Pastor’s Page

Pastor Finney | St. Paul's Lutheran Church of Sassamansville

Pastor Matthew Finney

Pastor Matthew Finney was unanimously installed at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church of Sassamansville on Aug. 7 as the 21st pastor. Before receiving the call at St. Paul’s, Pastor Finney served a two-point parish in Western Pennsylvania known as Holy Shepherd Lutheran Parish which was a combination of Holy Trinity Parish in Lanse and Shepherd of the Hills Parish in Karthaus.

Pastor Finney brings many gifts to St. Paul’s. He received his master of divinity at the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg in 2010. He also has a master of science degree in 2003 from North Carolina State University and a bachelor of science degree in 2000 from Purdue University both in agricultural science.

Pastor’s September Message

September is when things start to get significantly busier in the life of St. Paul’s. Our Annual Golf Outing comes on Saturday, September
15. We return to our regular Sunday schedule on Sunday, September 9, Christian Education at 9 A.M. and Worship at 10:15 A.M. Last fall we began a new format for Christian Education. People of all ages are invited to gather in the fellowship hall at 9 am on Sunday mornings. There we will gather to sing, pray, learn, and share. This year we will be focused on the stories of Jesus in the Gospels. This weekly gathering is intended for people aged 0-100, so if you fall into that category please join us for a fulfilling and fun time. Also beginning September 2 (still at 9 A.M.) we will begin five weeks of looking at the book of James. This letter helps us understand what it means to live out our faith, and is important for us to hear today (even if Martin Luther didn’t like it very much).

Also starting in September you may notice some changes on Sunday mornings. Over the past months, the council has been discussing
ways our congregation can become more welcoming and accommodating, especially to families with young(er) children. Two major changes to our space will be visible. First, the council room will become our new parlor. This will provide a comfortable and welcoming space for people to use on Sunday mornings and other times. It will also be used for smaller committee meetings, Bible studies, and classes. One of the classrooms in the education wing will become the new council room. Second, you will notice a new space in the front of the nave designated for families with young children. We will remove two pews and add small kid friendly tables. These tables are for kids in the toddler to Kindergarten age range. In addition to the tablespace, we will be providing activity bags for children containing crayons, soft toys, and age-appropriate activity sheets related to that day’s scripture readings. For older children, we will provide clipboards and age-appropriate activity sheets related to the day’s readings. The idea is to equip and support parents for handing on the tradition of worship to their children. Other congregations have done similar things and have had positive feedback.

The goal behind these changes is not merely to “occupy” young children during worship but to help them engage in worship in ways that are age appropriate. Placing the space near the chancel helps children see what is happening and engage with the worship service. The guidance of parents and other caring adults helps the children learn the patterns and actions of corporate worship. One study of children in worship said that we “expect too much of very young children and too little of older children.” Our goal with this undertaking is to help parents in determining those expectations with their children while equipping both the parents and the children so that they can participate in worship more fully. These two changes, the parlor, and the kid’s space are happening at the same time for a reason. Sometimes young children just need a break. Sometimes they have grumpy days, like all of us. The parlor will have audio of the service playing during worship; it is a good place to go for a “break”.

Like many things in life, this will be a work in progress. It may take a few weeks for everyone to get used to the new arrangement. Things may need to be adjusted. Please be patient with us. These changes are not arbitrary; we are undertaking them for a reason. That reason is to help form and build the faith of all people who gather to worship God at St. Paul’s.

In Christ,
Pastor Matt