January 19th Sermon

The Series: The Gospel of Mark continues this week with "The Heart of the Matter" based on Scriptures Zechariah :1-10 and Mark 7:1-8, 14-23.Gospel-of-Mark-Graphic


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2014 Vision Letter

I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come from?

My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.

-- Psalm 121:1

Let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.

--Galatians 6:9

 

Dear CUP Evangelical Presbyterian family and friends,

Have you ever taken the time when you have been on a long hike to stop and take a look at the view? There are numerous trails in Brady’s Run Park that are breath-taking in more than one sense: I’m out of breath from the exertion of climbing them, but when I get to the top, I’m breathless from the view that awaits me!

This Summer marked my 10th anniversary with you as Teaching Elder/Pastor, and it seems appropriate to take a few moments to ‘look at the view’ of where we’ve come from. For example, let’s take a look at what we’ve done with the three challenges I placed in last year’s congregational meeting cover letter:

‘First, there is a greater need than ever before to share the good news with our neighbors and our children.’

We were blessed during 2013 to have a very successful Vacation Bible School, and while we faced the significant challenge of saying good-bye to our former Children’s and Youth Director Nathan (and Kylee) Bryant, we have been greatly encouraged by the addition of Matt (and Kate) Ulrich on the CUP staff. Joel Cunniff stepped in as our Interim Shine Ministry Director, and this Fall saw the largest number of kids – 46! that this ministry has ever experienced. It was not unusual for our kitchen crew to feed 100 people on a given Wednesday night.  I have heard the following comments about our children’s ministry:

This is the one place my son feels he can truly be himself.’  ‘This is the finest ministry to children I know of in our community.’ ‘We would put everything else on hold in order to be a part of Shine.’

We have much more work to do, but there are several families who are experiencing the life-changing love of Jesus Christ at CUP that receive it nowhere else.

‘Second, we have an opportunity to play a crucial role in bringing the good news to people who have never heard it half a world away.’ 

This year our congregation chose to give over and above their regular financial offerings to provide funding for 26 children to attend school in the isolated village of Fintonia in Northern Sierra Leone.  We are a part of an initiative involving other area EPC churches that are bringing about the first schooling and sharing of the gospel through pastors that this community has EVER received. In addition, Fintonia is positioned to provide a gospel witness to entire TRIBES – the Fula and the Susa – who have never had a church in their midst.  Currently 180 children are receiving an education, and 60-80 children and adults are coming to hear about Jesus Christ each Sunday from Pastors Dominic and Ruth. That a church our size has this kind of role to play in the Great Commission of Jesus (Matthew 28:18-20) is awe-inspiring.

‘Third, we are a part of a Denomination that is growing and transforming before our eyes.’

As I’ve mentioned to you before, when we joined the Evangelical Presbyterian Church in April 2009, we were the first church in Beaver County to be a part of this family, and it was not unusual to drive 7 or 8 hours to be a part of a Presbytery meeting. Since then, dozens of churches in our region have joined the EPC, and we are a part of a new Presbytery of the Alleghenies, and will host a meeting that will likely have close to 200 attendees on February 21-22.  We have found faithful, intelligent, gracious partners for retreats, mission work, and ideas for reaching our communities.  For the first time in this year’s budget, we will be giving not only to EPC missionaries, but the to the local work of our Presbytery as well.

So – for the coming year – what’s next?

In a nutshell: To persevere, maintain, and develop the same work that we are currently doing.

Eugene Peterson, a Presbyterian pastor, distinguishes between at ‘Tourist’ of the Christian faith and a ‘Pilgrim.’  He writes,  ‘In our sound-byte, short cut world, it is not difficult to get a person interested in the message of the gospel; it is terrifically difficult to sustain the interest. . . when the package loses its novelty, it goes on the garbage heap. There is little enthusiasm for the patient acquisition of virtue, little inclination to sign up for a long apprenticeship in what earlier generations of Christians called holiness.’

Friends, we are intentionally on a journey with our lives, going someplace, going to God, who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. As we pray, worship, cry, sing, give, and learn together,  and take the time to let the Lord permeate our memories, our hopes, our motives, and our values, we will be changed – for good.

In the end, of course, nothing we do provides us with salvation: it has all been given to us by the costly work of Jesus on the cross (Romans 6:23). Yet as we respond to God’s mercy with gratitude and openness to others as he has encouraged us to do, we’ll find a joy, even in the midst of suffering, that will last longer than a day, or a year – but for eternity.

Blessings,

Pastor Scott


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January 12th Sermon

The Series: The Gospel of Mark continues this week with "Wrong Side of the Tracks" (Zechariah 3:1-10, Mark 7:24-35)

Installation of Officers will also take place during Worship

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June 21st Worship Update - COVID-19

June 21 Worship Update - COVID-19 (Click to download .pdf file)

 

June 21st Worship Update

 

Dear Cup church family and friends,

 

In case you haven’t heard, we are starting worship in the sanctuary this Sunday, June 21.

We are really looking forward to seeing as many of you as possible, and after 12 weeks of online-only services, this is a joyful step forward! Still, we are working diligently to create an environment that provides the proper balance of safety and openness. Toward that goal, Session has adopted the following policy for the next few weeks. This statement has some changes from the newsletter update, though much of this remains the same.

      1. We ask anyone who is not feeling well or those particularly vulnerable to the Covid-19 virus to refrain from attending worship until it is safe to do so. We plan to tape the service for the next several weeks and post it to the church website (cupepc.org).
      1. Everyone will be required to wear a mask to enter the church building, and in the hallway leading to the sanctuary, until seated. Once in the sanctuary, mask wearing is strongly encouraged, but not mandatory. Ushers will ask how many are in your group, and if you plan on wearing a mask during the service or not. We ask that you not move around to other groups once seated.
      1. Seating has been arranged for social distancing between groups. Our ushers will guide you to your seats.
      1. We are asking that those not wearing masks sit in the center section of the sanctuary, if possible. This is the section of the sanctuary furthest away from the air circulation.
      1. There will be no nursery care or Sunday school for now. We encourage families with children to bring them to worship (as long as you stay together.)
      1. We will continue to use the pre-packaged communion elements that we used on May 31 for the July and August communion services. (July 5 and Aug. 2) Ushers will ask if you plan to take communion when you’re seated and provide you the elements when they seat you.
      1. Offering boxes will be placed at the rear of the sanctuary for your use. (Online giving through tithely continues to be available.) There will not be a coffee or snack station for now.
      1. Hand sanitizer will be available at several locations. The bathrooms will be available for use, but the drinking fountains will be closed. Bottled water will be available for those who need it.
      1. We are keeping the lower part of the church building closed to limit the amount of space to be sanitized following the service.
      1. Due to the concern of potential spread of covid-19 through singing beyond the 6 foot radius, we are asking those wanting to sing to wear a mask while doing so. We are limiting the amount of singing we are doing in worship in the near future and will continue to monitor this and all other parts of our worship service moving forward.

Friends, we’re walking through unprecedented times together. There are many theories and new information on covid-19 being published daily. Each of us may come to varying conclusions about what the best approach to this should be. (I addressed this in the June 7 sermon.) Our primary goal as a Session is to provide the best environment for our congregation to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever, even if we have different views on the pandemic response. This is a great opportunity to show someone else some grace! The Sanctuary is designed to be a place of safety and security for us physically, spiritually, and emotionally. While we realize not all of us can come together in body for worship, we are working and praying toward the day when, by the Lord’s mercy, it will be so.

Job 23:10 states, ‘God knows the way I take; when He has tested me, I will come forth as gold.’ We still have many days before us – but I’m grateful to God and to you as we continue this journey together. May the Lord refine us and allow us to be used for his wonderful purposes!  We hope to see you Sunday –  and God bless you!

 

Cordially,

Pastor Scott