News

Park Pop-up Pantry Provides

When Pastor Bob Goossen is in the church office during these days of pandemic, his heart gets a little lift when he looks out the window. At the picnic shelter in the front yard of Park Presbyterian Church in Beaver, he sees people taking what they need or leaving what they can.

His experience is not unique. A member of the congregation relates how she met a young lady one morning when she and her husband were stocking the Pop-up Pantry—“She was so appreciative that we are doing this. She said she is the only one working in the household right now. She kept thanking me over and over again.”

The idea for a Pop-up Pantry arose soon after the the COVID-19 pandemic began to impact people’s ability to collect a paycheck. The Park Church congregation quickly went into action using the church’s picnic pavilion with its easy access from Third Street in Beaver. 

It was launched on Easter Sunday intending it to be open all day, every day. The congregation encouraged each other to “shop plus one” at the grocery store. The idea was to not create too big of a burden for any one family. A bar of soap, a box of cereal—every little bit could help. Monetary donations were also requested with volunteer shoppers doing the leg work.

One parishioner said she enjoyed shopping for items. She says, “It was fun to imagine folks being able to serve their families the soup or cereal or the other things I selected. Imagine my delight when two ladies scampered around exclaiming how they liked each item I had brought and then offered to help unload my car! They kept saying “God bless you”, so I know I must have made good choices.”

Immediately the high demand for non-perishable food items, personal hygiene products, cleaning supplies and toilet paper was obvious. After an article highlighting the outreach effort appeared in the Beaver County Times, contributions to help with restocking began to arrive from beyond the congregation. The Beaver Area Education Association sent a check with words of appreciation. Neighboring Vanport Presbyterian Church heard about the project and began offering their support.

With no way of knowing when the repercussions of the pandemic will cease and allow people’s incomes to return to normal, Park Church will continue to do what it can to meet a very real need in central Beaver County. 

To donate to the Park Church Pop-up Pantry, send checks to Park Presbyterian Church, 275 Commerce St., Beaver, PA, 15009 marking in the memo “Food Pantry.”

Something for YOU to Consider

A Letter from Nominating and Representation Committee

The Presbytery will be needing to fill slots for positions on our units and committees. In early August, the Nominating and Representation Committee will begin to discern names and to contact folks we sense we are being led to do a new thing. We may have seen you at a Presbytery meeting or you may have been recommended by your pastor or by someone else.

Before any of these steps begin, we are asking you now, and we mean you, to prepare yourself and to prayerfully consider what God may be calling you to do next. Will it be a position in the Presbytery on one of our units or committees? If so, are you willing to take that risk to serve in a new capacity? Scary? Different? Absolutely. But be assured that you will be led by the Holy Spirit as we have been promised. What can you contribute? More than you could ever imagine.

Will an opportunity to do this be challenging? Yes. Will it be exciting? Yes, in a certain way. Will you be frustrated? Perhaps. Will you be bored?  Not at all. Are you qualified for the task? We must believe and seek to follow Joshua’s instruction as seen in Joshua 1:9, “Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Remember, God does not call the equipped, but equips those whom He calls.

By accepting this work as a call, you will grow in your faith and your congregation will be blessed by your new found awareness of a wider church. 

Please prayerfully consider this opportunity. You do not have to wait for an invitation from us. You could call the Presbytery office and tell Barb to put you on the list and we will follow up. May God’s blessings be abundant in your Christian life.

Believe & Rejoice,
Presbytery Nominating & Representation Committee

Little Free Pantry Having Big Impact at Ohio United Church in Aliquippa, PA

By Mike Givler, Communications Coordinator, Synod of the Trinity

Little did the Rev. Nick Marlatt and his Ohio United Presbyterian Church know just how important their “Little Free Pantry” food box would turn out to be to the Aliquippa, PA, community when it was constructed and set up outside its church building two years ago. With the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, this outreach has not only grown in need and participation, but also in meaning.

“It seems like there are more folks in the congregation who have taken ownership,” Nick said, “and as they have conversations with family members or others in the community who don’t go to our church or have this continuous connection to it, it seems to be providing an outlet for folks who want to help. It’s an easy way to love on folks who aren’t working.”

Like the “Little Free Library” boxes that house books and pamphlets for the taking, the pantry is normally filled daily through worshipers’ donations with canned goods and other non-perishable items – plus things like travel-size soaps, toothpaste and toothbrushes, and feminine hygiene products – for the community to take as it needs. It also accepts donations from the community, including home-grown produce. Now, in this time of the coronavirus, the box is being stocked twice a day as stay-at-home mandates and the closing of non-essential businesses has created a greater need for these goods.

“The motto is, ‘Take what you need, leave what you can,’” Nick said. “It’s always open, it’s always there. If people need to grab something, they can grab it. It’s also an opportunity for the community at large to help out and put food in.

“Most days, by the time the person comes back in the evening to restock it, it’s empty. There definitely has been a much greater outside use. There were times before coronavirus that it was moderately stocked, and stuff would sit there for a couple of days. There has definitely been a drastic increase in the use and the need.”

Because people who are receiving government assistance can only use those benefits for food items, the hygiene products that are also available in the “Little Free Pantry” are extremely valuable to the community.

“Those non-food items cost more, but those are also the things that you need but don’t get government help to get,” Nick added.

Ohio United Church in Beaver-Butler Presbytery is located between three of the five school buildings in the Hopewell Area School District and near a couple low-income housing developments. It allows the congregation to play the role of the center-of-town church that is passed by the students who are walking to and from school, thus giving more exposure to the church and its ministry. The congregation also has a weekend backpack program to help students stay nourished when they are not in school.

“It’s this baby-steps effort of looking outside the four walls of the congregation into the local area as a mission,” Nick said. “This is something very low risk that we can do that might have a profoundly significant impact on somebody else’s life.”

This outreach aligns with the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)’s invitation for churches to become Matthew 25 congregations. Seeking those who are, among other things, “eradicating systemic poverty,” this movement is highlighting the work being done by PCUSA churches throughout the country. It’s an invitation that Ohio United Church has been discussing, in many ways is already doing and matches up with the congregation’s new mission statement of “Loving God, Loving Our Neighbor, Helping Our Neighbor to Love God.”

“This is part of following God’s call,” Nick said of the work being done by his congregation. “And you begin to see when you follow God’s call that blessings stand out beyond what you may have intended them for in the first place.

“We’re deeply thankful for the individuals who God has laid on their hearts to help out their neighbors, neighbors who they might not ever know or see. It’s a low-bar, passive way of helping, but you see it’s needed, and it helps. Our call isn’t to decide who should come and get it; our call is to provide and to love our neighbor. We believe God will bless those who need to be blessed by the food here and the rest is out of our control.”

The “Little Free Pantry” that sits outside Ohio United Presbyterian Church in Aliquippa, PA, not only houses food items, but also things like toothbrushes, toothpaste and feminine hygiene products.

This article was originally posted on April, 20 on the Synod of the Trinity website in Featured News.

Introducing Reverend Emily Miller

REV. EMILY MILLER is a native of Pittsburgh, growing up in the South Hills area. She holds a law degree from the University of Pittsburgh, and she practiced law in both Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. After hearing the call of God for the ministry, Emily entered seminary in 2001. Since then, she has served 5 churches in the Pittsburgh area as a student pastor and as an ordained minister.

Emily has been married to Ed Miller for 29 years and together they have four children, plus a wonderful daughter-in-law. She loves sports, animals, reading and, of course, serving the Lord. Emily feels extremely blessed that the Lord has led her to First Presbyterian Church and she hopes to welcome the entire community into worship there. If you are in the area, Emily invites you to worship in Beaver Falls!

We welcome you, Emily.

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.

Welcome, Jon.

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.

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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).
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. If you receive any scam emails, before deleting forward it to the Federal Trade Commission at spam@uce.gov .

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.

Facebook Help Desk: http://bit.ly/AskJohnFong
Email: johnfong@elizabethpresbytery.org
Text: 732-318-7955

Hymnals Available…

Songs of Faith and Praise (blue)
Howard Publishing Co., Inc.
1994

The Hymnbook (red)
Presbyterian Denominations
1955

If you are interested in having them, contact Chris Ann Goossen at the Beaver-Butler Office: chrisanngoossen@beaverbutler.org or 724-452-7515 X 12.