Fall Schedule 2020

Greetings,

I pray that this announcement finds your loved ones and you well. Your prayers and support during the current pandemic have been exceptional. Every day I am grateful to serve Christ with and among you. This year has been unlike any that most of us have ever witnessed. Covid-19 has affected all of us in big/small ways. Please notice the changes to our church calendar.

On September 20th, we will officially kick off the fall season. After consultation with our younger families, Kim Raynor and I have decided not to offer children/youth Sunday school classes, junior church, or the nursery this fall. However, our adult Sunday school will meet promptly at 9am on Sunday mornings in Gibbs Parlor. 

This fall, we will continue to offer one service at 10am in the Fellowship Hall. We hope to return to worship in our beautiful sanctuary later in the fall. This service will continue to have call to worships, hymns and worship songs, Scripture readings, prayers, and a weekly message. We ask that you make a reservation to attend worship, so that we can record your presence and provide adequate spacing. Mask policies and temperature checks will remain in place. 

Beginning on September 20th at 7pm, we will provide a five-week study (until October 18th) based on Adam Hamilton’s book, The Walk: Five Essential Practices of the Christian Life. Hamilton’s book will be provided free of charge to those interested in participating in the study. Copies of the book and group space is limited at ten. During the study, the Sunday sermon will follow similar themes. Please contact the church office to reserve your copy and spot in the class. 

Continue to hold our political and religious leaders in your prayers. These are difficult times to maneuver, and our best plans are subject to change. However, these are the current plans for our church. Know that your loved ones and you are in my daily prayers. If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions, please contact Pastor Nick and/or LeAnn in the church office(326-3243). 

            Blessings,

Nicholas Perry, Pastor 



July 9, 2020

Greetings,

 

            I trust this letter finds your loved ones and you well. You are often in my thoughts and frequently in my prayers. Nothing in my seminary-training ever prepared me for the Covid-19 pandemic. I found my gut reactions kept in check by CDC guidelines and the call for New Yorkers to Pause. While I celebrate the reopening of our state, my excitement is tempered by the challenge to do so in a safe and cautious manner.   

You have no doubt already noticed the changes that local businesses have endured for their customers. I suspect you have heard of businesses having to make alterations to fit the newest guidelines issued. The church wants to assure you that we have and will continue to prepare our building for your return to in-person worship. When we return for public worship there will be guidelines that we will follow.

            We are slowly welcoming small groups of roughly ten persons together for a short Bible lesson, prayer, and conversation. During these informal small groups there will be an opportunity to partake in Holy Communion (an individual wafer and cup) for those that desire to receive the elements. During these small gathering times we ask for you to wear a facemask and to continue to practice social distancing measures. We request that you contact the Church Office (716) 326-3243 to reserve your seat prior to arriving to the church. Small Group gathering dates:

 

Sunday July 12, @ 10am       Tuesday July 14, @10am      Thursday July 16, @ 10am

Sunday July 19, @ 10am       Tuesday July 21, @10am      Thursday July 23, @ 10am

Sunday July 26, @ 10am       Tuesday July 28, @ 10am     Thursday July 30th, @ 10am

 

            We tentatively plan to return to in person worship on Sunday August 2nd @ 10am. The decision to resume public worship on this date has not been made in haste. While we prepare to hold worship in the Fellowship Hall, we ask that you continue to hold our nation in prayer as many places continue to wrestle with Covid-19. Please be aware that worship will look, feel, and sound different than before the pandemic. For example, no bulletins, no singing, facemasks must be worn, use of hand sanitizer when entering/leaving the building, and social distancing. These are the measures needed to be implemented in our return to in person worship on August 2nd.  

            There are many folks that are working diligently behind the scenes to help our return to worship to be safe and meaningful. We ask for your grace and cooperation. Although we would love to see everyone return on August 2nd, we understand and affirm the need for persons to return when they are comfortable to do so. We do not want to discourage anyone from communal worship. However, we ask that you prayerfully consider how and when you may resume public worship. For example, persons 65 years (or older) and/or those who underlining health concerns may want to take extra precautions. 

            Once in person worship resumes on August 2nd, all worship times will be held at 10am. I look forward to being with you under the same roof and exploring the fascinating letter of Ephesians. In the meantime, know that you are being held in prayer. If you have any questions and/or concerns, please contact our Administrative Assistant, LeAnn or Pastor Nick in the Church Office. 

 

In Christ,

 

Pastor Nicholas Perry  



Update March 31, 2020

From Pastor Nick

 

Greetings,

 

Public gatherings for worship will be suspended indefinitely.  

 

I do not know when public worship will continue. However, I will follow the advice of our health officials.

 

When it is safe for us together for worship, I would like to combine both services for at least that Sunday. I will work with our Sunday school teachers to factor in how/if they would like to hold Sunday school at that time. When that date and time come— I will communicate it through our leadership.

 

 

I pray that you are all doing well. My family is well. However, my sister and her husband are under quarantine in Niagara Falls and my mother-in law has decided not to come to NY for Easter. I am overwhelmed with being a kindergarten and second grade teacher as I help to steady my kids world.

 

Our Divide and Conquer teams will still be checking in with you each week to see how you are doing.

 

(The building will remain open to allow the Food Pantry and Community Kitchen to still operate.) LeAnn will work from home most days but will have access to email and the phone will be transferred to her home so she has access to your phone call and the answering machine.

 

Thank you for your understanding and grace as we navigate these uncharted waters.  If there is pastoral need or you have questions please don’t hesitate to ask.



Easter Letter 2020

Greetings,

“When is an ending not an ending?” once asked Norman Petersen. The question is not as random as it may first appear. In the last pages of Mark’s gospel an editorial note states, “The earliest manuscripts and some other ancient witnesses do not have Mark 16:9-20.” The most reliable manuscripts of Mark’s gospel conclude, ‘Trembling and bewildered, the women went out and fled from the tomb. They said nothing to anyone, because they were afraid” (16:8). In other words, Mark’s original ending stops in mid-sentence and fails to provide an appearance of our Risen Lord. Such an observation may be unsettling at first, but I think requires of us to ponder, “When is an ending not an ending?”

Lamar Williamson, Jr., a New Testament scholar wrestling with Petersen’s question while studying the gospel of Mark answered, “When a dead man rises from the tomb—and when a Gospel ends in the middle of a sentence.” The strange ending of Mark’s gospel has held to much debate. Without getting too deep into the muck and mire of the history of biblical interpretation, I venture to suggest that Mark intended his version of the Easter story to end this way and that the Early Church did not need to add an appendix (Mark 16:9-20) to smooth the gospel’s ending.

In the original ending of Mark, we discover three moves that occur. In vv.1-4, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome come to the tomb. We find in vv. 5-7, a young man in the tomb who gives them a message, and in v.8 we are told the women leave the tomb. However, even Mark’s original ending provides us the core message of Easter when he writes, “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here” (Mark 16:6).

The gospel of Mark moves quickly to get us to this moment in history. For example, Mark doesn’t bother to tell us about Jesus’ birth. He barely lets us know that Jesus had been tempted in the wilderness. Mark’s gospel provides the bare bones of Jesus’ teachings and parables. However, Mark’s gospel is light on many of the details the other gospels give us. I think Mark does this on purpose. Mark doesn’t simply want us to know about Jesus, as if we have him all figured out. Rather, Mark wants us struggle to keep up with Jesus who is always on the move, to use our time wisely getting to know Jesus and growing deeper as his disciple. I believe Mark could have reported that first Easter in a myriad of ways but wants us to know that Mark 16:1-8 is not the end. We are invited to explore the tomb and embody the emotions of surrounding that first Easter. The goal as I see it, is not merely to receive an appearance of our Risen Lord as we stand within the tomb looking out, but to continue to encounter Jesus in our own “Galilee.”

I would like to invite you into the sacred drama of Holy Week, April 9th – April 12th. On Holy Thursday, April 9th @ 7pm we will reenact the meal when Jesus washed his disciples’ feet. On Good Friday, April 10th at noon we will leave from Moore Park to retrace the footsteps of Jesus to his death. On Holy Saturday is a day we continue to reflect on Jesus’ words, life, and death. On Easter Sunday, April 12th, we gather in Gibbs Parlor @ 8:30am and 10:45am in the Sanctuary to celebrate the ending that is not an ending—the resurrection of Jesus Christ through triumphant hymns, awe-inspired moments of silence, corporate prayer, the reading and proclamation of the Easter message, and decorating the cross with cut flowers (flowers will be provided). Your presence would be a blessing.

 

Easter Blessings,

 

Nicholas Perry, Pastor

 

 

 

Tentative

Sunday, April 5 – Palm Sunday – Communion

8:30 – Worship in Gibbs Parlor

9:45 Sunday School

10:45 – Worship in Sanctuary

 

Holy Thursday, April 9 7:00 PM

Combined service with Hurlbut Church at Westfield

 

Good Friday—April 10—Way of the Cross

Noon— Moore Park

 

Easter Sunday, April 12

8:30 Service

10:45 Worship

 



Church update – March 18, 2020

  March 18th, 2020

Greetings,

            I want to provide an update about our church and its activities. On Sunday March 22nd, and Sunday March 29th public gatherings of worship will be canceled (including Sunday School and Bible Study). We are heeding the advice of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Federal, State, Local government officials, and our denominational leaders. We will publish further updates of closures and re-openings through text message, email, church webpage, and Facebook postings. The church office will remain open during the week to help coordinate the needs of our congregation and wider community with pastoral support.

            A Sunday message will be provided on our church’s Facebook and webpage. In addition, there will be PowerPoint slides containing prayers, Scripture readings, lyrics to hymns, and links to music videos. Fortunately, many have already accessed previous Sunday messages when they were unable to attend Sunday worship.

            The people of our congregation come from a rich history. As Methodists, our days began with the use of circuit riders. A circuit rider was minister who traveled often by horseback in large loops around the country. This meant that the folks that established our congregation would go a month or more before the preacher rode back into town. Historically, this was a season of spiritual awakening and revival as congregations deepened their faith in Christ through personal prayer, the reading of Scripture, and the singing the songs of our common faith. Today is an invitation to return to the basics of our faith and to reclaim the rich heritage to which we belong.

            As Christians, we are all seeking God’s direction during this time of uncertainty. I want us to continue to listen for God’s voice. Perhaps, we can find meaningful ways as our earliest members to celebrate the hope we have in Christ and to make a difference for God’s Kingdom in our community. While we will not be holding public worship in church for the next two Sundays, it is a good reminder that the church is not a building; the church is a people. Please find creative and healthy ways of being the church: call upon one another with prayer requests, wrestle with Scripture together, share a prepared meal with a neighbor, etc.

The Community Food Kitchen at this moment will be serving take-out meals for their clients. The Community Food Pantry is operating without folks having to enter the building.  The Appleseed Pre-School is following in the footsteps of our school system and are closed until further notice. All church activities are canceled until the end of March.

The church office is open, and we are ready to serve and meet the ends of our congregation and community. Pastor Nick will continue to provide pastoral care during this time. Please be in communication with friends, family, neighbors, and church members. Let us know of any needs where we may be able to assist. There is no honor in staying open and there is no shame in closing. However, when church services are canceled folks tend to forget to continue to support the church through their giving. Please continue to send your gifts, tithes, and offerings to support the ministry and our beloved church employees. It is our responsibility to support both our congregation and its employees during this time.

There are a lot of unknowns. However, we must continue to trust in God and work together for a better tomorrow. If you have questions and/or concerns, please contact Pastor Nick or the church office. 

 

                                                                                                Blessings,

 

                                                                                                Nicholas Perry, Pastor

                                                                                                Office: (716) 326-3243

                                                                                               

 



Christmas Letter 2019

Greetings,

In all of the commotion that happens in the Christmas story, it is easy to miss one of history’s most understated lines, “she gave birth” (Luke 2:7)… We may recall Caesar Augustus’ decree. We might remember how we felt when Joseph and a very pregnant Mary were away by the inn keeper. Undoubtedly, we have yawned with the shepherds “keeping watch over their flocks at night” (2:8). Perhaps, we joined the heavenly hosts singing of the birth of Christ into our world. Maybe like Mary, we too have pondered all of events in the shepherd’s report and “treasured them” in our hearts. Yet, the moment all the earth has been waiting for is merely glossed over in Luke’s telling of that first Christmas.

            Hidden within the Christmas story, we are told of Christ’s birth after the fact. Luke writes Mary “gave birth” (2:7). The angel’s announcement to the shepherd’s was in the past tense, “Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you” (2:11). We are never told how long Mary’s labor took or if Jesus was born breached. Like the moment of the resurrection, Jesus’ birth happened off screen. In fact, that is the scene (probably for good measure) left out of children Christmas pageants. Mary is plump with an oversized pillow under her gown. The scene changes and a thin Mary reappears with Jesus lying in a manger.

            In Grasping God’s Word, authors J. Scott Duvall and J. Daniel Hays tell of a Christmas pageant in Dilla, Ethiopia. The church was jammed packed with people, the room was dark as Joseph and Mary wandered in, except the couple “did not travel alone” (138). Atypical to many Read more…



Easter Letter 2019

 

Greetings,

 

On Easter morning, the church proclaims more than an empty tomb. The abandoned tomb points us to the resurrection of Jesus Christ. During the season leading to the celebration of Easter, we have kept near the cross of Jesus. At the foot of the cross, we have heard the blood curdling screams of forsakenness and Jesus whisper his trust in the Lord. The dark of that fateful Friday afternoon gave way to the resurrection’s early light a couple days later.

 

          Describing Easter’s impact on us, Peter writes, “In [God’s] great mercy [God] has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead…”      (1 Peter 1:3). This verse is packed with so much nutrition, that I have only quoted in part. However, Read more…



Christmas 2018 Letter

 
 
 

Today in the town of David a Savior

has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.”

(Luke 2:10)

 

On this holiest of nights two thousand years ago, a small band of shepherds were startled by an angel of the Lord and the announcement that, “Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.” Prior to this moment the birth of God’s Son was merely anticipated; it was oriented toward a future yet unknown. However, there in the outskirts of Bethlehem the angel’s announcement makes an important and unmistakable shift that proclaims that Jesus has been born. The timestamp on the angel’s message reads “today.” In other words, angel emphasized the present as time of fulfillment, now as the time of God’s gracious deliverance.

In The Redemption of Scrooge author Matt Rawle indicates the shift of time that occurs in the Christmas story of Luke 2:1-20. It is a shift that moves us from speaking what happened “In those days” to what to God is doing on “this day.” Our Savior’s birth changes everything:

In those days the palace ruled the world, but on this day the world is being turned upside down. In those days the shepherds were less than unimportant, but on this day, the shepherds received the kingdom of God!

In those days we simply read about a miracle. On this day we expect one.

 

To me the Christmas story is every bit as pregnant as Mary. Under every detail is a trap door to a deeper meaning. Sometimes I am drawn to the ordinariness of the shepherds, when it dawns upon me that the Messiah came to save common people like us. Other times I identify with the innkeeper and wonder if there is room for the Christ child within. Still other times I wonder if my faith is strong enough to follow Mary’s boy to the cross. This Christmas, I am drawn to the excited and wonder-filled voice of the angel’s first word to the shepherds, “Today”!

           

            I pray that you will find within the Christmas story a detail to ponder. Hopefully a detail that causes the Christmas story to leap off the pages of Luke’s gospel and come alive within. During the next several weeks of December, you are welcome to come and to celebrate the Savior’s birth with your church family. Each service is unique which allows you to blend your insights of the Christmas story with your love for Christ.

  Christmas Blessings,   Nicholas Perry, Pastor  



Thanksgiving 2018

 

Psalm 116 is an ancient poem sung or recited each year during the celebration of the Jewish Passover. It is located within a larger collection of poems referred to as the “Egyptian Hallel.” The Egyptian Hallel (Psalms 113-118) offers a retelling of Israel’s gospel when they were delivered from the slavery that had bound them in Egypt for hundreds of years.

 
 
I can faintly remember listening to my mom play a record of the Walton’s Thanksgiving when I was kid. I can still hear the voices of the Walton’s talking around the dinner table, the clinking of dishes, and skipping as the record spun around the turn-table. The memory of anything more specific escapes me, expect that the Walton’s seemed to possess a simple joy of being together.

When I read Psalm 116, familiar voices from Israel’s past can be heard, outlining the drama of Israel’s gospel:                         verse 3: The snares of death encompassed me;                         verse 8: For you have delivered my soul from death;                         verse 17: I will offer to you a thanksgiving sacrifice and call on the                                           name of the LORD. The beauty of poetry is its ability to soar to the heights and plunge to the deepest depths. Read more…



November 2018


Genesis 4:1-16 contrasts two brothers: Cain and Abel. Clearly, the biblical author wants us to recognize that these two brothers are vastly different from each other. Nonetheless, they are still brothers—a point underscored numerous times (vv.1, 8, 9, 10,11).    
     
                            Abel:                                                   Cain:  
Name means: “breath, or vapor”

Name means: “acquire, or buy”

A keeper of sheep (v.4)

A tiller of fruit of the ground (v.3)

An offering of firstlings of his flock, their fat portions (v.4)

An offering of the fruit of the ground (v.3)

The LORD had regard for Abel and his offering (v.4)

The LORD had no regard for Cain and his offering (v.5)

Abel is killed by his brother (v.8)

Cain killed his brother (v.8)

      Many interpretations of Genesis 4:1-6 tend to speculate on one brother’s offering over and against the other’s sacrifice. However, with the brevity of the description of the two sacrifices and the general lack of information, each of the brothers’ disposition and intention behind their respective offerings amounts to an “incidental report of the first sacrifice.”[1]  
                 Instead of wandering through such a speculative rabbit trail I find myself drawn to Cain’s famous response to the LORD, “Am I my brother’s keeper” (v.10)? The knee-jerk response often given from the pulpit and Sunday school teachers is usually a resounding “Yes!”. I suspect there is an old sermon manuscript on my computer’s hard drive with me proclaiming the same. However, in the Hebrew the correct answer to Cain’s question is “No, you are not your brother’s keeper.” W. Sibley Towner argues, “No is the usual response in the Hebrew Bible to a positively stated rhetorical question.”[2]  Read more…