Monthly Newsletter – September 2023

God’s Work, Our Hands.

Dear friends,

September 10 is God’s Work. Our Hands. Day across the nation in the congregations of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.  Members of these congregations will fan out across neighborhoods and communities in a visible witness of our common calling to serve the world in Jesus’ name.

Here at St Matthew we’re marking the day by lifting up the vital ministry of the Community Blessing Box, and what it means to our immediate neighborhood.  From the beginning, we’ve been surprised at how quickly the Box is continuously emptied—of every sort of item—food, personal care items, clothing, etc.—indicating the great need of the people around us.

Following worship September 10, we’ll process (ok, we’ll walk) together out front to gather at the Blessing Box, and have a brief liturgy of thanksgiving and commitment to this ministry to our neighbors.

Along with gathering at the Box that day, you have a further role to play: we’re asking everyone to bring in an additional donation to the Blessing Box. We’ll bring our offerings, offer prayers, and ask God to continue to bless the ministry.

Special thanks to Kathy Stewart, our dedicated Blessing Box Manager.

Many of us have been able to get away this summer, and find time to relax. Now that we’re getting back into the swing of school and work (and retirement) routines, we find there’s still lots to do. We look into autumn hoping to come with renewed energy and sense of mission. I’ll look forward to seeing you, as we continue God’s work together as the people of God, using our own hands—which God promises to bless.

With you on the journey,

Pastor Joel

Parish Register

Wedding Anniversary

Due to a software glitch, the Summer newsletter missed the 2nd Wedding Anniversary of Christine and Matthew Traver, on June 26th. Our apologies and congratulations, Christine & Matt!


Claire Carol Gallerizzo, July 1, daughter of Stacy and Greg Gallerizzo.

Tyler Jeffrey Longenberger,  July 14, son of Amanda and Jeffrey Longenberger.

(Claire and Tyler are both grandchildren of Louise & Scott Longenberger)

Congratulations to proud parents and grandparents—a blessed and exciting time in the Longenberger family.  God bless these little ones and their families always.


Susan Fulginiti  ~ July 13, 1951 – August 14, 2023

Rest eternal grant her, O Lord, and let light perpetual shine upon her

Thanks for all who have shared their gifts in summer worship through special music and spoken word: Barbara Welliver-Bramer, Jan Davis, Carolyn Sweeney, Becky Toth, Kim Nissen, Erin Hartman (thru 8/20). Your sharing greatly enriches our common worship life!

If it is difficult for you to make it to Sunday worship and you’d like to have the office email you the weekly bulletin, please send us a message and we’ll add you to the list.

Give a ride to worship

We’re renewing our list of folks who can provide a ride to worship for our members without transportation. If you can help out with this at any time, please contact the church office or speak to Pastor Joel.

Music Ministry

Thank you to all who have enhanced our worship services throughout the summer months with the contribution of special words and music. Thank you also to the members of the Early Music Workshop for joining our morning worship over Labor Day weekend.  We are grateful for the generous offering of gifts from our very own members and those from our guests.  As summer comes to a close, the music ministry will soon resume for the fall 2023 season.  While there are fewer of us, if you have an untapped gift to share, please consider a short- or long-term commitment and join the senior choir, handbell choir, Jubilate Choir, or any combination of these ensembles.  

The Jubilate Choir will begin rehearsals for their 2023 Christmas Concert on Sunday, September 24th.  After a successful return in 2022, we are planning to bring back additional instrumentalists (e.g. brass) to support the musical selections.  This year’s concert will feature a variety of special arrangements from previous years as well as several new arrangements of  Christmas favorites!  The choir and orchestra continue to be blessed by the rich support of this congregation as well as the larger Bloomsburg and surrounding communities. The afternoon concert is set for Sunday, December 10th at 3:00pm.  Never too early to mark your calendars!

Yours In Christ,


Thanks to all who were part of hospitality and welcome as we hosted Bishop Padmore, of the Lutheran Church of Liberia, and Bishop Miller, Upper Susquehanna Synod, and members of the North Branch Conference August 10.

Beginning Sunday, Sept. 17, during the Sunday School hour (10:15): St Matt Forum, with Pastor Joel leading the discussion. We’ll take on the questions of the day—arising from the sermon, from the news, what’s happening in our own lives. It’s an open discussion, you’re welcome to share we learn together and from each other (there is no Confirmation instruction this year—we’ll wait another year to have enough for a full class).

We have paid 2/3 of the Market St Steps project to date ($73,667), incurring a debt (Line of Credit loan)  of $19,230.  We anticipate borrowing a total of $50,000 – 55,000 to complete the project. Your gifts to the Renovation Fund help repay the construction indebtedness.  At the same time, our weekly general offerings are down, and not currently matching ongoing expenses (gifts to the Renovation Fund, for instance, do not go to paying ongoing expenses).   We are attempting to hold down costs in every possible way.   Your increased giving will help. We are taking small monthly withdrawals ($2,500) from the Endowment Fund to help pay down construction debt reduce interest payments over the term of the loan.

What’s Happening in September

Sunday, Sept. 3, 9am  Worship   Pentecost 14    (participants from Early Music Workshop)

Tuesday, Sept. 5, 6:30pm  Brief Meeting of Worship Assistants (review)

Tuesday, Sept. 5, 7pm  Healing in Time after Pentecost

Sunday, Sept. 10, 9am  Worship   Pentecost 15  

Sunday, Sept. 10, following worship—God’s Work. Our Hands. Day—procession and prayer out front at the Community Blessing Box (bring an extra donation)

Sunday, Sept. 10, 10:15  Sunday School  resumes

Tuesday, Sept. 12, 8-noon  WELCA Quilters

Tuesday, Sept. 12, 7pm – Congregation Council

Sunday, Sept. 17, 9am  Worship   Pentecost 16; Sunday School, Adult Forum 10:15 

Sunday, Sept. 24, 9am  Worship   Pentecost 17; Sunday School, Adult Forum  10:15

Tuesday, Sept. 26, 8-noon  WELCA Quilters

Looking ahead – October:

Tuesday, Oct. 3, 7pm   Healing and Blessing of Animals

Sunday, Oct. 15, 9am   Healing Rite at Worship

Sunday, Oct. 22, 9am   Of the Land and Seasons (Autumn) is our liturgy setting.  

Sunday, Oct. 29, 9am   Reformation Sunday

Healing in the Time after Pentecost 7pm, Tuesday, Sept. 5.

Our regular Healing Service is a time for prayers for healing and wholeness—for ourselves, our loved ones, our St Matt family, the community and the world. The service is also livestreamed on the St Matthew Facebook page.

Columbia County Christian Fair Ministry

The Columbia Co. Fair Ministry is holding its 13th Annual Fair Ministry Giveaway Thursday, September 21st.

We are asking for donations including new pillows, pillowcases, jeans, sweatshirts, t-shirts, work boots. No whites—underwear, t-shirts, socks, bedding, etc.

Volunteers are needed to help with the clothing giveaway in the arena.

Signup sheet is on the Gathering Area bulletin board.

We appreciate any help you can provide to make this a successful fair week and provide much-needed assistance for the Fair circuit community.

Warm regards, Randy Ruckle

St Matt Choirs are starting up Wednesday, August 30—Bell Choir 6:30pm, Sr. Choir 7:15pm.

Could this ministry of music be one of your gifts to share? We’re always looking for more ringers and singers. Interested? Speak to Erin Hartman or just come to rehearsal.

Congregation Council Highlights

Annual Congregation Meeting

(June 11, following worship)

* Treasurer Brad Miller & President Mike Canty gave an update on upcoming work on Market St steps.

* Pastor Joel noted in his report that we are, each year, a little older, and a little fewer. This means fewer bodies to carry out the work of the congregation.

* The congregation finished the morning with coffee and refreshments and conversation following the meeting.

Congregation Council Highlights

(June 13 mtg.)

Thanks to Jana Wagner and David Keller for serving as Voting Members from St Matt at the Upper Susquehanna Synod Assembly June 16-17.

Brad Miller noted in the Treasurer’s Report finances are mostly stable. As the congregation turns to paying for the repair of Market St steps, arrangements are made to withdraw $2,500/mo. from the Endowment Fund to help pay down debt incurred.  Withdrawals from Endowment are always something of a last resort, so as not to draw down on principal.

Pastor Joel remarked on meaningful and well-attended worship through the last weeks, with many events—Ginny Hartman’s baptism 5/14, a thoughtful litany for Companion Synod Sunday 5/21, Confirmation and dedication of the Communion table 5/28, recognition of graduates 6/4, and the celebration of Pastor Koons’ 50th Anniversary of Ordination 6/11.

We are grateful to Kathy Stewart for her management of the Community Blessing Box, which continues to be heavily used.

(August 8 mtg.)

* It was noted that Tithes, Offerings, and Gifts are not covering ongoing expenses. This is the first time in 15 years or so that the checking account balance is being drawn down.

* Thanks to the Hospitality Teams who set up, prepared food, and cleaned up for the visit of Bishop Padmore of the Lutheran Church of Liberia, and our own Bishop Miller Aug. 10.

* Sunday School resumes Sept 10 , 10:15am. There won’t be a Confirmation Class this year, as we wait for few more youngsters to attain the age.  Pr. Joel intends to offer an Adult Forum in the Sunday School hour following worship.

* Much going on under Social Ministry: Randy Ruckle is heading up the collection of clothes for Columbia County Christian Fair Ministry (list of needed items elsewhere this newsletter);

there’s a special collection for the Community Blessing Box for God’s Work. Our Hands Day; we’ll collect items for Lutheran World Relief Fabric Kits for our Fall Giving Project.                                                                

* The Mountain Collegium—Bloomsburg Early Music Workshop is at St Matt Sept 1-3.

* A severe thunderstorm struck on a Sunday morning in July—at 9am, just as we were beginning worship. Our worship weathered the storm, but the nave sprung several water leaks. We will continue to address these problems as there are funds to do so.

Many thanks to all who work each week to make worship happen at St Matt and who keep the wheels of the church turning.  Special thanks to Altar Guild, Lectors and Prayer Leaders, our Music Department, and our decorators. Thanks, also, to Offering Counters, to Council members, and to all whose financial gifts keep our ministries going, in and outside the building.

THRIVENT MEMBERS:  Please remember that you must redirect your Thrivent Choice Dollars each year.  If you do not redirect your Choice Dollars yearly, Thrivent will choose a charity to receive your Choice Dollars.  Please consider redirecting your Choice Dollars to St. Matthew  Lutheran Church in Bloomsburg.  If you have any questions please contact Randy Ruckle or Elaine StaufferMany thanks to St Matt Thrivent members who direct their choice dollars giving to our mutual benefit! 

¨ Follow St. Matthew on Facebook!  Watch for online updates, info, and reminders.

¨ Visit St. Matt’s web page…Check it out—     

Watch for updates, links to partner ministries and the greater church, and photos of actvities!                             

      Support St Matthew’s ministry and mission with a donation through the online giving portal.     

      Thanks to Ken Druckenmiller for his expertise

Don’t Let The Food Cupboard Go Bare! 

Help the Bloomsburg Food Cupboard serve 400+ families each week with enough groceries to feed and care for our neighbors. In September we’re collecting Boxed Stuffing, and Potatoes (can or box). Its also the quarterly collection of Diapers for Bundles of Blessings

Help the Bloomsburg Food Cupboard serve 400+ families each week with enough groceries to feed and care for our neighbors.

Please save your cereal coupons and donate them to the Bloomsburg Food Cupboard all year round. They are a very important way for the Food Cupboard to save money on local cereal purchases. 

Place your manufacturer’s or store savings coupons in the box located near the Food Cupboard monthly offering table at St. Matthew. Instead of throwing out coupon flyers, please take a few minutes to cut out the “dollars off” for cereal only and bring them church. You will be surprised how they quickly add up to lots of savings for the Food Cupboard…cereal can be a very costly to keep on the Cupboard shelves!

Help your coffee, tea, and chocolate purchases make a difference!

St Matthew offers Equal Exchange fairly-traded products at wholesale prices throughout the year. 

Fairly-traded means that everyone in the supply chain is compensated fairly and is able to work in a healthy environment.  Equal Exchange trades only with farmer cooperatives who vote and together decide how to use their premiums in their communities. Premiums support environmental initiatives like beekeeping, protecting the pollinators their crops depend on.  EE is committed to fully traceable supply chains to counter the child and forced labor problems in West Africa. 

Thank you for supporting small-scale farmers, their communities and the environment with your purchases of fairly-traded chocolate, nuts, coffee, fruit, tea, cocoa, and olive oil.

 and what does the Divine require of you, but to do  justice,

and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?  

Micah 6 :8

Fair Trade Project

Thank you for supporting small-scale farmers, their communities and the environment with your purchases of fairly-traded chocolate, nuts, coffee, fruit, tea, cocoa, and olive oil.

Full-flavored, fairly-traded, organic, wholesale prices for you; the gift of life for the growers/ producers as members in the Equal Exchange Co-op.

Plus, Organic Virgin Olive Oil and Dates from Palestine.

Available on the cart on Sundays and whenever the church office is open.

Holiday baking supplies! Chocolate chips (55%), baking cocoa, almonds, pecans and cashews.

Fairly-traded, organic, wholesale prices for you; the gift of life for the growers/ producers as members in the Equal

Exchange coop. Available on the Fair Trade Project cart on Sundays and whenever the church office is open.

New on the Fair Trade Cart—Mind, Body & Soul Coffee (whole bean).

Blend of medium and Vienna roasts—smooth & creamy with chocolate notes.

Community Blessing Box Offerings


Community Blessing Box Offerings

As you consider offerings to the Community Blessing Box, here are some items we’ve found to be in great demand:

Food items

Individual size heat ‘n eats in flip-top cans

Snack crackers (Lance, Keebler, etc.)

Pop Tarts

Individual size cereals, apple sauce/fruit

Canned/packaged chicken/ham/tuna salad, spam, beef jerky

Spaghetti sauce (paired with boxed pasta)

Personal core items 

small) Toothpaste, toothbrush, soap, deodorant

(small)(bottles) Laundry soap, fabric softener/dryer sheets 

Tablets & pens

Toilet paper


Wash cloths

Special thanks to Kathy Stewart for managing this vital ministry.

Food for Thought: (we Picked up some tips from another newsletter—to help you help others) So, I spent some time at a Food Bank today, and spoke to the people getting food. Here are some things I learned from those in need.

Boxed milk is a treasure, as kids need it for cereal which they also get a lot of.

Oil is a luxury but needed for rice a roni which they also get a lot of.

Spices or salt and pepper would be a real Christmas gift. 

Tea bags and coffee make them feel like you care.

Sugar and flour are treats.

Tuna and crackers make a good lunch. 

Dishwashing detergent is very expensive and is always appreciated Feminine hygiene products are a luxury and women will cry over that. Everyone loves Stove Top stuffing. In all the years I have donated food at the holidays, I bought what I thought they wanted,  but have never asked. I am glad I did.

WELCA Quilters meet to do their work 2nd & 4th Tuesdays., 8-noon,and always welcome helping hands. Thanks to these hard-working women for their ongoing ministry. The quilters are always in need of your donations of new or gently used sheets.  Thank you to all who support this ministry.