Category Archives: Church

Light in the Darkness

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”  John 3:16

This may be one of the best know verses in all of scripture and probably the most quoted.

It speaks of the wonderful gift the Father has given to mankind. It is the gift that makes the difference between eternal life with God and eternal separation from Him.

Jesus bore our sin and its penalty, opening the way for forgiveness and restored relationship with our loving Creator. As such, it is an incomparable gift.

There never has been nor can there ever be another like it.

However, dearly beloved, have you ever considered the meaning of Jesus’ words in John 17 where He says, ““Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am.” (v. 24).

Though I  touched on this in my last column, I would like to take time to consider more carefully what it means to those of us who believe.

Think of this for a moment, especially during this season of gift giving and receiving.

Even as the Son was a gift from the Father to mankind, you, beloved believer, are a gift from the Father to the Son.

Jesus proclaimed this in another place, also, as He prayed something remarkable.  As He speaks to the Father, He says of us,  “They were always yours. You gave them to me.” ( John 17:6).

I don’t know if you ever thought of yourself as a gift given by the Father to the Son, but you are. Can any thought be more wonderful?

Now there are some who think that God redeemed us because He was lonely or simply wanted a big family, but I don’t think that this is true. God did not do this because of some need He had, but because of the need we have.

Dr. John Piper writes,  “It expresses his concern for the satisfaction of our longing, not his loneliness. Jesus is not lonely. He and the Father and the Spirit are profoundly satisfied in the fellowship of the Trinity. We, not he, are starving for something.”

God has done all that He has because we, not He, had a need we could never do anything about. We were in a dilemma and He loved us enough to meet that need. First by giving His Son for us and then by giving us to His Son.

Pastor David M. Grey      

Mt. Pleasant United Methodist Church      

Light In The Darkness — The Blessed Virgin Mary

“Gabriel appeared to Mary and said, “Greetings, favored woman! The Lord is with you!”

Confused and disturbed, Mary tried to think what the angel could mean. 

“Don’t be afraid, Mary,” the angel told her, “for you have found favor with God! You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be very great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David. And he will reign over Israel forever; his Kingdom will never end!”  

Mary asked the angel, “But how can this happen? I am a virgin.” 

The angel replied, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the baby to be born will be holy, and he will be called the Son of God”

I cannot think of anyone who was more blessed by God than this young virgin. To be chosen by God to be the mother of His only begotten Son is unparalleled.

Such a blessing could occur only once in all of history and Mary was the appointed one.

During this season, it is right for us to remember and honor her. She suffered much for this honor, of course. As I pointed out last week, the blessings of God bring the curses of the world, but His Blessings are always worth the price.

So, we should honor her memory and exalt her as the one chosen for this unique role.

At the same time, we must be careful not to exalt her to a position higher than is proper. Mary, though righteous and blessed as no other, was born of a man and she would need the savior who would be born to her every bit as much as any other human being.

Being chosen to be the mother of the Messiah, the Son of Man, did not change her status as a human being. She would not become as God any more than the Prophets who were appointed by the Lord to their special calling.

Mary was not sinless as  Pope Pius IX proclaimed in his doctrine of  Immaculate Conception on Dec. 8, 1854. There is no scriptural basis for The Assumption of Mary into heaven after the manner of Enoch and Elijah nor did she become, “exalted by the Lord as Queen over all things”  as Pope Pius XII proclaimed Nov. 1, 1950. And there is no basis for believing that Mary remained perpetually a virgin.

Let us rejoice with the one God chose to be the mother of the Messiah; respect and honor her and hold her is highest esteem, but do not worship her, or pray to her, or in any other way exalt her to a position equal with her blessed Son.

Pastor David M. Grey

Mt. Pleasant United Methodist Church

Churches team up for ‘Blue Christmas’

The Oswego-Fulton Episcopal-Lutheran Faith Partnerships invites the community to a special Blue Christmas service at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 18 (today) at Episcopal Church of the Resurrection, 120 W. Fifth St., Oswego.

A time for refreshments and friendship follows.

The Rev. Richard K. Klafehn  said “this very beautiful and interactive worship service is a special opportunity for those who are feeling blue, that is struggling, grieving, or hurting, and for others who care for them.”

He said lights are lit in the darkness and participants may wrap the Christ child in bands of swaddling cloth on which they have written their hurts, losses, pains, or anguish.

“In the holiday season so many people appear so happy with great expectations, but others do not feel the cheer,” Klafehn said. “Because of the loss of relationships, job, or health, grieving the recent or impending death of loved ones, or being in the midst of a crisis, they are struggling and feel even sadder, hurting, lonely, and left out.

“Christmas season can be exceptionally hard, because they have to hide their hurt. This is an opportunity to be honest about these feelings, to come together, and to share the gentle comfort and promise of Christmas,” he said.

Prince of Peace Lutheran Church renews commitment to children

Members of Prince of Peace Lutheran Church just outside Fulton renewed their commitment to the Cherish Our Children prayer ministry on Dec. 8.

Also that day, the Child Advocacy Center of Oswego County received a donation from Lutheran Charities of Central New York.

Lutheran Charities of Central New York began 19 years ago as a united fund appeal among Lutherans to support significant local ministries and outreaches.

This year the Child Advocacy Center of Oswego County was nominated by Prince of Peace to be included among the beneficiaries and accepted.

The Lutherans donated $300 designated specifically for the Child Advocacy Center and the Lutheran Charity board matched those gifts with a second gift of $300 from undesignated donations, making a total gift of $600.

Cherish Our Children is a national Lutheran ministry of prayer, education, relationship-building, and action to prevent child sexual exploitation.

The heart of this ministry is praying intentionally for children in and outside the congregation. More than 30 members have committed themselves to pray for children, youth, and persons ages birth to 25, by name.

As part of the relationship-building and local action, the congregation has engaged in active partnership support of the Child Advocacy Center, and donates food and other supplies, volunteers, space and prayer for their work.

The Child Advocacy Center provides many professional services and a safe place for an abused child to tell their story and get the help they need.

Prince of Peace Evangelical Lutheran Church of Fulton is a participating congregation in the Fulton-Oswego Episcopal-Lutheran Faith Partnership along with Grace Lutheran Church and the Episcopal Church of the Resurrection in Oswego.

The Rev. Richard Klafehn, and assistant pastor the Rev. Anne Wichelns, share ministerial duties at the three churches.

Prince of Peace Church is located on the corner of Gillespie Road and Route 176 North just outside of Fulton.

Light in the Darkness

 “But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.”         Galatians 4:4-5

“When the fullness of the time was come – The time which God in his infinite wisdom counted best; in which all his counsels were filled up; the time which his Spirit, by the prophets, had specified; the time to which he intended the Mosaic institutions should extend, and beyond which they should be of no avail.” (Adam Clarke)

The time when the law would be fulfilled by the Second Adam, the Son of God, Himself, had come. In him all its designs and purpose would be fulfilled by His holy life and with his death the whole law might be abolished; the law dying when the Son of God expired upon the cross.

The promise made long ago in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:15), would begin its fulfillment. The one who would “crush the head” of the serpent was born of the Holy Spirit to a virgin woman who had found favor in the eyes of God.

She would bear a son without ever having intimately known a man. She would be blessed as no woman before or since, but with that blessing came the doubts and accusations of those who would never believe her story.

The fullness of time, referring to that time when our adoption as sons and daughters would be accomplished. It is an adoption we could no more accomplish on our own than can the natural child adopt him or herself into a family.

We could not obtain such adoption by keeping the law, for the law was given that we might understand our unworthiness and need for a savior. It is an adoption purchased by the sacrifice of Christ and our God-given trust in that sacrifice gives us a place in the heavenly family.

And now, because we are sons and daughters by faith we cry Abba, Father from thankful and joyous hearts! We are joint heirs with Jesus in all that is His.

How amazing is that to contemplate? How awesome is it that because of Him and Him alone, we stand to share in everything that belongs to the perfect Son of God? We are not servants, but sons and daughters of the Most High. What a celebration is ours this Advent Season!

Pastor David M. Grey

Mt. Pleasant United Methodist Church

The Rev. Anne Wichelns enters ministry

A church full of parishioners, two area bishops and musical performances were  part of the celebration at Episcopal Church of the Resurrection, Oswego, Nov. 21 as the Rev. Anne Wichelns was installed as assistant priest for the Episcopal-Lutheran Faith Partnership of Oswego and Fulton.

Wichelns, who previously worked as an English teacher in the Indian River High School and a facilitator for a school based drug abuse prevention program, is a welcome addition to a faith partnership that includes Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church in Oswego, Prince of Peace Evangelical Lutheran Church in Fulton.

Wichelns, who also shares time with St. Andrew’s Shared Presbyterian/Episcopal Ministry in Evans Mills, is excited about putting her experience in faith partnerships to work.

“As we move forward our challenge is how we live together as a community.  Why do we gather, and what is the benefit of sharing our faith? By sharing our resources and our talents we have full ministry in all churches and we can grow together,” she said. “This is an exciting time.”

One of Wichelns’ duties will be to focus on youth and their families.

“The cultural shift that has taken place over the past few years has lessened the role that the church plays in many people’s lives. Work schedules and children’s activities can make it difficult for young families to be actively involved with their church,” she said.

“I will be reaching out to parishioners of all three churches and discovering ways in which we can better accommodate them and make it possible for them to become more involved with their church.”

The celebration was followed by a reception with light refreshments in the church’s Great Hall.

Church briefs

Fulton First United Methodist Church Men’s Group is featuring a  craft show and antique appraisal from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Nov. 30 (today) at the church.

The event will includes a craft show, silent auction, Grampa’s cellar, luncheon and chicken barbecue. The highlight of the event is a professional antiques appraiser who will be offering his services for free.

Anyone who attends will be able to bring in his or her personal antiques and collectibles and have them appraised.

There is no limit to the amount of items a person can have appraised; and those getting items appraised are not required to purchase anything.

The church is handicapped accessible and is located at 1408 State Route. 176 (Curtis Street), across from the Fulton Junior High School.

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The North Volney Methodist Church is sponsoring a Lights of Christmas tree for the upcoming Christmas season.

Lights will be sold for $5 each and can be dedicated to a friend or family member, living or deceased, a service member or anyone you would like to remember at this special time of the year.

The tree will be lit through the Christmas season on the church grounds at the corner of County Routes 4 and 6 in the Town of Volney.

If you would like to remember someone special at this time of the year, send your check for $5 for each name, payable to North Volney UMC along with the list of names to the following address: Beverly Beck, 139 Island Rd., Phoenix, NY 13135.

CYO gets boost from Shineman Foundation

When the Richard S. Shineman Foundation was established, one of its goals was to mirror the deep compassion for community that Mr. Shineman had and improve the quality of life in the counties that it serves.

The CYO program at Catholic Charities of Oswego County proved to be a perfect match for that goal.

For youth in the greater Fulton area, Catholic Charities CYO program is an oasis where they can spend some quality time after school in a friendly environment that encourages positive behavior.

Lauren Pistell, executive director of the Richard Shineman Foundation, said the CYO program provided the foundation with an opportunity to be involved with and enhance a great program.

“Catholic Charities of Oswego County is well known for the many services it provides. When we were considering the type of work we wished to do in our community I recalled speaking with Catholic Charities Executive Director Mary Margaret Pezzella-Pekow and Community Services Program Supervisor, Helen Hoefer.

“I was impressed with their CYO program and the number of youth that it serves in the greater Fulton area,” Pistell said. “As the Shineman Foundation serves all of Oswego County, as well as four other counties in Central New York, the CYO program allowed us to expand our reach beyond just the city of Oswego and become a small part of the good work that Catholic Charities is already doing.”

Established in 2012, the mission of the Richard S. Shineman Foundation is to use its financial resources to build the capacity of nonprofit organizations to enhance the quality of life in Oswego County and Central New York.

“We seek to work with our not-for-profit partners with integrity, honesty, and compassion,” said Pistell.   “We wish to be partners with organizations that we grant and develop a relationship that will last and be mutually beneficial.  We are excited about this grant.  Mary Margaret and Helen were very thoughtful about the grant support they needed.  They were sure it would be the right fit and match our mission and we appreciate that.”

Pistell added that seeing first hand the impact that the Shineman Foundation is having on Oswego County is very rewarding.

“It is a privilege for me to do this job,” she said. “I get to spend my days meeting with organizations such as Catholic Charities that are doing positive work and are dedicated to making good things happen in our community. In today’s world we are often inundated with bad news it is inspiring for me to partner with organizations that are doing that good work If we can play a small role in that we have achieved our goal.”

Hoefer said the grant from the Shineman Foundation would allow the CYO program to host special events for youth and their families and purchase additional games and equipment.

“Our youth look forward to family events such as our Halloween party and our Christmas party,” Hoefer said. “It’s an opportunity for the families to bond and enjoy some time together and meet new friends. Moving forward we will be able to host more of these. We will also be able to increase the variety of games and activities that we offer.”

“The vision of the Richard S. Shineman Foundation is to become a ‘Catalyst for Change,’” added Pistell. “Catholic Charities CYO program provides youth with a fun place to go after school and makes a positive difference in the lives of those children.”

Catholic Charities of Oswego County serves all people in need regardless of their religious affiliation.  Primary funding sources for Catholic Charities of Oswego County’s programs are the United Way of Greater Oswego County, the Diocesan Hope Appeal, the County of Oswego and private donations by individuals and local companies and organizations.