American Baptist Churches of Pennsylvania and Delaware

Abcopad Blog!

Salem Walk Chalk Baptist Church
Mother-Daughter Banquet

Mark Mahserjian-Smith had a chance to visit with Pastor Chuck Layne at the Salem Walk Chalk Baptist Church near Kittanning. The congregation was holding its annual Mother and Daughter banquet. About 80 ladies including little ones, moms, and grandmoms attended this exciting event. Pastor Chuck allowed me to join the men of the church cooking the food and serving the banquet. See the complete photo album HERE.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

by Bud Russell Categories: General, Region Life ~ Date: 5/22/2017
  (0Votes)   Email to a Friend   Add this Post to Facebook   Bookmark this Post on Delicious   Digg this Post   StumbleUpon this Post   Add this Post to Reddit    Sphinn this Post  

GraceCrossing Community Church Installation

Recently, Fred Ewald (ABCOPAD Search Consultant) and Kevin Walden were honored to be a part of the Installation Service for Rev. Dan McDowell at GraceCrossing in Phoenixville, PA. A lot of wonderful childhood friends from Emporium and Seminary friends joined in the service. God bless you Pastor Dan and Terry!


 

 

 

 

 

by Bud Russell Categories: General, Region Life ~ Date: 5/22/2017
  (0Votes)   Email to a Friend   Add this Post to Facebook   Bookmark this Post on Delicious   Digg this Post   StumbleUpon this Post   Add this Post to Reddit    Sphinn this Post  

Bethlehem Baptist Ruff Creek

 

On Mother's Day, Jeff and Karen Johnson spent the morning with the Bethlehem Baptist Church in Ruff Creek, just outside of Waynesburg. Jeff was filling in for Pastor David Earnest who with his wife Amy and their two sons were in China getting their two adopted sons.

 

After attending Sunday School, Jeff during worship with the help of a few young men presented all the ladies of the church with a white carnation which is the official flower of Mother's Day. To ladies in the church shared their personal testimonies of having a godly mother and mother-in-law.

 

Jeff then preached the morning message and invited folks to come forward to pray which individuals did. Jeff and Karen then visited family in the area since both their mothers and Karen's grandmother live in SW PA. Jeff preached at Bethlehem Baptist in his teens back in the very early 1980's when Ron Evans, former ABCOPAD area minister, was the pastor and became one of Jeff's mentors. There are still folks there now who remembered him then.

by Bud Russell Categories: General, Region Life ~ Date: 5/22/2017
  (0Votes)   Email to a Friend   Add this Post to Facebook   Bookmark this Post on Delicious   Digg this Post   StumbleUpon this Post   Add this Post to Reddit    Sphinn this Post  

2017 FBC Reading

On Mother's Day, Kevin Walden joined FBC Reading for Sunday School and Worship. Interim Pastor David Turley is doing a wonderful ministry among the people. In Sunday School they are doing a walk through of the book of Genesis, chapter by chapter, which was very interesting and everyone was actively interacting. In worship, the Bell Choir shared both in the prelude and special music; they did an excellent job. Mothers were all given a beautiful red carnation.

 

 

 

 

 

by Bud Russell Categories: General, Region Life ~ Date: 5/22/2017
  (0Votes)   Email to a Friend   Add this Post to Facebook   Bookmark this Post on Delicious   Digg this Post   StumbleUpon this Post   Add this Post to Reddit    Sphinn this Post  

2017 Clergy Ethics Course

Our clergy ethics course was recently held at West Shore Baptist Church in Camp Hill, PA. Pastors Tim Munson and Kevin Walden are teaching the annual course this year. The conversation has been lively and deep! How would you describe the relationship between morals and ethics?

 

by Bud Russell Categories: Ministries, General, Region Life ~ Date: 5/22/2017
  (0Votes)   Email to a Friend   Add this Post to Facebook   Bookmark this Post on Delicious   Digg this Post   StumbleUpon this Post   Add this Post to Reddit    Sphinn this Post  

Camp Carmel 2017 Spring Clean Up

 

Jeff Johnson dropped by Camp Carmel for a couple hours during their annual work weekend. There are more than fifty people from more than a half dozen different churches (Olive Branch, Redeeming Grace, FBC-Connellsville, East Mahoning, FBC-Jeannette, Mount Moriah, Bethlehem) from three different associations (Laurel, Monongahela, Ten Mile) that came during the weekend to get things ready for the camping season that begins in one month.

 

There was grass cutting, wood chopping, staining new cabin doors...

 

...building new benches at the basketball court (the original ones were constructed 25 years ago when I was the chairman of the camp's board of directors). There were also ventilation fans installed in cabins.

 

Protruding rocks were also broken up on the camp road for better access.

 

While there, I presented the camp's treasurer (Chris Carson) and the camp's secretary (Josh Iams) with a grant check which they plan to use to provide new believer materials to campers who make a first time commitment to Christ, also resources to their counselors, as well as follow up materials to send to the campers after they return home. Chris and I were campers in Carmel forty years ago. I was BOTH Josh's camp pastor AND home pastor when I served the North Ten Mile Baptist Church.

 

The two men at the table saw are Chris King (foreground, the camp board chairman) and Curtis Kemp (background, a camp board member who goes back in time to being at Carmel some fifty plus years ago when he was a member as a kid at the recently closed Mount Pleasant Baptist Church). LOTS of history here friends and I am thankful for all of it. Some of my closest relationships/friendships that still exist today started in this place.

Don't forget that our ABW have been collecting for almost a year now, contributions for six camps related to our region. Their efforts will culminate at their annual conference in July. Their goal is $15,000 which will be shared among the six camps within ABCOPAD. To know more about their efforts as well as contribute, check out their webpage: http://www.abcopad.org/Ministries/ABWM/Our-2016-2017-Region-Mission-Project.aspx

 

by Bud Russell Categories: General, Region Life ~ Date: 5/22/2017
  (0Votes)   Email to a Friend   Add this Post to Facebook   Bookmark this Post on Delicious   Digg this Post   StumbleUpon this Post   Add this Post to Reddit    Sphinn this Post  

Upland Baptist Church Worship

Kevin Walden recently joined Upland Baptist Church for worship. Rev. Brenda Shaw is the pastor. Pastor Brenda had an excellent sermon on judging! Her husband John led the Bell Choir in several numbers, and they did an excellent job leading us in worship. Brenda is a great leader in the Riverside Association, and great regional partner. It was a joy to be with them.

 

 

 

by Bud Russell Categories: General, Region Life ~ Date: 5/22/2017
  (0Votes)   Email to a Friend   Add this Post to Facebook   Bookmark this Post on Delicious   Digg this Post   StumbleUpon this Post   Add this Post to Reddit    Sphinn this Post  

Northumberland Baptist Association

The Northumberland Baptist Association held a Certification Council this afternoon for Debra Marker at the Montandon Baptist Church where Pastor Ron Wagner is serving as the Interim Pastor. Happily, the gathered delegates unanimously affirmed Deb for Certification by the Montandon congregation at an upcoming service.

 

 

 

 

 

by Bud Russell Categories: General, Region Life ~ Date: 5/22/2017
  (0Votes)   Email to a Friend   Add this Post to Facebook   Bookmark this Post on Delicious   Digg this Post   StumbleUpon this Post   Add this Post to Reddit    Sphinn this Post  

Mount Moriah Baptist Church
Worship Celebrations

I spent the morning at the Mount Moriah Baptist Church. Attended one of their adult Sunday School classes taught by the chair of their diaconate board. They are going through the book of Matthew and parked on chapter 14, discussing calling and sending the disciples for mission and ministry.

 

I then, on the front end of their morning worship service, had the blessing of dedicating to the Lord Taleah Daryl Edgar, the five-month-old daughter of Pastor Darrell and Joyce Edgar. Their five-year-old Tasso also participated.

 

I was privileged to preach the morning message and during the invitation time various people came forward to pray, some with the pastor for the lost, the church, their loved ones, as well as themselves.

 

On the way out, I had the blessing of meeting Madelyn "Tootie" Morgan who turned 96 today.

 

Also, Ian Eckert turned nine. In the picture with him is his dad (Paul), his mom (Christy), and his sister (Emma). Ian gave out cookies in celebration of the occasion. I didn't get a pic of the cookie I was given, as it didn't last long enough to take a picture :-) lol

 

It was a WONDERFUL day to celebrate individual families and the church family. Oh, by the way, Pastor Darrell and Paul Eckert were both campers at Camp Carmel when I served as the camp pastor years ago.

by Bud Russell Categories: General, Region Life ~ Date: 5/22/2017
  (0Votes)   Email to a Friend   Add this Post to Facebook   Bookmark this Post on Delicious   Digg this Post   StumbleUpon this Post   Add this Post to Reddit    Sphinn this Post  

The Empty Chair

While at Bethlehem Baptist, Ruff Creek, over the last weekend, Jeff Johnson noticed a handful of chairs throughout the building in the fellowship hall, Sunday School classrooms, the sanctuary, and the overflow area with a piece of paper attached to each. It is a prayer practice that I have advocated for years, The Empty Chair prayer. I have shared it a lot throughout our region and the country. Bethlehem took my words to heart some time ago by placing these reminders to pray for the people that aren't yet at the church but are coming. They come in, not because we open the doors at a given time, but rather the church goes out through those open doors, makes meaningful connections with people in their spheres of influence, and brings those individuals back with them to fill these unoccupied but prayed for spaces. Actually, when these new folks come in, they are asked to take the paper off the chair, take that seat, and put the paper on another chair or space and pray now along with the rest of the church for the next person who will come. Usually the new person will bring the next person since they more than anymore know unchurched people. Your church should give this a try. It raises everyone's expectations.

 


 

by Bud Russell Categories: General, Region Life ~ Date: 5/17/2017
  (0Votes)   Email to a Friend   Add this Post to Facebook   Bookmark this Post on Delicious   Digg this Post   StumbleUpon this Post   Add this Post to Reddit    Sphinn this Post  

ABCOPAD and Volunteers in Mission

 

A team from ABCOPAD met with Rev. Dr. Adalia Gutierrez Lee, International Ministries Area Director of Iberoamerica and Caribbean ministries. Along with Rev. Adalia, Rev. Sandra Dorsainvil and Emily Ferrin, who watch over volunteer mission trips, introduced themselves. Pastor John Dorean from Jefferson Baptist Church and Jonathan Johnson from FBC Waynesburg, seeking to do missionary work in Grand Goave, Haiti, met with this team to share their vision. Our own Frank Frischkorn pulled together the group. It was a great meeting dreaming about future ministry in Haiti. 

 

by Bud Russell Categories: Ministries, General ~ Date: 5/9/2017
  (0Votes)   Email to a Friend   Add this Post to Facebook   Bookmark this Post on Delicious   Digg this Post   StumbleUpon this Post   Add this Post to Reddit    Sphinn this Post  

2017 Spring Region Board

 

The ABCOPAD Regional Board gathered in Breezewood for our Spring Board Meeting. It was great hearing about so many wonderful stories of great ministries taking place in our Region. Despite a very rainy day, the Son was shining throughout the meeting. Lots of pics of leaders offering their reports of praise to our God.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

by Bud Russell Categories: General, Region Life ~ Date: 5/9/2017
  (0Votes)   Email to a Friend   Add this Post to Facebook   Bookmark this Post on Delicious   Digg this Post   StumbleUpon this Post   Add this Post to Reddit    Sphinn this Post  

FBC Lancaster Installation

 

First Baptist Church of Lancaster held an installation service for their new pastor, Rev Luminitza Nichols. Members of the congregation along with pastoral leaders from the Harrisburg Association and the Central Union Association along with many guests joined in the celebration. Rev. Dr. George Hancock-Stefan Associate Professor of Church History at Palmer Theological Seminary brought the message, Rev. Dr. Frank Frischkorn gave the charge to the pastor and congregation and Rev Brad Lacey the installation prayer. Many others participated in the celebration. It was a great day of rejoicing for all our partners in ministry. Many more pictures in this photo album.

by Bud Russell Categories: General, Region Life ~ Date: 5/9/2017
  (0Votes)   Email to a Friend   Add this Post to Facebook   Bookmark this Post on Delicious   Digg this Post   StumbleUpon this Post   Add this Post to Reddit    Sphinn this Post  

Luther Wesley Smith Education Award

Congratulations to our own Rev. Eric Kraihanzel for winning the prestigious Luther Wesley Smith Education Award for faithful, effective leadership in strengthening Christian education at an American Baptist-related college or seminary. This award is presented by the American Baptist Home Mission Societies. 

 


 

 

by Bud Russell Categories: General ~ Date: 5/4/2017
  (0Votes)   Email to a Friend   Add this Post to Facebook   Bookmark this Post on Delicious   Digg this Post   StumbleUpon this Post   Add this Post to Reddit    Sphinn this Post  

MacKenzie Scott Farewell

Following an evening fellowship dinner last night, the church family at FBC, Lewisburg said farewell to Rev. MacKenzie Scott today as he concluded his ministry as Pastor. The service was filled with a host of beautiful music, including two selections played on the bagpipes. An added blessing for Pastor Mac was having his two sons, Sam and James, serve as worship leaders. Following the service, a reception was held for Mac and his wife Lisa, along with their two sons.

 

 

by Bud Russell Categories: General, Region Life ~ Date: 5/2/2017
  (0Votes)   Email to a Friend   Add this Post to Facebook   Bookmark this Post on Delicious   Digg this Post   StumbleUpon this Post   Add this Post to Reddit    Sphinn this Post  

April 2017 Notes & News

 

The April edition of Notes & News, Thoughts & Views is now available

 

 

by Bud Russell Categories: General, Ministries, Region Life ~ Date: 4/20/2017
  (0Votes)   Email to a Friend   Add this Post to Facebook   Bookmark this Post on Delicious   Digg this Post   StumbleUpon this Post   Add this Post to Reddit    Sphinn this Post  

DaVinci Last Supper

The Last Supper Drama was presented at Moreland Baptist Church on Maundy Thursday. This was their 30th year of this production. The men of Moreland Baptist recreated DaVinci's masterpiece and revealed their own struggles with their own thoughts on who would betray Jesus. "Is it I, Lord? Is it I?"

 

 

by Bud Russell Categories: General, Region Life ~ Date: 4/14/2017
  (0Votes)   Email to a Friend   Add this Post to Facebook   Bookmark this Post on Delicious   Digg this Post   StumbleUpon this Post   Add this Post to Reddit    Sphinn this Post  

Liberty Baptist, Blanchard, Seder

 

This year, members of Liberty Baptist Church of Blanchard gathered together to observe the Passover Seder. Pastor Christopher Davis led the event, following the Haggadah fulfilling the Scriptural commandment to each Jew to "tell your son" of the Jewish liberation from slavery in Egypt as described in the Book of Exodus in the Torah.

 

 

 

 

 

 

by Bud Russell Categories: General, Region Life ~ Date: 4/14/2017
  (0Votes)   Email to a Friend   Add this Post to Facebook   Bookmark this Post on Delicious   Digg this Post   StumbleUpon this Post   Add this Post to Reddit    Sphinn this Post  

Calvary Baptist Allentown
Easter Egg Hunt

 

At Calvary Baptist Church (Allentown), on Palm Sunday, there was lots of fun following the worship service. A festive luncheon for all ages, with a Easter Egg Hunt, was hosted by you-know-who!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

by Bud Russell Categories: General, Region Life ~ Date: 4/14/2017
  (0Votes)   Email to a Friend   Add this Post to Facebook   Bookmark this Post on Delicious   Digg this Post   StumbleUpon this Post   Add this Post to Reddit    Sphinn this Post  

FBC Factoryville Crosswalk

 

Good Friday crosswalk from FBC Factoryville down to Keystone college and then to the elementary school and back to the church. Remembering Jesus and the cross he had to carry.

 

 

 

 

 

 

by Bud Russell Categories: General, Region Life ~ Date: 4/14/2017
  (0Votes)   Email to a Friend   Add this Post to Facebook   Bookmark this Post on Delicious   Digg this Post   StumbleUpon this Post   Add this Post to Reddit    Sphinn this Post  

Grilled Cheeses and Jesus

 

[written by Tom Parkins]

Calvary, Newark, successfully launched a new mission outreach this past Friday.  "Grilled Cheeses and Jesus".   

St. Patrick's Day is a huge party day on the University of Delware campus. This year, on a Friday, it was even bigger. Literally on the pathway to and from party time, we hoped to offer a bit of sanity and a touch of God's love. We decided to set up next to the sidewalk and offer free grilled cheese sandwiches, BBQ, hot dogs, snacks, sodas, coffee, and hot hot chocolate from 11PM - 2AM. (Bars close at 1 AM). We would also offer free prayers. As it turned out, one of our members actually had a grilled cheese sandwich maker that imprints the face of Jesus! How cool was that!

We had about 75 students and friends stop by. Only one was terribly tipsy. The students were very appreciative, and many stayed to chat and a few asked for a prayer. We did not preach or push any tracts. We did have church brochures available and made up a little "fun facts" of St. Patrick. One student, after eating a few hot dogs, said, "This is the most awesome thing that ever happened to me." His life must have been somewhat depressing, but I think that this was probably the first time that anybody had randomly done something nice for him.

A small add-on. A young couple came by "early" in the evening (like midnight is early). It turns out that they were not students, but homeless. They had been evicted from the apartment that day and were on the street that night. They were hoping to connect with friends to find a place to stay. We said a prayer, and they departed. About "closing time," after 2 AM, they returned. No luck. What would they do? To shorten the story, I invited them to stay in the church, gave them some blankets to sleep on the narthex floor. I stayed with them. The next morning, I found a few backpacks, gave them a few bucks, took them to McDonalds, and showed them where the bus stop was. They were most appreciative. When you say that prayer, "Dear God help these people," it is a dangerous prayer. God will use you to help them. I had to lead a bunch of elementary school students in science projects all day Saturday. God gave me the best student helpers ever. I cruised through the day.

A few pictures. The forecast called for mixed rain and snow, but it never did anything. The wind was very light which made it much more pleasant.

 

 

by Bud Russell Categories: General, Ministries, Region Life ~ Date: 3/20/2017
  (0Votes)   Email to a Friend   Add this Post to Facebook   Bookmark this Post on Delicious   Digg this Post   StumbleUpon this Post   Add this Post to Reddit    Sphinn this Post  

Eric Kraihanzel Installation Lansdale

 

Rev Eric Kraihanzel was surrounded by his family at the installation service at FBC Lansdale. His wife Heather was by his side along with their sons. Eric's mom was present and Eric's brother Kris prayed a beautiful installation prayer. The Kraihanzel family have been and continue to be great partners in ministry and significant disciples in Jesus' Kingdom.

A full photo album is available HERE 

 

 


 

 

by Bud Russell Categories: General, Region Life ~ Date: 3/6/2017
  (0Votes)   Email to a Friend   Add this Post to Facebook   Bookmark this Post on Delicious   Digg this Post   StumbleUpon this Post   Add this Post to Reddit    Sphinn this Post  

ECBC Retirement Honors

 

 

Donna Dunn retired on Sunday, February 26, from 33 years of service as the Director of Music for Exton Community Baptist Church. Her music ministry has spanned a remarkable 49 years, with ECBC claiming 67% of those years. At the Sunday service and reception Donna was honored for her dedication and for the joy and inspiration she has contributed to worship.

 

 

by Bud Russell Categories: General, Region Life ~ Date: 2/28/2017
  (3Votes)   Email to a Friend   Add this Post to Facebook   Bookmark this Post on Delicious   Digg this Post   StumbleUpon this Post   Add this Post to Reddit    Sphinn this Post  

Got Style?

 

After a weekend at First Baptist Church, Bethlehem, Jeff Johnson had lunch with Dr. Riddick Weber and Dr. Jill Peters, both professors at Moravian Seminary in Bethlehem. Hearing that Jeff would be in town, they asked Pastor Dale Miller to arrange a meeting. Both professors use Jeff's book, Got Style?, in their seminary courses. Great ideas were exchanged around the table on how all could use the resource even more effectively than they already do. 

 

by Bud Russell Categories: General, Region Life ~ Date: 2/27/2017
  (0Votes)   Email to a Friend   Add this Post to Facebook   Bookmark this Post on Delicious   Digg this Post   StumbleUpon this Post   Add this Post to Reddit    Sphinn this Post  

Prayers Welcome!

 

Last fall, Calvary, Newark, installed a prayer box on the main side walk in front of the church. Calvary is unique in that they have perhaps a couple thousand passes daily on that sidewalk, mostly University students. The church created a simple card and placed them in a weather resistant box. There's not a high volume of prayer request, but much of what they receive are very serious needs.

 

The specific prayer concerns are shared directly with a prayer warriors team. General concerns are shared with the congregation. It is a test of faith to pray for somebody you do not know, and knowing that they will likely never learn the answer to the prayer. Nevertheless... The fervent prayers of the righteous avail much!

by Bud Russell Categories: General, Ministries, Region Life ~ Date: 2/24/2017
  (0Votes)   Email to a Friend   Add this Post to Facebook   Bookmark this Post on Delicious   Digg this Post   StumbleUpon this Post   Add this Post to Reddit    Sphinn this Post  

NOTES NEWS --- February 2017

Now available online

 

 

by Bud Russell Categories: General, Region Life ~ Date: 2/22/2017
  (0Votes)   Email to a Friend   Add this Post to Facebook   Bookmark this Post on Delicious   Digg this Post   StumbleUpon this Post   Add this Post to Reddit    Sphinn this Post  

First English Baptist, Bloomsburg,
Worship

A look at the worship service at the First English Baptist Church of Bloomsburg. The service included special music from the Praise team, choir and the children's bell choir. Pastor Lee Barnhart delivered a message about being "salt and light" in our world. Following the message the church celebrated Communion.

 

 

 

by Bud Russell Categories: General, Region Life ~ Date: 2/13/2017
  (0Votes)   Email to a Friend   Add this Post to Facebook   Bookmark this Post on Delicious   Digg this Post   StumbleUpon this Post   Add this Post to Reddit    Sphinn this Post  

East Smithfield Worship and Baptism

 

What a wonderful day at East Smithfield (PA) Federated Church! A wonderful Sunday School class followed by an awesome worship service crowned with 3 baptisms! To God be the glory!!! Pastor Tim Robson was a student in our regional lay minister academy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

by Bud Russell Categories: General, Region Life ~ Date: 1/31/2017
  (0Votes)   Email to a Friend   Add this Post to Facebook   Bookmark this Post on Delicious   Digg this Post   StumbleUpon this Post   Add this Post to Reddit    Sphinn this Post  

LLC Southwestern PA

Jeffrey Johnson met with some of the members of his LLC in southwestern Pennsylvania. They gathered at the home of Pastor Darrell and Joyce Edgar who right before Christmas welcomed a new baby into their lives and into their home, Taleah; their second child. Some of the members of the LLC weren't able to make it to their monthly meeting due to illness, or the need to be with a family in their church. Present were Pastor David Earnest, Pastor Cristy Wise. Pastor Darrell Edgar, and Pastor Chris McClaughlin (not pictured).

 

 

 

 

by Bud Russell Categories: Ministries, General, Region Life ~ Date: 1/12/2017
  (0Votes)   Email to a Friend   Add this Post to Facebook   Bookmark this Post on Delicious   Digg this Post   StumbleUpon this Post   Add this Post to Reddit    Sphinn this Post  

FBC / West Hills Ministries

 

As featured in "The Herald" (Sharon, PA)

________________________________________ 

 

SHARON – The Rev. Cindy Swogger knows when school is officially over for the day.

She doesn’t glance at the clock or wait for a bell to ring. She listens for the footsteps and the sounds of children coming down the stairs at West Hill Ministries.

“They make a joyful noise,” she said.

And she would not have it any other way.

Meeting the needs of the children of Sharon’s West Hill neighborhood and giving them a place to go after school has been more than just a job for Swogger and the volunteers and staff who have kept the program going for, now, more than 25 years.

It is a mission, and a labor of love, she says.

West Hill Ministries, which is housed in First Baptist Church on West State Street, started as a once-a-week after-school program.

“We had no clue that 25 years later we would still be doing this,” Swogger said.

Swogger came to the program after a career in private business. She had been working with the youth ministry at First Baptist under the direction of Senior Pastor Robert Trojak when she decided to go to the seminary. After completing her education, she started working full-time. Eventually, she took on the job of director of what would be a new program for children.

The initial funding came as a gift from a local business, but keeping the programs funded was not so easy.

“We never got another dime – the business fell on hard times,” Swogger said. “But the Lord has provided for us.”

From Day 1, she said the focus was simple: There were children who needed a place to go and communities that needed their churches.

“There were children everywhere,” she said. “I have always thought churches needed to do something for them.”

And a place to go after school is not all West Hill offers. A clothing closet and other support programs also are available for families.

“Anyone can come in (to the closet) and get whatever they need for their kids,” Swogger said.

The program has thrived and uses not just First Baptist, but First United Methodist and St. Joseph’s Church facilities for children of a variety of ages. There are about 70 children at West Hill, 60 at St. Joe’s and 25 at First Methodist, where there is a teen program. There are plans – hopes, really – to start a sports-centered program at First United Methodist.

Funding now comes mostly from grants and some private donations.

The churches that host the programs assume some of the financial obligations – mostly associated with the costs of the facilities themselves. Their parishioners offer support as well.

“Local organizations also support our efforts, not always with money,” Swogger said. “But money always helps.”

The children have opportunities to go to camp – with the older children acting as camp counselors – as well as on trips when tickets are donated.

“It is an opportunity to get the children out of their little world and to see a bigger possibility,” Swogger said. “It gives them a chance to dream.”

Recent grant cutbacks have hurt the program lately, limiting some of the offerings for the children.

More of the grant money offered these days is designated for community development opportunities, Swogger said. She said she thinks West Hill’s mission fits right in with that objective.

The children in her program, she said, are this community’s future.

“Some of the kids we work with, some of them are not going to leave to go to college,” she said. “They are not going anywhere. We need to find something for them to do – and to show them that they can have a chance at a future.”

And some of the alumni from West Hill have gone on to find just that – a future.

One young woman is working in an after-school program in New York City, while another, a young man who attended Slippery Rock University, just came back at Thanksgiving to tell Swogger he is running a Salvation Army unit.

And the influence West Hill Ministries has is generational as well.

“There are kids who have married and now we have their children,” Swogger said.

The programs are designed to be local.

“We try to have programs for neighborhoods,” Swogger said. “It is nice to have it where kids can walk, but it is up to the parents to get them here.”

She said some of the children the program serves come from challenging environments, but is quick to point out that labels don’t always come in one size fits all.

“It is easy to tag them as underprivileged,” she said. “But I would say that there are many ways to be underprivileged – and it is not always economic.”

She said the West Hill program is not just about the children, either.

“The longer I do this, the more convinced I am that if you want to reach the kids, you have to reach the family,” she said.

Although the program is faith-based, Swogger said she works to make sure that families feel welcome and accepted.

And while the “church” label can be a barrier initially, it can be overcome eventually, she said, because the bottom line is that the parents, Swogger, her staff and the volunteers, all want the same thing.

“No matter what kind of person they are, they all still want what is best for their kids,” she said. “And if they see you are on their side, they relax.”

The children at West Hill are expected to live up to their end of the bargain, too. There are rules, Swogger says, and consequences for less than desirable behavior.

Positive reinforcements and rewards are how she gets the children to understand that they have a responsibility, too. She said she rarely has a serious issue with any of her kids.

“Most of the time, we try to work on changing the behavior,” she said. “Even when they are horrendous, and I have to be stern, they know that we will move on. I don’t hold it against them.”

But no matter what happens, and even when they are having a bad day, Swogger says she wants the children to know, they are in a safe, accepting and secure place to be themselves.

“Kids are like everyone else,” she said. “They want you to listen to them and to care.”

Swogger said the ministry would be nowhere without its volunteers. One of them, Joanna Slater, has been there since the beginning.

“We tease her that she is good – for nothing,” Swogger said.

Slater said she is there for one reason.

“I love the kids,” she said.

And the staff is dedicated, too.

Emily O’Malley has been program director for three years.

She love her job, she says, because of kids.

“They make me laugh,” she said. “They are the best part of my day.”

And caring is Job No. 1 at West Hill, Swogger said.

“When the kids come down the stairs, they find someone who loves them,” she said.

by Bud Russell Categories: General, Region Life ~ Date: 1/9/2017
  (0Votes)   Email to a Friend   Add this Post to Facebook   Bookmark this Post on Delicious   Digg this Post   StumbleUpon this Post   Add this Post to Reddit    Sphinn this Post  
by Bud Russell Categories: General, Region Life ~ Date: 12/22/2016
  (1Votes)   Email to a Friend   Add this Post to Facebook   Bookmark this Post on Delicious   Digg this Post   StumbleUpon this Post   Add this Post to Reddit    Sphinn this Post  

West Virginia Toy Drive

 

Days after the devastating flooding in West Virginia, where 8 to 10 inches of rain fell back in early summer, it was sad for Jeff to see the piles of gray rubble with brightly colored toys mixed throughout. The toys that weren’t washed away were unsalvageable — either broken or contaminated by polluted water. Most of the parents are without funds. And those who do have money can’t afford to spend it on toys this Christmas.

To address this reality, this past Saturday morning, Jeff arrived at the historic Great Bethel Baptist Church in Uniontown, southwestern PA. He was there to pick up the donations from a two month long toy drive spearheaded by Angie Lawson, the church’s youth director. 

  

Several hundred toys ranging from items for babies up through teenagers were collected from both members of the congregation and kids and their parents of the church sponsored preschool. It took Jeff an hour to do the impossible and pack all these wonderful donations into his rented SUV. Every single one of the donations somehow, some way, somewhere, made it into the four-wheeled sleigh. 

 


 

 

Jeff then drove three hours south to First Baptist Church of Rainelle, West Virginia where David Bush is the pastor. Rainelle was one of the three hardest hit areas in that state. The church had more than three and a half feet of water in their fellowship hall. The congregation quickly cleaned out and cleaned up this space to then serve as a relief center for their community and surrounding area. Our own ABMen sponsored a two week mission trip here back in August. A number of our churches went down to help.

   

Volunteers from the church unloaded the vehicle and put the items out on tables designated for various age groups. Parents came throughout the afternoon to “shop for free” for their children.

 

Our region, through funds acquired through a church closure, gave our neighboring West Virginia Baptist Convention a $10,000 gift to continue their flood relief efforts. Mark Mahserjian-Smith is working with Vickie Goff from ABC Home Mission Societies to coordinate mission trips back down to WV for two weeks next June. The Home Mission Societies partnered in this effort with national staff donating over one hundred toys themselves.

 

Mr. Rogers said that play is the work of childhood. Jeff added to that quote by saying “… and toys are the tools to get that work done!” Over three hundred toys in total were donated. “This act of love will serve two purposes. One, it will put actual toys under family Christmas trees—if they have them—and into children’s hands. Secondly, it will convey to this sister American Baptist Church and region with whom ABCOPAD has a relationship that they and their community are neither forgotten nor forsaken.” Not only do we ABCOPADers get to be Santa’s Sack for Christmas. We also get to be the hands and heart of Jesus.

Special thanks goes out to David Thomas, the Budget rental car agent, who provided the SUV at a very special reduced rate to ABCOPAD/ABHMS to make the transport of all the toys possible.

 

Complete photo album HERE 

 

by Bud Russell Categories: General, Ministries, Region Life ~ Date: 12/21/2016
  (1Votes)   Email to a Friend   Add this Post to Facebook   Bookmark this Post on Delicious   Digg this Post   StumbleUpon this Post   Add this Post to Reddit    Sphinn this Post  

FBC, Sharon, Christmas Program

At First Baptist Church, Sharon, the kids from the after school program did a Christmas Program called Joy to the World.  They sang Christmas songs and explained the story of Christmas in their own words and through scripture.  Here are some pictures of the Program and the families that enjoyed Cookies and punch after the show!


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

by Bud Russell Categories: General, Region Life ~ Date: 12/20/2016
  (2Votes)   Email to a Friend   Add this Post to Facebook   Bookmark this Post on Delicious   Digg this Post   StumbleUpon this Post   Add this Post to Reddit    Sphinn this Post  

Lancaster Area
Retired Pastors Christmas Luncheon

Retired Pastoral Leaders living in the Lancaster Area gathered together at the Shady Maple for a Christmas Luncheon. It was so wonderful spending time with these dear friends. Most of the Regional Pastors were able to be present for the get-together. Delicious meal and amazing fellowship.

 

 

 

During the celebration a number of people shared.

 

Rev Paul Fitzgerald did an awesome monologue as Jesse the inn keeper.

 

 Pastors Kevin and Melody Walden sang an exciting duet.

  

Rev Grace Lawrence-Shirk shared so interesting facts about Santa

 

and both Rev Dan MacDonald and Rev Frank Frischkorn prayed.

 

 

It was a wonderful afternoon at Shady Maple.

 

by Bud Russell Categories: General, Region Life ~ Date: 12/16/2016
  (0Votes)   Email to a Friend   Add this Post to Facebook   Bookmark this Post on Delicious   Digg this Post   StumbleUpon this Post   Add this Post to Reddit    Sphinn this Post  

New Hope -- Live Nativity

It's become an annual event at New Hope Christian Church in Broomall, PA. This year's live nativity was enjoyed by a rather large crowd of spectators.  Pleasant weather and a cup of hot cocoa made for a most pleasant evening. Following the outdoor program, guests were welcomed indoors to view a large collection of creches on display in the sanctuary.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

by Bud Russell Categories: General, Region Life ~ Date: 12/7/2016
  (1Votes)   Email to a Friend   Add this Post to Facebook   Bookmark this Post on Delicious   Digg this Post   StumbleUpon this Post   Add this Post to Reddit    Sphinn this Post  

2016 Abington Association

 

This fall the Abington Association meeting was hosted by United Baptist in Taylor, PA - a little outside of Scranton. It was a wonderfully inspiring time. A complete album of pictures is available HERE.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

by Bud Russell Categories: General, Region Life ~ Date: 11/17/2016
  (0Votes)   Email to a Friend   Add this Post to Facebook   Bookmark this Post on Delicious   Digg this Post   StumbleUpon this Post   Add this Post to Reddit    Sphinn this Post  

2016 Catalyst

Many of our ABCOPAD Pastors have gathered together near Lancaster, PA to attend the one day Catalyst Event for church leaders. The primary speakers were Andy Stanley and Craig Groeschel. A few of us attended the event last year and were inspired. This year we encouraged a bunch of our pastoral leaders to join us for this inspiring time.

The Praise team was incredible, offering time for everyone to simply spend time in God's presence. The speakers were excellent. The ABCOPAD leaders also had opportunity to gathered together to spend time with one another and reflect on the morning's teaching. It was an exciting day!

 

 

 

 

by Bud Russell Categories: General, Region Life ~ Date: 11/13/2016
  (0Votes)   Email to a Friend   Add this Post to Facebook   Bookmark this Post on Delicious   Digg this Post   StumbleUpon this Post   Add this Post to Reddit    Sphinn this Post  

Disaster Relief -- Connellsville, PA

An incredible effort by volunteers in Connellsville, PA. The American Baptist Women's Ministries of Pennsylvania and Delaware is partnering with the United Methodist Committee on Relief to help home owners restore their homes and get back on their feet. The Monongahela Baptist Association is providing food and housing for the volunteers. What a witness!

A few shots here. For a complete photo album, click HERE.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

by Bud Russell Categories: General, Ministries, Region Life ~ Date: 11/12/2016
  (0Votes)   Email to a Friend   Add this Post to Facebook   Bookmark this Post on Delicious   Digg this Post   StumbleUpon this Post   Add this Post to Reddit    Sphinn this Post  

Lower Providence Installation Service

 

Lower Providence Baptist Church conducted an Installation Service for Rev. Charles Guy Coats as their new pastor! According to the church leadership, Pastor "CG" is the 36th pastor in the church's 205 year history! It was a service full of blessings and joys! CG and his wife Liz were overjoyed. More photos HERE.

 

 

by Bud Russell Categories: General, Region Life ~ Date: 11/9/2016
  (0Votes)   Email to a Friend   Add this Post to Facebook   Bookmark this Post on Delicious   Digg this Post   StumbleUpon this Post   Add this Post to Reddit    Sphinn this Post  

Discover ABCOPAD

 

The first Discover ABCOPAD event took place in Dover, Delaware, at the home of Gene and Thelma Schaller. The event was led by ABCOPAD Foundation Director of Development Sue MacDonald and ABCOPAD Regional Executive Pastor Frank Frischkorn. 

 

  

The was our first Discover ABCOPAD event under Sue's leadership, designed to share the ABCOPAD ministry with partners in the Region. It was a very successful event with plenty of time for sharing and encouragement. Watch for a Discover ABCOPAD event coming to your area. [More photo HERE.]

 


 

by Bud Russell Categories: General, Ministries, Region Life ~ Date: 11/9/2016
  (0Votes)   Email to a Friend   Add this Post to Facebook   Bookmark this Post on Delicious   Digg this Post   StumbleUpon this Post   Add this Post to Reddit    Sphinn this Post  

Upper Merion Sunday

 

On Sunday, Jeff spent the day with the Upper Merion Baptist Church, just up the hill from our ABC Mission Center in Valley Forge. During the Sunday School hour, Jeff met with the congregation to talk about vision and direction of the congregation.

 

Pastor Alan Selig, the church's interim, served as the worship leader.

 

Florence Li, a member of the church and Director of Asian Ministries for the ABC Home Mission Societies, did the moment of missions focused on the World Mission Offering.

 

The choir provided special music. Jeff preached. Following an invitation at the end of the service where many in the church came forward to pray, light refreshments including a cake were served to show appreciation to Pastor Alan for his pastoral leadership of the church during their period of transition.

 

After the appreciation time, Jeff met with the search committee to talk further and more fully about vision and direction and its impact on their search for a new seated pastor.


All around the church, everywhere you look, there are 6:49 slips of paper. They indicate the double daily time of prayer for the church by the church wherever they might be, a prayer practice Jeff has taught many churches to use.  

 

6:49 was chosen because it represents the church's founding date (1849) in military time, as seen in the cornerstone of their original building when they were located in the nearby downtown area of Bridgeport before moving to their present location in the 1960's bringing the cornerstone with them and embedding it into the foundation of the new building.

During the appreciation time after worship, Jeff met Sherry. She is a real big prayer warrior. So much so, she goes regularly to the Valley Forge Casino, down the road from the church, and makes her way around the gambling floor, wearing a big, visible badge offering to pray with anyone about anything. Many people take her up on the offer.
 

 

 

by Bud Russell Categories: General, Region Life ~ Date: 11/3/2016
  (0Votes)   Email to a Friend   Add this Post to Facebook   Bookmark this Post on Delicious   Digg this Post   StumbleUpon this Post   Add this Post to Reddit    Sphinn this Post  

2016 ABCOPAD Biennial
Leadership Conference

Now it's history... but the events of this year's Biennial Leadership Conference had an impact on so many in attendance! A great keynote speaker, excellent devotional leaders, exciting reports of ministries across the region, wonderful worship... to say nothing of the spirit and fellowship enjoyed by all.

Here are just a few of the photos taken at Altoona. The complete album is available HERE.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

by Bud Russell Categories: General, Region Life ~ Date: 10/31/2016
  (0Votes)   Email to a Friend   Add this Post to Facebook   Bookmark this Post on Delicious   Digg this Post   StumbleUpon this Post   Add this Post to Reddit    Sphinn this Post  

Broad Street Baptist Church

 

On Sunday, Jeffrey Johnson and his family spent the morning with the folks at the Broad Street Baptist Church where Pastor Jay Freudenberg is the pastor. He is an early 2000's CLI graduate and has served this church for nearly eight years. Jeff met with key and core leaders of the church during the Sunday School hour to talk about its vision, its future, and its desire as a smaller church to have a bigger impact for Christ in their community. Jeff preached the morning message. The church has a beautiful three-dimensional baptistery.

 

 

by Bud Russell Categories: Ministries, General, Region Life ~ Date: 10/25/2016
  (0Votes)   Email to a Friend   Add this Post to Facebook   Bookmark this Post on Delicious   Digg this Post   StumbleUpon this Post   Add this Post to Reddit    Sphinn this Post  

Camp Carmel Fall Festival

 

The Camp Carmel Baptist Camp Fall Gathering was held at the farm of Ralph and Rhonda Gatten south of Pittsburgh. Board members, summer staff, counselors, campers, supporters, and friends gathered for a time of great food, good fun, and wonderful fellowship which included a hayride, corn hole, lots of conversation and catching up, and of course a campfire to wrap up the day with a message by Pastor Gary Schneider of the North Ten Mile Baptist Church. More than a dozen churches were represented at the gathering from both the Ten Mile and Monongahela Baptist Associations. More photos HERE.

 

 

Don't forget that the camps in our region are the year long fundraising emphasis and effort of our American Baptist Women. Check out the video concerning camping ministry in ABCOPAD at http://www.abcopad.org/Ministries/ABWM/Our-2016-2017-Region-Mission-Project.aspx. Rev. Eric Kraihanzel has made a video to talk about the project. Check it out: https://youtu.be/9pFQ06YIYGM 

by Bud Russell Categories: General, Ministries, Region Life ~ Date: 10/25/2016
  (0Votes)   Email to a Friend   Add this Post to Facebook   Bookmark this Post on Delicious   Digg this Post   StumbleUpon this Post   Add this Post to Reddit    Sphinn this Post  

Monongahela Association Meeting

 

The 184TH Gathering of the Monongahela Baptist Association in the southwest corner of ABCOPAD was held on October 16. The theme for the association's meeting was The Bible, our only authority for what we believe and what we do. Different presentations were made by associational leaders, including Pam Hughes who is our region's ABWomen Coordinator for LoveGift.

 

Paula Sommerfeldt, the ABW coordinator for Missions spoke about the upcoming disaster relief Mission Trip to Connellsville in November. The message for the day was delivered by Pastor Chris McClaughlin of the Indian Creek Baptist Church in Mill Run.

 

Jeff did the installation of officers, based on another Baptist principle, "Every Member A Minister". Diane Dean, the association's moderator, closed out the gathering with an impassioned plea for greater participation and doing together what no one association church could do on its own, the very principle of associational life.

 

A time of good food and good fellowship followed the gathering.

by Bud Russell Categories: General, Region Life ~ Date: 10/18/2016
  (0Votes)   Email to a Friend   Add this Post to Facebook   Bookmark this Post on Delicious   Digg this Post   StumbleUpon this Post   Add this Post to Reddit    Sphinn this Post  

Liberty Baptist Blanchard

 

On Sunday, Jeff participated "in style" in the 145th Anniversary celebration and annual Homecoming of the Liberty Baptist Church in Blanchard, in north central Pennsylvania. Jeff dressed in 1871 attire, the year the church was founded. Rev. Chris Davis is the pastor.

 

The leadership presented him a basket of cards and gifts from the church as their Pastor Appreciation. Pastor Chris took their weekly Missions Moment to talk about their new Upward Basketball Ministry which the region helped to fund with a grant.


Pastor Chris' wife Greta promoted the start of the ABW Thrive (study) group in the church.

 

Special music for the morning was provided by their sanctuary choir and their ad hoc, impromptu bell choir, dubbed appropriately enough, "The Liberty Bells". Rev. Paul LeVan, former pastor now living in Erie shared memories of his time at the church. Jeff provided the morning message and then extended an invitation. The front of the church was filled with people seeking God through their own prayers or asking to join their prayers with those of their pastor. A wonderful luncheon was served afterwards.

 

Additional photos HERE 

 

by Bud Russell Categories: General, Region Life ~ Date: 10/17/2016
  (0Votes)   Email to a Friend   Add this Post to Facebook   Bookmark this Post on Delicious   Digg this Post   StumbleUpon this Post   Add this Post to Reddit    Sphinn this Post  

Parkesburg Installation Service

 

Frank Frischkorn, Melody and Kevin Walden, and many others participated in the beautiful installation service at Parkesburg Baptist for Rev. Mary Lewis. Dr. Dan MacDonald also shared in the service. Pastor Mary gave a great reflection about how "not normal" the Parkesburg church is... which was entirely complimentary and inspiring. It was a wonderful celebration for a wonderful leader and congregation. Additional photos HERE.

 

 

 

by Bud Russell Categories: General, Region Life ~ Date: 10/16/2016
  (1Votes)   Email to a Friend   Add this Post to Facebook   Bookmark this Post on Delicious   Digg this Post   StumbleUpon this Post