The Newsletter of the Eastern District Moravian Church – David E. Bennett, president
It was Anything But Business as Usual….
“We always had flowers that decorated our sanctuary,” explained the church member, “but then we came to realize that flowers served more ourselves than our community. So it occurred to us….what if we decorate our sanctuary with baskets that congregants can put non-perishable food items in for those in need in our community?” As I looked around the sanctuary of the First Moravian Church of Easton Pennsylvania, beautifully placed in the center of the communion table….and prominently adorning various plant stands….were simple baskets….all filled with boxes and cans….packages of noodles….food for the hungry. It wasn’t Harvest Mission Sunday. It was an every Sunday ritual of faith for the congregation to beautify their sanctuary with that which would feed others. It was an ordinary Sunday, but it was anything but business as usual.
What a small change it is to make such simple action a transformational practice. It is really only a minor shift in thinking. Yet, what an enormous transformation it can provide to priorities and future perspective.
Each time the Eastern District A.I.D. Team engages one of our congregations, I am amazed at where the conversation goes and what we learn from congregations who have committed themselves to missional thinking. As I witnessed this mission-mindedness within the fellowship of Easton First, even before the AID program begins at their congregation, I was grateful for the opportunity to be in partnership with them and cognizant of what miracles can happen when a congregation transforms its actions with mission priorities and perspectives.
While engaging the Trinity Moravian Church in the AID program a couple weeks ago, we had the opportunity to witness another transformational conversation around mission perspective. As the congregation was guided through an open conversation about their own ministry environment, it was acknowledged that a current ministry they were involved in with the growing population of Latino families in their neighborhood was to provide English speaking classes. It was a good ministry, but had not offered them the kind of relationship building that they would like to have with their neighbors. “If we really want to be in true fellowship with our neighbors, including worship with them” offered one member, “then we have to change our actions and perspective. We need to not only offer them the opportunity to speak English, but we need to learn to speak Spanish ourselves.” And with those words energy rippled through the room. The very thought of such a new ministry…directed at transforming themselves so as to be in fellowship with others….was born. It was anything but business as usual.
I am greatly encouraged as I see these congregations entering into sacred and transformative conversations about shifting perspectives and priorities. In many cases the smallest shifts in thinking can make monumental differences in how and who we serve in Jesus’ name. If we as Eastern District leadership can be of help in facilitating such transformative conversations, we would welcome the opportunity, the partnership, and the shared adventure into that place where it is anything but business as usual.
The Rev. Denny Rohn has accepted an appointment to serve as pastor of the Schoenbrunn Moravian Congregation. Brother Rohn will serve in a part-time capacity beginning on September 21st.
We offer thanks to the Rev. Dr. Reed Acheson for his service as Interim Pastor at the Emmaus Moravian Congregation. He concluded his service on September 1. We welcome the Rev. Frank Stinner, an ELCA ecumenical partner, who began interim service at Emmaus on September 21st. Please hold the Emmaus congregation in prayer as they continue in the call process.
Schedule of Events
October 23, 9:30 am-noon – Marold Lectures The Resurrection of the Body & Perfection in Weakness. Prosser Auditorium, Haupert Union Building, Moravian College. These lectures use disability theory to approach the question of the resurrection of the body in the New Testament. They will explore passages in which being “saved” and “healed” are clearly distinct, in which woundedness is preserved—even preferred—in the afterlife, and the way that the scarred body of the resurrected Jesus can produce a new understanding of what it means to be glorified. Candida R. Moss is Professor of New Testament and Early Christianity at the University of Notre Dame. Register online at https://secure.moravian.edu/sem/continuingEd/registration.asp.
October 23 and 24 from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Friday and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday – A “Christmas Craft Festival” sponsored by the 6 churches of the Bethlehem Area Moravians in the lower level of the Christian Education Building of Central Moravian Church, 40 W. Church St., Bethlehem, PA. . Homemade baked goods and a delicious luncheon menu will be available. The Festival will once again feature quality crafts by local artisans. Proceeds will be shared equally with Esperanza for Bethlehem, the Moravian Church’s tutoring and healthy foods programs for local children in need, and with the overnight Emergency Shelter, sponsored by a group of churches in Bethlehem.
November 1-3 – Fourth Annual Moravian/Lutheran Retreat for Women in Ministry, Laurel Ridge Conference Center, NC.
November 5-December 3, M/Th, 6-9 pm – CROSSROADS: My Journey/Our Journey. Experience personal and group Formative Spirituality. Rev. Maggie Wellert and others. Register online at https://secure.moravian.edu/sem/continuingEd/registration.asp.
June 22-25, 2016 – Eastern District Synod, at Moravian College, Bethlehem, PA
July 23-29, 2017 – Moravian Music Festival in Winston-Salem, NC.
Moravian Ministries Foundation
During a recent conversation with a Moravian who has included her church in her will, I was told, “I’ve been giving to my church my whole life. Why wouldn’t I do the same when I die?” This is precisely why the Moravian Ministries Foundation offers a free church-based planned giving program; we want all our congregations to be encouraging their members to give beyond their lifetimes. We work with church leadership to draft gift guidelines, identify ministries which would benefit from planned gifts, and create materials which explain the importance of planned giving as part of the church’s stewardship ministry. To learn more about the service, please visit our website at http://www.mmfa.info/planned_giving_churches or contact Paul McLaughlin, MMFA president, at 888-722-7923 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
New Contact Information
Erwin Boettcher new email address: WenJilBec17@gmail.com
Naomi (Mrs. John) Case
1109 Sunlight Drive
Chesapeake, VA 23322
The Ohio Council of Churches has a new address as of 9/10/2015: 6161 Busch Blvd., Suite 100, Columbus, OH 43229
Churches celebrating Oct. anniversaries:
3 – 1762 – Schoeneck, Nazareth, PA
8 – 1758 – Graceham, Maryland
18 – 1889 – Stapleton, now Vanderbilt Ave., Staten Island, NY
20 – 1985 – Church of the Redeemer, Dublin, Ohio
24 – 1874 – Uhrichsville, Ohio
25 – 1914 – Edgeboro, Bethlehem, PA