Author: StAndrewsAdmin

Letter to the Congregation – 03/31/2022

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In February, I talked about a giving situation at St. Andrew’s that was very distressing. I am sorry to say that the situation has improved, but nowhere near enough. Last month we received one-half of we need to function and this month we were $6,000.00 short of what we need. We cannot function as a healthy congregation with offerings at this level.

This is nothing that we can take lightly. At this level of giving, we cannot continue to pay pastor or staff. Very simply put we need a significant increase in giving.

I wish I could tell you what the cause is behind the reduced giving. Indeed, it is very difficult to judge how the congregation feels when only a part of us are gathering for worship. We just don’t see people or understand if people or a group of people are falling away. While it is very understandable that people have not ventured back into the worship space due to COVID, we still need feedback, and we still need offering to keep the church healthy and alive.

Please! If you are displeased or frustrated with St. Andrew’s let us know, and please, restore and/or increase your giving.

Pastor Neel

Council Meeting Notes – 03/27/2022

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  • FROM THE COUNCIL (summary of the 03/27/2022 meeting)
    The Congregation Council decided to have the steeple taken down from the church roof. To be sure the Property Committee has been dealing with what seems to be constant leaking into the worship space (mostly on top of the organ) for years. Most recently the water has started to appear behind the Pulpit.

    • The roof has recently been replaced and we are still dealing with water leaks in the worship space.
    • The roofing contractor has been stellar about coming back and addressing the problems with the steeple, but to no avail.
    • The steeple continues to shift in the heavy winds therefore breaking the seals and allowing water to get into the building.
    • Most recently the contractor has recommended that we take down the steeple to address the leaking issues.
    • The cost of removing the steeple is approximately $2,200.00. We will preserve the Cross and while the roof is open we will investigate for any mold.
    • The intention is to install the Cross on the property in some other fashion yet to be determined.
    • The cost of this project will be handled by the Building Fund. While it will be sad to lose the steeple, it will be better to have a building leak free for the first time in years.
  • The Council accepted (with regret) Dori Roberts’ resignation as Church building Custodian and as Nursery School Director. Dori has decided to make the transition back into public education. If you or someone you know it interested in the church custodian position, please have them be in touch with the Pastor.
  • The Council reviewed current capacities for the Social Room
  • It was noted that the confirmation class will be leading worship on April 24

Letter to the Congregation – 02/18/2022

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As a parent, one of the things that I always tried to help my children with was to share their needs and wants with me in a good and helpful way. I have always been lousy at reading minds and therefore always wanted my children to share their needs and wants.
Of course, they did not always get everything they asked for, but, more often than not, they had a better chance of getting what they wanted if they asked for it.
This is not a perfect analogy when it comes to financial giving to the church, but then again, I’m not perfect, so here is my ask to you:

  • Be very consistent with your giving patterns.
  • If you have not given, we need you to give.

This is why I ask:

  • This past January, the total offering for the month was very low. Quite honestly, mission and ministry are not sustainable at those giving levels. Our total approved budget is $235,014.42. To meet the budget, we need to receive $19,584.54 a month. In January of 2022 we received $10,887.50. That is a huge gap.
  • I know we can do better, and truth be told we have no choice but to do better.

I believe in St. Andrew’s and its mission to reach out with the Gospel. We need your help to continue that mission.

Thank you for your consideration
Pastor Neel

Letter to the Congregation – 02/10/2022

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It has come to our attention that some members of the congregation are not receiving church mailings, of if you are, you are receiving them very late. Also, that some or many of the congregation e-mail’s from the church are going into spam folders.

If this is happening, we are very sorry that it is happening. We understand how important communication is, especially during a pandemic. But please understand that the office has not changed how it is mailing or sending e-mails, so we are as confused and concerned as you are right now.

We also understand that if you are not always receiving church communications, then you may not be receiving this communication. So, we are asking that if you are receiving this communication, that you please communicate with other members of the congregation to let them know about the content of this letter.

First and foremost, please contact the pastor or the church office as soon as you believe you are not getting regular communications. The bulletins, for our postal mail recipients, are sent out each Tuesday for the Sunday two weeks out. We believe this allows sufficient time for the bulletin to get to you via the postal service. For our email enabled members, we send out the bulletin for the upcoming Sunday along with the weekly St. Andrew’s Happenings email. If we see any type of pattern, we can address it with either RCN or the Post Office. If you have changed your residence address or your email address, please notify the office as soon as you are able. We have no mechanism for knowing when those changes occur unless you inform us.

If you have computer access, please be reminded that both the Cross and the Bulletins can be found on the Church Website. Check the main page, the library, or the calendar for these communications.
Again, we are deeply sorry you are not receiving church communications, please call us, and be assured we are following up (to the best of our ability) with these issues.

Pastor Neel

Letter to the Congregation – 12/18/2021

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When I ran track, I was taught certain things that helped me run well and improve my race times. Things like how to get off the starting blocks, how to keep a stride, how to build endurance. All these things helped me when I ran and as soon as I forgot or didn’t work at those basics, I did not run as quickly. There was never a time I could take those basics for granted.

As Christians there are basics to our faith journey as well, worship, bible, prayer, giving back to name a few. Our faith journeys suffer when we don’t practice those basics. None of this is to say that God loves us any less or more, rather it’s about how well we are running our faith race.

To be sure we have come up against some challenges that COVID keeps putting in our way. However, we can’t let the challenges from life or from COVID prevent us from doing the basics of our faith, we need those basics to run a strong faith race. We need our faith to face all the challenges of life.

So, please remember to worship with us each Sunday, whether it be at home with coffee and slippers or later after the service has been posted to the website. Of course, we also have two styles of in person worship. And please remember to support the ministries of St. Andrew’s. St. Andrew’s cannot be an afterthought or only if I have enough left over. Supporting the ministry is one of our ministry basics, without which, we will not run a good race.

Please focus on your faith basics, and together we will run the good race.

Pastor Neel

Letter to the Congregation – 12/10/2021

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The Council met on December the 5th in a quickly called meeting to discuss the church’s response to the changing pandemic. Perhaps we are all aware of someone who has contracted the virus, perhaps it has hit your family…we are hearing a lot of “stuff” lately not the least of which is that the virus rates are on the rise.

To be sure we understand the context of the discussion at the meeting, the Congregation Council has decided that we would depend on one source of information, as looking to many sources can cause confusion, tension, and frustration. The Council decided to rely on the CDC for its information and recommendations. Note that this decision was made back in the spring of 2020.

The virus issue continues to be an emotional one for all of us, and the Council is no different. But, as a Council, we are committed to the health and safety of the congregation. There are times that we disagree but always leave the meeting as friends.

Please note some of the following items from the 12/05/21 meeting:

• The CDC still defines full vaccination as two shots from either Pfizer or Moderna or one shot from Johnson and Johnson, no other treatment can be considered full vaccination. With that said, our Council, along with our Bishop, strongly recommends receiving a booster shot. We believe, in the near future, the CDC will include the booster to be a part of full vaccination.
• Pastor and David will now wear a mask to distribute Holy Communion at the 10:30 Worship service. In addition, Pastor will remain up front when worship is over and not greet people in the Narthex.
• At this point there are no other changes that have come from the Council meeting, although if the CDC changes their recommendations, the Council will meet to discuss if CDC changes will directly affect St. Andrew’s.

The Council and I are appreciative of everyone’s understanding and support in what continues to be a very long experience with this pandemic. Hold tight to the Hope of Advent and the promise that our loving God will never leave us.

Pastor Neel

Letter to the Congregation – 11/11/2021

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Greetings my friends. One of the things that is true is, when a congregation is active and tries to reach out to the community, it also needs more help from the congregation. So, there is also an increase of reaching “in” to the congregation for help in our reach out efforts.

That is beginning to be true here at St. Andrew’s. In addition to our reach out efforts, we are also asking that you increase and/or stay consistent with your giving to the regular budget. It can all feel overwhelming, and perhaps we wonder how can we support it all?

Well, you don’t, but together we can. So perhaps supporting the diaper drive is very important to you. Then, I would say that you should support that drive along with your regular offering. There will be another member of the congregation who can support the laundry soap, and still another the bar soap, and so on.

Together we can make a very strong and positive impact. Indeed, we are not asking that anyone try to make that impact all by themselves.

So, I ask that you continue to make your “regular” offering a priority and choose one or two other items as you have ability. Together, by the Grace of God, we will make an impact.

Thank you for your support.
Pastor Neel

Letter to the Congregation – 09/14/2021

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FROM THE COUNCIL (notes from the 9/13/2021 meeting)

  • The financial reports were received by the Council. While the church showed an excess of over $7,000.00 this month, we are still behind approx. $26,000.00 for the year. It was also noted that the church received very large financial gifts from two people this month which accounts for the increase this month. A meeting has been set to address this issue.
  • The Council was pleased with the September 5 welcome back activities and worship
  • Property Committee is finalizing a proposal for bids to be sent to contractors to address the depression in the front parking lot.
  • The Shed has been enlarged and renewed, many thanks to Aidan Perry for choosing St. Andrew’s for his Eagle project.
  • Community Care Committee met with the Director of the Easton Neighborhood Center Ross Markus. The committee continues to fine tune its focus, watch for ways you can participate in the future
  • SAW Met in the church building for its September meeting! The Soup Sale is coming up in the beginning of October.
  • Worship & Music proposed, and the Council approved:
    Additional way to receive Communion on Sundays

    • Communion will be offered the way it has been offered, with prepackaged communion cup in your pew
    • You can receive Communion by coming forward to the base of the steps to the altar where you will receive bread, wine, or grape juice. To maintain distance each group of people in a pew will come forward separately. To prevent a line to receive communion everyone else will remain in their pews until it is their turn to receive communion.

NOTE: Please remember that you are welcome to join Council by going to the church website calendar to access the Zoom codes.

Letter to the Congregation – 09/07/2021

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FROM THE COUNCIL (from the August 29th meeting)

Let’s make this report short and sweet: After a healthy discussion the Council decided that we will be offering the following worship opportunities starting September 12th:

  • 8:30: In Person worship, ALL worshippers will be required to wear a mask whether you have or have not been fully vaccinated. This follows CDC recommendations and of course will protect our children 12 and under who cannot receive the vaccination.
  • 8:30: The 8:30 worship will be live streamed. You will access that service the same way that you accessed the Zoom service. The link to the service will be on the main page of the church website (as well as on the calendar page). That link to the service will be active by 8:20 for the 8:30 service.
  • 10:30: This worship service will remain unchanged. Masks will remain optional for the fully vaccinated but will be required for those who have not been vaccinated.

NOTE: The 8:30 live stream worship service will continue to be posted on the church’s website for viewing at another time.

Of course, this continues to be an ever-changing situation. Every time Council meets dealing with the pandemic is on our agenda. Our next meeting is September 13th at 7:00, you are always welcome to join us. The link can be accessed by going to the church website and going to the calendar.

Letter to the Congregation – 08/23/2021

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I’d like everyone to save the date… December 19 from 2:00PM to 5:00PM David and I will be holding a holiday open house, and we are hoping everyone can stop by for some goodies and conversation. More details to follow… again, mark your calendars for December 19th.

Now moving on to something else. I want to grab an idea that comes directly from our ELCA Bishop Elizabeth Eaton. I find her to be a wonderful and inspiring leader. The question she posed: How would you tell people that you are a member of St. Andrew’s without saying St. Andrew’s? Nope, you can’t say the church at Freemansburg Ave and Stones Crossing; that would be cheating.

(I’m giving you time to think here)

  • Okay how about I’m part of a church that loves and accepts you without question no matter who you are.
  • I’m part of a church that cares about what happens in the community. I’m part of a church that believes in a gracious God that loves you unconditionally.

Think about it… we are called to share the good news of Jesus in an exciting way that helps people embrace the message of the Gospel just like St. Andrew’s did in the early 1950s. After all that is the heart and soul of who we are and who we need to be as Christians.

Let me know what your answers are, no, really, I mean that, let me know, I will publish all your ideas (no, I won’t put your name to your idea, not that you have anything to be ashamed of) but in the end it will be good to know what we all think about St. Andrew’s.

I’m looking forward to hearing from you!

Pastor Neel