News

WINNER, WINNER, HAM DINNER — A family of “motoring” scarecrows greeted guests at our annual Fall Harvest Dinner on Wednesday, Sept. 28. Four hundred ham dinners were served by drive-through in the church parking lot. More photos from the event are available on the church’s Facebook page.

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October special offering will purchase goats

Presbyterian Disaster Assistance provided goats to Hari Pariyar (right), and the animals have had a positive impact on him, his family, and his community in Nepal.

Less than a year in, Hari Pariyar’s new goat operation is proving fruitful. One female has had three kids, an excellent start for his enterprise.

Opportunities like this are rare for the residents of Katunje Village in Nepal, where Pariyar lives. Nepal is one of the world’s poorest countries, and Katunje is one of its poorest regions, wracked with unemployment and low economic opportunity.

When a powerful earthquake struck Nepal in April 2015, conditions became even worse for residents of Katunje. In a place where shelter was already scarce, the earthquake destroyed 90 percent of houses in the municipality. Twenty-seven lives were lost in the area. Residents struggled with day-to-day living and trauma from the disaster, on top of their already desperate economic circumstances.

In 2018, Presbyterian Disaster Assistance partnered with Together for Nepal to form the Katunje Post-Disaster Recovery Nepal Project (KPRN) to help the people of the region cope with the earthquake’s aftermath by offering skills and opportunities that would help make them more resilient for the future.

In one KPRN program, 280 female goats were distributed to locals like Pariyar to help provide a new source of income and livelihood families could depend on. Goats were chosen because they are relatively inexpensive to raise, very productive for their size and are highly adaptable, especially in mountainous areas. Before receiving the goats, recipient households were trained in goat-raising. Lessons included grazing and feeding methods and learning how to treat common goat diseases at home. Participants even learned how to build sheds to house their goats.

For Pariyar, a goat was the perfect fit. “The project made my life blessed,” he said. While he owns a small piece of land, it’s barely big enough to grow food for his family. Several years ago, he lost both of his feet to cancer and in 2015 the family’s home was destroyed in the earthquake. The goat program provided an additional way for the family to earn a living. As Pariyar raises more goats, he’ll be able to trade and sell them for a sustainable source of income. Pariyar is overjoyed that his goat has already been so productive.

Our special mission offering for October will help people like Pariyar by providing goats to another family. The goal is $175 to purchase two goats.

Our giving will help break the cycle of poverty in areas like Katunje and provide new opportunities for residents like Pariyar and his family. Goats enhance food security by providing milk, cheese, butter, and yogurt. These valuable foods offer nutrition to those who need it most.

To contribute to this special offering, earmark your check “goats” or place cash in an envelope labeled “goats.” Place your offering in the collection plate on Sundays, drop it off at the church office, or mail it to the church at P.O. Box 422, Waukon, IA 52172.

Notes from Session …

At their monthly meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 13, the elders of Session  —

+ Continued discussion about the possibility of air conditioning the Sanctuary but took no action.

+ Were informed by Clerk Lynn Thomson that John Knox Presbytery reviewed and approved with exception the Session minutes from the past 12 months. The regional governing body also reviewed and approved without except the church membership rolls.

John Knox Presbytery elects new executive

The John Knox Presbytery, our regional governing body, on Saturday, Aug. 20, elected the Reverend Dr. Jeffrey Japinga as the body’s new revisioning executive presbyter.

In his new role, Jeff will serve and work alongside congregations to equip leaders and shape the presbytery’s structures for the ministries that God is next calling us to do in the places God is calling us to do them.

Jeff has been ordained as a minister of Word and Sacrament for 35 years and previously served as executive presbyter for the Presbytery of the Twin Cities Area based in Minneapolis.

He has served on the faculty of McCormick Theological Seminary in Chicago and on the national staff of the Reformed Church in America. For the past 11 months, he has served as interim pastor at House of Prayer Lutheran Church in Richfield, MN.

Jeff is married to Jen, an elementary-school speech and language therapist for Minnetonka (MN) Public Schools, and they have four adult children/stepchildren living across the country.

Jeff began serving in his new position on Thursday, Sept. 1, and replaces the Reverend Chaz Ruark, who retired in February.

With offices in Richland Center, WI, the John Knox Presbytery composes 55 congregations and nearly 7,000 Presbyterians in northeast Iowa, southeast Minnesota, and southwest Wisconsin. Pastor Grant serves as regional coordinator for the pastors and congregations of northeast Iowa.

Therapy dog to become monthly church visitor

Meet Burkley! She’s a 5-year-old standard poodle and certified therapy dog, and you’ll have a chance to meet her in person in the coming months.

Her handler, member Bethany Ellingson, will be bringing Burkley to church on the first Sunday of each month starting in October. You may visit with Burkley in the Fellowship Hall after worship.

A therapy dog is trained to provide affection, comfort, and support to people in settings such as hospitals, retirement homes, nursing homes, schools, libraries, hospices, or disaster areas.

Burkley has completed training, passed an exam, and has a health certificate, which is updated annually. She likes to go to the library during reading time and get pets and hugs from the kids. Please welcome her as she brings her comfort and joy to us!

Shortly before the start of the pandemic in 2020, the elders of Session approved Burkley’s monthly visits, but COVID postponed those plans. At their August meeting, the elders reaffirmed their decision to invite Burkley for monthly visits.

‘Cool’ idea for Sanctuary being considered

The elders of Session are investigating possibilities and options for air conditioning the Sanctuary. While the Property Committee is obtaining estimates, and the Finance Committee is investigating funding, a final decision on the project has not yet been made.

In addition to providing greater comfort for summer worship services, weddings, and funerals, Session aims to protect last year’s investment in Sanctuary renovations.

“Thanks to the generosity of members and friends, we spent more than $100,000 repairing plaster and repainting the Sanctuary,” Pastor Grant said. “The painters told us that excess heat and humidity in the summer can take its toll on paint and plaster, and they encouraged us to consider installing air conditioning.”

Cooler temperatures and less humidity also will help protect wooden pews and other trim work that are more than a century old and date back to the building’s construction in the early 1900s, Pastor Grant noted.

“We want to protect the investments made by previous generations as well as the investment we made to preserve that legacy,” he said.

Endowment money to be rolled over

At the recommendation of the Finance Committee, the elders of Session have approved rolling over approximately $37,000 in endowment from New Covenant Funds to a new account with Vanguard Funds.

Vanguard offers lower account management fees than New Covenant does, and having lower fees helps preserve the money invested in the account. Interest and dividends received from the invested money help fund improvement projects at the church and manse, support the church’s scholarship program, and pay for major purchases of equipment like computers and software.

The money that will be rolled over to the new Vanguard account comes from two sources. First is a $5,000 endowment gift from the estate of Lester “Bill” Thomson, a longtime member of our church who died in 2012. The rest of the money was invested in New Covenant by the Session in the late 1980s or early 1990s. Church records do not list the source of that money.

Our church already has an existing account with Vanguard that holds a generous endowment from longtime members Claude and Bernice Shafer. That money will remain in that account and will not be mingled with the funds rolled over from New Covenant.

Community Meals come to an end

After providing free hot meals once a month to thousands of people over the last seven years, the Waukon Community Meals have come to an end. The final meal was served in our Fellowship Hall on Monday, Aug. 29.

Various church groups and community organizations prepared and served the meals, but since the start of the pandemic, it became harder to find people willing to take on that roll.

“COVID did us in, I think” Pastor Grant said. “And the rising cost of groceries probably was a factor, too. After failing at repeated attempts to find volunteers, the steering committee finally decided that the season of community meals had come to an end.”

The meals were an ecumenical ministry that fulfilled a dream of Karen Carlton, a lay pastor and member of St. Paul’s United Methodist Church. She wanted to find a way to help feed people in the community and to help build and strengthen relationships among families, friends, and neighbors. For her efforts, Ms. Carlton was named the 2019 person of the year by the Waukon Chamber of Commerce.

“Karen poured her heart and soul into these meals for seven years, and she’s certainly earned a rest from her hard work and service to the community,” said Pastor Grant, who with Ms. Carlton served on the meal’s steering committee with several other pastors in Waukon.

Under the slogan “Building Community One Meal at a Time,” our church hosted the meals in our Fellowship Hall on the last Monday of each month. Anyone was welcome to attend, and the gatherings not only fed physical hunger but also relationship hunger.

“The meals gave people who usually eat supper alone the opportunity to break bread together with friends and neighbors,” Pastor Grant. “It is sad that this ministry has ended, but I trust that God will lead us toward new some new ways of building healthy community.”

The Waukon Community Meals were a standalone non-profit entity that was separate from our church. Several thousand dollars gathered from donations remain in the community meals’s bank account, and that money will be given to the Allamakee County Food Shelf.

Session OKs projects at manse, church

The elders of Session have approved plans for repair and improvement projects at the manse and the church. Monies from the congregation’s short– and long-term savings accounts will fund the work.

The biggest project involves the front porch at the manse. Concrete and masonry are deteriorating and crumbling, which create safety and aesthetic concerns. The existing concrete stoop will need to be removed and replaced.

The concrete walkway leading from the porch to the city sidewalk is cracking, and several squares are tilting. The  walkway will be replaced as part of the porch project.

The project will cost approximately $10,000. Kelly Concrete and Darrold Berger Masonry, both of Waukon, will do the work.

The second project will replace lighting over the church’s north and east entrances. Several existing fixtures do not work, and others are broken or rusted. They will be replaced with energy-efficient LED lights similar to those that light the parking lot.

The project will cost about $1,000. The fixtures were purchased from Light Source Central in Dorchester, and Ken Kerr Electric of Waukon will do the installation.

Announcements

Thanks to the members who’ve sign up to serve as greeters on Sunday mornings. We still need a few more individuals interested in participating in this ministry of hospitality. With a warm smile, a cheerful “Good Morning,” and an optional handshake, greeters are responsible for creating a caring, genuine atmosphere for fellowship and community-building. If you are interested in serving others by representing and extending the love of Jesus, Elder Gregg Jones of the Worship Committee will have an information table set up in the foyer next Sunday, Oct. 9.

Wednesday Church Night faith formation activities for children and youth have resumed. On Wednesday, the group will attend the annual Fields of Faith at Waukon High School. A game night is planned for Wednesday, Oct. 12. No events will be held Wednesday, Oct. 19, because Waukon students have the day off from school. Additional activities will be announced. Wednesday Church night is open to children and youth in kindergarten and older. The evenings begin with a family friendly meal in the Fellowship Hall at 5:30 p.m., and parents are encouraged to share the meal with their children. Faith formation activities begin at 6.

Pastor Grant will be on vacation from through Sunday, Oct. 9. If you need emergency pastoral care while he is away, please contact Pastor Cathy Jurgens of Zion UCC at (563) 568-3598 or (847) 347-5598 or Pastor Bryan Robertson of St. John’s Lutheran Church at (563) 419-0423. Tom Buresh, former pastor of Zalmona Presbyterian Church, will share a message on Oct. 9.

“These Days” daily devotional books for October, November, and December are available on the counter in the Fellowship Hall. This quarter’s theme is recognizing and appreciating God’s gifts.

Our monthly sale of KwikStar gifts cards, which normally takes place on the first Sunday of the month, will be postponed to next Sunday, Oct. 9. If you need cards before then, please contact office manager Michelle Gress at (563) 568-2981 or fpcwaukon@ gmail.com.

The Presbyterian Women will be making their delicious bake-at-home apple pies on Tuesday, Oct. 11, Thursday, Oct. 13, and Tuesday, Oct. 18. Each frozen pie costs $15 and includes instructions on how to bake it. To place your order, please call Fern Rissman at (563) 568-4486 or Gloria Krambeer at (563) 568-3182. Pies will be ready for pick up by 11 a.m. those days. Monetary donations to cover the cost of ingredients may be mailed to PW treasurer Sue Schlitter, 912 Third Ave. NW, Waukon, IA 52172. Proceeds support the mission and ministry of the PW in our community.

Online giving allows you to make your tithes and offerings safely and securely from your desktop computer, tablet or smart phone. To access this new service, go to our church website, FirstPresWaukon.com, and scroll down until you see the red “Donate Now” button. Clicking that button takes you to our online giving portal, where you can make a one-time offering or set up regular weekly offerings.

“Becoming Disciples: The Story of God with Us” is a 34-week sermon series that Pastor Grant has begun. The series will take us from the beginning of the Bible to the end, from Genesis to Revelation. While the series obviously can’t cover every chapter and verse in such a short period of time, the series instead tells the overarching story of Scripture, from a creating Lord God and his rebellious children to a people redeemed and saved by grace.

A donation box to recycle old eyeglasses and hearing aids is available in the Fellowship Hall near the door to the Chapel. In partnership with the Waukon chapter of Lions Club International, the glasses and hearing aids will be recycled and distributed to people living in low- and middle-income countries who lack access to vision and hearing care. 

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