“Maybe, Gradually, Finally, Bit by Bit . . .?”
Imagine how many pastors’ letters in church newsletters have had to be about the pandemic in the past year! Explaining what our church’s procedures are going to be for now, and why, and what we hope we might be able to do soon and when . . .
I’ve been in many conversations since we passed our one-year “anniversary” of COVID restrictions – I’m sure you have too – about “Can you believe it’s been a whole year?” and “How long will this go on?” and “Will we ever get back to normal?”
And I was tempted to take a whiny tone along those lines in this letter when I realized: Wait. One year ago we didn’t even have a May/June issue of the church newsletter. Because we were in lockdown, required to work from home instead of near our church computers and copy machine. And because there wouldn’t have been anything to write about anyway because there weren’t any church activities going on then! “Worship services” were still a short sermon and prayer posted only on our Facebook page, after Laurie recorded them on her phone in our dining room. Everything else was cancelled.
We’ve actually made a lot of progress in the past year. We re-opened for in-person worship in June, with many precautions, for those comfortable coming (There are some churches which are still virtual only). We have gradually added a few more features and touches to those services, including making them available on our Facebook page – thanks to creative people like Susan F., Susan H., Jani H., Tom H., and most recently, our socially-distanced fully-vaccinated half-a-choir. The congregation has kept its financial support well, including for our various mission efforts. People have stepped forward to make things like electing our officers happen in new ways.
And now we see, bit by bit, more progress ahead. I hear new reports nearly every Sunday from people who are fully vaccinated; we may be able to see more in-person worshippers soon (Can one congregation declare that it has achieved herd immunity? I don’t think so).
This newsletter, and our bulletin announcements, describe more upcoming activities than they have in many months. Due to vaccines, we could probably add more of our usual weekly activities and monthly meetings (still masked of course) soon – except we’re coming to that time of year when many of them take summer breaks!
Each one of us, of course, has had to decide what is the safest course of action for ourselves. Thank you for your diligence and patience and flexibility as maybe, finally, bit by bit, we move a little more toward “normal.”
The lovely Easter flowers this year were given in
Memory or Honor of:
- In Memory of Reva & Harry Benefiel; George, Glenna, Rick & Jim Veith from Steve and Debbie Benefiel
- In Memory of Mr. & Mrs. Donald R. Ewart; Sue Ann Ewart Peters; Mr. Glen Brower; & Mrs. Arthur Benson; and Mr. & Mrs. Dwight Parkinson from Jerry and Mabel Benson
- In Honor of my daughter, Mellie McCollough as she graduates during the time of the pandemic (and her future years at Cornell College in Iowa) from Lisa McCollough
- In Memory of Lloyd & Frances S. Lindsey, J. David Lindsey, and Elmer & Alice Bergdolt from Barbara & Terry Bergdolt
- In Memory of our parents Charles & Gen Willis and Gloria & Bill Hebermehl from Tom and Joanna Hebermehl
- In Memory of Gene and Betty Ogden from Susan Farris
- In Memory of Wayne & Lois Jones and Hugh & Lois Cross from Larry & Carol Jones
- In Honor of our siblings Jeff Allen & Linda Thompson; Debbie Hillman & Beth Nickel from Rev. Laurie Williams
& Rev. Rodger Allen
- In Memory of Donald D. Craun, McMinn B. & Arlene Winans Shaw, and Horace & Hortense Craun, and Virginia Zimmerly from Mary (“Mike”) Craun.
- In Memory of Evelyn &. Kenneth Griffin, Orris & Marjorie Kimball , and Stephanie Kimball from Alvin & Juanita Kimball
- In Memory of our parents, Elizabeth & Donald Feutz and Bettie & John R. Blair, Jr.from Jane & Steve Blair
- In Memory of Rosemary & Kenneth Stephens
from Mary Anna Ludington & Family
- In Honor of Charlie & Tim Ruff and their families from Paul and Beth Ruff
- In Honor and Memory of Loved Ones from Betty Piper
- In Memory of Brian K. Russell; Turner & Edna Russell; Clayton & Georgia Hill; In Honor of the Scott Russell family and the Sheryl Russell Clark family from T. Alan and Christie Russell
- In Memory of Susan Cecelia Acklin and Jim Acklin from Sally Acklin
Sunday, May 9:
The main focus of our worship service will be Mother’s Day.
NATIONAL DAY OF PRAYER
The annual National Day of Prayer is Thursday, May 6 this year. For our local observance, the Paris Ministerial Fellowship is replacing the usual breakfast event, just this year, with a Noon outdoor gathering where the community can gather to pray together. We will have a tent outside the courthouse.
VBS: Planning is underway for the cooperative Paris Methodist and Presbyterian Churches Vacation Bible School. Dates have been set, for the evenings of July 11 through 15, and the location this year will be Otterbein Methodist Church. Please let your young friends know – age 3 through entering 6th grade. And we will be looking for volunteers to help with VBS. “Our night” to provide the dinner and lesson will be Monday, July 12. Other opportunities include:
- Helping with music or crafts or games any or all of the evenings,
- Helping serve dinner on any of the evenings,
- Accompanying one of the age groups through all their activities, any or all of the evenings.
Please speak with Beth Ruff or Rodger Allen if you would like more information. The next planning meeting will be Tuesday May 18 at 5:30, at Otterbein, if you would like to attend.
Help a Neighbor: For several years, the Paris Ministerial Fellowship’s Assistance Program, which can help people with rent, utilities, or other needs, has relied on volunteers to administer the program. They interview the applicants and make decisions on the most appropriate way to assist them. Our congregation has provided several of these volunteers, most recently Tom Hebermehl and Camille Foley. Camille is not available right now, and PMF in cooperation with the Compassionate Clothing Closet would like to resume the program as soon as possible (after having had to cease usual operations due to the pandemic), from 10 A.M. to Noon, on the second and fourth Thursdays of the month, at the CCC. Full training will be provided, and you would only be needed once a month, on the months you are available. Please consider whether you can help some of your Paris neighbors in this way. If you have questions, you can ask Tom or Rodger.
SANCTUARY CHOIR NEWS
Our Wednesday noon Lenten services were well-received again this year, even without the lunches afterward. Our weekly attendance was approximately 30-35, and the messages and the music were unique and appreciated.
Our Maundy Thursday service was somber and meaningful for all those present. In contrast, our Easter service was full of joy! – and just as meaningful. And yes, we did play a taped performance of our own choir singing the “Hallelujah Chorus” at our 2016 Easter service.
We continue with our smaller-in-number choir, providing an anthem for each week’s service. We practice once a month at 4 P.M. on a Wednesday to prepare for the following Sundays.
We do hope that more and more of you who have been listening at home will rejoin us in the sanctuary as soon as possible. Technology is great, but our fellowship is even better.
2 Barbara Palmer
4 James Feutz
10 Andy Keys
11 Brianna Blair
12 Larry Jones
14 Mary Anna Ludington
15 Betty Piper
16 Sara McCrocklin
17 Adam Clawson
19 Sam Roberts
Jenni Trogdon McKay
24 Scott Lindsey
27 Ross Penczek
MAY ANNIVERSARIES ©©
19 Ken & Liz Gough
25 Jeff & Sarah Penczek
29 Brian & Tami O’Bannon
THE CHRISTIAN CALENDAR
The seven-week season of Easter runs through May 22. May 23 will mark our return to the season of “ordinary time”:
May 23 – Pentecost. According to Acts 2, it was fifty days after Good Friday (or May 23 this year) that God gave the gift of the Holy Spirit to empower the witnesses to Jesus’ resurrection. This same Spirit is offered to all his disciples, giving us visions of hope, freeing us to serve our neighbors, setting us to love one another. Therefore, on the Day of Pentecost, we celebrate God’s gift of the Holy Spirit, which enables us to observe and proclaim all that God has done and is doing for us, and all people. The first Pentecost is sometimes called “the birthday of the Christian Church.” Some people celebrate by wearing red, symbolizing the tongues of fire mentioned in Acts 2. We will also celebrate the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper on May 23.
May 30 – The Sunday after Pentecost each year is Trinity Sunday. It is an annual reminder of the threefold nature of our God, so that we will not neglect any of the three persons—Father, Son, or Holy Spirit—or focus on one to the exclusion of others.
SUNDAY, JUNE 20
We will expand the “Father’s Day” holiday a little, and also celebrate “Men of the Church Day,” expressing our appreciation for all the gifts that all men bring to the church.
As described in “The Christian Calendar” article in this newsletter, May 23 is the day of Pentecost, often considered to be the “birthday of the Christian Church” because of Acts 2: 41-42.
May 23 will also be the main collection date for the Pentecost Offering, one of the four special offerings of the Presbyterian Church USA. This offering is divided between programs which help children and youth at risk (poverty, schools, medical concerns) and programs which provide Christian education to children and youth (church camps, regional youth gatherings). Each congregation is to retain 40% of its offering, to go to a local program or project.
Send a card or letter:
Marshall Rehab and Nursing
410 N. 2nd St.
Marshall, IL 62441
305 S. Jefferson
Paris, IL 61944
The Paris High School Baccalaureate Service for graduating seniors will take place Tuesday evening May 18 at 7:00 at First Christian Church. A cookies reception will follow the service, and the organizers are hoping that each church can provide three dozen cookies. They would need to be delivered to First Christian May 18 afternoon. If you can be our “cookie provider,” please let the church office or Rev. Rodger know. We could help with the delivery part if necessary.
2 Gareth Blair
4 Scott Blair
5 Tony Grimes, Jr.
7 Susan Farris
9 Sheryl Clark
10 Johnathon Franklin
11 Paul Koehler
13 Tom Ballard
17 Paul Ruff
19 Mabel Benson
21 Beth Ruff
22 Maurice Johnson III
23 Stephanie Benefiel
24 Krayton Trogdon
25 Steve Benefiel
26 Barbara Bergdolt
28 Jeff Boland
15 Tom & Joanna Hebermehl
18 Terry & Barbara Bergdolt
19 Alan & Christie Russell
Robert & Alice Sprague
23 Steve & Debbie Benefiel
Tom & Lou Ballard
28 Steve & Jane Blair
30 Brian & Jessica Blair
Right now, about $1.7 million dollars of medical debt is owed by people living below or near the poverty level in the 44 counties of our presbytery. This debt doesn’t come from bad decisions—it comes from seeking life-saving medical care. With medical debt on their credit report, our neighbors can’t get a job, rent a home, get a loan, or buy a car.
RIP Medical Debt (ripmedicaldebt.org/) is one of several organizations started by individuals from the debt-collection field who want to forgive debt instead of collecting it. They pool money from donors to buy medical debt in large portfolios. They then contact those families and forgive their debt with no tax consequences for the donors or recipients. $17,000 leveraged through RIP Medical Debt can wipe out much of southeastern Illinois’ $1.7 million dollars of medical debt.
Our presbytery has decided to demonstrate Christ’s love to our neighbors in a concrete way. By our May 13th presbytery meeting, we are attempting to raise $17,000 and partner with RIP Medical Debt to wipe out most of the medical debt in southeastern Illinois. By pooling our resources, we can make a huge impact on those in need in our communities and often in our own congregations.
You can contribute to this campaign online at the presbytery’s website (pseillinois.org) by clicking the “Give Now” button in the top-right corner or by mailing a check to:
Rev. Wade Meranda, PSEI Treasurer
PO Box 278, Hoopeston, IL 60942
FAITH IN ACTION Drive-through Pork Loin or Hot Dog Meal:
Friday, May 14, 2021
3:30-7 P.M. (or until they run out!)
Knights of Columbus Hall
ALL proceeds go to Faith in Action
of Edgar County
We are in conversation with our graduating high school seniors to find out when and how we might celebrate with and honor them.
“Every single moment you are thinking of me! How precious and wonderful to consider that you cherish me constantly in your every thought!
O God, your desires toward me are more than the grains of sand on every shore!
When I awake each morning, you’re still with me.”
-Psalm 139: 17-18 (The Passion)