Monday, February 29, 2016

Minute for Mission - Faithful Presence

West Africa Initiative

One local villager said, “The most significant thing is...the value and importance of working together. We have learned and benefited so much from each other.”
 For nearly 18 months, life ground to a halt in Liberia. The Ebola virus not only ravaged the people, it robbed them of their ability to provide for their families. The deadly disease took away more than people’s health: businesses and schools closed, flights in and out of the country were suspended, and for those inside the country, there was a sense of abandonment from the international community.
As the economy deteriorated and people fled the region, the Liberian Council of Churches, a partner of the ministries supported by One Great Hour of Sharing, stayed to pray with families and seek help for those in need, especially the thousands of children left orphaned by the virus and further abandoned by their communities. “People are afraid of the children and don’t want to be near them, even though the disease is now gone,” says Rev. Kortu Brown. “This will be a long road to recovery for the children.” Helping these children has been especially important, as their abandonment mirrors the experience of the Liberian Council of Churches as a whole. Brown says, “During the Ebola crisis, we felt the ecumenical community abandoned us, especially in North America. But the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) stood by us and kept the line of communication open.”
West Africa Initiative
The three programs supported by One Great Hour of Sharing, (Presbyterian Disaster Assistance, the Presbyterian Hunger Program, and Self-Development of People) have been working together to help both Liberia and Sierra Leone rebuild and rehabilitate. The partnership though, began much earlier when the West Africa Initiative was started in 2007,  following years of civil wars, with the goal to improve food security and the economic status of individuals, families, and communities.
The communities involved in the West Africa Initiative have experienced the same crisis as their neighbors, but the work supported through One Great Hour of Sharing has supported their resiliency. Thanks to your continued support and the efforts of the OGHS programs to remain connected to their partners in the region, these communities are now on the road to economic recovery and able to support the orphaned children abandoned in their midst with access to education.
Your gifts to One Great Hour of Sharing support strong, compassionate, and resilient partners in West Africa on their long journey of recovery. Your generous and consistent support has brought gifts of sustainable development and food security and joined them with the gifts of creativity, expertise, and commitment of our church partner there. The impact has been communities that remain resilient in the face of the most difficult circumstances, and the knowledge that, in their time of great crisis and abandonment, the most important gift
of your presence and commitment does not disappear. 
Please, give generously to One Great Hour of Sharing to help support the progress in West Africa.
Learn more about the work carried out by One Great Hour of Sharing partners with this interactive map.
Tricia Wainscott

Sunday's Sermon – God Isn’t Fair

Below is a copy of the sermon I preached on Sunday, February 28, in Cove Presbyterian Church, Weirton, West Virginia and Two Ridges Presbyterian Church, Wintersville, Ohio. You can also find a podcast of this sermon on The Cove Podbean page. You can also find a podcast of this sermon on The Cove Podbean page. 

If you find this sermon meaningful, please consider supporting this ministry by sending an offering to Cove Presbyterian Church, 3404 Main Street, Weirton, West Virginia or through PayPal.

Isaiah 55:1-9

Ho, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and you that have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy? Listen carefully to me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in rich food. Incline your ear, and come to me; listen, so that you may live. I will make with you an everlasting covenant, my steadfast, sure love for David. See, I made him a witness to the peoples, a leader and commander for the peoples. See, you shall call nations that you do not know, and nations that do not know you shall run to you, because of the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, for he has glorified you.

Seek the Lord while he may be found, call upon him while he is near; let the wicked forsake their way, and the unrighteous their thoughts; let them return to the Lord, that he may have mercy on them, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways, says the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.

God Isn’t Fair 

“That isn’t fair.” Now, let me ask you, how many of y’all have heard those or similar words in the last forty-eight hours? Now the reason I ask is that I think you can call this a genuine parenthood question, something that separates those who have children, I’d say, between the ages of four and eighteen, a little younger if they’re gifted and a little older if they’re still living at home, from those who don’t.

And like I said, I think it can be used to determine active parenthood, because aunts and uncles, and certainly grandmothers and grandfathers are amazingly fair, at least in the eyes of the kids, mainly because either they’ve decided not to engage in the fairness fight or, as a passive-aggressive attempt at revenge, they figure the best way to get back at brother or sister, son or daughter is to indulge nieces and nephews, grandsons and granddaughters. But for moms and dads, “that’s not fair,” is just one of those delightful phrases that seem to run on some kind of never-ending loop.

Of course, the exact words may be slightly different, you know, like using the second person, singular or plural, “You aren’t fair,” identifying a quality within the antagonist. Or they may be employing the verb in either it’s present or past continuous form: “You weren’t being fair” or “You aren’t being fair,” inferring a pattern of behavior rather than an isolated incident. But regardless of the grammatical form the sentence takes, the meaning is the same, the parent has violated that standard of fairness that provides a basis for our society. And if that’s not clear by the words themselves, the stomping and the pouting and sometimes the crying makes the message crystal clear.

But you know, it shouldn’t surprise us that this whole business of fairness is such a big deal for our kids, because let’s face it, it’s a pretty big deal for us too. I mean, don’t most of us want things to be fair? Sure we do. And personally, I think the reason is pretty obvious. My goodness, if things are fair, if the playing field is level, if the game hasn’t been rigged and the cards haven’t been marked and the dice haven’t been loaded and if someone other than your brother is the banker the next time you play Monopoly, well, then things will go well, and we’ll stand a fighting chance. But when your parent takes away your cell phone just because you didn’t practice piano, something I see happen on a weekly basis, or if your boss gives you the project or the job that nobody else wants or if your husband is hounding you about spending too much money and then he goes out and buys a convertible, well, life has suddenly become more difficult than it should be and suddenly you’re facing some additional obstacles that you didn’t choose and certainly don’t deserve and suddenly you’re in a situation when the only thing you can possibly say that makes sense is “that isn’t fair.” And that’s often what we end up doing, saying that kind of thing either to ourselves or sharing it with someone we love.

And why shouldn’t we? I mean, give me a break, like I said before, I think people want the world to be fair,  and for most of us, there are two things about fairness that can’t be monkeyed with, because if you do, it’s just not fair anymore. You see, first, for something to be truly fair, it should be given without any partiality, without any favoritism, without any partisanship. Good night nurse, isn’t that why they say that justice is blind and all those statutes of that woman holding the scales, she’s always blindfolded, even on Judge Judy, until she lifts one side and winks. And isn’t justice sort of like fairness? Sure it is. I’ll tell you, for something to be fair, everybody needs to have the same chance, just like it is in America where everybody, no matter where they were born or how they were raised and educated, everybody is equal; money never matters. If it did, that wouldn’t be fair, right? You see, for it to be fair, it has to be impartial. That’s one.

And second, it needs to be deserved. In other words, the results must be based on what you do. For example, your grade on the science project should be based on your work and not because your dad is an artist or your mom is really good with computers. And you getting the job should be based on your expertise and your experience and your interview and not on who you know, or is that whom you know. No, that would be unfair. We should get what we pay for. We should enjoy the fruits of our labor. We should recognize that there’s no such thing as a free lunch; that would be unfair. And that’s certainly not the way we want to see the world around us. But of course, I think we all know that wanting something doesn’t make it so.

As a matter of fact, I think that there’s one source of, well, frankly unfairness over which we have absolutely no control at all. Therefore, we really don’t have any choice but to accept one plain and simple truth. You see, we may need to live with the fact that God isn’t fair. Let me say it again; God isn’t fair. Now I know that might make you feel a little bit uncomfortable, but I’m telling he just plain isn’t; and I say that for two reasons we’ve already talked about.

I mean, think about, first, what we receive from him is definitely not what we deserve, and that certainly violates our standard of fairness. And I’ll tell you, I really think we see that going on in the prophecy we read from Isaiah. Remember, Isaiah said, “...everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and you that have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.” I’ll tell you, that’s not fair, to buy wine without money. Sounds like what’s wrong with our welfare system, right? And remember Isaiah said, “Listen carefully to me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in rich food.” My gosh, that’s not fair either. Why should they have rich food while I’m eating spam? And remember, he also said, “Incline your ear, and come to me; listen, so that you may live. I will make with you an everlasting covenant, my steadfast, sure love for David. ...See, you shall call nations that you do not know, and nations that do not know you shall run to you, because of the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, for he has glorified you.” Now, that’s certainly not fair, not when you consider that the prophet has already said this about God’s people: “The Lord rises to argue his case; he stands to judge the peoples. The Lord enters into judgement with the elders and princes of his people: It is you who have devoured the vineyard; the spoil of the poor is in your houses.What do you mean by crushing my people, by grinding the face of the poor? says the Lord God of hosts.” And yet, now they will stand at the center of the world, something they didn’t earn and don’t deserve, and that’s not fair.

In fact, it’s no more fair than what God has given us. I mean, just look at the world that the Father created for us, with everything we need to survive and even flourish, if, that is, we use it wisely and share it with compassion. And just consider the work of the Son. My gosh, almost two thousand years before we were born, God himself entered our time and space so that we could understand the nature of God. And when he died on the cross, so did we and by that death we were freed from the power of sin. And then when he was raised, he showed us that a new day had begun, the day of resurrection, and the time was coming when our graves will be as empty as his tomb. And finally, when we ascended, he brought our humanity into the being of God himself; therefore, when we suffer, he not only knows it, he feels it. And that’s just the Son. And through the Holy Spirit, all this is brought into our lives right this minute. Now, did we do anything to earn it? Did we do anything to deserve it? Absolutely nothing. And yet, this is what God has already done for us, and that’s one thing that isn’t fair.

And second, the reason he did it isn’t fair either. I mean, remember how we said that to be truly fair, you have to be impartial. Well, I’m telling you, God regards us as his children. Man, he loves us. And with love, there’s partiality, isn’t there? And again, we see that reflected in this passage. You see, God wants to show mercy, and that’s why Isaiah wrote, “...let the wicked forsake their way, and the unrighteous their thoughts; let them return to the Lord, that he may have mercy on them, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.” And it’s as thought he knew that this kind of compassion and mercy and grace would be confusing to his people, and that’s why, speaking for God, Isaiah wrote, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways, says the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”You see, although they continued to get themselves into trouble and paid the consequences for their stumbles, God loved his people. He always did and always would.

And you know, I believe that’s exactly how he sees us. You see, in spite of what we do, in spite of where we go, in spite of how we act and who we become, God loves us. Do you believe that? God loves us. And his love is unconditional, because it’s grounded in who he is and not what we do. And his love is unchanging, which means it’s there even on those days when we are anything but lovable. And his love is eternal, you see, it’s not bound by time; therefore, it’s present today and will be tomorrow and a million years from tomorrow. I guess we need to accept the fact that we’re God’s children and that he loves us and for those reasons God is indeed on our side. He’s partial, and that isn’t fair either.

Now, I think I can understand why kids throw fairness up at us all the time. You see, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, and since fairness is so important to us, why should it not be important to them? No, I think we all would love to live in a fair world, one where everyone makes decisions impartially and in which everyone gets exactly what they deserve. Of course, if we could create this kind of world, I’m sure we’d still have plenty of stuff about which to complain. But I’ll tell you, there’s one little bit of unfairness that we probably shouldn’t complain about at all. You see, when you think about it, God doesn’t give us what we deserve; instead he gives us something a whole lot better. And since we’re his children and he loves us, he’s as partial to us as loving parents would be to their sons and daughters. I’m telling you right here and now, God isn’t fair at all. Instead, he’s compassionate and merciful and gracious.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

The Bible in a Year: Bible Readings for February 28, 2016

The Bible in a Year: Bible Readings for February 28, 2016: Today our passages are Leviticus 22:17–23:44; Mark 9:30–10:12; Psalm 44:1-8; and Proverbs 10:19 . The readings are from  The Message  ...

Saturday, February 27, 2016

A New Devotion on Cove’s Prayer Line – Not Surprised

Below is a new devotion I just left on the Cove Presbyterian Church prayer line. You can find a recording of this devotion on the prayer line (1-304-748-7900) or on the Cove Presbyterian Church Podbean page. 

If you find this devotion meaningful, please consider supporting this ministry by sending an offering to Cove Presbyterian Church, 3404 Main Street, Weirton, West Virginia or through PayPal. And no contribution is too small.

Mark 5:1-20

They came to the other side of the sea, to the country of the Gerasenes. And when he had stepped out of the boat, immediately a man out of the tombs with an unclean spirit met him. He lived among the tombs; and no one could restrain him any more, even with a chain; for he had often been restrained with shackles and chains, but the chains he wrenched apart, and the shackles he broke in pieces; and no one had the strength to subdue him. Night and day among the tombs and on the mountains he was always howling and bruising himself with stones. When he saw Jesus from a distance, he ran and bowed down before him; and he shouted at the top of his voice, "What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I adjure you by God, do not torment me." For he had said to him, "Come out of the man, you unclean spirit!" Then Jesus asked him, "What is your name?" He replied, "My name is Legion; for we are many." He begged him earnestly not to send them out of the country. Now there on the hillside a great herd of swine was feeding; and the unclean spirits begged him, "Send us into the swine; let us enter them." So he gave them permission. And the unclean spirits came out and entered the swine; and the herd, numbering about two thousand, rushed down the steep bank into the sea, and were drowned in the sea.

The swineherds ran off and told it in the city and in the country. Then people came to see what it was that had happened. They came to Jesus and saw the demoniac sitting there, clothed and in his right mind, the very man who had had the legion; and they were afraid. Those who had seen what had happened to the demoniac and to the swine reported it. Then they began to beg Jesus to leave their neighborhood. As he was getting into the boat, the man who had been possessed by demons begged him that he might be with him. But Jesus refused, and said to him, "Go home to your friends, and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and what mercy he has shown you." And he went away and began to proclaim in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him; and everyone was amazed.

Not Surprised

I’ve got to admit, I’m really not surprised that, after the demons had be cast out of the man, the people in the area wanted Jesus to leave. In fact, I think we might have done the same thing. You see, when we encounter the power and love of God, we’re changed forever. The world will never be the same, and we’re no longer able to assume that we have ultimate control over ourselves, much less the universe. And although this sounds wonderful, change also means moving away from things that are comfortable, and I’m talking about values that enable us to do what we want and condemn those who don’t. And change forces us to question the false gods that we’ve created and that we worship, gods that are just reflections of ourselves. No, change is uncomfortable; therefore, it’s difficult. And so it really shouldn’t come as any great surprise that they, like us, would prefer the truth of God to move on than to stay.

The Bible in a Year: Bible Readings for February 27, 2016

The Bible in a Year: Bible Readings for February 27, 2016: Today our passages are Leviticus 20:22–22:16; Mark 9:1-29; Psalm 43:1-5; and Proverbs 10:18. The readings are from  The Message  by ...

Friday, February 26, 2016

Cove Kids: Children's Bulletins for Sunday, February 28, 2016...

Cove Kids: Children's Bulletins for Sunday, February 28, 2016...: Below are puzzles for children focused on the  Isaiah 55:1-9 . There are two “bulletins,” one for ages 3-6 and the other for ages 7-12. Feel...

A weekly digest of stories for February 17–23, 2016

NEXT Church gathering welcomes speakers and challenges 
Urban ministry, New Sanctuary and Belhar Confession are key topics
‘A beautiful thing’
Pentecost-like experience reflects ‘a sense of grace’ for participants, L.A. neighborhood at Discerning Missional Leadership Assessment
New Book Finds Grace in the Stuff of Everyday 
A new book from beloved author J. Ellsworth Kalas shows readers how to connect with God in everyday acts.
NEXT Church National Gathering explores ‘Faith at the Crossroads’ 
2016 edition of Presbyterian conference meets in Atlanta
The church in Cuba and new relations with the US
Ham-Stanard says ‘With God, all things are possible’
Tacoma church finds success in learning center for children 
Science, technology and common core standards are foundation of program
Workshops announced for 2016 Compassion, Peace and Justice Training Day
Social justice-themed workshops kick off advocacy training weekend for ecumenical community
‘Polity Matters’ explores Presbyterian call to faithfulness in the church 
Paper by Charles Wiley is latest in Theological Conversation series
Old Bergen Church making the most of New Beginnings – after 350 years
Neighborhood prayer walks help historic congregation experience new life
How Presbyterians interpret the Bible
Disagreements about Scripture’s meaning abound, but some general guidelines can help.
Committee leadership selected for the 222nd General Assembly
Committee leadership for the 222nd General Assembly (2016) of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) has been selected, taking the denomination one step closer to the biennial gathering that sets priorities for the church.
Presbyterian’s new mobile gaming app combats human trafficking 
Helps students identify red flags and false leads of traffickers
Two long-time Synod of the Lakes and Prairies leaders retire
Barber and Wilkinson complete a combined 53 years of service
Two PC(USA) agencies receive $1 million Lilly Endowment grants 
Funds will address financial challenges faced by pastoral leaders

Prayer Requests, to be shared during Sunday’s worship service

On Sunday, February 28, Cove Presbyterian Church will lift to God the following needs.

Amy Slisik
Audrey Vincent
Beth Fracasso
Betty Michael
Bill Manley
Bonnie Nichols
Carol Baker
Chad Wilson
Christine Lee Trushel
Cindi Livingston
Darcy Keffer
David Craig
David Johns
Deloris Chesebro
Diane Roney
Edward Morgan III
Emery Edwards
Evan Pulice
Faith Bonyak
Gen Meyer
Georgette Gordon
Goldie Baly
Grace Michell
Greta Billham
Harry Hutch
Jake Schwertfeger
Jeff Grant
Jim & Shelley Pearson
Joanie Lawrence
Jody Johnson
John Guglielmo
John Schlotter
Karen Edwards
Karen Lombardi
Kathryn Heilman
Kelly Stephens
Lou Ann Seevers
Marcia Cooper
Marge Oslett
Mary Kay McSwords
Matthew Kirtley
Michael Shade
Mike Churchman
M'Liz Held
Nick Mourat
Patricia Cox
Peggy Stewart
Penny Mourat
Rob Pepper
Rob Roy Jones
Ronnie Buffington
Sam Fortunato
Sharon Wheeler
Shirley Everhart Kirtley
Stacy Jo Vogel
The People of Dancan's Village
Vicki Williams
Wink Harner

Aksel Ace
Audri King
Devon Bragg
Elijah Parker
Jeffrey Konovich
Jonathan Marte
Lily Ghrist
Mitch Almason

Cory Shumard
Isaac Stephens
Jason Kerr
Jonathan Criss
Lisa Burk
Michael Criss

Bereaved Family
The Family of Rosie Dulaney, Genny VanGilder's Sister

Church Families
Susan O'Neill
Kristin, Anthony, Kiara, Melia & Nikos Palavis
Patty & Beth Patsch

Local Church
All Saints Greek Orthodox Church

Special Friend
Ila Mauk – 1234 Swearingen Rd., Weirton, WV  26062-4331

Upper Ohio Valley Presbytery Congregations 
Federated Presbyterian Church, West Liberty, WV – John Lepp & Jim Rahr, co-pastors
First Presbyterian Church, Wheeling, WV – Rev. Robert Willits

Also Remember in Your Prayers
Alice & Kenny Orr – Weirton Geriatric Center, 2525 Pennsylvania Ave., Weirton, WV  26062
Carl Hamill – Serra Manor, Apt. 11, 205 Serra Manor, Weirton, WV  26062
Dolores Edwards – Wyngate, 100 Wyngate Dr., Weirton, WV  26062
Eleanor Dueley – Brightwood Center, 840 Lee Ridge Rd., Follansbee, WV  26037
Harry Hutch – Villa Vista, Room 406, 1800 Sinclair Ave., Steubenville, OH  43953
June Virtue – Grace Cottage, 195 Eden Dr., Weirton, WV  26062-3664
Theresa Skiles – Weirton Geriatric Center, 2525 Pennsylvania Ave., Weirton, WV  26062
Ruth Ann Oestering – Woodland Hills, 608 North 10th St., Weirton, WV  26062

What's Happening at Cove Presbyterian Church?

Below are the announcements as they appear in the Sunday bulletin.

is being held in the sanctuary on Sunday mornings beginning at 9:30 a.m.  Everyone wishing to praise our Lord thru song is welcome to join us!

we meet every Sunday morning at 9:45 a.m.

all our children and young people. This Sunday School experience offers them the opportunity to learn the Bible story and apply that story to their lives. “Jesus Time” meets at 11:00 a.m. and runs until the end of the Worship Service. If you have children and teens, ask one of the greeters to direct you to the nursery, for younger children, or the library, for young people.

we’ll ordain and instal some of our new ruling elders and deacons.

will be available after the service to hear your suggestions and concerns.

keep this afternoon free, because Cove is hosting a Shopping Spree Extravaganza Vendors & Crafters Show from 1:00 to 8:00 pm. More than 20 vendors will be here, and we’ll have a Chinese auction, door prizes and a 50/50 raffle. The deacons will also have a stand for food and drinks. And if you’re interested in painting, Deborah Ross Smith, the leader of the Social Paint Class, will be there all day and will guide you as you paint two wine glasses for $10:00 or a plate for $15:00. And so plan to come and enjoy a fun day of shopping with all your favorite vendors, get something yummy to eat from the concessions stand and bring home a work of art!!! Beth Huey is the organizer of this event, and if you need any other information, contact either her or the church office.

to our Fellowship Hall for Cove's three Covered Dish Lenten Dinners. The first one is scheduled for Tuesday, March 1, at 6:00 p.m. We ask that you bring a covered dish to share and your place settings. Beverages will be provided. After the meal, we'll begin to look at the story of Easter, as written by Mark.

this afternoon, immediately following the worship service Miss Julia, a member of The Children’s Academy staff, will be in the Science room for the children to come and look with a parent.

on the recent passing of her sister, Rose Marie Dulaney.

either call Sue Willson (304-748-5338) or talk to any member of session.

can be found by calling 304-748-7900 Cove’s Prayer Line. You can call at anytime to hear a message by Rev. Rudiger. The messages are changed every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.  You can also hear the devotion at and iTunes (search Cove Presbyterian). You can also read the devotion at

regularly. If you wish to add someone, contact the church office.

that you can check out for information and on which you can leave comments. They’re listed below:
The Cove Community ( - This is for the whole church. I’ll post sermons and announcements.
Cove Kids ( - This is tailored for the young people in our church. Again I’ll post announcements. You’re also invited to send in any writings, photographs and art work you’d like to post.
Bible Talk ( - We’ve established this blog to give pastors and lay people the chance to discuss Scripture. The weekly passages are from the Common Lectionary.
The Bible in a Year ( - Each day, we’ll post passages so that you can read the Bible in one year.
Growing in Grace ( - Although we’re saved by God’s grace, we can grow in our understanding of grace. At Cove Presbyterian Church, we offer a variety of different classes for children and adults, many of which are recorded and the podcasts posted on our PodBean (covepresbyterian).

Information and an application for the Russell Scholarship can be found on our Deadline for applications is MAY 27, 2016. If you have questions concerning the application, please call Cindy Foster 740-359-2750. Online applications will not be considered.

if you would like to serve as a greeter before a Sunday morning worship service, please contact Bonnie Nichols at 304-723-5134.

so that some of homebound members are able to attend our worship services, please tell the pastor or another member of session.

the Cove PodBean page ( and iTunes (search Cove Presbyterian).

“like” us on Facebook (Cove Presbyterian Church,  https://www.facebook .com/Covepresbyterian) or join our Facebook group (The Cove Community, You can also connect with Pastor Rudiger on Instagram (rev_ed).

if you know of someone who is in the hospital please contact the church office, due to privacy laws the hospital is unable to contact us. If you are unable to attend services and would like to arrange for a visit from Rev. Ed Rudiger or to receive communion please contact the church office. Also, if you would like to receive the Sunday Bulletin contact the church office.

drop it in the purple container at the back door so that it can be recycled.

can be purchased for a service. The cost is $16.00 a vase.  You may also purchase silk flowers or live plants, the choice is yours.  Telephone the church office to place your order. After the service, the flowers will be placed in a vase for you to take with you.

Campbell’s Labels are being collected by the Presbyterian Women for the Weirton Christian Cent er.  The labels including the bar code or just the bar code can be dropped off in the container located in the main  hallway downstairs.
Greeting Cards are being collected by the Myrtle McHendry Class. Please drop off your used Greeting Cards or just the front of the card in the box located in the main hallway downstairs. No envelopes -please. The cards are being sent to St. Jude’s  Ranch to be remade into cards to be sold in their gift shop.  FYI . . Hallmark, Disney or American Greeting Cards can not be accepted as they are trade marked.
Can Tabs are being collected by the Presbyterian Women for the Ronald McDonald House in Morgantown, West Virginia. Deposit your tabs in the container located in the hallway downstairs.

Cove's Bulletin for Sunday, February 28, 2016

Below is a copy of our Sunday bulletin. During the 11:00 service, we'll focus on the compassion of God.

Friday’s Essay – Not Nearly

Below is an essay that I sent to those on the Cove Presbyterian Church e-mailing list. You can hear a podcast of this essay by going to the Cove Presbyterian Podbean page. 

If you find this essay helpful, please consider sending an offering directly to Cove Presbyterian Church, 3404 Main Street, Weirton, West Virginia or through PayPal.

Our God is truly gracious and merciful. And we can find great hope trusting that our eternal destiny is in his hands. And I thank him every single day that in spite of all the reasons I give him to not do it, I believe that the creator of the universe loved me before he laid the foundations of the earth and he showed me that love through Jesus Christ, something in which I can have faith because of the Holy Spirit. Now all this makes up the core of my faith, and it’s incredibly important to me.

There are other times when I appreciate the little things that God does for me, and I’m talking about those little messages that remind me that he is indeed my heavenly Father and I’m his child. And I’ll tell you, I experienced one of those messages this morning. And it’s something that just might be helpful for all of us to remember either when things are absolutely falling apart or when we’re convinced that we’re on top of the world and God is lucky to have us on his side.

Now, I said it happened this morning. In truth, it really started last night. You see, last evening, before he left his Cub Scout meeting, Tucker Smith and I were having our usually conversation about my snapping turtle, Buck. And as the Smiths were leaving, Tucker said, “I’ll see you Saturday.” And since I couldn’t think of any reason I’d be seeing him on Saturday, I asked why, and then Debi said, “At the Blue and Gold Banquet.” I could feel a cold chill crawl up my spine. “What time on Saturday?” “I think it’s 3:00 to 6:00.” “No.” “Yes, I think so.” The chill became a deep freeze. “I think we might have a conflict.” And as she left, Debi said, “I hope you work that out.”

Now, I admit, this was a nice thought, but I had no idea how. You see, I was sure we had a birthday party, that I hadn’t put on my calendar, the exact same time Saturday afternoon. And I’ve got to tell you, that really threw me for a loop. You see, I’d been taking some pride in believing that I was handling all the changes around here pretty well, but this was a problem. And even though I could have sworn I put the on my calendar, clearly I hadn’t. And so I called the mother.

And as it was ringing, I knew exact what I needed to do; I had to find another place for her party. And that might be possible. I mean, if the party was small, as most are for children, I just might be able to put them in one of the rooms in the Education Building, and the problem would be solved. The mother answered. I explained the situation, took responsibility for the confusion and asked how many would be attending, praying for ten, maybe fifteen at the most. She said, “About sixty.” Holy Cow; sixty; that’s not a party. That’s a banquet. I was scrambling for something. “Well, let me check some of the rooms in our other building, for space.” “Will there be enough room for three small bouncy houses.” Holy Cow again, bouncy houses. “I’m sure we can make it work.” “Can you send pictures of the rooms so that I’ll know how to decorate.” “Absolutely, and I’m so sorry about the mix up.”

I went over to the Education Building. Of course, there are kids in every room, because the Children’s Academy was in session. And as I was taking the pictures, the children were posing and the teachers were hiding. And thanks to two incredibly wise staff people, we figured out how to make this work. You see, although the scouts needed all our tables for their banquet, I just might be able to scrape together enough for the party too, especially if some of the party guests were little children. PTL, I might survive this. And so I texted the mother the pictures, with this message: “I’m sending pictures of some different rooms that might be used. We have some small tables. How many children do you expect to attend?”

Now that’s where I stood at 10:07. And to get a flavor of this exchange, below are the texts send by her and me:

Her: Ok so I can decorate and put food and bounce houses in the first room and use the kids rooms for activities.
Her: Maybe 20-25 kids
Her: Up to 30 maybe. Not sure of an exact number.
Her: Are the rooms next to each other?
Me: Yes.
Her: Ok I will make it work. Thank you.
Me: Actually, given all the toys, it might actually be wonderful. Thank you for your flexibility.
Her: Np we will make it work. We can check it out and figure everything out Tuesday at Girl Scouts if that’s ok with you.
Me: Isn’t the birthday tomorrow?

I go back to my calendar. I was right; I did enter it, because there it was: Sunday, March 6, from 3:00 to 6:00. I revive the texting thread:

Me: I’m an idiot. We’re fine. The birthday is March 6.
Her: Yes, it’s March 6th. So we’re good to go?
Me: We’re good, and I have officially lost my mind.
Her: Haha. Ok well that’s good news. Thanks so much. Take a nice vacation. You’ll be ok. Lol

Now, that’s what happened. And as a person of faith, I believe God has a lesson for me to learn, one that may be more profound than being more careful when I check my calendar. In fact, it just may be a lesson for us all. You see, when we feel this sense of panic because everything is coming apart at the seams or when we think the harmony found within the universe is due to us, I think it’s crucial for us to remember that we’re probably not nearly as smart or important as we think we are.

The Bible in a Year: Bible Readings for February 26, 2016

The Bible in a Year: Bible Readings for February 26, 2016: Today our passages are Leviticus 19:1–20:21; Mark 8:11-38; Psalm 42:1-11; and Proverbs 10:17. The readings are from  The Message  by...

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Schwertfeger Chronicles - February 2016

Greetings friends and family!

In our December newsletter, we sent a rough report and some statistics regarding the ministry that had been done with Overland Missions on the continent of Africa in 2015.  Our global head of operations just finished compiling all of the information and we wanted to pass on to you a very succinct version of the ministry's end of year report:

As a team we travelled 1.7 million miles in 2015.  We currently have 102 missionaries on staff with Overland Missions.  5000+ people globally came to Christ.  There were over 700 miraculous healing.  220 leaders were mobilized and graduated 37 missions training students from our base in Zambia!  We began a maritime division for island sectors and acquired a property for our base in Mozambique.  We are starting a new office in the UK (2016) and we have two families in Angola after 6 years of trying to get in!  Add to that new teams in Congo, Zanzibar and Brazil...I think you could say we have some glorious work to do this year!

I'll never be able to stop proclaiming the blessings there are in being involved internationally with a team of people who are committed to the work of the Kingdom.  We never feel alone or that our jobs are small.  Every effort in the forward direction we recognize as advancement for the Kingdom.  And I will never stop being thankful with gratitude flowing out of my heart for the team of people who support us from the United States - therefore committing themselves to the work of the Kingdom throughout the nations!

We love and appreciate all of you!

Jake, Jessi, Sunda, Kya and Noah Schwertfeger

The Bible in a Year: Bible Readings for February 25, 2016

The Bible in a Year: Bible Readings for February 25, 2016: Today our passages are Leviticus 16:29–18:30; Mark 7:24–8:10; Psalm 41:1-13; and Proverbs 10:15-16. The readings are from  The Messa...

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

From Presbyterian Disaster Assistance - South Sudan Food Security and Refugee Response

Women carry water containers from a water point at Deleij camp near Garsila, West Darfur
Women carry water containers from a water point at
Deleij camp near Garsila, West Darfur
South Sudan continues to suffer from recurring and deteriorating humanitarian crises. Chronic conflict and insecurity situations, drought and elevated food insecurity in the country are still massive and have greatly contributed to continued high levels of humanitarian need and protracted displacement of vulnerable people.
More than 2.29 million people have fled their homes since violence erupted in December 2013. More than 1.65 million are displaced inside South Sudan and more than 630,000 are refugees in neighboring countries.
A fragile peace agreement was signed between the warring parties in August 2015.  Its implementation must be enforced and the people will require the ongoing support of our church for years and years to come to help a nation that was isolated and devastated by decades of war overcome the trauma and challenges it faces to develop the capacity and infrastructure to govern and develop in a way that best serves the people of South Sudan.


Presbyterian Disaster Assistance is responding to the crisis in collaboration with our mission partner Presbyterian Relief and Development Agency (PRDA) and as a member of ACT Alliance. PRDA is a member of the ACT Alliance South Sudan forum.
PRDA is working in Jonglei (Uror County) and Upper Nile (Maiwut County) in providing Food security and livelihoods, Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) and Emergency Preparedness and Disaster Response. Under the WASH sector, PRDA will be rehabilitating 10 existing boreholes, procuring and distributing water purification tablets, monitoring water quality at 10 boreholes, training water user committees and mobilizing communities towards construction of latrines
Livelihood activities include provision of assorted farm inputs and tools, assorted household items (utensils, blankets and collapsible water containers), and shelter construction materials.
To aid in meeting food security needs, fishing nets and fishing hooks are being provided, and food items including cereals (maize and sorghum, cooking oil and beans) are being distributed.
PRDA is also training staff and local leaders on safety and security, disaster risk reduction, resilience and psychosocial support, improved agriculture technologies and improved crop husbandry. 

Sunday's Minute for Mission - Justice Advocacy

The PC(USA) Office of Public Witness (OPW) in Washington, DC, is responsible for advocating the social justice policies approved by each General Assembly and that have implications for the federal government.
Presbyterians’ work in justice advocacy began with the founding of Presbyterianism in Geneva, Switzerland, by John Calvin, who advocated for the innovation of public education. Calvin underscored Jesus’ role to correct, influence, and transform government through his earthly ministry. Similarly, Presbyterians are called in this present day to remind elected officials that their role as public servants is a calling to prophesy and not profiteer. 
Since revamping our Internship and Summer Fellowship programs in 2011, the OPW is witnessing an upsurge in young adults desiring to serve in public witness ministries. At the same time we are hosting PC(USA) middle school, high school, and college groups visiting DC for issue briefings, Congressional visits, and exposure to justice advocacy work. Despite conversations from some in our denomination who argue that justice advocacy is divisive, we see high numbers of interested youth and young adults who are responding to God’s call to overturn the tables of injustice in the United States and across the globe.
On this Palm Sunday, we commemorate a parade for Jesus, who is being celebrated as a healer and prophet. Jesus’ commitment is to overturn the wrongs of society so that freedom from oppression will create liberty and justice for all. Jesus said at the beginning of his ministry, “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free” (Luke 4:18). These words are not an aside to the gospel. Compassionate and prophetic discipleship, motivated by love, shows itself in this willingness to challenge the principles and powers to do justice.
Consider attending or sponsoring the participation of a Presbyterian young adult in Compassion, Peace and Justice Training Day and Ecumenical Advocacy Days. 
 J. Herbert Nelson II, Office of Public Witness

Let us pray

Lord of freedom and promise, guide our feet to find the faith to move beyond passive lives that cry Lord Jesus, while failing to speak truth in love to power. Give us courage to be bridge builders of hope for those treated unjustly. Amen.

The Happenings Around the Presbytery - February 24, 2016

Upper Ohio Valley Presbytery
907 National Road
Wheeling, WV  26003

Office Hours: Monday through Thursday, 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
In an emergency after office hours: Call 740-359-1813

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Marie Luckhardt
Bob Offerdahl
Ed & Dorothy Mooney
Leura Nancy Macon
John Lewis
Kenn Sickle
Nancy Mountz
David Brocklehurst
Bob & Sue Shearer
Ed Rudiger
Domasi Presbytery
Malawi food crisis
R. H. “Mac” McCuen
Ronald Wolf
Lt. Aaron Mistic, USAF
All our service men & women
Dakota Presbytery
Sheryl Looking Elk
Sutie Pipe
Alberta & Hopa Crawford
Frances Jo Moore
Madeline Terry Heckert
Karen Edwards

Please keep us informed of any prayer concerns you may have.
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PRAYER FOR UOVP PASTORS: Select one of these pastors and remember him/her in your prayers this week: Colleen Griffith, Frank Haas, Barry Hall, Homer Harden, Erica Harley.
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MARCH PRAYER REQUESTS can be found on our website under Spotlight and in the calendar.
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THANK YOU NOTE: “Dear Friends of Upper Ohio Valley Presbytery, Thank you for the beautiful basket overflowing with hydrangeas and lilies to brighten my garden this Spring – and more! We had a beautiful service to remember the many blessings of Joe’s ministry and life and his peaceful passing. Our Lord is so loving and merciful and we are lifted in Him. God bless you, Karen Byrne”
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TRINITY PARISH PRESBYTERIAN Church invites all to this month’s FREE Community Dinner this Saturday, February 27, 3:00 to 5:00 p.m. at the Newell Fire Hall Social Room, Newell, WV. This dinner is for people who enjoy good food and conversation with your friends and neighbors around the table. Menu: Sloppy Joe, Macaroni and Cheese, Cole Slaw, Dessert. All are welcome. We would love to share a meal with you. For more info call Cindy 330-385-6107 or Kim 330-383-2545. Please pass this along to those who might enjoy a good meal.
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ATTENTION HIGH SCHOOL SENIORS: Information and an application for the Russell Scholarship can be found on our Deadline for applications is MAY 27, 2016. If you have questions concerning the application, please call Cindy Foster 740-359-2750. Online applications will not be considered.
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ATTENTION CLERKS OF SESSION AND MODERATORS: The deadline to submit your statistical report to General Assembly has expired; however, if you did not get yours submitted, please call the Presbytery Office or our Stated Clerk. Also, the Clerk’s Questionnaire report to General Assembly has a deadline date of Nov. 15 printed on it, however, they are still accepting them. And we will gladly accept the four reports for presbytery as soon as you can get them done.
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SUMMER CURRICULUM: Time to order the summer Growing in Grace & Gratitude. It is not included in the 9-month sub­scription. Use it in a host of ways: summer Sunday school, mid-week children’s ministry, or adapt if for vacation Bible school.
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OGHS: For more than fifty years, Presbyterians have joined with Christians throughout the nation in responding to Christ's love for all people by joyfully sharing that love with people in need through supporting One Great Hour of Sharing. The hundreds of millions of dollars Presbyterians have given over the last half century have enabled a powerful witness to the love of the One who came that all might have life more abundantly. One Great Hour of Sharing funds are divided equally among its three programs: Presbyterian Disaster Assistance, Self-Development of People, and Presbyterian Hunger Program.
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POAMN: Hard copies of the 2016 Older Adult Ministries Planning Guide are now available. Cost is $3.00, and you can order your copy(s) by contacting Ginny at or (615) 426-1545. All 2016 members of Presbyterian Older Adult Ministries Network will receive one complimentary copy, so renew your membership, or join for the first time.
The Presbyterian Church (USA) designates the first Sunday of May as Older Adult Sunday, a time to honor older adults for their commitment to the life, witness, and ministry of the church. The timing is not so important…you may choose any Sunday for this celebration of aging. The Older Adult Ministries Planning Guide includes many resources to help you celebrate older adults throughout the year.
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Control+click: Presbyterian churches to commemorate SDOP Sunday March 13Annual awareness day draws attention to people and communities in need.
Control+click: Regarding ruling elders: ruling elders and deacons: The Book of Order calls ordained deacons to a ministry of "compassion, witness, and service, sharing in the redeeming love of Jesus Christ for the poor, the hungry, the sick, the lost, the friendless, the oppressed, those burdened by unjust policies or structures, or anyone in distress" (G-2.0201).
Control+click: So. Cal. PC(USA) churches feature three bowls on Ash Wednesday altarTwo contain ashes, the other gunpowder.
Control+click: Eighteen DREAM Grants awarded$172,500 to fund risky experimental mission in 15 presbyteries, 7 synods.
One of these grants was for Beaux-Arts Musicians & Storytellers for Peace, Synod of the Trinity. This initiative of the Peacemaking Committee of Upper Ohio Valley Presbytery has a two pronged focus: one prong will connect with learning, making, and composing music in Christ-like peace; the other will focus on learning and performing stories unique to Appalachian culture. The Rev. Dr. Ruth Ellen Bates, an ordained minister, teacher, professional storyteller, puppeteer, and musician will lead the initiative. Their DREAM Grant will be used to build a website and create digital platforms for Beaux Musicians group, where both performance and the learning of music and stories will occur. The Peacemaking Committee has been deeply invested in peace, justice issues, and in Presbyterians for Earth Care, and this initiative will be an extension of each of these passions.
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IF YOU ENJOY SHOPPING . . .keep Sunday, February 28th, free, because Cove Presbyterian Church, 3404 Main St., Weirton, WV, is hosting a Shopping Spree Extravaganza Vendors & Crafters Show from 1:00 to 8:00 p.m. More than 20 vendors will be here, and we’ll have a Chinese auction, door prizes and a 50/50 raffle. The deacons will also have a stand for food and drinks. And if you’re interested in painting, Deborah Ross Smith, the leader of the Social Paint Class, will be there all day and will guide you as you paint two wine glasses for $10:00 or a plate for $15:00. Plan to come and enjoy a fun day of shopping with all your favorite vendors, get something yummy to eat from the concessions stand, and bring home a work of art!!! For more info, call the church office 304-748-5980.
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NEW RESOURCES FOR PRESBYTERIANS: You can now order or preorder the newest resources for Presbyterian members and leaders. The Presbyterian Handbook, Revised Edition is the perfect gift for new members. And Principles of Presbyterian Polity and the revised editions ofMaking Disciples, Making Leaders are excellent resources for your staff and leadership teams.
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PRESBYTERIANS TODAY ~ Presbyterian Resource Guide for Ministry: A comprehensive reference handbook for congregations. At last, here’s an easy-to-read, in-depth guidebook that puts loads of vital ministry information at your fingertips. The Resource Guide covers dozens of subjects, including disaster response, fundraising and stewardship, the ins and outs of building a website and using social media, children’s/youth/collegiate/young adult ministry, church planting, grant and scholarship sources, evangelism, worship, and much more. Packed with practical and useful tips, stories, articles, and contacts, this comprehensive, one-stop reference is an essential asset for congregations, presbyteries, and individual Presbyterians looking for creative ways to improve their ministry. Control+click: Order copies now as a great church resource! Or order by phone at 800-524-2612 and ask for PDS 17116-15-002.
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Control+click: PC(USA) international Engagement Map launches. Interactive map shows participation with One Great Hour of Sharing partners.
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CELEBRATE A SUSTAINABLE PALM SUNDAY. Order Eco-Palms. More than 300 million palm fronds are harvested each year for U.S. consumption—most for Palm Sunday. Protect forests, local jobs and sustainable livelihoods in the harvesting communities. Control+click: Order here
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KEYBOARDIST WANTED. Bethlehem United Presbyterian, 45 Chapel Road, Bethlehem, Wheeling, is in need of a keyboardist. The ideal keyboardist would be proficient in both traditional and contemporary styles of music. The selected individual would be responsible for the Sunday worship service and additional holiday services (Christmas Eve, Maundy Thursday, Thanksgiving Eve every 4th year, etc.) and accompanying the choir. Worship begins at 10:45 a.m. and choir practice will follow worship. The individual will report to the Choir Director. For additional info call Michelle 304-280-0027.
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TRINITY PRESBYTERIAN Church, East Liverpool, has 22 red cotton choir robes, no collars, teenage to adult sizes, they are giving away. They must be picked up. May need to be washed or cleaned. For more info, call Carol Walton 330-383-2835.
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WARWOOD PRESBYTERIAN Church has several items for sale. You can see photos on Jen Wildpret’s facebook page: more info, prices, etc., contact Jennifer at or
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MAKE PLANS TO ATTEND THE 111TH NEW WILMINGTON MISSION CONFERENCE in New Wilmington, PA, July 23-30, 2016. Annually more than 30 states and 30 countries are represented at this multigenerational mission conference. Register by May 1 for the lowest cost. Learn more
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THE GO DISCIPLE LIVE "BE THE LIGHT" CONFERENCE, formerly known as the Evangelism and Church Growth Conference, is a vibrant gathering of Presbyterians committed to disciple-making, which leads to authentic evangelism, effective church transformation, justice, and church planting through 1001 new worshiping communities. Control+click: LEARN MORE. It will be held at the TradeWinds Island Resorts in St. Pete Beach, FL, August 8-11, 2016. Control+click: Register Now
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OPEN HOUSE MINISTRY is an outreach to those in need in the Wheeling area. We provide dinner, fellowship, and share a movie every Saturday night from 5:00 to 9:00 p.m. at the First Presbyterian Church Fellowship Hall, 1307 Chapline St., Wheeling, WV. You are cordially invited to join us! Volunteers are also always needed. Monetary donations can be sent to the Presbytery, payable to UOVP, with a memo line: Open House Ministry.
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MOTHERS’ DAY PROJECT 2016! Support Healthy Women Healthy Families, a global poverty initiative of Presbyterian World Mission and Presbyterian Women to support health, education and development of women and children around the globe. Contact, or call 800.728.7228 ext. 5279 to preorder cards and promo materials. Learn more

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Top Ten Indications That You’ve Backslidden
10. The last three worship services you’ve attended have all been on Christmas Eve.
9. The last time you read the Bible there were only three Gospels.
8. The last 3,243 prayers you’ve made all ended with the phrase, “and bless this food for our body’s use.”
7. The last time the offering was passed you seriously considered “borrowing” a few bucks.
6. The last ministry you were involved in began when some Greek widows started complaining (Acts 6).
5. The last time you were at a church potluck, casseroles and jellied salads hadn’t been invented.
4. The last prayer meeting you were at was interrupted when Peter came to the door (Acts 12).
3. The last prompting you felt from the Holy Spirit was a request for Gatorade (see 1 Thess. 5:19, KJV).
2. The bumper sticker on your car says, “I’m a Christian, but I’m NOT honking for anyone!”
1. You remember becoming a Christian but you can’t remember why.