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What I dont understand about myself is that I decided one way, but

then I act another, doing things I absolutely despise. So if I cant be

trusted to figure out what is best for myself and then do it, it becomes
obvious that Gods command is necessary. Romans 7:15, The Message

Friends: When she was a young teen, I recall introducing my daughter to an actress that has
become one of her favorites. The artist was Audrey Hepburn, and the movie was Roman Holiday. In
the movie Ms. Hepburn plays a crown princess who becomes frustrated with her tightly scheduled life. I
think that maybe this characters response to the high degree of control her position in life demanded
inspired my daughters resistance to such controlling powers in her own life.

In this passage from the Apostle Pauls letter to the church in Rome it is helpful to understand that there
is a controlling energy not entirely his own in the decision making process Paul describes. The following
chapter defines it for us:

With the arrival of Jesus, the Messiah, that fateful dilemma is resolved. Those who en-
ter into Christs being-here-for-us no longer have to live under a continuous, low-lying
black cloud. A new power is in operation. The Spirit of life in Christ, like a strong wind,
has magnificently cleared the air, freeing you from a fated lifetime of brutal tyranny at
the hands of sin and death. (Romans 8:1-2)

The language Paul uses in this segment of his letter sounds personal; I believe there is a personal
nature to the message he wants to communicate and that we should give it careful, personal considera-
tion. But let us remember that like most of his writings, this one is identified as a letter to the church. To
me, this means that we must also consider how the decisions we have made together and agreed to are
keptor not. We must take into consideration our personal weaknesses and how these impact our
corporate (read church) commitments and public statements. A little further on in this letter Paul

Those who think they can do it on their own end up obsessed with measuring their own
moral muscle but never get around to exercising it in real life. Those who trust Gods
action in them find that Gods Spirit is in themliving and breathing God! (vs 5-6)

As a people of faith we are called to acknowledge that Gods
command, that life on Gods terms, is what is required of us. Not
much of a Roman holiday for us, eh? But wait! The teacher who
inspired the apostle made a simple statement about how to live life
on Gods terms. Jesus said,

I give you a new commandment, that you love one
another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love
one another. By this everyone will know that you are my
disciples, if you have love for one another. (John 13:34-35)

I hope that this appeals to you as the way to resist the powers that
control and to live life on Gods terms. It does me. It feels liberat-
ing to me! But I know that, like Paul, what I have decided about
how I ought to live and how I actually behave is not always
consistent. It is obvious to me that Gods command is necessary
for my life. I need God in my life. I need to pay attention to Jesus. And I need the love of the church. This is my confession and my
testimony. My friends, can we say that this is a shared understanding and a shared value? Can we tell this to one another?
St. Johns church, the Jesus in me loves the Jesus in you!
Tom G
July 2014
Volume 28.7
St. Johns
United Church of Christ
St. Johns is a community of faith
centered in Jesus Christ, seeking
guidance and direction through the
Holy Spirit, and demonstrating
Gods love to all people in words
and deeds.

An Open and Affirming
503 Stuart Circle
Richmond, Virginia 23220
Telephone: 804.358.9291
Web Site:
Published monthly
2014 St Johns UCC
On Gods terms
...from the Council President

Happy summer to every one!

The month of June brought our St Johns Youth Players
production of Alice in Wonderland to the stage. Also
during June, Rev. Tom attended the Central Atlantic
Conference. Our thanks to Rev. Alexis Slonin who
preached on Fathers Day in Rev. Tom s absence. Our
monthly church breakfast was well attended on that day,

The 2014-2015 Church council had its first meeting on
June 9
. The following are the officers for this council.
President- Betsy Bighinatti
Vice President- Desiree McNiece
Secretary- Marjorie Barbour
Treasurer - Fritz Will IV
Launch Sunday, September 7

Put it on your Calendar!

let your light shine before others, so that they may see your
good works and give glory to God in heaven.
Matthew 5:16
We will be sharing Gods light with others building furniture
that will be donated to CARITAS helping people move off
the streets and into homes with furniture and assembling
baby care and hygiene kits for Church World Service to send
overseas to people in need. During July and August we are
asking you to purchase the following items and bring them to
the church by the end of August, or donate funds that will
help us purchase the needed items. (Make checks payable
to St. Johns with Launch Sunday Missions on the memo
line.) On September 7
, we will gather together to build the
furniture and assemble the kits. All as a part of our let your
light shine kick off to the program year.

Here are the items we need:
For the Baby Kits
(must be just what is described below).
Items must be new.
Infants are 12 months and under in size.
Infant T-shirts (no onesies)
Infant gowns or sleepers
Diaper pins
Infant sweater or sweatshirt
Receiving blankets
Cloth diapers
The Messenger | JULY 2014
Members of Church Council
Betsy Bighinatti, President
Desiree McNeice, Vice President
Marjorie Barbour, Secretary
Fritz Will, Treasurer
Bryan Anderegg Laura Totty
Jeff Hetzer Ginna Minasian Dalton
Vivian White Helena DeLigt
Bill Watson Karen-Marie Yust

Hygiene Kits
Hand towels (16 inches by 28 inches)
Wide tooth combs
Nail clippers
Bars of Soap (bath size - individually wrapped)
Tooth brushes in original packaging
Standard size Band-Aids
One Gallon plastic bags with zipper closure
The Messenger | JULY 2014

...To Receive a Gift...
And To Give a Gift

What did you receive when you GAVE a gift?
How do you feel when you RECEIVE a gift?
Have you ever thought of being involved with the work of St. Johns in that same way?
Often when people decide to covenant with others they are encouraged to seek out a situation within the
life of the community or congregation that BRINGS THEM LIFE and
then seek one out where they can be the LIFE-GIVER.

Church Council is trying on a new way of thinking regarding the fulfillment of our minis-
tries. We are inviting you to discern your own ministry based on where you can give and
where you can receive. Below is a list of our ministry offerings. During July we ask you to
prayerfully consider one of these ministries listed below to strengthen your life.


Speak with Rev. Tom, Julia or any member of the Church Council to learn more.

William Byrd House
Circle Center
Pride Fest
Sunday Morning children/youth programing
9:45 am and 11:15 am
Sunday Morning Adult Programing 9:45 am
and Adult Forums (third Sunday)
Small Group Bible Study (Faith Conversations)
Centering Prayer
Seasonal Programing (Launch Sunday, Ad-
vent, Lent)
Being a Teacher
Covenant Care Groups
After Worship Fellowship
Monthly Breakfast
Special Fellowship Opportunities (Easter,
Thanksgiving, Summer events, etc.)
German Fest
The Fellowship
St. Johns Players
Welcome Team
Sound System
Altar Preparations
Communion Service
Sunday morning Flower Dedications
Special Services
The Messenger | JULY 2014
St. Johns Financial Picture YTD as of May 31, 2014
July 6
Fourth Sunday after Pentecost

Zechariah 9:9-12
Psalm 145:8-14
Romans 7:15-25a Matthew 11:16-19, 25-30
July 13
Fifth Sunday after Pentecost

Isaiah 55:10-13
Psalm 65:(1-8), 9-13
Romans 8:1-11 Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23
July 20
Sixth Sunday after Pentecost

Isaiah 44:6-8
Psalm 86:11-17
Romans 8:12-25 Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43
June 27
Seventh Sunday after Pentecost

1 Kings 3:5-12
Psalm 119:129-136
Romans 8:26-39 Matthew 13:31-33, 44-52
2014 Budget Budget YTD Actual YTD


Pledge Payments* $127,000 $52,917 $53,140
Cash Offerings $22,000 $9,167 $4,156
Other Income (Endowment Contributions $122,850 $61,129 $64,429
Parking Lot Rental, Wedding Income, etc.)

Total Income $271,850 $123,213 $121,725

Personnel 166,549 71,551 70,571
Committees 22,191 9,246 8,031
Operations/Maintenance 122,390 53,326 54,330
Local Benevolences 7,300 5,858 5,572
Other 9,600 2,625 2,625

Total Expenses 328,030 142,606 141,129

Income/Expenses Total (56,180) (19,393)
surplus (deficit)

1. Income includes a total of $85,000 annual contribution from Endowment Fund ($7083 monthly)
2. Annual Deficit to be covered by Endowment Fund and General Reserve Fund
3. 2014 Pledge Budget is $126,000. To date, 56 pledges for $118,000 have been received.

The Messenger | JULY 2014 5
Eagle Scout Project At St. Johns
Hi! My name is James Cook and I am a member of troop
700 in Ashland, Virginia. I have been a member of scouts
for approximately 10 years and I am now trying to obtain the
rank of an Eagle Scout. As a member of the church
(becoming a member with the last confirmation class),
upon choosing an eagle project, I could think of no better
institution to help than our church. The project I will be
doing is to build a new sound table for the sound equipment
being used during worship which is located on the balcony
in order to improve the quality of worship. I am asking for
monetary donations from the congregation for this use on
this project and would be extremely appreciative of any
received to help me obtain the goal of completion of my
eagle scout project. Please contact me at 227 3466 or
email me at
Sincerely, James Cook

Summer in Faith Place Childrens Programming

We will offer programming during the 10 am worship service for
children 8 and under in Faith Place during the summer months.
Following the lectionary, we will be telling and retelling stories
found in the Hebrew Scriptures (or Old Testament). We will
explore each story further through art, drama, activities, and more!
See you in Faith Place on Sunday!

Faith Conversations Small Group for Adults

Come, join our small group conversation as we feed on Gods
Word. In July, we will explore different ways to study and meditate
on scripture. We will gather at 7 pm on July 21
at the home of
June Smyth. If you are interested in attending, please contact Julia
(, 804-358-9291) and she will send you
materials to read and reflect on before the gathering. All are
welcome and encouraged to participate!


Our four confirmands Ashley, Cammie, Bryan, and Josh
enjoyed an overnight retreat at the church on June 28
The evening began at Jumpology where jumping is
encouraged. Back at the church, they made plans for a
summer mission project and shared stories of their
experience of church. Please pray for our confirmation
class as they move towards affirming their faith in God.

Centering Prayer

Tom will be offering a time for centering prayer on
Wednesday evenings starting at 6 pm. Everyone is
welcome to come for quiet time to center your thoughts
and spend time in prayer with God.
William Byrd
Community House
Donations (WBCH)
Dont forget that on the third Sunday of
each month, we receive contributions of
non-perishable food items for the William
Byrd Food Bank. Ask for a shopping bag
with a shop-
ping list at-
tached from a
member of the
Team when
you come to
worship, and
6 The Messenger | JULY 2014
Members of The
New Pastor Search Team

Elisabeth Burnette (Co-chair)
Don Stiegler (Co-chair)
Sam Dalton
Lynn Snyder
Kristina Gilbert
Jeff Jacobs
Justin Barbour
Desiree McNeice
Rob Osborn
2101 Lydell Drive
Henrico, VA 23228
Congratulations St. Johns Summer Chil-
drens Theatre Participants!

Alice In Wonderland was GREAT! We thank all those members who at-
tended, and everyone who invited family and friends along to our Sum-
mer Childrens Theatre production of Alice In Wonderland. What a de-
lightful performance! Our thanks to Anita Sharpenstein, the director, Tony
Sharpenstein, the choreographer and Amber dePass the musical director
for their dedication and love for the children and the theatre! We had over
500 children and adults in attendance over the 8 performances!

Rev. Tom Gerstenlauer - 358-9291
Julia Eliades - 358-9291
Church Council Chair:
Betsy Bighinatti - 379-3572
Facilities Chair:
Richard Bighinatti - 379-3572
Finance Chair:
Jeff Hetzer - 550-3928
Mission and Outreach Chair:
Bill Watson - 873-2837
Christian Formation Chair:
Bryan Anderegg - 317-1941
Worship and Music Chair:
Ginna Dalton - 378-3386
Congregational Life and Care Co-Chairs:
Helena DeLigt - 795-2058
Kim Vann - 323-9086

Congregational Breakfast
July 20
Mark your calendar now and plan on attend-
ing our monthly congregational breakfast on
Sunday, July 20 at 9:00 am in the Fellowship
Hall. We will enjoy the food and fellowship
and update you on all the happenings at St.
Johns. Hope to see you there!

Please find a substitute if you are unable to perform your ministry and
contact your team coordinator AND the office to let them know who will be
filling in for you. Thank you for making our church ministries run smoothly!
Acolytes Lay

July 6

Justin Barbour

David Pittman

Josh Lyle

Sal Anselmo
Cheryl Goode


Rob Osborn
Tony Sharpenstein

Justin Barbour

July 13

Lynn Snyder

Dreama Terrill
Hank Allen
Cammie Allen
Eddie Allen

Bryan Etter
Chris Etter


Abby Ward
Chris Ward

Denise Martin
Adrianne Dery

Joe McGregor

July 20

Lynn Snyder

Dreama Terrill
Hank Allen
Cammie Allen
Eddie Allen

Chris Burnette

Richard and

Laura Totty

Denise Martin
Adrianne Dery

Joe McGregor

July 27

Bill Watson

Mark Atkinson

and Ashley

Bud Higgins

Cheryl Goode

and Justin

Bud Higgins
Jeff Michel

Bill Watson
July 6 July 13 July 20 July 27

Mark Souza


To order fresh flowers to be placed on the altar in honor of a special occasion or person or
in remembrance of someone, please sign-up on the flower chart on the bulletin board in
the hallway near the nursery or contact Sonny Darnell at 743-7528 or
$45.00 for two beautiful bouquets.
Fellowship Coordinator: Sal Anselmo 358-1696
Tellers Coordinator: Bud Higgins 301-5059
Lay Readers Coordinator: Sal Anselmo 358-1696



10 am Staff Mtg.
11:30 am NA Meeting
5:30 Search Com

5 pm Card Ministry

6:00 Centering Prayer

11:30 am NA Meeting




10 am Worship


10 am Staff Mtg.

11:30 am NA Meeting


5 pm Card Ministry

6:00 Centering Prayer


11:30 am NA Meeting

5:30 Worship & Music



8:30 am India Orthodox

10 am Worship


7pm Church Council

10 am Staff Mtg.

11:30 am NA Meeting

5:30 Search Com


5 pm Card Ministry

6:00 Centering Prayer


11:30 am NA Meeting

NOON People of Faith
For Equality Lunch



9 am Congregational

10 am Worship


7 pm Faith
(at June Smyths

10 am Staff Mtg.

11:30 am NA Meeting


5 pm Card Ministry

6:00 Centering Prayer


11:30 am NA Meeting




10 am Worship


29 30

5 pm Card Ministry

6:00 Centering Prayer

Birthdays This Month

2 Richard Bighinati
2 Bill Watson
4 Tom Gerstenlauer
5 Ashur Caraher
6 Camie Allen
10 Sal Anselmo
10 Allen Caraher
10 Michael Yust

10 Laura Siff
20 Will Atkinson
21 Lynn Snyder
22 Hank Harman
22 Diane Semach
28 Jeanne Wigand
29 Kim Vann
30 Paul Jolles
Sumer worship time begins June 1
Office closed