Canon Maria Tjeltveit
Church of the Mediator, Allentown
“For the promise is for you, for your children, and for all who are far away,
everyone whom the Lord our God calls to him.”
The Pentecost experience might have been just for the disciples if the apostle Peter had not interpreted it for the gathered crowd. Peter proclaimed that this was a fulfillment of prophecy: the time when the Holy Spirit would be poured out on all people. Jesus’ death and resurrection also fulfilled prophecy, showing him to be Messiah and Lord. Peter told them that God’s promise in Jesus included all of them. The people responded and 3,000 people were baptized. They came together for the apostles’ teaching, fellowship, breaking bread, praying, and sharing what they had with those in need Acts 2:14-47 .
Like other churches in our diocese, Christ Church, Stroudsburg, and Prince of Peace, Dallas did not have such dramatic beginnings but they have sought to embody God’s promise for adults and children, and those beyond their parish communities.
Christ Church began in 1896 as a group of Episcopal students and faculty, at what is now East Stroudsburg University, gathered in a home on Palm Sunday for worship, led by a nun from the order of St. Mary. In 1904 they laid the cornerstone for the present church. Women have continued in important roles, including two past women rectors. Today, God’s promise for children is embodied in the church school, bell choir, and a youth group which is active in the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life. The promise for those who are far away is embodied in outreach ministries, including participating in a free health clinic, transitional housing program, Habitat for Humanity, and Bridges Out of Poverty; as well as their own food pantry, started as an Eagle Scout project. Like the early church, their ministries are grounded in Bible study, fellowship, and worship.
Prince of Peace was started by Grace Church, Kingston, in 1929, responding to 10 families who were “far away” in the Back Mountain Area, and wanted an Episcopal church. They worshiped in various temporary locations, supported by local clergy. They closed during the Depression but broke ground for a new church in 1949. Today, they are seeking to share God’s promise with children and young families, through Sunday school, youth group, and a new music studio for piano and voice lessons. The parish is carrying God’s promise to those who are far away through supporting a food bank, feeding Habitat for Humanity workers, and making sleeping bags for the homeless. Their life is grounded in worship, lay ministry, and breaking bread, as well as sharing in Fr. Joe’s Buffet Pasta Dinner.
How are God’s promises to children and others embodied in your congregation?