Ringing out the Good News from Hammond Presbyterian Church December 2019

I’m currently at Camp Fowler, one of the five Reformed Church in America camps. I’m in Speculator, N.Y. in the Adirondacks. It snowed yesterday and is Arctic cold today. The wind has picked up and the snow is being blown off the pine trees surrounding my prayer cabin. It’s a good time for me to be on a week of pastoral study. I’m behind on what I’d like and need to read as well as get some programming done that is need of my attention. Here in this warm and cozy prayer cabin with a gas burning stove for heat, I can be still and listen for God’s voice. I can be still and encouraged about the serving and ministry God has sent me out to live. I can be still and listen and dream and imagine at what God is doing next, not only in my life, but in a greater context, a larger circle.

It’s important that we take the time to be still and listen for God’s voice; for the God of creation who breaks in to challenge and call us to do the work and ministry that God needs us to do where we are. Winter, with its time of hibernation for most animals and people is a wonderful time to brainstorm and dream and imagine what God potentially has in store. It’s a great time to think out of the box and perhaps take a long time ministry and revamp it. What does it look like when something long term that perhaps the congregation or those outside the church are bored or disinterested is given a transformation or new life? 

This happened you know. The minor prophet Haggai prophesied as the exiles returned in a slow trickle from Babylon back to Jerusalem and was close to the end of the prophets. The lands were devastated and the Temple where the people gathered to meet with God lay in ruins. The funny thing is in all those years of exile, the people came back to Jerusalem and had to be reminded to be obedient to God. They restored their own lands and homes first, God wasn’t the priority. Haggai asked the people of God, “How’s that working for you?” 

We too need to hear Haggai’s message from God perhaps on a more regular basis than we may know or want to acknowledge. The word of the LORD through the prophet Haggai in 1:4, “Is it a time for you yourselves to dwell in your ceiled [paneled] houses while this house lies in waste?” So take heart as in verse 13 Haggai continues God’s message to the people, “I am with you, says Jehovah.” Indeed Jehovah stirred up the spirit among the people and its rulers “and they came and did work on the house of Jehovah of hosts, their God.” (1:14) Was the Temple different than the one of former glory? Yes, however, God was also at work redeeming, transforming, and restoring the Temple to be something different and new in a new community and era. “The latter glory of this house shall be greater than the former, says Jehovah of hosts; and in this place will I give peace says Jehovah of hosts.” (2:9). 

God indeed through his Son Jesus and by the work of the Spirit is busy and at work to bring forth God’s kingdom as we take time to be still and listen. Peace be with you as we work and wait in and for God’s kingdom together.   Rev. Betsy


Angel Tree cards for gifts for Food Pantry children are in the dining room Please have wrapped gifts along with their cards back to the dining room by Dec. 8th. Our Mitten Tree is in place and will be receiving your gifts any time. These will be sent by mid-December. 

Our Christmas Mission Tree list follows. There will be donation forms in the dining room. I will need the names for the Memorial List by Dec.15th. You may also call me (315/324-5517) if you wish to place an order and have names for the Memorials.

10 Jerry Cans (for carrying water) $25.;Farming Tools $10.00; Family of Chickens $25.00; Kitchen Kit $25.00; School Supplies $25.00; Fishing Net $15.00; Corn Seeds $10.00;  500 Fishlings $25.00; Child Health $15.00; Books for 10 students $20.00; School Supplies $25.

Share of a pig, a sheep, goat or rabbits $10.00; Share of an Alpaca or Water Buffalo $25.00.

Please let me know how you wish to help the many unfortunate people in the world.

Joan Hadlock

Hammond Food Pantry

  Hammond Food Pantry will be held Thursday, Dec. 19th between 9:30 and 11:00. We will have gifts for the children, as well as fruit boxes and self care items.


Your PNC has been meeting and reviewing many Pastor Information Forms which have been sent to us. We have been in touch with several of the candidates to confirm their interest in our church. We will continue to read new forms as they come to us. As Pastor Marti Montovani encourages us, we will find the person that God is preparing to come to Hammond. Keep us in your prayers. Joan Hadlock

Christmas Caroling

Any who are interested may join Christmas carolers at 2:00 p.m. on

Sunday, Dec. 15th. Following caroling around the village, there will be refreshments ready back at the church. Come join us for a fun, meaningful time together.

Oh Christmas Tree, Oh Christmas Tree By Tara Atherton

It’s early November as I write this and I’ve been chewing my cheek to put up my Christmas tree. I don’t want to do it too early, and be judged, but we just had our first snow fall and I have Christmas Spirit bursting out of me. All my Christmas shopping is mainly done, and I have almost half the presents wrapped, but my living room is begging to have a tree in the middle of it. It’s one of my favorite things to wake up to in the morning when I’m getting the kids ready for the day. It’s that colorful glow that comes from the living room because the Christmas tree is lit. I become five years old again, hoping to see something magical happen. I think of my daughter, who is now four years old and my partner in crime, who would have had the tree up before Halloween, and has been asking “if Santa will visit soon” since June, if she has that same bursting feeling in her body when she sees the tree all lit up, or if it’s all about the goodies and gifts that are soon to come. 

Once a week, while I’m in the office, I get to be all holiday crazy with one of my favorite people, Randy Kraft. He decorates our dining hall for the holidays, special dinners, and everyday use. When he comes into the church with his bags of goodies, I can’t help myself but to fell all festive. Is it luck that our church has to have such a strong hearted man who loves his church or is it God at work yet again, putting things in place as he does for everyone, to set Randy on the path to our church to make it so welcoming and warm? I’d like to think it’s both. It’s God who has been laying down this path for our church to walk down together and for us not to worry about what tomorrow may bring because he put the right people where they need to be in our church. Whether it’s me in the office, Randy decorating the dining hall or the many people who take time out of their busy day to help keep our church running so smoothly. The best is, Christmas is coming and the feeling of wholeness is only going to become stronger, and it feels like God is decorating our path in life, as one does to their Christmas tree.


It’s been 502 years since Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses to the door of Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany. To say he was upset may be a little mild. He wanted reforms from the Church for the common person. After all, why should the pockets of the higher ups in the Papacy be lined with the money collected from indulgences (the money used to reduce or get a loved one out of purgatory)? Shouldn’t the Bible be read or Mass and the Communion liturgy spoken in their native German? Imagine afterward the thrill of the parishioners to be able to participate in worship simply by hearing their native tongue. These were reforms indeed!

As I prepare for this Sunday’s worship (10/27) we celebrate Reformation Day. The Scripture I’m using comes from Hebrews 11-12:3. We hear a litany of voices who “by faith” responded to God in God’s plan of salvation history. We also hear of the call to persevere, to focus on Jesus when the going gets tough or we are weary. I have to wonder if Martin Luther didn’t become weary. He certainly had to account for his actions in the aftermath of nailing his theses to the door. 

In your season of in between I encourage you to read this Hebrew text; to share your stories of those who have come before. What were the vision and the history of Hammond Presbyterian Church? I encourage you to persevere and continue to be the body of Christ as you wait patiently for the PNC to do the task before them of finding a new pastor. I encourage you to pray for your community of faith, your leaders, the PNC, and that God is preparing the new pastor who is coming. Weary or worn, surrounded by a cloud of witnesses both past and present, turn to Jesus who endured the cross and the hostility of sinners. Be strong in Jesus and rely on your faith as God works out God’s plans for you.

Peace be with you,

Rev. Betsy


Tuesday November 5th from 4:30 to 7:00 p.m.

Menu includes: Roast Beef, Mashed Potato and Gravy, Coleslaw, Vegetable, Desserts and Beverages.

Adults are $10.00 Children are $5.00, Children 4 years and younger are FREE.

Hammond Food Pantry

Hammond Food Pantry distributes food and used clothing once a month to income eligible families from the Hammond, Rossie, Brier Hill and Morristown areas. We average 70 families, with new families signing up each month. At Christmas time, we served 95 families with the usual items, plus bags of fruit, packets of health goods, gift cards from Save a Lot, and gifts and gift cards for the children of Food Pantry families. Each month, a group of volunteers brings all of the food into the Fire Hall from the Food Pantry building next door, and several volunteers help by manning the food line and distributing the food. Most of our food is purchased from the Food Bank of Central NY in Syracuse, which delivers our order of food once a month. We take advantage of any free or USDA foods that are available and have received some grant funding from the Food Bank, But we spend an average of $1100 per month on the food. We appreciate the monthly donations we receive from our church and other donors.

Another program for which anyone is eligible is the Food Sen$e program For $15.50, consumers may purchase a unit of food consisting of meats and/or fish, pasta goods, fresh produce and other items. This is an outstanding way to stretch your food dollars. There are also eight specials which can be ordered separately. Food Sen$e goods must be ordered and paid for before the food arrives. 

Food Pantry this month will be Thursday, Nov. 21st, from 9:30 to 11:00 at the Hammond Fire Hall. Anyone interested in signing up for the Food Pantry or the Food Sen$e program may contact me at 324-5517. Joan Hadlock

Mindfulness Meditation Time Change

Starting November 4th, and Mondays thereafter, Mindfulness Meditation will be held at 6pm instead of 6:30pm. Meditator, Christine Visscher will facilitate. Open to beginning meditators and long time meditators. Come learn how to use your mind to work FOR you instead of against you, by employing simple techniques! You’ll be glad you did! Submitted by Nancy Chase.


Our Missionary, Josh Heikkila, co-worker in West Africa, writes about some very dark history of Ghana, W. Africa. 

Along the Ghanaian coast line are several white castles, now places of beauty. But the history of these structures is in stark contrast to the atrocities that took place there. For two centuries, between between 1640 and 1840, an estimated 1.2 million human beings were taken as cargo and shipped from Ghana’s castles to the Americas, coming from Senegal to Angola, captured, enslaved and brought to North and South America. Through complex business partnerships, ethnic groups like the Asante (Ghanians) would take captives during intertribal warfare, shackle the prisoners and march them hundreds of miles to the coastal forts where the Fante people (Ghanians) sold them to Europeans for manufactured goods. The captives were then taken across the Atlantic Ocean and sold into slavery.

Josh wonders what powerful, business partnerships exist today that allow for dehumanization and subjugation of people? What is there that requires our attention and needs to be stopped? There are many forms of trafficking and servitude, although much different, taking place today. Perhaps these castles in Ghana can remind us that we must remain vigilant to see that the poor and vulnerable among us are not taken advantage of again and again. The Presbyterian Church in West Africa strives to improve the well being of people, thereby preparing communities to address societal forces that can degrade people in their midst. What do we see around us that needs to be addressed?

Joan Hadlock

Sick Days By Tara Atherton

My morning routines are usually the same every day. Wake up, make breakfast for the kids, wake them up, make sure they get dressed, feed them, send them on their way to school, and go to work. Monday through Friday, that’s what I do. I feel like I hit the ground running when I wake up. This morning was a little different. It started off the same, get up, make breakfast, but when I went to wake up my son, the poor guy was running a fever and wasn’t feeling very well. So back to bed for him as I got my daughter up and moving so she could at least go to school while I started to Clorox wipe everything down and spray enough Lysol in the air that anything that might make anyone sick, didn’t have a chance of survival. As the day progressed, my son finally asked for food and I knew that recovery was just around the corner. It’s always nice when you can see the light at the end of the tunnel and know that the worst is over. But for the first half of the day, all I could do is worry. I start wondering if my daughter or I is next in line to get sick. I think about the last 24 hours and what was touched or shared by my son that I must decontaminate and hope that everyone else’s immune system in the house is on high alert so we don’t get what my son has. As of right now though, it’s nice to see the end of the tunnel for my son.

There never is a sick day at our Church though. It’s always progression and togetherness. Recently, I missed a few Sundays in a row, not because of illness, but because life is busy and I had prior arrangements made for that time. When I came back, it felt so good to get back into my Sunday routines with everyone. To see my Church family was like seeing the light at the end of a very busy tunnel. Every Sunday, God brings us together with love which shines so brightly that it’s hard not to be able to relax knowing that whatever the worst of the week threw at you, it was over, even if it was only for a few hours. A few hours of relief can make such a difference in how you might handle the week that is coming your way. Especially when you have a sick day.

Per Capita

 What is Per Capita…

Per Capita is “the tie that binds”- annual giving that unites the entire church in the ongoing and essential work that guides the Office of the General Assembly, the life of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A) and benefits every congregation and every mid council ministry. Per capita is the primary source of funding for the Office of the General Assembly, and is how Presbyterians mutually and equitably share the costs of coming together to discern the Spirit’s leading for the future. The 2019 Per Capita fee for our Presbytery has been confirmed at $25.00. Each per capita payment is divided, with $8.95 for General Assembly, $4.10 for the Synod of the North East, and $11.95 going to the Presbytery of Northern New York.

Many members of our church have already made their per capita payments. Our Church must pay per capita for each member, whether or not the member pays us. Your contribution helps Hammond Presbyterian Church cover our portion. Per Capita payments can be mailed to the church or dropped in the Offering with “Per Capita” written in the memo line. For more information about Per Capita and how it is accessed and allocated, please go to:

For any questions concerning Hammond Presbyterians Per Capita amount or giving’s, Please contact Tara in the office at (315)324-5665 Mon-Friday 9am-12pm or email at 

Thank you for helping us to have more funds available for local ministry by providing your share of the per capita.

A BIG Thank You

We asked, and you came. A BIG Thank you to Randy Kraft, Jen McGregor, 

Joan Hadlock, Marilyn Hunter, Joan Delosh, Ann Root, Elizabeth Barrigar, Pete Atherton, Sabrina Atherton and Tara Atherton for coming out and helping to clean and winterizing the Manse. Many hands helped to make light work. There were lots of giggles and the feeling of accomplishment when finished. Thank you all again.

Another BIG Thank you is for everyone who volunteered their time and donated their desserts to help with the Deacons Annual Harvest Dinner. We couldn’t have been successful if it wasn’t for all of you.

Poetry Corner

May we feel God’s presence every day. A poem to remind us.

For Old Age

By John O’Donohue

May the light of your soul mind you.

May all your worry and anxiousness about your age

be transfigured

May you be given wisdom for the eyes of your soul

To see this as a time of gracious harvesting.

May you have the passion to heal what has hurt you,

And allow it to come closer and become one with you.

May you have great dignity,

Sense how free you are;

Above all, may you be given the wonderful gift

Of meeting the eternal light that is within you.

May you be blessed;

And may you find a wonderful love

In yourself for yourself


In between

Whether you call it in between, transition, or interim, it feels like we are caught. After all, we are neither here nor there. The past for all that it was is behind us and the future has yet to be. Summer has just ended by the solstice today and fall is here. So we are caught still feeling the warmth of summer and yet the coolness of fall. 

That’s also how it was for God’s people the Israelites. They had left the bondage and oppression of Pharoah, with the security of the routine in Egypt and being led by Moses into an unknown future. However, they weren’t there yet to the Promised Land as God prepared them on how they were going to live with God and each other. So for forty years they wandered about where ever God led them with the cloud and providing manna for sustenance. 

Now, my hope for Hammond Presbyterian is that you are not in between or wandering for the next forty years! However, you are presently in between. You have a rich past and deep connection with the Hammond community, yet you also have a future where God is preparing you now to go. As you sit, neither here nor there, may you continue to be the community of faith (reaching out to one another and the surrounding community) God is molding you into (open to challenges and trying new ideas). As you prepare for a new pastor, may you be in continuous prayer, listening for God’s voice and being guided by God’s Spirit. As you prepare for an unknown future may you continue to support, encourage, and care for one another as well as your neighbors. As you prepare for the future, know that a new pastor is also being prepared for you. With God’s divine intervention and plan, you will both connect and as one in the interim and on the in between journey with you, I can’t wait to see God’s plan for your future as Hammond Presbyterian Church.

Grace to you and peace,

Rev. Betsy

Harvest Dinner

Our Hammond Presbyterian Church Deacons will be putting on our Annual Harvest Dinner on October 24th 2019. Our delicious menu will include Turkey, Gravy, Mashed Potatoes, Squash, Scalloped Corn, Cole Slaw, Beverages, and (the best part of any meal) Dessert. Dinner starts at 4:30-6:30pm. Adults are $10, Kids are $5, and Children 4 years and younger are FREE!!! If you can’t stay for Dinner, we also will be offering Take-out. 

Hammond Food Pantry

Hammond Food Pantry continues to serve the Hammond area community. There are an average of seventy income eligible families served each month.. The food we order from the Food Bank of Central New York in Syracuse, costs us approximately $1000.00 each month. We also order USDA, or free, items from there, as well. We have applied for and received some grant funding to help with the food costs. Once a month our food is delivered by tractor trailer truck to the Food Pantry building. There, a group of our volunteers carries the usually three pallets of cases of food into our building.

We are always in need of additional funding and donations of non-perishable food items. Donations may be given to me or placed in the offering plate, made out to the church and marked “Food Pantry”. Food donations may be left at church on the bench in the upper hall by the driveway.

Our Food Pantry is staffed by more than a dozen faithful volunteers, who show up each month, some to bring the food from the Food Pantry building into the Fire Hall for distribution, and others to oversee the handing out of the food as the clients sign in and move along the table. 

Hammond Food Pantry fills a vital need in the lives of many area families. We also do emergency food distributions when someone calls in need of food. Deepest gratitude goes out to all who help and support the Hammond Food Pantry. The need continues.

Hammond Food Sen$e is another program which stretches your food buying dollar. There are no income guidelines for this program. For $20.50, you may purchase a unit of food, to include some meats, produce, canned and packaged items. There are also many reasonable special items which may be purchased. These orders are delivered the same day as the Food Pantry and must be ordered and paid for ahead. 

The next Hammond Food Pantry and Food Sense will be Thursday, Oct. 24th. Food Pantry from 9:30 to 11:00 and Food Sense around noon the same day.

Anyone interested in signing up for Food Pantry or Food Sen$e programs may contact me at

324-5517. Thanks. Joan Hadlock

Manse Clean Up

With winter coming on, traveling can be challenging. Reverend Marti Montovani has graciously agreed to continue to be our Spiritual Leader for 2 weekends a month. We would prefer her to not have to travel in inclement weather on Sunday mornings, so we are going to tidy up the Manse for her. She will be here on Saturday evenings, for worship on Sunday morning. Clean up day will be on October 19th, at 10am until completed. Many hands make light work so we hope to see you there.  


Thanks to all who have contributed to the School Kits. We will be collecting through the month of October. These will be distributed throughout the world, where ever the need is greatest.

The Marion Medical Mission team of volunteers is currently in Africa, hoping to install 3,000 shallow wells in 3,000 remote villages before the rains begin, in Malawi, Tanzania and Zambia. Each day, while the team is at work, a devotional is posted on line, sometimes listing thoughts from the staff. The following was written by one of the American volunteers. “Glory to God”.

“This is written on the top slab of every well installed by Marion Medical Mission,. Every volunteer, builder, Field Officer or maintenance man has seen it many times. Every well proclaims Glory to God in English and the local language. Do the villagers think about this profound phrase each day that they come to the well for water? This sparkling water seems like a miracle. We hope God is glorified every day. Honor, respect..that is what we should give to God every time we install a well. He, who brings the water to the villages. Do I thank Him? Do I remember His generosity as I drink this wonderful water? I hope the words “Glory to God” are written on our hearts. For Marion Medical’s wells are truly God’s wells.”

Welcome Fall By Tara Atherton

It seems like, since we came into September, Fall started immediately. There were only a couple of days where I could send my kids to school wearing shorts, and the rest of the time they were in pants. I’m always cold. It could be the middle of summer, and once the sun goes down, I’m looking for a blanket to snuggle under. My husband will have the air conditioner cranking and there I am in a pair of sweats and a sweat shirt, shivering. But the fall cold is a different kind of cool. You’re expected to wear the jeans and a sweater. It’s okay to have another warm drink in the morning. And it’s fun to turn on the oven first thing in the morning to make blueberry muffins for the kids while they sleep, only to have them wake up to the tasty smell and the house all nice and toasty warm. Fall is definitely my favorite season. It’s almost like, it gives you a reason to snuggle more, it gives you a reason to enjoy more, and it gives you a reason to relax more. 

Our Church continues to thrive with the seasons change also. I love coming with my children to the Church for Halloween so they can go trick or treating from table to table and warming up from the chill of being outside to long. Then there is the harvest dinner that is served, which is probably one of my favorite times, because I get to sit in my office and smell all the food cooking. The whole Church fills up with the smell of love and Turkey, the whole Church fills up with love and support, the whole Church fills up with love. It feels like the warmth of the love in our church is making our congregation stronger and more united. We have all learned that it is okay to lean on each other for support and help, everything else that is out of our control, we just pray and let God handle the rest. Our future might be the changing colors of the leaves on a tree, but it is beautiful to look at. 

Pastor Nominating Committee

We want to keep everyone up to date as to our progress in our search for a new minister. Our Minister Information Form (about the church) is completed and has been approved by the Presbytery Committee on Ministry and our Session. Next, we will put our form on line and hope for many responses from candidates who are interested in us. It is quite a process, but we are well on our way. Please continue to keep us in your prayers. Joan Hadlock

World Communion Sunday

October 6, 2019

Since 1940, World Communion Sunday is an ecumenical celebration of oneness 

in the Spirit and the Gospel, of Jesus Christ, bringing churches together in Christian unity.

We will receive the Peace and Global Witness Offering

25% of the Offering stays with local congregations and 25% with mid-councils to unite congregations to support peacemaking in their regions.

50% of this offering supports the work of peace and reconciliation being done by Presbyterians across the globe.

Poetry Corner

Mighty Oak

Stand tall, oh mighty oak, for all the world to see.
Your strength and undying beauty forever amazes me.
Though storm clouds hover above you,
Your branches span the sky
In search of the radiant sunlight you
Count on to survive.
When the winds are high and restless and
You lose a limb or two,
It only makes you stronger.
We could learn so much from you.
Though generations have come and gone
And brought about such change,
Quietly you've watched them all,
Yet still remained the same.
I only pray God gives to me
The strength he's given you
To face each day with hope,
Whether skies are black or blue.
Life on earth is truly a gift.
Every moment we must treasure.
It's the simple things we take for granted
That become our ultimate pleasures. 


Life Interrupted

From Luke’s Gospel 13:10-17, was the text we heard read and preached in Theresa on August 25. As I was preparing the sermon I was reminded yet again that we need to take our time when reading Scripture. Why? Because here as throughout the Bible it’s easy to read too fast, skim through because the text is all too familiar, and the words or story have been heard so many times (take the Christmas and Easter stories for example). When reading any text from the Bible we need to savor every word, reflect not only on the whole passage, but also each word, sentence, and phrase. How is God being revealed to us in the reading of God’s Word? 

In this text from Luke as we look closely we see Jesus calling, inviting, speaking, healing, restoring, redeeming, and bringing new life to a woman doubled over eighteen years from an infirmity of Satan. She is unable to be straight, looks only at the ground, is outside of relationships, and Jesus values her life not only in the healing, but in reminding those gathered at the synagogue and in particular the leader of the synagogue that this woman has value and worth, more than the animals, more than the other six days of the week; the Sabbath is the day to set this woman free. She is a daughter of Abraham. 

As disciples of Jesus we are reminded in this text of the value of human life and God’s work of calling, inviting, speaking, healing, restoring, redeeming, and bringing new life. How are we engaged in the lives of the people we encounter? How are we building relationships with people who don’t know Jesus? How are we a disciple of Jesus and by the work of the Spirit restoring people, giving value and honor? 

The response in the story by the bent woman and the multitude is one of glorifying God and rejoicing in what Jesus was doing. The shame for this woman was gone, she’s been set free and she glorifies God. The bent posture of this woman has been made straight and the multitude rejoices. May we all glorify and rejoice each day in what God is doing as God breaks in and disrupts life. May we as disciples continue to serve where God calls us to serve by caring and loving all whom we meet.

With you on the journey; peace be with you,

Rev. Betsy 


  Many thanks to all who helped with the Fish Fry Dinner. It was delicious, well attended and served with our usual efficiency and friendliness. Special thanks to Pat Gallagher and Lisa for cooking the fish to perfection. Our profit was close to $900.00. Putting on a dinner like this takes at least two days of preparation, along with shopping, cleaning, and the rest. It takes a takes a church. Thanks to all! Joan Hadlock

Hammond Food Pantry

The next Hammond Food Pantry will be Thursday, Sept. 26th, 2019, from 9:30 to 11:00 a.m at the Hammond Fire Hall. All income eligible families are encouraged to come to receive free food. If possible, please bring a box for the food. Also on the same day, the Food Sense program will be held. This is open to everyone who wants to save on their food dollars. Food Sense food must be ordered and paid for by Sept. 6th. All items are listed on a monthly menu, which includes a unit of food for $20.50, and a selection of specials which may be ordered and paid for separately. These foods include meats and fish, fresh produce, canned good and packaged meals. The Food Sense truck comes in around noon on Food Pantry days. Anyone interested in receiving information about the Food Pantry or Food Sense programs may contact Joan Hadlock 324-5517.

Triennium Travels

 Presbyterian Youth Triennium is a gathering of Presbyterian High School aged Youth from all over the country and the world.  This exciting opportunity takes place every three years at Purdue University, and Kennon, Nolan, and I (Jen) were able to take part in July.  We headed out by plane the morning of July 16th and were registered, checked in, settled in to our dorm rooms, and ready to go by that evening.  The 5 day event kicked off with an opening worship service.  Awe inspiring is an understatement as we joined with about 5000 other youth, along with their adult chaperones, in a lively, energetic, faith filled service.  The next three days were filled with small group gatherings, with each of the three of us in separate small groups, discussing and working through the scripture theme for the day.  There were fun events each night, centered around the theme for the week, "Here's My Heart".  We also spent time in the Prayer/Meditation Center, reflecting on what we were experiencing.  Each day we took part in the whole group worship, and Kennon even joined the PYT choir, performing at one of the services on Friday night.  A tradition at Triennium is for delegations (groups from presbyteries) to bring pins to exchange with other delegations.  Kennon and Nolan now have a collection of pins from around the globe.  We want to say a huge thanks to the Presbytery of NNY, who generously supported our travels.  Also, thanks to all of you who were praying for us on our trip.  I have seen the future of the Presbyterian Church, and it is amazing!  

With many thanks and much joy,

Jen Gardner


Our Mission co-worker in West Africa, Josh Heikkila, writes of his life there. He talks about the importance of fish in his life and in the life of Jesus. Familiarity with Biblical images–eating fish and inviting others to join and eat–helps Jesus come to life for the people of West Africa who are listening to Scripture. What Jesus said and did, people will explain to you, they still say and do to this day. Scripture touches peoples’ lives and speaks to them in ways that resonate deeply. When Josh speaks in the United States, about his work , he tells people how Scripture comes alive in places like Ghana. You can see women and children at wells, carrying water home, fishermen in boats on the shores, mending their nets after a long day on the water, women pounding their harvest with mortar and pestle. The proverbs, parables and experiences of Jesus make sense to West Africans. The way Jesus taught, fed and healed the people around him continues to teach, feed and heal West Africans today. For those of us removed from a simpler life, engaging with West African partners can help bring the Jesus of the Bible to life once again. 

Josh has sent his thanks for our support for his work. Joan Hadlock

Learning to Swim By Tara Atherton

All summer long, my 3 year old daughter has wanted to swim. She can wade through the water with no problems, but when the water gets high on her, she becomes a little koala and climbs up your back and holds on for dear life, life jacket on and all. We recently went to the family cottage to enjoy some family time and did a lot of swimming. As we played in the water, my daughters’ confidence started to grow and slowly, she started to trust in her life jacket and started to let go. Of course, as she starts to let go, we are all praising her. Her little legs were kicking, her little hands were paddling, and she took off and started to putter around on her own, constantly telling all of us that “I can finally swim with my life jacket”. It was such a proud moment for all of us. Now, when she goes into the water, there is no hesitation. She knows that her feet aren’t going to touch the ground, but as long as she has her life jacket on she was safe. 

It seems like God has been watching our church family start to swim on our own as we start. Our search for a new Pastor has us starting to kick our feet. We know we can do this, we know we are safe, but now, with all of our confidence built back up; we are floating and swimming again. It’s an exciting new adventure to be on. An adventure, which has God watching over us and cheering us on, making sure that we continue to push forward, take breathes, relax when needed, and then start kicking our feet again and continue to move forward. This may not be our first time learning to swim again, but with the love and help of those around us, we will always be safe in our ‘life jackets’.

PNC (Pastor Nominating Committee) Update

The Pastor Nominating Committee (PNC) of the Hammond Presbyterian Church including: Bridget Sherman, Joan Hadlock, Allison Barrigar, Jen Gardner, Randy Kraft, and Jen McGregor, has held its initial meeting to begin the process of the search for our new pastor.

The meeting was held with the Reverend David Bennett, Resource Presbyter of the Presbytery Of Northern New York. Reverend Bennett outlined the process and the many resources available as we begin the search.

Updates will follow…


Ringing out the Good News from Hammond Presbyterian Church August 2019

Pastor’s Reflection

I’m presently at Calvin Seminary and have been here all week engaging in my gift from Theresa Presbyterian Church; pastoral study time. I say a gift because when I use the time not only do I as a pastor benefit from further learning, but the congregation and larger community do as well. How I am spending my week is with other pastor’s as we engage in the topic of grief. How do we lead the congregation in times of grief? How do people grieve? What gets said or done (or not) during a time of grief? Perhaps not a topic one wants to hear about during the summer when life tends to be lighter, less hurried, less programmatic. However, grief is a reality that doesn’t take time off. Grief will happen and continue no matter what season we are living. Grief still affects a person’s life, even in the summer.

As I reflect and ponder I share some highlights with you… 

1) People grieve loss. It may be the death of a loved one. But there are other forms of death and reasons to grieve, loss of a job, a broken relationship, something that has caused a change in life such as aging, moving to a care facility, or health. Take time to reflect on what you have or presently are grieving at this time…

2) Words and actions matter by both what we say and do as well as what we don’t say or do. Our words and actions while often well intended can cause further grief by inflicting harm and yes, more pain to an already grieving person. Words and actions (or the lack of) can cause embarrassment, anger, more pain, and yes, create joy, be uplifting, and be a source of comfort. There can be judgment, either by the church or the members of the congregation, made about the grieving person or a family. Reflect on your response (or lack of) when someone you know has been grieving….

3) Faith in times of grief. We like to think in a time of loss, a person’s faith is strengthened. However, that’s not always the case. In times of grief there is often great questioning for the person grieving. Faith can be re-shaped, transformed both positively and negatively. What is believed scripturally about God based on what’s been learned over the years? The church plays a role here. Is there room for a grieving person to express emotions and question or wonder about their faith? Reflect on discipleship/faith formation and your own response when a grieving person questions God…

The Bible is filled with stories of grief or loss of one type or another. The Psalms are great proof of lament and grief, crying out to God in pain. 1/3 of the Psalms are Psalms of lament, yet we fail to lament in worship or give space for lament. Worship tends to be filled with praise, joy, and be upbeat. What does worship look like when over time, when occasssionally there is space for people to cry out? What programs are offered by the church to give space for the grieving?

Grief changes life and the order of it. Psalm 30:10-11 says the following, “Hear, O LORD, and be gracious to me! O LORD, be my helper! You have turned my mourning into dancing; you have taken off my sackcloth and clothed me with joy,” As we continue our journey together during this season of transition for HPC let’s reflect together over grief. For those who grieve in this day and at this time, know that God indeed is on your journey of grief with you as the Psalmist testifies in Psalm 23:4, “Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I fear no evil; for you are with me; your rod and your staff -they comfort me.”

Peace be with you,

Pastor Betsy


 Our Annual Fish Fry Dinner will be held Thursday, Aug. 15th from 4:30 to 7:00 at the church pavilion. Fish, Mac and cheese, salt potatoes, cole slaw, desserts and beverages for $10.for adults, $5.00 for ages 5-12. Take-outs are available. We will be looking for workers the day before the dinner to help prep foods, set up and prep kitchen, beginning at 9:00 a.m. Any questions? Call Joan Hadlock 314-5517 

Hammond Food Pantry

The next Hammond Food Pantry food  distribution will be Thursday, Aug. 22, from  9:30 to 11:30 at the Hammond Fire Hall.  The food items include juice, butter, cheese, cereal, fruit and vegetables, soups, pasta, fresh produce if  available, bread and three or four meats. We hold the Food Pantry once a month for anyone eligible. The Food Sense program is held the same day, with a set package of items including meats, produce, vegetables and variety items which anyone can order regardless of income at $20.50 for the package. Food Sense must be pre-ordered and pre-paid. This is an economical way to stretch your food dollars. There are also specialty items which can be ordered and pre-paid. Food Sense truck comes in about noon on Food Pantry days. 

In addition, there is a table with used clothing and some household goods available.

Anyone wanting a Food Pantry schedule, the Food Sense order form or information may call Joan Hadlock at 324-5517.

Church Yard Cleanup

 Anyone who has an extra few minutes–or more–, there is some yard work needed at the church. The spirea bushes need to be trimmed, side church garden along driveway needs some weeding, sides of the pavilion need to be weeded. Anything else you see needing work, please go ahead. Thanks in advance! 


    One of the places we send our Mitten Tree items is St. Joseph’s Indian School in

Chamberlain, So. Dakota. In May, the school celebrated a nice group of 8th grade graduates. Graduating from 8th grade is huge for some Native American children, especially due to the obstacles many of them must overcome. The students were awarded completion certificates and presented with a star quilt by their families. This represents honor and generosity. Also in May, a group of students participating in the High School program graduated from Chamberlain High School. For some, the future will be college, military or the work force. Fr. Anthony, Chaplain for the school, realizes that,” only the Great Spirit has complete knowledge of what the future has in store for our students.” He states that those of us who support their program help feed, cloth and educate the children, and help carry out their mission to care for the whole child-- mind, body, heart and spirit. This school has educated and cared for over 200 Lakota children each year since 1927. So the little part that our Hammond church plays, has a big impact on the lives of these children so far away. Joan Hadlock

Swimming By Tara Atherton

At the end of June, my children were playing Tee Ball at the school and my son, who is special needs, had a couple of his aides from his school come and watch him on his last “game” to show support. I love meeting up with his teacher or aides outside of school so I can hear some of the stories that my son does in school. One of the stories that I was told, was that my son can swim in the deep end of the pool without and support. When I bring my son swimming, I let him wade up to mid chest and that’s about as comfortable as I feel without turning into a worry wart. So when his aide told me that he swam without anything to help keep him afloat, my heart went straight into my stomach. To me, there are certain accomplishments that I don’t hold my breath on, because I don’t want to be disappointed that he didn’t reach a certain mile stone. You really learn that all the little things are tremendous steps, and big things that are accomplished, is almost like the feeling Neil Armstrong must has felt when he walked on the moon for the first time. Anyways, with this information in the back of my mind, I decided to bring the family out to a beach where they have a floating dock in the deep end. I tell my step son that if he wants to go out to the dock, he can, but that my son might follow him for the first time. I sat on the beach and watched both boys, swim out to the floating dock, climb up onto it, and then jump off and swim back to me. It was one small step for my son, but one giant leap for this mommy.

This summer with our Church family, it almost feels like, we are my son, and God is our mother watching from the beach. We are kicking our feet, and paddling our hands in the water, God looking on to us with pride and love. You can feel the hope and love that God gives when you walk into Church and everyone is being supportive, helpful, and loving to one another. “Ás I have loved you, love one another” John 13:34, might be his way of saying, “keep swimming, I see you, you’re doing great.” It might just be that we are taking these small steps that we normally take, that we don’t think of as anything important, but in Gods eyes, we might be taking those giant leaps that gives a parent so much love and pride.