Friends,

As I sit down to write this month, a couple of things come to mind. First, April brought us to the end of my fourth year here, and I am moved to reflect. It doesn’t seem like it has been some four years since I first arrived. A lot has happened! The first year you welcomed us grandly, and we had the Pastor’s Desserts! We had biker services, first responder services, many outreach projects, renovation of stained glass windows, painting projects throughout the church, tithed as a church family, traveled to Ireland, installed and started using multi-media, started Follow Me for worship, heard many Lenten speakers, and many special services including the Good Friday reenactment, Maundy Thursday play, Maundy Thursday Seder meal and so much more. Last summer we did Pastor’s Desserts Two and gleaned much information. We formed a Growth Plan for moving forward! You have supported missions extravagantly. It has been a good four years at St. John’s. I feel blessed for each day I could serve with you. Thanks church for saying yes to God’s call! Church, many of you have let God use you! I have been able to witness your growth these last four years. When we let God use us, God works miracles among us. God is good all the time!

Secondly, what happens next? There are a lot of people in Dover/ New Philadelphia we could reach! There is still the plan of adding a new service: a youth/family service. There is still the plan for refurbishing our organ. There is still the plan of more community events and more youth staffing. Good plans have been laid out and we need to be prayerful, remain kind to one another through the process, and first and always remain faithful. As we continue to let God use us and continue to invite our friends to be a part of what God is doing here, we will continue to see the miracles of God unfold before us in the years ahead! Just keep letting God use us to share God’s love in our community and world!

Many of us will be travelling or have friends and family travel to see us this summer, (including myself at the middle of July) and so I leave you all with a travelling prayer from www.prayergoddess.com:

I am grateful, Dear Lord, for the opportunity to travel. You have provided us with a lush and lavish world, full of wonder, and delightful in its diversity. Bless me as I embark on this journey.

As my travels unfold, I ask your blessing God, upon all those that I may encounter. Bless the people I am traveling with, the service workers along the way, the strangers, the new friends, and those that make my travel possible. Bless every vehicle that I am carried in; may it be safe and in good repair. May it be protected and enveloped in your secure light as I go on my way. Bless my baggage and my things; may they arrive safely with me everywhere I go. Bless every driver, pilot, maintenance worker, cook, server, and hospitality worker – they serve me well. I am grateful for their attention and expertise.

Bless all my actions, keep me safe and alert. May I be fully aware and present everywhere I go. May I go in peace and walk in your heavenly Light, dear God. And may I return home happy, well, and with many memories of my journey. I rejoice in this opportunity and I go with the confidence of your loved and precious child. Amen.

-Pastor Tom

Alone With Eternity

As many of you know, I took a vacation the first two weeks of June. I go to the same place every year, Topsail Island, North Carolina. To me it is the most peaceful place on earth – maybe because there is absolutely nothing to do – and no pressure to do it.

When I was growing up, there was no money to go on family trips. A couple of years we went to Michigan or Canada so my dad could go fishing. But usually the most summer excitement we had was going to Myers Lake Park in Canton for the afternoon. While my children were growing up, my week vacation was spent at the Tuscarawas County Fair with the 4-H horses.

Then about 20 years ago a good friend invited me to the beach. THE BEACH! I’d never been to the beach before and had no idea what to expect. There was a group of ladies going and I only knew one person and, yes, I was a little intimidated. But my friend assured me that there was no time table – just do what you want, when you want to do it.

So, I learned to do just that! Mostly I walk in the sand with my toes in the water and try to avoid the sand crabs. I look for sea shells, especially sand dollars. I sit in my beach chair and read a book, have a glass of wine, or just stare into the beauty of the ocean. Sometimes I close my eyes and listen to the waves continually rolling in.

I am telling you this because I want you to know that the beach is my time of renewal. It is a time to reflect on how small I am and how big God is; a time to marvel at the glory of God’s world; a time to thank God for all the many blessings I have; a time to ponder all the many questions I have for God. It is a time for me to be alone with eternity.

Unfortunately, not all of us can take a yearly two-week vacation at the beach. And even those of us who are able to, know that those moments of renewal are needed much more often than once a year. When the hectic moments come, that’s the time when we need to close our eyes and take a deep breath. Picture your own peaceful place whether it be the beach, the woods, or your own back yard. Relax in God’s love. Be restored in God’s presence. Know that you too, if even for a few moments, can be alone with eternity.

Pastor Dotty