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Connecting with our Community

Carver Elementary is just 1.6 miles up the road from our church. I’ve passed it countless times, it’s a little set back and it’s a nice brick building. Honestly, I usually pass is without a 2nd thought. Inside that school are over 600 students and more than 50 teachers. 82% of those students come from low-income families, and although the school as a whole is rated as “average” for academic progress on greatschools.org, it also reports that test scores are falling way below average and almost 50% poorer performance than the state average. What does that mean? It means there are some serious concerns!

I don’t believe the families don’t care and I don’t believe the teachers aren’t doing their jobs (in fact several of both come to our church). I don’t think these kids just aren’t smart. When you are hungry, are you able to concentrate? When there are holes in your shoes and your clothes are all faded – do you feel good about yourself? Poverty has many side effects, and one is a major blow to confidence and self-worth and it becomes a cycle when the kids don’t have the opportunity to see anything different modeled for them.

The school is currently without an operating PTA (parent-teacher association – normally responsible for fundraising, event organizing and school spirit among other things). The red flag for me here, is not that the parents or school are failing, its that we as a community have not been aware of how small actions on our part can make a big impact! Some of the families don’t have the time or even the skill set to provide for their students. We have the ability to empower children, support families, encourage teachers and make an impact on our community – a community that we HAND PICKED to be a part of.

Teachers’ resources are stretched thin. The supply kit cakes we put together and donated were very well-received and cards and words of gratitude were returned. We helped in part to fill the gap where families couldn’t afford to provide all the supplies for the classrooms. Good Sam community has also sent tutors and mentors over the years that directly impacted student and we’ve begun to create the opportunity for ongoing relationships. Continuing to show up as a community and being a presence at Carver will help to show these kids that they are loved and supported and give them room to have dreams! Let’s continue to step up and step in, not taking the place of parents and teachers, but coming along side them.

Maybe your own time and resources are stretched thin, but if you can do nothing else you can pray for this community every time you drive by it or through it on your way to church or work or just driving around town. Take a look around your home and assess what you could give of your possessions. That gently used kitchen item that may even still be in the box (I’m looking at you salad spinner and quick chop), those toys your kids have that they never play with, that white elephant gift you got at the office party and stuck in the back of the closet. Those shoes you bought that you wore once or anything else gently used in your closet. If you are ready to take that next leap of faith and deepen your personal connection to this community – assess where your time and talents can be of service.

What one thing in the list below excites you? Maybe you can’t personally help – but we are a community and you might know someone who can!

Tutoring – Ongoing, working around volunteers schedule to work with struggling students

Mentoring – Mondays 3-4:30 pm group meeting and projects, but they do need 1:1 mentors for kids in the program.

Holiday Helping Hands – Families are selected to participate by the school. “Helping hands” 1) collect gently used items for babies to adults household clothes and toys as well as NEW toys; 2) help sort and set up Nov 30th 3-6 pm;  3) Dec 1st 9am-1030am families pick gifts and can wrap them while kids play and volunteers help with all of this. After the event, volunteers help clean up.

Family Fitness Night – Oct 25th – This event gives families the opportunity to play together in an outdoor PE class. All activities are organized and extra adults are needed to help monitor stations.

Career Day – First Friday in May. This event gives 3rd – 5th graders the opportunity to meet and talk to community members about a variety of career paths. Volunteers will get breakfast and lunch.

Guest Readers – Do you have 30 minutes of an hour during the school day to come and read to a classroom? There are two weeks a year where volunteers are needed throughout the day to read to students: “American Education Week” in November and “Read Across America” in February.

Teacher Appreciation – Anything we can do throughout the year would be awesome! But especially during teacher appreciation week in May – extra hands are needed to help decorate teachers’ doors. Other ideas are bringing in a box of donuts or providing a light lunch.

Feed the Families (summer)- This program provides supplemental food for families during the summer months. Each summer we assist St Mary’s Caring in the partnership with the schools in collecting items to be given to families.

These are initiatives we have participated in with Carver for up to three years. We know there is more to do to give these kids a chance to dream big and see those dreams come to life.  What’s the next way we’ll connect?

   –Kelly Thurber, Good Sam Mission and Engagement Coordinator

Making New Connections Is Building Life and Hope At Good Sam

Making New Connections Is Building Life and Hope At Good Sam

Perhaps you have heard that we are connecting with our neighbors with new energy and a deeper sense of welcome at Good Sam.  At Eat and Play Fellowship we have neighborhood children and families joining us; during the Eagle Scout project building the Stations of the Cross neighborhood children got involved and stayed to have a meal.  On Sunday September 30th we will be receiving a new group of members who are walking together in faith and there are others who are already becoming active participants with us in worship and in our community activities.  All of these activities are about Making New Connections.

Last week we received our first installment of our New Connections Grant.  This $9,000 will help pay the salary of our new Coordinator of Mission and Engagement, Kelly Thurber and other training and engagement materials in the next year.  We hope you have met Kelly and your ministry group is beginning to think about how you too can begin Making New Connections both at Good Sam and in our community. Kelly would love to be involved, help get the word out and assist you in these efforts.

Already our Making New Connections efforts are having an impact on our worship life, our fellowship life, the new and expanding relationship we are making in the community.  Thank you for supporting this  program through your participation, your good will, your offerings and your prayers to God for this work in which we all share.  I thank God for the steadfast and faithful love with which we are loved and upheld in Christ and I thank God for the faithfulness that is being reflected among us as we give ourselves in response to the love we have known in Christ.  I am so proud to be among you as your Pastor.

 

Pastor Mitch Watney

Making New Connections Campaign

 

PLEDGE TODAY!!

Equipping Good Samaritan to be on a mission in this community, this region and beyond.

 We are launching a campaign called, “Making New Connections” to ensure that we have regular invitations to impact our community. Through regular activities, reflection and abundant resources we hope to better partner with you in walking our individual and collective faith journeys as we encounter our neighbors, discover our connections and learn to bring God’s activity into them.

  Our congregation has set a goal to grow by 45 new “active participants” over the next three years. We believe our “Making New Connections” focus will greatly assist us in reaching this goal. It is also a combined blessing that The Metropolitan Washington, D.C. Synod has launched a similar initiative to make connections with at least 3,000 people who have not yet made a connection in the church. It is called the New Connections Campaign

  In addition to Good Sam’s goal to grow active participants, we are also partnering with the synod in the overarching goal to raise $2.25 million. As funds are raised across the Synod, they are being applied towards developing and equipping leaders to intentionally facilitate church growth, expanding existing ministries, planting new congregations, and supporting growth in ELCA churches nationwide.

Where will the money go? 

How will we get there?

The entire project will be $60,000.00, which will require Good Sam members and friends to faithfully give. During the next 5 weeks, we will learn more about Good Sam’s “Making New Connections” through mail outs, temple talks and bulletin inserts. Pledges can be made electronically by accessing the “Commitment Card” at the top and bottom of this page or by completing a pledge card at Good Samaritan Lutheran.

Online Documents:

Congregational Letter

Our Strategic Plans

Steps for Giving using VANCO

Testimonials – Things people are saying at “Making New Connections”:

 

Please welcome our new Office Manager / Administrative Assistant Iman Green Syler

We are very pleased to welcome Iman Syler (pronounced “Imman” as in”Immanuel”) to the Staff of Good Sam.  She will manage our Office, lead our Office Volunteers and work with Pastor Mitch on ministry program efforts.  Her first day will be March 6th.  She will normally be in the office during our office hours.  Please stop by and introduce yourself.

Iman Green Syler lives in Valley Lee, MD with her husband, Greg, and their daughter, Carter.  Born and raised in Charlotte, NC, Iman’s Christian faith deepened through camping and youth ministry. Before coming to Good Samaritan, Iman served as Missioner for Youth & Families for the Episcopal Diocese of Washington, helping resource and develop effective ministries in faith communities throughout southern Maryland, DC, Montgomery, Prince George’s County. She is an active member of The Episcopal Church and worships with her family at St. George’s in Valley Lee. Not only is she excited to join the ministry team at Good Samaritan, Iman looks forward to bringing her skills, joy, and love of Christ to empower and help raise up life-changing ministry.

A Special Message from Pastor Mitch

Dec. 21, 2016

Good Samaritan Community,

I want to share with you all this great sense of blessing that I see in our community at Good Sam, both as I look at what God has done among us in 2016 and in what seems to be percolating among us for the year ahead.
In 2016 we took another large step forward into our growing sense of mission as a congregation–learning to fulfill our mission motto “Finding our neighbors along the journey of faith.”

We finished up reading “The Story” together in June and I wish you had heard the abundance of comments I received from so many of you about this experience.  Again, and again I heard examples of new insights, new levels of conversation among families, great joy at a bright picture of God’s steadfast and long suffering plan to bring about life and salvation for all who will receive Jesus as Lord.  We have several books and DVD lessons in our Library for those who might like to review or take this journey of reading the Bible.  It is a wonder to see this whole picture of God working in human lives throughout history to bring people to faith.  Let us know if you would like to check out these resources.

Not long after we finished “The Story” we launched into three months of exploring “God’s Work, Our Hands.”  This was an ambitious effort with six different organized opportunities to reach out and meet people, making a difference in our community.  By the time our September 11th Service of celebrating our efforts rolled around many of us were impressed with what had been accomplished by so many.  We hope you too were blessed in these efforts.  At our December Council meeting we reflected on the variety of ways that the “God’s Work. Our Hands.” efforts have had ongoing and lasting effects in our families and how it continues to connect us to people in our community.  Indeed, God is faithful in working among us.

Our average Worship attendance for 2016 looks like it will be about 108. This is an approximate 10% jump from 2015.  Also in 2016, we saw life and energy happen in other ways.  We baptized 7 new believers.  We welcomed 23 new members by Affirmation of Faith.  We received 3 new members by Transfer.  This means we welcomed a total of 33 new members to our community.   I want you also to know that we have also seen a growing list of active participants as well.   This means that there are an additional 29 people who are actively involved and connected to this congregation who are living out their faith lives among us. We began the year anticipating a financial shortfall of about $9,000.  Yet, if giving continues as it has so far this year, we may finish 2016 with all our bills paid and some resources left to restore what we have borrowed from designated funds to cover operating costs.  Stay tuned for these final numbers, and don’t forget to make your final year-end gifts before January 1.  We may have great news to share on this front come January.

We have renewed our efforts to build strong faith nourishment for our children through the “Prayer Buddy” program and please watch this year for another effort we have added called “All Congregational Education Events.”  They are happening five different times during the year to call the whole congregation together to celebrate our life, our faith and the ministry we share.

Also, stay tuned early in the year for great news about Music Director hiring and goals for 2017.  The year ahead is certainly going to be filled with great stories of God’s faithfulness among us.

   Peace and joy to you all,   Pastor Mitch

Project: Farming 4 Hunger

Join us on an all congregation “God’s Work. Our Hands.” group outing on Saturday, September 10th, (9 am to Noon) at Farming 4 Hunger.

Groups and individuals are invited to help harvest crops, sort veggies, pack (shaded) fresh produce from the fields.  There are things for everyone of every age to do at the site.  If you and/or your family are planning to attend this service project,
Sign up here or on the bulletin board in the Fellowship Hall to join us on Sept 10, 9 am to Noon. Please remember to bring along a signed and printed F4H waiver, cold water, sunscreen and wear closed-toed shoes. 

Where: Serenity Farm/Ashlee’s Garden, at Farming 4 Hunger
Point of Contact: Drew Hartigan
Located at: 6932 Serenity Farm Road, Benedict, Maryland 20612. From Lexington Park: Take Rt. 235 to Rt. 5 towards Hughesville. Turn right on Rt. 231 toward Prince Frederick.  The farm will be on your left, before the Rt. 231 Bridge across the Patuxent. Park and meet at the first large farm building with the greenhouse in front.

Check out the video to get a preview of what the experience is like:

Here’s a preview of the day:
8:45 – 9:00 am  Gather in the main building
9:00 – 9:15 am  Welcome and Intro
9:25 – 10:45 am  Activities: Gleaning and picking of what is in season; packing up food boxes; and other helpful activities. An animal tour for the kids may be organized.
10:45 – 11:00 am  Gather back in main building
11:00 – 12:00N  Staff introductions and stories, photo galleries, and group pictures.
12:15 –  Bring a picnic and stay to visit and tour more of the farm.About Farming 4 Hunger: 

farming for hungerFarming 4 Hunger (F4H) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization formed in 2012 to serve those in need of fresh food in Southern Maryland. The organization grows and distributes over a million pounds of locally grown, fresh food each year. Bernie Fowler Jr., founder, had a vision through his own personal struggles to help people in his hometown gain better access to fresh fruits and vegetables. Bernie was tired of only seeing nutrient-poor foods (canned and boxed goods) going to food banks, aiding in Americas ongoing struggle with childhood obesity and diabetes. He also realized local farmers were struggling to make ends meet. People were being fed, yes, but he realized that we as a community must do better. F4H accomplishes its mission through unique partnerships with 27 local farms, 20+ churches, local businesses and schools, the Maryland Food Bank, the Department of Corrections, and a great network of community volunteers.

Our Mission is to feed the hungry and help feed the soul. Hunger comes in many different ways.  Healing the mind, body and spirit is at the core of Farming 4 Hunger. We believe if you serve others, you too will be fed.

Farming For Hunger

Join us on a group outing on Sept 10, 2016.  We’ll meet at At Farming 4 Hunger at 9:00 am and get an intro to the program, pick some produce for an hour and talk with some of our neighbors about how community makes a difference in the life of people all around us.

GWOH-Logo6

Groups and individuals are invited to help harvest, sort, pack (shaded) fresh produce from the fields and in Ashlee’s Garden, Monday-Saturday morning’s at Farming 4 Hunger. Please remember to bring along a signed and printed F4H waiver, cold water, sunscreen and to wear closed toed shoes.

Where: Ashlee’s Garden, at Farming 4 Hunger         Point of Contact: Pastor Mitch

6932 Serenity Farm Rd.  Hughesville, MD 20637

Farming 4 Hunger.  (http://www.farming4hunger.com)

Check out this video to get a glimpse of what you will experience.

we all put on bright yellow shirts and head to the farm to weed gardens, paint fences, harvest food and work side by side with other volunteers doing God’s work to help feed our neighbors in need.  A great activity for all ages and ability levels!  We’ll take some pictures of our team working and on Sunday morning we will invite our participants to share what this activity meant to them (building community, feeding the hungry, working together, thousands of pounds of food gathered for feeding programs food pantry, highlighting the amazing work Good Sam has done in our community).

farming for hungerFarming 4 Hunger (F4H) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization formed in 2012 to serve those in need of fresh food in Southern Maryland. The organization grows and distributes over a million pounds of locally grown, fresh food each year. Bernie Fowler Jr., founder, had a vision through his own personal struggles to help people in his hometown gain better access to fresh fruits and vegetables. Bernie was tired of only seeing nutrient-poor foods (canned and boxed goods) going to food banks, aiding in Americas ongoing struggle with childhood obesity and diabetes. He also realized local farmers were struggling to make ends meet. People were being fed, yes, but he realized that we as a community must do better. F4H accomplishes its mission through unique partnerships with 27 local farms, 20+ churches, local businesses and schools, the Maryland Food Bank, the Department of Corrections, and a great network of community volunteers.

Groups and individuals are invited to help harvest, sort, pack (shaded) fresh produce from the fields and in Ashlee’s Garden, Monday-Saturday morning’s at Farming 4 Hunger. 

Our Mission is to feed the hungry and help feed the soul. Hunger comes in many different ways.  Healing the mind, body and spirit is at the core of Farming 4 Hunger. We believe if you serve others, you too will be fed.

 

Future Directions for the ELCA

Our Presiding Bishop, Elizabeth Eaton, is inviting us into a conversation about the future identity, direction and priorities of the ELCA. This discernment process, “Called Forward Together in Christ,” involves listening to God and to one another, and it is spreading across members, congregations, synods, social ministries, educational institutions and the church-wide office.

The ELCA is a young church at only 28 years old. It is a good time to take a look at where we are as God’s people and try to understand what God has in store for us. And we think it is an exciting time to be looking forward together as we approach the 500th anniversary of the Reformation in 2017.

We want to create a vision for the future ELCA – as a church with solid foundations sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ and making a difference in the world locally and globally. And as a church that we can be proud to pass on to our children.

We want to discover how we can continue to faithfully serve God’s mission in the years ahead and reach a shared understanding among church leaders about the ministries that are most important.

And we want to assess whether the structures that were set up for this church are right for the future, and as part of this consider how we use our resources in the best possible way. There are many challenges.   Be a part of the discussion, contribute your ideas today!  If you’d like to join the conversation, talk with Pastor Mitch about how you can make your interests known.

 

New ELCA Federal Credit Union to Open June 6, 2016

The new ELCA Federal Credit Union, with offices in the Lutheran Center Building in Chicago, will soon be open for business. The grand opening celebration will be Monday, June 6. ELCA members, congregations, synods and the church-wide organization—and their employees—are all eligible to join the credit union to take advantage of a portfolio of deposit accounts, loans and other services. This new ELCA-sponsored credit union supports the ELCA’s mission to promote responsible stewardship of members’ and congregations’ financial resources. Because this is a financial cooperative, credit union members will see more competitive rates on deposits and loans, fewer fees and enhanced services. Learn more by visiting the credit union website, elcafcu.org. As a financial institution rooted in your faith community, the ELCA Federal Credit Union looks forward to serving you.

Our Daily Bread Food Pantry

Our Daily Bread Food PantryODBFP logo
(An Outreach Ministry of  Good Samaritan Lutheran Church, Lexington Park, MD)

Our Mission : Provide nourishing food to those in our community who come to our door in need, regardless of religion, race, color, age, sexual identity, national origin, marital or parental status, or disability.

Our Vision: We can be the hands and voice of Jesus to those who are hungry and that we will share all that we have with those who come to us.

Hours of operation: 10:00 am to 11:30 am Wed & Fri each week. Closed on holidays that might fall on those dates.

Pantry Location: In the basement of the middle building on the campus of Good Samaritan Lutheran Church. Our address is 20850 Langley Rd, Lexington Park, MD 20653.

How the Distribution Works:  Our customers are allowed to visit the pantry only one day per week, either Wednesday or Friday. We use a punch card system for control. We provide a plastic grocery bag to each customer after they are checked in and allow them to chose one canned meat item. They are then free to take whatever they need from the shelves with the exception of a few items that we ration (peanut butter, jelly, cereal). When we are stocked with frozen meat items each person is allowed one item of their choice. We serve about one hundred-fifty customers per week and estimate that the food feeds about 300 people.

Where do we get the food?
• Individual donations
• Organizations, such as, the Boy Scouts, local businesses, NAS Pax
• Other churches
• The Southern Maryland Food Bank in Waldorf
We are a member of the Southern Maryland Food Bank and are able to purchase food from them at $0.18/pound. As funds are available and food is in stock at the Food Bank we can load our vehicles and bring the food back to the pantry for distribution. Our regular pick up date is Monday provided the Food Bank is stocked. Local merchants provide food periodically through programs like “Stuff the Bus” that Walmart sponsors. We partner with St Mary’s Caring Soup Kitchen, located in the first building on our property in sharing food that comes from all donations so that restaurant sized cans go to them and the standard family sized portions come to the pantry.

Why is the Need so Great?  If you have never been hungry this is a question that might seem hard to answer. Even though we live in a community that appears very affluent, there are those living very near to us who struggle each day to pay rent, utilities, medical and food costs. Often it is a matter of choosing which bills to pay and which to defer. Even with the many social safety net programs we have in this country, all needs cannot be met. Our customers come from many backgrounds, family situations, and health circumstances. Our pantry is located within walking distance of three Title 1 schools which means that at least 50% of the students qualify for meal assistance through the schools at some level. The total amount of food distributed through our pantry for 2015 exceeded 49,000 pounds. We are blessed to be so near those in need.

How can you help?  

  • Donate food – call the church office to schedule deliveries for a time when the pantry is not open at 301-863-4740.
  • Make financial donations (give) so that we can buy food through the Southern Maryland Food Bank. Make checks payable to GSLC marked for Food Pantry. These contributions are tax deductible.
  • Donate your time to help serve at the pantry to welcome our customers, restock shelves, or pick up food from our many sources.
  • Refer others to this ministry who might need help, but does not know where to go or who to ask.

Good Samaritan Lutheran Church is a member of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) and we believe that we should live out our Christian faith by serving others and addressing social issues. For more information about the ELCA go to www.elca.org and for more information about Good Samaritan go to our website at www.goodsam.community

Our church office can be reached at 301-863-4740 or on the web at office@goodsam.community

The family of Good Samaritan Lutheran Church welcomes all to gather and grow, give of themselves and go into the world to serve as disciples of Jesus Christ.

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