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October Newsletter Deadline:

September 22nd

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From the Pastor's Desk

What is the church?

I can tell you this: when Paul was writing the majority of what we now consider the New Testament in the first century of the Common Era, he was not writing to a building. And when Jesus gave the Great Commission at the end of the gospel of Matthew, it had absolutely nothing to do with four, six, eight, or any number of walls.

The church is not a building of wood or stone, brick or mortar. 

The church is a group of believers. It is a family of faith. And I say family intentionally, because it carries with it all the joys and challenges that every family does. Born out of a group of misfits in hiding from those who held power following Easter morning, we have always been intended for something world-bending and life-changing. 

But over time we have become bogged down in the very real realities of human life. Campuses. Budgets. Programs. Capacities. Attendance records. Glory. Fame. Pride. Collapsing economies. Literal plagues. Rising tides. Corruption. War. Famine. Death. 

Here is the thing – we may be a business, but we are an operation like no other. Because we have specific job that was given to us by the true head of our organization. And that work, my friends, is the business of resurrection.  

We are about ensuring that new life is available to all the world around us.

This can look like any number of things, but it is far from limited by an afterlife. Jesus spent his time on earth bringing new life to everyone he met. And an essential part of continuing his ministry and being his church in the world is to do the works of love that Christ did.

The church is meant to be the body of Jesus Christ made manifest.

And that body is only truly being itself when it lives into resurrection by displaying all of who God truly is: kindness, mercy, grace, tenacity, justice, wholeness, hospitality, solidarity, and, always love.

It has never been about the building. The challenges. Or anything else that we so easily get caught up on.

It has always been about who the people are, because that is where Christ resides.


Pastor Janie

Together in Worship

Holy Communion

This month we will celebrate the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper on Sunday, September 3, 2023.

Did you know?

Baptism is one of two of the Sacraments in our Church. Instituted by Christ during his lifetime. Not only was Jesus baptized by John in the Jordan River, but he also commissioned his first disciples to baptize all those who would come after in the name of the Triune God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Baptism has always been the initiation rite of the Church, since even the earliest days. Whether the actual Sacrament is accomplished via aspersion (sprinkling), affusion (pouring), or immersion, those being baptized are washed in water, which symbolizes being buried into the death of Jesus Christ so that we might join with him in his resurrection. 

Although the early Church required multiple years of daily catechesis (study and worship), the Medieval Church eventually moved toward infant baptism, claiming the promises of God for our children. We have continued in this practice because we believe in our tradition that everything is about how God acts first in our lives.

However, this means that an essential part of how we “rightly” enact this Sacrament now is through vows that are taken by adults and others in these children’s stead, until they are old enough to do so themselves – which they usually do at Confirmation. These vows are taken in two or three or four parts, depending on the congregation and family.

The first portion of vows are always taken by the parents (or legal guardians) for their children, attesting to their own faith in Christ and promising to raise the children in the church. 

The possible second portion of vows can be taken by godparents or sponsors if they have been chosen by the family or congregation to help those raising the children more directly in the process of caring for and nurturing the younglings.

The next portion that is always present are vows that are taken by the congregation. These are promises made for the entire universal Christian church, including our whole denomination, and any other denomination where Triune baptism is accepted. These vows include praying for and being good examples to the children, guiding and nurturing them, loving and caring for them, encouraging them and helping them to know who Jesus is by word and deed.

The final possible set of vows are taken by the other children of the church. These promises are to help their cohorts if they fall down. To give them directions if they get lost. To play with them and to make them feel welcome.

And let me tell you something – the children I have met often have a far better understanding of their vows than even the adults. However, these promises that we renew with each successive baptism are an essential part of our communal life together. 

So, remember your baptism and all of our baptisms and be glad.

It is a new season, which means it is time to sign up for new dates to USHER in worship! A brand new calendar with all of the dates for the next couple of months is now available outside the Church Office. Contact Angela or sign-up directly to select your dates today!

Catch up on our Summer Sermon Series!

Join us in worship THIS SUNDAY for the grand finale of our #summersermonseries on: the Book of Genesis!

Sunday, June 4:

Creation in Genesis 1:

Good Movement

(click to the right)

Sunday, June 11:

Adam & Eve: Genesis 2 & 3

Something Completely Different

(click to the left)

Sunday, June 18:

Cain & Abel: Genesis 4

The Second Sin

(click to the right)

Sunday, June 25:

Noah: Genesis 5-9

Promises, Priomises

(click to the left)

Sunday, July 2:

The Tower of Babel: Genesis 11

Wondrous Variety

(click to the right)

Sunday, July 23:

Abraham & Sarah:

Genesis 12-22

Beauty & the Warlord

(click to the left)

Sunday, July 30:

Ishmael & Hagar:

Genesis 16 & 21

The Redheaded Firstborn

(click to the right)

Sunday, August 6:


Lot & Sodom:

Genesis 14, 18-19

Stories We Do Not Name

(click to the left)

Sunday, August 20:

Isaac, Rebekah,

Jacob & Esau:

Genesis 25, 27-28, 32-33

Hot on His Heel

(click to the right)

Sunday, August 27:

Jacob & Rachel:

Genesis 29-30, 32-33

A Seven Year Kind of Love

(click to the left)

Sunday, September 3:



Genesis 37, 39-50

The Baby Went Down to Egypt

Learning Together

Returns Sunday, September 10th @ 10:00 a.m.!!!

Preschool - Grade 6

Our children will begin their morning in worship and then go with their teachers to Sunday School following Children's Time.

Alpha Room: Preschool & Kindy

Starting with the basics, this class is for our youngest learners and prereaders as they dive into the stories from worship and the depths of God's love for them!

Room Off Church Nursery

Chi Room: Grades 1-3

Engaging the Bible stories from worship in greater depth, this class is geared for our next set of learners as they continue their walk of faith!

Sunshine Bible Room

Omega Room: Grades 4-6

For our oldest elementary students and younger tweens, we have a set of lessons that connect the Bible to their everyday lives!

The Library

Youth Group Selling Peaches!!!

To help support their Youth Mission Trip next Summer, the extra peaches from the Peach Festival have been canned and are being sold for $7 per jar. Please see Pastor Janie with any questions or to pick up one of the few remaining jars today!

Serving Together

Presbyterian Disaster Assistance

With Hurricane Idalia and the recent wildfires in Hawaii, many of us are wondering what we can do to help. Well, Presbyterian Disaster Assistance has boots on the ground everywhere that disaster strikes - whether those tragedies are natural or man-made. This essential mission arm of our denomination is working around the clock to bring hope in the midst of chaos. Click on the picture to the left to donate and make a difference today!

Caring Together

Please hold in prayer members of our church family and friends who are in special need: Britta Albright, Reggie Arford, Marlene Aurandt, Ann & Laird Benton, Nancy Buchanan, Eleanor Carson, Miriam Dalby, Michele Fiore, Anne Forsht, James Hammonds, Rodger & Sally Hammond, Paula Heim, Ticky Hendricks, Bobbi Hill, Jimmy Hines, Ron Kennedy, Peggy Marangony, Norma McPhee, Betty Meyer, Tristan Meyers, Booker & Janet Moore, Binky Moxin, Nancy Musselman, Eleanor Myers, Sarah Ocker, Diane Osgood, Ray Overdorff, Pat Parnell, Ed Pratt, Jill Reigh, Aleta & Brad Reist, Susan Reynolds, Tony Romano, June Slep, Doug Soisson, Carol Stultz, John & Diane Stultz, Brenna, Alex & Evan Tatusko, Bill & Deb Wandersee, Danny Whyte, Stacey Willis and Family, Avery Marie Wineland.

Please also hold our troops in your prayers, including Trent Sipes, Kyle Gardner, Andrew Rosamilia, Cameron Sellers, and Harrison Heim, who are directly related to our congregation. Pray for our leaders and the leaders around the world as they are making decisions in the coming days. And please pray for all those who find themselves in harm's way that they may know God's presence and that they will have what they need.

Pastoral Care Update:

About the Pastor

Hi all,

So, some of you may have noticed that I have been getting a lot of viruses and fevers this year, e.g. when I had the flu over Christmas and got bacterial pneumonia for a month after Epiphany. Or perhaps you have heard me mention that I was in a lot of pain in recent months.

Well, earlier this week, my doctors were finally able to pinpoint a diagnosis: fibromyalgia.

For those who are unfamiliar with this condition, fibromyalgia (FM) is a disorder that causes (often severe) pain in the musculoskeletal structure and affects the immune system, along with causing fatigue. Unlike autoimmune disorders that have been studied enough to have tried and true treatment plans, FM has several treatment options that require time and patience while the correct one is found through trial and error by one's medical team.

I have been waiting to share this news with the congregation until I had an actual diagnosis, though many of you have been aware that my pain from all of the summer storms has been acute.

As always, I am as grateful for your prayers and support as I have been since I first arrived here four years ago and we all took our vows to one another to stand by each other through both trouble and joy.

Thank you all for everything you do!


Pastor Janie

Giving Together

What does FPCH mean to you?

If FPCH were to close tomorrow, how would that impact your life? Your family? Our community?

Donate Now

Leading Together

Have a comment or concern?

If you have a concern, comment, question, or problem with Pastor Janie or the Church in general, Session now has a specialized team to listen and work directly with all parties involved to seek reconciled relationships and a healthier congregation. Their names and phone numbers are up around the worship space and entry hall, but just in case you need them, they are:

Alan Musselman

Leigh Casey

Joel Seelye

Session gathered for its first stated meeting of the new structure year on Tuesday, August 15, 2023. After spending time getting to know one another and approving an extensive set of minutes from the summer and special new member meetings, the budget was reviewed. An additional study was presented comparing 2022 to 2023 from January to August 13, which showed that on average, giving is down by $471 per month, while weekly attendance has increased from 42 on average last year to 48 this year. The Session planned to welcome the Treasurer of the Huntington Presbytery, Rev. Carl Campbell, at their upcoming Retreat on September 23, where the 2024 will be a major emphasis.

            As a result of requests coming from the Administrative Committee, both the General Presbyter of Huntington Presbytery, Kate Sillman, and official representative from the Committee on Ministry of Huntington Presbytery, Rev. Katie Hopper, were present with Session to both answer questions and mediate any concerns raised. One suggestion discussed was moving the senior pastor to part-time status as a method of cutting costs to the church. To do this, we would have to dissolve our pastoral relationship with our current pastor, Rev. McElwee-Smith. Rev. Hopper and Elder Sillman reviewed the steps in dissolving such relationships and explained the repercussions of such a decision, especially when no maleficence is involved. After discussion, Session voted that it would not be prudent to pursue part-time status or the dissolution of this call.

            Among the other items discussed, considerable time was spent discussing recent comments about the role and presence of the pastor’s children in the church family. Rev. Hopper and Elder Sillman reminded the Session of our congregational baptismal vows that apply to all children raised within our church, wherever they were baptized. As a result of these discussions, Session has resolved to continue to to find opportunities to support both Pastor Janie and her children and to work to provide all of our children the chance to grow and learn in grace as we learn the meaning of worship in our services.

            Lastly, it became very evident that we need a conduit for our congregation members who wish to share comments or concerns about either Pastor Janie or the church as a whole. Session felt this is essential to keep communication channels open so that clear discussions may occur to resolve any issues that may arise, rather than allowing such problems to fester to the point of emotional eruption, leading to fractured relationships and hurt feelings. To that end, Session has established a three-person team (see above) to hear and listen to concerns and hopefully meet with all parties involved to find a grace-filled resolution to all issues.

Did you know?

We are called Presbyterian because of our form of government. Unlike our episcopal friends who are structured with bishops (catholics, orthodox, lutherans, methodists), or our congregationalist friends who rely on the congregation to make almost every major decision (baptists, UCC, congregationalists, non-denominational) - we organize our governing structure around committees made up of elders. (The Greek word for "elder" is presbyteros.)

From the very lowest "council" in our denomination, a.k.a. a church's Session, through Presbytery (made up of a region of churches), and all the way up to General Assembly (the national level), every single governing body is made up of both "ruling elders" (lay leaders) and "teaching elders" (trained clergy). They share the responsibility of spiritually seeking God's guidance in all things by the grace of the Holy Spirit. And while the congregation will always have the right to vote upon its officers - ruling elders, deacons, and installed pastors - our Session has been charged with the responsibility of nearly every major decision for the local church. It is a gift and honor to serve our community in such a way and it is a burden that cannot be given away. So please, always hold our leaders in your prayers.

Presbyterian Cemetery Lots For Sale

Want to be laid to rest near the site of our church's founding? Contact John Stultz of Stultz Real Estate for more information, 814.695.4463.

Our Leadership Team


Rev. Janie McElwee-Smith, Moderator

Alan Musselman ('25), Clerk

Sally Unger, Treasurer

Gail Allen, Shannon Carper, Leigh Casey, Kathryn Gardner, Joel Seelye, Mark Shawley

Deacons - Pastoral Care & Mission

Nancy Michael, Moderator

Kathy Draskoczy & Binky Moxin, Co-Vice Moderators

Joe Carper, Barb Evans, Vicky Nyland, Pat Parnell, & Patricia Jabbeh Wesley

Administrative Committee

Dorothy Moore Liller & John Stultz, Co-Chairs

Gail Allen, Lois Beer, Susan Musselman, & Joel Seelye

Christian Education Committee

Becky Burns & Amanda Seelye, Co-Chairs

Lily Chestney, Kathy Draskoczy, Nancy Michael,

Mark Shawley, Nora Stanek, & Ashtyn Whyte

Fellowship & Outreach Committee

Leigh Casey & Brenna Tatusko, Co-Chairs

Sue Ann Hess, Lynette Luke, Rhonda Shawley, & Jessica Stanek

Property Committee

Brandon Burns, Bill Edwards, Kathryn Gardner, Erin & Doug Meyers,

Corey Stephens, & Dennis Zink

Worship Committee

Julia Benton & Catherine Cone, Co-Chairs

Laura & Shawn Cunningham, Alan Musselman, & Bonnie Ward


PDF Calendar

Our Staff

Rev. Janie McElwee-Smith, Pastor

Email: revjaniefpch@gmail.com

Walter Yatta, Music Director

Email: walyatta@verizon.net

Angela Koelle,

Church Administrator

Email: churchmouse10@gmail.com

Phone: 814.695.9019

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