Weekly Update
January 8, 2021
Worship
Scripture Lesson:
 Mark 1:4-11
*Please note: the Quarterly Prayer List will be completely refreshed on January 15. If you would like you or your loved one to remain on the Quarterly Prayer List, please contact Marilyn by January 12.
Online and Call-In Services
Sunday's 8:30AM service will be livestreamed and can be viewed via our app, website, Facebook, or YouTube. Pastor Karen Slusser is preaching this week.

Our phone-in spoken devotional service will be offered at 9:30AM (or anytime after). Call 412-485-0213.
Wholeness & Healing Service
Join us this Sunday, January 10 at 7:00PM for our Wholeness & Healing service. Please join us on Zoom for a time of devotions, hymns, prayer, and blessing of prayer quilts.

Topic: Wholeness & Healing Service
Time: Jan 10, 2021 7:00 PM Eastern Time

Meeting ID: 865 1940 5725
Passcode: 068177
New Worship Series will begin January 17
Have Courage, people of God!

“God is our refuge and strength, a present help in time of trouble.
Though the mountains shake in the heart of the sea, though the waters roar and foam, we will not fear.” From Psalm 46

It is no news to us all that the times we are currently living through have often filled us with fear, anxiety, frustration, and feelings of isolation. We miss the comfort and strength of family and friends, and we may feel separated from God. But, the scriptures remind us that God is with us – we are not alone. God is the GREAT I AM and all things work together for good. Jesus reminds us that God knows our needs and that we should not worry about tomorrow, but we should have courage knowing that God is with us.

As we worship during the coming weeks, we’ll be looking at scriptures and hymns that encourage us to have courage in the face of adversity and worry. The familiar words above from Psalm 46 remind us to rely on God for refuge, strength, and courage. These words were used in a well-loved anthem set by Allen Pote that our church choirs have often sung. What hymn texts speak to you and remind you of God’s presence and strength?

I invite you to share your favorite hymns and scriptures of assurance and comfort with us so that we can plan to use these during our worship in the coming weeks. Please text or email titles of hymns and scripture passages that give you strength and courage to me at 412-417-8283 or j.thomas.taylor@gmail.com. Thanks ahead of time for helping build up our community of faith through our shared love of God!

Tom Taylor
for the Leadership Team
This Week
Bishop's Statement on U. S. Capitol Insurrection
Please click here to read a statement from Bishop Cynthia Moore-Koikoi on the violence that occurred at the U.S. Capitol earlier this week. Please join her in prayer.
National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month
Did you know that January is National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month? The Working for Justice group of St. Paul's is requesting help in supporting Living in Liberty, a local organization whose mission is to combat human trafficking in Southwestern PA.  

One of the many ways in which they help is through a street outreach program. We'll be collecting the following items, which Living in Liberty has identified as their needs by January 31. Items can be dropped off at your convenience in the black bins with yellow lids located at the front church entrance.

  • New tennis shoes, all sizes
  • New or like new hoodies with zippers, all sizes
  • New or like new tote bags (quality canvas bag or similar material with handles)

Financial contributions are also welcome and can be made online (select Stop Human Trafficking from the fund drop-down menu), or mail a check to the church and note Stop Human Trafficking on the memo line.
Working for Justice Ministry
Our January meeting will be held virtually on Thursday, January 14 at 7:30PM. The agenda will include several important topics.
  • How WFJ supports recognition of the National Anti-Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention month throughout January, and possibly beyond.
  • Gifts to the Living for Liberty organization
  • Educating St. Paul’s adults about the largely unrecognized dangers
  • How to educate youth at St. Paul’s to reduce risks to young people
  • How might WFJ perform, grow, and evolve in 2021
  • WFJ role in Loving Our Neighbors and healing America

Please contact Michael DiMonte for a Zoom link invitation.
TNC Meets "Cash for Clinics" Challenge!
The Nyadire Connection has announced that they have exceeded their goal and will be receiving the matching grant from the UM Foundation of Western PA! "Tatenda" for your generosity. Please click here to read their press release.
Update from Pastor Jeff
Dear Ones, the beginning of 2021 has not offered us a lot of “healing hope” that this year will be a “turn the corner” one over the stinker that 2020 was! This week continued to offer harsh news about the continuing escalation of the Coronavirus, and then on Wednesday, something happened that we thought only happened in the movies—our nation’s capital was under attack. Most of us probably sat in stunned silence as these events unfolded, hopefully to be comforted by the reconvening of the U.S. Congress, which courageously gathered to fulfill its post presidential election constitutional responsibilities.

Pastors Karen, Chad and I spent some time commiserating about this latter experience, and yesterday asked Carla to send out a special email with a brief reflection piece and prayer from each of us. If you missed it, here is a link to these meditations.

We also wanted to offer a chance for us see each other’s face and come together for a time of sharing our feelings and supporting one another in the aftermath of this harrowing and chaotic national experience. This Sunday, at 10:30AM, we invite you to join us for an informal, relatively unstructured “Coffee Hour.” Join us on Zoom: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/88150721934. While there is no agenda other than to comfort one another and share our feelings, this will not have a political focus. Our hope is to edify one another, share our “presence” virtually, and feel the “cleansing,” uplifting power of fellowship we find in a common faith.

Later this Sunday our COVID Protocol Team (formerly known as the Re-opening Task Team) is meeting to get our bearings and guide St. Paul’s into the New Year, in light of any changes that have occurred since we last met. Please be advised that with COVID numbers where they are, and with a relatively low distribution of the new vaccines, at this point, we are not anticipating being able to reinstitute “in person” worship services in the short term. Watch next Friday for an update from our COVID Protocol Team.

Friends, please look over the information in this email, as this is our primary “pipeline” into your home. With the New Year upon us, may we all join in prayer for resolution—albeit gradual—of the primary challenges facing our nation, our church, and each of our lives. This Sunday is “Baptism of the Lord” Sunday in the church liturgical calendar. Join us for the 8:30AM livestream worship service and hear a message from Pastor Karen. Also, don’t miss the introductory article by our Music and Worship Director Tom Taylor about the series “Courage,” beginning on Sunday, January 17. Grace and peace to you all!
Adult Ministries
Martin Luther King Jr. Unity Breakfast
The Twenty-First Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Unity Breakfast is scheduled for Monday, January 18, 2021 from 9:00-10:00AM. It will be held virtually this year via Zoom and is sponsored by the North Hills Unity Breakfast Committee. The theme for the program will be “Social Activism Past and Present.” Click here for more details.

The event is free and open to the public. Please click here to register.
VIM Desk Project
To date, our VIM team has already made 43 desks. They were assembled and sanded by a number of wonderful volunteers working both independently and together (wearing masks of course!). Several talented women stained or painted all the desks in a wide ranging assortment of colors, hoping that each child will be able to select the perfect desk. Each desk is also completed with a folding chair and desk lamp. We are currently coordinating with the United Methodist Church Union to distribute the desks to students in disadvantaged areas of Pittsburgh.

Our fervent desire is to continue with this project, and your financial help will enable us to do that. We are grateful to those who have donated thus far, and ask all to prayerfully consider a contribution so that we can continue this important mission in 2021. If you are able to make a contribution, please mail a check to St. Paul's (1965 Ferguson Road, Allison Park 15101) and note VIM Desk Project on the memo line. Donations can also be received online. Please select VIM Desk Project from the fund drop-down menu.

Any questions can be directed to Glenn Smith at 412-996-4332 or Dick Rishel at 724-316-9187. Thank you!
Face Masks from Stitching Together
The holidays are past but the Steeler playoff games are just beginning. We have masks waiting to help you show your team support. The NHL arenas are prepping ice and our Penguins are scheduled to be skating the 13th of this month. We were able to resupply our Penguin fabric and are ready for your orders. Also we will make Valentine and St Patrick day masks upon request. Just select holiday and note in comments either Valentine or St Patrick. Go Steelers and Go Pens!

Please click here to order. Deliveries will be made to the church and placed in the Stitching Together swap box located in the entry way at Wesley Hall on Wednesdays, Saturdays, and Sundays. If you have questions, please contact Dara Sterling, Bonnie Aleksivich, or Jan Septak.
Neighborhood Resilience Project
St. Paul’s is still collecting items in partnership with the Neighborhood Resilience Project

Coat Collection:
We are collecting winter coats, gently used are welcome, of all sizes, to meet the immediate need for warmth.

Trauma Teddies:
We are collecting new, small stuffed animals to be given to comfort children who have witnessed violence.

Please place donations in receptacles in the Wesley Hall vestibule, and we will quickly get them to our neighbors.
Pastor Karen's Bible Study
Pastor Karen’s Bible Study takes place each Wednesday at 9:00AM. All are welcome! Zoom link: https://zoom.us/j/99527489414
Bible Study with Pastors Jeff and Chad
Pastors Jeff and Chad are offering their weekly Bible Study on Wednesday, January 13. The study will continue to be hosted on Zoom (links below) at both 9:00AM and 7:30PM.

These studies feature 25 minute video presentations with biblical scholar and archeologist Dr. James Fleming, followed by discussion around the material presented, as well as an examination of scriptures referenced in both the Hebrew Bible and New Testament. The topics for upcoming weeks are:

January 13: The CITY GATES of Jerusalem
January 20: The LAST SUPPER
January 27: The CRUCIFIXION and BURIAL CUSTOMS of the world of Jesus

James Fleming was a frequently featured authority during the four years of the Disciple Bible Study series, and is a noted historical expert on Israel, Jerusalem, and the related biblical texts. Fleming’s presentations are stirring, incredibly informative, and “down to earth.” You will be amazed at the insights he provides on many things in the Bible that are just too far from our experience to understand!

The first two weeks of February will be used for further discussion, review of the related scriptural stories raised by the video series, and preparation for the Lenten journey ahead. Watch for more details about the February 3 and 10 sessions.

We will take a break on February 17 for Ash Wednesday, and then resume on February 24 for a six-week Lenten study wherein we will continue a comparison of the Hebrew Bible and New Testament passages that have a bearing on the Lenten season. Again, more to come!

All are welcome to attend via Zoom at either 9:00AM or 7:30PM:
 
9:00 AM
 
7:30 PM
We appreciate your continued financial support during this time of challenge and hardship. Giving may still be done online. For those of you who typically place your gifts in the offering plate, please consider mailing them to the church office (1965 Ferguson Road, Allison Park 15101), as our financial staff are making sure these get deposited.

Have you found yourself shopping online more often? Please register for Amazon Smile in the name of St. Paul's and use the UMC Market (Allison Park) as a portal for all your online shopping. St. Paul's receives a small percentage from your purchases at no extra cost to you!
Youth Ministries
Spenser Flowers Memorial Scholarship
The Spenser Flowers Memorial Scholarship Fund was created to provide scholarships for traditional and non-traditional students to assist with expenses for college (undergrad or graduate), university or trade school to any youth member or youth who participates in St. Paul’s senior high youth activities (or has participated within the past 7 years). Applications for the 2021 scholarship are being accepted from November 15, 2020 through February 28, 2021. Please click here here if you'd like to donate to the fund.
Children's Ministries
Children's Ministry Update
Check out new opportunities to be in ministry! 
Sunday Morning Lesson
Each week, Erin hosts a Sunday Morning Zoom Lesson for all children. The lesson is also emailed to those who cannot attend. Please contact Erin if you would like to be added to her email list.