eNews – July 20, 2018

Dear FPC family and friends,

We continue to set new benchmarks for First Presbyterian as over 100 children flooded into the sanctuary and the campus for our yearly community wide Vacation Bible School.  Our army of volunteers worked hard to make sure that the stations of Bible stories and snacks, music, recreation, and crafts were carried out so that they would experience Jesus in a tangible and lasting way.  Tonight we will have our final gathering with the kids singing their songs to the parents and the families enjoying a meal together.  We never know how many to expect at one of these open invitation events, but we do have over 180 people registered, so we are expecting over 200.  Wow, that is awesome and amazing.

Without a doubt the success of our children’s ministry and the influx of young families into our church for preschool and worship is a highlight of the current events which are part of the life here at First Presbyterian Church.  This has directly translated into an increase in attendance which bucks the trend which is part of the reality of mainline Protestantism.  Our denomination has lost members every year since 1965 and in 2015 we lost nearly 90,000.  That has not been the case for First Presbyterian.  In 2010 we averaged 172 in worship, through June of this year our average was at 211.  The young families that have come into our church is a good piece of that number.

On November 20, 2005 I said the following on Sunday in the church that I was serving in Florida: “We are going through an interesting phenomenon here at the church.  Over the last three years our attendance has increased by nearly 50 people.  But over the last three years our giving to the church has decreased by nearly $30,000.  It is not supposed to work that way.”  Now, neither of those figures completely represent our church, First Presbyterian, in 2018, but the concept is the same.  While we have grown, our giving has gone down.  It is not supposed to work that way.

As a result session at its last meeting on Weednesday has agreed that we have a problem. We have set up an ad-hoc team to see how we can increase the giving here at First Presbyterian.  Pray for the team.  It is composed of Mike Carle (chair), Don Johnson, Andrea Petrokonis, Heather Schnader, Wayne Carr, and Emily Welk.  Here at First Presbyterian we are so blessed with people who love the church, are loyal to the church, and want to serve God with all their heart, soul, and mind.  It is important for us to increase the visibility of those programs that reach out the poor and the powerless, that reach out to the children within our church, that reach out to the elderly and the needs that they have.  I encourage you the next time that you are in Church to pick up a yearly report and see all the church is doing within the community.  I think you will be surprised.  The knowledge of what we do here on that front normally organically increases giving.  Maybe people just aren’t aware of the tremendous impact that we have on the community and on the lives of individuals.

So July is a month that we need you to be especially vigilant about your giving.  If you want to learn more about a Scriptural concept to giving you can listen to an old sermon of mine here: http://www.straspres.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/Sermon-October-222017.mp3.  If you aren’t currently tithing, I would encourage you to do so.  The power of God is able to be felt in a very tangible way as we give to God’s work here on earth.

I don’t normally write or speak about giving, but when the attendance doesn’t match the giving, it is a reason to say something.  Last year was a banner year, our giving was off the charts, in a good way.  I hope and I pray that we can do the same this year as well, through your generosity.

Your servant in Christ,

Pastor Bob


            Church picnic:  We will be having our annual church picnic on August 26.  Mark your calendar as we will be having our traditional corn-hole tournament and other games and festivities.  It will happen immediately after the second service and it will take place at the Tinney Pavillion.

2nd Annual Bluegrass Festival at FPC:  We are excited to announce our 2nd Annual Bluegrass Festival with Colebrook Road and Dillweed on Sunday August 19 at 2pm.  You can find the flyer here: http://www.straspres.org/bluegrass-2018.  Come and be a part of the festivities and bring friends along with you.

Stephen Ministries:  First Presbyterian has been blessed with the consistent and solid couple of Dale and Barbara Groff overseeing our crucial Stephen Ministries program.  As they move out of Strasburg and look to begin a new journey in their life, they are handing the baton to Bill and Joyce Potter who will be taking on the leadership responsibilities of this very important ministry.  We are grateful for the leadership and the tremendous work that Dale and Barbara have given as leaders over these past ten years.  We look forward with anticipation and hope to how God is going to use Bill and Joyce in this new chapter of this ministry.

Congratulations to Emily Ott and Grant Garber:  Emily and Grant will be married this Saturday.  Congratulations on this exciting time in your life!

Young couples gathering:  On August 17 at 6pm there will be a young couples gathering at the home of Dan and Justine Colvin at 120 Reservoir Road in Strasburg.  Come and be a part of this time for fellowship.




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