PASTOR-TEACHER REPORT TO THE CONGREGATION
REVIEW & PREVIEW SUMMARY
Bible Study & Preaching: Acts 10 and following with surveys of Paul’s letters at suitable times (i.e. Galatians with Acts 15) Acts 17 and following with surveys of Paul’s letters at suitable times
Other Teaching & Preaching: (especially with Fellowship Dinners) Psalms 111-126; topics (e.g., church membership, God’s love; Colossians Road; prayer, sanctity of human life, shepherding); seasonal (e.g., Father’s Day) Continue series in Psalms; seasonal themes; issues, topicsLord’s Day Evenings Various themes Various themes
Session: monthly & special meetings
Presbytery: (2+) meetings; Interim Moderator of Rochester Session; Ad Interim Commission chairman; mentor seminary graduate in internship
Synod: (1) meeting; (1) Board (RPTS) including Development Committee Session: monthly & special meetings
Presbytery: (2+) meetings
Synod: (1) meeting; (1) Board (RPTS); including Secretary, Executive Committee, Faculty Election Committee and Development Committee; (2) Committees: Graduate Study Committee; Deaconess Committee; (Other) articles for RP Witness
Community Pastors Prayer: Biblical languages reading groups (Greek, Hebrew); OEA; OCCS chapel; Farmer’s Market Prayer Ministry Pastors Prayer; Biblical languages reading groups (Greek, Hebrew); OEA; OCCS chapel; articles for Palladium-Times
REVIEW & PREVIEW DETAILS
The Lord graciously sustains my joy in the work of praying, teaching, preaching and counseling. I look forward to getting back in the study each Tuesday. I am thankful that my medical challenges are managed though sometimes the cure seems worse than the disease. I plan to retire in 2024 and so have just one more decade of full time labor. I am anxious to make the very best possible use of this time and pray that the Lord will give us greater blessing in the coming decade than in the previous ones combined. I very much appreciate your prayers for me and your kind expressions of encouragement.
Karen and I are doing well. We rejoice with Paul & Rebecca in their first anniversary and pray for the salvation and blessing of all our children. We are very thankful for your generosity in providing for our costly medical insurance for many years. Karen accepted an offer to work full time at the library primarily for the health insurance that this affords. She is very gracious to do this and it is a challenge for us to adjust to the additional demands on our time and energy. My mother turned 90 in July and we continue to care for her including spending each Lord’s Day afternoon with her.
SESSION & DIACONATE
With you, I am extremely blessed by our Ruling Elders. They each have distinctive gifts and complement each other in the exercise of them. I think we are a good team and are growing wiser, stronger and, I pray, more faithful and fruitful. Among other virtues, I especially appreciate their patience, forbearance and perseverance in many challenges. Our Diaconate continues to serve well though they need additional members. I appreciate Tomohito Tsutsumishita’s work as chairman of our Diaconate. I am thankful for Andy Curran having kindly resumed service as our treasurer and for Deb Standish now taking up this work. Pray for all of your officers and consider whether God has gifted and called you to serve in this way. If you discern a possible call to ordained service, please inform one of our current officers, help them in their work and learn from them. See the Session and Diaconate reports for more information.
CLERICAL I impatiently endure the necessary administrative work and appreciate the help that various people provide including John McGrath, Andy Curran and Val Burditt. John McGrath helps me with Session, Presbytery and Synod work, Andy Curran helps with various projects and Val Burditt prepares the bulletins each week with my assistance. I do the paper monthly calendars for now, hoping that the web site will make these unnecessary very soon. I delegate as much of this work as I can and continue to desire a regular church secretary/administrator when our finances permit.
INTERNSHIP We did well in providing an internship for Scott Doherty. It was very costly for us in time, energy and money but Scott richly blessed us and both he and his family were greatly blessed. It is amazing to consider all that God did for Scott and us in the past year! May the Lord give us many more opportunities to be used by Him in providing men for the ministry and ministry for the men. Scott will provide his own report. Please keep all the Dohertys in your prayers.
BIBLE STUDY & PREACHING Last year we continued our series through Acts and I plan to do the same this year. We will be considering Paul’s letters as we come to the places from or to which he wrote them, so there will be some nice variety in our studies. I plan to continue the series on the Psalms in the preaching and to address various needs and opportunities as the Lord directs. I would like to finish up sermons on the final chapters of the Confession in the Essentials series. Please give me your requests for studies and sermons.
We continue to celebrate the sacraments each week, almost always the Lord’s Supper. I enable us to participate meaningfully in this sacrament by seeking strength (bread) and forgiveness (cup) for those very things we have just considered in the preaching. I continue to pray and labor that we will enjoy baptisms of converts as well as covenant children. Remember that the sacraments help us avoid the one extreme of rationalism even as the word enables us to avoid the other extreme of mysticism.
Meeting before worship prevents me from teaching. This schedule seems to continue to work well. I appreciate the efforts made by our teachers and parents. Elder O’Brien will give a review and preview of the classes in his report.
ELDER HOUSEHOLDS / SHEPHERDING GROUPS
Your Session continues to strive to provide good pastoral care for you. Elder McGrath will address this in our Session’s report. Pray for your Elders that they would lead you well in following Christ.
ALL FAMILY NIGHT
These have been delightful times! It is so good to see whole families involved. We plan to have a light meal after the evening session of our monthly day of prayer and a pizza night each month. Please sign up to provide the food and contribute to the costs as you are able. Elder McGrath will continue to work through The Shorter Catechism with the children; Elder O’Brien will take Scott’s work with the youth and I will teach the adult Bible study. It is difficult for the younger children and their parents to stay out until 8PM. I think we would do well to consider renewing something like the Children’s Story Hour, perhaps from 5-6PM. The children could then have dinner with their parents at 6PM and go home afterwards for their regular bed time.
There is a pressing need to provide child care for our youngest children during classes and, perhaps also, All Family Night. Krista Dahar volunteered to oversee these things. See her if you have needs or would like to help.
I am very thankful that so many of you are so faithful in this pleasant and privileged duty. Please be especially mindful of our students, visitors and single adults. Our fellowship dinners continue to be a primary means of hospitality. Our Missions & Ministries days need leadership. There are a number of pressing needs that could be addressed on these days.
EVANGELISM, DISCIPLESHIP, FELLOWSHIP, VISITATION, COUNSELING
My goal is to equip you by means of prayer and word & sacrament so that you would take good care of yourselves and your households, meet needs in the lives of the people around you and so that they would meet your needs as well. Be sure to do all you can to be equipped so that you can evangelize, disciple, fellowship, visit and counsel one another. See Lk.10:1f; Rom.15:14; 1Cor.12:4ff; Eph.4:11f; 2Tm.3:16f. Please consider the “buddy system” employed for swimming at many camps. That is, find someone in the congregation that you will watch out for in a special way and who, in turn, will watch out for you. Think of Jonathan and David (1Sam.18:1).
I am trying to find ways to encourage more people to be more involved in the life and ministry of our congregation. I am considering recruiting particular people for particular responsibilities so that good and necessary things are not left undone. We cannot afford to hire people but honoraria may be suitable. Each of us has the duty to give to the Lord in our congregation of our time, talent and treasure, but there comes a point where justice requires at least honoraria. Please give me your thoughts on these things.
Elder O’Brien has rightly said, “The RP church has a PR problem” and we have long desired to become effective in connecting with our community for the purpose of disciplemaking. Jeff Wallace has many gifts and skills in these things and he has been working with Session, the congregation and me to this end. This process is uncomfortable for many of us in many ways but it is necessary to persevere in it. See more in Jeff’s report.
I was very disappointed in the turnout for Rich Ganz’s presentations last year. Many careful arrangements fell through and Rich himself was struggling with significant pain in his hip. Nevertheless, he was blessed in his visit and we were blessed by the Lord through Rich. The New Song concert this summer was a stark contrast. Jeff Wallace publicized this event and we enjoy a very good turnout. We need to provide events on a regular basis (e.g., quarterly) that will connect with our community and give us opportunities for disciplemaking.
Last year, Scott audited philosophy courses with a former professor. I do not see any way to follow up on this except in prayer. We are blessed to have Lydia Goerner among us as a freshman at Oswego State. We are also enjoying a growing relationship with Zach Neyhard of Christian Campus Ministries and Outpouring Church. Elder Plummer is serving Zach as an advisor. I would love to see our IXTHUS group restarted. Pray for God’s blessing on these things, for an open door at the college and for laborers.
I continue to write devotionals out of my sermons on the Psalms for The Songs of Zion column in our denominational magazine, Reformed Presbyterian Witness. Through Jeff Wallace’s contacts at The Palladium-Times, I wrote a community focused article that was accepted and plan to provide one article each month during the coming year. Please pray for God’s empowering and blessing of this labor.
Last year I served as chairman of our Presbytery’s Ad Interim Commission which takes care of matters arising between regular meetings. Elder McGrath served with me on this commission along with Pastor Coombs and Elder McCune of Messiah’ Church. This involved a fair amount of work. I also served as Interim Moderator of the Rochester Session as they called and waited for a new Teaching Elder. This was largely in appreciation for their significant contribution to our internship fund. This work involved a weekend in Rochester each month, moderating Session meetings, visiting and counseling, and preaching, along with the correspondence and planning that this service required. The Lord enabled me to help Doug Chamberlain take up this work in Rochester and then be in a position to help our Endicott congregation where he is now. Helping Doug was very challenging but God was very good. I do not have duties in Presbytery at present but have various responsibilities in Synod. See the list in the Review & Preview chart at the beginning of this report.
In view are: training men for the ministry (including sustaining our support of Scott Doherty’s Ph.D. studies) and preparing ministries for the men (church planting); developing tools, resources and events for outreach for disciplemaking; new officer recruitment and training; development of Missions & Ministries Lord’s Days; building a picnic pavilion and our long desired building addition; paving our driveway and parking lot along with other property improvements and beautification. Talk to me about short and long term goals on your heart.
We suffered some hard loses again last year but also enjoyed some sweet additions. The Lord sometimes advances His kingdom by means of difficult providences (see Acts). I am greatly encouraged by people taking responsibility for various things, including Krista Dahar and Jane O’Brien leading women’s groups. The spring work day was very well attended and I look forward to an event like that this fall. Please be sure to contribute your time, talent and treasure to your congregation in your service to Christ (Eph.4:16).
I participate in the Oswego Evangelical Alliance (OEA) which consists of Pastors and some others from Elim, New Covenant, Reformed Presbyterian, Christian & Missionary Alliance and Scriba Baptist. We meet for prayer each Thursday morning, for Greek and Hebrew reading later that same morning, and once every other month for a business meeting. Our annual Good Friday fellowship continues to be blessed. I also speak at chapel at OCCS in the regular rotation (as did Scott last year) and when there is a sudden need.
Please talk to me! Tell me what you’re thinking about our congregation, how you’re feeling, what you like and dislike, what you fear and hope for. Tell me your desires for the teaching, preaching and life of the congregation. Speak to me face to face or by email (email@example.com), phone or text (517-630-6325) or the boxes in the foyer (cards are provided for each). Please talk to me!
My calling from God as explicitly defined in the Scriptures is to devote myself to prayer and the word & sacrament in order that I would live accordingly and teach and preach faithfully. This is so that every person in the congregation will be equipped to do what God has called you to do in your lives, labors and relationships including in the life and ministry of the congregation. As I fulfill my calling and you fulfill yours, all the work God calls us to do gets done to His glory, our good and the good of the world around us. Be sure to get what you need and share what you’ve been given. See Ezra 7:10; Acts 6:4; Ephesians 4:11-16; 1 Timothy 4:12-16.
DAILY: first, word & prayer; second, languages & studious reading; preparations for presentations; third, writing; general reading, counseling, visitation; administration
WEEKLY: Lord’s Day: preaching morning sermon, administrating sacraments; hospitality (usually visiting my mother); presiding in evening worship; counseling throughout the day; Monday, rest, home work; Tuesday, Bible study preparations; administration, counseling, visitation; Wednesday: Bible study preparations, teaching Bible study, counseling; Thursday: Pastors’ Prayer Group; Biblical Languages Reading Groups; administration (especially courts and projects), counseling; Lord’s Day preparations; Invisible Choir; Friday: Lord’s Day preparations; administration, counseling; marriage night; Saturday: administration, counseling; but primarily FINISH everything for the Lord’s Day
MONTHLY: Moderate Session Meeting; lead Day of Fasting & Prayer meetings; participate in Men’s Breakfast and Oswego Evangelical Alliance meeting
YEARLY: Synod (1); Presbytery (2+); Synod Board and committee meetings (2+)
As an older Pastor, I am asked to assist students and other pastors, congregations and presbyteries but try to do this in a way that blesses our own congregation. Know that, even when I am away, out of the pulpit, or doing things that don’t have a direct and immediate relationship to our congregation, I am working for your good and the good of your generations. This involves much labor, much risk and corresponding potential for great reward. Please pray and labor with me for God’s blessing on all of us in all these things as well as on our coming generations.
Your servant in Christ,
Pastor Kit Swartz
SESSION REPORT TO THE CONGREGATION
As the Clerk of Session, one of my main responsibilities is to maintain the official records regarding the Session’s activities which include the minutes and all related documentation which our actions entail. For many years, it has been my privilege and responsibility to participate in the higher courts with our Pastor, which is simply a by-product of our close work together on the Session. Due to this emphasis in my work, I am especially zealous to do what I can to inform the Congregation regarding Presbyterian Church government. There are, of course, other approaches to governing in the church and by the grace of God, they bear good fruit, but Presbyterianism provides for the most representative form. In short, you elect those that will rule over you and those that are elected, ordained and installed have the responsibility to watch over your souls. These are the appointed means instituted by Christ, through His apostles to establish and oversee the church. In the Pastoral Epistles, the Apostle Paul goes to great lengths writing “so that you may know how one ought to conduct himself in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and support of the truth.” The members of the congregation are entitled, by the word of God, to expect that the faith and life of their elders is in accordance with scripture and to hold them to that standard. On the other hand, members of the congregation are enjoined by scripture to “obey your leaders and submit to them; for they keep watch over your souls, as those who will give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with grief, for this would be unprofitable for you.” Much of the elder’s time is involved with watching and judging the character of their own faith and life, so that they can shepherd and equip the Congregation. Toward that end, your Session endeavors to provide for the sound preaching and teaching of the Scriptures, ample opportunities for prayer, the faithful administration of the sacraments, church discipline and meaningful fellowship. (Acts 2:40-47) The beginning of the new church year is an opportunity to examine ourselves and by the grace of God, strive to bring our behavior into conformity with sound biblical principles.
To order our work in overseeing the members & adherents (A) of our congregation, in 2013 the Session studied at length, a book entitled The Shepherd Leader, authored by Timothy Witmer and among other things, developed the following schedule for fulfilling its responsibilities:
|Elder McGrath||Elder O’Brien||Elder Plummer||Pastor Swartz|
|Curran, Andy||Burditt, Val||Bock, Billy||McGrath, John|
|Dahar, Chris||Chatterson, Tess||Bock, Joel||O’Brien, John|
|Dahar, Gary||Emmons, Jenny||Orr, James||Plummer, Kevin|
|Murphy, Maureen (A)||Hulme, Kelly (A)||Trejo, Kelly (A)||Wallace, Jeff|
|Swartz, Kit||Ladd, Mark||DeMott, Brian (A)||Standish, Stephen|
|Standish, Aaron||Roarick, Genny||Hays, Jake||MacLean, David (A)|
|Stupp, Brian||Soranno, Frank||Tony Buckalew (A)|
A word about the table. Only heads of households are listed, but the Elder’s responsibilities include ministry to the entire family. It is our intended goal that the head of each house would become an “elder” to his family and lead them. On the Elder’s part, we endeavor to visit formally with each household once per year, (more often, if requested), provide for informal fellowship together and engage in informal conversation during mutual gatherings at church. It is a common practice with visitation in some congregations, that a member of the Diaconate would accompany the Elder to address any pressing needs that arise. At present, your Session is not following that approach, but we would encourage each of you to contact the Diaconate for relief of any pressing need. In addition, the fourth Lord’s Day of each month has been set aside for Mission and Ministry, with the intent that everyone use this time for outreach and fellowship opportunities that cannot be addressed during our normal schedules.
During this past year, the Session met, formally, fourteen times in constituted court. For those reading these reports that are not familiar with Presbyterian Church government, a formal meeting of the elders is constituted by the Moderator, (the Pastor of the congregation) as a court of God’s house, by the authority of Jesus Christ, with prayer, in His name. Minutes of the meeting are taken by the Clerk and every action, whether by vote of the elders or common consent, is recorded. Other pertinent information is also included to provide context and history for our deliberations. At the end of the meeting, the court is adjourned with prayer, by the authority and in the name of Jesus Christ. The formal nature of these things is not meant to complicate process, but rather to serve as a means to perform our duty as Christ’s servants, in the fear of God. We don’t often have the pleasure of hosting members or friends of the Congregation at our meetings, but they are open meetings and we invite any who are interested to visit, at your convenience.
Worship was conducted each Lord’s Day morning; evening services were provided on the first and third Sunday. We celebrated the Lord’s Supper on the average of three times per month and Sabbath School classes were provided for the children and adults. Beginning last October and continuing through June 2014, the Wednesday Evening Bible Study participants considered the Book of Acts. Classes were also provided for the teens and younger children taught by Pastoral Intern Scott Doherty and Elder John McGrath, respectively.
Elder John O’Brien continues in his capacity as Sabbath School Superintendent and also presides over the monthly Men’s Ministry Breakfast. (See Sabbath School Report) Elder Plummer continues to serve on the Fulton RP Session by Presbytery appointment, until a new elder is elected and installed. Please pray for God’s provision in this pressing need!
See the Pastor-Teacher Report for a full review of Pastor Swartz’s ministry.
With regard to our Church Roll, a Certificate of Transfer  to the Syracuse Reformed Presbyterian Church was issued to the Patrick Vrooman household. Letters of Standing  were issued to Roger and Becky Vrooman, Samuel Austin and Taylor Austin. There are a number of our members who are Out of Bounds, with no plans to return to Oswego. Formal certificates for these members will be issued in the near future. Over the past year, Valerie Burditt and Jeff Wallace were welcomed into formal membership. At our August 7, 2014 Session meeting, Brian and Ashlee Stupp and their children Ashton, Sailor, Georgia and Noah were received into church membership. The Stupps will be formally welcomed by the Congregation including the Baptism of their four children, on October 12.
An Annual Meeting of the Congregation was convened on November 16, 2013. Minutes of the meeting are included in the Appendix of the Annual Report.
As of this writing, our congregation has 49 Communicant members and 15 Baptized members, for a total membership of 64. As of December 31, 2013 our Presbytery (St. Lawrence) consisted of 15 congregations with a total membership of approximately 1100 members. Our denomination is composed of 7 Presbyteries, with 89 congregations and 11 Mission Churches, with a total membership of 6800 members. We are a small denomination, however, the Lord has blessed us with a great inheritance and continues to use us in the extension of the Gospel, along with our brethren who make up the National Association of Presbyterian and Reformed Council (NAPARC). During the past year Pastor Swartz, Intern Scott Doherty and Elder McGrath attended the Fall and Spring Meetings of Presbytery. We also attended the Meeting of Synod in Marion, Indiana which convened on June 23 and adjourned on June 27, 2014. As Provisional Elder with the Fulton Congregation, Elder Plummer accompanied Pastor Nick Iamaio to the Fall and Spring Meetings of Presbytery.
The Session was pleased to send Jacqueline O’Brien and Zachary Dahar to the Theological Foundations for Youth Program (TFYP) this past summer. This program involves two weeks of intensive theological instruction in the history, doctrine and distinctive principles of the Church presided over by our Seminary professors and TFY Staff; also included is one week of practical application in the context of a local RPCNA congregation. Separate reports for each are included in this Annual Report.
As we begin another year please remember to pray that your elders would maintain a faithful testimony in word and life. “An overseer, then, must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, temperate, prudent, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not addicted to wine or pugnacious, but gentle, peaceable, free from the love of money. He must be one who manages his own household well, keeping his children under control with all dignity (but if a man does not know how to manage his own household, how will he take care of the church of God?), and not a new convert, so that he will not become conceited and fall into the condemnation incurred by the devil. And he must have a good reputation with those outside the church, so that he will not fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.”(I Timothy 3:2-7)
Elder John McGrath
Clerk of Session
Letter of Transfer – a letter signed by the Moderator and Clerk of Session dismissing the individual(s) named therein from one congregation into the care of another. Transfers are normally certified when the individual is uniting with any of those churches who belong to the North American Presbyterian and Reformed Churches. (NAPARC) Individual exceptions may be made.
Letter of Standing – Certification given to a member of an RP Congregation who is leaving the denomination and not joining a NAPARC church. It simply states that the member was a member in good standing for the period he or she was in the congregation. It is good for one year.
PASTORAL ASSISTANT REPORT TO THE CONGREGATION
Scott Doherty Pastoral Assistant
First, I want to thank the Lord, and everyone at Oswego RP church for the privilege of serving as pastoral assistant. This has been a year of priceless blessings for both myself and my family. While we are now separated in body, yet we are not in heart. We owe you all so much in so many ways. I have benefited as a father, a husband, and as a Lord willing, someday ordained minister. My time at Oswego was both very challenging and very restful. Kit is very good at taking care of young men and setting them up for success in ministry not only in the short term, but for a lifetime. I will say it more than once in this report, but you certainly have a pastor worthy of double honor. I rejoiced greatly over the strong Session that Oswego enjoys. The degree to which they complement each other and pursue unity was very instructive and made it very easy to learn from them as well as contribute in session meetings. They truly love you and are laying down their lives for your care. I can attest to that first hand.
The people of Oswego are dear to us and remain in our hearts. We look forward to visiting as God provides and maintaining the precious relationships that we began. Andrea misses the women’s bible study dearly, and my children had a hard time leaving their friends. While we trust we are where God intends for us to be, we did long to put down roots and grow deeply with the people of Oswego, but God appointed something beyond our present desires. My family was greatly blessed through our year at Oswego. My wife grew in her relationships with the women especially, and just as she started to become very comfortable with people and have precious relationships, we had to move. She very much liked Oswego and misses all of you. My children enjoyed their relationships both with the other children and the adults at Oswego, especially Mr. McGrath.
I really love the people at Oswego, and was especially blessed by Pastor Kit. He truly loved me as a father, and showed the care and affection of one. Since I grew up without one, I know perhaps more acutely what a privilege it is to have someone who does not leave you to yourself, but sees to it that you do well and are doing well. That was quite an experience and remains to be so. I now know that fatherhood does not end when you leave the home. I want a father at every stage of life; there are always new things you need guidance and counsel in different ways. Thank you Kit!
I just started classes last week (Sept 4, 2014) at Westminster. So far I have attended two classes but I am taking four this semester. It is quite the reading list (one class has 19 books!). At this level you don’t tend to have midterms or finals, but only 30 page papers. So, there will be a lot of reading and writing in my future.
I started working for the Groves Center doing computer work in July and have worked 10+ hours a week for them. I have been migrating an old bug tracking system to new software. They use bug tracking software to track all of the changes to the Hebrew Bible morphology. So if they “tagged” something as a feminine word, but then later scholarship says, no it is masculine, then they enter it into the software of what changed and why they changed it, and then they make the change in the digital Hebrew Bible.
I have also been working 10+ hours a week for Crown and Covenant doing various and sundry web development things. I have enjoyed it very much. So far everything is manageable, and I trust the Lord that he will enable me to continue to keep all these balls in the air well.
I am committed to sending updates to Oswego on a regular basis, so I won’t try to stick all the nitty-gritty details into this report.
May the Lord richly bless you all toward your highest eternal good.
DEACON BOARD REPORT
At the beginning of 2014, the Deacon Board was made up of Andy Curran, Terrill Curran, Roger Vrooman and Tomohito Tsutsumishita. We met once a month, as long as our schedules allowed. This year has had its share of tough times, but the difficulties were of the same nature that we have dealt with in the past. God is and always will be faithful, as evidenced by the blessings we have experienced. We were all grateful for Scott’s internship with us. To have that time with Scott, Andrea and the children, was a blessing to all of us. To see God provide financially for that to happen is, as always, a great joy. Why am I even surprised?
Routine building and grounds maintenance was carried out through the year, by using the services of Alan Chase for snow removal and Calvin Standish doing a great job in lawn maintenance during the spring and summer months.Many thanks to all who participated in our spring work day and a special thanks to Brian Stupp for directing our efforts, which resulted in much accomplished.
We have been able to continue with our works of mercy through the year. Because of God’s provisions, we have not turned anyone away. On that note, any requests, suggestions and or questions are always welcome. We are here for you!
Among the challenges this office brings none could be tougher than seeing people go. During my time I have seen my good friends Steve and Carolyn Williams move out of town; I also have seen Bert move due to a better job opportunity in Rochester. We all dearly miss Mella, whom the Lord graciously brought home to be with Him. This year, Deacon Roger Vrooman tendered his resignation, and will be joining with the Pulaski Wesleyan Church. We are grateful for his years of service. Roger and Becky will be missed.
I thank God for this opportunity to serve his body and for all of you who have been patient and supportive of me and the Diaconate, as a whole.
From Deaconess Terrill Curran:
With my calling & involvement in the jail ministry it became clear to me that I must set aside other good things. In leaving these activities, I would be remiss if I failed to mention the ladies who made very important contributions. I would like to thank Krista Dahar & Mary Plummer for the lovely receptions they arranged, often on short notice; thanks to Jennifer Standish for continuing the Ladies Sabbath School Class and doing a wonderful job; I appreciate Kevin Plummer taking over the prayer list and I hope he finds it to be a joyful task, as I did. I truly appreciate the efforts of Becky Vrooman, Maureen Murphy, Karen Swartz & Jane O’Brien in making the Women’s Missionary Fellowship such an enjoyable time together.
At the moment, no one has volunteered to continue with the Women’s Missionary Fellowship and the Greeter schedule. I believe both of these activities are important to the life of our congregation and hope someone will assume these duties.
It would be nice if there were another lady called to the office of Deacon. An additional one or two men would be welcome, as well.
If I have missed expressing my sincere appreciation to anyone where it is due, please forgive me.
To Tomo & Andy, my fellow Deacons, it is a pleasure to serve with you!
Sabbath School Report
Holding our Sabbath School classes prior to morning worship seems to be appreciated, as evidenced by the strong attendance and participation. Another benefit to this schedule is evidenced in the settled nature of families when worship begins and the ease of fellowship and provision of hospitality directly after morning worship. Below is a summary of our classes, which was compiled from information provided by each teacher. I hope this information is beneficial to you in understanding and appreciating the work the Lord is doing among us through our Sabbath School educational program.
Young Elementary Class, ages 4-7
Participants: Grant & Isaac Standish, Daniel Tsutsumishita, Ashton Stupp, and Jonathan Doherty.
Instructor: Aaron Standish
We shared the same curriculum series as the older elementary class, which allowed us to share some material and cover for each other’s class, if needed. Our curriculum used very “classic” Sunday school lesson topics and covered foundational material such as the life of Moses, Noah and the flood and the person and life of Jesus, emphasizing His reason for dying on the cross.
I enjoyed working with these guys, even though they were quite challenging to keep focused for 45 minutes.
Respectfully submitted – Aaron Standish.
Older Elementary Class
Participants: Jonathan Tsutsumishita, Abbey Doherty, Allison & Evan Standish.
Instructor: Krista Dahar
This year we enjoyed a very energetic Sabbath school class. Maybe it was the doughnuts that the children gobbled up on their way through the lobby! Whatever the reason, Alison and Evan Standish, Abigail Doherty, and Jonathan Tsutsumishita were cheerful and excited to be in class each week. We began a new series of lessons chronologically based on the stories of the Old Testament. Each lesson was started by reading the story from the Bible and then discussing questions to deepen their understanding of the passage. We created a timeline of all the events we learned about, with some weeks involving a craft to go along with the lesson. The children enjoyed the word games, puzzles, and coloring pages that they worked on in class and took home each week. In the Fall, the class will continue where we left off in the spring.
Middle School / High School
Participants: Wesley, Josiah, Elias & Caleb Dahar, Nathan and Abigail Tsutsumishita & Frank Dahar.
Instructor: Tomo Tsutsumishita
Program – The Covenant of Church Membership was used as a guideline. When the class was done going through the Membership vows with Mr. Tsutsumishita, Elder John McGrath capped it off by reminding the older children (Zack, Seth & Calvin) about their responsibility of an adult profession of faith. Elder McGrath also instructed the younger ones looking forward to that time. The class also covered topics like prayer and private devotions in greater detail. Members of the class gave presentations on the things they had learned either from the class or from their private devotions.
In summary, I think it went very well and hope that the students feel that they learned something new or were reinforced in things already believed.
Adult Women’s Study
Participants: Terrill Curran, Karen Swartz, Maureen Murphy, Erin Tsutsumishita, Andrea Doherty, Ashlee Stupp, as well as each of their children too young for our other classes.
Instructor: Jennifer Standish
The woman’s class studied the book, Learning To Be a Family, by Ken and Floy Smith. We made it about half way through the material, and plan to resume our study in the fall of 2014.
The class covered:
- A look at a happy family
- Foundations of family unity
- Functioning with family unity
The book is simple and easy to understand and the class enjoyed much good discussion as a result of our reading. I so enjoy the different ages of each of the ladies and the unique perspective they brought to class. The material provided good practical teaching from God’s Word on building a strong family unit and encouraging each other along the way!
Adult – General Congregation
Regular Participants: Billy Bock, Steve Standish, Andy Curran, Chris Dahar, Jane & Jackie O’Brien, Brian Stupp, Frank Soranno, Scott Doherty, Gary, Seth, Zachary Dahar, Val Burditt, John McGrath, Kevin & Mary Plummer.
Occasional Participants included: Kit Swartz, Jeff Wallace, Jacob Hays, Mark Ladd, Roger Vrooman.
Topic / Theme: Understanding The Times
Instructor: John O’Brien
Summary: The purpose of this class was to help us, as Christians living in the 21st century, better understand the thought process, values, pre-conceptions, and mindset of the culture in which we live. We also took a look at the unfolding of the Christian message and the development of Christian doctrine, church structure, and institutions throughout the centuries leading up to our present day. Our format was conversational, in response to thought provoking video, audio, and live presentations. On the whole, class participation was thoughtful and mutually engaging, with class members responding to each other’s comments, as well as commenting on the presented material.
|Sunday School – Fall 2013 / Spring 2014||Date|
|How Should we Then Live 3||The Renaissance||9-22|
|How Should we Then Live 4||The Reformation||9-29|
|How Should we Then Live 5||The Revolutionary Age||10-13|
|How Should we Then Live 6||The Scientific Age||10-20|
|How Should we Then Live 7||The Age of Non Reason||10-27|
|Christmas Shoebox Program||Terrill Curran showed DVD & spoke||11-3|
|How Should we Then Live 8||The Age of Fragmentation||11-17|
|How Should we Then Live 9||The Age of Personal Peace & Affluence||11-24|
|How Should we Then Live 10||Final Choices||12-1|
|Church History Made Easy 1 (re-run)||The First Christians AD 1-100||12-15|
|Church History Made Easy 7||Everything Falls Apart||12-22|
|Church History Made Easy 9||Post-Reformation Growing Pains||1-5|
|Sanctity of Human Life Sunday||Carol Everett (video) / Jenny O’Brien PCC update||1-19|
|Church History Made Easy 10||Revolutions in the New World||1-26|
|Church History Made Easy 11||Ageless Faith in a Age of Reason||2-2|
|Upcoming Missions Trip to Vietnam||Jordi O’Brien||2-16|
|Church History Made Easy 12||A Global Gospel||2-23|
|Economics for Everybody||Ch 1 – And God Created Economics||3-2|
|Economics for Everybody||Ch 2 – The Economic Problems of Sin||3-16|
|Economics for Everybody||Ch 3 – The Path from Work to Wealth||3-23|
|Economics for Everybody||Ch 7 – The Tale of Two Theologies Part 2||3-30|
|Economics for Everybody||Ch 8 – Government Intervention||4-6|
|Economics for Everybody||Ch 9 – The Two Mysteries of Monetary Policy||4-20|
|Economics for Everybody||Ch 10 – The Welfare and Corporate States||4-27|
|Economics for Everybody||Ch 11 – Economics has Consequences||5-4|
|Economics for Everybody||Ch 12 – Kingdom Economics||5-18|
|RP Home Missions Report||Kevin Plummer||5-25|
|The Reason for God, Session 1||Tim Keller||6/1|
CHAPLAIN INTERN REPORT
- Under the oversight of Pastor Swartz, I am officially recognized as member of the St Joseph Hospital Chaplains team.
With evangelism as the focal point, Pastor Kit launched a presence at the Oswego Farmers Market. The mission is to offer opportunity for individuals to request prayer by placing the prayer request on a 3×5 card and placing it a container, to pray then and there or to send a request by email at any time. Opportunities to engage in Gospel conversation are sought and seized. Members of the OEA were invited to participate in this ministry but are busy with other good things. Pastor Kit and I have shared this ministry over the past many weeks. We invite others from our congregation to join us for any of the remaining markets into October. Let me know if you’re interested. This is a good opportunity to serve our community in a simple way. At Pastor Kit’s request, I plan to resume a ministry at the markets in 2015.
Kevin & Stephanie Godkin
This is an example of my work in personal disciplemaking. In August of 2013, I met a young salesman at Burdick BMW named Kevin Godkin. My stopping there was a last minute decision just to look at my favorite sedan, the 3-Series BMW. It must have been a slow day because Kevin and I began to talk and the next thing you know two hours had passed. Kevin was immediately open to the Gospel and was planning to get married to his girlfriend of seven years, Stephanie. We became good friends and Kevin introduced me to Stephanie. They eventually asked me if I would officiate their wedding ceremony. After consultation with Pastor Swartz, I agreed to perform the ceremony. Pastor Swartz reviewed my marriage counseling material and I proceeded to schedule the first appointment. Before I met with them together, Stephanie requested some personal counseling time and we ended up meeting about six times at the Panera Bread in Clay. There were some issues that she was struggling with herself and with Kevin. The Lord blessed us with success in dealing with the issues and it gave me the opportunity to share the Gospel with her. She seemed so willing to embrace Christ that when we met for our first marriage counseling session, both Kevin and Stephanie prayed to receive Christ as their Lord and Savior. The counseling is ongoing as I did not finish before their wedding. The service went well and we met three times since the wedding. I invited them to join me in Lord’s Day worship at Messiah’s Church RPC twice, encouraging them to consider making it their home church. Pastor Coombs and the congregation welcomed them warmly. My last time to meet with them was Aug 16th.
Continuing Education for Greater Service
I earnestly desire to serve the Lord in the context of the RPCNA and the Oswego congregation. Under Pastor Swartz’s oversight and sponsorship, the St. Lawrence Presbytery took me under their care as a student of theology. This is somewhat unusual as I do not aspire to the teaching ministry but to a counseling ministry. I thoroughly enjoyed my visit to the Reformed Presbyterian Theological Seminary last fall and was accepted into their Master of Theological Studies (MTS) degree program with a concentration in Biblical Counseling. I am currently in classes 3 and 4 of a 90 hour program. My aspirations are to serve as a Ruling Elder in our church someday (1Tm.3:1) and to provide Biblical counseling to our members, fellow churches and community. I also am seeking membership and endorsement from the Presbyterian and Reformed Commission on Chaplains and Military Personnel (PRCC). I recently joined the Pastoral Care Team as a visiting Chaplain for St Joseph Hospital. Counseling opportunities have already appeared. With the support and oversight of Pastor Kit, I welcome each and every opportunity.
Who are we to our Community…Today?
Branding; With prayerful desire to further connect with today’s culture and our immediate community, a series of brainstorming sessions have taken place with the goal to brand the external image of the Oswego RP Church. After two sessions with the youth and one each with the adult members of the congregation and the Session, we are hoping to identify the strongest attributes of our congregation’s presence in Oswego. We are also identifying changes in our community image and perception that will better communicate the presence and mission of the Oswego RPC. We are in the final stage of a thorough process and hope to announce a broad strategy to the congregation before the end of the year.
‘New Song’ came to town in July and we had the challenge of promoting a Monday night performance. This is not a night I would want to have a concert of any kind. Although we missed a few avenues of promotion, we made a good effort to make our community aware of this event in hope of a good turnout. We designed and printed 50 posters which were distributed to churches and businesses throughout Oswego. We utilized the local paper, social media (a local web-based newspaper and Facebook) and group emails. With the strong support of various members of our congregation including Kevin & Mary Plummer, Krista Dahar, John O’Brien & family and John McGrath, we provided delicious meals and comfortable sleeping quarters for our special guests. I hope to assist in the planning and promotion of other events in 2015.
An Upcoming Feature: After meeting with the Publisher and Editor of The Palladium Times, they gladly agreed to include a monthly column by Pastor Kit on the church page in their Saturday edition. The purpose of the column is to address cultural issues that are relevant to our local community life. We want to present the articles in such a way that people from all walks of life will be able to understand and relate to them. The articles will endeavor to speak Scriptural truth in common language to everyday people.
Some Personal Thoughts
I believe that the Reformed Presbyterian Church is the only church in Oswego that has sincerely embraced a heartfelt passion for the purity of God’s Word. I truly believe God is fulfilling my need to serve and grow in His ways, in fellowship and with accountability in the Reformed Presbyterian Church. My brothers and sisters, do not be complacent with your home church relationship! The Oswego RP Church, in the power of the Holy Spirit and through the means of grace, enables you to communicate the Gospel to those around you. Having been equipped in these ways, we each have tremendous opportunities to put our faith into action. It gives me great joy to be used of God to contribute to the internal life and external ministry of our congregation. It is a particular blessing to have the support, oversight and accountability of our Pastor and Elders.
Jeff R. Wallace
Tuesday Morning Ladies Bible Study
Using the book, “By His Wounds, You Are Healed” by Wendy Alsup, six ladies from our church along with ladies from Elim, Calvary Baptist, and the Episcopal Church, met weekly to discuss the book of Ephesians. The study guide was thoughtful and well written. We enjoyed the discussion questions in the book, as well as the chapters themselves and found that they led to careful consideration of the Biblical truths contained in Ephesians. This seemed especially sweet, given the fact that though we all came from different backgrounds, we were able to love and enjoy God’s truth that is applicable to all believers.
Many of the women participating in the study expressed a desire to continue meeting in some way over the summer and so a monthly prayer morning was set up. These times were a great blessing to those who could come. We look forward to meeting this fall to study Philippians and Colossians. to accomodate many of the attending mothers, the Study has been moved to Monday evenings, with a 7:00 PM start time.
Women’s Ministry at the Oswego Correctional Facility Report
This will be the third year of ministering to Women incarnated at the Oswego County Correctional Facility. I am still on the learning curve of how best to minister to them while at the same time observing the many various regulations. For example; I have increased sending letters to those who attend my meeting [they call it church]. If I put sealed stickers on the outside or homemade stamps I will get that mail back unopened; letters will not be forwarded if the woman has been moved to another facility. They are returned to me at the church. I use the church as my return address as I was told not to give out my home address or any other information about my personal affairs. The women needs some money to purchase some personal items but if money is sent, the administration keeps most of it if the woman has a fine that is unpaid.
Back to God Ministries, publishes the Today devotional sends me a box of 20 because I have written and told them I use them for our church and the jail ministry. I send an offering to cover their expenses. RBC Ministries in Grand Rapids sends me 10 Our Daily Bread devotional. These booklets are also available at both Christian Book Stores downtown. I use both these devotionals showing the women how to first read the scripture and then the comment. Thanks to our Pastor’s involvement in the Oswego Evangelical Alliance they have graciously paid for a shipment of ‘Free on the Inside” Bibles in large print. The cost is about $110.00 and is now shared by this group of churches.
Last year Barbara Terramiggi and Eileen Turner joined Sallye Glennon and me. We go in as a team now that there are four of us from three different churches. Like the OEA spreading the gospel with Jesus our main ministry. I am very thankful to be working beside these other women that are committed and reliable. So we gladly cover for one another when sickness, out of town needs and last minute unexpected family items show up. These women so look forward to our coming each week and we do not want to disappoint them. I have also used my desire to write and encourage people by writing a letter to every women who comes to my meeting. Here is some of the feedback I have received.
From Amanda: Thank you for the card and your words means so much to me and that you are thinking about me. Since I started attending Bible study, I pray every night, read my Today, Daily Bread devotional, Proverbs and Psalms. I love them and never miss a day. I feel like my mind is a lot more at ease and blessed to have you in my heart. Thank you for helping us find peace within ourselves and having faith and never giving up on us.
From Edith: Your group has been very helpful to me. I read my Bible 2 to 3 times a day. P.S. God is good.
From Kelsey: I miss you girls. Been attending Protestant services here in Albion. Love it. I see some of the girls from Oswego and it’s like a breath of fresh air. Thanks for sending the money but unfortunately I owe a surcharge and most of it was taken. I want you to know how inspirational the services you hold are. I have learned a lot what you do is truly amazing you have touched my heart and soul.
From Lahsha: Thanks for writing me! It means so much when you get no letters, visits or calls from anyone. Family members want nothing to do with me. I don’t think I am worthy –never have. Don’t want to talk about this in front of the group. Your writing means a lot. Please prey for me. You make me smile.
I have also been writing to a male inmate at the request of his twin sister back in January last year. He is in for a while and weekly I get letters from him.
From Martin: Hey how are you and your husband doing? I am very thankful to have you as a friend. You’re the only one writing me. I do not blame my family because I did not listen to their warnings.
I never ask or want to know what they are in for. That is in God’s hand. Now that God has them confined and suffering for the consequence of their behavior, perhaps they are ready to listen. That is why this ministry is so important. As we Praise the Lord, being ready to step in and share the love of Christ and present the potential new start He can give a repentant sinner.
In Christ service,
Singing, laughter and bonding in a small group setting is what the Invisible Choir is all about. We have been getting together one night during the week. Lately we have been using Wednesday evening. The focus our time together is to go over the Psalms for the coming Lord’s Day, to insure we are confident of the parts. By doing this, we can help the congregation to better worship. We also use our time to go over new tunes. Our time together is very rewarding and it is a lot of fun to hear all the parts come together, as well as to enjoy a cup of tea! We would love to have our group grow in numbers. If you are interested please come and join us.
God has blessed me with the opportunity to precent for our congregation. If anyone is interested in helping out with precenting please get in touch with me or Kit. We can always use the help.
Looking forward to serving yet another year in leading the singing. “Praise the Lord! Hallelujah! Sing the Lord a new song! Sing with fresh thanksgiving where saints gather as one.” Psalm 149A
Fellowship Dinner Schedule
March D. Standish
April J. Standish
Responsibilities of the host for the month are to put out a signup sheet 2 weeks before the date of the dinner and oversee the setup, service, and cleanup.Table coverings are at the church and decorations are optional. It is always fine to have the meal be a potluck! It’s about the fellowship so feel free to keep it simple.