The following institutional services are arranged for and reported by United Churches of Lycoming County:
Sunday, January 16, 2021
Because of the COVID-19 outbreak keeping us from safely gathering together, no services are scheduled in area long term care facilities or prisons. Many congregations are beginning to meet together in person for Worship, being careful to social distance and to follow all CDC guidelines. They also encourage those most at risk to continue to Worship at home and to take advantage of services that are live streamed on Facebook, YouTube, Zoom, and other venues.
On the radio:
Radio Services are provided by the following congregations:
8:30 a.m. (Saturday) Jersey Shore Assembly of God, WJSA 96.3 FM.
9 a.m. (Sunday) Community Baptist Church, Montoursville, WJSA 96.3 FM.
9 a.m. (Sunday) Pine Street United Methodist Church, Williamsport, WWPA 1340 AM/101.7 FM., WILQ HD3
United Churches Wednesday noon ecumenical lunch be held this Wednesday, January 6, 2021 when Rev. Gwen Bernstine help to celebrate the Week of Prayer of Christian Unity by taking everyone on a virtual excursion to the ecumenical religions community of Grandchamp Switzerland where the theme for this year was developed. There is no cost to you to connect to this Zoom meeting. To connect go to https://us02web.zoom.us/j/728915712. This link will either help you download the app or prompt you to open your app. You are also able to connect by telephone. Call 1-301-715-8592, (toll charges apply) when prompted enter the meeting number, 728-915-712 and the passcode is 432662. For other arrangements contact United Churches, 570-322-1110.
The United Churches telephone devotion line is available 24 hours a day by calling 570-322-5762. These devotions change daily and are hope filled and inspirational. The devotions this week will be provided by the Rev. Gwen Bernstine, executive director of United Churches, and are part of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity daily prayer focus.
Footsteps To Follow
Rev. Gwen Bernstine
Executive Director, United Churches of Lycoming County
Something To Celebrate: 75 Years Of Service
I have been anticipating this year for a very long time. However, as with everything we dream about, the reality is seldom the same.
This is the seventy-fifth anniversary of United Churches of Lycoming County. I have listed it as a discussion point on our board of directors agenda for several years. Our planning committee has met monthly and sometimes weekly for well over a year, virtually since Covid-19 arrived, and as with everything, plans have dramatically changed.
United Churches was formed January 4, 1946, after the Williamsport Ministerium realized the area should have an organization made up of both clergy and laity that could work together to address needs in our community. Our name then was the Williamsport Area Council of Churches, and twenty-four congregations established us that evening.
We have several major events this month to start this special year.
There is a worship service to celebrate the beginning of the year. It is now going to be virtual and will be released for us all to view together at 3 p.m. this Sunday, January 17 from our website, www.uclc.org, or from our Facebook page, United Churches of Lycoming County or from New Covenant UCC’s YouTube Channel https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCSNithNkB6LcOWeDrSa3kSw.
This service will celebrate our history, our ministries, and our ecumenical relationships with each other. The guest preacher will be Bishop Barbara Collins, Upper Susquehanna Synod, Evangelical Lutheran Church of America (ELCA). There will also be special music by Rachel Druckenmiller, Wendy McCormick, and Jacque Engle. We owe a big debt of gratitude to all participants and to Kyle Huggins for helping us go virtual with this event.
The second event is a year of prayer. Throughout the year, we are publishing a monthly calendar lifting up congregations and ministries in our county and a joy and/or concern they would like all of us to remember in prayer.
The logo for this anniversary year of prayer is this heart, chosen to represent the heart of God. Notice that there are many facets to this heart. They represent our congregations and individuals with no two of us the same size, color, or shape. Yet we all have a place in God’s heart, fit together perfectly, and find additional beauty because we are enhanced by our differences! I look forward to celebrating the congregations and ministries in our county throughout 2021!
There will be a monthly prayer gathering on the last Sunday of each month at 4 p.m. It will be a virtual meeting on zoom and our newsletter has the details or you can call our office at 570-322-1110.
We will also work together on special projects in the community each month. January finds volunteers providing the lunches on three Saturdays at Sojourner Truth Ministries, as well as sending devotional books and calendars to nursing home residents.
Our ancestors in faith were often told to remember times when they knew God was present in their lives. After Moses led his people out of Egypt and into Sinai on their way to the Promised Land, we are told that, “They kept the passover in the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month, at twilight, in the wilderness of Sinai” (Numbers 9:5 NRSV). This observance is the meal that Christians remember Jesus also celebrating with his disciples on the night that Judas left to betray him, which we call The Last Supper (Mark 14:12-25). That led to Easter Sunday morning!
I invite you to remember, observe, celebrate, and pray together during our seventy-fifth year. With your participation, it will be perfect!
Pastor Tammey Aichner, First Church of Christ Disciples, Williamsport
United Campus Ministry Coordinator at Penn College for United Churches of Lycoming County
Responding To Be Chosen, Picked, and Wanted
When I was younger, our school participated in the Presidential Fitness Challenge. I did well with individual events. But when it came time for team sports, I was picked last. Truthfully, I was never “picked.” I was just the last one standing. I still have nightmares about one kickball game. When I was up to kick, the ball rolled in, but my foot glanced off the top of it. The ball continued to roll underneath me, and down I went on my backside. It is hard to get up from that and act like no one saw you!
As I grew up, I decided not to play school sports. I needed a job to earn money. While that was true, I was also afraid of not making the team. No one wants to be told that he/she is not good enough. So, rather than make myself vulnerable to rejection, I said that school sports were not for me. We build these walls (lies we tell) to protect ourselves! Have you ever been looked over or been told you weren’t good enough? Did you pretend that it did not matter, but deep down you were hurt? Maybe you also went home and cried in the privacy of your room, while telling your nosy brother that nothing was wrong. I found crying in the shower drew less attention.
However, I also remember the feeling of entering a room and having a friend wave me over because she saved a seat for me! I practically skipped through the room. I mean, I would have if I had been coordinated enough and wanted attention drawn to me. That was a feeling of being chosen, picked, and wanted. That feeling is the one we should meditate on because our Heavenly Father chose us. Paul, who himself was dramatically chosen, states, “For He chose us in Him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in His sight” (Ephesians 1:4 NIV). He waved us over and told us that He saved us a seat at His Table!
He did not pick us because we were the “best in class.” He did not pick us because we had finally mastered a skill or talent. He did not pick us because we were the prettiest, the funniest, the smartest, the tallest, or the thinnest. He picked us because we responded with a skip to the Table. We heard Him call our name and saw Him wave us over!
And unlike those who are your friend one day and not the next, “He marks us with His seal” (v. 13). This adoption into His family means that we are to live holy lives (different, set apart). Someone should be able to identify us within the world because of whose family we belong to. If enough of us are different, we could revolutionize society! Think of the change we could bring in 2021 if we lived according to our call! Skip, my brothers and sisters! There is a seat saved for you!