Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,

How do we even begin to try to make sense of the horrific shootings at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on Saturday, October 27. We have barely even begun to process the senseless and avoidable deaths of the twenty young people killed in the limousine in Schoharie. Add to that the hurricanes, tornados, cyclones and other disasters around the world and it is no wonder that our heads are spinning.

The God that I believe in DID NOT cause any of these things to happen. God put the world in motion and gave us that dreaded and so desired free will. The God that I believe is crying with us and questioning the wisdom of creating human beings who can be so kind and loving and yet so cruel and hateful.

We have got to start sharing love, to start agreeing to disagree with one another in love and not hate. We have got to stop letting politics divide us in such strong and hateful ways.

I have decided to start doing just this and I am going to work very hard to share love and to work hard to help others do the same.

I decided to share with you in this newsletter what the Presbyterian Church in Pittsburgh did after the shooting and also an article written by Danelle Crawford-McKinney, the first Dakota woman ordained in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). She is the student rights specialist at Haskell Indian Nations University in Lawrence, Kansas, where she and her husband, Ron McKinney, a teaching elder, reside with their three children and two grandsons. She writes about Thanksgiving from the Native American perspective.

I thought both of these articles might help us all to stop and think about what is happening in our country and in our world and to try to do our part to make a difference. Please take time to read them and then have a truly thankful Thanksgiving.

Yours in Christ,




During the month of November, we will be taking a special collection for the Presbyterian Disaster Assistance. Presbyterian Disaster Assistance is the emergency response and refugee program of the denomination, committed to the long-term journey of recovery of communities adversely affected by a crisis or catastrophic event. It is funded by One Great Hour of Sharing and raises designated funds for responding to specific disasters.

This year alone they have responded to Hurricanes Michael and Florence, the California Mudslides, and are still actively helping with hurricanes Irma and Maria, Matthew and Harvey in the United States. Internationally they are currently working in Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East. To learn more about the exact locations and scope of their response, you can google Presbyterian Disaster Assistance, Out of Chaos, Hope.

Please give generously. This is the organization that helped us after our fire in so many ways.  

After synagogue shooting, Presbyterians share shock, grief; stand in solidarity with neighbors

From Presbyterian News Service,  October 29, 2018

LOUISVILLE — One of the first things Presbyterian minister the Rev. Susan Rothenberg did once she knew what the “pop, pop, pop” sound was four houses down at the Tree of Life Synagogue in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood of Pittsburgh was to text the Rev. Dr. Vincent Kolb.

“We’ve got to open the church tonight,” she said, referring to her home church, Sixth Presbyterian, which sits at the heart of the Squirrel Hill neighborhood — and across the street from Pittsburgh’s Jewish community center.

By 6 p.m. Saturday, hours after the tragic shooting at Tree of Life, where 11 people were killed and 6 people injured, the community gathered at Sixth to share their shock — and the solidarity of their support.

It started with a vigil inside centered in prayer — a rabbi from a Jewish temple down the street, the executive director of the Islamic center of Pittsburgh and Kolb all spoke — about of how everyone gathered was part of one family. That value, they said, had to be upheld.   

At the beginning of the vigil, Kolb, pastor at Sixth Church, asked all the clergy to come forward. “We sat in the loft together — representatives from the Christian, Muslim and Jewish communities — shoulder to shoulder,” said Rothenberg.  “They said, ‘You were there for us after 9/11.  Now we are here for you.’ ”

After the 25-minute vigil inside the church, those gathered joined more than 2,000 people outside for a candlelight vigil, sponsored by local high school students. “We live three blocks from Tree of Life,” said Presbyterian minister the Rev. Dr. Randy Bush. “I’d just gotten home from walking the dog — and then my daughter came down the stairs crying.”

The synagogue shooting reminded his daughter, Charlotte, of the Parkland school shooting which occurred on her birthday. Her classmates were upset, so they organized the outside rally, which was also at Sixth. Just four months ago Bush had performed a Presbyterian-Jewish joint marriage ceremony with Dan Leger from Dor Hadash, which is one of three Jewish communities that meets at Tree of Life.

“We didn’t find out until [Sunday] who had been killed,” said Bush.  “Sunday morning when we got to shared prayer time I broke down and couldn’t say Dan’s name.” Bush turned to John Nelson, who had married Nancy Levine — and was one of the morning’s worship leaders to say what Bush couldn’t — that Dan Leger was one of those injured in the synagogue shooting.

“It wasn’t just Dan I was thinking about,” said Bush. “He was doing what every minister would’ve done — trying to stop the life-threatening risk.  When Dan heard the noise, they told me, he ran towards it.”

People of faith and those of no faith find the current level of violence unfathomable.

“We are struggling with how to bring that together and make sense of it. I’m not sure we can,” said the Rev. Dr. J. Herbert Nelson, II, Stated Clerk of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). “It is a remnant of our past, a remnant of our future and our present if we do not do something to turn this around and learn to love one another.”

“I do believe faith has a chance to be significant at this moment,” Nelson said. “It’s up to all of us to go where people are and more importantly, to believe there is a God of redemption who can do abundantly more with us and for us, than we can do for ourselves.”

Pittsburgh Theological Seminary President David Esterline said he was on an airplane over the Pacific Ocean when the shooting took place. The news came to him via his cellphone after the plane landed in Los Angeles. The first message he returned was to a rabbi friend. “I wanted to say we are standing in solidarity with you,” he said. “Pittsburgh is not a large place, and over the years the seminary and the Jewish community have had quite a strong relationship.”

Bush and Rothenberg, the two Presbyterian ministers, both spoke of a new awareness of how vulnerable they are.

Rothenberg’s husband, Michael, is Jewish. Their children were baptized in the Presbyterian Church, but they still identify as both Presbyterian and Jewish. They chose to live in Squirrel Hill, one of the oldest Jewish neighborhoods in the United States. It’s home to half a dozen synagogues and numerous Presbyterian and Catholic churches.

She told Presbyterian News Service Monday that through her window she saw all of the gathered media and police officers outside her home — those same first responders who had waved her inside on Saturday morning, when she had gone outside to see what the “pop, pop, pop” was all about. Then she’d heard it on the police scanner: We have an active shooter.

“It’s heartbreaking,” said Rothenberg. “If Jews are not safe here, they’re not safe anywhere in this country. What does it mean to be Presbyterian and Jewish? How can we respond in faith and love?”

“We’ve lived in other places,” she said, “but never felt the kind of welcome we feel here. I’m grateful for all the vigils and the Presbyterians who have reached out.”

Kolb was at another large interfaith gathering Sunday night, where he spoke with Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf, asking him to do everything in his power to persuade President Donald Trump not to come to Pittsburgh.

“It isn’t in the best interest of our community that is trying to heal for him to come at this time,” said Kolb. “The book of James talks about blessings and cursing coming out of the same mouth. We don’t want our language of uniting to get the way of the language of inciting — which has also been conveyed by the past president of Tree of Life.”

Kolb said that despite the shock, grief, anger and despair, he takes great consolation that right now, God in Christ, revealed in perfect love, is casting out fear.

He also felt it was important to note that the Muslim community in Pittsburgh has already raised more than $100,000 for Tree of Life and the Jewish community.




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What do Presbyterian Native Americans really think about Thanksgiving?

From Presbyterians Today,  October 26, 2018

A time to celebrate a harvest of memories               By Danelle Crawford-McKinney | Presbyterians Today

Squirrels remind us of the importance of respecting all life. Getty Images

I was talking to my friend from the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma one time about how squirrels can signal to us what kind of winter we could look forward to. He said that when the squirrels dig holes in the ground to bury their harvest, we can expect a mild winter. If squirrels carry their harvest to their nests, then a heavy snow would be expected, as snow would be more difficult for the animals to work through to get to the food.

This conversation reminded me of another time when I heard one of the grandmothers of the Dakota community talk about the importance of respecting all life, including the squirrels. She was taught that the Dakota could dig into the squirrels’ holes and pick out the nuts that they had gathered for their harvest. Before they could just take the squirrels’ food, though, the Dakota would have to offer corn as a replacement to help the little animals through their long winter as well.

Thanksgiving is a time of reflection, and there are most likely many who reflect on Thanksgiving as a time when the Native Americans shared a meal with the settlers to celebrate the good harvest. For me, though, Thanksgiving is a time to reflect on memories that taught me the importance of honoring and respecting life and land — such as the stories of the squirrels.

Native Americans celebrate Thanksgiving, but not in the sense of celebrating as an American tradition. (Turkey, for example, was never the go-to food for the Native Americans. For Native Americans in earlier times — and even today — the harvest involved deer and elk. Turkey was always viewed as a novelty because it was what the mainline American culture would prepare.)

Dinner differences aside, a Native American Thanksgiving celebrates the fact that we are still here, despite the historical atrocities that have occurred to each sovereign nation throughout the history of the United States. Many people still believe that the Native Americans are a conquered people. Native Americans, though, gather around tables and celebrate that we are survivors. 

Thanksgiving represents a time when we can turn to our ancient teachings, reflect on the issues before us and try to look for ways in which we can keep those teachings alive.

We still remember to honor all life, even when those atrocities still exist today. We are reminded of those tragic stories every time we turn on our water. We remember that there are Native Americans who risk their lives every day trying to bring awareness to the pipelines being built on land and over water. The Dakota Access Pipeline and the Keystone pipelines in the middle United States have created much controversy, and many Native Americans have been at the center of the protests.

In 2016, protesters who called themselves “water protectors” peacefully protesting the Dakota pipeline were arrested, forced into dog kennels and shot at with rubber bullets. Although the pipeline continues, so does the fight for clean water. We also continue to pray that the Ogallala Aquifer, a vast water source beneath the Great Plains, will remain clean for the generations to come.

While many Native Americans from many different nations and histories have many ideas of how the world could be a better place, the one common thread at the Thanksgiving table that we can count on is the relationship with Creator God. 

Psalm 118 says, “Give thanks to the Lord because he is good, because his faithful love lasts forever.” At the heart of Native American culture, gratitude is a value among the nations.

Native Americans have much to be grateful for: survival, perseverance and a strong connection to the land, water, plants and animals. Our connection to the Creator and all life inspires us to be strong, yet peaceful, with all life. 

November  Bible Study

The Bible Study groups will continue to meet in November on Mondays at noon and Tuesdays at 5:00 pm.  We are finishing our study by Martha Graybeal Rowlett “Responding to God” and will start an Advent Bible Study after Thanksgiviing.  Come join us!


November Knitters & Quilters

The knitters and quilters continue to meet every week on Thursdays (except Thanksgiving) at noon.  Come work on a project or if you want to learn to make hats or mittens for the mitten tree with us we have needles, yarn and instructions.


November 3  Annual Harvest Ham Dinner

The annual Harvest Ham Dinner is on Saturday, November 3rd from 4:00-7:00 PM.  Adult dinners are $12.00 and children 5 to 12 are $4.00.  Take-out is available.  Volunteers will be needed at the church on Friday, November 2nd at 1:00 PM to help with the cabbage, onions, and parsley and on Saturday at 9:00 AM to peel and prepare the potatoes and serve and clean-up during the dinner. Please find some time to enjoy this event (whether it be volunteering or enjoying the feast) with people from all over the community who gather around God’s Harvest and share in fellowship.  For more information or to volunteer, please contact Colleen Ulrich (518-661-5151) or Janet Kucel (518-661-7682).

November 8  Mooncatcher’s Project

The Mooncatcher group will meet on Thursday, November 8th from noon until about 3:00 p.m. for a cutting session only.  We have completed the first 50 sets and will begin to work on the next “batch”.  We have lots of fabric for this project and would welcome newcomers to come and help us cut the fabric into the necessary measurements.  See Mary Lou Bryan with questions.


November 10  Fall Clean-up Day

Come join the Building and Grounds committee for fall clean-up day on Saturday, November 10th from 9:00 am. to noon.  Bring a rake and I’ll bring the coffee and donuts!  Thanks, Gary.


November 15  Alzheimer’s Support Group

The Alzheimer’s Support Group will meet at 10:30 on Thursday, November 15th at 10:30 am in Fellowship Hall.  This group is just forming and is educational as well as supportive and open to the community.


November 15  Parkinson’s Advocacy & Education Group

The Parkinson’s Advocacy & Education Group meets in Fellowship Hall at 2:00 pm on November 15th.    These meetings are educational, supportive and open to the community.


November 18 and 19  Thanksgiving Baskets

Thanksgiving baskets/boxes will be made up after church on Sunday, November 18th and picked up on Monday, November 19th from 12:30 to 3:00pm.


November 26  Session Meeting

The next Session meeting will be held on Monday, November 26 at 6:30 pm.  If you have anything that should come before the Session please contact Janis Frisch or Rev. Bonnie.



December 12  Advent Family Gathering

Rev. Tim Coombs will present his “one-man-production” of Dickens’ –“A Christmas Carol” on Wednesday, December 12th.  A light supper of soup and bread will precede the presentation.  A donation of $5.00 will be charged for the supper/program.  


December 24 Fulton County Jail Christmas Eve Service

We will be doing a Christmas Eve service at the Fulton County Jail on Monday, December 24th.  Speak to Pastor Bonnie before to see if there are places available


December 24  Christmas Eve Service

We will have a communion Christmas Eve service in our sanctuary  on Monday, December 24 at 7:00 pm Join us to wish Jesus Happy Birthday.


Session approved Special Angel Project Bonnie talked about in church last Sunday.   We will work with the Fulton county jail to provide presents for the children of the female inmates.  Bonnie has more specifics on this.   They also approved having a special PCUSA offering in the month of November for hurricane relief. A jar will be in fellowship hall. 


Communion will be served December 9 instead of December 2 due to Bonnie being out of town. 


NEW MEMBERS CLASS AND RECEPTION OF NEW MEMBERS We will be taking in new members. We have already talked to many who will be joining. If you are interested in becoming a member, please talk to Pastor Bonnie or to one of the elders and we will include you on our list. We will hold a new member class and then will receive members into the congregation the following week.



Offering envelopes for 2019 will be available for pick up in Fellowship Hall in December.  Envelopes will be given to those who used them last year and any who requested them with their pledge slips.  If any other members and friends would like to have offering envelopes, please contact Ann Mallin at 773-8198 or at  Note:  PLEASE do not use 2018 envelopes in the new year.  Your envelope number may not be the same.



A season of music is coming upon us and we welcome those who would like to sing for a shorter commitment. Instrumentalists are being recruited and all who would like to participate in this year’s cantata are welcome to take a book and listen online to our new presentation, Christmas Presence by Pepper Choplin.  We also have a few CD’s available.


Join us for cantata singing or choir.  We welcome all voices.  Mary Lou Bryan



We will be packing Shoeboxes on November 11th.  Don’t forget to bring in things for the shoeboxes.   Toys, School supplies, Hygiene items, NO TOOTHPASTE,

DO NOT include the following items: Used items, Perishable items, Liquids, Medicines, Breakable items, Toy guns, knives or other war-related items and NO CANDY THIS YEAR

All the gifts should be NEW and fit in a shoebox!  $9.00 is sent with each box to cover the expense of getting it there.  If you would like to contribute to this cause please see Christine Dahl.


Sunday School children will soon be starting preparation for their Christmas Progam which will be held this year on December 16th and they will be having their traditional Thanksgiving Feast on November 18th  so come join the fun.


Bonnie has shared some of her ideas for fall and for Advent.  This committee would like help on November 24th when we “build” the tree for the sanctuary in preparation for Advent.   We would also love to have help with getting the Church ready for Christmas when we “hang the greens” on November 25th following worship.  As it has been said, “Many hands make light work”.

We will be preparing message slips for congregation members to consider ways to “bring gifts to Jesus” each Sunday during Advent.  A special service is being planned on December 2nd to help us “prepare” for Christ’s coming at Christmas. 

Don’t forget that Rev. Tim Coombs will present his “one-man-production” of Dickens’ –“A Christmas Carol” on Wednesday, December 12th.  This will also be our annual Advent Family gathering with a light supper of soup and bread.  We will be looking  for a variety of soups to serve that evening.  A donation of $5.00 will be charged for the supper/program.   Please share this information with family and friends



Happy Birthday to these members and friends

Vicki Kucel     November 2                                        Colleen Ulrich             November 8

Noah Rafus     November 2, 2017                              Sandra Ann Sparks     November 12

Mike Frank     November 5                                        Judy Gieseler              November 26

Jean Gifford    November 8                                        Wilma Bant                 November 27



The committee met to discuss what we could do for our members who are shut-ins or have a difficult time getting to church.   We are making sweet breads for them for Thanksgiving and cookies for them at Christmas.  Please feel free to use your baking skills to help us with these treats.  Just ask a member of the committee how you can help.  If there are extras we will add them to the Thanksgiving and Christmas baskets.


We are also working on honoring our veterans after the first of the year.  Any suggestions would be appreciated.  It is time to thank them for their service.



This year we will be starting a new Christmas Program called Special Angel. We will be providing Christmas presents for the children of women in the Fulton County Correctional Facility on Christmas this year. Similar to the Mayfield Secret Santa program, we will offer gift tags with a child’s name, size of clothing and a gift suggestion. We ask that you pick sign up and pick a child’s tag, purchase the gifts, wrap the gift and put the same tag on the gift. We will organize the gifts by family and take them to the jail so that the women can give them to their children. We will be putting the tags out in November.


Any cash donations toward the turkey vouchers would also be appreciated as soon as possible and may be given to Rev. Bonnie or Crystal Hinkle so that they can figure out how many more are needed.  Non-perishable items can be brought to the church at any time and placed in the conference room (not in the food pantry).  Perishable items (potatoes, bread, eggs) can be brought on November 18th or 19th.  

               Distribution of Thanksgiving boxes is on November 19th. Help will be needed putting the boxes together on Sunday, November 18th. Again thanks to all who support this important ministry.  Please contact me at 518-661-6314 if you have any questions or comments.   Crystal



…that the Rummage Sale brought in over $900.00.  Thank you to all who brought in rummage, helped to sort it, came and bought it, got rid of the leftovers and put the church back in order.

… That Dominic James Pianelli was baptized in October.  Heis the son of James and Sara Lyn Pianelli and grandson of Joye and Dave Haskins.  Welcome!

…that we have had three deaths in October Mid Ellithorpe, Bob Betler and Charmaine Miskinis.  They will be missed and we express our sympathy to their families.