St. Paul's United Methodist Church
Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Testimonials

 
 

Do you remember a time when being INCLUDED meant you felt a part of a group, you felt needed and wanted, you felt loved…maybe when you were in school or even something silly like Facebook?  We all want to be included.

To be included means a lot to myself and to my family.  Especially since we moved to Delaware from Ohio one year ago.  We were out of our comfort zone, away from our home and family.  We were apart from friends and church family.  We had to find new doctors, dentists, stores…everything.  Nothing will be the same again.  But no matter where you go, I thought, the Lord follows and promises that you will see Him everywhere you go just hold His hand and trust in him.

We had been in Delaware for 2 months trying to get used to the new life.  I kept hearing the Lord saying, “You need to feel INCLUDED again with a church family”.  So I did many searches and thought that St. Paul’s would be a nice change from our past, large church.  Why not try something new. Looks like an active youth group too from their website.   Not to mention a women Pastor would be a great.  The last woman pastor that I knew and influenced me profoundly was my grandmother; a Presbyterian Lay minister for 15 years.  The Lord seemed to be calling me in ways I could only see.  St. Paul’s was sounding very promising

So we set out for St Paul’s and I remember how quaint this church was and everyone was super friendly.   We even got some hugs that day at church. We felt Included right away without reservation, without hesitations...open arms like Christ would have done.  I could see my family feel comfortable again.  However, I wasn’t quite there yet, you see I have Celiac Disease and I need to eat gluten free.  Why would this hold me back from feeling really INCLUDED??  I said to myself, they do communion every week…I bet they don’t have gluten free. An usher told me, “Yes. We serve GF wafers”.    Wow was I relieved!    From always feeling excluded with my disease, I instantly felt INCLUDED to take part of something greater than myself, to honor our Lord!

We love calling St Paul’s part of our home now…a comfort knowing we can get help if we have surgeries, calls if we need talking to, rides to lifeguard classes, notes of encouragement, food to fuel our bodies, to meet outside of church and plan activities, to send my child out on mission trips to help others, and finally listening to my little one say her AMENS during Young Disciples.

Your presence in this church has made a difference in our lives…a comfort to us, a feeling of being INCLUDED in a greater purpose.  I want to thank all of you for your kindness and caring you have shown to the dearest people in my lives, my family.  Cindra Holland
 

I am Courtney Martin and I am a young adult member of St. Paul’s. My family and I have been attending St. Paul’s since I was four years old and I have attended Sunday School here, and have been confirmed and baptized by Pastor Karin. As a current college student, I appreciate the prayers and support this congregation provides to me in my studies and faith life. I serve the church in various capacities, including with VBS ministries, Easter eggs, as a member of the newly created Endowment Team, and with various missions like school backpacks and flood buckets. I also pug sit for the Pastor.

This week, we are talking about inclusion, so I thought it would only be appropriate to talk about how St. Paul’s incudes everyone. I am “IN” because I am “included” at St. Paul’s. When I was 17, I came to Pastor T and asked her if I could create a curriculum for Vacation Bible School and coordinate the program as my senior project in high school. Now think about that for a minute. A high school junior – not even an adult yet by legal standards – being responsible for 60 + kids and 50 or so volunteers. What would you have said? Well, without hesitating, Pastor T said yes. This is what I appreciate most about this congregation, and about Pastor Karin – their joy in saying “yes.” Yes, we will give money without hesitation to community members who lost everything in a fire. Yes, we will pack over 300 Brae’s Brown Bags to help those who struggle with hunger. Yes, we will send a team to Nicaragua.

At St. Paul’s, everyone is a piece of the puzzle working together for the greater good in our church, in this community, and in the world. We all can serve in some capacity so matter how young or how old we are, where we come from, or what our background is. St. Paul’s is proof of that. I know that I have found a place at St. Paul’s where I belong and where I can use my talents. I also know I have people who support me and cheer me on. I am grateful to God for that.

And so, I’m completely “IN.” Hands. Feet. Mind. And Heart. Are you?  Courtney Martin

 

My name is Emma Apps and I am a youth member here at St. Paul’s church. I have been attending this church ever since I was born. Many of you have watched me grow up here. And many of you I consider family. Two of those very special people are Pastor Karin and Mrs. Shaffer. They asked me to share how I feel about St. Paul’s and how it has made me Innovative.  I figured that I would start with the definition of innovative first. Innovative means introducing new ideas; original and creative in thinking.

I have experienced being innovative through church because of the family I have here. You have opened so many opportunities for me to learn new skills such as being a liturgist, acolyte, greeter, communion server, missioner and learner. I have learned to pray, to love, to have compassion. My 13 years here at St. Paul’s have given me confidence and unconditional love. Each of you has helped me make it through my days and remind me that God has great plans for my life. St. Paul’s has helped me to meet others in my generation that share my same core values.

My generation is full of new technologies and ideas that sometimes can drift from what is most important in this lifetime. I can credit St. Paul’s for keeping me grounded and showing me that talking with my Sunday School class is better than Instagraming about the latest trends. That attending service and listening to the word of God is more rewarding than sleeping in. That collecting money for my favorite causes, like Forgotten Cats, can bring me more joy than any material gift I could receive.

St. Paul’s has shaped me and continues to shape me to be an innovative thinker and problem solver for this world. And hopefully I can make a big change in this world that will help others to recognize and glorify God’s many creations. So, thank you, everyone in this house, for supporting me and loving me and helping me to change the world. I wish you all love and blessings as you consider what St. Paul’s means to you and how St. Paul’s has made you innovative. With your support of time and investment you not only shape me, you shape the future of Christianity. Thank you!

 

I am Natalie Reitzes. My family and I have been attending St. Paul's since the Spring of 2010 and I became a member of St. Paul's on May 24, 2015. I participate in multiple activities at St. Paul's INcluding: youth group, youth mission trips, VBS, youth rally, and other things inside the church such as working in the nursery, being a liturgist, or acolyting. This church INvests a lot of time in their youth and does a great job with INvolving the youth in what goes on here at St. Paul's.
To become a member, I went through confirmation. I would consider confirmation the best thing that St. Paul's does for its youth. Confirmation teaches you about the history of the Methodist church, how we got to where we are today, and just what it means to be a follower of Jesus and a member of our St. Paul's family. My favorite mission work that we have here is the youth mission trips. Not only do you get to help people, but you build a bond with the people you go with, youth and adults. But I don't just love St. Paul's because of what you have done for me spiritually, but how you have shaped me into the person I am today. I used to be the shy little girl who was afraid to pray aloud at children's time, and now my Sunday school teachers have to tell me to wait a minute before I can start talking again. INteresting isn't it? I look up to so many people at this church, and I am so glad to be a part of such an INcredible group of people.

 

Several months ago, in a conversation I was having with Pastor T, I expressed my interest in assisting with the stewardship campaign this year.  Why?  Because I’m “all in.”  This church has been my rock, my anchor, my support, my foundation for about 25 years.  This church is not the building we are in.  It is you, this church family, that has seen me through the ups and downs that life has thrown my way.  Three Shaffer boys were baptized here and later, were confirmed here.  My church family was there when my father died suddenly 19 years ago.  I have been wrapped in your love and your faith and I feel it every single day.  St. Paul’s is an amazing place.  So, serving as a volunteer for our stewardship mission seemed a great way for me to give back.  I’m inspired by each of you and how Jesus Christ works through you, in you and with you to make this church the hands, feet, eyes and ears of our Lord.  Stewardship is more than just pledging money.  Stewardship is a way to be Intentional in how we give and more importantly, why.  Have you ever heard the commercial for Capital One – what’s in your wallet?  Well, I challenge each of us to take a look at what is in our wallets.  How do we use our resources?  Where does our time go?  Making a commitment, no matter how big or small, to St. Paul’s is yet another step in our faith journey and one that allows our church to be even more “FAITH Full” to its mission and outreach for our community, our nation and our world.  How do we want to serve God?  How can we extend our reach to those with less?  As God has taught us, there is always enough and by pooling our resources we can make a bigger impact, have greater reach and serve God in amazing ways.  Won’t you join me for our 2017 Stewardship campaign and be “All IN” for God and St. Paul’s?              Brenda Shaffer

 

When Brenda Shaffer asked if I would provide testimony for how St. Paul’s has been a part of my life, I said “I’m IN!”

I have been attending since 2007. Now, if you had said I would be standing in front of you, this congregation, 9 years ago, I would have said, “No way” but here I am.

When I reflected on the stewardship theme “I’m IN” I reflected on what that means. For me it means, INvited, INcluded and INvolved.  Pastor T and many of you invited me to participate in the many activities happening at St. Paul’s and I was included and became involved.

These activities included:

  • Chicken Dinner, when there were no other restaurants in town during Christmas in Odessa
  • Peach Festival and giving out peach tea for those who were thirsty
  • Youth Rally chaperone, a life changer
  • Nicaragua mission team, and place where this is poverty but not poverty of spirit
  • Adult studies where we learn together
  • February Fellowship women’s team
  • Finance committee
  • Endowment committee
  • Bell choir

Because of you my faith journey is so much richer. Stewardship is about providing resources of money and time. When you get your stewardship cards this year, sign up your resources and time, join me because I’m IN!           Susan Haberstroh

 

When our choir was asked for a volunteer to share what being in the choir has meant to us, I felt that as the “oldest” I was happy to raise my hand. I started out singing in a youth choir as a young teenager in the tiny country church, Fellowship UMC, northeast of Smyrna. I loved it so much and always looked forward to our practices. I sang in chorus in middle school and then in high school and thrilled to new kinds of music. I sang in the choir at Immanual UMC after we moved to Townsend, then continued at St. Paul’s after I married and moved to Odessa. I have always felt as if our Choir is part of my family.  We all surround each other with so much caring and support as well as the intense experience we have of worshiping through not only our practices, but especially when we sing during services.  Just seeing the response on people's faces intensifies my worship experience. –Jeanne Buckworth--

 

Leading up to the Youth Rally I was excited, but also a bit nervous and apprehensive. Having never been before I didn't know what to expect.  Add in the fact that for many of the youth attending, I knew very little about them other than their names. Then came the news that I would be the "adult in charge." That's when the nerves kicked into high gear. You see, I'm more of a follower than a leader, especially in that type of environment. "Why me?" I wondered. "What does that entail?" I asked. It wasn't until about 10 PM Saturday night that I received the answer to my questions. 

The guest speaker at the Youth Rally was Reggie Dabbs. He is one of the most dynamic speakers I have ever had the privilege of hearing! The theme throughout his tear-jerking sermons is that we all have a choice. The "choice" being to choose Jesus. 

Reggie closed out Saturday's evening session by asking the youth leader from each church to come forward. I hesitated for a moment and then realized, "Uh oh, that's me!" I nervously walked forward as directed. Reggie then explained that as in Romans 10, the youth would have the opportunity to openly declare that they choose Jesus. With our backs to the crowd, the youth were invited to come forward and stand behind their youth leader. Then the youth leaders were asked to turn and face their youth, where they would look us in the eye and declare, "I choose Jesus!" As I turned around and looked into the eyes of our amazing youth and heard them confidently declare, "I choose Jesus!" I realized THAT was the answer to my question. My perspective immediately changed and I realized what a gift I had been given. It was an honor and a privilege to stand there as a youth leader of St. Paul's United Methodist Church. So now instead of asking "Why me?" I graciously say, "Thank you for choosing me."
I come home changed for the better and am already counting down the days until Youth Rally 2017!!

Gratefully, Megan Reitzes

 
 
Serving in the church is an honor.  While not everything we do is fun or exciting, anything we can do to help spread the word and work of Jesus is not just an honor but a privilege.  Being the father of three small children, I believe the church is a launch pad for their Christian life and it is important for them to understand that being a part of St. Paul’s is serving the church.  Eric Gustafson
 
St. Paul’s is unconditional support.  After going through a relationship breakup, we are comforted and wrapped in the arms of the Holy Spirit and the members of the church. 
We can thrive through missions and Bible study.  We are blessed. Barbara Marsh
 
Like most 20 something’s I wandered away from the house of worship I attended all through my childhood. As a young adult I didn’t see a need to attend church, because I didn’t really see any benefit. I didn’t feel like I was getting anything out of going.  I was 25 and living on my own when my dad suddenly passed away. I was angry and resentful towards God as I thought I “knew” why he took my dad away. I remember the memorial service and I found myself getting angrier as I sat listening. Why would God take my father away from me now? What did he do wrong? What did I do wrong?
 
I came to St. Paul’s as a married Methodist, with one small child. I had an open mind and an open heart about finding meaning in becoming a Christian… again. I began giving of my time to Youth Group, Sunday School, VBS and other areas where my artistic talents could be used. Deep down inside I enjoyed every moment I have given to St. Paul’s for my sake and the sake of others. I assumed my creativity was my gift, in a literal sense. What I failed to see is that I was only looking at the surface of what I was contributing to the life of the church. What I failed to see is that the relationships I have made over the last 7 years and what I have witnessed in the life of this church is the true gift.
 
I have become attached to the story of Daniel. I have only just begun to find meaning in the suffering we as a family have endured this last year. There have been many times in the past few months where blind faith takes over my train wreck of thoughts, when my answers are clear and unquestionable. I have felt the Holy Spirit in the bottom of my stomach when I didn’t think there was anything left to feel. I know I have been guided in my decision making and in my planning and praying. I know that He has touched my life. It is not a “spotlights and choirs of angels” kind of awakening, but a night-light in a dark house kind of awakening. I know He is there.
 
I have not been able to give much this past year. In fact, I would consider myself a “taker”. But for once I don’t feel bad. I know that the strength of St. Paul’s is what keeps the life of Jesus in all of our hearts. I know this is my time for suffering and my time to need. But I also know that I will learn a lot about myself and will have a much deeper understanding of what it means to give.
Wendy Wallace      
 
When Linda and I moved to Delaware in late 2009, we were eager to find a church to call our own. We had attended a few United Methodist churches in our earlier travels in the Midwest, but none seemed just right for us. When we retired and moved back East to be near our family, we knew that we wanted a more significant church life, so we started looking. We contacted several churches in the MOT area (phone and/or email messages initially), but, surprisingly, no one got back to us - except for St. Paul's and Pastor Karin. She was genuinely interested in us and our quest to find a church home. We met with her and the decision to join the fellowship at St Paul's became a very easy one. We first joined in the worship services and then some of the church activities and enjoyed them all. Everyone made us feel very special and wanted as church members. Therefore, after about a year, we decided to join St Paul's as members. As mentioned, we do not take this lightly and had not joined another church for many years. However, St Paul's seemed to be just right for us and we wanted to participate with the other members and show our degree of commitment. We know we made the right choice and are very happy with it. We look forward to a long and very meaningful church life with all of you.
Don & Linda Mueller       
 
 
 
 
When I met Dave one of the questions I asked him was did he attend a church? He said “Yes” and he invited me to St. Paul’s. It took me a while before I got the courage to show up at a new church as it put me out of my “comfort zone.” But I visited one Sunday morning to Dave’s surprise. After the service he introduced me to many of his friends and I began to feel a bit more comfortable. It wasn’t long before choir members were asking me to join their ranks. After Dave & I married in August 2006, I joined St. Paul’s Church as a transfer from Asbury UMC in New Castle. The congregation at St. Paul’s was a HUGE support to me even though I was a newbie on the block…what a GREAT feeling to be welcomed with open arms. Because of the warmth I felt from Pastor Karin and the members at St. Paul’s I jumped right in and began serving: liturgist coordinator, choir, Worship Arts Team, M&M chairperson, hand bells and anywhere I feel my talents can be of use.
 
I especially felt the warmth and unconditional love of St. Paul’s when I had to have spine surgery in 2008…the cards, prayers, visits and well wishes were what kept me going when I couldn’t get out of the house.
 
Then in February 2010, we got the dreaded doctor’s report that I had cancer. That was the “C” word that I was scared to death of hearing. You think the worst will happen but hope and pray for the best. The folks at church rallied around me to let me know that they were thinking and praying for my health and recovery. Due to the work of the Lord, the great doctors, the support of my husband Dave and the prayers of everyone, I am now cancer free and have been since July 2010…that’s over 15 months if you are counting like me. What a wonderful feeling to be loved and know that there are people who have surrounded you with their love, thoughts and prayers to get you through the tough times. I am truly GREATFUL for the WORK OF THE LORD. Prayers are answered.
Jan Corby