Preparation and Clearing the Path in Advent Last weekend’s weather forecast sent many folks scurrying for supplies in expectation of the season’s first snowstorm. People prepared themselves. People kept watch - they kept an anxious eye on weather updates. People got ready for its arrival. They were set with shovels, salt and snowblowers to clear their roadways and sidewalks. Retailers and merchants were particularly vigilant in keeping the pathways clear to their parking lots and front doors in anticipation of holiday shoppers bringing tidings of great joy in shopping lists and fistfuls of credit cards. This is the season of Advent. The word Advent comes from the Latin word Adventus, which means presence or arrival. Advent is a time intended to help us prepare, to watch, to get ready, and to clear a path for the coming of Jesus into our lives. The word Adventus is a translation of the Greek word parousia, which also means presence or arrival. In the context of Jesus’ time, parousia had more than a spiritual meaning. When a ruler entered a city it was known as a parousia. It meant that that ruler was bringing benefits and blessings to the city and its people. In celebration of the parousia, loyal citizens would rush out to meet and welcome the ruler entering their city and their lives. This is what happens on Palm Sunday when crowds welcome Jesus with palm branches, cheering chants and tossing their cloaks in the road like a red carpet treatment. Perhaps God was speaking to me with the advent of winter’s first storm. “Look at how people prepared for it. Look at how they busied themselves readying for holiday shopping and chores; look at how they cleared pathways for arrival, for the presence of holiday guests and customers. How are you going to prepare for the arrival and presence of Jesus in your life this Christmas?” It’s a good question. Each one of us has to answer it in our own way. But here are some ways we are getting ready for the arrival and presence of Jesus this Advent and Christmas season:
This Friday (December 6) at 6 pm, we will gather for what has become a fairly new annual tradition of the Hanging of the Greens. We will begin with a light supper of hoagies and pizza and then move on to decorating the church sanctuary for Christmas. Everyone is invited and there is a fun job for all ages.
Saturday All Church Breakfast, December 7, 9 am. After a good night’s rest, everyone is invited to our monthly Saturday morning breakfast in Fellowship Hall at 9 am. Drew Dansberry always cooks a good breakfast for good people, good conversation and a good way to catch up on Scotty’s monthly announcements. After breakfast, we’re asking for some help with bringing out the base of the Living Nativity structure. It’s a good way to start your Saturday.
Sunday, December 8 is the second Sunday of Advent and everyone is invited to join our morning discussion of God’s vision of peace in Isaiah 11:1-10 over coffee, tea and fresh bagels in Fellowship Hall at 9 am. Then, at 10 a.m., join us for worship as we light the second advent candle, share prayers, songs, readings, a children’s story about “Chester’s Way,” and a short meditation on “gettin’ ready” for the arrival and presence of Jesus this year
Immediately following our worship on Sunday, December 8, we will be having a brief but important congregational meeting regarding church officers and our annual budget. Please plan on attending this meeting. Each member’s input is important.
The miracle of the Pierogies Continues! Pierogie making continues in December on Wednesday evenings at 6 p.m. All are invited join the fun on December 4th, 11th and 18th.
This Christmas season we continue to remember those service men and women who are deployed overseas and so far away from their friends and family. More blankets are needed to be made and shipped to a new group of deployed soldiers. The photo to the left shows blankets recently sent to a new troop we are supporting. The smiles say everything. Please join Ruth Allen and Linda Allen on Thursday, December 19 at 6 pm.
This Christmas season we also remember those who find it difficult to celebrate the coming holidays because of the loss of loved ones or painful losses of any kind. On Saturday, December 21 (the longest night of the year) at 7 pm we will be hosting our annual Blue Christmas worship - a service of hope and remembrance. Guest musicians Dave Homan (saxophone) and Elaine Christy (harpist) will help set the tone for a worship of remembrance, comfort, support and hope.
As part of our Blue Christmas service we always try to make available resources for those who are grieving and need continued support. One of those is GriefShare that is facilitated by our own Joe Immordino. Joe leads the group on the second and fourth Tuesdays of every month. If you, or someone you know needs this kind of support, please contact Joe Immordino to sign up. Joe and Pastor Dennis are also available for individual support and counseling.
Our Living Nativity display will begin Friday, December 20 from 7 - 8:30 pm. Volunteers are needed to help host the volunteers of other Hopewell churches who will come to don nativity costumes and stand in the living creche. Hosting involves helping volunteers find their costumes and serving hot chocolate and cookies to volunteers at 8:30 pm. We also need volunteers to stand in the Living Nativity (6:30 - 7 pm) on Christmas Eve prior to our Christmas Eve worship service at 7 pm. Contact Pastor Dennis if you can help by calling or texting 908-328-7821, by email firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling the church office 609-466-1880. We’re also hoping to have live animals join us most evenings. The Living Nativity Schedule: Friday, December 20, 7 pm - 8:30 pm - Hopewell Presbyterian Church Saturday, December 21, 7 pm - 8:30 pm - Second Calvary Baptist Church Weather permitting we will include a brief candlelight ceremony outside for people to remember lost loved ones. Sunday, December 22, 7 pm - 8:30 pm - St. Alphonsus Roman Catholic Church Weather permitting we will have carol singing and a surprise visit from Santa Claus! Monday, December 23, 7 pm - 8:30 pm - Hopewell United Methodist Church Tuesday, December 24, 6:30 pm - 7 pm - Calvary Baptist Church
By all accounts, on November 23 we had one of the most successful and meaningful Christmas Bazaars in recent years! It was so nice, we’ve decided to do it twice by reopening the Christmas Bazaar on Saturday, December 21 from 9 am - 2 pm. There are plenty of last minute Christmas gifts to find, mouth-watering baked goods and of course our world famous hand-made pierogies and home-made soups. Spread the word!
Christmas just wouldn’t be complete without our Christmas Eve Candlelight service. The evening begins with gathering music at 6:45 pm and leads into the family friendly worship service at 7 pm. Join us for special guests, special music, the Christmas story, carol singing and a candlelight Christmas celebration. Bring a friend!
The Sunday following Christmas is the 5th Sunday of December which means we will be celebrating a 5th Sunday Communion breakfast. Come join us for a light breakfast (including fresh bagels and omelets for my first five customers!) and a celebration of favorite Christmas carols and communion. Breakfast begins at 9:30. Worship begins at 10 am. Join us and bring your Christmas guests with you!
December 3 - Pat Dansberry December 9 - Chris Primer December 10 - Ed VanDoren
December 16 - Sophia Pedersen December 19 - George Hall December 19 - Bob Palmer December 20 - David Primer December 21 - Ginny Sessamen December 22 - Carol Leigh December 26 - Sean Hullfish December 28 - Chris O'Neill December 29 - Connor O'Neill December 31 - Sara Bonett
A final word of thanks. On Sunday, November 24, I ran my first marathon in the city where I was born - Philadelphia. It was a transformative event in my life inspired by the kids in our church, my first Team Luca run, a comment made by Rick Edling on our “Walk for Water” 5K, and the courageous tenacity of Leanne Storer and my nephew Alex Tierney - both marathon veterans. I shared with those gathered on Thanksgiving Eve at the Old School Baptist Church that it was a cold and rainy morning and that I was amazed at how many kind people I met; many of them offering me words of encouragement on my long run saying things like “you got this,” “you can make it,” and “we’re with you.” (I was even surprised by Rick and Eleanor Edling standing on a street corner to cheer me on!) Many folks offered things to drink or nibble on. Some boisterous college students even offered me cups of beer as I passed. When I told them I didn’t drink beer, they said, “How ‘bout some whiskey?” When I laughed and said I didn’t drink grain alcohol because I was a clergy person, they called after me, “How ‘bout some wine?” In their own way, they were offering me support and encouragement. At the end, as the rain began to come down harder, someone wrapped me in a blanket for warmth and gave me a medal for finishing the marathon. They even took my photo. Then they guided me to a tent for more things eat and drink including some Philly soft pretzels and chicken broth. As I sipped my broth I thought about all the people that had encouraged and supported throughout the race. There were many. As I prepared for the Thanksgiving Eve worship, it occurred to me that the marathon had become a metaphor for the journey of my life. For 62 years there have been many people who have encouraged and supported me throughout my life. I’ve had many bumps and detours along the way; and I’ve certainly made some wrong turns, but I have always been blessed with people who have offered encouragement and support on my life’s journey. Some of them have been kind strangers, most of them have been friends and family. Some of them have even been there to help when I have hurt the most, lost the most and even thought about giving up. They have been there to say things like “you got this,” “you can make it,” and “we’re with you.” Some of those people have been my dear brothers and sisters of Calvary Baptist Church. When I think about my first marathon and my journey through life, mostly two words come to min: Thank you. Thank you for being a small, but mighty and wonderful congregation of kind and compassionate souls dedicated to serving God and helping others. Thank you for all the things you do and support. Thank you particularly for your support of the water project started by our kids. I’m sure I have far surpassed my goal of reaching at least 1,000 people about the urgency of the current global water crisis. And getting so close to reaching our goal of $12,000 to build the water filtration and sanitation system for the single village that needs clean and safe water. I know we’ll reach our goal. Why? Because I keep hearing those wonderfully supportive voices. What are they saying? You got this. You can make it. We’re with you.
Have a happy and blessed New Year!
Pastor’s Portion for April 2019: How we value each other. The recent college admissions scandal has really hit home for me, particularly since I have been involved in the college admissions process the last two years for all three of my children. Christopher returned to college after a long hiatus of doing contract work building and repairing houses. He is now at Western Washington University completing a degree in journalism; Connor is in his freshman year at Lafayette College working toward law school; and Meredith has been revisiting colleges this last month narrowing down her choices. She promises that she will share her decision with us on Easter morning. Fortunately, for my children, they get their intelligence (and their focused work-ethic) from their mother. They’ve worked hard and earned their way into their college careers. My wife and I have done the best that we can to help them along the way. Why? Well, the easy answer is that we love them. That’s the answer that gives me some sympathy for the parents involved in the recent college scandal. Probably all of them would cite love of their children as one motivating factor for their misguided behavior. (My guess is that perceived status was another.) But, like many pundits who have opined on this scandal, I wonder about the devastating effect their actions will have on their children going forward. Not just the stigma of the scandal, but what do such actions say about how they valued their children; didn’t they think they were good enough to make their way through this process on their own merits. On Sunday mornings, after the scripture readings, I always warn those gathered to be careful about how they perceive themselves in relation to the reading - particularly the stories of Jesus and his parables. We have a tendency to see ourselves as the good guys in the story. Sometimes, particularly during challenging times, we may see ourselves as the cautionary tale in the story, but the truth is we are always both - the good guy and the bad guy. There is always something in the teachings of Jesus that challenge the parts of our lives that need transformation, but there is also always something in the stories of Jesus that encourages and affirms that we are of value and loved. In other words, even in the midst of our failures and mistakes, Jesus sees the best in us - he sees the potential in us to do something extraordinary with our lives; something extraordinary for the kingdom of God. I like the quote I included above from William Arthur Ward. My guess is if you have not heard of Ward before you certainly have read one or more of his quotes, articles, poems or proverbs over the years. He wrote many - including many for Readers Digest. Ward inspired many young men and women over the years he served as an assistant to a college president, a Bible study teacher and Sunday school superintendent. He also served the Red Cross and Boy Scouts and received an honorary degree in recognition of his extraordinary contributions in “professional achievement, literary contributions and service to others.” Ward lived an extraordinary life that searched for the best in others because - as he says above - it would “somehow bring out the best in ourselves.” When parents cheated the admissions process they did not see the best in their children and unfortunately are now paying for what brought out the worst in themselves. There is a lesson in this for all of us that is not solely related to college admissions scandals. Particularly in these times when political and public discourse are so polarized we are often tempted to vilify people who disagree with us. We tend to see the worst in others we disagree with and unfortunately it often brings out the worst in us. We can still strongly disagree and hold people accountable without a scorched earth policy on the other side. These quotes from a recent article have helped me when I think about people I disagree with politically, theologically, socially - even as sports fans! <grin>. When talking about people polarized by current issues Margaret Renki wrote these various quotes: “Try not to give up on them yet. These folks are your sisters and brothers. You belong to one another…”. “…you need to stop yelling…at anyone who doesn’t see the world exactly as you do. Somehow you need to find enough common ground for a real conversation…Very few people are stupid or irredeemably mean. They’ll listen to what you have to say if they trust you’ll listen to what they have to say back.” “So take a breath…stop for just a moment and take a breath.” “Before you say a single word, think of all the times you made an assumption about a stranger that proved to be untrue…Think of the plank in your own eye.” It’s amazing to me how much of the teachings of Jesus talk about how we value each other. The Golden Rule was a wise maxim repeated by other wise folks throughout the world. Socrates said, “Do not do to others what angers you if done to you by others.” Every Easter, along with all of you, I celebrate the resurrection of Jesus as the triumph over death and sin. I celebrate the hope and promise of life for all of us beyond the boundaries of that time and breath allow for us in this world. But Easter should also commemorate the new and transformed lives we can live now. What challenge can we overcome this year by being transformed by the grace and love of God in Jesus Christ? Perhaps we can be transformed in how we value each other. Maybe, we can begin to seek the best in others so that we can somehow bring out the best in ourselves. Remember. Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! He can be brought to new and powerful life within us now as well. Happy Easter! - Pastor Dennis
Annual Easter egg Hunt Saturday, April 13 at 9 AM Hopewell Borough Park - Gazebo This year’s Easter egg Hunt will be by the gazebo in Hopewell Borough Park. We will be doing a brief spring cleaning of the Easter egg hunt area on Friday (April 12) at 5 pm. Please bring work gloves and a rake - we are clearing the area of any debris. We also need volunteers to help set up the hunt on Saturday morning at 7:30 am. Bagels, coffee, tea, etc. will be ready at 7 am.
Based on the popular demand for our delicious pierogies, there will be a Babka and Pierogi making morning at church this Friday, April 12 beginning at 9 am.If you can come and help even for a small amount time that would be awesome!
Pierogi & Babka Sale Saturday, April 13 - 9 am Come stock up for your Easter holiday celebrations with delicious homemade pirogues and babka. Call in your order (609-466-1880) or come in person this Saturday.
Home Ties Troop Support Spring Craft Sale - Saturday, April 13 - 9 am Ruth Allen and Linda Allen will be selling hand made Spring craft items outside the church this Saturday in support of their Home-Ties mission and K9 Hero Haven support. The photo to the left are some of SSG Zachary Hurst’s Comanche Company comrades who are enjoying the Easter care package recently sent to them from our church. Here’s what SSG Zachary Hurst wrote in an email response to the gift: We received the Easter care package. The guys are really going through the Reese’s pieces and they love the bracelets in the eggs. We read all of the letters and we appreciate all the support. You can tell Pastor O’Neill that I am a braves fan and that I do miss some good down south cooking. Grits included. We appreciate your continued support. SSG Hurst Zachary and the guys of Comanche Company Let’s continue to support this importantly compassionate ministry and mission to those deployed. Thank you!
Please get your orders for Easter Flowers in as soon as you can. You can fill out an order form in the church narthex or contact the church office (609-466-1880) with your order. Thank you!
Join us for Palm Sunday Worship Sunday, April 14 - 10 AM Our guest speaker will be our ABCNJ Associate Regional Pastor and Area Minister Rev. Eric Hoheisel (bio below). Following worship join us for our covered dish luncheon. Please bring something to share with a few others. Meat will be provided
Eric was born and raised in Ohio and grew up in a devout and loving Catholic family. Even at a young age he felt he might be called to ministry. That tug continued as he attended a Lutheran College and became involved in a non-denominational campus ministry. After college he moved to Washington DC and worked in urban ministry from 1987-1990 with Youth With a Mission – feeding the homeless and coordinating a Congressional Staff Fellowship. In the early 1990’s he served as Executive Director of Love and Action, a ministry to men, women, and children with HIV/AIDS. While in Seminary at Eastern Baptist (Palmer) Seminary he served two congregations, Washington Community Fellowship (Mennonite) and Shiloh Baptist Church (ABC), eventually finding his home in the American Baptist Family. After graduation he served as pastor of the First Baptist Church of Jamestown for two years, after which he received a call to pastor the Oaklyn Baptist Church in 1997. His pastorate in Oaklyn lasted for 20 years, and was active in ABCNJ life during that time. He has served as both Moderator and Secretary of The Greater Delaware Valley Association. He helped organize the S.M.A.S.H Youth Ministry and worked on the merger of two Associations in 2002. He has served on the Board of the Options Pregnancy Care Center in Cherry Hill, and he and his wife are active in the local chapter of the Autism Society of America. His wife, Jennifer, is a Professor of Philosophy at Camden County College and specializes in Biomedical Ethics. They have two adult sons. Rev. Hoheisel has a keen interest in prayer, spiritual formation and in leading retreats. As an artist he finds great joy in establishing connections between spirituality and the fine arts. "I am thankful," he says, "for the privilege to serve all of the churches of our region as they seek to go deeper with God and live as generous witnesses to Christ in our world."
“Fill that Truck!” Hopewell Elementary School April 17at 8:15 a.m. Last month winter weather postponed Fill That Truck but we continue this month in 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 Feminine Hygiene products 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 Making Thursday, April 18 - 6 p.m. We continue to support this mission and ministry to those deployed. This month’s blanket making will be held in Fellowship Hall. We are in touch with a new group. Besides helping to tie a blanket, you can also donate toiletries or small treats.
Maundy Thursday Tenebrae Service Thursday, April 18 - 7 PM Soup and Bread served at 6:30 PM Tenebraecomes fromthe Latin word for “Darkness.” The service is a movement from light to darkness, from the words of the Last Supper to the death of Jesus. Join us for prayers, readings and communion.
On Good Friday the church sanctuary will be open for prayer and reflection throughout the day - 9AM to 3 PM
Join the Hopewell Community for Easter Sunrise Worship at Highland Cemetery - 6 AM Sunday, April 21 This year’s speaker will be Hopewell Presbyterian Church Interim Pastor Rev. Dawn Adamy
Everyone is invited to an Easter Morning Pancake Breakfast at Hopewell Presbyterian Church will follow the Sunrise Worship. Please join us for continue fellowship and celebration of Easter at 6:45 AM
Come and celebrate the joy of the resurrection with us at our Easter family morning worship celebration. Bring a friend and neighbor to commemorate the Risen Jesus! Sunday, April 21 - 10 A M
Empty Bowls Dinner. Saturday, April 27From 5 PM to 7 PM. Hopewell Presbyterian Church The culmination of our Wednesday evening Lenten worship theme of “Empty Bowls” will be a fundraising dinner to benefit the Trenton Area Soup Kitchen (TASK). More information is included on the sheet below.
Happy Birthday to our April stars! April 3 - Donald Hullfish Jr. April 9 - Della Hurley April 14 - Shawn Blythe April 17 - Ruth Allen April 29 - Dennis O’Neill (Go Phillies!)
Happy Anniversary! April 20 - Drew and Karen Slimmer
Recently, our church hosted two Kestrel box building events in support of the Kestrel Conservation Program and Friends of Hopewell Valley Open Space. The program began with a naturalist telling us about Kestrel habitats and explaining the need for conservation. After the presentation will built nesting boxes (along with other community families that came to help) that will be placed in regional areas to encourage Kestrel nesting. We were able to put our names and emails on the boxes so that we will be contacted by the conservation program on how our boxes have helped. Below are some photos from the two events.
Grief Share Support Group will meet in February on Tuesday, April 9 at 6pm and also on April 23 at 6 pm. Please contact Joe Immordino for more information or to join a support group at email@example.com.
Sunday morning conversations with Bibles & Bagels each Sunday at 9 a.m. in Fellowship Hall. Please join us for right-out-of-the-oven fresh bagels and a spirited discussion each week. All are welcome
Thank you all for your continued mission support. We are in the midst of our annual America for Christ campaign. As Ron always tells us, “please prayerfully consider supporting our mission giving.”
Here is a link to two videos that will show you the kind of work we are supporting with our donations to America for Christ: http://abhms.org/afc/
The Beacon March 2019
Pastor’s Portion for March 2019: Reclaiming what we truly treasure. Tomorrow is Ash Wednesday. It begins the season of Lent when people typically decide what to give up as part of the spiritual practice of preparing for the new life that Easter brings. The mantra of Ash Wednesday is a stark reminder of how fragile life can be and confronts us with the reality of our own mortality: “Remember that you are dust and to dust you shall return.” Ash Wednesday begins the Hopewell Council of Churches Wednesday evening Lenten services and this year I will be the Ash Wednesday worship speaker at Hopewell United Methodist Church. In preparation for the evening, I began to reflect on the signs of my own mortality contained in those words “Remember that you are dust and to dust you shall return.” The truth is my Ash Wednesday reflection was sparked by the prophetic words of a movie theater cashier who kindly extended me a “senior discount” for my movie ticket even though I had not asked for one. I be-gan to wonder, “is my mortality beginning to show already?” That led me to reflect on possible other ways that I had been marked by my mortality; ways that marked me as clearly as the cross of ashes that will be placed on the foreheads of millions of Christians throughout the world on Ash Wednesday. I thought about the little aches and pains that greet me each morning like a litany of reminders of what my aging body can no longer do, ticket cashiers that extend senior discounts and the list of contemporaries who seem to leave this world with greater frequency each year. I also thought about serious illnesses and tragedies that have cut short the lives of too many people I have known and other recent tragedies (tornadoes in Alabama, wildfires in California, mass shootings, terrorist attacks, etc.) that serve as reminders of the fragility and uncertainty of life. For me, this begs the question: What are we to do with this? How do we live with the uncertainty of life and the certainty of our own mortality? We can live in denial and try to medicate the pain of it. But Ash Wednesday - and indeed, I think, all of Lent - calls us to face the truth of it while reclaiming our lives with hope and faith. Here’s my proposal: Instead of giving something up for Lent - that is usually of really little ultimate value in your life - why not begin reclaiming what really is of ultimate value? Why not begin to reclaim the true treasures in your life? What if Lent became a time for you this year to begin remembering and reclaiming the things and people you have forgotten, taken for granted, ignored, devalued or set aside? What if Lent became a time this year when we began to store up our treasures in heaven - the real treasures that we hold dear in our heart? the values and people that have made us who we are. “Remember that you are dust and to dust you shall return.” Ultimately, we need to remember that while these stark words begin our Lenten Journey on Ash Wednesday, they are not the final words of the story. Perhaps our greatest treasure are the concluding words of this season: “He is not here: for he is risen, as he said.” So I invite all of you to remember and reclaim the treasures of your life this Lenten season - the people and values that have had a lasting impact on your life. Most of all, I invite you to reflect, remember and reclaim the treasure of your faith. The Lord be with you, - Pastor Dennis
Hopewell Council of Churches Wednesday Evening Lenten Services And Holy Week Schedule This year’s theme: “Empty Bowls” The Hopewell Council of Churches Wednesday evening worship services will begin on Ash Wednesday, March 6, 7:30 p.m. at Hopewell United Methodist Church. Pastor Dennis O’Neill will be the speaker. The remaining schedule of worship services will include a light supper served at 6:30 p.m. with worship to follow at 7:30 p.m. March 6 - Ash Wednesday - Hopewell United Methodist Church. Worship at 7:30 p.m. (Imposition of Ashes) Speaker: Pastor Dennis O’Neill March 13 - Hopewell Presbyterian Church Supper at 6:30 pm. Worship at 7:30 pm. Speaker: Rev. Laura Steele - Hopewell United Methodist Church March 20 - Saint Alphonsus Roman Catholic Church Supper at 6:30 pm. Worship at 7:30 pm. Speaker: Rev. Michael Diggs - Second Calvary Baptist Church March 27 - Second Calvary Baptist Church Supper at 6:30 pm. Worship at 7:30 pm. Speaker: Rev. Dawn Adamy - Hopewell Presbyterian Church April 3 - Calvary Baptist Church Supper at 6:30 pm. Worship at 7:30 pm. Speaker: Ms. Carol Biondi from “Arm and Arm” Mercer County Crisis Ministry April 10 - Hopewell United Methodist Church Supper at 6:30 pm. Worship at 7:30 pm. Speaker: Monsignor Michael Walsh April 13 - Kids’ Annual Easter Egg Hunt Set up Time 8 am. (Bagels and coffee) Easter Egg Hunt at 9 am at Hopewell Gazebo (Next to Hopewell Post Office) April 14 - Palm Sunday - Calvary Baptist Church Breakfast at 9 am - Hopewell Volunteer Fire Department (4 Columbia Ave.) Worship at 10 am. PotLuck Luncheon at 11 am. Guest Speaker: Rev. Eric Hoheisel: ABCNJ Associate, Regional Pastor & Area Minister April 18 - Maundy Thursday -Calvary Baptist Church Supper at 6:30 pm. Worship at 7:00 pm. Tenebrae Service with communion April 19 - Good Friday - Calvary Baptist Church Sanctuary will be open for prayer and reflection - Noon to 3 pm. April 21 - Easter Sunrise Service - Highland Cemetery Worship at 6 am. (Meet at the cemetery flagpole) Speaker: Rev. Laura Steele - Hopewell United Methodist Church Pancake breakfast following the worship at Hopewell Presbyterian Church April 21 - Easter Family Worship - Calvary Baptist Church Worship at 10 am
Please join us for our Monthly Saturday Morning Breakfast Club gathering this Saturday, March 9, 9 am. Come start your day with good food, good conversation and good friends. There’s a spot for everyone.
Kestrel Box Building - Sundays March 10 & March 17 Noon to 1:30 pm. Fellowship Hall This Sunday (March 10) and the following Sunday (March 17), we will be hosting a Kestrel Box building event in support of the Kestrel Conservation Program and Friends of Hopewell Valley Open Space. The event will take place in Fellowship Hall and begins at noon. A naturalist will begin the program with a short presentation on Kestrels (small falcons) and the need for conservation. After the presentation you are invited to help build boxes that will be placed throughout the region. You can come to simply hear the presentation or help build a box. The event will last approximately 1 1/2 hours. If you would like to help build a box bring a cordless drill and a screwdriver if you can. (But not necessary) Also, if you would like to help build a box you need to register at: http://events.constantcontact.com/register/event?llr=ojvikdxab&oeidk=a07eg3vqasa29e297c8 Hurry to register! This event is open to the community and only 5 spots remain to help build this Sunday and March 17. (You can still come to hear the presentation!)
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 the Lectionary readings throughout Lent: March 10: Deuteronomy 26:1-11; March 17: Genesis 15:1-21; March 24: Isaiah 55:1-9; March 31: Joshua 5:1-12; April 7: John 12:1-8; and April 14: Luke 22:14-23, 56. Please join us for fresh bagels and a spirited discussion each week.
Our next Church Council Meeting will be Tuesday, March 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, March 12 at 6pm and also on March 26 at 6 pm. Please contact Joe Immordino for more information or to join a support group at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
“Fill that Truck!” Hopewell Elementary School March 20at 8:15 a.m. Last month winter weather postponed Fill That Truck but we continue this month in 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 Baby Suppliesto 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, March 21 - 6 p.m. We continue to support this mission and ministry to those deployed. This month’s blanket making will be held in Fellowship Hall. We are in touch with a new group. Besides helping to tie a blanket, you can also donate toiletries or small treats. Below are recent emails that Ruth and Linda Allen received that underscores the significance of this mission. The photos are of Staff Sergeant Zachary Hurst and members of his troop that we are supporting.
Dear Ms. Allen, I received your care package, and I cannot thank you enough. A care package for a soldier is a big deal, and one from a group a strangers means even more to me. It gives me sense of selflessness that people still have, but you don’t see often. I am ok, and it is very cold here. We get snow just about every day. I did serve with him, we were stationed in Washington State together. There is a K-9 unit here and just today the handler was showing us the dog in action. Which just means we were volunteering to have our arms bitten. I love this country too, this is my second deployment and it’s always tough to leave home but I know it’s the right thing to do. Everyone deserves to live without fear of death, and I hope we can at least make a dent. Thanks again, Ms Allen SSG Hurst Hi Ms. Ruth, I received your second box today. The guys in my squad were very happy with the blankets. One of them was really excited about the fishing one. He’s a fishing fanatic. Everything was greatly appreciated. The card is hanging up in my sleeping area. You’re support is greatly appreciated. Georgia is where I call home. Thanks again, SSG Hurst Hi Ms. Allen. I received another care package today. The guys really love getting them. The blankets are a hot commodity around here since it’s been so cold. Thanks again to you and whoever is helping with the packages. We very much appreciate the support. SSG Hurst, zachary Hello, Ms. Allen, I received your next care package. The dogs will love the treats, toy, and lotion. I will give these items to their trainer tomorrow. All of the Girl Scout cookies, snacks, and hygiene items will be given to my guys. They really appreciate the blankets. We’ve had some cold nights recently. It’s been snowing non stop for the last couple weeks. I have 7 in my squad, and 28 in the platoon. Thanks again for all you do for us. SSG Hurst And still more emails… Hi Ruth, my name is Kenny and Nora and I wanted to thank you for the awesome blankets, snacks, and other goodies you sent to us. I think its awesome what you and your church family are doing for so many people. I recieved an email today that I had mail and I had no clue who sent me something. I hope you understand how excited we get when we get gifts, I swear its like being a child again on Christmas morning its the exact same feeling. I am saying this to you because I hope you and your church family understand how much of a impact y'all are having on people like myself that are overseas. Please pass the word around and again I can't thank you guys enough. Thanks, Kenny and Nora What more is there to say about the significance of this mission and ministry?
Another email from SSG Hurst: Dear Ruth, Thank you for the next round of care packages! Everyone is excited about each batch of blankets. That’s great about raising so much money from your winter carnival. You said you wanted a picture of my guys with their st paddy flair on, so here you go.
Happy Birthday to our March stars! March 3 - Pat Harvey March 4 - Meghan Hale March10 - Rachel Storer March 12 - Edith Majors March 12 - Linda Allen March 12 - Janice O’Neill March 13 - Karen Slimmer March 14 - Aubrey Dansberry March 15 - Drew Dansberry March 31 - Harry McCandless
Sunday, March 31 will be our Fifth Sunday Communion Breakfast A light breakfast of bagels, fruit, homemade baked goods, etc. will be served in Fellowship Hall beginning at 9:30 am. Then we will continue our worship in Fellowship Hall with favorite hymns and communion. All are welcome to join us. Come and share a breakfast dish.
There just isn’t enough ways to say thank you for all of your continued support of Calvary Baptist Church and our ministry and missions. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!
First, a big thank you to Ruth Allen and Linda Allen and everyone who helped with another wonderful Winter Carnival celebration. It always amazes me how much fun is had and how many people help. Please send me any photos you took so we can post on our website.
Second, another big thank you for another successful special missions offering for American Baptist Retired Ministers and Missionaries (RMMO). Once again we exceeded our goal of $1,000 by a comfortable margin (for about 12 years in a row!) and are able to support the retired servants who have served so faithfully in the name of Jesus
Lastly, thanks to all of you who helped prepare for our brother Ben Primer’s memorial service and repast in Fellowship Hall. A special thanks to Pat, Ruth, Sandy, and all the others who helped with the repast. A special thanks to Phil and members of the Hopewell Valley Chorus for their musical tributes to Ben - who so dearly loved music and singing in the Hopewell Valley Chorus. He is sorely missed by us all. Thank you!
Jazz on Broad, hosted by our own Phil Orr, continues with great music throughout March on Thursday evenings from 6 to 9 pm at the Hopewell Valley Bistro and Inn. For more informationvisit www.jazzonbroad.com.
The Beacon February 2019
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!