Friday, May 15

Dear church community,

About a year ago in what seems now like a radically different time, I traveled to Europe for a short trip. I wanted to explore some places in Belgium and Holland for a future church tour, and also see my family and especially my aging dad in Germany. It was a very nice solo trip with stops in Maastricht, Bruges, Ghent, Delft, Gouda and Utrecht.  At St. Peter’s we have done two large scale European travel tours, each with more than 30 people, and I was setting my sights on Tour number 3.  The first of these international church trips was in 2012, when we traveled with our Bell Choir, visiting places in southern Germany and Switzerland and closing out the tour in the little villages where I grew up in central Germany, everybody staying with the locals because there are simply no hotels there.  You can imagine (or not) how much work it was to plan for the logistics of moving a bell choir to Europe and finding suitable places to stay and suitable places to play that could also supply the kinds of tables you need for the instruments. (I made numerous phone calls to explain the exact measurements we needed.) Charlene B. organized much of that tedious stuff and I figured out the tour and where to stay and all that. We had so much fun, and I still remember the little children in the church in Lauffen, Switzerland (near the Rhine falls), checking out the bells and wanting to ring them after church. I have a subsequent newspaper article (Reporter) that featured the trip and showed one of those pictures. I remember almost killing some of our travelers when we went on a little hiking excursion in my home area, walking through the woods to a cabin where my locals had prepared food, lots of food, drink, and a wood fire with sizzling sausages on the grit. A small brass band greeted the exhausted hikers as a surprise. I remember Mag M. almost killing me when we climbed the steep road to Schloss Neuschwanstein in Bavaria. (I hope she has forgiven me by now.) The people in my hometown talked about the visit of the bell choir for a long time and probably still do. It was exactly the kind of thing that makes travel meaningful. We met people and we shared our gifts and stories and came home richer for it. We also shared our faith and the music of our faith. I will tell you another time about the second trip in 2018, as well as last year’s excursion. A year ago I was planning Tour number 3 for the summer of 2021, but that is totally out of the question now. Perhaps we can do it a year later.  I sure hope so! (I have some interesting places in mind.)

Yesterday, we had a conference video call with our local North Wales churches, and it looks like we have a full plate of participants for our community-wide food drive on the last weekend of May. On board are St. Rose, St. Peter’s, Sanctuary, Gwynedd Friends, and Messiah.  We will collect food for our local food banks on all three days of May 29-31, with big bins situated at the various church drop-off places. We will provide the people in our various communities with fliers that they can share with neighbors. The goal is to involve our neighbors in this community-wide food drive.  All those churches will be open for drop-off on all three days, probably from 7:00 a.m until 7:00 p.m.  As we prepare for this drive, we are looking for a total of six volunteers, two each per day on May 29, 30 and 31. We will ask each volunteer to check on the food donation bins every two hours, empty the bins, and move the donations into the Fellowship Hall.  One volunteer would check the bins at 9:00 a.m., 11:00 a.m., and 1:00 p.m.   The second volunteer would do the same at 3, 5, and 7 p.m.  If you would like to help, please contact Robin Alderfer at alderfer@aol.com. Also, if you have large (really large) storage bins with a lid that are currently not in use, please let her know.  And we will ask people to drop off large cardboard boxes at our next food drive on Wednesday.  Those boxes will get moved to the Fellowship Hall and the food donations will be transferred to those boxes.

On Sunday at 11:00 a.m. we invite you for a special virtual Adult Forum featuring the work of the Interfaith Housing Alliance, which was initiated by First Presbyterian Church in Ambler a number of years ago.  As the name suggests, the agency works across denominations and religious lines to help with persisting housing and homelessness problems in  Montgomery County. Because it can be so difficult to find housing for homeless families in our rich county, churches and synagogues have taken turns welcoming families for a month at a time in their houses of worship.  We were planning to do just that in the month of June, but something called COVID 19 has altered the landscape radically.  Our Social Ministry Team decided however, to use this time and inform our people about the work of this organization. You can participate in this session via Zoom. Here is the invitation:   

St. Peter’s North Wales is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.
Topic: Adult Forum – Inter-Faith Housing Alliance
Time: May 17, 2020 11:00 AM Eastern Time (US and Canada)

Our graduation students are all facing very interesting scenarios this June and you could say they will have an “UNFORGETTABLE” graduation, something that they can tell their children and  grandchildren about, “the year we graduated virtually”. We would like to honor all of them on Sunday, June 14. That includes graduation from all kinds of schools: Elementary, Middle School, High School, College, Vocational School… Please send us pictures by May 31. That will give us plenty of time to make sure we really have EVERYONE’S Picture included in our tribute presentation. Please send them directly to Jennifer Bodolus (dfm@stpetersnorthwales.org) and copy in Lisa Miller (secretary.stpetersnporthwales@gmail.com).

Council and I are working on a plan for re-opening when that time comes. Expect a pastoral letter and copy of a church-plan for reopening. There are so many things to consider, it isn’t funny!!!  You will get that letter (as if you hadn’t had enough letters from me already!) within the next two weeks, which will also include an invitation to a survey among our people with all kinds of questions that give us a better picture where you are, what you need and how ready or not ready you are to come to church again when the re-opening phase begins.           

Be safe and be well! Pastor Andreas Wagner  

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