Giving Thanks

posted Nov 22, 2019, 2:39 PM by Tricia Sheffield

Grace and peace to you!

The plaque “Start Each Day with a Grateful Heart” still hangs on the wall in my kitchen as a reminder to begin each morning from a space of gratitude. Sometimes I’m not as quick as I should be to say thank you for another day to live, love, and serve God, but that phrase on the wall staring back at me prompts me to remember. So, in this season of thanksgiving, I’d like to share a few ministry highlights from this year, celebrating all the ways God has been calling us to show up in our community; ministry for which I’m very grateful:

  • We’ve had four baptisms, three young people confirmed, and we will welcome two new members into our congregation this Sunday. Wonderfully, we are seeing new faces in worship each week, and I’m thankful for your ministry of hospitality and welcome for those who visit us. 
  • Our New Jericho Choir is going strong under the direction of Ms. Bev and Ms. Nancy, and has added an ecumenical component with the children rehearsing on given Tuesdays at King of Kings Lutheran Church with Nancy Scharff. 
  • Our music ministry continues to bless us under the stellar direction of Judith Daugherty, as she brings us traditional and eclectic selections through our Joyful Noise Adult Choir and varied soloists. Our February Showcase Concert “All About Love” was a remarkable success. And mark your calendar now for our Christmas Songbook Concert on December 8 at 3 PM
  • We marched for the fourth year in the Asbury Park Pride Parade, giving God’s love and welcome to our LGBTQ siblings who have been marginalized by the church. And let’s not forget our Pride Italian Dinner Night, which was a great and fun event!
  • We awarded seven $500 Lt. Dennis W. Zilinski, II Youth Group scholarships to entering and continuing college students to support them in their education.
  • Our Youth Group Fall Gift Auction raised $3300 to continue to fund two adopted children through Compassion International, as well as other outreach programs. 
  • The Dorcas Circle and friends are leading us into the fourth year of participating in the Bayshore Lunch Program, where we provide a free lunch for God’s beloved people in the Bayshore area.
  • We remain committed members of the Community Outreach Group, helping those in our community whom Jesus called “the least of these” during the Postal Workers Food Drive, the Back to School Donation Drive, and the Christmas Donation Drive. 
  • For over 45 years we have participated in Middletown Helps Its Own, delivering holidays meals and Christmas toys in November and December, respectively. And tomorrow is the Thanksgiving delivery at 7:30 AM!
  • Our First Sunday Brunch continues to be a joyful time of extending the feast of the Lord’s Supper by sharing a meal after worship in the Education Building.
  • We’ve accomplished several Buildings and Grounds projects, including fascia and soffit repair on the Education Building; lights along the driveway for better safety during choir rehearsal and evening events; chimney repair at the Coventry House; a garden beautification project on the property; and the ongoing replacement of the old chandelier lights with updated LED bulbs. 
  • And speaking of Buildings and Grounds projects, in September we launched our 24 for 24 Capital Campaign to repair our front steps and sidewalk, and your response has been overwhelming! In addition to the two $25,000 gifts from anonymous donors, we have already raised over $11,000 for other projects, such as painting the sanctuary. Wow! Thank you so much, and thank you for your continued generosity. (Please note our mason hopes to begin work soon if the weather cooperates. If not, the project will commence in the spring). 
  • Lastly, this month marks a year that we became a dual-affiliated congregation with the United Church of Christ. We have celebrated being part of a denomination that welcomes, affirms, and celebrates LGBTQ people into the full life of the church. Tragically, the Reformed Church in America does not have this same position. We have not witnessed in the majority of the RCA a celebration of God’s wonderfully made human sexuality, or the love of neighbor, only enmity and strife that has led to a climate of fear, rancor, and bullying, especially of LGBTQ people. We grieve this movement in the RCA, and we grieve with our LGBTQ siblings in Christ — whom we love very much — as they have been exposed to exclusion, intimidation, and abuse in their own denomination. That said, we are committed to remaining a welcoming and affirming congregation, in whatever denomination God leads us.

As I stated previously, these are just a few highlights as to how God is leading us in ministry at MRC. I could name so much more, but that would be an even longer email!

Come this Sunday at 10:30 AM to give thanks to God as our Children and Youth lead our Reign of Christ worship. The sermon title is Jedi Jesus followed by a special Brunch, with special brunchy food and liquid refreshments for young and old. A free will offering will be taken to underwrite the registration fees and expenses for our Christian Education teachers to attend the Association of Presbyterian Church Educators Conference in Little Rock in January.

I’ve said it before, and I will say it again, I remain overwhelmingly thankful for all the ways you so selflessly give to our church. You are a congregation that takes seriously Jesus’ Greatest Commandment to love God with everything you’ve got, and to love your neighbor as yourself. I see you living this commandment everyday, whether in the ministries we are called to do, or in the way you care for each other and our larger community. Truly, because of your faithfulness and God’s love and grace, I do start each day with a grateful heart.

In gratitude for the joy of being your Pastor and the holy call of loving you,

Pastor Trish