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Extra Scoops: Strengthen Your Summer Family Devotions

  • School ends this month for our local districts and the daily family routine will transition into a summer cycle.  Although the pace may be different, regular prayer, bible reading, and attendance at Church services should remain constant. 
  • Setting and achieving a goal is always a thrill for kids (for parents, too).  Why not set a goal with your child and work on it together over the summer months?  Some suggestions include memorizing an entire Psalm (or a couple), have a bible study of one of the books of the Bible, do a charity service project in our community, plan to attend a full cycle of services for an entire week or two (daily vespers, Saturday vespers, Sunday matins, etc.).
  • The Sunday School can always use extra hands and support in the classroom, special activities, projects, group outings, etc.  See Deacon Mark to see where your talents can be used in the coming year.

Vacation Bible School: Got Fruit?

Theme: “I’ve Got the Fruit of the Spirit in Me!”
Dates/Times: June 13-17, 2011 — 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.*
Location: Holy Trinity Orthodox Church — 119 S. Sparks St., State College, PA
* Monday’s VBS begins immediately after the 8 a.m. Holy Spirit Day Divine Liturgy.
(Registration closed)

Relationship building, teamwork, and fun are hallmarks of Holy Trinity's annual Vacation Bible School.

This month our Sunday School will host its annual Vacation Bible School (VBS) and Afterfeast of Pentecost (Trinity Week) our theme this year is “I’ve Got the Fruit of the Spirit in Me.” The instruction will focus on the fruits of the Spirit as described by St. Paul in his epistle to the Galatians (5:22-23). Although VBS is for children, it also is a time of learning and sharing for parents (yes, parents, there may be homework for you.)

Throughout the Bible, there are references to many types of trees such as almond, apple, cedar, chestnut, fig, olive, palm, pine, and willow. In his letter, Paul presents the Spirit in the symbolism of a fruit tree. He does this so with the psalmist in mind where it is said that man is like a tree (Psalm 1) and also Jesus’ statement that men are like good trees and bad trees (Matt. 7:16-20). The illustration is used to help us understand the nature and function of the Holy Spirit.

Children of all ages will join together this June to learn about the presence and activity of the Holy Spirit in their lives.

In today’s world, we sometimes for purposes of décor place artificial plants, greens, etc., here and there for the best total effect. In the same way, when we survey our spiritual houses and discover something is lacking, we go out and fill the gaps by putting out our “artificial” trees, becoming which we are not or should not be. We do this hoping to improve our appearance and gratify our own longing to look better.

In other words, we try to substitute our own dry arrangements for the living fruit tree of the Holy Spirit! However, we do not have to play such a game of make-believe. When the tree of the Spirit thrives within us, we can point to both the tree and its fruit and say, “this is the real thing.”

The fruits that Paul speaks of are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentle-ness, and self-control. These are lovely and such fruit is produced by the Holy Spirit but trees can and do die. This is not to suggest that the life of the eternal Spirit is in danger. It is to remind us that the tree of the Spirit has enemies. So far as we are concerned, the diseases are jealousy, lack of forgiveness, indifference, worldliness, and a score of other sins which can make their attack so that the result is the same: the tree is not permitted to flourish and bear fruit.

VBS is offered free of charge as a service to the State College community. All children aged 4-14 are welcome. Register now!

It is no accident that the fifth chapter of Galatians begins, “For freedom Christ has set us free; stand fast therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery” (5:1). Thus, there is the liberating fruit of the Spirit. Love begets freedom from hate. Joy brings freedom from gloom. Peace displaces conflict. Goodness triumphs over evil. Faith brings freedom from confusion. Gentleness delivers from arrogance. Self-control liberates us from excesses.

From a practical perspective, in order to harvest the right fruits, there must be the right roots. Parents must make sure the right tree is planted.  And to insure spiritual health, the tree must be given daily attention and nourishment to have a ready response to the Spirit. Remember the words of our Lord: “By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be my disciples” (John 15:8). Let us all gladly let the tree of the Holy Spirit bear fruit through us.


Extra Scoops: May 2011

Vacation Bible School Update

Following the Divine Liturgy (Day of the Holy Spirit) on June 13, we will begin our annual weeklong VBS for children ages 3-14. Our theme this year is “Fruits of the Spirit” and it will take place in the midst of Trinity Week (the week following Pentecost). The success of our VBS is dependent on staff of volunteers (hint to parents and teens!). Information will be sent to all parents and will posted on the Web and Parish Hall bulletin board. See Dn. Mark with any questions.

“When God Created Teachers”

When God created teachers,
He gave us special friends
To help us understand His world
And truly comprehend
The beauty and the wonder
Of everything we see,
And become a better person
With each discovery.

When God created teachers,
He gave us special guides
To show us ways in which to grow
So we can all decide
How to live and how to do
What’s right instead of wrong,
To lead us so that we can lead
And learn how to be strong.

Why God created teachers,
In His wisdom and His grace,
Was to help us learn to make our world

A better, wiser place.

It’s a Wrap!

by Dn. Mark Oleynik

Sunday School students pose after presenting a play to the parish that dramatically retold the story of Christ's Nativity.

On Sunday May 22, our Sunday School will conclude the school year. As always the primary objective was to provide weekly instruction on the faith, teachings, and traditions of the Church. In some of the classrooms this was accomplished through the reading and discussion of various Bible stories and festal events while in the other classes there was deeper review of Church practices and discussion of how Orthodox Christians can profess their faith in words and deeds.

Of course, the students were kept busy with an array of extracurricular activities including such things as creating processional banners, attendance at the winter retreat at the Antiochian Village, presenting a Christmas play, hosting the SOUP-er Sunday Charity Luncheon, sled riding at Slab Cabin Park, an icon procession, the Pascha Preparation Workshop on Lazarus Saturday, and an Easter Egg Hunt!

Many thanks to the teachers for their offerings of time and talent, and to the parents and students for their thirst for the Word of God. (In case you are wondering, Sunday School resumes on September 11, 2011.)


Thank You, Chocolate Lovers

Thank you to those who supported the Gertrude Hawks fundraiser for Sunday School special projects and field trips. Almost $1,300 in purchases and donations netted nearly $700 to the program.


Church School Children Present Charity Fundraiser Proceeds to Housing Transitions

On Tuesday, April 19, a team of children met with Ron Quinn, Executive Director of Housing Transitions ministry news, a State College nonprofit corporation offering housing services to Centre County residents in need. The children, members of the Holy Trinity Orthodox Church School, personally delivered funds they raised through their own charity community luncheon.

Their luncheon, aptly entitled “SOUPer Sunday,” was held March 27 and featured a variety of homemade soups prepared by the children. The Church school students were also responsible for serving and hosting the meal, at which a free-will offering was accepted. All proceeds from thefundraiser (which raised just shy of $700) were allotted to Housing Transitions and the Food Bank of the State College Area. Both recipient organizations were specifically selected by the children.

The church school students, aged 4-14, came up with the idea of serving our area charities after studying the Orthodox Christian observance of Great Lent. The 40-day period of preparation for Holy Week and Easter, which ended for Orthodox Christians last Friday, is a time for increased prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. It begins with a reflection of Jesus Christ’s words recorded in the gospel of Matthew (chapter 25, verses 31-46) exhorting Christians to offer compassion and service to those in need:

“…for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in…”

Extra Scoops: April 2011

Many Thanks

Thank you to all of those who attended and supported our recent Soup-er Sunday luncheon for the homeless and hungry of our community. We also extend our gratitude to everyone who purchased Gertrude Hawk candy (and especially to Mark and Leslyn Radomsky for once again chairing the fundraiser).

Sshhh… Learning Going On!

Our Parish Hall is used for many activities and the hour before the Sunday liturgy is a busy time down there. This can sometimes distract the students and make it difficult to hear. If you are in the hall during class time, please be considerate. You may want to consider going upstairs to the Matins service for quiet prayer and worship in preparation for the Eucharist.

First Confession

After nearly eight weeks of preparation, six of our young Christians will be making their first confession on Lazarus Saturday. Please pray for Julia Rush, Joelle Rush, Daryel Stickles, Sophia Biberdorf, Nicolai Pelikan, and Benjamin Oleynik as they enter into this sacrament for the first time.

Vacation Bible School Dates Set

The week of June 13-17, 2011, will be a week of learning, fellowship and fun for our students as we conduct our annual Vacation Bible School. Mark your calendars!


Students to Serve Soup For Charity

Our Church School students will be hosting a Lenten luncheon this Sunday following the Divine Liturgy.  Students will be responsible for preparing, serving, and hosting the meal.  All proceeds from the free-will offering will be given to the local charities of Housing Transitions and the Food Bank of the State College Area, which were selected by our children. All students are needed on Saturday at 4 p.m. to prepare for the luncheon (preparing foods, setting tables, preparing silverware, etc.). See you there!