January 2021 News & Annoucements

Operation Christmas Child

The shoeboxes we packed last fall will be distributed in Madagascar and a Hard to Reach Area.  Madagascar is an island nation off the east coast of Africa.  A Hard to Reach Area is a region where the Gospel is unknown or a place where it may be dangerous to teach about Jesus.

Samaritan’s purse has been distributing Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes in Madagascar since 1993.  Since 2010, shoebox recipients have been invited to join The Greatest Journey, the follow-up course developed by Samaritan’s Purse to encourage and equip young disciples of Jesus.

When we close the lid of a shoebox we have filled, our job is not finished.  Please continue to pray for the children who will receive our gifts.  Pray that the contents of their shoeboxes will meet their particular needs or wants and that the children will become followers of Jesus.

Collection week for 2021 may seem a long way off, but we need to begin preparing now.  The following are some ideas for your participation:

  • Donate Christmas cards you received that have religious pictures.
  • Donate used or extra calendars that have pictures of animals or natural scenes.  (Pictures will be used to decorate the inside of shoebox lids.)
  • Save coins in a medicine bottle.  (Money collected will be put toward the shipping donation.  Coins may be placed in the container by the offering plate.  Empty medicine bottles are available in the foyer.)
  • Purchase WOW items when you find bargains.
  • Make a donation toward the purchase of items in bulk.
  • Build, knit, sew, crochet, craft… gift items.

Thank you for the many ways in which you have supported Operation Christmas Child.  I look forward to serving in this ministry with you in the New Year!

 Blessings!  Mary Lou

Giving Envelopes: 2021 envelope boxes can be collected on the foyer table. If you don’t have a box assigned to you, take an unaddressed box and let Lewis Youmans know the number on the box (youmans@nycap.rr.com) 

Year End Financial Statement summary: 
Total income:    $117,684 
Total expense: $130,005
Budgeted:          $128,931
If you’d like a report with categories or budget, ask Pastor Jeff. A 2021 budget is also available. 

Directory Update- you can check the details on the foyer copy and edit anything by January 17th

Consistory Meeting, January 14th 

2021 Consistory (and term ending)
Elders: Sarah Bramer (2021) , Jonathan Meredith (2023), Mary Lou Ryan (2024)

Deacons: Allison Coons (2021), Kathy Jenkins (2022), Tracie Anteman (2023), Leslie Hooper (2024) 

Consistory continues to monitor the COVID situation. 

The local case numbers have gone up in the last month: +47% since 11/25, and the last 14 days (1/6-12/24) are 18% of the total cases since March (for an average of 16/ cases day over last 14 days). Hospital capacity is within a few percentage points (2-5%) of the State promising more restrictions. While we are confident that what we are doing keeps us safer, there may come a point where we need to stay home. We will communicate with email and the website with any change of plans.  

In the meantime, we look forward to when we can get together again more normally. Take time to check in with neighbors and friends. 

Consistory Nominations

Election of Elders & Deacons

We are accepting nominations for Elders and Deacon until November 29th.  We are looking to fill two Elder terms (a 2- and 4-year term) and one Deacon term (4-year term).  

 You can submit a name by putting it into the box on the foyer table or use the online form. Their election is confirmed at our annual meeting (12/6). If you have questions, feel free to speak to a current consistory member. 

What do Elders & Deacons do? 

The Elders are responsible for matters involving the spiritual welfare of the church. Oversight includes providing for worship, encouraging spiritual growth, and visitation to the sick. Deacons steward the gifts of the church. 

Requirements: First, elders and deacons serve the household of God so a basic qualification for an office is for the person to be a Christian that demonstrates a life shaped by Christ. Here are a few Scripture passages describing the qualifications of Elders and Deacons: 1 Timothy 3:1-13; Titus 1:5-9; 1 Peter 5:1-11. 

Terms: In our church, Elders and Deacons serve one four-year term at a time. Practical expectations include: being available for meetings once a month in the evenings (usually Thursday), devote time to pray and helping on Sunday morning. 

Page to submit names online.

November News & Announcements

Worship Committee Meeting, 11/4, 7 pm in the Fellowship Hall.

Operation Christmas Child

            Thank you for the many ways in which you have supported Operation Christmas Child this year!  We have all felt the impact of the pandemic.  I hope that participating in our traditional outreach to children in other parts of the world has given you some sense of normalcy.  For the children who receive our gifts during these difficult times, it will be a great reminder that they are loved.

            There are a number of ways in which you may continue to participate in OCC this season.

  • Pack a box on your own.  Bring your filled shoebox to church on Nov. 15 for Dedication Sunday.
  • Contribute toward the cost of shipping and other ministry related expenses for the 305 shoeboxes packed at our packing parties.  You may do this by collecting your spare change in a medicine bottle, by sponsoring a certain number of shoeboxes, or by giving any amount you are able. 
  • Volunteer to serve at our drop-off site during collection week (Nov. 16-23).
  • PRAY for collection and processing to go smoothly, for no problems with shipping and customs, that children’s needs will be met, and that hearts would be open to the Gospel.

If you have questions, need shoeboxes, or want to volunteer, please see me or call 518-827-4093.  Thank you again for blessing children with a tangible representation of God’s love.

                                                                                                Mary Lou

Mugs & Muffins Bible Study, continues Wednesdays 3:30-4:30 for a few more weeks, reading Ephesians together in the Fellowship Hall. 

2021 Budget: The Consistory will be reviewing the budget for next year. The budget is one way of making plans and setting priorities for the coming year. Committees have been asked to submit any requests of the budget, due to Consistory by 11/12. 

Consistory Meeting, November 11/12

Upcoming Sunday Worship 

  • November 1st, All Saints Day, celebrating the Lord’s Supper
  • 11/8, Gathered Worship
  • 11/15, Gathered Worship, including shoebox dedication 
  • 11/22, Christ the King Sunday 
  • 11/29, First Sunday of Advent
  • 12/6, 2nd Sunday of Advent

We’ll continue to livestream worship. The link and the bulletin will be at the website, on the page: At Home Resources. Prayer requests can be forwarded to Pastor Jeff – phone, email or text.

Ham Supper: this year we will not be hosting our annual supper. The major factors for this included: 

  • not being able to seat people in the hall (or- it would take a long time to seat the usual numbers with the given restrictions), 
  • preparing and serving together with the given restrictions 
  • not knowing what November will look like. 

All those things, we would be losing too much about the reasons we do this and the ways it is done. Thanks for your understanding and we’ll consider it again next year. 

The Study Hall at the Fellowship HallThanks to everyone who offered to help. The word is out and we are waiting to see if any students need to make use of it. We’ll keep it out there for another month or so and see how things go. Many different scenarios could play out where this would be helpful to families in the MCS district- so thanks for keeping this in mind.  

Annual Meeting December 6th after worship. 

October News & Announcements

Mugs & Muffins Bible Study, continuing Wednesdays 3:30-4:30 for just over six-weeks reading Ephesians together, on the patio or inside in the Fellowship Hall. 

Youth Education:  Plans are being developed to help families, including options of in-person and resources to use at home.

The Study Hall at the Fellowship HallThanks to everyone who offered to help. The word is out and we are waiting to see if any students need to make use of it. We’ll keep it out there for another month or so and see how things go. Many different scenarios could play out where this would be helpful to families in the MCS district- so thanks for keeping this in mind.  

2021 Budget: The Finance Committee and Consistory will begin working on the budget for next year. While it is a best-guess about our spending, we do use it to set our priorities in a practical way. Committees are being asked to think about what they hope to do in next year, and if it requires money, they can request it to be included in the budget. 

Consistory Meeting, November 11/12

Annual Meeting December 6th after worship. 

Ham Supper: this year we will not be hosting our annual dinner. The major factors for this included: 

  • not being able to seat people in the hall (or- it would take a long time to seat the usual numbers with the given restrictions), 
  • preparing and serving together with the given restrictions 
  • not knowing what November will look like. 

Financial Reportavailable on the print copies

Worship, Life Together & Restrictions 

As we to journey through this time of the pandemic, we continue to adjust how things are done. Sunday worship is our central gathering time as a congregation, so we are trying to accommodate each person who wants to participate. Our seating in the sanctuary is a challenge. We are bumping up against fitting everyone with the prescribed distance. So be mindful of 6’- about a two arm’s length. We will work to seat others in chairs around the space. We are also working out how we can use the foyer and the hall. We’ll continue to stream the service for folks staying at home. The State has plans for rolling restrictions as cases emerge. It does not call for houses of worship to ever be closed, but the number of our gatherings could be curbed. We’ll follow whatever we are asked to do as we value setting a good example and loving our neighbor given that we will still be able to worship, though we may have to get creative how that happens. 

As we try to care for one another in this time, the church has funds available to help with financial stress, along with recommended counseling services, and spiritual nurture. You can check out the website for a start under RESOURCES.  

September News & Announcements

How are you? 

Our typical routines have been disrupted everywhere. It is a good time to think how you are – and how you want to- tend to your soul.  In this season consider how you need to be pay attention to God, yourself, and others- Up, In & Out. We are carefully considering out how our life together as a church can support, empower and encourage one another, so we’ll be trying new things.  This includes Sunday worship time and space, format and function, ways of serving the broader community, and time together. You are invited to help, participate and figure this out with us. Share what you need, ideas you want to try and needs you see. You’ll find a few things beginning here and more coming in the next couple weeks. 

Mugs & Muffins Bible Study, Wednesdays 3:30-4:30 for six-week session reading Ephesians or Philippians together, beginning 9/16 on the patio off the Fellowship Hall. 

Youth Education:  Plans are being developed to help families, including options of in-person and resources to use at home.

Consistory Meeting, September 10th, 7 p.m.

(financial update available- just ask!)

Operation Christmas Child

            Countries all over the world have been impacted by COVD-19 in a variety of ways.  For a time, Operation Christmas Child shoebox distributions were interrupted by the pandemic.  Where it is safe to do so, they have been resumed by dedicated ministry partners.  It is critical during this difficult time to spread the Good News of Jesus.  Children and their families need to know that there is Hope!

            In keeping with health guidelines, our shoebox packing will be conducted a little differently this year.  Instead of our usual big packing party, we are having a series of smaller ones.  The first was held on Sept. 2 with masks, social distancing, and a limited number of participants.  We hope that everyone who wants to participate will have an opportunity to do so.  The next packing party will be on Saturday, Sept. 19 beginning at 10 a.m.  Please see Mary Lou to reserve your spot.

            THANK YOU to everyone who has generously donated funds or purchased gifts to meet our goal of filling 305 shoeboxes in 2020.  THANKS also to those who are filling medicine bottles with their loose change to go toward the shipping donation for the shoeboxes.  May God bless you for blessing others!

            Prayer is the foundation of Operation Christmas Child.  Some concerns for you to lift up include:

  • packing parties
  • collection week (Nov. 16-23)
  • processing
  • children who will receive our gifts
  • volunteers who will distribute shoeboxes

Public Worship Canceled- COVID-19

March 17, 2020

Dear Middleburgh Reformed Church family and friends, 

We are honoring the request by the Schoharie County Department of Health that because of the COVID-19 pandemic, we will not gather for worship for the next two weeks. There will be no public worship March 22nd and 29th. This includes all activities and meetings. 

This does not mean we are canceling church or worship! Actually, we believe this is impossible. Worship will happen, even if the rocks have to cry out. What we can do is not to miss out! I will be putting together an order of worship for you to use in your own home. This way we can still pray together this Sunday, read Scripture, and listen to God’s word. I will send out an email and post this to our website (www.middleburghreformed.org) later this week. 

In the meantime, I’ll be checking in on you. I’ll start calling people Wednesday to make sure you received this message, unless you reply first. We have people in our church willing to help with any needs, including errands, like grocery shopping. I would even be happy to share toilet paper. 

We are also closing the building to social gatherings at this time. This does not include AA meetings. 

And finally, a word of encouragement. For some, this situation is adding to our already full life of anxiety and kicking up fears about the unknown for us and those we love. For others, it’s a news headline that is disrupting our regular routine. Wherever you are, hear again that God has you, He cares for you, and He is willing your good. How do we know? Because of his great love for us that even while we were still sinners (estranged and far from God), he sent Jesus Christ into the world for our salvation. When we come to know this it’s a wonderful moment! We also set out in a journey for a lifetime of knowing this more and more. This is something you can say with all the assurance one can muster to others: trust this anchor, Jesus Christ, instead of the other anchors that are coming loose. Times like this kick up ways that we can still trust God more, refining our desires and thinking. This moment can become an opportunity that we can prayerfully get clear on things we trust in, but that will disappoint. A favorite psalm to read at a graveside service is 121: “I lift my eyes to the mountains, where does my help come from?” (v. 1) The mountains and high places were positions of strength, protection, military advantage. Today we might say our mountains are money, health care, governments. Does our help come from them? Perhaps some, but not ultimately. These other things are temporary and will not hold the weight of Life. As those who have faith in Christ, our protest is: “My help comes from the Lord, maker of heaven and earth.” (v.2) We may stop meeting for a couple weeks for a short-term social good and in obedience to the government. But we remind ourselves that our life is more than health, wealth and safety. “The Lord will keep you from all harm— he will watch over your life” (v. 7). 

If you have any questions, concerns, or need anything, let me know. I look forward to seeing you again soon, 

In Christ, 
Pastor Jeff Kelley

jeffa.kelley@gmail.com  cell: 518-860-7404 (call or text)

February News & Announcements

Leadership Meeting, February 13th, 7 p.m. (6:30 Consistory)

Christian Education 10 am Sundays. No Youth Education 2/16 (President’s Day Weekend)

February 9th, Potluck The Fellowship Committee is proposing that we try something new: Second Sunday Pot Luck.  Instead of our usual coffee hour, we will gather for a shared meal. We want everyone to feel welcome to take part in the meal!  It is not necessary for everyone to contribute food.  Your presence will be the most important thing you can share.  Please plan to join your MRC family on February 9 to enjoy good food, generosity, and hospitality!

Check out how ways you can help our church family, coming and goingComing: Take a month to clean the sanctuary, volunteer in the nursery, read Scripture, or host coffee hour, or join a committee. 
Going: Join the Mission Planning Team for conversations about how we are being called to go or look out for coming opportunities. The Food Pantry can also occasionally use volunteers. See Russ Ryan for details.

Sign up for the weekly connection email. Announcement reminders plus weekly prayer requests and occasionally other things of interest. You can sign up through the website: middleburghreformed.org

Operation Christmas Child  
Destination Togo
The shoeboxes we packed last fall will bless children in the African nation of Togo.  This small country in Sub-Saharan Africa gained its independence in 1960.  Togo’s economy depends on subsistence and commercial agriculture.  Half of the nation’s population lives below the international poverty level.  Teacher shortages result in low quality education and high drop-out rates, especially in rural areas.  

Please pray for the children in Togo who are recipients of our gifts.  We know that through Christ all things are possible.  May the Good News of Jesus lead the children, their families, and their friends to a brighter future!

Preparing for Our 2020 Packing Party
        Some of the most cherished gifts children receive in their OCC shoeboxes are letters and photographs.  Bundles of Christmas cards to which you may add a note are located in the foyer.  Chase away cabin fever blues by writing cheerful notes to children! 
            During the month of February, we will be collecting toothbrushes (multipacks appreciated) and small stuffed animals.  You may leave them in the OCC box in the foyer.  Always be on the lookout for a bargain.  Gifts of all kinds are always welcome!
            As we grow the number of shoeboxes, we pack each year, we also need to grow the funds that cover shipping and the training and equipping of those who distribute the gifts.  On September 19, we will be hosting our third Harvest Bazaar to benefit Operation Christmas Child.  Please save the date!  A new fundraising campaign for this year is called Giving with Gratitude.  You will find more information in the foyer.  Thank you for supporting Operation Christmas Child with your prayers all year long.

January 2020 News & Announcements

From the property committee

We Need Help Cleaning the Sanctuary 

     One of the sign-up sheets on the table in the foyer is for volunteers who wish to participate in cleaning the sanctuary for 2020.  After the flood, the property committee decided to ask for volunteers for this space as a way to reduce the expenses for cleaning our buildings. We are paying Tom and Kellie Rogers to take care of the parts of our building that experience extensive use every week.  With enough volunteers, we think we can take care of the sanctuary for worship on Sunday.  Guidelines and supplies are kept in the closet under the stairs.

      In past years, we have also asked for volunteers to clean other parts of our buildings, but at this time we are only asking for sanctuary volunteers. There will be certain times when volunteers will be needed for specific tasks which will be posted as necessary.  Last year, there were two people who cleaned the sanctuary all year.  It would be great to have more people involved to share the work in this very special space.

Consistory Meeting, January 9th, 7 p.m. (new consistory members will begin after their installation on the 19th).

Signups for committee and groups will be available for January 12th  & January 19th. Consider how you would like to help out: 

     Fellowship Committee: (also need a chairperson)

     Education Com: (also need a chairperson)

     Property Com: Leslie Hooper chair.

     Worship Com: Joan Youmans, chairperson

     Mission Planning Team, Tracie Anteman, organizer.  

There are other ways to help out too, including: cleaning the sanctuary for a month (see above), ushering, nursery, coffee hour, and reading Scripture.  

Our new Consistory will be installed on January 19th. Jonathan Meredith will serve as an Elder. Tracie Anteman and Bill Milak will serve as Deacons. We thank Susan Pendergast for her work and care as an Elder these past four years. 

Pastor Jeff will be away January 10 & 11 for a regional gathering to talk about the RCA’s 2020 Vision Team work. 

items of interest from the Leadership Team meeting: 

  • The finance committee and the Deacons plan reevaluate processes and accounts to match our capacity. 
  • Mission Planning Team is hosting a Red Cross Blood Drive January 24th
  • Property Committee is working on restoring Classroom #1, engaged a company to replace the smoke detectors as a course of maintenance. The PC continues to work on keeping the buildings clean and maintained. 
  • There is a desire to send out a newsletter in the coming month. If you have something to contribute, forward it to Pastor Jeff. 

Giving Envelopes are available. 

If you don’t have a box assigned to you, take an unnamed box and let Lewis Youmans know the number. 

How does it work? each set of envelopes has a number that is assigned to a giver. That number is connected to your name by our Financial Secretary, Lewis Youmans. Each Sunday of the year has an envelope. When used the amount is recorded with the number. At the end of the year you’ll receive a financial statement of the total giving. Only Lewis has access to the total amount of giving. 

Using the envelopes is not necessary as there are other ways to remain anonymous (cash) or receiving a statement for tax purposes (checks). But if you find it helpful, please avail yourself of them. Other questions about our process? Ask a Consistory member. 

Glasses for Guatemala

During OCC collection week, one of the donors spoke about a medical mission trip she will take in February.  She is a nurse and will be assisting doctors who will be performing eye surgeries and fitting patients for eyeglasses.  Your old glassed are needed!  Please leave them in the basket in the foyer by January 12.  Thank you!