativity Saturday, December 22 - 7:30 pm Come join us and invite your neighbors for a time of community Christmas caroling at the Living Nativity. We will have small treats for the kids and are hoping for some special guests to join us. Hot chocolate and cookies, too!
Christmas Bazaar Re-opens One Day only!!! Saturday, December 22 - 9 am - 2 pm Cookie Trays available For only $12
Fourth Sunday of Advent: December 23 Join us for bagels anda spirited discussion of the the fourth Advent text beginning at 9 am Then join us for worship as we light the candle of LOVE.
Christmas Eve Candlelight Service Monday, December 24 - 7 pm Please join us for our annual Christmas Eve celebration in song, prayer and storytelling. We begin the evening with an extended prelude of special music at 6:45 pm. Don you now your gay apparel or come in your pajamas- just come and celebrate the birth of Jesus! Hope to see you there.
If you’d like to order poinsettia for Christmas Eve - in memory of a loved one, or just to celebrate Christmas - please your order form to the church office as soon as possible. If you don’t have an order form you can call the church office between 9 am and noon Monday through Friday to place an order.
Fifth Sunday Favorite Carols Singing Sunday, December 30 at 9:30 a.m. Join us for a 5th Sunday tradition of a light breakfast of bagels and other treats before worship and then our 10 am service of singing our favorite Christmas carols and prayers for the New Year. Bring a breakfast treat to share with a few others. (Homemade pierogis will probably be involved! <grin>)
The Artists at the Station The Artists at the Station, a group of mostly local artists who paint together at the Hopewell Train Station Tuesday mornings, has mounted their annual exhibit at the Hopewell Valley Inn and Bistro right down the street. 60 paintings are on display by 10 artists - including 5 from our own Janet Purcell. The exhibit will remain on display through to early January.
December 2 - Nathan Bratsko December 19 - George Hall December 2 - Stephen Bratsko December 20 - David Primer December 2 - Jason Hale December 21 - Ginny Sessamen December 2 - Pat Dansberry December 22 - Carol Leigh December 9 - Chris Primer December 28 - Christopher O’Neill December 10 - Ed Van Doren December 29 - Connor O’Neill December 16 - Sophia Pedersen December 30 - Sally Lowe December 31 - Sara Ball
Please have all articles for January’s newsletter in by December 20. Thanks!