Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Christian Education Update

Thanks to all who helped with the Christmas Pageant and Jesus’ birthday party afterward. We couldn’t have done it without you! What a fun and entertaining way to teach the children the real reason we celebrate Christmas.

The elementary age class will be taught by Angela Weeden in January and February.
Sunday School will begin in a new format beginning Sunday, January 3, 2016.  Children will leave worship after the children's sermon, and go to the Nursery or their Sunday School class.  Parents may pick up children after worship ends.
This new format will replace the traditional Sunday School time of 9:45 for the children only. Adult Bible study will remain at 9:45am Sunday mornings.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

A Future with Hope

It is my blessing to serve the congregation of Watkins Glen as your Interim Minister.  Some of you, I know already. By the time you receive this, I will have met many of you, and hope to meet nearly all of you by year’s end.  Please feel free to stop by the office, or call me—I look forward to getting to know you better!

The work of "interim" is many things: working with the Session, providing pastoral care and worship leadership. It is listening to and learning your stories.  It is discerning where God is calling us next, and what pastoral leadership will fit that best.

I have said that an Interim Pastor must stand with a foot on two worlds:  one in the past, and one in the future.  We stand in that gap, together.  Watkins Glen Presbyterian has a long and faithful past, and will continue to serve God faithfully in the present and in the future.

Advent began this year on Sunday, November 29.  Advent is a time we prepare our hearts for the coming of the Christ Child.  Traditionally, the Sundays during Advent are labeled: 
Hope, Peace, Joy and Love.
I find it significant that I join your congregation near Advent time, and I am mindful of all those who journeyed to Bethlehem to see the Christ Child.  I think of our work as a journey together.

There are specific tasks to be done (a mission study, the Interim or Transitional tasks, which are: Heritage, Missions, Connections, Leadership and Future, preparing for calling the next pastor).  But in this in-between time, there is faithful life to be lived, together, as well.  Life goes on: babies are born, anniversaries are celebrated, people we love die.  And God, who is faithful, is with us through all our journeys, including this one. My favorite Bible verse is one I learned at summer camp:  “For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not to harm you, to give you a future with hope.”  (Jeremiah 29:11)

The first candle of Advent is the candle of Hope. It is with Hope that we begin our interim work, trusting in the One who is Love to guide our work and life together.

 In Christ,
Reverend Nancy Meehan Yao

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Harvest Dinner Thanks!

Thank you to everyone who helped with the Harvest Dinner.  Many, many people helped in many, many ways – cooking, baking, serving, and cleaning.

This wouldn’t have been possible without ALL OF YOU!!!

Some dishes are left at Fellowship Hall from the dinner.  If you are missing one, it’s probably here waiting for you to pick it up.

Christian Education Update: Sunday School for All Ages

Sunday School is currently offered for all ages every Sunday at 9:45am.  Come, bring your children or grandchildren and join the fun!
Our new Junior Church program will start in January, 2016.  This will replace our traditional Sunday school hour (9:45-10:45).  Junior Church will be for our young worshipers (ages 4 through grade 5) and will take place during the regular worship time.

Children will attend church with their families and be dismissed after the children’s message by the pastor.  They then go to Sunday School where they will hear an age appropriate Bible story, enjoy a craft and a snack and then meet their families after worship.
There will continue to be a nursery for those children younger than four.  Of course, any children who wish to remain in the worship service are certainly welcome to do so.

Adult Sunday School will continue to meet at 9:45 in the library.  All adults are welcome!

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Christmas Program 2015

Mark you calendars now for the 2015 Christmas Program on December 13th during the Sunday morning worship service. 

The program this year will be something new and exciting and you are not going to want to miss it. All children and youth are invited to participate. 

We are starting the creative process in November and will begin to practice after Thanksgiving, so please try to have your children and youth in attendance. Following the service, you are all invited to join us for a special “Happy Birthday, Jesus” coffee hour in Fellowship Hall complete with birthday cake!

Sunday, November 1, 2015

We Need Each Other

Paul's letter to the Philippians was the topic of Rev. Kotun's sermon on October 18, 2015.  I felt much of his sermon was very meaningful.  With Rev. Kotun's permission, I will repeat parts of the sermon.

Paul helped found the church at Philippi in Greece, during his journeys as a missionary.  The people of Philippi had no synagogue, but met together for prayer out by the river bank.  Many were baptized by Paul and when he left Philippi there was a congregation that would live and grow.  Paul wrote to them when he was a prisoner.  This letter was Paul's farewell message to the church which perhaps above all others was dearest to his heart.  He was not sad, but joyful.  He will depart and be with Christ.  He wrote about what Christ had meant to him and can mean to all who try to follow him.  "I can do all things in him who strengthens me" and because the Christians in Philippi can have that same trust he says to them, "Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice".

The people in Philippi could not concentrate.  Paul is in prison.  What about our church?  What will happen to our fellowship?  What about us?  Paul led us to Jesus.  How can we manage without him?  He was our founder, our teacher, our pastor and he is behind bars.  Will we see him again?  What will happen to our church with no Paul to guide us?

The church at Philippi felt like many of us when we became empty-nesters.  There is a gap in the congregation and in many hearts and minds whenever the pastor leaves.  Why is our beloved minister gone.  How are we going to manage?  What is going to happen to our church?  Will our church go down the tubes?  Will people stop coming to our worship or bible study?

Then, Paul wrote to the church.  Get your mind off me.  I'm not the center of the church.  I'm doing fine.  I'm ready to live or die.  If I die I'll be with the Lord.  And I'm ready for that.  If I live God may have some other work for me to do.  Stop your fretting.  Your church is not about me.  The church is about Jesus Christ.  I may be away from you, but Jesus Christ is not.  He is present in your midst and He is the Lord of the church.

Christ was in the midst of the first Christian church in Philippi in the year 50 A.D. and He is still in the midst of the Watkins Glen Presbyterian Church in 2015.  As long as two or three meet in His name in this place, He is in your midst.  Last week, this week, and next week when you gather it is in His name.

Paul challenged the church at Philippi.  Don't drift off because I'm not with you.  Stick together.  Be forever in prayer, in worship, in witness, in caring.  This church is the body of Christ in Watkins Glen.
You need one another.  
This community needs you.  
The broken world needs you.  
God has put you here for a reason.  
He needs and wants you here.  
Hear the good news!

- Karen Rhodes, Clerk of Session

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Habitat for Humanity Update

On behalf of our congregation, the mission committee has been funding Habitat for Humanity for several years now and Habitat is on the verge of their first great achievement.

A groundbreaking ceremony for their very first house was held last year on May 5, 2014. The property on Havana Glen Road in Montour Falls was donated by Marcia Douglas and work began right away using funds that had been donated by the community and churches like us for several years. John King attended on behalf of our church and also spoke as mayor of Montour Falls.

A decision was made to build the house utilizing electrical heating standards including using solar panels to make the house extremely efficient energy wise. As a result, Schuyler County Habitat for Humanity has been listed as one of 183 Energy Star new builder and development partners.

Work has progressed so well that an official dedication and handover to the selected family will take place November 1 at 2:00pm. The house is located at 130 Havana Glen Road and everyone is welcome to attend.

Also, Habitat monthly meetings take place on the last Wednesday of the month at 7pm at the Silver Spoon Cafe located at the Human Services building in Montour Falls, all are welcome to attend. Habitat has expressed their gratitude for the continued support of our church.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

A Warm Welcome to Rev. Nancy Yao!

Welcome to our Interim Pastor, the Reverend Nancy Meehan Yao. 

Nancy is a graduate of Columbia Theological Seminary in Decatur, Georgia.  She was co-pastor, with her husband, James Yao, at the Hector and Lodi Presbyterian Churches from 2009 to 2013.  In 2013, she moved to a 1/4 time position with Hector Presbyterian Church leading and planning worship, youth, children and families activities, education and outreach.  In 2013, she also became a stated supply pastor for the First Presbyterian Church in Hammondsport on a 1/2 time basis.  Her responsibilities there included leading worship, pastoral care, moderating Session, leading new mission and outreach, education and renewal.  Nancy has had interim training, which means she will be well equipped to lead us through the transition to an installed pastor. 

Please join me in welcoming Nancy to our church and congregation starting November 16.

Thanks also to the pulpit supply pastors since Bev retired.  They include Rev. Fred Magley, Rev. John Kotun, Priscilla Andrews, Bob Sell, and Rev. Wayne Gusafson.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Active and Vibrant Ministers, All !

We are beginning the month of October and signs of Fall are all around us.  We had a wonderful celebration for Bev and we will miss her.  She will be able to travel, relax, visit friends and family, and look forward to her next adventure.  I know she will enjoy her retirement.

As our Pastor and Teaching Elder, Bev taught us all who were called to participate in the ministry of our church.

Ruling Elders are chosen by the congregation to discern and measure its fidelity to the Word of God, and to strengthen and nurture its faith and life.  Ruling Elders, together with teaching elders, exercise leadership, government, spiritual discernment and have responsibilities for the life of a congregation as well as the whole church, including ecumenical relationships.

The ministry of deacon as set forth in Scripture is one of compassion, witness, and service, sharing in the redeeming love of Jesus Christ for the poor, the hungry, the sick, the lost, the friendless, the oppressed, those burdened by unjust policies or structures, or anyone in distress.

The mission of our church is to bring people to Christ, witness Christ's love in our community, and equip our members to minister in the world with love and understanding for the glory of God.  Our committees reflect our mission.  The Worship & Music committee works closely with the minister to plan the best possible worship experience for the congregation. The Congregational Life Committee provides care, help and support to people in time of need and to provide opportunities to enjoy the fellowship of others.  The Christian Education Committee provides the Sunday School program to nurture our youth and the adult bible study group which continues year round now.  The Buildings & Grounds Committee continues the ongoing effort to maintain and preserve the integrity of the church property.  The Mission Committee spreads God's love through mission giving locally, nationally, and world-wide.  These, and more, are examples of our mission statement.

We are an active and vibrant congregation and will continue our ministry.  Have faith and patience.  We will go through the process of finding an interim minister first, and eventually, a full-time minister will be called.  The Interim Pastor nominating committee is working hard and this month a Pastor Nominating Committee will be formed and approved by the congregation.

All elders, deacons, and members of all of our committees are active members and represent our congregation.  We are a strong, vibrant, and active church and will continue to be such during this period of transition.

In Christ's Love,
Karen Rhodes, Clerk of Session

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Christian Education Update

The Sunday School year has gotten off to a happy, boisterous, energetic start.  Thank you to Dennis and Julie Morris for teaching the class in September and October.  There is still room for more!  Come, bring your children or grandchildren and join the fun.  Sunday School, for children and adults, meets every Sunday at 9:45.

Soup and Study will continue to meet on Wednesdays through out October from 6:00 to 7:15 p.m. We will be studying "The Fruits of the Spirit".  Look for each week’s reading and questions on the back table in the sanctuary. Come to one or all of the sessions as your schedule allows.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Thank You!

What a wonderful retirement celebration!  There was so much work and love and grace that went into the preparations.  Jeff and I had many happy times in the church and the manse and the beautiful painting of both will hang in the Arkport home as a constant reminder.  The Steuben glass owl hand cooler will be cherished.  It is a reminder of the wisdom I gained as we shared ministry together.  And the contribution to Cobblestone Springs is appreciated.  Cobblestone has been a place for me to go and find quiet and solitude. 

Thank you to the Sunday School for the very special song, to the “enhanced choir” and musicians for the beautiful music, to the kitchen crew and table setters for a wonderful and delicious banquet, and to all who spoke.  Thank you for the kind cards and notes and for the abundance of love you showered on both Jeff and me throughout the past eighteen years.

Much love,

Wednesday, September 16, 2015


September is often seen as a time of "beginnings". Teachers and students return to school and there is a change from when they left in June. Teachers have new students and students have new teachers. This month, in the life of the Watkins Glen First Presbyterian Church, there will be a change. Five months ago I announced my plan to retire as of September 30. Time has gone by quickly and now September is here. There will be a change for all of us. The pastoral relationship we now share will end. But please be assured friendships continue.

We must walk by faith as we face this transition. Frederick Buechner is quoted: "Remember that faith is more of a process than a possession. Faith is not being sure where you're going, but going anyway. A journey without maps."

As you face the upcoming transition of pastoral leadership, you are called to walk in faith. By faith, the church will continue to be involved in a vibrant ministry. This church has been providing ministry for 197 years. That's a long time. And it will continue to do so. Have faith. Have faith in the pastoral call process. It can be frustrating because the process doesn't move as fast as you would like. But the process is not simply hiring a new employee for the church. It is realizing that it is God who calls and it is you who will listen. The process is guided by Jesus Christ, who is the head of the church, who provides you with all that you need to be the church.

Thank you for the privilege of being your pastor. I ask for your prayers as I move on to the next chapter of my life. Be assured that I hold you in my heart and in my prayers as you listen to God to lead you by faith. In deep gratitude for the ministry we have shared during the past eighteen and a half years.

In Christ,

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Called to Love

Gracious God, we come before you today knowing that we often fall short of your call to love one another.  We allow ourselves to be blinded by wealth and power.  We ignore those around us who suffer injustice, poverty, and rejection.  We tune out the cries of the poor and those on the edges of our communities.  Forgive us, O God.

We have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit that is from God.

May we understand the grace and forgiveness bestowed upon us by God, that others may find the Kingdom within us and among us.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

An Affirmation of Faith

We trust in God the Holy Spirit, everywhere the giver and renewer of life.

The Spirit justifies us by grace through faith, sets us free to accept ourselves and to love God and neighbor, and binds us together with all believers in the one body of Christ, the Church.

The same Spirit who inspired the prophets and apostles rules our faith and live in Christ through Scripture, engages us through the Word proclaimed, claims us in the waters of baptism, feeds us with the bread of life and the cup of salvation, and calls women and men to all ministries of the Church.

In a broken and fearful world the Spirit gives us courage to pray without ceasing, to witness among all peoples to Christ as Lord and Savior, to unmask idolatries in Church and culture, to hear the voices of people long silenced, to work with others for justice, freedom, and peace.

In gratitude to God, empowered by the Spirit, we strive to serve Christ in our daily tasks and to live holy and joyful lives, even as we watch for God’s new heaven and new earth, praying "Come, Lord Jesus!"

Excerpt from a Brief Statement of Faith, 1983

Thursday, July 23, 2015

May You Be Blessed

A friend recently sent me the book May You Be Blessed by Kate Nowak. The author shares at the beginning of the book that she was standing in an empty aisle of a large chain store when suddenly she sneezed. Almost instantly, from the next aisle over she heard a voice call out, "Bless you," and then another, and another, and yet another. In the span of just a few seconds, she counted eleven different voices coming from every possible direction. Some said "God bless you", others used the word "gezundheit." All were blessing her.

Usually the phrase is no more than a courtesy. But on this particular day, in the first few moments following all those blessings, she says that she began to notice a difference in herself. There was a slight shift in perception that left her feeling more connected and empowered than she had in days.

To give a blessing is one of the most powerful and practical ways we have for reconnecting with each other. I vividly remember attending a camp conference as a teenager. The speaker for the camp stood next to me one day as we waited for the bell to ring signaling the okay to enter the dining room. As we stood together he put his hand on my head and said: "God bless you." That act made a profound impression on me and I did feel blessed.

Wouldn’t it be great if we could begin to focus on offering a blessing to one another in order to connect with each other and bring goodness and wholeness into our relationships? There is no one method to offer a blessing. A blessing can be a silent prayer "God, bless that person", or a spoken word which brings goodness. Mother Teresa has said: "When we are judging others, we have no time to love them." Let’s put our energy into loving one another and desiring the best for the other. When we are divided by pettiness we are not able to fully function as the Body of Christ.

The author, Kate Nowak, says that she doesn’t know for certain that her blessings have made a difference, but in her heart she thinks they have. And she does know they’ve made a difference in her. She writes: "Through this simple act of blessing I’ve been able to transform myself from being a worrier to a warrior for good."

"May we all come to live
in a world where everyone is blessed
by the presence of everyone else…
May we all come to know just how
beautiful such a world can be."

-Kate Nowak

May God bless you,
Rev. Bev Karr-Lyon

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Rest and Peace

Patient God, we need some time to rest, to sit quietly and listen to the beautiful sounds of the world. Forgive us when we are determined to crowd every moment of our lives with activity. Help us to find a quiet center with you where we can just relax and not try to get everything done as though life was some sort of a contest. Give us peace for a little while. Refresh our souls so that we can truly serve you, not out of exhaustion but out of enthusiasm.
Prayer of Confession for Sunday, July 19, 2015

Monday, June 1, 2015


Pastor's Message for June, 2015

On Pentecost Sunday, four of our young people publicly confessed their faith in Jesus Christ. They were members of the confirmation class and we met for six weeks to begin the journey toward church membership and faithful commitment to Jesus Christ. Confirmation is not an ending point where one joins the church and one’s faith journey comes to an end. It is only the beginning.

And so, as you move through a period of transition to new pastoral leadership, this is the time for all church members to reaffirm their faith and commitment to Jesus Christ and to the church. I would like to remind you of the questions asked at the time of uniting with the church.
  • Trusting in the gracious mercy of God, do you turn from the ways of sin and renounce evil and its power in the world?
  • Do you turn to Jesus Christ and accept him as your Lord and Savior, trusting in his grace and love?
  • Will you be Christ’s faithful disciple, obeying his Word and showing his love?
  • Will you be a faithful member of this congregation, share its worship and ministry through your prayers and gifts, your study and service, and so fulfill your calling to be a disciple of Jesus Christ?

Please take time to prayerfully consider these questions and affirm once again your desire to respond with an emphatic Yes! This is the time for all church members to be faithful in worship and to share in ministry through your prayers and gifts, and your study and service to fulfill your calling to be a disciple of Jesus Christ.

Grace and Peace,
Rev. Bev Karr-Lyon

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Our Mission

Our mission is

  • bringing people to Christ
  • witnessing Christ's love in our community
  • equipping our members to minister in the world
    with love and understanding for the glory of God

We hope that you will join us in worship and ministry this week!