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Revision Committee Begins Work on New Version of The United Methodist Hymnal

Work on a groundbreaking revision of The United Methodist Hymnal, designed to be a print/digital contextually adaptable resource for primary use in the United States, begins this fall following the selection of the full Hymnal Revision Committee.

The process for Discipleship Ministries, The United Methodist Publishing House (UMPH), the Council of Bishops, and the Association of United Methodist Theological Schools to select the 15 committee members began in late 2016 and continued through the spring of 2017.

The revised hymnal will be significantly different from the traditional printed hymnal, with a much deeper and broader scope of material and delivery methods that utilize current and future technology.

The current hymnal, published in 1989, includes four major sections with a limited number of hymns, songs, acts of worship, services, and prayers. The 2020 UM hymnal will potentially contain thousands of items in these same categories, gleaned from previously published resources such as the 1989 hymnal, Mil Voces Para Celebrar, Songs of Zion, The Faith We Sing, Zion Still Sings, Worship & Song, and many other collections.

The Hymnal Revision Committee will select from these resources and from other published works of contemporary music and text literature, new and existing hymns, songs and prayers submitted for consideration, and might commission additional works.

New delivery methods will make it possible to include the many additional resources. Rather than one print version of the hymnal that is the same for all churches, each United Methodist congregation will be able to have a customized print version, if that is the delivery method they prefer.

A core of material, which will be present in every print version of the hymnal, can be augmented with selections from a Hymnal Revision Committee-selected and General Conference-approved supplemental body of work.

 

Las Vegas Shooting

Please remember the victims of the mass shooting in Las Vegas and their families in your thoughts and prayers. 

NHCLC: Thousands of Puerto Rican Churches Wrecked by Maria

NHCLC: Thousands of Puerto Rican Churches Wrecked by Maria

Just over a week after Hurricane Maria tore through Puerto Rico, reports are beginning to reveal its impact on the island’s Christian community, including more than 1 million Protestants.

Approximately 3,000 churches were damaged or destroyed by the Category 4 hurricane, the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference (NHCLC) estimated. Wanda Rolón, an NHCLC board member and one of Puerto Rico’s best-known pastors, said that she was “not aware of a single church that escaped damage or harm.”

In addition to flooding, downed trees, and buildings ripped apart by 150 mph winds, the storm cut off electricity and communications networks. The Christian TV station, CDM Internacional, as well as several Christian radio stations went off the air. A Bible distribution ministry lost its inventory when its building was hit.

Of about 90 Southern Baptist churches in Puerto Rico, so far the North American Mission Board (NAMB) has heard from a dozen, all of which suffered limited damage, Baptist Press reported.

As relief efforts make their way out from San Juan, local churches serve as a crucial connection point for spiritual and physical support.

“We don’t have buildings right now to have meetings,” evangelist and doctor Luis Paz told CT in Puerto Rico last Sunday. “We are outside, bringing hope to people, the ones that need the most. We have brothers and sisters who don’t have homes right now, but the church is open to them.”

About half of Puerto Ricans go to church at least once a week, according to the Pew Research Center. (Most of the island’s 3.4 million residents are Catholic, and about a third are Protestant.) But some churches haven’t had power since Hurricane Irma hit earlier in the month. Without power, or due to other damage to their buildings, they’re forced to skip regular services or to worship unplugged outside.

The first Sunday after the storm, many Christians opted for impromptu gatherings in houses. In Arecibo, La Iglesia del Centro suffered minimal damage and held one smaller worship gathering. Pastor Gadiel Ríos encouraged members to open their homes for prayer and worship with their neighbors; some in his congregation of 350 have lost everything.

In better-off areas, metal debris and sinuous branches piled up in the streets, soccer fields, and swimming pools; for those who fared worse, the unwieldy piles sit where their houses once stood.

Paz, a minister and medical doctor, traveled to the capital, San Juan, on Sunday—exactly when he’d usually be worshipping with his 1,200-person congregation, Iglesia AMEC Casa de Alabanza—to pick up generators for clinics and request supplies for churches in the northwest.

When Maria made its way through Puerto Rico last Wednesday, he was up at 3 a.m. to do his daily prayers and Bible reading, pausing every few minutes to check the trajectory of the swirling storm.

“We thank the Lord no matter what,” said Paz, who later ended up singing hymns with his family as they scooped water out of their flooded home. “The Lord is not good when Irma started to go out and not good this time [when Maria hit]. The Lord is good all the time.”

The NHCLC partnered with Convoy of Hope to call upon congregation in the United States to sponsor damaged churches in Puerto Rico as well as in Mexico, after its recent earthquake. The NAMB will also facility church partnerships with Southern Baptist congregations, in addition to sending care packages to pastors, Baptist Press reported.

Rolón’s Pentecostal congregation, Iglesia La Senda Antigua, has been collecting and distributing basic necessities like food, formula, and diapers; the church will resume its worship services this Sunday.

Samaritan’s Purse took 200-plus tons of supplies to the Caribbean in September, including cases of water, gas jugs, sturdy blue tarps, and the generators that ended up at Paz’s clinics.

The evangelical relief organization distributes supplies to all who need aid, but coordinates efforts with partner churches. In Puerto Rico, Samaritan’s Purse has connections with congregations that participate in its iconic Operation Christmas Child shoebox program, as well as pastors like Paz who took part in president Franklin Graham’s crusade there in February.

“We know churches are not relief agencies, but they have a role to play when there is suffering and loss,” said Daniel Zeidan, who coordinates partnerships between Samaritan’s Purse and local churches whose communities need aid. “They will be there after we leave. What the church does now will have an impact that will last a long time.”

How To Help

 

Beaver Falls Perception Meeting – October 3, 2017

Churches helping one bucket at a time

Relief buckets and supplies collected by Aldersgate United Methodist Church in Montgomery, Ala., for help after Hurricane Irma. Photo courtesy of Aldersgate United Methodist Church via Facebook.

People hit by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma need time to “get their arms” around the most pressing needs. But United Methodists can start helping by donating to the United Methodist Committee on Relief, collecting and assembling flood buckets and earnestly praying.

Amy Fuselier, director of UMCOR relief supplies, said the unprecedented number of active storms in the Atlantic and Gulf is making the need for flood buckets urgent.

“I am asking all churches with the ability to quickly produce and send flood buckets to do so,” she said in an email appeal.

Once a team has 1,872 buckets, UMCOR will arrange transport of the buckets to Sager Brown in Baldwin, Louisiana. Sager Brown seems to be the most central location to get buckets to all those in need, she said.

How To Help

 

Williams said in addition to local United Methodist churches, community organizations have been bringing items to the church to send to storm survivors.

Big or small, every bucket counts. Staff members at the United Methodist Publishing House set up an assembly line Sept. 7 and put together 50 buckets for UMCOR. The buckets shipped out Sept. 11.

Florida is still in the process of figuring out what the needs are.

Pam Garrison, disaster response coordinator for the Florida Conference, asked people to “give us time to get our arms around this and figure out the next steps so that those impacted get the help they need, when they need it.”

Garrison said more than 6 million people in Florida are without power, which makes it challenging to communicate with churches, pastors and laity.

“The only donations requested at this time are donations to UMCOR, where 100 percent of what is given will help not just Florida but our neighboring conferences who have also been hard hit,” she said.

Gilbert is a multimedia reporter for United Methodist News Service. Contact her at 615-742-5470 or newsdesk@umcom.org. To read more United Methodist news, subscribe to the free Daily or Weekly Digests

Hurricanes Harvey and Irma

 

 

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Hurricane Harvey Relief

Click Here to Donate and Support the Red Cross Relief

 

 

Support Central Church through Amazon Smile!

When you #StartWithaSmile, Amazon donates 0.5% of the purchase price to Central United Methodist Church.

Bookmark the link http://smile.amazon.com/ch/25-0984597 and support us every time you shop!

Support Central United Methodist Church by shopping at AmazonSmile.

 

When you shop at AmazonSmile, Amazon will donate to Central United Methodist Church. Support us…

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Our Trustees at Work

Armed with a 40-pound bag of cement, our Trustees patched some of our gaping holes in our 13th Street sidewalk today.

From the top of the picture, you will see four arrows.

Arrows 1, 3, and 4 point to holes in our sidewalk resulting from the City’s removal of the parking meters.  In some cases, the City put blacktop in the holes, which broke down into gravel over several years and washed away.  These holes have now been filled with cement for a more durable (and hopefully permanent) repair.

Arrow 2 points to a large break in the sidewalk.  You can see the two large pieces of concrete that were removed to begin the repair.  The rain water running down  13th Street has also undermined the slab, so a more comprehensive repair will be needed.  I used the cement that we had on hand to smooth out the top a bit, although it is still not flush with the rest of the slab.  More cement will also need to be packed under the slab to stabilize it and keep further rain water from undermining the repair.

There is much more that needs to be done to eliminate our sidewalk issues on 13th Street, including repairing or replacing missing curb stones along this upper part of 13th Street, but we can at least claim victory today over these 3 parking meter holes.

 

 

 

“Bringing in the Sheaves!”

Last week, in the midst of all of the activity surrounding Tony DeSalle’s viewing and funeral at Central, Dex volunteered to weed-whack the weeds on our 6th Avenue and 13th Street sidewalks.

We then blew off the sidewalks, and Chrissy followed-up by spraying another dose of weed killer on where the weeds had been popping up.

Hopefully, this 1, 2, 3 treatment will knock those pesky weeds down for the rest of the summer.

A big Thank-You to Dex and Chrissy for stepping in when we were crushed for time to help make our Church presentable for Tony’s final send-off.

 

 

In Memoriam: Anthony DeSalle – UPDATED Funeral Arrangements

On August 7, 2017,  Anthony DeSalle passed into the Church Triumphant.

A tireless worker and active member of Central Church for 51 years, Tony also served as Chaplin at the Medical Center in Beaver as well as at the Beaver Valley Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Chippewa.

Over his many years at Central, Tony held virtually every office, including serving as our Chairman of the Stewardship and Finance Committee, as a Certified Lay Speaker, and as Lay Leader of Central Church in his final years.  He also was a faithful member of our Church Choir over several decades.

In an era in which the Church is often viewed as just another community commodity, with people coming and going on slight breezes of whim, Tony provided a solid and continuous example of what it really means to be a faithful follower of Christ.  We will all missing his good humor and endless willingness to engage in the work of God’s Kingdom.

All of the funeral arrangements will be at Central Church on Friday, August 11, 2017.

Family Viewing will be from 12 Noon – 1 pm in Central’s Parlor.

General Viewing will follow, from 1-6 pm, also in the Parlor.

The funeral worship service, planned by Tony himself in 1999, will be held in the Sanctuary at 6 pm.

Following the funeral service, a funeral luncheon will be served downstairs in the Fellowship Hall.  (A private interment will be subsequently conducted at Sylvania Hills.)

In lieu of flowers, gifts may be made in memory of Tony to the Memorial Fund of Central Church.

Please remember his daughter, Debbie, and the rest of his family in prayer as they move through this difficult time.

 

This Sunday’s Altar Flowers

Our July 30 altar flowers are given to the glory of God and in memory of one of our oldest members, James C. Balmer, who entered the Church Triumphant on Saturday, July 22, 2017.

Jim was a member of Central Church for 49 years, and previously served as Church Treasurer, President of the Board of Trustees, and member of the Administrative Council.

Jim is survived by his daughter and son-in-law, Ruth & Douglas Aley, and two grandchildren, Dexter (Lindsay) Aley and Amber Aley, all members of Central Church.

In addition, Jim is survived by two brothers, Richard (Diedre) Balmer and Matthew (Mary) Balmer, all of Beaver Falls; his sister-in-law, Janice Balmer, of Darlington, PA.; several nieces, nephews, and cousins; and his second wife, Arlene (Grguras) Balmer, and her daughter and granddaughter, Lori & Sabrina Ross, of Sigel, PA.

If desired, contributions can be made in James’ name to the Central United Methodist Church, PO Box 311, Beaver Falls PA 15010.

 

Happy Father’s Day

Our Fellowship Hall Gets New Glass Block Windows!

Earlier today, our dedicated Trustees replaced the old, double-hung windows in our Fellowship Hall with new, glass block windows.

 Not only is this update a beautiful change from the old, 113-year-old windows, they will give us higher energy efficiency, and greater security from break-ins.

Thanks to our dedicated Trustees and to Jeff & JoAnn for volunteering to underwrite half of the cost!

The BF Car Cruise is Underway – Stop by Our Table for Free Ice-Cold Water & Chips

The Beaver Falls Car Cruise is underway and we are handing out free bottles of ice-cold water and chips on the corner of 7th Ave. & 10th Street.

Stop by and say Hi!

It may be hot, but the water is cold!!

See You at the Beaver Falls Car Cruise! – Saturday, June 10, 1-9-pm

Central Church will be offering free bags of chips and bottles of ice-cold water at this year’s Car Cruise in Beaver Falls on Saturday, June 10, 2017.  The Car Cruise runs from 1-9 pm.

Our table this year will be at 10th Street and 7th Avenue, so stop by to say Hi, get a snack, and slake your thirst as we enjoy all of the interesting cars on display!

Memorial Day Blessing!

Memorial Day 3As we reflect upon the blessings that we have as a nation, and the high cost that has been paid for the security of our land, please join us…

 In giving thanks for those who have served in our armed forces, risking their lives for our liberty.

 May God bless those who have sacrificed and the families of those service members who have done without in duty to our country.

 On behalf of Central Church, may you have a blessed holiday weekend!

 

Community Pentecost Service – Sunday, June 4, 2017

Instead of having its regular Sunday worship service, Central Church will join with other area Churches for a Community Pentecost Service in the LGI at the Beaver Falls High School at 10:30 am on Sunday, June 4.

See you there!

 

Baby Shower!

You are invited to a Luncheon & Baby Shower on Sunday, May 21, 2017 in honor of mark Deltondo, who will be baptized during our morning worship service that day.

The Church will provide meatloaf, cake and punch.  Please bring a dish to share and a gift for our newest little one!

Holy Week Worship Services

Downstairs Floors Refinished!

With the help of 72 men from our Saturday AA group, we started the process of tear-down to refinish the floors at 9 pm Saturday after their meeting since we now need to get such projects completed before people arrive for our free community lunch around 10 am on Tuesday.

After the Fellowship Hall was cleared, the floor was scrubbed twice late Saturday night and prepared to receive the new finish.  Six thin coats of finish were applied starting Sunday evening and ending this evening.  Six coats were necessary to get a balanced, uniform look to the shine.  The 6 coats also mean that we should be able to snap the finish back at least a few times with our burnisher when the shine fades with use.

After the final coat cured, we carried the tables and chairs back into the Fellowship Hall tonight and got everything set up so our Soup Tuesday crew can start as early as they like tomorrow morning.

Many thanks to our dedicated Trustees for providing us with a brilliant, shining floor for Easter this weekend!

Here are the “Before” and “after” pictures so you can gauge the improvement for yourselves!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tale of a Blessing: 72 Men and 17 Minutes

Central Church has a vibrant spiritual life that includes a robust missional feeding ministry to anyone in our community who comes through our doors.  Every Tuesday, we provide a free lunch, and every Friday, we have a free community dinner.  Several Saturdays each month also feature a free breakfast.

In addition, Central Church hosts weekly meetings of Alcoholics Anonymous on Friday and Saturday evenings.  Add in our Sunday School and Worship offerings on Sunday, and you can see that our routine calendar is very full, even before adding in special events and programming.

The success of our community outreach programming is a blessing to both our volunteers and community participants, but the associated wear and tear and jam-packed calendar creates some stress in other areas, such as routine and periodic maintenance.

In particular, all of the groups using our Fellowship Hall throughout the week make it difficult to fit in our routine maintenance of the floor, and the periodic stripping, resealing, and refinishing of our old floor tiles presents real problems with finding an uninterrupted block of time to tear down and carry out all of the tables and chairs, scrub and strip the floor, reseal, refinish, and cure the new finish, and carry back and arrange all of those tables and chairs.  Add in the shortage of youthful backs and getting the job done in the tiny available time blocks is almost impossible.

Central Church’s AA program has blossomed in recent years, from a small group of 20 men to weekly meetings of 80 men and women.  Despite their size, this group has managed to retain the warmth and fellowship of a much smaller group, and the folks attending are always willing to lend a hand to a friend in need.

When we made the decision to refinish the Fellowship Hall and hallway floors in this final week before Easter, we mentioned our plans  to the group and asked if they would be willing to help by folding up their chairs after their Saturday evening meeting to help us get a jump on getting all of the work done before our community luncheon on Tuesday.

Instead, all 72 men attending on Saturday night meeting stayed after their meeting and completely cleared out the Fellowship Hall and hallway in 17 minutes flat!  Even at top speed, our volunteers would have needed hours to achieve a similar feat.

Getting that huge task out of the way enabled our dedicated floor crew to get a big jump on the process of scrubbing and stripping in advance of the refinishing yet to come.

Our thanks go out to our AA friends for all of their help.  What a blessing to have such a dedicated group meeting in our Fellowship Hall every week!   

Stay tuned for further updates as the work continues!

 

 

 

Happy Sunday – See You in Church!

Church is Tomorrow!

Church is Two Days Away!

See You in Church This Weekend!

Faith in Action!

But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.”  Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds.James 2:18

FAITH IN ACTION is coming to Beaver County on April 15, 2017.

Faith in Action is an interfaith ministry that utilizes volunteers to provide rides for those 60 years and older who need to get to the doctor and medical appointments.

Those in need can call 1-800-207-6701 two weeks prior to the appointment , follow the prompts and someone will get back to schedule your ride asap.

Volunteer drivers are needed in the Big Beaver, Chippewa, Darlington, Patterson, Beaver Falls , New Brighton and  Rochester areas.  To volunteer call 1-800- 207-6701 and hit prompt #5.

 

 

 

Daylight Savings TIme

The Covenant Players – Wednesday, March 15, 2017 at 7 pm

 

 

 

Brent Vernon Concert – Friday, March 17, 2017, 7 pm

Brent Vernon is a Christian South Florida-based singer, songwriter, ventriloquist, children’s author & illustrator. songwriter and performer, who will be performing at Central Church at 7 pm on Friday, March 17.

You can view some of his material on his Facebook page at:  https://www.facebook.com/pg/BrentVernonOnFB/about/.    The same Facebook page also contains excerpts of some of his songs.

We will have a cookie and punch reception for Brent in the Parlor after the concert so folks can get to know Brent a little better.  (The only cost is an optional freewill offering.)

Please plan on joining us on Friday, March 17 for a special time together!

 

 

Welcome Mark Deltondo!

mark-deltondo-born-2-28-2017All of the family of Central Church join today to welcome Mark Deltondo into the world!

Mark, the son of Tony and Kayla Deltondo, was born at 10:15 am this morning, coming into the world at 7 pounds, 6 ounces, and has been named in honor of Tony Sr.’s younger brother.

With Mark’s older siblings, Tony Jr. and  Laycie, the expanding Deltonto family now increases to five.

Please take a moment to congratulate Tony and Kayla on their latest addition to both the Deltondo clan and the Central Church family!

 

 

 

“Jesus Our Hope” – 2017 Lenten Study by Pastor Jan

jesus-our-hopeYou are invited to join with the folks of Central Church during the upcoming Lenten season in a short daily devotional authored by our own Pastor Jan.

Beginning on Ash Wednesday, March 1, 2017 and running through Easter Monday, on April 17, our “Food for Thought” page will feature daily Scripture readings and a brief meditation to help align you to Lent and the coming Easter.

Please join us as we embark on this journey of Lenten reflection!

 

See You at Church This Sunday!

see-you-at-church-this-sunday

Ash Wednesday – March 1, 2017 – Joint Worship Service

Ash WednesdayCentral Church will join with the Beaver Falls Ministerium on Ash Wednesday – March 1 – for a joint worship service at First Presbyterian Church (across from the Post Office) at 7 pm.

Rev. Darryl Lockie from College Hill UMC will provide the message, and other pastors, including our own Pastor Jan, will participate in the worship service.

Other combined Lenten worship services are currently being discussed at the Beaver Falls Ministerium, so stay tuned for further developments.

In the meantime, please mark your calendars to join us at First Presbyterian Church at 7 pm on March 1 as we begin our Lenten journey on Ash Wednesday.

 

Central Church on FaceBook!

facebook-2We’ve got an exciting new way to increase our ministry in the community and we need your help with launching our new tool, Social Reach Daily by Outreach!

Go to our Church Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/Central-United-Methodist-Church-of-Beaver-Falls-PA-362949807093157) and check out our new daily inspirational post. We’re going to have one of these posted each day.

It would be really helpful if you would “like” it and then share it to your own timeline.

Soon, the inspiring images you share will show up in the newsfeeds of your Facebook friends. Not only will your Facebook friends see our Church name, they can like, share or leave a comment on the image, giving us the opportunity to reach those that are hurting, those that need uplifting and those that do not yet know Jesus.

As you share the post, please take a moment to pray for those who will see it.  Pray that they will be encouraged and challenged, and that God will use these simple posts to draw others closer to Him. This is a great way to be actively engaged in praying for our friends who do not yet know Jesus.

Share our inspiring daily posts every day or as often as you can to help us reach those individuals and to help us introduce our Church to them!

 

 

Creed – New Church-wide Study!

creed-1On Sunday, February 12, at 10 am, we will get a jump start on Lent by beginning our new “6-week” study of Adam Hamilton’s just-published examination of the Apostles’ Creed.

We’re used to answers popping up on a screen right in front of us. But when the questions examine the truths that give meaning and purpose to life, finding the answers takes more than simply typing a few words and pushing a button.

Adam Hamilton believes that powerful answers to many of our complicated questions are contained in the Apostles’ Creed, an early statement of foundational Christian beliefs.

In Creed, he explores not only what Christians believe, but also why they believe, and why it matters, which in turn leads readers to confront and examine their own core beliefs and go beyond reciting the Creed’s familiar words.

Chapters include:

  1.  God
  2.   Jesus Christ
  3.  The Holy Spirit
  4.  The Church and the Communion of Saints
  5.  The Forgiveness of Sins
  6.  The Resurrection of the Body

Join us starting Sunday, February 12  at 10 am as we look into one of the foundational creeds of the Christian Church!

creed-2

 

 

 

 

Live the Adventure – Designer Destinies

christian-life-2Key Bible Verse: Now you’ve got my feet on the life path, all radiant from the shining of your face. Ever since you took my hand, I’m on the right way. Psalm 16:11, The Message

Dig Deeper: Psalm 16

I have come to believe that from the moment of conception, we are being formed with an adventure in mind. We were created to touch, taste, smell, see, and hear life. Our Creator has big plans for us. No settling for mediocrity. Rather, we have a high calling etched into our bones and written on our hearts.

God wants to engage us from first squall to last drawn breath and deliver us into a life he has dreamed for us. Whether our earliest memories are sailing the high seas in a steamship or walking in a kindergarten class by ourselves for the first time, the exploration of the world within us and around us is a drumbeat. And the beat goes on.

We were made to explore. For some of us that exploration is more outward than inward, like Admiral [Robert] Peary going to the North Pole. For others it is more inward than outward, like [Blaise] Pascal and his thoughts or Thomas Merton’s contemplations. Whichever it is, we were made for curiosity and more. That design drives us. It shapes our thinking and our dreams. It forms expectations of what life should be and lays the foundation of who we will become. It shapes our destiny.

I would submit it is our destiny.

—Richard Foth in A Trip Around the Sun

My Response: What specific experiences have shaped my life and faith?

Adapted from A Trip Around the Sun: Turning Your Everyday Life into the Adventure of a Lifetime by Mark Batterson and Richard Foth with Susanna Foth Aughtmon. Baker Books, a division of Baker Publishing Group (BakerPublishingGroup.com)

Prayer for the Week: Dear God, whether my adventure is in a 9-5 office, on a foreign mission field, or someplace else, may I live in a way that draws others to you and to the adventure you’ve prepared for them.

 

 

The Return of Pastor Jan!

Pastor Janice M. Davis

Pastor Janice M. Davis

Pastor Jan has been in first a hospital and then in a rehab facility since her automobile accident while returning from visiting some of our shut-ins on  Thanksgiving  morning.

Pastor Jan will be transported from the Providence Care Center to Central around 9:30 am on Sunday, January 8, 2017 so she can lead our worship service (and communion) at 11:00. 

Since she cannot yet stand on her healing legs, she will preach from in front of the first pew in a wheelchair.

After the service, a wheelchair transport will return her to Providence where she will resume her rehab.

Our District Superintendent is also planning to be in attendance for our worship service tomorrow morning as a show of support for Jan.

See you then!

Worship on Sunday, December 25, 2016

The following article by appeared in the December 13, 2016 issue of Ponder Anew at:  http://www.patheos.com/blogs/ponderanew/2016/12/13/8-reasons-not-cancel-church-christmas/?ref_widget=related&ref_blog=ponderanew&ref_post=5-christmas-carols-know-heart-forget

___________________________________________________________________________

So, should we have services on Christmas Day, or should we cancel?

christmasIs it happening again already? It seems like we just had this conversation…

The first time I heard about a church canceling a Sunday, ANY Sunday, for a reason other than dire emergencies, was early December 2005. This girl I was dating at the time told me that her family’s church, the squarely cool North Point Conglomerate Church in the Atlanta area, was canceling their services on Christmas Day.

Naturally, we broke up on Christmas Eve.

Thanks be to God, I eventually married a Methodist. The good kind, with plenty of good liturgical sense.

These days, I’m hearing about taking this annual snow day more and more, especially on these occasions when the 25th just happens to fall on a Sunday. You’ve heard the supporters, some of them even here on Patheos Evangelical, talk about how great it is that they’re not bound by this stuffy, rote, religious-not-relationship liturgical custom and are free to give back to their volunteers and their families by not putting them through the whole Jesus thing again on Christmas, which, again, falls on a Sunday.

Here is what some of these churches are saying about their benevolent decision to not worship together on one of the church’s traditional sacred days:

North Point Community Church; Alpharetta, GA
Please join us for our Christmas services on December 23 and 24, 2016. We will be back in 2017 on Sunday, January 8, with a brand new series with Andy Stanley.
[Yes, this big box is taking 2 weeks off! But don’t worry! Senior Motivational Speaker Andy “Big ol’ Church” Stanley will be back later on in January to help you with your anger problem and save you marriages!]

Imago Dei Church; Peoria, IL
Christmas Day: No Service or Breakfast Club
Merry Christmas!

Antioch Community Church; Waco, TX
No Service Christmas Day!
We will not have Christmas services on December 25th. We hope you have a Merry Christmas and a wonderful time with your family.
[Baylor friends: Let me know if you see someone out with the cross on castors during this time! A picture would be great!]

Lighthouse Coastal Community Church; Costa Mesa, CA
No Service on Christmas Day
This year, Christmas falls on a Sunday. However, we will not be having service on Sunday, December 25th. Enjoy your family.

The Door Church; Coppell, TX
Christmas Day: No Sunday Service
We will not have services on Sunday morning December 25th.  Please enjoy the time of celebration with your family and friends.

Radiant Church; Newport, OR
No Service on Christmas Day.  You’re invited to join us online at radiantchurchnewport.churchonline.org for a very special Christmas Day message for the whole family.  So grab your hot chocolate and connect online as every hour on the hour we’ll be sharing a message about the “Greatest Gift of All.”
[Well, that was certainly unexpected. A gathering where nobody gathers.]

Conduit Church; Franklin, TN
It truly is hard to believe that the month of December is here and that the Christmas season is upon us. This year has simply flown by, seemingly faster every year. It feels as if it was only a few weeks ago we were celebrating the resurrection on Easter Sunday! And now here we are in a season where we’re feeling the anticipation and excitement of Christmas morning. Oddly enough, this year Christmas day falls on Sunday, December 25th. Therefore, there will be no formal gathering that day, as you spend time with family and friends.

Timbers Community Church; Somewhere in Canada
There will be no service on Christmas day – its a good opportunity to visit another congregation in our community!
[Another unexpected twist!]

River Pointe Church; Missouri City, TX
[Live Chat Operator]: Hi! So our service times are: Fri Dec. 23- 4, 5:30, 7/ Sat. 2,3;30, 5, 6:30, 8 & 11. There will not be service on the 25th.
[Their website advertised numerous Christmas Eve services, but no official word on Christmas Day. Through their live chat feature, I was able to find out that there will be no services on December 25 and January 1.]

Some of the homes of Christian entertainment culture’s biggest stars are meeting on the 25th, some aren’t. I looks like at least some Saddleback campuses are meeting. Willow Creek Chicago has a Sunday service, other locations don’t. My biggest surprise? Lakewood Church in Houston will have a full slate of Sunday gatherings with Joel “I Praise God By Not Eating Pork” Osteen at the helm. All 735 NewSpring locations will apparently worship together every day but the actual day itself. Bishop Ed Young is proud to report that Second Baptist Houston will be open for business on the 25th. Life.Church.will.not.gather.together.but.you.can.watch.online.at.your.convenience.

So, hold the phone, we’re not going to let worship get in the way of celebrating Jesus’ birthday.

Friends, I’m going to say this as kindly, as gently, and as astutely as I can, theologically speaking:

This. Is. Bullcrap.

[FYI: If you read that last line correctly, it would have sounded a lot like Johnny Gilbert saying “This… is… Jeopardy!”]

Allow me to share a few reasons for calling out this nonsense:

  1. It’s Sunday. The whole “church” thing happens on Sundays.
  2. It’s CHRISTMAS, for God’s sake. That whole thing about the Word becoming flesh and dwelling among us? Yeah, that’s what this whole Christmas is all about.
    For me personally, I think those are more than enough reason to take an hour or so off from celebrating the indulgent, gluttonous, sentimental, Hallmark reasons for the season and get your happy butts to church. But in case you aren’t quite convinced, read on.
  3. Canceling Christmas services turns Christmas into a civil observance instead of a sacred day. I do love many things about this time of year. The weather, hitting the mall late into the evening, holiday parties, watching National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (“Where’s the Tylenol?”). But, as fun and exciting as these things can be, the discipline of the church year helps us realize that these things are merely periphery. Our lives are divided up into semesters, work schedules, electric bills, tax deadlines. Intentionally choosing a gospel-centered organization system helps us to maintain our first allegiance to Christ and his kingdom.Want to keep Christ in Christmas? Stop worry being the “Happy Holidays” police or petitioning to keep the nativity scene on City Hall lawn. We serve a higher throne that calls us to rise above that noise.
  4. Even if it’s a low-attendance Sunday (shouldn’t be, but often it is), people will come. They will bring their families and out-of-town guests. Is worship only worth it if we get lots of butts in the seats? I would hope we haven’t sunk that low, but apparently, some of us have.
  5. It unites us with the holy catholic church, past, present, and future. Christ wasn’t crucified during the Clinton administration, and we don’t do the Christian life in a vacuum. We are part of a long faith tradition, one that wouldn’t have canceled Christmas for anything in the world until, oh, the rise of the megachurch.
  6. It’s theologically negligent (also practically unnecessary…maybe stupid) to deny your people the Word and Sacrament. Of course, most of the megachurches and aspiring megachurches don’t believe in all the sacrament stuff, anyway, but still. If what you have to offer is so important that it constitutes the life blood of those who claim Christ’s holy name, why would you take a week off? Oh, right, family. And volunteers.
  7. The suggestion that cancelling church on ANY Sunday, particularly on Christmas, is a pro-family idea just doesn’t make sense. Is the church a drain on families in general? Really?!? On a Sunday when virtually everyone is off work for a day, and often longer? I would hope that our official position would be different; that corporate worship is vitally important, that the gifts God has to offer would grow, refresh, and strengthen us as individuals and as families. Certainly, don’t guilt anyone for not coming to your church, but don’t delude yourself into thinking giving families one more hour of toys and calories is going to strengthen them more than God’s gifts. And, oh yeah, again, Christmas is about Jesus, not family.
  8. If your volunteers are so over-taxed that you have to give them all a Sunday off, perhaps you need to scale back your ministries in other areas during the rest of the year. Christmas Sunday shouldn’t be the first thing to get the ax. Cancel all your other regular Sunday opportunities. Cancel Sunday School. Cancel breakfast. Cancel yoga. Cancel Bible study. Cancel life groups. But please don’t cancel worship.

So, church, for the love, keep Christ in Christmas.

Remember what Christmas is.

Remember who you are.

___________________________________________________________________________

Central Church’s pastor, Rev. Jan Davis, was involved in a serious automobile accident while returning from visiting members of Central Church who were receiving physical therapy services in a local  rehabilitation facility on Thanksgiving morning.

Following several surgeries and procedures, Pastor Jan is herself currently receiving rehabilitative services, and is anticipated to return to active ministry at Central Church sometime in January.  However, a rotating cast of visiting pastors and lay speakers have enabled Central to maintain its regular worship schedule, and support for daily ministerial needs during Pastor Jan’s absence is kindly being provided by the pastor of one of our local sister Churches.  (If you have a ministerial need, please contact the Church Office at (724) 846-3474.)

Central Church’s Christmas Eve worship service will begin at 6:30 pm on Saturday, December 24, and our Christmas Day worship service will begin at 11:00 am on Sunday, December 25, 2016.

Merry Christmas!

 

Beaver County is among the poorest counties in western Pa.

Local OutreachWe thank God for the opportunity to provide free warm and nutritious food for body and soul to many people in the City of Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania, as we work to cultivate a season of peace and joy for the people God has placed in our lives.

“Come to me all you who are weak and burdened and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28

On December 16, 2016, the Beaver County Times reported that Beaver County is among the poorest counties in western Pennsylvania, according to data released this week by the U.S. Census Bureau.  (See http://www.timesonline.com/news/local_news/beaver-county-is-among-the-poorest-counties-in-western-pa/article_8fcd858c-c312-11e6-a269-0b0fd180c24f.html.)

The county’s median salary of is 10 percent less than statewide, and 1 in 5 children in the county live in poverty. Statewide, the county is in the middle of the pack, ranking 29th in median income and 32nd in poverty rate.

“It’s tough in Beaver County,” said Mike Rubino, executive director of the United Way of Beaver County. “It’s something to think about — just one of our supported programs, the Salvation Army, is feeding 4,000 people each month through food banks.”

According to the federal poverty guidelines, a family of four lives in poverty if their household income is lower than $24,250.

The new data comes from the census bureau’s Small Area Income and Poverty Estimates program, which uses information from the American Community Survey, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, federal tax records and other federal data collection programs. It is used to determine how much money school districts will receive through the federal Title I program.

According to a release from the census bureau, the majority of counties — more than 84 percent nationwide — did not see a statistically significant change in median income between 2014 and 2015. Even fewer counties saw a significant change in poverty rates.

Central Church provided over 10,000 free, nutritious meals to our community in 2013.  In 2014, that number increased to 11,500, and the numbers of the hungry coming to us continue to increase as we reach the end of 2016, all through the generosity of many small givers and an active congregation of less than 25 dedicated souls. 

  • Please click on the “Donate” button in the right column of this page if you would like to support this critically-needed outreach ministry.

Every meal that we serve is hot, nutritious, and wholesome.  A warm welcome and a promise from God go a long way to lift a heavy heart.  When someone knows how much God cares, they don’t feel lonely and powerless anymore.

Please join us to care for those in hard times.  Your gifts meet desperate needs for food, and you pave the way for hurting people to be blessed.

This is our prayer for everyone who walks through our door – providing hope for new life. 

 

 

 

Vote for Your Favorite Hymns!

united-methodist-hymnal-2United Methodists are being asked to name their favorite and least favorite hymns as part of the initial research conducted by Discipleship Ministries and a diverse committee to revise The United Methodist Hymnal after almost three decades.

The first of several online surveys is under way to support the development of the new hymnal, which will be a hybrid print/electronic resource for use in multiple contexts.

“We are a singing church, and this survey will help us launch an important new hymnal for our denomination,” said the Rev. Junius B. Dotson, General Secretary (CEO) of Discipleship Ministries, which shares responsibility for the denomination’s hymnal with The United Methodist Publishing House.

The survey, “Favorite and Least Favorite Hymns,” is available online through Jan. 9 at http://sgiz.mobi/s3/Favorite-Hymns-2016 and seeks responses for all United Methodists.

The initial survey will be followed by other general surveys about hymn and worship resource preferences and use and about worship styles and perspectives on congregational music, said Naomi Hope Annandale, director of research and strategic evaluation at Discipleship Ministries, who is directing the hymnal research.

Diane’s Joysong Christmas at Central Church

dianes-joysongIt’s officially Christmastime and everyone’s schedule is filling up with shopping, decorating and visiting.

While you’re making your holiday plans, why not take a break from the hectic shopping season and take a moment or two to reflect on the true nature and reason for our Christmas season.

Central Church would like to invite you to a special Christmas concert on Saturday evening, December 17.

Central Church is hosting a special concert of Diane’s Joysong Christmas on Saturday, December 17 at 7:00 p.m. The concert is free and open to the public. 

After growing up in a pastor’s home, Diane hit the night club circuit traveling around the country.  She is a master of stagecraft, an actor at heart, who understands the connection of lyric and music.

More than a singer, Diane is a thoroughly engaging performer who is thoroughly engaged.  Her joy attests to her passion for the Lord and her personal connection to Him while embracing everyone in the audience.

The concert will begin at 7 pm and will be between 45 & 50 minutes – a perfect, refreshing break from the hustle and bustle of the season, especially for those who are active in the work and ministry of our local Churches.

The public is invited to attend the concert. There is no admission charge, but a free-will offering will be received.

Please share this opportunity with your friends, and join us on December 17!

 

 

 

Prayer Request – Pastor Jan

Pastor Janice M. Davis

Pastor Janice M. Davis

Pastor Jan was involved in an auto accident on Ing-Rich Road on Thanksgiving Day morning returning from visiting shut-ins.

She collided with a telephone pole at sufficient speed to crack the telephone pole and destroy her car.  Both of her femurs were snapped above the knee.

In view of the extent of her injuries, the Medical Center transferred her to UPMC Presbyterian Hospital in Oakland, where metal rods were placed in her femurs in a 10-hour-long surgery.

Following the surgeries, a CT Scan discovered a blood clot in her lung, for which she is now receiving blood thinners.

Pastor Jan has now been transferred from UPMC Presbyterian Hospital in Oakland to the Providence Care Center in Beaver Falls to begin her long road of rehabilitation.

Your prayers for Pastor Jan’s recovery would be appreciated.

 

 

 

Advent Devotional – Sunday, December 4, 2016 – The Coming of Jesus

hope-is-born-advent-devotional-211Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives 12as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. 13But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness 

14So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him. 15Bear in mind that our Lord’s patience means salvation, just as our dear brother Paul also wrote you with the wisdom that God gave him. 16He writes the same way in all his letters, speaking in them of these matters. His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction.

17Therefore, dear friends, since you already know this, be on your guard so that you may not be carried away by the error of lawless men and fall from your secure position. 18But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen.  – 2 Peter 3:11-18

So as the prophets of old and those to whom they ministered looked for the coming Jesus (the Messiah), so we God‘s people look for His second coming…the second great advent. Christians look for a new heaven and a new earth, in which a great deal more of the wisdom, power and goodness of God and Savior Jesus will be manifested.

In these new heavens and earth we shall be freed from the futility of our former life and the sin with which it was polluted. Now only righteousness shall dwell; this is to be the habitation of such righteous persons as do righteousness, and are free from the power and pollution of sin; all the wicked shall be turned into hell; those only who are clothed with a righteousness of Christ, and sanctified by the Holy Spirit will be admitted to dwell in this holy place.

What is the basis for this thought? First of all, if we look for anything which God has not promised, we presume upon Him. Second, if our expectations are according to the promise, both as to the things we look for and the time that they will occur, we will not be disappointed. Scripture says, ―He is faithful who has promised it all.‖ “See therefore that you elevate and are in command of your expectations of all the great things that are to come according to the word of God.

As to the new heaven and new earth, look for them, praising God for this new advent. The second coming of Jesus sees him clothed in white robes of righteousness in place of swaddling clothes!! He is alive! Expect to see Him any time. …what kind of people ought you to be?

 

 

 

The Redemption of Scrooge

the-redemption-of-scrooge-1As we move into the second week of Advent, our elves at Central Church have been busy decorating the Parlor with Christmas trees to match the theme of our current short-term Sunday School study, “The Redemption of Scrooge”, based upon Charles Dickens’ classic novel “A Christmas Carol”.

“A Christmas Carol” is a story of brokenness and redemption.  The beginning is dark – the book opens with, “Marley was dead.”  Scrooge begins the story as an unrepentant miser whose greed has caused harm to himself and others, and ends with him a changed – a redeemed – man.

"The Tree of Christmas Past"

“The Tree of Christmas Past”

Just as Christ brings light and hope to a world in darkness, the events of A Christmas Carol shine light into the darkness surrounding Scrooge’s life, ultimately leading him to embrace the peace, hope, love, and joy that we associate with Christmas.

Our study is looking at the four main parts of A Christmas Carol the opening and visit of Marley’s ghost, the visit of the Ghost of Christmas Past, the visit of the Christ of Christmas Present, and the visit of the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come.

"The Tree of Christmas Present"

“The Tree of Christmas Present”

In our study, we are exploring how we can draw from the past, present and future, important truths about brokenness and redemption and the Advent themes of peace, hope, love, and joy.

Take a moment when you’re at the Church to examine the three Christmas trees in our Parlor: the Tree of Christmas Past, the Tree of Christmas Present, and the Tree of Christmas Yet to Come. 

"The Tree of Christmas Yet to Come"

“The Tree of Christmas Yet to Come”

As we walk with Christ, we discover the divine all around us, and, in turn, the world invites us into a deeper picture of its Creator.

Join us this Advent as we continue our exploration of A Christmas Carol and discover how God is working in and through us and in the world around us to tell God’s great story of redemption!

 

 

2016 Advent Devotional – by Pastor Jan Davis

Starting Sunday, November 27, 2016 and running through Saturday, December 31, our daily “Food for Thought” selections will be taken from the 2016 Advent Devotional by Central Church’s own Pastor Jan Davis.

Please plan to check back each day and share with us in the daily reading as we prepare our hearts and minds for the miraculous gift of  Christmas.

In preparation for the first daily devotional tomorrow as Advent begins, here is a short introduction from Pastor Jan:

hope-is-born-advent-devotional-2What Are You Hoping For This Christmas?

Each year when Christmas approached, I made a list of what I was hoping to receive. I remember the hope I felt as I awoke on Christmas morning and looked expectantly under the tree. Do you still remember the intensity of that feeling?

The years have now passed and my list has certainly changed. Now what I am hoping for cannot be bought or wrapped and placed under a Christmas tree – but I continue to hope. I wonder, what are you hoping to receive this Christmas.

It is my prayer that this Advent booklet, which contains a number of devotions, will guide you throughout the Word of God to the only source of Hope I am aware of:

God, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit

May God truly give you the desires of your heart this year!

 – Pastor Jan

 

 

 

The Redemption of Scrooge

the-redemption-of-scrooge-1