Introducing Pastor Jon Nelson
Jon Nelson began serving as pastor of Park United Presbyterian Church in Zelienople on February 1. He has served many different churches and ministries since being ordained in 2000. Most recently he was a shared pastor to two churches in separate presbyteries, synods and states—Wisconsin and Michigan.
His undergraduate studies were in Child Development Psychology. He received his Master of Divinity and Doctor of Ministry from Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California.
Jon was born and raised in Southern California while his mother was raised Southern Baptist in rural Alabama. Jon says, ‘As a child, we didn’t attend church, but my mother faithfully read her Bible. We also prayed before meals. When I was around eight, I got mad at my brother and said “You fool!”’ His mother was aghast and immediately sat him down to read Matthew 5:22 which says, in part, “… if you are angry with a brother or sister, you will be liable to judgment; … if you say, ‘You fool,’ you will be liable to the hell of fire.” That got Jon’s attention and put the fear of God into him.
A few years later he started attending a Presbyterian church with his family. Jon asked his pastor if he would be go to hell for calling his brother a fool. The pastor chuckled and said, “No son, that’s why Jesus died on the cross. You no longer have to worry about going to hell.” Jon’s heart immediately felt a thousand pounds lighter. Knowing the God of grace and love changed his life forever.
Jon has been married to his wife Michelle for twenty-two years. They have a daughter, Karah who is a freshman at Rockford University in Rockford, Illinois.
Jon is looking forward to focusing his efforts upon one congregation and in Park’s case, a congregation with young families with small children. Jon says, “I enjoy the breadth of activities within a solo-pastorate.”
Of his new home, Jon says, “I love the hills,” which remind him of the foothills of Los Angeles. And he likes being in a place where he is not the only Presbyterian pastor for miles around. Jon is grateful that the presbytery regularly lists wonderful, local events and appreciates the continuing education opportunities here. He looks forward to growing into the image of our Lord alongside of us.
Happy 100th Birthday to Agnes
Our wonderful, amazing friend, Agnes Peebles, turned 100 years old on January 1, 2020.
Agnes’s service to Beaver-Butler Presbytery has included many terms on the Presbytery Mission Committee (under a variety of names; Mission & Compassion Ministries Unit, Congregational Mission Unit, and Mission & Outreach), The Peacemaking Committee, and the Personnel Committee, often chairing those committees.
Agnes organized the itinerary and hosted many of the International Peacemakers who have visited our area. She was instrumental in the SERRV Artisan Marketplace’s day to day operations and has been very active in the Beaver-Butler Presbyterian Women’s association. She has recently completed the compilation of historical data for all churches of Beaver-Butler Presbytery that have either closed or are no longer a part of our Presbytery. This was a huge undertaking for which she was honored at our March 2019 Presbytery meeting.
Agnes, Certified Christian Educator, retired staff member of the Synod of the Trinity, adjunct Professor, author of many articles and Leaders Guides, APCE (Association of Presbyterian Church Educators) Educator of the Year, continues to be very active in her home church, Calvin in Zelienople.
Introducing Page Creach
Page Creach is happy to be so warmly welcomed as a colleague and friend by so many of you in this presbytery. And, she is grateful to be called Minister to Frankfort Presbyterian Church in Frankfort Springs. She knows them to be a people full of Spirit and grace, showing the love of God to her and others, through Jesus Christ, in good and faithful ways. She says, “It is an honor to serve them.”
This call to serve the Church began with Page’s birth. Her crib with her name over it was in a room of the church. She was there at least three days a week. In kindergarten, in the Deep South, she told the class that she would be a minister when she grew up when such a thing as that was not seen or heard. Her mother cried, “I’ll never see my grandchildren; you’ll be in Africa!” Her father said, “If this is really a call from God, you will not be able to turn away from it.”
Page completed her MDiv degree at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. She was one of five women ordained in the country in that denomination in 1988. After serving churches in the South, she was welcomed by Presbyterians to serve in the PC (USA). The Presbytery of the James approved her call among us, and The Rev. Dr. Elizabeth Achetemier led her installation service as Associate Pastor of First Presbyterian Church, Rocky Mount, NC.
In marrying her husband, The Rev. Dr. Jerome F D Creach, Senior Professor of Old Testament, Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, and moving with him to the North, being a parent to their daughter and son while serving churches here, and completing her DMin at Princeton Seminary in 2008, Page has been blessed and enriched. She continues to proclaim God’s Word in several presbyteries and to care for God’s people in many ways, and now, here with us, as she begins to serve a new call. What a gift of life is this Way! Page looks forward to life in community with all of you! And we welcome her.
An Experience Hard to Capture—
Mission Trip to Nepal
We believe that God is a God who exceeds our expectations. This statement can be affirmed by the members of Plains Presbyterian Church. This past September, 16 individuals, including five youth, traveled to Nepal where they experienced “God with us.”
After a day and a half of flying, they boarded trucks and were driven four hours into the mountains of Nepal. The elevation combined with the switchbacks, made the journey hard, but they knew something great waited for them in Ilam—their home away from home. God was waiting for them in the mountains.
They spent the week working at Green Hill Academy, a private Christian school in the neighboring village of Nepaltar. At the school they worked with the International Children’s Network (ICN). ICN is a Christian-based organization that believes that when we combine the gospel’s message with education, we can change the world. ICN’s sponsorship program helps save many children—children whose families struggle with poverty—from human trafficking.
Life at Green Hill for Plains members was a blessing. They worked on the construction of a bio-gas generator which will help the fragile infrastructure of the school maintain power in a community with rolling blackouts.
Finally, they cut bamboo to help a local church planter build the church. Even though Christianity is outlawed in this Hindu nation, they could see pockets of God’s presence breaking through. The work was hard. The rain was constant. But God was with them each day giving them what they needed to serve and care for others in spite of the language barrier.
Through the miracle of this trip, Plains members witnessed God showing them how to live as Christ lived without needing to say anything. It was a ministry of presence and of love. It is hard to capture the miracle that happens when people across cultures join together, but for the group of mission workers, it did happen.
If you want more information related to their trip, please don’t hesitate to contact Plains Presbyterian, or better yet, come to the November presbytery meeting. Representatives of the group will be present and would love to tell you their stories and share their experience.
Putting On a New Face
Our Presbytery Center building is in the middle of a multi-year facelift and maintenance upgrade. Last year we were able to paint the facade of the building and trim the entry so that we are now a pleasant part of the historic Zelienople downtown scene. Recently we put infill shutters on the upper window spaces which had been blocked in years ago. This year we have painted the north side of the building and the rear. We are now in the final stages of putting a new roof on the building.
Along with these upgrades we have replaced some failing sidewalk concrete and removed the worn and weary chain link fence around our parking lot. Our plan is to place some attractive landscaping along the edges and to continue to find small ways to bring some green spaces into that part of the property. In 2020, we hope to re-point some of the brickwork on the south side and then paint that so the whole exterior of our building will be in good shape for another significant season of service. Since we removed the faded awning from the front, and will soon do the same in the rear, we will develop new signage.
The Administration Committee is grateful to the Coordinating Team for their support in this effort. We have also been able to partner with Main Street Zelienople to receive a very nice grant for the facade work. We hope that these improvements may be a blessing to the Zelienople community.
Protect Your Church from Increasing Phishing Scams
Phishing scams send emails, social media posts, text and ads that mimic reputable businesses like banks, online resources and credit card companies to trick people into sharing their financial and personal information and/or downloading malware. Scammers also pretend to be pastors from local churches emailing people for small financial assistance as not to raise any red flags. However, the damage to reputations and trustworthiness of pastors and their churches is tremendous.
Here are five simple tips to avoid Phishing Scams:
- Be cautious of all emails and messages sent to you. Be 100% sure you know who is sending you the email/message. Never click on link(s) unless you are 100% sure who it is from and you know it is 100% safe.
- If you are not sure of the validity of the email/message use another form of communication (like phone call, text, etc.) to reach out to that person and/or entity to confirm they sent you that email/message and that it is safe to click on their link(s).
- Scam emails/messages are always designed to get you to react quickly and impulsively. So pause, use your common sense, and check it out before reacting.
- If you know the entity and need to send personal or sensitive information always make sure it is to a secure website. All secure websites have https:// and a security “lock” icon. Never use public WIFI to send sensitive information, always do it from your personal WIFI account.
- If you receive any scam emails, before deleting forward it to the Federal Trade Commission at firstname.lastname@example.org .
As our lives continue to connect with more digital technologies we will need to learn how to safeguard ourselves and our family in this new environment. As we navigate this fast changing technical terrain we will need to stay educated and rely more on our old fashion common sense.
Thank you to John Fong, Presbytery Digital Disciples Ministry & Communication Consultant, for providing this information.
If you need help or have questions, contact John.
Songs of Faith and Praise (blue)
Howard Publishing Co., Inc.
The Hymnbook (red)
If you are interested in having them, contact Chris Ann Goossen at the Beaver-Butler Office: email@example.com or 724-452-7515 X 12.