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THE RECTOR'S MESSAGE Tuesday, 16 June 2020

Included in today's update: A Message from Father Keith, information on Property Upgrades, Vestry News, an Invitation to the FAITH & LEADERSHIP WHEN LIVES ARE ON THE LINE Webinar, and more...


Tuesday, 16 June 2020

Dear Friends:

With Governor Wolf's announcement that Montgomery County has moved into the yellow phase of the state's reopening plans, restrictions on churches have begun to ease. Bishop Gutierrez has, therefore, instructed each parish to draft a plan for resuming limited in-person worship and reopening use of church buildings for community groups.

The diocese published an extensive list of considerations, guidelines and directives. Using these instructions, I drafted a plan which was then reviewed and commented on by The Rev. Maryjo Melberger, followed by the vestry officers and staff, then submitted to our Vestry for their approval. The revised plan was unanimously approved at last night's vestry meeting and has now been forwarded to the Bishop for his review, comment and acceptance. As soon as that final approval is received, we will be free to announce and begin publishing the date and details of Messiah's reopening plan.

In the meantime, be sure to access the church website - - for the Sunday worship and musical offerings, as well as other important information and postings.

In the name of our Savior Jesus Christ,

and our God who wants only health and wholeness for his children,

I send you blessings, peace and grace in these uncertain, confusing and anxious times.

- Keith


While the Church School program year has ended, Messiah's Church School Director, Tiffany Reichley is busy planning for next month's Vacation Bible School. While there are modifications necessary this year, we are quite excited by the prospect of putting together a memorable experience for our younger parishioners. This year, rather than gathering at the church each evening, we have been forced to think "outside the box". So, we will be hosting and new way of doing Bible School - V.B.S. in a B.O.X.

Every child in the congregation, as well as all other children - ages three through sixth grade - who choose to be included, will receive a package containing all the materials needed to engage in this year's VBS, The Rocky Railway. Each day - June 29th through July 3rd - families can log onto the parish website to join in listening to the day's Bible lesson, singing a song together, and hearing more about the day's theme. Then the whole family can enjoy making a craft, perhaps doing a science experiment, or other fun activity, all the while learning more about Jesus and God's love for us.

As stated already, every child in the Messiah congregation will automatically be enrolled and receive a V.B.S. B.O.X. And if you have grandchildren, neighbors, or know of other children who would like to participate, we will publish how to register them so they can also participate. Stay tuned . . .


If you would like to sponsor one of the children participating in this year's Vacation Bible School, you can easily do so. A box of craft supplies and other items that will be packed into each child's V.B.S. in a B.O.X. kit costs just $20.00. Your sponsorship check should be made payable to Church of the Messiah, with VBS in the memo line. The children of Messiah thank you for your support and encouragement!


Looking out my office window as I compose this message, I am watching workmen lay the cement and put the finishing touches on a new sidewalk leading from the parking lot to the church. As was done for the apron at the base of the church steps last year, the slate slabs that formerly made up the sidewalk have been removed and cement laid. This is a great improvement, alleviating the tripping hazard that the uneven slate had become, as well as making it much easier to clear snow and ice in the winter months.

Once this work is finished, the pole lamps lining the driveway will be replaced. The old wooden posts have, over the years, have rotted away, requiring many to have to be propped up. The new lamps will make a nice impression as cars and pedestrians enter the church.

Thank you, Marv Walters, property chair, and our church sexton, Mike Linn, for making this upgrade happen.


At last evening's Vestry meeting, we bid farewell to three retiring members who have completed their three-year terms. Marsha Althouse, Rich Dunlap and Brenda Weir deserve abundant thanks for their time and efforts given on behalf of Messiah through this ministry. THANK YOU!!!

And since the Annual Parish Meeting was not held this year due to the church being closed, the Bishop's Office allowed churches to suspend their by-laws for the period. It was decided that for this year, rather than have the congregation attending the meeting select the new vestry members, the sitting vestry members would make the selection. New parishioners selected to serve three-year vestry terms are: Tim Beaver, Jennifer Marsh and Jon Marshall. CONGRATULATIONS!!! And THANK YOU for your willingness to serve!



We offer hearty congratulations and best wishes for two members of our congregation have achieved that important life milestone marking the end of their high school years:

  • JANE HERRON graduates from Springside Chestnut Hill Academy. In the fall, Jane will attend Penn State University - Main Campus to study Communications and Chemistry.

  • CHARLIE KRIEBEL has graduated from North Penn High School. He plans to begin attending Montgomery County Community College, then transferring to Fox School of Business, Temple University.





Our country is experiencing collective trauma. As you lead in your sphere of influence - whether that's a business, nonprofit, church, or your home - you're facing unique challenges in these troubled times. Philadelphia's Missio Seminary and Cornerstone Counseling Ministries will be hosting a

Zoom webinar on Thursday, June 18, 7-8:30 PM.

Keynote speaker will be Major Marcus Millen, US Army, who will share helpful strategies for navigating through this season and preparing for its ongoing impact. Other panelists include: Tim Haahs, Nicole Martin, Maria Greco, and Rev. Brad Leach.

For more information and registration, visit the seminary's webpage:


Back in mid-March, when the decision was made to close Belfry Bargains "for awhile", until the COVID-19 crisis had passed, none of us anticipated that the doors would remain shut through the rest of the spring season. But sadly, that is what has happened. While the store is usually cleared of merchandise each summer, it has been decided not to do that this year. So, the shop will be shut for the summer and reopen in the fall with over-flowing shelves and racks of goods.

Donations have continued to arrive and the store is currently jam-packed with merchandise. If you have donations, please hold onto them for further notice of when donations can be accepted.

As a result of the store's early closing, the last few months of outreach funding to community agencies normally receiving assistance from Messiah could not be made - at exactly the time when these social service agencies have experienced a surge in requests. Through the generosity of several parishioners, gifts to the Rector's Discretionary Fund have enabled that fund to give donations to the following: Manna on Main Street, Interfaith Ambler, Community Cupboard of Ambler, Laurel House, Salvation Army, and Grace Bean Soup Kitchen. Thank you to all whose gifts made this possible!


While the needs are great here in our own communities and nation, the effects of the worldwide pandemic are also being experienced by our sisters and brothers across the globe, particularly in developing countries. Several of your fellow Messiah parishioners accompanied me to Guatemala in late January, where we worked for a week in two villages building stoves and installing water purification systems, greatly improving the health and welfare of many families. And of course, our companion parish of St. Alban's is located in Antigua, Guatemala. The economic and social quarantine and curfews mandated by COVID-19 have been especially hard as most people live on day-to-day wages, and many people are prevented from working or lost their jobs.

While other mission teams have had to cancel their trips due to the viral pandemic, the team at Adventures in Mission/Guatemala, the organization that hosted our Messiah team continue to do what they can to minister to the poorest villagers in that country. Angela and Miguel, a young married couple who served as our mission team coordinators, are making and distributing food packages to the people of Jocotenango, located near Finca Fikladelfia, the coffee plantation we toured on our last day before returning stateside.

What is included in a care package: staples such as beans, rice, and oil; fresh fruits and vegetables; toilet paper (when available) and other health needs.

How the package distribution works: families in need of food hang a white flag outside their door. Angela and Miguel go door-to-door, distributing as many care packages as they can until their day's supply is finished.

How much does it cost: "Adopting" a family and supplying a week of food costs about $20.00.

If you feel called to assist in this important ministry: Please send your contribution to my attention here at the church office. Make your check payable to: Rector's Discretionary Fund. These funds will then be sent to Adventures in Mission/Guatemala to support Angela and Miguel in their project to feed the poorest of the poor in Guatemala.




News reports have carried several stories about how, with restaurants being closed or reduced to carry-out only, and with more time available to many of us, lots of us have been cooking meals at home or (re)discovering the joys of baking. I have even heard that the country has baked ourselves into a shortage of flour, sugar and other baking needs! And the empty grocery shelves and rationing bears this out.

I'm sure lots of old favorites and comfort foods have been prepared in most of our homes, as well as some experimenting with new recipes and new techniques you have long wanted to try your hand at. That got Barbara Stevenson and me thinking: What about collecting all those old and new recipes into a Messiah edition of a "Quarantine CookBook"?

We would love to include at least one recipe from every Messiah household! Send your recipes to either: Barbara Stevenson -; or to me - We will then work to organize your submissions, and make the cookbook available to all of you.


Videos of Sunday worship services will continue to be posted to the parish website for the duration of the suspension of church services. Each Saturday, you will receive the psalm and words of the responses and other communal parts of the service, allowing you to fully participate and interact in the worship service.

So get that second cup of coffee, still in your pajamas and bathrobe, and gather together in front of the computer or iPad or other other device . . . Then join with me and other members of Messiah as we worship together virtually, until we can once again worship together in person.


Bishop Gutierrez continues to broadcast on the local CBS station for Sunday morning Eucharist services. You can watch at 5:30 a.m. on Channel 3; or 9 a.m. on YouTube and Facebook.


Please help Messiah to remain financially solvent and secure through the continued regular payment of your pledge. Payments can be delivered during office hours, or mailed to: Church of the Messiah, 1001 Dekalb Pike, Lower Gwynedd, PA 19002-1941.

Many thanks to all who have submitted pledge payments - and even additional financial donations, or advance payments of pledges. Your faithfulness is greatly appreciated and has been a great help over the past weeks. Thank you!


Several of you have commented how much you appreciated the prayer published in last week's Rector's Message, so I have decided to leave it here for another week. May the words and petitions expressed here serve as inspiration for these troubled times in our nation, and be ushered into reality by our actions and deeds . . .

O God, who created all peoples in your own image, we thank you for the wonderful diversity of races and peoples who have come together in this great nation, and strengthened our culture with the many gifts, talents, perspectives and flavors they have brought and shared. Enrich our lives by ever-widening circles of fellowship, abolish all prejudices that separate us, open our eyes to recognize, and acknowledge, and celebrate your presence in those who differ most from us, until our knowledge of your love is made perfect in our love for all your children; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

adapted from The Book of Common Prayer


Answer me when I call, O God, defender of my cause; *

you set me free when I am hard-pressed;

have mercy on me and hear my prayer.

"You mortals, how long will you dishonor my glory; *

how lone will you worship dumb idols

and run after false gods?"

Know that the Lord does wonders for the faithful; *

when I call upon the Lord, he will hear me.

Tremble, then, and do not sin; *

speak to your heart in silence upon your bed.

Offer the appointed sacrifices *

and put your trust in the Lord.

Many are saying, "Oh, that we might see better times!" *

Lift up the light of your countenance upon us, O Lord.

You have put gladness in my heart, *

more than when grain and wine and oil increase.

I lie down in peace; at once I fall asleep; *

for only you, Lord, make me dwell in safety.

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