Picture of Rev. Dr. Deborah Lind-Schmitz, Pastor

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Retirement Tribute to Pastor Deb from Lisa Gage

Retirement Tribute to Pastor Deb
from Lisa Gage

The following tribute to Pastor Deb was shared by Lisa Gage at the September Presbytery Meeting on Tuesday, September 22, 2020.

Proverbs 27:19 states, “As water reflects the face, so one’s life reflects the heart.” Pastor Deb genuinely practices what she preaches. Her life’s work, her actions, her leadership, her unwavering faith all reflect her heart and her brilliant mind. And like the Apostle Paul, she “speaks the truth in love.”
In her last newsletter as pastor of The Presbyterian Church in Geneva she wrote about her first installation 31 years ago. The presiding minister spoke on the key verse in the liberating story of Queen Esther (which, by the way, Pastor Deb preached about last week). He said: “You have been called to this ministry ‘For such a time as this’.” There’s no doubt in my mind that God called The Reverend Dr. Deborah Lind to The Presbyterian Church in Geneva at a challenging time almost 8 years ago– a time of transition. And, our congregation is eternally grateful to God for bringing her into our lives. We’re incredibly fortunate that she answered the call a 1,000 miles from her home in the Twin Cities.

I understand that parishioners expect all clergy to visit those who are ill, to offer counseling to those in need, to provide comfort to those who are grieving, to answer critical phone calls 24-7, respond promptly to every email and text from committee chairs, sermon critics, and so on and so on. Those tasks, I suppose, are part of the job. One could certainly accomplish those tasks as one’s perfunctory duty. Pastor Deb, however, uses her time and her many talents, going above and beyond what’s expected. For example, she didn’t just periodically stop by nursing homes and assisted living facilities to occasionally visit shut-in members. She arranged to have regularly scheduled services at those facilities and welcomed patients and visitors of every denomination. Not only did she provide a meaningful worship service; she played the piano, lead everyone in song with her beautiful soprano professional-quality voice and shared communion with all who gathered. Month after month, year after year, the smiles on the elderly residents’ faces made it abundantly clear that they appreciated that she brought the Word of God to them and brighten their days. In preparation for her retirement, she trained deacons and elders to serve communion in pairs or small groups, so that the important ministry of providing communion to shut-ins can continue.

Her sermons are always inspiring, filled with interesting facts, personal reflections and inevitably some humor. She cracks herself up and we all enjoy her wit. Since March I’ve been helping to produce our services for Zoom and more recently YouTube. There have been weeks that I’ve heard her sermon six, seven even eight times before we all listen to the service on Sunday, yet she still manages to capture my attention. I’m not the only one who is constantly impressed with her preaching; in fact, several retired Presbyterian pastors and a Methodist minister have opted to become part of our church family. While her sermons are thought-provoking and always meaningful, her children’s messages have become somewhat legendary. We never know what to expect. I teach Sunday school and assist with the children’s choir, so I hear the kids talking about what they have learned and they absolutely adore Pastor Deb. She’s like an Energizer Bunny. She keeps up with kids of all ages and even chaperoned two recent trips to Purdue for triennium. If Covid-19 hadn’t forced the Peacemakers’ trip to the Holy Land in March to be postponed to 2021, she had planned to make that trek as well.

As you know, Deb took on many extra responsibilities in Geneva Presbytery, so I’m sure you won’t be surprised when I tell you that she immersed herself in our community right from the start. She impressively rejuvenated the interfaith council, which was practically non-existent. She’s been actively involved in organizing ecumenical services since shortly after she arrived in the Finger Lakes area. Over the last seven and a half years, she has organized and hosted the ecumenical Lenten breakfast services, served on the board of the MLK Scholarship Committee, joined Rotary –and the list goes on. Not surprisingly she has developed more friendships and working relationships with more people than many life-long Geneva residents have.

In a typical month, our church opens its doors to about 3 dozen community groups (scout troops, Family Promise, AA and Al-non, Geneva Reads, the MLK committee, WIC, Sacred Arts classes, sewing classes, yoga and exercise groups, Red Cross blood drives) and every person who walks through the door feels welcome. As my mother says, Deb’s the “hostess with most-est”. Despite her incredibly busy schedule and seemingly endless number of meetings, her door is always open for anyone who needs her. One thing you may not know about Pastor Deb is that she has a Super Power: It’s impossible to say no to her! Like her smile, her enthusiasm is contagious.

These are extraordinarily challenging times locally, for the United States and the world. To quote Pastor Deb: We “are called to speak up, step up and share our faith.” She has taught us well that “For such a time as this” we are called. Our children, youth, and adults as well have benefited from having Pastor Deb as a remarkable role model.

Winnie the Pooh told his friends, “How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.” Winnie the Pooh was rather insightful. This is difficult because you are so loved! Now, as the story which is your life opens to its next chapter, May the God
of Grace richly bless and watch over you. Deb, on behalf of all who have been blessed enough to have you as our pastor, I say to you: “May God bless you and keep you, may God’s light guide your future and grant you peace.” You truly are a blessing. Thank you for all that you do and for all that you are.

Lisa Gage
 

“For Such a Time as This”

Pastor Deb’s Final News Letter Article

“For Such a Time as This”    (The Book of Esther 4: 14)

At my first installation, the presiding minister spoke on the key verse in the liberating story of Queen Esther. You have been called to this ministry “For such a time as this”.  I believe that God definitely called me to The Presbyterian Church in Geneva as well as each church in my thirty-one years of ministry.  And, I am grateful to God and all of you.

Thank you for welcoming me into your lives and your hearts!  I will miss you.  As much as I long to be closer to my growing family, this will be a major change.  I will hold you in my hearts and prayers as we go bravely into the future.  This month of sermons and celebrations will be focused on God’s steadfast love and guidance. 

Thank you for listening to my sermons each week and giving me the respect of a teaching elder as a woman and as an outsider. I’ve been shifting during these seven and a half years from saying, “You” to “Us”. I am a Genevan and New Yorker for another month.  And, I’ve enjoyed immersing myself in this community as well as Seneca Lake.  I pray that your next pastor will be as delighted and blessed.

These are trying times for the country and this world.  I believe you and I are called to speak up, step up and share our faith.  “For such a time as this” we are called.                                                                

May God bless you and keep you, may God’s light guide your future and grant you peace.

Pastor Deb

 

“Re-thinking Church”

 Pastor’s Reflections —“Re-thinking Church”   The seminar for ministers caught my eye with pertinent questions. “Are you ready to ask new questions? Are you ready to rethink church rather than getting people to the building?”

“The Gift of the Holy Spirit: Surviving and Celebrating”

The “I Survived” book series was grandson Luca’s top choice for his eighth birthday. He could hardly contain his enthusiasm as he thanked me.  Who would think that children’s stories about surviving disasters such as shark attacks, tornados and the 9/11 attacks could be so popular?  It is assuring to know that others have made it through crisis like this COVID pandemic.  It’s helpful to hear how others managed.  We have a story to tell. You, no doubt have many survival stories to tell.   The narratives in our scriptures give us many examples of resilience and survival of the People of God.  We, at the PCGNY have a story to tell.  We are living it.  How we are surviving and thriving is an ongoing story.

What’s Next?

First, what is happening now? Last month, I wrote about our Peacemaking trip to Israel. Of course, it was cancelled. However, the Isaiah scripture is prophetic and relevant to our present reality. Isaiah 42:16-17 16 I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them; I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth. These are the things I will do; I will not forsake them.

I can only speak for myself, but I can imagine how you have traveled along “unfamiliar paths” since our seclusion because of the Covid19 pandemic.

Church services around the country switched from “face to face” to “virtual” worship on March 22. As last minute as it was, we were able to gather via Zoom Sunday morning. The live gathering before was not planned. I was blindly leading along unfamiliar paths. However, people loved seeing other so much that I added time after the 10:30 am worship on March 29. Thank God, many people stepped up to “make places smooth”. Every week the PowerPoint and music improved. God certainly has been guiding us as we reach out to help each other. By Holy Week and Easter the number of people logging on to our virtual communion and worship services reached new highs. Family members and friends of the church from other states were able to connect on the internet and it was a grand reunion and celebration.

If you are interested in join the Zoom worship, download the app by visiting www.zoom.us. It is free for you. If you do not have a computer or Ipad, you may connect by using your phone. +1 929 205 6099 .

For worship use ID # 378-875-768

For Bible Study use ID# 236-230-4934

If you have problems connecting call the office or another member for tech help.

Another way to listen to the weekly sermon or music, visit YouTube which can be viewed anytime on internet. Search for “Youtube.com and then “Rev Deborah Lind”. More information, links and the bulletin with scriptures is available on our website, www. pcgny.org.

What is next? I would hope we will be able to meet face to face in June. Until then, remember we are close a phone call or internet. Social distancing is only “physical distancing with social connections. So far, we’ve become very creative and flexible for the sake of safety and health. There are good lessons and new habits which I hope will continue. All staff and committees of the church are hoping and planning for the future. For instance, Communications and worship committees are considering streaming and recording worship.

We will continue to celebrate the Season of Easter in May with Pentecost on May 31. Scripture lessons focus on the appearance of the Risen Christ in every location on the road and in homes but not in the sanctuary. The Holy Spirit touches everyone like a breath of fresh air and brings peace to everyone.

May this Season of Easter bring you God’s guidance and peace as we continue along the unknown path together.

Pastor Deb

A Message from Pastor Deb

Monday, March 16, 2020

I missed you all yesterday.  Really! I was lost without the church activities, the children, hearing John Milne preach,  listening to families sing and being together as a faithful community.

March 2020 – Lent

March 2020 Newsletter article graphic“Becoming a Beloved Community” is the theme of our Annual Wednesday Lenten Breakfasts starting on Ash Wednesday, February 26.  Clergy from The United Methodist Church, Mt. Olive Missionary Baptist Church, Our Lady of Peace Catholic Church and The Presbyterian Church in Geneva will reflect on “the Beloved Community”.  At 6:45 am delicious breakfast will be served by our excellent cooks who are willing to get up before dawn.

From the Pastor……

Stone Path Graphic “And what does the LORD
require of you?”
Walk this Way

Our church is on its way to search for a new pastor. We have started in January with table talks to discuss questions about the church. This month’s table talks will discuss your hopes for a new minister of Word and Sacrament.

Happy New Year 2020!

A Prayer for God’s Blessing Today, Tomorrow and Always

One of my Christmas Cards that I sent out continues, “May the gifts of love and hope be yours at Christmas and bring you happiness all year long”.

Footprints…a Lantern…a Door

Christmas Sermon Preached on December 24, 2019

At the Presbyterian Church in Geneva, New York

 By Rev. Dr. Deborah Lind

Footprints…a Lantern…a Door