Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Pastor's Message

As I write this, it is a few days after the election. Some of us are sad at the outcome, some of us are happy. All of us, I think, have been rocked by the divisiveness we have seen this past election season.

In the Bible, particularly in the books of I and II Kings, we are told of a series of monarchs: some are good, most are bad, for, we are told "they did not do what was right in the eyes of the Lord."

Our Christian hope is pinned not on earthly rulers, who are transient and fallible, but on Christ the King, who is eternal, who rules with justice, who is the Prince of Peace.

At Christmas, we are reminded, again, of the paradox of this: that the King we worship is a helpless baby, born in an out of the way place. That the ruler of the universe begins life as we did: no voice but a cry, no power but love, no wealth or worth, but the angels came to sing of the glory of this child.

Psalm 146 says "Do not put your trust in princes, in human beings, who cannot save." The psalm goes on to say: "Blessed are those whose help is the God of Jacob".

Friends, we are blessed, because the helpless baby who comes at Christmas is the same One who made the world, who saves us on the cross, and the One who rules for all time.

In the words of the angels: "Be not afraid, for behold, I bring to you good news of great joy, which shall be for all people: for to you is born this day a Savior, which is Christ the Lord."

Christ is born! May your Christmas be filled with Hope, Peace, Joy and Love. Amen.

Pastor Nancy

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Christmas! or "Whose Birthday is it, Anyway?"

Many families find the rush to the holidays stress making and, busy and ultimately... empty.  We love our children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews... but they can end up with so many toys and gifts they don't really remember or appreciate what they have received.  If Christmas is about Jesus' birthday, then why do WE get so many presents?

Some families have been looking for different, meaningful ways to celebrate Christ's birth.

#1 Four Gifts

Families report that limiting gifts to 4 per child gives them more time, more money, and more meaning and enjoyment in the gifts they do receive.

#2 Advent Calendars

Many families are reviving the Advent Calendar tradition - a way to help pass the time of waiting until Christ is born.  This year, beginning Nov 27 (the first Sunday in Advent), there will be kits for families to make their own Advent calendars that look like this:  Each tree is made up of strips of paper with Bible verses on them.  You could also put a task on the paper strips as well:  be a friend, help Daddy with a chore, send a card to a shut in, etc.

#3 A different kind of Advent Calendar

Rather than get something, each day of Advent, the child/family places a food item in the box, which is then donated to the local food pantry, or pet items which are donated to the local shelter.

#4 Alternative Christmas Gifts

Gifts which support others, or gifts which are produced by artisans. We will have Alternative Christmas Gifts at the December 18 Coffee Fellowship: Heifer International, PC(USA), and Church World Service all offer unique gifts for those who already have too many sweaters and scarves.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

God's Promises are Faithful, and We Respond in Faith

When we hear "stewardship" perhaps we cringe, or sigh, or reach for our pen and checkbook. Because we know what's coming, right? It's the pledge season at church. This fall, we have been hearing the stories of God's promises: to Abraham and Sara, to Isaac, to Moses and the people, to Hannah and David. God's Promises are Faithful... and we respond in Faith.

Stewardship is a positive word. It expresses not only what we do, but who we are. We trivialize stewardship in the church if we limit it to financial campaigns. Granted, the finances of the church are crucially important. The church cannot carry out its ministries and be God's mission to the world without financial support. Therefore, stewardship does surely embrace our financial commitments to the church. But there is more.

Stewardship is what we do with the resources we have been given by a generous God. What we do with resources expresses who we are.

So, truly, being a "steward" is a central metaphor for our Christian lives. Stewardship is all embracing.

Stewardship is the broadest possible image of who we are and what we do. To view our lives through stewardship is to open windows to new perspectives that can enlarge our vision and show us ways of living we never envisioned before.

We support the church financially to enable the church's ministries to take place.

To love as good stewards is a great gift. Good stewardship constitutes our response to a generous, loving God who created us and loves us and saved us in Jesus Christ. Stewardship is our life of gratitude to the God who loves and redeems creation in Jesus Christ. God's grace is given to us, and we respond in gratitude. This is the rhythm of our lives.

Pledges will be dedicated in church on Sunday, November 13. Please prayerfully consider how you will respond to God's Faithful Promises, and support this church.

Pastor Nancy

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Pastor's Message

Fall is my favorite time of year — the cool crisp weather, the beautiful leaves, and apples and pumpkins. This fall also marks a passage in the life of this church: It is one year since Rev Bev's retirement, and we are well on our way to calling a new pastor for this church. The Pastor Nominating Committee was elected by the congregation in August, and by the time you receive our newsletter, will already be commissioned for their work in worship, and will have begun meeting. This work is appropriately seen as ministry, not (just) serving on a committee.

"This is what God says, the God who builds a road right through the ocean,
who carves a path through pounding waves, the God who summons horses and chariots
and armies—they lie down and then can't get up; they're snuffed out like so many candles:
"Forget about what's happened; don't keep going over old history.
Be alert, be present. I'm about to do something brand-new. It's bursting out! Don't you see it?"

(Isaiah 43:16-19 - The Message Bible)

As we begin the journey to find new pastoral leadership, the next few months will be exciting, tedious, joyful, spiritually fulfilling, frustrating, inspiring, lengthy, and purposeful. The process is one of discernment and will challenge us as a congregation to listen closely for the will of God for its mission and ministry in this new stage of the congregation's life.

This is a new step of faith that will bring our congregation together around the common goal of identifying who God is calling to serve your congregation. Please pray for the Pastoral Nominating Committee, and whoever God is calling to serve as your next pastor.

Blessings!  Pastor Nancy

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Bazaar News!

The Holiday Bazaar is right around the corner and we hope all are thinking about this year’s "Street of Shops" bazaar. We are looking for people who would like to donate to the:

Confections Shop - homemade fudge, jellies, jams, breads, cookies, candies
Second Hand Shop - (please only unique gift items, any rummage sale style items will be discarded)
Christmas Shop - homemade Christmas ornaments, decorations, unique Christmas items
Crafters Corner - homemade items other than Christmas themed
Apothecary - homemade candles, healing ointments, lotions, and Raffle items are needed

We will also need help in the kitchen - serving a lite breakfast of coffee/pastry and then a lunch beginning at 11:00am.

This is such a wonderful time for fellowship, laughter and an opportunity to release our creative and crafty inner-selves. Come join in this special time of year.

Peacemaking Offering

On October 4th we will celebrate World Communion Sunday and receive the Peacemaking Offering.  The theme this year is from Ephesians 6:23 "Peace be to the whole community, and love with faith."  This offering supports a variety of peacemaking efforts.

On this day we join with Christians around the world to celebrate the unity that we find at the Table of the Lord.  We receive the Peacemaking Offering to support the efforts of our congregation, our presbytery, our synod, and the General Assembly to spread the peace and justice in places far and near.  25% of the offering will stay in our church, 25% is used by synods and presbyteries, and 50% is allocated to General Assembly ministries.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Where are We in the Journey?

On Sunday, August 21, 2016, immediately following worship, the congregation of Watkins Glen Presbyterian Church voted unanimously to elect 9 people to serve in the ministry of the Pastoral Nominating Committee.  The people who were elected are: Dannie Brown Anne Centurelli, Wendy Drake, Harriett Farrell, Rachel Houseknecht, John King, Marzi Lewis, Tom Weidemann, Ken Wilson. We give thanks to God that these people have said "yes" to serving God and the church in this way.

The Pastoral Nominating Committee (PNC) will begin their work together soon.  They will take the Mission Study Report (prepared earlier this summer, and approved by both our Session and the Committee on Ministry (COM) of the Presbytery), discern what characteristics, gifts and skills of a minister would best serve the ministry and mission of this church, and use that information to create what is essentially the church resume:  The Ministry Information Form.  After that form is completed and approved by COM, it will be placed on the Church Leadership Connection of the PCUSA.  Pastors and seminarians who are looking for pastoral calls also post their resumes, called Personal Information Forms (PIFs). Some PIFs will be sent automatically, through the matching feature of the system; others will be sent directly from people seeking calls.

In this technology savvy age, much of this will take place electronically:  the old days of getting stacks of paper resumes sent through the mail is over.  Potential candidates most often have sermons available for viewing on youtube or vimeo, and skype and conference calls are used for initial interviews.  All of this use of technology not only cuts down costs, but also allows the PNC to have a better idea of who is applying, and helps the search process enormously.

I hope that you will hold the PNC in prayer, will respect their decisions, will allow them the time and confidentiality to discern who God is calling to be your next pastor.  Please take some time to thank them for this ministry, as well as to thank the Nominating Committee for their work and discernment as well.

- Pastor Nancy

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Special Coffee Hour at the Manse

On April 10th the Deacons will be hosting a coffee hour at the manse.  This will be an opportunity for our church family to tour the future home of our new minister.  

The Building and Grounds committee along with a sub-committee are working hard planning necessary updates.  Estimates are being requested at this time.  Its anticipated work will begin soon and be competed by late fall.  We are looking forward to seeing you at this special coffee hour.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

"Soup"er Bowl of Caring

You’ve shown that you care about your neighbor through your participation in the "Soup"er Bowl of Caring.

This year we raised $408.00 and over 120 food items. We have participated for 18 years and raised a total of $3,118.00 and over 1080 food items.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

One Great Hour of Sharing

Around the world, people lack access to food, clean water, sanitation, education, and opportunity. Each gift to One Great Hour of Sharing (OGHS) serves to help change the lives of people in these challenging situations. The Offering provides us a way to share God’s love with our neighbors in need.

The three programs supported by One Great Hour of Sharing (Presbyterian Disaster Assistance, the Presbyterian Hunger Program, and Self-Development of People) all work in different ways to serve individuals and communities in need.

From initial disaster response to ongoing community development, their work fits together to provide people with safety, sustenance, and hope. In 2015 the three programs supported by One Great Hour of Sharing reached out in the following ways:

  • Superstorm Sandy: Ongoing response includes nine PDA-related sites serving communities in New York and New Jersey. More than 7,900 Presbyterians have volunteered their time and efforts.
  • Hunger action programs: Partnered with 32 presbyteries with hunger action enablers to leverage $1.6 million for local, national, and international hunger work.
  • The Presbyterian Committee on the Self-Development of People continues to work with low income communities across the United States to overcome oppression and injustice, including the focus areas of New Orleans, Detroit, Baltimore, and Los Angeles. In 2015, SDOP entered into partnerships with 20 self-help projects in the United States, focusing on literacy, human rights, rehabilitation, and skill development.

Please be prayful as you consider your gift to One Great Hour of Sharing, received on Easter Sunday, March 27, 2016.

Easter Flowers

If you would like to purchase Easter Flowers for the front of the sanctuary, please contact the church office by Sunday, March 20.
Attention: Easter Flowers
First Presbyterian Church
520 N. Decatur St,
Watkins Glen, NY 14891


We must receive a form with the following options:




Contribution: __________________ $15.00 each

In Memory of:


In Honor of:


Given by:


_____ I will leave the flower for the sanctuary.

_____ I will take the flower and deliver it to a shut in. 

_____ I will take the flower after worship on Easter Sunday.


Volunteer Opportunity

The Food Bank of the Southern Tier sends a Mobile Food Pantry to St Mary’s/Schuyler Outreach the 1st Saturday of every month.  Volunteers help distribute the food that comes to needy people in our community.  The next Food Truck is Saturday, March 5.  Volunteers are asked to show up at 9 am, and the food distribution begins at 10 am.  Won’t you help?

Also, there are opportunities to volunteer (1x or on a continuing basis) at the Food Bank itself, in Elmira.  This is an interesting way to spend a morning, afternoon or evening- volunteer shifts are 2-3 hours long.  There are snacks, breaks, and sometimes even karaoke!  If you would be interested in this, please let Pastor Nancy know- we need to sign up to volunteer as a group.

Daylight Savings Time!

Remember to turn your clocks ahead one hour on the evening of Saturday, March 12

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

“Very early on the first day of the week….”

The Gospel of Mark has a confusing, somewhat chaotic, short and urgent Easter morning account and ending. But it begins "very early on the first day of the week…" which is a clue about what is to happen… or rather, that what has happened in Easter is the start of something entirely new.

In Easter, in the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, God has defeated sin and death. God has made a new creation — in us, and in the world. The old is gone, behold! The new has come! (2 Corinthians 5:17)

The angel tells the women at the tomb that Jesus is not there, but to go back home to Galilee, and that Jesus has gone ahead of them and they will see him there.

They will find Jesus at home, in the ordinary days and areas of their lives.

What Good News! We do not only experience God in the mountaintop moments or even only in the depths of despair and chaos, but we experience God in our ordinary, day to day lives. But everything is new, now — our work, our lives, our families, our days. We are new, because of God’s grace given to us and to the world in Christ’s resurrection. Glory to God. Alleluia! May you know deep blessings this Easter season and always.

Pastor Nancy

Monday, February 1, 2016

An Early Lent

Lent begins this year on February 10, as it always does, with Ash Wednesday.

Ash Wednesday is a day reminding us of our mortality, our sin, our penitence…but most importantly, of God’s forgiveness and grace.

This year, though, with Lent beginning so early, I am especially reminded of how dark and cold and alone the world can feel. Lent often begins with a reading or meditation on Jesus in the wilderness. 

Mark’s description of this is, like almost all of Mark, short and to the point. Jesus had just been baptized in the Jordan by John.  And then: “the Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness.  He was in the wilderness forty days, tempted by Satan; and he was with the wild beasts and the angels waited on him.” (Mark 1:12-13) When we teach this story to young children, we ask “wondering” questions about this: 
I wonder what it is like to be alone in the desert for such a long time….?
I wonder what Jesus and God talked about in the desert…?
I wonder if it was hard for Jesus to say “no” to the evil one…?

The children are not to answer out loud, rather they are to wonder about these things deep in their hearts, because the mystery of God in Christ is not a puzzle to be solved, but rather a grace to be received with gratitude.

I have some wonderings of my own:
When you feel most alone, how do you notice and remember God?
Have you ever had a time when you felt you were in a wilderness?
What was it like to be among both wild beasts and angels?

Lent is described as a journey of 40 days.  May we find our way through this journey of Lent to the joy of Easter.

Pastor Nancy

Saturday, January 30, 2016

90 second sermon: Mark 6

90 second sermon Mark 6
Posted by Nancy Meehan Yao on Monday, January 25, 2016

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Mission Study

"Without a vision, the people perish" says Scripture. (Proverbs 29:18)

A Mission Study must be completed before this church can begin to call your next pastor.  But a periodic Mission Study and review is a good idea and practice for any church.

The three questions all churches must ask themselves are:
  • Who are we? (identity)
  • Who is our neighbor? (mission)
  • What is God calling us to be and do? (vision)

I am looking for people to help with the Mission Study throughout this interim time.  We will have small group conversations, reflect on a number of things, share with the congregation what we are finding, and document these findings in a report that will be submitted to the congregation and the Presbytery.

Although this might sound like a lot of work, it will be interesting, fun and spiritual—we will have an intentional time to reflect on where we experience God in and through this congregation, where we think God is calling us next, and how we might serve God and neighbors in this particular time and place. There will be meetings throughout the year, but the work will not be too difficult.

I hope you will join me as part of the Mission Study Team—I will be reaching out to you, and hope to have a diversity of voices and people to help on this journey of exploration, vision and discernment. If you are interested in joining in this work, please let me know!  I look forward to meeting with you.

Pastor Nancy

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Local Missions: 2015 Update

With Session approval, the Mission Committee dispersed the remainder of our 2015 local mission money as follows:
  • Christmas families
  • Presbyterian World Mission
    (This funding is matched dollar for dollar so our gift doubles!)
  • Schuyler Outreach
    (These monies are designated for fuel, prescriptions and personal care items.)
  • Food Bank of the Southern Tier
  • Haiti mission

Thank you for being a blessing, both here and abroad!

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

A Prayer for Epiphany

On entering the house,
they saw the child with Mary his mother;
and they knelt down and paid him homage.
Then, opening their treasure chests,
they offered him gifts of
gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

-  Matthew 2:11

Lord God, Heavenly Parent, You have given us the light of your Holy Word, the guiding star that leads us to the Christ child.  Send, we pray, your Holy Spirit into our hearts, that we may receive this light and walk in your light.

May we, like the wise ones who were seeking the star, not be afraid because of any hardship or peril, but put all our trust in your Son, our savior.  May we devote ourselves and our gifts to the advancement of your kingdom, and in all things serve him in this coming year, and in all our lives. 

Taken from Out of the Ordinary
© 2000 by Joyce Rupp

Sunday, January 3, 2016

History and Heritage

We can’t know where we are going until we know where we have been.  The first task of an Interim time is to look at our heritage, and also to deepen our connections to one another and to God.

There are a number of small group opportunities coming up, to talk about the history of this church, YOUR history with it, and where you feel God is calling us next.

  • Sunday, January 3
    9:45am at the Adult Sunday School (meets in the Allen Room)
  • Wednesday, January 13
    6:00 pm at our first Soup & Study (meets in the Fellowship Hall)
  • Friday, January 22
    10:00 am with coffee and conversation (meets in the Fellowship Hall)

If you are able to attend one of these times, please call the church office to let us know. I welcome other times and conversation. Please let me know if none of these times are convenient.

Pastor Nancy

Friday, January 1, 2016

Holiday Bazaar: Street of Shops

We would like to thank all of you who helped to make this event a success. We raised $1800 during the event. It could not have happened without all of the helpers who supplied items, food, and/or hours helping before, during and after the event. It’s not too soon to be thinking about and collecting unique gifts for next year. Thanks again.

The Lord has blessed us with great help and support by all.

God Bless All of You!!   
    Anita Scata

Resolutions— and Change

It is a new year—we have flipped the pages over on the calendar.  Many of us have made resolutions to make some changes in our lives:  get more exercise, eat better, read Scripture daily.

Change is difficult. Psychologists tell us it takes at least 6 weeks for a change to take hold, and move from something we struggle with to being a habit.

Sometimes change is imposed upon us, whether we want it or not.  The mainline church as a whole has been experiencing change, as has this congregation. 

In 3 years, this church will celebrate 200 years of mission and worship.  The world today is much different than it was in 1818.  The "heyday" of the mainline Protestant church was 1965— those were our glory days, the height of church influence on society, the days when the pews were filled and the Sunday school rooms were overflowing.

But society has changed, and we tend to get nostalgic when looking back at our past. We think: once we were great and glorious, and now we are not.  Things were better back then.  But such romanticism keeps us from seeing the ministry right in front of us.  Such pining for the past can keep us from being the church that Christ is calling us to be today.

As part of this interim time together, the first "task" is to look at our history and heritage.  We appreciate where we have come from, we celebrate the accomplishments God has granted to us, we are honest in looking back on our failings….but we do all this so we can know where we are, right now, so we can better see what ministry God is calling us to join in.  This January, there will be formal and informal groups to talk about and celebrate the history of this church—I hope you will join us— more information will follow.

The world will not be as it was in 1965, or 1909, or 1818.  But God is here with us now.  God, whose steadfast love is unchanging, goes with us and calls us into the future He is creating. God, who comes to us as Immanuel, "God with us", is here as we live in this interim time together.

Pastor Nancy