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Theophany January 6

Theophany is a Holy Day of obligation.  For a complete schedule of our Liturgies, click here:  Theophany Liturgy Schedule.

Christ is Baptized!  In the Jordan!


Stained Glass Window in St. Michael Church

This holy day is one of the earliest Great Feasts of the Eastern churches, dating back to the 2nd century.  The feast commemorates Christ’s baptism in the river Jordan by John the Baptist. The literal translation of the word Theophany is manifestation of God. It is the manifestation of Christ’s Divinity in revelation of the Holy Trinity.  Theophany in the Eastern churches is associated with enlightenment and of the renewal of all creation.  Baptism is victory over the darkness of sin, in which the elements of light and water are the visible outward symbols of spiritual illumination, purification and cleansing.

An alternate name often used interchangeably with Theophany is Epiphany.  This also refers to a manifestation, in this case the prefix “epi” meaning above, as manifestation from above.  The term Epiphany is more closely associated in the Western (Roman) church with the appearance of the Magi to the Christ Child.  Many simply refer to it as “Three Kings”.   The Western church adopted the feast from the Eastern church, and in current practice in the United States celebrates on the Sunday between Jan 2 and 8, with a primary focus on the Magi’s appearance.

The Eastern churches in celebration of Theophany have retained the significance of the feast as described by the early church Fathers (Christ’s baptism) and keep it as an immovable feast, always on January 6.  Among the church fathers, St. John Chrysostom and St. Clement of Alexandria refer to Theophany in association with Christ’s baptism.  It is interesting to note that at one time both the Nativity and Baptism of Christ were celebrated together on January 6; then later in development the feasts were separated with the Nativity moving to December 25.

Theophany is a holy day that reminds us of our eternal salvation and the solid foundations of our faith.  We hear the words chanted in the Gospel reading of Matthew 3:16:  “After Jesus was baptized, he came directly out of the water.  Suddenly the sky opened and he saw the Spirit of God descend like a dove and hover over him.  With that, a voice from the heavens said, ‘This is my beloved Son.  My favor rests on Him.”

It is a tradition in Byzantine Catholic and Orthodox churches to bless water on the Feast of Theophany.   The blessing takes place after Divine Liturgy and the elaborate and poetic prayers recited by the priest invoke the Holy Spirit to sanctify and purify the water being blessed.  Afterwards the priest blesses all the faithful present and the entire church. Faithful are invited to consume the blessed water with faith, and to take water home for reverent use and to bless their homes.  It is traditional in the Carpatho-Rusyn tradition to bless any nearby river or stream as Christ blessed the water of the Jordan with his baptism.   The faithful may request to have their homes blessed by the parish priest following Theophany.

Words from the Great Blessing of Water (by St. Sophronius, Patriarch of Jerusalem, 634-638)

Today the grace of the Holy Spirit, in the form of a dove, comes down upon the waters.
Today there shines the Sun that never sets, and the world is sparkling with the light of the Lord.
Today the moon shines upon the world with the brightness of its rays.
Today the glittering stars adorn the universe with the radiance of their twinkling.
Today the clouds from heaven shed upon mankind a shower of justice.
Today the Uncreated One willingly permits the hands of his creature to be laid upon Him.
Today the Prophet and Forerunner comes close to the Master, and he stands in awe, a witness of the condescension of God towards us.
Today through the presence of the Lord the waters of the Jordan River are changed into remedies.
Today the whole universe is refreshed with mystical streams.
Today the sins of mankind are blotted out by the waters of the Jordan River.

Celebrate Christ is Born !

We Celebrate Christmas !

Christ is Born!   Glorify Him!
Razdajestsja!  Slavite Jeho!


God is with us! God is with us! Give ear, O you nations!  Be humbled, for God is with us!”

As Catholics, we continue to celebrate the birth of Jesus in the days following Christmas.  We are reminded during this time between Christmas and Theophany (Epiphany) to remain joyful in celebration as we reflect on the amazing gift that our Lord Jesus brings us.  He came to us in total humility with love, in the ultimate goal of salvation and redemption for all people everywhere.

Now that pre-Christmas distractions all but have ended, we have this peaceful time to envelope ourselves in the hopefulness which the Christ Child offers.   This can happen only if we allow ourselves to be so directed by the Holy Spirit.  But if we are not careful, we might become sidetracked now by the post-season distractions, the frenzied rush to grab up more of everything, and in the process, totally miss the holiness of this very special time.

Our guide to staying in the moment can be found in the familiar stories from the bible. The Wise Men were single focused and intent upon finding Baby Jesus, the real treasure.  And they would not allow anything to lead them off course.  Or to give up in the months their quest to glorify Our Lord must have taken.  We might consider ways to find the treasure of the Christ Child in these days also.  Whether through extended quiet time, inspirational music, prayer, spiritual reading, or a short reflective minute in the middle of the day, enlightenment comes to us when all is calm, all is bright.   And all that Jesus in the form of a little baby really wants from us is simple, and yet so challenging:  Cradling him close to our hearts and offering ourselves as a gift in return.

Keep Christ and Christmas in your heart and soul – alive and renewed!   Christ is Born!  Glorify Him!



Royal Doors – Annunciation; Nativity Icon on the tetrapod (table); Theophany Icon (Christ’s Baptism) right side altar

Christmas Carol:                   Angels From Heaven

Angels from heaven came to you shepherds; Have no fear! Have no fear! Hasten to honor Him, born near in Bethlehem; Offer gifts, though poor and small.
There in a manger, you will behold Him, Son of God, Son of God.  Child whose humility, veils his Divinity, our true Savior, Christ the Lord.


Merry Christmas from the parishioners of St. Michael and St. Nicholas parishes!


Thank You Everyone !


Thank You to all who came, shopped, sampled our homemade food and helped make our Flea Market & Ethnic Food Weekend a success.   It was a delight for many of us to speak with our visitors and welcome you to our annual event.

We say thank you to those who stopped by for the very first time in simply seeing our sign out front, or seeing one of our ads.   And we have a special thank you to our visitors who have been coming back year after year, nearly as long as the Flea Market itself, with compliments on our piggies, pierogies (pirohi), and other good food.

It’s special to hear how much you enjoy the food and we can assure you it’s made with care for that reason.   So we thank you for your generous support and compliments.  May God bless each of you!


Thank you to everyone who donated items, volunteered time and talent above and beyond in so many ways, and worked for the betterment of our parish in a spirit of generosity and charity.

From those who worked with preparation (weeks and hours of work) to all who answered the call to give time, labor, and physical assistance during the weekend event itself. You worked hard at the various stands and service areas, in the kitchen, with cleanup and more, and we cannot say thank you enough.  Without your help none of this would be possible, and it is evidence of how much you care that our church remains both visible and viable.

Your support and active involvement is important to our parish and future direction.   Your help is most appreciated, not just by your pastor, but in service to God and others of faith in action.  May God bless you in your own needs and be your support!

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2016 Saturday Opening Day:  Patrons and Father Gary Wave a Happy Greeting


Get Inspired !

The ByzanTEEN Youth Rally 2016

……..   Rounded up a whole lot of youthful motivation and spirit this year as it was held July 7 -10.   This is the hope and future of our Byzantine Catholic Church!

As you watch this professional quality video, let it inspire you to go forward with the same drive and ambition witnessed at Notre Dame College, Euclid, Ohio (Cleveland).

Click here for Video ByzanTEEN Youth Rally 2016

No matter what your age, we are all called by Christ to carry the same enthusiasm for our faith as these young church members.  We are alive in Christ and as our youth demonstrate, our mission in life is to radiate the same spirit-inspired joy to everyone we meet.  Enjoy the video and it’s powerful energy !


  • Note:  Our pastor, Father Gary Mensinger is an active member of the Inter-Eparchial Youth Commission, the organization sponsoring the rally every two years.  The next Rally in 2018 will be held at St. Vincent College, Latrobe, Pa.

Flea Market 2016

AUGUST 6 – 7  

Flea Market, Ziti Dinner & Ethnic Food Weekend


Flea Market & Ethnic Food Weekend  (← Click to see photos from 2015)
Saturday 9 am to 4 pm / Sunday 10 am to 3 pm

Ziti Dinner 
Sunday ONLY  10 am to 3 pm   
Eat in or take out – Tickets available at the door       Cost: $10.00 adults, $6.00 children

Bake Sale: 
Saturday  August 6 only 

All Ethnic foods are Homemade! “Best Piggies in the area” ( also known as Stuffed cabbage or Halupki), Pirohi (Potato or Sauerkraut Pierogies), Haluski (cabbage & noodles), Potato Pancakes.  Many of our ethnic foods are eat in or take out, your choice on take outs as hot or cold.   Additional food includes Wimpies (sloppy Joes), Hot dogs, Sausage & Peppers Sandwiches, Soda, Water, Coffee.

Location and Main Entrance: 
Please enter our church hall (basement) from the parking lot on the left

Parking:  Church Parking lot side and back

COME AND BROWSE!  COME AND EAT!   Fabulous homemade food and great “finds” are the treasures you’ll discover at our annual church event.   We are now in our 20th year and still going strong !

You never know what you will find among the many flea market items ready to be re-purposed or adapted to your needs.   And with that, you are being a “friend of our earth” also in recycling when you purchase an item.    Something else you will find :   Delicious homemade food.  And we aren’t bragging when we say that we have some of the best “piggies” (by any other title: halupki or stuffed cabbage) in this area and many other ethnic specialities and our delicious ziti and meatballs too!  Our return customers would agree wholeheartedly.



Donations of flea market items are now being accepted and greatly appreciated.  Contact Linda or Mike, listed below regarding drop off times.   ITEMS NOT ACCEPTED:  TV’s, Computers, Clothing.   If you know of someone cleaning out an estate who would like to donate, please contact Linda @ 570-905-7387 or Mike Moran.   Calls to the Church Secretary can be made on Fridays 8 to 4  (570-654-4564).


Former pastor, Reverend Michael J. Mondik, fell asleep in the Lord on Thursday, March 3, 2016.  Rev. Mondik served as pastor at both St. Michael’s, Pittston (1987 to 1996) and St. Nicholas, Swoyersville (1980 to 1987).

Rev. Mondik’s legacy at both parishes included achieving his vision of creating church interiors reflective of our ancestral heritage, both Carpatho-Rusyn (Ruthenian) and Byzantine. He initiated the installation of the icon screens, first at St. Nicholas parish, and then at St. Michaels.  At St. Michael’s, Rev. Mondik’s goal of restoring an authentic appearance progressed even further with the addition of magnificent icons to the ceilings and walls of the church, as well as a candelabra.  [See Virtual Tour, Iconostasis, and History on this website]. All the restorations were made possible through generous, sacrificial donations, and with the active support of the time and talent of the parishioners of both parish families during his leadership and service as pastor.  In remembrance of Rev. Mondik, we express both our gratitude for his service to our church families, and we extend our condolences to his family and friends.

An article was published in the 2016 January/February newsletter of the Eparchy of Phoenix, where Rev. Mondik was in retirement following his last pastorate:   Jan/Feb 2016 Newsletter Eparchy of Phoenix

Eternal Memory!  Vicnaja pamjat!

Adult Formation

Adult Eastern Christian Formation (ECF) Series

Series resumes in August 2016
Shout Out to All Church Members:  Invitation to Join !


Have you ever wondered about some of the things we do and believe in as Byzantine Catholics?   Do you enjoy informal discussion of faith related topics?  This is the group for you !

Read more :   Adult Eastern Christian Formation group

Join us at any time during the series !  Bring a friend !    Weekly attendance not required.

“Do not conform yourselves to this age but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, so that you may judge what is God’s will, what is good, pleasing and perfect.”   Romans 12:2

Ancestry Program by Eastern Pa. Chapter of Carpatho-Rusyn Society attracts audience from Pa. and other states : Oct. 3, 2015

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Speakers, from left to right: Rich Custer, Dr. Michele Parvensky, and Dr. Peter Yasenchak

Program held at St. Michaels in celebration of 100 years

The steady morning rain on Saturday, October 3rd did not stop those wishing to learn about their ancestry from attending a very special program hosted by St. Michael’s Byzantine Catholic Church, 205 N. Main Street, Pittston.   In fact, quite a few participants made the journey from neighboring states in spite of the weather, including from New Jersey, Maryland, New York, and even Florida.   Many came from other parts of Pennsylvania for the program that was held 9 am to 3 pm in the church hall.

Entitled “Celebrating the Present/Understanding the Past”, three speakers were featured. They were sponsored by the Eastern Pa Chapter of the Carpatho-Rusyn Society: Rich Custer, Dr. Michele Parvensky, and Dr. Peter Yasenchak. All three captivated those in attendance with their expertise of Carpatho-Rusyn history. But they also entertained with their lively presentations.

While most people with an immigrant past connect their historical ethnicity to a specific country of origin, those with Rusyn ancestry have difficulty doing the same. This is because there is no single country in Europe that Rusyns can call their own. Rather than a country, people with Rusyn roots must point to a region that stretches from eastern Slovakia to Western Ukraine and to parts of Poland.

Over the centuries, the boundaries and borders of ruling governments changed, giving rise to further confusion when these immigrants were asked to identify themselves upon arrival in America. Some may have identified themselves as Hungarian, others as Slovak, and others as Polish or Ukrainian — all countries that occupied the places where Rusyns lived. This region of Europe is often referred to as Transcarpathia, and the people who came to America numbered quite significantly in the eastern United States.

Most settled in Northeastern Pennsylvania, and in sections of New Jersey and Connecticut. The coal industry in our area was one of the reasons many chose to emigrate – with the goal to work hard to start a new life. The earliest wave arriving in the U.S. settled in the southern coal fields, while later waves of immigrants made the northern coal field their home.

The Rusyn people who came mainly between 1880 and 1920, had traditions and religious practices different from immigrants already present in the U.S.   Because of this, the Rusyn immigrants started their own social groups and built their own churches, known originally as Greek Catholic Churches (now called Byzantine Catholic). However, they were not Greek. To add to the challenges already facing them, acceptance by others — of their different customs in American society at the turn of the 20th century — was not always easy to achieve. In some cases, it resulted in alienation and disagreements with established institutions. As a result, many Rusyns found it easier to assimilate into other ethnic or religious groups. The first generations that followed, unless informed about their own family history, would have little to no knowledge of their actual ethnic history.

Today, many people of all ages are researching their genealogy and are now learning about their Rusyn ancestry. There are many resources online and elsewhere.   By hosting this program, St. Michaels is helping those with an interest to explore and learn about the families who settled in Greater Pittston and their own family history.

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One portion of a display of wooden church photographs from the collection of Dr. Michele Parvensky

The presentations on October 3rd contained a wealth of information.   Dr. Michele Parvensky, author/researcher, traveled extensively throughout Slovakia and Ukraine in search of all historic wooden churches throughout the area. The churches are crafted from logs and often without nails, and the interiors are decorated in traditional regional styles, very humble in appearance but rich in antiquity.  One unique practice is that if one church was no longer needed in a village, the entire church could be disassembled and moved to a different village where it was needed. However most of the churches now are considered historic and are protected. Dr. Parvensky’s slide lecture featured contemporary rural Slovakia, with farming methods in use today that have hardly changed from the past. Her hundreds of photos of the churches were also on display.

Rich Custer, one of the speakers from Washington, DC, is an author/historian researching Rusyn history in Pennsylvania for a future book, decades in the making. His review of the villages in the Carpatho-Rus region and listing of the surnames of immigrant families to St Michaels was impressive. He pointed to villages on a map and read off the family names of parishioners who originated from that village. He even linked the stained glass windows in St. Michaels to the villages of immigrants who donated them, as the inscription on each window memorializes that information.

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Rich Custer presents a detailed talk on the history of immigrants to the Greater Pittston area, reading off the surnames originating from specific villages in the transcarpathian region.

Finally, Dr. Peter Yasenchak described details of life in his immigrant family beginning with their journey to the ships that brought them to America to adjusting to life in the new country.   His visual descriptions virtually mirrored what most Rusyn immigrants experienced.   Using humor and a story-telling style, Dr. Yasenchak proved that history could be both informative and entertaining as he had his audience laughing frequently.  He also gave an overview of the architecture, art and music in a Byzantine style church during the tour portion of the program.

Overall, everyone in attendance left pleased that they had gained some new insight. And St. Michael’s team of volunteers combined their talents in every way possible to ensure a successful event: from pre-event set-up to the food team’s homemade baked goods to serving guests a delicious light lunch. As one attendee stated: “Your folks outdid themselves on this one! Your church is just beautiful, and I hope it lasts another hundred years and more. I truly enjoyed the program and learned some new things today.”

Information about Carpatho-Rusyn history can be found at: http://www.carpathorusynsociety.org and also: http://rusynsofpa.blogspot.com


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Dr. Michele Parvensky begins with description of travel in Slovakia and Ukraine prior to photo review.

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Sharon Jarrow of the C-RS group serves as emcee for the program.

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Rich Custer fields questions from a line of inquisitive attendees.

CR-S program b 018 - scaled (1024x874)Sharon Jarrow explains and shows books and other materials for sale.
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Participants search for villages of origin on one of the map displays showing Transcarpathian territory.

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Dr. Peter Yasenchak describes the order of the Liturgy during a chance for participants to tour St. Michael’s church.

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Homemade baked goods made by St. Michael’s “food team” were a popular item along with hot coffee to start off the day’s events.


Article and photography by Mary Anne Fedor, a life-long member of St. Michael’s Byzantine Catholic Church, Pittston

Presentation on Carpatho-Rusyn History on Saturday, October 3


St. Michael the Archangel Byzantine Catholic Church is hosting a historical program on Saturday, October 3, 2015, no registration fee to attend.  Three guest speakers, members of the Eastern Pa. Chapter of the Carpatho-Rusyn Society will be featured.

They are: Rich Custer, Dr. Michele Parvensky, and Dr. Peter Yasenchak.   See their biographies and topics listed below.   The Carpatho-Rusyn Society is an organization headquartered in Munhall, near Pittsburgh; it has chapters throughout the United States and Europe.

St. Michael’s is celebrating its 100th Anniversary this year.   Most of the early parishioners were immigrants from the Carpathian region.   Looking at a present day map, the region stretches from eastern Slovakia through Western Ukraine.

People often mistakenly refer to St. Michael’s as “the Russian Church”.   However that is very misguided because St. Michaels is actually a Catholic church with a Rusyn or Ruthenian heritage.

The confusion arises because Rusyn and Russian sound similar.   St Michaels also shares liturgical forms and many other traditions that can often be seen in Russian Orthodox churches.   There are historical reasons for the similarities. Finally, many individuals may have great grandparents or grandparents who were Rusyn and these descendants may not be familiar with their own ancestry.

The goal of the program is informational.   If you are interested in learning about this group of immigrants, their journey to America, and their lives in Wyoming Valley 100 years ago, remember to mark the date on your calendar.   The speakers will discuss each area of their expertise.

Topics will cover everything from the immigrants’ journey from their homeland to America, the land they left behind, the traditions they brought with them to their new home, the wooden churches of the Carpathian region, and the inter-relatedness of their church, work, and home life.

Speakers of Interest to Genealogists

The entire program will be of special interest to people doing genealogy research and exploring local history.

This is a “not-to-miss” event for at least several reasons. First, the program is free of charge.   We request that you register as a courtesy, but it is not required. Registration directions are listed below.   Secondly, the line-up of knowledgeable speakers is certain to interest many. And additionally, St. Michael’s is providing participants an opportunity to tour the church and learn more about its beautiful Byzantine features. All the icons in the church were created by Father Theodore Koufos and his associates from Toronto, Canada.

Program Schedule

The program starts at 9 am; opening remarks at 915 a.m., followed by the first two presentations (Dr. Parvensky and Rich Custer).   Following a short lunch break (available in the church hall), participants will be invited on a tour of St. Michaels.

Afterwards, the final presentation (Dr. Yasenchak) and time for discussion will be held, with the program close at approximately 3 pm.

Courtesy Registration Requested

Pre-registration is suggested as mentioned earlier.   Registration is for planning and set-up purposes to better accommodate all who wish to attend.

A variety of information handouts will be available along with items that can be purchased.   There is ample parking.   The church is located at 205 N. Main Street, Pittston, Pa.


About Our Speakers

Dr. Michele Parvensky

Dr. Parvensky will be talking about “the old country” with a focus on its people, land, and the unique churches of the Carpathian region. Dr. Parvensky has been visiting the Rusyn homeland since 1997. She has done extensive study on the style of churches in Slovakia simply known as “wooden churches” with their stylized domes and hard carved embellishments.   Her focus has been on photographing the wooden churches. Her interest in them was piqued by an article in a GCU (Greek Catholic Union) magazine. Although the GCU article stated that there were only 150 churches, this figure was proven to be incorrect. She is familiar with her Rusyn heritage due to it being ingrained by her father and relatives. Her father was the cantor and choir director of St. John’s Church in Pottstown.

Rich Custer

Rich Custer will focus on a presentation entitled: “The Greater Pittston Area and St. Michael’s Byzantine Catholic Church: A Carpatho-Rusyn Immigrant Hub of the Wyoming Valley”. Richard Custer is a founder of the Carpatho-Rusyn Society (C-RS) and has served as editor of its newsletter, The New Rusyn Times, since 1994. Also for the C-RS he compiled and edited the Rusyn-American Almanac of the Carpatho-Rusyn Society 2004-2005. His articles on Rusyn genealogy, history, culture, and language have appeared in numerous publications and he has presented on the topic of Rusyn American history at more than a dozen regional genealogical and Carpatho-Rusyn conferences.

Since the late 1980s, he has been engaged in research, photography, and collecting historical written and photographic materials for what is now planned as a lavishly illustrated book of the history of the Carpatho-Rusyn immigrant communities in Pennsylvania. Follow the progress of the project on his blog, “The Carpatho-Rusyns of Pennsylvania,” rusynsofpa.blogspot.com.

Rich will talk about the first local immigrants, the villages they came from, and where they settled around the Greater Pittston area.   Carpatho-Rusyns left behind their homes in small villages in the Carpathian Mountains of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.   Like other fellow central European immigrants, they were drawn to employment opportunities in the anthracite coal industry. Rich will discuss how the immigrants needed ample spiritual and material support of fellow Rusyns, thereby founding churches, fraternal societies and businesses.

Rich Custer’s website/blogsite is: http://rusynsofpa.blogspot.com

Dr. Peter Yansenchak

Dr. Yasenchak will discuss “The richness of our coalfields and our ancestors who toiled in them.”   Dr. Peter Yasenchak, a longtime resident of Pottsville, hailing from the coal regions of Kingston, PA has promoted the Rusyn culture throughout his life. He has been well known in the Pottsville area as the Executive Director of the Historical Society of Schuylkill County. Dr. Peter Yasenchak was a contributor to the book, “Images of America; The Anthracite Coal Regions Slavic Community”.  He served as the first President of the newly formed Eastern PA Chapter of the Carpatho-Rusyn Society. He remains active in the chapter as First Vice President.


Additional Information Available:

Research blog site by Rich Custer      Carpatho-Rusyns of Pennsylvania

Carpatho-Rusyn Society website:   www.c-rs.org

St. Michael’s 100th Anniversary Facebook page: www.facebook.com/stmichaels100/timeline (viewable by non-Facebook users)

For questions on the topics, feel free to contact: shangp@rcn.com  or phone 610-759-2628

Our Special Moment in Time

Celebrating our 100th Anniversary is a special moment in time for those of us fortunate enough to witness it.   In 1990 our church was rededicated for it’s 75th anniversary.   And while that doesn’t seem that long ago, consider the changes in our society and world that have occurred during the last twenty-five years.   Consider the changes that occurred in your life in those same years.

If you can dare to imagine what life was like back in time, consider the hardships and sacrifices made by the founders of our church and those parishioners who worshiped here during the early years.   Truly their dedication and foresight in establishing a parish is why we are able to worship in freedom here today.

We face many different challenges today than our grandparents of years past did.  And while we are blessed with all kinds of modern conveniences, technology and information, perhaps our challenges today have less to do with the basics of survival, than our survival as Christians faithful to the values of our parents, grandparents, and to our church.    During this year of our celebration, let us all take a moment to say a prayer for those who came before us, who paved the way with their time and labor.   And let us promise to grow in our personal faith by seeking opportunities to expand our knowledge through many available opportunities, including those in our own church; and most importantly, to grow closer to God.

This is why we celebrate.  This is why we worship together.