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District Developments August 2023

Congregational Spotlight

Bethlehem Area Moravian Freezer Ministry

adds a Garden Gathering Program

In January of this year discussions began about expanding our vegetable and fruit table offerings.

Currently there was a once-a-month June to October table setup at the Bethlehem Emergency Sheltering Weekend Lunch program, where 80-120 homeless or food insecure neighbors gather on Saturday or Sunday for lunch.

There were also connections to a new pantry at the Bethlehem – Fountain Hill Elementary School.  Here we wanted to place our frozen meals on location for families in need.  The need for fresh vegetables and fruit became the obvious need.  If we were going to do it for one school, why not all 8 Community Schools in Bethlehem.  This program was launched at the Freezer Ministry Gathering late February, with over 100 attendees representing 17 churches or organizations.

How would we do this?

There is a Gathering program where churches can gather on Sundays and bring the vegetable and fruits to East Hills Moravian Church by 10 AM on Tuesday of distribution weeks.  Connections have been established with local farms, local gardens and Second Harvest – part of Feed America for many items.  To fill the gaps, we purchase wholesale. The future holds new connections and gardens to be planted.

On Tuesday of distribution week, a band of willing volunteers along with trucks or SUVs meet at Second Harvest to pick-up approximately 2,500 lbs. of product, return to East Hills to load the dropped off or purchased balance.  The 3 tons, soon to be 4 tons, of vegetable and fruits that have been loaded, now begin their journey to 7 community school locations for unloading, in preparation for them to hand out on Wednesdays.  By November, there will be over 60,000 lbs. or 30 tons of vegetable and fruits distributed. The goal is to keep the program’s cost below $ .20 – $ .25 per lb.

The BAM Freezer Ministry is able to do this because of the support received from BAM Ministry, Moravian Ministries Foundation Grants, area churches, individual donors and several fund raisers.  If you would like to be part of this, send a check to East Hills Moravian Church, with a note for the Freezer Ministry and mail to 1830 Butztown Rd., Bethlehem, PA  18017.  Thanks

This is a much longer story with so many thank yous and examples of the Spirit leading us.

Following is the perspective from the Community Schools

When looking to expand a ministry, the schools are always a great option.  The Bethlehem Area School District is a big district and knowing where to begin can be difficult.  However, we are fortunate to have several schools that are designated as Community Schools by the United Way.  Those schools have a coordinator that already works closely with families and helps them as needed.  This coupled with the fact that some of these schools already contain food pantries that provide food for the families and the community made these schools perfect to help expand the ministry.

Many schools already provide breakfast, lunch, and snacks for students.  In addition, most community schools send food home to families weekly as well.  A lot of the food given to families is processed or nonperishable items.  Being able to provide families with fresh fruits and vegetables thrilled the community school coordinators.  Some of the coordinators were even able to accept the offer of a refrigerator to hold the perishable food.  In addition, each school received a large rolling shelf, bins, and bags to complete their distribution set up.

As the many trucks and volunteers delivered the fruits and vegetables, the coordinators were overly thankful and grateful.  They knew that the impact that this food had on the families and communities would be great.  Each site received approximately 1000 lbs. of fresh fruits and vegetables to distribute.  The coordinators were excited to put the fresh food into bins and allow families, neighbors, and community members to take broccoli, zucchini, carrots, cauliflower, eggplant, tomatoes, peppers, onions, potatoes, sweet potatoes, bananas, oranges, apples, grapes, plantains, blueberries, and more for their families to eat and enjoy.

As excited as the coordinators were, no one could have predicted what would happen.  There was concern over what to do with any leftovers so that the food did not spoil.  After the first distribution day, this would no longer be a problem.  Most schools were wiped out of fruits and vegetables within thirty minutes.  The families and community members were more than grateful for the fresh fruits and vegetables.  Some of the kids ate some of them on the spot, people talked about how fresh and delicious everything was, and others told stories about what they were going to make with the food that they got that day.

Sometimes a small idea grows and grows.  Although no one can tell how big this one will grow, it is clear that its impact has been great so far.  Providing fresh fruits and vegetables to families, at a time when the cost of food is rising, is invaluable.  Pantries and other organizations often provide food, but it is not always the healthiest or the freshest due to the constraints that they may have.  This ministry has filled a void in the community and has been a blessing to all involved, especially the volunteers.

Mandi Ortwein

Bethlehem Area School District Teacher

East Hills Moravian Church Elder

Robert Wingrove

BAM Freezer Ministry and Garden Gatherers Coordinator

East Hills Moravian Church Elder

Thanks to Tammy Lavoy (Lehigh Valley North regional rep. of the EDEB) and to Linda Wisser (Pastor at East Hills Moravian Church) for providing this article.


Eastern District Synod

Save the Dates!!!

JUNE 26 – 29, 2024



Regional Meetings

(via Zoom – 7pm-8pm)

Save the Dates!!!

 9/13/23 – Penn Mar, Del Val

9/14/23 – NY, Ohio

9/19/23 – Lehigh Valley North, Lehigh Valley South


 The Crossroads Lay Leadership Program of Moravian Theological Seminary will hold a Zoom Info Session at 10 am on Saturday, August 5.  Crossroads prepares lay people for congregational and community ministries including lay pastoring.  Many people come to improve their skills, to gain more Biblical knowledge, to live out their sense of call. Bring your questions about the program, we will share the 2023/2024 course schedule.  Contact Jill Peters for the Zoom link and check out our website at  www.moravianseminary.edu/crossroads.

Dr. Jill Peters

Missional Leadership Developer

Moravian Theological Seminary


Hear Us Out: Six Questions on Belief and Belonging is coming out in July.  After over 200 interviews of 18-39 year old nones and dones, the team of authors took those thoughts on life and faith.  The results are an incredible look into their lives.  Brian McLaren stated: If there is one book I could recommend for churches to take seriously when they consider ways to welcome emerging generations into their midst, it would be Hear Us Out. The authors include Sue Pizor Yoder, Steve Simmons, Brandon Heavener, Bonnie Bates, Joanne Marchetto, Jim Stahl, Janet Stahl, and Jill Peters.  A Launch Party is scheduled for Aug 7 at 7 pm at Wesley UMC, Center St, Bethlehem.  Come hear the authors discuss their findings. (RSVP are helpful but not necessary:  [email protected])

Thursday, August 3, 2023, at 7:00pm Eastern Time

On Zoom

You’re invited to a virtual informational session to learn more about Lancaster Theological Seminary and our Doctor of Ministry degree program.
Join our Admissions team for this informative, interactive online event and bring your questions! There’ll be time for a Q&A.

Here’s the Eventbrite link to register: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/506688768747

In case you are interested, here’s the link to the Doctor of Ministry webpage with more information about the program.



Free Stewardship Help

for the Asking

By Vince Holbrook

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.”

These often-quoted words from Matthew 7:7 still ring true. Many Moravian congregations struggle with stewardship. But surprisingly few take advantage of the free Stewardship Services available from the Moravian Ministries Foundation in America.

If your church or ministry requires time, talent, and treasure to continue to do God’s work, why not ask for help?

(336) 725-2589
[email protected]

Personnel Update

The Rev. Dr. Heather H. Vacek, Vice-President and Dean of Moravian Theological Seminary and Lancaster Theological Seminary has accepted a new position as Director of Accreditation at the Association of Theological Schools (the body that accredits seminaries). She will begin her new position on September 1. In this role, she will work with seminaries across the US and Canada to equip them to more fully live into their mission and vocation.

Heather came to MTS in July 2021 just as Moravian University and Moravian Theological Seminary were beginning the process of partnering with Lancaster Theological Seminary (LTS). Over the course of these past two years, Dr. Vacek has worked effectively and faithfully to knit together the faculties and staff into a cohesive group and guided the faculties toward the development of a new, shared curriculum. She will work through August 11 to prepare for new leadership.

Moravian University President Bryon Grigsby is working with institutional, church, and seminary board leaders (including me as Chair of both seminary boards) to develop a plan to provide strong and faithful leadership to continue the important work of equipping individuals to serve the Moravian Church and beyond.

Please keep Heather and her loved ones, and the people and mission of the University, MTS, and LTS in your prayers at this time of transition.




It’s pre-order time!

Order your 2024 Moravian Daily Texts before August 13 and receive a discount. Paperback: $11.50 $10.35; Hardcover: $17.00 $15.30; Large Print: $14.50 $13.05; Journal: $19.00 $17.10.

New item: This stylish new tote is perfect to carry a laptop or a change of clothes. Outside slip pocket, featuring the Moravian Seal, allows for easy access to keys and cell phone, with special pockets for pen and business cards. Two side pockets hold water bottles without damaging inside items. Reinforced shoulder straps make this sturdy tote a must. Royal Blue/Black size 17”W x 14”H x 5”D. $18.95.

Order online at store.moravian.org or call Jill at 1-800-732-0591, ext. 703.