Serendipity can be a sign from God, when your eyes and heart are open. Robert Mack joined the Navy in the 1990’s and first came to the area in the early 2000’s. He met and married his wife, Kanawha, in 2005 and together they have 7 children. At that time, he chose to attend the chapel on base, and after a few years the Navy swept them off to South Carolina and Japan. When the family returned to St. Mary’s County and Robert retired, they were initially looking for a Missouri Synod church but they were visiting all of the Lutheran Churches in the area. A neighbor invited the family over and there sat Pastor Mitch from Good Sam…. Robert knew it was a sign!
Robert and his entire family have been active at Good Sam ever since – participating in events and outreach, as well as serving on council. As an individual, he feels that his roles are to be a loving father, friend and mentor to his own children and the children in our community. At first, Robert resisted being in this role to mentor other kids – he thought he would just be a good example of a man, father and Christian. But God’s call was greater – Robert continued to see that these kids need a role model and guidance. They need someone to see past the anger and judgement and to continue showing them love and support and rules. This is not an easy job and he does it well – and it’s obvious by the respect that he is given because he has earned it.
For the same reason, Robert also enjoys being a troop 413 Scout Master. He gets to guide boys from 6th grade to High School on the path of earning their Eagle and gets a front row seat to see them mature into young men with values. His own son, Isaiah, just got his Eagle last year. Away from church, he landed a job last year as the JROTC instructor at Great Mills High School. Let’s start by breaking the misconception that this program is all about discipline – it’s not! Some kids choose to come, some are referred, and some are assigned by counselors – but however they get to his office, they find a mentor who cares. Whether they are college or career bound or need technical skills, JROTC is there to support them. Robert helps them plan for life after High School – he encourages them to have hopes and dreams. This is what it means to live a life in mission.
Sermon: “Healing and Discovering God”
Prayer: Almighty and most merciful God, your bountiful goodness fills all creation. Keep us safe from all that may hurt us, that, whole and well in body and spirit, we may with grateful hearts accomplish all that you would have us do, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen.
The sermon begins after the reading from Luke’s Gospel.
October 7, 2019
Members and Friends of Good Sam,
There are so many great things happening at Good Sam these days: Bible Studies, care and connection with our community, food pantry and meal care, time for prayer in our building, family time with Eat and Play, Empty Nester programs like Oktoberfest, community groups who use our building and love that we are here for them like Pax River Quilters Guild, and much more. In this message we would like to share with you one challenge to our community life that some of you know about, but likely you have not really thought about. It’s our mortgage.
Here are some quick facts:
- We spend $8,887 each month to service our mortgage. This year that will cost us $106,647.
- Last year income to the General Fund was $313,000. The mortgage was 34% of that total.
- Currently, church based and business recommendations are that congregations not go in debt more than 15-20% of their General Fund income. We are at twice that rate.
- While this situation has been true for the last 12+ years of this congregation’s 20+ year history, it has become increasingly burdensome to do effective ministry with this kind of debt load.
All that being said, we want to make you aware of a plan to help reduce this challenge and we invite you to help in any way you can. Our current mortgage interest rate (%4.625) resets every three years to match current economic trends. Our mortgage will reset again this January. Usually, making additional principal payments does not have an immediate impact on our current monthly required payment. But because our loan rate resets this January, any principal payments we make between now and Novembers 15th will directly impact not only the principal (amount we owe), but also directly impact the monthly mortgage payment we will have beginning in January for the next three years.
Also, we have recently received a gift that allows us to make a $50,000 payment to our mortgage principal. This will reduce our annual mortgage payment total next year by almost $6,000. We are so thankful for this gift and are pleased to use it to begin to address this particular challenge to ministry at Good Sam.
You too can help. Between now and November 15th any additional gifts we receive toward this mortgage principal payment will reduce our principal amount and directly reduce our mortgage costs for the next three-year cycle of our mortgage.
We understand we have differing abilities to help financially with this opportunity, but please consider that any amount does help and has a growing impact over the life of this loan. We believe there are those in our community who have the ability and will consider helping us remain financially viable in the coming years. This means we can save $60,000 or more in Loan Servicing Costs through the life of our mortgage. (See the spreadsheet below.)
Council has established a “Mortgage Principal Fund” for this purpose. Simply label any gift to Good Sam with the memo line “Mortgage Principal.” And we will include it in the November principal payment we are planning. Thank you for your consideration in making a gift to this effort.
Pastor Mitch and your Good Sam Council
Here is a table that may help you see the possibilities. If we can raise an additional $50,000 we can save more than $11,000 a year for the life of the loan.
|Scenario||Loan Amount||Interest Rate||Payments (Months)||Monthly Payment Amount||Monthly Savings||Annual Savings|
Sermon: “Acting on Our Identity and Doing the Right Thing”
Prayer: Benevolent, merciful God: When we are empty, fill us. When we are weak in faith, strengthen us. When we are cold in love, warm us, that with fervor we may love our neighbors and serve them for the sake of your Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen.
The sermon begins after the reading from Luke’s Gospel.
The castle is built, the scavenger hunt is complete, the beer and recipes are chosen all we need is to know you are coming!
October 13 is the last day to purchase tickets for the Octoberfest which will be held on Sunday, October 20 after Sunday School in the Fellowship Hall. A meal of bratwurst and fixings is $15 and a hot dog meal is $5. There is an additional cost if you wish to have a beer, so please bring cash or check. Tickets are on sale in the Fellowship Hall.
Good Sam Happenings in October
*October 5th – Blessing of the Animals 10:00 am
October 6th [Sunday Theme] “Acting on Our Identity and Doing the Right Thing”
October 13th [Sunday Theme] “Healing and Discovering God”
October 20th [Sunday Theme] “Praying and Wrestling”
*October 20th – Oktoberfest starting at 11:45 am
October 27th [Sunday Theme] “Freedom vs Digging In” Reformation Sunday
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I want a church where you really belong. Where you are known and cared about. Where you are challenged, encouraged, listened to and where you grow. I know church can be like that. I’ve seen it. The best community I have had in my life has centered around Jesus. There is a real community with other people in knowing and loving Jesus. And yet, the most awkward, painful, exclusionary, combative and upsetting community experiences I have ever had, have been consistently in the church. Because this is true for me, I have searched long and hard to better understand why being church can fail so miserably and continue to seek to discover what will unlock our ability to truly be “together” in Christ – to belong to one another.
Have you ever been in search of something that persistently eludes you? I have so admired Rachel Held Evan’s work at getting clear with herself about what the church’s core gifts and opportunities are to build meaningful, accepting and vibrant community. In her book, “Searching for Sunday,” you can walk with her through her personal journey and at the same time, explore your own sense of searching for “church” where you feel welcome, at home, yourself and alive to God. Her sense of the gifts and core values of church are a rich theological and very concrete / personal expression of vibrant community.
I invite you to follow her journey through “Searching for Sunday,” so that you too can become even more clear about the opportunities for discovery, renewal, fulfillment and belonging that can be alive to you in church and in the community. Perhaps we too are searching for new and deeper fruitfulness in our church and interpersonal lives.
Who doesn’t want to have a sense of true belonging? If we were going to grow or create a deeper sense of true belonging in our congregation, what would we need to know about ourselves and about true belonging? Brené Brown has powerful answers for those questions in her courageous book, “Braving the Wilderness.” We would do well to make this book a primer for how to handle conflict, speak for ourselves, keep good boundaries and forge strong ties and keep them strong. Why don’t they teach us this stuff somewhere so we can be prepared to be community, to be the church and to belong to one another? I think it is ironic that we seek Jesus at church and still manage to fail to learn how to be community together.
“Braving The Wilderness” is consistently the best discussion and guide for dealing with virtually every difficult experience I’ve had in community and society, including the church. I wish we could all read it and begin to work together at becoming a place (a people) where grace and true belonging thrive.
My friends, my siblings in Christ, my community of hope in Christ, I am very proud of so much that we are and so much that we do together. I also am hungry for us to deepen our connection and sense of belonging to each other. Both Rachel and Brené’s writings have the potential to nurture each of us along this journey to being available and present to each other. Pick up a copy. Listen to the audio book. I’ll keep a few hard copies around, too, if you want to borrow one. We are a people in mission and that journey takes us into each other’s lives. This is how Christ builds the church. One to another.
New York Times best-selling author Rachel Held Evans embarks on a quest to find out what it really means to be part of the Church. Like millions of her millennial peers, Rachel Held Evans didn’t want to go to church anymore. The hypocrisy, the politics, the gargantuan building budgets, the scandals – Church culture seemed so far removed from Jesus. Yet despite her cynicism and misgivings, something kept drawing her back. And so she set out on a journey to understand the Church and to find her place in it.
Centered around seven sacraments, Evans’ quest takes listeners through a liturgical year with stories about baptism, communion, confirmation, confession, marriage, vocation, and death that are funny, heartbreaking, and sharply honest.
A memoir about making do and taking risks, about the messiness of community and the power of grace, searching for Sunday is about overcoming cynicism to find hope and, somewhere in between, Church.
A timely and important new audiobook that challenges everything we think we know about cultivating true belonging in our communities, organizations, and culture, from the number one best-selling author of Rising Strong, Daring Greatly, and The Gifts of Imperfection.
Hello Sunshine book club pick
“True belonging doesn’t require us to change who we are. It requires us to be who we are.” Social scientist Brené Brown, PhD, LMSW, has sparked a global conversation about the experiences that bring meaning to our lives – experiences of courage, vulnerability, love, belonging, shame, and empathy. In Braving the Wilderness, Brown redefines what it means to truly belong in an age of increased polarization. With her trademark mix of research, storytelling, and honesty, Brown will again change the cultural conversation while mapping a clear path to true belonging.
Brown argues that we’re experiencing a spiritual crisis of disconnection, and introduces four practices of true belonging that challenge everything we believe about ourselves and each other. She writes, “True belonging requires us to believe in and belong to ourselves so fully that we can find sacredness both in being a part of something and in standing alone when necessary. But in a culture that’s rife with perfectionism and pleasing, and with the erosion of civility, it’s easy to stay quiet, hide in our ideological bunkers, or fit in rather than show up as our true selves and brave the wilderness of uncertainty and criticism. But true belonging is not something we negotiate or accomplish with others; it’s a daily practice that demands integrity and authenticity. It’s a personal commitment that we carry in our hearts.”
Brown offers us the clarity and courage we need to find our way back to ourselves and to each other. And that path cuts right through the wilderness. Brown writes, “The wilderness is an untamed, unpredictable place of solitude and searching. It is a place as dangerous as it is breathtaking, a place as sought after as it is feared. But it turns out to be the place of true belonging, and it’s the bravest and most sacred place you will ever stand.”
Words for this time in our community, in our Nation and in our hearts.
Sermon: “The Named And Unnamed Before God.”
Prayer: O God, rich in mercy, you look with compassion on this troubled world. Feed us with your grace, and grant us the treasure that comes only from you, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen.
The sermon begins after the reading from Luke’s Gospel.
Sermon: “Serving God Persistently In The Small And Weighty Things.”
Prayer: God among us, we gather in the name of your Son to learn love for one another. Keep our feet from evil paths. Turn our minds to your wisdom and our hearts to the grace revealed in your Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen.
The sermon begins after the reading from Luke’s Gospel.
Terri was born in Pax River back when her dad was stationed here with the Navy. They left for a while for other duty stations, but ultimately returned to Pax and call it home now. Her husband Billy’s dad was also Navy, and they bumped into each other canoeing on base as young teenagers and began their friendship. Terri has such an amazing, adventurous spirit and during her junior year of high school she set off to be an exchange student in Chile! By her senior year, she was enrolled in a local college part time and always up for adventure. Terri struck out to attend Shepherd College in West Virginia after graduation. Three days before Billy joined the Army in 1976, the highschool sweethearts married and she returned to St. Mary’s College briefly before following him to a North Carolina duty station where she attended Fayetteville State for 1 year. Always up for a challenge, Terri managed to stay in school AND have 2 kids (Will & Mary) before her husband got unaccompanied orders to Germany and she returned back to Pax to finish up college back at St. Mary’s, getting her Bachelors in History in 1980! This woman was born with determination. More duty stations and 2 more kids later, the entire family set off on orders back to Germany for a 5-year adventure. Terri boarded the flight with Will, age 8, Mary 6, Elizabeth 2, and a new baby, Steven. Her husband left the service in 1990, and Terri, believing everyone should serve their country, took her turn and enlisted in 1991. What was intended to be 1 enlistment became a 13 year passion and career, including a stint near the Iraq border.
Amidst the many moves, Terri was searching for a church home. Both she and her husband were raised in multi faith homes and he was Catholic. While in North Carolina they were searching for a church home and Terri felt led to try this Lutheran church that was welcoming and felt like home. Once in Germany, they again found a home with an Evangelical Lutheran church and Terri learned her first German through the church. Once back in Pax, she heard about a new Lutheran church that was recently founded…. it was Good Samaritan, and she’s been with us ever since! Terri is currently serving on council, but her call to mission and serving reaches far into the community and the world. On top of her military service, Terri has always been involved serving locally with Boy Scouts & Girl Scouts, as well as the VFW. She has found a way to reach into the secular world and bring her loving spirit and light into so many organizations, like the Lexington Park Community Association, helping orchestrate a geocaching trail that brings people from all walks together.
Never one to slow down after retirement, Terri began a new journey as an Uber driver. Some passengers are quiet and others want to talk; some she meets once and others are regulars. She has found that she can provide a judgment-free, safe place for people to share what’s on their minds and hearts and she has the opportunity to simply listen and support and encourage them on their journey. A few passengers she has also had the opportunity to share her faith with and even invite them to church. It’s exciting because she never knows where the conversations and relationships built will lead. For a few special passengers, she has been an instrument of God to guide their path with ideas and encouragement, helping them solve a personal problem or find employment. Terri is such a beautiful example of listening to God’s call and being a light in the world throughout her life. We are blessed to have you as a part of our community!