Pastor's Letter

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adult sunday school— 9:15am / children/youth sunday school—9:15am / fellowship—10:00am Worship Service—10:30am

The latest from Pastor Bill

Letter from the Pastor

by: Keith Howell

09/06/2019

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Dear Friends,

Grace and peace to you from God, the Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ. It is Friday again and time for another note. I trust you are well and at peace in the Lord, despite whatever you may be facing in your lives presently.

A quick reminder, the Bells Workshop begins at 8:30 a.m. in the morning, Saturday September 7, in our Sanctuary. If you have any desire to ring bells in our bell choirs, you are welcome to attend.

The session has reconsidered its time change for Sunday School classes. The session has moved the time… read more

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Dear Friends,

Grace and peace to you from God, the Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ. It is Friday again and time for another note. I trust you are well and at peace in the Lord, despite whatever you may be facing in your lives presently.

A quick reminder, the Bells Workshop begins at 8:30 a.m. in the morning, Saturday September 7, in our Sanctuary. If you have any desire to ring bells in our bell choirs, you are welcome to attend.

The session has reconsidered its time change for Sunday School classes. The session has moved the time change, effective next Sunday, September 15, from 9:30 a.m. to 9:15 a.m. The rationale for the Sunday School time change from 9:00 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. and now to 9:15 a.m. has several components. Though it may have appeared to some of you that the session was out of its mind in changing a perfectly good Sunday School start time from 9:00 a.m. to initially 9:30 a.m. and now back to 9:15 a.m., the session has to keep before it the totality of the congregation’s life and work. Thus, in the bigger picture, the session’s rationale for changing the start time start time of Sunday School from 9:00 a.m. to now 9:15 a.m. is as follows:

Standardizes our Sunday School start times for all age groups – Adults, Young Adults, Youth, Children

Standardizes our public advertisements concerning SGPC’s Sunday morning schedule – newspaper, website

Provides some of the time for those who want a later start time for Sunday School at 9:30 a.m., thus potentially increasing current Sunday School participation

Does not significantly affect those who like the 9:00 a.m. Sunday School start time

Allows for choir members, ushers, and greeters to attend a full 45 minutes of class before 10:00 a.m. duties begin

Gives those who want to stay an hour in the classroom for further study, conversation, fellowship until 10:15 a.m.

Gives Sunday School attenders who need some time to prepare physically for worship (restroom, etc.) some transition-time cushion in that regard

Whether you agree with the session’s decision to change Sunday School start time or not, keep in mind that the session has broad responsibility given to it in our Book of Order to oversee the life and work of the church. This includes setting the start time for Sunday School, as well as approving teachers and curricula for the classes. In exercising its duty, the session must keep a larger, broader picture in mind for the congregation’s overall health and mission. In the future, should you have issues with any session decision, feel absolutely free to call, email, or drop by my office for a conversation. I am more than willing to discuss session decisions, and rationale for those decisions. We may agree to disagree, and session actions may not be revisited, but you are obligated to me and I am obligated to you in Christian community to speak “the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15-16) to each other since in the body of Christ, the church, we are “members one of another” (Romans 12:5).

So, to reiterate, ALL Sunday School classes will start at 9:15 a.m., beginning next Sunday, September 15.

Narthex upgrades are underway. Painting will begin next week. I call your attention to this week’s church newsletter, The Trumpet, which was published on Wednesday. If you did receive your copy of the The Trumpet via email, you may go to www.sgpcgeorgetown.org and follow the links on the church’s website for The Trumpet. The new edition of The Trumpet has an extended article, complete with pictures, detailing the Narthex upgrades that are on the way. Next Sunday, September 15, there will be an extended Minute For Mission during worship to highlight the Narthex upgrades and to enlist your help in paying for the Narthex refreshment. The total cost is estimated to be no more than $14,000. I know this is a lot of money, but when all of us pool our financial resources together, it is a cost reasonably attainable. I know you will join with me in contributing to the Narthex upgrades – A New Narthex for a New Day!

CALLING ALL MEN OF THE CHURCH!!! Just a quick note that Men’s Breakfast will return next Saturday, September 14, at 8:00 a.m. in the church’s Narthex. The Men’s Breakfast Fellowship has taken a break for July and August. As summer ends and the fall begins, all Men of the Church are welcome to attend the Men’s Breakfast Fellowship Breakfast kicking off its fall schedule on Saturday, September 14, 8:00 a.m.

As the Lord’s Day, Sunday September 8 approaches, a few notes between us.

First, Rally Day is this Sunday, September 8, 9:00 a.m., in the East Wing of the Sanctuary! Sunday School classes will be suspended and ALL age groups – Adult, Young Adult, Youth, Children – will “rally” to celebrate a new year of Christian Education at SGPC. A hot breakfast will be provided of breakfast tacos, fruit, coffee and tea. During breakfast we will engage in some intergenerational fun and fellowship and learn more about the exciting year ahead for Christian Education at SGPC. For our size congregation, we pack a mighty punch when it comes to the quality of Christian educational opportunities available to us in the congregation. Come celebrate the quality of our content and the integrity of our teachers as we rally to celebrate Christian Education this Sunday, September 8, at 9:00 a.m.

The Scripture lessons for this Sunday’s worship are the entire letter of Philemon, verses 1-25, and Luke 14:25-33. The title of the sermon is “Estimate the Cost.” Jesus tells the church that there will be personal costs for following him. Are you ready to pay the price to follow Jesus? For Philemon, this meant giving up his rights to a valued house slave, Onesimus, who has converted to the same Christian faith of Philemon. For others it could mean strained, to broken, relationships with close family. “Are you ready to pay such prices to follow me?” Jesus asks us.

Finally, the session is monitoring any possible coordinated efforts through Mission Presbytery and the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) to help those in the Bahamas devastated by hurricane Dorian. I will keep you informed of these efforts. I am certain that our denomination’s disaster relief agency, Presbyterian Disaster Assistance (PDA), will be on the ground in the Bahamas shortly. You can go online towww.pcusa.org and follow the links to Presbyterian Disaster Assistance and give directly to PDA for Bahamas relief efforts. Please be careful of financial scams during this time. I would suggest that you give money either through PDA efforts or through The Salvation Army. Both entities have excellent integrity, practice very lean overhead costs, and provide superb donor to recipient financial ratios for every dollar given.

That is all for now. Be safe, stay cool, and do good work. See you Sunday if you are able to attend.

Gratefully, Bill

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Letter from the Pastor

by: Keith Howell

08/30/2019

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Dear Friends,

I hope this note finds you well and in good spirit. It looks like we need to be remembering our neighbors in Florida as Hurricane Dorian gains strength in the south Atlantic. It is a good time to remember some traditional Reformed theology. Though God has created all things, seen and unseen, this affirmation does not mean that God creates hurricanes that can cause such devastating damage. Reformed Christians hold these two truths in tension with each other: God has created all things/God does not create natural disasters to devastate land, animal, plant, and people. This is why… read more

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Dear Friends,

I hope this note finds you well and in good spirit. It looks like we need to be remembering our neighbors in Florida as Hurricane Dorian gains strength in the south Atlantic. It is a good time to remember some traditional Reformed theology. Though God has created all things, seen and unseen, this affirmation does not mean that God creates hurricanes that can cause such devastating damage. Reformed Christians hold these two truths in tension with each other: God has created all things/God does not create natural disasters to devastate land, animal, plant, and people. This is why we are Presbyterian! We are willing to live with the seeming contradiction of this statement and trust God at all times and in all places. I hope you have a safe and enjoyable Labor Day Weekend.

I am very excited to announce that the session has approved upgrades and refreshes for our Narthex! Our building is twelve years old and is beginning to show the effects of wear and tear – especially our Narthex which is used more than our Sanctuary. The session formed a task force to study and recommend upgrades for the Narthex – a new Narthex for a new day! The task force is composed of active elders Terry Blevins, Evelyn Fox, Anne Kenter, Ann Weir, and consultant Bill Holland. For those of you who may not know, Bill Holland is a member of SGPC and the original architect for our beautiful building. The task force has met weekly since the middle of May! I am grateful for such dedication, deep thought, and hard work that will contribute greatly to a new and fresh look for our visitors and members. The task force’s goals were to make the Narthex aesthetically welcoming, informationally informative of the church’s life and work, and functionally hospitable by encouraging conversation and fellowship. You can already see some of the changes taking shape in the Narthex. This Sunday you will see a digital monitor on the south wall that will be utilized to show pictures of the church at mission as well advertise events in the church. Behind the monitor, you will see a snapshot of the new paint color for the Narthex that was carefully and intentionally chosen by a painting consultant, and the task force, and approved by the session. You will be hearing more detail about the Narthex upgrades in the weeks ahead, including a detailed presentation on Sunday September 15 with an extended Minute for Mission during worship. You will also be given an opportunity to contribute financially to the upgrades as together we create a new Narthex for a new day. Stay tuned!

Please note that the start time for Sunday School will change on Sunday September 15 from its current 9:00 a.m. start time to 9:30 a.m. The session voted unanimously to make this change for the following reasons. One, our website and public advertisements are confusing to our potential visitors as to when Sunday School actually starts. Is it 9:00 a.m. for Adults, or 9:30 a.m. for Young Adults, Children, and Youth? Visitors and new members have both reported to me on confusion in these matters. In addition, there are young adult members who have indicated, that from time to time throughout the year, they would like to attend some of the excellent Sunday School classes we have for adults. When Adult Sunday School starts at 9:00 a.m. and Young Adult, Children, and Youth Sunday School starts at 9:30 a.m., we have an internal disconnect. Young adults who want to attend Adult Sunday school must make provision for their children with a 30-minute disconnect between 9:00 a.m. and 9:30 a.m. start times. Overall, we need to have a unified approach on Sunday mornings with our Sunday School start times in order to be the most hospitable and welcoming and accommodating that we can be to our members and visitors. I trust you understand the session’s reasoning, even if you disagree with its decision.

Next Sunday, September 8, 9:00 a.m., is Rally Day at SGPC. We will suspend all Sunday School classes and gather at 9:00 a.m. in the Sanctuary for a catered hot breakfast as we “Rally” to celebrate Christian Education ministries at SGPC. During breakfast, you will have the opportunity to hear about the exciting year ahead for children, youth, and adult education at SGPC. The menu for the breakfast will be breakfast tacos, fruit, juice, and coffee. NOT PANCAKES! I hope you will take this opportunity to gather for a hot breakfast, fun, and fellowship as we celebrate our Christian Education ministries at SGPC. Again, NEXT Sunday, September 8, 9:00 a.m., Rally Day!

As the Lord’s Day, Sunday September 1 approaches, a few items of note.

Adult Sunday School begins at 9:00 a.m. in Room #4. The Rev. Dr. Mary Gaines will be leading a class discussion entitled “When God is Silent.”

This is a first-Sunday of the month. Our custom is to serve communion during worship on first Sundays. It is our custom on first-Sunday communions to remember those neighbors in our midst who are hungry and underserved. Contributions to The Caring Place will be accepted, including cereal, canned tuna/chicken/meats, Ranch Style beans (not green!), soups, and personal toiletry items toothpaste, deodorant, and bar soap. It is important for us to try to remember that if you are retired on just Social Security, or working at minimum wage or just above minimum wage, affording personal hygiene items stretches household income to breaking. Please give generously to our neighbors who are indigently retired or who are working for very marginal wages.

Scripture lessons for this Sunday are Hebrews 13:1-8,15-16 and Luke 14:1,7-14. The sermon title is “…they cannot repay you…” I will try elucidate the radical hospitality Jesus calls the church to practice in welcoming the poor and the outcast to our table.

Last, but not least, two items to remember this week. First, our Women’s Ministries at SGPC kicks off its fall schedule this Wednesday, September 4, at 9:30 a.m. in the Sanctuary. The Women will welcome Henry Owen as their speaker. Henry is the new Executive Director of John Knox Ranch. I can personally vouch for Henry! His wife, Emily Owen, was my associate pastor at Matthews Presbyterian Church in North Carolina. Emily and I served together for six years at Matthews. I baptized their two boys, Jack Henry and Ross, born to Emily and Henry while in North Carolina. I cannot say enough good things about the Owenes! John Knox Ranch is very fortunate to have someone of Henry’s intellect, creativity, and industriousness as its executive director. Henry is a dynamic speaker and a wonderful person. Everyone is welcome – even if you are not active in Women’s Ministries at SGPC, or a man!, you are welcome to come and hear Henry’s presentation this Wednesday, September 4, at 9:30 a.m. in the Sanctuary.

And second, don’t forget the Bells Workshop scheduled for next Saturday, September 7, beginning at 8:30 a.m. in the Sanctuary. We are forming a second bell choir at SGPC. Now is the time to step forward if you are even remotely interested in playing bells. The workshop sessions will teach you to read bell music and best practices in physically handling bells. If you have questions, contact our bell choir director, Ernie Sydow, at 512.943.0435 or Lynn Chapman at 512.731.5562.

A reminder, the Church office will be closed on Monday, Labor Day.

Have a safe and enjoyable Labor Day weekend. Stay cool. Do good work! See you Sunday, if you are able to attend.

Gratefully, Bill

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Letter from the Pastor

by: Keith Howell

08/23/2019

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Dear Saints of San Gabriel,

Greetings in the name of our Lord, Jesus Christ! It is Friday and Sunday is coming right around the bend. I hope this note finds you well and in good spirit in the Lord – despite whatever challenges life is throwing your way presently.

We welcomed E.J. and Donna Stein to active membership at SGPC during worship last Sunday. I know you will take time to welcome them further to our fellowship as the weeks progress.

We are still a few Sundays away, but I wanted to emphasize Rally Day on Sunday, September… read more

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Dear Saints of San Gabriel,

Greetings in the name of our Lord, Jesus Christ! It is Friday and Sunday is coming right around the bend. I hope this note finds you well and in good spirit in the Lord – despite whatever challenges life is throwing your way presently.

We welcomed E.J. and Donna Stein to active membership at SGPC during worship last Sunday. I know you will take time to welcome them further to our fellowship as the weeks progress.

We are still a few Sundays away, but I wanted to emphasize Rally Day on Sunday, September 8. Rally Day is our annual fall gathering and kickoff for SGPC’s Christian Education ministries. On Rally Day, Sunday September 8, there will be no scheduled Sunday School classes. The whole church is invited to breakfast in the Sanctuary at 9:00 a.m. A hot breakfast will be provided as a joint effort between our Fellowship, Adult Christian Education, and Children, Youth, and Family Committees. During breakfast there will be a time of fun, fellowship, and a short program introducing Christian education opportunities at SGPC during the fall 2019 and spring 2020 semesters. Rally Day is a time for the church to “rally” and celebrate the mission of Christian Education in our congregation. I hope you will come and have breakfast and enjoy the celebration as we rally for Christian Education!

Speaking of Christian Education, on an unanimous recommendation from the Adult Christian Education Committee, the session has unanimously decided to move the start time of Sunday School from 9:00 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. BEGINNING SUNDAY SEPTEMBER 15. Our children, youth, and young adult Sunday School classes already meet at 9:30 a.m. The Adult Christian Education Committee received feedback from Adult Sunday School teachers who were in favor of this time change. In addition, advertisements on our website and in local print publications were confusing for people as they showed two start times for Sunday School. By starting all Sunday School classes at 9:30 a.m., the session believes we are sending a clear message on start times for Sunday School and unifying all our efforts on Sunday mornings. Again, the move of Sunday School start time from 9:00 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. will not start until Sunday, September 15. Stay tuned for further updates.

Keep in mind that our church choir season has just begun. Our SGPC Choirs are open to everyone! We need you, especially if you are a tenor. There are opportunities to contribute from Praise Music to Bell Choirs to Chancel Choir (Gabriel’s Sounds). Gabriel’s Sounds and Praise Team are already practicing. The Praise Team meets every Wednesday evening at 6:00 p.m. in the Sanctuary. Gabriel’s Sounds follows at 7:00 p.m. Childcare is available for both Praise Team and Gabriel’s Sounds practices. If interested, or you have questions, contact Sean Mann, our Director of Music Ministries, atrseanmann@gmail.com or call him at 512.426.6273. The Bell Choirs practice on Tuesday afternoons at 5:30 p.m. (beginning September 10). Of special note, on Saturday September 7, beginning at 8:30 a.m. in the Sanctuary, there will be a Bell Choir Workshop. The workshop will teach basic skills in reading bell music and bell handling techniques. If you have an interest in participating in the Bell Choirs and attending the Workshop on September 7, you may contact Ernie Sydow at erniesydow43@gmail.com or call him at 512.943.0435 or contact Lynn Chapman at chapmanlynnmarie@gmail.com or call her at 512.731.5562.

As the Lord’s Day, Sunday August 25 approaches, a few notes of importance.

Adult Sunday School begins at 9:00 a.m. (The start time will not move to 9:30 a.m. until Sunday, September 15.) Joe Ventura is leading this week’s Adult Sunday School Class in Room #4 at 9:00 a.m. Joe’s topic is “Discerning What God is Doing: A Study of Acts.”

After worship this Sunday, you are cordially invited to attend a reception in the East Wing of the Sanctuary. The reception is being provided by the Kropps (Leonard and Wanda) and the Hollands (Bill and Bev), who are celebrating their 55th Wedding Anniversaries this week. Cake will be served.

The Scripture passages for this Sunday are Hebrews 12:18-29 and Luke 13:10-17. The sermon title is “An Acceptable Worship” and will focus on the passage from Hebrews.

This Sunday evening at 6:30 p.m., at Wellspring United Methodist Church, the 2019-2020 season of the Georgetown Ecumenical Wholeness Servicegets underway. Ginger Mann directs the music for these reflective services based on the music of the Taize Community in France.

That is all for now. Be safe. Stay cool and hydrated in this very hot weather. Do good work!

Grace and Peace, Bill

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