Episcopal Diocese of Albany, NY
Business Office: 68 South Swan Street - Albany, NY 12210 - (518) 465-4737
Christ the King Spiritual Life Center: 575 Burton Road - Greenwich, NY 12834 - (518) 692-9550

A Christmas Card to Our Troops

St. Andrew's, Scotia Uses The Web To Serve Our Soldiers

By Anne E. Simon

I'll Be Home For Christmas

I'm dreamin' tonight of a place I love, even more than I usually do
and although I know it's a long road back, I promise you
I'll be home for Christmas...
Christmas Eve will find me where the love light beams.
I'll be home for Christmas if only in my dreams, if only in my dreams.

(Words and music by Al Kent - Don Gannon)

Imagine being far from home, possibly in a dangerous place. It's lonely and you miss your loved ones and now the Christmas holiday is approaching...What could fill that emptiness you're feeling? Is there a way we can bring the real "Love light" - God's Love made manifest to us through the birth of His Son, Jesus - to those serving their country - especially those away from home and family?

Yes, there is! The wonders of technology and the Internet make it possible for us to provide faith support services to our service men and women anywhere in the world they're stationed. With just a "click" of a (Christmas?) mouse on the American flag icon on the Home Page of St. Andrew's Church website at www.saintandrewscotia.org, our soldiers have access to a world of Christian resources.

Welcome Page

There's a special Welcome Message, "A Salute to the Troops" from St. Andrew's Rector, "Fr. Mike" Neufeld, who was a U.S. Army Chaplain before he came to serve at St. Andrew's Church. The Welcome Page also includes special prayers for our troops, a prayer for those serving in Iraq and Afghanistan and a prayer for those with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Website Services for Our Troops Page

This section is rich with resources for our troops. For the Advent/Christmas season, we have added a page with hymns of the season via Cyber Hymnals. Since these include both words and music, soldiers and their families can enjoy singing the songs of the season wherever they may be - call it Christmas karaoke!

We also have five weeks of Advent meditations based on hymns of the liturgical season. This feature includes scriptural meditations based on a different hymn each week, a music video and a blog to share and learn with others who are using these meditations. We hope to be adding a link to the daily office online in the near future.

Other features of our website that we highlight for troops include: the Prayer-Share Board, real life faith testimonials from our parishioners and "Learn and Grow" opportunities. These learning resources include "Jesus and You," Bible puzzles, the Bible verse of the Day, Scripture passages for specific problems and life situations, and readings from the Good News Daily that offers a discussion board and a personal prayer journal. (Journal entries are encrypted for user privacy). We also offer a page of links to other religious resources, such as the Parallel Bible and other online Bibles, Bible study resources, online devotionals, an online version of the Book of Common Prayer, Bible Pronunciation Guide, and Albany Diocesan resources. Of course, any and all of these features can be used by anyone visiting our website, as well.

In addition, we offer information for troops on how to request letters, e-mails & packages; a link to the Albany Diocese's Welcome Home Initiative for returning soldiers and their families and using cyber hymnals. This page also includes the text of a "Love Letter from Your Heavenly Father" for soldiers.

While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks By Night

God chose shepherds to be the first to learn of the birth of our Savior. Like those shepherds, our men and women in the Armed Forces work hard to keep us safe from those who would harm us. Like the shepherds, they must be willing to suffer personal discomfort and risk their own lives and safety to protect those in their charge.

"A Soldier's Report from the Field" is a first-hand account, through e-mails, of an army private's experiences in Iraq. Private Bobby Peters of Schenectady is our own personal War Correspondent. His vivid and compelling correspondence (with photos) gives those of us enjoying the comforts of home a chance to understand and appreciate the day-to-day sacrifices - and adventures - our troops experience.

How Can You Help?

Use our website to show your appreciation and support.

Here is where we have prayer resources, such as special prayers for troops; how to request prayers for specific individuals at our church services and in the Sunday Bulletin; posting special prayer requests via the online Prayer-Share Board; and how to access online prayer communities such as the Adopt Our Troops in Prayer online prayer chain and militaryfamiliespray.com. This last resource is designed and written by military moms to encourage and equip military families and friends to persevere in prayer for loved ones who are serving in Iraq, Afghanistan, or any location around the world. They also provide Biblical prayers, inspirational articles and useful tips.

We share information on how to participate in Troop Drives; Corresponding with the troops; sharing coupons with troops and their families; and providing Bibles and inspirational reading via the Bibles for Troops program. Please don't ever dispose of a used cell phone. Donate it to Cell Phones for Soldiers who provide an hour of cell phone time to soldiers abroad. Also, frequent flyer miles can be donated to troops through the Hero Miles program. If you have a talent for sewing, learn about Sew Much Comfort - a program that provides adaptive clothing for injured U.S. soldiers anywhere in the world. We also have instructions on how to make Polymer Cool Neck Bands for soldiers in hot climates.

Joy to the World
Joy to the world! The Lord is come: let earth receive her King;
Let every heart prepare him room and heaven and nature sing.
(Isaac Watts)

The Cyber-Ministry Team of St. Andrew's has been working hard to develop a website not only for the use of our own parishioners but also to reach out and share the joy and saving power of the Gospel to our troops and anyone anywhere in the world needing it. The power of the World Wide Web is making this possible for us.

If you have friends and/or family in the military, please share our website information with them.

We also invite you to visit our site, www.saintandrewscotia.org and use it for your own spiritual benefit. We welcome your comments and suggestions, too. Our contact information can be found on the website.

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