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Feliz Navidad and Mission Ready!

It’s Christmas time and undoubtedly many of our minds are focused on our families, holiday preparations, parties and presents. We look forward to the birth of our Savior and celebrate all that He provides. In places around the country and world, especially those affected by disaster, people struggling to have the basic necessities for survival may find it hard to see a reason to celebrate. God has given us generous hearts and at this time of year, thoughts of reaching out with kindness and that generosity strongly come to our hearts and minds.

We work in our communities with and among our neighbors and now we have an opportunity to help in another area–Puerto Rico. Next summer, over the course of two weeks, from July 21 through August 3, a group of mostly adult and some high school-aged volunteers from the state will be working in partnership with Lutheran Social Services of Puerto Rico and serving alongside our Puerto Rican neighbors in their continued process of rebuilding and strengthening communities after the devastation of Hurricane Maria. Maria is regarded as the worst natural disaster on record to affect Dominica and Puerto Rico. The hurricane caused catastrophic damage and numerous fatalities across the northeastern Caribbean, with total losses estimated at upwards of $91 billion, mostly in Puerto Rico, ranking it as the third-costliest tropical cyclone on record.

A team of experienced leaders, including Pastor Mark Parker, of Breath of God Lutheran Church, Baltimore, MD is working to bring together the group of adult and youth volunteers from the region. The bulk of work efforts will focus on construction, with a mix of skilled and unskilled volunteers. Our volunteers last year ranged from age 21 to age 70. This summer we will also accept some youth who have already completed 9th grade.

Are You Interested in Being a Volunteer?

If you are interested in being a volunteer, here are a few more details. We will be staying in the Lutheran camp in Maguayo, near Dorado–about 45 minutes west of San Juan. The camp has room for up to sixty volunteers at a time. Volunteers sleep in bunk rooms with twin-sized bunk beds and communal showers–comfortable enough, but nothing fancy. The camp also includes a very nice pool, a chapel, office and storage areas, and a main hall for dining/meeting/organizing/relaxing. It’s a good home for groups like ours.

The general timeline is fly out on Sunday morning/afternoon and fly back on Saturday evening. Volunteers will serve over the course of two weeks from July 21 to August 3. Volunteers may sign up for one or both weeks.   Monday through Friday we’ll worked construction doing rebuilding in the morning and the afternoon, with time in the late afternoon/evening for the beach/pool, relaxing and exploring the area. We may have the opportunity to take a half day to head across the island and visit El Yunque, an amazing tropical rain forest or explore in Old San Juan.

Registration opens in January with a deadline of April 1. The first deposit will be due at the close of registration, the second payment will be due May 1 and the final payment July 1. The expected cost is anticipated to be less than $600 for one week and less than $900 for two weeks.

If you are interested in volunteering for this unique and rewarding opportunity, please contact Kelly Thurber, our Mission and Outreach Coordinator.  More information–including fundraising opportunities–will be forthcoming, but positions are anticipated to fill up quickly, so please let Kelly know if you are interested so she can keep the regional team up-to-date on our interest levels.

As we get together with our family and friends and share the joy and peace of this holiday season, let us keep those who have suffered loss in our hearts and minds. And look forward to the days when we will have the opportunity to give a broader set of neighbors a Merrier Christmas.  Feliz Navidad.

Fall Focus 2018: Finding Our Neighbors (Week 4)

“Walking the Journey, Meeting at the Cross”

Scripture Readings: 2 Corinthians 3:1b, 12-18, 2 Corinthians 4:1, 5-9, 15-18, John 2:43-51

We need each other and God has a plan to meet us right there.

We need each other in our overwhelmed moments and in our tired tirades.  We need each other in our parenting challenges and especially in our suffering.  Right in these places, God’s mercy meets us!  How? God touches our lives when other people bring good things into our lives, like welcome, acceptance, healing and forgiveness.  In these moments the Welcome of God is at work.  This is part of the truth and liberation that the activity of finding our neighbors will bring.

Listen to Micheala Shelly as she tells it her way, through her life and struggles.  Notice when and how she finds neighbors who make a difference in her life and in theirs.  Then, notice what she does with this discovery.   I believe her experience is relevant to us as well.

Even when we’re dying, we need each other, we need God’s love and mercy, and we are still God’s gifted people.  What Michaela has discovered is that even in our own struggles we also carry the love and mercy of God with us.  It comes through our lives from others and it comes from us to others through the plan and purposes of God.  Even when we are weak and dying we have the ability to be God’s people, making a difference in the world.  Paul says it this way, ”

For we do not proclaim ourselves; we proclaim Jesus Christ as Lord and ourselves as your Servants for Jesus’ sake. For it is the God who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

But we have this treasure in clay jars, so that it may be made clear that this extraordinary power belongs to God and does not come from us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; 

15 Yes, everything is for your sake, so that grace, as it extends to more and more people, may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God.  (2 Cor. 4:5-9, 15)

That we can have this impact in each others lives is a sign that the living God is working in our lives.  These are signs of God’s Grace.  God’s Grace is about how God will lead us into the persons we will become, and help to shape and care for the lives we touch.  And we take this journey with God and through God’s grace with those who come into our lives and into whose lives we come.  When we act on this hope we become the Grace of God to others as well.  And we learn to let the Grace of God be enough for our lives as well.

How can you be a lighthouse for another? And also receive the gift of how God is working in your life? This is living with Christ and finding our neighbors along the journey of faith.  This is God’s Grace, alive among us.  This is a part of the risen life of Christ among us.  You too can carry this light of the glory of God in the face of Christ, in your life.

Pastor Mitch

Fall Focus 2018: Finding Our Neighbors (Week 3)

“What Will You Live For – Give It Voice”

Scripture Readings: Isaiah 55:6-13 and Mark 5:1-20

Parenting will strip you down, revealing your weaknesses.  It will ask for more than you have at any given moment and ask you to give your life when you feel you have nothing left to give.  If you thought about the literal costs and the personal investment it takes to parent, you might tremble or turn and run from the endeavor.

Parenting is also a crucible in which God remakes you into a vessel capable to pouring out love and mercy while giving gifts that others will need to survive and thrive.  And it leaves room for the loves songs we will live and write with our lives.

Isaiah 55 says God’s Word goes out and doesn’t return until it accomplished its purpose just like the rain falls and does not return to heaven until it has watered the earth, filling the lakes and rivers and giving life to the earth.

Perhaps also, God is busy parenting us, pouring out love and mercy, while giving us gifts that we will need to survive and thrive.

Listen to the struggles of one young woman, looking for life… and wrestling with herself and her father to search out what it means to live and thrive in the world.

There are many ways that the love and gifts of God invite us into the world to discover and to acquire the gifts that are needed in the world…. But living this adventure is a beautiful love song…. A Golden melody to the Creator, Redeemer and Sanctifier whose purposes are accomplished and who’s love song continues to resound in the lives and hearts of those who love God.

Fall Focus 2018: Finding Our Nieghbors (Week 2)

Building a Conversation

Scripture Readings:  James 1:19, Philippians 2:3-4, Matthew 6:19-21

  • When people talk, listen completely, most people never listen.   –  Ernest Hemingway
  • “Just as love to God begins with listening to God’s word, so the beginning of love for the person is learning to listen to them.”      –  Dietrich Bonhoeffer
  • One of the most sincere forms of respect is actually listening to what another has to say.  –  Bryant H. McGill
  • “Often a person can be helped merely by having someone who will listen to them seriously.”      –  Dietrich Bonhoeffer
  • I like to listen.  I have learned a great deal from listening carefully.  Most people never listen.   –  Ernest Hemingway
  • When we listen with curiosity we don’t listen with the intent to reply.  We listen for what’s behind the words.  –  Roy T. Bennett

Sometimes we miss seeing the blessing and benefit we receive in finding our neighbors.  In our first session on Radical Hospitality we explored how being really present and creating space for another is a gift to them and part of the way God creates a graceful space for us to be present with God.  But when we welcome another, often elements of our own faith journey will come into play and we discover that God is giving us what we need as well.  This is the liberation that often comes with our learning to be about Radical Hospitality.

The next step is learning to play with that graceful space we make between us and another.  Here we have the opportunity to learn and practice the art and activity of building a conversation.  We are often very centered on what we want to say instead of learning to listen in order to connect.  Here are 10 things to consider…

Play video.

Filling graceful space between us and another with the activity of listening to understand and to connect is a great way to create meaning and better begin to see our neighbor, beyond what we thought we knew about them.  There is always more to learn and everyone is an expert in something.  Listen in order to discover what the another is gifted in.

You also might read Chapter 16 of “The Whole Brained Child” by Daniel J. Siegel M.D.  He talks about how our brains are hardwired for this kind of connection and our brains are built for this kind of connecting and learning to understand each other.

Fall Focus 2018: “Finding Our Neighbors”

Every year at Good Sam we bring a theme into our lives and explore it together for a few weeks. This year, from Sept. 30 to Oct. 21 we will be exploring the theme: Finding Our Neighbors.

In the parable of the Good Samaritan, Jesus was exploring the question about right and just behavior with a lawyer who was asking aloud what the most important Commandment is.  Jesus said, “Love God and love your neighbor.”  The Lawyer asked, “Well, then, who is my neighbor?”
It was an important question in the interaction between Jesus and the lawyer, “Who is my neighbor?”  And the real answer is that question, “To whom can you prove to be a neighbor?”  We might ask ourselves as a church or ourselves personally, “Where can we prove to be a neighbor?”

This year, during Fall Focus we are engaging the theme: Finding Our Neighbors.  The discovery may be, that this is a personal journey, as much as it is a corporate or communal journey that we take together. Each Sunday, in these four weeks, we’ll explore a different expression or example of someone who searched out their own story and in the journey, found their neighbors and a new sense of community that was previously unexplored.

This season, we’ll explore these themes in “Finding Our Neighbors:”

Sept. 30     Radical Hospitality and the Liberation That Comes With It
Oct. 7        Building the Conversation; Listening to Connect
Oct. 14      “What Are You Ready to Live For?”  Give it Voice!
Oct. 21 
     What Does “Finding Our Neighbors” Mean for Good Sam and for You?

Join us for these four weeks.  Here are some ways to to engage and explore these discoveries:

  • Join us each week in Worship, beginning Sept. 30.
  • After Worship, join in discussion during “Coffee and Conversation” where  we’ll further discuss the message and the theme for that Sunday.
  • Join us on Wednesday evenings at 7:00 P.M. beginning Oct. 3 through Oct. 24 to review the video message from the previous Sunday and further talk on the theme.
  • Listen to the recording of each Sunday’s message and reflect on how your involvement at Good Sam might reflect this message and how your own everyday life might benefit from this theme.  Each Monday there is a new post on the Good Sam website that includes a link to the previous Sunday’s audio recording.
Learn more about Finding Your Neighbor…on your journey of faith and what will you do with this knowledge?

Farming 4 Hunger | Gathering at the Farm Sept. 8, 2018

On Saturday, Sept. 8 from 9 A.M. – 12 Noon, we’ll have an all-congregation “God’s Work. Our Hands.” activity as we gather at Farming 4 Hunger—Serenity Farms in Benedict, MD.  This activity gathers our Tri-County ELCA partners–St. Nicholas Lutheran, Huntington MD and Peace Lutheran, Waldorf, MD churches

to harvest, enjoy fellowship and get to know each other and everyone at the Farm.  Come meet our neighbors where they are and make new connections!  Bring a picnic lunch to enjoy with our partners.  They’ll be inside and outside tasks to do for all physical levels.  Here are some items you might want to bring along (if you have them) in prep for the harvest:  wear your God’s Work. Our Hands. T-shirts, gloves (for you and kiddos), shovel, spade, hoe, digging fork, water to keep hydrated and a picnic lunch.  Come and join us!  All are fed at the farm.

“Seeds of Change” a Farming 4 Hunger Fundraising Event – May 5

Good Sam is supporting Seeds of Change, an education & fundraising event at Farming 4 Hunger (Serenity Farms) for our tri-county community (St. Mary’s, Charles and Calvert Counties).  The fundraising event will be held on Saturday, May 5, 2018 from 12:00 – 2:30 P.M.  The primary focus of bringing the community together is to educate and motivate people to action around issues affecting our youth – especially the Opioid Crisis.

Fundraising tickets are being sold in advance of the event and are $30/adult and children $10/child.  A local pig (the Hartigan’s) was specially harvested and donated for this event and will be served with other locally grown produce. There will be guest speakers and table facilitators to address specific topics and encourage interactive learning and generation of ideas.

100% of funds raised will be donated to F4H for their Youth Outreach program, including replicating events like this one.  For more information, visit F4H’s Youth Outreach Program online. Tickets are available at: Seeds of Change @ F4H Fundraising Event – Ticket Link   Contact:  Drew Hartigan – 240.925.4960, or Christy Hartigan – 240.925.5260 if you have questions.

Blessing of the Farm
Farming 4 Hunger’s annual “Blessing of the Farm” will be from 10 – 11:45 A.M. prior to the Seeds of Change event. This is an intentional, prayer and life-story-filled event to kick off a new season of growing food and ministry. Both events are children-friendly!  Come meet our neighbors where they are and make new connections!  All are fed at the farm.

Good Sam Sr. Youth Requests Prayers and Support for Mission Trip

During a recent Good Sam Council meeting, Isaiah Mack outlined a request to the council to present his mission trip to Costa Rica this summer to the congregation. With their approval, he’ll present his request for prayers and support with this mission trip this Sunday.  Isaiah will be traveling to Costa Rica in June with other students from his Honors Spanish class at The King’s Christian Academy to assist with home building for a needy family and spreading God’s Word.

With the deadline for funds due April 15th, Isaiah writes about his plans, hopes and request:

“I have an exciting opportunity coming up this summer that I’d like to share with you.  As part of my growing desire to join God in serving people in need all over the world, I will be traveling to Costa Rica with other students from my Honors Spanish class at The King’s Christian Academy for a 1-week service project.  Our team of students and staff will be departing on June 11 and returning June 16.  I am writing this letter to invite your financial partnership with me in this endeavor.

The trip has been planned and designed by The King’s Christian Academy in partnership with Joshua Expeditions, a Christian non-profit organization.  Since 1997, Joshua Expeditions has been providing Christian schools with quality educational travel designed to inspire purpose in the lives of others.  They have designed this trip to provide us with the best experience possible in the 6 days that we will be traveling, allowing us to serve the people of Costa Rica and share with them the love of Jesus Christ.  You can learn more about them by visiting their website at www.joshuaexpeditions.org.

Our days in Costa Rica will be spent building a home for a needy family.  The family will be presented with their home on our 5th day, then we will help the family move their belongings into their new home.  As we work to meet the physical needs of the local residents, opportunities will open to meet their spiritual needs as we explain that Jesus is the reason we choose to serve them.  It is my hope that God will be expanding our hearts and giving us a broader perspective of His involvement in the whole world.

I am writing to ask for your help in getting to Costa Rica.  To participate in this trip I would love your prayers for my preparation and travels.  I also need to raise money for airfare, room and board, and other travel expenses.  I will need $2,750.00 by April 15th to join the trip. 

Thank you so much for prayerfully considering if this is something you would like to participate in.  May God bless you for your time and support.”

Sincerely,    Isaiah Mack

If you are interested in helping support Isaiah on his journey, contributions can be made to Good Sam with the trip name “Joshua Expeditions” in the memo line. We will send the contributions to them in Isaiah’s name. 

Good Sam Opens Office Manager Position

Good Sam has a opening for a part-time Office Manager/ Administrative Assistant for the church office. We’ll be collecting resumes until January 19, 2018 or until the position is filled. The following is the complete job description for the part-time job.

Job Title:  Office Manager /Administrative Assistant

Hours   

16 hours weekly, normally 8:30 to 12:30 M-Th; $12+/hr. commensurate with experience and ability

 Job Summary

This position involves a variety of duties to support Good Samaritan Lutheran Church and the Pastor. Includes providing a physical presence in the front office during office hours, serving as receptionist, screening/directing phone calls, producing printed materials, assisting/leading volunteers, performing some bookkeeping duties, managing database, updating communication outlets and maintaining supplies. This person must maintain a clean, hospitable and well-organized work environment.  This position is important to the overall operation of the office and church ministries.

Accountability:

  • Directly works under the supervision of the Pastor.
  • Indirectly works with all members of the staff/volunteers and key leaders.

Qualifications:

  • Ability to operate office machines (computer, copier, telephone system, etc.)
  • Proficient computer skills (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Internet, Word Press and Mail Chimp experience helpful, but will train)
  • Database management (Power Church); but will train
  • QuickBooks (basic experience helpful – will train)
  • Internet experience and social media experience
  • Multitask with ease
  • Ability to organize and prioritize assignments
  • Strong interpersonal skills
  • Superior written and oral communication skills
  • Telephone etiquette
  • Church experience preferred
  • Ability to maintain Confidentiality

 Areas of Responsibility

  • Office machines, supplies and processes
  • Database and Membership Information
  • Communication (including:  Calendar maintenance and Building Use processes; Coordinate News Feed among Website, Connections @ Good Sam and The Grapevine and other publications like Events and Activities Brochure; Update Webpage, Social Media posts and other advertising)
  • Light Bookkeeping (including: Pay bills, Log deposits, Prepare reports)
  • Worship and Music (including: Produce Sunday Bulletins [normally seasonally]; Report Hymn usage and attention to copyright requirements; Maintain Planning Center for Worship Services; Coordinate PowerPoint development for Worship; Update and maintain the Volunteers for Worship process)
  • Other duties and project as assigned

Salary Benefits

This is a part-time position. Hourly wage will be determined based on education and experience. Hours per week are 16– M-Th, 8:30 am – 12:30 pm, with occasional need for some extra hours per week.  Office closed Christmas Day, New Year’s Day, July 4, Labor Day, Memorial Day, MLK Day, Veteran’s Day. Since this is a part time position, there is no paid vacation or sick leave.

There is a probationary period of 6 months.  If you feel you need to leave within that time period or we feel that you are not the right fit for the position you may leave or be asked to leave with no questions asked. At the end of the period you will be reviewed and eligible for a raise.

To Apply

Resume, cover letters and inquiries can be directed to Hiring@goodsam.community

Good Samaritan Lutheran Church

20850 Langley Rd

Lexington Park, MD 20653

Phone: 301-863-4740

Making New Connections: Reading-Tutoring Volunteers at Carver

Reading /Tutoring Volunteers for Carver Elementary School Students
Point of Contact:  Gennifer Koebke

Do you like children?  Do you like to read?
Are you looking for a way to help in the community?

If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, we’ve got an opportunity for you to use your talents to assist our neighbors!  We began a successful Tutoring/Reading Volunteer program during the last school year at Carver Elementary and we plan to continue and expand this volunteer program again this school year.

Volunteers are given choices of grade levels and days/times to read with a student or students on a regular basis. No experience is necessary and training will be provided, along with the resources needed to help students grow in reading skills, and develop a lifelong love of reading. But, your primary opportunity is to support the kids reading, give them encouragement and allow them to know that someone is listening and cares about their skill development. There are so many students at Carver that would benefit from the chance to have a mentor reading tutor in their lives!

Registering to be a Volunteer with SMCPS:

New volunteers will need to register as a St. Mary’s County Public Schools (SMCPS) Volunteer and go through the required background check before being able to participate. This is easy, quick and painless! Visit the SMCPS website link (here) and follow the instructions. You’ll be contacted via email that you’ve been approved. It may take little while as this is completed by an outside provider. So, if you’re interested in this exciting service opportunity, get started now! (Volunteers who have already registered and have been approved do not need to reapply, but are encouraged to review the online volunteer safe schools information.)

Once you are approved a Carver staff member will match you up with a student/classroom that matches your schedule and available time .  Returning volunteers may want to stay with the same grade or teacher, perhaps follow a student tutored last year into a new grade level, or try out tutoring at a new grade level.  There are also opportunities for mentoring students during “catch-up reading breakfast groups” that meet in the mornings. There are so many students at Carver that would benefit from the chance to have a mentor reading tutor in their lives!

Please consider this valuable service opportunity on your faith journey!
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