January Newsletter

A Message From Rev. Dr. Michael Smith

Happy New Year Family,

Hope you had time to read the “2022 in Review” information (also shown below under Generous Giving Fruits) which shared all of the awesome things God accomplished through you, the Saints of God. I am very excited about what God has in store for us all in 2023. My goal as your pastor is to equip and empower you to fulfill your destiny while on earth. When Paul wrote his letter to the Saints in Ephesus he said, “So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.” Ephesians 4:11-13. 

Our Comfort Room is under construction, and we will use the Christmas Hope Offering to offset the expenses plus build another house in Jamaica when we travel there in February. I pray you are ready to grow in your relationship with Jesus this year, by being willing to step out of your comfort zone to bless others. Look for upcoming opportunities to serve and grow in your faith.

Jesus is Enough

Pastor Mike

Unbroken Conference Testimonies

Pastor Mike, Rich Whitlatch, Joe Vinci, and John Ralston had the opportunity to attend a conference entitled "Unbroken" during which they leaned about inner healing and how God can set you free from pain and bring freedom and wholeness to yourself and others.

 It was powerful.

"The conference was centered on having a deeper more personal experience with God, and especially focused on dealing with grief and trauma. There was an atmosphere of expectation that the the Holy Spirit was going to minister to needs and change lives. The conference included charismatic worship, and speakers that delivered wonderful encouraging messages. 

I was especially blessed by the testimony of a combat veteran who received a miraculous inner healing from the PTSD he had been struggling with, as well as the session dealing with overcoming grief. I would recommend the conference to anyone wanting a more active, personal relationship with God."

~ John Ralston

Pastor Mike asked me if I wanted to go to a conference in Pennsylvania. I like to try new things, so I said yes. It ended up being Pastor Mike, John Ralston, Rich Whitlatch, and myself. The 6-hour ride was full of fun and fellowship, and we learned new things about each other.

When we got to the hotel, we checked in. I didn't know what to expect, but when the Praise Team started to play, it was uplifting! The speakers were exceptional and at times during the different sessions, I could feel the presence of the Holy Spirit, and I am not one who would normally say something like that. I was given new tools to improve my dealing with issues in my life. I feel blessed that I went and would go again!

~ Joe Vinci

Pictured below is Joe being honored for serving in the Military during the

Unbroken Conference.

At first, I was leery about attending the Global Awakenings Seminar. I prayed about it, and felt God was telling me that it might help me. I am having a hard time recovering from the sudden death of my wife. The topics that were being presented all pertained to my situation. I was extremely anxious, very depressed, and the grief was so painful that sometimes I could hardly function. I felt alone and lonely. I still prayed everyday but was looking for more direction in my new life.

This seminar focused on healing the inner self. To help heal the body and soul. To help heal a broken heart and bring inner peace and comfort to those who are suffering. The speakers and topics were all things that I am dealing with - the grieving process and the guilt and anger, the ability to forgive and also to get past the bitterness toward others. It reminded me that God is in charge and that we can rely on Him in all things. It will take me more time to find my new normal, but I am not alone because God is beside me.

~ Rich Whitlatch

Special Congratulations for Alison Blondheim

Congratulations to Alison Blondheim who was elected and commissioned as the Muskingum Valley Presbytery Stated Clerk.

PCUSA Polity

The Constitution of the Presbyterian Church - Book of Order 

Identifies the Foundations of Presbyterian Polity

The Theology of Christian Worship

W-1.0203: Space

Because heaven and earth belong to God, we may worship in any place. The Old Tes- tament describes stone altars, tabernacles, temples, and other places where the people gath- ered and encountered God. The Gospels tell us that Jesus worshiped at the synagogue and temple, but he also worshiped in the wilderness, on hillsides, and at lakeshores, demon- strating that God cannot be confined to any one place.

The first Christians worshiped at the temple and in synagogues, homes, catacombs, and prisons. The important thing was not the place, but the gathering of Christ’s body— the people of God—and the presence of Christ among them in Word and Sacrament. Later the Church began to build special places to meet for worship. To this day, space for Chris- tian worship is primarily established by the presence of the risen Lord and the communion of the Holy Spirit in the gathering of the people of God.

Space that is set apart for worship should encourage community, be accessible to all, and open us to reverence for God. It is not to be an escape from the world, but a place for encountering the God of all creation who gathers us in and sends us out. Space for Christian worship should include a place for the reading and proclamation of the Word, a font or pool for Baptism, and a table for the Lord’s Supper. The arrangement of these symbols of Word and Sacrament conveys their relationship to one another and their centrality in Christian worship.


Discipleship Activities

Adult Sunday School

Adult Sunday School continues to meet in Fellowship Hall at approximately 10:05 A.M.

Please take time to get a beverage and snack and greet other worshippers before gathering for class. A new session begins on January 8: The Book of Titus by Chip Ingram. This series will continue through February. Sam Martin will facilitate the discussion.

There will be no Adult Sunday School January 1 or January 29 (Fifth Sunday). There will be only one worship service at 10:00 A.M. on these Sundays.

Wednesday Zoom Bible Study

A new 8-week study entitled "Spiritual Gifts" will begin on January 4. The beginning of the new year is a great time to commit to a Bible study! If you wish to join the group, please email Joyce Greek at muske75@sbcglobal.net or Peggy Fix at pfix@neo.rr.com to be added to the zoom link.

Youth Group

Youth Group will continue to meet in 2023 with some exciting changes. Michaela Morris and Pastor Mike Smith will join Caleb and Savannah Van Zant in leading the group. The leadership team met December 27 and will discuss new possibilities for study with the youth at their next meeting. The new church van will make more field trips possible. See the bulletin and group chat for updates.

Junior Warriors

An exciting JUNIOR WARRIORS program is planned for January. Watch bulletin and Opportunities for details.

Young Adults

Young Adults enjoyed a Christmas party December 19 which included watching Christmas movies, having a Dirty Santa gift exchange and, of course, food. The group will begin studying the book of Judges on January 9.

The Discipleship Council is planning some exciting programs for 2023. Be watching for details.

Empowered Young Men

Empowered Young Men are young men who are committed to fulfilling their God ordained destiny on earth. These men are committed to reading a daily devotional and gathering every other week to share life. If you would like to be a part of this group, feel free to text Mike at 330-413-9441.

Men's Bible Study

The Men's Bible Study, led by Pastor Mike and Sam Martin, meets every Tuesday at 9am. All men are welcome! Please contact Pastor Mike if you're interested in joining.

Women's Bible Study

The Women's Bible Study meets every Tuesday at 9:45am. All women are welcome! Please contact Martha Meadows with any questions.


Healing Service Testimonies

John Knox Church had its first Healing Service on December 13. Many people received a much needed touch from God.

"First of all, I wasn't sure what to expect out of a healing service. Very early into the informal service, there was an intense presence of the "Holy Spirit." The praise team songs were very beautiful, enlightening and inspirational throughout the service.

I was led up front after the service where many prayer partners were there waiting for those who wanted personal prayers. Forgiveness was definitely needed in my life and was enforced repeatedly throughout the service. "We need to forgive before we are forgiven. We also need to forgive the ones who are no longer with us here on earth if they have wronged us in any way."

There were three people in my life whom I hadn't completely forgiven. I actually had to say each person's name out loud and why I hadn't forgiven them. They also stated that if you backslide, talk to God and say I've already forgiven this person and why. This was profound and certainly wasn't planned by any means. They also prayed for some physical ailments for myself and a family member. I've never felt so peaceful and my body actually felt lighter and tingly after this glorified experience.

I briefly spoke to someone else after and we both agreed that we both felt blessed and were led to go to this divine service. It is now and forever embedded in my future. You need to forgive before you will be forgiven..."

~ Kathy Bair

"I came to the Healing Service with the hopes of getting pain relief in my back. After the beautiful service, I went up front to be prayed over and through talking with Ivana (I think that was her name) and Pastor Mike, I soon discovered God had other intentions for me with what I needed relief from. My emotional well being has not been good with all the pain I am experiencing and the pain meds I am on have taken a toll on me and changed me into a person I am not happy with AT ALL! I am so depressed and easy to anger especially with the ones closest to me. I just feel terrible with some of the things I have said and done! While being prayed over, all of a sudden I took a big gasp, which came out of no where, and breathed out and felt the release of all these feelings of feeling like a failure, a disappointment, weak, mean and many other feelings. Then Ivana said the word forgiveness kept coming to her through her praying, And Mike said the same thing. They were spot on. I am so hard on myself and beat myself up all the time. Mike asked me to say "God I know you forgive me and God I forgive myself." I repeated those words a few times and oh my gosh the feeling of relief came over me so strong. Ivana said "look at you Nancy, you came up here with your shoulders all forward and you are now standing tall and straight with confidence." It was absolutely amazing! I have continued to say those words since that night and it is helping. Thank you, thank you, thank you to Ivana and Mike for this gift of letting it all go."

~ Nancy Collins

"On December 13, I attended my first Healing Service. I did not know what to expect. Quite honestly, my mind went to the old style evangelists that my friends and I laughed at on tv when I was a teenager. I was pleasantly surprised and emotionally overwhelmed. Pastor Mike's message of forgiveness hit me like a sledge hammer. I am an extremely private person. I have never been able to show emotion publicly or to share my problems and worries. Imagine my surprise when I found myself sobbing and praying with a complete stranger from The Total Living Center. I came to the service with hopes of some relief from physical pain that had been crippling me for years. I was finally able to let go of my anger and resentment toward my Dad. I will forever be grateful for this."

~ Denise Nims

January 1 and January 29 Worship Services

There will be one Service of Carols at 10am on January 1 with no Junior Church or Sunday School.

There will be one service at 10am on January 29 with no Sunday School. There will be Junior Church. Come and celebrate 10 of our youth that will be joining the church that morning after spending approximately one year studying and learning about their faith.

Poinsettia Dedications

Thank you for your generous participation.

A/V Coordinator & Contemporary Worship Director

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year! It's been an incredible blessing to put on so many special services this Advent season. I'm looking forward to all the ways that our church family will continue to worship and grow together this coming year, starting with our next combined service on January 29th. The Lord is certainly working through our congregation, and I'm very thankful to be a part of it. 

Yours in Christ,

Rob Clifford

A/V Coordinator & Contemporary Worship Director

John Knox Ringers

It's hard to believe we are halfway through our 'season' with The John Knox Ringers! I'm working to determine their spring schedules and availability (by far the hardest part of the job), and am excited that a new ringer will join us in January. However, for a period of time, I will be losing a current ringer to surgery and another to a month long snowbird trip! As Job mentioned, the Lord giveth and He taketh away!

You may have read that I was ill with covid for several weeks prior to our December presentation. But in the spirit of "the show must go on," Charlene Dombrowski, one of our Ringers who has directing experience and who is a member of the local advanced ensemble The Harmony Ringers, stepped in for several weeks while I recovered. I hope you enjoyed the contemplative, "I Wonder as I Wander," played in December.

We will be playing again on January 22nd and have just a quick 3 weeks to rehearse so we will do uncomplicated versions of "Come Worship the King" and "To God be the Glory" while also getting started on the more difficult February piece. Thank you for supporting this unique music ministry!

Laurel Walczyk

Director of Handbells

Congregational Care
Intercessory Prayer Team (IPT)
If you enjoy praying or have felt God leading you to pray for others, we can surely use you on our team! There are no tryouts, practices, or being cut from the team! All you have to do is ask to be on this team and we will welcome you with open arms. When a prayer request comes into the church, we send out an email to you, explaining what the prayer need is. Then it is entirely up to you how to pray for that request. If you are interested in joining us, contact the church office.

Grief Support Group

No matter what the circumstance, grief recovery is a painful process. We hear about the loss of loved ones through caring and concerned friends, neighbors, and the church family. We also can be found online. This is to let you know about a special seminar and support group that we sponsor for people dealing with the loss of a family member.

Our goal is not to get anyone to contribute money or to sell anything. We understand how deeply grief and loss hurt people and families, and we simply wanted the public to know about our GriefShare group. It’s a place where many people have found they can begin putting their lives back together again.

There are brochures available in the church entrance telling about our GriefShare group. You may notice there is a small fee to attend, which helps cover our expenses. Scholarships are available.

Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions, or if you would like more information about GriefShare. We would welcome the opportunity to meet you.

Diana Jones       



GriefShare meets Mondays 6-8 pm. 

The next session runs January 30 – May 8, 2023 in Room 137. 

Go to GriefShare.org for more information and for locations of a church near you.

Blue Christmas Service

a service of worship, a comfort for many

We praise God for the Holy Spirit who comforted many people during the

Blue Christmas service here at John Knox on December 20.

Birthdays/Anniversaries Celebration

It's time to celebrate! Our next monthly celebration for all birthdays and anniversaries will be on SUNDAY, JANUARY 8 immediately following the 9am worship service. Please stop by and grab a cupcake and join us as we celebrate!

Thank you again for everyone's support of this First Sunday celebration!

Prayer Shawl Ministry

Everyone is welcome to join us January 30 at 6:30pm in the ehurch parlor to knit and crochet prayer shawls and baby blankets.

Ministry and Mission

Community Outreach

Thank you to the many JKPC families who generously gave of their time, money, and love so that other local families could experience a more joyful Christmas. We provided presents for seven families comprising 29 individuals. Be on the watch as several of these folks may appear to worship with us.

Later this month we begin engaging in our tabletime ministry with students at Stark State College and Kent Stark. If you desire more information about dates Jan 25 and Feb 8 at Stark State, please contact Sue Lyon. If you desire more information about Feb 1 at Kent Stark, please contact Martha Gerber. Sign-up sheets are available at the Connection Center.

The scheduling of our Mystery Readers to Campus Preschool (downstairs) is underway and is now being coordinated by Judy Southwood. If you desire to be involved in reading to infants or preschool aged children, please contact Judy. Reading takes place on Wednesdays or Thursdays each week beginning at 3:00 pm.

The Junior Warriors activity in January is combined with an outreach to the Good News Club families and the older preschool children’s families. Children aged 4 through 5th grade are invited to join us Sunday, Jan 22 at 2:00 pm for a fun time which includes a video, lesson, game and POPCORN. Parents/grandparents are encouraged to stay and enjoy the activities with their family member. In order to help us better plan, please use our website (JKPC.org) to RSVP the child’s name, age/grade, and the number in the family attending.

Thank You from Sarah Allison

Local Director of Good News Club

Total Living Center

Christmas Dinner at the Total Living Center was great! A big thank you to all the volunteers that served which included members from 4 Presbyterian Congregations - John Knox, Church of the Covenant, Minerva and Redurban Presbyterian Church. We enjoyed delicious food, live Christmas music, a Christmas play, Santa Claus, Christmas Grocery box with meat, and the Ultimate Christmas Party (Bible class) for the kids.

John Knox Food Pantry

Throughout 2022, our John Knox Food Pantry has served 564 households and

1,456 people, and has provided a total of 30,576 meals.

Our next Food Pantry Distribution will be on Saturday, January 21, 2023 from 9am-12pm.

J-Team - Mike, Jayne, and Jase Kauffman

This is the day the Lord has made; We will rejoice and be glad in it. Psalm 118:24

People’s eyes often light up when they find out that we live in Jamaica for part of the year. “JAMAICA?!” The picture in their minds is us sitting on the beach, sipping a pina colada on vacation. We have to explain that even though the weather is beautiful and we can see the Caribbean Sea from most rooms in our house, the needs, both physical and spiritual, are overwhelming. On this last trip, I (Jayne) found that I had started to miss all the beauty of God’s creation around me. Even though it IS the day the Lord has made, no matter where we are, we are human and are tempted to look at all the things that aren’t beautiful or aren’t happening. I would sit on our veranda in the morning, forcing myself to notice the sea, the foliage, and all the beauty around me. It sounds crazy, I know. However, may this be our reminder, regardless of WHERE we are geographically or what the weather is like or what’s going on in our family, that the Lord DID make today. He gave it to us as a gift and may we use that gift to share THE greatest gift of all time—his Son, Jesus Christ. 

Our family is growing…

We’re excited to announce that Baby Girl Kauffman should be arriving around mid March. Jase is extremely excited to have a baby sister and we are also SO grateful for this gift. That being said, this has been a very rough pregnancy for Jayne. Please pray for her strength, energy, health and general feelings of well being as we head into these last 14 weeks. 

Life in Jamaica…

We arrived back in Jamaica on Oct 18th. A few days later, a work team from our sending church arrived. They were a tremendous help, painting most of the interior of the house, doing some odd projects, sewing curtains, and doing some landscaping. It was an encouragement to get to know much of the team better and an encouragement to see them work in their giftings.


At the same time, our 2 Jamaican ministry staff members, Nickalous Walsh and Kezia Jones, began Teams Faith Academy. On Wednesdays, 9-11 year olds come for an activity, Bible lesson, and snack. The same happens for 12-16 year olds on Thursdays and 6-8 year olds on Friday. The programs run even when we aren’t on the island. While we are there, we are very involved and when we are back in the States, we oversee Nick and Kezi. We are excited to see Nick and Kezi use their gifts to deepen relationships in the Huddersfield community. 

We continue to teach basketball and have a devotional time a few times a week. While we typically have 10-15 on any given night, we are focusing on a core group of about 6-8 young men to build into on a deeper level.

Omar, our foreman and go-to guy for everything, had expressed interest in being discipled on this trip. Mike and John now meet with him over WhatsApp once a week while we are home and, in person, while we are back in Jamaica. It is going well and an encouraging time for the three of them. Omar has been a huge blessing to the ministry and also to us, as a family. He also does a lot of mentoring on the work sites and in the community. We are excited to see him pursue spiritual growth. Please keep him and his family in your prayers.

Support update…

We are so grateful to our faithful prayer and financial partners! We’ve been so blessed by the people God has brought alongside us in this journey. Due to the addition to our family and the increase in cost of living, TEAMS has increased our monthly support need. We have a current need of $490/month. If the Lord is leading you to increase your monthly support, give a one time gift or start supporting our ministry monthly, go to www.t4mm.org/donate.

Please pray for…

For Nick and Kezia as they lead the weekly programs. For wisdom as we oversee them.

For Mike and John as they disciple Omar and for Omar as he seeks to grow spiritually.

That the Lord would provide additional prayer and financial partners needed for our ministry with T4MM.

Merry Christmas! May you know the Lord and his presence in a deeper way in this holiday season. We are so grateful for you.


Mike, Jayne, Jase and Baby Girl


Session Highlights - December 10, 2022

At a special meeting on December 10, the JKPC Session met to conduct a couple items of business. First, the 10 confirmands had submitted their statements of faith, and Session unanimously approved them for membership in our church. They will be publicly recognized as new members on Sunday, January 29, 2023, at 10:00am.

Secondly, Session has decided to start a bible study together in January 2023. We will meet once a month and discuss Twelve Ordinary Men, a study about the twelve apostles. This will be a wonderful opportunity for your Session to bond and get to know each other better.

Financial Corner

Receipts in November: $92,589.33

Expenses in November: $73,584.41

Net income          $19,004.92

A Word From The Finance Office

The Session recently appointed Cheryl Hawkins as our new treasurer. Cheryl and I will meet weekly to discuss the finances of the church. Monthly, she will provide insight into the financial reports provided to Session. Please don’t hesitate to contact Cheryl or myself with any church related financial questions or concerns. 

We continue to be in the black each month thanks to your generosity! Offering envelopes for the new year are here and will be available in the lobby for you to pick up. Giving statements will be available before the end of January. May you have a happy and blessed new year!


Tina Young, Financial Secretary 

Generous Giving Fruits

You JKPC saints are so awesome. You continue to give of your prayers, volunteer time, and financial support. 2022 was a wonderful year for our church!

“Followers of Jesus sharing God’s love, one relationship at a time.”

Over 100 worship services held to glorify God! And our fifth Sunday combined worship services began. 

Over 150 discipleship classes to equip members with God’s word!

Our Food Pantry served 503 households, 1303 people, and 27,363 meals. 

10 youth spent over forty hours growing their faith in Jesus Christ, and two youth received Jesus as their Lord and Savior. Our youth also met with young adult leaders to grow their faith. 

Our chancel choir and praise team have spent Wednesdays practicing and Sundays leading us to sing to Almighty God! Rob Clifford was promoted to Contemporary Worship leader. 

Many members gave their hearts and time to serve at the Total Living Center, prayer shawls were given to many people in need, and baby blankets were given to the Pregnancy and Parenting Center. Other ministries included Good News Club, Ministries to Stark State and Kent State, reading to the preschool kids, and Bibles were given to new freshmen attending Malone University.

Members flew to Jamaica to pray and give medicine to hundreds of Jamaicans.

Missionaries, John & Linda Heater and Mike & Jayne Kauffman were given systematic financial support to be missionaries in Jamaica.

Many local families were given prayers, financial support in their time of need, and presents for families in our community this Christmas!

Calvary Presbyterian & John Knox Presbyterian came together as one big Jesus family to worship and serve our Savior, Jesus Christ. We welcomed Tina Young as our new Financial Secretary and Bob DeMass as our new choir director. 

Sixty people joined the church this year!

Many people spent hours being ministered to through Grief Share classes!

A new Transportation Ministry began!

A Board of Deacons was established!

A Blue Christmas service, along with Easter and Christmas Cantatas, ministered to our members and the community! 

Our new Comfort Room is under construction which will provide grief care, divorce care, healing care, and other comfort ministries. 

Thank you, precious Saints, for loving Jesus and serving His kingdom! May God be honored and glorified now and forever!


Delivery Changes for

The Monthly Newsletter

Due to the rising cost of postage, John Knox Church will no longer be mailing out the monthly newsletter. Those who normally receive the newsletter by mail can now pick it up on Sundays at the Welcome Center.

Dinner Diners

The Dinner Diners will meet on Monday, January 9 at 5:30pm at Palombo's Italian Restaurant on Portage and Whipple. Please contact Debbie Wilson at 330-417-0343 with any questions. All are welcome! Plan to come and fellowship with your brothers and sisters in Christ!

Lunch Bunch

Lunch Bunch will meet on Thursday, January 19 at 11:30am at Menches located on West Tusc. Please RSVP by calling Ted Anthony at 330-833-3191. All are welcome! Plan to come and fellowship with your brothers and sisters in Christ!

Birthdays and Anniversaries


1............Carol Jones

2............Linda Parkos

5............Ben Fix, Gene Barnhill

8............Pam Barnhill

9............Faith Colbetzor

10..........Linda Stockburger, Joe Carpenter, Shawn Daum

11..........Becky Lewis

12..........Bethany Minich

13..........Melissa Tomasik

14..........Betsy Renninger, Jay Groetz

15..........Paul Gerber, Tina Young, Victoria Muhlbach

16..........Randy Vehar

19..........Ralph Schreiber

21..........John Santora, Joe Frank

22..........Emily Collins, Jim Bauder

23...........Justine Groetz

25..........Gene Krumlauf

27..........Fran Cox, Jeff Bair

28..........John Bauer

29..........Nancy Davenport, Cole Davidson

30..........Debbie Drukenbrod

31..........Jessica Groetz, Pam McElroy


26..........Robert and Marilyn Bergmeyer

27..........Gene and Wilma Krumlauf

31..........Randy and Melissa

5155 Eastlake St NW, Canton OH 44720
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